This summer, I walked from Birmingham to London as a pilgrimage of repentance for my former homophobia. I feel like I'm only just beginning to understand what I learnt on the walk. Here I reflect on the experience and on the lessons I learnt.
Britain may be broke, but the government's desperation to cut the deficit seems to have its limits. This morning, Eric Pickles has ruled out an increase in council tax for houses valued at more than £1million. He is portraying measures that would affect only the richest as an attack on the "middle class". In reality, the government is consistent in pursuing the interests of the very wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.
Right-wing columnists are having a field day in the wake of the riots, demonising single parents, benefit recipients and working class people generally. To be consistent in condemning looting, we should criticise not only the rioters but the wealthy bankers and politicians who are looting our society.
It's just over two weeks since I finished my pilgrimage of repentance for homophobia. In many ways, I'm only just beginning to realise how the pilgrimage has affected me. It's taught me a lot about prayer and hospitality, and developed my thoughts on the way that change happens in Church and society. Now I have a lot more questions.
In 1997, I described opposition to same-sex relationships as being a matter of "God's opinion", rather than my own. This week, I will begin a walk of 160 miles from Birmingham to London as a pilgrimage of repentance for my former homophobia. As I prepare to begin walking tomorrow, this article explains what led me to do this.
Concerns about young people have made the news this week. There are fears of "sexualisation" and "radicalisation". Both words imply that young people cannot make choices themselves, but only passively accept what is imposed on them. And they distract attention from the policies of a government which is set to wreck the opportunities of countless young people.
To tackle homophobia, we need to understand it. Recent years have seen a backlash against LGBT rights in the UK. This is partly because changing views on sexuality have become a focus for people alarmed by the declining status of what they regard as Christian morality. But it's not a morality that has much in common with the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus.
Quakers take pride in the history of nineteenth-century Quaker employers, many known for their progressive thinking. Some have suggested that they can now be a model for us in developing a form of "ethical capitalism". But the most forward-thinking nineteenth century Quakers called not for philanthropy but for fundamental change to the economic system. Their example can inspire us to reject capitalism altogether and to seek alternatives.
British Quakers have announced that they are calling for a boycott of goods from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is a brave decision, given the volume of abuse, hate mail and downright lies that faced the Methodist Church when they made a similar decision. With this in mind, there are important points that must be remembered about the Quakers' position.
Millions of people across north Africa and the Middle East have are demonstrating the power of active nonviolence. But British politicians and pundits seem to have learnt no lessons, falling in line behind the bombing of Libya as soon as Cameron announced it. In the face of all the evidence, they are accepting the old assumption that violence works.