Simon Barrow's blog

How can Scotland flourish? A writer and a former bishop enquire

Scotland is getting it wrong. This is the bold assertion of Blossom: What Scotland Needs to Flourish, a passionate polemic on Scottish culture, society and politics (including key issues like land reform) by award-winning journalist Lesley Riddoch.

Anabaptist Theology Forum set for December

A further meeting of the Anabaptist Theology Forum (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and some friends from mainland Europe) has been scheduled for Tuesday 3 December from 11am through to Wednesday 4 December at 2pm.

The line from 9/11 to Syria needs to be broken

I vividly recall the first television pictures of the terrible and criminal attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on what has become known as 9/11. I was at the University of Birmingham on 11 September 2001, attending a churches' conference on China. It was hard to take in what was going on, but we were all vaguely aware as we viewed these unfathomable images that the reaction to these events would shape the course of history for years to come; and so it has proved.

Consistency and determination is needed on chemical weapons

This morning (11 September 2013) President Obama broadcast an address to the US nation ( It contained no new evidence, information or argument, but continued to maintain that "it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike."

Moving the C of E beyond its arms company shame

While Anglican priests have been prominent among those opposing the DSEi arms fair in London this week (9-14 September 2013), the largest of its kind in the world, the official silence from the Church of England has been deafening.

Calculating the odds: will Obama lose the Syria vote?

A massive political shake-up will be forthcoming if US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry fail in their attempt to persuade Congress to back a punitive military strike on Syria – despite launching an avalanche of propaganda over the past few days.

Threat to charities, campaigns and unions from Lobbying Bill

The government's new lobbying bill has united charities, unions and other NGOs - as well as civil rights activists - in condemnation for measures that will do too little to combat serious corporate interference in politics, but will provide the pretext to limit and intimidate legitimate policy-based work by non-government and non-party political bodies.

Game-changing: Syria, tough reality and alternatives to military adventurism

As well as the expected vain pontificating and sabre-rattling, there has been a good deal of wise commentary on Syria, intervention and change in the past week or so -- seeking to get to grips with the hard politics of the situation, while not losing sight of the fact that it is suffering humanity (all of it, not just 'our' portion of it) that should always be the litmus test of effective action.

Commons Syria vote: a significant moment, but what next?

Having followed some six hours of the House of Commons debate on Syria yesterday (29 August), while channeling news, commentary and media requests for Ekklesia, it was evident to me that concern, questioning and scepticism were the dominant feelings being expressed.

Spinning us along the path to military intervention

The performance of the young US State Department spokesperson on BBC Newsnight this evening (27 August) was extremely chilling, not least for the insouciant way in which a series of necessarily probing questions about a military strike on Syria were simply waved away with stock remarks like, "we'll factor that in".