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

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006
    I'm with Willie on this one
     
    I love it. The day designated No Smoking Day by anti-cig campaigners this year coincides with the day the church remembers the contribution to national life of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, slum priest, war poet, best remembered by the name which described his very valuable First World War trench ministry, Woodbine Wilie. The priest who handed out ciggies to soldiers on the front line.

    His bravery under fire, and commitment to easing the plight of the most under-fire people in wartime and peacetime, puts into sharp focus the pious offensive being waged against those who choose to smoke - a campaign which has a class element to it which Christian Socialist Kennedy would immediately identify were he still with us today.

    That today is campaigner Kennedy's day is a great reminder that we're still a nation at war, in the Middle East and the East End, and Woodbine Wilie offers a great model for engaging with the most excluded and exploited people of our time. His wider, deeper perspective brings the oppressively narrow no-smoking campaign into critical focus.