Saturday, November 5, 2011

Layer 491 . . . The Churches of England, A Debate, The Media, Rowan Williams, John Sentamu, the Moral Agenda, Taxes on Bankers and Jarrow Marchers

I went to church last night - and I've never before seen a church so packed, with every pew taken and with extra seats needing to be brought in. A very lovely church it is too - St Peter's has been the parish church of De Beauvoir Town since 1841.

No need to worry - Oxzen hasn't had a moment of revelation and decided to follow The Lord. Indeed not. The Church of England is going through some interesting times, with its two archbishops saying some very enlightened things these past few days, but Oxzen still sees no reason to convert to a belief in God.

Last night St Peter's hosted the third "Hackney Debate":
"George Alagiah chairs a discussion on media regulation and ownership, phone hacking and journalistic ethics, and public responsibility."
The speakers were Nick Higham, James Anslow and Suzanne Moore - all of them (and George) residents of Hackney.

George Alagiah strikes me as a lovely man and someone with enormous intelligence, together with superb communication skills.

The three speakers all seemed very inclined to accept the status quo with regard to media regulation and the Press Council - i.e. no more regulation, no more control on media ownership, no statutory body to monitor the activities of the press and media. None of them seemed to speak with any great passion about the appalling British media and its collusion with governments to keep our politics, our economics and our financial system going along the same old track. There was even praise for Murdoch and the tabloids generally.

Even Suzanne Moore oozed complacency - telling us that if we don't like the tabloids and the right-wing press then we can find better news reporting and comment elsewhere on the Internet. Maybe she's right - maybe it's not even worth complaining about the power of the right-wing press to dominate the national conversation, since there's nothing we can effectively do about it.

Personally I'd have preferred to listen to platform speakers who could show similar outrage to that expressed by several members of the audience. Maybe if you have a regular column in the Mail on Sunday AND a column in The Guardian, as Suzanne does, you're a bit beyond outrage.

Respect to the Reverend Julia Porter-Pryce, who's the driving force behind making this particular church relevant to its community, and has opened up her church to be a venue for these public debates. It's a great venue, and even had wine on sale before and during the debate.

Have a look at the St Peter's website to find out more about what they're doing for the community -
"transforming its Crypt into a real community asset - a thriving centre for social interaction, creativity, cultural expression and community support. We're making the space fully accessible, flexible, practical and welcoming. It's home to the cold-weather night shelter, a thriving community cafe and many groups promoting creativity and healthy living." 

During the first phase of the St Paul's site occupation, the head of the Church of England very wisely kept out of the debate about the camp, the occupation and LSX. He's now speaking out.

Oxzen has previously commented very favourably on Archbish Rowan Williams -

Occupy London: archbishop of Canterbury backs new tax on banking

Rowan Williams says the protest at St Paul's shows 'widespread and deep exasperation with the financial establishment'

The archbishop of Canterbury has outlined a package of political and financial measures needed to take forward the "moral agenda" of Occupy London campaigners encamped outside St Paul's Cathedral.

Backing a new tax on banking, Rowan Williams said the protest against financial inequality and banking excesses had been seen "by an unexpectedly large number of people as the expression of a widespread and deep exasperation with the financial establishment that shows no sign of diminishing".

Endorsing the idea of a "Robin Hood" tax on financial transactions, he said: "There is still a powerful sense around – fair or not – of a whole society paying for the errors and irresponsibility of bankers; of impatience with a return to 'business as usual' – represented by still-soaring bonuses and little visible change in banking practices."

Williams stepped into the debate as another senior figure in the Church of England, the bishop of London, Richard Chartres, told the Guardian that the protesters' voices chimed in with "alarm bells ringing around the world about the connection between finance and ethics and human flourishing".


Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams calls for new tax on bankers

The Archbishop of Canterbury has thrown his weight behind the St Paul’s Cathedral anti-capitalist protesters as he called for a new tax on banks.

“The demands of the protesters have been vague. Many people are frustrated beyond measure at what they see as the disastrous effects of global capitalism; but it isn’t easy to say what we should do differently. It is time we tried to be more specific,” Dr Williams said.

Archbishop Sentamu targets City greed

He suggests denying honours and the Queen's Awards for Industry to fat cat firms; and an interesting way of embarrassing tax avoiders
The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, has spoken out about the greed which provoked the St Paul's camp. Typically, he makes two practical suggestions [which can be read here -]
Changes in public attitudes can take place quite quickly.  Over the last few decades racism has lost its respectability and is seen as unacceptable.  The same applies to homophobia (the irrational fear of homosexuals) and discrimination against women.  My belief and trust is that a society which has shown itself capable of making such rapid changes to attitudes in these areas will also prove capable of recognising that our society will work best when we recognise that as human beings we are all, fundamentally of equal worth and members of one society. 
Let us do it. Let us do it now.

Archbishop of York attacks high-paid executives

Dr John Sentamu has attacked the salaries of top executives saying that huge differences between the rich and poor "weaken community life and make societies less cohesive".

Archbishop of York John Sentamu attacks executive pay


Jarrow marchers complete journey

A group of activists who have recreated the famous 1936 Jarrow March for Jobs will complete their 330-mile journey by highlighting the growing "crisis" of youth unemployment.

Dozens of people have taken part in the trek from the North East to London, where a rally on Saturday afternoon will be addressed by politicians and union leaders.

Youth Fight for Jobs, which organised the march, will hand in a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for a huge Government job scheme, apprenticeships, the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance, the reopening of axed youth services and action on tuition fees.

Spokeswoman Claire Laker Mansfield said: "Young people have shown that far from being lazy or scroungers, they want a future with decent jobs and education. The marchers have received huge support up and down the country. People have fed them, put them up and made it clear they back our demands.

"We think it is unfair that in the 21st century young people are facing long-term unemployment. There are almost a million young people out of work, and the jobs market is not getting any better."

Great-grandchildren of those who took part in the original march 75 years ago were among those taking part in the protest march, which started on October 1.

In 1936, 200 jobless men marched from Jarrow in north east England to London with a 12,000-name petition calling for government action to create jobs.

- UK Press Association


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