Ideology vs. the Common Good
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Just before the United Nations' Sustainable Development Summit in New York this week, Pope Francis will address the US Congress on Thursday, and the UN General Assembly on Friday. His visit to the UN is likely to highlight the failure of the international community thus far to muster the political will to overcome self interest and work together to tackle poverty, conflict and migration. But his way is not to carp and demonise. While deadly serious, he is tender and forgiving: reconciliation, dialogue and our common humanity are sure to be among his key themes.
He has consistently called for purpose driven leadership and more politicians “fully committed to political dialogue and consensus building”. Last weekend in Cuba he drew attention to the crude oppositional nature of ideology, both neoliberal and collectivist.
Catholic social thought transcends social and political ideologies of the 'right' and 'left': it reveals how both the market and the state have a tendency to centralise power and dehumanise. In Evangelii Gaudium he reminds the ‘right’ that "it is the responsibility of the State to safeguard and promote the common good of society” and cautions the ‘left’ that “business is a noble vocation" that enables people “truly to serve the common good.” He stresses to both that "realities are more important than ideas."
In the British context, a new ingredient in our political soup has re-surfaced old hostilities, bringing a stronger taste to a public conversation that had become bland. Articulating honestly-held positions is healthier than repressed conflict. But mutual demonisation reduces the possibility of negotiation, makes the public queasy about politics and masks the many flavours of reality: people of goodwill have a variety of perspectives. As Glasgow councillor Mhairi Hunter commented on Twitter: “If people lose friends over politics they're not doing politics - or friendship - right.”
It is the duty of politicians to aspire to govern in the interests of the common good: the immaturity of binary politics makes good policy less likely; meanwhile the vulnerable continue to suffer. It makes the work of building a common life together more difficult. The imperative of reconciliation comes into sharp relief: as Archbishop Justin Welby says "For Christians reconciliation is not optional: it’s the very heart of the gospel."
Scroll down for news about T4CG, upcoming events, links, downloads and news about what's been going on
_________________________________________________________The T4CG Project - latest
The T4CG project has evolved over two phases. Phase one, starting in 2012, looked at 'how collaboration works best for the common good', featuring a major conference and a research programme. Then from late 2013 until early summer 2015, phase two saw us developing relationships across traditions and sectors, bringing people together, piloting our conversation model, holding cross party parliamentary conversations, public debates, and the publication of the T4CG book. We are now embarking on phase 3, and over the next couple of years we will build on what we've started and also publish our research findings, produce resources, offer training sessions and help others deliver common good projects. Watch this space! Until now we have managed on a mainly pro bono basis but growing momentum demands a more sustainable model, so we plan to register as a charity and raise funds for a core team. If you would like to discuss how you can help, please get in touch.
Events coming up
Please let us know of events you would like to share and we will try to include them on our website's event listings page. The autumn is going to be very busy - so for now, we would like to flag up just a few events we think may be of interest to you:
Our friends at Theos are hosting a series of interesting events throughout the autumn. Find out more via this link.
Catalyst is a free, accredited leadership course for young people of different faiths, run by Near Neighbours, aimed at 16-25 yr olds who want to make a difference in their communities. This September and October, Catalyst courses are beginning in the Black Country & Birmingham, Dewsbury, Bury, and London. To find out more about these courses please visit the following pages: Catalyst in the Midlands and the North and Catalyst in London
24 September, Social Enterprise, Work and Well Being Conference. Birmingham. Major conference bringing together the housing association sector with the social enterprise sector, to explore how social enterprises can be used to improve lives, secure apprenticeships and build communities. Discuss business models, develop partnerships and work together to put theory into practice. Speakers include: Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK; Kirsty McHugh, ERSA; Melanie Mills, Big Society Capital; Ross Fraser, HouseMark; Matt Leach, HACT.
29 September, 7.00pm - 9.30pm, From Encyclical Letter Gaudium et Spes to Together for the Common Good: Catholic social teaching as public theology’ Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool. T4CG's Canon Dr Nicholas Sagovsky, co-editor of the T4CG book, contributes to the series of talks marking 50 years of receiving Vatican II.
2 - 3 October New Parish Conference: Re-Imagining Neighbourhood Renewal, ForMission College, Birmingham. An interactive two-day conference, bringing together innovative missional practitioners from across the UK and around the world to foster interaction and share knowledge. Too many speakers to list - click here for details.
10 October 9.30am Mental Health Awareness training for Church Leaders and their congregations at The Crossing, St Paul’s Church, Darwall Street, Walsall, WS1 1DA. Organised by Transforming Communities Together and Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. For more information, or to book, please email James Henderson.
15 October Housing Justice Roadshow: Your Church and the Housing Crisis Westminster Cathedral Hall, London. Featuring speakers John Coleby, Chair of Caritas Westminster, T4CG's Alison Gelder, CEO Housing Justice, Jon Sparkes, CEO Crisis, Alan Benson, Greater London Authority, Housing Strategy, Dan Wilson Craw, Generation Rent, Bishop James Langstaff. Workshops include: Using surplus church land and buildings for affordable homes; Night Shelters; Pastoral outreach to street homeless people; Needs of homeless migrants with no recourse to public funds.
22 October, 6.30-8.00 pm Reconnecting Politics with People, Shakespeare Theatre, University of Winchester. Organised by T4CG's Andrew Bradstock, this is an evening of conversation between Arnie Graf and Danny Kruger, moderated by Isabel Hardman of The Spectator. Arnie Graf, leading community organiser, mentored a young Barack Obama while both were involved in church-based community action. Danny Kruger is Chief Executive of the charity Only Connect which helps ex-offenders, and is a former special adviser to David Cameron. For enquiries please contact Timothy.Secret@winchester.ac.uk
31 October 11.00 - 4.00 To Change the World - A Challenge for every parishioner. The ACTA 4th National Conference, Leeds Trinity University. Keynotes: Jon Cruddas MP: Catholic Social Teaching - What is Justice? and T4CG's Jenny Sinclair: The Common Good - Building Community. More information at www.acalltoaction.org.uk (ACTA members only).
2 - 4 November The Spirit of Catholic Renewal: Signs, Sources, and Calling, Ushaw College, Durham. Major international conference featuring Stanley Hauerwas, Timothy Radcliffe, OP, HE Cardinal Walter Kasper, Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, SJ, Tina Beattie, Myriam Wijlens, Paul D. Murray, Anna Rowlands, Janet Soskice, Sr Elizabeth Johnson, Eamon Duffy, Karen Kilby, Clifford Longley.
4 November What is the purpose of business? The 11th annual conference of Quakers and Business, Friends House, Euston Road, London. Workshops and speakers including Professor Colin Mayer, Graham Randles, and Giles Hutchins. £40 for Q & B members, £50 for students and £60 for non-members, includes refreshments and lunch. Bursaries available.
5 November Money Matters The Church Urban Fund annual conference on financial exclusion, Manchester. Keynote speakers: Sir Hector Sants, Prof Karen Rowlingson and Canon Dr Angus Ritchie. Very practical hands-on conference with workshops on: Building financial capability, Providing debt advice, Supporting credit unions and community finance, Starting conversations about money, Campaigning for justice in the finance system, Creating a community hub.
10 - 11 November Locality '15 This major two-day conference in Liverpool is organised by Locality is designed for anyone in the community sector. The Keep it Local theme supports better services, better value and better results for communities. The organisers promise two days of 'inspiration, innovation and fun'.
11 November 10am - 4pm A Glass Half Full; exploring strengths-based approaches to community development. This event is co-organised by Church Urban Fund and Edinburgh University Divinity School and aims to bring together academics, clergy and practitioners to discuss and share their diverse expertise on the topic. Keynote speakers include Cormac Russell, Revd Dr Jeremy Morris, Lucie Stephens, and Pastor Mike Mather. For more details, please get in touch with Bethany Eckley as soon as possible.
4 - 5 December Engaging with Poverty in the Early Church and Today, St Mary's University, Twickenham. Organised jointly by St Mary's, Tearfund and Caritas, this is an interdisciplinary and international two-day conference for those involved with charitable bodies, churches, and mission and development agencies.
29 April - 2 May 2016 Faith in Work A residential retreat hosted by the Augustinian Community at Boarbank Hall in Cumbria. Jointly organised by Nick Franchini of Good Works and T4CG's Dr Maria Power. Speakers include Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Dr Kathryn Mannix. The event brings together professionals from across industry and public service to explore how best to restore our faith in work. All enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
What's going on, links and downloads
Just a few links to highlight just some of the activity for the common good, across different sectors. The list is only limited by our time! Please send us details of items you think we should share.
English and French church leaders made a joint statement on the refugee crisis. If you want to know how to help, look at the CalAid Facebook page - they support displaced people in Calais refugee camps. They are linked with many micro charities helping refugees and will ensure all donations being sent via them are reaching the people that need them the most, and are being given to them in a dignified manner.
Some background on the Summit to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations: the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda was mandated by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2013 (Resolution 68/6). The Summit will take place on 25-27 September 2015 in New York, and will be convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly, per Resolution 69/244 of December 2014.
Ahead of December's UN climate change summit in Paris we are noting three major faith-based contributions: the International Islamic Climate Change Declaration, Pope Francis's encyclical Laudato Si' (Praise be to you: on the care of our common home) and the recent Lambeth Declaration signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Read comments from Christian Aid here and get involved with their campaign here.
A new All Party Parliamentary Group on responsible tax for the common good is being set up. It will be led by Margaret Hodge and involve David Davis and John McFall. Our friends at CoVi will be part of the core advisory group. A report, produced by CoVi with KPMG has scoped much of the territory: click here to download.
More on tax: read this sermon by Pope Francis, given in Cuba, in which he talks about Jesus' transformational interaction with Matthew: 'do you believe it is possible that a tax collector can become a servant? Do you believe it is possible that a traitor can become a friend?'
The growing Citizens UK newsletter is packed with information about community organising activity across the country, click here to download.
With UK politics changing day by day, it would be premature to comment at this stage. The following have fringe event programmes we think will interest you at the forthcoming party conferences Christians on the Left, Conservative Christian Fellowship, CoVi Thinktank, ResPublica, Demos
The B Corps movement launches in the UK on 24 September. Read more here. Bates Wells Braithwaite is the first law firm in the UK to become a certified B Corporation. The movement began in the USA and there are now almost 1,400 Certified B Corporations from over 120 industries and over 40 countries using business as a force for good.
During the summer, our friends at the Church Urban Fund brought together a group of church leaders, practitioners and academics to reflect on the contribution that faith organisations play in building flourishing communities. Speakers included Maurice Glasman, Luke Bretherton and David Jarvis. The afternoon featured case studies, including one about T4CG. You can listen to all the talks and learn more about the event here.
The Abolition of the Global – Learning to Live in the World in One City Be inspired by an outstanding lecture by Archbishop Justin Welby on religiously motivated violence. You can read the text and watch the video here.
Also motivated to speak about religiously motivated violence and how to build the peace, Dave Andrews has published The Jihad of Jesus: The Sacred Nonviolent Struggle For Justice. Drawing on a lifetime's experience shared with his Muslim friends working together in community, Dave proposes a radical and gentle way to unite through Christian-Muslim solidarity. The book will surprise you. Read the Huffington Post review.
Our friends at ResPublica have recently launched two reports: In Professions We Trust - fostering virtuous practice and a return to vocation in teaching, law and medicine and the obligation of practitioners to serve the common good; and A Community Right to Beauty, arguing that the planning process is extended to ensure beautiful localities are accessible to all.
A Silent Epidemic: how can we share one another's loneliness? A Church Urban Fund and Edinburgh University event with church leaders, practitioners and academics featuring Tracey Robbins, drawing on research conducted by JRF in four areas around the UK, and Prof. John Swinton, with presentations from two projects working to build stronger communities. You can listen to the talks from the day here.
The Land of Scotland and the Common Good - a report by The Land Reform Review Group, published in 2014. This is the most comprehensive review of the system of the ownership and management of land in Scotland to date: several steps ahead of England and well worth a read for all those interested in land use and property laws.
The T4CG book
We hope you find this newsletter helpful. We're always open to suggestions so don't hesitate to contact us - after all we're working together for the Common Good.