Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wright's Blair Decade

The Daily Telegraph runs a feature today called My Blair Decade. As you'd expect from the Telegraph, it's all pretty negative, with the exception of a teacher in Nottingham who thinks, rightly in my view, that the Education System is now in better shape, but my reason for mentioning the article here is that it has a contribution from the Bishop of Durham, N. T. Wright, who is well known to all New Testament students these days. Increasingly of late, Wright has been willing to talk about politics, and here he talks only about politics, not a mention of Jesus, the kingdom of God, return from exile, Israel's God, the Scriptures or narrative. Perhaps the Telegraph took those bits out.

High hopes that died in the disaster of Iraq
Jonathan Petre
. . . With the disastrous escapade in Iraq, there was a sense of horror that the two world leaders who were most overtly Christian - Bush and Blair - should be lured into such a disastrous parody or caricature of the Christian imperialist, going around the world beating up Johnny foreigner and the infidel.

That's been a huge tragedy. There was a sense of something good and possible in Blair and his government which has been led to spend billions of pounds and hundreds of British lives on a fool's errand.

In the world of employment, we have seen the pulling apart of the high-earning professional fields, where there are massive rewards for young people in financially related fields, or the law. But not if you choose to do what our oldest son has done, which is follow me into the academic world. I was a theology don and he is a history lecturer at Durham University and he is paid not much more than a vicar . . .
On the last point, which I am better qualified to speak on than some of the others, and which has some relevance to this blog's topic, there is some truth, but things have got better for academics under Labour than they were a decade ago. My starting salary as a Lecturer in Birmingham in 1995 was something like £6,000 less than the starting salary for a lecturer now of the same age and qualifications, and the salary scale for academics overall has become much more competitive in the last decade, so that now many British academics are earning more than their American counterparts of similar age and experience. There is still some way to go, but I think that's one of the areas where progress has been made.

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