Jean Vanier: why do the strong need the weak?
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Are our economy and society structured in such a way as to value the contributions of all? This was a question asked at our recent event in Parliament where we invited Jean Vanier address a cross party gathering of MPs and Peers, along with Archbishop Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
The common good is not possible without everyone involved. In his talk, Jean spoke of how society is impoverished if it fails to embrace the gifts of the marginalised, and what the strong have to gain by living in community with the weak. His talk explored the value of community living, not just for people with disabilities, but for all of us. Press and radio reports of the event are shared on our website and you can watch the film of Jean Vanier here.
More below - our work, what's going on, updates, Lent resources and related events.
Our work in 2015
In the run up to the election we want to encourage people of different religious and political persuasions to come together and work for a common purpose.
In addition to the Jean Vanier event last week, we also held a cross party discussion for MPs and Peers, in association with Christians in Parliament, to come together and ask 'What happens when we look at policy through the lens of the Common Good?' We looked at two difficult areas: immigration and welfare, and we are now planning a follow up meeting.
Over the coming months we will be continuing to work on our new Together for the Common Good Conversation model. It's a problem solving tool designed to bring together ordinary people of divergent views to apply common good principles, work out solutions and take positive action. We are already in discussions with four organisations who want to use it and the toolkit will be released under a Creative Commons licence later this year.
We are excited that our book of essays Together for the Common Good: towards a national conversation will be published at the end of March. Edited by Nicholas Sagovsky and Peter McGrail of the T4CG Steering Group, the book has 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 are not claiming any ground here - it is intended as a conversation opener and we hope it will stimulate thinking and action across political and religious persuasions, both in the run up to the General Election and beyond.
We continue to develop the Together for the Common Good website as a resource for you with useful and stimulating content. We share news about related events, and our resources pages and previous newsletters are packed with links and downloads.
What’s going on
In this, Holocaust Memorial Week, we are thinking about the ultimate rejection of human dignity and its consequences. We recommend Night will fall, a deeply harrowing and important documentary, screened for Holocaust Memorial Day on Channel 4.
In his homily at New York's Trinity Wall Street last week, Archbishop Justin Welby spoke about how David Sheppard and Derek Worlock 'never let up in their work for the common good'. Like us at T4CG they are also an inspiration for him. Click here to read the full text.
For churches serving the community, there is a good source of materials, contacts and downloads (on foodbanks, credit unions, emergency response and much more) at the London Churches Social Action Group website.
‘Without a vision, the people perish’ Proverbs 28:19: Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have launched their General Election website, with resources to encourage churches to prepare for May.
'From a negative peace to the common good': this year’s Memorial Lecture at the Liverpool Catholic Archdiocese Justice and Peace Commission, was given by Jenny Sinclair, of the T4CG Steering Group.
New in our growing Opinion Pieces pages, Paul Donovan writes about the workplace and the common good and says the Catholic Church has done well to develop a dialogue with business leaders, but now needs to develop more of an alliance with leaders of the unions.
The latest annual Romero lecture was given by Lord Rowan Williams last month, in which he reminded a packed St Chad’s in Birmingham that Christ is found in people living in poverty.
The Show up Sunday campaign by Christians in Politics, challenges all of us to serve and lead, not just to follow or complain. Although primarily targeted at evangelical networks, it’s relevant for all - why not encourage your church to host a Show up Sunday event?
Jonathan Rowson’s new Spiritualise report produced with the Royal Society of Arts is important. He says ‘We need a viable commons, grounded in the depths of shared human experience’. Hard copies are due next month but in the meantime there is a pdf download and you can watch this video.
You may like to read this review of Terry Eagleton’s provocative and thoughtful book Culture and the Death of God. It isn't quite what it seems at first sight.
Capital Mass, set up to build the capacity of churches to serve the common good, is a joint venture between the Diocese of London and Church Urban Fund. They are recruiting for their first Executive Director - click here for details.
For Lent 2015 we’re sharing three ideas for resources:
Seeking the Common Good is a major Lent course produced by the Diocese of Worcester. It aims to provide answers for all those enquiring after study material in advance of the election which relates to elections or themes of good society and common good.
Church Urban Fund has produced Hope, Actually a five-week Lent course which explores the hope we find in Jesus Christ, and its power to transform our increasingly anxious and cynical society.
The Centre for Theology and Community have produced Seeing Change, a five-session course, based on the book of Nehemiah, using accessible videos. It draws parallels between the rebuilding of Jerusalem and our need to rebuild communities, to help churches listen to the needs of the local community and respond in a way which combines charity and justice.
Events that may interest you
Saturday 7 February, 9.30 am to 5.00 pm: Serving the common good, a one day conference organised by Jubilee+ for activists, those involved in public policy, intercessors, church leaders, and all those concerned to see Christian values reflected in public life in the UK and beyond. The Ridgeway Centre, Milton Keynes. Workshops and keynote addresses by Dave Landrum, Martin Charlesworth, Nola Leach.
Monday 9 February, 8.30 pm: Listen out for Patrick Riordan SJ taking part inAnalysis on BBC Radio 4, discussing freedom of speech and the Catholic Church. Patrick is one of the contributors to our forthcoming book, plus you can read more from him in the Viewpoints section of the T4CG website.
Wednesday 11 March, 10.00 am to 5.00 pm: Theos are holding a conference in London on Chaplaincy in the UK, providing an opportunity for theological and empirical exploration of chaplaincy. The conference will also see the launch of their study: A Very Modern Ministry: Chaplaincy in the UK.
Wednesday 11 March, 5.30 pm – 7.00 pm: Faith and Politics – Where’s the conscience of the nation? One of the Westminster Debates series featuring Dr Eliza Filby, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Peter Kellner and Clifford Longley. Registration is free. Venue: RUSI, 61 Whitehall, London SW1A 2ET.
Wednesday 21 March: a study day at Durham University on ‘Catholic Perspectives on Poverty’ hosted by The Centre for Catholic Studies (Durham University), The Newman Association, and The National Board of Catholic Women. Speakers include Alison Gelder (Housing Justice), Dr Mark Hayes (St Hilda Chair, Durham University), Dr Richard Finn, (OP Cambridge University) and Sr Helen Alford, (OP Angelicum).
15 April, 6.00 pm: Dr Anna Rowlands is giving the Manchester Newman Lecture, The Politics of the Common Good: What does Catholic Social Teaching have to contribute to electoral politics? No charge for entrance. Friends’ Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS. Booking essential.
Our work this year so far has been supported by Westminster Abbey One People Fund, CCLA, MB Reckitt Trust, Hymns Ancient and Modern, the Passionists Grants fund and the Church Urban Fund and many generous individuals and organisations who have supported T4CG with help-in-kind. Our work is outstripping our resources so 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.
With very warm wishes for 2015.
Together for the Common Good
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Together for the Common Good is guided by a Steering Group: Patrick Coldstream (Chair), Andrew Bradstock, Alison Gelder, Peter McGrail, Joanna Moriarty, , Jenny Sinclair, Maria Power, Hilary Russell, Nicholas Sagovsky. We consult with a wider group of advisors.
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