May the peace of Christ disturb you this Christmas
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We hope you have a very happy and peaceful Christmas. The paradox of Christmas is that while we celebrate, our peace is disturbed because the birth of Jesus reminds us of our common humanity and solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are excluded, oppressed and marginalised.
Why would God choose to come to the Earth in the weakest human condition, as a baby, in a poor family? Why choose such a cold and humiliating place to be born? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially?
While this newsletter goes out to over 1,000 subscribers including our secular friends and allies from different faith communities, as you know T4CG's roots are in the Christian traditions. For us, Jesus’ birth is a catalyst for humanity and shows us how we are to live - that vulnerability is a strength, that the warmth of humanity must take precedence over the metrics of wealth and power. Estrangement from our brothers and sisters weakens us all - we are only truly human when we are in relationship with our fellow human beings, working together for the common good.
Our work in the new year
We think collaboration and encounter will help to counter mutual suspicion and division so we think it is important to encourage people of different religious and political persuasions to come together and work for a common purpose.
Through January and February we will be writing up the toolkit for our new Common Good Conversation model, which is designed to enable ordinary people of divergent views to tackle difficult social issues and take action together. We believe the practice of the Common Good in this practical way can generate a ‘language of hope that leads to action’. The model intentionally involves participants balanced across faith traditions and political persuasions in facilitated dialogue and the application of Common Good principles.
We want to create spaces for politicians to think about the common good together on a cross party basis. So January will see Together for the Common Good holding two small events for MPs and Peers:
On January 19, we are partnering with L’Arche and Jean Vanier who will give a special talk to MPs and Peers: 'Living together for the common good: why do the strong need the weak?' Archbishop Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols will be joining him in a conversation chaired by Sarah Montague. For various reasons beyond our control this is taking place in a tiny venue - we are grateful for your understanding that places are prioritised for politicians and policy influencers. However - we are filming the event and sharing it via our website afterwards.
On January 27, in collaboration with Christians in Parliament we are facilitating a small discussion for MPs and Peers to come together across party lines to ask 'What happens when we look at policy through the lens of the Common Good?' In this instance we are looking at two difficult areas: immigration and welfare. We're delighted that Anna Rowlands, Adrian Pabst and Angus Ritchie will be contributing to the session, chaired by Lord Harries.
We are excited that in March 2015 will see the publication of our book of essays Together for the Common Good: towards a national conversation. Edited by Nicholas Sagovsky and Peter McGrail of the T4CG Steering Group, with chapters by Anna Rowlands, Jonathan Chaplin, Andrew Bradstock, Esther Reed, Patrick Riordan, Jon Wilson, Lord Griffiths, Phillip Booth, Lord Glasman, Tehmina Kazi, Clifford Longley, Sam Burgess and Malcolm Brown.
With a Foreword by Rabbi Julia Neuberger, the book positions the common good as an ancient tradition whose time has come. In chapters from different theological and political perspectives, the common good is explored as an approach which transcends party interests and presents a vision for social and political transformation. We hope it will stimulate conversation across political and religious persuasions, both in the run up to the General Election and beyond.
A flavour of what's been going on
Click here to watch the recent Annual Theos Lecture by Will Hutton and responses from John Cruddas MP and David Willetts MP. The debate built upon Clifford Longley's Just Money and discussed how Catholic Social Teaching can and should play a significant role in our public life.
If you haven’t already, we urge you to read the speech Pope Francis gave to the European Parliament in which he challenges challenges European leaders to defend dignity of the most vulnerable.
You may be interested to know there is a movement called Economy for the Common Good growing in six countries across Europe. Christian Felber is the founder of ECG and they advocate businesses using common good metrics; they have developed a common good balance sheet! Read more here.
Lord Glasman's vision for a coalition for the Common Good between universities, churches, citizens initiatives, unions and local business is set out in a lecture he gave on 26 November to the Centre for Urban and Rural Development Studies, titled ‘The political economy of decentralisation’
Citizens UK, the energy behind the Living Wage campaign and the home of community organising has produced a manifesto in advance of the General Election. They work with over 350 member institutions across the country in multiple ways at grassroots level to encourage people to vote and organise for change. Read their newsletter here.
One of the most significant reports this year has been Feeding Britain, the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger led by Frank Field MP and the Bishop of Truro. It unpacks the food banks crisis and reveals the underlying causes. Read the full report here.
Phillip Blond gave the prestigious annual Wilberforce address to the Conservative Christian Fellowship on 9 December and was warmly received. This represents a shift in Conservative thinking and we hope the transcript will be shared soon.
Jonathan Chaplin at the Kirby Laing Institute of Christian Ethics has produced a special election page with helpful links and a supporting series, Ethics in Brief will be starting in January.
Finally, on 15 January 2015, Eliza Filby is due to publish her book, God and Mrs Thatcher: the book explores the relationship between Margaret Thatcher and the churches during the 1980s and draws on the Sheppard and Worlock archives.
Events that may interest you
Monday 19 January 2015: Financial Inclusion: The Next Move Forward, American Square Conference Centre, London. The purpose of this one day conference (with reduced fees for credit unions and charities) will be to take stock of the progress that has been made so far in promoting financial inclusion, and to examine the next moves forward, throughout the UK, internationally and in SME and trade finance. There will also be a session devoted to the role of digital and mobile technologies.
Friday 23 January 2015: Inequality And The Common Good, LSE Faith Centre, London (with a video link from Wall Street Conference, New York). In partnership between St Paul's Institute, St Mary-le-Bow Church, JustShare, and the LSE Faith Centre. Organised to coincide with the 2015 Trinity Wall Street Institute conference entitled 'Creating Common Good: A Practical Conference for Economic Equality', the event will include a live-stream conference session from New York with Archbishop Justin Welby.
24 February 2015: Building a Politics of Hope Conference; St Bride Foundation, London. Exploring the role and impact of faith-based leadership in local communities and how they relate to ‘secular’ authorities. The conference concludes with a free public lecture delivered by Rev. Steve Chalke MBE, Founder of Oasis Trust. The conference is a joint initiative between the William Temple Foundation, the Church Urban Fund and the Joint Public Issues Team.
Call for Papers, ‘Making all things new? Evangelii Gaudium and Ecumenical Mission’ St John’s College, Cambridge, 29 June - 1 July 2015. Organised by Duncan Dormor (St John’s, Cambridge) and Alana Harris (Lincoln, Oxford). This conference will explore the implications of EG within the Catholic Church and beyond. Confirmed speakers include Professor Tina Beattie, Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, Professor Massimo Fagglioli, Professor Paul Murray, and the Right Revd Rowan Williams.
Our work this year so far has been supported by Westminster Abbey One People Fund, CCLA, MB Reckitt Trust, Hymns Ancient and Modern and the Church Urban Fund and many generous individuals and organisations who have supported T4CG with help-in-kind. If you are in a position to help us please get in touch.
We hope you find this newsletter helpful. We're always open to suggestions so don't hesitate to get in touch - after all, we're working Together for the Common Good.
Warmest wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas, and all the best for the New Year.
Together for the Common Good
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Together for the Common Good is guided by a Steering Group: Patrick Coldstream (Chair), Hilary Russell, Joanna Moriarty, Nicholas Sagovsky, Jenny Sinclair, Alison Gelder, Andrew Bradstock, Maria Power, +Stephen Platten, Tim Livesey, Peter McGrail. We consult with a wider group of advisors.
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