Movement 138


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Magazine of the Student Ghristian Movement

lssue 138 . Summer 2011

Movement Editorial

3 Pacifist, not Powerless

Movement Interuiew

4 The Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin

lnterviewed by Jay Clark.

Movement Feature: The Politics lssue

6 Christian Anarchism: Self-identifying at the fringe

By Soo Tian Lee.

8 Youth vs Climate Ghange

Lizzie Gawen believes that young people have something to say.

10 Society'sRestrictions

Does society provide access and suppor.t for all? Nicola Sleap

doesn't think so.

13 Student Protest

Debbie White doesn't believe students are apathetic about political


14 Tax Avoidance

The moral injustice of tax avoidance in the UK and globally

and why this is something Christians should be concerned

about. Frank Kantor.

Movement Articles

18 What is the Church?

Sam Gibson reflects on Church, the Eucharist and Society.

21 What does the arms trade have in common with

Universities and a Church of England Priest?

Abi Haque explains.

Movement Golumns

24 Sexuality is a Political lssue

We Fought the Law . Symon Hill.

26 Ten Propositions on Political Theology

Propositions . Kim Fabricius.

Movement Reflection

28 Goming Down the Mountain

Paul Parker offers advice for festival-goers

Glosing thought

29 | am making all things new

A liturgy of readings and reflections on power and transformation

by Rosie Venner.

2 . Movement . Spring 2011

Pacifist, not powerless

Some thoughts from the lona Community's Students' Week. Thomas Worrall


There are two topics to avoid at the dinner table: religion

and politics. Nothing divides people more than finding out

that someone else is not on your team. "What, you're not

a Christian?" "I can't believe you would vote for Labour."

Combining the two in this issue of Movement, it may be

time to expect arguments.

You can't have failed to notice the recent protests regarding

university fees. Hundreds of people are scared and upset at

the NHS reforms. The interaction of anti-discrimination

laws with religious beliefs as regards fostering a child, or

staying in a bed-and-breakfast, have been prompting people

to take sides. This stuff makes people angry.

I recently stayed with the Iona Community for Students'

Week. Iona is a Scottish island, and the place where Christianity

was re-introduced to Britain in Mediaeval times, after

it had died out after the Romans left. In the Abbey there,

the Iona Communify welcome guests to stay with them and

experience community living. The Iona Community (not

all of whom live on the island) are commited to working

towards justice and peace. During Students' Week, there

were sessions led by Alison Phipps on the theme of conflict

transformation. I'd like to share with you some of the ideas

I took away from these sessions. Many apologies to Alison

for things I have misremembered: I was too busy thinking

on the deep issues to take notes!

Conflict transformation is different from conflict resolution.

The latter seeks to solve the problem that is under

dispute, and often involves looking for compromise on the

issue, leaving each side still focussing on whether they are

the winner or the loser. Conflict transformation involves

looking more at the holistic situation that led to the issue,

and prompts those who are taking sides to consider where

the other side are coming from. Even in the worst conflict

imaginable, each side will have reasons for doing what they

are doing: finding out the other side's reasons can help start

the transformation process.

At this point you may be thinking that this is yet another

one sided Good Christian's Guide To Being a Wuss*. How

often as a Christian, if that's what you define as, have you

been told that the correct thing to do when wronged is simply

forgive the perpetrator? I have struggled with being told

such things in the past. It just isn't possible to permanently

squash feelings of anger and injustice without doing serious

damage to yourself. Forgiveness takes time, and can't be

rushed through on an imposed schedule, yet that is exactly

what is often proclaimed from the pulpit. The subtext tends

to be if you can't forgive when told to, you are not as good

a Christian as those who can. Equally, forgiveness doesn't

mean forgetting, or worse still letting yourself be put back

in the same situation. The verse most often used to justify

this is Matthew 5:39: "But I tell you, do not resist an evil

person. Ifanyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them

the other cheek also."

Dr. Walter Wink proposed an interesting interpretation for

this verse. Instead of the frequent interpretation that states

that Christians are called to be doormats, this was in fact a

call to make your opponent look ridiculous. In Jewish society

at the time, the left hand was used for unclean tasks and

thus you couldn't hit someone with it. Thus, to hit someone

on the right cheek would necessitate a back-handed slap.

This was a gesture used to shame a subordinate and assert

power over them. What Jesus was advocating was offering

them the other cheek for another go, but there was no easy

way to perform a back-handed slap on the left cheek. Thus,

Jesus was encouraging someone in that situation to assert

their dignity without challenging their social status (which

would be a much bigger task). Similar explanations can be

made for other verses in that passage.

What I took away from Alison's sessions is that the Christian

way does not simply mean submission. Christians

often fight for causes they believe in, often against all but

impossible odds. If someone campaigning for nuclear disarmament

is arrested by the police, Jesus is calling them

not to resist arrest, but he is not calling them to be made to

look like a fool or a victim. In a one-sided battle like those

fought by protesters, the poor odds may contribute towards

fatigue and disillusionment, but it's lack of dignity that can

strike the final blow.

There are plenty ofjust causes to fight for. It is my interpretation

of the Christian faith that all of us are called to work

towards a better world, and for some that calling involves

protesting and fighting. The main thing to remember is that

our opponents also believe that their cause is justified; but

that does not give them the right to force us to submit.

Summer 2011 . Movement . 3


Interuiew wit/J t/te Reu.

Rose Hudson-Wilkin

The Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, interviewed

by Jay Clark in her office in the House of

Commons. Rose Hudson-Wilkin is Chaplain

to the Speaker of the House of Commons

and parish priest to two parishes in the most

deprived area of Hackney, East London.




begin, can you give a little background - have

Voo felt called to ordained ministry and


how did you experience that call?

I got called to ministry at a very early age, I was probably

about fourteen when I got an overwhelming sense that this

is what I'm meant to be doing. Growing up in my church in

Montego Bay, Jamaica, I had the experience of ministering

at a very early age, not just sitting in the pews, but actually

being involved. I took great pride in all of that: reading lessons

and intercessions and leading the singing of choruses.

We would have a Sunday where we would lead the worship,

while the adults were there and that was very af6rming.

How did the responsibility that you were given then

affect how you treat young people in your churches


I am very consciously aware that young people need to experience

something that is real. I remember we used to go to

Sunday school before morning prayer - and we used to find

morning prayer rather boring - we had to say all the canticles

and the Te Deum, which we called the tedious because it

was so long. And yet now that I can say my faith is alive and

really personal, the words are just so beautiful and I want

to say them, I long to say them - with such enthusiasm and

a real sense of excitement at what I'm saying. So, now I am

able to lead worship in that way, and am excited about what

I'm saying and doing. I think if you're passionate about the

ministry, about serving God and his word then other people

will catch it - it's contagious.

You are Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons

and have two parishes in Hackney, these are

very different jobs but what do you find to connect

them together?

It is quite a contrast, but what brings them together at the

end of the day is people. People are people, although the issues

and themes running through may be slightly different,

at the end of the day you're working with people and that's

what's special and unique about my work in both places; I

get a lot out of working with my parishioners, listening to

their stories and encouraging them.

Debates in the House of Commons can have quite an

aggressive, heated atmosphere to them. Do you see

another side to life and work there?

I think I do. I think in the robust atmosphere of the chambers

people sometimes forget themselves, in the way they

behave and relate to one another. But you know, I see them

in different contexts - and I can only hope that in time the

prayers will impact on them in such a way that they don't

behave so badly with one another. They don't do that all the

time, it's interesting that it's usually in the Prime Minister's

question time that they behave so badly; in other debates

they're much more measured. I went to a school and I was

telling the children what I did, and this little boy said'Miss,

is that the place where they shout at each other?' and I

thought 'from the mouths of babes'. Yes, I do see a different

side to them. I see them when they're deeply concerned

about issues that don't necessarily impact on them person-

4 . Movement . Summer 2011



ally, but that they really feel passionate about. Some of hasn'tgotanythingattachedtoitbutisjustoverwhelmingthem

do feel really passionately about certain issues. ly his love for us and his desire that we should have and live

what do you feel should be the church,s involvement :*u:1t

in potitics? what should it be epeaking about and tal(-

ing action on?

life'.That's what inspires me about the christian

faith' I don't have to jump through hoops' God loved me

even when I was being rebellious and didn't want to know or

didn't understand. So that's pretty special for me, and that's

I think the Church has a unique role, and the Church of Eng- what I find attractive about the Christian faith.

land, being an established church, has an even more unique

role in the public space. I think we should be there, ir, ,p".""

like these [the House of commons]. I think *. ,ho.,ld bu

what frustrates me is not so much about the christian faith

as about organised religion and the debates that the church

gets itself involved in internally' The internal squabbles

unapologeticaboutbeing here,andweshouldbeprophetic.

about whether or not we should have gay people' straight

Just because we are an established church, ,"" do.rt .r".d

people' black people' pink people' whether we should have

to agree with everything politicians do or say. We need to

disabled people' all that sort of stuff I think is a

take our cue from God and from the scriptures and I don't :"T"1'

mean just blindly opening the Bible, reading it and saying

"we must do this", in the twenty-first century. But I believe

loadof nonsense' frankly' And a distraction from us living

out the gospel'

there are certain eternal truths _ Do you have any worde of

that srill stand us in good stead I Want yOUng peOple tO -irao- for the current gen-

;:*:"#H:H:Hil recognise the power in erationorstudents?

we shourd be the Ezekiers, the theif handS :ffJ;:T:',il,:Ji,"*

Jeremiahs and the Isaiahs: we

should be the prophets today' and challenge people'

school we were tarking about

what we wanted to be, and what we wanted to do. I find it

I think the church's political commitment should be to com- interesting that here in this country we don't do that. Even

munity, not to personal issues. I think we should be speak- when people are doing GCSEs or A levels, they are still saying

to family concerns, and to the concerns of those who are ing "I don't know...". I think there's a level of maturity that


we are missing, and I don't know what has contributed to

How do you think Christians should demonstrate this

commitment? More churches are getting involved in


What I would like to see is for students to understand the

community action and campaigns noq particularly privileges that they have. It may not feel like that to them,

around the govetnmentts cuts.

but one day they are going to grow up, and engage with real

life' so to speak' And it will be a shock to the system' There is

Absolutely that's one of the ways that we can do that. we

a saying.that if you don't know where you're going then any

can see the impact that these things have on ordinary peoroad

will get you there' and that is very true'

pre, and sometimes when you are making lawr, yo,, "na "r"

sitting in what might appear to be an ivory tower you may Very often we see people who are just drifting, being blown

not realise the impact that they are having on real people, by the wind one way or another. I want young people to

up and down the country in their various constituencies. recognise the power in their hands, I want to see them go-

That's what many of the MPs are trying to bring into the ing out and marching, but I don't want to see them being

debate, the idea that these cuts can't be divorced from the stupid, covering up their faces and smashing windows: itt a

impact that they are going to have on people who will lose distraction. You're taking away from the good of saying "we

their jobs, or people who are ill and have worries about the are here, and this is why we're here"; it's counter-productive,


we have far too much going for us to be doing silly things

I think politics is about people, and the church should not

like that'

see it as a choice, or an either/or: they should be there. They We just need to think before we act. There is power in our

should be dealing with what is happening and challenging hands and we need to use it wisely using it destructively


what is happening.

takes away the good. I believe that young people do have

IAlhat inepirer you about being part of the church,

' and something ': ? ""u

what frustrates you?

I think what inspires me is the love of God, the love that

can be heard' than it will'

I think that if you say it in a way that

Jty Clarkis a

Quaker, a recent

graduate dnd a

witer who likes to


Summer 2011 . Movement . 5

Politics Feature

Christian Anarchism

Self-ldentifying at the Fringe

"How can a Christian be an anarchist? Don't you know that state

authorities have been placed by God on earth?"

"What kind of anarchist are you if you say you're a Christian? The

anarchist principle is clear: no gods, no masters!"

My name is Soo Tian and I am a Christian


Such is my confession, and I must admit that it

has proved to be a reai challenge to identify myself as being

both a Christian and, at the same time, an anarchist. Over

the few years that I have done so, I have found that such

an act is commonly seen as a syncretism of two radically

divergent traditions which is, at best, curious and, at worst,


There are complicated theological and political issues that

arise from the confluence of Christianity and anarchism and

it is beyond the scope of this brief article to discuss them in

any detail. I will, instead, try to convey why I believe this

unorthodox blend can help to address problems that arise

when one simply identifies as one or the other.

Christianity and the State

Christianity is a faith with a revolutionary core. Various

Christians throughout history have pointed out that there

are passages in the Bible such as Acts 4:32-35 which set out

values which may form the basis of socialism, anarchism's

cousin in leftist political thought. However, what is discussed

less are the passages which show a radical critique

of temporal power, which appears in our daily lives most

strongly in the form of the state, but also in all sorts of other

situations where hierarchies exist. When threatened with

the might of the Roman state, Peter and the other apostles

replied, "We must obey God rather than any human authority."

(Acts 5:29, NLT) And in Luke 22:25-26 Jesus said to his

disciples, "In this world the kings and great men lord it over

their people, yet they are called 'friends of the people.' But

among you it will be different." (NLT)

Nevertheless, today most Christians do not question the

authority of the state. When examples are cited, some may

admit that there are many in positions of power who are

corrupt, but hardly ever is the logic of hierarchy and leadership

challenged. When pushed with verses that assert the

lordship of Christ over the lordship of other humans, many

think it a solution to have God-fearing persons in such positions.

To (mis)use an old Marxist phrase, these Christians

believe that they can bring about change merely by 'seizing

the apparatus of the non-Christian state' (the original word

'bourgeois', in this case, replaced by 'non-Christian').

Christian anarchism is an attempt to bring the Christian

faith back to its radical roots. Against the defeatist acceptance

that hierarchies will always exist, we assert our position

with the phrase, "one God, one Master!" In my view,

although worshipping (and in many ways living) together

as a community of believers is crucial to the Christian way

of life, making Christ Lord of all also means that we do not

attempt to place ourselves in between others and God. The

'power structure' I believe in is a horizontal one in which the

only vertical element is that of individuals and collectives

with their Creator.

In short, the anarchist critique of hierarchical structures

allows Christians to reassert Biblical concepts of radical

equality in all areas of life.

Anarchism and Violence

Everyone knows the traditiond caricature of an anarchist,

which depicts a bearded man with a bomb in his hand. In

many ways the images and reality of anarchist theory and

practice have come a long way from the days where theories

of insurrection based on 'propaganda of the deed' were

dominant. Nevertheless, in contemporary anarchist prac-

6 . Movement . Summer 2011


tice there still remains a certain openness to use violence as

one of many tools used to achieve the goals one is fighting

for. The black bloc is perhaps the most famous current example

of confrontational tactics where resistance is carried

out by force.

It must be noted that Christian anarchism is not the only

tendency within the anarchist movement which rejects violence.

There are other currents ofanarcho-pacifism, whether

religious (such as Buddhist anarchism) or irreligious (such

as the anarchism of the punk rock band Crass). These have

equally great value, but I believe there is a contribution to

be made via the Christian outlook. As pointed out by Alexandre

Christoyannopoulos, when confronted with violence,

the pacifism of Christian anarchists takes the form of a

radical but non-violent reaction rather than a passive inaction.

The inspiration for such a response comes from Jesus'

famous injunction to turn the other cheek in his Sermon

on the Mount.

There are many interesting interpretations of how turning

the other cheek is a radical response, one example being in

Image by holotone.

the writings of Walter Wink. Nevertheless, it suffices for us

here to just reconsider, for a moment, what this puzzling action

means. It clearly is not a call to invite further abuse for

its own sake, as that would be pointless. The radical nature

of turning the other cheek lies in the fact that it disarms

the oppressor, opening the way for him or her to see the

evil inherent in his or her actions. In this way the cycle of

violence, and by extension the cycle of coercion which underpins

hierarchy, is broken.

In other words, what Christianity offers anarchism is a

radical critique of violence which not only goes beyond

passivity but enables one to see that 'resisting evil with evil'

only serves to reinforce rather than break out ofthe cycle of

authoritarian coercion.

Blessed are those at the fringe

Having discussed the issue of syncretism, I would like to

end this article with a reflection on how identifying as a

Christian anarchist today places oneself at the fringe in

debates on both religion and politics.

In contemporary British society, faith is often maligned in

various social circles. As a graduate student in law but who

works in the humanities, I often find myself being the only

theist around the table in the pub. And when another theist

is present, often he or she is a believer in another faith. It is

not easy to be a young Christian nowadays.

Equally, it is often difficult to openly speak about one's

anarchist political views. With the possible exception of

militant fascism, anarchism is certainly one of the schools

of political thought least kindly of in the mainstream of


Hence, to be a Christian anarchist is to experience a double

marginalisation in many situations. Nonetheless, I will continue

to walk this path, regardless of what the people I meet

say. After all, it was Jesus himself who said, "Woe unto you,

when all men shall speakwell of you! For so did their fathers

to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26)

SooTianLee is

a PhD student at


and aresident of

Giuseppe Conlon


House in Harringay,

North London. In

defiance ofhis

primary'job', he

also engages in

random activities

ftom leaming to

play the bass with

the help ofYouTube

videos to occupying

university buildings.

Summer 2011 . Movement . 7

Politics Feature

Youth vs Climate Change

Lizzie Gawen believes that young people have something to say

Images provided by

the author.



eonle say that today's youth are apathetic and don't

care about global issues. I have found this not to

+ be the case. Many of us do feel disempowered and

uninspired when so many decisions are made by middleaged

men in suits behind closed doors. Yet, young people

are constantly challenging the status quo, demanding their

rights and a space at the table. It is vital that we speak up as

no one else will do it for us.

I have met lots of 'angry greens' (at times I have been one

myself) who so easily condemn ordinary people and their

lifestyles. Yelling at someone and telling them they're killing

the earth isn't really the best way to progress things.

Yet, staying quiet about this issue is also a failing. Gandhi

once said'I do not wish to condemn them. I merely wish to

change their minds for they are as sinful as I'. I'11 admit I'm

a vegetarian with a weakness for disgusting fried chicken

from the take-away shop who doesn't always recycle everything

properly. Does that mean I now can't have a voice

on green issues? Of course not. The reason why they titled

that TV show lt's Not Easy Being Green is because it isn't

easy being green. Everyone struggles to be environmentally

friendly. There is no right way.

Despite this, young people have been at the cutting edge of

promoting positive progress on green issues. Around the

world'youth climate coalitions' have been springing up in

the UK, Canada, US, Kenya and Australia. On the UK side

of things young people have been engaging with the Department

for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and have

now successfully set up a DECC Youth Panel to ad'rise the

government on youth issues. Young people made climate

change a top issue for the General Election and have been

lobbying their schools, universities and places of work to

adopt environmentally friendly working practices. As part

of the UK Youth Climate Coalition's Adopt an MP' campaign

young people have adopted their local MPs and have

been tracking them and lobbying them on this issue.

At an international level young people have been fighting

to get a seat at the international negotiations. After years

of hard work young people were granted 'constituency status'

at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in

Copenhagen 2009, which means young people now have the

same right as NGOs, businesses and other stakeholders to a

seat at the table. This meant that youth organisations could

now get accredited for the conferences, have their own secretariat,

microphone to speak with on the floor and facilities

to use. As part of an international youth campaign 'How

old will you be in 2050?'young people have been getting

negotiators and government delegates to start their opening

statements with'in 2050 I will be _ old'to emphasise

that climate change is a young person's issue and one that

will greatly affect future generations.

8 o Movement . Summer 2011

Politics Feature





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As young people from the UK we can stand in solidarity

with our brothers and sisters who are suffering in developing

countries. When I attended the United Nations Climate

Change Conference in Poznari in 2008, out of 500 young

people there, there was only one African. To radically address

this balance young people from richer countries who

have greater capacity to fundraise have been partnering

with young people in developing countries. For example,

our UK Youth Delegation helped finance 10 young people

from Kenya to the United Nations Climate Change Conference

in Copenhagen. It's not all about money though. Young

people across the world are networking, skill-sharing, capacity

building and creating opportunities for each other so

we can move forward together. I have been so blessed and

privileged to spend time with young people from Kenya,

India and the Maldives whose communities are directly affected

by the changes in the climate and are desperate to

attend these conferences to demand that action be taken.

It's easy to feel disconnected, but these are people's lives,

families, communities and homes.

Young people are often not listened to due to their perceived

lack of experience. Yet we have consistently shown that we

have something of value to say and can play a vital part in

creating positive change on a local, national and international

level. There are several advantages of having a youth

presence at these international negotiations. The first, we

can make the conference exciting and accessible. Often the

media find it difEcult to make international conferences

newsworthy, but by speaking out and creating visual media

stunts highlighting important issues we can get climate

change in print. The second advantage is that young people

can demand that justice is done. We don't have the political

or funding constraints that other organisations have so

we can get angry and emotional. We can speak out against

injustice in a way that no other group can. Thirdly, we can

mobilise young people back in the UK to lobby MPs and

build the political support for this issue.

Young people around the world are taking action on climate

change and our faith compels us to love our neighbour and

demand justice for the poor. I recently heard Joel Edwards

head of the Micah Challenge say that what we need is 'angry

hope'. Whilst the poorest and most vulnerable continue to

suffer I'm going to continue to be angry and cry out against

the injustices of climate change. Yet, we have so much to

hope for and I'm excited to see what my generation will do


Lizzie Gawen is an

activist and witer

who works for the


Summer 2011 . Movement . I

Politics Feature

Society's Restrictions

Does society provide access and support for all? Nicola Sleap doesn't think so.

Image from George

House Trust.





a !











I v

ritain today is a society in which disabled people

frequently marginalised. This marginalisation


gal occur through three different kinds of barrier:

systemic barriers in the way in which society is organised,

attitudinal barriers in terms of the portrayal of disabled

people as a distant other from non-disabled people, and

physical barriers which prevent disabled people from accessing

certain areas.

Societally-created barriers such as these are often far more

disabling for people with physical and mental impairments

than those impairments are themselves. Disability is therefore

rnost helpfully understood as the negative impact upon

someone with an impairment of a society which fails to

recognise and meet their access requirements. This is often

an empowering concept for disabled people' It also means

that disability becomes a socio-political rather than a medical

phenomenon. Disabled people therefore stand alongside

other politically oppressed groups.

As is visible in the gospels, Jesus sought to subvert the

political order, through creating the early church of those


in politically oppressed groups. His radical inclusivity was







Benef its


a a









I li

extended to disabled people, alongside others considered at

the time to be social outcasts and'sinners'. Yet, whilst the

society in which he lived viewed disabled people as inferior

and sinful, Jesus clearly did not consider them as such'

Three of the gospels refer to an episode when Jesus holds up

children as an example of those who are the greatest in the

Kingdom of Heaven, and in Luke he contextualises this by

saying'For he who is least among you all - he is the greatest'

(Luke 9: 4B). In both of the other two gospels this leads into

an episode in which Jesus speaks of the causes of sin (Matthew

18: 8-9 and Mark 9: 43-46).

This episode clearly subverts the societal view that physical

impairment was a sinful or even negative attribute' For

Jesus says that 'It is better for you to enter life maimed or

crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown

into eternal fire'. Jesus therefore refutes the idea that impairment

in itself is a hindrance to leading a worthy life'

Having begun by speaking of children as one 'lesser' group

who are in fact'the greatest', Jesus goes on to overturn societal

judgement of another group, disabled people.

The current economic downturn has furthered our society's

marginalisation of disabled people. In a time of relative

austerity, stories in the press portraying disabled people as

benefit frauds or scroungers have exacerbated resentment

towards disabled people amongst the non-disabled majority.

Such attitudes, alongside the reality that many disabled

people do not have the capacity to make their voices heard,

have made disabled people a relatively easy target group to

lose out in the cuts.

Through various measures within the cuts, and through

some reforms, the government is increasing the number

of systemic barriers disabled people face. For example, an

extremely harsh new work capability assessment for those

seeking to claim Employment and Support Allowance (the

replacement of Incapacity Benefit) comes into effect from

Monday 28th March.

In this assessment, the capabilities of a mobility impaired

person can be assessed on what they can do with the assistance

of a wheelchair, even if they do not have one and

cannot afford one. In the case of mental hedth conditions,

should an applicant succeed in carrying out personal tasks

10 . Movement . Summer 2011

Politics Feature


such as washing, dressing, and travelling to the assessment

centre alone, they are highly unlikely to qualify for the benefit.

The many disabled people who according to these and other

criteria will almost undoubtedly fail to qualify for ESA,

but who are also not capable of work, will be put onto Job

Seeker's Allowance. This means that disabled people may

find themselves required but unable to participate in the

new mandatory work related activity scheme.

Should they be unable to participate, a disabled person may

well consequently have their allowance withheld for three

or even six months. If they would like to legally challenge an

attempt to force them into work, recent cuts in legal aid will

not make that an easy path to follow.

These policies demonstrate some of the many ways in

which the changing organisation of society in Britain today

is further disabling people with both physical and mental


Other systemic barriers to disabled people, such as the

exclusion of disabled children from mainstream education,

also consolidate and perpetuate attitudinal barriers.

Impairments do cause many disabled children to have

different access requirements to non-disabled children

at school. However, when disabled children are invisible

through exclusion, those in mainstream schools gain no real

understanding of the different access requirements disabled

children might have.

This government and the cuts are not making integration

easier. Both because of the current economic climate and

the Conservatives' pledge to support'special schools', it

seems highly unlikely that the educational integration of

disabled children will be achieved in the near future.

The segregation of disabled children at school age is only

one of many ways in which disabled people are segregated

from non-disabled people. As someone who has started to

use a wheelchair relatively recently, I am increasingly aware

of the physical barriers in my local town that prevent many

from fully participating in society. Cafes, restaurants, shops

and pubs are frequently inaccessible to wheelchair users,

despite a duty to provide access under the Equality Act.

The prevention of wheelchair users from entering areas and

buildings means that they often have limited opportunities

to interact with non-disabled people. This in turn means

that their differences and differing access requirements

will often continue to be misconceived by the non-disabled


As long as disabled people are segregated from non-disabled

people in ways such as this, myths concerning the realities

of impairment and disability will perpetuate, thereby creating

attitudinal barriers which marginalise disabled people.

As Christians, we should heed Jesus'assertion that impairment

in itself is not necessarily negative, and stand against

the marginalisation of those with physical or mental impairments.

This means opposing regressive governmental measures

which further this marginalisation and re-envisioning

society as one where people with all kinds of impairments

can participate on an equal level to those without impairments.

At this post office

in Poland, a bell is

provided for those

who cannot climb

the stairs. Image by


Nicola Sleap is

studying for a PhD

in Theology and is

a disability rights


Summer 2011 . Movement . 11



\E tfrD



Politics Feature

Student Protest

Debbie White doesn't believe students are apathetic about political issues

* often claimed in the media that young people are


I too apathetic about politics; we don't turn out to vote in

I t"rg" numbers, we don't engage with politicians or with

political parties, we are more concerned with our own lives

than with current affairs. However, over the last year, students

and young people in general have consistently proved

the media clich6s wrong. At protests against the coalition

government's cuts, students have been a highly visible and

vocal presence.

Students have not only been protesting against issues in

university education; a major focus has been on the scrapping

of EMA, which will affect thousands of college students

who have been relying on this money to enable them

to continue their studies. Students have also been a vocal

presence on more general anti-cuts protests up and down

the country; the 'March for the Alternative' on the 26th

March, which has not yet happened at the time of writing,

is expected to involve students from all over the country

marching alongside workers, the unemployed, families,

politicians and many other groups affected or dissatisfied

by the coalition's plans.

Although students make up a large part of these marches,

much of the student involvement has naturally been directed

at the decision to raise fees at English universities

to a maximum of f,9000, up from the current cap of L3290.

On the 10th November 2010, students from universities

and colleges across the country went to London to take

part in a march to demonstrate against this fee rise. As was

widely covered in the national press, some of the protestors

involved in the march, although by no means the majority,

stormed the Conservative Party Headquarters at Millbank.

The result was that several students were injured or arrested,

and the papers were dominated with images of violence,

at odds with the peaceful manner in which the majority of

protesters behaved.

Student protest reaches far beyond London, however, and it

is not restricted to marches. A number of buildings at various

universities have been occupied by students. At Glasgow

University, the former Hetherington Research Club, a

building used as a social space by postgraduate and mature

students which was forced to close due to lack of funds, was

reopened by a group of students and has been occupied for

the past seven weeks, becoming the focus of the anti-cuts

movement at the university by hosting talks, debates and

events, and it has become a hub for many politically engaged

students and activists. Billy Bragg even paid the occupation

a visit after a gig in the city. Many other universities have

also had buildings occupied for a time, including UCL and

Cambridge. Protests against course closures at individual

universities have also been well attended, with lecturers

and students marching together in many cases to protest

against cuts to their departments.

Of course, despite the clich6s bandied around by the media

that students are apathetic about politics, there has been

student involvement in protests for much longer than just

this year, not only in the United Kingdom but also across

the globe. For example, students were present at many of

the Stop the War protests in 2003, and looking further

back, and further away, in the USA, students took an active

role in campaigning against the Vietnam war, particularly

against conscription into the army.

In many of the major movements of the twentieth century,

such as the Civil Rights movement in America, as well as

anti-war and anti-cuts groups, students are always a vocal

part of the proceedings, campaigning publicly for a change

in injustice or government policy. Perhaps this is due to the

idealism of the young, or a reaction against a media which

demonises young people as drunken louts. Whatever the

reason, it is clear that students have a massive potential

to achieve real difference by becoming involved in protests,

whether that is because of the numbers that can be

mobilised, or the passion of those involved in leading or

participating in the protests. Of course, students marching

in London, or other major cities in the UK, will not mean

that the coalition government reverses its decision to raise

the cap on fees, but the protests certainly have an effect in

other smaller, but necessary ways, such as getting the issues

noticed, occasionally influencing decisions at a more

local level, for example, in their individual universities,

departments and courses, and, perhaps most importantly,

in displaying the disaffection of a generation.

Image opposite:

Cuts fuel the fire. By

Rob J Wells.


in her first year at

Glasgow University,


and Philosophy. She

enjoys listening to

music, watching

classic fiIms and

beinginvolved in


Summer 2011 . Movement . 13

Politics Feature


Tax Avoidance

The moral injustice of tax avoidance in the UK and globally and why this is something

Christians should be concerned about

Research undertaken by the TUC has shown that tax avoidance might cost the UK

government up to 825 billion in lost revenue a year. In addition, reseArch by Christian

Aid estimates that tax dodging costs poor countries $160 billion a year (more

than double the international aid budget). In this article Frank Kantor, Secretary for

Church & Society of the United Reformed Church, examines the moral implications

of tax avoidance in the context of global economic austerity and why Christians are

uniquely positioned to campaign for tax justice.

1-;.lhis article assumes that paying the correct amount detail in this articie as it raises complex issues related to


of tr* is an equitable and morally expedient way the iegal and moral obligations of paying tax and the global,

I of raising revenue from eligible taxpayers for the national and local implications of tax avoidance in an era

financing of economic activity and distributing of public of economic austerity. However, before tackling this rather

goods and services by demo-

complex legal and philosophicratically

etected officiats in a lt is morally wrong caldebate,afewdefinitionsare

:;:':H#,*.",*,"i,T that Multi-National :;::li::*J"^-ga'[e'ihis

Gorporations are abre to Dennitions


to ensure that tax law is fair USe COmplgX accoUnting

Terms related to the tax gap

and justanddoesnotplacean r - -r - _-- can be complex and for the

unbearable burden

"" ,:;; practices to understate ,";":; .i".,r '""

wirl be usn".'#:Til';j:::"i,:T

their profits to defraud :7,:".;::::":T*'l:::

il;,,T:::'l^Tl::fiff poor countries thev il:;n':J:i";;*: :;

on individual and corporate Opefate in. advocating for a general antitaxpayers

to ensure that they

avoidance principle''? These

comply not only with the letter of the law but also with the terms are defined as follows:

spirit of the law to ensure that loopholes in tax law are not

. A person who evades tax seeks to circumvent payment of

intentionally exploited for personal or corporate gain at the

expense of the State and its beneficiaries'

It is this final assumption which will be examined in more

1 We call to mind here the words of John the Baptist

to the tax-collectors who came to him to be baptised when

they asked him what they were to do to demonstrate true

repentance and he told them, 'Exact no more than the assessment'

(Luke 3:12). Also the story of Zacchaeus, another

tax collector who after his encounter with Jesus agreed to

immediately give half of his possessions to charity and to

repay four times over to any person whom he might have

defrauded. Jesus announced that based on these actions,

salvation had come to his house (Luke 19:1-10)'

a tax liability by means they know to be criminal;

. A person who avoids tax seeks to minimise a tax liability

using a process they know might be considered an abuse

of the law, albeit one which they reasonably expect will

not result in a criminal liability arising;

. A person who is tax compliant seeks to settle a tax liability

in the location where it can be best determined to be

due, at the time when it is likely that a legislature wished

it to be paid and only after claiming deductions and re-

2 For a General Anti-Avoidance Principle - see

14 . Movement ' Summer 2011

liefs that were clearly intended to be provided given the

economic substance of the transactions undertaken by

the taxpayer.

Based on the description of these terms, the difterence

between a person who evades or avoids tax and the person

who is tax compliant is based on the intention of the

taxpayer which is known to them. In considering a General

Anti-Avoidance Principle, intention is what most clearly

differentiates tax avoidance and tax compliance and advocates

of this campaign are calling for the addition of a consideration

of intent to that of the outcome of transactions

in the management of tax compliance by HM Revenue and

Customs in the UK. By shifting the focus from an 'antiavoidance

rule' to and'anti-avoidance principle' the TUC is

advocating for a shift from the letter of the law to the spirit

of the law which 'recognises the rights of the citizen and

the mutuality of obligation inherent in the relationship between

the citizen and the State, and between states.'3 This

highlights the moral irnperative for addressing both the UK

and global injustice of tax avoidance which the remainder of

this article will focus on.

Mord injustice of tax avoidance

It is our understanding of justice based on a moral subculture

of rights that provides the rationale for Christians

to energetically campaign for tax justice both in the UK and

overseas. In the context of the concurring global economic,

environmental, energy and food crises which are threatening

the livelihoods and human security of vulnerable people

in poor and wealthy countries alike, there is a moral imperative

to ensure that those who are least responsible for these

crises - the poor and vulnerable - are not the ones required

to pay the highest price.

It is morally wrong that Multi-National Corporations are

able to use complex accounting practices to understate

their profits to defraud poor countries they operate in of

multibillions of dollars when many of these countries face

3 Why do we need a General Anti-Avoidance Principle?

- see


potential debt crises as a result of the global financial crisis.

Commenting on this injustice in a recent article published

in the EU Observer (in which she calls for the introduction

of a financial transaction tax in Europe), Elise Ford, head of

Oxfam's EU wrote:

'Faced with a potential debt crisis, two-thirds of those countries

where data on social spending is available have chosen to cut

spending on at least one of health, agriculture, education or

social safety nets. Already without the Europe-style welfare systems

that we rely on during difficult times, the world's poorest

people face cuts in life-saving medicines, Iosing the school place

for their child or cuts in their crops because they can no longer

afford fertiliser.

This blow comes at a time when many poor countries are already

struggling to cope with food shortages and the devastating effects

of climate change. Our research suggests that by 2015 the

average number of people affected each year by climate-related

disasters could increase by over 50 per cent to 375 million. Last

summer's' flooding oflarge parts ofPakistan show the potential

for human suffering that lurks behind these stafistics.a

It is equally unjust for wealthy individuals and companies

in the UK to hive off billions of pounds of tax revenue to

tax havens and off-shore accounts by exploiting loopholes

in the tax laws when many thousands of ordinary people

have lost their jobs and huge cuts are being made to public

services and benefits in order to cut the deficit caused by

the financial crisis.s This highlights the moral and spiritual

dimension of the financial crisis which provides Christians

with a unique and distinctive perspective to campaign for

tax justice based on love-informed justice.

4 Research carried out for Oxfam by Development

Finance International found that the 56 poorest countries

face a $65bn hole in their finances because of the financial

crisis - see http://euobserver.corn/7 /30736

5 The IMF estimates that the impact of the economic

crisis triggered by the recent collapse of financial

institutions will increase the debts of the developed G20

economies by 40 per cent - those, such as Germany and the

UK which suffered a "systemic crisis" saw economic output

fallby 27To. That amounts to more than €980bn for Germany

and €600 for the UK (f,497 billion).

Image by D. J. Shaw.

Summer 2011 . Movement . 15



is Secretary for

Church & Society for

the United Reform


Distinctive Christian Perspective

As Christians we are summoned by God to do justice and to

love kindness in the enduring words of the prophet Micah'6

This justice is based on love of God and neighbour which

compels us to do the work of justice and love towards others

- particularly vulnerable others. This is what Johannes

van der Ven calls 'love-informed justice'which differs from

human justice as it is informed by God's unconditional love'7

Love-informed justice also forms the basis for a moral

sub-culture of rights which looks beyond legal claims to

the moral intent or spirit of the law' Such rights are natural

rights and are grounded in the inherent worth and dignity

of human beings as persons created in the image of God and

loved by God in the mode of attachment. Such love bestows

great worth on each and every human being and natural

rights inhere in the worth bestowed by that love. This includes

the right not to be treated in a manner that demeans

or degrades as this is to treat a person with under-respect

6 Micah 6:8

7 vander Ven, J., Formation of the Moral Self, Wm'

B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998' p. 219

i.e. in a way that infringes his or her inherent worth as a

human being. Hence our understanding of a right as: 'a Iegitimate

claim to the good of being treated in a certain way

by persons and by those social entities capable of rational


Applntg this understanding of justice and inherent rights

to the issue oftax avoidance enables us to address the moral

dimension of this practice as it is the vulnerable members of

our society who have the most to lose from the loss of revenue

in times of economic austerity. It could also be argued

that the practice of tax avoidance by wealthy individuals

and social entities infringes the rights of vulnerable people

to the good of being treated with the dignity and respect

due to them by virtue of being loved by God' Ultimately, it

is to wrong them by treating them in a manner that underrespects

them and to under-respect human beings is to


treat them as means and not as ends in themselves which

as Christians we reject.

8 Wolterstorff, N, Justice- fughts and Wrongs, Princeton

UniversitY Press, 2008, P. 386

Image by Dominic's Pics.

16 . Movement . Summer 2011



What is the Church?

Sam Gibson reflects on Church, the Eucharist and Society.

'Establishment'and the Church - An Initial euestion


t SCM's SttII SmaII Voice Conference in February

[l this year, Fr. Kenneth Leech addressed the issue

I Lf ,f," 'establishment' of the Church of England

in response to a question from the audience. Reflecting on

the dynamics of ecclesiology, one quickly realises that this

issue, the relationship between 'Church' and 'State' or 'society'

- which has long fallen out of fashion among young

Christians in recent years, owing to (perhaps) more immediate

concerns - is in fact central. Why?

For two primary reasons this is so. First, because as young

Christians we 6nd ourselves at the dawn of a rather new

spiritual horizon in Western Europe: recurrent twentiethcentury

themes of the total secularisation of society seem

widely discredited. We find ourselves as Christ-following

communities confronted not by the explicit, uniform transformation

of our culture to a particularly post or anti-Christian

state, but often by indifference, misunderstanding and

incomprehension of the church's self-satisfying theological

language. The Church now speaks, it seems, a fundamentally

different language to the consumerist societies in which it

lives, either self-consciously deconstructing its own historic

doctrinal conversations, or else reifying them, participating

in a vacuous debate with the so-called 'New Atheism'. As

the Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner puts it, 'that God does

not really exist who operates and functions as an indirridual

existent alongside other existents [. . .] Both atheism and

naive theism iabour under the same false notion of God,

only the former denies it while the latter believes that it can

make sense of it.'1

Second, because having coming out of centuries of what

has been called'Christendom', the time in which Christian

'language'was at the heart of Western European culture, we

now find ourselves having to speak in ways that take into

account our new situation. Our new situation is that many

of the liberal and 'secularising' theologies of the twentieth

century, from Bultmann to Cupitt and Spong, take on too

enthusiastically reductionist understandings of human beings

and Christian belief, and have subsequently collapsed,

1 Karl Rahner S.J., Foundations of Christian Faith:

An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity, (London: DL!

1978), 63

or ceased to speak with the radicalism which they originally

promised. They correctly reject authoritarian and objectifying

understandings of God, but in doing so forget and

parody the immense and liberating riches of the Patristic

theological and spiritual tradition. What we are left with,

I propose, is a situation of unprecedented yearning, both

within and beyond the Church, for a rediscovery of the central

questions of the Christian tradition: what is a human

being? Why do people exist? Is the world meaningful? What

is 'Real'? Who is God? Who shall we worship? And out of

these, what on earth is the Church?

Views of the Church - Do they work?

Both of these: the collapse of 'Christendom', and the failure

of modern theologies to give coherent answers - answers

which involve the whole person - to these questions of

existence are the causes of numerical and institutional decline

in the Church. This gives rise to innumerable new and

distorting fundamentalism(s), which view the Church as either

the 'infallible'hierarchy of irresistible belief in certain

doctrinal formulas, or else as merely the outworking of the

spiritual function of society - self-constituting bodies with

no frame of reference. It is to both of these that I object, and

understanding these objections may shed light on our issue

of 'establishment' and the relationship between 'Church'

and 'State' or society. The former primarily asserts the role

of the church as teaching office, but distorts the ability of

the Church to seek and follow after truth by quashing the

exploratory sense of human knowledge, by which I mean

the way in which the Holy Spirit, as part of the activity of

the Triune God, draws human experiences into knowledge

of God and of human persons. This does not primarily occur

in the form of a judicial hierarchy, as we know, it happens

through relational activity, from the working out of faith in

God, who is love (1 John, 4:B) and who has called us friends

(John 15:15). The latter understanding is constantly in danger

of undermining the ability of the Church to seek truth

by naming it as a community without need for beliefs, or

even more dangerously by limiting the Church to its ethnic,

geographical, political or sociological associations.

Whereas in the last century, the issue for the Church of

England has been the tension between being a 'national'

community, identified primarily by its association with

18 . Movement . Summer 2011


our political functions, and Protestant understandings of

the integrity of Scripture and the congregation, this is no

Ionger the case. We no longer need to worry about the use

of the institutional Church as a tool for political domination

or expression in our own backyard on quite the same scale,

since we live in an increasingly global culture in which these

functions have shifted massively to industrial and postindustrial

institutions -

States, banks and billionaires.

The Protestant, and later liberal-existentialist theological

protest against a State-oriented ecclesiology is grounded

in the primacy of the modern concept of the individual as

at liberty to freely form communities, which in turn is a

reaction against excessively hierarchical understandings of

Church - as expressed, for instance, in the declaration of

Papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council - which is now

only useful as part of a wider appreciation of the issues of

twenty-first century ecclesiology. That individualism has,

in part, caused our current predicament in which Western

philosophy and theology are mired in all kinds ofbizarre

dualisms, and which is breeding ground for excessively

atomistic or fundamentalist ideologies, from monetarism

to ecclesiolatry. CIearIy a contemporary reformulation

of modernist ecclesiology, as endorsed by SCM Summer

Gathering speaker 2010, Theo Hobson,2will not do justice

2 Theo Hobson, Against Establishment: An Angli-

to the Church, since it fails to take into account the dangers

individualism, and of our communal experience of God's

presence as found in the Gospel narrative.

What is the Church?

Since the Church, I think, is not constituted by either its

social, ethnic or political associations, or by its hierarchy,

or by the liberty of the individual, though it may have functions

of each, what then is it? The start of an answer can

be found, I suggest, in a Eucharistic ecclesiology, that is, an

understanding of the 'Church' as the eschatological community

formed by the work of God at the Eucharist. This I find

primarily in the work of John Zizioulas, who has written

powerfully on the subject, but also in the work of numerous

contemporary Catholic theologians on the theology of personhood,

especially Fergus Kerr O.P.3 Zizioulas writes, 'We

regard every assembly that performs the divine Eucharist

as the presence of the whole church, for the presence of the

whole Christ in the Eucharist takes precedence over all concan

Polemic (London: DLT, 2003); Theo Hobson, An illiberal

establishment' [Online]

/ 20L0 / f eb / 1 8/anglican-church-establishment

[Accesse d 72 Mar 2OII)

3 Fergus Kerr, O.P., "Work on Oneself" Wittgenstein's

Philosophical Psychology (Washington D.C.: Catholic

University of America Press, 2008)

Image byAnthony


Summer 2011 . Movement o 19


A false eucharist?

Image by Rebecca

What we are left

with is a situation of

unprecedented yearning

for a rediscovery of the

central questions of the

Christian tradition: what

is a human being?


Peter 1:4). We are drawn into a new understanding of God

and humanity, as koinonia, communion by participation,

which directs and transforms our entire being. The disdain

of the prophets for false ritual (e.g. Amos 5) culminates,

(and is relativised) in the meal of Christ's passion at the

Last Supper and in his enduring presence in it wherever he

is remembered, since in Christ God enacts God's messianic

banquet with his own people. The Eucharist deconstructs all

false eucharist(s), the false worship of the idols of ritual,


money, sex and power and enacts the worship of 'the


Father in spirit and in truth' (John 4:23).

SamGibsonis a

Theology student

at Birmingham

University, and a

member of its Anglican

and Methodist


siderations of geography'.a In the Eucharist, God the Father

calls human beings to the presence of the complete life of

his Son, transforming love in obedience, death, resurrection

and ascension, through the Holy Spirit. The people, through

the celebrant, call the Spirit of love down (epiclesis), offering

the life of Christ to the Father in the words he has

chosen and with the goodness of the creation in bread, wine

and human bodies and lives it is the work of God and


of people in synergy. Understanding the Eucharist as the

centre of the Church grounds her as true community, in 'the

indivisible presence of Christ that unites and recapitulates

all things's all the manifold stories, of our existence,


pain, joy and struggle, are being brought up into the divine

life and we are 'becoming partakers of the divine nature' (2

4 John D.Ziziod,as, Lectures in Christian Dogmatics

(Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2008), 141.

5 John Zizioulas, Lectures,141.

This is more subversive than every other protest against

the oppressive structures of the world, since it fulfils and

consummates them by the agency of God's own love, and

works the transforming effect of divine grace. When we

understand the Church as Eucharistic body, then we know

the reality which society points to (or away from) by its

anticipation or rejection of God, we are grounded in truth

and less likely to associate the Church with any particular

social, individual, political or hierarchical concern, since as

a consequence we must indentify our radical anticipation of

eschatological wholeness and compare it to our bleak situation

of broken relationships. Not only does this powerfully

repudiate all forms of ecclesiastical factionalism ('liberals'

vs. 'conservatives' etc.), it is the most powerful critique of

'establishment', by which I mean the excessive identification

of the Church as a function of the State or 'society', one

can find. If we understand the Church as brought into being

by the Triune God, we may re-awaken to an understanding

of theology as the prayerful search for truth, overcoming

the dichotomies of various fundamentalisms. We may also

find the way to ground political and social action, as well as

evangelism, which is the sharing of this Eucharistic love, in

God, who as the source and initiator of this relation of holy

love will bring it to its fulfillment.

20 . Movement o Summer 2011


What does the arms trade have

in common with Universities and

a Church of England Priest?

Abi Haque explains

The title of this piece could be a great set up for a joke

alas this is no laughing matter. For years students

have been campaigning against the increasing


links between the arms trade and education. Now there's a

new piece in this rather frightening puzzle an ordained


Church of England priest called Lord Stephen Green.

Lord Green (ordained in the 1980s) has recently accepted

the role as UK trade minister - a position which includes the

facilitation and promotion of British arms exports through

the UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation

(UKTI:DSO), as well as representing the UK at all the

world's largest international arms fairs. There was considerable

embarrassment when he was appointed as rumours

surfaced that Green was reputed as not keen on weapons

companies - in fact in a previous role at HSBC he decided

the company would no longer provide financial services to

companies who manufactured arms such as land-mines,

cluster bombs and combat aircraft.

UK church leaders have made very clear statements on the

evils of the arms tradel and Green has a dislike for this type

of trade also. So how is it that an ordained Christian priest

is currently helping sell arms across the world? Whatever

the answer to this question - perhaps this represents an opportunity

to make real change. CAAT is calling on people to

share their views on why Lord Green's instincts were correct

and why he should use his new position to end government

support for the arms trade. You can email him at mpst.

Now how is this all linked to universities you may ask? For

years many universities have been pl"y,ng a significant

role in: conducting research and development for arms

companies, investing in said companies, and inviting them

onto campus to recruit the next generation of workers in

the arms trade. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) Universities

Network has been actively campaigning on these

issues for many years and has had many considerable successes.

But now there is a new worry as senior figures from

1 The Guardian - Letters, 'Stop subsidising

the arms trade', October 6, 2006 http://www.

gu a r di a n. c o . rk / w o rl d / 2 O O 6 / o ct / O 6/ ar m s t ra d e.


Image by the

Ministry of Defence.

Summer 2011 . Movement . 21


Image of Lord

Stephen Green from

the World Economic


Images opposite by




Coordinator for

Campaign Against


four UK Universities were exposed as being part of what

was essentially a Middle East arms sales tour with David

Cameron in February.

Lord Darzi of Imperial College, Professor John Hughes

(Vice-Chancellor) of Bangor University, Professor Malcolm

Grant (President and Provost) of University College London

and Stuart Lang (Deputy Vice-Chancellor) of Cambridge

University were all on this trip -

which toured Kuwait,

Egypt, Qatar and Oman. They were accompanied by no less

than eight representatives from the world's biggest arms

companies including; BAE Systems, Atkins and QinetiQ.

Students and staff have been extremely critical of the relationship

between their universities and arms companies -

many were outraged at this new development. Additionally

disturbing links between universities and the dictatorial

Libyan regime lead by Gaddafi have surfaced. The vicechancellor

who now heads the umbrella group for British

universities met Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli as part of a

€,75m deal with Exeter University to educate "elite Libyan

officials"2 - and LSE's Director was forced to step down from

2 The Guardian - Education - University funding,

'Exeter vice-chancellor met Gaddafi over f,75m deal to educate

Libyan ofhcials', March 14, 201'1'http:/ /

co. uk/uk/201 1 / mar / 14 / gaddafi-regime-university-linkshis

role after revelations of a 82.2 million deal to train hundreds

of young Libyans to become the future ruling elite.3

Such was the concern when these deals became known that

an MP tabled a Commons motion calling for an inquiry "to

trace the huge amounts of money from Middle Eastern dictatorships

that have flowed into British universities"

Several universities are involved in occupations because of

the cuts and have included demands for their institution

to stop associating with the arms trade. A student from

UCL commented, 'Malcolm Grant's recent tour of the Middle

East with David Cameron and arms manufacturers,

amongst other business CEOs, was utterly inappropriate

for the provost and president of a university.'

It is clear there's still much work to do to cut the link between

education and the arms trade but we can take great

encouragement that students are campaigning passionately

and holding their universities to account.

http : / / www. caat. org.uVcampaigns/universities


3 The Guardian - Education, 'LSE head quits over

Gaddafi scandal', March 4, 2011' http://v'w'

co. uk/educati on / 20LL / marl03,/1se-director-resigns-gaddafi-scandal?INTCMP=


22 . Movement . Summer 2011


iiit iiti


-L * t..l


] '{-.:


Sexuality i

We Fought the Law . Symon Hill


Political lssue

t's often said that religion is a "private" matter, as if form

a lack of commitment but because they "can't afford"


the followers of a religion should ignore its ethics and it. Nothing illustrates the wastefulness of capitalism more


I values in all but the narrowest areas of their lives. This than the vastly profitable wedding industry.

is a recipe for hypocrisy'

Commerciar approaches to marriage have rong competed

In the same way, debates over sexuality often involve people with those based on love and equality. When Jesus critiwho

say that we should not judge what consenting adults cised divorce, he did so in a society in which only a man

do "in their own bedrooms". This comment is supposed to could initiate a divorce, often throwing his wife into povbe

supportive of gay, lesbian and bisexual people. In reality erty as a result. Paul insisted that "there is no longer male

it is anything but. Discussingprivacy and female because you are all one in

in bedrooms is of little ,.r.1"r,." ,o -. Thg SOft Of Christ Jesus" (Gatatians 3,28), But

",* ;." ff:"ilH:-,t:;:::l equalitv sousht :ff:';1f;::TJ:[:::"::

holdinghands by many LGBT

dominant social norms, such as the

submission of wives to husbands.

rhe realitv is that neither sex:"tT

":. g ro u ps a m o u nts

spirituality can be confined to private v ' Christians today are on the whole faillife.

Living with integrity is hard tO little mQfg ingtochailengethecommercialisation

enough as it is, without undermining _ of sexuality and relationships. "Famourownvaluesbymakingartificialdi:

than thg fight tO ily values" activists campaign against

::ffii"""*:::,'""1::':i;JJj:""" be exploited on ;T,':;'::::H:L'Ji*"1*::

mines marriage' They have begun to

when campaigning for legal recog- an equal baSiS.

criticise the use of sexual imagery in

nition of same-sex marriage, I'm

dvertising' But rather than recognise

sometimes told that "there are more important things to

this as an aspect of commercialised sexuality' they instead

campaign for". And I can understand why -".ry pJopl"

encourage panic about young people's sexuality in itself'

feel that resistance to the government's vicious .rr,, ,nort4

take priority. But it's a false distinction. Issues of marriage The failure of the "family values" lobby to challenge comand

sexuality are closely linked to questions of power and mercialised sexuality gives them much in common with a


sizeable wing of the LGBT rights movement. Most LGBT

Marriage has gone through many forms in the milleni, ::""0

of its existence. It has often been a property contract, by

"frrst g.ay wedding magazine"' perpetuates the same conwhichthebrideispassedfromherfathertoherhusbandas

a possession.

This abhorrent notion is no longer prevalent in most British

weddings, although it lives on in the shocking practice of the

bride being "given away". Despite this, commercial concerns

dominate marriage as much as ever. In the UK, the average

cost of a wedding is now around 827,000 - higher than the

average annual income. Many couples put off marriage not

are uncritical of capitalism' Tickled Pink' Britain's

sumerist values as its straight equivalents' The sort of

equality sought by many LGBT groups amounts to little

more than the right to be exploited on an equal basis.

In contrast, Jesus constantly challenged the values and

power relationships of his society. As Christians, we are not

called to perpetuate exploitative social norms in the name

of a dangerously narrow understanding of either family

values or LGBT rights. We need to be speaking about both

24 . Movement . Summer 2011


Daytime TV's first

lesbian marriage.

lmage from All My


family and rights at a much deeper level.

As the theologian Stanley Hauerwas puts it, "Any sex ethic

is a politicd ethic". Upholding ethics in "personal" relationships

involves recognising the social and political relationships

that can both support and undermine them.

This is why economic issues are so important to questions of

sexuality. We cannot defeat the ConDem cuts by tinkering

at the edges while accepting the logic of capitalism and its

idolatry of the market. A society that rejects capitalism will

seek to build human relations based not on economic power

but on love, care and mutuality.

the Bible gives us a vision of "shalom". The word is often

translated as "peace", but really refers to something broader,

a situation of wholeness in which right relationships are

restored. This vision can spur us on to resist both capitalism

and the twisted, commercialised distortion of sexuality that

it brings in its wake.

SymonHillis a

freelance writer,

trainer, consultant

and teacher of

theology, and

associate director

ofthe thinktank

Ekklesia. His new

&ook, The No-

Nonsense Guide

to Religion, rs out


Summer 2011 ' Movement . 25


Ten Propositions on Political Theology

Propositions . Kim Fabricius

ne: The doctrine of the ascension is the basis of all

political theology - and why there can be no such

thing as apolitical theology. The church cannot be

a cultus privatus because Jesus of Nazareth, "crucified under

Pontius Pilate," reigns and his edict is public truth. Remove

Christ from the forum and it does not remain empty:

nature abhors a vacuum; idols love one and soon fill it.

his servant Moses, his spokesmen the prophets, and finally

his Son Jesus, their Big Brother, to take care of the bullies,

though he fights with his mouth not his fists. Not, of course,

that God loves the oppressor any less than he loves the oppressed;

indeed his rescue mission is to liberate them both,

the latter from their humiliation and suffering, and the

former from their pride and violence.

Two. God is politicd. Cut the political bits out of the Bible Six. Nor does any political theologian who is not a straw

- as Jim Wallis and some friends once did - and you're left man hold the Marxist delusion that utopia can be built.

with "a Bible full of holes." God is political - and God takes Karl Barth, responding to an ordinand who had heard him

sides. In the Old Testament, Yahweh's exodus and covenant lecture, wrote: "Many thanks for your kind letter. But ...


now you manage to put



thepoor"i*o',"*eu-** StratggiCally GhristianS

:::t;:,:ft;::*:: should work for a world ;:ffi':;T'J}:??i]il

- Luke in particular - doesn't that asymptOtiCally

Dear N.N., in so doing you

drop the ball: the Magnificat

and the Jubilee Maniresto appfOaChgs thg kingdOm

of God.

do not contradict merely

one'insight'but the whole

suggestthegameplan. _, A ^ )

message of the whole Bible.

If you persist in this idea I

rhree' In my view it is Ie-

gitimate to speak of an "epistemological privilege" of the

excluded and oppressed. Bonhoeffer, writing in prison, was

can only advise you to take up any other career than that

of pastor"' Th-e antidote to political pelagianism is a critical

avant la lettre of liberation theology: "we have for once

eschatology' Barth himself' of course' was no quietist' 'A

learnt to see the great events of world history from below, 1ile1t

commlnity"'he said' "merely observing the events of

its time, would not be a Christian community."

from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated,

the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled - in short, Seven. Still, calling governments to account and repentfrom

the perspective of those who suffer." Here is the "more ance, the critical component, and praying and working for a

rewarding principle for exploring the world in thought and community of shalom and an economy of grace, the positive

action than personal good fortune."


component, are essential elements of the political vocation

*:n".:n:*n' strategically Christians should work for a

quote the text' "You always have the poor with you" (Mark

Tacticallv christians should form ad hoc alliances with all

1'4:7)' as if poverty were an order of creation Gf' "the rich p"opl" of good will in pursuit of a more just society. Indeed,

man in his castle' / the poor man at his gate")' and there is

", go.,l,o]r", discovered, we may well find more saints

nothing we can - or should - do about it. But Jesus was not

than the pious' Jesus said' "whoever is

being cynical, or even realistic, about the irr"rrit"bilif or ar, "lo"t

, :n".o"gans

not aqainst us is for us" (Mark 9:40). We should not fear

excluded underclass, rather he was reminding his disciples

dirty i".rds but bloody hands.

where they will be found if they are faithful - among the

poor and oppressed.

Eight. The flipside of an apolitical church is a sacralised

Five. The point is not that the poor and oppressed have a

state' This is "the Constantinian trap" (Lesslie Newbigin)'

And a sacralised state easily becomes a demonic state. The

monopoly on virtue' let alone that they are an elect group'

cross is draped with the flag, and discipleship is absorbed

rather it is simply that they are the ones who get screwed -

into citizenship. The German Christians are the paradigm

and God doesn't like people getting screwed' so God sends

nationalist idolaters; history repeats itself in the farce of

26 . Movement . Summer 2011


the Religious Right. "Never was anything in this world loved

too much," wrote Thomas Traherne, "but many things have

been loved in a false way, and all in too short a measure."

The true love of ecumenism trumps the sentimental love of


Nine. The church's political witness ends in the public

square, but it begins around a table. At worship the church

bows neither to Caesar, nor to Mammon or Mars, but to

the crucified and risen One. At worship the Spirit begins

to straighten our disordered desires, as we hear an alternative

narrative to manifest destiny, and learn an alternative

praxis to Realpolitik. Yet worship can be a bolthole rather

than a sign of reconciliation and resistance. "Where the

body is not properly discerned, Paul reminds the Corinthians,

consumption of the Eucharist can make you sick or kill

you (1 Cor. 11:30). this might explain the condition of some

of our churches" (William T. Cavanaugh).

Ten. The Apocalypse of John is "a visionary theological and

poetic representation of the spiritual environment within

which the church perennially finds itself living and struggling"

(Richard B. Hays). It is a samizdat text of protest to

the pretensions of power, a warning against complacency,

and a call to discernment in reading the signs of the times.

The powerful inevitably twist it into a self-serving mandate

for accumulation and aggression; only those who long for

justice and peace see that the hermeneutical key is the

slaughtered Lamb who gently roars. Here is the text for a

political theology that begins to re-imagine and re-shape

the world in anticipation of the parousia of Christ.

Post-9/11 Postscript

In Apocalypse Now: Reflections on Faith in a Time of Terror

(2005), Duncan Forrester proposes an interesting juxtaposition:

on the one hand, the statement of support for the

Kaiser published by a group of ninety-three leading German

intellectuals, including theologians, on the day the First

World War broke out; on the other hand, the public "Letter

from America: What We Are Fighting For" in support of

President Bush's "war on terror," signed by sixty prominent

American intellectuals, including theologians, five months

after 9/L1,. Both letters are so theologically thin, however,

that they amount to pom-pom propaganda for imperial

states. The first letter awoke Karl Barth from his Schleiermacherian

slumbers, the second letter aroused Stanley

Hauerwas and Paul Griffrths to a polemical response. But

by and large the people of Germany and the US sleepwalked

into slaughter. Moral: When political theology is faithful,

expect it to be critical and subversive; when it is unfaithful,

expect it to be ideological and fatal.

Kim Fabricius is a

New Yorker, abaseball

fan and URC

chaplain at Swansea

Universilt. Kim's

book, Propositions

on Christian

Theology: A

Pilgrim Walks

the Planh is still


'Exodus', by Marc


Summer 2011 . Movemenl . 27



Coming Down the Mountain

Paul Parker offers advice for festival-goers.

PaulParker is a

2nd Year studying

for a Bachelor of

Divinity at Bangor

University, where

he is President of

the Methsoc. He is

trainingto be a Local

Preacher in the

Methodist Church,

enjoys climbing and


A s I pen this article, the more liturgical Christian reminiscent of the Tabernacle of the Hebrew Scriptures in

[\ traditions have just celebrated the Transfiguration, which God dwelt; perhaps this demonstrates that Peter mis-

L \,.rt as yo., read this, that is a dim and distant mem- understood the situation and wished to contain God, in the

ory. Exams and deadlines have taken priority. For some same way that in Sinai God was confined to the Tabernacle.

the summer is a beacon of hope,

But God is not restricted to a tent,

instillingsanityintothishigh-pres- lf We Seg a fgstiValtS

sured time. For those with more

He works throughout the world

- -^ r- -

and in every life; no longer do His

workaholic tendencies ,n"'r"-,,,", purpOsg aS Only .;;;;;"',l r,".r"t to a special

cannotbethoughtofuntilthefinal gXisting

jots and tittles have been put on the

fOf the

placetomeetwithGod. NorisGod

confined to our festivals. The deeply

exam script. Whichever camp we dUfatiOn Of the personal, the life-giving and refall

in, I think there are lessons to be -

rearnt rrom th" r,.*n*; ;; festiva I r it i s u n I i ke V l"#i"Tlr'g1i***,

n'::,H1;j,;"li*"1':,T"* to change our lives. fi"


'Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If

you wish, I will put up three shelters-one for you, one for

Moses and one for Elijah."'(NIV)

For many of us the highlight of the summer is the Christian

festivals which we attend. Be they Brightlights, Creation-

Fest, Soul Survivor, New Wine or Greenbelt, these times

away are the focal point of our breaks and the zenith of our

spiritud year. I fully support going to festivals and value

them for their inspiration and the way they can "recharge

our batteries", however I wish to draw two points of consideration

from the Transfiguration which are applicable to


Firstly, do not limit God in a shelter or in a festival. Peter

wants to contain the moment, his desire to build three shelters,

or tabernacles demonstrates two mis-understandings.

Firstly regarding the transient nature of the Transfiguration.

It was not meant to be sustained reality, but was in

fact a specific moment of change to be moved away from.

Peter does not need to pitch shelters because they will soon

go back down the mountain. The same is true of our festival

experiences. They last, at most, a week but so often

we can wish they lasted all summer, or even all year. We

dissolve ourselves into uniquely flavoured bubbles. But we

too have to "come down the mountain" back to our homes,

jobs, terms and deadlines, as well as friends, families, cake,

socials and parties. Festivals are short periods of transformation.

The shelters that Peter wanted to construct are

change our lives day-by-day.

we engage with there is longing to

The second point of consideration links Peter's misconceptions.

Because the Transfiguration experience was

transient and God can be met anywhere the disciples and

Jesus came down from the mountain. They went back to

the life they had been living before. But I am convinced it

would have changed them, their understanding of Jesus

and probably their interaction with the world. To me, festivals

should have a similar effect. We should go away from

them, having met and experienced God, our relationship

with Him improved, and eager to engage with God and His

world in a renewed and invigorated way, not pining for that

comfortable feeling the festival provides, or its abstraction

from reality, but harnessing the power of God we are aware

of for those few special days long after the warm feeling has

left, accepting it as it changes our lives and joining in it to

change the lives of those around us.

As I close on this challenge I offer the best I can do for practical

advice. If we see a festival's purpose as only existing for

the duration of the festival, it is unlikely to change our lives.

If we see the purpose of the festival as shaping the time

until the next one, then it is more likely to succeed. One

simple question should be of assistance: "what impact does

this have when term starts again?" Ifwe can find a relevance

and an impact for the term, in the festival, surely we will see

lives changed?

28 . Movement . Summer 2011


I am making all things new

A liturgy of readings and reflections on power and transformation by Rosie Venner.

This liturgy may be used to acknowledge and confess the power held by many of us; whether that is because we live in the West or global North, because we

are part of a majoriQ or because we enjoy freedom, peace and opportunities denied to others. It gives space to reflect on the unsettling challenges of the

gospels to our privilegedway of life, while remindingus of Jesus' caII to participate fully inthe workof the kingdom, and to be transformed.

Words in bold are to be said or sung by everyone. Leave plenty of space between the prayers, readings and meditations and don't be afraid of silence. The

Taize chants can be found at

Come all who are weary

of wealth, of poverty, of power, of struggle, of division

Come all who are heavy-laden

with too much, with too little, with anxiety, with fear, with anger

Come all who have hope

for liberation, for peace, for freedom, for the kingdom

Hear these words

"See, I am making all things new"

Taize chant: See I amhere, says the Lord, see I make allthings new

A reading from Luke 1: 46-55:

Voice 1: And, Mary said

Voice 2: 'My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,

for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.

Voice 1: Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

Voice 2: His mercy is for those who fear him

from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

Voice 1: He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

This liturgy resource

was originally

published in Mozaik

2010/Power (the

ecumenical journal

of WSCF Europe).

Summer 2011 . Movement . 29


Voice 2: He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.'


A revolutionary prayer

the rich are sent away empty

the poor are lifted up

this is her God

A God who looks with favour on the lowest

who brings down the high and mighty

who takes the rulers from their thrones

and prepares a feast for the hungry

this is her God

Aholy, powerful God

fragile within her womb


Forgive us Lord when we cling to privilege and the trappings of Empire

When we hoard our possessions and enjoy riches at the expense of others

When we take for granted our position in society and in the world

When we do not share power and decision making with others

Unsettle us from seats of power and the confines of h:xury

Challenge us with scripture and the stories of others

Liberate us from the grasp of consumerism and complacency

Transform us in the pattern ofyour kingdom

that breaks into this world, to resist, to restore, to rebalance, to renew.

All say: For yours is the kingdom, the power and the gloty, for ever and ever,


A reading from Luke 6: 20-21

Then he looked up at his disciples and said:

'Blessed are you who are poor,

for yours is the kingdom of God.

'Blessed are you who are hungry now,

for you will be filled.

'Blessed are you who weep now,

for you will laugh.

Taize chant: Beati voi poveri (How blessed the poor in heart)

(Singers or musicians could carry on quietly with this chant while the meditation is read

over the top. If you do this you may want to continue with the chant several times after

the meditation as well, before enteringinto silence)

30 . Movement . Summer 2011



When you say blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God

do your eyes rest on me in the crowd and see how weighed down I am with


When you say blessed are you who are hungry, for you will be filled

do you place your hand in mine and know the feasts I have eaten?

When you say blessed are you who weep now for you will Iaugh

do you anoint my head with oil and sense that I have laughed long and hard?

Then bless me again Lord, take my riches, my fullness, my laughter

all that I have in excess

and let it rise up in the poor, the hungry and those who weep.

That together we may delight in good things

share bread and wine together

open our hearts in joy and sorrow

knowing that together we seek your kingdom

as one body.


Song: Come now O God of peace (O-so-so) I

All say: May grace and peace be ours in abundance, in the knowledge of God and

of Jesus our Lord.

May we be thankful for simple things, for friendship, for health, for daily bread,

for good news.

May we rise above the corruption of power and become participants in the divine


May we go from this place to pursue goodness, wisdom, holiness and love.

God the Creator, call us to the work of the kingdom

God the Redeemer, keep us from stumbling

God the Sustainer, transform and inspire us.


1 The words to 'Come now O God of peace' (and music) can be found in the liturgy for the Week of Christian Unity


Rosie Venner likes

singing, writing and

plantingthings. She

is also SCM's Links


Summer 2011 . Movement . 31

SCM Gelebration and AGM

l0 - 12 June 20ll

Trinity Centre, Lickey,

near Birmingham

The not-to-be-missed event at the end of the

summer term. Come and join students from

around the country in the midst of the beautiful

Lickey Hills, with the chance to have your say

and get involved in the movement's work next


All SCM affiliated groups and chaplaincies are

strongly encouraged to send a voting representative

to the AGM on the Saturday, but

everyone is welcome to join us for the weekend


whether you are new to SCM or a current


With a focus on food and celebration, we'll be

cooking up a feast on the Saturday evening,

and sharing together in prayer, workshops and

walks as well as planning tor 2011-12.

For more info and to book your place please

contact the SCM office on 0121 2003355 or See the SCM website

for fudher details:

Do you have a vision for SGM?

You could stand for SCM's General Council at

the AGM and be part of an inspiring studentled

team! Please contact scm@movement. for more information or take a look at

www. uk/gc


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