Category Archives: Religion

Update

This morning’s sermon was at a little chapel up the road from our own. It is another of those Victorian wonders that are a symbol of the welsh vallies. We have several of them up and down our valley. Like many other the congregation is small, there were 8 today excluding me, and advancing in years but they have a desire to grow.

This afternoon I have watched a little of Assignment to Kill and have settled down to watch Heavens Knows, Mr Allison – with Robert Mitchum & Deborah Kerr. The story of a marine and a nun stranded on a Pacific island in WWII.

I also managed to fit in 3/4 of Black Sunday with Robert Shaw and Bruce Dern. This was the first Thomas Harris book and film adaption. It is a little of its time but good – he effects leave a little to be desired.

I also finished reading Public Enemies and have now started reading Sovereign by C J Sansom, the third in the Shardlake series.

Ian,

The Crimson Pirate is a cheesey but very enjoyable film from 1952. Very enjoyable – even FW was surprised at how enjoyable she found it. Lawman is from 1970 and was directed by Michael Winner (director of Death Wish and current Sunday Times restaurant critic). It has a great cast – including Robert Ryan, Lee J Cobb and Robert Duvall – and is well worth watching but it can be annoying with some of the repeated, unnecessary camera close-ups and zoom ins.

Jack,

The Last Crusade is definitely my fave Indi movie. The Crystal Skull was only just better than the Temple of Doom.

Caring Society

It always annoys me when people tell me that, as a Christian, I should not be a Conservative voter. I am told that Socialism is nearer to Christianity as it is more inclusive and caring. Alternatively I should think about voting Liberal Democrat but we all know that’s just a wasted vote – don’t we Tractor Girl????  🙂

So imagine my feelings of smugness as I drove home tonight. You can read the story here if you like Alcoholics on Benefitsor for those too lazy here is a summary.

The government are proposing that any alcoholics who are claiming state benefits should be denied them unless they get treatment. On paper that’s a laudable aim but in reality?

 

If you are on benefits then you don’t have any other income, so how do you get money to buy groceries, rent etc?

Another problem is that the government are happy to fund drug treatments but there is a great shortage of assistance for alcoholics. There are just not enough treatment centres or courses available now, let alone in the future. So what happens, are their benefits cut because there is no course available?

James Purnell, the government minister, says that the government want to help people. So how does removing benefits assist anyone? Of course, the main reason is that they want to get them “back to work”. The fact there are no jobs to go back too doesn’t seem to occur to them! 

If this was a Conservative policy then the Labour party would be on all the TV channels, on the radio, in the papers and on blogs shouting about how heartless the policy is. Yet this government seems happy to inflict this policy on people. Even though charities have been calling for investment in alcohol programmes the government have ignored their requests.

Once again though they announce a programme before starting to put the tools in place. So they punish people and then they’ll compound the problem by not having the treatment programmes available.

Is this really a programme that is “Christlike” in origin? What would Jesus do? Well he’d probably draw our attention to the hypocrites who are full of air and not deeds. You can’t preach love and community while punishing the poorest people struggling to make ends meet.

Well, you can if you’re a Socialist!!

Religious Writing?

Today I have been sermonising again. The Little Chapel That Could had asked me to take their morning service for Mother’s Day. Considering the congregation of 5 women over the age of 50 – most over 75 – it is always an enjoyable experience; you come away feeling appreciated.  I have already been asked to bring my diary to book up for next year.

Today they asked me how I prepared my sermons, as they enjoy them so much. I had to be honest and say that I sit with my laptop and pray for guidance. So far it works as the words then flow. I sometimes have an idea but not always the bones or flesh until I sit down to write.

I’ve discovered that my writing has returned to the same method as when I was writing stories for my O level English. Then someone would give me a title, or theme, and a few hours later I’d have quite a few pages done. For someone reason the plot and story would all come out in one fluid hit. I never learnt about structure  or preparing a synopsis to work with.

I’m glad about this as it means that I learnt how to right short stories with impact, rather than long, developed fiction. People tell me that, if i put my mind to it, I could probably write a book. PersonallyI know my own limitations and understand that it would not be very good as fiction. Maybe I could write a book about music, film or history but I don’t really have the time or patience to do that. If I did then I know that I’ve to spend a long time researching as I hate “cut and paste” books – any half wit can copy someone else’s interviews and put poor link sentences in to pretend that they have “created” something of their own. 

What I am glad about is that writing sermons has reawakened my love of writing. They perform an intellectual exercise that helps awaken my mind. Who knows, when I get some time, I may try the odd short story again, just to see if I can do.

 

History Today:

1765: The British parliament introduces the Stamp Act, a tax on American documents that ignites revolution. Seems fair to me though. These colonials are so ungrateful.

1895: The Lumiere brothers stage the first public showing of a motion picture usinf film projection in Paris. 2 days later the first porn theatre opened and the sale of dirty macs increased by 500%. (Some of this maybe untrue – I’m not sure as I wasn’t there.)

1945: The League of Arab States is formed. Unfortunately this wasn’t a Pan-Arabic football league but an alliance to with the aim of achieving complete independence from the colonial powers.

1956: Martin Luther King Jr is convicted of organising an illegal boycott by black passengers of buses in Alabama.

1965: Bob Dylan releases Bringing It All Back Home, his first album featuring electric instruments. That worked wonders for his career with everyone but woolly hat wearing, bearded, ale with twigs in drinking, nut jobs. You know who you are…..

1974: The Equal Rights Agreement is passed by the US Senate, but in the following years fails to be ratified by all the states. See how liberal these former colonials are? Land of liberty? My a***!

2004: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin , the spiritual leader of Palastinian militant group Hamas, is killed by an Israeli air strike. Sometimes 2 bombs do not make a right – maybe they do in this case though. They who live by the bomb will die by the bomb, to paraphase someone famous.

2006: Basque separatist group ETA, sounds like a female blues/jazz singer, announces a permament ceasefire.

Racist Dutchmen

Is someone a racist because they criticise Islam? Is it wrong to point out the hypocrisy of religion?

You may have heard of the controversy surrounding Geert Wilders leader of Holland’s Freedom Party, a right wing party somewhat similar to our own British National Party – Sieg Hiel!!!! He has made a 17 minute film about Islam being a religion that preaches hate and death to all non believers. It merges images of Islamic terrorist attacks and excerpts from the Koran calling for death to infidels etc.

He has gained the infamy of being invited to show his film to the House of Lords – a bunch of upper class snobs, government toadies and failed politicians – only to be banned from entering the UK by our government for being a peddlar of hatred. They kept quiet about the fact that he was admitted to the country in December. To make things better we discover that the Dutch government are making representations for him to allowed in.

So we now have a government claiming to protect us from religious intolerance and racial hatred, while a neighbouring government is lobbying for the said citizen to be admitted to our country to air his views.

I was listening to the 5Live phone in on the drive to work, as I’d been to see a customer, and listened to the usual nutters and idiots claiming one rule for one and one for another. Then a Muslim guy came on and said that the film and the man should be shown. Why? because it would give Muslims the opportunity to discuss the true message of their religion with non Muslims.

Isn’t this a marked change from the usual Christians who’d ring up and insist that we should ban whatever it is they disagree with – Life of Brian, The Last Temptation of Christ, Jerry Springer The Opera or Evolution. Instead they should use the opportunity to discuss what it is that we find offensive and how Christianity is really relevant/not like that.

Surely this would be a far more constructive method than trying to impose censorship, sound like a bunch of loons or turn people off. Maybe if groups like Christian Voice engaged rather than ranted and shouted the world would be a better place and Christianity seen to be a greater necessity to modern life.

 

Then again you can’t help the self righteous.

The Messiah & Other Stories

This week has seen the ascension of the messiah to his exalted position. The wait has been a long one but he has arrived. Of course we know that this isn’t the real Messiah but another of those wrongly acclaimed ones.

Much like the actual Messiah this one has great expectations laid upon his head. Everyone is expecting the world to change is a significant way in the next 4 to 8 years. What will happen when he doesn’t meet their aims? What if he doesn’t single handedly bring peace to the Middle East or Afghanistan; end world hunger and disease; heal all the aids victims and lead the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl glory?

Could it be that, like with JFK, people are putting to much pressure, and faith, onto one human being? Could they be rather unrealistic in outlook?

More importantly where does this leave the last messiah – Tony Bliar – or the man who believes himself the saviour of the world – Gordian Brown?

Kiva II

Thanks to Jacqui for her comment. I discovered Kiva a few years ago but never seemed to have the opportunity to make use of it.

One of the good things is that you become to feel a part of someone else’s life. You get regular updates, if you want them. You can also target your money as you want; this includes by region/country and business type.

I have decided that I don’t want to help people who sell alcohol, not because I’m a teetotaller or an abstainer, I just want to help people in ways that do not badly effect others or encourage money being spent on non-essentials at the expense of more immediate needs.

I also want to target people in the farming and transport areas, partly because I work in transport. I also have areas of the world that mean more to me than others. Now I get to help people in cental Asian republics that are often overlooked. I also love the idea of helping someone to buy cattle or a motorbike; I’m investing in things that will have immediate impact on their lives.

However the most important factor is that I’m doing what Jesus told us to. I’m helping the less well off not because I want credit or to have an ego boost but because that is how we should live. As Jesus (paraphased) said:

You clothed me, you visited me in prison, you fed me.

When?

Whenever you help someone else you help me.

 

*** If others are interested we could always set up a Wibsite team on the Kiva site on t’Internet to show others how we’re linked and how we’r helping.

Smug Git Feeling?

Today I have decided that I’m going to change the way in which I’m going to help the poor people more. It will also comply with my conservative ideals of helping people to help themselves. So instead of giving my money to charities I’ve decided to loan money directly to the people who will make use of it.

So I have begun loaning via www.kiva.org as this allows me to decide which people I wish to loan to and know that it is making an immediate difference in thoer lives. It also means that as they improve their lot and repay the loan I make recycle my money to other’s who need it.

This helps me feel better about what I give as it will mean that I’m not giving to a faceless charity that will use X amount of my giving on admin costs. I can also choose when I want to give Kiva money towards its admin costs and how much. It also means that I don’t have to worry about the charity using it for advertising campaigns or political lobbying that I may not agree with.

I will still give to conventional charities but not as much as I used to do. Micro financing is a concept that I can agree with and support.

Atheists Aren’t All Like Dawkins

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article5400568.ece

I saw this link on a friend’s Facebook page and thought I’d share it. I like Matthew Parris and had enjoyed reading this in the paper. It shows that the work of Christians is appreciated and a necessary part of modern life in Africa.

It is wonderful to read this from a confirmed atheist as it shows that there is hope for them by seeing practical Christianity in action. The fact that Christians do make a difference in the world without necessarily preaching at people all he time. Life through example is a great way of showing Christ’s love in the most effective way.

We are called to follow Christ’s example in our every day lives. The problem is that many don’t but those that do don’t always realise how effective their witness can be.

I was talking to someone the other day regarding this. How it is that something that we do or say can bear fruit years after the actual act. Yet we may never see the result but it will be there against our entry in the Book of Life.

So if we live a Christlike witness then we are storing up treasures in heaven that we’ll only see when we’re called to account. We may all be surprised at how much there is waiting for us.

Charitable Thoughts

While watching the TV tonight I was again assaulted by an appeal that was planned to tug at my heartstrings. Unfortuantely I have become insulated against such appeals and become somewhat cynical. It’s not that I lack compassion but I just don’t respond adverts showing abused children, abandoned pets, starving merchant bankers or requests for snorkels for gillless fish.

I got to thinking though…..

What happens if they solve their problem? What do the people do then?

What do they have to gain by finding a cure for cancer; feeding everyone in the world; saving the planet from global warming, or attacks by Godzilla? Don’t they just put themselves out of work? So are they really working to put an end to whatever it is they advertise?

At this time of year we should remember the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of Jesus:

Merchandising; transient pleasure; more food than you can ever eat in one sitting; escalating debt; crap adverts; video games and consoles; family arguments over what to watch; presents that you neither need or want; queues of ignorant shoppers; religious nutters who keep going on and on about some kid born 2000 years ago – what’s that all about???

So, this year forget everyone else and remember the true meaning of Xmas – YOU!!!!!

Death in The Time of Cholera

Growing up I was lucky enough to live through the Cold War and enjoy the stories that came out regardaing American attempts to kill Fidel Castro – exploding cigars et al – or the Russians killing Bulgarians with umberellas. Who would believe that these things a) happened & b) were real, not some fictional spy story.

So imagine my amazement as I was driving home today.

The Minister of Information frtom Zimbabwe (a ZANU PF memember) was telling us all that the cholera outbreak is part of a British plot to invade Zimbabwe. Not a natural outbreal but a plot for us to bring Zimbabwe back into the Empire. This seems to be up there with Comical Ali and his declaration that the Coalition forces were not in Baghdad, as US tanks moved past in the background.

Normally when regimes start making declarations such as these you know that their days are numbered. Yet Mugabe’s ZANU PF always seem to bounce back. Not even rioting soldiers and police officers seem to be enough to destroy this oppresive government. A report earlier in the week said how the average Zimbabwean was to docile to riot and overthrow the government.

They have almost no water or power; they can only withdraw money once a day and then it won’t even pay for their bus fare, let alone food; the infrastructure is breaking down further and further; no one can control the police or army.

Outside governments have neither the inclination or ability to bring about a regime change. The Zimbabwean people don’t seem able to unite and rise up against their government. It would just make things even worse if the country erupted into civil war.

Short of sending in the troops all we can do is pray for our brothers and sisters, that they’ll have strength, they’ll treat evil with compassion and that God will provide.