How Fascism Takes Over

Have you ever watched a historical documentary or perhaps a Second World War movie and wondered how the fascists ever took over? How did they convince people to follow them? How did they reshape a …

Source: How Fascism Takes Over


Names are important.

A few more words prompted by the Christian Festival The naming of Jesus, on January 1st.

Joseph and Mary named their child Jesus, which means God saves.  This naming is an act of faith, although we are told that they were following an angel’s instruction.

Considering all the trouble surrounding his birth, they might have named him “God brings worry or danger or cost or displacement or criticism,” but no,  Mary and Joseph chose to be faithful and named him Jesus, God saves.

Names are important and I think we have choices about the names we choose for our selves and our lives, for our hours and days.

So, I might choose to name my days worry or full of concern for another person, hard work or full of opportunity, tedious or full of time filled with life and love.

I might choose to name another person stranger or fellow human being and myself dull, worried and tired or alive, aware and full of gifts to be found and used.

The way we choose to name ourselves, our lives, others and our world makes a difference, so one of my new year’s resolutions is to think carefully about the names I use.

Early morning wake up call.


It’s new year’s day 2016 and I was woken up by a message from Monsoon store wishing me a happy birthday.  It’s not my birthday, but never mind, apparently they’re giving me a present which lasts for a whole month.  10% discount on full price clothes!

Well, it was a wake up call in more ways than one because it reminded me that I am an enquiring shopper.  I’ve been “back to normal” now for a month and two days and in all that time I’ve not written anything apart from sermons.  I’ve really missed it and I hope I’ll continue writing through this year.  Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me through the autumn and since.

New year thoughts race around my head.  Last year I knew what I was looking forward to, I had so much planned and my diary reflected that; a course in spiritual accompaniment, daughter Grace’s wedding and a sabbatical leave with a trip to Nepal to name only three.  I wonder if I’ll ever have such an exciting year again.

Because it was so planned and so different, I was a bit reluctant to leave it behind, but today I have stirrings of excitement.  This feels very liminal again, a threshold time, stepping out into the unknown even though I’m in a very familiar place.

From my study window, the only thing I can see is a sycamore tree.  Today, it’s branches are bare and stark against the grey sky.  I know that soon buds will appear and open out into leaves, filling the bare branches.

Today, the year ahead looks empty with some stark realities in it for me.  I know it will blossom and fill my life.

Today we remember the naming and circumcision of Jesus.  Jesus lived an ordinary life and was given an ordinary boys name and the ordinary mark of boys in the world he was born into.  God was found in ordinariness.

As this is a naming day; maybe we should name our years on January 1st.

For myself, I name 2016 OPEN and I will try not to fill it up and close it down too quickly.

Back to Normal?

Well I’ve packed and unpacked my bag for the last time this year. My days of living out of a suitcase are over for a while.

Today is a day for remembering what normality is, finding a clerical Collar and a smart pair of shoes.

Tomorrow is Advent Sunday.  In Christian church terms it’s the start of a new year and it’s one of my favourite days of the year.

I’m glad my return to church and parish life as rector will be on that day.  It’s a day full of awesome hope and expectation, of light shining in darkness, of God’s promise of something good and new.

It’s a season for looking back, around and forward.  Looking realistically at ourselves and our world in the light of God’s love and care.

So much has happened for me in the last three months and I know things will have changed in church and parish so I wonder what will happen next?


Fair Trade Shopping on Black Friday

It seemed fitting that I spend my penultimate day of sabbatical visiting Fair Trade shops.  It was so exciting to see paper on sale in York that I had seen produced in Nepal.  I was happy to discuss Get Paper Industries which I had visited with a business owner who trades with them.

Fitting too that this was “Black Friday” and I could consider different attitudes to shopping in stark contrast with one another.

Shopping is necessary, the way we do our shopping has enormous impact on our local and global communities.  What we buy and how we buy it affects our health and well being.

Let’s choose fair, healthy choices as much as possible.

Fair Trade Shopping in York.

At the York Christmas Fair, I was introduced to an independent company who sell scarves which are fairly traded through small producers in India.  An advantage for small shops in England is that the producers can supply small quantities of scarves.  Win win situation.

It turns out I’ve had Christmas presents from this company.

There was also a Black Yak stall selling knitted goods from Nepal, see September’s visit to Ashby de La Zouche.  They have a regular stall on the Shambles market in York.

And there was a man selling fairly traded goods from Nepal.  I felt quite at home.