I married Colin and Helen today. They both seem very, very happy. I wish them well for the future.Part of the joy of being a priest is that you can celebrate with others at very special moments in their lives. Today was a great privilege.
Christmas was great. Really enjoyed being back in Saint Catherine's Pontypridd on Christmas Eve and yesterday. I hope Marcus, our Vicar, gets better soon.
Christmas was all about family, gifts and eating. Eating far too much. So, it's back to the gym soon for a great deal of hard labour.
What's been real fun has been catching up with some good reading - especially Michael Mansfield's Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer. What an interesting life! It's always good to read about individuals who are willing to go an extra mile for their convictions concerning justice. Sometimes, brave as well...
Just come back from Manchester. Had a great day with my All Wales Convention friend Alex who got some fantastic tickets in Old Trafford to watch Aston Villa. To be in the "Theatre of Dreams" having supported United since 1968 was just brilliant. It was made all the better for having some Manchester fish and chips on the way to the match.
It's just a personal thing. I don't want to sound worthy, but my faith compels me to honour democratically elected institutions such as Parliament and the National Assembly. I also view public service - gained either through election or appointment - as a sacred trust.
For me, honouring those who hold public office is a matter of faith. For others, it may well be a matter of integrity, honour or personal conviction. I'm comfortable with the personal imperatives of all those who share such values whether they are of faith or not. I have very little time, even after recent scandals at Westminster, for those who approach politics and politicians with cynicism.
Since yesterday however, I have thought a great deal about the issue of a regional list Assembly Members switching parties. The whole thing has left me troubled.
I know that the representative mode of politics spawned by Westminster is long used to politicians commanding considerable integrity switching parties. Some of my Parliamentary heroes did so. Constituency Assembly Members switching has already happened in devolved Wales. The late Peter Law commanded considerable respect.
I readily accept that all Assembly Members are equal. They are however, not all the same. Regional Members have a different electoral mandate. Crucially, they have found their way into the National Assembly through a mandate given to their party. That's the bit that bothers me.
The different electoral mandate is clear. When Alun Michael returned to Westminster, the Labour Party, without a by-election, provided the very able Delyth Evans as a regional Assembly Member. Val Feld's tragic death as a constituency Assembly Member, in contrast, demanded a constituency by-election in 2001.
There is something else. To be honest, I was never totally convinced of the case that individuals who stood in constituency elections should be prevented, following the passing of the Government of Wales Act 2006, from standing in regional lists. I am willing to consider the counter argument, but I was always anxious that Wales' political parties found a means of ensuring that their most able people found their way into the National Assembly. I'm of the view that if switching from constituency to region was unacceptable, switching parties is even more problematic.
I'm not in the business of telling individual Assembly Members what to do if their consciences take them to a different party - whoever they are. I have sufficient challenges handling my own conscience issues thanks very much.
However, I am of the view that Welsh civic society should reflect on the need to amend legislation if the practice of regional list Members switching sides becomes commonplace. Such switching undermines the whole electoral process regarding the "second vote". It's a matter of trust.
Yes, it's a personal thing. As someone who takes voting very seriously, I would be pretty cross with any individual politician who took liberties with my vote for a party of my choice expressed through the ballot box and deposited it elsewhere without my consent. However political cultures view switching, that's the bottom line.
It was a real privilege last night to be amongst those who were at the reception to bid Rhodri Morgan farewell. I wish him and Julie well for the future. They have both been good for Wales. Well done Rhodri.
To be in such company was beyond belief.
I was deeply moved afterwards to join my Equality and Human Rights Commission friends in the Millennium Centre to listen to the superbly eloquent Colm O'Gorman. Ploughing through his book Beyond Belief. Abused by his priest, betrayed by his church, the story of the boy who sued the pope.
Today was a good Sunday with a great time of blessing in Park End, Presbyterian Church in the morning.
Tonight I preached in Radyr Methodist Church at Angela Simon's Admission Service as a local preacher. It was a joy to experience such fellowship and I'll fulfill my public promise to remember her in my prayers. We all thought that the first call of good preachers or teachers is to listen
There were more than 50,000 of us in the Millennium Stadium this afternoon. It was a great joy to see Shane Williams score two brilliant tries. It was Stephen Jones who delighted us all with his quick thinking in the first half.
It's a great place to be when Wales are winning. Bring on the Australians.
I had a voice today in the Welsh Labour leadership election. I didn't know, as someone who doesn't belong to a political party, that I could be involved. I always find voting fun and I think I made the right decision.
I have also thought a great deal today about Kim Howells' comments concerning Afghanistan. Spending the money on our soldiers being out there on security here sounds interesting. Surely, the thing isn't that simple?
Tonight, I watched the deeply moving S4C program discussing the journey "Y Daith" of Aled Jones Williams. We were ordained together. Aled, is a poet, a priest and an alcoholic and has a journey to travel on.
As always, I was in awe of his genius and his frailty. I remain impressed by his faith and his fantastic gift of words. His tortured gift of words.
Last night I had a great time with some Plaid Cymru friends in Oakdale RFC. I had been invited to hear a lecture by the Welsh Historian, John Davies, on the place of Gwent in Welsh history. His contribution was fascinating.
I don't know what to make of all the speculation concerning the All Wales Convention report. The YouGov poll this week attracted quite some attention. The Labour leadership debate is also hotting up.
Tonight was great and I am so proud of Newport. The city's faith leaders and politicians stood together against racism. My lasting memory will be the sight of everyone raising their Welsh flags to affirm a welcoming nation where we can enjoy our distinctiveness but remain equally Welsh - a patriotism without racism.
Over the past few days there has been a great deal of speculation around some of the things I am involved with. There is speculation that the so called "Welsh Defence League" will be turning up in Newport this weekend. Speculation can be a dangerous thing and scary in their case.
As faith communities and others meet tonight to hold a vigil in Newport, many are rightly nervous. I will be there and hope that all will go well.
I can only speculate around whether last night's Question Time will have had any affect on things. Nick Griffin, very successfully came over as a "victim" I thought. I sensed that many had not discerned that his aim was to appeal to those who feel disengaged, ignored and marginalised. He was never going to appeal to liberal minded intelectuals. Everyone ganging up on him didn't help.
There has also been a great deal of speculation about the supposed recommendations of the All Wales Convention. I have heard and read a great deal over the past few days. The report will be published on 18th of November. All will be revealed then. The Convention won't be responding to any speculation until the report is presented to the First Minister and his Deputy. That's the way it has to be.
Just thinking about what to say tomorrow about the BBC and Nick Griffin on BBC Radio Cymru's Dweud Eich Dweud. I have decided that the ones who truly know the value of freedom of speech are those who may have to pay the price for it. I'm deeply troubled...
Our Chair, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, spoke today of our shared views as a Convention. I share his view that people will be surprised by the breadth of the recommendations. All will be revealed after the First Minister receives the report in November.
Yesterday, the Faith Communities Forum was chaired for the last time by Rhodri Morgan as First Minister. One of his major achievements was to get Wales' faith community leaders to come together. All politicians have a list of regrets and a sense of failing over some things. I guess that Rhodri Morgan will reflect on many things.
For my part, I have always been a fan. I remain so and wish Rhodri well.
Earlier, I met with other Christian leaders with friends from other faiths in the Inter-faith Council for Wales. It was a source of great blessing and encouragement at the end of a difficult week.
Being a Christian in that company is increasingly providing joy for me. It's the sort of joy that can only come from seeking truly to be obedient to God. God wants these conversations to take place. I also believe that he wants a truly inclusive Wales where we really do become a nation defined not by our ethnicity or languages but by the way we all respect and treat each other. That respect will be tested and needed in the months to come.
The Christian faith has something quite unique to offer that Wales: the God who so loved the world that he gave his son to die for it. Oh, such love...
This morning I went to do an interview for Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales. It was all about the names of the Sundays before Lent. It's something I don't really get exited by on an August bank holiday morning building up to a day plastering and painting our conservatory.
On the other side of the debate there was someone from the Prayer Book Society who started the conversation by saying he found bilingual road signs in Swansea confusing. He also took exception - I think - to the way I pronounced Septuagesima. I said it in the same way that everybody from Trawsfynydd says Septuagesima on a Monday morning in August.
I'm so sorry to disappoint all those who know me well but I wasn't rude to this guy. I have to confess to a sin. It's worried me all day that I was so nice.
Never mind. Felicity Evans, one of the presenters, was a total, total star... Thanks Felicity! She asked him the question I didn't dare ask "You are just a snob really aren't you?" That so made my day.
I have thought a lot since then, while painting the conservatory, about how hard it would be to spend the whole of eternity in heaven with members of the Prayer Book Society. Then I thought perhaps not...they won't be able to read the signs telling them how to get there!
On Thursday, an astounding 280,000 Organizing for America supporters gathered online to huddle with the President at our National Health Care Forum. With Congress about to return to Washington to make historic decisions on health insurance reform, the President chose this critical moment to speak directly to the OFA community. He reminded us of how far we've come and what we can accomplish together:
Remember one thing: Nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change. That's how we won this election. You know this, and that's why since OFA launched its health reform campaign in June you've hosted 11,000 events in more than 2,500 towns in every single state and every single congressional district...I am absolutely confident that we can get this done, but I want everybody to remember, this has never been easy....We are not going to give up now. We are going to get this done. Now it's up to us to take the next step.
This week, we need to make sure every member of Congress heads back to Washington hearing overwhelming support for change. Lies and fear must not have the last word about the health reform America so desperately needs. So here's what you can do: Host or attend a "Let's Get It Done: Health Insurance Reform Now" event near you.There are many different kinds of events, from forums to rallies to "Health Care Phone Booths," where local folks can get the facts and call Congress. And if there isn't yet one near you, you can easily host your own. Wherever you live, you can help show Congress, the media, and your neighbors that the American people have one clear message about health reform: Let's get it done.
Thursday, the President made the stakes of reform crystal clear. He talked about how, with health care costs rising three times faster than wages, the cost of inaction is simply too high.He explained how reform will guarantee competition and choice. He described the Insurance Guarantees that will protect every American from discrimination against pre-existing conditions, exorbitant charges, and arbitrary denials or reductions in coverage just when we need it most.And he made plain his stance on the public option: "So let me just be clear: I continue to support a public option, I think it is important, and I think it will help drive down costs and give consumers choices."But even the best plan only matters if it passes, and that's where we all have a critical role to play. As the President said:
And that's why what all of you do is so important, because people trust you -- your neighbors, your friends, fellow community members -- they trust you. They know you. And if you are presenting the facts clearly and fairly, I'm absolutely confident that we're going to win this debate. But we're going to have a lot of work to do and I'm grateful that you're willing to do it. Let's go get 'em.
This is for all my US friends who may have been bombarded recently by the Republicans with negative and false pictures of our UK national health system. I well remember the campaign debates.Barack Obama really is on the right course for the US.
The key issue, dare I suggest, is the provision of universal healthcare. Courtesy of the provision of universal healthcare in the UK, citizens live longer than their US counterparts and have a better chance of surviving childbirth. The NHS also offers value for money. Taxes are cheaper than insurance schemes.
There are areas where the quality of treatment in the US is better than in the UK. However, gaps in key areas such cancer treatment are narrowing. UK citizens are also at liberty to pay for private treatment if they wish and can afford it. All taxpayers are obligated to maintain the NHS.
These are the comparators that are really worth noting:
Health spending as a share of GDP US 16% UK 8.4%
Public spending on healthcare (% of total spending on healthcare) US 45% UK 82%
Health spending per head US $7,290 UK $2,992
Practising physicians (per 1,000 people) US 2.4 UK 2.5
Nurses (per 1,000 people) US 10.6 UK 10.0
Acute care hospital beds (per 1,000 people) US 2.7 UK 2.6
Life expectancy: US 78 UK 80
Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births) US 6.7 UK 4.8
Tonight I went to see the film Adam. It was for me a joy of a film helping others to perhaps understand those - whatever the intensity of their Aspergers Syndrome - whose capacity to be fascinated by details and focus on things that other people don't concentrate on is only surpassed by their capacity to miss the blatantly obvious.
I just can't understand why people can't get exited by the pre commencement functions of Ministers of the Crown mentioned in Part 2 of Schedule 7 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 and talk about things such as the weather.
I have just returned home after spending all day in a police car between Cardiff and Leatherhead in Surrey. It was all good fun for a very good cause. We were planning the National Police Memorial Service planned for Cardiff in September. I'll remember getting there and back!
Being part of the process is a huge privilege and its a thrill to work with such professional colleagues.
I got really tired today and came home at a reasonable time to do nothing except watch House. I very much enjoyed doing Wedi 7 on S4C last night doing an interview for the All Wales Convention. The trip to Llanelli was well worth it.
My diary looks very full for the Eisteddfod in Bala next week. I have so many things to do between now and then and tonight I feel almost 54 years old. I'm beginning to feel my age...
Last night I drove my hired white van to the Royal Welsh in Builth and had lots of fun with some good friends filling it up. I am now back in Cilfynydd abour to go to the dentist and then Bala to unload all my stuff. Tonight I hope to stay in Ruthin and be back in Cardiff tomorow with an empty van.
I'll be spending long hours on the road listening to my "Boss" CD>
Many thanks to my good friend Cathy Owens for mentioning me in her Amnesty International Blog this week concerning asylum seekers and health care.
It's great to be at a major European Church Conference which is so focused on migration issues during the week that the Welsh Assembly Government announced that failed asylum seekers in Wales, who have been told they cannot stay in Britain, can now have access to free NHS care.
A change in regulations was confirmed by the Assembly Government in June, and came in to force last Wednesday.
Well done Wales for being one of the pioneering countries of Europe. I'll make sure that Christians in Lyon hear the news.
I am now a 'twitter' virgin. Boy, do I have a lot to learn.
I'm enjoying the Conference of European Churches' 13th Assembly in Lyon. It was really hot yesterday when we did 'hope'. Today's the second day of the Assembly and it's much better to do 'vision' when it's cooler.
I'm missing the gym back home but I have had a go at jogging in the fantastic park in Lyon this morning. They have wild animals roaming free. I have never jogged with deer before. I'll bring proper footwear next time though.
I'm in Lyon for the 13th Conference of European Churches Assembly focusing on 'Called to One Hope in Christ'. The flight over was choppy but not quite as choppy as one rugby international flight over Dublin with Ryanair. I won't bore you with the story.
Late on Thursday night I enjoyed the company and the blessing of some new friends at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Stewardship Conference in Newport. I was told that I really should read The Shack by Wm Paul Young. I duly obeyed and got a copy from WH Smith in Bristol Airport.
Normally, I prefer reports to other sorts of books. Reports provide me with information and detail. To be honest, I struggle with other sorts of books. Not this one however!
Between Bristol and Lyon, I had read half a book and not found the need to retain all the details. For tired, worn out or just very hurt Christians, The Shack is a must read book. Honestly, go and buy it now and read it straight away. It may very well change the way in which you see God.
Many,many thanks to Wm Paul Young and to my new friends who told me to read a book. I should also add that non-Christians will also enjoy this read.
I had to go back to work to do two things today. I had promised to send a report to a colleague about what Cytun does with inter-faith things. That, I thought, required underlining Christian witness. I enjoyed that and prayed about it a lot.
Nothing matters more to me than my faith in Christ and witnessing to that faith. Sometimes though, doing church things gets me down. So much seems to have so little to do with Christ.
Then, I went to Community House, Eton Road Newport in the afternoon. The place was teaming with people from all sorts of faiths - just being community. It was just great and such a blessing and an encouragement. Well done everyone there for your fantastic work. That, I thought required underlining the brilliant inter-faith work Churches do. I prayed about that a lot too.
Some days, I wonder what God is trying to tell me. Sometimes, the dividing line between despairing of the church and celebrating it is so thin.
I felt sad last night after watching the last episode of (made in Wales) Torchwood. It was brilliant but so, so sad. Captain Jack had to sacrifice his grandson to save the world's children. What a choice?
Then I thought about church again. God gave his only son to atone for it. If God loves it that much, then so should I perhaps.
Today I received a special piece of Welsh history. While visiting Westminster I got a copy of the Welsh Affairs Committee's report Proposed National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (Welsh Language) Order 2009. The report was published today.
There is some work still to do, but this document, agreed unanimously by the Welsh Affairs Committee will pave the way for the National Assembly, for the first time ever, to promulgate primary legislation in the context of the Welsh Language.
I will guard my copy well and thank those who signed it for me. It's greatly appreciated.
This morning I gave blood for the fiftieth time. In terms of giving blood, I am now a golden boy. The Blood Transfusion Service, after asking me all those questions about who I had sex with recently, gave me an assurance that their Fifty Pack was on the way to me.
All of this gave me a great sense of achievement and I'm quite determined now to give my life-long target of 75. I wonder how all those poor people who are walking around with my blood in them are feeling. I hope they are all OK.
My sense of joy was made complete by the Lions victory over the South Africans.
This morning I met a new colleague. He is deaf and was accompanied by a Welsh speaker who signed for him. It was an honour to be with them both and huge fun.
A very Welsh joke about being 'tost' (ill) and being 'toast' (toast) was conveyed with great style. I thank God for people with such fantastic communication skills and to be in the company of someone who could listen so well without hearing was a great joy.
The EHRC day was encouraging today. All of us would like to live in a prejudice free country. I'll put that one down in my diary for some twenty years time - or even a little longer. I fear that a lot of prejudice is on the way.
The rest of the day was about travelling back on a really sticky day. I discovered on my return that I have two really,really important things to do on the same day. I'm going to pray that one of those things could be done on a different day.
The non prejudice thing could come any day though - I wish!
I'm in Birmingham enjoying the company of friends in the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It's been a good day and I'm looking forward to the work we have to do tomorrow.
I went back to the gym this morning for the first time in a couple of weeks. I didn't want to risk inflaming a touch of whiplash after my little car accident. I think that was the right decision but I'm pleased to be back running and rowing.
All this exercise has now become part of my life and I'm enjoying it.
This has been a really good weekend despite the Lions losing the series.
I went with the Gorseddof Bards to herald the coming of the Eisteddfod to Ebbw Vale in 2010. The people of the town did a fantastic job on welcoming us. Culturally and linguistically, some borders were crossed. In me, Wales will always be one.
Today was a blessing as I preached twice in Bridgend Welsh Independents Chapel. It was really good to see some old friends. I also had a fantastic lunch with some old friends in the area. I was beaten twice at Mastermind by a little boy who isn't yet ten. He's really bright and I can cope with the ignominy - I'm used to it. Many thanks for a great day.
This evening, I prayed a great deal before reflecting on Acts 11: 1-18. Peter got a tough time from members of the church in Jerusalem for taking the Gospel to a non Jewish home. I learnt that when God's people are given visions do do things that other Christians aren't comfortable with, that they have to go back to tell their story.
Thank God, this weekend, I have had many stories to tell.
I woke up early this morning to the news that Michael Jackson had died. It was all very sad. I don't really know what else to say. Everyone else seem to have said far too much already.
BetsanPowys did a good job on covering the All Wales Convention's last big public meeting in Cardiff City Hall last night in her BBC Blog. I was very tired after hearing evidence all day. But it was good evidence about something that really matters to me.
I am now on a train travelling back from London Paddington to Cardiff. Today was a good working day thinking some things through with friends and colleagues from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Things are not easy for churches these days. Finances are a real issue.
I have thought a lot over the past few days about prayer. It's always a great encouragement for those who work for the churches if they are prayed for. My home church in Pontypridd is good at that. I'll pray some more for my friends and hope they will do the same for me. That would be good.
It was probably the heat in London, but I had the mother of all headaches this afternoon. I'm told that people who come to work saying that they had migraine don't really have a migraine - just a bad headache. So, I drank a lot of water and went to see the new Transformers film to kill some time while waiting for the much cheaper later train.
The film was brilliant and the headache went away for the most part.
On Saturday I went to a birthday party in my sister's house in Ruthin. My brother was 60 years old.
We arrived on time for the Lions match which we enjoyed seeing in the Farmers Inn. I remain full of hope for the last two tests. With a Welsh front row we should be OK. In my objective view, it would also be good to have another look at James Hook and Shane Williams.
Sunday was for going to Saint Catherine's, writing an article and going to see Looking for Eric as a Father's day treat.
Today I got a new car. Or, to be more accurate, I got a different car. It's a Vauxhall Astra and silver. Because I had a little accident with my little green car earlier this week, its days are now over.
I thought a lot today about a friend who isn't very well. He was on my mind all day and very much in my prayers.
At the end of a busy day, last night, I thoroughly enjoyed a dinner to celebrate the 40th birthday of the Open University in the Millennium Centre. I was fortunate enough to make some new friends and enjoy the company of a modern Welsh hero, Tyrone O'Sullivan.
There were other heroes there as well - especially those who had achieved academic success.
The Lions did well with yet another victory. I can't wait until Saturday!
The other day, I fleetingly bumped into the Kinnocks in Queen Street, Cardiff. Both had been campaigning on the streets for the European elections. That was a tough job a couple of weeks ago. You couldn't pay me to do it - especially for somebody else.
Lady Kinnock , in her former role, was always strong on international issues and helped me on more than one occasion with some pretty tough and tragic refugee cases. For that, I thank her.
I don't know how much a human life is worth to the Daily Mail but it was clearly bothered today by the alleged £12 million the Kinnocks 'picked up' in 'pay and perks'.
As a democrat, I have no issue with a free press discussing the financial remuneration of leading politicians. Such things should be public - provided they are accurate and fair.
It's a smalll thing compared to a whacking £12 million issue I know but what I did object to is a fully grown up journalist, who should know better, using the 'boyo' word for a Welshman yet again.
Don't people like Geoffrey Wansell know that the only people who use the word 'boyo' are patronising and arrogant individuals who know absolutely nothing about Wales. No one in Wales now says 'boyo'!
So - dear Daily Mail, if you know so little about us - what do you really know about anything you write about?
I treated myself to a day off today. I really must do it more often.
I went to London and spent some time in the American Embassy. It was all huge fun and of great interest. The welcome was also great. During the Obama campaign I warmed to the good people of Wisconsin. I'll go there one day if they'll let me in to the US again.
I'm still an Obama fan and rejoice in a lot of things that have happened since his Inauguration. It was good today to reflect a little more on Welsh politics.
I also went to see a film in Leicester Square later in the afternoon to kill some time. I wanted to see Looking for Eric now that Ronaldo has gone from my beloved Manchester United. They had this film on where a really bad guy, according to the Evening Standard, got his head blown up in a microwave right at the end.
I didn't know you could do that with a microwave. Regardless, I'm sure doing that is against some sort of clerical code of practice.
This weekend was memorable. The Lions won - just. Our young football internationals also won against Azerbaijan - just.
The Conservatives beat Labour - just. Plaid Cymru improved a little - just. The UK Independence Party got a seat - just. The Liberal Democrats did well in their target seats - just.
The BNP got just 5% in Wales. That's a lot here for a party that doesn't allow black people to join it. I noted during the early hours of this morning some mainstream politicians suggesting that tactics concerning the BNP may now have to change. They may be right.
Labour, by its own admission, did badly - more than just. The view that Labour could never be beaten in Wales has now gone. Fortress Wales is no more. The psychology of that is significant.
So! What happens next? I believe that there is in the middle of all this one small comfort for Welsh Labour. What happens next in Wales, to a crucial extent, still rests in its hands. The next few hours and days will be crucial.
At a time of significant change I still dare to hope that Wales' mainstream parties will be wise and generous enough to be a little more than the geo-political tribes that have produced them. A great deal changed this weekend but Wales is still a place that warms, at different times and through different intensities, to governments that bring people together and take actions to ensure that no-one gets left behind.
In Wales, taking that rout is still a must for all the parties who wish to win. It also presents the best antidote to the BNP.
That just reminded me of something else. Yasmina won The Apprentice last night selling chocolate that was cheap, well packaged and tasted horrible. Alas, such things do happen.
I have rarely felt so low about UK politics. I'm not alone in that feeling. Yet, I'm certain to vote on Thursday. Being able to vote, whatever I think about Westminster politics at the moment, is an activity I have no intention of compromising by not voting.
Some of us thought a great deal today about whether faith leaders in Wales should go public and seek to tell others not to vote for the BNP. Some very prominent Anglicans from England have already done so. They have that right to express their views.
I'd rather encourage everyone to vote and uphold an aspiration that Wales is a welcoming and diverse nation.
Good points Szczeb and thanks for pressing me further. I hear your concern. It's expressed very well.
Let me be provocative. Dare I suggest a different way forward to the paths offered by the two alternatives you suggest in your latest posting. In the background I discern, perhaps wrongly, the all too familiar traditional arguments that have flowed from a vulnerable culture not wanting to loosen its grip on an absolute principle because that very loosening may well lead to the thin edge of a terminal cultural wedge.
What I am seeking to contend with here is not the manning of the usual cultural barricades for defensive purposes by a set of absolutes but an approach more reflective of the dynamic allowed by the two buzz words of modern equality thinking - reasonable and proportionate. A dynamic that can look to a greater confidence and linguistic growth precisely because it is not so constrained by fear. The absolutism caused by fear is rarely reasonable or proportionate.
The removal of that fear may well demand the meeting on common ground of two dynamics. It may well demand, on the part of Wales' minority linguistic community, such confidence that it is far more able to go beyond the absolutes of the barricades and accept the vulnerability of reaching out. From the majority linguistic tradition there must be a growing recognition that it is clearly an unreasonable act to ask a culture to so dilute itself that it dies. It must meet the reaching out with a shared sense of belonging and a desire to promote a common good.
Wales desperately needs a shared set of narratives and transforming conversations that allow us, as a diverse and modern people, to imagine how our cultures and politics can be so much better than they are now - for all our sakes. For such aspirations to be more than a mere collusion with rhetoric there must be many more points of conversation around shared futures in the common space called Wales.
Forgive my aspirational ramblings...but this singular noun that is Wales must become far more of a shared plural experience. It is well within our means to hold shared identities in that singular noun.
Many thanks to everyone for their perceptive and challenging responses to my original posting regarding national events having 'too much English' or 'too much Welsh'. Just a few thoughts in response.
Perhaps I should explain some of the background to my comments. They flow mainly from the experience, over many years, of drafting local and national events or celebrations. For some, such events will always have too much Welsh: for others, such events will always have too much English. Wales continues, on the polarities of our bilingual conversations, to have such views. Thankfully, they are not held by the majority.
Inevitably, bringing people together for celebrations requires meeting the aspirations of diverse communities or groups that define and express themselves, at such points of contact, through the complex prism of the identities of faith, language, politics or sometimes a sense - wherever they find themselves in the pecking order of our diverse asymmetries of power - of being vulnerable to change, susceptible to injustices or even elimination.
Be assured, I do not question the reality or the legitimacy of any vulnerability. I have my own in loads. Being a first language Welsh speaker I am acutely aware of how vulnerable linguistic minorities can be.
Throughout my working life, I have also been embroiled professionally in the responses of faith communities that are acutely aware of their own decline. It seems to me that churches that have learnt how to evolve core values in newer environments have a great capacity to grow. Faith communities determined to shape themselves as condensed versions of what they used to be seem to struggle.
In the area of equality strands such as sexual orientation or disability, I have also encountered resourceful individuals who have striven bravely - despite the horrific odds stacked against them in terms of prejudice, bullying or a lack of reasonable access to goods and services -to enjoy the diverse and complex entirety of who they wish to be. They continue to need distinctive spaces as inequality continues.
Be assured therefore, my issue is not with legitimate expressions of cultural identity and exchange such as the Urdd Eisteddfod or Hay book festival or the gathering together of gay groups. My issue is with those who find them either 'too Welsh' or 'too English' to the extent that they are not prepared to experience anything that is beyond their cultural 'comfort zone.' Wales still has a dearth of places where discursive contacts with 'the other' are enjoyed.
This year I believe that the Hay festival and the Urdd Eisteddfod made significant progress in making sure that Wales' diverse cultures do not exist in a mutually excluding bubble. I do believe however that more could be done.
In response to Simon, I spring to the defence of pluralism. Earlier this week, while preparing for a questiontimetype session for the Urdd around multiculturalism, I returned to my favourite episode of The West Wing. In the Isaac and Ismael episode which was produced after '9:11' there is a discerning conversation around themes of difference, the asymmetry of power, injustice and terrorism. One of the leading characters, Josh Lyman, is asked by a group of young diverse Americans locked in an imaginary White House to provide an answer to terrorism. I marked the Josh Lyman response "Remember pluralism....keep accepting more than one idea.'
My response concerning the philosophy of pluralism is simple. No expression of pluralism -if it is pluralism - will disregard the legitimate concerns of any minority. Pluralism will also discern the diversity of more than one idea and experience within linguistic minorities. That which can do so much harm to linguistic minorities is not the liberal thinking associated with pluralism but the illusion of it. Pluralism will always be comfortable with 'distinctive spaces'. Pluralism abhors monolithic melting pots.
I would also want to push the 'observer status' thing a bit further. National events have a 'moral requirement' which goes beyond their 'own constituency'. Even those who are there to observe have a moral right to feel that what they observe belongs to them. Both English and Welsh - as languages - belong to all the people of Wales.
I'm with Szczeb to the extent that individuals can belong to more than one community. That's obvious. I would also underline again that I am comfortable with distinct 'spaces' in any human experience. What I remain uncomfortable with is with those who actually crave the safe certainties of isolation and I remain of the view that indulging such cravings leads inevitably to stagnation.
Such cultures, like laboratory experiments, will only remain ultimately as in aspic.
Finally, to Stonemason...I may have ripped your comfort zone to shreds. You should see what I have done to mine!
Just a few quick thoughts at the end of the day...
When blogging last night after enjoying a whole day at the Urdd Eisteddfod, I didn't expect Betsan Powys from the BBC to note my comments about some national events having too much Welsh and others having too much English on her blog.
It's good to see that internet conversations are thriving. Betsan's comments, and several other conversations at the Urdd Eisteddfod, made me think some more - much more.
Sometimes, I feel that communities - be they of faith, language or of politics - occupy the same spaces but in mutually excluding bubbles. It's one of my great fears for the future - that the excluding bubbles will multiply. They have done so frequently in Wales at a terrible cost to a nation striving for the strengthening of shared narratives. Communities as well as nations are refreshed by the holding of transforming conversations - in whatever language.
I have asked a question all day: do I abandon my identity by sharing a platform or holding a conversation with those who are different in faith, politics or of language?
No, I don't. The sure testing of conversations with others only adds to the legitimacy of a point of view or belief. Languages are for me much better servants of the human experience when they are primarily the means of good conversation. They are the harbengers of the affirmations we strive for.
Cultures that crave the safe certainties of isolation eventually stagnate and die.
Today, I thought a great deal about two national events.
One had too much English in it and the other had too much Welsh. There is a wisdom that in the world of bilingualism if you get two sides complaining at the same time, you may just be getting the thing right.
It was great today to see Arsenal and Manchester United draw ensuring that United became this year's champions. At long last, it cannot be said any more that Liverpool have won more championships. I can't wait to get my teeth into next season so that we can go one better. I can only hope that Ronaldo and Tevez stay.
It was also brilliant at the end of the day to see Scarlets beat Ulster by means of a fantastic set of youngsters. Next season should be good.
What a great day.
P.S. I don't really care about the Eurovision thing.
Tonight, I will remember the name Resotti more than the fact that Manchester United played brilliantly to beat Arsenal 1:3. Ronaldo was just fantastic.
Sometimes, it's difficult not to think that top sport is run by fools. Surely, when everyone saw that poor Darren Fletcher had got the ball rather than the player, it's OK to have an appeal and go "Oops sorry, I got that one wrong!". Mr Resotti, the Ref, just got it wrong when he gave Fletcher the red card.
Darren Fletcher is innocent! He should be allowed to play in what would have been the most important game of his career.
This morning I played at home. I decided that because I wasn't preaching anywhere that I would go to Saint Catherine's, Pontypridd. Marcus the Vicar spoke of fasting and giving things up. Both of us agreed after the service that we would give up watching Manchester United on Thursdays.
During the afternoon I went with my eldest son to tender our support for Cardiff Blues during the game against Leicester Tigers. For the first time ever in my rugby experience the tie had to go down to penalty kicks. It was entertaining but nerve racking.
I feel desperately sorry for one of my great heroes, Martyn Williams, who missed the decisive kick. I guess he won't be kicking penalties and conversions for the Lions in South Africa. All the Cardiff fans got the blues as did their adoptive brothers and sisters from Scarlets and Ospreys who were there to do the decent Welsh thing.
To top it all, Cardiff City failed to reach the play-offs. All in all, it wasn't a good day for Cardiff.
Tonight I joined several other Manchester United fans in the gym. It's a good idea to watch football and use the treadmill at the same time. When United scored, several fans shouted their support. It's good to have a 1:0 win but I fear it may not be enough. We will all be back in the gym next week burning calories and biting fingernails. Arsenal will have to score twice.
I'm really looking forward to seeing the Lions tour from the gym during the summer. I should lose a lot of weight.
Tonight was also another Obama night. A hundred days have flown past - difficult days. It seems that the consensus is that he has done well. Obama is certainly popular. I still have the very fondest memories of my American campaigning. They were go0d days.
A male friend asked a sensitive question today. Would a certain church be offended if a lady wore trousers during a service? The question gets 10 out of 10 for sensitivity. My guess is that most churches would have been more bothered if he wore a skirt!
This morning it was a great joy to celebrate the Eucharist in Saint Catherine's Church, Pontypridd before moving on to do two other services in EfailIsaf Chapel.
I didn't do much in the afternoon but this evening I went to see a horror film. It's been a good Sunday all in all and a good weekend going Catholic, home base Anglican and Welsh Independent. The film was good too.
For someone from Trawsfynydd this was a special day. It was a blessing to join Wales' Catholic community in Saint Teilo's Church in Saint Fagan's folk museum. The mass was said in Welsh and formed part of the celebrations to commemorate Saint John Roberts from Trawsfynydd. He was executed some 400 years ago around the gunpowder plot.
I was told today by a leading Welsh academic with connections with Trawsfynydd that some families in the area didn't mark 5th November because of the local boy's death. I can't remember it ever stopping me though.
I was devastated to hear on returning home that Manchester United were losing 2:0 against Spurs. The eventual 5:2 was brilliant though. We are on the way to being Champions.
I had a great time today in Porthcawl preaching in the Welsh Chapel. It was a real blessing and encouragement. I needed it.
On returning home I watched Manchester United get kicked out of the FA Cup on penalties. Well done Everton. Resting key players was a big mistake if not an act of arrogance on Manchester United's part. I hope the rest of the season doesn't go the same way.
Last night, much to my joy as a Manchester United fan, I watched Ronaldo blast a rocket of a goal into the Porto net. It was probably the best distant shot I have ever seen from some 40 yards. Football, for that rare moment, will probably never get better. Last night, it didn't really matter.
Afterwards, I sat down to watch Hillsborough on TV and remembered the pain and injustice of that terrible day in Sheffield in 1989. That day, 96 innocent fans went out to watch a game of football and lost their lives. A good number were very young. Others were old.
Whenever I begin to feel the crush of the crowd during football or rugby games, I think of Hillsborough and remember the painful pictures of the day. On the whole, sporting crowds are innocent things. They are also full of human vulnerability. Those of us who attend and enjoy such events have to trust others who have built and now police stadiums.
We have to believe in the truth of their workmanship and believe that we are safe in their care.
Last night, watching TVafter a football match I remembered the pain and anger of the parents and families who wanted a verdict of unlawful killing from the subsequent Hillsboroough inquest rather than the accidental death recorded at the time. In today's Independent I read that the Coroner at the time, Dr Stefan Popper, still believes that they did 'get to the truth of the matter'. That's not thew view of the parents who still crave for some sense of peace and an untold truth.
Whatever the brilliance of football last night, there were other things to think about - far more important things. I pray for peace and for truth.
I had fun yesterday morning on Good Morning Wales. I really love doing the papers for Radio Wales and both Bethan and Rhun are good to me as interviewers. Rhun keeps trying to get a comment from me about the All Wales Convention thing. That's his job - but I'm not going to give in!!!
For once, I seemed to understand why Wales did so badly. People who know about football agreed with me. We have Germany tomorrow and I am dreading it.
These past eight days have been terrible for Welsh rugby and football fans. Yesterday, I was one of the 22,000 fans in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium who saw a young but poor Wales crash out of the World Cup to Finland. I have had some low points watching Wales. Yesterday was one of the worst.
Like most fans there yesterday I just could not understand why the Welsh team played the way they did with one player up front and I feel for Craig Bellamy in particular. He ran his heart out but had no-one to feed him the ball. He was on to a hiding to nothing and nothing is what we got.
Perhaps the time has come for a managerial change. I'm not jumping to that conclusion just yet. I'll be going to the Germany match on Wednesday and I wish Wales well. Another really bad result however and I may join the growing number of fans who will crave a managerial change.
Many congratulations to Ireland for a well deserved Grand Slam. I was there and thoroughly enjoyed the good Irish company - great fun. I hope that the Welsh team will learn lessons for next time around.
I'm told that it is sometimes good to be humble. It can be overdone however.
I congratulate Liverpool on their win over Manchester United and the Italians played well against Wales. We will now have to beat Ireland by a good points margin next week. Time will tell. Ireland will be dying for a Grand Slam.
Following my time with the Obama for America campaign in California last year, I have written a brief reflection on my experiences in time for Inauguration Day. "West Wing Wales" explores a phenomenal political campaign from the rock face of American politics through the eyes of someone closely involved with Welsh politics.
If you want a signed souvenir copy to mark the occasion at a reduced price of £5 please email me and I'll make sure you get a copy. If you'd like to be present at the launch at Nos Da, Riverside, Cardiff on the 20th January, please let me know. We'd love to see you but need to know the numbers of those who would like to come.
Tonight I went to see my first ever game in Parc y Scarlets. I'm pleased to say that Scarlets beat the Gwent Dragons 29:24. Everyone was having a moan about how many fans turned up to see the game. Llanelli does not have the population of a Swansea, Newport or Cardiff. We could do with more people turning up 'though.