Skip to main content


You may all remember the "feral rats" lady from Ealing. She articulated what many people might have been thinking. I wonder how many of us realised that she runs a baby store. She provides goods and services for small children.

That implies that she cares (although may be mercenary enough to just see the market.. but I doubt that).

So what has happened in our society that means that people (not just Ealing lady, I'm not picking on her) can both love children and write others off as feral rats.

Well maybe the clue is in the use of the word rat. For years now there has been a media distancing that happens when anyone does anything bad. The tabloids (and others) use animal terms for people whose behaviour is not acceptable. By distancing ourselves we can get the space to reassure ourselves that we are somehow different.

I see a new dimension to this just now: that we almost want there to be two sub species of people, the good and the bad. We can't cope with a scale of behaviour, we need to dismiss people as being utterly other.

And that's dangerous. Its smug and superior, but historically it also has had some far reaching implications. In the current situation it is stopping us addressing our own sin (and I don't use that word lightly).

We have to take hold again of the notion that we all can mess up. That we all are selfish most of the time. That we do things that we later regret.

The events of those few nights have brought the violence and opportunism of some street cultures to a wider audience. If we choose to distance ourselves and pretend that these people are somehow other, we will simply repress the issue again.

Lets own the problem: not just when it scares us. No more talk of rats: these are people.

And whether they are the poorest is the subject of the next post.


Popular posts from this blog

NO MORE MAGIC BULLET- or why I have stopped watching the West Wing

I love the West Wing. It still rates as one of the most well informed and influential series of the genre. Its speeches have been stolen by people who have osmosed its hope for a better way of doing politics. When we watch it today it holds a very particular kind of resonance because it demonstrates a civility that has been drowned in a sea of hate. It has positive images of a wrestled out faith, is rich with camaraderie and pith and is just good telly.
But its bad for me. 
It pains me to admit this, but the West Wing makes me think I can change the world in a way that is simply not helpful. 
It holds out the present hope that the world can turn on a single conversation. With the brave statement or right turn of phrase one might change the debate, and in turn might change the world entire. The moment in the Oval where they realise that if they take no credit they can save social security. The moment where Donna remembers to pay welfare payments. The realisation that all the NATO people a…

Oxpresidentgate and a Crisis of Generosity

Its been an interesting start to the year for the third sector. As we all get to grips with GDPR (more later), we have been subject to increased media attention as first we reeled from President’s Club revelations to the far deeper impact of this week’s revelations about Oxfam (and others).
There is much that can be written. Undoubtedly there are some in media and politics who will seek to exploit the 1/3 of us who don’t think aid should be sent overseas to change policy off the back of bad behaviour by some people. We could face a drop in giving to international development, as supporting Oxfam is no longer seen as acceptable (like buying a plastic bag). I suspect this will recover at some point, possibly in different form.
However, there is a deeper moral crisis for third sector organisations and my fear is that Christian charities are not immune.
To explore this let me go back a month. The President’s Club- where charities were set to receive significant amounts of money from an…

A very dull post about what I do with my time...

Each year I take a calendar month and record what I do in it. I break each day into twenty minute chunks and note down what happens in each twenty minute block. I don’t do the same for designated Sabbath time (nor do I note each bit of time outside of the beginning and end of a working day, no-one needs to know how long I clean my teeth for).
I categorise each thing that I do (an imperfect science) with a view to getting a handle on what I do with my time. 
This year I did the audit in November (as clergy I always avoid doing this in Lent, Advent or August). 
So- what did I discover?
I work around 55 hours a week. (thats up one hour from last year) That work is spread over five and a half days. The only sabbath day that was interrupted by work was about processing a painful meeting.  Of 26 working days, I worked 12 evenings.
In terms of what I do:
In November 17% of my time was taken up with prayer, reading and learning. Thats a slightly false read as I had a 48 hour away time in there. Prayer…