Thursday, October 25, 2007

Engaging with the Press

Members of the Spiritual Capital Steering Ground and the research team met this lunchtime in the Cardiff University's grand Glamorgan building to be interviewed by Western Mail journalist Martin Shipton, commissioned to investigate our work and hopefully do a piece in the WM this coming weekend that will draw some public attention to what we are doing, and hopefully prompt recipients of last Friday's questionnaire mailing to fill them in and return them in the reply paid envelope.

I confess that I felt very nervous about the whole thing in advance and didn't sleep very well. However it was a relaxed occasion, starting with photo-call outside next to some of the imposing statuary flanking the main portal. Mohammed, Prof Ballard, Roy and 'Becca all spoke well. It was interesting that Martin homed in on public order issues and what the religious communities might be able to contribute to achieving overall improvements.

I tried to explain that part of the problem was that civil society often left religious communities out of policy shaping public debate, because it was too difficult to include them if, as often seems to be the case (for better, and sadly for worse) religious views seem to run contrary to public opinion and even common sense. I struggled to say that dialogue between religious and civil society, and recognition of social contributions often taken for granted, that might make a difference and add to greater creativity in addressing social problems which afflict everyone.

It was also an occasion to give some publicity Prof Ballard's latest book, 'Community and Ministry', copies of which he had only just received. It's so hot off the press that at the time of writing this it hasn't yet appeared on the SPCK New Books webpage. I came home with one, pleased to have it to read during my half term break.

'Becca reported that a handful of questionnaires had already been returned, including mine, thankfully. Although I leave nearest of all to the Glamorgan building, I still popped my envelope in the post box on the main road. Given the instabilities in the postal service of late, this was a bit of a risk. I was glad the PO dispute settlement had been reached before our mailing went out.

Well, we've cast our bread on the waters. Now it's simply a question of waiting, in my case as impatiently as ever, to see what the outcome will be.

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