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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, January 16, 2003
    Understanding people and respecting them
     
    The phrase which does it for me today comes from John Simpson's portrait of William Howard Russell, pioneering nineteenth-century war correspondent who, for Simpson, epitomoised the best of his profession. He had 'an outsider's vision', was 'clear-sighted, sympathetic and unclouded by nationalism and imperialism'.

    This is the phrase about him which sticks:
      He never lost that essential radicalism that has nothing to do with party politics, and everything to do with understanding people and respecting them.
    This resonates after another clergy 'chapter' meeting, in which the small gathering shared quite deeply together some of our stories about joys and struggles of life in ministry. And again I've been struck by the wit and wisdom of some of the maturer heads who for years have ploughed their own, maybe maverick, furrow, avoiding being crushed by the machinations of our institutional politics.

    Instead, they just get on with trying to love and respect the people of their parishes, some of the most disenfranchised folk in our city, whose concerns are generally otherwise overlooked by church, state, city council. In our context, that is essential radicalism.

    (Click here for earlier blog on the church and 'the culture of managerial modernity')