Dogs Droppings, Divisiveness and Dickens

workhouse(A Victorian Workhouse)

David Cameron gave an interview in the Telegraph yesterday (1) and made his position on the poor abundantly clear: you just aren’t worth it, and if you aren’t working then it’s because you are lazy scrounger.

When people say we’ve got to stop our welfare reforms because somehow it is cruel to expect people to work, we are saying no. Getting people into good jobs is absolutely vital, not just for them, but for all of us.

Notice the tricksy language? He is trying to twist the narrative to suggest that demands for an end to the Welfare Reforms being implemented – by a government that was never elected in the first place – is on the basis of trying to make people work who just don’t want to.

Mr Cameron knows that this simply isn’t true, but this is a man on a mission to cut our debts:

So when people say we can slow down on cutting our debts, we are saying no. We can’t win in this world with a great millstone of debt round our necks.

There is no pretense of wanting to deal with poverty in this country any more, despite Mr Cameron’s claims in 2009 that the Tory party were the best party to do this and that there had been a “moral failure” by the previous government. (2) “There is such a thing as society”, he said.Well in Mr Cameron’s ‘Big Society’, the reason for the debts, the financial crisis and poverty are the benefit claiments – the very same poor whom Cameron claimed had been failed: they are, in fact, feckless buggers who do nothing, contribute nothing and aren’t worth the bother of helping because (he wants you to believe) they just dont want to work. He wants you, me, and everyone else to swallow the lie that poor people are poor because they like it that way, that they are a drain on your hard earned money and should be despised and shamed.It is all too easy to believe that we are not really living in the 21st century, but in the 19th century – when the poor where either deserving or un-deserving and that help was only given when that help was worse than the alternative. And this is how this Prime Minister wants to tackle poverty and debt – by attacking the poor and blaming them for all that is wrong with the economy. By treating them like the dog’s doings under his feet.If you believe that the attacks on welfare are unwarranted, immoral and the wrong solution then please sign the War on Welfare petition (3) and lend your support to their campaign. You can visit for further information.




A Life Less Ordinary – Christmas Reflections

She is just a young woman from a little town you might never have heard of, a place of no importance at all – except this young woman is called Mary (or Miryam). It is the 1st century BC, and the pattern of her life is set by the rules and rituals of her Jewish heritage and the Roman rule under which her country lives. She works alongside, and lives with, her family and is engaged to be married to Joseph; perhaps, her head is full of thoughts about Joseph, about how she will arrange her new home with her soon-to-be-husband, what they will do together, the life that they will live and the family they will have. Maybe, as these thoughts occupy her as she works, she keeps that secret smile worn by lovers everywhere lightly on her lips.

She is just a ordinary young woman, on the cusp of an ordinary life – that is, until she claims that she has been visited by an angel of God called Gabriel who tells her that she will bear God’s own child.  Mary knows the times in which she lives – she will not be married, she will be pregnant. Yet she agrees.

We have a glimpse of what being pregnant and unmarried meant for both Mary – and Joseph – in the Gospel of Matthew:

Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced. (Matthew 1:19 – The Message)

Mary was facing disgrace: she would be an outcast – unwed, a fallen woman, her child unwanted by all except it’s mother: Joseph was feeling betrayed, hurt, let down by the woman he was pledged to marry. This was messy, painful, frightening stuff:  the weight of societies judgements hang over both Mary and Joseph, and their families. You can almost hear the whispers of the gossips, the wagging of the pointed fingers and feel the appalled disapproval of those around them.  And these are the circumstances into which God incarnate is to be born?


 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. (Luke 2: 6 -7 The Message)

Life for Mary, Joseph and the child she carries  does not get less messy, for though Joseph marries Mary he must take his pregnant wife to Bethlehem for the census – an arduous one over the mountains through Cana and though the barren terrain of Judea. On arrival in his home town Joseph cannot find anywhere for his family to stay, save for the place that the cattle are kept. There is no cradle, only a manger – the trough from which the animals feed.

No place for this young family, for this child, to rest their heads. No safe home, scant physical comfort – only the warmth of the cattle with whom they share their lodgings. And these are the circumstances into which God incarnate is born?


What I love about the Christmas story – and there is much to love -is how God chooses to  be born into the chaotic messy fringes of society: out on the edge, outside of the expected and the acceptable. In fact, he chooses the unexpected and the unacceptable.

And that speaks to me: we still live in a world where governments and media so easily condem, judge, criticise and blame the poor, the single parent, the weak and the vulnerable. These circumstances are messy, and God chose messy. These lives are without status or power – and this was what God chose to be born into.

Tonight, once more, a child is born: a king without power, whose bed is an animals feeding trough and whose earthly parents have little – except for their love and faith which they have in abundance. This is where God is.