Recently I attended a lecture by Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magenot, Vice – President of the World Union of Progressive Judaism and biblical scholar. His topic was inter-faith dialogue between Jews Christians and Muslims. He has been involved in facilitating multi-faith conferences for many years and much of his lecture described the experiences and lessons learned through them. At the end I asked if he agreed that a deep division cutting across differences between faiths was that between liberal and conservative followers of all faiths.He agreed and recalled that often conservative Muslims and conservative Jews found it easier to talk to one another than to the liberal members of their own faith groups. Then came the best line of the evening in true rabbinic style. The convenor of the session asked Rabbi Magenot, who is a well-known liberal thinker, if he’d rather have dinner with a liberal Muslim or a conservative Jew. Back came the rabbi’s reply quick as a flash:”That depends on whose doing the cooking! “
Here is an extract from a sermon I preached earlier this year about home and homelessness:
“When it comes to God’s promise that there is a place for everyone in his love – a home in this world – then what should be the Christian response to actual physical homelessness or grossly inadequate housing amongst our neighbours ; in our own country, or indeed across the world. It cannot be – well never mind you have a place in God’s love but by the way we are not going to help you get a decent home in this world whilst you live and breathe.”
Read the full sermon here
Climate change is back at the top of the international agenda. Today world leaders are attending a global summit called by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The aim of the summit is to galvanise action. The message is that governments and businesses need to up the scale and pace of action because now is the time to act on climate change. “The more we delay the more we will pay”. And we know that payment is not only in money but also in suffering and lives.
Opinion polls show that most of us think tackling climate change is down to ourselves as individuals and families to make changes in our lifestyles. That’s not surprising but it’s not enough. The message of the summit is that real change comes when governments and businesses who make our laws and control allocation of resources take action. But of course world leaders need clear signals from citizens that we want action. Millions of people marched in cities across the world recently on the People’s March for Climate Action.
A major new report Better Growth, Better Climate by a group of heads of governments and business leaders has concluded it is possible to create jobs, reduce poverty and also reduce the carbon emissions that threaten our future. There will still be fundamental changes and hard choices ahead nonetheless. For me it shows there is hope. Some have tried to deny climate change because they felt like too many sacrifices would be needed now with no certainty of a successful outcome. But climate change is accelerating and human activities are the main cause. There will be major consequences for us if nothing is done. But there is hope, because if humanity is the cause, then humanity can be the solution too.
According to a recent report from Oxfam, there is a growing voice of companies and business associations calling for urgent government action to tackle climate change. Major companies such as Unilever, Nike, IKEA to name just a few well-known ones, are saying that they see the only future for their businesses is in a transition to a low-carbon economy and they are urging governments to make the policy changes to help make that happen.
Millions of people in the world from many different spiritual and faith backgrounds share a deep concern about climate change. For us, prayer and action go hand in hand.
Here is an extract from a sermon I preached In August 2013
“We live in a society which is vigilant against the threat of terrorism and rightly our authorities are constantly at work to prevent acts of violence being perpetrated by extremists against innocent civilians. But are we really reading the signs of the times correctly I wonder? What about the threats to a viable future from apathy, complacency, greed, selfish individualism, and from parasitic private interest?
Do we care enough about the daily violation of millions of children which growing up in poverty represents – or about the violation of aspiration and hope for young people represented by the lack of decent employment, affordable homes, and
opportunities for development? Do we shrug and think there is no alternative?
How is it that we live in a society which will go almost to any lengths and deploy whatever public resources are available to combat the threat of terrorist violence? And who would argue against vigilance in that regard – and yet, what a difference would it be if we mobilised public resources with the same degree of determination and willingness to combat the growth of inequality, lack of opportunity and exclusion in our society today”
Read the whole sermon here
Tens of thousands march in London against coalition’s austerity measures