Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
This week in the news we heard about a man who stayed with a dying fellow passenger in a tube tunnel, one of a number of heroic stories to emerge from the 7/7 bombings inquest. In the same week we also were told of another man who systematically tortured and eventually murdered a toddler who was distracting him from his X-Box. We humans are capable of so much, both good and evil. I was reminded of the lyrics of a Bruce Cockburn song.
From the lying mirror to the movement of stars
Everybody's looking for who they are
Those who know don't have the words to tell
And the ones with the words don't know too well
Could be the famine
Could be the feast
Could be the pusher
Could be the priest
Always ourselves we love the least
That's the burden of the angel/beast
Birds of paradise - birds of prey
Here tomorrow, gone today
Cross my forehead, cross my palm
Don't cross me or I'll do you harm
We go crying, we come laughing
Never understand the time we're passing
Kill for money, die for love
Whatever was God thinking of?
Saturday, 11 September 2010
Isn't research wonderful?
*The demographic characteristics of the linguistic and religious groups in Switzerland, Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner of the Federal Statistical Office, Neuchatel. In The Demographic Characteristics of National Minorities in Certain European States, Volume 2 of Population Studies No. 31, edited by Werner Haug and others, published by the Council of Europe Directorate General III, Social Cohesion, Strasbourg, January 2000.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Monday, 25 May 2009
‘I think it is a dreadful example of the House of Commons as a whole - which as a whole is responsible for the mess we are in - trying to scapegoat one man who was trying to represent what he thought were their views on what should be done.’
Frank Dobson certainly isn’t alone in detecting a whiff of hypocrisy in this week’s tumultuous and historic events at Westminster, which saw Michael Martin become the first Speaker of the House of Commons in more than 300 years to be effectively forced out of office.
There is, however, another scapegoat in the current crisis over MPs’ expenses, one on which everyone seems eager to lay their hands: the system. The applause that greeted Speaker Martin’s later (and longer) statement to the Commons last Tuesday, in which he outlined interim changes to the parliamentary expenses claims system, is indicative of the honourable members’ conviction that the system needs to change.
There is now cross-party agreement that MPs should no longer be able to claim for, among other things: mortgages that don’t exist, homes they do not live in, and houses in which their ducks do.
This is tragic.
To cast the present scandal in terms of the words of Jesus, it is from within, out of the heart, that greedy expenses claims come (Mark 7:20-23). Making a scapegoat of the system may be to join the Pharisees in cleaning ‘the outside of the cup and dish’, but inside remaining ‘full of greed and self-indulgence’ (Matthew 23:25). The system, like the Daily Telegraph, can expose sin, but it can’t do anything about it. Only Christ can do that. Ultimately, there is no solution to the scandal of MPs’ expenses apart from the scandal of the cross.
Not that we should sit in judgement. The current crisis begs the question of our own integrity. Be it in regard to our own work expenses, or anything else, we must all contend with the truth that our actions betray our allegiance. As we do so, we might find we have more in common with the Commons than we thought.
Friday, 27 March 2009
"In many churches today there is a strong emphasis upon evangelism – equipping people to share the good news of Jesus. There are programmes to train people for this, to help them deal with the questions of postmodern people, to help them persuade people of Christian truth so they will want to become Christians.
Five years ago I was doing research into evangelism in the church of the first three centuries. And I was puzzled: the early church was growing rapidly, but in early Christian literature there are no training programmes for evangelism and practically no admonitions to evangelism. Why? I concluded, not least through reading what early Christians themselves said, that the church before the conversion of Constantine was growing because it was living in a way that fascinated people. It spoke to their needs; it addressed their questions; and it didn’t so much persuade as fascinate people into new life. Early Christians believed that, in Christ, God had begun a vast movement of reconciliation that had incorporated them; so they had renounced violence, converted their swords into ploughshares, and stopped studying war. This was something they had experienced, and that had given them a new way of living."
It's from 'Becoming a Peace Church' by Alan and Eleanor Kreider. Available as a pdf download here (scroll to the bottom of the page).
Fascination - Alphabeat (Official Music Video)