Friday, November 15, 2013

Improving with age

Last year I chose Bill Mallonee's Amber Waves as one of my albums of the year, suggesting that it could well be the best thing he'd done. Well, now I am listening to Dolorosa and thinking that the man just gets better and better.

The twelve songs (with four bonus tracks of alternate takes) are hard-wired reflections on life and faith set to edgy guitar and occasional piano washes. Not a disappointing song in evidence here but 'Here comes the flood' is the pick of them, a world weary apocalypse that wonders why people of faith relish the end of the world so much.

Like a good scotch, Mallonee keeps improving with age. Long may he continue - and, if he's listening, please come and play a gig in my church!

You can only get the album from his bandcamp page, so go here immediately, pay your money and luxuriate in the music...

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Language matters

New figures show that 850,000 people on jobseekers allowance have been 'sanctioned' - that is, had benefit docked for 13 weeks or more in the year to June 2013 - because they were not trying hard enough to find work.

The minister responsible, former daytime TV presenter Esther McVey, says the clue to why this is happening is in the name of the allowance - 'jobseekers'. You are paid, she said, only if you are doing all you can to get a job.

This is an interesting effect of changing the name of a benefit. Many years ago, this payment was called 'unemployment benefit' and it was part of a social security safety net that ensured that people who had lost their job didn't go without food, utilities and housing. It was not a payment made as a reward for seeking work but a payment from a society that believed it had a responsibility to those unfortunate enough to be without work. The system offered support and encouragement to those without work to find new gainful employment while assisting with their essential bills.

Sadly the name change - made many years ago - indicates a change in our understanding of society's obligation to those struggling with the circumstances in which they find themselves. And it is one of the factors that accounts for the fact that 500,000 people in our land are dependent on food banks to feed themselves and their families.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Spreading the word...

Those nice people at Ethics Daily have picked up a recent blog post of mine. It appears along with a wealth of other excellent material resourcing Christian engagement with social, political and ethical issues. Check out my piece here; and the rest of the content here