Latest posts on Christian Aid

Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog

Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid

Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reorganisation time

I've been bothered for some time about the mismatch between this blog's title and url on the one hand, and the contents of most of my recent posting on the other. That's why (as the politicians say) I've decided to create a new blog for all posts not strictly related to this one's original theme. It'll be at

"Christian Hate?" was about taking the charity Christian Aid to task for indirectly promoting hatred of Jews through its demonisation of Israel. Regular readers will hopefully appreciate that it's not about encouraging Christians to hate Muslims, the Guardian or even the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, a casual visitor might, on seeing the title, get the wrong end of the stick and jump to the conclusion that I'm Anders Behring Breivik's sock puppet. On the Web first impressions are everything.

I blog about what I feel strongly about and of late that hasn't included Christian Aid, not least because becoming a Catholic has meant that I no longer have any corporate connection with it. I'm proud of what I've written about Christian Aid, I stand by nearly all of it, and I'm not saying I'll never re-enter the fray in the future. With that in mind, rather than change this blog's title I'm taking my other wares elsewhere.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bishops and the riots

I can't make up my mind. What has been the most helpful reaction to this week's events from the Church of England?

On the one hand, there's this from the Archbishop of Canterbury:-

(hat tip: Damian Thompson)

On the other hand there's this from the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, who is not merely Bishop of Southwark but Bishop for Urban Life and Faith:-

"The images of violence and destruction on our screens do not represent the strong, hopeful and vibrant communities I know so well. I want to appeal to those responsible for the disturbances to stop.

"Today, as many in our Diocese count the cost of the disturbances, I am deeply saddened to see the images of destruction in familiar places. I will in the days ahead visit those communities that have been at the centre of trouble and I continue to promise my support for, and solidarity with, all who seek to build positive and constructive engagement.

"The Christian message is one of hope, love and peace and I know that the churches of Southwark Diocese stand ready to play their part in bringing healing and hope to the places they serve. I am asking them to offer special prayers for the healing and peace of our cities when they gather for worship this Sunday and week by week, remembering especially those who have been personally affected and have lost homes and livelihoods.

"Southwark Cathedral, along with many other churches in the Diocese, remains open as a place of prayer and reflection."

Much as he knows and loves those strong, hopeful and vibrant communities, they'll have to wait a day or two for that positive and constructive engagement, then...
This is an institution which, at its higher levels, can hardly be bothered any more to even pretend it is relevant. Dr Chessun, one assumes, is well aware that out on those vibrant streets right now "I'm your local bishop" means less than nothing. Rowan Williams occupies the highest post next to the Queen in the Established Church: it is a civic role, not just a spiritual one. He has at length spoken - on Day Five. Not to the nation, but to the House of Lords. As usual, he sounds as if he was delivering an academic paper.
I don't want to be scoring sectarian points here, and goodness knows there are some wishy washy Catholic bishops, but in this company Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, sounds like Jeremiah. I would have liked him to offer explicit support to the police. But, where most of the Bishop of Southwark's statement sounds as if he was reacting to a natural disaster, Archbishop Nichols speaks plainly of wrongdoing and its consequences, in language which stands some chance of touching the hearts of those in the thick of it - anxious parents, kids tempted to go along with their mates. His appeal for prayer is, of course, one that should be heeded.
If good can come out of this mess it will be through the application of some very tough love at all levels of society. There are many in the Church of England crying out for leadership. A country with good reasons for cynicism about the worlds of politics and media desperately needs a lead from its Established Church. But the Church's leadership is not fit for purpose.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Libya: Mr Grumpy in "over-optimism" shock

Back in March I wrote a post on Libya in which I suggested six possible outcomes of Western military intervention, five of which were likely to be worse than the outcome of leaving Gaddafi to get on with it. It was a pessimistic piece - but not pessimistic enough. I covered the scenario where the rebels are at each others' throats as soon as they have toppled Gaddafi, also the one where the rebellion helps Islamists into power, and also the danger of a prolonged stand-off between government and rebel forces. What I failed to suggest was that a blend of all three scenarios would see Islamist rebels begin disposing of their non-Islamist rivals long before there is any sign of Gaddafi deciding he has a plane to catch.

It's an absolute fiasco, rendered perfect by the fact that General Younes was murdered just two days after the UK recognised the rebels as the government of Libya. So was that the turncoat Gaddafist General Younes we thought we were recognising - doh! - or was it the doughty champions of freedom and democracy in the Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade? The truth is that we haven't a clue.

One consequence of this farce is very clear. We might send a plane or two to Syria once we're very sure we know who's going to win, but that will be it. We condemn, we sympathize, we pray, but we keep out. Call it humanitarian non-intervention. It will require us to have strong stomachs, but it's the way it has to be.

Or am I, even now, underestimating the obdurate sentimentality and vanity of the politicians who think it is their mission to jolly well make the rest of the world behave itself?