Monday, 28 September 2015

Low life (not the Low Light at North Shields)

At one point in the weekend's three church services (ordination and retirement, of a Baptist minister and an Anglican Cathedral Dean) and two church meals there was some consideration of Jesus being with the low life, tax collectors and prostitutes. It is to me a key question: I believe we are called to turn from sin, to turn from belittling others. But we might rapidly think that means no to tax collection and prostitution. Yet tax collectors are essential. One of my FB friends who I have actually met several times lobbies for sex worker rights and protection. Perhaps I am more low life than high life anyway and glad of it. I can be happy at the end of a railway platform. One person I follow on Twitter is Frejadottir. What would Jesus say if he encountered her? Would it be no big deal, lets chat, what you wear is none of my business? Would he be concerned lest the children were upset (think children's comics)? Could he be critical by simply saying this is an extreme end of fashion, personal vanity? Or might he think (as I tend) that dressing this way is a form of art with your body? We can be sure Jesus never met a rubberbeing, he did however meet with a lady of the street who shocked those around by covering him in Oil. and .

And if you follow the Bible link you will see that the different treatments of the event quickly take you to the challenges of the Historical Jesus. Yet the story is so extra-ordinary, so counter intuitive that I personally believe it. Some event like this happened. Focus as well on "belittling". Does that not actually go a long way. Were'nt the Hadj pilgrims belittled in the care shown for their safety? There is no doubt a proportion of pornography belittles but the religious person may judge that more belittles than actually happens. If you are brought into the country and forced to be a prostitute you have been belittled. But if you freely choose that path, is there any belittling going on?

Sunday, 27 September 2015

My Christianity

I will point out how simple my Christianity is. Relationship is central, that's about the Trinity. God is on the receiving end of everything, that's Incarnation and crucifixion. Love is the parent of justice, not the other way around. The exercise of power is about service and stewardship. I believe those four key thoughts could answer many of the challenges of the modern world.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn

Today it is very likely Jeremy Corbyn will become the new leader of the Labour Party. Listening in the last 30 minutes on R4 whilst I will wish him well, I remain uneasy. Simply because, and we shall see whether he distances himself from this, it looked as if it was being presented as a victory for the Working Class. Maybe it is that but to believe that is a basis for winning the country is so divisive. I am simply not interested in arguing whether I am Working Class, and for Fiona the same goes, although her railway worker parentage is impeccable. There is every difference between leading a group who think blue collar unionised workers are the most important bloc in society to whom all others are answerable and against that running your politics on the basis of appealing to EVERYONE concerned that we live in a land of equal opportunity, where the sick and vulnerable are properly cared for, which has decent public services, which works hard to eliminate poverty and is a serious player in world leadership. To do all of the last requires wealth and there should be no tension in not being a blue collar worker and in being able to support the Labour Party. And raw numbers will play out in any event, presumably the Corbynites will not know what to do with the self-employed? They (including both of us) who are 15% I believe of the workforce and growing and who if the Labour Party are ever to hold power again, they will have to persuade. And none of this even mentions the mountain facing Labour called the SNP.

Thursday, 3 September 2015


Syria: Cameron will announce new moves. Broadly they make sense to me. BUT he is now on the defensive, forced to react. No leadership this summer. The sense a government has woken up from a holiday break. Along the line of travel, random reactions. Germany makes its "outstanding" offer, word spreads like wildfire. Does Germany send coaches to Hungary and says "load em up"? No, it leaves the individuals fumbling around on the concourse of Keleti station. A bit further back, people argue (on my wall) about whose fault it is. Western responsbiility for Syria's crisis is limited. Syrians are entitled to live in a decent country which at heart it is, with access to democracy which many want. But Syrians have to carry that responsibility first and foremost. Strong men leaderships create these chaotic states.

I think the West should refuse to take the blame for the ISIS phenomenon; that is rooted in its own culture (with some crass decisions on the fringes by the West). The one massive wrong decision lying in the frame was what happened in 1948 in Israel, that was the derailer.

But the blame game is not productive except insofar as it drives what happens now. Refugees/migrants in Europe will have to be dealt with: since Germany has made the offer, that country should send out the coaches and pick up (not leave people to struggle to get to). But the absolute effort - a massive one - needs to be to stop the traffickers. What happened to the Libyan trafficker destruction plan? 

Refuge should be offered to people directly in the Lebanon/ Turkey/Jordan camps. Partly to help those countries, partly to stop trafficking, UNHCR has just called for 200,000 to be accepted. That is not Germany's 800,000.

And OVERIDING all that reaction has to be pro-action. What was needed months ago. People in Syria need hope they can get home. A huge effort will be needed, safe havens within Syria, and probably a UN mandate to take the country by force from the terrorists (who include Assad).

And why should this be done? Not because it is our fault. But because first and foremost, if all along Europe's southern border is a line of chaos, Europe will be destabilised. All along that border should be peaceful trading partners, rich countries at peace within themselves. The Romans managed it! And if they are not, their chaos will mean this summer will be the new norm in the heart of Europe.