Thursday, 24 December 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Merry Christmas, Seasons Greetings To One and All.
Remember to be thoughtful, remember to be fair, remember to watch the drink and driving - do not go there!
Take time out to reflect, take time out to review, remember other people who are worse off than you.
Remember those who are fighting, remember those who have died, keep their memories burning this Christmas time.
Try to give more freely to those who have little or nothing and remember that we have more than we can need if we have homes and loved ones to share this time of year.
So I wish you Merry Christmas and A Very Happy, Healthy and Joyous New Year!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

USA Health Care Update

Top stories - Nov. 9, 2009 Health Care -- House Passes Bill. Handing President Obama a hard-fought victory, the House narrowly approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system on Saturday night, advancing legislation that Democrats said could stand as their defining social policy achievement. Now that is something to be pleased about! This will give more ordinary working and non-working people access to health care in the USA, which has for so long been the prerogative of the wealthy and well paid. As I said before the USA health care service is insurance bases, still is but the above Bill will help. Amen and Shalom to that.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Anglican Priests to Join the Pope

Yey at last the poor little boys have admitted they want a daddy other than God as their leader. The Pope must be obeyed because in spiritual matters he is infallible – down with women priests, the scourge of Eve; poor little Adam, so blind, so gullible, so easily led. Down with homosexuality and lets ignore love and commitment that many such couples have (celibate or not). Yey, at last the Anglican subterfuge has been opened up. As for Rowan Williams he should not be sad at the possible exodus of wanna be Catholic priests. True faith will win out in the end – and as much as the Pope believes his version of the Catholic faith is the true Christian faith – it is God who decides.  For more information see Anglican's want to be Catholics.

No I’ve had my rant I must say that it always amazes me that people who disagree so strongly with a change still stay in the organisation and not only get compensated for their sulk they get let to do it their way and get paid by said organisation. Time for the Anglican church to state clearly what it stands for as has the Pope for the Catholic church. Though of course that does not make him nor the Catholic faith godly or right. If you disagree with the changes so much then maybe you should review where you stand and get a new job with a new employer. If the above merry men, or not so merry as the case may be, were so unhappy they should have left not stayed sulking and winging and receiving pay and benefits – how hypocritical, how un Christ like, how petty. Move on now chaps and enjoy being Catholic.

And if the Anglican church is decimated and becomes fractural and even irrelevant, then so be it. Nothing stays static, not even the Church, hence the reformation and Protestantism. God uses men and women, sorry Pope Benedict, not just men, but woman too, to bring about His way. The Pope and a few dissatisfied exodus-ing (if there is such a word LOL) Anglicans might not like the way God does things. But hey that’s God – for which I am truly grateful. God gave us the Scriptures, but he also gave us brains to think things out and learn. Amen and Shalom.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

The Death Penalty

What sparked me off to write this blog was a cause on Facebook, basically saying that the people who perpetrated this outrageous and evil act should face the death penalty (polite version).  And what was this act?

  • Baby P had FIFTY injuries and bruises when he was seen by a doctor 2 days b4 he died, he had a broken back
  • 8 fractured ribs and was paralysed from the waist down, how this was missed I cannot imagine.
  • Baby P was found hollow cheeked with his hair shaved off-he died in his own blood spattered cot hours after he was punched so hard in the mouth
  • he swallowed a bottom tooth.
  • That was probably the blow that finally killed him causing a neck injury that affected his breathing.

I do not advocate taking life, a punishment, not revenge, must relate to the crime. However, a murder and torture (in any shape or form) of a child, let alone an adult, should be punished accordingly so that firstly the perpetrator of such a heinous crime is indeed punished, and set away from society so that other potential victims are protected, and secondly such a punishment must be an effective deterrent to others who might be led to carry out such crimes. Though deterrent must not be the first reason to implement a set punishment. Otherwise you will be back in Victorian times of being deported for stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family – the punishment does not fit the crime, but it could be considered a deterrent!

Of course, sadly, there will always be wicked and evil perpetrators and no thought of any kind of punishment will defer or affect them – and what do you do with such people when they are finally, in the name of justice, caught? But maybe, just maybe, it will deter those who think that a few years in prison is worth the 'pleasure’ they get from their heinous crimes. For in truth there are few people who serve out, or who are given, long term prison sentences for murder. There should be no exception to the rule. Life should mean life, not five, ten or twenty years. Because when people who have committed such acts of murder and cruelty against another are released back into society, having served their ‘punishment’ or been let out early because of ‘good behaviour’, the cost of new identities for such people is a burden on us all – as tax payers it cost us in money and as people it costs us in fear. What if they have not repented – realised and accepted they acted wrongly? What if the psychoanalysts and such have got it wrong or had the wool pulled over their eyes? What therefore if they are out about in society free to act in the same way against other people, to “strike again” so to speak?

The fear factor is most apparent when you consider that not only are these cruel, callous, indifferent, if not dangerous, people not locked up for life but that they are allowed out to have ‘time out’! And even more appalling is that “the number of dangerous people who have absconded from the police during their ‘time out’ of prison is astounding”:

Nearly 1,000 offenders who should have been sent back to prison are still at large, according to Justice Secretary Jack Straw. They include 19 convicted murderers who have not been returned to custody. BBC News Channel Monday 6 July 2009

It is also a slap in the face to those who have lost friends and loved ones to such evil. And what a slap in the face it is for the victims family and friends when murders are given freedom from a sentence, or completing their sentence (never mind the fact that the length of sentence is pitiful considering the crime), because of so called compassionate reasons:

Lockerbie Convict. U.S. politicians and families of U.S. victims of the Lockerbie bombing were uniformly outraged and dismayed by the Scottish government's decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to Libya on compassionate grounds. (see above link or http://blog.sojo.net/2009/08)

Ben White, of http://blog.sojo.net and http://www.benwhite.org.uk/ says: Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill is, in the eyes of many who see the world primarily through the lens of vengeance (either because of their suffering, or less creditably because of their worldview), a scoundrel or a fool. But there is surely genuine courage and insight in his way of trying to weigh the true odds: “Our justice system demands that judgement be imposed but compassion be available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served but mercy be shown.”  “The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live” – Kenny MacAskill (see Faith and beliefs by which we seek to live by).

Justice, compassion and mercy are strange bedfellows, out of mercy Megrahi was sent home to spend the last months of his family, he has a terminal illness. Is this justified as mercy or compassion towards another human being, evil and unrepentant of his actions as he maybe? Though he claims he is innocent. Is the outrage against his release based on revenge? I think it is, but it is also based on the wish to see justice and punishment served. Sad that Megrahi has a terminal illness and apparently only months to live. What if he outlives those given months and it turns into years – it can happen, has been known to happen. Not everybody dies when they are ‘supposed’ to. The following link finding mercy difficult to stomach is worth reading for a different point of view. I think the MacAskill did a compassion thing, and that must be good, but whether it was a right thing to do leaves a dilemma, was this a political manoeuvre, to pacify or court Libya, or a real role of state compassion? Would he have had the same compassion on a Hindley or a Bradly? They took little lives knowingly, without mercy, so does a terrorist.

Though I believe forgiveness and justice are part of the same parcel, compassion to refrain from ensuring a punishment is completed is out of place when a evil is done; surely the Lockerbie bomber is evil in the sense he had no compassion as to who would be hurt by his actions; nor the people who torture and abuse babies, children (see Baby P above) and adults? For instance who can forget the Jamie Bulger murders:

On February 12, 1993 a small boy who was to turn three in March was taken from a shopping mall in Liverpool by two 10 year old boys. Jamie Bulger walked away from his mother for only a second and Jon Venables took his hand and led him out of the mall with his friend Robert Thompson. They took Jamie on a walk for over 2 and a half miles, along the way stopping every now and again to torture the poor little boy who was crying constantly for his mommy. Finally they stopped at a railway track where they brutally kicked him, threw stones at him, rubbed paint in his eyes and pushed batteries up his anus.

It was actually worse than this. What these two boys did was so horrendous that Jamie's mother was forbidden to identify his body. They then left his beaten small body on the tracks so a train could run him over to hide the mess they had created. These two boys, even being boys understood what they did was wrong, hence trying to make it look like an accident. http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/bulger.html

Those two boys are now grown men living their lives as they want with hopes and ambitions. They were granted lifelong anonymity by the High Court of England in January, 2001 and released in the summer of that year. They are free to love and start their own families. Are they are danger to their little ones? The women they have babies with do not know their history their awful evil background. Are they safe?

I am aware that those who do such evil may indeed repent of their crime, and have to live with the guilt of their actions all their lives, and maybe some of those who do such evil will also come to faith in the Lord, a chance they maybe would not have had if they were dead. But in the reality of such violent crimes now on the increase maybe a like for like punishment has to be involved. I am not talking about manslaughter here, but murder and systematic torture, that may also lead to manslaughter, but which invariably relates to premeditated murder.

In lieu of 'turn the other cheek', as a Christian, I have always seen it in relating to our enemies who commit crimes against us as individuals. We, society, need to, I think, have in place a punishment that fits the crime, which may in turn deter and could protect those who can not voluntarily turn the other cheek - or defend themselves. As long as the criminal sees punishment as a joke, something to get out of the way so they can get on with their life – newly converted or remorseful or not - then we have a problem. If they know that they will serve the set time in prison as a given, if they know that to kill someone will result in them forfeiting their life, then maybe it will not be seen as a joke, a peer one-up- manship. Their freedom to live as a free citizen should be curtailed as their crime befits them.

I have no right to forgive someone for their action against another – nor do I believe has a judge or priest – only God can do that. I can only work towards supporting a punishment for a crime that is both just and reflective of the crime committed, not on revenge or anger. Vengeance is best left to God. I can only suggest that a punishment is not arbitrated away through good behaviour, or saying I’m sorry I’m a good boy, or woman, now, let me go and I’ll be a good citizen, have compassion and mercy on me etc. etc. Yes I am being factious here. Where was the compassion and mercy and care and concern when the murderous and brutal perpetrator was carrying out their behaviour upon others? A punishment has to be served out.

Of course this blog is about capital punishment – the death penalty – and there is no scope here to discuss prison reform, treatment of prisoners such as those who are deemed criminally insane or those who have committed crimes out of revenge or passion, a one off reaction to a life event. Or even about the fact that maybe some crimes should not be prison offenses but community work related ‘punishments’. There may indeed be cases where capital punishment is not an applicable punishment – but that is for another blog another day.

For a Christian biblical point of view for capital punishment see Steve Rudd and Probe Ministries.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Unemployment and those pesky Immigrants

Work ethic and work opportunity are not things we Brits are known for. But we should be! And we are. We should be proud to be British and we should be looking at ways to help our ‘own’. But let’s not get onto a bandwagon of blame ‘the other’. Those who are in work are there to earn money. If someone takes a low pay job, then it’s no good blaming them – whoever they are. Did you want to work for that low pay, or do that so called demeaning job? If you can’t be bothered to get out of bed for a low paid job, or in reality, you truly believe that you are better off on welfare benefits because you can not live on a low wage job, then don’t blame someone who does or who has to. And where there are areas where work is not available, not even low pay part time work, then even if there were no so called ‘others’ about, nobody gets the no jobs then, do they?

Of course you could say that you are worth more than the wage being offered for a job. Indeed you most likely are. But you still can not blame ‘the others’ for taking that low paid job. It’s not new. It has always been the way. I can remember a time when people blamed the Welsh and the Irish, never mind those from the Commonwealth countries, when they came into England for the the job market and took on jobs that were low paid and menial. And you could say that those most in need take the low paid jobs – I said you could say that.

It is no good saying that if those Jews, Pakistanis' Indians, Africans, South Africans, Somalians, Romanians, Polish, whoever you want to pick on, were not here we’d get that job, we’d have that business, that house, that school place, that hospital bed. You would not, because there will always be someone better able to achieve or be worse off and possibly more desperate than you. There will always be someone else fitting the criteria that puts you one step down – it’s a fact. And those people will be offered the house, the hospital bed, the school place before you. But you shouldn't be surprised, because if you’re not in desperate need and someone else is, then be grateful, not p****d off. And if ‘those others’ were white British then what criteria are you going to throw at them? British Jobs for British Blonde, Blue Eyed Men and Women? Or jobs for third generation British only? Or maybe you’d go for British Jobs for the Under Forties Only? Or British jobs for men only? You get my drift. There will always be ‘the others’ to contend with. The same as you are ‘an other’ to them.

Don’t be deluded. No government party, no institution, religious or otherwise, will benefit everybody all of the time. And some sadly don’t benefit many people much of the time. The only person who can benefit you is you. It is not about British jobs for British people because there are very few companies that are British through and through, they have a ‘sourced out’ mentality. That as one Conservative MEP informed me, is Globalisation of the market place.Where companies take on the cheapest labour force to maximise their profits. Companies are not partisan. They want as much for as little as possible. Always been that way.

You have to take the initiative and go for the job, work at improving yourself, get yourself out of the situation you are in. You can do it. But you’ve got to do it for yourself. Taking it away or banning someone else from doing like wise will not help you. It’s an illusion to say I am owed a living, a home, health facilities and a home and I should be given such. In an ideal world we’d all have such things. But this world is about have’s and have not’s. It’s about working at what you want. You might not be number one but you might be a b****y good runner up. And you never know, you might just go from runner up to top. But you can’t if you’re not in the race! Rant Over.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Dull Day – Bright Sermon

Today, being Sunday, I’ve been to church – Park Hill Evangelical Church. The sermon was from Acts 8 and how through persecution the news of Jesus Christ was spread far and wide. Because the Jews who believed had to leave Jerusalem they began spreading the word where they were at. So instead of curtailing what was to become known as the Christian belief the authorities were instrumental in propagating it.

The story of Simon the Magician and Peter the Apostle is paramount to an understanding of prayer, belief and forgiveness.

Simon the Magician had many tricks and illusions. He was admired by many. But when he saw the ‘workings’ of the Apostles he was in awe and wanted to be able to induce the Holy Spirit upon believers as they were doing, healing and baptising in the name of Jesus the Christ. He followed them around and then asked if he could pay them to give him the power of the Holy Spirit. What followed was a harsh but correct rebuke from Peter.

Simon had followed and professed to believe but had obviously not understood. He wanted the power of the Holy Spirit for his own aggrandisement. When Peter told him to repent of this attitude and pray to the Lord for forgiveness or he would be in trouble, Simon asked Peter to pray for him. Missing the mark yet again. We have to pray firstly for ourselves, for forgiveness, for help and for God’s grace to touch us in our belief in Jesus the Christ. No priest or individual can pray for us, asking us to be forgiven. We must pray for ourselves and they, the priest or the individual, can pray with us. They may even pray that we may begin to see the error of our ways, but the first step has to be ours. We have to be pursuing the word of God for Jesus' sake not our own aggrandisement or because it makes us seem powerful or good. It does not say in Acts whether Simon got it right in the end. I hope so because with all that was going on around him it would have been a tragedy if he did not absorb the truth and then understand the reality of how to become a believer and pray accordingly.

How true is this in today’s world when self-seeking ministers preach the word to get what they want, be it power, staus, wealth and or adoration. When preachers use vulgarity and locker-room humour to attract young people to their ministries because it’s the cool thing to do. When preachers forgo the the truth of the Holy Spirit as the way for people to come to understand prayer and God’s word. When sex and lust are overplayed and love and compassion are downplayed. When truth is substituted for popularity or cultural assimilation so that the preacher is seen as one of the boys or worst, one of the elite because he belongs to the right clubs and organisations.

These preachers find it hard to pray for forgiveness for themselves because they do not see anything wrong in their way of being. They will ask their ‘flock’ to pray for the church to expand, for the tithing to be bountiful, for the means to do their job, but they seldom ask for forgiveness because they cannot accept that they need to turn inwards and see they are doing what they do for their own self-gratification. We must pray for these preachers to repent, but most of all we must pray that they, like us, must pray their own prayer asking for forgiveness. Otherwise they, and we, will be like Simon the Magician, we will be rebuked and we will face the consequences if we do not get it right.

Thank you Derek Fortnam, Pastor of Park Hill Evangelical Church for that thought provoking message.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Health Care

The USA is going through a time of interesting changes as President Barack Obama tries to improve the USA health care system (something Hilary Clinton, in her role as First Lady of the United States, tried to do before with her Clinton health plan which sadly failed to get through the US Congress). There is much at stake for the average American citizen as the USA has a totally insurance based health care system. You either can or can not afford it! And if you can not them there’s no dentistry, no glasses, no hearing aids and no medication. Of course there are many groups, including many faith based organisations, who try to provide free clinics and services to those who either can not afford health insurance or their insurance is not effective enough to cover certain health costs.

For a brief look at the differences between the UK and the USA see this link. The USA is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not have a universal health care system. So we in the UK who like to follow the American way in most things, if not everything, should be thankful that the National Health Service Act, which was passed on the 5 July 1948, was dedicated to universal health care access for all.

The credit for this remarkable piece of legislation goes to Aneurin (Nye) Bevan, member of Clement Attlee’s Labour Cabinet. Mind you he did say he had to ‘stuff their mouths with gold’, referring to the medical professions stance against the proposals – similar misgivings and personal interest abound regarding the health care changes proposed in the USA – before the proposals were finally accepted by the medical profession; but only after Bevan had conceded and compromised on a number of points to appease them.

Let us hope that the health care reform comes about so that all people and not just the wealthy, the rich and the elite, can afford and have access to health care services in the USA. Hope it seems, is all we have got.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Truth and Reality

I found this site Plugged In and was fascinated by the notion of truth and reality. That reality is created and truth is not – it is eternal if you like, especially in relation to the word of God.

Here the ‘blog’ is about teenagers and what they listen to and watch. The down side of so called “dark music”. As one youth mentioned, the music made them feel good, touched them with the reality of what they felt. They said they went to church and God helped them, but the music made them feel good/better/related to something that “understood” them.

I can go with that. However, as the blog went on to explain, people may find that the reality of something reassures them that they are not suffering alone. But knowledge they are not suffering alone is not, does not offer, a cure for their suffering or their hurt [their wounds]. The truth of the gospel of Christ can, and does, offer that cure. The fact, or reality, is they, you, are hurting. The truth is they, you, can and will get over the hurt. Not immediately maybe, not tomorrow even, but eventually you will get over the hurt or the suffering you are experiencing. But only if truth outweighs fact and or reality. Fact is that every form of depravity is real – we can feel it and see it if we want to. In reality depravity exists. We know it is about. But does it have to be acceptable because its factual and or real?

For a Christian it means we have to face the fact or reality of something, but through living in the truth of the gospel of Christ we can know that this reality or fact of life experience [I am not talking about a mathematical or pure science fact] is finite and will change. Sadly, something seen as a depravation today could be seen as acceptable tomorrow. We get older, our tastes change, our technologies change, our fortunes and our health changes, but the truth does not change. Through the truth of the gospel we can do something about our hurt, our suffering, our confusion, the acts of depravation can be countered. We can move on in our thoughts and in our actions or in how we behave, not through just relating or experiencing a sameness through expression of a certain media – using satanic or dark music, obscenity and degradation through words, music or actions – but through the exposition of the truth of Christ and the message of the Gospel.

The following Scripture verses are, as the blog suggests, a good place to start thinking about truth, fact and reality: John 8, 31, 32; John 17:17-19; 1 Peter 1:22; Romans 12:2; John 10:10, 3 John 4; 2 Timothy 3:1-9 and 4:3-4

Baptism

Baptism is both a personal and public statement of faith. The water is not magic and does not wash your sins away or suddenly make you a religious person. It is however extremely symbolic in that it represents the death of the old old self and the birth of the new self, the commitment of the believer to living in the way of Christ through faith and belief in Christ – his life, death and resurrection. A truly moving and uplifting occasion for those who are being baptised, those who are doing the baptism, and those of the community, friends and family who come to witness this profound and happy event.

My own baptism was like a blur, as if I were not really there in physical actuality. Of course I was physically there, as the wet clothes and extreme cold water can contest to, but it really was something otherworldly and very spiritual in nature. Indeed it was a very profound and happy event.

The baptisms I have witnessed have shown both the faith and the desire of the baptees (if there is such a word) to make a personal and public declaration of faith. Their individual (like mine) statements of faith being a source of encouragement and awe. How people come to faith through both tragic and mundane events and how through such events come to have faith and hope in Christ is always a wonderful thing. It cannot be denied or dismissed as trivial, fanciful or drivel. Adult people coming to faith through circumstances not foretold or enforced is an incredible witness statement. Their lives (as mine was) are changed forever as they are now living their lives through and in faith of Jesus Christ. They are now public ambassadors (disciples) of the Living Triune God – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Not just public ambassadors of the Christian faith, but public enemies of evil – Satan if you like – and as such a threat to such evil. Those who are baptised need both prayers of rejoicing and prayers of protection, because like most enemies of evil they will come under attack. May God be with them and may the love of Christ guide them and may the Holy Spirit guard them. Amen

(With Christian love and best wishes to Tim and Bernadette, 25 July 2009, New Life Church, baptised in Park Hill Evangelical Church, may the Lord bless and protect you.)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

GENOCIDE WATCH – not just the Jews

A Genocide Watch should not be necessary in a civilised world – but we are not civilised. We are prone to pride and selfishness and power and fear and hate. These negative attributes mingle within and throughout our minds. Because of this there must be ways and means available to temper our negative attributes. If we are aware of areas of dispute and conflict we can at least be trying to do something – even if it is only praying or meditating about the situation if you are religious – or encouraging, empowering or cajoling others who can have influence or impact in such situations, to do something. To ignore is not an option.

In the UK, and most ‘westernised’ countries we have a relatively trouble free life, with utilities and services available for most people to access. In the UK we have a good health care service, not perfect, but better than most. We have a benefit system that enables those on it to at least survive with access to shelter, food and water, leisure amenities. There are organisations that provide access to ways and means or seeking training or work to come off the benefit system. Admitted not perfect amenities or structures, but better than most, and better than countries that have none of the above! We do not need to blame 'others' for what we have not got, we have got access to our needs, if not access to all our wants.

That does not mean that we in the west do not have civil unrest or factions of society that would support actions of genocide, knowingly or not as the case may be; the Serbian and Croatian conflict for instance. But we are the lucky ones because where we see injustices we are relatively free to speak out about them or against them.

Other countries are not so freedom orientated. So I simply ask that we help those who are trying to bring civil rights and justice into the global sphere of politics, religion and market resources; and to at least speak out when we see or hear of injustice or prejudices being enacted out. Because if we do not then Martin Niemoller’s, the German theologian and pastor (1892 –1984), words will become a reality for many, again:

They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up”.
Sojourners Verse and Voice of the Day.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

HOPE not hate – absolutely!

My interest in political history will always lead me to a great sadness when I think about fascism and racial nationalism. We really have not learnt a b****y thing. We let our fear of anything or anyone different override our intelligence and then we start swinging from the fascist hate branch of our human race tree. I still can not get over the fact that the UK voted into to the EU - and thus giving them lots of money to faff around with - two fascists, the BNP candidates, and now EU delegates, shame on us. As I said we never learn.On a good note there was a backlash of concerned citizens and the Hope not hate campaign has been boosted by the June EU election results as more and more people see that fascism is not the intelligent way forward to deal with our political problems or concerns. Neither is a head in the sand stance applicable.

It is always important to fight fascism and racism. That does not mean we have to ignore those concerns and worries of those voters who voted fascism. As I’ve said in my blog before, the main parties failed to get a grip on what was really concerning the average Brit. Immigration being the number one concern. The BNP simply grabbed hold of those concerns and put a nice spin of rhetoric onto their sales patter.

Personally I like Frank Fields idea of “balanced migration”, whereby immigration should be brought down to the level of emigration. For more information see the Balanced Migration website. Freedom and commonsense are not, sadly however, always reliable bedfellows in debates about immigration. Though I feel there is a just case (hate that expression as it has the connotation of ‘a just war’ about it) for concern about an overpopulation of immigrants, I am always wary of the scapegoating of immigrants, which then brings one to seeing them as enemies, rather than seeing them, for what they are, people like ourselves trying to find a livelihood: “God has made of one blood all nations under heaven. No man can suddenly become my enemy just because he happened to have been born on the other side of a river or a boundary line…” part of the quote by Muriel Lester, social reformer and pacifist (1883-1968), from ‘voice of the day’ at www.sojo.net. All I can hope is that we learn from our political history before it becomes too late. Sadly, it seems, the Labour government has not…yet.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

ENO TRAP FODNE 2

Iraq shows it still has problems. As I said in my ENO TRAP FODNE blog Iraq has a problem with the idea of real democracy. Though the US armed forces have left the cities, retreating to the rural areas ready for for deployment out of Iraq, and the PM of Iraq declared a national holiday to mark the withdrawal of troops, there was still violence as a car bomb exploded, killing 25 and injuring 40 more. I guess, sadly, there will be more of the same as religious/political sects use weapons rather than words and debate and democracy, to get their own way.

This kind of anti-democratic behaviour is also to be seen in Iran, with the peoples riots in Iran after the election being quashed violently by the government. I guess they learnt from the Chinese government. It seems that violence and oppression is the only way they know how to govern; so my thoughts that reality of democracy is an alien concept to the hard lined fundamentalists of religious orientated countries and egocentric despots has, sadly, been confirmed.

The hardliners are people want power for themselves and their consorts. They have no concept of civil, religious or human rights. This is not new. Power is a addiction and with addiction comes abuse, either of ones own body, or in the case of governments abuse of civic and civil activities of others as the addict tries to maintain that high – the power control – that drives the addict to not only abuse his body but also to abuse others who might stop him from being addicted. Like an addict who mugs and murders someone for the means to continue with his addiction, power addicts do the same to their people, even to those people who are addicts with them and to all intensive purposes are on their side. Addicts don’t reason (not in the normal understanding of the meaning of the word reason), negotiate, or consult. Addicts just act for their own benefit. The only way an addict can be helped is when he admits he is wrong!

And of course not all power addicts are Asian, Balkan, Middle-Eastern or African (Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe come to mind). You only have to look at Blair and Brown and dear old G W Bush and Margaret Thatcher to see how power corrupts and arrogance and conceit creep in; even something as ‘low’ on the addiction list as expense fraud is a power addiction – addicts hope they do not get caught or found out. Thatcher, Blair, G W Bush and now Brown have never admitted that they are, or were, wrong. Their addiction blinded them to reason, they failed to negotiate and consult with others of a different view, because it took away some of their addictive power. They held on and are holding on to the addiction of power.

Nor are power addicts just of a fundamentalist religious bent, as we saw above, past despots of the world were not all religiously orientated, slavishly egocentric yes, but their religion was not their power base, but religion does add to to power addicts fever and addiction. Does that make all religious people power addicts or dangerous (see Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchen for atheistic views)? And would Christians be any different? History says look back to the Papal despots and the murderous Crusades and Inquisition. Look back at the Oliver Cromwell’s and the Bloody Mary’s - Queen Mary was known as ‘Bloody Mary’ (see UK history). Power was their addiction. Power was their “raison d'ĂȘtre”.

Power to those given through or by so called heredity assent or so called democratic election with out checks and balances leads to power addiction. Would you or I be any different? It depends I guess on how addicted we became.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Finally: Rant 3

Just in case you thought I was all high and mighty and self-opinionated (no to the first two and yes to the latter) then take note. I loved the idea of a play about teenage mums called “Mums and Prams”, by Entertainment MK. I think this kind of media with involvement from young mums themselves is excellent. Well worth a look at on the BBC Beds Herts & Bucks site, which is linked above.

There’s not enough of this kind of media action relating to important issues. I remember when AIDS (now its STDs and teenage pregnancies) was the big news story with information, dis-and mis-information and scaremongering being in every form of media. Finally the hype was toned down and reality and compassion has set in – except from the Pope of course. He doesn’t wear condoms so no one else should? Being factious here I know, but ignorance and religious dogmatics and unrealistic ideology - Don’t do it if you’re a homosexual, and no sex till you’re married, then no contraception, because you’re only supposed to have sex in marriage with the desired outcome of babies - does harm not good. Back to the point. When a media such as drama through live theatre and then recorded theatre takes on issues of importance, especially social issues, there is an opening of awareness and sensibility. From black and white there comes an inlet of colour. A chance to see that there are more than the two sides to a story. A chance to reflect and have empathy and sympathy towards those of us who are not on the high-ladder and living a comfortable and safe life-style. This is not always through choice. Any way, a great idea! 

MY RANT: WHY 2?

In my last blog I was talking about STDs and teenage pregnancies.

Maybe the answer to the why question is the truth that sex is now a commodity, and like alcohol, an addiction.

Without respect for your mind and body there is always going to be this silly way of thinking and behaving.

Of course it is not new. Modern teenagers did not become the first to get drunk, cause mayhem, inflict bodily harm and have unprotected sex with and against each other. It is the social attitude of acceptance to such behaviour that has changed.

This attitude will change in time also, as such behaviour causes health and social policing costs to rise. Once that happens then attitude moves within a society and crass behaviour will be seen as juvenile and not cool and exciting or just a case of adolescence high jinks.

Sex is fun, so is drinking, but irresponsibility when participating in such activities causes so much damage and destruction, with society in general paying for the outcome of such irresponsible behaviour.

Of course it is not just teenagers who behave this way. Twenty, thirty and forty year olds, trying to be "young" again, as if the only proof of youth is sex, misconduct and irresponsible behaviour, are just as stupid in their outlook.

Am I being unfair in saying that people are being stupid. I don't think so. Every thing is permitted but not every thing is good for us! Things are not stupid, people are. The cost far outweighs the benefit. If such action was to be cost-ed out to the individuals involved - health and social costs - then there would be a backlash at first, but maybe there will be thought before action. Thought before self harming and the harming of others. And maybe parents, schools, colleges, universities and employers would change their attitude to turning a blind eye or worse condoning such behaviour as a "jolly jape" or just "youthful expression". One can but hope.

Of course not all teenage mums, single or not, are stupid or irresponsible, and not all teenagers having multi-sexual partners get STDs. And unlike some folks on some blogs I do not want to go back to a time of stigma (for the young mother and the baby) and back-street abortions. And I do not think that young girls get pregnant to get a council house - oh please someone do the research! But I do think that a lot of the young girls who have babies do so because they need unconditional love in their lives. And that is sad. There is no such thing as unconditional love from a new born, nor from many people sadly. There are always conditions. You have to bond with the baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult. For a baby is only a baby for a very short amount of time. The ah factor soon wears thin. You have to give total attention and love and commitment to that child. And many, if not most, young mums do.

The thing that saddens me most is that society takes two options. Blame the girls or blame 'society'. Society being the government, social services, the educational system - I've said all this before. There is no blame, just a attitude deficiency. Changing one's attitude is the hardest thing to do. Rant Over.

MY RANT: WHY?

It was sad to hear that STDs and teenage pregnancy was on the increase.

With so much information out there, why are teenagers being so silly and irresponsible? And what on earth is wrong with parents who encourage their young to be irresponsible? If you are going to allow your under age children to have sex, apart from that in itself being wrong, then for goodness sake help them at least be responsible: for instance parents of Chantell Steadman* must take up some of the responsibility for her sexual behavior – even if the young chap Alfie Patten, who thought he was the father, did take up the responsibility of being a father, good for him, but so young for such an important responsibility and role in life. The fact that the paternity test turned out negative and it was another chaps, one of many it sadly seems, child, does not detract from the sad situation that children so young in this country are behaving so silly.

A baby is not a toy that you give away, or leave it for your relations to 'deal' with when you’re bored with it, or when you find that your life with it is not what you thought it would be. I know many of the young girls who have had babies have coped and survived but… See link* Chantell and Alfie .

Could it be that it’s more exciting to do risky things than sensible things?

Could it be that they feel they are being dangerous and anti-establishment?

Even high risk extreme sports people take the correct precautions, after all they don’t really want to die young or get crippled.

So what’s with taking risks when having sex?

As for bringing a child in the world from a moment of excessive stupidity, what kind of life is that for the mother and the child? Does the man whose sperm fathered the child care – it seems, sadly that most do not; they want to be a “fornicator”, but not a “father”. So why not take responsibility and take precautions? And why, in some cases, leave all the responsibility on the girls shoulders. Take precautions. I repeat take precautions. As for the girls, if the boys are not man enough to take responsibility, talk about such issues with you, then they are not man enough to “fornicate”. There are some young men, and women, who are now either dead - very sad - or suffering because of their, "lets do it bare back" or "lets do it wild" attitude. Leaving behind some very sad families and friends, and even partners and children in some cases.

Sorry for the “f” word, but let’s not use the words “making love” here, because there is no love involved when two people put their health, if not their lives, at risk, as well as the health and the life of a potential living human, a baby, a child, use whatever word you like, by acting irresponsibly and oh so very selfishly.

There has always been teenage pregnancy and STDs, this generation is no cleverer or better at it. The sad thing is that it is now seen as the “in thing” to do. A badge to wear with pride and arrogance. Sad but true. The cost to those who are stupid and irresponsible and to society as a whole will be born out in the next generation, as health costs increase and family unity decreases. Sad, very sad. Rant Over.

Monday, 8 June 2009

The EU Vote, the BNP, UKIP and all that Jazz

After the saga of the EU vote with Labour being decimated and the Tories not exactly cashing in, with Gordon Brown not being shoved out of office and the UK, for the first time in it’s history, electing two BNP fascist members, despite gaining less votes than in 2004, to the EU parliament, along with UKIP gaining another four seats, one could ask where do we go from here? We could dwell on the BNP vote and feel something like akin to the German voters leading up to 1933 elections:

“Not only the economy, but even the spirit of the country was destroyed by the [Re. the UK: corrupt and self-centred parliamentarians] Versailles Treaty of 1919 [Re. the UK: we are not in control of our own country, we are being told what to do by these foreigners – the EU]. Of the nations of Europe, Germany above all had taken pride in its military strength, and now its armies were reduced [Re. the UK: poorly equipped and understaffed, fodder for a war we did not agree with and was waged under a lie]. The new government was weak and many small parties sprang up to oppose it [Re. the UK: the main parties were not for the ordinary Brit and were only in it for themselves. They were not addressing issues that mattered to the ordinary folks]. Family unity shattered as young people lost respect for their parents and began to rebel against them [Re. the UK: respect for law and order is out of the window, respect for the elderly is out of the window, we want it all and we want it now, we are owed a job, a home, a Porsche?, we have a right to have whatever it is we want. We want to start at the top, get that top salary. We want, we want, we want a...] . In short, Germany's faith in itself was shaken deeply by the defeat and its aftermath [of the First World War] [Re. Germany then and the UK now: so they listened to someone who offered them something, anything was better than this. But it was false and based on deceit and hysteria. It is easy to promise anything when you know you can not really deliver – UKIP, LIBDEM, BNP et al]”. Quoted in full, with mv comments in brackets, from Holocaust An End to Innocence by Seymour Rossel, with apologies for taking it out of context.

And my apologies to the UKIP party for I have aliened them akin to the BNP. However, look at the areas were votes were and were not attested by these two parties – I know, I’m a conspiracy theorist.

However in the UK, as in Germany, the main parties and the main institutions had let the average German down. They were in dire straits and no where to go. There was real dissatisfaction then, and there is to some extent the same dissatisfaction now in the UK. The issues that mattered or affected Germany still affect people now.

Issues of immigration, those ‘others’ as then, as is now, was not tackled, or at least it was not seen as being tackled by the main parties. Those others are taking up the jobs, the hospital beds, the school places, getting welfare benefit with out ‘earning’ it or ‘deserving’ it.

Unemployment is on the increase, but the ‘fat cats’ still get their bonuses on their overblown salaries.And worse MPs are exposed as using tax payers money to benefit themselves. So whilst the average worker and unemployed person has to ‘suck it in’ those in power take more.

There are house repossessions but the Government does nothing to really help those that have now become homeless, and in fact therefore can become yet another burden on the tax payer, as they have to most likely go on welfare payments.

When these things happen, when injustice and individualism of greed rears its ugly head, people reflect inwards. They start to blame ‘the others’ for the situation. And when you start to blame others, be it ‘those immigrants’, ‘the Government’, social services, the police and the law courts, or whoever you decide to ‘blame’, you fail to see that there has to be individual accountability as well as ‘collective’ accountability for the situation we are in.

Instead we look for a scapegoat; and Hitler gave the German people one. BNP and UKIP et al are giving us some scapegoats - the EU, the immigrants, the Muslims, the terrorists – oh hang on they’re the Muslims – the gays, the Government, the social services, the bankers, the industrialists, the Europeans, the.. you get my point.

When you are down and out, and I do not mean just literally here, but relatively as well, and life is hard, it’s easy to believe that it’s someone else’s fault or that someone else has got what you should have. The pathetic British Jobs for British Workers slogan, what was Gordon Brown thinking when he said this?, really means British Jobs for British White’s Only. Being British is being banded as being White. But in truth, who can blame those who think that? See this BBC NEWS link for more info.

And that is the point. British people, black and white, Asian or Eastern or European origin, but none the less British [the BNP forget that side of British and they say there can be no black or Asian or middle eastern British – Sarfraz Manzoor] are fed up. Issues that matter to ordinary folk are jobs, homes, law and order, education, health care and access to affordable utilities, where our armed forces are fighting and why, the provisions they are, or are not, getting are issues of concern to the average Brit. The BNP and UKIP got that. The EU vote may have been a backlash towards the Labour Government. Those who voted for the BNP and UKIP may all in fact be nationalists and or fascists in their political stance. The point being is that history is worth looking at, and learning from. Do we always have to keep inventing the wheel? The main political parties are being complacent, are being indifferent and could be made impotent. Maybe that is a good thing? Maybe it is time for radical thinking. Not fascist or racist thinking, not even socialist or far-left thinking, but radical thinking.

Obviously the European Union is important and relevant – even if there is a low vote turnout of some 34.27% in the UK – even if those parties who have seats within in wish to take us out of it. Let’s now forget the hype and concentrate on getting things into perspective and working on things that matter. For me community matters. And diversity is good for communities. That’s how we evolve. That’s how we improve.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

[SUBVERSIVE UNDERGROUND] Newsletter: SEVEN MISTAKES EVERY CHURCH SHOULD AVOID

[SUBVERSIVE UNDERGROUND] Newsletter: SEVEN MISTAKES EVERY CHURCH SHOULD AVOID
The seven mistakes are:
1. Embracing the building
2. Misrepresenting the tithe
3. Ignoring the poor
4. Over-emphaising the role of the pastor
5.Yearning for political power
6. Business-minded ecclesiology
7. Conversion-focus instead of disciple making

This is interesting. For instance, much has been made of the 'status' of high profile ministers, pastors, or whatever title they use. The focus can sometimes loom towards the personality of the pastor, something that humans have to face, for we all go for different types of personalities, but the image and the manner can and does put people off. Especially if the pastor thinks he is 'the man', 'the dude', and starts to believe in his own infallibility or the hype about him - or her. These preachers are so busy thinking they have been led by the Lord to take the church where they want to take the church - they may have indeed been led by the Lord - that when they turn around they find they've lost the flock, if not the plot. This is because the role of the pastor is over-emphasised (Mistake No 4).

In 'Seven Mistakes Every Church Should Avoid' we are brought back to the basics. Nice. This refocuses attention on what we should be doing as Christians. Where our priorities lie. There are some Christians for instance who are tired of the social message of the gospel. They are fed up with the various programmes of social action that are talked about and put forward. We are however, called not to make the mistake of ignoring the poor (Mistake No 3), we are to remember that we are called to be there for the poor and oppressed. And may I suggest we are also called to 'stick up' for the 'alien', the foreigner, the asylum seeker and the refugee.

I liked the point about churches being conversion-focused rather than discipleship focused. It's easy to get caught up in the emotion and the hype of a church meeting/service. But if so-called spontaneous conversions are not followed through with bible study and fellowship then the so-called believer will drift away or at worst think it's just all about 'them and Jesus'. In truth of course it is about one's relationship with Jesus, but there is more, much more, to it than that.

The point about churches, leaders, yearning for political power (Mistake No 5) is something I am in two minds about. For instance I do not believe that the church, any church denomination, or set of church institutions, should govern. Or try to govern. This leads to theocracy not democracy. Therefore I do not believe that the church should try to 'legislate Christian values'. However good or bad they may seem. Nor how 'Godly' Christians think these values are. I do however believe that Christians can put forward their values, views, ideas and propositions in and through an arena of self-respect. They should endeavour to be lights of Christ in their behaviour and attitude towards each other - in spite of theological differences - as well as in their attitude and behaviour towards those who have a different 'belief' viewpoint. This is not blind tolerance but subjective tolerance. For as those in other situations have found, once an absolute is in power, then free will is subverted. And this could end up being my free will, or your free will, that is subverted. Alternatives to so called un-Christian behaviour can be found that is not, and does not have to be, imposed through legislative measures. As I said. interesting.

Monday, 25 May 2009

The Shack

My thoughts on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were put into over drive when I read ‘The Shack’, a novel by William M Paul Young, Hodder & Stoughton 2008.

I will not go into the story in detail, that would spoil it for the reader. I’d like to just reflect on a few points in relation to some of the arguments about some of the theology in the book.

The story is about a family that has suffered a great tragedy and how Mack (Mackenzie Phillips), the father, after receiving a disturbing note in his mailbox signed "Papa" (his wife's name for God), goes back to the place of the tragedy, 'The Shack', and in doing so he encounters the Trinity as a way to not only move on from his pain and grief, described in the book as, "The Great Sadness", but also as a way to restore his relationship with God.

In the shack, Mack encounters God as an African-American homely woman who is Papa, Jesus as a Middle Eastern Jew and the Holy Spirit as a Asian woman with the name of Sarayu, which all sounds very weird, but if you read the book, and not just read criticisms of the book, you'll find out why God chose to be seen as such.

I liked the way that the story focuses on how God could relate to each and everyone of us by adopting and adapting an image that we could relate to and be influenced by. Since God is both male and female I see no problem in a vision of God as a woman if you need a motherly influence and impact, nor do I see a problem in a vision of God as a fatherly influence and impact if that's what one needed to be able in a time of stress to relate to God, in fact Papa reverts to a male image later on in the novel as another adaptation for Mack to relate to.

There are criticisms that Young has created a craven image of God, I disagree, the image is one that Mack can relate to, not one that is to be made and used in worship. The book is not saying that God is an African-American woman named Papa (in fact Papa tells Mack that he can call her Elousia (p86)), nor that the Holy Spirit is a Asian woman named Sarayu. Just that those images and what they do and how they do it it is what Mack needs. A lot of people can relate to those images. I did. I found the connection of the Trinity as three persons more enlightening through those images. But there is no way that it led me to believe that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit actually look like that! Craven images - no way.

But what about some of the theology relating to how Mack and the Trinity relate to each other? Young has got it right in that God is personal, neither male nor female, and it can be seen, through Mack’s encounters with the Trinity, that the Christian faith is about a relationship with a living God that is profoundly and incredibly intimate. It is a two way relationship. This two way relationship is tested by Mack’s grief and anger at God. He blames God for not stepping in and preventing such a tragedy (The Great Sadness’). He is given a change to judge God. At some time or another in our lives we all think we'd love to do that. Mack expresses just how hard that is as he realises the implications of such judgements.

If Mack is taken by understanding of the notion of judgement, then on the notion of sin he even more taken back and is surprised by God who says that, "I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it" (p120). Through having God say this, Young has been criticised for undermining the punishment of sin. However, it seems to me that though God may not need to punish sin, the same as in the book God has no need to eat, but does so on a social level with Mack because Mack needs to eat (p199), God does, in fact, punish sin. For if, as in the book, “sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside", then may I suggest that, “the devouring you from the inside”, is a punishment proscribed by God for sinful behaviour? Then, may I suggest that the follow on statement “it’s my [God’s] joy to cure sin” might be relating to when we repent, return to God and come to faith through belief in Christ. But I could be wrong, this is just my opinion. [The following link blog.yanceyarrington.com has some more interesting points about the theology of 'The Shack' as does Ron Sider in his review of the book]

The bit for me in the book that was most difficult was how we forgive. How can we forgive someone who has committed such a heinous crime against a member of our own family. It is easy standing on the outside and saying that you should forgive. And I am in awe of those who have experienced such perpetrators of evil and have forgiven them. I guess I will have to keep coming to the Lord to ask for help to forgive because there would be no way I could on my own. And that is one of the most powerful aspects of The Shack. That we are not expected to do things on our own. We are to invite God into our lives, we are to have a relationship with God.

There is so much more to “The Shack” than I have included here, much much more! I for one found ‘The Shack’ thought provoking in relation to my own faith and attitude towards sin, punishment, judgement and forgiveness. It made me start, made me think, made me laugh and made me cry. A good book, with a good story about a profound subject. What a way to start a theology debate!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

All Change - My Rant

Hi - this is still "From Where I Stand", just got fed up with the template I had before!

If you like - or dislike - the new template then feel free to comment.

I like change. I like changing the furniture around in my living room, moving the books about on my bookcase, normally when I finally take the time to dust. I like putting up different curtains in the rooms of our house at different times of the year. So all in all I think change is a good thing. Most of the time.

But what about when change is not a good thing? What about when change puts things out of sorts and is not conducive to one's sense of well being, or your family's sense of well being? Then change can be difficult to handle. Not insurmountable, just difficult to handle.

I find life is like that, just when things seem to be ticking along something happens and it's "all change". That is scary don't you think? From the shop you normally go to closing down to the doctor you like retiring, its all change. And that makes us uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable because unlike a change I instigated I have no control of these changes.

So what about changes in society? According to some people society has changed too much, especially relating to moral change. According to others change has been for the better as we, most of us in the west, have a freer way of living. Not tied down to certain role models and behaviour patterns. But is that true? We might not be tied down to past role model and behaviour patterns, but are we not tied down to the present day role model and behaviour patterns.

In some debates about change people mix moral up with culture and technological changes. We've all heard, and I've been guilty of, the saying "In my day...". Sometimes it's funny when people look back at the so called good old days. Most of the past was not good or better than the present. It was something you lived with. And I am sure that most of us look towards things being better rather than saying this is ideal and I don't want anything to change. Anything?

Of course we want some things to change, but most things don't often change on their own, there are always external influences, be it technological or civic, social or cultural. These external influences help to influence and develop change.

I remember a dialogue between my mum and another lady of the same age, around seventy years old, talking about the younger generation. My mum's associate was expressing the fact that, "Youngster's now days don't know they're born". Well apart from it being funny that if one is alive, and I presume you are if you're reading this, then you must know you are born, no? But of course she meant that youngster's now days have it easy. Have what easy?

She could have been relating to working hours, buying homes, going on holiday abroad, access to prepared foods and cookers that did not need overt cleaning every time you cooked something on them, relationships and child birth and rearing. Actually she was talking about washing machines and tumble dryers. So to some extend she was saying something true. In her, and my mum's day, there were no washing machines. Nor did my mum have hot running water so water had to be boiled in large saucepans and then poured into the sink in order to be able to wash the clothes. Then she had to hand wash, rinse, wring out and hang the washing up on the line or around the kitchen. So yes life was hard for people like her and my mum. But surely she did not still want it to be like that?

Well yes she did. She did because her reasoning was that because the young did not know what hard work was, her reasoning, not a fact, they did not know how to behave themselves and bring up their children right, as if every body did in the past, because they had too much time on their hands. Idle hands and all that jazz. Idle meaning doing so called 'trivial' things. But did they, do they?

My mum disagreed and expressed the sentiment that she wanted good lives for her children that were not controlled by set chores that had to be done on certain days of the week. Mum wanted to think that the future would bring about more leisure time and time for being with one's children rather than always being on the go, doing housework and cooking because you had to. And she hoped that wages would be about extras and not just necessities. Has much changed? Has change been for the good? I think it has.

The change in lifestyle, has to some degree made life easier, but not necessarily better, for some women and men. There is now the need to be 'doing something' in this so called extra leisure time. Playing on the computer, blogging on the blogs, sitting watching the television with access to hundred of programmes from the sublime to the ridiculous, going to the pub, club, whatever else you do in your leisure time. These things become the chores if we are not careful. They take up our time as much as the old chores did. We then spend more hours working to keep up with our 'chores', upgrading and obsessing about them. And they are chores in the fact that we end up having to do these things, as well as to some extent, wanting to do these things. And sadly we don't feel as if we are living if we can't or aren't doing these things. We stress if we are not being able to do these things. They are, like, so important !

In the old days - there I've said it - people could not do things such as meet up or spend time with their children (as much as they liked shall I say), friends or family because there were the chores to do. If the chores were left too long or missed the next time round was twice as hard. And though modern woman or man might miss a wash load, two can be easily caught up with in a morning! But when going to bingo, to the pub, playing on the computer or watching television becomes the chore, something you have to do, then what happens? Can you give up your 'chore' to spend better time with your children, friends and family? Or have you got to do it?

Spending time with children is not the same as children being there in the house with you. As in the old days - I know - mum or dad had to STOP their chore for a while to spend time with their children, so too do modern mum's and dad's. The difference is that in the past the washing or dinner did NOT get done if mum did not do the chore, making more work, and hungry tummy's maybe, for the next day. Now, you may not get that high score or go to the next level on the computer game, you may not be with your mates at some kind of venue (pick wherever you go) getting merry - I am being polite - or just sitting watching your favourite programme on the television, but...maybe you'll get to know what your children better, or even each other better, and nothing unforetold will happen. You'll still get the time to get that high score, go to the next level, get a drink or go to bingo, pub, club, whatever. Of course maybe you'll get on each others nerves, get agitated, feel like you're missing out. In the old days - ugh I know, I know - people did miss out. They had no choice. There was no chance for change. There is now. Don't miss out. Change is good. Go for change!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Fellowship

I'd like to say a thank you to Derek Fortnam of Park Hill Evangelical Church for a thought provoking sermon on fellowship and Bible study - we should be hungry for the word of God and desperate to meet up with each other! We Christians should be noted by our difference - not in the, "I'm better than you na nana na na!", but in the fact that by becoming believers and having faith in Christ we are changed and are seen to be changed in our dealings with each other. For if we as Christians fail to show love and compassion, friendship and help to each other then we are failing in our faith (Acts 2:42; 45 - 46 show devoted Bible study from all the believers, giving to anyone as they had need and meeting up together and sharing meals together).

As Christians we are called to reach out not just to each other as believers but to those who do not believe. To be able to give them a reason for our faith, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15. The reason Christians should have hope is because of their faith.

Christians, however, are also called to give sacrificially. To give outside and beyond their comfort zones; be it a financial or physical comfort zone. That is the hardest part for many Christians, to give and walk outside of their comfort zones. I too have a problem 'giving' and 'walking' outside of my comfort zone.

I am enraged when I see injustice - not just injustices that I disagree with. I feel enraged when I see cruel and despotic regimes propped up by use of political and financial institutions in the name of globalisation or free market economics. Like use of the bible for the substantiation of 'biblical' abuses, the use of the terms globalisation and free market economics has been substantiated to mean greed, irresponsibility and lack of accountability via individualism rather than community.

If Christians are called to be seen to be different by their moral and physical behaviour then that must have an impact on their civil and social behaviour. That is something I can relate to, politically, socially and civically, but can I relate as a Christian, from a Christian perspective? That is the question. For if I define myself as a Christian, then how does my civil and political views have an impact on my fellowship with other Christians? Especially other Christians who disagree with my Christian theology or doctrine, and adhere to an agenda that allows for discrimination because it seems to allow a biblical doctrine?

A Christian leader has expressed the view that if a country wants to ban people who hold same-sex affirmations from having access to civil and human rights, it should not be prevented from doing so [See this link]. But, say it another way, "If [put whatever you like here] wants to ban Christian people from having the same civil and human rights then it should not be prevented from doing so". But what if the punishment to affirm the right to same-sex relationships [or affirm the right to be a Christian] is punishable by imprisonment, stoning, or death? I am that sure the above Christian leader would say, well that's that country's law for the former situation, but be outraged at that country's law for the latter situation. Where is our fellowship then? Can I stand in fellowship with the above Christian leader?

For more on my views on Christian Fellowship have a look at Faith and Reason.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

ENO TRAP FODNE

On another planet, that's what I hear you say when you look at the title of this blog, but you guessed it right? [END OF PART ONE backwards]

As the UK brings out the troops from Iraq and as fighting continues in Afghanistan and elsewhere one has to say what next? What happens now, in reality, what happens now?

The cost of imposing democracy on Iraq, which has not yet worked for the people of Iraq, they have not embraced the westernisation of democratic compliancy as one might have hoped, has been immense, both to those imposing and to those being imposed upon [see Stephen M Walt as he asks, "What is the political formula by which Iraq will be governed now that Saddam's brutal dictatorship is gone?" [and the Iraqis are left to 'govern'].

The civilian death toll is staggering and will continue to increase I fear. Of course the deaths of the armed forces personnel, and other workers trying to provide services such as infrastructure and social utilities, is just as sad and very tragic and must surely be regrettable. But in the argument for truth of the whys and wherefores I ask what next?

What next must be up to the people of Iraq. The USA still has troops there, with the proviso they will be 'pulling out', eventually, sooner than later; with US combat forces due to leave Iraq by August 2010 and all US troops should be out of the country by the start of 2012 under the US-Iraq agreement (Reuters India). How will the Iraqis deploy their 'democracy' when they are finally left to govern their own country? NET NEWS DAILY gives a view that is less than hopeful.

What has the western invasion achieved that will be of lasting benefit to the Iraqi people? There will be many debates and discussions around this question. It will not be what we think that was good or bad about the invasion and the conflict and the outcome, but what have we left behind for the Iraqis to embrace? For if they embrace a different regime from the one we hope they should embrace, will we be going back again to liberate them, either because they might again be seen to be developing and thus deploying to have weapons of mass destruction, okay for us but not for them, or because they have been taken over by a dictatorial government that we do not agree with; human rights issues not withstanding, for surely there are other dictators who have, during and after Saddam's time, who have been, and still are being, more aggressive in their anti-human rights action towards their people, but we have not intervened by invasion. Or will it sadly be all about oil and the control of who has access to such a costly commodity, and therefore depending on OUR relationship with the Iraqi government of the day, we will either ignore abuse of human rights or invade because of the commodity Iraq has?

I have to ask the question that if Iraq had been a parched desert land like some of the African countries for instance, would the west have gone out to 'protect itself' from perceived weapons of mass destruction, or in the proclamation of freeing people from oppression, would the west have invaded and toppled that oppressive government? I hope the answer to my question is not the one I think it is.

Of course the above is over simplistic, there was contingency of planned cooperation, we did not invade Iraq blindly, the opposing parties to Saddam were willing and able to cooperate with the armed invasion, and the resulting restructuring of Iraq through the hard work of the Iraqi people, the foreign nationals who went out there to work, and the armed forces personnel who helped set up and worked towards the building of schools and hospitals must be seen as a good thing. But what next? What will happen in OWT TRAP? [PART TWO backwards]

Why have I written END OF PART ONE and PART TWO backwards (eno trap fodne & owt trap)? Because I believe the west has been backwards in its dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan.That will no doubt be the continuing stumbling block, the cause and affect of our relationship with Iraq, if not the legacy, we will be leaving behind in Iraq.

You views are appreciated, but remember to be civil if you disagree with above views, or if dialogue pursues, if you disagree with comments posted on this blog.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

What's Your Theological Worldview?

What's my theological world view?

Apparently I am an Emergent/Postmodern, according to the quiz I took on http://www.quizfarm.com/ :


"You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this".

The results scored were:
Emergent/Postmodern
82%
Evangelical/Holiness/Wesleyan
71%
Neo orthodox
64%
Modern Liberal
36%
Roman Catholic
36%
Reformed Evangelical
32%
Classical Liberal
32%
Charismatic/Pentecostal
29%
Fundamentalist
0%

Well, I must say that was pretty good for a quiz - mostly correct! Though I was surprised that I was more Roman Catholic 36% than Reformed Evangelical 32%, but not surprised to be Emergent/Post Modern (82%). For a bit more on how I see Emergent/Post Modern theology see http://www.freewebs.com/faithandreason/apps/blog/show/872196-theological-worldview-2 & http://www.freewebs.com/faithandreason/apps/blog/show/next?from_id=872196-theological-worldview-2

Actually, I think I'm a nominal Christian, willing to work with all peoples of all faiths, or none, to improve society in the best way I can; as James 2:20, 24, 26 makes clear, faith without works is useless for both the believer and society. I believe in working for civil rights for all, regardless of nationality status, sexuality, gender, religion, age, race, disability or intellect. I believe in working to keep health and education available to all, regardless of ones ability to pay for it. I believe that the state has an obligation to its people, whether it is a secular or theocratic state, and that means welfare provision and the development with, or without, other agencies to provide social housing for those who either cannot afford it or who are in need of special housing; my faith exhorts me to look after the poor and needy, the down trodden and the outcast, that means supporting policies and agencies that try to implement such provision. And I believe that the armed forces should be equipped and provided for, both whilst in service and afterwards; my faith does not allow me to turn from those who are fighting, even if I disagree with why they are fighting. Men and women who lay down their lives (even if its expected of them because that is their vocation) for others deserve respect and honour, even if you or I disagree with why they are fighting. That does not mean that other groups such as the education and nursing profession and all others that are involved, the police, the firemen and women do not deserve respect and honour, they do.

As a Christian I am called to love my neighbour as myself. I can only do that by appreciating and supporting what others do in 'helping' and 'providing' for other people - all the people in our society - and respecting them and their efforts in doing what they do. I can only do that by reaching out to others to offer friendship, fellowship, help and assistance the best way I can. I might disagree with their lifestyle, their politics, their theological worldview or their atheism or agnosticism, but they have a right to their life and viewpoint, be it secular or religious. How I live my life amongst other people is important. Why I live my life the way I do has a background to it. How I interact with others is dictated by my faith. I believe that how I am seen to interact with others is an indictment for or against my faith. If that is part and parcel of being a Emergent / Postmodern Christian, then I guess that's what I am Fish 2

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter Sunday

What a great Easter Service my friend and I went to today. It was held at Park Hill Evangelical Church, Kempt Town, Brighton http://www.parkhillchurchbrighton.org.uk/.

The church was quite packed and though not high-tech in it's music or presentation, it was very enjoyable and informative. The sermon was read from John's Gospel - 20:1-18 - and was obvisiouly relating to the death and resurrection of Christ and what that means to us.

There was a fellowship meal afterwards, and though I did not participate in the eating of the meal, it smelt and looked fantastic. I do not know who provided and prepared the meal but koudos to them - next time a must Cool

Friday, 10 April 2009

The Three Men

Today is Good Friday - the day when Christians 'celebrate' the death of Christ. I say celebrate because we know that Christ was crucified, laid in a tomb, and was then resurrected - that is 'celebrated' on Easter Sunday. In 'celebrating' Easter I'd like to recall three men who were representatives of a church I once knew. I still know of it, the hall they met in is still there and the church - a body of people worshipping God - still meet at that hall every Sunday.

The three men represent three sides of that church I once knew. A naive (meant in a nice way) literal Christian man, an intellectually conservative Christian, and a street wise (been there, done that kind of chap) conservative Christian. They all meant something to me. And they still do. They taught me a lot about ideas and behaviour patterns. One brought me to believe in Christ and I was baptised as a believer. That was after I, and my partner, had be touched by the Holy Spirit. We, my partner and I, were touched by the Holy Spirit at the same time. This was the most remarkable thing. You see, either one of us could have been touched, affected, whatever description you want to use. But for one of the biggest effects on our lives to take affect, the both of us had to be touched. So we were 'zapped'. That is a good way of saying it. Zapped to move away from a standing point we held firm to. One day I'll go in depth about what that decision was. But for now I want to go back to the three men.

You could say they gave me valuable insight into how Christians live. Or how some Christians live. All three had gifts, talents or skills if you like, to use for the church. One liked small group settings and literalistic bible study materials to promote Christian thought. One liked small group, but in particular one-to-one bible studies. Using similar bible study materials but understanding a more complex world view and able to articulate between the two. One liked group and one-to-one but came from the more historical literalism biblical world view, though to some degree having some comprehension of a secular world view. But all three agreed that the bible came first. They locked onto the moral teachings of the New Testament and they locked onto the modus-operandi of worship and church structures as defined by St Paul. So simple, so quaint, so easy to follow. I miss them and their simplicity. Life's like that. You move on. Some would say you grow up. Life is not simple. Indeed it is not. Yes, I miss the three men.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Midnight Kids

I know I'm old fashioned and a fuddy-duddy but why are parents letting their nine, ten and eleven year old children to still be 'playing' outside at eleven - twelve p.m. and even through to two to three a.m? Do they not care, do they not know their children are not at home safe? Or do they think that a nine year old is capable of living life on the streets and it's okay? Though I do not believe that children should be molly-collied, I do not believe either that they are mini-versioned adults. Mini-Me-Adult clones (as Mini-Me from the Austin Powers films) children are not! They should be loved and looked after by their parents. And though children wandering the streets late at night was part of Victorian culture (so was deporting a starving man to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread) and therefore they had to 'grow up' and face the despotism of town and city life, it should not be part of a culture that has a moral and social application of being more, shall I say, enlightened.

Children need our guidance as well as our protection. Parents need to take on the obligation of being parents, not just whilst their children are cute and cuddly in their nappies and buggies, I was going to say prams but you don't see many of them about now days, but also when they can walk and squawk, sorry talk :), when they can cuss and swear like any true bloodied trooper, and when they can harass and attack and cause criminal damage and physical harm to those younger and older than themselves. What on earth are parents about when their young children are wander the streets like latter-day vagabonds? What would those parents do if their children were hurt in anyway by any means? Blame the schools, the police, the local council, the church, the dustbin-men, sorry dustbin-persons or refuge assistants, blame anybody and everybody but themselves. Parenthood is amazing. You give birth to life and you see that life grow. Parenthood is IMPORTANT, SPECIAL and DEMANDING of your time, energy and most important of all parenthood calls for self-sacrifice and responsibility for another. Time to step up to the task parents and REALLY BE PARENTS.

On the note of 'children being out late is unacceptable', 'Operation Staysafe', see link below, was intended to stop children becoming victims of crime or being drawn into criminal behaviour. Though the children in this case were over nine years old and some would consider themselves, as would their parents, as 'old enough to do what they want', the shocking thing is the lack of taking responsibility for their actions, either by the 'child' or by the parents being responsible for said child.


Yes. I was a child and a teenager once. I was also self opinionated (nothing changed there), self-indulgent and self-centred. I got drunk and unruly and out of my depth at times. But I had a home to go to, and was welcome and loved in my home. I was more afraid of upsetting, if not disappointing my parents, especially my Mum, than of the local police! But I knew the boundaries, I understood the reason for the boundaries, and I, like all children and teenagers today, needed boundaries. The culture has changed only in so much as drink and drugs and sexual exploits are considered the only way to be enjoying yourself. If you're not pissing your head off, getting high, or shagging someone then you're not living. That is the culture we are adhering to. That is the culture we are accepting as the norm. Yes drunken debauchery has always gone on, it may have been swept under the carpet and ignored as a 'youthful bon-adventure' as it is now days, and it may have been frowned upon and strict civil and social laws or regulations implemented, but it was never seen as the thing to do, to aspire to, to excel in. Life is hard for both parents and children now days. It always has been. Maybe it is time for communities to open their eyes and work with the legal and the social and civil structures to endeavour to bring some sense of self-esteem and respect of self to the young. Not by copious indifference of attitude, as in 'the young will be young', but by offering a sense of pride and ambition, a desire for aspiration not banality. Maybe it is also time for the parents to be parents and not keep trying to be best friends with their children. Most children have friends. What they need are parents, social leaders they can find aspiration from, not leaders who want to be 'little teenagers' themselves and to be seen as 'cool' or 'wicked' or 'fit' (whatever the in term is :) ). Time to step up.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Someone Does Give A 'Fig'

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/9120 Gordon Brown and the oncoming summit.
Though I was scathing in my last blog that world leaders et al did not 'give a fig' I do acknowledge the economic and capitalistic difficulties they live with. It was nice to read from Ekklesia site that Gordon Brown PM is outreaching rather than postulating aka G W Bush ex-President of the USA. It would be wonderful and miraculous if the outcome of the summit was not just rhetorically positive but practicably applicable and
finally, before it is too late, achieved.

On another positive note, Sojourners 'Mobilization To End Poverty' April 26 - 29 2009 at Washington Convention Centre, should raise awareness of poverty as Christians from across the States come together in a "powerful movement committed to the biblical imperative of reducing domestic and global poverty". See http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=events.m2ep&item=m2ep-home&source=rsvp_0903_m2epsh_ec
for more information.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

WWF's Earth Hour

Are you up for it?
On Saturday (today) 28 March 2009 at 8.30pm, people, businesses and iconic buildings around the world will switch off their lights for an hour – WWF’s Earth Hour. This event is to kick-start "WWF's Campaign for a global deal to convince governments to agree effective action on climate change. December's UN climate summit in Copenhagen is their last chance to get it right, so we need to ensure they know we care. Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing people and nature, and demands urgent global action. Unless we prevent average temperatures rising 2°C above pre-industrial levels, we face a high risk of severe and irreversible changes in the planet’s natural systems". http://earthhour.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/aboutearthhour/

Is it really TOO much to ask governments to be effective in this matter? The various summits that take place consisting of the so called 'good and the great' and 'the powerful and influential' always brings about lovely rhetoric and excellent soundbites, with much self-congratulating and over indulgences, but then they, and we, all go back to "doing it our way". I doubt very much that government leaders and officials really give a fig about the earth and the living things upon it, be it human or otherwise, if they did they would not be debating how little they can get away with doing in order not to affect their lifestyles, their wallets or their 'bomb power'. If they cared they would be going for the highest optimum to stop climate change, the highest optimum to stop poverty and the highest optimum to stop destruction of the earths resources.

So it is GOOD that organisations such as WWF try to have impact by bringing people into action, however small that action is, but like the rhetoric and the soundbites of the 'good and the great' and 'the powerful and influential' we keep looking at "the least we can do". Let's go for the "maximum we can do", going over and above the required or requested minimum amount. And let's learn something from our history, we've no excuses for polluting our waters and destroying our lands and wasting our resources. The West is the BIGGEST user of natural resources per capita. And though those countries that are trying to develop, or I would say are trying to be capitalistically market orientated to match the West, would say that they need to be just as wasteful and destructive in order to catch up with the West, may I suggest if the earth is destroyed it won't matter what flag you're flying, what nationality you are, how many cars you've got parked in your drive, how much money you've got stashed away, or how many properties you own, nor will it matter if you can't compete against the 'others', who ever the 'others' are, no it won't even matter if you can't be part of 'good and the great' and 'the powerful and influential' because, we will be decimated, extinct, snuffed out, GONE. It won't be about THEM and US, it will be about NONE of us. ARE YOU UP FOR IT NOW?