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

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Who will care for the neglected and unwanted children?

Life's strifes sometime presents itself in freeze frame like fashion. One cannot possibly experience all of the pain that exists in the world but, occasionally, one is presented with a real life picture that gives an insight into these troubles that exist but which may not be your own. This happened to me.

Years go I went to a pantomime. A number of rows were filled with foster carers from Lewisham (in London)and the children they were looking after. There was a little black girl among them who was celebrating her first birthday. This was announced during the interval and her white carer held her up and the audience sang to her. The little girl, a baby still, had a pretty dress on and was smiling. I wondered what her future would be like and how, innocently, she had no idea of the system she had entered. I still think of her.

Today, Martin Narey who is the government's advisor on adoption speaks of the massive bureaucracy that is preventing children from being adopted. Mr Narey specifically mentions the barriers faced by people who are willing to adopt children of a different race from themselves but who are denied this. A child's interests must be paramount and what does it matter if the adoptive parents are a different colour? Some will argue that skin colour runs deep and throws up a cultural divide. To this I say that a child's interests must come first, even before cultural sensitivites.

The bible has some wonderful instances of adoption. Moses was adopted by the daughter of a Pharaoh. In Ephesians 1:5 there is a reference to people being adopted as God's sons through Jesus. Esther was adopted after her parents died and went on to become a queen who was used by God.

Please pray that Michael Narey's report will break down barriers to adoption and result in a system where initially unwanted or orphaned children go on to become wanted.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

'Jesus was a Marxist'

Marxism isn't a political ideology that I had thought much about. It seemed an outdated theory but one which had caused much suffering wherever it was practised in the past. Marxism is associated with is secret large state governments, biased justice, torture and killings of those who disagreed with the practice of a Marxist government, people being sent off to labour camps for long periods for minor offences and inflated food prices which resulted in hunger and suffering. Never for one moment would I associate Jesus with such events.

However, the unlikeliest of things happen in one's own backyard. My neighbour is a Marxist sympathiser and made that comment in my headline about Jesus. I have spent all day pondering on her statement. By remarkable coincidence, Robert who blogs at theradicalmethodist has written about how we bring our own experiences to bear on things we encounter or material we read. I call it the theory of 'Hermeneutics' which loosely means that we bring our own interpretation to what we read or the events we encounter. My neighbour's analysis, as it turns out, was based Matthew 21:12 to 13, when Jesus overturned the benches of those selling doves and the tables of money changers accusing them of turning a temple into a 'den of robbers'.

She read this as Jesus rejecting capitalism and, by process of elimination, advocating Marxism. This is as simple as saying that if someone in Britain hates fish and chips then they are being treasonorous. I dislike fish and chips but I love Britian.

My further research into Marxism has uncovered another practice of 'Christian Communism'. Apparently, the these group of people believe that the Apostles created a communist society after Jesus died to carry on preaching the Communism that Jesus did.

Karl Marx himself said: 'The first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion'. As Christians we are told to seek God's will and follow the faith. So how can Marxism then be associated with Christianity? It can't, is the simple answer. Another of Marx's famous quote on religions is: 'It is the opium of the people'. Also, Marx was against private ownership. I am no theologian but I have never heard a sermon about the sins of owning property. The bible, instead, talks about being industrious and hard working.

There is a real danger of the power of individualism making people feel well qualified enough to start importing their own theories and experiences to bear on sacred scripture. The power of individualism is to be applauded for enabling each of us to seek and reach our potential but I don't think it gives us the right to pontificate and become armchair experts. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Yipee! I am a Huffpost Blogger

I am still walking around in a daze. I received my invitation yesterday via email. I have been reading the site for two years now and am constantly in awe of the amount of news it carries, the varying viewpoints and the multitude of writers who manage to convey intelligent analysis.Soon I will be a part of this. I now have to provide my details and wait for the technical process to be completed (my log in details and access) before I start posting material.

My blogging life started a year ago in August 2010 when I was standing for election to General Synod. Nobody read my blog for 3 to 4 months and I lost the election. I gave up. After a month I checked my email and there was one from Mad Priest @ Rev Jonathan Hagger welcoming me to the Christian blogsphere. I was stunned and am always grateful to MP for this. That got me blogging again. Soon after this Father David Cloake sent me words of encouragement. My blogroll on the right of this page consists of people who feel like friends.

I feel a deep sense of gratitude to God and those who have supported me. Thank you.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Archbishop on rebuilding communities post riots

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave an insightful speech at the House of Lords debate on 11 August on the riots. He used words like 'troubled society', 'nothing to romanticise', '...rebuilding in some of our communities...' and '...what kind of society we are interested in for what kind of society...'

Our society is troubled and has been for years. The rioters are children of this broken society. Indeed, there is nothing to romanticise in what they did because it isn't as if they were fighting a revolution (Arab Spring) for a larger stake in our democratic system. On the contrary it looked as if the rioters didn't want any slice of society or community life except for the consumerism that they could take without paying for it.

So, the rebuilding starts. Damaged shops are being put together. Streets littered with broken glass have been swept clean. But what of the rebuilding of human capital? In a capitalism system it can often be forgotten that the producers of profit and goods and services are humans, not just greedy consumers. We look at building faster internet systems, higher speed trains and modern buildings but the people who inhabit and use these services are deemed faceless. Everything is done for an anonymous collective of society.

The Archbishop said: '...this is a moment we must seize; a moment when there is sufficient anger at the breakdown of civic solidarity...' Sometimes a window of opportunity opens up and disappears as quickly as it arose. We now have a clean sheet of paper in which to rewrite the terms of a modern society. Let's hope and pray that it is not hijacked by vested interests and that children are given a big share of the attention of those who do have the power to make changes.

I particularly am thinking of Birmingham where three young men were murdered. I was in Birmingham at the weekend and witnessed a city trying to heal itself. Beside the hoardings on shops that hadn't been removed people were going about their daily lives. The constant police presence was assuring. The spirit of reconciliation shown by the father of one of the dead men was the silver lining.

There is hope.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Did you defend your church during the riots?

Did you see the Sikhs featured on TV guarding their temple in Neasden against possible looters during the riots this week? The sight of large numbers of men standing in a protective manner with an attitude that quite obviously demonstrated their willingness to defend their house of worship against any invasion quite moved me to consider whether I would be willing to do the same for my church.

In all honesty, I think I would have if there had been a critical mass of Anglicans standing with me. I would not have been foolish enough to do it on my own. I bet many of you would have been willing to do the same too. Why didn't we then? This is an academic question for me because our area was spared the carnage but that is beside the point.

St Mark's in Battersea Rise was looted and the Rector, Rev Paul Perkin, and his son could only watch as looters took everything from the church. The looters piled goods in the garden and waited for cars to turn up into which they loaded what they had stolen. Apparently there were 1,000 looters. I don't think us Anglicans of small congregation churches would have stood a chance.

A situation laid bare. Not only have people lost interest in religion but they have no respect for it either. I may not have an interest in the Jedi Knights order but I would not dream of rampaging through their temple or whatever they call their house of worship. There is a difference. A lack of respect is the nadir of losing interest in religion. It doesn't get any worse.

This is not the Church's fault. Some people just aren't interested and worship materialism instead. I have blamed the church in the past for being too introspective and for focussing too much on gender bias and sexual orientation. I still think these attitudes keep the moderate believer away. However, the immorality of looters of churches isn't the fault of the CoE.  

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Telegraph questions the silence from CoE on riots

The Editor of the Telegraph Blog, Damian Thompson, has asked why the Archbishop of Canterbury has not spoken out about the riots. Mr Thompson does also pose the same question to the Archbishop of Westminster but a statement has since been released by Archbishop Vincent Nichol. 

The church cannot win. When the Archbishop does speak out, as he did in the New Statesman, about the state of the economy he was told that the church had no right to intervene. The press created a division between political thought and religious belief and accused the Archbishop of having crossed a line.

I have no doubt that the Archbishop is concerned about the riots and his silence does not mean otherwise. However, to be fair to him, I don't think the rioters are looking for moral leadership. The rioters are too busy claiming feral leadership to worry about whether the church is speaking out or not.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Protestants are better with £££ than Catholics

A letter has been published by the Financial Times from someone in Italy called Bernardino Branca who alleges that all the Eurozone related financial strife is occuring within those countries with a majority of Catholics i.e Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy.

The countries with a 'virtuous' spreadsheet, apparently, are the majority Protestant countries like Germany, Netherlands and Finland. Further, Mr Branca says that even non-Eurozone countries like Denmark and Sweden, which have Protestant majorities, possess healthy financial spreadsheets.

If the CoE had considered itself to be Protestant we now called Anglicans may have been able to escape the credit crisis! Don't go spending too much now.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The personal face of Twitter

I was on Twitter at the weekend and went through the motions of retweeting those tweets that carried any iota of interest to me. A tweet with the headline of 'Justice for Jane' caught my attention because Jane is my first name. I retweeted it without further thought. Seconds later a reply tweet came back thanking me and requesting that I read the story behind the headlines. I did. 

It was then that the personal face of tweets and the human world of Twitter hit me. I had been involved with a campaign over the death of a young woman without realising it. Jane Clough was murdered on 25 July 2010 by her ex partner. Jane was a nurse at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. She had parked her car in the car park and was about to start a shift at the hospital. Jonathan Vass, a man who had repeatedly raped (9 times)and assaulted her (4 times), stabbed her and slit her throat. Vass showed no mercy nor did he have any consideration of the fact that the baby they had had together would be left motherless. Vass was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.

However, Jane's family and friends do not think that justice has fully been served and have launched a campaign to right the wrongs done to her twice by the justice system.

Firstly, when the decision was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges against Vass (Jane was still alive then) for the rapes and assaults, advice was given to the judge by both the prosecution lawyers and the police that there was a real likelihood that Vass would cause harm to Jane to try and stop her from testifying against him. The judge disregarded their concerns and granted Vass bail. The police and Crown Prosecution Service were right. He killed Jane some months later. 

Secondly, when the murder trial came to court a second judge decided not to pursue the rape and assault charges because 'it wasn't in the public interest' to do so. The judge referred to the rape charges as being 'insignificant'. Thus, Vass was tried for murder but not the crimes that he had committed previously though it was these crimes that had led to her murder. Jane was using the law to protect herself by reporting the crimes but, somehow, it had cost her her life.

The blogger Guido Fawkes is calling for the introduction of the death penalty (specifically for those who kill children and policemen/women) but, without wanting to debate capital punishment here, it does make one wonder how effectively our justice system is being utilised in the first place to protect victims and deter criminals.  

Justice for Jane Please sign the petition on the site.