An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Thursday, 30 December 2010

I am not Miss World but...

I do believe in the concept of 'world peace' much as the contestants of the bygone televised Miss World contests used to wish for when asked what their ambition was. 'I wish for world peace', they would breathe heavily into the microphone. The whole idea of world peace then became synonymous with the trappings of superficiality. This need not be so.

I have been pondering on what specifically I wish to pray for that will make the world a better place in 2011 and onwards. Now, world peace isn't going to happen overnight but I believe that one powerful engine for generating world peace lies in micro finance for the following reasons. The link between wealth and peace is a strong one. World peace cannot be secured while we have people living in squalid conditions. Peace has become a luxurious commodity and can only be attained if people's living standards are raised. Too many people have dropped out of the global economy through no fault of their own. Economic revitalization and peace building is recognised by the UN as a two-headed joint initaitve.

Money has become the root of all evil. Witness the decades of corruption that has resulted in a global divide of stupendous proportions between the rich and the poor mainly in Asia and Africa. Money that should have gone into infrastructure, education, health and housing has, instead, been used to build mansions for those in power and financed their wives' shopping expeditions. The poor have become aspirational and resort to crime to get what they want. Stripped of all dignity and hope they live a lawless lifestyle that sticks two fingers up at the concept of civil and structured society. Because governments cannot be relied on in many parts of the world to lift the poor out of their appalling living conditions it falls to the third sector organisations to fill in the gap.
Micro finance means offering small loans (below £100)to low-income people to help them set up a small business or engage in some activity that will make their lives better in a sustainable way. It is similar (but not the same) to the familiar concept of buying a goat for a family in Asia or donating enough money so a fruit tree can be grown in somenone's backyard in Africa thereby enabling them to sell the fruit and to make a living. Helping someone to help themselves in a sustainable long term manner.
The concept of microfinance originated in the mid-1970s in Bangladesh through a pioneering experiment by Dr Muhammad Yunus, then a Professor of Economics. His aim was to offer poor people:
financial services, entrepreneurship opportunities, an end to mistreatment by money lenders and a system where they could produce, manage and maintain their own finances. Microfinancing ensures that the money goes straight to the needy, bypasses corrupt bureaucrats and is seen to make an almost immediate difference to the recipient's lifestyle. 
By no means am I advocating that microfinancing will bring about world peace single handedly. What I am saying is that world poverty will not be solved at macro level by corrupt governments and while these corrupt regimes leave people powerless and penniless there will be a large amount of lawlessness that breaks out at micro level. Third sector organisations and civil societies have a massive role to play in operating at micro level to help the poor earn a living and to restore their dignity. When the link between peace and economic development is strengthened a significant source of tension is removed thus paving the way for world peace at some future date.
 Please pray for micro financing to work. for more information.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Victims of domestic abuse turn to God

A survey undertaken in America has found that female Christian victims of domestic violence rely on the power of prayer as a coping mechanism. The victims found prayer to be a means of venting their emotions withour fear of further violence or reprisal from their abusers. The women, apparently, perceived God as a loving parental or friendly figure who was non judgmental and forgiving thus allowing them to express their anger through prayer.
The survey was conducted by Shane Sharp, a graduate in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He said that prayer helped these women see themselves in  a positive light and helped raise their sense of self-worth which was destroyed by their abusers.
Pleased as I am that these women turn to God I do hope that they find the strength, equally, through prayer to get out of these relationships. So many women put up with abuse so as not to fracture the sanctity of marriage. Alarmingly, some women felt strengthened enough after praying to carry on with their relationships. I pray that these women will realise that their marriages are no more than pieces of paper which ought to be torn up. Violence has no place in marriage and is not part of the marriage vows.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Have you piled on the calories?

People are so worried about what they eat
between Christmas and the New Year,
but they really should be worried about
what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.
Author Unknown

Friday, 24 December 2010

Ongoing revision of my Christian faith

I have been in Malaysia for the last two weeks and was mugged. I was with my 11 year old daughter when it happened. Two men on a motorbike came along and snatched my handbag. I lost my holiday money, credit cards, camera with photos of relatives in Malaysia whom I hadn't seen for 12 years and my mobile phone. Fortunately, we weren't hurt but my poor daughter was hysterical with fear and sobbed for 3 hours. Just hours before I had thanked God for the lovely time that we were having. My faith was shaken after the incident. Was I right to feel that way?
In an ongoing revision of my faith I have been questioning my initial reaction. God had not protected me, is how I felt. The physical difficulty of continuing with a holiday after losing my money and cards was depressing. I have always prided myself on being able to overcome my disappointments rather swiftly. I wasn't able to do that when the mugging happened. This, in itself, makes me feel guilty about being angry with God.
Only a fundamental revision of the world that we live in will help me make sense of what happened. Academically I am aware of the Christian argument that man has free will and free choice as to how he exerts this will even if it's against God's will.
Now I need to translate this awareness into a worldly reality. I am going to spend Christmas eve in contemplative prayer about how I make this leap. I need to understand that eventhough Christ was born to save us from our sins and to teach us that our humanity is linked to one another's well being not everyone wishes to follow this teaching and that it is not God's fault if they don't.
Merry Christmas to all my Christian blogger friends.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Illicit episcopal Chinese ordination

'Guo was ordained a bishop Saturday in Chengde, the first time in five years that China had carried out an ordination without Rome’s consent. News reports have said Chinese authorities forced ...Vatican-approved bishops to attend, sequestering them for several days beforehand' -China Digital Times.
China's Communist Party forced Catholic nationals to cut off links with the Vatican in 1951 because of the party's suspicion of organised religion. The Communist Party created the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) in 1957 and the word 'Patriotic' in the title ought to give you a flavour of the new party's loyalties. As a result, Christians and Catholics opposed to the new arrangement meet in secret locations to worship and live in fear of the establishment raiding their churches. A number of priests have been arrested for arranging these secret churches. Chinese officials have given no heed to the objections raised by the Vatican. Furthermore,since 2006 they have started ordaining Bishops without the cooperation or approval of the Vatican.
The latest development in this sorry saga is very distrubing. At least two traditionally appointed Bishops were forced by the authorities to take part in the ordination of a CCPA Bishop. Bishop of Cangzhou, Joseph Li Liangui, and the Bishop of Henshui, Peter Xinmao, were captured and made to participate in the 'illicit episcopal ordination' of a Priest who is a member of the Chinese Parliament. He is part of the Government machinery and, thus, will be valuable in ensuring that religious activity becomes even more state controlled.
The adviser to the Pope on Chinese affairs, Cardinal Joseph Ze-Kiun from Hong Kong, said, 'once more thay have crucified Jesus...The methods used to force the Bishops to take part in this ceremony were fascist'.
He isn't far wrong. The Nazis elected Reich Bishops who were instrumental in setting up the National Reich Church. The thirty point programme of articles (forming the constitution of the Church) set out the close relationship between the Church and state controlled activity. Religion was an instrument to be used to wield destruction by the Nazis.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ghostly Encounters in America

This seems like a timely piece of news to write about given the link between Christmas and ghost stories. In mid November more than a hundred Roman Catholic bishops and priests met to discuss the lack of a certain skill within the priesthood-exorcists. Apparently demand for exorcists has risen following an influx of Catholic immigrants from Africa and South America. Currently in the US a small stable of 6 priests deal with ghostly encounters all over the country. The aim is to have a dedicated resource in each diocese to cope with the rise in demand.
I feel a cinema slogan coming on: Who do you call? Ghostbusters.
Now that I have got that out of the way I can analyse the seriousness of the situation. As Christians we are meant to believe in ghosts. Jesus cast out demons himself. I don't think 'demons' here is a metaphor for anxieties or worries. I have seen a ghost myself and it took me years to recover from the wholly frightening experience. I called the Vicar who prayed in every room of my flat. If the problem had persisted the Vicar was going to call in the appropriate resources. Thankfully, there was no need for futher intervention however this experience showed me that the supernatural is among us. I do think that there is a need for clergy to be skilled in exorcism.
I don't quite know what to make of the fact that ghostly incidents have gone up following a rise in immigrants from countries where witchcraft is practised. Does this mean that those Roman Catholics were indulging in practices specifically prohibited by the church or can practising Christians become targets of demons? When I had that ghostly visitation I wasn't an Anglican so I cannot answer the question from a Christian perspective.
If you are interested the ghost I saw was a victim of a WW2 bomb that fell in Central London. How I know this is quite another story.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

'Don't laugh too loudly'-VAW Campaign

I was constantly being told that when I was growing up in Asia. Women who laughed too loudly were considered emancipated and that was a bad thing. To go about your day in a quiet and withdrawn manner was a sign of great feminity. This example is a microscopic insight into the indignities suffered by women in the region. In fact, I was lucky that the repression I underwent was verbal for the statistics show that a huge proportion of girls suffer physically for the 'sin' of being a woman. It starts in the cradle. The family are disappointed that a girl has been born into the family and not a boy. The girl is punished from then on. Violence against women (VAW) is a stain on the Asian continent. Amartya Sen, the Indian Nobel Laureate wrote a ground breaking paper about the cultural and social discrimination of women that has led to the disappearance of 22.1 million femals in India and 30 million in China. Crucial political, social and ideological concepts such as social mobility and gender equality that we in the West take for granted do not figure in Asia. Even in cases where legislation has been implemented to outlaw discrimination against women the culture of the particular country has prevented the law from being mainstreamed into society. Asian countries need to wake up to the fact that their dream of becoming economic superpowers will never, thankfully, be realised till equal opportunity policies are implemented stringently and women are respected as human beings because marginalising half the population will result in distortions in the economic landscape.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Perhaps I am a naive lay woman

Having a conversation with secular people and lay Christians about the General Synod was an extremely irritating experience for me when I was standing for election. The conversations would go like this: 'General Synod', silence, 'What does it do?' or 'is that to do with the Vatican?'. I would then patiently explain that it was the Church of England's ruling council blah di blah di. 'Ah! The people who don't want women and gays' was the reply. Few people knew about the General Synod and, even worse, that it did anything else but hold sessions on how to keep women and gay people out.

The Anglican Covenant? That was another experience. 'You mean the Methodist Covenant,' educated lay types would say to me, taking delight in their superior political knowledge of the Church. 'No, The Anglican Covenant as set out in the Ridley-Cambridge Draft', I would say wearily.

That, in a nutshell, represents people's knowledge of the governing body of  the CoE. It is seen as a place where repression is debated on, voted on and acted on. The falsehood depressed me and was the message I sought to get across during the hustings-that perception is as important as reality. The obsession with sexual orientation and gender politics is the brand recognition of General Synod. The church is being seen as an investor in practices deemed outdated and illegal in the modern world. I used the picture of Holman Hunt's 'Jesus knocking at the door' to illustrate my message and posed the question as to how many people were being kept out by this perception?

I am a new player to the politics of the Church but, nevertheless, I am adamant that the ordinary lay person does not care about the Anglican Covenant or the intellectual detail of the theological considerations of the headship argument. If your country was under a serious and immediate national security threat would you rather that the generals sat around discussing the strategic alliances and ideological positions to adopt or would you feel safer if they were actually seen on the ground battling the problem? People want a grassroots level church that is open and accessible to all. Christians being attacked at a frightening rate all over the world don't care for the intellectual indulgences of Christian folk in the safety of the Western world. They want to know that we care.

The big challenge for Synod is fraternity. The concept of the Big Society is being debated tomorrow and this is an opportunity to demonstrate Christian cohesion. However, it will all be undone if trust in the church cannot be fostered. Perhaps I am being naive in hoping for a message of inclusivity to be sent out by General Synod in the way that Miss World contestants hoped for 'world peace' and raised mocks of laughter in response.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

'If you are an atheist when you're my age, you don't kow shit'

James Ellroy, the author, said that in an
interview given to this week's New Statesman. I wouldn't use the s...t word in my blog and would only dare to do so in reported speech form. What struck me was how brave a pronounciation it is. While the world pussyfoots around Atheism so as not to be politically incorrect towards those who don't have religion someone actually dares to challenge a non-faith existence. In the interview Ellroy equates morality with religious life and says that Atheism and Agnosticism don't produce the same values in non-believers. The whole 'is religion a driver for morality versus humanist' argument is both a circular and a secular one which I don't want to repeat here. The point of my post is simply to say 'Hurrah' over someone being brave enough to state what he thinks about being a Christian.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Patriotism of Somali immigrants in the UK

It's not often that one's heart is turned and filled with wonder while reading the newspaper on a Monday morning going in to work. The sub-plot of the rescue of the Chandlers from their 13 month captivity by Somalian pirates was what did it for me. Somalian immigrants living in the UK have felt so bad about the Chandlers predicament that they have been fund raising to secure the ransom money for their release. A music video made by Somalis living in the UK brought in almost £150,000. The video was played on a Somali news station called 'Universal TV' and accompanied by a message directed at the pirates 'to remember all the good things Britain has done for Somalis since the civil war'. This kickstarted a worldwide campaign among Somalis to donate money and to express anger at the pirates' actions. The real hero of this story is the former London taxi driver of Somali origin who went back to Somalia to help negotiate the release of the Chandlers. He put himself in danger repeatedly because his children felt ashamed at school (in London)over the whole incident

Immigrants are always the faceless and voiceless victims in our debates on immigration. Society, policy makers and Governments talk about them as if they were a collective noun who should be labelled the human equivalent of parasite. It takes a story like this to debunk the 'which cricket team are you supporting?' theory as the tick-box of requisites to separate the 'us' and 'them'. The patriotism to Britian shown by these people is beyond the call of duty.
Many Somalis seek refuge in the UK to escape the cruel war in Somalia. It is one of the most dangerous countries in the world because of fighting between warlords and radical Islamist groups.  Violence and death are everyday occurences since the central government was overthrown in 1991. Thousands of refugees have been displaced. Reoccurring floods have plagued the country. Famine is widespread and 300,000 people have died because of starvation and malnutrition and thousands continue to suffer. That they feel a sense of gratitude to be in the peace and stability of the UK comes as no surprise. Let us remember this tale of patriotism before the next wave of hate against immigrants comes calling. I hope the Chandlers remember to thank them too when they return home.

Friday, 12 November 2010

What do you call an empty church?

Tesco is the answer. The church, formerly the Westbourne Methodist Church in Bournemouth, had been left unoccupied for a year before being sold to the grocery chain store. The ornate stained glass windows have been retained and serve as a backdrop to groceries.  The facade has the ability to still fool people into thinking it is a church.
Temple of commerce: A Tesco Express store has opened in Bournemouth Dorset after the supermarket giant purchased a former Methodist church

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Plumbing the depths of prejudice

Discrimination is rife. Discrmination is pervasive. Sometimes we become immune to the reality of it butI came aross something in the press which shocked me to the core. Albino sufferers in Africa live in fear for their lives because-what for it-there's a lucrative trade in their body parts. It is believed that an Albino person's body parts brings good fortune. Albino body parts are sold for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in Africa.

Coumba Makalou, president of the U.S.-based Salif Keita Global Foundation, a group that looks after Albinos' rights, alleges that those who pay for body parts include rich businessmen and politicians looking to improve their political fortunes. Makalou says body parts sell for as much as $2,000. At least 57 Albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 in Burundi since 2007. Thousands of Albinos are estimated to be living in hiding.

Banele Nxumalo, an 11 year old girl in Swaziland, in August this year was fetching water for her family with a group of friends when a car stopped and two hooded gunmen shot her. One then proceeded to chop off her head and right hand. They left her severed body only taking her hand and head, got in the car and drove off.
Please include Albino people in your prayers, especially for those living in Africa.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

An imaginary interview with Bonhoeffer

Yesterday I bought a wonderful book called 'God is in the Manger' which contains reflections on Advent and Christmas written by a German theologian called Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed by the Nazis. The story of Bonhoeffer's imprisonment and suffering is a deeply moving and inspiring one. Bonhoeffer was arrested in 1943 because he had been vocal in his resistance to Hitler and had supplied details of the German resistance to the Allies. While in prison he wrote: 'One waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other-things that are really of no consequence-the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.' He kept his faith despite knowing that he would be executed. Ten days before the surrender of the German forces Bonhoeffer was hanged on Hitler's orders.
The desolation in his writing conveys the insight that he had about the cruelty and evilness that was to be Nazism. When Hitler declared in 1939 '...the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe' Bonhoeffer responded by writing that 'Christians in Germany will face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive, or wiling the victory of their nation and thereby destroying our civilization..'
Imagine if Bonhoeffer had been asked the following question before he died, 'Do you view the ordination of women Bishops as a parallel, in terms of the defeat of the Christian church, to the extinction of human beings as Hitler has decreed?'
Would he have answered, 'I feel very much increasingly that we're in January of 1939. We need to be aware that there is real, serious warfare just around the corner. It's actually arrived in some places already and we are in a challenging and serious situation'.
Somehow I don't think Bonhoeffer would have said that but those words came from a speech given by Bishop Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes and President of the Church of England Evangelical Council, at a Reform Conference of Conservative Anglicans. This has been widely reported in the media today.
A statement issued from the Bishop's office in his defence states that he never mentioned Hitler or the Nazis in his address and meant that the sittuation in the church feels like people probably felt as they viewed the year ahead in 1939. The Bishop says that he was being 'Churchillian'.
I looked up the meaning of Churchillian and it means being defiant in the face of overwhelming odds.
Is anyone else sensing a seriously disproportionate interpretation of the 1939 events? Bonhoeffer knew what 'serious warfare' and 'overhwelming odds' really meant. He was living it. The secular society must be laughing at us today and who can blame them?
I really object to the Conservative Anglicans, yet again, presenting the gospel message as being nothing more than a gender and sexuality question. Leaving aside the theological purity consideration about male lineage and women bishops, the Bishop's comments make a mockery of the Anglican consideration for true suffering and injustice. Instead, it invites wholesale ridicule of all Anglicans including people like me who really believe that my faith link with God will not be broken if women are made Bishops. Will God really bypass us on Sundays and head for Rome instead because we have taken on the equality practices of the world?
I conclude by setting forth what I think Bonhoeffer's conclusion to this sorry fiasco would be (in the context of his writings and thoughts):
'God should not be relegated to some last secret place, but that we should frankly recognise that the world and men have come of age, that we should not speak ill of man in his worldliness, but confront him with God at his strongest point, that we should give up all our clerical subterfgues...

Monday, 1 November 2010

Christians under siege

My previous blog post was about Christians in India being attacked. Yesterday, 52 Christians were killed during a siege at a Catholic church in the Karada District, Baghdad. A sub-group of Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the killing. The Our Lady of Salvation church was holding mass when a group of armed men began attacking the churchgoers. The Priest was killed. The same church was previously targeted in 2004.
How does one keep the faith after either witnessing or being involved in such an atrocity? We go to church in this country and come away feeling fuelled by the word of God and the companionship of fellow Christians. By contrast with the suffering experienced by Christians in conflict areas our experience on a Sunday seems like pure indulgence. How fortunate we are to be able to experience the peace and love of God in the way that we do.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

''How to attack Christians''

Every Sunday I am mindful of the Christians around the world who do not have the freedom, as I do, to attend a church and worship freely. 'Christian Freedom', as I call it, is the right to publicly proclaim your faith in the gospel and participate in a same minded community in the worship of God. The freedom and right to have a faith of your choosing is pivotal to human well being. We who live in free societies bear testatement to this. An organisation called Release International which represents persecuted Christians in the world is worried about Christians in India facing pressure from militant Hindus to give up their faith. Pastors are being attacked and beaten for preaching the faith. Allegedly a 20 point guideline on how to attack Christians has been produced by the perpetrators. This is pretty hard to understand and reconcile with the fact that India is highly prominent for having a strong democracy. Equality and diversity are sub-components of Democracy. Judicial and Executive intervention is required urgently. Anti-conversion laws (stopping Hindus from converting to other faiths) has been overturned in seven of India's states. Prayer is required for the rest of the states to follow and for the law then to be upheld by the appropriate agencies.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

India's manual scavengers

The UK's foreign aid budget is to be ring-fenced prompting questions over why charity doesn't begin at home? Ought we to be donating to countries like India and China who are world super economies when there are needy people at home? I attended the Christian Aid event in London on tackling poverty and heard the most appalling story of how some in India make ends meet. It is as follows:

With the world's eyes on the Commonwealth Games, one Christian Aid partner has used the attention to highlight the continued but outlawed and degrading practice of manual scavenging in India - where mainly dalit women clean 'dry' latrines using nothing but a basket and broom. It's an occupation carried out by dalits (formerly untouchables) in which safai karmacharis, as manual scavengers are known, clean out human excreta from wealthy households' latrines - toilets that are not connected to the sewage system and are therefore not flushable.A manual scavenger cleaning out a latrineThis degrading practice is traditionally imposed upon certain dalit sub-caste groups, especially the women, with the result that 82% of manual scavengers are female.These women are forced to work in unthinkable conditions, humiliated and discriminated against.But another shocking scandal of this story is that this practice continues despite the fact that it was outlawed in 1993. Today, tens of thousands of manual scavengers are still cleaning out other people’s loos by hand with a small brush and basket. Why? `Because local state authorities seem to tacitly agree with the casteist ideology that assigns unclean occupations to dalits claiming that safai karmacharis are content with their work,’ says a spokesperson from Safai Karmachari Andolon (SKA), a movement supported by Christian Aid.Today, tens of thousands of manual scavengers are still cleaning out other people’s loos by hand with a small brush and basket. To coincide with the Commonwealth Games, SKA is organising a series of rallies throughout October to demand that the government enforces the 1993 law, including provision of relief and dignified livelihoods for those liberated from this inhumane practice. ‘India has invested lots of money in hosting the Commonwealth Games in Delhi,’ says Anand Kumar, Christian Aid’s India representative. `In order to meet the games deadlines it has spent millions of rupees and worked through the nights to make Delhi ready to host the events. ‘But India should also show greater commitment to eradicating the practice of manual scavenging and helping to rehabilitate manual scavengers so they can establish dignified livelihoods.’ SKA’s buses will pass through 20 states on the campaign trail before descending on New Delhi for a mass rally towards the end of October. Liberated safai karmacharis will speak at the events and ceremoniously burn the baskets they once used as manual scavengers in a bid to empower others to stop doing this degrading work. Christian Aid has supported the SKA campaign from the outset as part of its wider programme to address the root causes of poverty in India – namely discrimination and exclusion of people because of who they are: because of their caste, ethnicity, religion, gender or disability.
This is why we need to continue giving Aid to India because it is a country that has no regard for the poverty that exists on its' land. I firmly believe that we are impoverished by the poverty of others no matter where they live.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Yet more confusion in the sex camp of Anglicanism

In today's Times (25 Sept) the Archbishop says that gay clergy can become Bishops as long as they are celibate. What must all this seem like to the ordinary public? It must seem as if the church is obsessed with sex-either the act itself or in the gender sense. Does it infuriate you? It does me. The church is about so much more than this but the church cannot move forward until the issue of gay clergy and women Bishops is settled. The ordination of women Bishops may be closer than ever but an 18 month consultation is still underway and there is always a chance that that may be scuppered.
These problems are human rights arguments. Human rights isn't a secular issue. There are numerous gospel messages which support this proposition, one being Galatians 3:27 to 29. If we set apart the church from the 'outside' world then the message we are sending out is one of anachronistic behaviour. Christianity is about conscience. Equality is a conscience issue. It is imperative that the church demonstrates that it can respond to changing societal landscapes and needs. Slavery is a much touted example of how the church eventually relented and gave away to secular pressure. The outcome, the abolition of slavery, was completely the right one to take.
The soul of Anglicanism must surely be about inclusion and not being prescriptive about how far women in the church can go or what our gay clergy can or cannot do in the privacy of their homes.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Are Third World people third rate?

The remark made by Cardinal Walter Kasper, a member of the Pope's inner circle, on how upon arriving in Britain "you sometimes think you've landed in a third world country" is really quite insulting because there is a Catholic faith stronghold in third world countries. Poverty is rife in large parts of Africa and Asia but people living well below the poverty line hang on to their faith through thick and thin because it is the only beacon of hope in their lives. The Pope seeks to elicit a level of unquestioning faith among Catholics in Western countries but, ironically, it is precisely that type of faith which exists in third world countries. People don't practice birth control or question the wisdom of using condoms because 'the church says it is wrong'. Does this make these people inferior? I don't think so.These people may not be spiritual or academic intellectuals but they have a love of God that is touching in its' simplicity. Immigrants from these parts of the world into Britain bring this faith trait with them and the CoE benefits greatly from their church attendance. It has changed the demographic of our church congretation in a positive way. I see this as being part of the Inclusive agenda.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Twelve Men

I am immersed in reading about the theological, philosophical and ideological reasons for and against the ordination of women clergy as Bishops. Much of the argument for not changing the status quo stems from the fact that Jesus chose 12 men as apostles and not a single woman. I read Law at university and enjoy deconstructing an argument.
The '12 men' theory is akin to the number allowed to sit on British jury service. The purpose of a jury is to act as arbiters of a person's alleged offence. The jury decides whether or not a person is guilty as charged but, ultimately, the jury members don't have individual power. They are merely representative of the English judicial system which has decreed that a person should be judged by their peers.
Tranferring this analogy laterally across to theology, the apostles were then ambassadors of Jesus. They didn't in themselves individually represent anything. They must have stood for the values that Jesus preached otherwise he would not have chosen them. In much the same way members of the jury represent the values of British Justice which are fairness and truth. However, the individual is immaterial as regards their gender, skin colour or background.
Does it matter then that the apostles were all men? I don't think so.

Friday, 13 August 2010

My Election Address

My faith is the enabler of everything I do and that I am and is central to my life. I am on the electoral roll of St John’s Waterloo, North Lambeth Deanery, London. I hope and pray that you will give me your 1st preference vote (or if you are standing yourself do give me one of your top 5 votes) because I firmly believe that I can make a difference as a Synod member in implementing policies that will send a strong message steeped in Christian values to society. The following are my manifesto issues. I wish to help the General Synod seek the Christian truth to these problems.

1. The Compassion Agenda
• The time is right for the Church to assert itself as a major player in the concept of the Big Society because the State is not able to provide for the needs of everyone and with the recession this is truer than ever.
• The Church has a fantastic starting position because it has always played a big role in providing good will to people but it can assert itself as a powerful Third Sector force now in tackling issues that plague our communities.

2. Inclusion
• I am an Asian Minority woman and am the only Asian person who attends my church on a regular basis.
• I am fully supportive of LGBT issues and of women Bishops.
• General Synod needs to demonstrate a more inclusive agenda that respects the Christian values and an all embracing gospel message.

3. Education
• One million children and young people in state primary schools and state secondary schools are educated in Church of England schools.
• These children are the future attendees of the Church and it is imperative that Christianity forms the main basis of Religious Education in the school curriculum.
• The Church has a central educational role to play in producing young adults who are able to take their place in the world as well qualified and skilled Christians.

4. Globalisation
• The Church of England is no stranger to globalisation and is one of the pioneers of the concept due the presence of Anglican churches globally.
• The Church has a responsibility to ensure that the discourse of Globalisation includes its’ values such as peace, faith, justice and freedom of worship especially in working towards the eradication of urgent and distressing issues such as global poverty, human trafficking and an unequal distribution of economic power.

5. Environment
• Everything was made by God and we owe him a deep debt to recognise the stewardship of creation and to ensure that the environment is not wrecked by man’s actions.
• The particular challenge for the Church is to demonstrate that there are Christian reasons for ‘going green’ and it isn’t an issue that is purely about setting politically motivated emission targets.

Who I am:
I am 47 years old, married with a daughter aged 10. At church I am a server; teach Sunday school; member of Waterloo Parish Charities Committee and St.John’s Outreach Committee; I have been a member of the PCC and was involved in the restoration of the use of St. Andrew’s, Waterloo. I read law and work in the Civil Service as a Senior Policy Officer and have policy making responsibility for the UK Electronics sector. I am a Liberal Democrat activist and sit on the ‘Quality of Life’ National Committee and am an executive member of the Liberal Democrats European Group. My interests are reading with a bias towards political and social issues, travel and blogging.

I would be delighted if you would care to introduce yourself  and leave a comment below.

Monday, 9 August 2010

It Starts Today

Welcome and thank you for taking the trouble to look at my blog. My first round of events in the whole process of standing for election to the House of Laity starts today with an evening drinks party at Southwark Cathedral. I am looking forward to meeting the other candidates and the lay members of the Synod.
I consider it an honour to have been asked to stand. I chose to become an Anglican some years ago and have followed the proceedings of the General Synod through the years in the media. The issues discussed there are ones that I consider important for the future of the Church.
I will be blogging on a regular basis and urge you to leave a comment.