The practice of the common good
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How are we going to live together in an increasingly fractured society with widely divergent views, and what methods will be required to tackle the issues we face? The solution may lie in each of us putting the principles of the common good into practice and doing that together across our differences.
We hope our Common Good Conversation model will be helpful - a framework for people of different views to tackle a difficult social issue together, to apply the principles of the common good and discern solutions for action. We are drawing on the excellent feedback from our pilot last month as we refine the model and develop a toolkit which will be made available in the new year.
After nine months’ work the manuscript of our book of essays ‘Together for the Common Good: towards a national conversation’ is now at the publishers. Due for publication in the spring, the book’s contributors are 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. We hope it will open up a conversation and illuminate how much we share across our different traditions.
How can the practice of the common good be helpful when it comes to policy? Our next two conversations for Parliamentarians will offer a space for them to think about this together on a cross party basis.
In the first of these we are honoured to be welcoming the pre-eiminent advocate for humanity, Jean Vanier of L’Arche to talk to MPs and Peers in January. He will talk about how the strong and the weak can live together for the common good, and we are delighted that Archbishop Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols will be joining him in conversation.
Later the same month, we will be collaborating with Christians in Parliament to facilitate a cross party discussion for MPs and Peers to explore how applying the principles of the common good can throw new light on two difficult areas of policy, immigration andwelfare. We're delighted that Anna Rowlands, Adrian Pabst and Angus Ritchie will be leading the session.
We are currently looking for an exceptional comms consultant to take on a 12 month part time assignment to run our 2015 communications strategy. Please contact us for a brief if you're interested. Deadline for applications is 27 November.
What have you done differently as a result of your encounter with T4CG? We always listen to our allies to determine our future decisions and it would help us to know how the T4CG project has impacted your thinking or the way you work. Please contact us.
This newsletter can only give a flavour of the Together for the Common Good project which is growing by the day. The momentum is overstretching our pro bono efforts so we are seeking basic core funding. If you’re in a position to help, please get in touch.
We think you may be interested in the second Conference on Post-Liberal Politicson 11-12 December (the first was in June and was much more fun than the title might suggest). Registration is free. Taking place at the University of Kent Canterbury campus, it will be focusing on policy and strategy before and after the General Election, and confirmed speakers include Richard Beardsworth, Phillip Blond, Mark Garnett, Lord Glasman, Chris Holmes, Dave Landrum, John Milbank, Caroline Julian, Michael Northcott, Jenny Sinclair, Neil Turnbull, Nick Rengger.
A one day conference on Quaker Capitalism is taking place on Wednesday 26 November. The conference is organised by the Centre for Enterprise Markets and Ethics, and is aimed at learning from the early development of the Quaker businesses. It will focus on the issue of trust in the business corporation, models of ownership and the purpose of business itself.
Featured this month
- In his latest meditation on Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium, John Ellison (an SVP activist from Wallasey) contrasts the ‘lifeless language of liberalism’ with the counter cultural message that ‘humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves.’
- New in our Opinion Pieces this month is a piece by Helen O’Brien, CEO of Caritas Social Action Network. In the annual Dearing Lecture given for the Cathedral Universities Group, she speaks about how universities are perfectly placed to offer their students a formation in the common good, and reflecting on her experience of our conversation model, said our ‘research and insights are fascinating and game-changing.’
- Together for the Common Good’s Jenny Sinclair spoke at a parish in Ruislip recently, saying ‘being an agent of change for the common good’ is about each of us drawing on our inspiration and finding ways to put the principles of the common good into practice, and ‘being called to a special role – of reconciliation. We need to identify where there is division and find ways to build bridges.’ Read more here.
- There is a developing debate among our secular friends in the voluntary sector about its mission - they are concerned to ensure that its historic vision to serve the whole community is not diverted by politics, funding or passing fashions.Civil Exchange have published a collection of thoughtful essays in Making Good: the future of the voluntary sector. A key article is by Steve Wyler in which he articulates a position very close to ours - which demonstrates how the common good may well be the vehicle that can unite faith-based and secular initiatves.
- The C of E continues to step up its support for the growth of credit unions, other community finance organisations, local money advice services and other initiatives that promote responsible community finance, debt and money advice and financial education. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s initiativewww.toyourcredit.org.uk is now the hub for all this activity, aiming to create a fairer financial system focused on serving the whole community and harnesses national and grassroots resources of the church. #ToYourCredit
- We’re interested to track how the face of banking is changing from the ground up, and the key role that community investment is playing: if you are too, take a look at the work of the Community Investment Coalition
- Putting Purpose into Practice was the title of the recent Blueprint for Better Business conference – you can find video and other resources on their website. BBB was started after some business leaders appealed for help after the 2008 crash. It is patiently introducing the principles of Catholic Social Thought into the culture of the city of London, and is working with some of the most influential companies, such as Unilever, KPMG and Vodafone.
- The Just Act website, provided by the Community Development Foundationis building a Knowledge Bank for community groups to share resources. The site has a forum and a range of resources to encourage people to do practical things to improve their neighbourhoods. If you know of a local group that has something helpful to share, Just Act invites you to register and add it to the site.
- An excellent story of how purpose driven cultural change in business is not only possible but happening now, is in the radio programme Just Culture on BBC Radio 4. Worth downloading the podcast.
- Faith too significant to ignore, a conference organised by FaithAction was held last week with talks and workshops to help faith-based social action organisations adapt to the changing socio-economic landscape. Linked to this are the Cinnamon Network’s Faith Action Audits, launched by Stephen Timms, which are gathering evidence from fifty church networks to strengthen the confidence of local churches and that of local authorities, police and other agencies to work more closely together. We hope that this evidence can be linked to existing research to see the true scale of faith-based social action.
- If you’re interested in how people can find meaning in work against a backdrop of mass youth unemployment, widespread poverty and growing inequality, we recommend you read Humanising Work by Chris Beales.
- Christian Aid’s latest report Tax for the Common Good, brings together theology and tax and looks at the purpose of tax, how governments should apply it, how companies and individuals should pay it and what they should expect of governments in return, in the light of scripture. Featuring chapters by Esther Reed and Angus Ritchie.
- Clifford Longley was commissioned by Theos to explore an alternative vision to market fundamentalism, drawing on his encyclopaedic knowledge of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Thought. Jon Cruddas said 'it's the best thing I've read all year.' Just Money is short and an easy read, setting out how CST is a coherent practice that could humanise the business economy and offer a positive way forward.
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 we’re grateful to the many generous individuals and organisations who are involved by supporting T4CG with help-in-kind.
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.
Every good wish,
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, 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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