Wednesday, June 25, 2008


This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see. Brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheatres men murdered to please the crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It is a really bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world.

Yet in the midst of it I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasures of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians ... and I am one of them.

(St Cyprian to Donatus, 3rd Century AD).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rough sleeping: it wasn't zero

There was a person sleeping in the doorway of Arbury Rd Baptist Church (see previous post).

But it was nearly zero.

Poverty: fighting the banana wars

Have just enjoyed Fighting the Banana Wars by Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation. You actually do have to use the dread word 'inspirational' about this. It really is about small people, many wearing both beards and sandals, taking on the multinationationals for the sake of justice for the world's poor.

They're seeing a huge stride, from the days when Fairtrade coffee didn't even taste like coffee, to Sainsbury's fresh fruit buyer saying recently, 'I see Fairtrade as the gold standard for global sourcing from developing countries -- our preferred option wherever possible.' (p155)

Here's Bruce Crowther, Quaker, Oxfam campaigner, and the person who got his local town, Garstang, to become the world's first 'Fairtrade town', one of thousands of little actions that has moved the world, on why he campaigns:

'I don't think you can give up. Our children will look back and ask us how we can live in prosperity while over a billion children live in abject poverty -- including many who produce things we use every day. How could we know this and not do what we could to stop it?' (p44)

Harriet Lamb has some great stories -- a little kid discarding his football shirt because the people who grew the cotton didn't get a fair price. And the time they tried to sell the first-ever fair-trade branded chocolate -- Green & Black's Maya Gold -- to Tesco's. The Tesco buyer had sent the Green & Black's founder, the unlikely-named Jo Fairley, away, saying that he wasn't going to 'list a product just because it's backed by a bunch of Christians'!

'But it wasn't long before he changed his tune and was back on the phone saying, "You'd better get over here, we're being bombarded by telephone calls. From vicars!"' (p61)