Recent Blogs

Pride, prejudice, and the global pandemic

Pride, prejudice, and the global pandemic

The Gay Elders Video Series: A Conversation with Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker

Carolyn Baker’s mission is to create islands of sanity in a sea of global chaos. This mission necessitates the development of a variety of emotional tools alongside commitment to spiritual transformation. Through her multi-faceted outreach via webinars, podcasts, live workshops, books, and articles, as well as one-on-one life coaching, Carolyn is touching the lives of thousands to assist them in preparing for the dire consequences of the collapse of industrial civilization and abrupt climate change. Carolyn and Andrew have co-authored three best-selling books, Return to Joy, Savage Grace, and Saving Animals from Ourselves. Visit carolynbaker.net for more details. www.andrewharvey.net/pride
Black Lives Matter and Progressive Christianity - Adrian Alker

Black Lives Matter and Progressive Christianity - Adrian Alker

‘progressive Christianity’ should be considered tautologous...how could a follower of Jesus Christ, not be considered to be progressive

The philosopher Julian Baggini, speaking at our PCN conference in 2019, suggested that the notion of ‘progressive Christianity’ should be considered tautologous. How could an advocate of Christianity, a follower of Jesus Christ, not be considered to be progressive, if by that term we mean the advancement of humankind be it in social, economic, health and welfare terms? It should be a no-brainer that Christians seek to work for a world in which each human being is as valued, loved, respected as every other. A world of equal opportunities, equal possibilities. The reason why PCN exists is that the term ‘progressive Christianity’ should, yes, be tautologous but might at times seem more like an oxymoron, which is possibly the view of many philosophers, sceptics and many sections of society. For it is doubtlessly true that over the two thousand years of Christian history, much has been done and said by the Church which diminishes rather than advances the lives of human beings. As the life and teachings of the carpenter from Galilee became subsumed under the weight of the teachings of the established church, it became more questionable whether the church and its professed Christianity was a force for good or ill.

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PCN Newsletter 4th June 2020

PCN Newsletter 4th June 2020

In our eleventh newsletter Adrian gives news of our film project.

During this pandemic, especially during the time of lockdown, most of us will have watched on our TV’s or tablets more programmes, films, box sets than ever before. 98% of all households possess a television and in some homes there will be numerous i pads, lap tops and mobiles. When I was a boy in the 1950’s there was just one TV channel, in black and white, when Watch with Mother (!) meant settling down to Muffin the Mule or the Woodentops. Contrast that to today when my 5 year old grandson has two controls in his hand, one negotiating the Amazon firestick and the other scrolling through a myriad of catch-up children's programmes.

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PCN members have told PCN Chair that we need to value all workers

PCN members have told PCN Chair that we need to value all workers

the average hourly wage for many care staff is £8.10... One in four social care workers are on zero-hours contracts

My working life as a parish priest meant that I was familiar with care and nursing homes, seeing individual residents, sharing communion services, enjoying a Christmas carol sing. But a few months ago I saw a care home in a different light – my mother at the age of 102 went into care. She is a healthy centenarian with a sound memory and a love of people and for the last six years, after giving up her own home at the age of 96 to live with us, we have looked after her needs. By last December we all decided that mum would be safer in full time care because she was too vulnerable to leave alone for any length of time- she could have fallen, there could be an unwanted visitor at the door and so on. Many readers of this newsletter will have had similar experiences in their families.

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PCN Newsletter 28th May

PCN Newsletter 28th May

In our tenth newsletter we hear from Adrian Alker about the need to value all key workers.

My working life as a parish priest meant that I was familiar with care and nursing homes, seeing individual residents, sharing communion services, enjoying a Christmas carol sing. But a few months ago I saw a care home in a different light – my mother at the age of 102 went into care. She is a healthy centenarian with a sound memory and a love of people and for the last six years, after giving up her own home at the age of 96 to live with us, we have looked after her needs. By last December we all decided that mum would be safer in full time care because she was too vulnerable to leave alone for any length of time- she could have fallen, there could be an unwanted visitor at the door and so on. Many readers of this newsletter will have had similar experiences in their families.

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PCN Newsletter 21st May

PCN Newsletter 21st May

This is the ninth is our series of lockdown newsletters

Marcus Borg Memorial Conference – Postponement to 2021 PCN members and friends will know that we had planned our fifth conference in honour of Marcus Borg to be held in Birmingham in October in association wit the Church at Carrs Lane. We had invited Revd Deshna Shine to lead our day and plans were well in hand. Deshna is the Executive Director of the Progressive Christian movement in the USA. It is now clear that it will be some considerable time before we all feel safe to attend conferences and Deshna has agreed to lead the conference in the autumn of 2021, when we do hope a vaccine will have been discovered and be universally available.

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A call to discover divine mystery by Dostoyevsky

A call to discover divine mystery by Dostoyevsky

You will perceive The divine mystery in things

The whole of it and every grain of sand Love every leaf Every ray of God's light Love the animals Love the plants Love everything If you love everything You will perceive The divine mystery in things And once you have perceived it You will begin to comprehend it ceaselessly More and more everyday And you will at last come to love the whole world With an abiding universal love - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Did God send Covid-19 and should we even ask that question? by John Wijngaards

Did God send Covid-19 and should we even ask that question? by John Wijngaards

Most Christians I am sure will reject this image of the Tyrant God - John Wijngaards - professor (emeritus)

John Wijngaards writing in The Tablet says: This reflection of mine will not dwell on the coronavirus – though my thoughts were sparked by a sermon on the pandemic by a Pentecostal preacher I watched on TV. Thumping the pulpit he shouted: “You ask why? Why indeed! God is chastising us for our sins! Don’t we read in Genesis 6,5 that God sent the Deluge because ‘the Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become’?!” Most Christians I am sure will reject this image of the Tyrant God, the difficult-to-please Disciplinarian, the all-seeing Eye, the strict Master who expects perfection from everyone and unleashes disaster to punish us. But is the Testing God much better? He allowed Job to endure crippling hardships, including the death of all his children and grandchildren. He inflicts pain and suffering on people to give them a chance to gain merit, as the apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque, believed. Or what about the Partisan God, the God who spares us if we know how to invoke his/her pity, if we plead with tears in our eyes? It reminds me of a college student I knew whose father died of cancer in his forties. “I begged God”, she told me. “I spent hours in church on bare knees. I cried. I implored God to save my dad, for the sake of mum and my four brothers and sisters. No use. He is dead.” And then she added. “I will never go to church again.”

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Universal Basic Income? - Chair Adrian Alker invites your views on post Covid society

Universal Basic Income? - Chair Adrian Alker invites your views on post Covid society

What changes do we want to see in our country as a result of this awful experience of the coronavirus?

This was the invitation I gave to PCN members in the fifth of our weekly newsletters, back on April 23rd. Already we have received nineteen emails in response and we hope others may wish to take up the invitation to reflect upon what we are learning about our economy, our workforce, our environment, our priorities as a nation. I thought I would try to highlight in the coming weeks some of the wished-for changes which members have written about. So here is one possible change!

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Of the value of life

Of the value of life

I May Be Dead, But I Will Not Have Gone

My last breath will have been given to the air around me, So look for me in the still air of morning, And in the rushing winds of the afternoon. My body will have returned its borrowed substance to the world around us, So look for me in the growing grass And the swaying of the woodland trees. My genes are only borrowed from the generations before me, So look for me in the countenances of my children, And the happy smiles of my grandchildren. The waters of my body will have been returned to the atmosphere, So look for me in the magnificent clouds of the day-time And in the radiant skies of the sunset. My love was given to me by my parents, So look for me in the love I have given you And in the love you give to your children. My thoughts I have always shared with those who cared to listen, So look for me where other folk now run their courses And may change the world just a little. From the stuff of stars came the atoms that made me, To the stuff of stars they will eventually return. I may be dead, But I will not have gone. Patrick Coleman* Now a Member of Truro Meeting, Patrick was for many years a Member at Liskeard and the original editor of The Fountain.
Principles for a pandemic by Joan Chittister

Principles for a pandemic by Joan Chittister

"Rules are not necessarily sacred," Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "principles are."

One thing is clear: "Rules" are not getting us out of the largest pandemic in modern history. We're washing our hands and wearing our masks and staying indoors and counting the number of people in every group, but the numbers keep going up regardless. At the same time, principles, if any, may be necessary but nobody talks about them much —despite the fact that it's principles that guide our behavior or help us to evaluate what's going on around us. Principles are the motivating force upon which everything we do is based. Worse, if we never ask ourselves what our principles really are, how can we ever survive, let alone resurrect the foundations of a moral, an effective society, tumbled by circumstances, felled by the deaths of the past. How can we ever change what must be changed? That kind of spiritual ignorance is no small factor in the shrinking of the soul of a country.

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a wonderful world of exquisite beauty and of great mystery

a wonderful world of exquisite beauty and of great mystery

That leads us to believe that even a little “Somebody” matters.

In the maternity hospital where I was born in 1944 another child entered the world, I don’t now if it was a boy or girl but what I do know is that this baby did not survive. In my childhood my mother often spoke of this baby and particularly of its mother. Way back then, confinement was for ten days and babies did not stay with their mothers but were brought into the ward for feeding at certain times of the day. On every occasion that this happened, this young childless mother, who remained in the ward with all the others, was constantly being remaindered of the immensity of her loss. My mother already saddened by this baby’s death, thought it was the cruelest procedure imaginable and she spoke of it with hurt but also with disgust, throughout the rest of her life, not obsessively by any means, but this baby and this young mum always mattered to her.

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PCN Newsletter 30th April 2020

PCN Newsletter 30th April 2020

In the sixth newsletter we hear from Sandra Griffiths and share online resources.

There are times when the ground around my house looks more like a mini-meadow than a garden. And that’s the way I prefer it, especially at the moment. After positioning my chair outside with the optimum view of the panoply of colour and texture in front of me, I can start to appreciate the scene. Before long a verse from my favourite poem comes to mind, along with the realisation that nobody has ever set eyes on the combination of details from exactly the same angle in exactly the same light conditions as I am doing. What a privilege! I fell in love with Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard at school.

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PCN Newsletter 23rd April 2020

PCN Newsletter 23rd April 2020

In the fifth of our weekly newsletters we ask 'what next?'

I want to start this week with an apology; firstly, to Nigel Jones and secondly, to many of our members. It was evident from the contents of my inbox that I had not made it sufficiently clear that Nigel’s thoughts, included in last week’s newsletter, related to an excursion prior to the lockdown instruction. This has not only made people think badly of Nigel through no fault of his own, but it has also caused genuine upset to some PCN members. Sarah, PCN Administrator

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If you want to find God buy yourself a rose, says an old Chinese parable.

If you want to find God buy yourself a rose, says an old Chinese parable.

Being vague is a whole way of life. I would form a society to promote this idea but we already have Anglicanism.

Reflections of a retired prison chaplain Christians talk of heaven but realists know better, for such talk, as my grandfather used to say, is “nothing but kidology.” I shared a bedroom with my grandfather as a child and this same grandfather used to say to me on a hot summer’s night, “You and me shouldn’t be in here lad, on a night like this, we should be laid beneath the stars.” At the time I didn’t know what he was on about, as he was getting on for 80 and for life in me, I couldn’t imagine him every doing that kind of thing.

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PCN Newsletter 9th April 2020

PCN Newsletter 9th April 2020

The third of the weekly newsletters looks at Easter.

Easter Day and Easter week approaches and I look out of my study window across the road to the church opposite, with its doors firmly shut. The priest will soon be putting up the usual reminder to passers-by that this is the season of hope and new life, an empty wooden cross will be draped with a white cloth. Meanwhile folk walk up the road, some wearing protective masks, families on the way to the park, children with only mum or dad to play with. No Easter outing for them. The buses are empty of passengers, pedestrians carefully avoid each other. It certainly doesn’t feel like the season of resurrection.

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May your God go with you

May your God go with you

Dave Allen (TV: 1960s-1990s) was a professed atheist, but he invariably ended his show with the words ‘May your God go with you.’

The Irish television presenter, Dave Allen (TV: 1960s-1990s) was a professed atheist, but he invariably ended his show with the words ‘May your God go with you.’ Dave Allen’s words conveyed an important truth: that ordinary people often think deeply about their faith. They believe what they believe, and like Dave Allen, not always what they are told to believe: for example, that the Holy Bible is the revealed word of God.

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