There is room for real, substantial reform to the EU budget and many other aspects of the functioning and policy of European institutions, says Simon Barrow. But to address these issues properly, Britain’s political leaders should abandon rather than feed the narrow Westminster mindset that the recent EU budget row exemplifies.
When UK chancellor George Osborne and other ministers pledged to slash benefits further, and remove basic rights, while protecting the assets of millionaires, some words of the prophet Zechariah two-and-a-half millennia ago seemed appropriate, says Savi Hensman. She challenges people of faith to develop a more critical perspective on leadership, both political and religious.
With 'the big three' parties all singing from the same austerity hymn sheet and promising cuts in social security that differ mainly in degree, says Simon Barrow, it is surely the most vulnerable in society who are set to be the biggest losers from the conference season political jamborees.
If a future Archbishop of Canterbury were outspoken in defence of church privilege or the right to discriminate or exploit, this could do more harm than good, writes Savi Hensman. It is also important not to expect one man, whatever his gifts and office, to substitute for the wider church community.
Now that the medals have long been awarded, the plaudits made and the ceremonies completed, the final Olympic and Paralympic contest is underway, notes Simon Barrow. Who will claim political gold in the much-publicized Games ‘legacy’ race?
In 2011, the International Panel on the State of the Oceans (IPSO), representing all marine science bodies, concluded that, “the world’s ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction… unprecedented in human history.” Simon Barrow explores the issue of water from a biblical perspective.
As government becomes more technocratic and anonymous, and as recession and financial chaos makes people angry and suspicious towards the political class, the need to be seen to be “where people are” and to shape public mood through cultural activity large and small is here to stay, says Simon Barrow.
Last week, Jubilee Scotland organised a conversation on economic alternatives and motivating people for change at the 2012 Festival of Spirituality and Peace. Here Simon Barrow revisits an earlier article he wrote for The Guardian on the real meaning of "jubilee".
The Church of England has still not positively resolved the issue of women bishops, notes Savi Hensman. Both deeper listening and clearer leadership are needed in affirming a vision of an inclusive, mission-oriented church open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
We are experiencing a crisis of trust in our public institutions, says Jill Segger. She suggests that The Society of Friends could play a significant role in preventing a slide into destructive cynicism.