London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson has made a commitment to plant 10,000 street trees in the areas where they will most help to improve peoples’ quality of life. Around 1.75 million Londoners live in areas which are further than 1K from an area of space containing nature or wildlife. Around 40 such locations have already been identified and Mayor Johnson has set up a webpage where Londoners can make a request for a tree to be planted in their street see www.london.gov.uk/streettrees . Boris says of the scheme; “I am urging people …to ask for a tree online so we can help to plant trees where people most need them.” The scheme is managed by the Forestry Commission, working in partnership with environmental charity Groundwork.
The new trees planted in my area provide a welcome service for local dogs, but don’t last very long in our neighbourhood where youths tend to pull them up. This happens because of the lack of a regular police or PSO presence. I wonder if Mayor Johnson will be putting as many new police officers as trees on our streets. In the meantime enjoy someone whose tree planting is something more than a political photo opportunity.
The Times Newspaper recentlycarried an interesting piece from former hostage and special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the importance of Independent MPs at Westminster. Terry says about recent events; ” As spectator sports go I have to confess to mixed feelings. I take little delight in seeing anyone publicly injured and humiliated. But along with the vast majority of the population, I am amused and angry. Amused at the ducks, the moat, horse manure, dry rot and phantom mortgages. Angry that, as Jonathan Aitken (who ought to know about these matters) said on the Today programme, compliance has replaced conscience. The truth is that the gunpowder has been accumulating for a very long time. Increasingly a professional class of politician has grown and the more professional they have become, the more remote they are.”
The former Church Army Evangelist was irritated by Roy Hattersley recent observation that independent MPs were a waste of space. Waite says, “ He knows as well as I do that there is virtually no difference between the two main parties in Westminster and the vast majority of Labour and Tory politicians are gagged, bound and beaten by the whip. No self-respecting individual in touch with the the people of this country and wishing to represent them could possibly submit to that. It reduces the individual to mere voting fodder and that is what the majority have become. Small wonder that they turn their attention to dealing with dry rot at their second home rather than speaking boldly in Parliament.” It seems as if Terry’s frustration that politicians see themselves as an elite class has had an impact “Quite truthfully my mind is not yet made up and I guess there are a number of people in the same position as myself. We want the best for our country and if we take on the burden of office we will not take it on lightly and certainly not for personal gain. Perhaps a main contribution will be to put a bit of ginger into Parliament and encourage the long overdue reform of both houses. It is a total disgrace that once reform of the Lords was set in motion it was put on hold mainly because further reform would be too great a threat to the Commons. . Parliament is important but not the moribund Parliament we have suffered for far too long. The transformation from duckhouse to doghouse was rapid and took everyone by surprise. Now is the time for the people of this country to rally round those men and women willing to serve their country as independent Members of Parliament. They won’t have all the answers but they may well bring some fresh air into a political hothouse that has been suffocating for far too long. “
Sounds to me like this is the beginning of a stump speech. Terry’s autobiography “Taken on Trust”was considered a classic account of man’s survival at the limits of human endurance. If he can survive the Lebanese gulag with the three resolutions of no regrets, no false sentimentality and no self-pity- he sounds like the right sort of independent guy for Westminster.
For the full report see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6367904.ece
This is the text of a Joint Statement from Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York:
“The European Parliamentary and local elections on June 4th will take place at a time of extraordinary turbulence in our democratic system. It is a time for great vigilance over how to exercise our democratic right to vote. The temptation to stay away or register a protest vote in order to send a negative signal to the parties represented at Westminster will be strong. In our view, however, it would be tragic if the understandable sense of anger and disillusionment with some MPs over recent revelations led voters to shun the ballot box. Those whom we elect to local councils and the European Parliament will represent us and our collective interests for many years to come. It is crucial to elect those who wish to uphold the democratic values and who wish to work for the common good in a spirit of public service which urgently needs to be reaffirmed in these difficult days. There are those who would exploit the present situation to advance views that are the very opposite of the values of justice, compassion and human dignity are rooted in our Christian heritage. Christians have been deeply disturbed by the conscious adoption by the BNPof the language of our faith when the effect of those policies is not to promote those values but to foster fear and division within communities, especially between people of different faiths or racial background. This is not a moment for voting in favour of any political party whose core ideology is about sowing division in our communities and hostility on grounds of race, creed or colour; it is an opportunity for renewing the vision of a community united by mutual respect, high ethical standards and the pursuit of justice and peace. We hope that electors will use their vote on June 4th to renew the vision of a community united by the common good, public service and the pursuit of justice.
They are so right. My previous post at https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/the-bnpwhat-would-jesus-do/#comment-169 has proved to me the most viewed and commented on so I guess this has stirred up emotions on all sides about free speech, democracy, racism, hate and unity. I hope you are encouraged to do the right thing and support unity, diversity and justice.
Phew!! I’ve just got back from inviting every person who lives in my street to join a Facebook site I have set up for the Road. The folks have also been asked if they are interested in helping host a street party on July 19th as part of The Big Lunch see http://www.thebiglunch.com/ .
It seems this is a great initiative for which Christians can help to take a lead role if we want to live out one of the core teachings of Jesus- loving our neighbours as ourselves. What better way to show this than be serving each other and getting road the table and sharing a large community meal. On July 19th let’s hope we see a mass exodus of the church leaving the building and serving up lunch in the street.
As one of my friends would say when saying grace; “Lord bless this bunch as they munch this lunch.”
This week the parents of murdered teenager Jimmy Mizen spoke out about how the aniversary of their son’s death should serve as “ a message for peace”. A memorial bench was unveiled near where Jimmy was murdered and the Mizens joined with the parents of Damilola Taylor and Rob Knox to launch a group called United Parents- which aimes to mdivert young people from crime.
Last year I was involved with a project called Hopeinfo.co.uk and the Mizens kindly agreed to be filmed as part of it. To see the remarkable things they had to say about the impact of the tragic death of their son and their hope that other people will find faith- see my post and the film at https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/03/14/jimmy-mizen-tragedy-and-hope-in-three-and-a-half-minutes/
After waiting nine years for a new minister worshippers on a Scottish island are to be blessed with a truly 21st-century replacement. The Rev Fiona Lillie left a vacancy on the island of Hoy, in Orkney, when she was called away to serve another parish — but now churchgoers will have a virtual minister, beamed into the kirk every Sunday, sermon and all. The bold scheme will be ratified by the Ministries Council at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland this month and a pilot project will soon unite the congregation of Hoy with others on the islands of Flotta, Shapinsay and Rousay. None of the four islands in the virtual ministry attracts a congregation of more than 20 and at present services are usually led by local volunteers, or by a “pulpit supply” of peripatetic preachers.
The new scheme envisages a fully interactive service each week built around a £100,000, two-way, video conferencing system and its supporters say it will perform a key role for the Church, delivering the Word of God to the whole of the country, just as John Knox would have wanted.
“The Church wants to serve the whole of Scotland. This will get services to people on outlying islands on a Sunday, which is something the Church must do. We will be able to deliver worship properly and locally,” the Rev Dr Martin Scott, secretary of the Ministries Council, said.
I can’t wait to see how they will share the peace and if the local church fete will operate via e-bay instead of on the church lawn in the driving rain!
For the full story see Times online http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article6269590.ece
Last night I was at an event which was about getting to know a group of people- some familiar faces and some new. Isn’t it amazing how we go through the same old questions to try to elicit answers that will help us form impressions about people ?One person I spoke to made it clear that money and status was important ot him; for another it was about impact on society; yet another just being happy. On the train back I was reading Tony Miles’ book Maybe Today and I came across a number of questions:
What will people say about you at your funeral? Are you happy with what you think people will say about you? When you meet Jesus face to face, what will HE say about you? Are you concerned enough about that last question?
The first challenge is trying not to get too depressed about the question, and the next is trying to live each day as an opportunity to share something on God’s love to those we come into contact with- regularly or casually. . Let’s try to keep our eyes and ears open and not just directed heavenwards, but be aware of every situation where it is possible for us to make a difference and show something of God’s unconditional love. On the way back from the event I was with a group of people who were feeling good about how it all went as they headed off the the pub for a well earned drink or two. I’m not sure they spotted the homeless guy outside though, or even saw him as someone who could do with a but of love and attention from us. Will anybody be there to say something about him at his funeral?