Tell each other the truth
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"Tell each other the truth, because we all belong to each other in the same body"
In these times God seems determined that we should tell one another the truth and dissolve our self-deceptions about the kind of world we have allowed to develop. A time of geo-political turbulence offers such an opportunity: for honesty, for each of us to make an examination of conscience; to investigate what models of human identity we have been working with; to listen to those whose experiences are different from ours. The divides are not new, but they have now been exposed unambiguously. Whether we like it or not 'we all belong to each other.' Whatever happens in the coming months we would do well to remember the person of Jesus and the people he gathers called the church. What is needed is a people capable of listening, and capable of telling the truth, with a narrative deeper and more mature than the story shaped by the politics of the day.
In this newsletter
In our last newsletter we marked signs of a new politics emerging out of this seismic moment. In this edition, we are fortunate to have some eminent voices including Jonathan Sacks and Stanley Hauerwas to help us understand what is going on. There's some brief T4CG News, videos from our recent debate and articles on the unfolding turbulence. As usual we bring you our latest selection of stories about how people across the Christian traditions are showing how the church can be part of the solution - reshaping the economy, transforming society and rehumanising systems that have lost their soul. Stories about collaborating with people with whom we disagree, as witnesses to the rich possibilities afforded by working together in shared purpose across our differences. We hope you find this content as fascinating as we do.
At Together for the Common Good we want to be in a better position to respond to the growing demand for our work. We've reviewed our governance and developed a strategy following our annual ‘T4CG Family Day’ when around forty of our associates met together for the first time. Our partnership projects are developing well, made possible by considerable pro bono involvement of a range of eminent contributors. However, our staff resources are tiny and overstretched so we aim to strengthen our financial position for the next four years. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss how to support us. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.
Our director, Jenny Sinclair, was recently the guest speaker for the annual meeting of the National Board for Catholic Women: her talk is available to read here. She has also recorded an interview for Christians in Politics' upcoming Manchester ShowUp conference and will contribute a keynote at Las Casas Institute's Truth Telling in Politics conference in December (see our events listings for details).
Our latest public discussion was on ethical investment and climate change. Over a hundred attended Business, Markets and the Common Good: the Challenge of Laudato Si', with many more following on Twitter. We were fortunate to have excellent speakers - Fr Seamus Finn, Sian Ferguson, Dr Sam Gregg and Fr Augusto Zampini and an excellent chair in James Featherby. Videos are now online and you can read quotes here.
What's going on
Stanley Hauerwas was in London recently to give a major lecture considering the causes of the current turbulence in Western politics. In "Is Democracy Capable of Cultivating a Good Life? What Liberals Should Learn from Shepherds" Hauerwas suggests democracy cannot work without a people who will tell the truth about what constitutes a life worth living. He identifies Christians to be well placed to take up this role but argues the church has failed to enable people do this. He refers in detail to "The Politics of Virtue" by John Milbank and Adrian Pabst which is reviewed in this powerful piece in the New Statesman by Rowan Williams who describes their book as "a monumental and un-ignorable diagnosis of a critical moment in our culture.’
For the US election: a New Yorker long read by George Packer, helpful for our context too: Hillary Clinton and the Populist Revolt. ‘While the Democrats were becoming the party of rising professionals and diversity, culturally, the Republican Party was getting closer to the working class."
In this extended interview with Le Figaro magazine, Phillip Blond sheds light on globalisation, left and right, Brexit and the new politics.
Read Things don't only get better, a tour de force by Lord Maurice Glasman on how to build a constructive political economy that works for the common good (and learn why the working class fell out of love with Labour). And in 'Salt and vinegar go well together', find out why he is working with Michael Gove on a new public commission on immigration policy. We'd see this as an example of a common good - people with estranged interests, from very different traditions, working together for the benefit of the community.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in his acceptance speech for the 2016 Templeton Prize, Rediscovering Our Moral Purpose’, warned that "if we continue to forget that a free society is a moral achievement that depends on habits of responsibility and restraint, then what will come next will be neither liberal nor democratic, and it will certainly not be free." We are honoured to have permission to share this text in our collection of opinion pieces.
Reshaping the economy
There are more ways to change the system for the better than you might think. In this edition we have collected a broad spread of examples, just the tip of the iceberg. First, take a look at this short video from Resonance Bristol: Dismantling Poverty Through Investment in Social Enterprise. To learn more about impact investing, including community land trusts and how local government pension schemes and social investment can be natural allies, click here.
Durham University and the Centre for Theology and Community held the MoneyTalks conference in Durham earlier this autumn, bringing together theologians, church leaders, and Christian organisations to consider how churches can take action on issues of money and debt in their communities. They have produced a free downloadable booklet outlining resources to support churches wanting to respond to issues of debt and financial exclusion in their local communities. Free printed copies from email@example.com
On the Responsible Finance website you can find a list of mission-driven finance providers that treat customers fairly, offer increasing access and are quality assured and professional. If you want a broad overview of financial inclusion activity, read the Community Investment Coalition’s newsletter.
The Just Finance Foundation website has practical resources and programmes for churches to support their communities including Credit Champions, Credit Unions, Debt Advice and Savings Clubs in schools - this is the Archbishop of Canterbury's initiative which was known as ToYourCredit.
The Centre for Social Justice and Legatum Institute have produced a report called 48:52 Healing a Divided Nation. It analyses the task ahead and scrutinises the reasons why people voted leave - 'a bold and unequivocal statement for millions of people who wanted to change the political, economic, and social status quo.’ The report includes a contribution from Frank Field MP.
If you need accurate stats on the level of deprivation in your area and want to compare them to other neighbourhoods across the country, go to Church Urban Fund's lookup tool, recently updated with the latest statistics - just enter your post code.
People finding themselves homeless need practical support but also holistic and human care: churches are uniquely well placed to offer this. This new briefing on homelessnessby Church Urban Fund looks at different types of homelessness and shows what churches can do to help. Also, check out audio and video content on housing issues gathered by London Churches Social Action, including inputs by Alison Gelder (CEO, Housing Justice and T4CG), plus more video content and other resources on housing provided by Capital Mass.
Can you answer the question “What do prisoners and ex-offenders need to learn?” based on your personal experience of prison or working in prison? If so please consider contributing to research being carried out by a ‘A Fellowship taking forward the legacy of The Monument Trust’ – a group of organisations convened by Lemos and Crane working together to improve criminal justice. You may also be interested to know about The Right Road a new report on prison reform, drawing on expertise from Catholic charities, chaplains and experts working in this field.
Over the last three years we've been delighted to have taken part in discussions with a group now launching as A Better Way, a network of people working in the public and voluntary sectors who want to move beyond ‘public services as currently conceived’. They are setting up cells across the country and want to find ways to liberate resources such as public spending, private investment and civil action. They support the principles behind Common Good Thinking while coming from a non-religious perspective.
Could you do with some free guidance and online training on Working with Volunteers? Click on the link to watch the first in a series of new webinars from Church Urban Fund’s Together Network.
The arrival of children from "the Jungle" in Calais to Lunar House in Croydon was coordinated by Citizens UK, many different churches and other groups. Meanwhile Citizens continues to support communities wanting to help with settlement and ForRefugees have resources and training events for parishes wanting to help refugees settle in the local community.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke on human trafficking at the most recent conference of the Santa Marta Group, a global alliance of police chiefs, bishops, religious sisters and representatives from civil society. Speaking of the progress they had made, he said they had moved "from initial conversations to informal partnerships built on good relationships, to firmly established formal agreements that are embedded in our institutions."
Would you like to introduce your parish, youth group, school or faith-sharing group to the principles of Catholic Social Teaching? We highly recommend Love in Action a new whole-parish engagement programme. To find out how to get hold of the materials, click here to contact Caritas Westminster who are currently running pilots with several parishes. This important resource was commissioned by Caritas Social Action Network.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to churches serving their communities - different styles of approach often reflect the character of different traditions. Indeed each parish has its own unique abilities, attributes and gifts. It's worth taking time to explore different approaches and see what you can learn.
Tackling loneliness and poverty is one of the key issues of our time. One of the most experienced groups in this field is the Catholic St Vincent de Paul Society UK network whose more than ten thousand volunteers are trained to approach this by person-to-person relationships, and by fostering sound budgeting and debt management.
To those outwith Evangelical circles the work of these churches serving their communities through the rapidly expanding franchise movement is largely unknown. While the Trussell Trust is the largest there are many others. Take a look at the Jubilee+ website to find out how volunteers through church franchises are supporting and cultivating family life, helping struggling families to handle money, providing support for health and disability.
This autumn sees the launch of the independent Commission on Religious Education, chaired by the Dean of Westminster, Revd Dr John Hall. Designed to inform policy makers, the aim is to improve the quality and rigour of RE and its capacity to prepare pupils for life in modern Britain. To make an early contribution you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Church of England has published its vision for education - Deeply Christian, Serving the Common Good - and Archbishop Justin Welby spoke about how church schools serve the common good.
Meanwhile the Catholic Diocese of Westminster Education Service recommended the principles of Blueprint for Better Business be adopted formally by the Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust: we understand this has been approved.
We are delighted to hear about a new vocation initiative based on listening, led by our associate Dunstan Rodrigues, through his work as an intern with Christians in Politics and the Centre for Theology and Community. He and his colleagues are keen to collaborate with churches, schools, universities, youth groups, trade unions, businesses to provide spaces to discuss and discern lay vocation.
Church leaders working together for the common good
In the context of continuing uncertainty about the status of European nationals in the UK, and responding to the anxiety they feel about their status, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Justin Welby issued a joint message of support to the Polish community.
It's all in the body language - by working side-by-side serving communities, church leaders of different traditions demonstrate that the mission of the church is about relationships rather than rituals, it puts people first. In Canterbury and Rome last month, nineteen pairs of Catholic and Anglican bishops from around the world met under the auspices of IARCCUM to talk about Catholic-Anglican practical collaboration. In a historic and moving meeting in Rome, they were joined by Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis, who commissioned the pairs of bishops to work for peace and the poor. The meeting also marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome. The Tablet's account indicated that the warmest applause was for the presentations of T4CG’s Catholic and Anglican theologian friends, Anna Rowlands and Nicholas Sagovsky, who encouraged the pairs of bishops to continue the Sheppard-Worlock tradition of working together for the common good, the inspiration underpinning T4CG.
In anticipation of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Pope Francis is determined to build stronger relationships across the Christian traditions. He has just completed a historic meeting with Lutherans in Sweden. The Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church pledged to work closely for justice and signed a declaration of intent on climate change and the refugee crisis.
Faith and Struggle on Smokey Mountain by Benigno Beltran ‘tells a story of people betrayed and abandoned by modern society, of a wondrous planet being destroyed by greed and excess, and of a God of mystery and 'consuming fire' who is discovered amidst the desolation.’
Phillippine Common Goods by Patrick Riordan SJ shows how the criteria of the common good can be used to confront real political challenges, in this case controversial issues bounding the newly-installed Duterte administration, such as eradicating the drug problem, criminality, and corruption in the country.
We do our best to bring you a good range of stories. We archive selected items from our newsletters in our Further Study Materials pages on our website.
EVENTS LISTINGS: Click here for listings of related events held by our friends and partners, including: National Estates Churches Network, Locality, ForMission College, Christians in Politics, Centre for Catholic Social Thought and Practice, Blue Labour, Centre for Enterprise Markets and Ethics, Las Casas Institute... and many others. Please tell us if there is an event you would like us to list.
We hope you find this newsletter helpful. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have an idea to discuss - after all, we're working Together for the Common Good.
Every good wish,
Together for the Common Good
Together for the Common Good is forming new governance and the membership of our new Governance Committee pro tem will be: Hilary Russell, Andrew Bradstock, Alison Gelder, Richard Holman, Nick Deeming, Helen O'Brien, Jenny Sinclair, Geoff Knott, Ken Madine. We consult with a circle of advisors.