Monday, July 13, 2009

Banking and the legend of Canute

I've recently been in e-mail contact with Matt Freer who works for Oxford Diocese on environmental aspects of social responsibility and have learnt that the ethics of the diocese's banking are under discussion. No decisions yet, but we await conclusions with interest.

On a quite different note, having just got back off holiday I learnt that 'King Canute' was due to cycle into Oxford last week as part of a climate change demonstration. I've not been able to find what he did yet, but being a medieval historian, I'd just like to mention
1. the story of Canute and the waves is probably the invention of a twelfth-century cleric
2. the story was intended to indicate Canute's wisdom and piety. His shouts to the incoming waves (or the tide on the Thames, depending on your source) were a stunt which he followed by declaring 'Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless, and there is no king worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven, earth and sea obey eternal laws'.

Friday, July 3, 2009

East Reading Festival - Noah's flowers

It's the East Reading Festival this week, including an art exhibition and flower festival in St John's Church. So, I volunteered to do an EcoCongregation flower display (perhaps not wise for someone whose rare attempts to arrange bouquets in vases tend to be comic rather than attractive). I borrowed one of my sons' several arks as the basis and filled it with plants from our garden. Unfortunately I had no idea how long oasis should be soaked for and transporting the entire arrangement by bike was a little tricky. The image above bears only a passing resemblance to the arrangement now in the church (on arrival I abandoned the fennel that was already wilting and yesterday morning I had to pluck out the soggy roses and dried up strawberry runner, substituting flowers from the church forecourt garden, so that there are now no food plants in it, unless you count lavender, but based on the lavender cake I once I ate, I don't count it!). The accompanying text reads:

The plants in this display were all organically grown in Reading and transported by bike. Some are wild flowers and some are cultivated. Some are for healing, some for eating and some are simply beautiful. They represent the bounty and generosity of God’s created world.This ark is a fairly traded toy from Sri Lanka belonging to a five-year-old in our congregation.

The windmill represents St John’s PCC’s recent decision to change our electricity supplier to Ecotricity renewable energy.

Christian Ecology Link have launched the Operation Noah campaign to protect our rich wildlife and the world’s poorest people from climate change. If greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed soon there will be no summer sea ice at the Arctic before this ark’s owner is eighteen and before he is fifty the number of climate change refugees, some arriving here, will exceed the combined populations of England, Germany and Italy (at the most conservative estimate).

In a time of climate crisis, Noah was ‘a man who walked with God’, listened to the warnings and acted. Today we are all called to act as Noah did.

On my arrival with the display Oasis (which I'd missed due to a dental appointment) were finishing off their contribution and my youngest son helped to add the 'desert' sand around it - their's was all taken from the forecourt garden which they'd just been tidying for the festival (I did try photographing it but it's a lousy picture).