Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Sorry - made me laugh....

sorry it made me laugh - from asbojesus

Monday, September 10, 2007


For those interested in Emerging/Fresh Expressions of Church

Just so people know, I am participating in this London Methodist initiative to promote Emerging/Fresh Expressions at a vision day in Methodist Central Hall this Saturday. Click on the pic to be able to read the details.

You can book in advance by e-mailing and the day costs £15.

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins is a well known theologian and speaker who has done some thinking around the emerging church. I think there are still spaces left so do come along if this interests you.

I didn't know it - but there is a Fresh Expressions community at Methodist Central Hall, just round the corner from Moot. I don't know why we are so disconnected in London - but it just shows how fragmented things are in the Capital City....

Friday, September 07, 2007


A letter to my family back home

This is a piece of fiction by Bart Wolffe, reflecting the sense of displacement felt by the Zimbabwean diaspora. Also a reflection changing values, and the nature of life in 21st century London. Click the link in the title box to view his online store.

I write to you, my dear family, to tell you how it is for me now, after some years in England. At first, I used to sit on a bench and watch people walk by. I thought I had lost my skin. My head felt sick. I could not recognise a single bird or tree. I stopped to sleep at night. It is better now. As the river flows in Africa, sluggish, slow, I know my blood’s arterial pulse. Serene, beneath the sun, once. Now comes this roaring tide, the Tube, or the traffic of Marleybone Road, a language shouting against my centre, displacing the settled stone I am who sits at the river bottom, so hard to stay still when everything pushes me like a pebble in the flood. It erodes, and with it, the cost of Freedom’s survival, so hard to find the spaces in between where I can dream the languor, the poet and the peace. I have dances of Babylon instead, the thousand heads about me of faces and places, signs and times that are not home. People listen to football every night or shout in places where coins and beer are exchanged without measure! Liverpool, you will be glad to hear, are doing well. Did you get the T-shirt I sent you? You remember, Baba Mukuru, how the children could never get any paper too play with or write on. How paper was for the rich and we used to save the cigarette boxes for schoolwork. Well, here, they push forests through your door, each day, all talking about money. Brightly coloured as the shops in Camden market, or the fruit stalls at Mbare Msika before the Government bulldozed them.

It is the god of money who is king in England. True, they have a queen, but the King is the pound sterling. You should know from the Western Union transfers that keeps the family alive back home. What did you say one pound was worth last time we spoke? Was it 5 million Zimbabwe dollars. I forget and it’s hard to keep pace with your inflation back home. I shall celebrate the sacrifice of safety. The cost of this Brave New World is debt, begging and fear for the need to pay, to sit and drink a cup of kindness has tax attached, no open fallow lie of land unless I declare myself as homeless and join the addicts in Euston Square by the station like Platform 5 in Harare or Porta farm’s squatter camps of plastic and make-shift love affairs and AIDS, so some other kind of measure comes in place that forces me to be acceptable.

Are my papers in order or must I hide beneath the curtain of the close circuit television cameras and duck away from the scrutiny of Big Brother in the fame hungry whirlwind of a land where Mr Nobody is never safe. You look different, even to yourself when you look in the mirror. You try to remember who you are. My libido does not work anymore. Perhaps I need some Mazondo and herbs from the nanga or witchdoctor back home. Or some Viagra , maybe? Who knows. - .I think it’s a result of the diluted sunshine and lack of maize porridge and okra that grandmother cooked with peanut butter and pumpkin leaf too. We have Mcdonalds here.

Unlike in Harare, you have the right to remain silent. In fact, people never ask you anything. You even have the right to say Mugabe is an idiot. But you can never go home. So this is how it is, my friends; from fear of the one kind of stasi, the Central Intelligence Organisation to fear of the debt collectors and the fact that no longer is there a family to support you or talk with, you barter yourself.

Pray to the unknown gods of the Lotto who never answer. Put your head in at the betting shops and find what the German government calls the “Arbeitlos”, or here those on benefits, as long as you are legitimate or English, the acceptable unemployed and dispossessed. So, you want a loan. OK – fine, you want to start a new life. Your credit rating? What is that? How many cows do you own? - No. It means, brother, you bank balance, your mortgages, your property and your higher income in the reaches of the upper echelons you will never know. Ever heard of Whitehall. Being black, it is not the place for you, I guess. A bit like a white boy from Africa in ZANU PF Headquarters. It doesn’t exist unless for interrogation. But no-one asks you anything anyway. In fact, everybody in Golders Green looks down at their shoes as they walk on the pavement, not at the sky or the horizon of which there is none, and on the Tube from Leicester Square, only the tourists really laugh and talk. They give you papers to hide your face behind, free newspapers, can you imagine, Aunt of mine? Everyone can have a paper of their own, every day. Not one that is passed around secretly a hundred times like a rare copy of The Zimbabwean in Highfield to try and stay informed. Everywhere, people cover their faces with someone famous on the front page rather than show their own image.

I’m sure, my sister, you would have noticed. Perhaps you would have also noticed the best time to buy buns is about half-past four in Tesco or Sommerfield when the yellow labels of the reduced prices come down to 20p. You can even find the 20p on the street if you walk along for a few hours as people throw away their bad luck sometimes for the poor to collect. Mostly, the gutter coins are pennies but sometimes you get lucky. At least we have our daily bread, unlike in Zimbabwe where the millers have been bankrupted by the price control measures of the Mugabe government and the lack of supply of wheat for baking in our agricultural land of non-productive farming where so many army generals and ministers of the ruling party may sit and survey the tranquil scenery at sunset without the need to grow food for the masses.

Public transport is really good here and the workers are even allowed to strike and then, of course, it is not so good to try and keep your job and get to work on time, especially if you are cleaning for more than one household in different areas on the same day, no questions asked, no tax, no papers or national ID necessary as an asylum seeker maybe, but anyway, at least as I was saying, the workers are the moving parts of this machine called London. They keep moving but never sit in their castles like Buckingham palace because they will never own such a thing nor any space between dwellings as is the case back home in Africa.

We have wall-to-wall people here. No room for snakes . No thorn trees either. No sounds of crickets at night or frogs or fruit bats or nightjars or owls. No Mujanje trees to steal fruit from, although apples may be found hanging over the wall of someone from a different class.

The pace of peace? I guess it’s a question of forgetting who you were once and moving on. After all, my dear ancestors, I will never return to the land that rejected me in the first place.

A pity I can’t win the Lotto. I would like to be as rich as Mugabe also. Or any of the other fat cats and chefs like Mbeki and the rest of the AU ministers who meet for breakfast.


Samuel Bartley's Education Panel Review 30th October - Inclusive Social Justice

Thanks to everyone who has donated money, offered their services and support of Samuel and the Bartley family.

Jonathan asked me to convey the thanks of the family.

They are now gearing up for the panel hearing - there is still time to donate financial contributions to the £3K the family have had to raise to fight the tribunal hearing.

If you still want to donate - send to Ian at St Matthews made payable to Jonathan Bartley.

Otherwise lets keep praying and supporting Samuel and his family at this difficult time.

To see a copy of the report the national paper click here

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Thomas Merton Quotes - Pt. 3

This quote is interesting in that Merton wrote it in 1961: Around the time of the Vietnam war/end of the Korean War. However, its astounding how pertinent it is to today's situation:

"It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others, and unable to see it in ourselves.

When we see crime in others, we try to correct it by destroying them or at least putting them out of sight. It is easy to identify the sin with the sinner when he is someone other than our own self. In ourselves, it is the other way round; we see the sin, but we have great difficulty in shouldering the responsibility for it. We find it very hard to identify our will and our own malice. On the contrary, we naturally tend to interpret our immoral act as an involuntary mistake, or as the malice of a spirit in us that is other than ourself. Yet at the same time we are fully aware that others do not make this convenient distinction for us. The acts that have been done by us are, in their eyes, "our' acts and they hold us fully responsible.

What is more, we tend unconsciously to ease ourselves still more of the burden of guilt that is in us, by passing it on to somebody else. When I have done wrong, and have excused myself by attributing the wrong to another who is unaccountably "in me," my conscience is not yet satisfied... The temptation is, then, to account for my fault by seeing an equivalent amount of evil in someone else. Hence I minimise my owns sins and compensate for doing so by exaggerating the faults of others.

As if this were not enough, we make the situation much worse by artificially intensifying our sense of evil, and by increasing our propensity to feel guilt even for things which are not in themselves wrong. In all these ways we build up such an obsession with evil, both in ourselves and in others, that we waste all our mental energy trying to account for this evil, to punish it, excuse it, or to get rid of it in any way we can. We drive ourselves mad with our preoccupation, and in the end there is no outlet left, but violence. We have to destroy something or someone. By that time, we have created for ourselves a suitable enemy, a scapegoat in whom we have invested all the evil in the world. He is the cause of every wrong. He is the fomenter of all conflict. If he can only be destroyed, conflict will cease, evil will be done with, there will be no more war.

This fictional thinking is especially dangerous when it is supported by a whole elaborate pseudo-scientific structure of myths, like those which Marxists have adopted as their ersatz for their religion. But it is certainly no less dangerous when it operates in the vague, fluid, confused and unprincipled opportunism which substitutes in the West for religion, for philosophy and even for mature thought."

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Wrath & Patience - Sins & Virtues

This month we continue with our theme of Deadly Sins and Spiritual Virtues, with the theme of wrath and patience.

We will reflect on these themes for the month - in services and discussions.

Remember, we shift from Tuesdays to Wednesday evenings.

So see you then.

For a full list of the events for this terms click here

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Thomas Merton Quotes - Pt. 2

This is the second in a series of quotes I'm posting from Thomas Merton's "New Seeds of Contemplation", possibly his best work. (First quote is below). This quote, when I read it, was so incisive, it really doesn't need any exposition from me:

"Mere living in the midst of others does not guarantee that we live in communion with them, or even in communication with them. Who has less to the communicate than the mass-man? Very often it is the solitary who has the most to say; not that he uses many words, but what he says is new, substantial, unique. It is his own. Even though he says very little, he has something to communicate, something personal which he is able to share with others. He has something real to give, because he himself is real.

Where people live huddled together without true communication, there seems to be sharing, and a more genuine communion. But this is not communion, only immersion in the general meaninglessness of countless slogans and clichés repeated over and over again so that in the end one listens without hearing and responds without thinking. The constant din of empty words and machine noises, the endless booming of loudspeakers end by making true communication and true communion almost impossible. Each individual in the mass is insulated by thick layers of insensibility. He doesn't care, he doesn't hear, he doesn't think. He doesn't act, he is pushed. He doesn't talk, he produces conventional sounds when stimulated by the appropriate noises. He does not think, he secretes clichés.

Mere living alone does not isolate a person, mere living together does not bring one into communion. The common life can either make one more of a person or less of a person, depending whether it is truly common life or merely life in a crowd. To live in communion, in genuine dialogue with others is absolutely necessary if one is to remain human. But to live in the midst of others, sharing nothing with them but the common noise and general distraction, isolates a person in the worst way, separates a person from others and from one's true self."

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Monday, September 03, 2007


Thomas Merton

I have recently been reading "New Seeds of Contemplation" by Thomas Merton.

It's a great book, full of depth, at times quite complicated. However, some of the quotes have been so obviously powerful to me, I thought it would be good to share some of them with you in a short series.

Here's the first, to kick-start your week:

"Our vocation is not simply to
be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. We are free beings and children of God. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in His creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity. We can evade this responsibility by playing with masks, and this pleases us because it can appear at times to be a free and creative way of living. It is quite easy, it seems, to please everyone. But in the long run, the cost and sorrow come very high. To work out our identity in God, which the Bible calls "working out our salvation," is a labour that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God, as God reveals Godsself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation."

Have a good week.

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