Movement 106

movementmagazine

the magazine of the student christian movement I issue 106 | autumn 2000

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Faith in

the Flesh

SCM annual conference

2+26th November,

Christchurch Clarendon Park,

Leicester

Speakers include:

> David Tomlinson (author of The Post-

Evangelical)

> Pat Madden from Churches Together

) Dr Helen Thorne on experience of women in

the ministry

. How does the chunch

deal with oun bodiliness?

. What does the body of

Ghnist look like?

Workshops on:

I Body lmage

aA[ernative therapy

I Disability issues

flesh

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ff

FAITH

a t.ffdlon on hodl6.nd rptrlto.llty

S 56 RESOURC€ PUBLICATION

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platform

Rea lity bites

ON BEING AN UNDERGRADUATE: while an

opportunity to do some growing up in a

relatively secure and non-judgmental

environment, it can also be an infantalising

experience in some ways.

I was discussing this with a friend - who had also

been a mature student - and he identified as the

reason the fact that, in general, students have very

few responsibilities but plenty of rights. Perhaps that

is why students seem to be so much more concerned

about environmental and third world povefty type

issues than the population as a whole. lt may also be

due to being able to identify more closely than previously

with the poverty stricken.

Of course the average student's lack of economic

clout also means that he of she is not placed to make

a great deal of difference in some ways. I was never

quite sure how much of an impact I made by buying

fair trade tea and coffee and putting paper into

recycling bins. And as my mother (kindly) pointed out

on one occasion it was hardly consistent to use a

major High Street bank (well, several High Street

banks since they all offered incentives for opening an

account), rather than, say, the Co-operative Bank.

One counter argument would be that since I ran most

of my accounts in more or less permanent overdraft

that I was costing them money rather than sup

portingthem... but I still never got around to opening

that Co-operative Bank account.

On graduating all this should change of course. For

one thing most employees have responsibilities to

their colleagues and most adults will marry and

(arguably) have a responsibility therefore to their

spouse and children should they have any. The

obvious course of action for the socially responsible

former student would be to work for a charity, say or

teach in an inner-city state school or in the NHS. I

think it is worth considering however whether general

moral considerations and specifically Christian values

diverge at all when one is considering a career.

ls it really following the example of Jesus of

Nazareth to opt for squeaky clean, greener than green

companies in favour of those with less than impeccable

credentials? Jesus did not after all shun the

undesirables of society (quite the reverse) and in

some ways is not joining a hyper respectable organisation

just an instance of preaching to the converted?

lf one prefers evangelism by example, to some of the

more 'direct' methods, it would probably be more consistent

with that approach to join an ordinary

company and institute a paper recycling scheme, or

even somewhere with somewhat dubious morals with

the ambition of changing them. Change from within is

much more effective than outside.

Students have very few responsibilities

but plenty of rights

I am not advocating by any means joining a

company that manufactures chemical weapons but

some experience in a conventional commercial environment

will lend authority to an individual trying to

implement environmentally or economically responsible

policies further on in his or her career. Many

students feel that they are not doing much to alleviate

third world debt by putting money into collecting tins.

As the argument runs the poor people of the rich

countries too often end up subsidising the rich people

in the poor countries who are responsible for the economically

unsound polices in the first place. As a

worker, rather than a student, it is possible to become

one of the rich people in the rich countries and to

have some real influence.

Catherine Carfoot is a member

Cambridge University SCM,

issue 106 | autumn 2000 _

movement

MOVEMENT isthetermly

magazine of the Student

Chri sti a n M aveme nt, distri b uted

free of charge to members and

dedicated to an open-minded

expt o r ati o n of Christi a n ity.

Edttor:

Tim Wosdcoc*

Editorial address:

9 glauc{s Stseet

Btx[,

London

753tL629

E: movemag@aol.com

Nen cogydate:

zstl{orc(r$er2000

tffinm*dv.dmne

Ad


NEWS

flg tvs J

FOR THOSE OF you who have never

encountered SCM before here's a brief

€uide to what we're all about.

Contrary to popular belief, SCM does not stand for

'Slightly Christian Movement'; SCM did not kick the

bucket in the 1980s; neither are all its members a

bunch of way out, wishy-washy weirdos (not many of

them anyway)!

So, what is the Student Christian Movement?

SCM is a national organisation committed to

supporting students as they explore their faith and

the world around them. There are currently 63

university student groups affiliated to SCM. lf you

haven't come across our name it is probably because

the groups do not necessarily call themselves SCM.

As well as the student groups, SCM also has a large

network of individual members and Friends.

Apart from this magazine, Movement, what does

SCM offer to students?

.lnclusivity

We offer an open and non-judgmental environment

in which students are encouraged to explore,

intellectually and creatively, issues relating to their

faith and society today. SCM attracts all kinds of

students, some of whom would describe themselves

as liberals, while others would feel uncomfortable

with that label but are nevertheless keen to engage

in debate.

. Ecumenism

Ecumenism has always been central to SCM's work

and the movement was instrumental in laying down

the foundations for the modern ecumenical

movement. We continue today to serve and to work

in' partnership with groups and individuals of all

denominations. We are an Associate Body of CTE

(Churches togeifrer in England).

.Social Awareness and Action

Through our publications and events, SCM hopes to

inspire students not only to discuss and reflect on

contemporary social issues but to also become

actively involved in supporting the work of

campaigning organisations. Look out for

information, in issues of Movement and on our

website, about campaigns you can become involved

in.

. lnternational Network

SCM is a member of WSCF (World Student Christian

Federation). This means that you, as SCM members

and supporters, are regularly invited to go to all

kinds of international student events, held in venues

all over the world. You get to travel, and meet up with

SCM folk from different countries. I know what

you're thinking - "Who's paying?" We can't pay for

everyone, but SCM Central Office does have a

budget set aside for helping with WSCF travel

expenses. We will publicise these events, so let us

know if you see one you'd like to go to!

Who decides what SCM is?

Now is a good time to be talking about what SCM is

because SCM staff are currently working on a draft

'vision statement' for the movement. lt is important

that this is not seen as a staff project. We will be

distributing a draft copy to you, via email and snail

mail, and we hope that as many members and

supporters as possible will communicate their

suggestions and comments to staff at Central Office.

The annual conference will be another opportunity for

people to contribute. The final version will then be

launched, in a new leaflet, at the beginning of 2OOt

with the purpose of increasing awareness of our

existence and our aims.

Faith in the flesh

FAITH IN THE FLESH - SCM ANNNUAL CONFERENCE 2OOO

24 - 26 November 2OOO. Leicester

Bringyour body alongto "Faith in the Flesh". SCM's national conference this

year! The weekend will give you the chance to explore lots of different issues

relating to the body fitting together nicely with the brand new SCM resource on

the sanre subject.

For the first half of the conference. we'll be thinking about what it means

toclay to belong to this entity'the body of Christ'. ls it still a ltsefttl concept when

the bocly, rather than enjoying a sense of unity, is often riddled with internal

divisions? Andasifthat'snotenough,forthethesecondhalfoftheconference,

yoLr'll be able to choose from a series of workshops in which you'll be able to

discr.rss sonre of the issues directly affecting our physical bodies, itrclucling:

- Bocly Theology- how should ottr bodies inform our faith?

- Healing the body with alternative therapies - are they Christian?

- GM foocl - biotechnology

Disability issues

For more details contact central office. Please book as early as possible.

4 | movement


All change!

It's been all change in the office over the summer

months. Mark Depew has been settling into his new

role and thinking up ways to improve what SCM has to

offer. Carrie, who left around Easter, had her baby on

the 24th July ("Joseph - 8lb 3oz, "plump and pink").

Ellie Mensingh has become SCM coordinator, which

means she has handed on the role of job of whizzing

round the country and getting the last train back from

Preston on a wet Monday evenings (otherwise known

as being the groups worker). Which means SCM has a

new groups worker in the shape of Marie Pattison.

Marie writes: Hello! This is my first week as the new

groups worker, I'm looking forward to meeting peopte

on rny yisits to groups but until then, here is a little bit

about me...

A guick autobiography: I grew up in God's own

country, County Durham. After leaving home I worked

for a year in Bestwood, Nottingham as a children's

wor4er for an ecumenical project. I went to study

Re/rgrous Studies and Social Ethics at St Martin,s,

Lancaster. My studies were a profound challenge to

my faith; I have found the writings of the feminist

theo/ograns to be very challengling and enriching, the

opportunity to study ethical issues made me even

more aware of the connection which faith has to

socia/ justlce. From St Martin's I went to be

Chaplaincy Assistant at the Angllican Chaplaincy at

Liverpool University where I enjoyed working with the

student giroup and exploring my interest in worship

and liturgtl through the preparation of our services.

I'm looking forward to working with SCM, meeting

Groups and exploring issues of faith, spirituality and

justice. l'm new to SCM so the first few months of the

job will be a real learning experience for me as I learn

more about SCM and what I can contribute.

OUICK AUESTIONS

NEWS

Whats your favourite possession?

What do you dislike about yourself?

My photograph album, pictures of my friends I can be impatient.

What are you reading at the moment?

Whafs your favourite word?

l'm cunently re reading0aptain Coffelli's

Chocolate

Mandolin asltound it in an oxfam Bookshop

and had to buy it. lt was the first book I read for lf you could be someone else who would it be?

pleasure when I'd finished my degree. I read it I wouldn't. I think one of the secrets of being

in two days and cried my eyes out, so I'm

happy is to make friends with yourself, it's not

reading it more slowly now. Alongside that easily done but it's a worthwhile

I

friendship to

have The Tao of Pooh.

have. I like me.

When did you last cry?

What is your favourite film?

As you gathered l'm a person who cries

Fried Green Tomatoes at the

at

l,Vhist/e Stop Caf6

books and films so it would have to be the

is a film favourite with

last

me. Another one would

time I watched lhe Waltons, that's my weekly

be Srassed Offwhich I have seen five times and

weep at the weekend, I

still

find it therapeutic.

cried every time; it appeals to the miner's

daughter/granddaughter in me. The last really

What are you scared of?

good film I saw was lilb is Beautiful.

Moths

How do you relax?

What do you never miss on TV?

I lose myself in a good book, have some friends

ER (but you can keep George Clooney, I think Dr

round with a bottle of red wine, paint glass,

Carter is a sweetheart) l'm inconsolable if I

cook, spend some time in the countryside or by

miss the Naked Chef, Jamie can cook for me

the sea. lf l'm really stressed I find some ducks

anytime. I don't like to miss Channel 4 News

to go and feed, that always gets things in

too often, it's the best news, and I'll watch

perspective.

anything else Jon Snow is doing.

Whats your favourite journey?

What music do you listen to most?

Thejourney home. Forthe pastfouryears I've

Anything with interesting lyrics. I'm musically

been living in the North West and the journey

illiterate, so I like it to have words.

back to Co. Durham is a beautiful one across

the Pennines. And I love the view as you come What pet hates do you have?

into Durham from the South on the tain, with Moths. Anything girly pink coloured. Too much

the city sprawled out beneath me and Cathedral mess,

brooding over it.

What would your motto for living be?

What do you like most about yourself?

" Be tue to yourself, aim high, don't be afraid to

l'm worthy enough for the people who I love love people. " Sorry it's not catchy but it's true.

most in the world to really like me.

Creative space

New academic year, new look Movement. ln fact the

magazine's aims are much as they ever were: to

'promote an open-minded exploration of Christianity'

and to create a'space for students to discuss faith,

culture and politics. The cleaner, fresher design of

Movement is another way of creating this space. The

graphics on page 4, 6 and 25 are courtesy of Adrian

Riley of Electric Angel (electric.angel@virgin.net), and

the general look is based on a design by Steve Collins.

Yet again the editorial address for Movement has

changed: please note the new address and

telephone number: 9 Glaucus Street, BoW London

E3 6QS (tel: O2O 7531 1629). The e-mait address,

which is probably the best first port of call, remains

the same: movemag@aol.com.

What this means in practice is that l've moved flats

takingthe magazine with me. (Everyone gets sucked

into London eventually. Discuss.) Curiously the East

End den in which it all happens is identical to the one

used three years ago, when Graeme Burk edited the

magazine and compressed 1OO issues into one spectacular

retrospective. He was based in Poplar, which

is about a mile from Bow, in a block of flats which in

layout terms is exactly the same. That's East End postblitz

architecture for you...

We're also using new printers, East End Offset, who

also print Private Eye. So if the Serpent becomes an

overnight celebrity, and lan Hislop takes the credit,

you'll know what's happened.

(Tim Woodcock)

movement | 5


NCWS

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NEWSPAPERS ALREADY warn darkly of an

'autumn of anarchy' with hordes of violent

demonstrators descending on the beautiful

city of Prague at the end of September.

Prague has become the next international focus for

groups protesting against the adverse effects of the

globalisation and economic policies of international

financial institutions:. All the groups organising gatherings

in Prague are publicly committed to nonviolence

as they raise these issues. Yet the media in

search of a sensational story have quickly become

obsessed with the potential threat of violence and

have made those living in Prague feel they are about

to undergo civil war.

There is in fact a much more real war going on, one

that few journalists remark on. The reason is that this

is a 'silent war', away from the television screens - a

war on people's lives caused by the overwhelming

burden of unpayable debt. ln the 1980s, Adebayo

Adedeji, former UnderSecretary General of the United

Nations said: "Debt is tearing down schools, clinics

and hospitals and the effects are no less devastating

than war." Almost 20 years after the third world debt

crisis emerged, the war goes on as the poorest

countries continue to spend more on servicing debts

than they do on health and education. The UN

estimates that 7m children's lives could be saved

each year if money currently spent on debt

repayments was instead invested in health, education

and sanitation.

Following intense campaigning by the Jubilee 2000

movement, the leaders of the G8 richest nations

agreed in June 1999 to cancel up to $100 billion of

debtforthe 41 poorest countries. Yet one year on, not

one country has received debt cancellation and only 9

have received partial relief on their annual debt

repayments. Jubilee 2000, together with leaders of

the Organisation of African Unity, the Group of 77

Nations (G77) and the Secretary General of the

United Nations all sent a strong message to the G8

summit in Okinawa this July that they had to produce

a radically new deal on debt. However, far from

reviving or resuscitating their debt relief initiative, the

leaders backtracked on their promises at their island

summit retreat. The summit instead became

infamous as the world's most expensive summit

costing an obscene $750 million - an amount that

would have wiped out Gambia's debt twice over.

ln Prague Jubilee 2OOO will be sending an

unequivocal message - that at a time of

unprecedented prosperity in the West it is completely

unacceptable to continue to collect money from the

poorest people in the world. The campaign, together

with the broader alliance of groups focusing on

globalisation, will also be reflecting a wider concern

that the 'silent war' on the poor will not end until we

end the prioritisation of money and profit above

human lives and the environment within which we

live.

So why not come to Prague? Jubilee 2000 Czech

Republic is organising a demonstration for debt

cancellation on Sunday 24 September in Prague as

well as joining with other organisations in a range of

activities in the following week.

Contact Harry Weeks Travel on 01689 887000 (ask

for Groups Dept). Prices are around .t300 for return

flight to Prague with 3 nights accommodation, or

L72O for travel by coach with 2 nights

accommodation. lt may be possible to arrange

cheaper accommodation through members of Czech

SCM - contact movemag@aol.com.

One World Week have produced an

action pack to inspire activities on the

theme "as if People and the Earth

Matter". The aim is "to get the message

across that if we put people and the

planet first we can live as One World in

all its fullness." The pack includes

informative discussion starters, games

and workshops - mostly on the topic of

websites of interest:

wwwjubilee2000uk.org

www.r2kphilly.orglarticle_kl

einl.html

www.x2t.or g/ s26 / pr ague / i

ndex.htm

. Nick Buxton is a former

member of Edinburgh SCM

and works for Jubilee

2000,

producers and consumers. And there's a bundle of postcards and posters. lt

costs 16 and an ecumenical worship anthologl is available for f,1.

One World Week is also running a Voices from the South programme, where

groups and organisations work with a mentor to enhance their capacity for

building one world.

Phone 0118 9394933 for further details.

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20 September, 7pm

Voices from the Crossroads - current

issues in the Middle East

St John's, Waterloo, London.

Speakers: Rabbi Yehezkel Landau,

from Open House, Ramallah and Afafif

Safiel, Palestinian delegate to UK.

Speak to SCM or Christians Aware (tel:

0L16 254 O77O\for more info.

23 September, 12-5pm

Young Lesbian and cay Christians

Meeting of newly formed group for

Les-Bi-Gay Christians under 30.

Holloway URC Church, London N7.

For more details tel: O2O 7739 1249

or e-mail: mark.kenny@btinternet.com

29September-lOctober

Breakout 2000

Ecumenical Youth Festival (Methodist

Church and Churches Together in

England)

London Arena, Docklands

Booking deadline: 20 Sept

For more info tel: 020 8288 1961 or

web: www.breakout20O0.org.uk

12-13 October

Food for Thought

Extravaganza for young people

organised by Exeter Cathedral/

Christian Ecology Link.

Tel: 01392 274475

22 - 29 Oclober

One World Week "... as if People and

the Earth Matter"

6000 local groups are organising

events around global justice and

environmental issues.

web: www.gn.apc.org/oneworldweek

tel: O118 939 4933

28 October

"God, Gender and the Church" with

Kathy Galloway and guests from the

world church. Day conference

organised by Christians Aware and the

Church Missionary Society at St

Peter's Church, Nottingham.

For more info phone Christians Aware

on 0116 254 O77O

30October-6November

ls Violence Ever an Answer?

Conference exploring the causes, as

well as ways of overcoming violence in

society. Organised by WSCF Europe's

Theology Working Group. lasi,

Romania

Application deadline: 22 Sept

For more info contact WSCF on e-mail:

wscf-eu rope@xs4a ll. n I

20November-5December

Aliens in our Midst - Xenophobia in

Europe

I nternational Ecumenical Student

Conference near Berlin - organised by

German SCM. An opportunity to

discuss the reasons for the rise of

neo-fascist, right-wing groups in

Europe, and consider ways of

preventing racism.

Deadline for bookings: 1 Nov. (age

limit - 29 yrs)

For more info contact German SCM

(ESG) at: OWERefrat@aol.com

24-26 November 2000

Faith in the Flesh - Student Christian

Movement Annual Conference 2000

Christchurch Clarendon Park,

Leicester

lncarnation is at the heart of the

Chrisian faith, but has Christianity's

relationship with all things carnal been

a positive one?

t18 whole conference/ tl-2 Sat only

0727 47! 24O4 for more details

movement | 7


Britney uncovered

Oops,,, l'm a sex symbol

Ctaire Horsnell/ooks atthe curiaus career of Britney Spears.

Is she singingsongs of innocence ar experience?

lN THE YEAR 20OO, they don't come much

biglgler than Britney Spears - even before

her knee operation. Smash hit single

follows smash hit single, followed by a

smash hit album, just to prove a point. She

sings! She dances! She swims with

dolphins in Hawaii! She's set uP a

foundation to help under-privileged kids in

the States experience the buzz of

performing arts!

The tabloids on both sides of the Atlantic love her;

story follows story as doggedly as the paparazzi

follow her. Romantic rumours about her and Prince

William abound, although the opinion of the Palace

seems to be that they'd rather Di. She puts her success

down to her family and her faith in God, a Bible

belt girl next door doing what she loves courtesy of

the Good Lord, which is a weight off the mind of any

hell-fire preacher raving against the Devil's Music.

And she's only eighteen.

Only eighteen. "l'm not an innocent," she sings

huskily on Oops I Did lt Again. But in her interviews'

she's just as keen to let us know that she's saving

herself for marriage. There's a curious paradox lying

between her aggressive championing of virginity and

the blossoming sexuality that she demonstrates in

her videos; the infamous schoolgirl sequences featured

in the video lo Baby One More Iime were

banned in, of all liberal environments, Sweden. ls

she a true innocent, or a sultry seductress? Both' it

would appear. Which one is the real Britney? Nobody

knows.

A cynic - or a record company marketing executive

- might posit that the heady mixture of innocence and

experience is her selling point. She is, after all, a fantasy

in sun-bleached blonde for teenage boys and

dirty old men, and a sexy-but-virginal aspiration for

There's a curious paradox lying between her aggressive

championing of virginity and her blossoming sexuality

pubescent girls. The unfashionable word 'exploitation'

might be batted around. But in the Deep South,

Britney explains, it's hot, so you tend to wear less' So

we can all breathe a sigh of relief. She's not being

exploited - she's just cooling off. And warming

everyone's heart while she's doing it.

It's a wonderful story. But reading between the

lines exposes a number of fissures in the Britney fantasy.

She may not be the sharpest tool in the box' but

then, while the Beckhams probably wouldn't win any

prizes on Mastermind, they seem happy, and it's difficult

to begrudge them that. Britney on the other hand,

is more of a mystery. Reading even the briefest of her

potted biographies it's unclear to what extent she has

been following her dream, and how carefully she has

been steered towards it. lt's become something of a

custom for bubblegum pop acts, like Steps' or even

the Spice Girls, to espouse the philosophy that all you

need to do is to work hard and stick with your friends

to get to the top: if you reach for the stars and never

give up, then your dreams will all come true.

Britney has been working hard since she was barely

out of nappies. Enrolled for ballet classes' tap

lessons, and glmnastics training before the age of

ten, she was regularly singing and dancing in competitions

- not, interestingly enough, terribly successfully

- until she landed a spot on The Mickey Mouse Club at

the age of eleven. The rest, as they say, is - recent -

history. Her first album has been a roaring success,

crashing straight into the charts at number one. She

peers out from the cover looking sultry, trapped and

helpless, her hands in an attitude that makes her look

as though she's grasping the bars of a cage. lt's a

frightening measure of the attitude towards the sexuality

of young female pop stars that prevails: she's

young, she's innocent, and she's waiting foryou, boys.

Unlike Madonna, who has always seemed both in control

of her faith and her sexuality, and has never been

shy about exploring either as part of her act, Britney

dances for the guys, stays chaste for the Lord - and

the right man - and makes an awful lot of money for

an aMul lot of people. lt's as if second-wave feminism

never happened.

As in all good Southern Gothic tales, Mother looms

large in the background - and you can never be sure

whether she's on the side

of the heroine or not. One

click on the official Britney

Spears website shows

instantly what a huge influence

Britney's mother

Lynne has been on her life. Britney's online official

biography is obviously sanitised to the point of

sterility, but there's a sinister note in the passivity with

which she's described. "As soon as she showed proficiency

at tumbling," it chirrups, "she was quickly

enrolled in a S/m at Covington, an hour's drive away

from her home in Kentwood, Louisiana, for gymnasll

il

8lmovement


Britney uncovered

tics classes... Britney's

schedule was gruelling.

She had three hours of

practice a day, with that

long drive on top of it,

but the little girl's determination

motivated her

to stay with gymnastics

until she was about nine

years old.' One wonders

what her determination

was focussed upon, and

what inspired it, espe

cially at an age when

most children are more

concerned with

Pok6mon and happy

meals than world domination

of pop culture. lt

is Lynne, rather than

Britney, who keeps the

diary on official

britney.com. She keeps it chummy, chatty and personal-

details about Britney's younger sister's softball

games, and Auntie Sandra's chemotherapy make you

feel part of one big happy family. lt's wonderfully contrived.

But you do wonder what a God-fearing Southern

Baptist family like Britney's think about their

daughter/sister/niece cavorting about in school uniform

or alternately in a red rubber catsuit that doesn't

As in all good Southern Gothic tales,

Mother looms large in the background -

and you can never be sure whether she's

on the side of the heroine or not.

look as though it was designed to keep out the cold.

There's a strange dichotomy between the sexuality of

Britney The Performer and Britney The Good Christian

Girl. The image that she projects is of a girl who's

Available, with a capital A. But while Madonna always

came across as a Catholic girl who liked to fuck,

Britney's hook is being the proverbial Forbidden Fruit,

and notjust because of her age, either. She wants to

really, she seems to be saying - she just doesn't know

it yet. lt's a dangerous game, in anyone's book. The

implications of such a sexualised image of a very

pretty young girl pretending to be even younger than

. Claire Made Horsnell is a fomer

Engllsh lfterature in Toronto,

she really is are pretty

sinister. And at the end

of it, you're once again

left wondering where the

real Britney is in all of

this. A bar at the top of

the site informs you what

Britney's doing while

you're dropping in on her

website. But nothing tells

you about what she's

thinking - or feeling.

What, you wonder, is she

trying to do? When an

anonymous millionaire

recently offered several

million dollars for her virginity,

she was apparently

outraged. But the

man didn't attempt to

proposition Britney

directly - he approached

her record company. You don't need to be a Beckham

to figure out who's in control here.

One music journalist recently rather harshly proclaimed

that Britney has the personality of a log. lt's

difficult to knoq though, how he was able to tell.

Finding the real Britney Spears is akin to trying to find

the real Maid Marion - you can never be sure if you're

dealing with fact or fiction. Even if you ignore the

usual hive of tabloid rumours and pseudostories that

accompany celebrity like hers, Britney's official interviews

give the impression of being a series of welF

learned, repeated phrases polished until theysqueak,

rather than an insight into the glittering world of international

pop stardom perceived by an eighteen yearold

girl. Like Spinal Tap without the irony, Britney

Spearsil works night and day to keep the public from

finding out who the girl behind the glass really is.

Meanwhile, Britney's lucky star continues to rise at an

astronomical rate. At an age when most people are

trying to find out who they are for themselves, she

seems to be happy pandering to an image that other

people have created for her. And for the time being it

seems to work, but the question is, at what cost? Dazzling

success has come to Britney Spears quickly,

powerfully and thunderously - and while she's still

very young. We can only hope and pray it doesn't

destroy her.

movement l9


disarming actions I helen steven

"Last February I achieved a 15 year old ambition:

I managed to get nine ordained ministers arrested"

NEXT YEAR MARKS THE start of the World Council of

Churches initiated Decade to Overcome Violence -

perhaps a rather tall order in view of the millennia of

violence to date, and a particularly gruesome previous

century. However its main aim is to wake up the

churches to the endemic violence in our society, and

to rekindle the challen$e of the Gospel, commanding

us to love our enemies and overcome evil with $ood'

George Macleod, the founder of the lona Community, of which I

am a member, was so passionate about nonviolence that he was

almostviolentinhismission.Hewouldtrapunwaryfolkswiththeir

back to the wall, fix them with a steely blue glare, and demand that

they 'si$n the pledge of nonviolence now, as the only way

consonant with the Christian Gospel'. We learned soon to dodge

round corners and discover urgent committee meetings, but could

it just be that he was right; that nonviolence is indeed an idea

whose time has come, and that as Christians we must be totally

committed to the way of nonviolence.

ltwaswiththisinspirationthatlstarteduptheScottishCentre

forNonviolencelastyear.ConvenientlysituatedinDunblaneinthe

annexe of the Scottish Churches House, the ecumenical centre for

Scotland, we have an excellent library of resources and four

workers.ourstatedaimisto.makenonviolenceacredibleoption

in principle and practice', and we are trying to introduce a

knowledge of nonviolence at every level of society' ln February

20olwewillbeofferingamoduleinnonviolencefortheCentrefor

Human Ecology MSc course, accredited by the Open University (we

take enrolments in November); we are running training and

workshops with community workers, teachers, women's groups and

activists; and we are working on nonviolent alternatives to military

intervention, developing the concept of civilian peace teams' For

the W.C.C. Decade to move beyond the confines of e-mail attachments

and committees, it must be expressed in committed nonviolenceaction.thatdefiesandresiststheprevailingviolenceof

society.

"Christians should be without fear, happy, and always in trouble"'

said Quaker writer Dou$las Steere. Last February I achieved a 15

year old ambition: I managed to get nine ordained ministers

arrested. ln fact they were actually begging to be put in the nick' as

it was chucking down rain at the time, and they thought they might

be warmer in the cells! The action was a blockade organised by the

Trident plou$hshares 2O0O and Scottish CND' TP2000 is part of

theploughsharesmovementwhichtakesliteral|ytheinjunctionto

.beatourswordsintoploughshares'.overtheyearsactivistshave

taken pneumatic drills to missile silos, swum out to nuclear subs

and dismantled parts of them, hammered bomb doors shut, and in

all cases waited to be arrested, often serving long prison

Sentences.TP2oooispartofthistradition,butisalsoupholding

international law, which says that the use and threat of nuclear

weapons is illegal. Members of TP2OOO are pled$ed to disarm

Britain's Trident submarines'

Last summer, my partner, Ellen Moxley, and her friends Angie

Zelter and Ulla Roder took a small rubber boat out to a Trident

facilityonLochGoil,andinfourglorioushoursofuninterrupted

pleasure, managed to chuck the entire contents of the laboratory to

the bottom of Loch Goil. After four and a half months on remand'

they were actually acquitted in a dramatic, headline-grabbing court

case. Since then there have been many direct actions to uphold the

'Greenock decision'.

I felt that it was hi$h time for the churches to be involved in a

much more high profile way. Of course many of us had been part of

the campaign all alon$, but my dream was to have ministers and

priests being arrested and explaining why' As long ago as 1984 the

churchofScotlandstatedinitsGeneralAssemblythatnuclear

weapons were contrary to the will of God, and the lona

Community's Justice and Peace Commitment says that opposition

tonuclearweaponsis'animperativeoftheChristianfaith"These

are strong words requiring a serious response'

And so on 14th February eleven ministers and about 20 supporters

joined with several hundred others blockading the gates of

the submarine base at Faslane. By 9.30 a.m' over 180 arrests had

been made, and we were all soaked to the skin' ln the growing

daylight bread and wine were shared in a simple and very moving

communion service, then as we sang'Stand firm, o stand firm' and

see what the Lord can do', they linked arms and stood across the

gates, then lay full length in the road, as one by one they were

arrested. one retired minister, when asked at the police Station why

at 70 years old he was doing this, replied, 'l wanted to do

something with mY life'.

Of course the story doesn't end there. They are looking for 50

clergy to be arrested at Faslane on February 1-.2lh 2OOt, so check

what your own minister or priest is doing that day! And of course

come along yourself. As I write this TP20O0 is holding camp at

Coulport, near Faslane. Last week, making the front page of the

Scottish press, in what was described as the second biggest demo

for 15 years, 76 people were arrested, including Angie and Ulla'

With their usual unfailing accuracy, the press report declared that

Ellen Moxley had also been arrested. 'Goodness me', she said'

SittingbesidemeinapubonMull,.|'vebeenarrestedwithouteven

being there'. Such is famel

ln this column, I hope to focus on a variety of nonviolent witness'

and explore some of the issues. I would be glad to hear your views

and stories.

Helen can be contacted at the Scottish Centre for Nonviolence'

The Annexe, Scottish Churches House, Dunblane, FK15 OAJ'

1O lmovement


It's lonely at the top

David Anderson considers the work of two eminent bishops , who have

tried ta articulate a visian af a liberal church engaged with soclety

THE QUESTION OF THE relationship

between Christianity and the societies in

which Christians live is an old one, but it

has a particular urgency for us. Christianity

does not command the adherence of a

majority of our society, and Christian

values, or the support for Christian values,

is a code-phrase for adherence to conservative

and authoritarian positions on

personal morality.

Under these circumstances, it is hard to see how

Christians can make a useful contribution to public

debate. Nevertheless, two Anglican bishops have

recently written books about Christianity and public

life. Richard Holloway, the Primus of the Scottish

Episcopalian Church, has published Godless Morality,

an examination of how Christians can recommend

moral values to a pluralistic society (reviewed in

Movement 706). Rowan Williams, Archbishop of

Wales, has published Lost lcons, a set of reflections

upon contemporary culture and politics. They are

both left-wingers, and are associated with radical

positions on issues such as homosexuality.

I would like to look at these two books, as a way of

starting to think about the issues.

Holloway's book is a rehearsal of several major

ethical issues in modern society: mostly to do with

sex, although he also discusses drugs. Arguing that

Christians cannot require a pluralist society to act on

any moral values merely because they are Christian

moral values, he uses the principle of 'do no harm' to

describe his progressive positions on all of these

issues,

However, there are questions that Holloway's book

does not raise. As last issue's reviewer of Godless

Morality noticed, Holloway's book fails to engage with

any political issues. The two major areas of public

debate in which Christians have been intervening

recently are the abolishment of Clause 28 and the

abolition of international debt. Yet the debt issue

receives no attention from Holloway. Likewise,

Holloway makes slight mention of economic

inequalities within British society. I'm sure that he

disapproves of economic exclusion, but why doesn't

he say something about it? lt is almost as if he has

been following the advice of Tory governments that

retigious figures should confine themselves to

maintaining private morality.

Holloway observes at one point in his argument

that the battles of the eighties were won by the

economic right and the cultural left. Holloway is

arguing that Christians should accept the victory of

the cultural left. Does he not then think that

Christians should also accept the victory of the

economic right? And does the observation not raise

the question of whether or not the two victories were

linked? As I think Rowan Williams' book helps us to

see, the respective victories of the left and the right

were based upon the shared assumptions of both

groups about the nature of the human individual and

his relation to society; assumptions which lie at the

back of Holloway's argument.

lf we accept the assumptions from which Holloway

argues, we have to accept the dominance of the

economic right. This seems to me to account for the

inability of left-wing commentators in the eighties to

mount a coherent criticism of Thatcher's economic

policies, beyond uttering routine condemnations. The

cultural left understands the human person as an

economic consumer, just as the economic right does.

ln Godless Morality, this becomes explicit at one

stage in Holloway's argument about abortion. He

speaks of society as having invested more in the

mother than in the foetus. That is, his picture of the

moral agent - the surgeon deciding which life to save,

or the lawyer or politician considering the law on the

matter - is of an economic agent assessing the

investments made in each of thetwo individuals. This

does not seem to me to be a helpful way of thinking

morally - and the consequences for political and

economic thinking should be immediately apparent.

lf we are to preserve Holloway's conclusions, we need

a firmer foundation upon which to base them.

Rowan Williams' book is a sustained reflection

movement | 1l


--a

upon culture and society in the last decade. He

argues that both our political and personal languages

are confused, as a result of an impoverished way of

talking about the self. Much of our discourse

assumes a picture of our selves as timeless free

agents, making choices based upon our immediate

desires, without commitments to our pasts, or

involvements with other people. lt is a language that

systematically overlooks the facts that to make a

choice is to lose the possibilities that we don't

choose, and that our choices bind our lives up with

others. lnstead, Williams wishes to draw our

attention to our historical identities, created in time

along with other people.

Williams starts his book off by talking about

children's stories, especially fantasy. (He seems to

have written the chapter before Harry Potter came

along). Fantasy is important because it allows people

to learn how to make choices without being held

responsible for the consequences. Making choices is

difficult and must be learned though trial and error.

How ever some language blurs the boundaries

between play and serious decision-making, with the

consequences that serious decisions become

increasingly irresponsible, and areas of play become

increasingly dominated by competition. Williams

discusses in detail how the language of parental

choice distorts educational policy - a 'failing' school

will cease to attract those parents whose

commitment contributes to the success of the school,

and so will become even less 'successful.' Williams

also has challenging things to say to both sides of the

abortion debate.

The next chapter gives more sustained attention

to areas in which play (the arts, sports, social

intercourse) suspends normal economic competition,

and so reveals the shared understandings without

which competition would be impossible (Williams

refers to this as charity). But Williams also notes that

a politics of charity, in this sense, in which

competition is suspended, can come to ignore who is

bearing the costs of decisions, and that it may be

dominated by one particular interest group (men,

white middle-classes). An examination of remorse

sees public discourse as encouraging us to control

our self-presentation, as either successful selfasserting

will, or as innocent victims. The aggressor

and victim both attempt to stand outside language.

Holloway observes at one point that the

battles of the eighties were won by the

economic right and the cultural left.

Williams finally turns to ways in which we can become

aware of difficulty: the potentials, and risks, of

counselling, love and religious language.

Williams is known and admired as both a

preacher and as a theologian. I'm afraid that his book

falls between two stools - the arguments aren't

developed enough for an academic setting, but the

style and many of Williams' references are too formal

for a work of real popular theology. But then it is a

book that is suspicious of easy arguments and quick

solutions. Despite its critique of most public

discourse, this is a hopeful book. lt suggests that any

contribution to public language will have to be

conversational: patient in dealing with difficulties,

attentive to the conversation of other voices, and

refusing the temptation to hand out solutions to

problems from above, based upon abstract principle.

. David Anderson is a PhD student

at the University of Sussex.

How

PC

are

yOUi ?

Your kl& are having a party, and they waft to play musical

cftain. Doyou:

a) Encourage them, filst taking them aside to eplain how this

game usefully illusbates Survival of the Rttest, and Social

Darwinism. (0)

b) Let'em play. Never did you any harm, did iP (5)

c) Don't let them play, 6 ttlis kind of game only encoutages

ruthless, competitive behaviour in young people. lnstead

suggest they play a game of'Debt Relief to Developing

Coun&ies' or perhaps a non-competitive game you've bonowed

fiom the li/oodcraft Folk. (10)

Yoo are siting oD a full bus with a fiiend, A large $oman, wtto

may or mry not be pteglant gets on. Do you:

a) Sittightand hiss'Fitsl come, first served.' (0)

b) Discretely offer her your seat(5)

c) Lift up the arm rest olthe seat and say, 'l suppose you'll need

this." C5)

Yo{ are in hospital for a mutine operation. A male nune

atsnds to you wien you come out ol surgery' Do yoll:

a) Apolo$se profusely for your presence there, insisting that

normally you receive homeopathic Seatrnent but that you are

here on the advice ofyour shamanic natutal medicine advisor'

(10)

b) smile knowingly and kindly, reassuring him that some o{your

best friends are gay. {5}

c) remark that you hadn't realised that the NHS was so

understaffed that they were having to use portels to fill in as

nurses. (0)

Your neighbour, originally from Somalia, irwites you to di0ner,

Do you:

a) Accept the invitation, joke that you didn't think Somalians

wer had any food, and tien secretly worry that she'll make you

eatforeign things. (0)

b) Assure her that some of your best ftiends ate Africans, and

that you'd be delighted to come. (5)

c) Ast if you can bring anything, and upon artival at the house,

present her with a plant in a colourful pot you made younelf at

the pottery collective to which you belong. (10)

12 | moventent


Li ngu istica I ly cha I lenged

Mark Depew reflects on a recent experience at the hands

of the {uardians of politicalconectness

Q. Please help! I am a white heterosexual (even

happily married) educated male in a professional job

is it possible for me to be considered politically

correct?

A. Yes, you just have to feel very guilty.

Q. why?

A. lf you are a white male, your ancestors were

responsible for practically every injustice in the world

- slavery, war, genocide and plaid sportcoats. That

means that YOU are partially responsible for those

atrocities. Now it is time to balance the scales of

justice for the descendants of those individuals

whose ancestors your ancestors pushed down,

Q. ls there anything else I need to know?

A. Yes, you must be very careful.

Q. What must I be careful of?

A, Humour, PC people take every comment yery

seriously. We will not accept any comment, joke,

remark, or anything that sounds like it could be a

racial slur.

From the PC Primer 1998 Jokes & Humour.com

THE CHANNEL 4 TELEVISION programme Ali c is

the antithesis of political correct thinking. During a

first sitting of the Ali G show, all right-thinking people

will be justifiably offended by his expressed views.

That is until you realise that the main purpose of his

show is to help each of us take ourselves a little less

seriously. The reactions of some of Mr G's guests

L

epitomise the problem with politically correct seriousness

when you watch them nearly explode at, for

example, some of the suggested uses Mr G makes for

a hedgehog.

The problem is that politically correct language has

become so embedded in present day social psyche

that we walk around on egg shells in fear of offending

someone or being labelled a racist, sexist, fascist or

whateverist.

As a self professed lifeJong liberal working for a

radical/liberal student organisation, my life both at

work and home revolves around the important issues

of the day: race relations, discrimination, Clause 28,

campaigns against poor countries' debt, ethical trade.

You name it, I've been involved. I even hug the occasional

tree.

Even with such credentials behind me, I often find

it difficult to reconcile fighting for equality and social

justice with the demanding strictures placed upon us

by the guardians of politically correct thought.

Political correctness is usually understood as the

use of inclusive and non-offensive verbal and body

language, gestures, clothing, music and even what we

read. (Sounds a bit like censorship doesn't it?)

An apparent fault with this seems to be that those

who espouse a committed belief in being politically

correct 7OO% of the time suffer from a complete lack

of sense of humour, and I dare say reality. "ln an

effort not to offend, they become completely

offensive". ln a nutshell political correctness

might better be defined as the serious issues of

all forms of equality gone mad.

We are all too familiar with politically correct

alternative language for every day things. Not

all of which are ridiculous, but you be the judge

as to whether some of the alternatives are

actually more offensive than the words they

mean to replace.

At the end of the day, what we need to

remember is that a word is only as important as

the value society and individuals place on it.

Karla Davies, a regular visitor to PC websites says

"a word is just a word" [see sidebar on page 15].

On Wednesday 7th June lhe Daily Mirror ran an

article titled War On PC, by Christian Fraser,

which called on its readers to stand up

against PC tyranny. Here are some recent

examples it cited.

* May 1999: Gingerbread man was renamed

gingerbread person at Safeway.

* October 1999: A Halloween party was

movement I 13


anned at Gavinburn Nursery in Clydebank amid

claims it would offend parents of different religious

beliefs. Children at nursery celebrate the Chinese

New Year and Hindu Feast Days.

* November 1999: Councillors in Colchester, Essex

ban Punch and Judy shows, claiming the battling

puppets will result in children growing up to be wife

beaters.

* January 2000: a prison sniffer dog is accused of

racial bias after repeatedly "nosing out" an Asian

visitor during routine inspections.

* May 20OO: a Government-backed booklet called

Towards a Non-Violent Society condemned musical

chairs for encouraging aggression and told nursery

teachers it made children violent and hyperactive.

* May 20OO: A brewery ruled that Garry Cartwright

could not change the name of his Scotsman pub in

Tamworth, Staff, to St. George because it would upset

"non-English " customers.

* June 2O0O: Efforts to ban the words "hard

working and enthusiastic" from a job advert because

they claimed the words would contravene equal

opportunities laws and discriminate against disabled

candidates. (The ban was however thrown out by

David Blunkett the Education Secretary who

described the bid to ban the words as "nonsense and

insulting" to disabled job-seekers.)

Whilst these many examples should be enough to

send even the woolliest liberal screaming for a therapeutic

tree hugging session, we mustn't forget that

the underlying reason for political correctness is to

help develop and protect social cohesion. Offensive

language is used as a weapon to bully and degrade,

and when used to this end must not be tolerated.

But we need to ask whether political correctness

and issues of discrimination are the same thing? Or

does political correctness actually hinder advances in

issues of equality?

Political correctness is useful when it prevents individuals

or groups acting in a manner that is likely to

offend or create social tension. But when it interferes

with legitimate attempts to deal with human rights

issues be they racial, sexual or any other it becomes

dangerous.

For some the absurdity of political correctness has

pushed them into a state of numbed passivity

wh.enever the subject is raised. ln other words, they

become marginalised because they can no longer be

bothered to respond or engage with serious issues.

The problem is who are the self appointed

guardians of political correctness? Who defines what

is acceptable and what isn't? Who enforces non-politically

correct language or behaviour? And in the

political climate of the day can and should the Government

legislate against political incorrectness?

Arguably, political correctness is being used as a form

of power. Once a label such as racist or sexist is

attached, whether legitimately or not, it is hard to

prove otherwise. Mud sticks as they say. lf a word or

phrase is unacceptable, it should be unacceptable to

all, not just groups or individuals specified by the

14 | movement


guardians of political correctness. Otherwise,

confusion and accusations of double standards grow.

By becoming overly sensitised to 'words', aren't we

wrapping ourselves in a sort of cotton wool that

makes intercultural and interracial relations even

more difficult?

ln its effort to be politically correct and promote

interracial and intercultural harmony in the City, two

years ago Birmingham City Council decided to rename

Christmas as Wintervale because they argued it

would be less offensive to all non-Christians living in

the City. Christians were rightly offended by this

ridiculous bit of political correctness, but what

seemed to surprise the Council Officials most, was

that the most outspoken critics of their policy where

the very communities they were claiming to be

sensitive to. The following year Christmas was duly

returned to the peoples of Birmingham.

Whilst the many examples of political correctness

'gone mad' should be enough to send even the

woolliest liberal screaming for a therapeutic tree

hugging session, we mustn't forget that the underlying

reason for political correctness is to help develop

and protect social cohesion. Offensive language is

used as a weapon to bully and degrade and as such

must not be tolerated. The Political Correct agenda

must not, however, stand in the way of real progress

in the fight for equal rights. There are far more

important issues than whether a person is called

short or vertically challenged, or worse the example of

people scouring the job adverts for words like 'hard

working and enthusiastic' to ban. lt is swastika's and

other offensive symbols or slogans that are likely to

insight racial hatred and fear that we should be

expending our energy on.

When I contacted the Commission for Racial

Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission

about this article they would make no official

comment, except to say generally that political cor

rectness is not an issue that they spend any significant

amount of time on as it distracts attention from

the really important issues of sexual and racial

equality

Dinesh D'Souza, an American academic writing on

the issues of 'Affirmative Action' argues that instead

of promoting racial equality and harmony, affirmative

action policies have tended to demoralise minority

students and have promoted a new kind of "racial

separatism" (llliberat Education: Politicat Corectness

and the experience, 1992)

lhe web is a hotbed for discussion about the rights and mongs ot political conectness.

Here are two of the more forthdght contributions.

Karla Davis says: "People need to leam to lighten up, and stop creating big confusing

trues forthings that rea,,y don't matter. "l'm not goingto gd all riled up if someone calls me

short instead of'vertically challenged'. How picky can you get?

"l can't keep a list of taboo words and their complex altematives wi$ me just to avoid

offending some delicate soul who needs tiings to be said just a certain way. People just

need to acceptthe words forwbatthey are, words, because tiere's no avoiding it, someone

will always be offended." (Xite.com)

Rush Umbaugh, says: "For all intents and purposes, 'political corectness' is a fartoo

polite a label to describe the brand of polhical oppression being imposed on certain kinds

ot thought Lefs call it what it is: thougbt control and 'political cleansing.' Some liberals

believe that tieir pet theories and beloved philosophical constructs have no legitimate

intellectual cornpetition, so they just declare other view points off limits. lhats 'poliUcal

cleansing.'

Hypocrisy! the left-wingthouglrt police are forever paying lip service to the ideals of free

expression, but they are the first to place restrictions on it for those with ivhom they

disagree." (Rush online.com)

. Mark Depew is still a hee-hugging

liberal. He is also SC[4's

membership development worker.

I have recently had my own face to face challenge

with the guardians of political correctness. When I

was asked to stand as chairman (politically incorrect

term) of a local community forum regeneration

steering group that I have been involved with since it

was set up eighteen months ago. I was happy to stand

and be elected by twenty active community members

representing all sections of the local community. Once

elected however, the result was immediately challenged

on the grounds that the chair must be a black

woman from the West lndian community. I was being

excluded simply because I was white and male. Like

with the Birmingham City Council example above, the

objection did not come from a women or a person

from the West lndian community, but from a white

male who stated his objection in terms of it being

politically incorrect to elect a white male in an area

with 46% of the population come from Asian, West

lndian, African and 'other' communities. Never mind

that the terms of the objection would have discriminated

against both 42o/o of Asians living in the area,

as well as all of the other communities. lt was also not

important that the election for posts on the Steering

Committee had been advertised and that the vote

had been unanimous less one. The only issue of

importance for the PC guardian was that their own

narrow and discriminatory line be followed.

I found it difficult to stand up and speak against the

objection for fear of being labelled or accused of

being part of the problem of maintaining traditional

.'status quo' power relations. I believed however, that

this is exactly the attitude that we must stand up to.

'Yes, the objector was quite right to raise the issue of

representation of minority groups, but should that be

at the expense of discriminating against others?

Whether it was me or anyone else, making a decision

based on gender and race is discrimination and is not

by any definition inclusive. Politically correct or not, it

is not in anyone's interest to continue supporting

such policies.

nrovement I 15


Enforced doubt

Tony Gray writes about his expe rience of supportin$ evanSelical

sfudents wha are studying in liberal theoloty departments

WHAT DO WE CALL each other? 'Liberal'

and 'evangelical' are only two words

amongst many which can either be a

badge of pride, or a distasteful description,

depending on where you want to throw

mud from! However for many in theolo$ical

and religious education they are important

words, for they at the very least describe a

historical discourse which affects the very

nature of a person's belief system.

ln 1937 the first Theological Student's Conference

took place. lt was part of the lnter-Varsity Fellowship,

(now UCCF), which split from the SCM on theological

grounds in 1919 at Cambridge, and in L928 at a

wider level. The conference aimed to help and

encourage evangelical students of theolory, and

students read papers to each other, as they had no

one to invite to speak to them. Today, the Religious

and Theological Student's Fellowship (RTSF) still

exists. Arranging meetings in over 30 colleges and

universities throughout the UK, publishing the journal

Themelios with an international subscription base, its

aim is to encourage students in their faith as they

face the challenges of academic theolory and RS,

and to promote evangelical theolo$/.

ln its birth RTSF aimed to promote evangelical

theolory and combat liberalism. ln the 1930s and

1940s, in terms of publications, numbers of

academics, and even students, the evangelical party

was certainly under the feet of liberal scholarship. Up

and coming names such as FF Bruce had yet to make

their mark, and the polarisation of issues was

perhaps extreme. To the evangelical students it

seemed very much the case that they were under

siege in the academy.

ls the situation different today? The theological

scene has changed. Perhaps evangelicals have come

more to understand liberals, and vice versa. The

publication of . Stott and Edward's dialogue in

Essentials must surely have helped. Evangelicalism is

now much more diverse that it was (ranging from the

conservative evangelicalism of groups such as

Reform and The Proclamation Trust, to the radical

openness of evangelicals such as Clark Pinnock), and

liberalism has mutated and discovered different

forms (from the a-theolory of Don Cupitt to the

restated modernism of Paul Badham).

However, I am still troubled by the understanding of

liberalism that exists in many universities and

colleges. A liberal professor made it clear to me once

that his liberalism forced him to cause doubt and

unbelief to enter the minds of evangelical theolory

students. Another lecturer was heard to say that

evangelical theology cannot be tolerated in his

department. And as I travel the country, numerous

students of theolos/ and RS are being taught JEDP

(the critical source theory for the Pentateuch), are

being persuaded that Bultmann had the last word on

New Testament scholarship, and that logical

positivism makes belief in God highly questionable.

One department specialises in courses on Don Cupitt,

and when I presented some of the challenges to

Cupitt's position (merely taken from works written by

some of the county's leading theologians), the

student said this was the first time he had heard of

them.

A liberal professor made it clear to me once that his

liberalism forced him to cause doubt and unbelief to

enter the minds of evangelical theology students.

LrgennLIsNI

Liberalism is of course a badge with many

interpretations. Let me offer some on which both

evangelical and liberal theologians may agree. Firstly,

that a liberal education, in its best sense, is an

education aimed at making students think, and

delivering the ability to discern, question, and make

choices. The tradition of liberal education is that the

various sides of an argument get a good going over.

So many of the students I meet are failed by an

education that gives them only one side of the story

(whether liberal or evangelical or Catholic or

whatever), and also by an education system that

forces them to memorise pat answers (but then that's

another hobby horse).

Secondly, liberalism has become synonymous for

many with tolerance. Now of course tolerance itself is

an ambiguous term, and is often a matter of degree

rather than of strict guidelines. But to give merely two

examples, one negative and one positive, I could list

numerous institutions that, in their theological

reading lists, avoid those books published by

evangelical scholars, because of the publisher from

which they come. Yet I could point to many bible

colleges where liberal publishers have to appear on

the book lists because evangelicals seem to have to

do twice as much work. Positively, I remember as a

16 lmovement


student a lecturer and his reaction to the

establishment of an RTSF group. He was not directly

in agreement with its ethos. Yet he and others in the

department welcomed it, because at the very least it

made students think - a rare quality! This lecturer

tolerated a group with which he disagreed.

Thirdly, liberalism must pride itself on being

contemporary - whether this means modernism or

post modernism, liberalism and newness have often

gone hand in hand. Yet in a number of institutions,

the liberalism being taught students is way out of

date. For example, some students I work with are

constantly informed that the source hypothesis for the

Pentateuch of JEDP is still the main answer in

scholarship. Yet this is just not the case. New

thoughts have been had, and scholarship, in all its

rights and wrongs, moves forward.

Evnrue etrcRttswt

Again, there seem to be as many brands of

evangelical as there are liberal. However, within the

work of RTSF, our aim is to help equip students to

remain committed to their evangelical faith whilst

engaging with their studies. This has been one of the

hallmarks of certain strands of evangelicalism - the

evangelical student must not have one book for

prayer and one for study, but the same book for both

disciplines. This book will of course be the Bible,

understood in all its glory, paying attention to literary

form, genre, source criticism, narrative criticism, etc.

So the liberal and the evangelical can agree that

questions of authority must be central, and that we

must examine how we interpret texts and how our

community of interpretation affects this process.

Ultimately, of course, many questions must come

down to presuppositions and for both the liberal and

the evangelical there are many to be challenged. Who

has the final say, God or humanity? Can the

miraculous take place in this world? And is theologr

merely a matter of theological opinion, or one of the

most pressing and important existential decisions

facing human life?

Christian Union offers a very different approach to faith than the SCM, and numerically

CUs are much stongerthan SCM groups. Sociolo$stSteve Bruce hastried to analyse why

this might be.

NICE GOD

WE RE HAVINGI

"He bas made tie important pointthat'only people who know wiatthey believe can feel

Uuly secure in a liberal movements' illustrated largely by reference to the background of

tiose who made this transition in the SCM. Similarly he has argued that those wno nad

made this transiuon found it difficult to socialise tie next generation into it a diftuse belief

system does not inspire the kind of exclusive and passionate commiknent which is

necessaryto convert others to iL Hence he found a certain sociologcal inevitabilig to what

happened to the SCM, Ihele is not so much a permanent tension, as a regular cycle."

(fom Same Dillere nce? Ubenls and Conseryatftes in the Student Move{rrent,

Let me give just one example. At Oxford University,

the RTSF group consists of about 2O regular

members, all studying theology. For many of them

their day-to-day work involves wrestling with questions

concerning God's existence, the sources for the

Gospels, how to know what the historical Jesus really

said, and so on. ln the midst of this they meet to pray,

to read the Bible, and to discuss these questions.

Leading academics come and read papers, and

stimulate the students to think through their faith. For

many it is a struggle. And yet for others, the

examination of their faith and the challenge to leave

no stone unturned, allows them to grow stronger and

firmer in their faith, whilst all the time engaging in the

critical questions which the world throws at them.

So RTSF exists to help evangelical students of

theolo$/ and RS in their studies, to challenge liberal

students to examine their arguments and

presuppositions, and to confront those involved in

theological education who apparently hold no faith to

answer these questions for themselves. ln my own

faith I have found liberalism to be a gallant sparring

partner, but ultimately evangelicalism to be a truer

reflection of the gospel. Theology is in the end words

or thoughts about God that, if not revealed by God

himself, are merely idolatry. But then I wouldn't have

worked for the firm for 5 years, would l?

David M thompson, SCM 1990).

. Dr Tony Gray was the staff

worker for RTSF until the end of

August. He is now theological

books commissioning editor for

Paternoster Press, and has

written lhe Potted Guide to

TheoloEy.

I BIUEVT

HE S GOING TO

IURN WINDY

TOMORROW

t

^

movement | 17


,l

small ritual I steve collins

"When the choice for your spiritual sustenance is a McJesus Happy Meal

or a stale hymn sandwich, is it any wonder s0 many risk food poisoning

orfamine elsewhere?"

PLEASE ALLOW ME to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and

taste... well maybe not so much wealth. I am a team member of

'Grace' alternative worship service in west London, and an

architect by trade. Yes I know everybody thinks architects are

rolling in money, but it's just that we're better at appearances than

most. Being an architect means I was a student for twice as long

as most of you, and became a Christian at Bath University aged 20

after years of pursuit bY God.

Not having a Christian family background, nor being a Christian

as a teenager, I missed out on Christian youth groups, holidays,

festivals and the rest of the subculture. This was a great blessing'

as it gave me critical distance from the Church' I wasn't brought up

to accept any of its ways as natural. My own subcultural niche - like

sexuality, everyone has one whether they know it or not - is what

might loosely be described as board sports' The mixture of transcendence

and profanity that accompanies these things is to me a

never-ending source of inspiration for how the Church could be, as

a creative collision between sinners and God. Too bad that most

forms of worship currently available get in the way - modern forms

that deny people's real situations as well as old forms whose

relevance has been exhausted. When the choice for your spiritual

sustenance is a McJesus Happy Meal or a stale hymn sandwich

past its sell-by date, is it any wonder that so many risk food

poisoning or famine elsewhere?

Worship should be about bringin$ your real self and your real

world before God - not just a religious workout, and not a form of

escapism either. For those of us in the 'alternative worship'

movement, this involves making church out of the stuff of our

everyday lives - the issues, the culture' the language, the media,

and the music. 'Alternative worship' is a term that no-one much

likes, but we're probably stuck with it now. The movement began in

the early 9Os with the pioneering activities of the Nine o'Clock

Service INOSI in Sheffield and the Late Late Service in Glasgow. For

all the abuse that was later revealed at its core, NOS did vital work

in modelling how the format and theology of worship might be reinvented

for a postmodern world' Many groups sprang up in the UK'

Australia and New Zealand to work out for themselves the ideas

sparked by NOS. My own group, Grace, began in 1993 as a place

where we could experiment with the liturgies, media and music

appropriate to our lives as young professional Londoners out of

club culture and the arts. ln all its ups and downs, it has become

an essential tool for our relationships with God and one another'

We've made church that feels like home - a place where we belong

and which belongs to us. And we find that home and the rest of our

world becomes church - life lived in the presence of God' Without

having to put on a worship CD to feel spiritual.

This approach doesn't rule out old things and traditions - far from

it. They are our truest friends in the fight to make worship real' The

storehouses of Christianity are full of fine wines laid down in fuller

times, resources to reach the parts that the head-games of

modernity never reached. But to be savoured they are best

decanted into new vessels, out of the brittle casks of yesterday with

their bitter sediment. ln the emerging image-based culture, forms

of church that make a cult of reason and the word lose their ability

to communicate or nurture. Could this mean the reversal of the

Reformation?

I am conscious that this is being published at the start of a new

academic year. For some of you, this is the beginning of several

years of relative freedom [albeit in relative poverty]. You are away

from your families, your usual friends - and your church' Which

means that for the next few years you have a space to pull

something together without having to contend with church structures.

Just think: You don't have to get approval from church

council. You don't have to have hymns for the elderly to sing' You

don't have to have Matt Redman. You can play with candles, words

and other sorts of fire. You can create something targeted'

something that connects you and God in a way that one-size-fits-all

worship cannot. ln doingthisyou will be doing us all a service'

,ilOVEMENT 107 will feature a special

supplement on reimagining worship.

After the Nine O' Clock Service scandal in 1995 times

got tough for the alternative worship movement, and

people became suspicious of anythng that used a

video proiector. But now, having learned a few hard

lessons, the scene is growing is prospering again'

ls this the future of the church? Or is it a cosmetic

exercise, the same old stuff with a dance beat?

18 | nrovement


ody parts

Body parts

Here are three excerpts from SCM'S new resaurce

on bodies and spirituality, F|eshinS )ut Faith.

"The Word was made Flesh"; "The spirit became a

body"; "God lived as a human being."

However you phrase it, this is the paradox at the

heart of our existence. The relationship between the

physical and the metaphysical is the central mystery

around which Christianity, and indeed all religions,

revolve.

For me the issue has been fleshed out, so to speak,

by the experience of living with a dramatically unpredictable

disease. I have Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central

nervous system. For some unknown reason, scarring

I have become someone that my old self

would not recognise. Old Jo used to like

hiking up the Andes. New Jo likes to stay at

home and plant daffodils instead.

occurs in the passageway that sends messages from

the brain to other parts ofthe body. People end up in

wheelchairs with MS, not because their muscles don't

work, but because the signal from the brain to the

legs gets blocked. The scars, or blocks, can occur at

any part of the central nervous system and therefore

have the potential to affect any functioning of the

body - arms, legs, eyes, bowels, bladder.

For me, this illness has been accompanied by a

chronic fatigue that has meant I've not been capable

of getting up the road to post a letter. Even talking to

friends on the telephone has been too much of a

hassle.

The most challenging aspect of my condition has

been its fickle nature. My prognosis ranges from "You

might get better and never have another attack

again," to "You might be blind, lame and incontinent

in a few years' time." The use of a limb can be lost one

day, restored the next and lost again the day after

that.

As well as being utterly terrifying, this condition has

raised philosophical questions about the relationship

between my body and my personality, between those

tiny scars, which are a fraction of a milli-metre in size,

and the rest of me.

I have become someone that my old self would not

have recognised. Old Jo used to like hiking up the

Andes with a rucksack on her back. New Jo likes to

stay at home and plant daffodils instead. Old Jo used

to like rooms with rugs and bare floorboards, New Jo

For more information on

FleshinE Out Falth see

advert on inside front

c0ver.

movementl 19


-fl

body parts

pines for fitted carpets. Old Jo was committed to

writing, to recycling her newspapers and living in

community in the inner city. New Jo feels all those

things are vain ideals, the luxury of the able-bodied.

On the days when I have energy and the use of my

legs, I feel like Old Jo. When I wake up in the morning

and realise my leg has gone again, I feel like New Jo.

As I never know from one day to the next what state

my body is going to be in, it is not so much a question

of how will I be tomorrow? but who will I be tomorrow?

I am very aware of the way that what we think of as

the 'real' person is rooted in the body. A few millimetres

of scarring and my values, my aesthetics, my

ideals have changed. And if this is so with a 'physical'

illness, then how much more so it is with a 'mental'

illness like depression, schizophrenia or Alzheimer's

disease?

What is y

tavourite

MOST: the top half

LEAST: The bottom half. Neither matches the other

SnnnH, EorNauReH

M0ST: My future/ideal six pack

LEAST: My cunent lack of above

MlrcoLu, ExEnR

M0ST: I have to go with the eyes... when I lock eyes with someone else,

there is a passing of so much information 0n s0 many levels that I don't

fully understand everything thats going on. Ihey just make people

transparent, and I love the revelation ofso much intimacy...

.Jo lnd is a journalist at

the Birmingham Post. She

wrote Fat is a Spiritual

lssue in 1993.

our tavourite

part of your

LEAST The tonsils, by far, have just been such a source of misery in my life.

Down with tonsils, lsay!

Rtcx, ToRotuo, Clr'non

M0ST: My hands. l'm not quite sure why, but I've always liked their solid

and dependable look. Even the callouses have character.

LEAST: lhe hair on my shoulders. I'd hate the hair on my back if I could see

it, but I can't. When I'm shaving in the morning I look in the bathroom

minor and see all the hair on my shoulders standing straight up in an

alarmed manner.'lt does nothing for my tranquillity.

Nrcr, Grnseow

MOST My jawline. Most men would die for it.

LEASI My height. Just give me two more inches and I would be happy.

Lroru, Lonooru

MOST: Eyes, I think, even though I 'm immensely short-sighted

LEAST: My nose, I think - it's slightly hooked. 0f course I don't like my

thighs/bottom but if I actually did some exercise, I think this situation

could improve, so I can'tcomplain aboutthat..!

CretRe, EorrusuReH

-

Dear Jesus,

I have been meaning to write to you for

some time about your attitude to blind

people.

When I was sighted myself, I did not notice anything

particularly strange about blind people in the gospels.

I suppose that I had the same attitudes towards blind

people myself, and it was not until I became blind that

I began to wonder.

I still remember reading the Gospel of John in

braille. lt was the first braille book I read after I lost my

sight. I soon realised that the book was not intended

for people like me. I noticed that blindness is associated

in the Gospel with darkness, unbelief and sin,

and that sight and light are associated with truth and

faith. Clearly, I had got myself on the wrong side.

Yes, I knew it was symbolic and not, perhaps,

intended to be taken literally. Nevertheless, I found it

distressing to be associated in my blindness with

unbelief and sin even symbolically, and then I realised

and least

body?

M0ST: My eyelashes - l'm assured any self respecting drag queen would

love to have them,

LEAST: Beard hair - no matter how much I scrape it away and try to tell my

body that it's not welcome, I just keep getting more and more.

Couu, Lonooru

MOST: Feet. I've always liked my feet.

LEAST: My belly button would be about the least favourite part of my body

because the bit of metal in it keeps getting caught on things And my thighs

- but that's fairly standard and boring for a girl isn't it?

Anrnruon, Grnseow

M0ST: My hands because my fingers are tiny. lf hair counts, then my hair

as it is a security blanket, tent to hide in, something to play with, like an

extra limb and it feels ace on your back when you go swimming. I always

say I' ll shave it all off but I never do.

LEAST: Knees, dramatically scarred in a childhood bike accident, going

down a biggravelly hill on my bike and thinking,'Who needs brakes

anyway?" Ihe bath water was pink, I remember.

Knre, Pozrunru, Pouruo.

M0ST: My favourite body part is my left little toe, because it's deformed (it

kind of sits on top 0f the next one) so it makes me feel different and

special.

LEAST: I used to think my nose was too big, but then my uncle said it was

"Hannoverian" orsomething, which made itfeel special, and l found out

that big noses were fashionable in about the 17th century. So I just live in

the wrong century clearly,

I don't like my hands because they're too small for me to play the piano or

guitar as well as I might. Also I bite my nails

Loursr, WnRwrcx

20 lmovement


il

body parts

that the only role of blind people in the gospels is to

have their sight restored. You called working men and

women to follow you, including people from unacceptable

professions. You invited children to your knee,

and you spoke and mixed easily with women,

including some with rather doubtful reputations. But

you did not call a blind person to be amongst your

disciples. You could not, I suppose, because it would

have caused terrible embarrassment. People would

have asked why it was that although you raised the

dead and so on you apparently could not restore the

sight of your blind disciple. This is why you did not

have any blind disciples - you immediately restored

their sight and then they were no longer blind!

But where does that leave your blind disciples

today? There seems to be a fairly widespread

assumption amongst your present day followers that

there is something slightly odd about a blind

Christian. Should we not model ourselves, the

unspoken question asks, upon such people as blind

Bartimaeus, and expect and pray to receive our sight

back? ls there something wrong with our faith?

You remember, Lord, those Christians I met in Seoul

who had created their own disabled people's church.

When I asked them why they did not attend the

ordinary churches, one of them said that it was

because the ordinary people had told them that they,

the disabled members, made them feel uncomfortable.

So they got out and formed their own church.

Now that I come to think about it, your healing of

blind people has been both a blessing and a problem

for blind people down the ages. Certainly, the example

of your healing has inspired Christian missions

towards the blind, and the creation in Christian lands

of special provisions for blind people. On the other

hand, the fact that you did not seem to offer a place

to blind people who continued to be blind seems to

have created a sort of feeling that blind Christians are

out of place.

Furthermore, when I think of some of the things you

said about blind people, I become still more puzzled.

Why did you use the expression 'blind' as a term of

abuse? When you were telling off the educated

religious leaders of your own day, you called them

'blind fools' and 'blind guides'(Matt.23:16-26). Why

could you not have said that they were stupid fools,

and ignorant guides? After all, if the people you

attacked had been literally blind, would that have

made your pejorative use of the word blind more

acceptable? Surely not - it would have been harsh

and tactless. Moreover, the very fact that the symbol

of blindness was used to stand for stupidity and

ignorance shows us what the attitude of your society

of your time was towards blind people. You seem to

have shared in this attitude. Well, maybe it was

Matthew who put the words into your mouth, but I am

not sure how much of a difference that really makes.

The words are still part of the picture of you.

Let me ask you about one of the most puzzling

The fact that the symbol of blindness was

used to stand for stupidity and ignorance

shows us the attititude of your society.

You seem to have shared in this attitude.

things you said about blind people: "lf blind people try

to lead other blind people, they will both fall into a

ditch" (Matt.15:14). I know what you were trying to say

- if ignorant people try to teach other ignorant people,

they will all finish up as ignorant as each other. But

why bring us blind people into it?

I have often led blind people around the campus of

my university, and have been lead by other blind

people in places with which they were familiar and I

was not. I must admit that there has been the occasional

confrontation with rose bushes but we have

certainly not fallen into ditches. That is because we

blind people learn to be careful. lt is when sighted

people are leading me that I am walked into

lampposts and trees: "Sorry John! forgot to tell you!"

Your saying is typical of the prejudice which sighted

people have of us blind people. lt seems to be impossible

for sighted people to realise that a blind person

might actually know where he or she is going....

Yours,

John

.John Hull is Professor of

Religious Education at the

University of Birmingham.

He wrote On Sight ancl

Insi(,ht: a Journey into the

World of Blindness in 1997.

movement | 2l


-t

stories

Sfre ngth in blunders

Veteran campai{ner Joan Meredith tells the story of her first protest

against nuclear weapons. And it was only twelve years a$o

You wouldn't have thou$ht that sittin$

down is likely to land you in court, let alone

thrust you onto the front page of a national

paper. Especially if you consider yourself

Joan Average.

But that is exactly what happened to 70 year old

Joan Meredith.

Joan has been involved with Trident Ploughshares

since retiring as a teacher. The group's aims to draw

attention to dangers of the nuclear base on at

Coulport on the west coast of Scotland: the site is

home to Britain's stom bombs.

Joan was arrested on a charge of breach of peace

for sitting down at the south gate of Faslane Naval

Base (they had tried their utmost to get arrested

elsewhere -"1 wasn't getting arrested at the north

gate" - but eventually settled on the south gate). She

was tried last month in her home town of Alnwick: "l

couldn't believe it when I got to the court. I thought

the police must have caught a really important

criminal."

A month after accidentally making the front pages

she said: "l'm still in a state of shock."

Okay, let's begin at the beginning. At the start of

June there was a session at lona Abbey called 'Don't

Let the Dream Die'. One night there was a storytelling

session about the various mischief that people had

been up to. There were stories of women breaking

into a house to squat and claim it as a women's

refuge; a tale of encouraging kids to repeatedly break

into a playground that the council had fenced off' and

'liberate' it; and there was Joan. Joan told of her first

action with an embryonic Trident Ploughshares group.

It turned out to be the first of many.

Under Scots Law there is a charge of 'malicious

mischief' - and I reckon if you're going to have a

criminal record, it should be something stylish like

that. lf you are retired, getting arrested isn't going to

jeopardise your career.

She mixes anecdote and epic, punctuated with

laughter. Her manner is best described as that of a

Victoria Wood character, and her story was... well...

imagine an action film scripted by Alan Bennett.

Well, I'd been up to Faslane the year before for a

day but I hadn't met the others. Three of us decided

to go up'and camp that weekend and take part in the

demonstration for lnternational Women's Day' We

arrived late, sort of fell out of the car and went

straight into the meeting and there had to be a

consensus over what we wanted to do: so everybody

decided that the aim was to close down the work. A

big siren goes off if that happens, a warning siren,

and so that's what we wanted to happen, to hear that

siren and I was a bit alarmed really because I didn't

know how we could do it, and then I heard somebody

say something [there was talk of a knife' but it was

only to cut the string that was holding a gate shutl.

They must have been talking about the reconnoitering

that they'd done, and I thought, I don't want to be in

this....

Iy

'---c !t

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&u,ae *t#il!"lrcen

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22 lmovement

erure

at4

|'l.


stories

We all were taken up in a minibus up to the area,

and we'd taken dustbin lids and anything else and we

were going to dance and sing protest songs because

that is what had happened apparently each year - and

we knew that the police would be expecting that, you

see. So when we got up there it was such a beautiful

night and it was really fine Scotch rain and all the

lights were on and I couldn't believe how beautiful the

razor wire looked with all that dew on it.

I wasn't sure what to do but I saw that two others

were putting up a banner on the north gate. I went to

help them and then I saw a whole group of women

going through the pedestrian gate and four policemen

were coming to meet them. They linked arms and held

them back, but I saw two young women heading for

the second gate, and I knew we'd been told we must

get through the second gate. I just slipped in the

pedestrian gate, got between the fence and the

women that were being held, and ran up to the other

two but at that point the police realised that the other

two had gone and then I was going - so that broke up

the police. The policeman at the end ran after me and

I got quite wet but he pushed me down and we'd been

We'd been talking about needing a decoy,

and I thought, this is the decoy!

talking about needing a decoy, and I thought, this is

the decoy! I went down and I laid down and I started

screaming. That unnerved all the police, and more

than one was leaning over me - it broke up the police

cordon, and all the twenty-two women surged

through.

And then they were saying "Are you hurt?" And then

one of our women came and asked me was I hurt,

and I said, well, I'm not, but let's scream and scream

both of us, so then we just screamed, and they helped

me up. They were really unnerved because we

learned afterwards it was their first night and they'd

been told all the women would do was dance outside

the gates.

So anyway, then they called in the Strathclyde

Police - they had a van outside, and there was this

great debate about this ambulance, whether I should

be taken with the Strathclyde .... And I didn't know

what to do really but I thought, I'm sticking with the

MoD, I'm not going to tie up a civilian ambulance - it

might be neededin clasgow

So it took ages - forever - but we'd heard the alarm

go so we knew we'd stopped the workers.... they'd

sent somebody to stay with me, because we look after

each other you see. When we heard the alarm go we

just relaxed and then we were put into the ambulance

with police and then we were taken to the hospital

and when we got to the hospital the doctor was really

overworked because it was really Saturday night. So I

said to him, no I'm okay, and he said are you sure, and

then I realised I had hurt my knee. lt was grazed. So

he gave me painkillers.

Story recorded and written

up by Tim Woodcock.

It was first told during a

week called "Don't Let The

Dream Die'at lona Abbey.

The police were really worried, especially with it

being the first time they'd ever done it, and I was told

they weren't supposed to arrest people in public. I

agreed to be arrested then, in the hospital waiting

room. We got to feel really sorry for the police. They

phoned Jane Hammond, who co-ordinates everything,

and she came to get me. They didn't take me

to the police station because I was a casualty and

then afterwards I'd heard what had gone on....

We did what we said we'd do: we stopped the work.

So that meant that all the workers knew there'd been

a protest, so it would be talked about and it was

reported in Scottish papers but it was reported in the

Newcast/e Journal, which is an English paper. lt's so

hard to get anything into the English papers and it

was on Newcastle radio news, 'cos that's all we can

hope for really, is publicity. ln those days we weren't

disarming Trident, we needed people to know about

it, and it gave us a chance to broadcast it. And it was

good because it was women.

Each action has always been worth doing, that's

what surprises me. And now you see we're carrying it

that stage further by making court cases anffitffi

publicity that way, so the local paper just waitffirSE

next court case - I've got a chap assigned to'Se: filn

O'Connor... waiting for the next installment!

movement 123


Ii

-l

bursting bubbles I sara mellen

"My faith is barely recognisable when placed

next to the blind optimism of those earlier days."

WATCHING TELEVISION THIS morning, I couldn't

understand why the date sounded so familiar' Then I

remembered. On this day, eleven years ago, I stood in

a circle of friends, held my breath, and thought, 'Okay,

God, let's give it a whirl.'

The summer of '89 was not a good one for me. I was barely

sixteen, dreading my GCSE results and wishing my life was not as it

was. God had been around forever, but more like a distant, parsimonious

relative than any sort of friend. I was at Sizewell Hall' As

Christian Conference Centres go, it's a pretty good reminder of your

own mortality. The sea is in front of you and the nuclear power

stations, promising a quick death (in case of war) are to your left. ln

the eighties, it didn't seem like a distant possibility, or such a bad

idea.

I often thought of death in those days. Difficult times were

coming for me, and there didn't seem any other way out. I spent

several nights sitting on the stony beach, contemplating the long

walk out into the North Sea. Then something changed.

I found a friend that week, a man called Alex. He's stayed with me

since that darker time, refusing to abandon me to my own self-pity.

He showed the face of God to the frightened child I was back then'

telling and showing me that I was worth much more than I could

have imagined. We disagree often these days, but the friendship

remains.

He says that loving and living with a woman is a sin - I tell him

later that I have never felt more alive and full of love than I do now'

Not a new debate, but the tired, worried-over bones that the Church

has been chewing for years. The flavour's long gone, but we still

can't let glo.

l'm still a Christian. Sometimes, I haven't wanted to be. My faith

is barely recognisable when placed next to the blind optimism of

those earlier days. I am sadder, and a little wiser. But I still have

hope: for God, for his fanclub, and for myself. So tonight, I will open

a good bottle of wine and drink a toast to the health of my inner

(spiritual) child, and to the love of $ood friends. Without these

things, I would have lost myself long ago.

SCM is seekin$ a co-editor to work part time on the

editorial side of Movement ma$azine.

E Experience of commissioning articles and copy-chasin$

preferred, but enthusiasm more important than experience.

E An affinity with aims of SCM is essential.

E Flexible contract on freelance basis - could fit in with

university studies.

Ilf you have access to e-mail, geography is no object.

Exact breakdown of pay and hours to be negotiated.

For further details phone Ellie, Mark or Marie on

oL2t 47L 2404

24 lmovement


il

technology

J

le vle ws

stories,

impact

and stimulating self-contained world. lt is a CD-

ROM, which, you've got to admit, reeks of the early

nineties - a time when interactivity was a radical

claim, ratherthan a passe boast. Nowadays a

webpage would be a more obvious option, but a

CD-ROM is the rightformat forthis project.

As meditative trance/ dance music plays users

make their own hyperlinked way through sections

with names like Hopeful Rumours and Growing

The Prodigal Project I Mike Riddell,

Mark Pierson & Cathy Kirkpatrick I SPCK

'VERY QUIEILY AND unobstructively, one

group of believers is growing on a daily

basis. Soon the numbers will be such

they can't be ignored. Who are they?

They're the Christians who don't $o to

church anymore."

This is the premise o'f The ProdiSal Proiect, an

innovative CD-ROM from SPCK. As premises go, it

is an intriguing one. 0n one level The Prodigal Project

could be seen as a polemic forthe alternative

worship scene; on another it is a loose collection

stories about some people who wanted to chill,

chat, work and worship together.

Ihe Prodigal Project is an idea well conceived

and perfectly executed - the result is an engrossing

Edges. (lt isn't entirely unguided though). The form

perfectly matches the function: this 'journey into

the emerging church' uses a postmodern aesthetic

without being wanky or self-conscious.

There are two good reasons that I can identify

for breaking with the traditional form. Firstly, if the

metanarratives we tell ourselves (such as from the

Garden of Eden to the City of God, or revolution to

utopia) are less convincingthan they once were -

which is a good thumbnail definition of po-mo -

then the linear approach of books (an introduction,

chapters 1 to 10, a conclusion) should also be

treated with caution. Ihis CD-ROM proves you can

combine an intelligent and forceful argument with

a pick n'mix approach.

Secondly, by doing a CD-R0M ratherthan a

website, the creat0rs have complete control over

the product. The internet is full of broken links and

broken promises. A CD-R0M can't take you outside

movement 125


crnema

I

its own boundaries, it is a safe space. lt s stable.

One ofthe creative spirits behind the project is

the maverick New Zealander Mike Riddell, who

wrote a,t.spiritu ality@metro.m3 (a curious combination

of a novel and notebook) and the more

scholarly Ihreshold ofThe Future. The same

themes come up in all his work: the church is

dying; people matter; dogma doesn't.

The othertwo writers Cathy Kirkpatrick and

Mark Pierson are from different cities and it has

clearly been a labour of love to bring the project

together, The Prodigal Project is nottriumphantly

suggesting that alt.worship is the only way forward

for the church - the writers are too aware of the

complexity of the church for that, and they are too

ill at ease with the institutional church to believe it

can be easily redeemed. One phrase that stuck in

my mind is this: "Most of us have been burned by

the church (l can show you the scars)",

The stories it tells are mostly from the UK and

New Zealand. The kaleidoscope of stories address

questions that are familiar to anyone who has had

even a passing experience of creating worship:

Does worship which emphasises the aesthetic

necessarily mean a clique of creators and a mass

of consumers? Does the number of people at a

service really matter? 0r with reference to community:

What happens when that initial dynamic

of 20 somethings, with time and energy to burn,

become 30s somethings, who need babysitters?

Ihey do not offer Slib five point plans - there are

practical suggestions but the emphasis is always

on the process, the journey.

It's a long time since I've got so excited about a

capital C Christian product. The Prodital Proiect

only costs f,12.99 and it includes, forthe sake of

Luddites and bibliophiles, a book which reproduces

most of the text.

. Tim Woodcock is the editor of Movement and is

cunently working as a freelance journalist in

London,

Heartbreak low

MarkThorpe fakes a look at High Fidelity, a flim

that offers a bloke's eye-view of relationships

Few books have captured the emotional

experiences of relationship culture as

well as Nick Hornby's book Hfh Fidelity,

so the making of this film had much to

live up to.

High Fideli$ | directed by Stephen Frears

Hornby's wry bloke's eye-view of relationships

follows the unlikely protagonist, Rob, a

music fanatic and record shop owner, as he

takes us through his past women, rather in the

manner of a record collection, in an effort to

understand why his girlfriend, Laura, hasjust

walked out on him.

Rob talks to the audience, as in the old

classic Michael Caine film, Al,?e, the only way

really to translate the reflective nanative of the

book to the medium of film. lt is interspersed

with real situations and flashbacks of past

experiences that have made Rob the man he is

today. The monologues, which often emerge

seamlessly from the action itself, give us a

greater sense of being there at the most intimate,

or tense, of moments.

Tim Robbins is the new lover'Ray', who is into conflict

The character of Rob is deftly played by John

Cusack, capturingthe right balance between

'cool' and 'bastard', and lben Hjejle plays the

now upwardly mobile lawyer girlfriend Laura

with the utmost charm. Tim Robbins is the new

lover lan Raymond or'Ray', who is into conflict

management, world music and healing plants -

and I can't help imagining him laughing

between takes. Catherine Zeta-Jones, as the

decadent and independent Charlie, seems

unnervingly comfortable in the part.

Rob spends his daytime surrounded by

music. Ihe two guys he employs in the shop are

extrovert and introvert versions of the record

shop caricature and are a great source of

humour in the film. Dick is shy, awkward, and

into anything obscure; Barry is the bulldozing

know-it-all with no tolerance forthe music taste

of others. Precious muso conversations and

watching Bany scare off customers with bad

music taste are Rob's daytime entertainment,

One ofthe most unconvincing aspects t0 the

film, though, is that these two seem to be the

only male contact Rob gets and it seems rather

unlikely that Rob has no other real male friends.

He is not your stereotypical sensitive male.

His reaction to Laura's departure is selfish and

immature as are many of the actions he

recounts from his past, ln pursuit of a woman

he can put on the illusion of depth and "hint at

the oceans of melancholy just beneath the surface".

ln fact, in manyways Rob is a rathercynical

individual.

But there is also a vulnerability that is just as

management, world music and healing plants.

I can't help imagining him laughing between takes

much a part of his seemingly superficial nature

and it is this which evokes some pity. Ihe jealousy

and paranoia that come when he loses

Laura, for instance, actually give him a rather

pathetic air. 0n meeting Laura after hearing

about her new relationship with 'Ray', he

shamelessly admits to only being interested in

whetherthey have had sex and if he is'bette/ -

not in any emotional attachment she may have

formed, lt is the embanassing revelations of the

inner workings of the male psyche that made

this book famous, and thankfully these are

largely retained in the film.

So if this film is about relationships, what

does it say about them? Firstly ifs about fantasy.

ln one of his attempts t0 retrace the paths

of his own relationship history Rob meets up

with his ex, Charlie, a girl who always'outclassed'

him and dumped him for someone a

little 'sunnie/. He goes t0 a dinner par$ at

which he listens to her'talk shit all nighf.Ihe

experience is a key lesson, as Charlie was for

him the pinnacle of his achievements with

26lmovement


cinema/books

[[IIT fftI BI

lllilll0lllY0lJ,

JO}lilMSAII(

]lIO1l

il0tL|TY

women. Allthat had remained for him of this

relationship was a fantasy, and it is partly

through this experience that he becomes "tired

of the fantasy because the fantasy never

delivers."

Secondly, ifs about commitment, a word

unpopular, to say the least, in present day

culture. He wakes up to the fact that his vague

and uncommitted approach to relationships

hasn't got him very far: "l never really committed

to Laura. lt made more sense to commit

to nothing - keep my options open - and thafs

suicide, suicide by tiny tiny increments."

The film not only asks questions about commitment

that challenge and expose the superficial

nature of so many relationships in contemporary

western society, in which people'hop

from rock to rock', but it sensitively portrays

some of the paranoia and vulnerabilitythat lay

underneath so many of them. lt could be said

to be bravely realistic in exposingthe difficulty

of sustaining romantic love and the need to find

new understanding of what we as humans need

in relationships other than some kind of constant'feel

good facto/,

To what extent we sympathise with main

characters in this film may have much to do

with our own experiences of relationships or

break ups. Given all the screw ups and the final

resolution, it could be said to have a redemptive

quality, and a hint atthe power offorgiveness,

both of others and oneself. For me,

though, High Fidelity is really about growing up,

perhaps a little late in life, to discoverthatto

live for fantasy is to aspire to an illusion, and

that making a commitment may actually lead to

a freedom that so many people no longer

recognise.

. Mark Thorpe is an English and Drama

teacher living in London. ln his student days he

set up Ecumenical Christian Students at Exeter

University. His next plan is to set off to

somewhere in Africa,

Greening the Christian Millennium

Sean McDonagh I Dominican

CREATI0N SPIRIIUALITY is too easy t0 dismiss

as a fad. lf Creation Spirituality consists of

being gooey about nice views then such a dismissal

is no problem. McDonagh however represents

an altogether different face of Creation

Spirituality. lt is a challenging and radical one. lt

is the radicalness ofthe doctorwho offers a

patient the painful choice

between change and death. The

issues raised - specifically Third

World debt, globalwarming, pollution

ofthe seas, over-fishing, nuclear power,

nuclear weapons and genetic engineering - are

raised in stark and terrifying detail. The book

screams at us that these issues cannot be

avoided. The evidence is piled up and the implications

explored.

It is clear that his primary audience, judging

from his quotations and illustrations, is lrish

Catholics, This is no fault in that all good theology

is contextual. The issues he raises can

never be mistaken for anything otherthan

global in their consequences. However it may

make the book slightly alien to non-Catholics or

t0 those who do not know the Republic of lreland

well.

Sadly the book suffers from a very hish incidence

oftypos, though none renderthe

meaning obscure.

The book has an openingthe0logical

chapter on Christolos/ and closing theological

chapter on the Eucharist. lhese feel somewhat

detached from the main subject area and there

is very little theological reflection within the

main chapters, "lhe earth is the Lord's" is a

recurring theme - and that is surely a sufficient

theolos/ if really taken t0 heart. 0n the other

hand a more integrated approach might have

suited his holistic message more,

lf Greening the Christian Millennium is

regarded as a series of briefing papers for

Christian people and a call for radical action

then it does its job in a very challenging way.

Ihe theology will emerge in our reflections as we

heed his cry and begin to respond. lhis is not a

book asking for thought so much as a book

calling for action.

(Martin Tullett )

movement | 27


television

-*{,--,

,ffi

,Eg!f'€F q

Jo Brain watched Big Brother, the rnosf controversial and talked-aboutW show

af the year. Why do we want to watch these people exposing their foibles?

THEREWERE7///0 goldfish in atank.One

turned to the other and said how do you

drive this thint?

Following on the recent success of

Shipwrecked and Castaway 2000, Big Brother

moved docu-soaps one step further, live 24 hour

coverage of a group of people in 'everyday'

Big Brother I Channel Four

living. Ten people livingfor up to nine weeks in a

purpose built house. Each week they nominated

two people to leave the house and the viewers

voted 0n who should go. Launched in a frenzy of

advertisin g, bu rsting rati ngs barriers, attractin g

and retainingthe coveted t6-24 yearold

audience, Bi! Brotherto all accounts seemed a

successful new programme becoming the latest

cult viewing.

After all the hype I was a little disappointed

with the quality of 8,6 Erother.Ihe wealth of

material available from the constant 24-hour

feeds of 25 cameras, combined with little time

for editorial judSement produced an

aesthetically clumsy confusion 0f images. With

no storyline or script, the daily television

updates represented little more than a short

series of scenes with an abrupt in and out point.

Although basic in style and contentthe viewing

figures rose, people kept talking about it, they

loved it or hated it, and for many the programme

became an addiction.

Ihe quest was for intimacy. lt was what the

viewers wanted and it was what the ratings

needed. But the constant access the viewer gets

to the participants is only one way, we watch

them while they live in isolation from the outside

world. This non-reciprocal level of intimacy

between the viewer comes with a price: fame'

Fame was the price most of the participants

were desperate to pay. A few said it, but they all

embraced it. Ihe tales became more and more

'delicate' in the hope of attracting interest and

attention within the group and the viewers

outside, The press loved it, knocking on parents

and friends'doors, "Did they know?" Needless

to say, most didn't.

Big Brotherfioke the boundaries of

conventional television, putting real power in the

hands ofthe viewer. Accessible 24 hours a day

from anywhere in the world through the internet'

viewers didn't wait for the next installment, it

became immediate personal Sratification.

Unashamed experience from within the group

trampled the preconception of conservative

Britain leaving most of the public yearning for

more. We could play God.

I found the ideas sunounding this increase of

personal power, whilst removing others privacy

disconcerting. I was used to the idea of myself

playing God. I had done that since I was a child,

deciding whether or not to pour boiling water

over the ants nest in the garden. But at the back

of my mind there was something which niggled

me when watching people on Big Brother. Ihe

idea of God acting like I could, watching people

twenty-four seven, like a'peeping Tom', made

the idea of a God Perverse.

So is there a difference between us playing

God and God being God? Certainly we can't

cunently access people's th0ughts and

memories like God can, we can't accurately

predictthe future and peoples reactions. Butthe

main things which struck me from watching Big

Brotherfrom the angle ofGod isthe hypocrisy

with which I live my life. One of the biggest

Whilst eager to set the world to ri$hts

questions in the world is suffering. We cry, "How

can there be a God when suffering happens? lf I

was God,.." Yet whilst eager to set the world to

rights on a Slobal scale and tell God what should

and tell God what should be done,

when watching Big Brother I wanted to

see conflict and sufferin$.

28 lmovement


f1

I

be done, when watching Big Brother along with

millions of others I was interested in the

conflict, fishts make good TV, But conflict

produces suffering, and unlike God and my

proclaimed intentions about world peace, that

was what I wanted to watch.

The action ofwatching suffering is nothing

new, it is the masses influencing it which breaks

conventions. Greek tragedies and Shakespeare

all revolve around suffering. For centuries

people have gone out for an evening's

entertainment to watch a play in which people

suffer, to empathise, t0 hate, and to hope t0

understand their own pain. Yet interactive

television where viewers can e-mail in tasks for

the participants to do knowing they are causing

conflict, combined

with the

weekly

t

t^

'voting out'of a participantfrom the house,

both resulting in suffering, exposes the

hypocritical nature of our'peaceful' society.

40,000 people willingly volunteered to be in the

Big Brother house. They understood what would

happen to them, that only one of them could

win and that nine people would walk down the

'walk of shame', and yet they agreed to be

manipulated at the whims of others, to live in a

simulated environment with no privacy and

almost no choices, Why? Because there was a

market wanting to watch people and influence

their lives, and thousands of people yearned to

be watched.

Life conti n ues afler Bi t B rother, lhe

momentary fame dies down, and Channel Four

no longer have reason to

produce yet

*t

television/ books

another press release. Soon, save for an

occasional columnist, the names Sada, Mel,

Danen and Nasty Nick will drop out of

conversation. lt happened last year, those

temporarily famous from the docu-soap

Shipwrecked are no longer on GMN or This

Mornint. Fame requires feeding, and without

the power from the media to nourish it, it will

die, along with Bit Brother.lhe interest in 8lg

Erother was the hope that 'something' might

happen just around the corner. We've been

there, they've done that, and ten people have

the T-shirt. lt was a popular idea, but in a

society of ever increasing interactivity, where

websites let people make their own TV, it is

unlikely to be repeated without the guarantee of

more friction, arguments and sex. After all that's

what the public want to see.

. Jo Brain is a film and TV student in Leeds, She

has spent the last year working as a researcher

for H-TV in Bristol.

AI I together now...

ln this book SirJohn Templeton

describes agape love as feeling

and expressing unlimited love for

every human being without exception,

and he shows its place in

eight major world religions:

Judaism, Christianity, lslam, Hinduism,

Buddhism,Taoism, Confucianism,

and Native American

Spirituality.

Without sayingthat all religions

are the same he says that a

unity in attitude to love is a testimony

to the spiritual nature of our

human existence and he quotes the Dalai Lama:

"All the major reli(ions of the world have similar

ideals of love, the same goal of benefiting

humanity through spiritual practice, and the

same effect of making their followers into better

human beings."

At first glance this book seems a little bit

Jd+.

Agape

Loae

\*,.

'cute fluffy

bunny-ish'and

lwould certainly

not be

able to

stomach

reading it all at

once. However

I did enjoy the

book for two

reasons. Firstly,

as one fairly

ignorant of

mostworld religions

I found it a simple, positive guide to these

religions. Secondly, I found it interesting to note

differences in emphasis within agape love particularly

between spirituality and a charitable

serving life. For example, Judaism, lslam, and

Christianity all command their followers to love

and serve other human beings. However, in

lslam and Judaism, charity appears to be an

obligation 0r duty that demonstrates a love for

God, whilst in Christianity charitable acts are

seen as a response to the agape God has for us.

Alternatively, Buddhism and Taoism aim to

change and improve the world through a

method of spiritual practice, or 'quiet mind'. This

contrasts with Hinduism which sees an inward

looking life as beingthe aim, and a selfless love

for creation as an inevitable consequence of

success.

As a Christian who believes that humans are

created in God's image, and as such God is

within all people, this book has affirmed my

belief that leading a spiritual life helps us

become more open t0 the goodness within us.

Ihe fact that different spiritual traditions have a

similar idea of agape, confirms the centrality of

it to our humanity and that, in agape love, at

least, Christianity is on the righttrack.

(David Priest)

movement 129


)

books

1

Beyond belief

David Lr$$ins /ooks at two baoks that try ta

map aut the nature af belief

THESETWO B00KS are both introductions mendably, Craig sPends Plenty of

time outside the

to Christian belief. The first is based on a

academy,

television series, the second on some

investigating

radio programmes. But in some waYs

they could not be more different.

whatever he

Discoverin!, Jesus is a reissue of a book first finds interesting.

For

published by SCM Press in 1965, the text of six

Lent talks delivered on Scottish television. example, the

Barclay uses the framework of Jesus' life as chapter on

reported in the Gospels to expound 'basic Christian

beliefs'. He assumes a fair degree of famil-

a section on a

Jesus includes

iarity with the story, being content to make a few Palestinian

qualifications, His use of the New Testament is approach, a kind

entirely uncritical, exceptfor a highly defensive of liberation theology:

Naim Ateek,

passage aboutthe emptytomb and resunection

appearances, which I felt I 'd read before'

founder of a centre in

there is a certain tradition in Christian apolo-

Jerusalem devoted to

getics that stretches from before CS Lewis to

Discovering Jesus I William Barclay I John Hunt

What Christians Believe I David Craig | 0neworld

tracts and preaching of today. What is interesting

about these writings is the consistency of occupied tenitory and sees him as an example

such ideas points outthatJesus lived in an

their style: lots of anecdotes, strong emphasis of how, in that context, to respond to those in

for certain points, and quite a lot of logic-chopping.

Discoverin$ Jesus is a classic example of tinian will help many Western Christians $et over

power, He hopes that seeing Christ as a Pales-

this type of writing, and I don't recommend it. their stereotyped images of Palestinians as terrorists.

David Craig's WhatChristians Eelieve is

based on a recentWorld Service radio series,

The chapter on Mary is particularly diverse'

Each chapterfocuses 0n a different area of Before I read it I didn't know that she is mentioned

more often in the Qur'an than in the

Christian doctrine: God, the lncarnation, the

Resurrection, and so on. Craig's introductions Bible, or that 4.5 million Catholics have signed

deftly and undogmatically sketch in the origins petitions asking the Pope to proclaim her ' c0-

otthe ideas in Scripture and tradition. Butthen redemptrix'. This is 'co-' in the sense of 'with'

he stands back to let a wide variety of contributors

tell us, in their own words, what the beliefs keen t0 stress that it is not meant to make Mary

(as in 'co-worker'); supporters ofthe idea are

in question mean to them.

divine. According to Craig, Mary is especially

the style of the book betrays its ori$in, sometimes

lapsing into travelogue of doubtful rele-

as Queen of Heaven but as a fervent revolu-

revered in Latin America, where she is seen not

vance ("0n the left-hand side of the road' tionary, which certainly fits in with her son$ in

travellers can see a flat hill-top, the site of one Lukes's gospel: "He has filled the hungry with

of Herod's palace fortresses"). Ihis is more than good things, and the rich he has sent empty

made up for, though, by the concision ofthe away". All this is worlds away from European

interview material. Ihere are particularly stimulating

contributions from Lavinia Byrne and Eliz-

have presented women with the impossible

images of a simpering, submissive Mary which

abeth Stuart. Liberal thinking is represented by ideal of the virgin mother.

Keith Ward and John Polkinghorne. But, com-

Ihough

CraiS's

book is a

good introduction

to

Christian

belief, it is not

a good introduction

to Christianity. Seeingfaith as assentt0 a

series of propositions is surely an impoverished

way of engaging with the enormous diversity of

traditions that the word 'Christianity' catches.

And the fact that a doctrine such as the resurrection

of the body can mean so many mutually

contradictory things to different believers (from

Calvin to Cupitt) bears witness to this.

Some in the CS Lewis tradition will insistthat

Christianity is 'a reasonable faith ' ; for instance,

inWhatChristians Believe, Nicky Gumbel' of

Alpha course fame, says "Ihere is very $ood historical

evidence forthe resurrection". But

implicit in this is a particular definition of resurrection:

the sort of thing that a detached

observer could witness. Ihis is only one of many

Christianities.

All William Barclay says about the resurrection

is that "something happened... I d0 not

know exactly what". This is so vague as t0 not be

a belief at all. lt is rather something to stand in

place of a belief to serve a vision of Christianity

dominated by intellectual assent'

. David Liggins has just completed a degree in Maths at

Trinity College, Oxford'

3O lmovement


the serpent

* MY SUMMER HOLS

While everyone else

is off on their hols,

summertends to

be the busiest

time of the year in

the serpent

calendar, what

with all the

mayhem and

mischief we

are expected

to get up to.

Hanging from

trees

tempting

nubile young

women to eat

apples is a thing of

the past - we've

diversified now to

include more profitable

activities like:

a) participating in

dramatic

entertainment - for

two weeks out of

the summer I

gotto play

Akira, in

Disney's

The

Jun{le

Book on /ce, one

I

of the string 0f slushtastic cartooncum-ice-capade

productions touring

the country at the moment. (My goal

is to play Voldemort when they put

Harry Potter on ice, but that may take

a few years yet)

b) offering career advice to

politicians - yes, yes, I'm the one who

coined the phrase 'Compassionate

Conservatism'for George W Bush,

and lwas behind William 'Fizy'

Hague's endearing revelation that he

drank 14 pints a day in his youth

c) writing articles for 0K! Magazine

about David Beckham. lwill be

pushing the boundaries ofthe

celebrity interview, leaving no chest

lnstrument of the devil

J

hair unacknowledged.

For my next article, l'll

be discussing

David's toenails,

intimate

pictures of his cuticles, and

he'll reveal just what he thinks

about raisins, jumpers, paper

clips, and Victoria's

wardrobe. lt'll be a real

eye-opener - you'll

neverthink about him

the same way again.

including

)

* INSTRUMENT OFTHE DEVIL

People used to burn whole villages

over theological differences, but

nowadays everyone is so infuriatingly

polite. Even church leaders. What a

surprise it was to find this vicious

piece of literal-minded satire by

Erhard Schon in the 16th century.

They don't make 'em like that any

more. Thank God.

* THE VERTICALTOWER OF PISA

Good to hearthatthe LeaningTower

of Pisa is now open again forvisitors,

after scientists have spent years

trying to un-lean the tower so that it

won't fall over completely, thus

depriving piza parlours all over the

world of an image to stick on their

carry-out boxes. Alas, unless you

happen to be a child you can,t get in -

apparently the Pisa Tower officials

have decided that only children will

be allowed up into the towerforthe

first year of its reopening, as adults

are too heavy. Ah, I knew kids were

good for something, Send them up

into the tower and see whether its

safe for grown-ups to try....

* GREEN AND YELLOW

BP: now there's a company you

can trust. Now that they've

changed their company symbol

from a shield to a happy little

green and yellow retro 70s

flower, they look like Good

Guys - a company that might

have office meetings outside

on a lawn so that everyone

could make daisy chains, or a

company that would encourage its

employers to wear sandals, bike to

work, and serve mung beans and

lentil casserole. Never mind what

British Petroleum really do. Spin's

the thing, baby.

* SHOCK CLOTH

ln these days of ever-increasing

numbers of radio stations and

websites, the only way to secure a

loyal following is to use shock tactics:

hire a man of the cloth. I base this

theory on the old adage: "0ne is

an anomaly, two is a

repeatedly

played the 'The

Bad Touch' by The

coincidence, three is the

basis for a feature

article."

Bloodhound Hound - a

"raunchy rap" - on his

Case one: Rev

Bennie of

breaKast program until he

was sacked,

Stornoway, Lewis

The immorality of lsles FM was

confirmed when Rev. Bennie's cohost

on the show Father and Son,

Gordon Afrin, was caught smuggling

250 condoms out of the studio. He

claimed there were a giveway prize to

listeners, According to the ever

reliable Sunday Mail, an unattributed

'station inside/ said: "There was no

way he would have been allowed to

send out condoms as prizes. This is

Lewis for goodness sake. We're not

prudes but he would never have got

away with it." Will someone sign this

\

pair up? The country deserves to

hearthe show,

Case two: Bishop Jack Spong who

has agreed to write a sex column for

the web's most comprehensive,

intimate and passionate sex site,

ThePosition. Never on to miss a

contoversy, Jack's first column

argued thatthe t0 Commandments

were written to sexually repress

w0men.

Case three: Bishop Spong is not

leatherclad but Rev Paul Sinclair,

Bike magazine's Man of The Year,

most definitely is. His hard man, hard

sell image of Christianig is on display

at the fantastically named

www.f asterpasto r.com.

* ANALYSE THIS

Which cultural icon of the lasttwenty

years, do you imagine, is described

as "a tragic fable in primary

colours"? Any guesses? 0kay,

another clue: "a neo-Marxist parable

of late capitalism." You still don't

know - you're a no-hoper.

Well, accordingto a new book called

The lnner Life of Video Garnes, it's

that chirpy yellow fella Pacman.

'A jaundiced figure floats across the

screen. He is constantly searching for

things to eat. We are looking at a

neo-Manist parable of late

capitalism. He is the pure consumer.

With his obsessively gaping maw, he

clearly wants only one thing: to feel

whole, at peace with himself. He

perhaps surmises that if he eats

enough, he will attain this state of

perfect selfhood, perfect roundness."

Author Stephen Poole is clearly a

loon - butyou've gotto admire

anyone who can turn a leisure

pursuit into an academic

discipline. (The whole book

I

teeters on a knifeedge

between high

camp and bilge.

He goes on to

describe Los

Angeles, quite

accurately, as "a game of

a

SimCity played by a

maniac".)

But bear in mind

when English

Literature was first

taught, it was seen

as flimsy, leisurely

subject - the butt of

a joke equivalent to

Film and TV Studies nowadays, ln

twenty years'time Video Game

Studies will be a serious subject

indeed.

o'

movement 131


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ln some situations it would be good to have no doubts.

But when it comes to faith that's

hardly realistic is it?

SCM is a place where doubt

is seen as an essential part of faith,

not an inadequacy.

lf you are interested in the contents of this magazine and would like

to make a connection with an SCM group, please get in touch.

CONTACT: the Student Ghristian Movement, University of Birmingham Westhill,

I4/L5 Weoley Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6LL. t: OL2L 471-2404

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