Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hilfield Friary - baskets and desert fathers

I've just enjoyed a wonderfully peaceful and inspiring weekend away and would recommend any worn out eco-worrier/warrior to check out Hilfield Friary - a community of Anglican Franciscans in Dorset. It is lovely to stay somewhere where care for Creation is taken for granted and is quietly obvious in many ways. I was attending a weekend to learn about the Desert Fathers and how to weave baskets. I was especially struck by the story of an elder who was asked by a certain soldier whether God would forgive sinners. 'If your cloak was torn, would you mend it?' came the reply, 'But of course', 'Well then, how much more will God care for that which is His image?' - in part it struck me because we don't tend to mend things any more.
On our final morning the leader talked of the legacy of the Desert Fathers and their relevance today, picking up on the challenge of their call to utter simplicity and pointing out politicians' fears that simpler living will attack the model of economic growth that they cannot see beyond. He mentioned a fascinating sounding book by Bruce Wilshire called Wild Hunger which traces our addictions (be it to drugs or shopping) to a void caused by our lack of connection with nature and other humans.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Reading Rescue

Last week Suzanne announced that she'd arranged for litter picking grabbers, bags and gloves to be delivered to the church for this weekend so that we could take part in Reading Rescue's clean up event. Unfortunately there were very few takers for Saturday morning but after church this morning several families joined in, incluing boys from each of the children's groups who seem to have found it the highlight of their morning! Matthew has announced he intends to be a litter picker when he grows up and James wants to know when we can do this again and can he have a grabber for use around home.

Christian Ecology Link

On 5th March Rosemary, Richard and I attended the Christian Ecology Link conference in London where there was a passionate call to Christian environmental action from Peter Owen Jones in the morning followed by sessions on practical actions and green economics. I've put a more detailed write-up of this event on a new site I've just started putting together for Reading Christian Ecology Link.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade fortnight began somewhat early at St John's with a Christian Aid Sacred Space service on the evening of 20th Feb - this was on their Trace the Tax campaign. I keep forgetting to ask how this went but hopefully I'll be able to report on it soon. In the meantime, this Sunday we handed out leaflets with a brief bit about Fairtrade (headed Fairtrade offers 7.5 million people in the developing world a more secure future) and then a collection of Fairtrade recipes to encourage people to bring Fairtrade puddings to next week's bring and share meal. I know Richard was planning to mention Fairtrade in the sermon (as usual I got to the file too late to pick up a copy so am waiting for it to appear on the church website). I was leading Exclaimers so we used the Fairtrade foundation's very useful downloads for a lesson about cotton and then made posters advertising our favourite Fairtrade products. These went up at the back of church afterwards to be admired by those queuing for coffee, surrounding an A4 sheet bearing John Sentamu's words "If you choose to buy the non-Fairtrade product, you are actively choosing to contribute to the poverty of others" which prompted some discussion in the queue. The children took various Fairtrade treats round to offer people afterwards and James was delighted when someone enjoyed the luscious Traidcraft yoghurt raisins he offered so much that they went over to the stall to buy some (thank you whoever that was!) Daniel meanwhile was encouraging people to sign a letter I'd downloaded from the Fairtrade foundation's website to Caroline Spelman regarding unfair cotton subsidies.
Also on the subject of Fairtrade, Reading University library has a display for Fairtrade Fortnight on its ground floor, organised by the chaplaincy with products from the World Shop and they will be hosting both a Fairtrade fashion show next Monday and, something I think looks especially interesting, an opportunity to hear from the Fairtrade Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance about their different approaches which is happening next Tuesday (8th) in Cafe Mondial from 7 til 9 (more info here).