Holy Week church-hopping and other items

posted by Mike on April 23rd, 2011

The day before Holy Week began, I attended a wedding at St. Columba’s United Reformed Church in Oxford, UK. St. Columba’s is down an alley near some of the Oxford colleges. It’s a normal sort of church inside, with a vestibule and facade that make it look like an office building.

Most churches stand out. St. Columba’s is hidden. Attending church there was like going to a house mass—nobody walking past suspects you’re going to a sacred gathering.

(Best wishes to the bride and groom—your lovely wedding is an auspicious start to your lives together.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Some verse

posted by Kaihsu Tai on June 11th, 2010

graffiti in Winchester Cathedral, likely left by parliamentary troops Becoming “British”
is not about
passing a test, saying some pledge,
getting that passport.

It is about
picking a side for yourself
in that old, drawn-out war
they call “civil”.

Then around you,
the ever-cumulous skies,
the revolting lands,
the tumultuous seas,
cannot even decide on their own names.

But oddly,
you know exactly
who you are,
where you stand.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Green Party, Itinerant Communicant, Oxford | on June 11th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Some verse” | Comments Off on Some verse

Prayers of concern for new government

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 9th, 2010

We prayed this prayer at a joint communion service, marking the beginning of Christian Aid Week, of the four Oxford city-centre ‘Faith in Action’ churches: New Road Baptist Church, Wesley Memorial Church, Saint Columba’s Church, and Saint Michael-at-the-Northgate. My friend Dr Martin Hodson preached.


Will you join me in the prayers of concern. Let us pray.

God the Creator, we adore you for creating the universe, full of potential to unfold; for creating our world, teeming with life and the possibility to develop.

God the Christ, we marvel that you have come among us; that we can find you in the least of these, the most unassuming of our neighbours.

God the Holy Spirit, we ask you to fill us with your power, now comforting, now challenging, as you invite us to participate in the continuing creation, transformation, and renewal of our cosmos. Read the rest of this entry »

Snap response: the hung parliament is the mandate for proportional representation

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 7th, 2010

Diário de Notícias: Flashes da campanha britânica The result of this British general election is, on the whole, a good result. No party can claim that it does not need to eat the humble pie. The Conservatives (Tories) did not win a majority of seats nor garner more than half of the popular votes. The Labour Party took a beating, losing several frontbenchers. The ‘surge’ did not deliver for the Liberal Democrats. Instead, they lost great MPs such as Dr Evan Harris (in my constituency of Oxford West and Abingdon) and Lembit Öpik. The Greens, though getting our first MP in party leader Caroline Lucas, did not make as many breakthroughs as we would like. Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking a few steps ahead

posted by Kaihsu Tai on April 27th, 2010

(To appear in Issue 2 of the Oxford Left Review.)

‘One of the most encouraging developments in the emergent intellectual space […] has been a new willingness to advocate the Necessary rather than the merely Practical.’ – Mike Davis, Who will build the ark? New Left Review 61 (January/February 2010)

Political events since mid-2009, especially the parliamentary expenses scandal, accentuated long-standing symptoms in the British body politic, eliciting predictions of doom (in the form of further voter disengagement, among others) and calls for reform. Among these, many an opinion poll suggested the possibility of a hung Parliament, and many a campaign group called for a referendum on reforming the electoral system of first-past-the-post (FPTP). Peter Tatchell outlined the case for electoral reform in the inaugural issue of this Review. Beyond this, the wide Left ought also to think a few more steps ahead. Read the rest of this entry »

Reflection on the Accra Confession

posted by Kaihsu Tai on April 25th, 2010

For a service at Saint Columba’s Church, 2010-04-25.

Cross at NatWest, Easter

Last time I spoke from this lectern, I started by talking about a bank branch a few metres down High Street. I am going to talk about banks again. A nationalized bank at that. Seventy percent of the Royal Bank of Scotland is owned by Her Majesty’s Treasury … well, the better name is the taxpayers’ Treasury, our Treasury. In turn, RBS owns the NatWest bank in England; we have a branch down the road. Before I get too much into the banks, let me take a detour, and talk about oil. I promise to come back to banks … ’cause that seems to be where the action’s at, these days.

Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, Creative Resistance, Easter, Environment, Oxford, Pentecost | on April 25th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Reflection on the Accra Confession” | Comments Off on Reflection on the Accra Confession

Sermon for Ash Wednesday

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 17th, 2010

Ash Wednesday sermon at the chapel of Mansfield College, Oxford, based on two earlier blog posts: ‘What keeps me awake at night’ and ‘Brecht’s Galileo, or, Against Macho Science’.

Luke 15:11–32 (Prodigal Son).

May I speak in the name of God: Creator, Christ, and Comforter. Amen.

A few years ago, I went to the National Theatre in London, to see Bertolt Brecht’s play The Life of Galileo, in a version by David Hare. With 20th-century hindsight, the German playwright Brecht retold the life-story of the 17th-century scientist Galileo Galilei. Today, on this Ash Wednesday, I want to talk about the nature and motivation of scientific pursuit: this play happens to provide some hooks for my thinking. So, at the risk of substituting a theatre review in the place of a sermon, here I go.

If you recall, Galileo championed the theory of Copernicus that the Earth orbits the Sun. The Church forced him to recant this view. The famous British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says, ‘Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science.’ Is this modern science a good thing in the round? Was the Church right to slow Galileo down after all? Galileo’s 17th-century contemporaries did not have the benefit of hindsight and retrospection: They were riding the wave of the Renaissance, pregnant with the prospect of rationalism’s triumph in the 19th and 20th centuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Just another manic Monday

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 1st, 2010

At one o’clock Monday morning, I counted the votes to select a parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in the Oxford East constituency, to replace Peter Tatchell who had to stand down due to health reasons. Announcement to follow in due course, soon.

From one o’clock to three in the afternoon, I attended the Green group of councillors to discuss budget proposals for Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, and election strategies.

From seven to about nine o’clock in the evening, I was glad to be at the launch of the inaugural issue of the Oxford Left Review. There I talked with three journalists (among other radical right-on comrades), from Aamulehti of Tampere, Corriere della Sera of Italy, and Samoa’s Environment Weekly. Very nice people they were.

Here is the table of contents for the inaugural issue of the Oxford Left Review (Issue 1, February 2010):

  • Samual Burt: Equality and Republican Ideals
  • Peter Tatchell: Voter Reform and the Left
  • Stuart White: An End to Labourism
  • Cailean Gallagher: Call to Scottish Labour
  • Matthew Kennedy: The Putney Debates
  • Jeremy Cliffe: A Fourth Way for Labour?
  • Brian Melican: Germany’s Fragmented Left
  • Christopher Jackson: The Return of Keynes
  • George Irvin: Time for a Tobin Tax
  • Kaihsu Tai: The Science of Copenhagen
  • Sophie Lewis: COP15 – Activist’s Perspective
  • Matthew Kennedy: Žižek review
  • Roberta Klimt: Bennett review
  • Noel Hatch: Today’s Lost Generation

Pace Radford, it was typeset in Palatino, to good effect dare I so say. All references to non-L——r party affiliation were cautiously scrubbed, for which I am (to be frank) a bit miffed. Despite that, it was an excellent effort by the editorial team in setting off this worthy initiative.

Near midnight, I refined my letter to the Oxford Times about public ownership of assets, after email-shots to follow up all the interesting discussions I had for the last 24 hours of politicking.

It is amazing that I am not getting paid to do any of this, but certainly it has been more fun than staring at molecules on the computer. Citizenship is a full-time job, and the work of a citizen is never done….

On Remembrance

posted by Kaihsu Tai on November 8th, 2009

Oxford Friends’ Meeting House (Quakers) on Remembrance Day 2009

This week in England, we were asked to ‘Remember, remember the Fifth of November’, and this Sunday – Remembrance Sunday – to remember the soldiers. It is well that we remember these; but I wonder whether it would have served us even better to remember that there had been three Anglo-Afghan Wars, before getting ourselves into a fourth one. The Encyclopædia Britannica has them thus: ‘The first war demonstrated the ease of overrunning Afghanistan and the difficulty of holding it. The second war proved to be a Pyrrhic victory for the British.’ So remember the poppy fields in Afghanistan, as well as those in Flanders, when you see the poppies this autumn.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Itinerant Communicant, Oxford, Weapons | on November 8th, 2009 | Permanent Link to “On Remembrance” | Comments Off on On Remembrance

Brief for Mission Education School IV

posted by Kaihsu Tai on October 4th, 2009

Brief for Council of World Mission’s Mission Education School IV ‘All Creation Groans: The Eco-crisis and Sustainable Living – Understanding the Implications for Mission’

Kaihsu Tai, United Reformed Church, United Kingdom, 2009-06-05/21

The following sketch is written from my personal impression, based on several years of non-professional but serious study, observation, and discussion of the issues. Due to time constraints, I am not supplying references to the statements I make, but with modern resources it is not difficult to verify (or disprove as the case may be) most of them. I try to be frank and fair at the same time, but some might take this account to be polemical.

1 Identify the major climate change concerns and challenges for your region.

Primarily, for the United Kingdom (UK), climate change is less a physical hazard than a moral one. The UK is usually categorized as a ‘developed’ country, as measured in indices such as gross domestic product per capita. For the next decade or so, it is not difficult for those well-off (perhaps around half of the population) to adapt to the physical effects of climate change. However, the moral implications are more dire: as the first country to spark off the fossil-fueled Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, and one of the first to have the scientific and political capacity to realize the consequences of climate change since the 1980s (during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher), it cannot escape the moral responsibility about climate change. To complicate the matter, the intention to protect the competitiveness of London’s status as a major financial centre in a globalized world – the rump of an imperial past – hinders the political will to face down this moral hazard. Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Environment, Green Party, Itinerant Communicant, Oxford | on October 4th, 2009 | Permanent Link to “Brief for Mission Education School IV” | Comments Off on Brief for Mission Education School IV