Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Free XXXX Christian Porn!

If the heading has brought you here looking for a bit of a thrill I have to apologise up front because you won't actually find any porn, Christian or otherwise,here - sorry! Well, actually I'm not sorry, because perhaps it's you (and me) I want to talk to this morning.
I received an interesting email this morning from a 'Christian' group offering me access to their 'Christian' website. Not just any old 'Christian' website but a website that would help me to take the sin out of porn and put God into it instead. "Why remove the porn from the believer?" it challenged, "When we can take the sin from it and put God into the picture!" Now I know all about the 'Last Temptation of Christ' and I am aware of the erotic imagery that found within the Bible and within the writings of some of the 'mystics' but this is something different.
Apparently a massive percentage of the population are into porn and there is obviously money to made from publishing it, or am I wrong and the people who do are acting merely out of political or moral higher grounds, but who on earth is going to believe that because the site names the people in their footage or photo's this removes the sin? I am also told that every couple engaged in the sexual stuff is married and are celebrating their gift of love from God with God (and we're permitted to watch because it's worship?). Great, but having watched isn't a tie created? Isn't there something that links you and them? Sorry, I have to say that this is just plain WRONG!

Mind you, if you'd like something that is as attractive and compelling and attractive and costs nothing (no costly sites to sign up for) and cheap (salvation is absolutely free!) and never palls (as sexual stuff does - there's no need to introduce additional or higher levels of excitement - it's always exciting, and if not perhaps you need to work at your relationship with Church rather than change partner?)  and is so, so easy to do (no need to hide away to do it, in fact it's better if you do it outside and loudly! Now you can't say that about the 'Christian' porn can you?) and is so fresh (like it's new EVERY morning) and there's no technology needed (other than the results of that nice Mr. Guttenberg's invention in your hands).    

So if I have disappointed you I can only say, "You're obviously disappointed!"

Sex is something fantastic and to be shared, as I understand it, in a monogamous relationship between two people who love each other and from this love comes the biological wonder that is life. It's pretty easy really - the bits all fit together in a well-designed manner and the machine runs well with love, consideration, respect and  of course, excitement.

New year approaches - if you've found this and you have a problem with porn, why not deal with it and start the New Year on the road to freedom? If you have found this and you don't have a problem with porn, pray for those who do that they might be set free from this mental, spiritual and emotional self-blackmailing trap and thank God you're not caught up in this sin. So, which sins are you having problems with?

p.s. If you're one of those who are engaged in 'Christian Porn' I have to say that you are of course free to engage in whatever sexual antics you fancy and are free to film it, show it to your parents when they come round for dinner or whatever you like - just please don't send me emails offering it - don't suggest it's 'Biblically Sound' (although of course there are many other lifestyles which also plead Biblical support but it ain't there either) and try to make sure your reasons sound plausible and valid because I think there's a test at the end of the journey and I'd hate you (or those you have led into error) to flunk the finals - the alternative is hell!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Man gives to God - God gives to man.

I was struck by a parallel in this morning's (Christmas 1) Old and New testament readings and thought I'd share it with you. The Old Testament reading was 1 Samuel 2: 18-20, 26:
     "But Samuel was ministering before the LORD - a boy wearing a linen ephod. Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, "May the LORD give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord." Then they would go home. . . . .And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the LORD and with men."
Taking this with the Gospel reading, Luke 2: 41 - 52:
     "Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you." "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men."
I was struck by the fact that Hannah gave her son, Samuel, to the Lord to minister to Him and how God gave His Son, Jesus, to minister to Humanity. I'll leave you to join the dots but I just thought I'd share this with you!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Gay - Am I bothered?

Following on from my previous post on this topic I found this great quote from the New Statesman columnist,  Manselle D'Argy-Smith:
"People who define themselves by their age are about as appealing to be with as feminists who drone on about women's rights; Homosexuals who are obsessed with being 'gay', or environmentalists who mention recycling every time they drop round for a cup of green tea."
What can I say? Obviously I'm not isolated in my thinking and the above quote deals with three of my 'favourite' dislikes, all of which come under the category of 'self-absorbed' or 'self-important' interest for many of the people I meet!
I am sick to death of 'wimmin' and feminists with their 'we're a special case - so discriminate positively in my favour' stuff. If you're good enough to get the job, in my experience you generally will whether you're male of female. Where there is bias, I stand against it but often when I have investigated the bias was on the wearer of the other glass slipper.
The same goes for all this animal rights tosh where animals have spirits and have an equal right to life with humans. My thinking here is that where we have rights we also have responsibilities - so in that case the animals had better get out a find a job too! Sadly, the nutters get lumped in with the people who are trying to save polar bears and do worry about global warming - which still doesn't have the scientific consensus that it's us what's doing it - after all, the earth has been settling down for a good many years and the records show a trend, but have not been kept long enough to detect whether a pattern exists!
The homosexuals want me to think there are lots more than there are. perhaps this is why I have encountered so much gender confusion over the years as people effectively try to groom younger people and persuade them that they aren't heterosexual. And when they do succeed we are all expected to applaud and tell them how nice it is and all that stuff.
We have a life to live and we do it only once - we need to be the best people we can be and to try and be the difference in this world. This is what Christianity is about - peace does come to the earth in that first Christmas. This peace touches an individual and they touch others, who also find this peace, and so on. The logical conclusion is that had we connected well enough with one another then the whole world would have had this peace
Along with this peace comes a relationship with God and this relationship carried with it expectations. Expectations regarding behaviour, attitudes and action - and these, stopping the self-absorbed elements of life mean that people reject the message, reject the belief and live in a world of their own making (which of course being all they have lead to the self-pleasing, self-absorbed, little people who started this thread off!).
Why not step back and see where you're more interested in your pleasures, more happy enjoying whatever (or whoever) rings your bell, and so self-absorbed to see that their is a world out there which is destroying itself because it rejects the peace? Religions do start wars - because they struggle for their own selfish mantras to overcome the true source of peace and put themselves (and their organisation) on the throne. they might adapt and use the language and stories but they aren't the peace and aren't the Way either - there is only one - accept no imitations and don't argue or try to make a virtue out of your own limitations.


Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas Day

Children's service done - midnight communion packed and church looking great. Two services left before we turn the church building into its Christmas dinner venue mode and somewhere near fifty people arrive for lunch and all that goes with it.
Some batty lady (apparently) has bowled the poor old Pope over, not a funny happening at his age - could you imagine what a fuss there would have been had he broken his hip or something?
I'm taking this brief moment of respite from the madness, tidings of comfort and joy, and mayhem that will be this day to focus on the infant child - the journey to manhood (and the Cross) and the fact that the light has indeed come into this world and regardless of sinful natures, the darkness will not and cannot (ever) overcome it. Hallelujah!
+Croydon is right, the carols we sing have no relevance to the reality - but there is a reality in that as we sing them and we remember Christmas gone when we had parents perhaps and our siblings were people with whom we tussled and played with equal passion. When all we needed was a box of Lego or a Meccano set and Scalextric meant you'd have to let your uncles play and hopefully get a go on Boxing Day. The words are erroneously set but the memories that we have associated with them are treasured and you know what - I still get a buzz form singing them just as Mums still shed a tear as little Johnny (or in this case - Alexander) wearing a gold foil crown and bearing a gift approaches Joseph (tea towel on head) and Mary (is that a Birmingham shirt she's wearing?) in the nativity play.
The anamnesis that is Christmas joins the first Christmas with the second Coming, for we celebrate both on Christmas morn', with the reality of 'now' and the memories of Christmas past - looking with hope to the Christmas yet to come until He comes. He is, of course, present in them all and even though we might not have been known to us was present, is present and will be present at them all.
Be near me Lord Jesus

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho - The retrospective

Christmas has finally come and the end of our 'busy season' is close at hand - only four more services left and the deed is done. But what of the 'season'?
This year has seen more unhappy people than I can remember when it comes to Christmas - they're doing it but the joy seems to be in short supply this year. The number of people who are 'long term' unemployed has doubled and I meet more and more people who are caught up in the debt trap, facing home repossessions and experiencing real hardship. I have been involved in more cases where children have been taken from their parents and/or placed on Child protection measures and seen more marital disharmony than I have for many years.
We have seen billions of pounds paid out to support and underpin the culture of greed that is banking, often at the expense of military expenditure, funding for social and welfare issues and of course, employment. Those who have gambled and made money from their mistakes are, it seems, rewarded while those who have toiled with companies like LDV, Rover and the like, are now unemployed. Those who have work are to be found at the check-out and two or three other part-time jobs as they strive to protect their homes and feed their families - no government bail-outs for them I'm afraid!
In short, we're looking like our society is not only melting down but this meltdown is supported and funded (or perhaps not funded) by our government. So where is the hope this cold and frosty Christmas Eve? Where is the cause for 'Good Christian men to rejoice?'
Man, having been separated from God because of sin now has, through the coming of a babe in a stable in Bethlehem (a real nowhere place), the means of restoring that relationship. The 'heavenly babe' became a man and went to the cross, a most awful death, to win for each of us the restoration of 'Peace with God'. This peace cannot be taken away - it cannot be repossessed and does not depend on credit status, employment record, academic achievement or  money in the bank. It cannot be bought, cannot be won, cannot be earned - it can, like all gifts, only be received.
As you read this God is asking each of us to receive the gift of the Christ child. To acknowledge that we do things that muck up our lives and the lives of those around us and to realise that the only answer is to be God's man or woman. Ask Jesus into your life - thank Him for dying on a cross so that you and God can have a relationship and unwrap a present that has no Argos code, needs no batteries, has a real (eternal) lifetime guarantee and will never let you down.
Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances - I pray that God will bless you and make this Christmas a special one by the cross of His son and the power of His love.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Gay? So what!

I must be becoming a really grumpy old fart as the counter on my birthday cake continues to rise because having heard so many plaudits about a geezer who used to play rugger having come out and told us that he's homosexual I found myself mumbling, "So what?" Driving along and listening to the radio yesterday with phone-ins and email being read out about what a great role model this presents and the hope that one day all sportmen will acknowledge their sexuality and be freed to 'come out' I became increasingly aware that I was interested in the score on the pitch and not the antics in the bedroom.
Perhaps I am missing something and should begin the midnight service with the words, "Hello, welcome to the Christmas Eve service, I'm Vic and I'm a heterosexual!' I don't actually see why people have to introduce themselves with a label proclaiming their sexual choices, are they hoping for an endorsement of this choice, are they laying down the lines for a tussle over the lifestyle they have chosen or is it because they're really proud of the choices made and want me to put the picture they've made of their life on my 'fridge?
I heard stories of the pain of blokes who were married and having to have sexual relationships with other blokes in secret and thought that we were merely talking of adultery. I heard stories of women who were in love with other women but needed to keep that quiet because it wasn't acceptable and how they'd be acted against if they were to make it public. This is actually against the law and so I was surprised that this was the case. Mind you, later another woman came on the air and in the discussion it transpired it was merely that she didn't want her family to know - a very different situation indeed.
As I see it, homosexuality is just another one of 'those' issues. It is splitting the Church and yet is is such a very small issue when you consider that (according to the various studies) there are no more than 6% of the world's population who are homosexual (some say 3%). This is a piddlingly small number when we consider the percentage of the world who are starving, dying for want of medications, in need of good sanitation, needing clean and trustworthy water, living under the threat of death through corrupt regimes and internecine violence.
I am not looking to debate the subject itself because those who hold any view on it will rarely move (and never bring anything new to the party when it is discussed). Those who support it usually accuse those who stand opposed as homophobic and utter vile mutterings and those who who support it are berated and labelled disgracefully by those who stand opposed. Waste of breath - people rarely dialogue on this - merely shout their views with their fingers in their ears!
I do not give a monkeys whether the bloke who scores a winning goal in a cup final is homosexual or heterosexual, all I care about is that he's wearing the shirt of a team I support!l
I do not need sporting role models - for role models such as this seek to turn people's heads and get them to wear the brand of clothing they have on their back, use the same razor, smell like them with the brands of after-shave and under wherever sprays. I don't want to be encouraged to be homosexual because it's trendy and  [insert hero] does it, I want to be free to be me and enjoy that freedom. So when someone's honest about their choices - I am pleased for them. I just hope we are all as pleased when we stand before God and discuss the choices we've made in this life.
So a plea. Keep it in your bedroom, keep it in your trousers (or under your knickers) and don't expect me to applaud things that really have no real impact on anywhere outside your own small, and self-obsessed, self-absorbed, world. What does matter is that today 5,000 children under five will die because of poor sanitation. Add to this the 20,000 who die from other diseases and you'll start to realise just how unimportant this is in the general and meaningful scheme of things(unless of course you're trying to promote this marginal lifestyle as a majority choice).

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Shoplifting - not just for Christmas, but every day!

‘Tis the season to be shoplifting, or so it would seem from the way the newspapers have printed advice from Fr Tim Jones of St Lawrence and St Hilda in the fair city of York. Apparently it is better to avoid robbery and prostitution and engage in shoplifting as the preferred way of making money and providing this Christmas! I'm this will hold good in the days that follow the season too - don't think it's a new car window sticker he's thinking of.
Now I know what he means, and assume that really this is not what he said, but I would rather that, focussing a little closer,with the realisation that people who engage in criminal actions do so for a number of reasons, move past this and berate the people in power who manipulate unemployment figures, move people from unemployed to long-term sick and back as the need to look good dictates! Then again I might be wrong and it might merely be that he’s been watching Les Miserables and realized that Jean Valjean was merely doing what he must to survive when he stole the piece of bread to stave off his hunger. What he did wasn’t stealing, merely ensuring he could exist! But again, I think we share the same brain cells on this one!
Now, some people find themselves forced to steal because they are outside the benefits system others, in receipts of benefits, continue to engage in stealing whilst others just see it as their ‘job’. Can we decide which is morally right or should we be engaged in dialogue over the government and its flawed social outworkings? In fact can we ever decide that stealing is right, regardless of the beneficiaries of that act? Isn’t this rather like trying to justify the telling of lies because the motive was good? Then again, when you have no bank account, no money and (basic) needs that society ignores, you'll go out and fill them how ever you can - and some ways are less damaging to society and community than others.
Perhaps a ‘Back to basics’ approach is called for here. Let’s all try to remember Exodus Chapter twenty and remember which commandment we might need here. That’s right, it’s number eight, that Big Ted is pointing to through the square window. “You shall not steal”. So this is a simple suggestion, sorry I meant commandment, isn’t it; Unequivocal and easy to assimilate.
Now, had our heroic priest stood up and uttered the words of Ephesians 4:28, Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need,” I would have been applauding loudly. Had he followed this with a plea to the government to make sure that those who are in need are catered for I would have been ecstatic. Mind you, the government and those who pay tax are helping those who labour and toil in the banking sector, so not all the nation’s needy are ignored!!!
He could have done this so easily by tossing Romans 13:9 into the ring: “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” To do this would mean caring for their need – are you listening Mr Brown (it’s easy to have Steve Chalke as a friend but harder to follow the path Jesus draws for us it seems!)
Mind you, my reverend friend ends up portrayed as a foolish fellow when he tells those who would steal to refrain from robbery and to focus upon shops. Not the little, family, shops who would feel the burden of  God helping those who help themselves but the ‘Large national chains’ . Why? Because, “The costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. Of course this is why so many see shoplifting as a 'victimless' crime - after all the companies get their insurance money for the nicked stuff or the prices just go up a few pence to compensate and so everyone wins.
I understand that Tim is looking at the 'lesser' of the evils here but rather than do that should be focussing on the greater. We should be teaching people about faith, about community and caring for our neighbour? At this season of good tidings, fellowship and love we need to be focussing on higher things and not condoning those that deny God’s provision and leave us to help ourselves – literally! We should be asking the question, "Who is our brother?"
I thought the watchmen we’re called to be were to warn people of offence not keep an eye out for the old bill – must have a different Bible version to me. I'm with Tim, who appears to have been yet another victim of trying to make a stand and making sense of where he finds himself.
Mind you, as me old Mum used to say, "God helps those who help themselves" - just make sure the store detectives aren't watching.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Breath of Heaven

Hope you find this a moment of peace in the hectic run up to Christmas.

But if you're in a bit of a hurry, try this for size instead:

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Vicar's wife Vicars Vic!

One of the trials my wife has had to endure over the years is my rushing into whichever room she is occupying and running around shouting about exciting concepts, theology and words. When we were first married I ran around shouting 'tetelestai' or perhaps would move from elpo to elpis ('await expectantly' to 'hope') and expect her to get excited too (and bless her, she always did and does -  I is a very blessed bloke).
Well today the tables turned and I had Wendy rush in with the thought that the annunciation was Mary's gethsemane, for this is the place where she submits her will to God. This is the place of her 'Not your will but mine' moment she tells me! (I love having a wife who's theologically sound and cerebrally challenging - a real gift from God!). But, unlike Jesus and his 'gethsemane' experience, she explains, Mary's does not lead to the cross and death.

The reason for this is of course simple in that there is only one means of salvation and this of course is Jesus, not Mary. She is indeed the 'theotokos' (God-bearer) but is as I understand it is not the co-redemptorix of Leo 13 (who also gave us the denial Anglican Orders and many other great theological 'insights') and as such she does indeed risk both potential for  public disgrace and the potential for death but it is the actual act of dying that brings the forgiveness as it says in Hebrews 10: 12 - 14:
"But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."
Leviticus (17) tells us that there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood and it is this, not as some would have it the mere act of will or willingness to go the way of the cross, that brings the forgiveness.
Just a little thought from my wife to stimulate your Christmas thinking (it's stimulated mine).
Thank you Wendy

Friday, 18 December 2009

Lessons from the football pitch

For those who don't know me I am a member of the true religion in that I follow the Arsenal. Having been brought up minutes walk from the ground I have no other alternative and poured pity on the relatives who, living down the hill, were of the Tottenham faith (a heathen bunch for sure - but we alternated grounds each week and the rivalry was always friendly so I continued to care about them).
Of late, our manager, a man who is in danger of being called Arsene Whinger rather than Wenger if he doesn't stop upsetting some of the lower intelligence managers and pundits in the game, provided some interesting faith lessons for us.
Arsenal, having gone to Liverpool and taking three points after coming from a one-nil deficit, showed themselves to be in possession of footballing ability, mental strength (Wenger loves talking about that) and determination to be victorious in the fact of attack (and crowd intimidation). A few days later the team play Burnley and having found themselves in a one - nil to the good situation, chuck it away and find themselves drawing (which means a loss of two valuable points if you're not into football).
What's the point of winning against the top teams if we're going to throw points away against teams who are struggling to remain in the Premiership I asked myself. As I mused on this I realised that Arsene was merely getting his team to assist me, and others, with our daily walk. I meet so many people who like me struggle with big sins and work hard to overcome them and then lose out to the minnows in sins lower divisions. I can beat the major opposition and come away victorious in tussles over sexual immorality, stealing, murdering, coveting stuff (I'm not attracted by my neighbour's ox or ass) and don't do drink, drugs, cigarettes and most of the other vices.
But! Always a but isn't there . . . . . .
When it comes to the really pathetic sins, those who I should beat hands down without really trying I seem to ease up. Perhaps I think I'm far too good a Christian or perhaps think, "I'm above this. I don't have 'those' sort of problems!" Whatever it is - we end up losing (or at best drawing), a poor outcome indeed for just as many of the footballers cost a fortune we too were purchased at a very great price (even more than Ronaldo).

So we'd best get our Bibles out and head for the training ground - Christmas is fraught with opportunities to meet minnows.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Offering succour to the hacks!

I see that many of the scribbling masses who seek to enrage the self-righteous and comfortable with their awfully fascist rags are having a field day over an interview with Bishop to the Forces, Stephen Venner. I include the offending piece here (in italics) with a few comments - read and enjoy children:

Though the Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other, they are fighting in ways that we would not recognise as being honourable or acceptable. 

The reality is that that some of the Taliban are fighting to defend their faith as they understand it. The fact that this is not a true faith but a skewed rendition that sends them into battle is by the by, the reality is that for some, this is an obvious outworking of their commitment to their faith and to their 'brothers' in that faith with whom they take up arms. But again, as the bishop says, they don't play the game in any way that is right or honourable (surrendering and then drawing concealed arms as the captors draw near surely has no honour). The man speaks the truth (although Torygraph and Daily Fascist readers will not doubt be baying at this piece!).

We must remember, however, that there are also a lot of people who are under their influence for a whole range of reasons, people who live in territory that they control and we simply can’t lump all of those together. I suppose many of those who are even fighting under the banner of the Taliban might be doing so for a range of reasons, including indoctrination, fear, misinformation. We simply don’t know. To blanket them all as evil is not helpful in a very complex situation. To paint all the Taliban as black is not helpful.

People fight with and for the Taliban for a number of reasons. Some are indoctrinated and effective brain-washed, others are coerced (fight or we kill your kids in front of you and then you die too!), many more because their Imam has skewed the Koran and its content to be an anti-Western gospel of death and destruction. To merely label a whole people group as 'evil' is to permit any, and all, action against the group - not a Christian or even civilised way of looking at things. This is the reason some in the US (and here in the UK) see all means available as valid - and I mean 'ALL' means :(  

We’ve been too simplistic in our attitude towards the Taliban. There’s a large number of things that the Taliban say and stand for which none of us in the west could approve, but simply to say therefore that everything they do is bad is not helping the situation because it’s not honest really. It makes it more difficult to find a way through this to find something that is better for the Afghan people in the end. The bottom line is that anyone who is not an Afghan can withdraw. 

We're looking at Animal Farm - Western ideals 'Good' - Taliban - 'Bad'. To find a solution requires more than weapons and CIA supplying each and every faction (as I understand is often the case) in the hope they will use them against each other (but they end up being used against us, which means between 'blue on blue' encounters and these weapons - we're often stuffed by US armoury!!!). We need to show respect and, as we in the british forces seek to do, win 'hearts and minds' - a slow but eminently more persuasive approach than kicking the tar out of them! 

Afghanistan is going we hope in the end to find a way to live together with justice for all and prosperity for all. In order to do that we have to involve all the people of Afghanistan to find it. And it is that lasting and just peace that will in the end justify the sacrifices our servicemen and women have made. 

Can any one here find fault with these words - if so, feel free to cat the first stone. +Stephen has not 'offered succour to the enemy' he has merely dialogued sensibly with the situation before him and as my bishop he has my full support.

A food for thought moment to end with:

How many here wish the Taliban didn't engage in the mantra - West "bad' -Taliban 'good'? If you do, what is the differnce between them and us if we merely reverse the good and bad labels?

Monday, 14 December 2009

A great letter from Gavin Ashenden

I have been so impressed by a letter to The Times today that I felt the need to publish it here:
Ruth Gledhill may be right when she observes that liberal Christian expectations of the Archbishop of Canterbury may be disappointed, but the reasons she adduces do not do the complex competing priorities justice (“Dreams of Church liberals are almost dead”, Dec 7).
Whatever rhetorical capital can be gained at the Archbishop’s expense, no one believes that any public gesture of his against the Ugandan Government’s legislative programme, obscene as it is, will have any effect; his office says he has been working discreetly out of the public gaze.
But why might the Archbishop have muzzled his own personal sympathies for the liberal Episcopalian project in America? There are still questions to be asked of our cultural preoccupation with defining ourselves by our sexual attractions and appetites. Many, perhaps most Anglicans throughout the world, are not convinced the insistence of a small community of American Episcopalians to make sexual preference their defining critique of Christianity and the Church. Critics of the Americans believe they may be replacing the call to deny the self, embrace sacrifice and follow Christ for a spiritualised version of the secular penchant for self-expression, posing as human rights.
The Episcopalians have been asked to exercise some restraint in their cultural reflexes in order to achieve the greater goal of Christian unity. Neither romantic love, nor sexual companionship, are given priority in the Gospel or Christian tradition. There are abuses of human rights in the world that a united Church, not just across the Anglican Communion but extended to the Catholics and the Orthodox, might be better placed to give its energies to; and even more importantly, Christ commanded this unity of self-denying humility.
Dr Rowan Williams has not added to the confusion about which minority to offer support for; he is acting as a bishop who has responsibility for the unity that Christ made his first priority for practising Christians.
The Rev Canon Dr Gavin Ashenden
Steyning, W Sussex"
Says everything I was about to post (but betterer)

Saturday, 12 December 2009

But of Bennie's 'Kind Offer' Rowan says . . .

One of the fun things to come out from Rowan's little chat with the telegraph was the fact that Benedict's 'kind offer' to take all those pre Vatican II practising Anglicans across the Tiber has been 'played down' by him.

As Rowan correctly says, "A great many Anglo-Catholics have a good reason for not being Roman Catholics. Because they do not see the Pope as infallible and this is why they continue to press for a solution in Anglican terms, rather than what many see as a theologically (rather) eccentric option."

Those who have spoken of swimming the Tiber must now, as the Bishop of Ebbsfleet has said, "Either put up or shut up!" (Hallelujah for that)

The reality is that having some old geezer in Rome being able to speak as if it were God himself is a big sticking point for so many orthodox Christians. Mind you, at least he does speak out on matters of principle and does bring people back to an applied Christianity - more than we see from many within our denomination, something some would trade the odd heretical Papal Bull for!

I understand that Limbo has gone (How low could they go?) but that Purgatory still exists - another place of contention for me, but perhaps I can be indulged here?

The Marian aspects leave me troubled and far away from removing my clothes and putting on my Tiber swimming kit. If she was born without sin, this makes whole 'Jesus Myth' out to be nothing more than a con, she merely played a role and wasn't human at all. To have had no further children (mistranslation of adelphos and its variants in the LXX helps here) is a piece of stretching it too far accommodation. The final straw comes when we find she's 'translated', an extra-Biblical cherry on an already unpalatable cake.

So - at last Rowan raises two fingers, but only slightly - but it's a start.

Rowan finally hits out and makes a stand

At last we find the ABC hitting out and making a stand - hallelujah.

Surely this is the moment so many of us have been waiting for and those naughty people without restraint are going to get a wigging from Rowan at last.

Drum roll, light go up and . . . sorry, it's the politicians that are getting it in the neck? Wouldn't you know it? He's managed to throw a double-six and ignore the election of Mary Wotsitpool and moved onto the Westminster square (just next to the get out of making any statement or provide leadership - 'home free' square!). By virtue of his magnificent brain and sterling guidance at the helm it's obvious that he knows what he's doing and therefore can surely proclaim that the government of this land is treating religious faith as an "eccentricity" practised by "oddities". Rowan Williams has told the Daily Telegraph that ministers were wrong to think 'it' was no longer relevant to society because, after all his sterling work, it is now irrelevant (in its CofE format at least) to many Christans too! 

But there's a shining light on the horizon - for moving into deeper spiritual things Rowan has also noted that this nation of ours needs a "supermarket ombudsman" to protect the interests of Britain's rural economy because, "We need more care in holding together the environmental and conservation agenda with food protection in some areas."
So Rowan, any chance of suggesting a "Church of England Ombudsman?" After all we need more care in holding together the Church of England and an agenda for conservation and protection of orthodoxy in some areas of the Anglican Communion." Don't we?
I must applaud his comments regarding the fact that so many government initiatives (and attitudes) appear to see faith issues as a problem area and portray faith as eccentricity practised by oddities, foreigners and minorities and that this 'de-normalises' faith.
Sounds like we need some believing clergy, some courageously responsive and supportive bishops and some sound and strong Biblical leadership from the top doesn't it?

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Developing Conspiracy Theories

Is is me or have all the BBC News links to the Vogelenzangs wotsits all suddenly vanished overnight?

Yesterday I watched a four minute news item on TV and read the fact that the case was 'thrown out of court' and yet this morning is really is yesterday's news.

Would the 'news' have gone as quickly had the charges been upheld against the Vogelenzangs? Am I becoming paranoid and seeing a subversive campaign against Christians in the media? (surely not!). Am I often aware of misrepresentation on the radio regarding Christians and their views and attitudes (couldn't possibly be)?

Am I becoming paranoid or are 'they' really out to get us?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

That 'Religious Hatred' case

As is the case with many other Christians, I have been reading and watching the story of Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, who run the Bounty House Hotel in Liverpool, and their arrest and subsequent prosecution under for breaching section five of the Public Order Act (1986) and for various breaches of the Crime and Disorder Act (1998). Bottom line is that these two Christians were accused of effectively using words that incited religious hatred against a Muslim woman guest in their establishment.

The press were full of accounts of the complainant, Ericka Tazi, being abused and called names like 'terrorist' and 'murderer' because, after a month in western dress she appeared on the final night of her stay wearing a hijab. Not only that but Ms Tazi claimed to have had the prophet abused and accused of being a 'warlord'. What made it more interesting was the reports that other guests had heard these words used against Ms Tazi and her beliefs.

So why were an organisation like Christian Institute (CI) involved I wondered to myself? Had they taken the side of the wrong parties here  or was there much more to this than was reported (and if so why wasn't there a more accurate report in the press and some clarification from CI?).

It appears that over the previous weeks there had been many discussions relating to faith and that on the last night Ms Tazi had perhaps worn the hijab to be a little provocative. Interestingly it transpires that Ms Tazi, a former Roman Catholic and now convert to Islam, had written Jesus off as nothing more than a 'minor prophet' an act that if reversed would see fatwahs and acts of aggression appear like daisies on a summer lawn! Not only that but the Ms Tazi apparently claimed that the Bible was untrue, which of course stuff Ms Tazi’s new belief as there is much drawn from the Christian faith in Islam and so both religions fall on that one point alone – bet the RC’s are really missing her apologetically ‘solid’ skills.

Having had such a smear aimed at Jesus and seeing the Bible effective pulled down it might be understandable to lash out, but of course it is still unacceptable (but I do it too - I'm still a fallen creature). But this case raises, for me at least, some questions that need answering.

If, as it seems by virtue of the fact that the case was dismissed, Ms Tazi did engage in telling untruths then surely this is a prima face case of perjury whilst within the court and wasting police time and the (costly) time of the DPP (and both need to examine the reasons they brought this case). Surely, if Ms Tazi did appear dressed in Hijab and 'ranting and abusing the owners and their faith' then she is now herself open to a caution at least and perhaps prosecution for inciting religious hatred and breaches of the self same legal instruments the Vogelenzangs were?

So, for the best part of a year (that's what nine months are) this couple have suffered mentally, financially (as it affected business) and I have no doubt in many other ways and yet what will be learned from this sad and sorry episode? I have to sad that I think the answer is 'probably nothing'.

In dialogue and discussion our views will be challenged and at time they, and us, will be insulted too! This is part of life and to legislate such that to have one's views challenged or even pooh-poohed is to live in the real world. It cannot be legislated against for to do so is to remove the freedom of thought and speech that is the right of every person. Engaging in such dialogue means that regardless of what transpires (unless it's a threat with menaces or a Des O'Connor album) you engage and at some stage walk away -angry perhaps, possibly wounded, probably offended, but this is the price we pay for freedom of speech - we won't always like what we hear (or say when we reflect later) but it is the stuff that being 'grown-up' is made of. 

I pray that all of those involved in this can now return to a place of peace and thank God for what appears to be a right and proper outcome.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Rowan's Woes

Well, I think things have finally come to a head for Rowan and the Episcopalian Church (TEC), the Anglican presence in North America, with the election of Mary Glasspool to the position of Assistant Bishop in Los Angeles. Not because she's a woman, although this will have many of my colleagues in Forward in Faith (FiF) gnashing their teeth and talking about swimming the Tiber with increasing fervour and will cause my Reform mates to look for a book to throw on the fire and a prooftext to hang in their window!

She's a Lesbian! Now before anyone wants to send me photo's of what they do or enter into reams of condemnation about homosexuals, I know what they do and even though I can't find Lesbia on the World Map in my study I do know where they come from!

In 2004 the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) issued a plea for 'restraint' and this appears to have been, like the 'dialogue' a very one-sided affair. With the dialogue, one side spoke whilst the other definitely weren't listening and yet Rowan cried, "Peace, Peace," whilst there was obviously no peace. With the restraint - well, it doesn't take the brain of Britain to realise that there isn't any and that this must surely be the final straw and the camel's back is now well and truly broken.

As for the Anglican Communion, whatever this is, I can't see how such a broad church can continue to appear under the same label (unless of course it contains the warning "Danger, contains nuts!"). Rowan has been trying to buy time and now, with the election of Ms Glasspool, the sands have surely all run out and the dark figure with the scythe must now be acknowledged and given his part to play. Undoubtedly the ABC will perform another of his 'Simply Die Dancing' moves and point to the fact that the Fifteenth of may is a long way off and Ms Glasspool might not be confirmed in her new position and that restraint and dialogue are still the order of the day.

Two choices Rowan me old mate - ACT NOW or PACK YOUR BAGS - the game is up and like a Whitehall farce you are caught apparently sans trousers, authority or a clue and we need someone with something now to draw our church membership together and get them rallying to the Cross and obeying His word.

The time for restraint is past - now is the time for leadership and action.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Ugandan Christians and the Homosexuality Bill

In Uganda, under existing law (Penal Code 145), those who engage in 'unnatural offences' (which are regarded as anything outside male-female sexual acts) are liable to a jail term of around seven years with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. 
Prosecutions under this code have been few and far between and so it has been felt that a new code needs to be created to deal with homosexuals in such a way as to ensure prosecutions are successful. This new code contains the following:  

Clause 1 - definitions and descriptions  

Clause 2 - the offence of homosexuality (describing the various acts). An offence occurs immediately someone "Touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality."So even embracing another person is enough to confer a fife sentence!

Clause 3 - 'Aggravated Homosexuality', occurs when the focus of the act is a minor, disabled or 'under their care or charge'. Easy outcome here - death penalty! (Wow - the Daily Fascist readers would love that one :)  )

Clause 4 - Although homosexual offences attract a seven year sentence - the 'aggravated homosexuality' charge brings life imprisonment.

There are many other clauses relating to marriage, selling sex, conspiracy, compensation and the like but I think you'll get the idea by now. The problem is that Christians in Uganda will support anything that upholds Biblical teaching and apparently strengthens the family BUT I have to say that I find no evidence that the Bill or any part of it was promulgated by Ugandan Christians but there is evidence that some of the Religious leaders have added their voices to support the Bill and that some notable Christian leaders have spoken strongly against it too.

I don't see this as a 'Christian' sponsored Bill and would ask those who read this to investigate for themselves and make the facts known to those who are using the situation in Uganda, and this Bill in particular, as a 'warning notice' regarding the Church in our nation.

This is a great recruiting campaign against the Church by those who would seek libertarian practices to be supported and regarded as 'normal'.


Ugandan Christians and the Homosexuality Bill - Continued II

I've posted this under the first post relating to this to make reading it a little easier for, having read further, I find this quote from Bishop Joseph Abura (Karamoja Diocese) who writes:

"Man now again is running away from life into eternal damnation. This is the case of a fallen race; this is the case of a backslidden world, especially in the northern and western part of the globe.
Due to the discovery of iron, gold, and knowledge in the 13th through to 18th centuries, man took centre stage and sat on the throne of his own life. He became self-centred and not God-centred. He looked to self and conceived of personal traits which now have misled him, have put him to the situation of being inhumane, looking at own self, own feelings, and not the feelings of others.
As a result of sin the vice of homosexuality and lesbianism caught up with them and they practised and popularized it in the name of own rights. They became animated and contracted it from the sower of evil.
Africa, run away from gays, let us save our continent by refuting the vice; practice, and preserve our heritage, that is our traditions and culture believing and trusting in the Almighty God ... Christ is the answer, feelings or sympathies, especially on evil, are not! Ugandan Parliament, the watch dog of our laws, please go ahead and put the anti- Gay laws in place. It is then that we become truly accountable to our young and to this country, not to Canada or England. We are in charge!"
Wow - what fun! We have the Americans and perhaps some of those in Europe who, seeking to support their lifestyles, attack the Africans for being naive, backwards and lacking in sophistication and apparently the Africans are 'preserving their heritage' against our fallen contingents of Europe and America!

I continue to read - for we must continue to consider the positions before us and seek that which is of God. Seek the higher things - honour God and cry out as danger approaches - restore those who are fallen into sin, gently - be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have in Christ Jesus.

I seek no position other than that we sees me being right with God. Obviously some of the claims regarding support of this bill by the Ugandan church has merit!