Monday, May 26, 2008

Sustainability: the shape of things to come?

Wired Magazine on sustainability is (predictably) concerned with techno-fixes rather than banning polythene bags, which is a lot more fun.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rebuilding Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral is ten miles or so up the road from our home. When it was built in the 14th century, towering among the hovels around it, it stood as a kind of metaphor of the medieval consensus.

In the Church were all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Here was where you found the best art, architecture, technology, music, thought, learning, creativity and skill.

The call on the Church today is not to increase its market share a bit but to have the ambition to build more cathedrals. How about, for starters:

  • art that isn't ugly and nihilistic

  • economics that is fair and compassionate as well as efficient

  • science and technology tamed and embraced as the gifts of a good God.

  • families rebuilt

  • justice flowing

  • fun that is innocent

... and all centred around worshipping communities.

Just conceivably, that's slightly too ambitious. Unless you read the Hebrew prophets, that is, who would tell you you aren't going nearly far enough ...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tear fund: telling porkies?

Much as I am a fan of Tear Fund (and they've sold lots of my books), have they been caught telling porkies about climate change? They put out publicity in 2006 about a man who caught malaria in the Ethiopian Highlands because of climate change. Careful research showed that over the time they suggested, the mean temperature hadn't risen at all and the natural variability of temperature hadn't changed at all. Have a listen to this.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Rough sleeping: the day it was zero

Our free newspaper reported that as at the last count the number of rough sleepers in Cambridge was: zero -- down from 30 in 1997 and something that has not happened in living memory.

It seems to me this is:
* Mostly due to Zion Baptist Church, who opened Jimmy's Night Shelter in their basement
* Partly due to the (Liberal Democrat) council who helped join together different bits of homeless provision. (The person who takes the lead on this, interestingly, is a colleague of mine and a churchgoer.)
* Somewhat due to the Labour government, providing money for rough sleeper initiatives.

Politics is enjoyable at the moment. In scenes reminiscent of 65 million years ago, New Labour mastodons bellow to each other across the cooling swamps saying, 'We must listen and learn from that giant meteorite.'

Gordon Brown, like some giant wounded herbivore, topples over, mouth fixed in a last, glassy smile, pursued through the TV studios by raptors eager for his corpse. One raptor wants to go back to good old New Labour; the other wants a New Old Labour. Such is the quality of debate in his party as they all head for their future life as a peat bog.

I do believe, though, that (laying aside the 10p tax thing for a moment) no currently working UK politician has done more for the poor than Gordon Brown. Some of the money he provided, thanks to the churches, took every single one of the rough sleepers from Cambridge's streets. Some more bought bed-nets and forgave debts and upped the UK's international aid to about the best in the world. As he crashes into the swamp, never to rise, there are worse legacies.