Archive for the ‘Christianity and Nationalism’ Category

Tory Manifesto

April 13, 2010

This post in Welsh / Y cyfnod yma yn Gymraeg

I watched the Conservatives’ manifesto launch today. Their inherent mistrust of the State came across as a central theme again. Here are two graphics taken from the manifesto:

I have real sympathy with this doctrine of this State. To me the state is just a modern political-administrative system which makes it different from many other organic entities within our society such the family, community, nation and faith communities. The role of the state should be to serve these other entities and not to control them so in this respect I can support the Conservatives vision to some extent.

Although R. Tudur Jones was definitely not a Tory, when it comes to the doctrine of the state one could argue that he would have some sympathy with the Conservatives critique of big government. I base my argument on this vision he spelled out in a letter to Gwynfor Evans around 1980:

To me, the old emphasis on cooperation, strengthening neighbourhood and local responsibility, to strive to create a poly-central society, with the State taking its place as one social form among many others, and together through it all enabling people to live free and prosperous – for me, this doctrine is still relevant. And this is also a doctrine which, in my view, lies most comfortable on the conscience of the Christian.

I agree with Tudur Jones on this matter, I do not believe in a big state. And that explains why I have some sympathy with the Conservatives position on the state.

However there are plenty of things in the Conservatives manifesto I’m not so comfortable with. For example, there is no mention at all about the Welsh language. Unfortunately there remains some responsibility over the language in London, so they have some responsibility over it. It is also clear from the manifesto that the Conservatives, on the whole, continue to be opposed to devolution.They go out of the way to clearly state they are a unionist party. I have respect for Welsh nationalists who say that they’re on the right, people like Simon Brooks. But I don’t have much respect for nationalists who have joined the Conservative Party (or the Labour Party for that matter) because it makes no sense for a Welsh nationalist to belong to a British unionist party.

Finally, to my knowledge the manifesto is not available in Welsh. This is not acceptable at all.

Download Manifesto (PDF)


Empire is sin incarnated

February 26, 2010

The highlight of sin in this world is empire and imperialism, both shown by force and subtle political leanings against the oppressed. Politicians and individuals who don’t see the sin of empire in their beliefs and actions are as blind as we all are to our own sin, if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit to have opened our eyes. Empire does damage but it always looses in the end because it’s master lost the greater battle and the King of Kings won – Jesus. Thats why I live in hope despite current evil attitudes towards Welsh, Scottish and Irish freedom aspirations from English centric politicians both in London and from within the Celtic nations.

Osian jailed as part of the struggle for equal rights for Welsh speakers

November 5, 2009

Tomorrow, Friday November 6th at 9.30 am my friend, Osian Jones, North Wales organiser for Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) will be sentenced to a month in prison by Pwllheli Magistrates. The magistrates have already warned him that he faces imprisonment because of his refusal to pay fines for his part in non-violent direct action on High Street stores as part of a Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg’s campaign for a comprehensive Welsh Language Measure that would give Welsh speakers equal rights in all spheres of society.

Osian will be the second member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg to go to prison this year. Ffred Ffransis was imprisoned back in June for refusing to pay fines also imposed for his part in the campaign for a comprehensive Welsh Language Measure.

Osian Jones said:

It’s interesting that both Ffred and I faced prison this year for our part in this particular campaign. What is more significant is that Ffred the ‘offences’ for which Ffred was imprisoned go back to January 2001 which proves that this particular campaign has been long and hard. The sad thing is, that the Welsh Language LCO which is now on offer, and which is the product of all this campaigning is utterly inadequate since it does not give the Welsh people their legitimate linguistic rights which enables them to live their lives fully through the medium of Welsh, nor does it’s powers extend to the private sector.”

“Even though we argued our case with conviction before committees in both the National Assembly and at Westminster it became obvious to us that the legislative process in Wales is both wearisome and defective, and that we have no choice but to continue with our direct action campaign. I hope that my imprisonment will give other people the inspiration to campaign for the language and that we will see the responsibility for legislating on the Welsh language transferred in it’s entirety to the National Assembly in the near future. The Welsh people have had to wait a long time to see their linguistic rights realised. They deserve a great deal more than the LCO which is now on offer.

Please pray that God will grant Osian courage as he faces the next month behind bars in the name of a just cause.

A stand for civil rights

June 4, 2009

ffredffransisFfred Ffransis, a veteran language campaigner and a committed Christian, was banned from taking a Welsh Bible into jail and forced to eat only potatoes while behind bars at Bridgend’s Parc Prison this week. Fred was sentenced to five days at Llanelli magistrates on Monday for refusing to pay an eight-year-old fine of £100. The 60-year-old campaigner said he was appalled at the lack of effort to serve the Welsh community. He was reduced to eating only potatoes because he refused to fill in an English-only form to request vegetarian food. After taking his Bible from him on the way in they didn’t provide him with a Welsh Bible in his cell either.

Ffred has been sentenced to around 6 years in total over the last 40 years, and has served around 4 years in prison. He has been sentenced to prison a total of 8 times. Here are the times he was sentenced to a lengthy periods:

  • 1987 (Cardiff Court) – Campaigning for a body to develop Welsh Language Education (1 year – served 9 months)

  • 1973 (Huddersfield Court) – Welsh language channel (1 year – served 9 months)

  • 1971 (Mold Court) – Welsh language channel (3 years – served 2 years)

  • 1970 (High Court, London) – In support of Dafydd Iwan, Road Signs campaign (3 months – served 2 months)

Personally I’ve been arrested four times in the past four years, but have never been given a prison sentence.

It’s very sad that even in modern post-devolution Wales Welsh speakers still have to resort to non-violent direct action to draw attention to our lack of civil rights in vast areas of day to day life.

Who created nations? God or Man?

June 2, 2009

Here is an adaption of a few ideas R. Tudur Jones gave in his paper Christian Nationalism (1979), it’s very interesting because although R. Tudur Jones himself is a Christian Nationalist he does not believe as many Christian Nationalists do that God created the nations. His understanding is that God ordained men to be cultural beings and through their cultural endeavor they created nations. So nations and cultures should not be guarded and kept simply because they were created by God but rather because they were created by man who created them under the Sovereignty of God.

Wales shares with other Christian nations the conviction that God has been at work in its history. The conviction goes back to the very dawn of our history when our forefathers began to become conscious of themselves as a specific people as the Roman Empire of the west disintegrated. The conviction can be expressed in many ways. It can be a powerful belief that the nation has enjoyed divine protection during the vicissitudes of its history. It can also be a belief that it is especially favored by God and is an elect nation doubtless this way of thinking owes much to familiarity with the Bible. The Bible has much to say about nations and their fate and. above all, it has much to say about Israel as God’s elect people. And it is quite obvious that Christian people in many lands have understood the histories of their own nations on the analogy of the history of Israel. It is a small step from this conviction to the assertion that nationality is to be understood as one of the ordinances of creation, a radical form of community created by God.

But God did not create nations, God created man and man formed nations. This is why it is misleading to talk, as some theologians have done, of nationality as one of the “orders of creation”. At the same time, the various forms of society that man has evolved during the centuries have a close connection with God’s work as creator.

When we turn our attention to a nation’s life, we realize that all cultural work of its people has a deep religious significance. It has to do with their obedience to God. If they produce social institutions, or works of art, or literature, or systems of jurisprudence and of economics, in the light of God’s covenant with man, that Nation’s life has not been in vain. To extinguish such a nation’s existence thoughtlessly is a matter of serious moment. And such a heritage may well be extinguished by the nation’s own citizens as well as by a foreign oppressor.

The Political Bible

May 11, 2009

It will not do to argue that the Bible provides us with no guidance in political matters. Let us remind ourselves of our starting-point. Man is to serve the glory of God in every aspect of his life as a creature in creation. His religious obedience to his God is expressed in his work as a maker of culture. Politics is very definitely a part of man’s appointed sphere of religious labour. It would be astounding if the volume which is to serve as man’s guide in glorifying God refrained from saying anything about politics. And in fact, the Bible is a surprisingly political book. Is is rather interesting, in the view of the attention being paid at the present time to both the ‘Theology of Politics’ and the ‘Theology of Liberation’ that some of their leading principles were being promulgated in Wales well over a century ago. Gwilym Hiraethog knew his Bible. Worship and politics are not the same thing; but they cannot be divorced from each other without denying that God is God and that this world is his by right of creation and redemption.

Not my words but the words of R. Tudur Jones. Very interesting.

Blog Dyfed Wyn Roberts

April 29, 2009

Dyfed, lost somewhere on Ynys Môn, he's honestly not as far out as this picture suggests!

Dyfed, lost somewhere on Ynys Môn, he's honestly not as far out as this picture suggests!

I first met Dyfed when I got my interview to be Warden of John Morris Jones two years ago. John Morris Jones is the Welsh speaking hall of residence at Bangor University. At the time Dyfed was Head Warden of Rathbone, the “English Hall” next door, and he also administrated the whole warden system of the University. During the interview I remember him taking a keen interest in two things. First of all he took a keen interest in my research field and secondly he took a keen interest in my faith – I think I must have said in the application letter that I was a committed Christian. All this baffled me as he hardly asked anything directly about the job and role I was being interviewed for!

When I got home to Aberystwyth that night I was intrigued so I turned to that post-modern god for answers, Google. I found out that Dyfed, in addition to his warden and student support services role, was also a part-time lecturer in the Theology Department and he had been in full time ministry and was planning to return to it at the end of the year. It would be an exaggeration to say that we are now best friends but as brothers in Christ I like to think anyway that I knew I had a fellow Christian I could turn to if the whole Warden thing got to me! He perhaps doesn’t know it, but he did have a sort of role in advising me what Church to go to when i arrived in Bangor. I very much enjoyed our short but frequent chats on the way to the laundry, at the Christmas dinner, and when he took his dog for a walk.

Dyfed has now left the University and returned, with his lovely wife Helen, to full time ministry on his native Ynys Môn. He has a very very interesting blog where he shares some of his vision for the work of the Kingdom on Ynys Môn. What is great is that Dyfed and Helen are really doing it, for example Helen has taken over the running of the Post Office in Brynsiencyn, the village they have moved to. The previous postmaster retired a few months ago and no one was willing to take on the service. Fortunately the office has been kept open by someone on a temporary basis, but now Helen’s time has come to take it over. Dyfed tells that ‘there is a lot of life in it for her and she is excited at the prospect of being at the heart of village life.’ It is a great opportunity to serve the local community. Brynsiencyn is a relatively poor village, with many elderly people depending on the post office to receive their state pension. Not having this service locally would have meant a bus journey to Llanfairpwll. This whole rooting in to the community for the Kingdom really excites me and is a huge encouragement.

So, keep a look out for Dyfed’s blog if you want to be encouraged and inspired.

Welsh medium education at university level

April 28, 2009

Back in 2004 a few hundred of us camped out over night in-front of the Welsh Government building in Cardiff to show our protest about the lack of Welsh medium education in our universities. It's a blessing now to see all that campaigning over the years bearing some fruit.

A post today about one of the Welsh language campaigns I have been involved in over the past few years. One of the main hurdles that still faces the Welsh language today is the lack of Welsh medium education in the higher education sector, university level. Welsh universities over the years have been institutionally anti-Welsh; things are much better now but developing education through the Welsh language is still far down on the agenda of all institutions and some universities such as Cardiff University have no plans at all to move towards providing the education in Welsh. It is believed therefore that to increase the Welsh language provision in the sector we need to see a new institution established to oversee, maintain and develop the Welsh language provision in the sector. This new institution is needed because current institutions have failed to deliver over the decades.

The model written by Menna and myself, first put forward in November 2007, was conceived with the demise of the University of Wales taken into account. In formulating the model we had examined comparable situations such as Welsh language broadcasting where S4C had been established as a separate channel to provide focus and momentum.

The model’s four core principles can be summarized as follows:

i.) The Welsh Federal College should constitute a new independent academic institution that will bear the responsibility of overseeing, maintaining and developing the Welsh language provision in the sector. The independence of this new institution will bring a new and much needed impetus to Welsh language provision within the sector.

ii.) The Welsh Federal College should have ‘ring fenced’ funding. This funding would be used to implement a step change in the provision, development and marketing of Welsh medium eduction in the sector. Also, the ownership of it’s own ‘ring fenced’ budget will command respect towards the institution from the rest of the sector so that it’s not seen subordinate to other institutions but rather as an equal partner and provider. It should stand shoulder to shoulder and not under current sector institutions in a sector wide hierarchical sense.

iii.) The Welsh Federal College should work under it’s own charter, or other similar legal document, stating clearly its mission, aims and objectives; this will ensure the founding vision is kept central as the institution develops and expands over the coming years.

iv.) Finally, the Welsh Federal College should keep a register of students and academic staff. New appointments under future schemes and current sector personnel who are involved in Welsh language provision should be able to publicly show their membership to the College. This idea of ‘ownership’ from the student and teaching staff perspective is central to the ethos of the new institution – without this membership idea the institution will not be an academic institution but rather nothing more than a Welsh education funding council – this would not be fruitful in terms of creating a Welsh language academic sphere.

The provision itself would be catered through current sector institutions – the Welsh Federal College would work the provision through them. To implement and administrate this it is proposed that the Welsh Federal College would have a ‘branch’ in each sector institution. The size and workload of each ‘branch’ would differ from institution to institution but the long term aim is to have Welsh Federal College co-ordinated Welsh medium provision spread across the whole of Wales in all institutions. The paper makes it clear that this will not be achieved overnight but the model provides a clear framework, given appropriate Government funding, how to move towards this goal. The model can be read in full (in Welsh and English) on the website:

The idea of establishing a Welsh Federal College have been adopted as Government policy and currently the Government is considering how best to implement the policy. I hope and pray that the Welsh government will see fit to establish a proper institution with proper funding, as we have argued for, so that the injustice suffered by Welsh speaking students over the decades can be bought to and end.

Going to New Word Alive? Get your “ll” right!

March 24, 2009

I have know Gethin Jones, who blogs over at The Grace Race, for a few number of years now. He is the UCCF relay worker at Bangor University, the nearest university to Pwllheli where New Word Alive kicks off next week. He wrote an excellent post over the weekend for you lot who are coming to Wales over the next two weeks to remind you that your not just coming over to western England and that your coming to Wales, a different country. Gethin is a linguist, and his mastery of his subject comes over clearly in his post:

I thought I’d put up a post for the benefit of those of you who’ll be attending New Word Alive this year. Last year, people were wimping out of saying the name of the place where NWA so, being a Welsh speaker, I thought I’d help you out.

The name of the place is Pwllheli (means salt pool). If it helps any of you to see it in the phonetic alphabet, it’s [pʊɬ’hɛlɪ]. Think ‘pullellie’ but change the ‘l’ at the end of the first syllable to that weird sound what Welsh has.

There are two main bits to look out for to get it right.

1) the “ll” – it’s a sound which you don’t get in many languages – if you’d like the technical term, it’s a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative, which in the International Phonetic Alphabet is [ɬ]. “Thanks Geth, that’s a great help!” I hear you cry…

So how do you say it? The shape you need to make with your tongue is the same as that of an ‘l’ but rather than voicing the sound, just blow while your tongue is in that position. (so it’s not like the Welsh ‘ch’ sound or a ‘cw’ sound – just a blowy ‘l’ sound).

2) the ‘w’ – it appears that some people try to put this after the ‘ll’ because in English, /w/ is a glide, so it sort of works like a consonant would – I’ve heard people try to say “Pwllweli”.
But in Welsh, ‘w’ can work as a vowel like the ‘u’ in ‘pull’ so you don’t need to put it in front of another vowel.

Any questions?

Here’s a few more Welsh phrases which you might find useful. How about practising them with your friends this week. And if there are any other phrases you’d like to know, just put them in the comment section here, and I’ll put them up for you in another post during the week.

(the stress almost always goes on the penultimate syllable of each word – I’ll put the stressed syllables in itallics)

Good morning – “Bore da” – ‘bor-reh dar’
Good afternoon – “Prynhawn da” – ‘prinn-haoon dar’
Good evening – “Noswaith dda” – ‘noss-waeeth ddar” (dd – like the ‘th’ of “the”)
Good night – “Nos da” – ‘norse dar’

Thank you – “Diolch” – ‘dee-olch’ (not the ‘ch’ of “chocolate” but like in the German “Bach”)
Welcome / You’re welcome – “Croeso” – ‘croy-saw’
Please – “Os gwelwch yn dda” – ‘oss gwel-uch unn ddar’ (unn as in “done”)

Cup of tea – “Paned o de” – ‘pan-edd or der’
‘Cuppa’ – “Paned”
Cup of coffee – “Paned o goffi” – ‘pan-edd or goffee’

what else would you like to know?

On the whole I think New World Alive benefits the local area. Although it’s an all English affair in the middle of the Welshiest part of Wales (over 70% speak Welsh there), it brings much needing money into the local economy. Also, I understand New Word Alive made a generous financial contribution towards the work of Trobwynt, a children and youth ministry in this rural area of Wales. So it’s good to know that New Word Alive are sensitive to the spiritual need of the Pwllheli area and are not parachuting in and out with tunnel vision! I hope all who go have a blessed time, and please do spare some time to pray about the local churches and their witness among the native Welsh speakers.

Speak up for for the rights of all who are destitute

March 23, 2009

It’s been a busy month so far, but after this week things start winding down for easter. The main project I’ve been working on is this first final chapter of my PhD thesis. I finished the first draft last night, I hope to get it to my supervisor before the end of the week then proceed to start work on the next chapter before Easter if at all possible. On the preaching front it has been my busiest month yet; I have preached every Sunday this month so far. March 1 at Trefor, March 8 at Bangor, March 15 at Llanberis and March 22 (yesterday) at Llangefni.

On the social/political involvement side things are relentless too. Have I mentioned before that I’m the Vice-Chair of the Welsh Language Society? And to add to the pressure Menna, my trusted companion, is the current Chair! At the moment two campaigns are in overdrive, the campaign for equal status and civil rights for Welsh speakers in all sectors of life and the campaign for a new Wales-wide institution to provide Welsh medium eduction in the Higher Education sector.

Menna and Dafydd Iwan, President of Plaid Cymru, at a recent public meeting to discuss the LCO at Caernarfon

Menna and Dafydd Iwan, President of Plaid Cymru, at a recent public meeting to discuss the LCO at Caernarfon

At the moment the Welsh Government in Cardiff are trying to pass an LCO (Legislative Competence Order) which would transfer law making powers in relation to the Welsh Language from Westminster to Cardiff. Since 2006 Wales has had it’s own law making powers of sorts but it still has to get a nod from London in the form of an LCO to do anything! I know, imperialism it still alive and kicking! The Welsh Language Society, along with many other institutions from Wales’s civic society including, interestingly, The Presbyterian Church of Wales, have demanded the LCO transfer “all power” in relation to the Welsh Language to Wales. The moral right to legislate in relation to the Welsh Language should reside with the Welsh people themselves, it’s common sense.

But British unionist MP’s, both from the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, are determined to weaken the LCO in Westminster and return it to Cardiff with limited scope. A weak and toothless LCO would mean that the Welsh Government then couldn’t pass a legislation that would give Welsh speakers equal rights in all spheres of society. It seems that the LCO, at best, will give rope for the Government in Wales to legislate to give Welsh speakers some more rights in relation to the public sector but if Westminster gets it’s way the LCO will not give enough meat for the Government in Wales to legislate so to give Welsh speakers equal rights in the private sector, the sector we live most of our daily lives in!

Anyway, the LCO is going through the consultation process at the moment and the Government in Cardiff and the Select Comity in Westminster are inviting people to bring forward evidence for and against the full transfer of power in relation to the language to Cardiff. Menna gave evidence in Cardiff last week and today she is traveling to London to give evidence to the Select Comity at Westminster this afternoon.

Please pray that the Spirit will lead Menna boldly so she can ‘speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’ (Proverbs 31:8-9)

I’ll say more about the other issue of Welsh medium education in the HE sector in the next post I think.