Sunday, 6 December 2009


Christmas has arrived as far as I am concerned since yesterday I had my first Christmas dinner. It was so very good that any subsequent festive meals have a lot to live up to and believe me comparisons are unavoidable. It was so generous that I have to go back next week to have my Christmas pudding, and the coffee…

But do I let you in on the secret or will I be making things more difficult for myself?  Every other Saturday Ann and I go into Swansea to our favourite cafe, more often if we can. Its always bustling but we always find a table as our host constantly busies himself making sure that no one is turned away and even if you have to wait it is always worth it, and the coffee…

The menu is colourful and varied and the specials on the board are always worth trying (which is where I found my Christmas dinner). The Italian dishes are especially good, and did I mention the coffee?

You know that, wherever you go, when you order a coffee you are taking a risk. I mean you don’t expect much at motorway services or at Sid’s greasy spoon, but even in places that claim to be dedicated to the art of serving a good cup of coffee, where reputation rests on the quality of the java and little else, the good stuff does not often make it to your table.

Well, I know a place where the good stuff is standard faire and a man at whose feet baristi of the world should sit and learn. Franco has a modest but popular cafe in Singleton Street, Swansea, just across from the Quadrant shopping centre and around the corner from the city’s bustling market. He drives his longsuffering wife crazy with Dean Martin music and serves coffee that is like the ambrosia served up to the gods, sustaining, invigorating, liquid gold and all served with a smile in an atmosphere of good cheer.

There now, I have told you so if I can’t find a table when next I go I have only myself to blame. On the other hand, what civilised man could possibly keep such a good thing to himself. See you in Franco's. Bon app├ętit!


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience

On November 20th a formidable coalition of 150 Catholic, Orthodox, and evangelical leaders released a 4,700-word document, titled the "The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience," which calls on Christians to engage in civil disobedience to defend their doctrines.

It calls on Christians to reject secular authority — and even engage in civil disobedience — if laws force them to accept abortion, same-sex marriage, and other ideas that betray their religious beliefs.

Signatories ranged from evangelical leader Chuck Colson to two of the leading Catholic prelates in the United States, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.

It is frustrating, even frightening to see the direction this world is travelling and it is easy as individuals to complain from the relative safety of our pews, generating our pet conspiracy theories and eschatological predictions. Leaders do not have the luxury of relative anonymity and carry a burden of responsibility the ordinary Christian rarely understands.

They cannot speak casually, have a good rant on a personal blog, or gather with others around their complaints to have a good moan. They know that when they speak people listen and make important decisions based on what they hear. These leaders are careful and measured in what they say and this makes it all the more important that they have made such an uncompromising and public statement.

The full declaration and a list of signatories can be found here

An executive summary can be found here

You can put your name to the declaration here