Showing posts with label Wilberforce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wilberforce. Show all posts

Thursday, 4 April 2013

AMERICAN PATRIOTS

by Colin Bloom

Recently during a short trip to the US, I met up with some friends, who are also friends of 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum. They gave me a copy of his latest book, American Patriots - Answering the Call to Freedom.

It is a fantastic read, detailing the lives of some unsung heroes who helped build the architecture of the American Dream. Santorum divides the book into three parts; Life, Love and The Pursuit of Happiness; but he also adds his own essays on each of these three key values. These essays give a real insight into his personal values and worldview; and gives the reader a ringside seat into how this titan of GOP politics boxes clever.

Rick Santorum came deliciously close to getting the GOP Nomination for Presidential Candidate. I hope he runs again, he is young enough and popular enough He certainly has 'Wilberforce' values, and if this book is anything to go by, has got his 2016 campaign off to a great start.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

POLITICS OR THE WORK OF GOD - I HUMBLY SUBMIT YOU CAN DO BOTH

by Colin Bloom

One of my favourite films is Amazing Grace, the story of how my political hero, William Wilberforce worked with others to make the slave trade illegal. Last night, as a family we watched it together. I never get bored of seeing it.

There is a powerful scene where Wilberforce, Pitt the Younger, Hannah More, Thomas Clarkson and Olaudah Equiano and a few others from the Clapham Sect are dining together; Wilberforce is graphically shown how the slaves are chained and transported to the plantations across the Atlantic.


Mr Clarkson turns to Wilberforce and says, "Mr Wilberforce we understand that you are having problems choosing to do the work of God or the work of a political activist."

Hannah More then says, "We humbly suggest that you can do both."

How many thousands of other 'Wilberforces' have asked themselves the same question and were advised to do one or the other? As if politics and faith operate as completely separate entities. What would our world look like if we had more Hannah Mores that encouraged them to do both?

So, if you are passionate about politics and are what Wilberforce would call a 'Real Christian' then consider joining a political party, get involved and perhaps even consider standing as a Local Councillor, MEP or Member of Parliament. You could be the next William Wilberforce!

I humbly suggest you can do both!

Sunday, 31 March 2013

CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVES CAN BE PROUD OF THIS COALITION'S RECORD BUT A LOT MORE STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE


by Colin Bloom
The Prime Minister is getting a shellacking from many Christians this weekend. Yesterday the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey got in early with a few combination shots, and today the Methodists and Baptists decided to mix it up with an ecumenical tag-teaming left foot kicking. Some of the blows were a bit low, but the referees in the broadcast media are seemingly on the side of the Holy minority.

Earlier today I was prompted by a friend to list the Government’s biggest ‘Christian’ achievements. This friend is known to everyone on this site, and he suggested that the increase in faith schools or the .7% of GDP on Overseas Aid as a good start. Pah! There is so much more to list than that.

However, the near universal and visceral rejection of same-sex marriage by the Church has perhaps meant that now anything and everything the Government does, and particularly if it comes from the Prime Minister, is going to be rejected and rubbished without consideration. This would not be fair, and dare I say, it would not be a particularly Christian thing to do either.

The Bible tells us in numerous places to honour and respect and pray for those in Government, for ‘…all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour.’ I would gently remind my Christian brothers and sisters, especially those in the Clergy to spend as much time praying for our politicians (of all parties) and less time attacking them.

So I’ll pick up the challenge our friend has given me; I will list some of the things that I am most proud of as a Christian Conservative, accepting that the critics have probably already made up their minds anyway.

I.               We are unashamed to ‘do God.’ Let’s never forget that the previous administration famously said they ‘didn’t do God’ and this one has said very firmly that they do.
II.              We are even prepared to go further, and say that we are a ‘Christian Country.’ Whether it was Baroness Warsi when she, as British Muslim, told the former Pope that the United Kingdom was a Christian Country, or whether it is the PM in numerous speeches – unlike the previous Government we are clear. This is a Christian Country.
III.            Church run social action projects have been given significant funds via groups like the Church Urban Fund or the Cinnamon Network, so that Christian charities like Foodbank, Christians Against Poverty, Street Pastors and others flourish. The Big Society might not be fashionable on the left, but this Government is putting real resources into it.
IV.           Micro Grants from the DCLG to churches to go and ‘Love their Neighbours’ – did this happen before? No.
V.            Commitment to the Developing World by keeping our promises on Aid and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Increasing investment to build up both infrastructure and to meet the needs of those in absolute poverty and suffering around the world. Not popular with many, but the right and Christian thing to do.
VI.           Giving powers of competence to Local Authorities so that they can keep on saying prayers before Council Meetings. Thank you Eric Pickles, one in the eye for the aggressive secularists.
VII.         The PM hosting Easter Receptions for Christian Leaders, every year since getting elected in 2010 (not done before).
VIII.        The PM giving Easter Messages and Christmas Messages that are filled with messages about Jesus (not done before).
IX.           The growth in faith schools, and the freedom for churches to start their own schools if they want.
X.             Michael Gove giving every secondary school in the country a copy of the King James Bible on the 400th Anniversary of its publication.
XI.           The brilliant work of the Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Ministerial Team including Alastair Burt on fighting against the persecution of Christians around the world.
XII.          The work being done to create a greener United Kingdom, looking after the planet God has given us.
XIII.        The significant steps that have been taken to end modern day slavery. Some has been done, but there is a great deal more to do.
XIV.       The attempt to set people free from the over-powerful and dead hand of the state. Encouraging people to work (1 Thessalonians 4)!
XV.        Significant work being done in Prisons, where groups like the William Wilberforce Trust (Alpha for Prisons) have been funded to help reduce recidivism and turn prisoners lives around.
XVI.       The appointment of a specific Minister for Faiths (Baroness Warsi) – not been done before.

And there is more…

On top of all of the above, the Conservatives are probably the only one of the main political parties that would protect the Established Church – can you see the Lib Dem’s or Labour doing this?

Everything I have listed above will attract criticism, and I am not pretending that either enough has been done, or that everything that has been done has been done well. I am just trying to bring a bit of balance. Considering the alternatives the record isn’t as bad as most Christian leaders are making out. In summary, a lot of good has been done, there is still a lot more to do.

So before the usual suspects put their left boot in again, perhaps they might want to reflect on how the country was brought to its financial and moral knees, and give a bit more credit to a Government that it trying to get us on our own feet again.

(This article was published on ConservativeHome today)

Saturday, 23 March 2013

GRAND THEFT OF MORALITY


by Colin Bloom

"You are a stylish hooligan entering a new decade of grievous bodily harm, car- jacking and general thuggery. Drive, run and shoot your way into all sorts of trouble with the law, rival gangs and civilians. Thirty-two new missions, thirty new vehicles and unlimited criminal opportunity." 

This is Japanese technology giant Sony's own 'manufacturers' description' of their 'Grand Theft Auto: London Mission' software for their ubiquitous Play Station games console. During the summer of 2011 when we saw gratuitous violence, mugging, arson and looting across the country it was tragically ironic that it was a Sony distribution warehouse that was burned to the ground in Enfield. You can take to the bank that Sony executives won't be calling the people responsible 'stylish hooligans'.

So what can be done? David Cameron has been consistent on two key points: firstly that Britain is broken and secondly that to fix broken Britain, we need a 'Big Society'. For both he has been derided by the left, mocked by liberals and misunderstood by many in his own party. In the light of the masked cowards, cynically robbing and trashing their way through town centres and the post looting, broom wielding furious majority that reclaimed their streets, wasn't the Prime Minister proved right?

We saw the worst and best of Britain as the stark chasm between the mainstream decent majority and the feral and selfish few gets ever wider. Some will argue that we need to bring these two faces of the United Kingdom closer together, to somehow cathartically create a healing betwixt the two. Perhaps the decent majority should work harder to try and understand why people, who evidently can afford top-end smart phones, felt the need to steal trainers from a sports shop before  burning it down. It's a thought, but maybe the problem is that mainstream Britain has already been getting far too close to the dark satanic mills of things that we should have been running away from. Like Sony's Grand Theft Auto...

Along with trying to end slavery, my hero William Wilberforce wanted a reformation of manners. Simply put, he wanted goodness to be fashionable. It could be argued that despite the great work he did, he left the anti-slavery task unfinished and as for making goodness fashionable, well... look around. When decent households have misogynistic, barbaric and selfish music, films and video games under their roof, aren't they unwittingly legitimising the things we also condemn?

Speaking as a sinner, perhaps we should reintroduce the old fashioned and biblical term 'sin'. Yes it's absolutist in creating a clear divide between right and wrong, but there can be no shades of grey when it comes to setting fire to people's homes and businesses. 

It's time for the majority who care to shun the violent culture of the mob. That means an end to violent computer games, and the 'Get rich or die tryin'...' attitudes. It means that we do some moral DIY and repaint the boundaries between right and wrong and as a society be prepared to point them out, firstly in our own lives and homes and then elsewhere.

The solution is not a legal one, we already have enough laws. The solution is a moral and spiritual one. So it's time for us all to look again at our own lives and the lives of those we may be responsible for and clear out the junk and furnish our minds with beautiful things. In the same book that talks about sin, you will find in Philippians 4:8

'...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things'.

Just maybe we can start with ourselves and begin to create a new generation of people that aren't 'stylish hooligans'.

Monday, 18 March 2013

PLEASE SHUT UP AND LISTEN



At midday every Wednesday in the House of Commons, the weekly fisticuffs between the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition and the Prime Minister begins again. If you have ever watched it, you will know that it would be better described as the politico's pugilistic preprandial punch up.

For as long as I can remember it has always been like this; before 1997 it was twice a week until Tony Blair, rightly in my view, reduced it to just Wednesdays. With few exceptions, these exchanges are a tragic witness to the Parliamentary culture we are possibly becoming. A cold, aggressive, tribal culture, more suited to the terraces of a lower league soccer club than to the mother of all parliaments. If Members of Parliament are supposed to be 'honourable', you wouldn't know it from the midweek mudslinging.

It was William Wilberforce who said that alongside dealing with the slave trade, he wanted to see a reformation of manners. If the House of Commons in the 18th Century was a rowdy as it often is today, it is easy to see why he yearned for such an ambition.

For the most part, questions are asked not to extract a meaningful or thoughtful answer, but are asked to trap or embarrass the other person. Regardless of whatever the answer is, the questioner comes back with another pre-rehearsed statement aimed at building on the crippling effect of the last. This is the way of things, but it serves no purpose whatsoever. It turns what could be quite a helpful part of our legislature's week into little more than a cross between a  Punch and Judy show and TOWIE*.

To his credit the Commons Speaker John Bercow, has done a great deal to try and address this problem. Like a stern class tutor, scolding primary school children, he occasionally chides the class by pointing out how pathetic they look to the viewers at home. Maybe he should introduce the 'Speaker's Naughty Step' behind his chair, where Members of Parliament who are braying too enthusiastically should be sent until they learn to calm down.

The Greek philosopher Epictetus is quoted as saying “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Good advice for everyone, especially for those in positions of leadership, and particularly for those in politics. Certainly for when they are inside the chamber.

Imagine a democracy where politicians listened, and not only listened but actually heard what was being said to them. How would the world look if those in power actually heard the voices of the people above the shrieking of their adversaries, or perhaps the roaring of their inner demons?

If like me you are sick of the knock about, tired of the noise and want something better. Write to your MP and ask them what they think could be done, also write to Speaker Bercow thanking him for what he trying to do, but ask him to go further. If we can see Wilberforce's dream of a reformation of manners in the House of Commons, you never know where it might spread.

*The only way is Essex (apparently!).

Sunday, 17 March 2013

WILBERFORCE WAS NO LIBERAL DEMOCRAT


by Colin Bloom

I'm not prejudiced towards Liberal Democrats. Some of my best friends are Liberal Democrats. Honest. 

In fact the other afternoon I was having a Coalition cup of fairtrade tea with one of our yellow bedfellows when I raised the subject of enshrining William Wilberforce in bronze (see last post). The response that came back sent the Battenburg cake flying.

They think William Wilberforce was a Liberal Democrat!

Like the late Charlton Heston at the National Rifle Association, I spluttered, "You can have William Wilberforce, when you prise him out of our cold dead hands!"

In fairness this conversation happened the day after the Eastleigh by-election, and I can only imagine that they were still euphorically and legally high after holding onto that seat. Nevertheless, this outrageous misappropriation of one of our greatest will not be tolerated, and if any one thing breaks the Coalition, this might well be it.

It needs to be remembered that the Liberal Democrats were founded way way way back on the 3rd March 1988. Yes that's right, they were 25 years old just a couple of weeks ago, and like you I wasn't invited to the party either. I have shoes that are older. I have shoes that have done more.

The Liberal Democrats have already tried to appropriate Gladstone, for some reason nobody minded that; but even the casualist of Wilberforce scholars would know that he would never ever have been a Lib Dem. It is as ridiculous an idea as John Terry donning his full Chelsea kit - including shin pads - to collect last year's European Cup Trophy despite playing no part in the final. 

This misappropriation of things Tory needs to stop. The Labour Party are not the One Nation Party that they are claiming to be and Wilberforce is most definitely not a Liberal Democrat.

WILBERFORCE IN BRONZE

Portrait of Wilberforce by Sir Thomas Lawrence
by Colin Bloom

It must have been an inspired follower of utilitarianism that assigned M1, M2 and M3 to the main meeting rooms in the Conservative Party Headquarters in Westminster. There is little to say about these rooms, save for some bronze statues, they are utterly functional.

In M1 there is a bust of Sir Winston Churchill; we are told he is regarded by a majority of the British Public as the greatest Briton that ever lived. He deserves to be there; he is the Conservative who led our Nation through our darkest hours against the tyranny of fascism. Churchill is our military godfather.

In M2 there is a bust of Lady Thatcher; and quite rightly so. She is the Conservative who led our nation back from the economically crippling tyranny of socialism and restored our health from the 'sick man of Europe' to the global force we are today. Thatcher is our economic godmother.

In M3 there is no bust. There should be, and it has been agreed that if I can get a bust made of William Wilberforce, it could be loaned to the Party to sit in M3. Wilberforce deserves to be there; in so many areas, not just slavery, he led our nation back from the tyranny of moral apathy. Wilberforce is our moral and spiritual godfather.

If this plan of a Wilberforce Bust is a success, maybe the meeting rooms will be renamed after the watching bronzed trilogy of these great Conservatives. They should become inspirational reminders of why the Conservatives are the oldest and most successful political party on the planet; and we should use these reminders from our past to inflame the legacy that we want to leave for this and future generations.

In the coming weeks, there will be more to say about the progress of the Wilberforce Bust. If you like the idea of it, and would like to participate in being part of this project then you know where I am.

In the meantime, who from our current 303 Members of Parliament might our children be considering for a plinth in M4?