Thursday, July 31, 2008


Very interesting and absorbing, satisfying and thrilling. 4/5

A World Made by Hand (Kunstler)

Jim Kunstler is author of one of the best books about Peak Oil, and he has now written a novel set in the near future in Upper New York State - that is, a future after Peak Oil has come and gone. It's an interesting enough book but I was always conscious of some sermonising in the background. Which, as I mostly agreed with it, I could allow just to flow through. However, it did confirm for me that my prognosis is much more optimistic than Kunstler's. For example, I found it more than strange that there was never any reference to renewable sources of energy, especially wind and solar; also that nobody rode bicycles. I found those elements quite implausible. However, it's a good book, and one I'd be happy to recommend to people persuaded of the analytical side of Peak Oil who wanted to explore the possible effects socially in an imaginative way.

SPCK/SSG - for beginners

For those unaware of what has been going on with SPCK bookshops, this is a collection of links which should bring you up to speed.

SPCK bookshops were last year sold to St Stephen the Great charity - based in Texas, supposedly Orthodox.

For various reasons the SPCK shops have been allowed to run down, many of them closed.

The union USDAW is taking SSG to court over various alleged malpractices.

The manager of the SPCK shop in Worcester committed suicide because of all the stresses.

SSG - as a UK charity! - have sought bankruptcy protection in the US; I understand our Charity Commission are investigating them.

An Essex cartoonist/blogger named Dave Walker - who is currently 'cartoonist in residence' at the Lambeth conference - reported consistently on the above for a period of 18 months. Last week he was threatened with a 'cease and desist' order by SSG (a man named J Mark Brewer) and he took down some 75 posts on his blog about the SPCK.

And this is where I came in - I thought this was unjust - so I recopied some of Dave's posts on to my blog, was also served a 'cease and desist' order by Mr Brewer, but I've published it all here:

This is a list of all the bloggers who've been supporting Dave:


I had company this morning :o)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My correspondence with J Mark Brewer (updated)

I am publishing this because I believe it is in the public interest for this information to be widely known.

On 25th July I received the following e-mail:




Reverend Norton:

I have visited your web page[1] which you brazenly have set up to carry on for the “cartoon church” blog site. As such, you appear to be dedicated to the destruction of my personal reputation and that of Saint Stephen the Great/Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust. I am absolutely appalled and devastated that a member of the clergy of the Church of England would engage in such inappropriate and defamatory behavior, by what you have written as well as by what you have posted and by encouraging others to do the same.

I am dumfounded that any Christian, especially a clergyman, honestly believes that this is consistent with his faith. You would know better than I, a layman, how many places defamation is spoken against in the Holy Bible.[2]

Re-publishing the material from “cartoon church” has nothing to do with what you call “free speech.” Instead, you are invading my privacy by putting my name on your webpage, and you are defaming me. You are also interfering with the Charitable Trust’s efforts to salvage what remains of the charitable business of the Christian bookshops with scorn.

Your libel of me and your invasion of my privacy have deeply hurt me. Because of your position as a clergyman, the pain of the words on your web page is greater.

This is not right and you have gone too far.

Your statements are false and I categorically deny them – both for me and SSG/SSGCT. Many of them are defamatory per se (e.g., “. . . incompetence and injustice of the people who have taken over the SPCK chain.”)

I reiterate: am a private individual and I value my privacy. I am not a public figure and you have no right to drag my name through the mire. I do not consent and object to you invading my personal privacy by maintaining web pages about me, SSG, SSGCT, ENC Management, my brother, my wife, or my family. I do not consent to you posting blogs or enabling and encouraging others to blog us on the internet. I do not consent to you defaming me to any other party or person by “sharing” your false allegations. At this point, even were you to remove my name from your web page, my personal identity would still be clear to a majority of readers.

Legal Demands

1. I hereby demand that you cease and desist from doing any of these things any more. I specifically demand that you deactivate your webpages, websites and/or blogsites which mention me, my brother, my family, SSG and/or SSGCT IMMEDIATELY. I also demand that you not post this email, paraphrase it or refer to it in any way.

2. I hereby demand that you issue to me a retraction and apology on your webpage stating substantially the following:

I have removed from my website all of the material about Mr. Mark Brewer and the Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust as I have determined that it unfairly violated the personal privacy of Mr. Brewer and because it was defamatory. I acknowledge that I did not have any factual basis for any of these defamatory statements and that this is the reason for this retraction and apology.

I sincerely apologize to Mr. Brewer for the hurt I have caused to him, his family and to Saint Stephen the Great. I urge my readers to refrain from any public postings on the internet about Mr. Brewer in respect of his privacy.

I also request and urge my readers to refrain from writing or saying anything about him, his family or Saint Stephen the Great which is or reasonably could be interpreted as false or defamatory.

3. I hereby demand that you contact all persons with whom you have communicated about me or the charity, sending them the above apology with a blind-copy to myself so that I know you have complied.

If you do meet the terms and conditions set forth above and if you fail to remove the defamatory material from your website by noon GMT July 25, 2008, I will seek an injunction against you and those with whom you have collaborated in your activities. I also will take legal action against you for damages for libel. In that event, I will also subpoena all records relating to the persons whom you have allowed to post defamatory material on your website in order to add them as defendants.

Please acknowledge your receipt of this correspondence and your intent to comply with this demand by reply email.

J. Mark Brewer

[2] Exodus 20:16 – the Ninth Commandment; Psalm 101:5 – “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.” Jesus also preached against slander; e.g., Saint Mark 7:22.

I replied firstly in this manner:

Dear J Mark Brewer,

I acknowledge receipt of this e-mail. I shall take legal advice and make a substantive response within seven days.
Sam Norton

To which I received the response:

Thank you for your acknowledgment.
Seven days is too long for me to continue to be the victim of this outrage. You could at least have the Christian decency to take down the offending material pending your 'legal advice.' Will you do that or do you require that legal action force you to?
J. Mark Brewer
Houston, Texas 77056

I have this evening replied further:

Dear J Mark Brewer,
Following our earlier correspondence this is now my substantive reply to your original e-mail of 25th July 2008.
I believe that my blog contains only material which is either true or "fair comment" upon truthful matters.
If there are particular aspects of the material published on my blog which you believe to be neither true nor fair comment I am prepared to look again at specific items.
Please be aware that I consider the making public of this correspondence to be in the public interest, and that I shall share, via my blog and other media, both your original "cease and desist" request, and any subsequent correspondence.
I would assure you that I have no personal malice towards you in this regard. My concern is that an innocent man (Mr David Walker) has been victimised by your actions. Should you be willing at any point in the future to make a public apology to him, leading to him reinstating his blogposts concerning SPCK, then I shall certainly cease and desist any further writings on this affair.
You do, of course, have recourse to the secular courts of the United Kingdom if you wish to take this further in that manner. Should you wish to do so, I shall be pleased to explain my position in open court.
Yours sincerely,
Sam Norton

I have now received this reply to my above e-mail:

RE: your cease and desist request to me


Neither English nor American law permits you to engage in what you term "fair comment" with respect to a private company, nor with respect to a private individual - namely, me. Obviously the law does not allow one to cloak his conduct with such sophistry and then go about defaming someone.

Your unreasonableness in the face of my request that you stop defaming me is appalling. Your persistence in doing so without even seeking to know the truth, by talking to me for example, proves that you are in fact acting out of complete malice. Libel with malice, a malignancy of heart, is intolerable in civilized societies.

Mr. Walker is in no way a victim of anything done or not done, said or not said by me. I have no idea what you are on about in saying such a thing. I cannot fathom your judgmental presumptiveness in telling me to apologize to him.

I reiterate my demand that you stop your defamatory blogging and invasion of my privacy. If you do not, I will seek redress in the courts of the country where I live - the United States. As your solicitor will have told you, you are subject to jurisdiction here as you knowingly libeled me on the worldwide web, you know me to be a resident of the USA and you know and intend to injure me where I live in the USA.

Your solicitor also will have told you that you are subject to service of process for a suit in the United States under the Hague Convention. You will then have to answer for your conduct in the venue where you intentionally caused me harm. I hope you understand this.

Mark Brewer


Venice from the air.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reasonable Atheism (24): Justifying language about God

There is a certain creature that English people call a cow. French people call it la vache. Doubtless other languages have other words for the same creature.

Now, does it make sense to ask the Frenchman to justify the use of 'la vache' to describe the cow? Imagine asking the question (in French, presumably) 'why do you call it la vache?'!! There is no exterior logical justification for the derivation of the language. There are cows, and this is the language that we use for interacting with them.

So I want to distinguish between two sorts of justification for God-talk (theology). One sort accepts that there is something there to be discussed, and the debate is therefore about what sort of language does the best job in the discussion. Let's call this the 'naming God' debate.

The second sort denies that there is anything there to be discussed at all. As Richard Dawkins puts it (in 'God Delusion'), theology is simply 'fairyology' - there are no fairies at the bottom of the garden, and it's a waste of time pursuing any conversation involving them. So lets call this the fairy-killing debate.

Now, in a post which will come along soon, I'm going to be talking about conscience, and talking about how God-language interacts with language about conscience, morals and decision making and so on. When this has come up before, eg when discussing my post about 'what I mean when I talk about God' some of the responses have, it seems to me, been akin to asking the Frenchman why he uses the word 'vache' to talk about cows. In other words, the reality of what I am describing is not in dispute, simply the merits or demerits of using religious language to describe the phenomena. I have a lot of respect for those perspectives which recognise what is trying to be described using god-language, engages with it, points out its flaws, and then starts being linguistically creative (possibly in atheistic ways) in order to move forward. _Some_ of the discussion around the problem of evil can be like this (but most isn't).

However, some of the criticisms have ended up obsessing over the question of whether a particular entity exists or not. In other words, the discussion has been about fairy-killing. Now, as I've explored elsewhere, I don't find the fairy-killing discussions all that helpful, not least because it's part of the logic of faith that God does not 'exist' in the relevant way for the discussion to make sense. That is, as the quote from Denys Turner I refer to often puts it, "in the sense in which atheists… say God ‘does not exist’, the atheist has merely arrived at the theological starting point. Theologians of the classical traditions, an Augustine, a Thomas Aquinas or a Meister Eckhart, simply agree about the disposing of idolatries, and then proceed with the proper business of doing theology."

This distinction corresponds, I think, to the distinction between the sophisticated and the humourless atheists. The sophisticated atheist recognises what is being talked about; the humourless doesn't.

Anyhow, this was really a ground-clearing post. Consider it a 'clearing of the throat before speech'.


The Fate of the Book

Monday, July 28, 2008

I am Legend

It took me a long while to get around to watching this as I didn't have especially high hopes, but I was very impressed. Excellent performance from Will Smith, with a persuasive portrayal of loneliness-inducing-madness. And an orthodox message too.


Noah's Ark.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Reasonable Atheism (23): something about mystery and idolatry

The Chimp takes me to task here for being too vague about God (or, to be more precise, about sometimes being vague when pressed, at other times being quite concrete).

So: an analogy which may help.

Consider a diesel engine (something I've been doing a lot of recently) eg in a car or a boat.

Someone can own a car with a diesel engine and know very little about that engine, save that it requires to be supplied with fuel on a regular basis, and that it can be kicked into motion by turning a key.

Another person might know a little more - might know, for example, that diesel engines don't require a spark plug, because the ignition comes from compression of fuel; they might also know some rudiments about how to maintain the engine, eg to check the oil, know how to bleed it of air, and so on.

Another person - say a mechanic working in the garage - might know even more about a particular engine. He would be familiar with how to diagnose faults, how to fine tune it to run optimally, perhaps some history of previous engines in the line and so on.

Finally, another person might be the chief engineer and designer of the engine itself. Such a person might not only know all the attributes of this engine to astonishing detail, but also why the engine was made in one way or another, so are aware, for example, of the balances and trade-offs between one feature and another. Any conceivably realistic question about this engine can be answered by the engineer - the engineer has total knowledge of the engine.

Now the point about idolatry, with regard to God (useful summary: God is not a member of any set) is really about setting limits to what we can know or say about God. In other words, what Christians can say about God belongs to the first three categories of knowledge described above. We can never get to a point of total and exhaustive knowledge about God. Because we're not God - we are creatures, he is creator.

Now it is not, to my mind, a legitimate objection, to say of theology that because it cannot provide the fourth form of knowledge, it is epistemologically inadequate. The first three forms of knowledge are still valid, and don't require the existence of a person with fourth level knowledge to be valid - in just the same way that the first person to develop the knowledge of flint-knapping didn't require a masters degree in paleontology first.

Which flags up the division which really lurks behind some of these conversations. At the end of the day, theology is reflection around a praxis. When critics of the reflection say 'there is no such thing' I feel that they miss the praxis which makes sense of the words. In just the same way that someone driving their diesel engine might say 'I've got no idea how this engine works but it gets me from A to B'. The lack of total knowledge is an insufficient objection.

The Dark Knight

Excellent in lots of different ways. 4.5/5

The trouble with the Joker as a villain - and Heath Ledger is remarkably good in this, much better than Nicholson, and he wasn't bad - is that he outshines Batman himself. I wouldn't have rated this so highly if we didn't have Batman Begins to fall back on.

NB the sound at the Odeon cinema in Colchester was not as good as it might have been. There were various elements of dialogue that I missed. I look forward to getting my own DVD copy and rewatching it. Once or twice...


A bit silly, but basically fine. 3/5

One question though: I've always thought that one of (if not THE) most central parts of directing is eliciting believable performances from your cast. There were moments in this film when the acting creaked like a ancient floorboard. Ritchie can handle the camera but he doesn't seem to be able to handle a cast, or dialogue.

The Transporter

Does exactly what it says on the tin. 3/5


Perfect. 5/5

Took the kids to see this last weekend, but I haven't had a chance to post the review until now! Several more about to come though...


Look Mum, one handed!

Oops, now I'm one footed!

Oh £$*#!


Proof of our dark side.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We are all Dave Walkers now

Dave Walker is the Cartoon blogger, and currently cartoonist in residence at the Lambeth conference. He's also a really good bloke, who has been, over the last several months, exposing the incompetence and injustice of the people who have taken over the SPCK chain. They have now come down with heavy hobnailed boots upon him, and served a 'cease and desist' order against him, with which he has complied.

Several people have written about this - see a list here - (see also my comment on Peter Kirk's blog here) but it seems to me that there are several serious issues about free speech at stake.

I suggest that those who have sympathy with Dave and wish to show solidarity with him should search the google cache for Dave's posts about SPCK and re-post samples on their own blogs.

Like this:

SPCK / SSG Bookshop Posts

This page contains Cartoon Blog entries which relate to the former SPCK bookshops now operated by the St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust. See this post for the current status of each of the shops as far as it is known.

Click here to return to the Cartoon Blog main page.

See pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

July 8th, 2008

My silence

I’ve been aware that this has been a sad week for many readers of the Cartoon Blog. Many of those visiting have been mourning the death of Steve Jeynes, the Worcester bookseller, who, judging from the comments posted on this site was loved by many. In the circumstances the usual nonsense that I write on this site has not seemed appropriate, hence my silence.

The memorial service for Steve Jeynes took place yesterday. The Worcester News has a report: Tributes paid to exceptional man. Doug Chaplain was there and has written about it. See also on the SPCK/SSG blog: Steve Jeynes: A Life Remembered.

This will be one of the last former-SPCK-related posts that I expect to do until September as I am away doing one thing and another. I have one more bookshop-related thing that I need to post about which has arisen as a result of a comment (not yet visible) on this site on Sunday morning. I will hopefully do that post today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday).

The place to go for former-SPCK-related posts for the next month or two is SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info. [Aside to Phil: hopefully you will post Plans Coming Together for New Christian Bookshop in Cardiff on the SSG/SPCK site when the time is right - a post well worth sharing.]

I hope to post a bit more on this blog this week, including an announcement about my new book and plans for Lambeth.

Posted by Dave at 1:06 am on July 8, 2008 and filed under Blogging, Save the SPCK.


July 3rd, 2008

Memorial service for Steve Jeynes

worcester spckThe memorial service for Steve Jeynes is now to be held at Worcester Cathedral at 3.30pm on Monday 7th July, followed by refreshments at Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

There is a news item in the Worcester News today, and another in the Worcester Standard. Update: Also Worcester News: Hundreds expected to bookseller’s memorial

Many tributes have been left in the comments of my previous post and on other sites linked from there.

Image: the former SPCK shop in Worcester

Posted by Dave at 7:57 am on July 3, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK.

No Comments

June 27th, 2008

SPCK / SSG: Tragic news from Worcester

There is some tragic news from the Worcester Diocese. This note was sent out today to clergy within the Diocese by the Communications department:

I am very sorry to tell you that Steve Jeynes, has been found dead, apparently having taken his own life. Many of you will know him from his work at the SSGT (ex-SPCK) shop in Worcester, from where he was made redundant two weeks ago.

Please hold (the) family in your prayers, together with the many friends whose lives have been enriched through Steve’s loving generosity in serving the Lord.

Details of the funeral arrangements will be made available in due course.

Doug Chaplain has posted here: In Worcester the SSG / SPCK saga turns to tragedy

Please remember Steve’s family, friends and all affected in your prayers.

Update: A service of Thanksgiving for Steve’s life will take place on Monday 7 July 2008 at 3:30 pm at All Saints’ Church, Deansway, Worcester. The Thanksgiving Service has been moved from All Saints’ Church to the Cathedral at 3.30pm on Monday 7th July followed by refreshments at Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

Further tributes have been posted here and here.

Posted by Dave at 5:53 pm on June 27, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK, Religion.


SPCK / SSG bookshop news

A couple of things:

New website
Phil Groom has set up a new group blog on the subject of the former SPCK shops. It is here: SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info. If you’re interested in SPCK/ SSG updates please bookmark this site and/or subscribe to the feed. I do intend to continue writing on the subject on this blog, but during July and August in particular I will have very little (if any) time to devote to writing on the topic owing to my preparation for and participation in the Lambeth conference and being away from home for various other reasons.

If there is anyone who would like to contribute to the new site please contact Phil directly.

Staff pay
An update to my last post - some staff have now been paid. I have made an update to my last post to reflect this and will update again if it emerges that all staff have now been paid.

News reports
Bookseller: SSG tribunal claims mount
Chester Chronicle: Union action to support sacked Chester bookshop workers
Lincolnshire Echo: ‘Sacked’ shop staff in court action

Posted by Dave at 9:09 am on June 27, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK, Religion.


June 25th, 2008

SSG: Bankruptcy papers received, employees not paid

Bankruptcy papers received
Some people in the UK have been receiving papers relating to the SSG ‘bankruptcy’ from the US Bankruptcy Court of the District of Southern District of Texas. There will apparently be a ‘meeting of creditors’ on 22 July in Houston.

Having done a quick search I notice that there was, on 18 June a ’status conference’ for St Stephen the Great LLC in the bankruptcy court (this can be found on a cached Google page saved here). Information on the chapter 11 bankruptcy process can be found via this page: Chapter 11 - Bankruptcy Basics

All of this must be seen in the light of Usdaw’s statement yesterday, now available on the Usdaw website:

Usdaw firmly believes that the bankruptcy proceedings in the US have no effect in the UK, because this is a UK company with entirely UK-based assets and activities.

Also, from John Hannett, the General Secretary of Usdaw:

These loyal staff are being given misleading information about these US bankruptcy proceedings and the effects this may have on their rights to take legal action in the UK. Our fear is that the Brewers’ actions may be an attempt to move assets away from the business and out of the reach of our members with legitimate claims.

“We will carry on as before with the claims against the Brewers who are accumulating wealth whilst riding roughshod over hard working employees. We will continue to assist all our members affected by this messy situation and work to rectify it as soon as possible.”

Employees not paid
On a related note some (all?) of the people who work or worked in the shops have not been paid today (the 25th) as they would usually be. See for instance these blog comments. [Update: some employees have now been paid]

Telegraph blog post
Christopher Howse (who wrote Saturday’s comment piece) has written on his Telegraph blog about the Orthodox church in Poole: Orthodox Exodus. As others have pointed out this isn’t new information, but I thought I’d post the link anyway.

Posted by Dave at 3:05 pm on June 25, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK, Religion.


June 24th, 2008

Usdaw press release about the former SPCK shops

Usdaw fights for mistreated bookshop workers

Shopworkers’ union, Usdaw, has submitted 15 employment tribunal claims against the Brewers, US-based brothers who have taken over a chain of UK bookshops and were seeking to impose a new contract on staff, drastically reducing their contractual rights. The Union has over 50 members at the bookshops and is expecting that the number of employment tribunal claims will rise.

The Brewer brothers were gifted the St. Stephen the Great Christian bookshops in 2006 by SPCK. The chain includes 23 bookshops, many of which are historic buildings in prime retail positions.

Following the change of ownership, a new contract was drawn up increasing the working week from 37.5 to 40 hours with no additional pay, turning all part-time staff into casual staff with no guaranteed hours every week and taking away all rights to company sick pay.

Now, virtually all Usdaw members have been dismissed with no notice, some by email, and have received little or no information about what this means for their rights and their pay.

The Brewer brothers have now filed St. Stephen the Great for bankruptcy in the US. Usdaw firmly believes that the bankruptcy proceedings in the US have no effect in the UK, because this is a UK company with entirely UK-based assets and activities. Staff have been told that they can apply for jobs with ENC Management Company, which is also owned by the Brewers, but that they no longer have jobs with St. Stephen the Great.

Usdaw is also aware that the Charity Commission has been alerted to these actions because of its role in regulating the activities of the linked charity, St. Stephen the Great Charitable Trust.

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary, stated:

“It is clear that staff, many of whom have been long standing loyal workers, have been mistreated and many are understandably very upset and concerned. We are very concerned at a new company (ENC Management Company) being set up in these circumstances, while our members are losing their jobs. These loyal staff are being given misleading information about these US bankruptcy proceedings and the effects this may have on their rights to take legal action in the UK. Our fear is that the Brewers’ actions may be an attempt to move assets away from the business and out of the reach of our members with legitimate claims.

“We will carry on as before with the claims against the Brewers who are accumulating wealth whilst riding roughshod over hard working employees. We will continue to assist all our members affected by this messy situation and work to rectify it as soon as possible.”


St. Stephen the Great shops at which Usdaw members are affected:

§ Cambridge
§ Carlisle
§ Chester
§ Exeter
§ Lincoln
§ Newcastle
§ Norwich
§ Sheffield
§ Worcester
§ York

Usdaw is the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers

Update: This press release is now available via the Usdaw website: Usdaw fights for mistreated bookshop workers

Posted by Dave at 8:13 am on June 24, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK, Religion.


June 21st, 2008

Former SPCK bookshops in the Telegraph

Christopher Howse: The bare and desolate SPCK bookshops

Posted by Dave at 9:57 am on June 21, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK, Religion.


June 20th, 2008

Today’s former SPCK bookshop news

From the Chester Chronicle: Christian bookshop sacks staff by e-mail

From the Eastern Daily Press: Christian bookshop stripped of stock

From the comments below:

The article in the Eastern Daily Press concerning the Norwich shop mentions three potential future tenants.
One of the bids is from the Norwich Christian Resource Centre, a new Community Interest Company with six directors from various denominations, all with a wealth of business experience.
They are giving their time and talents free of charge and are all passionate to re-establish the centre that had become such an integral part of the community of Norfolk and beyond, as quoted in the article.
The company would run as a non-profit making business and strive to return the centre to it’s original ethos, offering the widest breadth of stock, knowledgable staff, a high level of customer service and the ‘best capuccino in town’.
Prayers for this venture very welcome.

Also, from the comments yesterday, this by ‘concerned dad’:

My daughter applied for holiday work via an agency in Newcastle and took up a job in the Newcastle shop - we were completely unaware of the situation. She is expected to work completely on her own for 6 hours a day several days a week, somebody else does the other days - both are temps, no permanent staff, no training or guidance. She has creditors and people chasing book orders ringing up but no information to be able to respond to them. She is employed and paid by the agency (that is the theory anyway, will be interesting to find out what happens on payday!) If we had known about the situation we would not have got into this, but the agency were not very forthcoming with details about the shop until it was virtually too late…. So Newcastle is open - after a fashion, but far from satisfactory situation.

Update (lunchtime) Phil Groom has posted: SPCK/SSG News Archives. (I’ll try to say something about the blog idea later or over the weekend.)

Posted by Dave at 8:18 am on June 20, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK, Religion.


June 19th, 2008

Website updates

salisbury former spck

The SPCKonline website is now the same as the Third Space books website. Details of most shops have been updated. Some, like Salisbury (above - thanks to ezlxq), are on very limited hours and appear to be relying on voluntary labour. I’m aware that I need to keep updating the shop roundup page - updates appreciated.

The entry for the Norwich shop says ‘You are not authorised to view this resource’. That is probably because there is no resource to view - I am informed that a removal firm packed up all the books, fixtures and fittings and was taking them to the Chichester shop today.

Meanwhile the St Stephen the Great LLC website has been updated today “Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 June 2008 )“, but there is still no mention of the ‘bankruptcy’.

I have updated the Church Times blog with a list of news reports and letters about the former SPCK shops.

Melanie, the former manager of the SPCKonline site has written an interesting comment on Phil’s bookshop blog.

Posted by Dave at 5:43 pm on June 19, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK, Religion.


June 18th, 2008

Norwich / York


Network Norwich has the following: Norwich Christian bookshop closes its doors

Meanwhile, from the comments section of this blog:

In 2003 I was taken to a city centre deconsecrated church by Stephen Platten, then Dean of Norwich. We both thought how splendid it would be to relocate the SPCK Bookshop, it’s decrepid premises huddling in a side street, to this magnificent medieval building.
In January of the next year Bishop Graham James officially blessed the vision along with representatives from virtually every denomination.
After many trials and tribulations and delays of several months, the centre opened on 13 July 2004. I had been privileged to help plan the layout and the concept.
Over 180 people attended the rededictation of the church to it’s new use in on a Friday morning in October 2004!
Within 3 years the loyal team had doubled the turnover of the previous shop and provided access to thousands of visitors from the Christian faith or none, to be offered an exceptionally broad range of product, a place to meet and be refreshed in the cafe.
We held events on a monthly basis. Highlights included: a lecture by Bishop Tom Wright attended by 350 plus, an Advent evening with Ronald Blythe during which three Salvation Army bandsmen managed to ascend the spiral staircase complete with trombone and play from the balcony, debates between bishops and humanists; Professor Brian Thorne and Ian Gibson MP and a Fawlty Towers evening!
This morning I visited the centre with my two sons, on the last day of trading. It was in fact open after 11-00.
To describe it as semi-vandalised would not be overstating the sight of half-empty boxes relocated from the London shop several weeks ago still blocking the porch and what is left of the stock lurching across the shelves.
Visiting the church on a regular basis over the past months I have been moved from frustration, to anger, to sadness, to disbelief as to how such a thiving resource could be laid to seed.
Today is a very sad day for the ex-staff, all but one of whom have yet to find new employment and the Christian community, who are voicing that ‘their’ centre has been lost - a high compliment indeed.
I count myself blessed to have been offered an alternative position within the Christian retail environment and have thus stayed in touch with so many of my customers who had become friends.
However, it’s never over until the Canary sings as we say in Narwich, so please keep praying for an unlikely resurrection in the not too distant future.
‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’


‘Richard and Gill’ on Flickr have a recent picture of the former SPCK shop in York.

Meanwhile, I found this blog post written in Chinese on June 16. It sounds as if it is by someone working in the York shop. Google translated it as follows:

I should be very fortunate, at least in this area to work, to York the second week, it began a career Part-time job. However, this is not so much a subjective initiative, I found, than to use a blind cat encountered more aptly described as dead mice. At that time, purely in the City Centre Luancuan, Okay, I admit that, in fact, I had lost. The results of the accidents that have been in SPCK work.

This is one in the entire United Kingdom has 28 Chain stores of the Christian Bookshop, a harmonious working atmosphere, have fixed the breakfast 11am and 3pm the afternoon tea time and all the break are paid. However, however, however, but, boom is not long, SPCK be acquired. A U.S. company called SSG took over the bookstore this. British indeed are born of hatred of Americans, the shop all the old staff have left, but Fortunately, the Manager of new people is pretty good. I want to go to the SSG, also by the nature of the work before the development of a simple cashier to accountant, gradually began to contact the bank’s work. Sense of accomplishment that is not an ordinary Youranersheng ah.

Boom is not really long, SSG recently went bankrupt, another bookstore was an American company take over. David and Olga have left, I left the bookstore on the people. Optimistic, I am now boss hey. Pessimistic, I really do not know Bookstore will close on this, I have on unemployment.

SPCK in the UK with my life is inseparable from, I Baijia all have come from the capital where wages. However, it also sacrificed a lot with my family Dear Amanda travel out of time. Switzerland, Rome, Prague, Barcelona, Fuluolunsa I have no time to. My dear SPCK, you can see in my youth to take all the copies to you, will not be so quick to close OK. You, and so I kept enough money to the United States, Greece, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Arctic Circle, and so I kept enough money to buy Chanel, Dior, Fendi, Prada to the temporary close it, but I travel back and so on, then opened the door for ah

This might or might not mean that the York shop is open.

Posted by Dave at 11:28 am on June 18, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK.


June 13th, 2008

Charity Commission to investigate SSG

News reports

Closures and openings

  • We think that the shops that have closed since the bankruptcy announcement are:
    Birmingham, Canterbury, Chester, Exeter, Newcastle, Norwich (closing on June 14) Worcester, York. These may be temporary or permanent.
  • Salisbury is now open again.
  • I’m still attempting to maintain a complete list here.

New map

  • On the Third Space books site (Is Third Space books bankrupt or not? Not sure.) a new map of the SSG shops appeared on June 7. Bristol, Carlisle, Lincoln and London have been taken off. Cardiff remains. ‘Leichester’ (not on the old map) has been added.

Posted by Dave at 8:20 am on June 13, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK, Religion.


June 11th, 2008

Former SPCK bookshop closures

Exeter shop

I have been attempting to update my SPCK bookshop roundup page. Please take a look and tell me whether I am being accurate.

In the last few days I have been told that the following shops have been closed, but some of these closures might be temporary:

Posted by Dave at 6:11 pm on June 11, 2008 and filed under Save the SPCK, Religion.



The religious affiliation of comic book characters.