'Advices and Queries': from 1682 to the general election of 2015
“Remember your responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national and international affairs. Do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement may demand.” This is one of 42 challenges and questions posed to members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) by the rather quaintly named 'Advices and Queries'.
Mind your language, Minister: 'war' and primary education
It seems we are at war again. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has declared a “war on illiteracy and innumeracy”. The booty will include 11-year-olds reciting the twelve times table and the attrition, threatening schools which fail to deliver this with being taken over by new management.
The general election: truth, lies, politicians and our own responsibilities
A question for every one of us: how particular are you about truth and accuracy if a statement gives you an advantage or feeds your confirmation bias? Over the next 98 days, we are going to see and hear a lot of information which will either do this, or will make us fume and curse its falsity.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and walking in the tracks of solidarity
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU) usually passes me by. But this year (it runs from 18-25 January 2015) I have paid a little more attention. This is largely due to the present febrile atmosphere around the violence and fear which has been aroused in Europe by religious confrontation and intolerance, partly by the scale of rising inequality and a little by some anxiety as to my responsibilities as the representative of my Quaker Meeting to the local Churches Together group.
Let us start with a few clear parameters. Murderous violence is always wrong and does as much damage to its perpetrators as to its victims. Freedom of expression is at the heart of the free society and must ever be defended. But with that right come responsibilities and an obligation to discernment and humility.
'Panic Saturday' is behind us. But the panic does not seem to have diminished greatly. The compulsion to buy and the strain of doing so is on almost every tongue. Like many Quakers, I don't give presents. This makes Christmas both easier and more demanding.
999 Convention for the NHS: common frailty, shared humanity
There are few of us who either enter or leave this world without its presence. In between, the NHS is there for broken bones, depression, ingrowing toenails, heart attacks, cancer and all the diverse pain, fear and suffering of our lives' journeys.
Early Quakers held a 'Testimony against times and seasons'. Although this is not observed with as much rigour in our own day, we still hold to the belief that as all life is sacramental, so all times are holy and none should be marked as more holy than another. Christmas therefore, is a rather more low-key event with us than it is with society generally.