Weekend greetings from Emmanuel Road, 13th June 2020
Greetings to you all at the end of the twelfth week of lockdown. As always, I trust you and yours remain well (enough).
Naturally, I hope to see some of you at the Zoom service of mindful meditation (10am) and the time of conversation following (from 11am) on Sunday. Login details to be found in yesterday’s email from our Chairman, Andrew Bethune. If you did not receive that email and wish to join then please contact our secretary, Brendan Boyle, via the contact page of our website. Look through the dropdown tabs to find “Secretary”:
So, for those of you minded to read it, I have written a new piece for you this week exploring the intimate connection that exists between one of Jesús’ parables and the idea of a Universal Basic Income/Dividend, something which, in the present situation, is being discussed with some urgency across the political spectrum.
Jesús and the possibility and desirability of a post-COVID-19, Universal Basic Income/Dividend
Given that this is a piece of political theology in which I attempt to engage with one consequence of the current bio-cultural-economic-political situation, it strikes me that, in the context of the culture war that’s developing apace here in the UK, it’s worth drawing your attention once again to a piece I wrote for you in September 2019 called
The dangers of a Schmittian and/or Pilatian Decisionism—some politico theological thoughts arising from current events in British politics.
You might find it interesting to read my piece alongside an essay published this week on Aeon’s website called
Lawyer for the strongman by David Dyzenhaus
Like me, Dyzenhaus is concerned to explore certain highly relevant aspects of Carl Schmitt’s deeply problematic, but still very influential, work. It’s highly relevant stuff. Let those who have ears to hear, hear.
And, lastly, the gardeners/botanists amongst you may be interested, even delighted, to have access to the following list of plants growing on top of two of the church walls. Here’s the story . . .
Two Sundays mornings ago I was drinking my morning mug of tea whilst idly looking out of our upstairs front window — the window of our sitting-room — when suddenly a man stepped on to our front yard and began to examine the top of the wall as well as to take measurements of its width and length. It was such an unusual thing to be doing that I could not resist going outside and, after cheerily saying, “Good morning”, to add that I was intrigued. He gently apologized and introduced himself as Chris Preston, a botanist who, as a lockdown project, is conducting a new survey of the flora of Cambridge walls, something last done in 1948 by John Rishbeth (‘The Flora of Cambridge Walls’ by J. Rishbeth, Journal of Ecology, Vol. 36, No. 1, Jul., 1948, pp. 136-148)
I was delighted by this because, as those of you who read my email a couple of weeks ago will know, I included a few photographs of plants growing on or by this very wall. Naturally, I said to him he could carry on and I asked him if he also wanted to see the wall that runs between the church’s backyard and the gardens of the houses on Emmanuel Road? He said, “Yes”, and so he was able to produce the following very interesting list. It’s interesting to note that, despite their proximity, only one plant is shared by both walls. As he was going he told me that he’ll be back in the autumn to record the mosses. I, for one, look forward to that, not least of all because I have a particular fondness for our soft cousins and on one occasion used a reflection upon them to help me write an address for the wedding of Jo and Aidan Craigwood. You can read that address at the following link and also gaze upon a picture of a packed and happy Cambridge Unitarian Church.
Conducting each other into new worlds of thought, or, “Moss, Our Sweet Cousin” — A wedding homily for Jo and Aidan Craigwood
Love and best wishes to you all as always,
DR CHRIS PRESTON’S LIST
Unitarian Church walls (Flowering or fruiting plants marked with an asterisk; plants which reproduce by berries marked with an obelus and might have been deposited by birds)CDP 31 May 2020
Antirrhinum majus* (Snapdragon)
Arabidopsis thaliana* (Thale Cress)
Carex pendula (Pendulous Sedge, clearly seeded from plant immediately below)
Erigeron karvinskianus* (Mexican Fleabane)
Lolium perenne (Perennial Ryegrass)
Mycelis muralis* (Wall Lettuce)
Poa annua* (Annual Meadow-grass – it might actually be the less common Poa infirma, Early Meadow-grass, but the plants flower early and are long-dead so will need to be checked next year)
Pseudofumaria lutea* (Yellow Corydalis)
Sagina apetala agg.* (Annual Pearlwort – botanists try to separate these into two species but this material seemed to have some characters of one and some of the other, as happens quite frequently in my experience)
Sagina procumbens* (Procumbent Pearlwort)
Bromus hordeaceus* (Soft Brome)
Campanula poscharskyana* (Trailing Bellflower)
Conyza (a species of Fleabane, flowers needed for identification)
Cymbalaria muralis* (Ivy-leaved Toadflax)
Erigeron karvinskianus* (Mexican Fleabane)
Geranium robertianum* (Herb Robert)
Lonicera japonica*† (Japanese Honeysuckle)
Pentaglottis sempervirens* (Green Alkanet)
Solanum dulcamara† (Woody Nightshade)
Sonchus oleraceus* (Smooth Sowthistle)
Symphoricarpus albus† (Snowberry)