Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thought for the Day

As delivered at BBC Radio Bristol just now:

Some years back my wife, Liz, was helping a customer apply for interest-free credit.

'Sorry', said the lady looking at the housing options section, '...there isn't a space here for my accommodation.'

So, 'Where do you live?' Liz asked.

'In a castle' the customer said.

Liz ticked the box marked 'other' much to the annoyance of the woman, who clearly wanted to put castle on the form somewhere.

As one of the clergy of the Diocese of Bath and Wells I occasionally get to drive into Wells Palace, across the drawbridge, and park in the grounds. Feels good.

Last March, hiring a large manor house for family and friends to celebrate a key birthday, of course we took a picture of us standing in the doorway. Who wouldn't?

I'm an Englishman and I sometimes wish a castle was my home.

I'm also a Christian vicar, a follower of the teaching of Jesus, a nomadic preacher from 2,000 years ago who relied on the hospitality and welcome of others. So, as I get to live in a bigger house than I could afford, I feel a moral duty to welcome others in - and I try to.

I'm not great at economics, but this I know. Rare things are expensive. Scarcity raises the price. Cheap diamonds sound dodgy.

So if we have a home, our castle, we shouldn't pull up the drawbridge and pour oil on the heads of visitors. Or deny ownership to others.

People have a fundamental human right to shelter. But this isn't the first time my thought for the day has ended up asking what happens when shelter is too expensive for more than a few.

Apparently even people who own castles need credit these days.

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