Jill Segger's blog

Jubilee and pageantry: the impiety of false pride

Jubilee and pageantry: the impiety of false pride

“Gross impiety it is that a nation's pride should be maintained in the face of its poor.” William Penn wrote these words in 1669. We have no means of knowing what his voice might have sounded like when he read them aloud, as he undoubtedly would have done, but when I hear them in my mind's ear, they are spoken with firmness and a touch of anger. They are words we do well to heed in our own time.

Lifting up our eyes to the hills

Lifting up our eyes to the hills

This is a small and densely populated island. Most of us live in urban or semi-urban environments. Even if we are fortunate enough to have some space around us, it is likely that work will take us into the area of traffic jams, parking problems, overcrowded trains, queues and their attendant frustrations.

The real Olympic legacy

These were to be the 'legacy olympics'. Regeneration of run down areas, the enthusing of young people with the ideals of sport and healthy activity, the showcasing of the UK (or at least its south-eastern segment), new stadia and facilities - all these have been presented as the quid pro quo for massive expenditure and the likelihood of a gridlocked capital city.

Seeking truth: the blunderbuss and the still small voice

Seeking truth: the blunderbuss and the still small voice

It gets harder by the day to hear the still small voice. There is a stridency in our culture which makes dialogue, the resolution of conflict or even simple understanding increasingly difficult.

Peter Cruddas: rotten apple or tainted barrel?

Peter Cruddas: rotten apple or tainted barrel?

“A hundred grand is not premier league. Two hundred grand to 250 is premier league.” The language of the huckster employed by Tory Treasurer Peter Cruddas in relation to access to the Prime Minister is ugly and dispiriting.

Chloe Smith and the 'two nations'

“Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets. The rich and the poor.” These words from Disraeli's 1845 novel 'Sybil' could have been written for Norwich MP Chloe Smith.

Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Silence: a healing tool for the secular believer

Not speaking unless you can improve on silence is something with which most Quakers are comfortable. This may mean holding your peace even when you have an opinion.

Charles Dickens: a writer for our Hard Times

Charles Dickens: a writer for our Hard Times

“Even the burial of his body in the Abbey was a species of theft when you come to think of it”. George Orwell's words came into my mind as I watched the ceremonies surrounding today's 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

An open letter to Iain Duncan Smith

Dear Iain

You once described yourself as “the quiet man”. It didn't quite work for you at the time, which is a pity, because quietness implies a capacity for reflection, listening and, in the words of our Quaker 'Advices and Queries', for finding space to “consider it possible you may be mistaken”. These are not qualities which are much in evidence among our noisier politicians.

Tesco, schadenfreude and the spirit

Tesco, schadenfreude and the spirit

Schadenfreude is a disagreeable trait in human nature. But most of us will at some time have fallen victim to the spiteful little voice which ricochets around the outer edges of our consciences, whispering gleefully, “Good. Serves them right.”