Bishops Manifesto
Church of England

Without Christian vision the future of politics looks bleak

 

A couple of days ago my NASUWT magazine dropped through the letterbox and, as always, it makes for pretty depressing reading. If the contents are to be believed, most teachers hate the profession and would rather be doing something different that is less stressful, has shorter hours, and is better paid. And the source of all of this pain and suffering is squarely laid at the feet of the Coalition Government.

It’s not really surprising that this is the rhetoric coming from a teaching union that has vehemently opposed this government since its first days in office. Teachers, along with doctors, nurses and the majority of other public service workers, have had a rough ride over the last few years, but honestly, how much better would things be if we hadn’t ended up with a Conservative – Lib Dem coalition?

If we want a serious answer, this is not the place to be looking. Whichever way you look at it, my Teaching Today magazine is little more than a piece of anti-government propaganda full of negative statistics. The repeated strapline is “On 7 May 2015 vote for education”. The problem is that I’m left with no idea what a vote for education is. No alternative is offered. In fact, nothing positive is offered at all. I have no idea what the parties’ policies on education are without going away and doing my own research. Perhaps Ukip offer the brightest future? Who knows?

Really, the implicit message that comes through is: “We’re left-wing socialists. We don’t care about policies, we just want to see the back of this loathsome government.”

This is vacuous politics at its very worst. It has nothing to do with a left/right/Conservative/Labour battle of ideas, because there are no ideas offered at all. It offers no hope, no vision, no better future. All it stirs up is disillusion and blame.

Such a hollow and antagonistic approach is likely to become a key feature as the General Election approaches. Labour will blame the Coalition for the effects of austerity. The Conservatives and Lib Dems will blame Labour for the mess they inherited in 2010. Ukip will blame the main parties for the moral state of our society, and the SNP will blame everyone else for Scotland’s woes.

Unless something fresh pops up from behind the scenes, it looks as though new policy will be thin on the ground over the next couple of months. As the fight over the centre ground intensifies, with the focus on who might manage the existing system best, political point-scoring and personality politics become increasingly important in order to stand above your rivals. It’s no wonder that voter disengagement runs so high and the claim that our political system is broken is repeatedly made.

When the default position in politics is to find fault and failings, it is little surprise that the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Letter was treated with such contempt last week. The right-wing papers took great pleasure in stirring up a Tory backlash against a perceived bias against them. Iain Duncan Smith and others duly obliged. “It is ironic that despite claiming to be non partisan they only produce these reports when Conservatives are in government,” he told Sky News. As well as not being entirely correct, such a typical knee-jerk reaction reverts to a defensive mentality which dismisses anything that might be remotely unfavourable without considering the merit that lies beneath the surface.

The Bishops might have been hoping to open up the conversation on what politics could and should be like, but few have been willing to join them. It’s almost as if the political classes are so wrapped up in their pugilistic approach to winning votes that anyone coming along with a dream of something better is instinctively seen as a menace who needs to be suppressed at the earliest opportunity. Instead of meaningful engagement, there has been a demand for the Bishops to put their own houses in order first – that is, to worry more about their own dwindling congregations than political matters. Justin Welby has been bullish in his response. Speaking at the weekend he said that it was impossible for the Church to “get on with the family business of saving souls” while leaving politicians alone to deal with public policy. He expalined:

It is impossible to love Jesus Christ and not to care about the welfare of people in every respect… They are literally the two sides of the same coin. You do one, you do the other.

Our concern for the common good stems from us being created in the image of God, and the consequential commands Jesus gives us: that we are to love God, our neighbour, each other, our enemies.

Countering criticism of left-wing bias in the Bishops’ Letter, he praised the Government’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of our national income on overseas aid; he praised the Modern Slavery Bill. And he praised the Government’s work on preventing sexual violence in conflict zones. He also said that the Church should rejoice that unemployment has fallen.

If we are going to talk about justice and involvement in politics, we can’t go in saying that just because someone wears a certain badge on their lapel, they are therefore bad. That is not what Jesus did. “So let us celebrate what we should celebrate,” the Archbishop said. “If we believe that the household and the family are crucial then we celebrate measures that support that. We should support all efforts that increase stability and hope in the job market, and welcome good news.”

The House of Bishops’ Letter is far from infallible, but it does look forward to a new form of politics that restores the bond between the public and political classes. It jars and confuses because it deliberately avoids party political language. It looks for hope and the formation of a new overarching political narrative that seeks to acknowledge the worth in every person whatever their personal circumstances and level of material wealth.

This is just not how politics is done these days. Instead of being short-termist, relying on focus groups and policies aimed at particular demographic groups that are designed to win votes, this is about going back to the fundamentals of what society should be and how morality and community can be re-established at its core. The vision, as much as there is one, primarily comes from the Bible and the ways Jesus presented the Kingdom of God that brings heaven to earth. It is a belief that through those values everyone benefits, especially when virtue becomes the means of shaping the political landscape.

The Bishops cite two examples of visions of society that “changed the political weather” – Clement Attlee’s Labour administration 1945 and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative administration of 1979. Both addressed the societal failings of the time with new energy and vigour, and both found their inspiration in different ways through the Christian faith. The 1942 Beveridge Report, which laid the foundations for the Welfare State and the NHS, was hugely influenced by the writings of William Temple, then Archbishop of Canterbury, who envisaged a post-war society that reflected the innate dignity of each person created in the image of God.

Thatcher’s Methodism led her to see her political task as the moral and spiritual revival of Britain. She believed hard work, thrift, self-reliance and independence to be vital for Britain’s economic success, and that these values were fundamentally Christian.

The Bishops’ Letter describes these two administrations further:

One measure of the stature of these two administrations is that neither was, initially, as lacking in nuance as they have often been portrayed. William Beveridge followed his report on social security with another entitled Voluntary Action which affirmed the principles of personal responsibility and local, informal, activities which built stronger communities. He argued that the state had an important role but that it should not be allowed completely to supplant local and individual responsibility and initiative. Margaret Thatcher was, famously, keen to restore “Victorian Values”, by which she meant not only unregulated markets but a strong sense of duty, self-help and personal responsibility.

Part of our tragedy is that our politics has been incapable of holding a careful balance between different kinds of goods or virtues. Beveridge’s enthusiasm for voluntary action was marginalised by the revolution in state welfare provision which his earlier report had initiated. Thatcher’s market revolution emphasised individualism, consumerism and the importance of the corporate sector to the extent that, far from returning to Victorian notions of social responsibility, the paradigm for all relationships became competitive individualism, consumption and the commercial contract, fragmenting social solidarity at many levels.

It is our inability as a society to hold on to visions for the common good that requires us to develop new ones over time. In the past it has been Christianity birthing these visions or providing the fuel for them. We have seen a taste of this through the Red Tory and Blue Labour movements which look to Catholic Social Teaching for inspiration. David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ may have failed to take off politically, but it is alive and well in a more organic form through the rapidly expanding work of churches in their local communities. And now we have the Bishops of the Church of England adding their voice to this desire for a new form of politics.

Without the Church following Jesus’ example, who has the moral and social capital to rediscover a rich discourse of the common good in our politics at this time? Politicians have repeatedly failed, trades unions have become increasingly self-interested, and secular humanism has not proved itself.

It will not happen overnight, and it will require one or more political parties to take some brave steps. But the seeds are being planted by Godly hands. Blame and animosity may reach new heights as this General Election approaches, but there is something far better emerging on the horizon if we choose to seek it out.

  • Anton

    Your Grace’s last paragraph suggests that he thinks there has been a one-generation blip in our culture and that things will soon improve. Your humble correspondent, who follows Jeremiah, regretfully disagrees. Once a tradition of higher morality has been lost for more than a generation it cannot simply pop up again; if it is to re-appear again it cannot come from within.

    • dannybhoy

      I can’t remember the passage of Scripture, but it’s something to do with once those who received the greatest revelation of God’s grace turn away, then there is no easy or immediate way back.
      What we are seeing is the disintegration of the institutions built on God’s word, and there is nothing to replace it.

      2nd Peter 2:20

      • Watchman

        Hebrews 6:4,5 is also relevant.

        • dannybhoy

          Thanks Watchman. That was what I really had in mind. I was thinking about how we as Christians see a need, say in this case education, and we would seek to come up with a system that best meets the criteria. Raising standards, a more rounded education, getting the best out of the individual, teaching teamwork and competition and standing on one’s own two feet.
          We would seek to achieve this (ideally) for the glory of God, with no hidden agenda, no big egos and treating everyone involved with courtesy and respect.

          Once you lose that kind of ethos you are on a downward slide.

          • Watchman

            Amen to that Danny, particularly the penultimate paragraph. If only churches could meet that criteria I might be tempted to darken their doors once again.

          • dannybhoy

            I thought you did belong to a church Watchman?
            I learnt so much from my community days in YWAM, and one of the lessons we taught was to prayerfully find our position in a work or outreach for God.
            We didn’t believe that having a skill- practical or professional- automatically qualified you for leadership in any ministry or endeavour.
            You might find yourself in a supportive or advisory role under someone who was actually less qualified, but whom the elders felt God was calling to lead.
            It’s that old “death to self” thing, and getting behind whoever is leading so as to make the whole thing might succed to the Lord’s glory.
            In Christian organisations like YWAM you’re more likely to see it, but in churches it’s harder to develop the kind of honest fellowship that can make it happen.

          • Watchman

            Wow, Danny this could lead to whole new and very relevant discussion, albeit off topic. I struggle with churches, having a background in the brethren I am in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The trouble with most churches is that they regard job titles as structural rather than functional and cannot see leadership as a servant role. If everyone would work together and acknowledge Jesus as Head of the Church and seek His will in all things the Church would function as it should. All it takes is one or two people to regard meekness as weakness and try to impose themselves on others to spoil the whole thing. It’s true that I belong to a loose fellowship that deliberately meets without formal leadership, which we believe is the right format for assembling but we are all human and are used to formal, structured, hierarchical organisations so trying to function as an organism is alien to most of us.

          • dannybhoy

            I have talked to several brothers and sisters from my YWAM days (and bear in mind I am talking about a YWAM of almost forty years ago – gulp!)
            We all say the same thing though. That we have never since experienced the depth of fellowship and ‘brokenness’ that we experienced then.
            Of course we were young and enthusiastic. Sometimes we ran out of heating oil and amidst cold rooms and no hot water, we would have prayer meetings asking the Lord to provide. Other times it might be a shortage of food..
            But in all of that was this glorious sense of purpose and fellowship, and accepting that the occasional inconvenience was all part of it.
            But check out YWAM’s website now and see what they are doing worldwide..

          • Watchman

            I think the key word there is ‘brokenness’. I believe we are living in the days of Noah and in order to experience the Life of Christ in us we must experience brokenness. We have all become part of the western culture and become lazy, compromising with the world and stopped being salt and light. Our individual relationship with Him becomes the crucial factor in our effectiveness and not the context of our assembling together but that context can help or hinder the growth in that relationship through the discipline and encouragement we receive.
            We need the Holy Spirit in power (as in (Acts 2) because our efforts are futile without Him and brokenness is, I believe, an essential element in understanding the nature of Christ in us.
            Matt 18 is interesting, it is rabbinic and presumably applied to discipline in the synagogue; or was it prophetic to be applied in the church?

          • Watchman
    • Shadrach Fire

      Not so. Millions of people in this country regret our changing ways but will not shout out for fear of verbal abuse.

      • Anton

        I wish you were right but even the middle class family is now exhibiting increasing instability that will therefore impact the next generation. That is what counts, not what people do or don’t say.

  • Great post – amen to all of the above. This may be of interest re some work currently underway at Tearfund: http://www.globaldashboard.org/2015/01/16/larger-us-longer-future-different-good-life/

  • Anton

    It would have helped if Gove had not been sacked – the first education secretary to take on the profession that has ravaged numeracy and literacy since the 1960s.

    • Shadrach Fire

      And his replacement only got her job on the basis of recanting her vote on SSM.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      No dear Anton, successive governments ravaged numeracy and literacy, teachers simply had to do as they were told.

      • The Explorer

        Older cohorts of teachers would have known what real education was like. But those who are themselves the products of modern literacy and numeracy… Well, at least they have the benefit of ignorance is bliss. (Although without reference to Wikipedia, they wouldn’t be able to identify the source of the quotation.)

      • Anton

        My parents were teachers. What you say is not true. Teachers had much greater freedom in that era and they used it – encouraged but not commanded by higher-ups – to bring in teaching methods that don’t work. Gove micromanaged the teaching profession as the only way he saw to enforce methods that actually worked.

      • Dawn Young

        Non directive/child-centered/non-judgmental teaching/pedagogue was the brainchild of the American Carl Rogers. His idea quickly gained approval within teaching institutes and spreads around the English speaking world in the 1970 destroying education. It had nothing to do with governments especially any British government. In fact most governments have tried to kill it but, a bit like a hydra that grows two heads for each removed, every time government has tried to counteract it, it has only exasperated the problem. From Ofsted to league tables to SATS each measure has only made it become more entrenched. I do believe that it has to be the teacher training colleges that need to be tackled for this problem ever to be solved. It is also why I get very scared when Tristam Hunt states that were he Education Secretary only teachers who have passed through these institutes could teach. It really will be the end of any hope for state school kids.

  • sarky

    As a father of two school children and coming from a family of teachers, it seems to me that many in the profession have been allowed to coast along for far too long. Alot of teachers have been found out and mediocre teaching is no longer acceptable. Although I don’t agree with alot of what this government has done, it’s emphasis on good teaching standards is welcomed. The wheat is starting to be seperated from the chaff. Of course the unions hate this, union reps tend to be made up of people who are crap at their jobs, so are therfore now under threat.
    Welcome to the real world teachers!! The hours are long and the jobs are stressful (at least you get good holidays :-))

    • Anton

      I agree, but it’s not about bad teachers, it’s about the system. The biggest single problem is the teacher training colleges where drivel about child-centred learning and non-streaming is taught, and if you are not up to getting a degree in a proper subject you can get a degree in “education”. Even with a proper degree you then have to spend a year learning how to teach. The fact is that if you have a good grasp of your subject and you actually want to teach, you will probably be good at it and all else that you need to know about classroom technique can be learnt in a few days of on-the-job mentoring. The training colleges are irreformable and are part of the problem and should be closed down. For a fraction of the cost a mentoring scheme in schools could be set up. The other thing is that classroom discipline needs to be backed up by a form of punishment that pupils actually fear.

      • Coniston

        The training colleges, or university Departments of Education, are largely staffed by people who (in the main) have limited experience of teaching. Some are good; of those who have taught, for many their first career move was to get out of the classroom. Lacking contact with classroom reality their views become more and more unrealistic. Many suffer from the belief that all children are naturally good (the prime example of this was A. S. Neil). Anyone who wants to read
        entertaining and deadly accurate accounts of small rural primary schools (and villages) some 40 years ago should read the ‘Fairacre’ stories of ‘Miss Read’. She knew what she was talking about.

      • Manfarang

        I seem to remember many teacher training colleges were closed down.I also remember a member of the teaching profession saying how many of the university graduates working in schools couldn’t teach.
        Still where there is an edcation system mired in rigid conservatism there isn’t much education going on.

        • The Explorer

          One hears the saying , “Keep politics out of education.”
          Yet an education system can be organised to ensure that the existing social order is perpetuated. An education system can also be designed to ensure that the existing social order is NOT perpetuated. It can try to ensure that everyone learns to read; or try to ensure that NOT everyone learns to read.
          An education system mired in rigid conservatism IS providing education: but an education that reflects a particular political viewpoint.

          • Manfarang

            It may reflect a particular political viewpoint but not one that imparts skills in Maths,Science and Languages.

          • The Explorer

            The American education system used to do that, but then moved from a knowledge-based system to an attitudes-based one. As Alan Bloom put it in ‘The Closing of the American Mind’, it is a system that produces the world’s most sensitive illiterates.
            Britain has followed suit, which is why it and the USA are steadily sliding down the international league tables while China goes from strength to strength.

          • Manfarang

            If education in China is so good then why do thousands go overseas to study at foreign universities including those in America?

          • The Explorer

            Being cynical, to pinch ideas that China can copy. Easier than thinking them up for yourself.
            Or the actuarial principle: what is true about the mass need not be true about the individual component.
            Take it up with the international league tables for education, where China came top for mathematics at secondary level, and USA was nineteenth..

          • Manfarang

            Shanghai China.

          • The Explorer

            Fair enough. I know that when Michelle Obama visited China to advise the Chinese (not at their request) about education, she was given certain statistics in retaliation.
            China may be in the ascendant while the USA is in decline, but neither process is complete. There will inevitable overlap in the interim. There are still areas of excellence – even world-class excellence – in Britain, although the overall picture may be grim.
            But we have become far more specific than I intended to be. I was simply making the point that people can say ‘education’ and mean completely different things.
            PS: A big question. Will all China one day be like Shanghai China? If so, there’s quite a way to go.

    • Coniston

      Strangely enough the NAS (before it became the NASUWT) was always considered a ‘right wing’ union, keen of discipline. Where did it all go wrong?

  • Manfarang

    The reality is the financial crisis of 2008 will take years to recover from.Teachers seem to fail to grasp that their salaries have to be funded.In fact spending cuts are going to be made after the election. No foreign country will endless lend to the UK.The cold global winds of competition are blowing. Maybe some of the teachers can head abroad and work at an International school then they will get an education.

    • The Explorer

      Hi Manfarang,
      Wondered where you’d got to. Good to see you posting.

  • Linus

    Any form of politics that gives an active role to the Church and lets it define and direct political debate will be opposed by more people than support it. If the shadow of a theocratic past teaches us anything, it’s that when priests make policy, freedom dies and the cold hand of totalitarianism descends on a society.

    Religion and politics are incompatible because religion is based on dogmatic belief, whereas politics is all about realism and compromise. Sure, some polticians can be as dogmatic as any priest, but their dogmas never last. Look at Thatcher and her idealized vision of the past and what it became. Realism overwhelmed dogma in a very short space of time. It always does.

    • William Lewis

      That’s quite a dogmatic comment, Linus. I wonder how real it is.

      • Linus

        It’s a comment based on observation. The entire history of politics as we know it is the triumph of reality over dogma. Our methods of governing ourselves shift and vary over time in response to ways in which dogma accommodates itself to competing dogma and the reality of the world around us. The result is compromise. Dogma never completely carries the day, or if it does, it only does so for a short space of time until it’s forced into compromise by the world around it.

        Say the bishops succeed in imposing their Christian vision of things on the way you’re governed. How long do you think it will be before competing religions and secularism force them into compromises and deals that make a nonsense of their dogma, but reflect the reality of a diverse society where their beliefs are not shared by all – and far from it?

        The only way governments have been able to govern according to their dogmas in the past has been to impose totalitarian rule and suppress other dogmas by main force. And even then they can only keep it up for a short time. The Nazis didn’t even last 15 years. How long would a Christian dictatorship have?

        Christian ideas of good governance are just one more set of dogmas that have to compete in a varied and diverse world. You will never rally everyone to your cause because your cause does not provide for everyone. So you will always be opposed and forced into compromise as a result.

        Christian visions of utopia are no more achievable than any other.

        • The Explorer

          Politics: the triumph of dogma over reality. You have wonderful aphorisms, but you do get them the wrong way round from time to time.. Fortunately, we’re at hand to correct you.

          • Linus

            Ah, the famous short-sightedness of the British. Something to do with your foggy climate, perhaps. You can only see clearly what’s right in front of your nose.

            The wish to see dogma triumph over reality drives the desire to be in politics and that’s what you see when you look at politicians. But what happens to their dogma once it faces reality? Politics is the process whereby dogma meets reality and is ripped to shreds by it.

          • The Explorer

            1. Politics is the process whereby dogma meets reality, and the taxpayer funds the result.
            2. Politics is the process whereby dogma meets reality and (if its Marxist politics) a hundred million people die.

          • The Explorer

            Wow, are you seriously maintaining that allowing Greece into the Eurozone was driven by sound economics rather than political dogma?

          • Linus

            Certainly not, it was political dogma that saw Greece take on the euro. Reality is now intervening.

          • The Explorer

            You’re right, there was a word missing from the original aphorism. I’ll amend it, and add a second.
            1. Politics: the temporary triumph of dogma over reality.
            2. Politics: the recurring war between dogma and reality.

          • Linus

            1. Politics: the illusion that dogma can triumph over reality.
            2. Politics: the continuing defeat of dogma by reality.

          • The Explorer

            You’re being very dogmatic about this, Linus. You aren’t a politician, are you?

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            1. Politics: promising all things to all men and delivering nothing
            2: Politics: the art of smoke and mirrors

          • The Explorer

            Utopian politics: the unspeakable in full pursuit of the unattainable.

          • CliveM

            Nothing wrong with being Utopian, provided you’re realistic about it.

          • The Explorer

            Realism about Utopia means realising its unattainability.
            When theorists think they can make Utopia a reality, lots of people die. The Twentieth Century is littered with the dismal evidence.
            Nothing wrong, I agree, with wanting to make the world a better place.

          • CliveM

            Explorer

            I was being tongue in cheek!

          • The Explorer

            Apologies. I’ve been taken to task so many times by those who took me seriously that I think we should have an FE symbol when we’re using irony.

          • CliveM

            :0)

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Fog in the Channel – Continent cut off…works for me every time dear Linus

          • sarky

            That plus a few tonnes of wet cement in the chunnel!

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I like the cut of your gib, dear Sarky…

          • Linus

            What did I say about short-sightedness?

          • The Explorer

            Don’t know. Couldn’t read it. Too much fog.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            You know you are quite fond of me…

        • William Lewis

          Definitions of reality and dogma are two sides of the same coin, Linus. Which is which depends on who’s doing the flicking.

          • The Explorer

            Linus makes some very good points. That’s when the British bit of him is in control. But then the French part of him takes over, and it all goes doolally.
            The French, of course, would say it’s the other way round. It depends on which nationality is flicking the coin.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Yes, I agree, but he hasn’t really understood the Anglican temperament or history…there are soupcons on Ultramontane horror in his make up from the French side

          • The Explorer

            Do you think a year in Barchester might provide a cure?

    • Anton

      You have a distorted understanding of what the church really is, but that is understandable given Europe’s history. Even many Christians misunderstand it and they should have read the Bible. (To Jack: that is not a specific dig at Rome but at all political Christianity whether Roman Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican. Politics is about law, Christianity is about grace.)

      But your secular humanism is a faith system too, Linus, in that it rests on axioms it considers unchallengeable; it is simply a nontheistic faith system. And it has a horribly bloody track record in communism.

      • Linus

        Your lack of understanding of the secular position shows the degree to which religion pollutes and distorts your thought processes.

        “Faith” is nothing more than unsupported belief. I believe in nothing for which there is no supporting evidence. Even then my confidence in that belief varies greatly according to the quality of the evidence. And if new evidence is presented that contradicts previous evidence or, as is more likely, changes the way we understand that evidence, then I will modify my belief in consequence.

        My beliefs evolve in line with my knowledge. They are not fixed, unvarying and totally unsupported by fact like a religionist’s. What I believe now, I may not believe tomorrow. But only if good evidence leads me to believe I was wrong.

        That’s the basic difference between the secular and religious mind. Religionists believe in absolutes but require nothing but their own opnion as evidence. Secularists don’t find themselves quite so convincing.

        • Anton

          Actually I am an adult convert to Christ from a hardline secular materialist viewpoint. But even then I thought that secular humanism with its optimism about human nature – that correct social engineering and education would at last put everything right – was bullshit. (Today I know the origin of human darkness.) Secular humanism has its axioms alright; and, whether you agree with all of them or some of them or few of them, you still have a faith system – by which I mean things you believe and live by that you cannot derive from any axioms more fundamental. That is unavoidable, for if you could derive your axioms from others still more fundamental then those latter axioms would be your faith; and so on.

          • dannybhoy

            But even then I thought that secular humanism with its optimism about human nature – that correct social engineering and education would at last put everything right – was bullshit.”

            Lol!

            “Secular humanism has its axioms alright; and, whether you agree with all of them or some of them or few of them, you still have a faith system -by which I mean things you believe and live by that you cannot derive from any axioms more fundamental.”
            Exactly, because if you start with the premise that there is no meaning to life, that we are a cosmic accident; then everything is by faith because without an intelligent first cause, the underlying reality must be that it doesn’t matter what you believe, it’s all meaningless anyway…

            So go on then Anton, please share a little of your conversion experience if you will. I love hearing how people came to faith in Christ.

          • DanJ0

            “the underlying reality must be that it doesn’t matter what you believe, it’s all meaningless anyway…”

            It’s all meaningless in the cosmic sense. However, my life has considerable meaning to me. No doubt that’s true for just about everyone too. You’re equivocating, it seems to me.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s true,
            I do ‘quiv’ sometimes..
            And yes, of course your life has meaning to you, but once you start thinking about what that meaning is based upon, then it becomes more relevant.

            “The best way to refute an atheist is to quote a more consistent atheist.
            Modern atheists get angry and some even feel justified in ridiculing
            Christians when we recall Dostoevsky’s refrain (paraphrased), “If God
            does not exist, all things are permissible.” The ridicule comes with
            pointing out that Dostoevsky didn’t actually write this exact line,
            although a character in The Brothers Karamazov does get close
            to the sentiment. “You idiots are so ignorant: Dostoevsky never said
            that!” Of course, the protest only skirts the real point of the saying.
            Whether Dostoevsky said it or not, who cares? The issue is the
            impossibility of justifying moral laws in a godless universe.”

            http://store.americanvision.org/blogs/the-american-vision/9878488-the-rape-of-morality

            In other words you may value your life and those you love, but as an atheist you can offer no philosophical explanation as to why.

          • DanJ0

            “In other words you may value your life and those you love, but as an atheist you can offer no philosophical explanation as to why.”

            Why does that matter?

          • dannybhoy

            Well DanJ0
            If you read that web link article it shows that reality and value systems can be whatever we want them to be. Which meamn that in the absence of a Moral Absolute then the strongest and most ruthless person can decide,
            Thus that millions that have been murdered in the name of State Communism in both Soviet Russia and China and Cambodia and of course Nazi Germany has no meaning.
            They were murdered for the good of the people.
            And if we say it was wrong, why was it wrong? On what basis do we argue that it is wrong?
            After all if a man or a woman are simply ‘matter in motion’ and if as atheists would assert emotions are merely chemical reactions, they have no real value.
            As some philosophers have argued, if there is no God then anything goes..
            As a Christian that’s why I think it matters.

          • DanJ0

            But you can’t demonstrate that your morality exists. You’re merely asserting moral absolutism, and you have competition there too. Who’s to say that the moral absolutism Muslims assert isn’t true instead? What are you going to do, arm-wrestle over it between yourselves?

          • dannybhoy

            DanJ0
            This is old ground.
            Our morality is based on the evidence of the Scriptures, the moral code given to the Jews but applicable to all men, the promise of of a Saviour who is both God and man, the testimony of the disciples and the New Testament, the growth of Christianity, the results of Bible based Christianity, the effects on society and individuals.
            That is the basis, the foundation for our faith our values and our actions. That you don’t accept them will be something for to explain to your Maker one day. You may say it won’t happen; but that is an act of faith on your part isn’t it?
            The real issue as I have also said before, is what you will say when God the Father asks you why you didn’t take His offer of salvation and redemption seriously…

          • DanJ0

            Your maker may be Allah for all you and I know. You’re merely asserting yours because you don’t have any firm ground to stand on yourself. Moreover, you’re using your religion as some sort of threat but it doesn’t make the trip when your target is a-theist. If you’re wrong as I think is almost certain given the scale of the universe and the human-centric nature of your bronze-age beliefs then you’ll have wasted your life following a load of religious bollocks unnecessarily. Just be a good person, I find that has its own rewards.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I see you as a good person, a very good person, so I think you are more than capable of using good judgement. OK you do not see much of value in Christianity, and in truth Christians have not been kind to those who deviate…but do not think Islam has value, or is in any way comparable

          • DanJ0

            But that is an essential point. We’re using criteria outside of religion to judge the value of religion. You’re appealing to my a-theistic values, which tends to be shared ones for the most part, to see Islam as immoral, or wrongly moral, and to see Christianity as better. Yet moral absolutism doesn’t give a stuff about that. A version of it is either true or not true. If the moral absolutism of Islam is true because our reality belongs to Allah then we’re both morally wrong and destined for punishment no matter how good or right we feel we are.

          • The Explorer

            I don’t think we need to worry too much about the reality of Allah (the reality of the actions of his devotees is another matter) since Islam is so obviously derivative. One would do better to focus on the source from which Islam got its ideas in a blurred sort of way.
            (But a discussion for another time. The various conversations on this thread have become hopelessly intertwined.)

          • DanJ0

            Christianity is derived from Judaism too, something Jews don’t accept as valid either. Islam claims it is the final revelation. It also has a billion or more followers so one might argue that its derivation, in the negative sense you’re using, is not that obvious.

          • The Explorer

            I was thinking more of the garbled version of Christianity that Muhammad heard from reports about Syrian monks. Christ fulfils the criteria of ‘Deuteronomy’ 18:18 and ‘Isaiah’ 42 1-9: Muhammad doesn’t. The Holy Spirit fulfils the criteria of ‘John’ 14: 16-17. Muhammad doesn’t.
            Large numbers need prove nothing more than human gullibility; after all, there are 2 billion Christians.
            This is an important issue for discussion, but not as a sub-strand in a hopelessly-confused thread. Another time, when Islam is the main topic

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Dear DanJ0…if moral absolutism requires the decapitation of innocent people, the burning of prisoners in cages and the expulsion of gay people from high buildings, then you know it is wrong in every possible conceivable way. Do not allow moral relativism wipe out your true sense of decency and morality.

          • DanJ0

            I have a sense of decency and morality, some of which I daresay is based in human nature hence is not moral relativism in its formal sense. But of what use is my sense of decency and morality if Allah is the creator and sustainer of our reality? I’d be merely misguided over true morality, as would be everyone else here. By what are you truly able to judge whether Sharia is the way we all should be living or not? If Allah owns our very souls now and after we die then surely it is sovereign and calls the shots?

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Because I’m British, dear boy…quite simple really

          • William Lewis

            How can the “me” that attributes its entire existence, and the existence of everything else, to a meaningless universe then bootstrap meaning from within this meaninglessness? It cannot it seems, unless … you wouldn’t happen to be a (minor) deity by any chance? Perhaps self deification is the answer to this conundrum. 🙂

          • DanJ0

            I honestly don’t know why some religionists simply don’t get something so simple as that. It’s like religion replaces one’s common sense or something. I’m not wandering around without any subjective meaning to my experiences, in some sort of a-theist bewilderment, you know. If you think life is essentially empty because an Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, Krishna, or whatever, doesn’t provide some sort of yardstick for why you exist then you probably need to get out more. Travel. Meet people. Experience stuff. See the world. Live in the moment. It really doesn’t matter much at all when you’re mindful.

          • Inspector General

            “Live in the moment” fully explains you DanJ0. For a man with two degrees, your shallowness is astonishing, but then again, so very modern English, one finds…

          • Danjo’s into ‘mindfulness’, Inspector.

            Mindfulness is a meditation practice based on Buddhism. It is used in psychology for mental health problems – obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety, depression, drug addiction, sex addition, all sorts.

            It’s b*llocks, of course. [That was Jack’s considered professional opinion when asked about it.] But if it has a placebo effect, best leave him to it.

          • DanJ0

            You ought to live in the moment more, Inspector. It’s not actually shallow at all. You could even wean yourself off your alcoholic crutch over time.

          • Inspector General

            On a walk, once came upon a dog on the edge of a lane, lying there apparently breathing. It was dead, the victim of an RTA probably. And the breathing, that was the fly activity. There were so many blue bottles around, it gave that mirage. That is the cycle of life. But of course, run away and hide if you must….

          • Anton

            My karma has run over my dogma.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            He probably needs Three Degrees, but then I think Diana Ross would be wasting a lot of time and effort…

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            May I respectfully point out, dear DanJ0 (and you know I love you to bits) that faith in the Almighty built Rheims, Notre Dame, Durham, York Minster, the Sainte Chapelle, the Duomo in Florence and so many many more wonderful places. When we do get out more, these are the very places we visit.

          • William Lewis

            Of course you are mindful and able to fill your life with subjective experiences but whatever the quantity or quality of those experiences, there is no mechanism by which to ascribe meaning to them, given your view of their and your provenance.

          • DanJ0

            Yet contrary to what you’ve asserted, I find lots of meaning as I go about my life. Just not universal meaning, as I’ve been saying. If you need the human concept of a theistic god to get through your day then I’d say you’re sadly rather handicapped.

          • dannybhoy

            And you are even more seriously handicapped DanJ0 in that you continue to dialogue with us poor wretches… 🙂

          • DanJ0

            Perhaps I’m trying to help you to free yourselves. I’m a nice person like that, I hate to see people being gullible.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s a very nice sentiment DanJ0 but to my mind somewhat disingenuous.
            What I and others here have addressed is your question
            “Why does that matter?”
            We have provided a reasoned response as to why it does which you have rejected by deflection!
            As for your earlier response to Wiliam Lewis advising him and us to ‘get out more’, do ypou accept that it might just be possible that some of us have done all of those things and find that what we have in Christ Jesus is far more satisfying?

          • DanJ0

            I asked why it mattered in response to this of yours:

            “In other words you may value your life and those you love, but as an atheist you can offer no philosophical explanation as to why.”

            Whether having a philosophical explanation that suits you personally is neither here nor there as far as that is concerned. In reality, I asked why my not having a philosophical explanation [1] to offer others ought to matter to me.

            Similarly with my response to William, my suggestion he probably needs to get out more is conditional on his thinking that life is empty for others without their having one of the theistic yardsticks to give universal meaning. Lots of us who don’t get by quite meaningfully and happily.

            [1] Presumably you mean one which I claim some sort of certainty over.

          • William Lewis

            I cannot see where you would find this meaning because ultimately, according to you, it does not exist, other than in your mind. It is a delusion.

          • DanJ0

            A delusion? I’m a self-aware being with rational and emotional aspects of my mind. I give my own experiences meaning.

          • William Lewis

            It would seem then that the self-assignment of meaning to your experiences, when you affirm that they are ultimately meaningless, is a function of the emotional, rather than the rational, aspect of your mind.

          • DanJ0

            They’re ultimately meaningless in the universal or cosmic sense. You’re equivocating now despite my pointing it out that I recognise it elsewhere,

          • William Lewis

            I don’t think I am equivocating but I suspect this has run its course.

        • ‘My beliefs evolve in line with my knowledge.’

          More correctly, your beliefs change in line with your prejudices.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Ah…you are a Trimmer

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            so is my hairdresser…are you a coiffuriste by any chance?

        • Anton

          You speak of blind faith and honest doubt. I think the truth is the opposite: blind doubt and honest faith.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Was Nazism about realism and compromise…or wasn’t that real politics?

      • Linus

        Nazism didn’t last. Dogmatic régimes never do.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Socialism has…

          • Linus

            There are few régimes as flexible as socialism. Every pressure group, every minority can and does influence policy. Even Christians have their voice, especially in the UK. You have bishops in your House of Lords, don’t you? Your queen is a Christian, isn’t she? Even your prime minister talks openly about his faith and attends “prayer breakfasts”, whatever they may be – paternosters with his Froot Loops, perhaps?

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Mmmm flexible socialism…one thinks of North Korea, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Communist Poland, Genocidal Cambodia, Bolshevik Russia… yes indeed I do see the flexibility…pity the dead don’t

          • The Explorer

            I’ll bet Mr Slope likes a flexible socialist.

          • Linus

            Read what I’ve been writing, Madame. Dogmatic régimes don’t last. North Korea is still hanging in there by the skin of its teeth, but its days are clearly numbered.

            Western socialism is not dogmatic. It’s highly flexible and adaptable.

  • Uncle Brian

    Gillan, you quote at length the bishops’ favourable comments about the Attlee and Thatcher administrations, but you overlook their explicit rejection of both as irrelevant to the country’s present-day needs:

    35. We are now as distant in time from Margaret Thatcher’s first government as hers
    was from Attlee’s. Both administrations changed the way people looked at society, politics, the role of government and the nature of human relationships. But today, neither vision addresses our condition.

    • The letter does not reject them outright, more that they are no longer relevant to the current situation. This is why new vision and thinking is constantly needed. Society continues to change and politics must adapt accordingly.

      • carl jacobs

        Gillan

        Saying that you need a new vision is not a new vision. Saying that you need new thinking is not a new vision. Saying that you must change and adapt is not a new vision. But this is as far as the bishops are willing to go. They talk about returning to the fundamentals of society, but they refuse to specify the content of those fundamentals. What good then is this document?

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Am not keen on returning to fundamentals…very messy

      • Uncle Brian

        My point exactly, Gillan. The bishops reject them both as irrelevant to the country’s present-day needs.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Gillan’s very handsome….

        • Inspector General

          Needs someone to make a man of him, dear thing {Ahem}

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Well dear Inspector, after years of being a bishop’s wife I have to declare I am bored solid by the missionary, so I hope the handsome Gillan is able to offer another position….church secretary perhaps?

          • Inspector General

            Beware of what you wish for, dear lady {Ahem}

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Oh I wish for all sorts of things… most of all that Trollope was a bit more racy…

          • The Explorer

            You could always reincarnate yourself as Fanny Hill.

          • Bored of the missionary position, dear woman? The Inspector found it a trial too amongst the natives on PN.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            ‘…dear woman’? what happened to ‘dear lady’? Never thought manners would slip with you, Happy Jack.

      • Old Blowers

        So really what the bishops are saying (reading between the lines) is that we need a new way of saying the same thing as if it were something completely new that no one had thought of before??? Oh the fickleness and stupidity of human nature!!!

        I think I am just getting too old for this old cobblers of trying to find a way of getting simple points across to a public, that is largely illiterate and finds it hard to consider something and grasp the underlying problems without it being reduced to lazy, moronic one liners force fed to them..perhaps the Churches finally trying to get the point across in a ‘new way’ that Jesus died for humanity’s sins and salvation is only found in HIM..If you died on the 8th May 2015 it wouldn’t matter a jot what way you voted yesterday but considering Christ matters and is all that eternally ever matters.

        Now wouldn’t that be a flipp’n novel approach to having a new vision and christian thinking, Your Graces!!.

        E S ‘Bloody Cheesed Off’ Blofeld

        • Inspector General

          Blowers for AoC, what!

          • Old Blowers

            Am too acerbic and old to be AoC but this may not be a problem but a wonderful opportunity should a new pope be required!!!
            *cachinno**

          • carl jacobs

            Pope Blofeld I.

            I can just imagine the first hundred days. You could speak infallibly to correct the errors of Rome, and then infallibly declare infallibility a ceased gift.

            Trent? GONE!
            Marian Dogmas? GONE!
            Sacramentalism? GONE!
            Everything else Protestants don’t like about Rome? GONE!

            I do hereby declare pronounce, define and proclaim that the RCC is now Protestant.

            Jack’s head would explode.

          • Old Blowers

            As if Man Utd problems weren’t enough for the poor chap to struggle with, old Blowers as Pope would surely finish that lad off..The ‘Happy’ moniker would be gone for DEF!

          • carl jacobs

            We could call him “The Jack formerly known as Happy”

          • The Explorer

            Linus has another way of describing him.

          • Old Blowers

            Does Linus’ opinion really matter? *sniggers*

          • The Explorer

            I wasn’t suggesting it was an opinion to be acted on.

          • Old Blowers

            I KNOW *ironic cackles*

          • Old Blowers

            *guffaws*

          • Bar – cel – on – a …………

            There are always sources of joy and rejoicing in this life.

          • Man U will win the FA Cup and finish above Manchester City in the Premiership. Happy Jack has confidence.

          • The Explorer

            Pope Blofeld 1 and last. He would abolish the papacy.

          • Hell’s Gates would have prevailed and this we know is impossible.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Only two of the are Graces, the rest are ‘My Lords’

          • Old Blowers

            OOoooooh Hark at ye!!!
            Shall I comment that in your haste, my dear, you forgot to assign who the ‘the’ are??
            *giggles*

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Well of course it should read ‘them’ dear Old Blowers…it is this wretched machine which sometimes does not print the letter as punched…

  • carl jacobs

    The bishops remind me of a CEO who stands before his company and says “We need to energize our core competencies to maximize customer benefit.” It says something, but it doesn’t mean anything. Or rather – the meaning is left as an exercise for the reader.

    And that is the problem.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      oh…you were in the congregation at Barchester Cathedral last Candlemas when my Lord the Bishop gave his sermon, then?

    • Jack can imagine you saying something similar to Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, Carl. The Beatitudes are a vision without detail prescriptions. Many of Our Lord’s parables were intended to initially move hearts and not minds and they concern private and public behaviour.

      The bishops are attempting to ‘sell’ a fundamentally contradictory ‘product’. If this wasn’t so, they might have more satisfied ‘customers’. They have separated Christian morality in one’s private, more intimate life from the morality in the public affairs. That’s why it doesn’t ‘work’. Having endorsed, tacitly and explicitly, core teachings about relationships between men and women, (yes, sexual relationships, contraception, abortion and homosexuality) they have no credible, authentic teaching when it comes to social and economic teachings.

      The Church at this time can only sell a vision and invite Christians to engage in realizing it. As Jack posted above from Catholic Social Teaching:

      “The common good, in other words, is not simply what people happen to want, but what would be authentically good for people, the social conditions that enable human flourishing …………..

      However, the common good, as important as it is, is not the greatest good. The ultimate fulfillment of every human person can be found only in God, but the common good helps groups and individuals to reach this ultimate good. So, if social conditions are such that people are inhibited or deterred from being able to love God and neighbor, then the common good has not been realized.”

  • Mike Stallard

    Our village Anglican church has all but closed. The result is that nobody knows anyone any more. The Church School is still there – for parents NOT for the general public! (CRB). So how do you organise a jumble sale? How do you get a group together to have a beetle drive or quiz? Ans= You don’t.
    Our Catholic Church (to which I belong) has gradually lost the good Christian folk who started off the centre for immigrants. Now it is run almost exclusively by Eastern Europeans and they run it, of course, as they know how – a communist bureaucracy which does not care and which is cold and hard and cruel. Very slowly, the Christian charity which started the place off is sort of being driven out. I am reminded of a refrigerator door left open in a warm room…
    That is the reality where I live. Waffle on Bishops – love the headgear!

  • Shadrach Fire

    Good piece Gillan.
    Teachers have always seen their deal as a bit raw. I can understand that particularly when you consider that before any bank crash, there has to be some massive take by a few. (If many lose money, where does it go?)
    In previous decades we have had leaders who have had a moral vision. That has long gone in politics but not with the people, They have just not had the choice. Will it be that way in May? I pray not but at the present there is no choice between any of them to provide anything but a secularist downgrading of morals in society.
    It is no wonder that the Bishops were told to put there house in order. But what can the ‘Church’ do with a society that has turned it’s back on Jehovah and found new gods that fit with their own imagination as created by the market place of politics.

  • Dominic Stockford

    “This is vacuous politics at its very worst. It has nothing to do with a left/right/Conservative/Labour battle of ideas, because there are no ideas offered at all. It offers no hope, no vision, no better future. All it stirs up is disillusion and blame.”

    In Christ alone my hope is found…

  • Inspector General

    The Inspector logged onto the NUSAWT site. There splashed everywhere was ‘Free Mahdi Abu Dheeb. Imprisoned for protecting teachers rights’

    Onto Wiki, to see what he’s about. And here it is….

    He’s the founder and leader of Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA), and Assistant Secretary-General of Arab Teachers’ Union. He was involved in the disastrous (…for non muslims…) Arab Spring uprising, in Bahrain. The business of destabilising the Middle East by allowing Islam to triumph in countries on the back of so called democracy. He is himself Islamic, no surprise there then. The authorities knocked him about a bit, and now he rots in a Bahraini jail on a 5 hear sentence. Probably the best place for him. So no, he was not imprisoned for protecting teachers rights, unless they be rabidly Islamic teachers…

    It’s a cruel world out there, but as we’ve found with arab types, a little bit of cruelty goes a long way when it comes to keeping the wretches in order. That is the price that MUST be paid. Sure you’ll agree Scott, and will be writing to NUSAWT to point this out. Won’t you?

    By the way, being a member of so many of these unions these days is rather like being a card carrying member of the Communist Party, yes?

    • Inspector General

      From Amnesty international…Reminds a fellow of the saying ‘he got what he deserved’. He’s damn fortunate it was only 5 years. Before he appealed it, they’d given him 10.
      ———————————–
      Mahdi: imprisoned for calling for a strike

      Mahdi Abu Dheeb is a prisoner of conscience in Bahrain. He’s a teacher and former president of a teaching union. In 2011, amid widespread unrest and calls for governmental reform in Bahrain, Madhi and his colleague called on members of their union to strike in support with those protesting for reform.

      As a result of calling for a strike, Mahdi was charged with

      · Halting the educational process

      · Inciting hatred of the regime

      · Attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force

      · Possessing pamphlets

      · Disseminating fabricated stories and information.

      ————————————–

      • Manfarang

        The natives are getting restless.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          So am I…it is this new bustle…methinks I shall return to the crinoline

          • Inspector General

            Mrs Proudie, You might want to consider ‘going commando’ as Judith Chalmers did. Wonderful ratings, it got her….

          • sarky

            Ooh not when I’ve just eaten! !! ( that’s judith chalmers not mrs proudie)

          • Inspector General

            A fine full breasted woman. Both…

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Ah my lovely boys…well here in Barset we don’t have commandos (yet) but there are fusiliers…so I could do that. We really should have a Cranmer’s chums get together soon…what fun it would be!

        • Inspector General

          Ah, it’s you Manfarang. One was beginning to think you were left behind after His Grace’s modernising. Anyway, if the natives are getting restless, crush them. That’s because they aren’t getting any better, and they aren’t getting any better because they’re muslims. (No offence, old chap)

          • Manfarang

            Bahrain is quite a developed place and some of the locals have a lot more money than you.

          • Inspector General

            But the Christians are safe. Thanks to what is considered human in that area being on a tight choke lead…

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Is that the Mad Mahdi? I do believe Lord Kitchener sorted him out with a touch of cold steel. They don’t like it up ’em…

        • The Explorer

          Isn’t Shiite Islam waiting for the Mahdi? Or is it the Twelfth Imam? Or are they one and the same thing? I get very confused.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Yes it is certainly Shiite

          • Pubcrawler

            But the outlook is Sunni

    • CliveM

      Inspector

      My wife is a teacher. In many ways, due to children’s and parents behaviour towards teachers, you have to be a member of a Union. It’s the only way you get affordable access to legal council and insurance. Otherwise when the false accusations start flying ( and my wife has been subject to two) you are left to stand alone and fund yourself. The employer doesn’t help.

      It’s a brutal reality in modern teaching.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        so very true

      • Inspector General

        Clive, one was also a union member at one stage and for some years. If one got knocked off his motorcycle to or from work, legal assistance would be forthcoming. Just about paid for the subs, one recalls…

  • DanJ0

    As ever, what exactly is this ‘common good’ notion that gets thrown about but seems to mean different things to different people.

    • “The common good, in other words, is not simply what people happen to want, but what would be authentically good for people, the social conditions that enable human flourishing …………..

      However, the common good, as important as it is, is not the greatest good. The ultimate fulfillment of every human person can be found only in God, but the common good helps groups and individuals to reach this ultimate good. So, if social conditions are such that people are inhibited or deterred from being able to love God and neighbor, then the common good has not been realized.”

      http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/seven-principles-of-catholic-social-teaching

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Goodness! You used to be such fun…

        • The Explorer

          Remind him about Hapi!

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      ‘The Common Good’…a phrase oft repeated in ‘Hot Fuzz’ I do believe…

      • Old Blowers

        YARP!!

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Ah dear Old Blowers, YARP indeed…

      • The Explorer

        Hot fuzz? My dear Mrs Proudie, please keep it decent!

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Before we castigate teachers too harshly, let us consider who determines the curriculum and who inspects schools to make sure the prevailing orthodoxies are in place. Teachers do as they are told, by their head teachers, their boards of governors, their local authorities, by national government and are checked for political correctness by OFSTED. Teacher Training Colleges are indeed staffed by ‘progressive’ types (dread word…progressive) but know how the land lies out in the classroom jungle and prepare/brainwash their students accordingly. Is it teachers that decide on equality awareness, sex education for 3 year olds, multi-culti cross-curricular workshops-cum-learning journeys or is it THEM, the powers that be? Teachers are the little guys in this – look towards the politicos and ask what their agenda truly is.

    • CliveM

      Very true and very wise.

  • Phil R

    I am assuming Gillan that you are a member of the NASUWT.

    Hence the mag.

    You don’t like the policies you say. Or the tone of the mag, I am not sure which

    So presumably it would not be unreasonable to be more involved in this union of yours and try to input the Christian values you say are missing.

    • I am indeed a member and like most of my colleagues it’s down to legal protections rather than any desire to be part of the trade union movement. The tone of their material is consistently anti-government often without addressing policies directly. It is very shallow and reactionary.
      If I had time and a lot of patience I might take on that monumental challenge and do as you say, but there’s only so much one person can do at a time. Perhaps a future direction…

      • Phil R

        I hope you do

        How do we justify writing what you wrote. When we do not engage ourselves

        perhaps you should engage. It would show you care at least and like Jonah you might find that God has a surprise for you

      • Shadrach Fire

        Minister of religious affairs! Replace Pickles.

  • Doctor Crackles

    The Bishops focus on externals instead of internals. Gillan you believe that the right policies will do good, but it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him. Welby moves too quickly from the first commandment. Yet, if we as a nation feared the Lord and spent time in his presence then right actions would come. It would be impossible for them not to. Righteousness exalteth a nation. Welby should be our priest leading us into the presence of God.

    You’d rather Christian behaviours. I say these flow from the heart of Christ in a man.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      I don’t allow my Lord the Bishop too much time focusing on my internals, let me tell you!

    • dannybhoy

      Well said that man.

    • Shadrach Fire

      Amen and Amen.

  • Uncle Brian

    The Catholic bishops have now issued their own letter to voters. It’s comparatively short and snappy, but despite the shortage of space it manages to include several interesting points that escaped the attention of the Anglican bishops:

    The unborn child is vulnerable and defenceless and, tragically, in our society often the innocent victim of abortion. We oppose calls to introduce assisted suicide or euthanasia. …

    The Christian understanding of marriage, founded on a loving and faithful relationship between a man and a woman, is the basic building block of society. …

    Immigration is a highly emotive issue and every country needs a policy to control immigration, as well as a positive commitment to policies that facilitate the integration of migrants into the mainstream of society. …

    Where do your candidates stand on these issues of religious freedom, mutual respect and the role of faith in God in contemporary Britain, and in defending fundamental human rights and promoting religious freedom overseas? …

    Link:

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/02/24/full-text-england-and-welsh-bishops-general-election-advice/

    • A most rousing introduction encapsulating Catholic Social Teaching about the elusive ‘common good’.

      “The Gospel is radical and challenging. It is the saving message of Jesus Christ. It is a way of life. It teaches us to value each person: the vulnerable child inside the womb; the parent struggling with the pressures of family life; the person striving to combat poverty; the teacher inspiring students to seek the truth; the stranger fleeing violence and persecution in their homeland; the prisoner in his cell in search of redemption; the child in a distant land claiming the right to a future; and the frail elderly person needing care and facing the frontier of death.

      As Catholics, we are called to work for a world shaped by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel proclaims the mercy of God and invites us steadfastly to love God and our neighbour. Our relationship with God leads to the desire to build a world in which respect, dignity, equality, justice, and peace are our primary concerns.”

      Now we’ll await Carl to ask – “what does it actually mean?”

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        I’m not a fan of equality, unless it means ‘Equality before the law’ …otherwise it is a horrid Leveller concept which Lefties glory in…

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      But they don’t come out and say we oppose abortion, do they?

      • Terry Mushroom

        Mrs P

        Not sure whom you mean by “we” as the Roman Catholic Church is very much opposed to abortion. “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable..(Catholic Catechism para 2271) Formal co-operation in an abortion constitutes a grave offence… (2272)

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          I think I meant the Anglican bishops, dear Terry…I know the RC bishops are opposed.

      • Shadrach Fire

        Six days and counting.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          To your birthday?

  • Which is easier: to love your neighbour or to demand that the Government should love your neighbour?

  • The Explorer

    This is a really fun thread. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered one with so many different simultaneous conversations.

    New visitors, be warned.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      We are a diverse congregation…

      • Linus

        Careful with the ‘d’ word. Some contributors here might have a fit of the vapours…

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Oh I like you more and more…you are a tease Monsieur

          • The Explorer

            He’s fun, isn’t he?