As the great man's guest must produce his good stories or songs at the evening banquet, as the platform orator exhibits his telling facts at mid-day, so the journalist lies under the stern obligation of extemporizing his lucid views, leading ideas, and nutshell truths for the breakfast table.
Cardinal J. H. Newman, Preface to The Idea of a University, 1852

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Kingdom of Heaven

What were the Churches and Christian charities doing among the socialists, the unions and the anarchists at the G20 rally ... marching through central London, surrounded by the police and standing alongside people calling for the death of neo-liberal capitalism?

1) Well, to get started, how can we tolerate such injustice in the world? How can we go on leaving people to starve to death, when there's so much wealth? How can we consume, consume, consume, when we know what climate change is doing? (If you believe the scientists, of course... but we do, you know, most of us Christians, whatever Richard Dawkins would like to think)
The world has enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed.
We've all heard it before, so we can move on and think about something else? But that doesn't make it OK. The world is NOT OK. It's in a bad way. And its our fault (us human beings).

2) I expect most of us, Christians or not, know about that (what a bloody mess we've made of the world), and know that it's wrong. But maybe Christians are more inclined to think it is worth trying to do something about it? Because of our limitations, we will always get it wrong, but we believe in 'forgiveness', and that frees us up to have a go. And of course there's just the fact that if we go to Church we keep hearing people talking about these things - those 2000 verses (see snippet no 3) in the bible about poverty and justice.

3) For me, I guess, it is sort of what remains of my faith. You might say I don't believe in God*, but whatever I do believe in leaves me thinking that we can't just accept the way the world is. Quite often I'm embarrassed to 'be a Christian' - when I see and hear what is done and said in the name of Christianity - but in London last Saturday it seemed right.

*One day I'll explain a bit more about what God I don't believe in

Monday, March 30, 2009

Snippets from the Put People First G20 rally.

"On 28th March 2009, 35,000 marched through London as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20, ahead of their summit on the global financial crisis.

Even before the banking collapse, the world suffered poverty, inequality and the threat of climate chaos. The world has followed a financial model that has created an economy fuelled by ever-increasing debt, both financial and environmental.

Our future depends on creating an economy based on fair distribution of wealth, decent jobs for all and a low carbon future.

There can be no going back to business as usual."

I was one of the 35,000. Here's some snippets from my day
  1. Crowd of Socialist Workers outside Embankment tube station. Selling the paper, handing out leaflets and offering placards. (I wish I could recall what each of the different organisation's placards said!) The first of many contingents of various flavours of socialists, all with own newspapers.

  2. Service in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. Not full, but I was on balcony and there must have been well over 1000 all told. Can't say Andy Flanagan and Band's electric music was quite to my taste... but the speakers were worth listening to.

  3. Peter Meadows of the Bible Society spoke of the 'Poverty and Justice Bible'. Apparently there are over 2000 verses refering to poverty or justice in the bible, and if you remove all the pages containing them, there's not much of the Bible left. Someone had done it and he showed us the resulting slim volume.

  4. Father Joe Komakoma from Zambia talked about the reality of the combined consequences of the financial crisis, climate change, and the pre-existing inequalities on people in Zambia. Over half the population don't get a proper meal each day, for example.

  5. Christine Elliot of the Methodist Church had us doing one of those little things that I'm not sure I'm too keen on, but I have to admit was effective. Alternate members of the congregation asked to stand up: we were the poor. Then everyone else invited to stand up 'in solidarity' with us. Then they sat down again. "How do we feel?" "How do they feel?" "What do we want to say to each other?" etc.

  6. Several more speakers... Revd Joel Edwards of Micah Challenge stood out for me. (I later learned that Joel is of the Evangelical Alliance - a very long way from my theology!)

  7. I've not listened to it again, but the whole service is here

  8. Left the Hall in groups to join the main march. Selection of placards to choose from on the way out... I ended up with a CAFOD one "Kick the carbon habit'

  9. Carnival atmosphere on the march. Most of the bystanders seems friendly (strangly, more so, it seemed to me, than those in Coventry for 'Countdown to Copenhagen' march a few weeks back.) Never seen so much photography going on - the media, people on the march, and the 'general public'. (No photos from me, sorry. My phone's just a phone.)

  10. Lots of foreign unions present, gave extra colour to the march. They tended to be more vocal.

  11. "The-workers. United. Will-never-be-defeated". It's a long time since I've heard that!

  12. Lots of fun fancy dress. A curious green creature was sat on top of one of the bus-shelters.

  13. Seemed rather an unnecessary density of policemen along the route near Hyde Park.

  14. More newspapers for sale: Socialist Worker (again), Socialist, Morning Star and The Respect Paper.

  15. Events in Hyde Park hosted by Tony Robinson: always good value! A range of speakers from across the world: environmentalists and union leaders. eg:

  16. "We were all backing Obama (sounds from the crowd, most in support, some dissent), but we now need him to deliver, We were all asked to chant: 'yes we can; yes we must; yes we will'"

  17. "We own RBS now, so they should do what we want"

  18. Tony Juniper quotes Gandhi about the difference between what we are capable of and what we actually do

  19. Lots of famous people. Eg Susan George, a very famous name. Trouble is I can't now recall what she said.

  20. Mark Thomas doesn't mince his words. "Neo-liberal capitalism is on it's knees and we must kill it off."

  21. Mark Thomas again (I think). There was an average of less than one council house built per council last year.

  22. Some thoughts on being a Christian at the rally

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Leeds Away 28th March

Lost 2 - 0

I missed this one because I was putting people first.

The rest of the family went. I reckon I had the better day, apart from when I got the updates by txt.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Crewe home: 24th March 2009

2 - 2

2 - 0 up after 20 minutes and we were comfortable - although we were lucky with the goals (one big deflection off a defender up over the keeper, and the other the keeper seemed to fumble) - but we seemed to think we'd won it and didn't bother playing after that. Crewe were clueless at that stage, but their confidence grew and the inevitable happened. The second was a penalty foolishly and needlessly conceded by Gueret.

Even I didn't applaud at the end.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yeovil Away 21st March

0 - 0

Gueret saved penalty.

We could find no way through: Yeovil defended with skill and with Baldock still off, had no other ideas. Some of our fans were calling for Jude. I would have liked that - since we were just not getting anywhere, why not give him 15 mins up front?

The four of us travelled down to Weymouth Friday evening - via Clapham Junction so we got a 'not via London' cheap ticket. Glorious spring day Saturday, so J and I paddled in the sea - very cold! Then the three of us went up to Yeovil by train while J took in some coast. We all travelled home from Yeovil after the match, ariving MK 23:30. (Encountered lots of drunk English rugby fans in Clapham - England having beaten Scotland in the 6 nations.)

Relaxed, friendly atmosphere - helped by spring sunshine. Chatted with Town fan as we walked to the agreed picking-up point for our taxi. If we couldn't have the 3 points, almost wish we'd lost to help Yeovil stay up. I said 'almost'.

Yeovil Town website gives NO guidance on getting to the ground by public transport.

Millwall Home, 17th March

Lost 1 - 0

No Baldock - hamstring problem, and we missed him!

Oldham home 14th March

Won 6 - 2

A came home for the weekend - via London - and met us at the stadium. 2 -2 at HT Dons having come from behind twice, then Oldham sort of collapsed in the second half. Good match for A to come back for!

Baldock was back on form. I think that what was happening was that we were playing to his strengths - using him correctly. Recently he hadn't seem to have much impact, but I think that was less to do with him and more to do with the team not making best use of his particular abilities.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday 10th March Huddersfield home

1 - 1 again.

Disappointing. After we scored we stopped playing and wasted time instead. It seemed inevitable that Huddersfield would get an equaliser - annoying but I couldn't begrudge them it.

V and I went after V's piano lesson. His lesson finishes 7.30 so we're off in the car, park in the industrial estate and dash down to the stadium. Arrive just after kick-off so I have to be searched. For some reason the moment the whistle goes, anyone entering has to be searched. Slight extra delay this time as when we were walking to the ground I noticed V was still carrying his piano music!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Swindon Away 7 March

1 - 1

...and Dean Lewington was sent off for a 2nd yellow card

V and I went by train. Have to go via London so not very efficient.

Dons were lucky not to lose, as Swindon contrived to miss three of four easy chances, hitting the woodwork or skying the shots. (Willy, once again, was crucial too - some exceptional reaction saves.) Dons fans were in fine voice again, singing pretty much throughout the match - unlike the home fans who only got going towards the end.

We were high up in the stadium, on the side, more or less in line with the goal. Views out of the stadium over the rooftops of the surrounding houses. Stadium is in a residential area but close to the town centre and the train station. Went to MacDs after the match (V had burger - I got a much healthier 'meal-deal' from the nearby Boots), and had friendly chat with the lad serving, who was a 'Town' supporter. Said he was not surprised Town failed to take their chances, that they often do that. But that is the sort thing fans often say about their team - one of the 'standard' beliefs about your team.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Northampton Away 3rd March

Abandoned due to waterlogged pitch at half time with the score 0 - 0

Went with V on the coach. Cold and wet... waste of time and money... Lightened a little by the humour of the Dons chants, such as something about 'backstroke' when one of the cobblers players was on his back in a puddle.