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

Mature politics, fantasy Cabinet

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 16th, 2010

Imagine a British coalition Government with Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, with Nick Clegg and David Cameron as prime minister and deputy.

But add to this coalition the Greens and the Scottish National Party, each having Cabinet posts. Caroline Lucas is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; Baroness (Jenny) Jones of South Camberwell, the Secretary of State for Justice.

The opposition parties in Parliament include Labour, United Kingdom Independence Party, Christian Peoples Alliance (yes, seriously), and Respect. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Gulf of Mexico: postcard to Bobby Jindal

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 2nd, 2010

Gulf of Mexico display at the Audubon Aquarium of Americas: sponsored by the oil companies In December 2002, before we knew about hurricane Katrina, I visited New Orleans for a last piece of Americana before moving to Europe. I saw the Gulf of Mexico display at the Audubon Aquarium of Americas, and was struck uncomfortable that it was sponsored by the oil companies. Now we know how these do not sit well together, thanks to the reminder that was the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. So this afternoon we wrote a postcard to Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana (PO Box 94004, Baton Rouge, LA 70804):

Dear Governor,

We here in England note with concern the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Along with hurricane Katrina, it should serve as another reminder of the devastating consequences of our addiction to oil and other fossil fuels. The animals grieve with humanity the destruction of the ecosystem. We hope you will reorientate your leadership of the great State of Louisiana, so it soon becomes a pioneer in zero-carbon economic models, in partnership with the federal government. We look forward to your response.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Environment, Green Party | on May 2nd, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Gulf of Mexico: postcard to Bobby Jindal” | Comments Off on Gulf of Mexico: postcard to Bobby Jindal

Green and Yellow

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 2nd, 2010

A brief note on British politics to a friend. This Thursday we shall elect a new Parliament. Feel free to skip if you are not interested.

If the results of the the present elections turn out to be (as Nick Clegg intimated) a ‘two-horse race’, that is to say a return to the Tory–Liberal duopolistic hegemony, tactically perhaps I (as a Green) can comfortably say ‘bring on the Liberal surge’, expecting electoral and other important reforms to follow. But the obvious strategic concern is whether by this we are indeed catapulting British politics into the 21st century, or we are actually taking a retrograde step back to 19th-century politics. Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Environment, Green Party | on May 2nd, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Green and Yellow” | 2 Comments »

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 »

Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 26th, 2010

Sándor Fülöp As I mentioned earlier, I went to a talk by Dr Sándor Fülöp, Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations, at the British Ministry of Justice headquarters on Thursday evening (2010-02-25). Here are some notes I took. Any inaccuracies are mine.

The Commissioner is one of four ombudspersons in Hungary, appointed by a two-thirds supermajority by Parliament for a 6-year term (good), eligible for reappointment (not so good). It is the only such commissioner for sustainability in the world. The legal basis is the Ombudsman Act, passed only a couple of years ago.

The name is poetic, but really the job description as provided in the Act is that of an environmental ombudsman – a complaints officer. It would be unwise to reopen the Act to include socio-economic concerns of future generations, for fear of industrial lobbying that would erode the environmental focus. Read the rest of this entry »

A Green Senate? A Sustainability Commissioner?

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 24th, 2010

I wrote this note 12 November 2009 and recently sent it to my friend Dr Rupert Read. After discussion with him – who turned out to be in support of a Green Senate or a Sustainability Commissioner – I added a moderating amendment (see below). Rupert and I are going to hear the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations, Dr Sándor Fülöp, at the Ministry of Justice on Thursday, at an event organized by the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development.

In the past 5 years or so, I have heard from time to time impatient proponents of a Green Senate, a committee for sustainability, a parliamentary chamber with a built-in long-term view and overriding power in favour of measures for sustainability. Famous proponents include Norman Myers, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and (most recently, this past Tuesday) John Strickland. I do not think such a constitutional arrangement would work.

First, who would we appoint to this Senate? Would they be 70-year-olds, having accumulated years of experiences and (one hopes) accompanying wisdom? Or would they be 20-year-olds, or even teenagers, who have a stake, with realistic interests, in the future? Or a mixture thereof? Then, what about the midlifers? Are they totally disinterested, and should only be shoved around by the young and the old? Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Environment, Green Party, Lent | on February 24th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “A Green Senate? A Sustainability Commissioner?” | Comments Off on A Green Senate? A Sustainability Commissioner?

Oel ngati kameie: I see you (Na’vi in Avatar)

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 19th, 2010

Finally got my acts together to see Avatar (3D) yesterday evening, two months after release. My Green friends Drs Richard Lawson, Derek Wall, and Rupert Read (and those over at Two Doctors blog in Scotland) all liked it, along with many of us studying the Accra Confession at the Saint Columba’s Manse Discussion Group.

L’Osservatore Romano did not like Avatar, some suspected due to alleged pantheism. But the philosophy therein was not really pantheism, but can be more accurately described as panentheism (as my friend Dr George Zachariah of the Mar Thoma Church taught): finding God in everything; finding the image of the divine in everyone. I would have to struggle if I had to deny this as Christian.

[…] Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries […]

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The scene was indicative, where the scientist Dr Grace Augustine presented her results about the synaptic nature of the biosphere on the planet Pandora, and the businessman Parker Selfridge dismissed her thus: ‘what have you been smoking!’ Science is only accepted when it conveniently serves the imperial–rationalist exploitation: at all other times it is dismissed. As Dr Lawson pointed out (and echoed by the Reverend Dick Wolff), this has been going on in the climate-change debate: ‘If you are a committed free market fundamentalist, you will never accept the climate change facts, as they are incompatible with your ideology.’

I will be going to the Conference of the Green Party of England and Wales this Saturday; expecting Green hugs.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Green Party, Heresy, Orthodoxy, The Papacy | on February 19th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Oel ngati kameie: I see you (Na’vi in Avatar)” | Comments Off on Oel ngati kameie: I see you (Na’vi in Avatar)