*** DEBUG END ***

Danger ahead

18 September 2020

A SIGN beside the road is noticed by road users then usually ignored. A sign in the road gets their attention, although it has the potential to annoy. But if the sign is there to warn of a gaping hole in the road ahead, where else should the sign be? This is the rationale behind the Extinction Rebellion protests. Each round of XR protests has tended to include at least one instance in which the protest has attracted opprobrium rather than sympathy: disruptions to the Tube and the Docklands Light Railway, or the blockading of a newspaper printworks. Even these miscalcula­tions get the climate emergency talked about, but the newspaper blockade was a miscalculation. The Times, Telegraph, and Mail can be irritatingly hostile, focusing, for example, on the vandal who sprayed graffiti on the Churchill statue in Parliament Square rather than the mass of well-behaved, law-abiding protesters. But it was unwise to alienate them. This week, our television critic, arguing that Sir David Attenborough’s latest production, Extinc­tion: The facts, could have been harder-hitting, writes that the wholesale destruction of the planet deserves “savage denunci­ation” rather than “genial reasonableness”. In contrast, a piece in The Spectator judged it to be “hysterical”: “It is shocking that the BBC can have allowed such one-sided green propaganda onto our screens.” The Spectator is owned by the Barclay Brothers, publishers of the blockaded Telegraph. And, of course, the Prime Minister is a Telegraph journalist. . .

In the end, the seriousness of global warming ought to unite all shades of political opinion. Despite the existence of ideologues in and around Downing Street, and the unhealthy influence of big corporations, this is a more populist Government than many. If it perceives that the public wants action, then it will act. Without per­­sistent encouragement and pressure, however, it will repeat the mistakes of the past, assume that the hole in the road is in the far distance, and drive round the sign.


A puzzle

IT IS easy to point out the inconsistency between the anti-centralist line in the article by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London on Wednesday and the issuing of firm instructions — later admitted to be guidance — which led to the closure of Church of England churches in March. People who argued that the continuing of services could safely be left to the discretion of individual churches merely anticipated the situation that now prevails. The article appears to contain a tacit apology: “Where some have felt we have made too many decisions from the centre, we recommit to empowering clergy and parishes.” Times change, of course, and more is known now about how to prevent the spread of infection. But when the public is so con­fused about how best to avoid a second spike of coronavirus cases, this is an odd moment to choose to advocate greater democracy. It would have been helpful of the Archbishop and the Bishop to give more detail about their proposals rather than leave it to “a source” to translate.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)