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

Friday, 28 January 2011

Can Christians Go On Strike?

 The trade unions are planning a massive day of protest in March against the government austerity cuts. In a modern democracy no one believes in blind obedience to the Government and that's why we have freedom of speech. If you disagree with the ruling political party or coalition there are ways to make your views heard in a legitimate manner. Peaceful protests are legitimate. However, a certain modicum of allegiance is called for so there isn't anarchy on the streets every time a new law is passed. This, in turn, made me ponder on the question of whether or not there is a tension in the Christian faith between obedience and resistance? The former is so much a part of our Christian teaching as in 'submit yourselves to...'
This seems, at first glance, to be backed up by scripture. Hebrews 13:17: ' Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.'
Does this passage require unquestioning obedience? I actually don't think so because inherent in the words ' those who must give an account ' is the understanding that no one is above God's word and justice is part of that equation. Governments must adhere to democratic principles in the same way. So where does this leave us?
Christianity isn't just a private faith practised within one's narrow sphere of life. Christianity is a community based religion. We care about the homeless, the deprived and the sick for that was the example set by Jesus alone. This Christian notion of care, I firmly believe, requires us to question any injustice that we perceive as being done to our fellow men and women using the Christian principles of justice-negotiation and peace. We cannot be unquestioningly sheep like. If Jesus had followed blindly the law of the land he would have surrendered to Caesar and declared himself 'not to be King'.
However, not every call to strike is an expression of a response to an injustice. There are different political opinions within our diverse society and it is up to each individual Christian to decide whether or not a cause is worth taking up. This is a subset of my overall claim, though, that Christians can speak up.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A Post Contraction-Economy Prayer

Dear God
My prayer for 2011 is for a fat bank account
and a thin body.
Please don't mix these up like last year.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Would Jesus be friends with a gay Christian in drag?

I am a Liberal Christian and can never understand the efforts made to exclude those Christians who don't fit the 'bill'. The following is taken from the Huffington Post and was written by Jay Bakker, a Pastor in Brooklyn, USA.

Cathleen Falsani (aka God Girl) caused quite a stir here at HuffPost when she cited my new book "Fall to Grace" as evidence of a potential "great gay awakening" in the evangelical church. The response was heated: 1,400 posts (and counting) filled with everything from enthusiastic support, to reasoned dissent, to emoticon-happy vitriol. Things got so unruly at Cathleen's own website that she shut down the comments thread and posted an instructional video on how to administer hugs. I'd like to challenge readers with a story about my own struggle to overcome the fear of judgment and live grace. During a trip to California a few years back, my then-wife Amanda and I were invited out to a drag show by RuPaul, the famous drag queen (recording artist, supermodel, VH1 talk-show host, etc.) who did the voice-over for the 2000 documentary about my mom, The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
The invitation came at a delicate moment in my own spiritual evolution. I was working my way toward becoming a gay-affirming pastor -- someone who welcomes gay people into the church without asking them to compromise their love or lifestyle -- but I hadn't yet declared this position publicly. Frankly, I was really nervous about how the Christian magazines and festival organizers and even some of my Christian friends would react if they knew I'd been to a drag show. I came up with lots of excuses not to accept the invitation: I told myself that I was trying to gradually bring conservative Christians around to a more loving and understanding attitude toward our LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) brothers and sisters in Christ. And I thought that meant not reinforcing stereotypes or inflaming fears about the gay community -- and you don't get more flaming than a RuPaul drag show!
In the end, I decided to overcome my fears and go. (When the queen of drag queens invites you to a drag show, you really don't have a choice.) Thank God I did. When we arrived at the club, RuPaul said hello and ushered us in past the crowd thronging outside. There were about ten of us in the VIP area. It was a very hip group including risqué celebrities like Dita Von Teese, the famous burlesque dancer who was married to the singer Marilyn Manson. The first half of the show passed without incident. Then, during intermission, I stepped outside to have a cigarette. While I was standing there, one of the drag queens -- a seven-foot tall black man in heels who was wearing a massive replica of the Eiffel Tower on his head -- approached to say that he was a preacher's kid too and that he had grown up in the church.
And then the emcee got real serious. Standing there in high heels and a sparkly dress, he said: "You know, this is where Jesus would be if He were alive today. Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and the prostitutes and the sinners ... " He then launched into a three-minute speech about how Jesus loved everybody without judgment. So there I was, stunned, not knowing what to make of this. One minute a drag queen was making cracks about whether I'm gay, and the next minute he was saying these really amazing things about Jesus and grace.
That night, at a burlesque club in Los Angeles, I saw people hungry for the love and truth of Christ. Not the judgment and rejection they'd experienced their whole lives in the church, but the real deal: revolutionary grace. That's what they welcomed into their midst. That's what grace is all about: loving one another and understanding one another and sharing in Christ together, no matter who we are or what others might think about it. Being at that drag show in L.A. challenged me to get outside my comfort zone. It taught me that grace crops up where you least expect it. It helped me to recognize that there can be no boundaries on God's love. I want to challenge everyone reading this to push yourself in this same way. What are the boundaries you put on grace? Are there places you won't go or people you won't socialize with for fear of judgment? Ask yourself: What are the rules I make up about who gets to sit at Christ's table? Then ask yourself: Are my rules consistent with grace?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

If we really are going to combat bigotry against religion, faith leaders have to show greater leadership.

That was part of the speech made by Baroness Warsi, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, today. She said much else but I have chosen to concentrate on this line because I do think that cohesive leadership is radically and urgently needed between religious leaders globally. It is the worst and extreme traits of religion that seem to be making the headlines e.g anti-women Bishops, Gay issues, Blasphemy law in Pakistan and the stoning of women in the Middle East. Multi-faith leadership which extols the virtues of tolerance, patience and respect will go a long way towards bridging the divide between the bigots of religion and the followers of religion. However, the danger is that quite often criticism of (any) religion is perceived as being 'racist'. The use of this term immediately distorts the debate with race and skin colour and turns into a racial arrow slinging fight. If we are to get anywhere in restoring religion as a mainstay of society we need to stop labelling those as 'racist' who genuinely challenge the role of any particular religion.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Fine example of Christian Unity - NOT!

The meeting of the Primates due to be held in Dublin in January is being boycotted by 10 Primates who say that they are staying away because of 'failed promises in the past'. 'As we have made clear in the numerous communiques and meetings those who have abandoned the historic teaching of the Church have torn the fabric of our life together at its deepest level. We have made repeated attempt to bring repentance and restoration and yet these efforts have been rejected. We grieve for those who have walked apart and earnestly pray for them and the people under their care,' said the Primates' Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
Am I alone in thinking that these Primates who are not attending an international conference to debate and pray for Church unity are guilty of what they accuse others of doing? Surely in the house of God there is no limit to the amount of times that you make 'repeated attempt to bring repentance and restoration...' Where is the leadership of the Church at a time when it is desperately needed? Extrapolate this situation into the work place and I don't think many of us would get away with such reasons for not participating in team building exercises for, after all, isn't that what a Primates conference is partly about?
I have blogged in the past about the intellectual indulgences that seem to afflict many in our Church. While Christians are actively being killed and persecuted around the world and Christianity is under attack our leaders do intellectual battles over who ought to be called to serve in the Church. I haven't studied theology and, no doubt, many will find fault with my simplistic analysis but I do speak as a person on the ground. People want to see the Church fighting for injustice, speaking up about inequality and applying God's word to modern day situations. Perhaps our present day version of Ecumenical doctrine has become far too imbued with personal colourings of opinion and vanity. We need a new discourse that pulls together the agendas of all fragmented groups and injects some reality into the disagreements that exist. In other words we may all never agree on things but we can show leadership by, perhaps, deciding to firstly concentrate on the external forces that are threatening our faith rather than helping our enemies by pulling down the structures of the church from within and making their job easier.
Also see:

Sunday, 16 January 2011

All Over Women

At the end of Pope Benedict's visit to Britain in September, the challenge for the Catholic church was to build on the momentum and goodwill he had created among other Christian communities. The ordination as Catholic priests, in double-quick time, of three former Anglican bishops, outspoken dissidents all, was not top of most people's list of what to do next. The Catholic leader Archbishop Vincent Nichols tried at the ceremony yesterday to make the best of an arrangement with which he is privately thought to be uncomfortable. But however it is dressed up, this was the Catholic church fixated on stealing a march on Anglicanism. It is as if the Reformation was a recent score to be settled.
The establishment of a special ordinariate where former Anglicans who reject women's ordination can carry on much as before, but within the Catholic fold, can only cause tension between the two churches. That in its turn will focus attention once again on disputes between different branches of Christianity, and make religion look out of touch with the real world.
In the face of poverty, climate change, natural disasters and all the other challenges facing our planet for religious institutions to be consumed in bickering about whether women can be priests is the stuff of satire.
It is only institutional religion that continues to regard women as second-class citizens. If Catholicism believes that recruiting a handful of renegade Anglicans who share its institutional misogyny will buttress its position it is mistaken.
Meanwhile, those aspects of the church beneficial to the whole of society – its work for social justice, with the poor, the marginalised – are once again pushed into the background. Many British Catholics who want no part of this game of ecclesiastical power politics are left despairing. Those of other faiths or none, and of even moderately enlightened disposition, will be more inclined to turn their backs in anger.
An Article from the Guardian's Comment Is Free site. Defections, infighting, treachery and, finally, a public show of self-righteous piety over a Gender issue. Who would have thought women had this much power?

Thursday, 13 January 2011

What is the image of today's Christian woman?

I consider it a seminal moment that politics and religion have come together to provide us with two women currently being held up on the world stage as examples of fine Christian women: (1) Assia Bibi in Pakistan who is facing a possible death sentence for her Christian views; and (2) Sarah Palin who uses Christianity as a platform for her political views.
Although women have played a starring role in the Bible since the early Christian church the retelling of the stories of these women has always been made in the context of the patriarchy of the gospel. Assia and Sarah present us with a modern day analysis of how Christian women see themselves being called upon to practise their faith according to the social mores of the place they live in.
Assia Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after Muslim women labourers refused to drink from a bowl of water she was asked to fetch while out working in the fields. Assia questioned them as to why she was considered 'unclean'. Days later, the women complained that Assia had made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. Bibi was set upon by a mob, arrested by police and sentenced to hang as a result. The Pope has called for leniency on her behalf.
Sarah Palin (who needs no real introduction) is a far right Republican in the USA. She has invoked the 'Christian Nation' rhetoric by stating that God cannot be separated from the state. More controversially she has claimed that the Iraq war is God's will. Palin's image is one of a gun carrying Christian mum who is a modern day representation of the frontier women who weren't scared of standing up for what they believed to be their right. 
Personally, I am not a Palin supporter and don't buy into her brand of faith. I have much sympathy for Assia and keep praying that she will escape the death penalty and return peacefully to her five children.
Personal sentiment aside and objectively speaking these two women have tried to break down the barriers of the cultural and religious practices around them. When Assia questioned her objectors she was pushing the barrier of exclusion and oppression in a place where it is dangerous to be a Christian by reaching out to Jesus. Palin sees the rise of muti faith folk as an assault on Christianity. I disagree with her but she may even see it as her 'calling' to blow the Christian trumpet as loudly as she can.
One is an incarcerated woman in an oppressive regime and the other is a free woman living in a democracy that allows her to say and do as she wishes. Is there a common trait between them nevertheless? Both women have displayed strength and bravery in the name of their faith. Palin is ridiculed on a daily basis and hasn't made things better by using the term 'Blood Libel' to describe her situation but her supporters are many and carry on adoring her. Assia hasn't been forgotten by the world's press and the Pakistani government is under international pressure to pardon her.
I hate to say this but are the traits of marginalization and oppression still ones that Christian women are having to face no matter where in the world they live? If so, as Christian women I think we can change the discourse by imbuing our own theology with our own experiences and by empowering one another with encouragement till our discipleship becomes one of equality and respect no matter where we live. Then we need to export this brand of feminine Christianity to protect women like Assia.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A fine example of the church helping society

The following article is taken from Christian Today and demonstrates the church's magnificient ability to work at grassroots level to help the ordinary folk. From such mundane matters as managing their bills may grow trees of faith among non-believers who are helped by the church. It's an example of what the Church does best - helping people help themselves.

Hundreds of churches are helping people get through hard times by teaching them how to manage their money. With rises in energy bills, petrol charges and VAT adding to the pressure on purses, Christians Against Poverty expects to see even more people take up its CAP Money course this year.
Last year 7,000 people went on the course, which teaches people how to take care of their finances the old fashioned way – by sticking to a budget and paying into a savings account. Now 782 churches are ready to pass on what they have learned by running the course on their own premises. Some 268 courses taking place in January and February alone. CAP’s founder and international director John Kirkby said some people had hit rock bottom and were losing their homes or unable to feed their children. “The Bible says the truth will set you free and certainly when you know what your situation is – even if it’s a mess – you can start to tackle the issue.”

To find out more visit

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The innocent 9 year old victim of Arizona tragedy

Christina Taylor Green who dreamt of going into politics one day to unite all the political parties of America. While the debate goes on about hate politics and who is to blame for the shooting let's remember this little Angel who was an innocent victim.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The World Will End On 21 October 2011

'WE CAN KNOW' states that the date of the 'rapture of believers' will take place on May 21, 2011 and that God will destroy this world on October 21, 2011. Harold Camping, 89, from We Can Know, US, is putting out this message using a formula based on his understanding that creation occured in 11013 BC. Camping previously predicted that the world would end between September 15 to 27, 1994. He says that he has endured a lot of criticism since. see and good luck with deciphiring this lot's website. It states:
This website has been developed by God's grace, through the efforts of a small group of believers not affiliated with any organization. The individuals behind the scenes are of no importance. The focus is on the warning that God is sounding to the world through His Word; that He will close the door to salvation on May 21, 2011 when He returns to take his elect children to heaven and begins the day of Judgment on earth for all of those left behind until October 21, 2011 when He will destroy the world and all that is therein.

The Conversion of the Chilean Miners

The following was sent to me by my sister regarding the Chilean miners. It is a round robin email circulating among Christians because the following facts ' ... will never be reported in the secular media'.

When the miners came up one-at-a-time in that capsule - most were

wearing special yellow T-shirts. These had been created by the Chilean
branch of Campus Crusade for Christ. Emblazoned boldly across the front
of the T-shirts were the words, in Spanish, "Thank you, Lord." The miners, in fact, had requested these words. The shirts were made and sent down to them while they waited for the rescue.
But that's not all. A quotation on the back of the shirts which began
"porque en su mano estan..." was actually Scripture. It was Psalm 95:4:
"In His hands are the depths of the earth, the heights of the mountains
are His also."
Campus Crusade had also provided the trapped miners - while still deep
underground - with MP3 players with the audio version of the "Jesus"
film.They also received the Bible in audio format.
Now here's the good news. Rev. Aldredo Cooper, the chaplain to the
President of Chile, said of the rescued miners, "They're all wanting to
testify to the Lord Jesus Christ. All 33 of them are saying that they
found God in the mine. Five or six were already Christians and held
services down in the mine. Many went down with no faith at all but they
all say this: 'We were not 33; we were 34 because Jesus Christ was with
us down there.'"
One miner, Mario Sepulveda, told reporters, "We never lost faith. We
knew we would be rescued. I have been with God and I've been with the
devil. I seized the hand of God. I always knew God would get us out of

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Our Persecuted Brothers and Sisters

While we in the UK have had the privilege and security of faith to celebrate the birth of Jesus and worship freely our Christian brothers and sisters were and continue to be persecuted around the world. The most recent attrocity was the bombing of the Coptic church in Egypt but other acts go unreported.
Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"

"I know not," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Here they are:
1. North Korea
Having faith in someone else apart from the leader, King Jong 2, is seen as highly subversive. Christian meetings, Christian literature and Bibles are banned. Christians are being sent to death camps as political prisoners and are tortured.
2. Eritrea
Eritrean security forces in the South have started a new, vigorous campaign of persecution against Christians. However, the number of committed Christians continues to grow in spite of this.
3. China
Christians meet in house churches and the numbers of these are growing but the Government views religion as a threat to its authority. Pastors and Christian leaders have been imprisoned.
4. Uzbekistan
Churches are often shut down and church leaders can be jailed for conducting services.
Shake Muqbal, a Christian convert from Islam, was attacked by a mob of more than 300 people. This is but one example of the pressure Christians are under to renounce their faith.
6. Vietnam
Christians found worshiping are arrested. A Christian was tortured to death because he refused to give up his Christmas celebrations. Christians are forced to join the state recognised Evangelical Church of Vietnam.
7. Pakistan
A petition will be handed in to the Pakistan High Commissioner in London on January 13 calling on the country to protect the religious freedom of Christians living there. Please pray for a successful outcome.
8. Nigeria
500 Christians were killed in April 2010 by extremist mobs who attacked them in their village.
9. Sudan
The Southern region is experiencing a serious threat to Christians and churches.
Christians comprise less than 1% of the population and suffer harassment and discrimination from the Government and public services.