Hymn of the day

by Richard on January 24, 2016

Christ, from whom all blessings flow,
Perfecting the saints below,
Hear us, who Thy nature share,
Who Thy mystic body are.

Join us, in one spirit join,
Let us still receive of Thine;
Still for more on Thee we call,
Thou Who fillest all in all.

Move and actuate and guide,
Diverse gifts to each divide;
Placed according to Thy will,
Let us all our work fulfill.

Sweetly may we all agree,
Touched with loving sympathy,
Kindly for each other care;
Every member feel its share.

Never from Thy service move,
Needful to each other prove;
Use the grace on each bestowed,
Tempered by the art of God.

Many are we now, and one,
We who Jesus have put on;
There is neither bond nor free,
Male nor female, Lord, in Thee.

Love, like death, hath all destroyed,
Rendered all distinctions void;
Names and sects and parties fall;
Thou, O Christ, art all in all!

Charles Wesley

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Who is Christ

by Richard on January 21, 2016

Rowan Williams gives the second in a series of lectures. You’ll need to listen attentively, but your effort will be repaid.

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on January 17, 2016

Thou God of truth and love,
We seek thy perfect way,
Ready thy choice to approve,
Thy providence to obey:
Enter into thy wise design,
And sweetly lose our will in thine.

Why hast thou cast our lot
In the same age and place?
And why together brought
To see each other’s face?
To join with softest sympathy,
And mix our friendly souls in thee?

Didst thou not make us one,
That we might one remain,
Together travel on,
And bear each other’s pain;
Till all thy utmost goodness prove,
And rise renewed in perfect love?

Surely thou didst unite
Our kindred spirits here,
That all hereafter might
Before thy throne appear;
Meet at the marriage of the Lamb,
And all thy glorious love proclaim.

Then let us ever bear
The blessed end in view,
And join, with mutual care,
To fight our passage through;
And kindly help each other on,
Till all receive the starry crown.

O may thy Spirit seal
Our souls unto that day,
With all thy fulness fill,
And then transport away!
Away to our eternal rest,
Away to our Redeemer’s breast!

Charles Wesley

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Bedroom tax fears confirmed

by Richard on January 14, 2016

From the Joint Public Issues Team

Announced quietly, on the last day of Parliament in 2015, the findings from the Government-ordered evaluation of the bedroom tax make disturbing reading. 75% of those affected are cutting back on food.

The bedroom tax was one of the most controversial and widely condemned policies included within the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2012. When the policy was announced in January 2013, the Government stated that the bedroom tax could be changed if it had unforeseen impacts. Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches later created this briefing explaining why the bedroom tax, alongside other changes to housing, posed a serious risk of increasing inequality and poverty.

The new research, conducted by Ipsos MORI and the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning, has confirmed campaigners’ fears. Among other findings:

  • 78% regularly run out of money by the end of the month
    for the control group not affected by the bedroom tax, the figure of those who cut back on food was the lesser figure of 56% proving the direct link between the bedroom tax and lack of food
  • 46% have cut back on heating
  • Only one in nine found alternative accommodation – this cuts against the stated purpose of the bedroom tax to compel tenants to downsize to smaller properties

A government spokeswoman was quoted as saying “It is wrong that under the previous system taxpayers had to subsidise benefit claimants to live in houses that are larger than they require”. Yet the research supports previous claims that smaller properties are simply not available in the needed quantities.

With affected individuals having to do without food and heating, the bedroom tax is a recipe for ill-health. We have also blogged on how the Prime Minister’s previous claim that disabled people are exempt from the bedroom tax is simply untrue.

The Government’s preferred term for the bedroom tax is the spare room subsidy – with the implication that tenants with one or more ‘spare rooms’ are enjoying more space than they deserve. To encourage claimants to move, the bedroom tax comprises an ‘under-occupancy penalty’ of 14% of housing benefit for one extra room and 25% for two or more extra rooms. Among all the policies introduced in the last round of welfare reform, the punitive nature of the bedroom tax was particularly marked.

In short, the bedroom tax is a risk to people’s health and is mean spirited and punitive. The Government should honour its commitment of January 2013 and review it – or better, scrap it.

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RIP

by Richard on January 11, 2016

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on January 10, 2016

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

Charles Wesley

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View post on imgur.com

From The Washington Post (via Facebook)

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“Normal weather is a thing of the past”

by Richard on January 6, 2016

So says Professor Myles Allen, who leads the climate research programme at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. Given that I had to mow my grass just after Christmas, and had cherry blossom alongside my Christmas lights, I’m inclined to believe him.

Here’s the interview, on yesterday’s BBC R4 Today programme

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Epiphany cartoon

by Richard on January 6, 2016

Visitors to the Wise men

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The Guardian:

The Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University (NYU) School of Law recently published a report summarizing a survey of economists with climate expertise. The report was a follow-up and expansion of a similar survey conducted in 2009 by the same institute. The key finding: there’s a strong consensus among climate economics experts that we should put a price on carbon pollution to curb the expensive costs of climate change.

The survey participants included economists who have published papers related to climate change “in a highly ranked, peer-reviewed economics or environmental economics journal since 1994.” Overall, 365 participants completed the survey, which established the consensus of expert climate economists on a number of important questions.

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A new low in US Presidential campaign?

by Richard on January 5, 2016

obama wants your guns

With all the focus on Donald Trump, I’d almost missed just how deep idiocy runs among the other Republican candidates. I say idiocy, but that’s surely too kind a word for this latest bit of campaigning from Ted Cruz. Mother Jones points out the striking resemblance to a bit of WWII propaganda, which I’m sure was entirely unintentional.

obama nazi stormtrooper

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From The Independent

David Cameron has been urged to “come clean” over the role the UK Government played in voting Saudi Arabia on to the UN Human Rights Council after the kingdom’s execution of 47 people in a single day sparked outrage across the Middle East.

The leaders of the Liberal Democrat and Green parties have demanded a public inquiry into whether the UK was involved in a secret vote-trading deal in 2013 to secure both countries a place on an influential UN panel.

Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks last year purported to show that UK initiated the secret negotiations by asking Saudi Arabia for its support.

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Hymn of the day

by Richard on January 3, 2016

The return of a connexions tradition

Come, let us anew
Our journey pursue,
Roll round with the year,
And never stand still, till the Master appear;
His adorable will
Let us gladly fulfill,
And our talents improve
By the patience of hope, and the labour of love.

Our life is a dream,
Our time, as a stream,
Glides swiftly away,
And the fugitive moment refuses to stay:
The arrow is flown,
The moment is gone,
The millennial year
Rushes on to our view, and eternity’s here;

O that each in the day
Of his coming might say,
“I have fought my way through,
I have finished the work thou didst give me to do!”
O that each from his Lord
May receive the glad word,
“Well and faithfully done,
Enter into my joy, and sit down on my throne!”

Charles Wesley

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Can these dry blogs live?

by Richard on January 2, 2016

My last attempt to re-engage with blogging didn’t go too well. But this is a new year. So let’s try again…

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Socrates and Corbyn

by Kim on October 1, 2015

Letter sent yesterday, 30 September, to the British daily the i – unpublished.

Sir:

He relentlessly asked hard questions, had a BS detector in full working order, attracted a following of young people fed up with folly, insisted on human decency and justice, lambasted the affluent and powerful, and was branded a traitor by the state because he wouldn’t parrot its anthems.

I’m thinking, of course, of Socrates.

Jeremy Corbyn is no Socrates, but then it doesn’t take a great philosopher, only a reasonably intelligent and good man, to expose the the moral and political turpitude of our regnant ruling elites, and to unite them in fearful contempt against him.

Finally, observe: just as Aristophanes mocked Socrates for his shabby dress-sense, John Curtice concludes his analysis of Corbyn by saying, “Now if only he could learn to tie a tie,” (30 September). How hilariously astute and germane of both playwright and professor.

Revd. Kim Fabricius
Swansea

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It is not whether God exists, but what kind.
– R.S. Thomas

It was beautiful as God
must be beautiful; glacial
eyes that had looked on
violence and come to terms

with it; a body too huge
and majestic for the cage in which
it had been put; up
and down in the shadow

of its own bulk it went,
lifting, as it turned,
the crumpled flower of its face
to look into my own

face without seeing me. It
was the colour of the moonlight
on snow and as quiet
as moonlight, but breathing

as you can imagine that
God breathes within the confines
of our definition of him, agonising
over immensities that will not return.

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Howard Jacobson on the university then and now

by Kim on September 12, 2015

When I think what shrinking violets we boys who went to university in the 1960s were — at least those of us who weren’t rowers or rugger-playing “hearties” — it’s hard to credit that the campus is so far declined into savagery that Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, considers it necessary to set up a task force “to stamp out violence against women and provide a safe environment for all … students”….

Could universities be more brutal places socially than they were because it’s no longer a shared conviction that knowledge and the steps we take to acquire it can humanise? Is it even possible that we have given up on the idea of being humanised altogether? Is the very word too fancy? We mistrust whatever isn’t egalitarian and look askance at people who appear to us to live in ivory towers, though an ivory tower is precisely what a university should be — an exceptional, inspirational, above-it place, a centre of “higher” interests and pursuits.

It can’t be that men are suddenly pornographic bastards. Left to their own devices, men have always been pornographic bastards. So we must have jettisoned what once restrained them — the conviction that knowledge is virtue, that truth is beauty, that sex is better when it’s mutual and, better still, when the parties to it pause occasionally to read a book together.

From the Independent, Saturday September 12th

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Seventy years on August 6th, a Monday, at 8:15 am, the first atomic bomb, cutely called Little Boy, was dropped from a B-29, sweetly named the Enola Gay (after the pilot’s mom), into a lovely azure sky above the city of Hiroshima. It detonated less than a minute later above Shima Hospital. About a mile from ground zero, fourteen year-old Hiromu Morishita was in school. A split second, a splitting second: Before and After.

Watch dutifully
with your eyes.

Here, something happened that shouldn’t have.
Here now, something irreparable continues.
Here tomorrow, signs of everyone’s destruction
may appear.

Don’t watch with one eye.
Don’t watch with your arm or with your head.
With the heart of one who endures despair.

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Kibagora

by Richard on July 27, 2015

A photo posted by Richard Hall (@connexions) on

Yesterday I preached to a congregation of about 600 at Kibagora Free Methodit Church. The worship had all the liveliness I’ve come to expect, but I was less able to join in the singing because I couldn’t see the screen.

The realities of life here were brought home during the notices - my interpreter explained that one lengthy announcement was about vigilence with personal hygeine. Apparently several people from the community have been hospitalised with diarrhoea, and one has died.

http://richardthemethodist.tumblr.com/post/125105236309/sunset-at-the-ishara-beach-motel

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Blogging woe #1stWorldProblems

by Richard on July 24, 2015

So updating my blog just from a phone turns out to be more difficult than I expected. I’ll keep trying, but if you want pictures, I’m putting a few up to Instagram — x-posted to Twitter, so they’ll appear over tgere on the right — and to a Tumblr set up for the purpose.

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