Category Archives: Politics

Language and leadership | Nick Baines’s Blog

The language used in the House of Commons last night is probably unprecedented. Drawing the name of a murdered MP into the fight was, at the very least, questionable. To describe the contribution of female MPs, pleading with the PM to moderate his language in the light of violence and death threats, as ‘humbug’ is…
— Read on nickbaines.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/language-and-leadership/

Protect. Restore. Fund.

At this time of Creationtide, and on this day when hundreds of thousands are striking around the globe and taking time to protest about the way we are trashing God’s Creation, let us all take time to think about our part in defending #naturenow.

Here is a video by the amazing Greta Thunberg and the pretty amazing George Monbiot!

A South African prayer for the new UK government…..

O God, open our eyes

that we may see the needs of others;

open our ears

that we may hear their cries;

open our hearts

that they need not be without compassion.

Let us not be afraid to defend the weak

because of the anger of the strong;

nor afraid to defend the poor

because of the anger of the rich.

Show us where love and hope and faith are needed,

and use us to bring them to these places.

Open our eyes and ears

that we may daily do some work of peace for you.

(Alan Paton)

Everything is connected

We are delighted to welcome Peterson Toscano and Ruth Wilde to All Hallows’ on Friday 28th September at 8:30pm and for a follow up “Dig Deeper” workshop on Saturday 29th September at 10:30am to 12:30

Everything is Connected: A lively discussion about identity, justice, and peace

Pull just one strand in our world and see how deeply it is connected to many others. In this entertaining and insightful presentation, Ruth Wilde and Peterson Toscano join forces to reveal strange and often unseen connections in the world. Drawing on ancient stories, comedy, and insights from their travels, they weave together a tapestry that covers identity, LGBTQ issues, climate change, justice, peace, and much much more.

After spending 17 years and over $30,000 on three continents attempting to de-gay himself through gay conversion therapy, Peterson Toscano came to his senses and came out as an American quirky queer Quaker concerned with human rights and comedy. He asks himself and his audiences unusual and stimulating questions: Who are the gender outlaws in the Bible? What is a queer response to climate change? and How can comedy help us better understand our most tragic losses? A Bible scholar, a comic, and public speaker, Peterson is on a mission to connect with his audiences in deeply personal ways stirring up hope and purpose in a rapidly changing world.

Ruth is the UK Outreach Worker for Christian Peacemaker Teams. She also works as National Coordinator for Inclusive Church, so she understands how oppressions can intersect, and how climate change is ‘sexist, racist and classist’. Ruth has known about the oppression of / racism against indigenous peoples since she went on a CPT delegation to Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario, Canada in 2011. Now she sees clearly that climate change is also ‘racist’ against indigenous peoples and she thinks this is painfully ironic because they are often the humans who live the most sustainably and most in harmony with the earth. This makes her more determined than ever to educate and speak out about what is happening to indigenous peoples around the world!

In addition, Peterson and Ruth will also be leading a Dig Deeper workshop on Saturday 29th April at All Hallows. Ruth Wilde and Peterson Toscano stir up lots of discussion in their lively presentations. In order to deepen the experience and help communities figure out their next steps, they offer a facilitated discussion that includes small and large group activities designed to dig deeper into the issues raised during their presentation. Come to share your insights and to engage in others in conversation about making the world a better place for all.

Anti-hate or Pro-love?

Last Saturday Leeds was visited by members of the English Defence League, a far-right group who are racist and fascist. A rally and march protesting against what the EDL stands for was organised. In several conversations before the events we asked why is it that we always seem to put our energies into being anti something instead of pro something and so it was great to see so many people out on the streets of Leeds celebrating that, in the words of the great Jo Cox “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

Against hate – FOR HOPE.
Against fascism – FOR FREEDOM.
Against EDL – FOR EVERYONE!

‘Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.’   — 1 Corinthians 13

Here are some photos from the event and a video of Heston speaking on the Town Hall steps with our great friend Adam Aslam

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Theatre of the Oppressed workshop

While some were camping others were exploring issues of power using image theatre and forum theatre in a Theatre of the Oppressed workshop organised by GeorgeF and Reboot the Roots. How do you change oppression by protest, humour, cooperation, and imagination? More workshops to come.

Jan Betts

Stop G’s deportation

G is a volunteer at our Rainbow Junktion Cafe. G was two working days away from making a fresh claim when she was detained by the Home Office and sent to a detention centre. They plan to deport her on Tuesday 22nd May. However, G was only given ‘removal directions’ on Friday 18th May, in clear contradiction to the policy that states that 72 hours’ notice must be given (including at least 2 working days).

Please read and sign the petition below, if you are able, and help us to stop G’s deportation and make the government’s “system” at least work according to it’s own policies.

https://www.change.org/p/sajid-javid-mp-stop-the-imminent-deportation-of-g-release-her-from-detention

International Conscientious Objectors Day

Next Tuesday is International Conscientious Objectors Day, it is marked around the world each year on 15 May. In London each year a brief ceremony is held at the Commemorative Stone, during which the names of representative people who ‘maintained the right to refuse to kill’ are read out and white flowers are laid on the Stone for each of the people remembered.

Lead us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love,
from war to peace,
Let peace fill our hearts,
our world, our universe.
Let us dream together, pray together, work together
to build one world of peace and justice for all.
Amen.

More information:

Sermon by Paul Magnall – 4th June 2017

Notes from the sermon by Paul Magnall on 4th June 2017 – Pentecost and Environment Sunday (there was a PowerPoint presentation as well)

Reading:
Psalm 104
Mark 4:30-34

Good morning. No apologies but “there now follows a party political broadcast on behalf of…”

I hope I don’t offend anyone, but if I do it is not intentional! I need to point out that there will be political content and you will probably guess my politics (see the colour of the slides!) but I am not here to tell you how to vote. What I will do is to encourage you to join the debates around the election and to make your voice heard by voting on Thursday.

This Sunday is Pentecost, it is the Sunday when we celebrate the working of God’s Holy Spirit and, in particular, when God poured out His Spirit onto His followers days after Jesus had ascended into Heaven.

This Sunday is also Environment Sunday when we celebrate God’s Creation and how we look after it.

Today I am going to combine the two!

There are many images of the Spirit of God, a white dove, a wind, tongues of fire but one of the earliest is as breath. The Hebrew word is Ruakh and has many interpretations, is it gentle breathing or a passionate snort? Or maybe both?

The Bible talks of God as Spirit right from the very beginning – “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” Genesis 1:1-2

We then see God breathing life into a man made from the dust of the ground.
So the image of the Spirit of God is there in creating and in bringing about life.

The Spirit of God also brings change and disruption. In a story harking back to breathing life into a man made from the dust of the ground, Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the dry bones in the middle of a valley and they all join together but are still lifeless. Ezekiel is then told to prophecy to the breath and God breathes life into the bones (Ezekiel 37)

And throughout the Old Testament the Spirit of God comes upon people inspiring them to do great, crazy, disruptive things in order to bring people back to God’s ways of justice and love.

In the New Testament we see Jesus, full of the Spirit of God, preaching, teaching, performing miracles which change and disrupt people’s lives, showing and challenging them to live in peace and harmony, to stand against the injustices of the time, to love one another even if they were the equivalent of Conservatives, or Liberals, or UKIP supporters, or Labour or Greens, even if they were oppressors or murderers.

And then, on the day of Pentecost, more change, more disruption. The Spirit of God falls on the followers of Jesus and they go out preaching and teaching about the Good News of God’s Kingdom – of love. And the disruption was so much that many people “devoted themselves …. To fellowship” and “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” What a huge disruption!

Second Reading: Mark 4:30-34

I think that the parable of the mustard seed is all about disruption. No one in their right mind would have planted mustard in their gardens in the days of Jesus, in fact it was seen like we see invasive species today, I believe they even had laws about planting it. Once planted it took over everything, like bindweed or goose grass but possibly even worse! So when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God being like a mustard seed, was he saying that even a tiny little thing like a mustard seed could cause incredible disruption?

So, what about the Environment? It doesn’t seem to be getting any press these days! (Picture of Trump)

When God saw His finished Creation he didn’t just think it was good, He thought it was Very Good (Genesis 1:31), so much so that he took time off to relax and enjoy it!

But if I think about breath and creation now, what do I think of? I think of choking
– Choking on air pollution
– The seas choking on plastics and chemicals
– A world where animals are being choked out of existence
– A world where human beings are choking on the injustices that we impose on them.

Instead of a world where we have everything in common, where we have Fair Share (Permaculture ethic!), instead we have a world of greed and destruction:
– We make money out of armaments which exchange hands again and again and are used indiscriminately aroundthe world to kill and maim people and to destroy the environment that we depend on for life
– We extract as much out of the ground and air as we can with little or no thought of the consequences
– When we think we have got everything out of the ground we find other ways of getting stuff out of the ground, even if it is not economically viable! We seem fixated on Fracking!
– We continue to pollute the air that we breath even though we know that we don’t have to and that it makes us ill and it kills us
– We pollute our water with plastics and chemicals doing untold damage to the life in the sea that sustains us
– We continue to erode the very soil that we are dependent upon for growing our food
– And of course, there is climate change.
And we do most of these things, not through ignorance but through greed. It is done to make some of us rich but it makes the world a poorer and more unsafe place to be.

So, on this Pentecost Sunday, where do we see the work of the Spirit of God in all this? Where is His disrupting influence?

To find out we can stop and look and observe
– where Life is being enhanced and celebrated, where life is being breathed.
– And we can look at where there is disruption and change for the better.
– In Permaculture we have a principle about observing (which I have spoken about before) and we have a principle that we should “Use edges and value the marginal” – it is at the edges and boundaries that things happen, where it is most fertile for change. Even the Franciscans were aware of this – St Francis wanted us to live a life on the edge of the inside—not at the centre or the top, but not outside throwing rocks either. ( https://cac.org/at-home-in-the-world-2017-06-02/ )

So here are just a few of the places where I think the Spirit of God is at work, breathing new life and bringing about change and disruption for the better:
– David Attenborough, educating us about the wonders and the fragility of Nature and that we are part of Nature
– Children growing up and learning about nature
– Caroline Lucas and the Green Party, a smallish voice speaking out for the Common Good
– Green Peace, protesting against the damage that we do to the planet
– Protestors such as the Anti-Fracking groups who make us aware of the damage Fracking causes and the fact that we don’t need to do it.
– People growing their own food in ways that work with Nature rather than against it eg Agroforestry and Forest Gardens
– People helping to reclaim the deserts and marginal lands that we have abused
– The Permaculture movement
– Climate change talks and agreements
– Emanuel Macron and other politicians who stand up for the planet
– And there are loads more! So be encouraged!

So, what little things can we do that might be part of God’s ongoing work in creation, of building God’s Kingdom of love and justice, Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share?

Every little thing helps. I’m going to suggest a few simple and relatively easy things that came off the top of my head
– A vote on Thursday (assuming that you are voting for the correct party!)
– Using a bar of soap instead of plastic bottles of liquid soap – this reduces packaging, waste, weight of material transported, and natural soaps will be even more environmentally friendly. I use soap made from goats milk!
– walking or cycling or using public transport instead of driving, or even car sharing
– growing some of your own food, even if it is just a few strawberries

Over to you – I challenge you to think of something, little or big, that you can commit to doing over the next year, write it down on a piece of paper and then come and put it on the balance at the front. Let’s see if we can tip the balance!

References:
– For natural soap bars I use http://itsbaaathtime.co.uk/ in particular I like the Chunky Baa
– Toothbrushes – if you google bamboo toothbrush you will find many suppliers. Look for one who supplies them with biodegradable bristles then you can throw the whole thing into the compost bin when you finish with it.
– Journey of a toothbrush video – https://youtu.be/Pd_C3YK3kI4
 Permaculture Principles

Conscientious Objectors Day

Every year, 15th May marks International Conscientious Objection day – a day to celebrate those who have and those who continue to resist war, especially by refusing to be part of military structures.

100 years ago The Great War was raging in Europe – we now know it as the First World War – and those who objected to the war and refused to be conscripted could be imprisoned, many ended up doing hard labour in Dartmoor prison, civilian ‘work of national importance’ or conscripted into the Non-Combatant Corps. Some volunteered to serve in the Friends Ambulance Unit or other medical organisations but if they were drafted into the army (some by force) they could face a court martial and even be shot. Many famous people were conscientious objectors but for a long time their stories were suppressed as the government thought that conscientious objection would weaken the war effort. There are some links at the bottom of this blog to some resources about conscientious objectors.

Whatever your views are about the armed forces, Conscientious Objectors have played a major role in the protest against war and the campaign for peace. On our website we have the International Prayer for Peace, a prayer that we long to see answered:

Lead us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love,
from war to peace,
Let peace fill our hearts,
our world, our universe.
Let us dream together, pray together, work together
to build one world of peace and justice for all.
Amen.

http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/conscientious-objectors-in-their-own-words

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27404266

http://www.methodist.org.uk/mission/conscientious-objection

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientious_objector

Subversive Peacemakers: War Resistance 1914–1918: An Anglican Perspective by Clive Barrett (I have a copy of this if anyone wants to borrow it – Paul)