Biblical Marriage

Thanks to @dave42w who linked to this with a simple “we need the new testament”.

Equality

For international women’s day there are some stark statistics which are highlighted in the above video.  Well done Daniel Craig.

I’m married to a woman with a doctorate who earns vastly more than I.  Fortunately she has been given the opportunities that many women on Earth are not.  Some times because I grew up in a world of equality where we were educated to believe that we were entitled to the same rights, I forget that globally there are many whose rights are taken away from them.  Expectation is not that they should achieve their potential but that they should  make sacrifices for their brothers.

@DaveGorman pointed out the irony of this poll.  Dear world, please can you stop corporately failing us!

Worship Idea – 7 Billion Video

I just had this video link sent to me.  I am staggered.

Thanks to @madeupstats for the occasional real one.

Guest Blogger @ Duttyo’s Blog

I was asked to do a short reflection for a guest spot in the advent series at Duttyo’s Blog.  It is about Joy.

Chris Evans Doffs His Hat

Yesterday I blogged about how top advertising execs had said that “If I had to make Jesus relevant, I would apply his teachings to modern life”.  As if by magic the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu has been on Chris Evan’s Breakfast show to hammer the point home.  Here’s what Chris Evans posted on Facebook later during the day.

You know, I thought I was in quite a good place in my life at the moment after my wilderness years and all that and I am, I’m doing ok, family life is very very good for me.

However, when one has the good fortune to meet someone like John Sentamu, you just realise how much further you can go when it comes to being a better person. Just being around him makes you want to improve yourself, and almost exclusively with regard to what you can do for others.

“What prayers do you say every morning John ?”

“I say very sad prayers to remind me of all the people who need my help much more than I need my help. They teach me not to be self centred and selfish.”

What a fantastically simple mantra and the road to true freedom as a human being.

If I had a hat on, I’d take it off right now. Here’s to J.S. Arch Bish Bash of York.

CLP

2010

X.

If you want to hear the BBC Radio 2 interview it is here on iPlayer starting at roughly 2:42 minutes in.  What a good way to end the week.

Maybe True Stories

So I’m hoping hard if it’s the thought that counts
That you don’t ever have to know what I think about
And that every soul can always fit thought Heaven’s door
With the weight of things it never told anyone before.

A great song by Lauren O’Connell

Full Lyrics:

I’ve been trying to quantify
All of the wrong that one can pack into a lie
And I’ve been trying to put on a scale
Just how bad all of that wrong should make me feel

‘Cos they told me once when I was young
That liars are as liars do
And if you do, it’s off to Hell with you
No smiling, kid, I speak the truth
But I’ve a sneaking feeling they were liars too
So logically, then, we’re all hypocrites
But does it make it better or make it worse to be aware of it?

I’m convincing myself that it’s all relative
And if there’s a God, when He forgives, I think He must consider it
I’ve been noticing confusion in the laws he made
The nature of the truth and where it bends and where it breaks

And where I twisted it to my benefit
When this man said he was in love with me
And I thought that he was dumb to be
So I pretended that I was asleep
Called it free will what he willed to believe
And it ended, so I guess it’s just as well
But that’s why sometimes I think I might go to Hell

And I worry too, how I never mentioned to you
How I drove your car while you were gone
A mile with the parking brake still on
‘Cos it seems to me, you wait too long
You may as well have not meant well all along
So I’m hoping hard if it’s the thought that counts
That you don’t ever have to know what I think about

And that every soul can always fit thought Heaven’s door
With the weight of things it never told anyone before.

Why Would Jesus Do What He Would Do?

Some days I have moments of clarity.  Unfortunately they are few and far between.  Since I became a regular part of the congregations here in the outskirts of Leeds I have been trying to explain the complexity of Christian ethics.  We live in a world that is quite different to the ancient world.  The ethical dilemmas we face today are undoubtedly inconcievable to the gospel writers.  And what would Moses make of the internet?  What would he say about my sitting here and typing this?  The question in itself makes my mind boggle as I contemplate my own inability to make sense of the implications of immediate communication and instant gratification in a world where our friends become status updates.  Let alone contemplate something like the production of electricity by splitting atoms.

As Christians we are often led to believe that there are two options open to us.  Certainly, the common caricatures we are presented with are such.  One option is that the world is a cut and dried black and white place and that the bible will give us clear answers to all our questions.  ‘What would Jesus do?  Let’s have a look in the instruction manual’.  The other is to assert that much of our heritage is outdated and outmoded and must be jettisoned as we forge our own way.

And this is where I have found myself for the last year struggling to articulate that there is something much more radical at the heart of our scriptures.  As Steve Chalke said earlier in the year at Spring Harvest, neither of these positions take the scriptures seriously.  How does our story connect with God’s story?

And then I clicked on a link to Jonathan Brink’s Blog entitled “Why would Jesus do what he would do?”.  He has crystallised this into two very thought provoking paragraphs.

…story really matters.  At the heart of our action is a story that informs that action.  To take up our cross is an act.  But to know why we take up our cross is a story.  The opposite is true.  If we don’t know why we should take up the cross, we’re not likely to do so.The brilliance of this question is the understanding that story informs our actions at the subconscious level.  Our bodies learn a story about why and then agree to that story.  This contract creates the basis for action at the subconscious level so we don’t have to continually think about it all the time.  We can act from an informed position at a very fast pace.

It is through connecting our stories with God’s story that we can understand what His character is like.  When we understand the more fundamental aspects of God’s character and discover more of what he shared with us as he walk the earth, the more we will be able to act in that manner. 

Janathan’s thoughts are based upon a quotation from a book by Willard.  Check it out via Jonathan’s blog.

The Struggle to Exist.

Jon Birch over at ASBO Jesus has started to do a really powerful series of cartoons that accompany Dave Wiles book Stories from the Edge.  They are a really powerful series of images. 

Here’s me 13 years ago.

Church Based Blogs and Internet Communication

After to my recent post about Giles Fraser brief article for the Church Times about how blogs can be bad for the soul I have been carrying on as normal and occasionally dabbling in the internet.  However, I have been noticing a lot of home truths emerge from what Giles Fraser said.  I also went to a seminar on non-internet based church communication that I think also applies in this situation.  The third thing that informs this post is that I went on the train to the football on Saturday and watched Boro get beaten by Man Utd.

Dave Walker made perhaps the most poignant blog on the topic of Christian blogging by giving up trying to comment upon it.  I’ll leave him to speak for himself:

I’ve spent a lot of time going through blogs and comments this afternoon and had planned to write about some of the responses to the article. But I’ve found the experience to be (as Giles describes it) “bad for (my) spiritual health” so I’m just posting some links to those sites that I had planned to link to. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

I think his links make Giles Fraser points quite well.

Over the last few days on the blogsphere I have been really disheartened by the uncharitable nature in which people discuss things with each other.  It seems that there are many easy targets out there for Christians to stick the knife into each other.  I went to one particularly harsh blog article criticising a local thriving cafe church because it wasn’t “a valid church” as it wasn’t a traditional looking mass.  In theological ‘debate’, everyone tends to get a raw deal.  As a man, I noticed that ‘men’ tend to get a raw deal as one giant stereotypical collective.  As though all men are wife beaters and sexual predators.  But then I realised that women also get a raw deal in the ‘debate’.  Then I noticed that it also applies to ‘conservatives’, ‘liberals’, ‘bishops’, ‘Catholics’, ‘protestants’, ‘homosexuals’, ‘straight people’, ‘fresh expressions’, ’emergents’, ‘traditional worshippers’, ‘traditionalists’, ‘foreigners’…. the list goes on forever.  People seem to be able to suspend reason when examining their own corner from which they come out fighting but are able to make ridiculous comparisons for those of a differing opinion.  I can’t count the number of times that I have seen people likened to one form of sex offender or another.  Things that people would never say face to face.

It strikes me that people are blogging from their own bedroom and as such feel like they are on “home territory”.  It is as if this gives a license to create or perpetuate wild stereotypes that are painted with broad brushes from the “home ground”.  It also allows a small group to appear quite big and gain momentum.  This is suspect is in much the same way that a football fan tends to be quite quiet in isolation whereas a football crowd tend to say some of the most outrageous things.  To illustrate, on the train to and from the football I was sat with Man Utd fans and we were getting on really well.  There was a bit of banter about the coming match and how we supported different teams.  This was contrasted as we walked to the ground where a big group of Man Utd ‘fans’ were chanting something horrific about the 96 dead at Hillsborough.

For Christians when we add the internet to the mix, a local issue can be circulated worldwide via email and blogs and a small group can arteficially inflate their numbers.  This petition for example started as a Church of Scotland matter and many Scottish people signed it.  If you scroll to the bottom you will see that it has become a hotbed of activity… for US, Brazilian, Chinese, Canadian and Australian petitioners.

The lecture on communication used the diagram I remember from teacher training to illustrate that what you say isn’t always what is heard.

As the transmitter makes the initial point, it is subject to the medium in which it is transmitted.  The music it is set to, the images used within or around the message, even the font used can convey part of the message.  Obviously for the feedback or reply, the message is subject to the exact same principles.

If the internet is the medium that is being used, it inevitably becomes part of the message.  I wonder if a more accurate internet version of the diagram would be:

 

Perhaps I need to take a break from virtuality for as Giles Fraser and Dave Walker have both pointed out it is becoming “bad for (my) spiritual health”.

Suicide

Kim asked me what my views were about suicide and I had to hold my hand up and say that I didn’t know.  Jon at ASBOJesus has very kindly offered to do a cartoon about it as a starter for 10.