Tuesday, March 31, 2009

G20 - the Prime Minister preaches in St Paul’s Cathedral

And in his sermon he spoke of the evils of the Credit Church Crunch, and how during the storms of the nation’s turbulent history, St Paul’s has been ‘a rock of faith at the centre of our national life’.

No, Prime Minister. Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you cannot see. St Paul’s is a building; the rock (if His Grace’s Roman Catholic communicants will permit him a little latitude) is Jesus.

The Prime Minister spoke interminably of hope and faith, enduring values and virtues, timeless truths, family lives, neighbourhoods and communities. And what conquers fear of the future is faith in the future – ‘Faith in who we are and what we believe, in what we are today and what we can become: Faith most of all in what together we can achieve.

It must have bored God to the point of contemplating the virtues of mortality.

And on the day the Messiah President of the United States lands in the UK, Mr Brown unsubtly invoked the spirits of Dr Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln – President Obama’s two inspirations (as if he would have been tuning in on Air Force One). The Prime Minister said he was prioritising four urgent global concerns:

Financial instability in a world of global capital flows
Environmental degradation in a world of changing energy need
Violent extremism in a world of mass communications and increased mobility
Extreme poverty in a world of growing inequalities

And so he talked of the need to have ‘faith in globalisation’, for the world to ‘come together’ to agree ‘global rules’ informed by ‘shared global values’.

Of course, the Prime Minister never articulated what these are. But he does note that the globalisation which lifted millions out of poverty has also ‘unleashed forces that have totally overwhelmed the old national rules and systems of financial oversight’.

Therein lies a plea not for the international co-operation of sovereign nation states but for new continental or global rules for the post-democratic, post-national era.

And Mr Brown then declared: ‘And as I have always said I take full responsibility for all of my actions.’

Cranmer falls off his chair laughing.

Gordon Brown has consistently refused to apologise for anything. He has ducked and dived, swiveled and swerved to avoid taking responsibility for any of the damaging actions and appalling decisions he has taken over the past 12 years. Has he ever apologised for purloining billions from private pension reserves? For gambling away even more billions when he exchanged the nation's gold for euros? For over-spending during the years of plenty? For engorging the state with a million new public sector non-jobs? For tampering with the supervisory responsibilities of the Bank of England? For lying about 'prudence' and 'the end of boom and bust'?

The Prime Minister blames ‘unsupervised globalisation’ for crossing ‘moral boundaries’. He said: “Most people want a market that is free, but never values-free; a society that is fair but not laissez faire.” And he talked of the need to fulfill the promise of Adam Smith (‘who came from my home town Kirkcaldy’) that ‘individual gain leads to collective gain, that even when people are pursuing their private wishes they can nonetheless deliver public good’.

He continued: “Christians do not say that people should be reduced merely to what they can produce or what they can buy - that we should let the weak go under and only the strong survive. No, we say do to others what you would have them do unto you.”

His father would have been proud.

But then the sermon became multi-faith and all-inclusive when he referred to ‘each of our heritages, our traditions and faiths’:

“And when Judaism says love your neighbour as yourself. When Muslims say no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. When Buddhists say hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. When Sikhs say treat others as you would be treated yourself. When Hindus say the sum of duty is do not unto others which would cause pain if done to you, they each and all reflect a sense that we all share the pain of others, and a sense that we believe in something bigger than ourselves - that we cannot be truly content while others face despair, cannot be completely at ease while others live in fear, cannot be satisfied while others are in sorrow We all feel, regardless of the source of our philosophy, the same deep moral sense that each of us is our brother and sisters’ keeper.”

Once again, he omitted the Jedi Knights, who (according the last census) outnumber in their adherents both the Jews and Sikhs.

And he referred to a letter he received ‘from the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, reminding us that “positive faith in the human person, and above all faith in the poorest men and women - of Africa and other regions of the world affected by extreme poverty - is what is needed if we are truly to come through the crisis”.’

Why would a Scottish Presbyterian call Pope Benedict XVI ‘the Holy Father’? It rather reminds Cranmer of when Jack Straw ended a television interview with ‘Inshallah’. It was a little shocking that a British non-Muslim Home Secretary would be so ingratiating as to inculturate himself with what is so manifestly foreign and alien to him. Of course one should show respect, but Gordon Brown is no more Roman Catholic than Jack Straw is fluent in Arabic. It is an embarrassing hypocrisy to pretend to be what one is not; to subscribe to a false reverence; to attempt to dupe those who sincerely refer to the Pope by that title.

Unless, of course, one is trying to win their votes.

Incidentally, throughout the entire sermon, there was not one mention of God.

The Church of England might at least have ensured a prayer of repentance and forgiveness for permitting Gordon Brown to speak this vapid tosh. With all the talk of global trade, banks, money supplies and debt, one wonders if Jesus might not have turned over a few tables.


Blogger Gnostic said...

I have faith that Brown will become unemployed come summer 2010, hopefully sooner.

31 March 2009 at 17:06  
Anonymous not a machine said...

it was a very weak attempt if you ask me , putting family at the heart , when so many people are struggling with debt or reprosession .

cant stand his hubris

31 March 2009 at 17:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I might respectfully amend the previous comment, purely in the name of accuracy - or pedantism - rather than sentiment, that the Rt Hon Gentleman may shortly become the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

It would be asking a lot for him to lose his seat in parliament, although, of course, this is not completely impossible

31 March 2009 at 17:24  
Blogger tammyswofford said...

And I have faith that our President will continue to channel Honest Abe for divine inspiration.

Enjoyed the post! Also laughing. Undoubtedly after the heartfelt platitudes given at St. Paul's the next private conversation probably had the word "screw" in it as opposed to "faith". Add your own sentence structure. smile

Our own Rick Warren, offering up his heartfelt politically correct prayer at the presidential election concluded his thoughts with the name of several deities including "Isa" and "Hesus", the Spanish pronunciation of Jesus. A friend called and commented, "Did he just pray in the name of my gardener?!" Too long. He might as well have just listed the Seven Dwarfs.

Tammy Swofford

31 March 2009 at 17:33  
Blogger Tachybaptus said...

But then the sermon became multi-faith and all-inclusive when he referred to ‘each of our heritages, our traditions and faiths’:

“And when Judaism says love your neighbour as yourself. When Muslims say no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. When Buddhists say hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. When Sikhs say treat others as you would be treated yourself. When Hindus say the sum of duty is do not unto others which would cause pain if done to you ...

That's not multi-faith. It's stating a Christian doctrine (though a most admirable one) five times in different words, and projecting it on to the other religions.

31 March 2009 at 18:05  
Blogger tammyswofford said...

Inauguration,not election. I am incredibly dense.

31 March 2009 at 18:12  
Anonymous Joshua said...

I would like to keep what he said on a serious note, that is to say that he has highlighted many things that need urgent attention. But I will have to conclude that coming from this man, it was sounding like pure hypocrisy.

However, I do hope that the conservatives will expand on this though. I am passionate about the church being more concerned with the spiritual welfare of the nation, and I really do hope that lessons have been learned from the mess we are now in. I want to see a return to principled business practices which will lead to the building of a healthy future for young and old. A future where the young have hope; realistic lifetime goals to aim for, and where the old are treated with dignity and respect. Achieving these things can only be made possible through a return to moral and principled attitudes. Attitudes that need to change with regards to wealth, possessions and how we acquire them; things that when taken at face value alone will only lead to wrong values creating greed and corruption.

The old ideals based on pure materialism have failed miserably. Investment is a word that needs to be applied to learning and attitudes. I don't know how possible this will be in a multi-faith community model, but we should not be too concerned with creating such a model. Our society is primarily Christian: Our morals and principle are, and should continue to be drawn and modeled from the Christian faith; everything else should basically fit in around this. And this is where the church should concentrate its energies. Its role should be that of the good shepherd watching over the flock, not as someone has suggested the 'credit church'.

In general, I liked what I heard. I sincerely hope that this kind of talk, and this sort of relationship between the church and politicians continues. I pray that something has started here that will be like seeds of mustard.

Anyone in need of further debate, or simply to take a personal view, can do so in The Antechamber.

31 March 2009 at 18:12  
Blogger ZZMike said...

"... The Prime Minister spoke interminably of hope and faith, enduring values and virtues, timeless truths,..."

Our own Glorious Leader won us over with a campaign totally based on "hope and change". A bit different than "hope and enduring values", but, I think, equally vague.

At least for us, no matter what happens, that will be the "change" we hoped for.

One of his concerns:
"Extreme poverty in a world of growing inequalities"

Let's just ask those of you who live in the UK how many of your number live in "extreme poverty". I suspect that your measures of extreme poverty (like ours, here across the pond) might seem like riches compared to some other parts of the world. Such as Dharavi, which HRH The Prince of Wales thinks is such a model of the modern community.

"Of course, the Prime Minister never articulated what these are."

They never do. To actually propose something concrete would be to take on accountability, which is something no politician will ever do.

"Cranmer falls off his chair laughing."

Our gracious host has a macabre sense of humor.

Mr Brown: "... a society that is fair but not laissez faire."

Full marks for a clever line.

But "fair" is another ambiguous term. It's frequently confused with "justice". The world is not fair. Good people die young; bad people live full lives. That is life; which ceases to be fair right after kindergarten.

An old philosopher told us about that:

"... that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."

It is even the case that some men play the Sousaphone better than others - is this fair?

"“And when Judaism says love your neighbour as yourself. ..."

I see he's been reading C. S. Lewis again. And not understanding a word of it.

"Why would a Scottish Presbyterian call Pope Benedict XVI ‘the Holy Father’?"

For the same reason that we call Mr Rowan Williams "Your Grace", and Queen Elizabeth's addlebrained son "Your Highness". Simply a style.

"Incidentally, throughout the entire sermon, there was not one mention of God."

Of course not. God is off these days.

tammyswofford: "...the name of several deities including "Isa" and "Hesus""

I don't think "several dieties". The Bible lists several dozen Names of God, and Names of Jesus - "Wonderful, counsellor" (or maybe wonderful counsellor ("wonderful solicitor"?)).

Maybe Warren was trying too hard to be ecumenical, but he has a much sounder theology than the other speaker (the Episcopal Bishop) who started out

"O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…"

[O God, whoever or whatever you are, ...]

I've always wondered why only Mexican parents name their children "Jesus". Catholics and Protestants, Germans or Frenchman would never think of it.

31 March 2009 at 18:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calling this hypocritical, offensive nonsense 'vapid tosh' is an insult to vapid tosh.

31 March 2009 at 18:53  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Well Your Grace, if that's the sort of preaching that St Pauls is reduced to I think that len, Theo Joshua, myself and of course first & foremost Yourself should make ourselves available. If that's what passes for the gospel 2009, they must be desperate.

31 March 2009 at 19:32  
Blogger RonB said...


Its not free trade that has brought us to this collapse, its political interference. Have you noticed that the failures in the banking sector - Northern Rock and in Scotland are in in Labour strongholds. These banks were being used for political purposes and have failed. What else would you expect from socialist policies being put into practice?

31 March 2009 at 19:44  
Anonymous Joshua said...

You are absolutely correct in my mind preacher, but I thought that it would be good to push these words forward into the forthcoming Tory government script. As empty and hollow as they sounded coming from a sufferer of Tourette's Syndrome, who just simply cannot help himself when it comes to blurting out platitudes of insincerity, maybe if we keep the momentum going until the general election, Dave will have to give serious consideration to some of the ideas.

Something has to give. Its a new operating system that we need, not just a re-boot of the old one.

31 March 2009 at 19:53  
Anonymous Joshua said...

Sorry about this Your Grace, I did try with the Antechamber thing, but replies are in order.


Free trade should be accompanied by principled and morally structured practices. In the old days when free trade was starting out the industrial revolution, there was a portfolio shift between class wealth. New money was created by a new breed of monied class who in many cases did not totally forget where they came from. Noblesse oblige was a generally accepted idea of these times which included the idea of charity for the less well off. I am aware of the huge disparities of these times, but non the less, this idea was to prove beneficial to many.

My point being that we have strayed far from any ideas about welfare for the less fortunate these days. Modern attitudes about wealth and profit are brutally selfish and show very little mercy for the less fortunate. yes, we have a overly generous welfare system, but this is nothing less than a safety valve for greed and excess to continue,; dumping on its responsibilities to make people more productive. But people need hope. HOPE not just marijuana and larger chits.

31 March 2009 at 20:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why would a Scottish Presbyterian call Pope Benedict XVI ‘the Holy Father’?"

Where is the evidence that Brown is a Presbyterian or indeed any variety of Christian? Faith is not inherited along with one's genes.

31 March 2009 at 20:23  
Anonymous len said...

A sermon on Mammon might have been more appropriate,
"the least erected spirit that fell
From Heav`n, for even in Heav`n his looks and thoughts
Were always downward bent, admiring more
The riches of Heav`ns pavement,trodd`n gold,
Than aught divine.".. ( From Milton)

31 March 2009 at 20:24  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Perhaps Your Grace has seen the Popes letter and Browns reply on Ruth Gledhills blog. I am struck by the erudite, expressive flow of the Popes letter; its structure and cadence. All engineered to impact on the minds of the G20 attendees and marshal their deliberations, all the while keeping the least fortunate in this world to the fore.

Compare and contrast this with the blunt instrument that is Gordon Browns reply, such a crude un-crafted and unimpressive piece of scribbling, if it were a song it would be out of tune. From the Popes letter there is no mention, or even hint of global warming, yet stuck on to the end of the first paragraph of Browns reply, almost like a suppurating growth he intones the manta of the IPCC, ‘global warming’. Perhaps it was mentioned at their recent meeting, but I’ll lay 10:1 it didn’t come from the Pope.

What in heavens name has global warming got to do with the ethical deficit so endemic in the banking and investment sector. It was brown who released these particular dogs of war, unfettered and unrestricted institutional greed and avarice. It was Brown, no one else, who turned his one eye away, like a more rotund Nelsonian act of folly as he raked in unprecedented tax revenue from the city, drunk on the proceeds of relaxed oversight that he himself authored and loosed. And just like an alcoholic he continued, just one more bottle, one more drink from the Bacchus fount that was the banking sector. But unlike a rueful drunk, from Brown not even a pledge or wish to sober up tomorrow.

It is the repeated denial, the disconnection of cause and effect from this un-elected boo-boo that is so obvious to the rest of us which makes him more tragic and ridiculous as the days go by. His unremitting refusal to accept that he as Chancellor and after the coup that ousted Blair, Unelected Prime Minister, (actually the more I think about it the more it has in common with the glorious revolution), that as a direct result of his action bears any responsibility whatsoever for mess in which we find ourselves today. 100,000 private sector jobs lost and rising, 30,000 government jobs created.

It is the letter of a man moribund in political clichés, he has for so long been accustomed to the poverty of his own discourse, he has forgotten how to extract himself from the morass of socialist double speak. This letter if ever there was one, is proof positive of a man out of his depth on the world stage, a man unsuited and unskilled in the art of diplomacy and negotiation required at the prime ministerial level. It would appear by all accounts that the Obomination is likewise not too proficient in dealing with foreign dignitaries, mmmm, DVD box set, how … underwhelming.

As for hope in his ability on past performance for the G20 I feel a ditty coming on…

Gordon Brown in London town
Gambling on G20
His came home, ashamed by Rome
African bellies still empty.

31 March 2009 at 21:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief ... this is even worse than his grovelling address to Congress.

Who on earth does he think he is ... John the Baptist?

It's bad enough being lectured on economics by a failed Chancellor/Prime Minister. What on earth have we done to deserve a quasi-Sermon from a man who quite obviously doesn't have a truly religious or moral bone in his body.

31 March 2009 at 21:48  
Anonymous Joshua said...

The recusant, always a breeze of fresh spring air: superbly written sir!

31 March 2009 at 22:22  
Anonymous judith said...

Your Grace, perhaps someone in your esteemed congregation could explain to me why the Prime Minister was allowed to use an Anglican Cathedral as a platform for his political posturing, coated in vapid moralising?

Will he be launching the next General Election campaign from the altar at Westminster Abbey?

31 March 2009 at 22:45  
Blogger Alan Caruba said...

It seems almost impossible, but both the UK and America are being led by two of the most pompous people on the planet. Here in the US, the Obamamaniacs are beginning to sense that the "change" they voted for is our forthcoming poverty as the national deficit is tripled unto the second and third generation to come. I can't speak for the UK of course, but Brown is by far the most boring PM you've had and makes me pine for Thatcher. And, yes, Churchill.

As for Brown's blathering about poverty, well, that's been around worldwide for a very long time.

The environment, however, is the new church for these charlatons.

1 April 2009 at 02:39  
Anonymous John Knox said...

Has your grace read Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail
"When a bishop has to leave the Church of England to stand up for Christians, what hope is left for Britain?"

An excellent assessment of the situation!

1 April 2009 at 03:23  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Ms Judith,

Perhaps you would remind His Grace...

Who permitted Tony Blair to preach in Westminster Cathedral?

1 April 2009 at 07:22  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

Mr Brown’s speech repeatedly seeks to persuade the people that he seeks to regulate the global economy by the moral values he believes ‘are at the heart of our family lives, neighbourhoods and communities.’

That is he uses a device – taken from the people – their moral values – to control something. And the control of this something must be in their interests for it is taken from their lives, neighbourhoods and communities. Globalism, and the trans-national rules required to police it, is a threat to our sovereignty (to our communities, neighbourhoods and families) and therefore to us as a nation-state. One of the hallmarks of a free people is the capability to decide rules about how they shall live with each other for themselves.

This is the same device that is used to persuade us that increased immigration is good.

This is how Roger Scruton puts it in ‘England and The Need for Nations’:

‘In its attempt to persuade us to accept levels of immigration, our government appeals to our traditions of hospitality, asks us to accept the newcomers not as competitors for our territory but as refugees, to whom we owe charitable protection. In every major crisis, the government falls back on our historic identity and unaltered loyalty, in order to persuade us to accept even the changes that threaten those precious possessions.’

The speech is calculated to con the majority of people. It is his government that has, through legislation, closed down Catholic adoption agencies; dragged Christians before industrial tribunals; hounded Christians for wearing the Cross of Christ; suspended Christians from their labours for daring to ask their neighbour if they required a prayer in their hour of need; told a child to shut up about Jesus and excluded her mother from her place of work for daring to ask another to pray for child and her.

And he speaks about the people’s moral values.

Go! In the name of God Go!

1 April 2009 at 10:48  
OpenID curly15 said...

Your Grace, are you quite sure it was him?

1 April 2009 at 13:23  
Blogger ZZMike said...

recusant: As usual, a great comment.

You ask, "What in heavens name has global warming got to do with the ethical deficit so endemic in the banking and investment sector?"

Not only there but here (across the pond as well); not only in the financial sectors.

I suspect that one reason the "global warming" ethic has taken such a hold is that having abandoned religion, the left needed something to take its place. Chesterton: "The man who believes in nothing will believe in anything."

It has most of the trappings of religion: it excommunicates heretics (denying them tenure, not publishing their papers); it sells indulgences as of old (carbon offsets); it has high priests who proclaim dogam (Al Gore, James Hansen); it gives us things to feel guilty about (putting our rubbish in the wrong bin).

And it gives them all something to unite around. Communism lost its luster a while back, socialism no longer has the warm and fuzzy resonance with the People (so they're changing the name to "progressive").

Now we can dance round the Maypole and sing pretty songs about our Earth Mother, Gaia.

1 April 2009 at 21:03  
Blogger Tessa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2 April 2009 at 08:53  

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