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Saturday, 30 March 2013
Friday, 29 March 2013
Wednesday, 27 March 2013
Last week I added details of work on a mosaic by iconographer, Aidan Hart. This led me to some equally amazing singing by a relatively small church choir sampled in the video above. I find their singing all the more poignant as the noise of the altar and sanctuary being striped is accompanied by noise of every day life going on outside the church. Passers by will be ignorant of the drama taking place inside, much as it must have been when Jesus prayed, but now they will see this "All-powerful" image of Christ drawing them to Himself:
Sunday, 24 March 2013
Palm Sunday sees the start of Christ's journey to the cross. He was not alone in being crucified then and He is not alone now. A few days ago we witnessed the inaugurations of two of the most significant church leaders, Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby, both of whom have taken up the cross in their own distinctive styles. Also in an 'historic first' after nearly 1,000 years, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople attended the inauguration of Pope Francis. Few are called to be priest and bishop, fewer still to be Patriarch or Pope but all Christ's disciples are called to take up their cross.
With humility and reconciliation giving each other the space we need to live and worship according to conscience we may yet all be one.
Friday, 22 March 2013
Down in the dumps with rain, rain, rain and flood alerts or, as friends in New Zealand tell me, no rain and water restrictions? Caught between these extremes are hundreds of millions of people without access to clean water and proper sanitation, a problem for Everyone, everywhere.
Today, 22 March 2013 is World Water Day. WaterAid's goals are set out in this short film
As WaterAid says, "this is our best chance in 15 years to put water and sanitation at the heart of global efforts to tackle poverty — so please email your MP today and ask them to urge David Cameron to read WaterAid's Everyone, everywhere report".
Our support can make a difference.
Thursday, 21 March 2013
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Monday, 18 March 2013
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Having recently received a Jury Summons it was the one occasion when Mrs Briton was happy to be classed as elderly. Others will not escape this civic duty so easily. Rather thoughtfully Her Majesty's Courts Service includes in the contents of their buff envelope texts in a variety of unintelligible languages for the benefit of those unable to speak the mother tongue. Using Google Translate the opening sentence of the only readily identifiable language was translated thus:
In order to qualify for jury service a person must be between the ages of 18 and 70 years old, registered to vote on the government electoral register and be a registered citizen in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 5 years since their thirteenth birthday. A judge has the ability to discharge a person from jury service if he believes the person cannot sufficiently understand English and is therefore unable to understand any evidence given so lacking the capacity to cope with the information needed for the trial. - Presumably in those circumstances a translator will be needed to tell them that they are excused and assist in completing a claim for attendance!
One wonders why anyone on the electoral register who has been a registered citizen in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 5 years since their thirteenth birthday is unable to understand English. Clearly the Communities and Local Government secretary Eric Pickles was thinking along the same lines when he argued that publishing papers in English would encourage migrants to integrate. He singled out Crawley council in Sussex for spending £600 on translating its glossy 12-page in-house magazine into Urdu after a single resident complained they couldn't read English. Other examples are freely available. A quick 'Google' shows the facilities available form Haringey Council: You can ask a council officer who is dealing with your enquiry for a translation of council letters or other council documents. Most council documents have a language panel on the back cover. You can ask for a translation of that particular document by completing your details on the form given and returning to the freepost address shown. You do not have to pay for translations.
The absurdity of this situation was highlighted in 2010 when a Mail Online reporter disclosed that there was a school in Birmingham where 60 per cent of pupils spoke English as a second language and computer translators were used so that the children could communicate with teachers. Interpreters are used in the health service and to enable people to avail themselves of the services provided by the Department of Works and Pensions. As Mr Pickles told MPs,"Stopping the automatic use of translation and interpretation services into foreign languages will provide further incentive for all migrant communities to learn English, which is the basis for an individual's ability to progress in British society. It will promote cohesion and better community relations. And it will help councils make sensible savings at a time when every bit of the public sector needs to do its bit to pay off the deficit."
Monday, 11 March 2013
Saturday, 9 March 2013
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
A generation later religion plays little if any part in most people's lives while others re-interpret or even re-write scripture as the whim takes them. Of course if Jesus had foreseen the current need for parity of the sexes when appointing His Apostles, Judas may well have been Judith but best not go down that road!
Monday, 4 March 2013
In the last few hours, the legal advice paid for by thousands of 38 Degrees members’ donations has come in. The verdict seems clear. If the government forces through these new NHS privatisation rules, it will mean ministers breaking promises they made last year when they said doctors wouldn't be forced to privatise everything. 
We’ve got the proof we need to show MPs that the government is breaking the promises made when the NHS law was forced through. Now we need to make sure every MP reads it, to convince them to sign the motion demanding these new privatisation rules are stopped.
If MPs hear from thousands of us we can make sure that they sign up to block backdoor privatisation. Can you click here to send an email asking them read our legal advice and oppose the plans?
The government says their ‘modernised’ NHS is supposed to be about giving more control to local doctors and communities. But under Jeremy Hunt’s new regulations, the government will force GPs to open up every part of local health services to private companies – whether or not it’s what they or local people want.
And it’s not just us saying this. On Sunday, the Observer newspaper reported an explosive letter from the head of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to the health minister, outlining concerns that “healthcare will be disrupted and hospital services damaged as a result of time-consuming, disruptive and unnecessary tendering processes,” and that these new regulations are “at odds” with reassurances previously given to doctors. 
These are hardly the voices of radicals or political opportunists – so what’s it going to take for MPs to sit up, take notice and admit that something’s not right here? Let’s seize this moment and ask our MPs to listen to doctors, patients, legal experts and concerned constituents, before they make a big mistake:
We can stop this now, if we try. In the past week we've grown our rapid-response petition to over 230,000 signatures. We’ve chipped in to pay for expert legal advice. Now let’s make the talk in the halls of Parliament on Monday be about how many voters are getting in touch about these broken promises. Together, we can help those wavering MPs to find some backbone, and help even the diehard supporters of privatisation to realise the game is up.
Thanks for using your voice,
David, James, Hannah and the 38 Degrees team
 The motion was originally tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas, but then re-tabled co-sponsored by Lib Dem Andrew George and Labour leader Ed Miliband.
 You can see the motion, and the latest signatures, here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/1104
 For example, Andrew Lansley sent a letter to prospective CCGs on 16th February 2012, during the height of the battle to get the Bill through parliament, in which he assured them, “I know many of you may have read that you will be forced to fragment services, or to put services out to tender. This is absolutely not the case." See http://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/nicola-cutcher-lucy-reynolds/nhs-as-we-know-it-needs-prayer
 Telegraph: Scrap NHS competition rules say 1000 in letter to Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9901194/Scrap-NHS-competition-rules-say-1000-in-letter-to-Telegraph.html
 Guardian: Doctors bemoan NHS privatisation by stealth http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/02/doctors-bemoan-nhs-privatisation-by-stealth
NHS private sector climbdown. Read about it here.