Madpriest had a gentle dig at a former Somerset vicar who talked about powers of evil in Portishead in a parish magazine article, drawing heavily on Tolkien. Just to spoil people's fun, I posted a comment reminding folk that Jesus recognised powers of evil as well, and that's now turned into a whole new debate over at MP's place. Is evil a 'power', or are there just very nasty people?
Bishop Alan is blogging from the Willow Creek leadership conference - I'll be really interested to see if he does a 'compare and contrast' post with Lambeth - with pithy summaries of the various speakers. There are video-based versions of the conference in the UK in October: we took a small group last year and found it very helpful.
SPCK have issued a statement, which Phil Groom has posted in full. One of the many matters debated in the last few weeks was the role of SPCK in entrusting SSG with the retail arm of its business, which was losing money rapidly and was unsustainable as it stood. It's worth reading the entire statement, here's the last couple of paragraphs:
We have been greatly upset by what has happened. We have been actively trying to do something about it, and are engaged in legal activity on a number of fronts about which it is not currently possible to say much. This and working with other interested parties and individuals has taken up a great deal of Simon Kingston’s time over the last year and continues to do so.
The Trustee body continue to have the shops as an item at every meeting, and spend a deal of time discussing what is best to do. A great deal has gone on (and continues today) which is not public knowledge. It is simply not true that we have ignored the situation. And with legal issues outstanding, we simply cannot wade in with public pronouncements. Indeed, some public comments (including, frankly, one or two contributions to the various blogs) serve to make matters worse rather than better.
SPCK and its trustees are truly saddened by the situation. We made a decision in good faith, and it has not turned out well. We are really sorry at the turn of events. But breast-beating makes nothing better. We are doing what we can on a continuing basis, and this may take another year or more before it has run its course.
The next few weeks will see two of the former SPCK shops in formal re-launches under new ownership. Let us all hope that other sites also find happier times once more.
Simon Kingston, SPCK General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer The Rt Revd Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester, Chairman of the SPCK Governing Body 12 August 2008
Phil's blog is the place to discuss this, and judging by the penultimate paragraph, we are in for the long haul here. Please pray for Simon Kingston and everyone else involved in this, for a resolution that is good, fair, and ideally that doesn't require lawyers to sort out the fine print because people are able to deal constructively with one another.
Finally Matt Wardman has a few Olympics links - personally I'm just enjoying the sport, but it's useful to be reminded of what else is going on here. And Johann Hari reflects on the decision not to publish the novel 'The Jewel of Medina', about the child bride of Mohammed, and what it says about our ability to have critical dialogue about Islam. The book may, like the Da Vinci Code, be a pile of cobblers, but now it's been pulled, everyone will want to have a copy if it ever finally comes out. Sounds familiar.