I can’t help wondering if the problem isn’t with the Church so much as it is with the millenials themselves : spoilt, narcissistic, capricious…
Or, most likely, some combination of the two.
Maybe I’m just a modernist but I increasingly find myself screaming, “Stop asking ‘how does it compare’ and ask the more important question of ‘is it true?’” – the critical question I learned to ask from CS Lewis.
Yesterday the scripture reading in the service was of The Good Samaritan – a parable so overly-familiar that its power and shock are somewhat lost. Here is my take on it, originally posted 2 years ago but even more pertinent now than ever…
Recently I was involved in a version of “The Moral Maze” – getting a group of 11-16 year-olds to consider the Biblical perspective to some “Moral Dilemmas”: When – if ever – is civil disobedience called for? Should we buy a slave to assure their freedom? Under what circumstances – if any – should we do things contrary to our conscience? etc
The topics generated some of the most thoughtful & thought-provoking conversations I’ve enjoyed in a while.
For the topic of whether it is ever right for a Christian to try and get the guilty acquitted we looked at the Biblical example of John 8: 1-11; and for a contemporary context we used the situation beautifully portrayed in Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies”. They are fascinating dilemmas to try and apply Godly wisdom to. But it was a corollary of the discussion that has lingered with me and has had the biggest day-to-day implications for how I conduct my life: what did it mean for Jesus to be a “friend of sinners”?
Over and over and over again the ‘elites’, the ‘establishment’; the ‘qualified experts’; looked contemptuously at the company Jesus kept. Did Jesus not care about his reputation? Did He not realise the doors He was closing to His ministry through His instance in associating with such scum?
So much of our personal lives, and certainly the life of the Church and the world of politics, seems to be about maintaining reputations, keeping up appearances, being respectable, being “Liked” or “Followed” – literally and virtually. I know that I am supposed to follow Jesus, but who would Jesus ‘follow’ or accept a ‘friend request’ from? Who would He block? Who would He disavow? Who would He refuse to share a platform with?
Jesus, friend of tax collectors and sinners, sounds so innocuous to our ears. How about “Jesus friend of …” Tommy Robinson? Gerry Adams? Nigel Farage? Racists? Porn Stars? Paedophiles? the BNP? Homophobes? [insert your bogey man/group here]? Does it turn out that by some remarkable coincidence Jesus would be the friend of people we would be friends with too?! Or at least people we can have sympathy for?
I always find it fascinating that when people re-tell the story of the Good Samaritan in contemporary style, the “Samaritan” tends to be someone they approve of (or are at least ambivalent about). But that misses the impact of the story altogether. The Samaritan was someone that was despised – the Samaritan was a “racist”, a “homophobe”, a “nazi”, a “hater”. If you find yourself drawn to (or ambivalent about) the Samaritan, you’re telling the story wrong.
So it got me thinking: how much do I care about my personal reputation? Who would l “disavow” if they supported me? What would I do if a friend turned out to be – or once was – a communist/wife beater/white supremacist/child abuser? Who would I refuse to share a platform with? Which “Samaritans” make me feel uncomfortable? Which friendships or associations should I keep hidden?
Jesus loves you just as you are, warts & all. Just don’t let others know who you really are in case you tarnish yours (and His) reputation. Flaunt your sexuality anywhere you want, but for Christ’s sake, keep your (’wrong’) opinions & friendships firmly locked in the closet.
I greatly admire Dave Rubin – the gay atheist liberal. He’s possibly the only interviewer I know who asks questions to actually find things out, not to trip up his guests or boost his own ego. But listen to what he says at the start of this interview (especially from 1min 25s). I wonder how many of us recognise his fear? And if we do, do we have the same courage to push through it, to face the lies, the contempt, the scorn and the vitriol of those who would label us “friend of sinners/bigots/racists…”
The promotion of the grievance industry has got to have been one of the most pernicious, socially divisive movements of my lifetime. The ever expanding snare of “hate” legislation has had exactly the opposite effect of the one intended, but precisely the effect that so many of us predicted. Rather than bringing about tolerance & understanding it has simply fuelled mistrust & a sense of entitled victimhood. It has spawned it’s ugly, inbred sibling – identity politics.
Huge new housing developments – like Great Western Park and Brunel Rise in Didcot – have always felt cold & soulless to me. I’ve often thought this was just due to their imposing size. But even some of the smaller ones feel the same too.
Then something stuck me. Whist on a break and looking for somewhere cool to park in the shade, I couldn’t find ANYWHERE. There was no shade to be found. And that’s because there are no trees. Certainly no mature ones, just a few carefully planted saplings for cosmetic effect.
The places are devoid of anything mature. No connection to the past in way, shape or form. And all the corollaries of no trees – no where for birds to nest, no summer or autumn colour, no seasonal variations, no leaves to compost, as well as no areas of shade.
There’s nothing “organic” about these places at all – literally, or sociologicaly. They’re more like residential factories than communities.
1) Vote. Use it wisely. You may have voted a certain way all your life. You may really like your local candidate and they may have done many admirable things in the past. However, we are at a fulcrum in our democracy. As the old adage goes, “If nothing changes, nothing changes“. And as Einstein (apocryphally?) said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over & over again and expecting different results“. Please don’t vote Lib/Lab/Con. You’ll get EXACTLY the same result you always do.
The past 3 years have brought into the light the establishment’s outright contempt for democracy and the electorate. The ONLY way to make the political parties sit up and take notice is through the ballot box. The reason we don’t need resort to bullets is because we have ballots (I thought of that … hope you like it!). So even if there isn’t an independent or an alternative party standing near you, PLEASE, spoil you ballot paper. Take some sharpies to the polling station – get creative! It would send a very powerful message if there were more spolied papers than votes for the mainstream parties!
2) You might know I am standing as a candidate for UKIP. “Boo hisss. Racist. Xenophobe. Fascist. White supremacist. Literally Hitler etc etc” All I’d ask is you read their manifesto. They are NONE of the things the mainstream media would have you believe. I reckon if you did a blind policy test most people would think it was a cross between an 1980’s Conservative and Social Democrats manifesto! [Interestingly, in blind manifesto tests I have seen from the past, a significant proportion of staunch Labour supporters chose BNP policies … oops!!! ].
I chose UKIP because I grew tired of the Lib/Lab/Con merry-go-round decades ago. I’m basically a libertarian. And on things that matter to me – democracy, patriotism, free speech, liberty, family life, traditionalism – only UKIP are prepared to take a principled stand. The LibLabCon parade all sing from the same ‘progressive’ hymn sheet. And when ALL the politicians are singing the same tune, that’s the time to be genuinely scared. And of course, when it comes to fighting for democracy, liberty, patriotism and free speech, ensuring that we leave the EU unequivocally is fundamental. So if you have a UKIP candidate near you, give them your consideration. Don’t be intimidated by the name calling. Grow a pair! And if nothing else, just tell everyone you voted Libdem. That’s the beauty of anonymous voting!
3) Just to highlight the slanderous, pernicious and treacherous depths of our media – in general – but towards UKIP and those of us with traditional conservative views in particular, please watch this video. Even a media cynic like me was shocked at just how low they would go. They have literally accused someone of advocating pedophilia when they were explicitly saying the EXACT opposite. It’s like quoting God as saying “commit adultery” by omitting “Thou shall not”. But it gets worse because they manage to splice 4 different quotes from different occasions into one single quote, literally reversing the original intent of each of the 4 quotes. DO NOT BELIEVE THE MAIN STREAM MEDIA. Consider everything they say as false unless corroborated by at least 3 other independent, reliable witnesses (… which is the Biblical standard of proof).
Thanks for your time. Your normal schedule of funny memes and pictures of children/pets/food will now be resumed!
Britain’s chattering classes have been fretting over Silicon Valley’s alleged stranglehold over political life. Letting their imaginations run far ahead of the evidence… And yet now, amid all this hyperbole, we have a real and clear instance of Silicon Valley meddling in British politics and these people have suddenly gone very quiet.