1. Having led a company that assumed for itself the authority to hound other people and call for heads to roll, Rebekah Brooks now expresses indignation that lawyers dare to question her integrity. I felt a bit sorry for her when she was charged and appeared to say how angry she was – she clearly doesn’t do irony. But, in the spirit of her former newspapers, let power be held to account and let justice be seen to be done. If she is innocent, the legal process will vindicate her. If not,…

2. In the same vein Rupert Murdoch complained about being harassed by paparazzi when in London for the Leveson Inquiry. Er…

3. Kenny Dalglish‘s second coming has come to an end. I’d make a terrible prophet: I thought he’d stay on until the first couple of months of next season and see if there was an improvement on this season’s inconsistencies… and then get pushed out if he didn’t deliver. I was wrong. A sad day for the legend and the club, but the owners don’t do ‘sentimental’. That’s leadership.

4. General Ratko Mladic is on trial for genocide in the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Just goes to show what history always tells us: the truth will out – even if it takes twenty years. Things go around and come around.

5. The Greek tragedy continues to unfold in boggling fashion. But, when David Cameron suggested the Euro-branch might break he was accused of actually contributing to it happening. You just can’t win. If you don’t state the obvious, you must be either lying or stupid. If you state the obvious, you are stupid because you are influencing the market. I realise this is a bit of a silly circle (with not so silly consequences, of course), but I guess it proves that what public figures do or do not say does shape the public agenda one way or another. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

And, just to indulge in a little selfish trivia: this blog has now surpassed the million views mark (just now it is 1,001,457 for 737 posts in three years). Boggling, really. Thank you.

 

Last Monday I left home early and drove through the most beautiful countryside up to the north of my diocese. The Yorkshire Dales are gorgeous anyway, but add in a massive dollop of snow blizzards, high winds and freezing temperatures, and you get a bit of a taste of wild life. I was there two days, visiting clergy and parishes, dropping into village schools, chatting with colleagues and loving the views (when you could see them). I remarked to a friend that, unlike in London (where I spent the last eleven years), here the weather is real: real driving sleet, real snow, real winds – the sort of weather that makes you realise you’re alive.

Well, I hesitate a little before loving this too much: Scotland is enduring enormous storms today. I was at Bradford University with my wife for a graduation ceremony and even inside the building we were aware of the hammering rain outside… when it began to drip through a light fitting on the stage inside.

And if the weather isn’t enough, Angela Merkel has begun the Euro-Summit with the claim that the euro has ‘lost credibility’. European leaders are aiming their weapons at David Cameron – who faces pressure from inside his own party as well. Trying to hold some middle ground might not be possible when the high winds start blowing across the small island we call home.

All this paints an inauspicious picture for those graduating from the university today. Many of them now have degrees in subjects I never knew existed. But, sitting in the Great Hall for the first time since I graduated from this same place thirty one years ago, the names of some of the degrees summed up the insecurity of the world in which we now live: lots to do with security, international justice, criminology, conflict resolution, etc. Many of the graduands came from parts of the world where conflict was real and not just the notional theme of some academic study.

This is not the best time to be emerging from the academy and looking for work. But, it will certainly stretch the creative ingenuity of those who want to make things happen.

This wild world comes together with the world of the church (believe it or not). The parishes I visited in the Yorkshire Dales this week are communities of real people who live, work and move in a world of transience, mortality and insecurity. Anyone close to the land cannot be a stranger to the contingency of living in a changing world. They can’t hide in the bubbles of imaginary security that can so easily be created in the glass towers where numbers on a screen cease to relate to anything real. I once argued with an economist that money doesn’t exist – that it is simply a system of values set in ratios agreed by some arbitrary conventions for mutual benefit; he thought this was a bit naive (and it might be). But, as we have seen in the last three years, economies that appeared sound simply collapsed like a deck of cards. Empires that appear invincible simply melt under pressure. Nothing stands still – and we forget our mortality at our peril.

I am dead proud of the clergy I met who get stuck in to their communities, often against the odds and with limited resources, sometimes with little confidence and too little reward. But they stay in the heart of communities, available to all, a visible reminder (with their congregations and church buildings) of that prophetic Christian refusal to go away – committed to accompanying people through their living and dying, enjoying and losing, celebrating and weeping. Like God at Christmas, they embody that gift that is freely offered, that looks vulnerable and sometimes weak, that opts into the real world, that names reality and embarrasses fantasy, and that cries hope for a future when the present seems to be closing wildly in.