Tag Archives: churchwarden

Decolonise your diet!

Every so often you realise you’ve missed a trick! I was chatting to another church warden and she commented that she cannot wait for somebody to demand her church be decolonised. She’d point out that the parish isn’t worthy and gift the church building to those protesting. Then the church itself could meet in the local community centre where it’s warm, the chairs are comfortable, and she doesn’t have to worry about the maintenance. Let somebody else go slowly bankrupt trying to look after the building and at the same time face the opprobrium of the community who neither attend nor contribute, but are furious that you’ve not maintained it to the high standards their grandfather thinks he remembers.

Well it’s not just church wardens who can leap on this bandwagon. What about farmers! First let’s hear it for sheep farmers and their carbon sequestrating wool. Surely cotton ought to be no platformed! Not only has it a horrendous environmental record, but it’s integrally linked with slavery. Wearing a cotton t shirt? Check your privilege!

Then there are the other foodstuffs redolent with the stench of colonialism, imperialism and slavery. Tea for example, sugar, bananas, and coffee. All of them should be banned immediately. Admittedly I’ll miss coffee, but there again, a refreshing mug of honest beer with your breakfast has to surely be the morally superior option. So if somebody comes into work not smelling of drink, send them for compulsory unconscious bias training.

If you stop to think about it, it would make sense (and be administratively easier) just to ban the produce of entire countries on ethical grounds. Given the treatment of Native Americans, just ban all US imports. There are worries about the rainforest, just ban everything from Brazil. Clearly there are going to be no imports from Australia because of their historic treatment of the aboriginal inhabitants.  

Then there is France and their refusal to admit there are more than two genders. Given that (according to one website) there are many different gender identities, “including male, female, transgender, gender neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, and all, none or a combination of these” it has to be pointed out that just using ‘le’ and ‘la’ is obviously some sort of phobic. Evidently, as a gesture of disapproval, we’ll have to ban food imports from countries with languages that presume the gender of things.

Again we cannot keep importing cheap labour from countries poorer than us. If that isn’t colonial exploitation and the visible sign of a rampant patriarchy I don’t know what is. One alternative is to pay visiting workers decent wages, perhaps linking farm workers’ remuneration to the pay of Civil Service Executive Officers. But that would put up food prices. Another alternative would be to conscript university academics from all universities where the intake of working class white males is lower than the proportion of this group in the general population. Admittedly as a workforce they’re likely to be neither use nor ornament but still. I personally would chuckle watching them harvesting winter cabbage in the sleet in December whilst asking whether the universe is real, or whether you can experience anything objectively.

Now it might be argued that we’re playing with fire here. Surely, like Caesar’s wife, we have to be above suspicion. This is where we have to be careful and do things in the right order. After all, once we’ve managed to ban most imported food and stopped them flying vegetables and fruit into the country, people are going to be so damned hungry they’re not going to ask too many questions about the food they can get.

Amazing how, when you have something real to worry about, a lot of other ‘problems’ suddenly disappear.” Ah well, in the future we might even look back nostalgically at all those entitled people with their first world problems.

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There again, what do I know? Speak to the experts.
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As a reviewer commented, “Another gentle and entertaining read about the pros and cons of Farming, ably assisted by Sal the collie dog and Billy the feral farm cat.
As always, I’m amazed Farmers make enough money to keep their farms and families going, given the ‘guidance’ given by the ‘experts’ in government and the Civil Service…”

Protected to death

Do you have anything to do with an agricultural show? Run a gymkhana? Have any connection with a village hall, or a scout or guide troop?

The Home Office has issued a Protect Duty Consultation. ‘Making the public safer at publicly accessible locations.’ It could well interest you.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/protect-duty

 In case you wondered what a publicly accessible location was the document states, “Publicly accessible locations include a wide variety of everyday locations such as: sports stadiums; festivals and music venues; hotels; pubs; clubs; bars and casinos; high streets; retail stores; shopping centres and markets; schools and universities; medical centres and hospitals; places of worship; Government offices; job centres; transport hubs; parks; beaches; public squares and other open spaces. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does demonstrate the diverse nature of publicly accessible locations.

The foreword, from the security minister, James Brokenshire, states, “I want to thank Figen Murray, whose son Martyn was killed in the Manchester Arena attack, for the significant contribution she has made through her tireless campaign to introduce ‘Martyn’s Law’. It is an old saying that ‘hard cases make bad law’ and this is a classic example of the sort of massive overreaction that the civil service is capable of at its worst.

So what do we have to do? Well the consultation document comments.

“However, there are many reasonable and appropriate measures which can be – and often already are – undertaken by organisations who operate at such locations. These include:

• Having security plans and procedures to react and respond to different threats which are understood by all staff and regularly exercised;

• Having simple and freely available training and awareness courses in place as part of new staff and refresher training programmes; and

• Employing simple security measures (such as door locks, roller shutters) for crime prevention and anti-social behaviour, which may also be used in response to other security threats.

So who is going to be caught up in this? The consultation is clear.

“1. Proposal: The Duty should apply to owners and/or operators of publicly accessible venues with a capacity of 100 persons or more.”

So seen from a rural standpoint, this includes churches, (a high proportion of rural parish churches will hold 100 for a wedding or a funeral) village halls, community halls, agricultural shows, ploughing competitions, gymkhanas and similar. (Even if 100 never turn up, the fact that there’s capacity for a hundred is all that matters.)

2. Proposal: The Duty should apply to large organisations (employing 250 staff or more) that operate at publicly accessible locations.
So this will automatically pull in those who use smaller buildings. Given that ‘staff’ may include volunteers, this nicely brings in the Scout and Guide Associations, the Mother’s Union, and a whole host of other subversive organisations.

“3. Proposal: A Protect Duty should be used to improve security considerations and outcomes at public spaces.”


This one starts to spread the net wider. So with


4. Other aspects of a Protect Duty it specifically states, “Companies and other organisations responsible for holding, selling or hiring products that could be used by terrorists as a weapon in an attack at a publicly accessible location to adhere to security guidance.”
Given that terrorists have used kitchen knives, cars, purchased or hired, what sort of hoops are they now going to expect us to go through when we sell a second hand car?

Then for a church warden, vicar, the agricultural show or village hall committee contemplating these rules there is guidance.

“For organisations at the lower end of criteria thresholds, this would entail simple low – or no – cost preparedness measures such as ensuring that:

• Staff are trained and aware of the nature of threats, likely attack methodologies and how to respond;

• Staff are trained to identify the signs of hostile reconnaissance and take appropriate action; and

• There are plans in place for an organisation’s response to different attack types, which are regularly trained and exercised.”

So our church (which doesn’t have ‘staff’ but is run by volunteers) has to train its volunteers and also run regular exercises? Note that it does promise on-line training. Given most of our ‘staff’ don’t have email, and those who do have rubbish rural broadband, between you and me, they’re not selling it to me.

There is a table which details the sorts of things various sized organisations ought to be doing. But the document does include weasel words about being ‘reasonably practical’.
It even says, “The term ‘reasonably practicable’ is already a well-established and understood concept for organisations through health and safety legislation and fire safety regulations.”
Which is true, I went to the HSE website and looked up what it meant.

The definition as set out by the Court of Appeal (in its judgment in Edwards v. National Coal Board, [1949] 1 All ER 743) is: “‘Reasonably practicable’ is a narrower term than ‘physically possible’ … a computation must be made by the owner in which the quantum of risk is placed on one scale and the sacrifice involved in the measures necessary for averting the risk (whether in money, time or trouble) is placed in the other, and that, if it be shown that there is a gross disproportion between them – the risk being insignificant in relation to the sacrifice – the defendants discharge the onus on them.”

So I’m sure that has set your minds at rest. Actually to be fair to the HSE they do elucidate. “Extreme examples might be:

To spend £1m to prevent five staff suffering bruised knees is obviously grossly disproportionate; but

To spend £1m to prevent a major explosion capable of killing 150 people is obviously proportionate.”

So if our church normally has a congregation of 10, then it’s proportionate to spend one 15th of £1m to prevent a terrorist attack capable of killing ten people? This is £66,666. Given that could be ten times our annual income, my recommendation, put to the PCC, is that we issue churchwardens with H&K MP5 submachineguns. (In 9mm, so they do less damage to fixtures and fittings.) Given that our rural churches tend to be in isolated locations where the police take forever to arrive, then any terrorists will have to be dealt with by the churchwardens (or perhaps the incumbent?)
Perhaps for funerals, where the vast majority of the people attending will not be known to our ‘staff’, the Churchwardens could cover the crowd with their firearms which the incumbent frisks the mourners down before allowing them into the church?

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Me? I just write stuff, don’t confuse me with somebody who has a clue about what is going on. Ask an expert.

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As a reviewer commented, “

This is in the same league as Herrick, absorbing you into a different world, with its trials and tribulations making a background for the occasional moment of hilarity or joy. Hats off to Jim and his ilk, putting food on our tables despite our unwillingness to pay a decent price for it. I am frequently outraged that I live in a society which is prepared to pay more for bottled water than milk, and drowns the country in plastic in the process.

Jim manages to get this across without ranting and then uses his wry sense of humour to leave you howling with laughter at a series of events that a mere townie could never have imagined. Thanks for letting me into your world Jim – I am now committed to changing my behaviour and paying the extra for local, seasonal produce.”

Sorting the monkeys at your circus, all for a Werther’s Original.

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You know what it’s like, I’d just go for a walk, nothing special, just round and about. But it meant that I somehow misplaced so much time chatting to people that I had to change my route which in turn led me into chatting to another couple of people. And one of the interesting things about being a churchwarden is the questions people ask you.

OK so some of it is technical stuff about when the sheep are going back into the churchyard to keep the grass down. But a lot of it is far deeper than that.

We had a couple of funerals. An elderly couple, the husband died and the day after the funeral they found the widow dead. It was sad, they’d no family, their son had died years ago and the husband had already been buried with him. They had good friends and kind neighbours but they’d lived for each other for over sixty years and she didn’t want to go on. They found her drowned in the dock.

So then it’s her funeral. If anything she got more people than her husband, and it was tough because they felt guilty. It’s that nagging question, “What could I have done?” Frankly they couldn’t really have done any more; her community had supported her as much as they could without trespassing on her dignity and independence.

And then at the end of funeral somebody comes up to me and asks if she’ll go to heaven, what with suicide and stuff.

So I just looked at him and explained gently, “I’m sorry, I’m just the churchwarden, you really want to speak to him at the front, he decides these things.”

“Oh, you mean the Vicar?”

“No, I mean the chap nailed to a cross on the stained glass windows. He’s the one who decides that sort of thing; it’s above my pay grade.”

 

And then today I get asked whether I approve of Gay marriage in church! I’m sitting on a roadside bench dressed in my working clothes with wellies and flat cap. Now it might be that this is the standard garb of the working theologian, in which case it’s an obvious mistake to make.

So we discussed the matter. I explained that various denominations had had a problem with ordaining women. I coped with this by just listened to him at the front. He said, and I briefly paraphrase, “A good tree can’t bear bad fruit. And a bad tree can’t bear good fruit…………You can tell each tree by its fruit.”

So I just watched those women I knew in the ministry and looked at what came of it. Well it was pretty obvious that they were doing what they were supposed to be doing so I wasn’t going to get in the way. Same with gay clergy, it’s just the case of having the humility to shut up and watch what’s going on.

Well the chap I was talking to seemed to think that this was sensible, but didn’t cover gay marriage.

So I asked him what he was, what summed him up? He thought a bit and said, “I think I’m a walker.” He looked to the lady who was with him for confirmation and she agreed.

So I said, “So you don’t define yourself by your heterosexuality?”

I’m afraid that for me, the first question to a wedding couple should be ‘who are you, what sums you up?” I’d hope that they would answer that they’re Christians, rather than telling me their sexuality.

You see, if they’re Christians, part of the Church, part of the community, known for the work they do and the help they give, then it’s obvious that they’ll want to marry in their parish church and I think that the parish, knowing them and loving and respecting them for what they do, will want them to be there.

But if they’re just a couple who want a pretty building so that they get ‘better’ wedding photos, why on earth are they bothering with a wedding service where they make vows in the sight of a God they don’t show any signs of believing in?

 

Anyway I think the couple liked the argument, the lady gave me a Werther’s Original

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They once asked a chap, ‘What is Truth?’

But what is Justice?



When somebody shoots down a documentary maker, what are they covering up? Haldar Drom of the Governor’s Investigation Office on Tsarina finds himself dealing with illegal population control drugs, genetic engineers, starmancers, and the risk of brushfire wars. Who knows how far up the chain of command the corruption reaches?
You use what you can get, allies in unusual places, reconnaissance by journalist, or a passing system defence boat.