Blog Archives

A Collaborative World?


Apparently, the revolution will be tweeted,

says Jason Gardner in an article which begins by reflecting on the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter in recent people movements in North Africa. You may have read about the Egyptian who called his newborn child ‘Facebook’ in tribute to the way that site was used to spark potential social change.

So Gardner asks us to pay attention to Web 2.0, which

is about customisation and collaboration … That means that the story of the world is no longer dictated to us: we write it together.

Even powerful dictators’ efforts to use kill switches on the Internet have run into trouble as international people movements such as Avaaz have solicited funds from tens of thousands of people around the world to provide satellite links and other means for the previously disempowered citizens to keep communicating with each other and the outside world.

When I have written about this before, I have quoted Rex Miller‘s maxim that it isn’t that the medium is the message; rather, the medium is the worldview. Collaborative media mean collaborative approaches to life. And Gardner rightly says the church needs to take heed.

His particular application is in involving youth, and he makes the point that God is involving us collaboratively in his kingdom.

However, it’s worth thinking about for the whole church. While we have a long way to go, it gives me great pleasure to be involved in leading a church that already has signs of taking this seriously. I have a Leadership Team that meets weekly at Knaphill, and although I’m seen as the overall leader we take counsel together.

Or for another example, you’ll notice this is one of those weekends when there is no new sermon on the blog. That’s because it’s All Age Worship Sunday, and we have a team that plans these services. While I might bring a general overarching theme or message, I couldn’t possibly put together the services we lead. The creative gifts present among the team are amazing, and the worship is all the richer for it.

OK, if I get round to it, I might put up the short PowerPoint presentation that accompanies my brief talk on a site like Slideshare, but it isn’t a conventional sermon. It’s a talk on the theme of ‘belonging’, because we’ve just had Founders’ Day for the Scouts and Thinking Day for the Guides. And actually, did I come up with the theme this time? No. I couldn’t make the planning meeting, due to an emergency. Two other people prayed and set the theme, and I have attempted to fit in.

Of course, we need to go much further, but one thing is for sure. However much I am set aside to pray and discern, there is no going back to the world where an Anglican rector friend of mine saw his calling as to come down from the mountain with the tablets of stone, and for the people simply to accept his word to that effect.

Some Links To Keep Going

Brad Sargent interviews Dr Margaret W Jones about leadership and spiritual abuse. 

A YouTube video of N T Wright on postmodernity and the Enlightenement from Ben Witherington’s blog.

Madonna foreswears celebrity religion; converts to Methodism (via Anna Drew, Methodism’s press officer).

Avaaz have a petition about swine flu. They finger mass factory farming by agrobusinesses as contributing to the encouragement of disease.

Just a few links today – and if you wondered why I broke my sequence yesterday without a post, it had to do with a headache, a Chinese lunch that didn’t want to stay in my stomach, and many hours lying in a darkened bedroom.


Just received this from Avaaz:

Dear friends,

Burma is far from the headlines – but we’ve found a real pressure point, the insurers who prop up the junta’s economic interests. Read the email and take action now!

(Meanwhile a new US president is about to be elected — watch out for our post-election campaign…)

A year after their crackdown, Burma’s military dictators remain entrenched, propped up by dealings with Western companies. But the Burmese democracy movement has found a powerful pressure point — many of the Generals’ West-linked business ventures depend on one insurer: Lloyd’s of London.[1]

Lloyd’s is the world’s oldest, most respected insurer, and cares a great deal about its global reputation — by pointing out Lloyd’s blameworthiness as key insurance deals come up for renewal, we can shift their cost-benefit calculations on support to the Burmese regime.

If enough of us email and call key decision-makers at Lloyd’s this week, we could shame them into pulling out of this dirty trade, undermining the hardliners and creating pressure for human rights and the release of political prisoners like democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Follow the link below to lend a hand to the Burmese people:

The Burmese people’s struggle is long and tough. But as in South Africa, international pressure on the regime’s exploitative ventures could tip the balance. Because it’s hard or impossible for them to continue without insurance, this is an effective and wide-reaching approach for citizens everywhere to have a real impact. Burma’s democracy movement decided on this strategy because the benefit of these ventures flows overwhelmingly to the generals, while the Burmese people have grown ever poorer.

Lloyd’s of London is the umbrella and overseer for hundreds of specialist insurance syndicates, and it can stop their dirty trade if it so chooses. Already many big global insurers have stopped insuring junta-linked businesses – after Lloyd’s, the generals will start to run out of options. We’ll ramp up the pressure by alerting the media to our campaign, specialist insurance publications included. Even the British government has begun to ask Lloyd’s to cease its business with the Burmese military junta.[2]

We can win this campaign, so let’s flood Lloyd’s with emails and phone calls all this week — on the campaign page we provide key numbers, email addresses and suggestions for what to say — just follow the link below now to take action:

If we win, the regime will be thrown onto the back foot, Burma’s people will be immensely heartened, and the UN Secretary-General will have a greater chance of securing the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other prisoners this December.[3] Together, our individual small acts are becoming irresistible. We can’t forget Burma.

With hope and determination,

Paul, Alice, Iain, Graziela, Ricken, Pascal, Paula, Brett, Veronique, Milena — the entire Avaaz team

For updates on Avaaz campaigns:
You can also view reports on our campaigns in support of the Burmese democracy movement and the $2 million of aid Avaaz members provided in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.


1. The Observer: “The baron who holds Burma’s purse strings”, 2 November 2008

Reinsurance Magazine: Big insurers including Marsh, Swiss Re, AON pull out:

Arab Insurance Group and XL also pull out:

2. “Foreign Office warns Lloyd’s over Burma”:

3. As Ban Ki-Moon prepares to visit, Asia-Europe summit in Beijing calls for release of political prisoners:


ABOUT AVAAZ is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Sydney and Geneva.

Click here to learn more about our largest campaigns.

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace and Bebo pages!


You might like to see this from an email today sent by Avaaz

Dear friends around Europe,

Put your name to the urgent letter calling on Europe’s heads of state to support the European Parliament’s bold action plan to tackle climate change.

Tell Them Now!

Last week, we flooded the European Parliament with tens of thousands of emails and phone calls in the hours before the crucial vote on the EU climate and energy package — and it worked! Congratulations! We successfully beat back the industry lobbyists and won a package better than many had hoped for.[1]

But incredibly this victory could be short lived — sign off by the heads of Europe’s governments is required at this Wednesday’s EU summit. And with the financial crisis topping the agenda, there are worrying signs that Europe’s leaders will step back from both the Parliament’s vote and their own earlier commitments.[2]

Europe’s national leaders need to hear from us over the next 48 hours, before they make their final decision. So let’s send them a flood of emails and phone-calls. Click here to find your own leader’s email address — and phone numbers if you feel like ringing as well — and suggestions about what to say. We know it works:

Far from being an excuse to water down our shift to a cleaner, greener economy, the financial crisis gives us good reason to accelerate this change. Massive investment in the transport, power infrastructure and industries of the future will help to revive our economies, cut our energy bills and prepare us better for the challenges ahead. Delays will cost us more down the track, whereas ambitious action now will fuel Europe’s economy.

But we are also up against another mighty force — lobbyists are at work, demanding massive free permits to pollute and delays which will threaten the global deal to stop climate catastrophe. They are using the financial crisis to put fear into governments, predicting economic catastrophe if energy intensive industries are not protected and if governments proceed with plans to mandate investment in renewable energy.[3]

We have only a limited time before the heads of nations meet to determine Europe’s climate and energy package. If watered down now, our chances of success in securing a bold global deal next year will be severely undermined. We’ve shown we can change minds before, now’s time to strongly advocate for the positive impact a bold package will have on both our planet and our climate.

With hope and determination,

Brett, Paul, Pascal, Veronique, Graziela, Ricken, Ben, Iain, Milena and the whole Avaaz team

[1] Main points of the plan approved by Parliament: faster pricing of emissions allowances to encourage cleaner, greener industry — all power stations will have to buy their pollution allowances from 2013 instead of getting anything for free, and heavy industry permits will be phased out from 2013. Offsets were cut significantly, and bold new longer-term targets of 50% emissions reductions by 2035 and 60-80% by 2050 were set. For the first time, an emissions ceiling was set to stop dirty coal-fired power – though it will need to be strengthened — and significant funds were allocated for helping developing countries go green, as well as research into carbon capture. There’s much more to do, but this package is a real advance. See setback for industry on green “Super Tuesday”:

[2] On the concerns about Wednesday’s summit:

[3] E3G — Ten Reasons Why Giving Free ETS Allowances will Not Protect EU Jobs or Competitiveness:


Please sign this petition from Avaaz:

Dear friends,

Canada, France and Italy are threatening to break their poverty promises by slashing aid budgets. Sign the petition to stop them — and poverty expert Jeff Sachs will deliver our messages to world leaders gathered at the UN this week!

Click to Sign Now!

World leaders gather this Thursday at the United Nations to renew the fight against extreme poverty. But three countries — France, Canada, and Italy — are threatening to undermine the world’s anti poverty efforts, by slashing their development aid budgets and breaking their international promises.

Sarkozy, Harper, and Berlusconi promised to contribute 0.7% of their national income to fighting poverty — aid money that would save millions of lives, and still leave these donor countries with 99.3% of their money. But apparently, they think 99.3% is not enough.

Our best chance to keep these rich countries to their word on aid delivery is to raise the alarm in New York this week. Sign our petition now, spread it to friends and family — and our friend, world famous economist and top UN official on poverty, Jeffrey Sachs will deliver it in speeches to the assembled heads of state at the UN summit this Thursday. The more names on the petition, the stronger the message that promises on poverty must be kept. Click below to sign now:

We know that public outcries like this one can work — because massive people-powered movements have transformed the fight against poverty over the last decade. The Jubilee movement cancelled hundreds of billions in dictator debt in 2000, and pushed world leaders to adopt the Millennium Development Goals to cut world poverty in half by 2015. In 2005, poverty campaigners the world over won commitments from G8 leaders to double aid to Africa. Because of these efforts millions of poverty related deaths have been stopped and millions more children are attending school, sleeping under anti-Malaria bed nets, and drinking clean water. Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have all exceeded the 0.7% target and in this year aid rose in real terms in nine EU countries. If all countries stick to their promises, programmes fighting disease and alleviating extreme poverty could be scaled up across the world.

But this year, some rich-country leaders apparently think that the public no longer cares about poverty. In Canada, which kept 99.7% of its income last year, Stephen Harper seems more interested in winning his election than in upholding Canada’s tradition of moral leadership. France’s Sarkozy, for all of his diplomatic efforts, appears to think that his people don’t care about lives and deaths beyond his borders. And in Italy — already one of the stingiest donors in the world — Berlusconi appears happy to slash crucial funding, even though, as host of next year’s G8 summit, his actions set an example for the other richest countries.

French and Italian Avaaz members are already flooding their governments with thousands of messages about aid. But those of us in the rest of the world can play a crucial role as well–sending Harper, Sarkozy, and Berlusconi a clear signal that we expect them to keep to their word — so please help us raise an outcry that can’t be ignored at the UN summit:

In recent years, millions have been galvanized by a vision: that ours can be the generation that ends extreme poverty. With other crises vying for our attention, the strength of this vision is now being tested. Let’s join together and ensure that leaders keep their promises — so that the promise of human potential in even the poorest communities can be unleashed.

With hope,

Ben, Alice, Ricken, Graziela, Paul, Milena, Iain, Veronique, Brett — the entire Avaaz team

PS: For a report on Avaaz’s campaigning so far, see:


Fact sheet on Official Development Assistance from rich countries:

More on the Millennium Development Goals:

Bono and Jeffrey Sachs’ blog on the poverty debate this week in New York:

To learn more about the international campaigning that has moved governments in recent years, see: and and

More on concern about France’s meeting 0.7% targets see:,,en_2649_201185_40948205_1_1_1_1,00

More on Canada’s backtracking on 0.7% commitment:

To see the 2008 report on governmental aid to Africa see:

To learn about Jeffrey Sachs’ work on UN Millennium Development Goals see:

To see examples of how aid is working see: and


ABOUT AVAAZ is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.

Click here to learn more about our largest campaigns.

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace and Bebo pages!