politics in the pulpit

echoes of RomeroThis man has been a hero of mine for some time.
I have blogged thoughts and stuff a number of times.
I’m not sure what I think about canonisation; but of it is deserved by anyone then Oscar Romero is up their with them!

There are many quotes, many sayings, that could be held as amazing. I have no favourites, as in a sense  lot of what he wrote or said may be classified as ‘favourites.’ But, at the moment, in this time, I resonate most strongly with this quote of challenge:

A Gospel that doesn’t take into account the rights of human beings, a Christianity that doesn’t make a positive contribution to the history of the world, is not the authentic doctrine of Christ, but rather simply an instrument of power. We . . . don’t want to be a plaything of the worldly powers, rather we want to be the Church that carries the authentic, courageous Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, even when it might become necessary to die like he did, on a cross.

At a period in this country when we see people victimised or ridiculed for their faith or race, or legislated against in their desperate poverty, where the ‘elite’ give themselves 20% pay rises while those on benefits receive a devastating cut …. and all at a time when we are told ‘austerity is over’, the words of Romero hit home really hard. I have been told more than once in the last few months to not be so political … a fellow Christian who happens to be a Tory telling me to keep politics out of the pulpit.

Well … I can’t!
You see Christian faith is about politics, its about bringing in the Kingdom now, it’s about seeing justice and compassion and love bursting onto our streets, communities and homes. It’s about people feeling safe, secure, accepted and knowing that God stands with them. It is about us being a transforming presence wherever we find ourselves to be.

And yes I’m going to make a judgement.
I know its wrong to jusdge, but hey …
I say to my ‘keep politics out of the pulpit’ friends and colleagues … you are missing the point …. that is exactly where it should be!
If we, the church, don’t shout out the authentic, courageous (political) gospel …. then who on earth will!



Along with many others I have been struck, challenged, intrigued and maybe even surprised to hear the Jeremy Paxman interview of Russell Brand. If you have not heard it, it’s really worth listening to, and actually reading the rest of this post would make little sense without hearing the interview first.

I love what Brand says. I literally was nodding and saying an audible yes throughout the interview. I share his frustration … and coincidentally for the first time in some 30 years I have not renewed my membership of the Labour Party. In the words of Brand, I also have become ‘weary and exhausted with the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class’. There are some good politicians around … if we talk MP’s though, locally I can only think of two – one being Paul Clarke who was Labour MP for Gillingham who is still working hard to help the local area, and the other being Tracey Crouch who is the Tory MP for Chatham and does not seem to be afraid to speak out for her constituents even when it is contrary to party views. People like Paul and Tracey seem the exception to the system. It does seem that whichever party takes the helm, the rich poor divide and fair distribution of services is rapidly deteriorating.

Brands words intrigue me. When Paxman challenges him over not voting as ‘that is how democracy works’ his response with the ‘well it’s not working very well’ is hard hitting and accurate. When Paxman asks him what he would do instead, Brand can only respond from the perspective of what he would not do.

Developing an alternative system when all you have known is the current state of how things are done is really tough and difficult. (as a pioneer trying to birth new church when all we have known is church can relate to this dilemma. But, that’s a post for later in the week)

A good friend pointed out to me earlier in the week that, actually, what Brand is calling for in his revolution is, basically, a call to a society based on Christian values.

Now before my friends of other faith and no faith sharpen weapons to attack me … hear me … I’m not saying everyone needs to believe and follow Jesus and society will be great (although I think it would be!) …. that would be a Christian society …. but a society based on Christian values is something different … A society can agree to live by Christian values of love, respect, honesty, equality, compassion etc simply because those things are good in themselves for the betterment of society.

These values would mean we had
A caring society where the planet is not being destroyed through selfish exploitation
A fair society where we do not create massive economic disparity
A compassionate society that takes account of the needs of the people

A society based on fairness and respect and love and care and compassion, with a desire to see everyone flourish and everyone to reach their potential with the view that community, not certain individuals, is what it is all about ….. that’s an alternative worth pursuing. An alternative that Jesus called for through the beatitudes:

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

That’s a kind of society I wish to vote for …

Don’t hate, donate!

dole-460x276Some of my friends have expressed some surprise that I have remained quiet(ish) over the news from Monday. I make no secret about being very anti the policies of the government from that era, and particularly the harshness of the then Prime Minister in her dealings with certain people groups and communities. I consider those polices to have seriously harmed this country and destroyed the feeling of community that we did have, and replaced it with a personal selfishness with no regard for others, which is still rife today.

Plenty of people have written good stuff without being offensive  people with far more of a right to write than me! I linked this morning to Russel Brand’s piece in the Guardian – well worth a read. An article that ‘identifies the whys without the expletives’ accurately noted a friend.

Despite my dislike (you will no doubt even notice my reluctance in even having the name on my blog) I cannot condone, nor would I join in with, so called ‘hate parties’. I could never celebrate someone’s death, not even if they had hurt me personally. As a Christian, and as a human being, death only separates and causes more pain and to maintain our human dignity I think the reality if that pain and loss in others needs to be respected.

There is a much better way to ‘protest’ if that indeed is the correct word. Don’t hate, donate is suggesting rather than have parties that we can donate money to help charities who work with people who are still suffering due to those policies, such as the homeless, miners families, gay teenagers, Hillsborough survivors and victims of Apartheid in South Africa.

Hate breeds more hate …. donating just might be a more satisfying alternative that can make a real difference.


politics and faith

Yesterday was an end of an era as KCME, our formal post ordination training program, came to an end. We are the final year of the course in its current format and we ended in style with a tour of the houses of parliament, eucharist in The chapel of St Mary Undercroft and lunch with Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the chaplain to the Speaker of the House.

I have been happy to complain about KCME, but credit where credit is due – this was a great and well planned day to end the course with – so thanks need to go to Chris, Chris and Trevor.

It was a fascinating day, and the experience fo eucharist in St mary Undercroft was amazing – even for a pioneer like me that usually is pretty oblivious to grandness of the surroundings in which I do my ‘stuff’.

It was also a pleasure to meet Rose who became Speakers Chaplain just over a year ago. It was interesting to hear her story and her commitment to be unembarrassed and pro-active about the gospel in the setting of politics and parliament.

I believe Christians need to be involved in the politics of our country (that will not surprise any of you!) and it is great to know that Rose is there, leading our MP’s in prayer each day and getting alongside all those working within Parliament. Please remember to pray for her as she develops this exciting ministry.

Oh yeah … I wanted to make a quip at those leaders and organisations that say our faith is being persecuted in this country …. and yet the Houses of Parliament have a chaplain …. but to bring that up would be shallow and cheap of me !!

the AV poster that makes sense …

confused by AV …. well this makes sense  … simples!

blessed are ….

©will Humes

I have awoken to a lot of news today flying around and the reactions to those events. There are plenty of people here who are far better qualified to comment on such events and upon the various reactions, not least those who have been personally affected. The celebration of any death, though, does leave me feeling rather cold.

Maybe today, though, could be a day to remember the words of Jesus …

Blessed are the poor in spirit
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

Blessed are those who mourn
for they shall be comforted

Blessed are the meek
for they will inherit the earth

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness
for they will be filled

Blessed are the merciful
for they shall receive mercy

Blessed are the pure of heart
for they will see God

Blessed are the peacemakers
for they will be called children of God

Blessed are those who are persecuted for rigtheousness’ sake
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

(Matthew 5:3-12)

CSM job

Looks like there is a good job going at CSM if you are interested …

CSM Office and Communications Manager – 4 days/week

Job Description and details on how to apply available on request from andy.flannagan@thecsm.org.uk

Do you know this person?

1. Organised, administratively gifted in book-keeping, communications, payment systems, executive support, web, and passionate about seeing the Kingdom come in the realm of politics.
2.Keen to have an impact at the heart of the Labour party, helping to run CSM, the Christian Socialist Movement, directed by Andy Flannagan.
3. Ready to start working in March.

CSM exists to be a prophetic voice to the left side of politics, both encouraging and challenging. Our members pray and campaign for justice, engaging in politics locally and nationally. We support and resource Christians for that adventure.


I particularly …. I don’t know … like is not the right word. I do ‘like’ the cartoon … but I don’t like the subject matter as it does make me angry. Once again ASBO Jesus hits the nail on the head … as Christians maybe we need to be standing up and speaking out more … if we sit back then the vulnerable on the edges of our society will be ‘taken for a ride’ …. and not to a great place either!!

And before people come back and say its all due to the debt … fine … but lets not pretend the measures of this government are hitting us all equally … my family will probably remain fairly ok (well until Tom goes to university!) … but the vulnerable of our society, those that need support but are having benefits cut and services slashed and even legal aid taken from them … they are paying a far greater price.

I feel myself getting angry for justice (and to be honest I still don’t understand Christians that seemingly do not get angered by the poor in society having unfair burdens placed upon them)  and so I think I’ll end  my post there!

a plan for change!

I have just watched the full speech of Ed Milliband to the Labour Party Conference rather than the edited versions that the different branches of the press have exposed us to.

I am impressed by what he says as party leader and find myself excited by the prospect of the labour party once again being in the position to be the visionary party it was when it first came to power and did all those things that we now take for granted which everyone told them were impossible … you know … things like the minimum wage, decreasing cancer patient waiting times from 18 months to 18 weeks, building new schools, saving the NHS ….

Ed is honest – the Labour Party started well but then lost touch with the real person in the street. The party needs to listen again. I’m glad I used my party leader vote well!

You can watch the full speech here on YouTube, it’s been edited into six 10 or so minute slots my newsoogle, which suits me fine for coffee breaks!

how have we got this government?

NB: This is a political questioning post that some of you may wish to avoid as I question how we have arrived at the government that we currently seem to have.

I also want to state here, as it says in my profile, that the views I express here are my own and in no way reflect the cathedral, the diocese or even Christianity – these are my personal views and questions

It intrigues me that Mr Clegg said before the election that the party that came third in the election had no mandate to govern the country. He said this amidst reports, and Labour Party fears, that Labour would come third in the popular vote. At the end of the day, Labour came second in the popular vote and second in the number of seats in the commons. It was, in fact, the Liberal Democrats who came third in both the popular vote and the number of seats in the commons.

Is it just me or is there a certain irony here? The party that came third, the party therefore whose policies were firmly rejected by the country is now able to have MP’s at all levels of government. In addition Liberal Democrat policies, which were also firmly rejected by the voting public, are being brought to the table and will be passed through this government using the alliance majority.

It seems to me that the desperation for power from Cameron has resulted in the adoption of policies that clearly no one voted for. That strikes me as a very poor position to be in – surely, if anything, Cameron should have bitten the bullet, established a minority government and then returned to the polls later to get what would have surely been a majority.

There are already many things about this coalition that concern me – not as a biased Labour supporter but as a member of the voting British public. There are strong talks of saving cuts and democracy and a new breed of politics, but already early signs suggest control and wastage. Two such actions are:

1. The changing of the name of the Department for Schools Children and Families to the Department for Education. The dropping of the link between family life and education is a worry in itself – but at a time when cuts are looming did we really need this added expense of a name change with its associated costs of a new website, new letterheads, business cards etc etc.

2. The attempt to move from a 50% +1 MP to a 55% of MP’s to carry out a vote of no confidence and dissolve parliament. This clearly takes away the constitutional and democratic right of the house to have control under a false guise of stability. This is a clear attempt to override the wishes of MP’s and make it harder to challenge the government – and not just this government … all future governments as well. Cameron justifies this by saying he has made a ‘big surrender’ in giving up his right as PM to call a general election when we all know this was not really a big surrender, more a concession to those Liberal Democrats who no one voted to ahve the authority they re exercising in our political structure.

3. This new politics look to be a massive retrograde step if we look at the cabinet – mainly white, mainly male, very Etonian and Oxbridge. it seems to me that we have merely replaced the deal done in a restaurant with deals done at school and uni.

Not sure if that was a rant … but it’s over! But I would be interested in other’s comments – for example, does anyone else see the irony of the 3rd party having so much influence over our politics?