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Presbyterian Church asks PM to guarantee savings

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William Crawley | 14:44 UK time, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

_45199723_c67d77b8-bbe1-4529-a656-0ddc42332931.jpgThe Presbyterian Moderator has asked the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to guarantee the savings of members of the Presbyterian Mutual Society, while at the same time confirming that the Presbyterian Church itself 'cannot in any way underwrite the commitments of the Society'. The Presbyterian Mutual Society exists as a separate legal entity from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, though its membership is restricted to members of the Church. It currently holds some 9,500 shareholders' accounts throughout Ireland. In the year to March 31, 2008, it recorded assets of some £300m.

The Presbyterian Church's press statement continues: 'The situation which has arisen is part of the wider credit crunch which seems to have taken everyone by surprise. The Mutual Society found in recent weeks that the requests to withdraw money have far exceeded the liquid cash funds which are available. Of course in the longer term the assets of the Society are in loans and property which are secure and can be realised, although this is not the best time to sell property. The Directors are rightly asking for time to handle the situation in the best way for everyone, but of course that may not be how this develops.'


  • Comment number 1.

    Ah, I see we're trusting in the lord Gord Brown now!

    There are so many things which could be said about this I just don't know where to start, however I feel a rant coming on, so, if the said rant materialises, maybe I ought to preface it with the following.

    The Presbyterian Mutual Society on the following link,


    states, "Membership is confined to members of the Presbyterian Church", so, as a member of PCI I feel perfectly happy making whatever comments follow. Understand though, I'm not in anyway suggesting that anyone else ought to feel that they have to be a member of PCI to comment, indeed as far as I'm concerned the more criticism the better.


    Comment one.

    The idea that those claiming to be the people of God and followers of Jesus Christ should find it possible to reconcile, in anyway, the investment of members money in the financial market i.e. "invested in established banks in Northern Ireland", loan money to members for which interest is charged (against detailed security), and encourage members to charge their fellows for such loans, is intolerable.

    Each and every single one of us is subject to the world of finance in one way of another, but the clarion call, in word and deed, from the church ought to be justice for the poor and the oppressed.

  • Comment number 2.

    Uh...... Peter.....

    Are you saying that Christians shouldn't earn money?

  • Comment number 3.

    It goes deeper than that John. Peter's comment seems to be an argument against banks, investments, and the money system itself. Peter these debates were resolved in the 17th century by Reformed theologians who made the case for interest (such as Calvin). Are you sure you want to make this kind of argument?

  • Comment number 4.

    Guys, the critical point here is (1) that this is about the church and (2) that the PMS are asking for special treatment in relation to investments gone wrong while half the world starves. Investment equals risk, everybody knows that. I know that we can't solve every ill, BUT, and it's a really important but, when the church is too often seen to be more concerned with investments, property and finance, than it is with people, I object. This is about how we (collectively) use our money.

    Frankly I don't care what Calvin said, this is an opportunity for the church to examine itself and the way in which it uses it's money. (Anyway, Calvin had a problem called Geneva!)

    Put simply £2000 invested in an Aids education programme, a 'clean water' project, a house building project, 'food aid', schools, medical care or anything else you care to mention can never be lost because of a credit crunch because it's an investment in people and it's time we (the church) started putting people ahead of church buildings, sound systems, dividends and the 'tat' sold in an awful lot of our bookshops.

    Sorry, it makes me cross.

    Augustine, I didn't argue against banks, I argued against Christians setting up one of their own for the sole use of their own members.

    We're supposed to be the Church, not a financial institution.

    John - no, that would be stupid; but I do think that, as far as the church is concerned, how we earn our money and how we use it is important.

  • Comment number 5.

    Peter- Frankly, I think the world you want the church to reach could do with hearing a message about how to earn money and keep it, invest it and see return; if it learned that the church may not NEED to 'send' the message about poverty in the first place. (This is assuming of course that anybody listens to the church or their 'message' in the first place.)

    In other words, I think it's a great way to share investments and the chance for churches to borrow at good rates and that alone could set a good example about how to be responsible about money.

    Your 'Jesus was a socialist' -ism is showing itself Peter!....

  • Comment number 6.

    The greedy Presbyterian who would rather trust filthy lucre rather than trust God are now running scared and are panicking that they might lose their capital because the moths of the credit crunch are at work eating up their uncertain riches, hardly the riches of glory, the churches business is about saving souls not about saving earthly riches, Jesus, said, "How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

  • Comment number 7.

    The Puritan agrees with you Peter: saving and investing is bad!

  • Comment number 8.


    Don't get me started.

    There are people all over the world who do work damn hard, longer hours and in much, much worse conditions than I, and I expect you, do. They make our t-shirts and sew stupid sequins, one at a time, on jeans for grown-ups who should know better. Some of them are forced into labour, some of them die, some of them are children. Some of them are victims of war and oppression. Some of them suffer because we are greedy. Some of them are victims of natural disasters. But sure, rip out the sound system and put in a bigger one. Install 'tip up' theater style seating so we don't get a sore ass listening to the sermon about how much money we need for the new extension and while we're at it lend to the people we call 'brothers and sisters' for profit instead of kindness. It's selfishness.

    I'm not talking about the 'secular' financial world, I'm talking about the church, and they are looking for special treatment, do you agree with that?

    Jesus wasn't a socialist, socialism wasn't invented before he showed up.

    As Augustine of Clippo said, it runs much deeper than that, although he doesn't appear to agree with me.

    Jesus is the King of a new Kingdom. It runs to a community called church. It concerns magnanimity, grace, generosity and mercy. It's supposed to look like love. It's supposed to look like the gospel. Justice and mercy are social. Justice and mercy are spiritual. They are concerned with every aspect of our lives. In terms of the big picture it's called Shalom.

    At no time have I said people shouldn't work, so don't run with that twist. What I said is that we have our priorities wrong, people are dying and 300 million would go a long way, only it can't, cause we don't have it any more.

    Post 7 John. Are you trying to insult me! :-) The Puritan is right! The Presbys are running scared! The church is about 'saving souls', every aspect of the human soul, the physical and the spiritual.

    The church is supposed to be good news for the poor, but maybe we're all too rich to notice.

    And I haven't even started to rant yet!!

  • Comment number 9.

    What happened to "in god we trust?"

  • Comment number 10.

    Peter you say that 300m would go a long way as if this money belonged to the Presbyterian Church. This money is the assets of a mutual society and belongs to the investors. What they do with that money is a matter for them, not the Presbyterian Church (which, incidentally, has NO rights to that money since it is a separate organisation).

  • Comment number 11.


    "I'm not talking about the 'secular' financial world, I'm talking about the church, and they are looking for special treatment, do you agree with that?"

    No, I don't want special rights for anyone. But you appear to object to even the IDEA of a mutual fund for members of a Christian church. Christians are IN the secular world (if not of it, whatever that means); doesn't that mean being a part of it financially too, as I suspect you are (heavily) also?

    "There are people all over the world who do work damn hard, longer hours and in much, much worse conditions than I, and I expect you, do. They make our t-shirts and sew stupid sequins, one at a time, on jeans for grown-ups who should know better. Some of them are forced into labour, some of them die, some of them are children."

    Yes, and it's the church's job to stand against that. But you're wrong if you think MOST overseas labour is like that. MOST are NOT children, NOT victims of war, NOT forced into labour. In fact, MOST (the vast majority) who work for companies producing western goods are making 200, 300, 500, 1000 percent of the average wage in their countries and the western companies they work for are helping them OUT of poverty! Do your homework! Don't get ME started!!

    "...people are dying and 300 million would go a long way..."

    What you appear to be advocating here is that the Presbyterians who invested in the mutual society - no matter how much they rely on that money for their retirement - should sacrifice it all to give it to the third world instead. Economically, in a global sense, and with a keen eye to social justice in the world, that's a horrendous idea for several major reasons. It is the epitome of 'wrong' to think that the way to eradicate poverty permanently in the third world is for first-world people to work, making money, then to give much of it to the third world. What they need, long-term, is what we have: capitalism. (Teach him to fish...?) And it isn't going to happen if we give up our own capitalism to do it! They need our example AND the runoff of our wealth, neither of which they have if we abandon our mutual funds and cease making money with our money. (As a side note, I find it incredible that you don't think any of the money made by the Presbyterian Mutual Society will find its way to the third world by the Presbyterians who participate in both the PMS and Tearfund, for example. That's money that, without the PMS, wouldn't exist to give in the first place!)

    In short, I think you misunderstand economics (as do so many on the Left who are concerned about social justice, both secular and church). It wasn't western giving that eased the poverty of India or China in recent decades. It was following the western example of how to compete in free markets and make money!

    Capitalism isn't the enemy of social justice, Peter. It's its greatest hope.

  • Comment number 12.

    John / Augustine

    I don't have time for a full reply now, so a shorter one will have to do.

    I thought I was being quite clear about what I said.

    (1) I wasn't criticizing capitalism per se.

    (2) I was raising an issue which contrasts how the western church often organizes itself in an unjust world.

    (3) I wasn't confusing individual financial choices with 'The Presbyterian Church' - obviously it is not my money or our money, I was suggesting that deciding to organize a Church Mutual was questionable. It's about how we understand who we are.

    (4) I related the issue of finance to the gospel - Justice - Mercy - Grace - How we decide to live individually and collectively is important.

    (5) I spoke of the church as a community and that, John, in part, answers what it means to be 'not of' this world.

    (6) I didn't say that the money wouldn't be put to good use, I questioned how the church uses it. In other words how do we collectively understand 'money'. I spoke of priorities.

    (7) I didn't say we should sacrifice to the extent that we go poor - that would be dumb.

    (8) I'm not talking about handouts - I actually mentioned quite a lot about education and medicine.

    BTW I'm glad you don't support special treatment, we have no right to it yet that, it seems is what is expected.

    I've only had time to give your comments a quick scan, but before I get back maybe I could raise this question; what is the church for?

    And I didn't say capitalism was our, or anyone's enemy.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why don't you all stop all this religious bickering and just grasp the reality of the situation here. Can someone please tell me why my 80 year old mother, whose husband has just died of a hospital acquired infection, has had their life savings (not a lot) frozen in an institution they thought was safe. She is a good person and doesn't deserve the stress and financial hardship this will undoubtedly cause her.

  • Comment number 14.

    Peter- Thanks for clarifying that. I'm glad you aren't attacking capitalism. We have to stop seeing wealth and richness as the enemy of social justice. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are also the most socially active. You gotta make it before you can give it (and that's a lesson we aren't teaching effectively enough with regard to Africa, for example, and I agree with you that education is vital).

    What is the church? I admit I'm not qualified to give an answer to that question at this post-evangelical stage in my life. As I've largely given up on church (except for a handful of communities I feel bound to in some important ways), I'm perhaps not the best person to deal with this question. But - and I say this with the utmost respect for your beliefs - I suspect that I wouldn't be any keener on 'church' were it to change in the way you imply you would like! That's no indictment of your position, and says more about my own position than it does about the popularity of your own (I think many Christians agree with you and would like to see the church taken in a more 'Tony Campolo' direction).

  • Comment number 15.

    Lesmog- You clearly don't understand that there are risks associated with investing in ANY financial institution. The reality of the situation is that there's no cash for the PMS to give, and that's life. I hope your mother is okay and that it won't be too long until she can get a withdrawal.

  • Comment number 16.

    You are right. And wrong in your presumption that I don't understand finance. Of course I understand there are risks in any financial institution. As I have e-mailed the organisation, my mother would have been better off keeping her money under the bed!

  • Comment number 17.


    I am sorry to hear of your circumstances.

    I don't think it's religious bickering; I actually think that our conversation might go some way to answering your question.

    The money, it seems, has been frozen because the PMS doesn't actually have any at the moment. That is intolerable, but it is a consequence of being involved in the financial system.

    Maybe if the church understood just a little more about community, thereby being able to care for people like your mother, we wouldn't be in the mess.

    As I said, it goes to the core of what the church is.

    Actually, I wish our local church or your mother's local church could do something practical for her, but that doesn't seem to be one of our priorities.

    And PCI generally don't appear to be willing to help.

  • Comment number 18.

    Lesmog- Okay, but your first posting sounded like an attack on the PMS, as though you're blaming them for the situation. Clearly these are the risks with investments and it's an individual choice whether to take them or not.

    Peter- It isn't "intolerable." I mean, you either tolerate it or you don't get involved; either way it's a free choice. I'd be interested in what you feel the church should have done / be doing to prevent Lesmog's mother from being in this situation. Just bring her canned soup? Or form a sort of evangelical hippie commune in which everyone shares everything?

  • Comment number 19.

    I once again find myself in broad agreement with PeterM.

    Christians who use the financial markets as a model for dealing with one another are essentially denying Christ and repudiating his teaching.

    Saving and investing are taking thought for the morrow and demonstrate a total lack of real faith or trust in the ability of the Christian to obtain from immersion in God all the resources he needs for any situation he might face.

    Lending upon usury both suggests a desire to accumulate treasure where moth and rust doth consume, and where thieves break through and steal and an ability to be possessed of this world's goods while shutting off compassion from one's brother in need - consequently damned by the mouth of Jesus as bereft of the love of God.

    Whatever spurious self-serving misinterpretations generations of theologians have made I have no hesitation in saying that lending money, especially with interest, is inherently not merely non-Christian but anti-Christian.

  • Comment number 20.

    John - the hippie commune doesn't have to be evangelical!

  • Comment number 21.

    OMG you two.


    People are not using the markets "as a model for dealing with one another"; they're using the markets to invest their money!

    I'd like to know if either Peter Morrow or Portwyne have any money, where it's located and are the banks involved, because, if so, they are interest-bearing and you're doing the same thing. And on the comment about lending, do either of you (or have you ever) had mortgages? It's fascinating to discover this pocket of bullshit within the Christian Left! lol

  • Comment number 22.

    John - you asked direct questions so I think it is fair to provide the answers. It is probably fair, too, to say that I speak from the luxury of the financial security which comes from being in a profession where I earn more than I need and where my income is unlikely to be affected by the credit crunch.

    I possess very little surplus capital and that is not invested in interest-bearing investments. My current account is interest bearing but while around ten pounds a year interest earned may violate the strict interpretation of the principle I doubt if it will endanger my soul - if I have one.

    I have had a mortgage, mea culpa, I confess my sins. It was from from an ordinary building society - not a 'Christian' one. Borrowing is not ideal but it is, in my opinion, in a different category from lending. The Christian should dispose of his surplus wealth not hoard it.

  • Comment number 23.


    I thought the penny had dropped, if you'll pardon the pun. (The pound most certainly has.)

    A couple of quotes from me, for reference purposes only, you understand.

    "I'm not talking about the 'secular' financial world, I'm talking about the church, and they are looking for special treatment."
    "I didn't argue against banks, I argued against Christians setting up one of their own for the sole use of their own members."
    "Each and every single one of us is subject to the world of finance in one way of another, but the clarion call, in word and deed, from the church ought to be justice for the poor and the oppressed."

    Do you see the distinction I am making?

    Of course I have money, but the thing is I am being charged interest, not earning it, on the mortgage I have. There isn't any other way to buy a house. I don't have any investments, except tax deductible interest on a current account. I think it earns about 20 pounds a year, if that. I have to have the current account, because of my job, and that mortgage. (see quote 3 above) A preferable option to lending to others for gain, is the sharing of it for the benefit of others. As I also said, how we use our money is a challenge for all christians. And personally I think it includes our homes, our time and our friendship as well.

    Here's the trouble though, it's hard to discuss this without resorting to self-righteousness which is why our left hand should not remind the right what we have done.

    John I am talking about how christians choose to interact with one another and how they relate to the world. The basis of the gospel is magnanimity.

    You say you'd be interested to know what the church could do for Lesmog's mother. We could have a whip round to replace what she has lost. We could educate her and explain that all investments, yes even the 'christian' ones, for christians only, can go down the pan, and offer to keep her money secure instead of offering 2 percent above base rate. Some fortune that's going to earn on a couple of thousand.

    You mentioned canned soup. Bit mean, don't you think? Invite people like Lesmog's mum to dinner, (freshly made chicken soup, from real chicken stock with real vegetables and barley, and cracked black pepper and warm crusty bread) offer them a job if you're in a position to do it. Pay them a fair days wage for a fair days pay. Be their friend. Visit them regularly. Open your door and invite people in. Be a neighbour. Go the extra mile. Give freely, to whoever asks. If somebody sues you, don't worry, give them more than they want. Love one another, then again come to think of it, love your enemy, do good to people who hate you. Crap, come to think of it somebody said that once... now let me see.... yes... some bloke called Jesus, but even quoting him in church can get you in trouble.

    And all that John, is not only practical, it supposed to be a picture of God.

    As for sharing everything, well it seem that the PMS was all for sharing... at 2 per cent above base rate!!

    Do you not like the idea of sharing?

  • Comment number 24.

    Peter- "Do you see the distinction I am making?" [between Christian and secular banking]

    Yes but I don't understand why you're making it. You haven't once explained the difference.

    "the thing is I am being charged interest, not earning it, on the mortgage I have."

    So you'll take advantage of the services of a lender but not advocate lending? Oh, that's right - it's only Christians lending you object to. So Christians can take advantage of a lender but not lend themselves. Yikes. Is this in the bible? Lending is an immoral way to make money for Christians?

    The basis of the gospel is magnanimity.

    A wealthy person is in a much better position to do some good being magnanimous than someone with no money.

    Your paragraph on what we could all do for Lesmog's mother was the only thing you've said in this entire thread that I agree with! Again, I can much more afford to help her if I actually have some means myself! It may be from my investments that I'm able to afford to help her! So were the investments good or bad? And what about Lesmog's daughter: couldn't a lender help her get a house or start a business so she's self-sufficient and doesn't need any help any more? So she becomes a giver and can return the favours? You mustn't think of only one side of the coin, and you must always remember where the dough came from in the first place.

    Portwyne- What can I say? You too make a distinction without justification. The Christian should dispose of excess wealth. Excess to the task of living? (Do you have a TV? Ever eat out? Man, this is easy.)

  • Comment number 25.

    Thank you for your sympathetic and kind comments. You obviously put a lot of thought into what you wrote to me.

    My mother is independent and self sufficient. She has a house and 3 children who will and do help her in any way we can. She makes soup for others and is a giver in every way. If she were a taker she would have withdrawn her money like all the others who did at the first whiff of rumour that there were issues.
    None of this alters the fact that she has lost access to her and my fathers hard-earned savings through no fault of her own other than an obviously misplaced belief in the safety of her savings in the Presbyterian Church.
    Or were you suggesting I do not have a house or an income? I have both and I would have thought a teacher would be recognized as being a giver...
    Now, can we please not jump to any
    more presumptious and patronizing
    assumptions about me and my mother?
    Thank you.

  • Comment number 26.


    Why does your mother want to withdraw her savings? The PMS has assets of £300m, but property prices and share prices are rock-bottom at present, so the PMS does not want to sell any assets right now. The market will recover and those assets will rise in value once again. Then the PMS will be in a position to sell and obtain some liquidity to meet savers' withdrawals.

    Millions of people are in the same predicament. It is best that people do not cause more panic with mass withdrawals, because that can lead to banks collapsing. We have to have patience and wait for property and share prices to recover.

    I regard the PMS as simply a financial institution like its secular counterparts. The fact that it has a religious connection (which was probably useful in attracting customers) should have no bearing on whether it is bailed out or not. That decision should be taken purely on the merits of its case as a banking company caught in a liquidity crisis.

    Forcing the PMS to sell off its assets at the present time would not be a good idea.

  • Comment number 27.


    My mum does not want to withdraw her savings, nor does she need access to them at present. But they are her back-up for 'a rainy day'.

    She is, however, an old lady who was panicked by the official letter she received, which she interpreted as meaning she had lost the lot.

    I agree with everything you say.

    Here endeth my postings with regard to the PMS.

  • Comment number 28.

    Lesmog- You can interpret my comments in any way you want; I did not imply anything about your circumstances for the simple reason that I only know what you've told me. I'm having a conversation with two people who don't think the church should start their own mutual society: another commenter used your mother as an example and I carried the example on in a discussion about whether or not the church should be involved in such an activity. It has nothing whatever to do with your mother and I think I made it clear that I feel bad about her situation. (For the record, my father also has money in the PMS and needed to access it. So it sounds like we're in the same boat.) If you'd like to continue attacking me on this, could you please tell me where I made "presumptious and patronising" statements about you or her?

    Then you say to Les: "My mum does not want to withdraw her savings, nor does she need access to them at present. But they are her back-up for 'a rainy day.'"

    So what the hell was this whole panic about, then? You came on here complaining about the "stress and financial hardship" this is causing your mother, and now you say she wasn't even going to withdraw the funds?

    What a waste of a conversation.

  • Comment number 29.

    What a waste of a conversation. Agreed.
    You obviously missed my points completely.
    I attack no-one for having an opinion different to my own.
    You should give it a try.
    Do not bother replying to this because I am going to leave this site and not waste my time with people like you again.
    Talk about arrogant...

  • Comment number 30.

    Lesmog- You misinterpret a discussion about the merits and demerits of financial institutions run by church members as "religious bickering", you misinterpret an ethics-based comment as "patronizing" and you misinterpret a frank exchange of views as "arrogant." I suspect what's happened is you've walked into a debate- and discussion-based blog expecting something else, and I've offended you somehow, which I regret.

    You're right, I didn't understand your points and still don't. But I certainly don't want to turn you off this blog; Will is a nice guy (much nicer than me) and we'd be glad to see you back.

  • Comment number 31.

    John - your post #24

    Do you have a TV? Ever eat out?

    This is not actually responding to my posting about my understanding of what I consider the clear and unambiguous teaching of Christ on the attitude his followers should have to wealth management, rather you are asking me how big a hypocrite I am.

    If that question interests you - I do have a TV, about 10 years old, 32", CRT; I do eat out - occasionally rather than frequently but when I do it would sometimes be in expensive restaurants. Perhaps you will indicate how many points this earns me at measureyourhypocrisy.com ...

    I believe when Christ taught he was calling his followers to a community and that it is in community that his life is most completely lived on the earth today - anything else inevitably involves compromise. Those Christians whose dedication I most admire, a friend who is a Jesuit priest and a couple of Mennonites, live just such an existence - I hope I survive to experience at some stage that sort of life myself.

    I believe the teachings of Christ are neither restrictive nor prohibitive - instead they show us how life can be experienced in all its fullness - he calls us not to the abandonment of enjoyment but to an understanding of priorities which will open our beings to true happiness and fulfilment.

  • Comment number 32.


    You say you don't understand the distinction, but the distinction is critical. It is one of the reasons I asked my earlier question about what we think the church is for.

    Earlier on too, you queried, or suggested uncertainty with regard to what it meant to be in the world, but not of it. Well I'm not sure what there is to explain, it simply means living here but not being like the culture around us. In many ways the church is supposed to be counter-cultural. BUT, before you go off jumping to conclusions or responding by going to an extreme e.g. should we have a TV, think through what I'm saying.

    I understand the church to be a new community, living according to a new set of rules, though 'rules' is an extremely bad way to explain it. In fact 'rules' is probably the worst way to explain it. What is called the sermon on the mount is a pretty good place to start, I think of it as the basis of a new way of living. But understand this, unless there actually is some kind of community, and it doesn't have to be what you disparagingly called a hippy commune, then it's pretty much going to be impossible for any individual to live like this.

    But even apart from that, your examples of TV and eating out are the usual response given to this kind of conversation. Indeed it's taken me years to work out my own response to what I believe about the subject. Do I have a TV - yes, do I eat out - rarely, but you are falling into the trap of writing rules. Christians are free, or we're supposed to be, and what that freedom means is that we are free to care for others. It's the fullness portwyne is taking about. But none of this is easy, decisions like these pepper our existence like buckshot on a barn door. Do I always make the right ones, no, but modeling ourselves on the world around us is not what we are called to.

    Stop thinking in terms of institutions. Church isn't an institution, or at least it wasn't mean to be; rather, church equals people. When christians play football, that is church. When they drink coffee, that is church. When they watch a movie together, that is church. When they worship together, that is church, and when they feed the hungry, visit the sick and love the unlovely, that is church.

    There is so much more I could say but I will stop with this, you ask, "So Christians can take advantage of a lender but not lend themselves." Why not think about lending freely? Or why not, working as a community, give to others without expecting anything in return. Can it work all the time, maybe not, but can some people, people who say this world is not their only home, but a place to love and live selflessly, demonstrate this sometimes, well, as it says on a bus somewhere in London... probably.

    And John, BTW, 'post-evangelical'? A bit passe is it not?

  • Comment number 33.

    Sorry Peter, I'm afraid I have to say it, I agree 100 per cent with your post # 32.

  • Comment number 34.


    You both seem to think your own hypocrisy is completely irrelevant, which is very convenient for you but fails to get to the heart of what you're saying. I think the fact that the type of life you both say you believe in and the type of life you've both chosen to live are far apart and perhaps even polar opposites is very relevant, if not an actual indictment of your position.

    Portwyne says Christ is not restrictive. But we should avoid luxuries. Peter says Christians are supposed to be free, but not to lend. Of course, why not try lending for free? In actual fact the PMS does not exist to make its owners rich: I doubt anybody is getting anywhere close to rich from investments in the PMS. Instead it exists to enable churches to borrow when they need to build infrastructure or hire ministers or missionaries or a thousand other things. Isn't that a direct benefit to whatever they think church is supposed to be about? And the reason it isn't free is that nobody would ever put their money in it otherwise. Perhaps that's your point: that human beings shouldn't be motivated by money at all, the desire to make it, enhance it, and use it for the enjoyment of their own lives. I can see easily how the case can be made from the bible that that's what Jesus' message was, though I disagree entirely. And in any case people are motivated by money and always will be. Perhaps Jesus just wasn't foresighted enough to think that there'd ever be ways to help the poor and sick while embracing the making of money simultaneously? It isn't an either/or, guys, and I'm confused that anyone thinks it is anymore when all the evidence suggests otherwise!

    BTW Peter, I'm not thinking in terms of institutions (other than the banking institutions and the PMS and the institution of the Presbyterian Church where applied to this discussion). I'm familiar with all the things Christians like to define as being 'church'. It's rehashed stuff I've heard for decades, and you say my use of 'post-evangelical' is passe!

  • Comment number 35.


    I'm not saying that I'm not a hypocrite, but I am eager to know which bit you think is particularly hypocritical.

    I've already said there is tension, it's not a tension I find easy to deal with and often my hands are tied, but for goodness sake let's try and find some solutions.

    And I know I'm not saying anything new with regards to church, it's as old as...

    You should also consider this, money does motivate, of course it does, it's... well currency (obviously), it gets things done, and I'm not against rich christians, I'm for sharing, I'm for inclusively, I'm for enjoyment, I'm for love, I'm for celebration, I'm for extravagance, I'm for generosity and I'm for measuring all of these things in terms of more than just money. And sometimes, often, I can only do a little, sometimes I can only love one other, but that won't stop me raising the issue and asking the church to think again.

    This is about being people who are 'more than', not 'less than' the culture.

    And on the point of this being Jesus' message, yes I think it was, but it's not just telling us to be generous, it's telling us God is generous.

    He wasn't being a socialist, he was being God.

  • Comment number 36.

    Peter- I agree with almost all of what you just said! But it's a far cry from the way you started this thread... at the beginning you could hardly be held back from your anger about the existence of the Presbyterian Mutual Society!, but now you're just concerned that we all love everybody and act generously in the world. I think that's great and I can endorse almost every one of your latter statements. :-)

    (BTW I've enjoyed this dialogue and think you guys are great to chat with.)

  • Comment number 37.


    Thank-you for your comment - I too have always enjoyed our exchanges and I assure you the only thing likely to offend me is pulling your punches - a characteristic I perhaps sometimes project too readily on to others!

    I am not leading absolutely the life I would wish to lead, that is not purely out of hypocrisy, it is as a result of the choices I made in the past and the responsibilities I have arising from those choices. I don't think it is hypocritical to extol an ideal if you acknowledge therewith your own short-comings with regard to it. I definitely regard my life as very much a work in progress - I would not go so far though as to say it is being rebuilt.

    It is wrong to espouse an idea and act contrary to it; it is not wrong to advocate a principle but fail to encompass immediately the totality of it.

    I have no hesitation in saying, however, that the very conception of the PMS was profoundly wrong, essentially sectarian, and quite anti-Christian.

  • Comment number 38.


    You're an interesting dude! And I agree about pulling no punches. You may be interested to see where I'm coming from on some of this: my blog is here. I'm essentially a libertarian (politically), some form of egoist (ethically), and some form of deist (theologically). I can tell that's almost the antithesis of you, in many ways. :-)

  • Comment number 39.

    Perhaps a bit of reality is the fact that I know someone with life savings in the PMS, money worked for to build a new house (25 years of sweat and toil), husband with bain cyst daignosed 2 months ago and 2 teenage sons for university in 2 and 4 years time respectively. What are they to do? Can't get a mortgae because of husband's illness!!!????

  • Comment number 40.

    Listened with interest to your programme this morning - very glad you picked up on the fact that the Presbyterian Church and the Pres Mutual Society's website are the same - emails similar etc. How confusing for the Presbyterian wanted to save some money - Surely the Pres Central Church must take some responsibility - they have promoted the Mutual Society in literature throughout the churches eg Trinity and Gilgooley in Omagh. We were recently (some six weeks ago) at a meeting in a Church where the senior Minister praised the Pres Mutual Society and boasted it had a healthy £310 million!! Our money has helped renovate churches - ministers have their savings invested - surely this has wider problems for the church as a whole given the number of people affected and will they be able to continue giving every Sunday!

  • Comment number 41.

    Umm, guys - these things are not unheard of when the economy deals with these adverse conditions, and they certainly don't mean the Presbyterian Church in Ireland did anything wrong. If they did, what was it? (Other than having a mutual fund in the first place?!)

  • Comment number 42.

    John - our interactions are always worthwhile, but I haven't actually changed my opinion, indeed after this morning Sunday Sequence programme I've even more questions!

    Here's one!

    PMS - Presbyterian Mutual Society.
    PCI - Presbyterian Church in Ireland (ecclesia)

    And I'm being told there is a difference, sorry, I'm confused.

  • Comment number 43.

    Donald Watts realy lost it in the interview today. Very evasive, didn't seem to have the answer to ANY questions, then showed his temper when he was pressed on any point. That's an interesting approach to earning the public's confidence!

  • Comment number 44.

    it is interesting that Donald Watts was so unaware that the PMS web page is linked from the PCI web site and the contact address from there is mutual@presbyterianireland.org-I would have thought that this pretty well does link it with PCI. I understand totally that legally this may not be so but I think that there is no getting away from the facts that William was trying to convey of the relationship between the Presbyterian Church and the PMS. I would have liked to know if Donald Watts was or is a shareholder himself ,although I doubt he would have answered that question. Indeed many of the directors of PMS are themselves ordained Ministers of the Presbyterian Church. I think it would be insightful to know who has recently pulled out and how the rumour came about that has left us in this situation... ... Anyway I also thought that Donald Watts unfortunatly let himself down with his irritated attitude and defensiveness which did the cause no good and was rude on air to William who was only trying to air some time to what is a significant happening to one church in Ieland and effects many people..that is what his Sunday Morning Programme is about and Donald Watts had the opportunity to put the case of the church in a calm and thoughtful manner which he failed to do. William was putting out the fears and questions that ordinary people now have...but we are not ordinary, we have as much say as anyone else as to the situation with our money. Whatsmore there is no point in Donald Watts,whilst I do understand is under considerable strain at this time and had the unenviable task of being the churches spokesman, advising ministers to seek how they can convey their support and care to people in their congregations who are worried and dismayed about developments when he himself was unable to do likewise. I think PCI will have much to answer for in this and maybe there are some red faces already..or do they feel or know any guilt at all...

  • Comment number 45.

    We are in total agreement with everything that you have said. At church this morning we had our Girls' Brigade enrolment service. I will admit that I found the words in the hymns very difficult to sing without a lump in my throat: Yield not to temptation, Father I place into your hands and Glory be to God the Father. Read the words at your leisure.
    This week will be definitive and I think that everything you say is correct and we would echo your sentiments exactly.
    If only Donald Watts had shown that he understands the dilemma of his fellow brothers and sisters, I think he would appeared more in touch, not so removed. I think that he has just succeeded in angering the members of the church caught up in this situation.
    Yes PMS and PCI..agreed on that point above too.
    Look at PMS website:

  • Comment number 46.

    John - your post #38

    Again thank you! I often read your blog and find it very interesting; it will not allow me, however, to post comments without being signed in and I cannot discover where to acquire a login name.

    I suspect we are indeed at the opposite ends of quite a few spectra but I wouldn't be surprised if there were the odd area of convergence as I am socially, if not economically, libertarian. I do not believe the state has any right to regulate society beyond what is necessary to protect the vulnerable: it should protect us from each other but has no business seeking to protect us from ourselves.

    I imagine our differences are probably pretty well summed up in what I imagine to be our varying attitudes to drugs. I would legalise all recreational drugs and permit them to be sold in supermarkets but I would tax them, in the way we currently tax alcohol and tobacco, at a level sufficient to pay for the medical attention profligate users are likely to require at some stage in the future. It's probably a matter for a different thread - I hope for a future discussion on the point some time soon.

  • Comment number 47.

    Peter- Trust me, I didn't expect you to have changed your mind! And the PMS was simply a mutual fund created for the use of the members and congregations of the Presbyterian Church. In other words, all members of the PMS are members of the Presbyterian Church, but not all members of the Presbyterian Church are members of the PMS (and I'm sure some wouldn't want to be!). By 'separate', they just mean the PMS is legally not the same thing as PCI.

    Portwyne- Lots of people having been telling me that about the comments system over the past while and I haven't been able to figure it out yet. I'll let you know when I have a solution! Meantime I understand your position with regard to social issues and 'personal' liberties.

  • Comment number 48.


    Please do not misunderstand me, I get the legal definition OK, it just seems to me that this is a perfect example of eating cakes and having them!

    In other words PCI (legal definition) is more than happy to trade on the currency of and 'promote' PMS (legal definition) when 'stock' is up, but when it's down then that is an altogether different matter. Likewise PMS seem happy to use the description 'Presbyterian' to further the 'business'. Or, to put it another way, the legal separation has, in the present circumstances, served it's purpose. We're all Presbyterians it seems, but not when it comes to money!

    Interestingly on another thread you suggest a no interest loan from an investor as a possible solution to a posters problem, John,

    If no interest loans had been the basis of the PMS in the first place things might be looking a little different now.

    But that would bring us back to a discussion about what the church is for, and indeed what the term 'Presbyterian' means; at the moment, if I might refer to this mornings Sunday Sequence, that definition seems as vague as the meaning of the word 'avail'.

    Seems to me that things are only going to get trickier.

  • Comment number 49.

    I don't think that the complaints are firstly towards the PMS or the PCI..however I personally did not and still have not had any correspondence from the PMS and the first thing I heard was when watching the news last week.
    I think that people feel that there has been a certain amount of selfishness on the part of members of the PMS who have taken out funds to put them in a bank secured by government. I think that this has made people feel as though this has been an unjustified move as the society did not rely on shares that would have rocked the system rather it was secure.
    I think that subsequently one wonders who was in the know at the cost of those who were not.
    I think that PCI distancing themselves from PMS is doing nothing to help the situation and people feel betrayed by their own church.
    I don't necessarily think that anyone has done anything wrong but I do think that the initial actions of others and now the limbo with which shareholders are left means that people feel abandoned.
    In all this we all know as Presbyterians that God is in ultimate control and that even our savings and the things we have accumalated for ourselves here on earth are nothing compared to His glory.
    I think that people who trusted in PMS with their funds were probably rightly making provision for themselves and future committments they may have.
    It feels like although I may be wrong that the fear of others in the economic uncertainty led some to take out their money as safety, leaving the rest of us in this mess. I think as christians we should make right provisions for our families whilst being good stewards with our money that is able to help the poor and not store up for ourselves on earth, I think that all christians especially in Ireland as a whole have it very very good and we need all to re evaluate where our trust lies and whether we are in fact sinning by the large houses , cars, holidays, food, entertainment...large and larger church halls, new churches, multi screens...(the list could go on and on) But that doesn't excuse what has happened here, maybe the ones who took out the money and put it where they felt it was safer are only storing for themselves..others have life savings, money for elderly parents, difficult situations, childrens funds for college, these are good provisions...
    My question is, did just a few individuals do this or was there a rumour that went around that made so many people do it that caused the PMS to be in the situation it now is in?

  • Comment number 50.


    Which of the following constitutes being a better steward of the money God has allowed you to have:

    A) Investing it in places where you think you'll get the best return and the most security;

    B) Keeping it in savings (in which case you wouldn't be saying anything at all!)?

  • Comment number 51.


    Might there be an option (C)?

  • Comment number 52.

    Like not making TOO MUCH money on it?

  • Comment number 53.

    depends how you use the money you make...

  • Comment number 54.

    Hi John

    So in reality then, you only have an option A.

    By the way, when is a Presbyterian, not a Presbyterian...?

  • Comment number 55.

    when he joins the PMS

  • Comment number 56.

    by the way neither A or B are better steward because either can be used or abused in the long run...

  • Comment number 57.


    Define "being a good steward" please.

  • Comment number 58.

    In all this sorry story there can be little doubt that those who withdrew their funds ensuring that they themselves were all right and "devil take the hindmost" are furtherest from any true knowledge of Christ or understanding of his gospel - it would be refreshing to hear someone from the PCI proclaim their actions deeply sinful.

  • Comment number 59.

    a good steward is someone in my understanding who seeks in his or her life to glorify God and for whom living here on earth as it is now is but a foretaste of the new heaven and earth that God will bring to perfection when He returns. No system is perfect now but it is up to christians to look at their own situation, the money that they have and the use of it to live in a way that is loving towards others and concious of the needs of others. I believe that this may mean living a simpler life style and not aquiring things for oneself. I also think the church as a whole needs to re evalute where her passion lies and I thnk that the incredible spending in Northern Ireland on church buildings and fittings has got quite out of proportion and is quite needless. I also think that the life style of even some of our leaders is excessive and does not reflect a life that is wholly given to God's work. However I qualify this by the fact that I never know the whole story behind what I see and ultimatly it is up to people to work out how to be a good steward themselves...

  • Comment number 60.


    Interesting. So what you're saying is that the goodness of stewardship can be measured by charity.

    In this respect my next question is:

    Who do you think has done more good in the Christian mission of helping others, empirically speaking?: Bill Gates (who spent his time and energy building wealth) or Joe Schmoe (who spent his time and energy in church charity programs?

  • Comment number 61.

    no you have misunderstood and that is not what I am saying. Good stewardship cannot be measured by charity...charity could become an idol in itself, good stewardship is measured in how we seek to live a life that seeks first the kingdom of God..I think this cannot help but put others first and will mean that our main aim is not to gain all for ourselves and may mean some sacrifice. I don't really want to get into the argument of who is better than the other we all rely on God's grace within our sinfulness...but thank you for checking me out on that one. I am guilty of being critical of how others live and I have to admit I do feel that there has been an over indulgance within the churches in Ireland certainly in the North, I am not so sure about the South of Ireland...

  • Comment number 62.

    I appreciate your reply. But I've been asking you what stewardship of money means, and you imply that good stewardship excludes building wealth of any kind (such as investing money in a mutual fund like the PMS). Saying that it's about living a life for God is great, and most (all?) Christians would agree, but it doesn't help to inform the practical issues of what we can and can't do with our money under that ethic.

    I think my point is that building wealth inherently accomplishes many Christian (and social action) goals in and of itself, and both the church and the political Left are guilty of trying to condemn (or at least disapprove of) the very people who do some of the most good in the world simply by living their lives and build financial independence.

  • Comment number 63.

    ah no I did not say that..the reason I got on this blog in the first place was becuase I am a victim of this PMS situation! I have said that christian need to be thoughtful and giving to others..however we also need to make some sort of money in the first place...there is nothing wrong with that and some make more than others , thats ok too. Putting money in the PMS may have been in order to make good provision and that is also in order, it is good to make right provision for family, I never said that was wrong... I am saying though, that an excessive life style may need to be examined and if we are so caught up in the material over and above what we really require and there are people around us in need, then I think we are guilty of not living the lives that God has called us to...
    I am as grieved as the next person at this situation and it has put my family in a difficult place until such times as its is sorted because this is a particular provision made through the PMS.

  • Comment number 64.

    Hi Everyone, just been catching up on the Blog - new member!
    My view on the PMS issue is as follows:
    The principle of Presbyterians who have some cash, becoming a shareholder in the PMS, thereby allowing these funds to be loaned to Churches and individual Presbyterians at low interest rates, seems a good thing, instead of putting it into a Bank/Building Society to further swell their profits and that of their shareholders
    It is also good to see new churches and halls being built and the older ones kept in good repair instead of them being sold off as Bingo halls.
    The Presbyterian Mutual Society has been around for some 26 years now and has helped many fellow Presbyterians in that time. The benefit for the Shareholder is two fold, 1st is that they help their fellow members and the 2nd is that they receive a tidy annual dividend. In principal if you charge little in interest to borrowers then you can expect little in return when saving? Wrong, through very low overheads and good stewardship of the members funds the return has also been better than most, if not all, financial institutions.
    How is this possible? Funds in excess of loans required were used to purchase Commercial propery - not as a speculative investment in itself - this was just a safe place to put the excess funds. The commercial tennants of these prime location poperties paid good rent and this rent helped fund the excellent Dividend given. The propery if sold would realise the initial investment but was not seen as an end in itself as these were to be long term purchases.
    I think the PMS made two mistakes, the first one was when the funds started to be withdrawn, they should have invoked their 21 day rule. The reality was that they did not believe their members would react like this to the stock markets tumbling, after all the PMS had no funds tied up in stocks and shares, when they did react it was too late - £20 million had gone out the door, I just wonder what would have happened if the queue had been outside your local bank, what would have happened! Secondly they failed to communicate to the shareholders what was going on. Too little to late.
    The board are unpaid and give of their time freely to help fellow Presbyterians and I'm sure they were as shocked as anyone by the reaction of SOME shareholders in panicking. One can only image what was going on in that office, phones ringing, door bell going. Remember this is no multinational institution with a call centre in India, but a local office with dedicated, pleasant and efficient staff who must have been overwhelmed.
    Finally, to those who have been left in distress, of which I am sure there are a few, don't despair, your money is still there, I believe given a little bit of time, this ethical and caring organisation will come up with a plan to help. It's too bad that the ones who rushed to remove their funds didn't have faith in the Society and the understanding of MUTUAL in relation to their fellow Presbyterians.

  • Comment number 65.


    Who gives more?

    Sometimes two copper coins is more than two million.

    The real question is not 'how much is enough', but 'who am I', sort that one out, and the rest follows.

    Unfortunately, I am far, far away from who I ought to be.

  • Comment number 66.

    BaffledShareholder- Welcome to the blog, it's good to see you posting. And I couldn't agree more with what you said. I think you just gave the most informative, concise summary of the situation so far.

    Peter- I'm far from who I ought to be also and understand your question, 'Who am I?' But two copper coins are rarely worth two million, and in the real world money matters, the amount matters, and it all ought to matter very much! People with limited means of course can't give much and shouldn't be expected to. But what I'd like to do in life is to go into the world and act in my own self-interest enough to: (A) make me self-sufficient so that I rely on nobody else, to (B) make me a consumer and spender thus contributing to an economy that feeds and clothes others and makes them self-sufficient too, and to (C) make me an abundant giver, so that I'm not giving two pennies but much, much more.

    I hope that makes sense, because it may be one of the most under-appreciated, misunderstood things people ever say.

  • Comment number 67.

    I think that 'baffled shareholder' made some good points there and mostly put in a nutshell what most of us are saying who remain in the PMS. Likewise if the money is still there then we are still safe although there are those of us who actually did need the money more immediatly (or part of it) and this has put an unexpected burden on us.
    I think some of our discussion has moved away from PMS and getting into arguments about who gives more or less is not really very helpful at this stage, having said that I do think that the church as a whole should think about how money is spent and how we can justify the fact that we have a brand new hall with superb fittings on the basis that at least it is not a bingo hall !!... this might not be a fair justification of excessive spending and a lifestyle to maintain when our money could be used for greater benefit in investing in people...how many people come to faith because of multi plasma screens in every room and ever up graded sound systems...I really do think that the christian lifestyle should be distinctive by its determination to not be caught up in all these things all of the time...

  • Comment number 68.

    As committed christians we, as a family are prepared to leave two-thirds of our money in the society but with a pressing bill from a builder we need money urgently.
    We have scrimped and saved all of our lives, paid in full for everything we ever bought, never had credit, never had a mortgage and always had an excellent reputation for paying on or ahead of time.
    We would like to think that we are being reasonable and empathetic to others in our request to the society and that we are only one of many people who are trying to take others into consideration in our balanced approach.
    Shareholders, debtors, PMS and PCI need to remember that the society was set up for presbyterians to help other presbyterians.
    As a presbyterian family, let's pull together now more than ever, through faith in God, and live out the message in 1st Corinthians ch. 12 v.25 - 27 so that we will all ultimately be able to rest easier in our beds at night and that our shattered faith in human nature can be gradually restored.

  • Comment number 69.

    portwyne- The comments section at john-wright.net are working again.

  • Comment number 70.

    Hello rainbowmisspiggy
    Lesmog1 and baffledshareholder
    I've had to scroll through reams of self-righteous theology on this thread ..........sigh........to get to some other people affected by the PMS
    If you are still checking out this blog, please can you post if there are any email groups being set up for members to share knowledge about what is happening?
    I live a long way from Belfast and am hearing absolutely nothing except what I can glean from the internet.
    There seems to be a deafening silence from the PMS and we all know how helpful the PCI have been :-(


  • Comment number 71.

    Live in North West. Don't of email groups but would be interested in trying to organise something. Live in North West of province.

  • Comment number 72.

    I wonder how we could find out?
    I'm hoping to see a letter in the papers or maybe an advert in the Newsletter?
    I anyone reading this knows of a group, please would they post the link or email address.
    I'm not in a position to set anything up myself at the moment.
    Wonder when the letter will arrive from the administrator..........:-(
    Many thanks

  • Comment number 73.

    Yeh goodbyepci, same thoughts - are you in NW?

    I wouldn't think that the administrator's letter will tell us much at this stage, just the normal introduction and what he has been charged to do.

    Maybe within your own congregation it would be a good idea to through out a few feelers.

  • Comment number 74.

    Yep we are in NW
    We are going to try going through our congregation committee initially, but I don't hold out too many hopes.

  • Comment number 75.

    well I see the the pitchfork and flaming torch village mob are assemling in the NW for their march on Glengall/Fisherwick led by Goodbyepci (dosnt the name say it all!) followed it seems by misspiggy and the other hysterical folks whos only regret is they didnt hear the gossip quick enough and join the stampede of greed that brough the think down, dont you realise all you will do is make the situation go from bad to worse by creating even more hysteria and scaring of any rescuers. If you want to do sometihng productive contact your MPs MLAs or who ever and get then to put pressure on Gordon to fix the problem he initially created and to guarantee the deposits, just like banks, building soceities, national saving, Credit Unions, and even the icelandic banks!

  • Comment number 76.

    Liberfunda - I am disappointed by your comments. I can assure that I have put it in writing to PMS that we need one-third of our money to pay the builder for our new house and that we are prepared to leave the remainder in the society. There is no point putting more pressure on an already pressurised situation. Please do not make assumptions that we all wanted to join the stampede of greed, as you so put it.
    I think that the biggest problem is the realisation of how fickle PCI is in that they are delighted to endorse the society when all is well and to then distance themselves as soon as there is a problem!

  • Comment number 77.


    You invested your money in a mutual fund. Mutual funds are subject to the risks of being in an investment market. Your investment is locked up due to the wider credit crisis. No act of the PMS or PCI brought this upon you. It's the unfortunate predicament of many investors today. Liberfunda is exactly right.

  • Comment number 78.

    Ha Ha Liberfunda, you are sooooooooo funny.
    It's very easy to make cheap jibes at the expense of a lot of people with savings for a "rainy day", retirement, university fees etc.
    Many of them pensioners.
    What would you have them do? Put the savings in a High St bank where you have no knowledge of how the money is used, under the mattress, or give it all away?
    Meanwhile until the savings were needed they were being used to help fund other presbyterian congregations in an ethical way.
    rainbowmisspiggy and I just want more information about what is happening. There has been no communication from PMS, and PCI are busily washing their hands of the situation, despite having actively encouraged presbyterians to save through the PMS.
    And yes the name does say it all, because if the democratic (presbyterian) approach through the congregational committee appealing to the General Assembly for help does not work, then indeed it is "Goodbye PCI"
    Now just you go lie down in a darkened room for a nice rest Liberfunda and stop annoying and making assumptions about people who are trying to find their way out of a mess not of their own making.

  • Comment number 79.

    goodbyepci - your post # 70

    Let me guess, from the name I would tend to think you have just recently registered with the blog. This is a blog where people talk about ideas - theology, philosophy, ethics, politics...

    It is entirely reasonable in this context that regular bloggers will discuss the underlying issues raised by any topic Will posts. Your complaint reminds me of the townie who venturing into a field of cows in the country complained that they were all eating grass and you had to wade through their poo just to get across...

  • Comment number 80.

    What is your problem?
    Liberfunda has made even less posts than me!
    I've registered in order to make contact with others in the same boat, and maybe get information.
    Looks like Liberfunda just registered in order to make a cheap shot..............sad really
    Have a go at Funlovinliver, I'm just trying to get information and don't think I should be mocked for that.

  • Comment number 81.

    goodbye - I was specifically referring to your point about having to scroll through reams of self-righteous theology in your post # 70. I was asking what else you might expect on a blog devoted to the exploration of ideas?

    I have sympathy with all those experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the collapse of financial institutions - it does not stop me questioning the ethics of situation or what the behaviour of people says about their faith - I'm rather with the apostle James on this one - I tend to think there's a link there somewhere...

  • Comment number 82.

    Point taken .. ;-)

  • Comment number 83.

    Cheers gbpci - thank-you! I do hope this situation can be worked out for the ultimate benefit of all and I can assure you I feel particularly for those in imminent need.

  • Comment number 84.

    Hello.I am currently an avid follower of any information relating to the PMS and find myself constantly flitting from one web site to another looking for any update on the situation-I don't know how I've missed this blog till now-MY PERSONAL opinion is that although everyone (?) involved with the PMS is naturally worried right now,many people seem to share the opinion that demanding repayment of any investments ASAP would be detrimental and also that to be able to communicate with others in the same position would be reassuring or helpful.
    I'm nearly afraid to post anything here incase I start a riot-some of you seem too knowledgeable/argumentative for my liking ;-) but the following link might be a start for keeping everyone interested in the PMS looking in the one place.Todate it has only 28 comments listed but has had 1661 viewings which indicates quite a lot of interest to me.

  • Comment number 85.


    First of all a bit of background. Whilst looking up information on the PMS situation for a friend, I found this blog by googling "Presbyterian Mutual Society". Will’s blog comes up on the first page.
    This is probably the way all the people seeking information on the PMS found this site.
    Sadly they all seem to have disappeared, probably like myself frustrated and annoyed by the constant requests to "define this", "what do you mean by that". Especially if they happened to stumble on this particular thread
    Are you all friends of Donald Watts?
    He has great line in redefining "encourage" and "avail", whilst swivelling his eyes to avoid looking the interviewer in the face.

    great body language.

    Well your nit picking and hair splitting negativity has succeeded in driving away anyone genuinely looking for information like myself.

    Well done!!

    And before you ask me to define "negativity" portwyne has mentioned suicide several times now.

    Last night I sat my friend down to read the PMS threads on this blog
    Big mistake!

    He is elderly and I had forgotten just how unhelpful all your comments have been. Especially on this 84 comment long thread.

    My friend ended up feeling even more anxious, and I could kick myself for my foolishness.

    The regular bloggers have done harm on this blog

    Real harm!

    You may think it clever to debate, define, discuss and mock, that may indeed be the reason for the existence of this blog. But you have to be aware that there is a dearth of information out there on the PMS, and vulnerable people reading this thread and the Mutual Money Misery thread could be deeply worried. Many of the posts by the regular bloggers are negative and simply scare-mongering.

    Portwyne, why write drivel such as below?
    "I fear that in the weeks and months ahead people will have to change their lifestyles, people will have to manage money in a way that is perhaps unfamiliar to them, people will face bills they will be unable to pay, people will be unable to achieve cherished aims and ambitions, some people will feel a sense of personal failure, and some people (I speak whereof I know) may even end their lives by suicide"

    I am still feeling extremely angry.

    First of all with myself for submitting my friend to this rubbish, but also with those who have posted exceptionally negative speculation where people in a weak position can easily find it.
    Nobody knows the outcome of the PMS situation, so why post nonsense like that?

    Will, I have to question the motives and agenda of your regular bloggers.
    There even seems to be a vicarious pleasure in the misery of others, the gawpers and voyeurs at the scene of a disaster come to mind.

    I managed to talk my friend round, but what of those already in despair reading this dross.
    It would be good if Will removed all this stuff, especially this thread. I would be afraid of a self fulfilling prophecy. Portwyne has mentioned suicide enough times now to sow the seed.
    Portwyne as for your comment below
    "The psychological consensus is that it is not possible to implant the idea of suicide in someone's mind"
    I think recent events in Bridgend and Derry disprove that theory.

    See my last post comment 58 on the Mutual Money Misery thread for some insight into the integrity of those offering help at this time.

    My friend and I have resolved to just stick to reading the Newsletter to get information from now on, information without the hidden agenda.

    And Will, I really think it would be good if this thread was entirely removed, it is still easy to access for anyone googling for information like we were last night. But the negativity, mockery and scare-mongering here upset my friend a great deal.


  • Comment number 86.


    It's a shame your friend was upset.

    But it is a fascinating arrogance with which you stumble upon a years-long discussion forum on the internet like this one and then proceed to exact your moralising scruples upon the conversation and people here. No regular commenter here can help how people find this site or where Google decides to place it on the index of any given search term, "PMS" or not.

    We are accustomed to "unpacking" a wide range of topics through frank and imperfect discussion about them on a daily basis and have done for probably close to half a decade now. Most of us do so because we have an interest in issues of ethics, morality, science, religion, and we come here to debate them. I'm not sure any of us should have to apologise for that. This is not a help centre or charity: it's a blog encompassing a lively debate culture.

    Frankly, to bring your elderly friend to this thread knowing fully that it isn't what he was looking for and then to blame us regular contributors for his reaction is moronic.

    That said, there are other threads here where people have attempted to be helpful: Portwyne, who was the subject of your anger above, has even gone so far as to establish a separate blog to help people like your friend exchange information on it. I suggest you stop attacking others and take your friend there instead (the link is here).


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