Yesterday, our village held a public meeting. There is an EU funded initiative which helps rural communities like ours start up, and later implement, a Community Action Plan.
There were some highly articulate and thoughtful children present who flagged a number of important issues. Some of these were specific to their own needs, such as the lack of adequate play areas and of weekend or after school facilities for younger people. They also contributed to discussions pertaining to the needs of the wider community and of the environment. These children were politically aware. It was clear that they came from a home where people encouraged them to have views and they were still young enough, and good enough, not to have become cynical. They cared about their village with a kind of reasoned passion.
Jessica’s tooth came out when her parents were away. Her babysitting grandparents weren’t sure about standard family procedure. In the event the Tooth Fairy performed her traditional role – and is now wondering what to do with the tooth.
Why are traditions like this so popular? I can’t help contrasting the Tooth Fairy’s activities with the many harangues I have been subjected to from biblical literalists insisting that every text must be either the truth or a lie. From their perspective, presumably, wherever the Tooth Fairy is at work parents are deceiving their children with inexcusable lies.
Last week I attended one of those 24 hour brainstorming events in which the real work of organisations often gets done. Modern Church is a hospitable context in which the Christian faith can be discussed with intelligence, integrity and, most importantly, charity.
What is most striking about Modern Church as an organisation is not so much that it is modern, but that its gatherings give shape and substance to the idea of what it means to be Church. Put theologically, this means that it serves the interests of its members, and the purpose of its founding ethos, by being clear about its liberal identity, an identity which is held within that of the wider Church.
The Birmingham Post carries an article by David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, It is easy to agree poverty must end but the question is what do we do? To my mind the key paragraph was this one:
Despite the complexity of the issues I think there are steps that the seventh richest nation in the world can take to help redistribute some of our resources and ensure we care for the most marginalised in our communities. An obvious start would be a higher minimum wage, or the living wage, which has been adopted by many organisations and helps to ensure people do not have to take on several jobs to make ends meet or supplement their income with benefits and food-parcels.
The debate keeps going and I’m afraid that if I don’t blog about it I’ll be the only person who didn’t.
It all began with the House of Bishops publishing a statement on 15th February. It accepted that opinions on gay marriage differ, but insisted that:
the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.
In an appendix it states that when the first gay marriages take place:
there will, for the first time, be a divergence between the general understanding and definition of marriage in England as enshrined in law and the doctrine of marriage held by the Church of England and reflected in the Canons and the Book of Common Prayer.
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