Bye Buy Childhood: the Campaign goes on

Mothers Union event at the Church of England Synod

The Mothers’ Union have just published a report showcasing new research about the impact of the Bailey Review of 2011 into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. I had the privilege of helping launch it at General Synod along with Alison McClean, MU member and parent, Rachel Aston, Social Policy Manager of the MU, and Ian Barber from the Advertising Association. Pictured above: photo courtesy MU.

The report is at Its bottom line is that parental concern is actually higher now than it was in 2010; so even though good work has been done, the campaign starts again now.

Concluding the session I reminded those present of the story of Solomon and the Two Mothers – when the bogus mum did the ultimate in objectifying and commercialising the child she wanted, happy to have half of it dead if she couldn’t have all of it alive.

Every Child Matters – even when it doesn’t matter to us, because Every Child Matters to God. That’s the wisdom we need. And to see it turn into policy and practice, we need Protection for our children (Lords Spiritual and MPs take note..); Pester Power of the right sort – as we advocate for children in the public realm (Bishops and other teachers have a job to do); and Practical support for kids and families to cope with these challenging times (three cheers for parents and carers everywhere).

There are six key recommendations (see below the fold):

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Praying with our Catholic Brothers and Sisters today

It’s good to join today, on the feast of St Benedict patron saint of Europe, with the Catholic Church in England and Wales praying for the evangelisation of our land.

From the RC website:

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has made a video appeal to Catholic parishes across England and Wales to join, on 11 July this year, a new national network of prayer for the work of evangelisation. The July date is significant because it is the same day that representatives from across England and Wales will gather in Birmingham for the Proclaim ’15: National Catholic Evangelisation Conference, which is the first event of its kind in a generation.

Speaking from his private chapel at Archbishop’s House in Westminster, His Eminence, said:

“In the Church at this time we’re really trying to reinvigorate the way we understand ourselves and our parishes, to grasp again how essential to our life of faith is our readiness and willingness to share that faith and to reach out to others…. At the heart of all our effort must be prayer. It is from our relationship with Jesus that our desire, and readiness, and ability, to share our faith, really flows. So if all our efforts… are not based and flowing from that relationship with the Lord, they will probably go nowhere. And therefore, as we have this conference in Birmingham on 11 July I really hope every parish will be at prayer on that day, especially on that evening, so the Lord will guide everything we are doing.”

This summer the National Catholic Evangelisation Conference will bring together an extraordinary group of speakers, workshop leaders and representatives from every diocese in England and Wales to celebrate joyfully and confidently their Catholic Faith, and to explore how better to share it. Among the keynote speakers are: Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop Bernard Longley (Birmingham), Rev Nicky Gumbel (Alpha Course) and Michelle Moran (Pontifical Council for the Laity).

 Cardinal Nichols added: “”Most of all what we need is a desire to be with the Lord so that he can send us out as his missionary disciples. You might like to remember that 11 July is the Feast of St Benedict, the Patron of Europe. We, in this country, as in other European countries, face very special challenges, really quite difficult challenges, in the way we have to go about expressing and sharing our faith. So St Benedict is our patron for engaging with the culture of this country and of this age in the task of evangelisation. So we should be on our knees on 11 July and Benedict will pray with us, that God will bless our work of evangelisation, just as we try and respond to the Lord at the prompting of our Holy Father, Pope Francis.”

John 17 @synod (#synod)

  Archbishop Sentamu in his Presidential Address @synod begins by speaking movingly of the murder of Archbishop Luwum but also the witness of forgiveness by his family – and returns to John 17 which was theme text of the Archbishop of Sweden as well (#holyspirit at work in archbishops!). In Christ we can “be overcomers”.

And I reflect that the Johannine discourses of Jesus in and after the Upper Room become more and more important as we re-deepen our roots in Christ. We take our name from him. We see God’s glory in him. We delight and find joy in him. We are transfigured in him. We are given eternal life in him. We are overcomers in him.

Naming him is and always will be a challenge to us and to those to whom we speak. It is so much easier to simply speak of God. But it is Jesus that is offered to us and all humanity, “not to start a new religion but to offer to every human being a communion in God” (Brother Roger of Taize). Banging on about Jesus too much, too soon may well be a put-off in mission, and be done in a way whose manner denies its message of love. But unless it is to Christ that the way we offer leads, we are lost. As Sentamu finished, we are to share his life, know his name, have his word and share his glory. “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.”

Learning the hard way

Archbishop Antje of Sweden addresses General Synod. In our international and interchurch relationships we are learning the hard way. But it is a sign of hope that in 2016 the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church will hold a common commemoration of Luther’s theses that launched the Reformation. Let us be one so that Christ’s joy may be complete in us, even in a world of anxiety and fear.

Mary Jane Montgomerie House studio now open

2015-07-04 11.47.232015-07-04 11.48.10

As part of Cambridge Open Studios 2015 Mary Jane Montgomerie House, who livesMember image opposite Swaffham Bulbeck Church where her husband Martin is a lay minister, is opening her beautiful garden and studio to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays in July (11am-6pm). Professionally trained in art and textile work, Mary Jane has returned to creative practice and is sharing the fruits of her inspiration with us. To me, looking at her organic forms made with pure marks (no under-drawing, no erasing) feels like taking a glimpse into her mind, neurons and God-blessed pattern together, which bless me as I look at them. With the poems Mary Jane also writes and sometimes incorporates they also act as metaphors for the stories of our daily lives, and hold together our One World of the material, scientfic, spiritual and theological. Well worth a visit!


Mary Jane Montgomerie House
01223 812 481