Archbishop Jonathan Blake

The Most Reverend Jonathan Blake, Presiding Archbishop of the Open Episcopal Church B.A. (Hons), Dip. Pastoral Studies. Mobile: 07767 687711 The Church is a member of The International Council of Community churches and the World Council of Churches. Married and a proud Dad.

My Photo
Location: London, Kent, United Kingdom

Gassed Tehran, seized Kabul, helped Mother Teresa, funded TB hospital, priest 1981, went Auschwitz, wrote on Parliament, convicted, began 1st inter-faith NHS chapel, 12 yrs Anglican cleric/vicar - left, baptised 1000's in homes/Mt Snowdon/at circus, wedding underwater, wrote ‘For God’s Sake Don’t Go To Church’, nailed 95 Theses 2 Canterbury cathedral, arrested, co-founded the Society for Independent Ministry, consecrated a bishop, co-founded the Open Episcopal Church, did 1st gay wedding on morning TV, sued Associated Newspapers, co-consecrated 1st women bishops 4 England,Wales,Scotland, accommodated the homeless, posted Mass/took it 2 sex workers, elected Archbishop, arrested 4 climbing with sons,founded ‘When No One’s Watching',made ICV, did Jade Goody's wedding,invited 2 Downing St, wrote 'That Old Devil Called God Again', conviction 4 campaigning against child abuse quashed on appeal, convicted 4 successful blogging 2 stop paedophile. His Christmas Lights raising £79,000 4 Water in 4 Gambian villages. Published "The Tales of Henry the Lovable Hedgehog", the SAFE New Testament + Psalms + radical Book of Common Prayer, ordained priests for UK,US,Thailand,Spain,Ireland

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jon Venables and Robert Thompson

Mr Justice Morland, after the trial, laid the moral responsibility for Venables and Thompson's heinous crime with the parents. Should they not have been sent to prison?

Conveniently now for the lynch mob, the boys have grown up and so are fair target, in their opinion, for our opprobrium or worse.

However the truth is rather different.

Two boys suffered abusive backgrounds and were left to roam unsupervised. 28 adults saw them with a toddler and did nothing. They have been subject to years of our penal rehabilitation programme and at the end of this we are left it seems with broken lives.

Somehow it seems you can punish an abused child yet excuse the abusive parents. Then you can seek vengeance on the abused child when he becomes a man yet excuse the rehabilitaters.

Further, you can excuse even encourage the public level of violent language and vengeful intentions towards Venables and Thompson on the basis of horror at their 10 year old deeds.

Is there anyone brave enough out there to face the fact that evil is in all of us and is all around us? Venables and Thompson made visible what the adults had tried to hide. They acted out explicity the evil that others had done to them. Society is appalled at what they did but not at what was done to them.

Members of the public, who have nothing to do with the trauma of the killing, are baying for their blood because they feel horrified at what they did. Isn't this the same sense of outrage that led the boys to do what they did?

However, instead of satisfying this blood lust and further fragmenting society, we could unite in our horror at all that abuses and degrades and destroys and work together to overcome the power of evil.

That requires the monumental challenge of working to restore and rehabilitate everyone affected in the Bulger catastrophe.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


The problem with Pandora, the Na'vi and Eywa is that we can use them to delude and denude ourselves.

So many have been entranced by Avatar's graces and have plummeted into depression realising that life is rather more mundane on exiting Cineworld.

Others have 'seen the light' and have left determined to regard their world anew.

Avatar is an extraordinary film with considerable value. It shows as a modern day gospel, a religious narrative and a prophetic call to conversion.

There are irritating anachronisms and contradictions - a medieval call to arms and mustering of the troops, a smoking scientist, linear characterisation and salvation mediated via the traditional hero.

There are also the classic ingredients. The innocents, the serpents and the divine and no return to Eden. Humanity is superceded, returning to their inferiority while the 'hero' evolves into a Na'vi, within his resurrected body, fit for paradise. Pandora isn't that, merely a staging post in our ability to conceive of that which might be, but it delights nevertheless.

The problems though rest in the modern habit of being 'entertained' by a gospel rather than transformed by it. The idea that cineworld is a church and many films are sermons is lost on most. Amidst coke and popcorn, we gape and leave, rating the film but not our lives.

We marvel at floating mountains and exotic creatures and proceed to destroy our natural wonders and drive further species towards extinction. We weep at the destruction of the Hometree, the habitation of the Na'vi people, but watch while the Amazon is deforested and the indigenous tribes are displaced. We detest the ruthlessness of the RDA Mining corporation and Sec-Ops, their private military force, but then happily eat chocolate and listen to our ipods without a thought for who or what has been devastated in the process.

It seems the snake hangs a long way away and whispers in the ears of others. We are able to tuck into the crates of apples with impunity. That sense of disconnection is replicated in our conception of the divine.

Millions have either relinquished traditional forms of religion or espoused their fundamentalist versions. Both choices present a crisis, for we have not found a pure source of inspiration which delivers. All earthly dogmas and belief systems are flawed.

A myriad of alternatives are advertised and loom on screen and in print and Cameron's take is appealing. When the disabled former marine prays to Eywa for help in winning the battle, Neytiri corrects him that the divine does not take sides rather maintains the balance. Cameron can't quite translate that into a novel resolution of conflict and so Eywa is shown to be partisan after all.

The humans are defeated and exiled, only presumably for them to re-arm and return to continue the cyclical violence that haunts civilisation.

It is understandable that we feel we need to ring fence our concepts of divinity placing them out of harm's way, but when it panders to film makers and humanity's desire for an easy fix solution coming from afar, it does us few favours.

I am left with the following musings.

We live on Pandora and are in the process of destroying it with ruthless disregard for the vulnerable who find themselves in our way. We also exhibit the ability to conceive of something far better and the desire to apsire after it.

It is time to come of age. We must own the darkness which broods within us as well as the potential for a connectedness which prevents a violation of the balance.

Cameron's visionary film is a modern day gospel which takes us to the boundaries. It is for us to pioneer further. Perhaps away from the cult of the super hero God and the super hero human, away from the stereotypes of good and evil, away from combative techniques of conflict resolution, away from the tendency of religion to divest us of the belief that we can work for our redemption, away from the colonial belief of what constitutes superiority.