Monday, August 08, 2011

Tottenham riots - the Church of England responds

Not with moral pontifications, grand statements of denunciation or great fanfares for political consumption. But with the still small voice of an email inviting people to assist those most affected by the appalling and unwarranted violence.

It doesn't have a gay theme and there's not a female bishop to be seen, so it won't be covered by the mainstream media. It's just the good old CofE doing what the CofE has always done - getting on with ministering in the local community. The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Lansdowne Road, Tottenham is currently in an interregnum and so without a parish priest. It has therefore fallen to Assistant Curate Fr Simon Morris to lead his parish ministry at this time. Today he has sent out this, which requires no further comment from His Grace:
Subject: This Week
Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2011

Dear Friends,

This is to assure you all that Masses and other services will happen at both churches as normal.

At S. Mary's we are currently providing food and drink to people who have lost homes, who have had no electricity and who are working on the old Carpet Right building. If people feel able to help, then please make your way to S. Mary's. I am very grateful to those who have kept this going since yesterday morning.

On Sunday 14th August, we will have a procession during the 10am Mass to make God's presence known on these streets that have seen such violence.

10am Mass will be followed by a Bring and Share lunch to cheer us up and to demonstrate that we are not broken by the violent acts of others. Please make every effort to come along. I do not know whether the crossroads at Lansdowne Road will be open or not, but entry to the Church is still possible from the other side of Lansdowne Road.

Wishing you very blessing.


Fr S.J. Morris
Assistant Curate,
The only further word His Grace does feel justified to add is that it really wouldn’t be cricket just to turn up for the nom-nom when the invitation is quite specifically to come for Mass and lunch. Fr Simon is undoubtedly working wonders, but the miracle multiplication of beefjerky and callalooYorkshire pudding is probably a little beyond him.


Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

A Bring and Share Lunch - not bring yourself and eat what others bring!

An admirable Ministry by the Curate in difficult circumstances.

8 August 2011 at 13:23  
Blogger I am Stan said...

Praise be!, there is light in the darkness.

I`m sure Fr Morris will forgive Your Grace`s culinary dig aimed at his flock.

8 August 2011 at 13:28  
Anonymous gladiolys said...

Culinary dig or just plain racist?

8 August 2011 at 13:43  
Anonymous I came, I saw, I commented said...

I have to say the last sentence did rather take the shine off the rest of the article for me too.

Nonetheless, it seems that Fr Simon is doing great, and necessary, work. Quietly and with dignity. The way it should be.

I would urge His Grace to rethink his last sentence; I'm sure it was intended as a gentle joke, but it could be misinterpreted by those with a want to do so. And there are plenty of them.

8 August 2011 at 13:57  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

A good response from one of the many heroes putting flesh on the bones of the Big Society.

8 August 2011 at 13:58  
Anonymous Jack Flash said...

Good for Simon. But it does seem a little like bolting the stable door after the horse has gone. If the Churches had been out in the community together, then perhaps the damage could have been avoided.
We should drop the Churchianity and take the good news out of our buildings into the community. (It's still not too late!).


8 August 2011 at 14:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that sounds like a very nice way to spend the morning

8 August 2011 at 14:01  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Someone is his parish has been shot.

Presumably, dozens arrested.

Buildings razed – and probably jobs lost.

And amidst all that seething anger, violence and robbery Fr Simon Morris, on Sunday 14th August, will have a procession during the 10am Mass to make God's presence known on the streets that have seen such violence.

That is gloroius faith that’ll be walking on the Sabbath. And no one is going to record and report this moment that speaks of God’s glory.

It won’t be long before men in his parish say:

‘Stand up! That’s Fr Simon Morris passing.’

8 August 2011 at 14:09  
Anonymous Paul said...

May God bless Father Morris and those who have suffered in Totteham...

8 August 2011 at 14:12  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Here’s one for you Fr Morris:

Have not I commanded thee?

Be strong and of a good courage;

be not afraid,

neither be thou dismayed:

for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Joshua 1:9

8 August 2011 at 14:36  
Blogger English Viking said...

I Came, I saw, I commented,

Very true. You're one of them.

8 August 2011 at 14:46  
Anonymous I came, I saw, I commented said...

Load of balls, English Viking.

With respect, an' all.

8 August 2011 at 15:12  
Blogger English Viking said...


Then why ask him to change it? Why not simply appreciate the humour, instead of doling advice that was neither requested nor needed?

I mean, I can understand some might find it offensive that white people are caricatured as eating only beef and Yorkshire pud, but I thought is was funny.

Some of my best friends are white, don't you know.

Can you see know how you assume offense on the part of one group, but don't think about the other, which I assume is your own? A kind of inverse Uncle Tom?

8 August 2011 at 15:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”


8 August 2011 at 15:34  
Anonymous Oswin said...

In its own way, a small beacon may be seen for miles, whereas a major conflagration may illuminate little but itself.

8 August 2011 at 15:34  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I'm sure the curate would welcome anyone in need and feed them whether or not they attended mass. Otherwise, it'd sound a bit like a timeshare holiday promotion.

8 August 2011 at 17:16  
Blogger len said...

This little bit of normality shown by the C of amongst the debris of wanton destruction must be reminiscent of the blitz(for those old enough to remember.)

A sense of humour)contributes to' keeping up spirits' in difficult and trying times, very English and very misunderstood by those unable to understand the principle behind it.

8 August 2011 at 17:45  
Anonymous Anon 2 said...

Well me, I love roast beef and Yorkshire - even though I can't make the pudding as well as my mother and aunts did! Lancashire hot-pot's not half bad, either. Or Sally Lunn's, or Parkin, or Bakewell Tart, or Steak and Kidney Pudding, or even Bubble and Squeak; to say nothing of Goose and stuffing and bread sauce..... etc. etc. etc. Oh, and I take my own newspaper to the chip shop -- the euSSR can go run up a shutter (Jamaican style).

So you critics can be as racist as you like; you don't know what you're missing, when English cooking's at its best.

On the other hand, I've gone right off curry. As for callaloo --- I gather that's what they used to call okra, so it's buried with my frog-spawn book.

8 August 2011 at 18:07  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

That's the spirit, padre.

"Non Illegitimum Desporandum !!"

8 August 2011 at 18:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Church had preached the Word these past few years and not fallen into apostasy, we wouldn't be facing the Lord's judgement upon our nation.

Pah! Closing the stable door when the horse has bolted. Indeed!

wv: neigh

How very apt?

8 August 2011 at 18:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your grace,

I had the very good fortune know Fr Simon when he was an ordinand, and I was but a humble communicant at Pusey House. He is just what is needed down there - right place at the right time...


8 August 2011 at 19:00  
Anonymous Justin Hinchcliffe said...

As a parishioner and member of the PCC at St. Mary's, I really don't mind what it on offer at the lunch. We are truly blessed to have such a dedicated curate who cares for the local community.

8 August 2011 at 19:47  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Your grace is perhaps right , I should wish Fr simon my best on his efforts , gods work is not soley a narrow political view .

very difficult for me to comprehend how it it has re arrived at looting destruction again , I dont think they care what it will all cost .

Dissapointed at what so called cummunity leader charcatures on TV had to say , adding tonight will just re enforce , they think there special when it comes to criminal activity , or else send london up in smoke with ethnic group menace .

This is very difficult for me to understand , I had put quite a bit of faith that the black community understood this country a little better than has been demonstrated .And yes i do know white kids are doing some of it as well.

8 August 2011 at 19:47  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

not a machine said "I had put quite a bit of faith that the black community understood this country a little better than has been demonstrated"

Welcome to the real world. Don't be too disappointed - I was there once...

8 August 2011 at 20:12  
Blogger The Worker said...

Is it any wonder with the comments on here that the black community even worships seperately to the white community?

Imagine a black family turning up in one of your cosy little churches. Would you see them as geneticall inferior, as strangers and interlopers bringing an unwelcome foreign culture?

If we cannot pray together, how on earth will we live together?

8 August 2011 at 21:52  
Blogger OldSouth said...

@The Worker:

Well, why not try and attend one of those churches? You just may be surprised at your reception, which OS suspects is the reason you will never attend one of those 'cozy little parishes'. What if you are treated with a warm welcome? Makes it hard to dismiss the faith of the parishioners, does it not?

Whine less, participate more.

8 August 2011 at 22:34  
Anonymous Oswin said...

The Worker:

From what I'm seeing on my TV screen right now, I reckon being ''an unwelcome foreign culture'' is something of an understatement.

8 August 2011 at 22:40  
Blogger The Worker said...

Old South and Oswin

You assume I'm non-white. Why? I have attended your churches and see very few black people. What about taking the Good News to them in the way this young pastor in Tottenham is?

As for it being "an unwelcome foreign culture", remove the association with ethnic minorities and I agree. It is alien to witness a breakdown in law in order in Britain .

The causes are many. White and non white youth are rioting and looting. Why? We live in troubled times - economically, socially and politically. It's simplistic to attribute this to 'multi-culturalism' or immigration from Europe.

Could it have anything to do with the fragmentation of society under the global unfettered free market? With people judged by what they have and not what they do or who they are? With bankers exploiting us and raking in profit from misery? With institutionalised corruption at the heart of Government? With secularisation, an abandonment of morality and alienation from a sense of community?

8 August 2011 at 23:07  
Blogger English Viking said...


Stop it. Its all you fault. And a bit mine. Oh, and Johnny.

Bigot/Racist/White Supremacist/Far-Right Extremist.*

*Take yer pick.

8 August 2011 at 23:10  
Blogger English Viking said...

The Worker,

You pose a lot of questions.

The answer to all of them is no.

8 August 2011 at 23:12  
Blogger The Worker said...

English Viking

And your analysis is?

8 August 2011 at 23:26  
Blogger English Viking said...

The Worker,

I do not have the benefit of TV pictures, nor a live feed, but I have read as much as possible on the 'net.

It appears to me that gangs of predominantly black youths are using the shooting of a black man as an excuse for theft, arson, assault and goodness knows what else. Why are blacks rioting in Birmingham, 150 miles away?

Fat muppets who make a fine living out of such things, morons like Diane Abbot (no doubt Bernie Grant would have something to rant about, if he were still here, too. Let's not forget Darcus. Second thoughts, let's forget him) will spout the usual tosh about disaffected youths, racism, Police brutality, the failure of the white community to embrace the rich tapestry of vibrant, multi-cultural diversity, why don't we build more Youth Clubs, regeneration, Tory cuts, blah, blah, blah.

Meanwhile, even more, predominantly black, predominantly immigrant or immigrant stock will continue to think that being a crack dealer, pimp, G-man (for goodness sake) benefit cheat or some other kind of all round arse-hole is a job and society will continue to implode, partly because people like you seem to think the answer is to blame those who are not to blame.

PS Yes, yes, I know there are plenty of white morons too. That's to be expected, in a 94% white country. I wonder why 94% of crimes are not carried out by whites though? Hmmm?

8 August 2011 at 23:48  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9 August 2011 at 00:14  
Blogger The Worker said...

English Viking

I've read your posts for a while now and appreciate the disturbance in your spirit. Indeed, you have recently questioned how you are dealing with this. Unlike many others who use the same derogatory language you do, you seem less smug and sanctimonious. Why align yourself with the ananlyses of self satisfied bigots and racists?

The first duty of a State is to secure civil order and protect its citizens. Those responsible for this rioting and mayhem must be brought before the courts and recieve their just deserts. Yet, we also need to understand what lies behind the malaise in our society.

Terms such as "fat muppet", "moron" and "arse hole" are unhelpful. Simply attributing this breakdown in order to an "excuse" of the shooting of a black man and to
"immigrant stock" who think "being a crack dealer, pimp, G-man (for goodness sake) benefit cheat or some other kind of all round arse-hole is a job." is grossly narrow minded, even foolish.

Throughout scripture, from the prophets through to Jesus, the clear message is that God demands social justice and without it evil reigns. Lawlessness and anarchy are the consequences of an unjust and divided society - not the result of different ethnic groups living alongside one another.

Times change - thinking and Christian action needs to too.

9 August 2011 at 00:47  
Blogger English Viking said...

The Worker,

I agree with most of the above (apart from Diane not being a fat muppet and crack-dealers not being arse-holes).

Try this for a bit of Christian Social Justice:

If a man will not work, then he shall not eat.

2 Thess 3 v 10

Withdraw ALL benefits from those involved in the riots (I would guess at least 95% of them get some form of State 'assistance') and let them either work, else starve.

But you wouldn't like that, would you? Not Christian enough, eh?

9 August 2011 at 01:17  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Viking: "It appears to me that gangs of predominantly black youths are using the shooting of a black man as an excuse for theft, arson, assault and goodness knows what else. Why are blacks rioting in Birmingham, 150 miles away?"


9 August 2011 at 01:19  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Whoever is doing it in Birmingham has pretty low aspirations in life too, they've looted Primark by the look of it! :O

9 August 2011 at 01:23  
Anonymous Oswin said...

The Worker @ 23:07

I have presumed no such thing; I have not for a single moment considered your ethnicity. I fail to see how you might think otherwise?

9 August 2011 at 01:24  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Apparently it is now kicking-off in Liverpool too.

DanJo, somewhat perversely Leicester might prove to be a safe haven, having only a very small 'black' population.

Just wondering, but are you sure about Primark? I've only visited once, and it looked like a battle-field on that occasion too!

9 August 2011 at 01:45  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"DanJo, somewhat perversely Leicester might prove to be a safe haven, having only a very small 'black' population."

It's modern inner-city gang culture on top of a local history of riots in the early 80s, I reckon. We'll probably see it in Moss Side In Manchester and in Chapeltown in Leeds shortly. In the early 80s, I think there were understandable systematic reasons. This is just youths indulging themselves.

"Just wondering, but are you sure about Primark? I've only visited once, and it looked like a battle-field on that occasion too!"

I suppose it could be late-night shopping night. If I were inclined to opportunistic looting, which I am most definitely not, then I'd be targetting John Lewis. They have a lovely kitchenware department. And some of the throws are to die for.

9 August 2011 at 02:00  
Anonymous Justin Martyr said...

Good to see a St Stephen's House man following in the traditions of the great priests in the Anglo-Catholic tradition who came before him. It's feels similar to Fr Stanton of Holborn and Bishop Weston of Zanzibar.

9 August 2011 at 13:15  
Blogger Revd John P Richardson said...

The CofE also has a ready-made prayer in the BCP for when it's all over:

For restoring Publick Peace at Home.

O Eternal God, our heavenly Father, who alone makest men to be of one mind in a house, and stillest the outrage of a violent and unruly people: We bless thy holy Name, that it hath pleased thee to appease the seditious tumults which have been lately raised up amongst us: most humbly beseeching thee to grant to all of us grace, that we may henceforth obediently walk in thy holy commandments; and leading a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty, may continually offer unto thee our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for these thy mercies towards us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

9 August 2011 at 13:36  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

English Viking

Give them cake if there's no bread!?

9 August 2011 at 17:53  
Blogger English Viking said...


No. Give them nothing. Make them earn it.

9 August 2011 at 20:45  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...


Surely a crumb or two?

9 August 2011 at 23:13  
Blogger English Viking said...


Not a sausage.

You work, you eat; you don't, you don't.

Once a few of the most arrogant had starved to death, I'm sure the rest would get the message, and if they didn't, well...

10 August 2011 at 00:29  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

English Viking

You're a tough man.

The problem is that not all young people want to go to University and schools don't develop other talents - might damage their league tables. Girls are out performing boys in our schools. There are few jobs for unskilled young men.

The advertising media and our celebrity culture means those jobs that are available are unattractive and no one wants to work in McDonalds - p/t jobs on minimum wages.

We're screwing up the work ethic. My own lad was a 'failure' at school. He's the brightest of my children just not interested in academic studies. His school were just not interested in him.

After a couple of years of feeling sorry for himself he eventually started his own small business, that's a whole other story, and is now doing well. Without my financial backing for basic equipment etc he couldn't have got started. Now the recession is affecting him.

We are failing our young people at all levels. Authority and discipline has been undermined. Smack a child and a social worker knocks on your door. Parents divorce, if they bother to marry, and play pass the parcel with children. Schools obsess about exams not character development. And the consumption and debt driven economy tells them they're not "happy" if they haven't got this and that.

I had sweet FA growing up. I enjoyed school. I respected my parents, older people and authority figures. I believed marriage was for life. There was opportunities too and I gained self respect from employment. You were not judged on what you did and what you earned.

Our generation has to accept responsibility for what's going on and do something about it. The 'National Lottery', short cut to success society, is built on sand.

10 August 2011 at 00:52  
Blogger English Viking said...


I'll happily accept responsibility. Give me the authority, and I'l end all unrest in 24 hours.

Personal responsibility is what is required, not people taking the blame for others.

Having a crap education and only being able to become a manual worker is NOT an excuse for insurrection.

10 August 2011 at 01:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bring and share lunch at St Mary the Virgin Lansdowne Rd is unlikely to feature beef. Chicken and fish are more likely, and lots of salads (green salads, rice salads, pasta salads). It is a very mixed congregation. White curate, black warden. old/young, locally born and immigrants. 200 strong congregation most weeks. Always room for you. Leave your assumptions at home but do bring your sense of humour.

10 August 2011 at 14:04  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

English Viking

I agree. I'm looking for an understanding, not an excuse.

Fatherless families, serial parenting, a breakdown of authority, moral relativism, a celebrity culture, mass consumption and debt, unreasonable expections, the culture of dependendency and 'rights', the use of drugs - all these surely combine to help us understand what's going on?

Stopping £50 per week Jobseeker's Allowance just isn't going to solve these deep rooted issues.

10 August 2011 at 14:18  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

English Viking

I should add I do not agree with the following invitation to install you as Dictator!

"I'll happily accept responsibility. Give me the authority, and I'l end all unrest in 24 hours."

10 August 2011 at 15:36  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10 August 2011 at 15:36  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

English Viking

I should add I do not agree with the following invitation to install you as Dictator!

"I'll happily accept responsibility. Give me the authority, and I'l end all unrest in 24 hours."

10 August 2011 at 15:37  

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