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

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Sadness of Sundays

The death of the very talented Gary Speed has triggered this blog post. His passing was particularly melancholic because it happened on a Sunday. I must say that I do not know whethere there was a causal effect in the day of the week and Gary Speed killing himself but I can imagine that for many Sunday must be a hard day to get through.

Joyce Grenfell wrote the following line in a poem, 'Nor when I am gone, speak in a Sunday voice'.
This, for me, sums up the sadness of a Sunday which is devoid of the structure of a working week with workmates or routines to follow or the relaxed bustle of a Saturday. After six days of rubbing along with others a cloak of loneliness and silence can fall on many on a Sunday.

Have you noticed the amount of people sitting alone in chain coffee shops on a Sunday or the ones who linger after church because they do not want to go home? There is a lot of expectation of Sundays - families have to be happy, it's a day of catch up with friends and family and slogans such as 'Sunday is a Funday' don't help either.

Prayers for Gary Speed and his family.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Another Day, Another Show of 'Out of Touch' Clergy

This time it is the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, rector of St.Michael, Cornhill, and St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, City of London. He is also Chaplain to six livery companies in the City of London. Dr Mullen has written a piece for the Telegraph in which he praises the banks. You can read the article in full, link provided below.

Many of the comments left disparage Dr Mullen for his sentiment which, sadly, does not reflect the reality of ordinary folk who deal with banks. Also, banks aren't there to right the wrongs of society. That is the role of Government. Dr Mullen seems to imply that the public ought to be grateful for charitable giving and overlook other actions that may also emanate from donors.

Just because banks give to charity does not mean that they cannot do wrong. Charitable giving is a great conscience saver.

I am sure Dr Mullen is far more educated than I could ever be but I am going to be bold and accuse him of muddled thought and confusing the good relations that he undoubtedly shares with the livery companies against his duty to the greater good who are, often, the unwashed. I flinched at his words 'ignorant and self-righteous narcissists'. Anybody who still thinks that the debate about inequality belongs to those who believe in conspiracy theories and aliens landing in people's gardens is, frankly, out of touch and...ignorant.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

We All Have A Stake In the Stephen Lawrence Trial

Previously I blogged about the Meredith Kercher trial and how it was unseemly the way the media were covering it. It was a murder trial that became a public spectacle. Now we have the Stephen Lawrence trial which has just started which many, many people will be following but there is a difference between the two.
We all have a stake in the process of the trial and in the outcome of the verdict on the death of Stephen Lawrence.
When Stephen Lawrence was first killed it exposed the institutional racism in the country and in the layers of governance. Racism affects everyone. Racism does not ring-fence colours from safety. White people as much as black people are victims of racism. Racism is a crime and Stephen Lawrence was a victim.
Racism is part of society's eco-system of prejudice and hatred. What affects one part of society affects the whole and this is why we all have a stake in the process of justice taking place.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Greed Is Not Good Says Sentamu

Remember that awful line from Wall Street when Gordon Gekko said, 'Greed is Good'? Actually, the line may as well have said, 'Greed is God', because the massive accumulation of wealth became the benchmark for so called progressive societies. There was a time in the early 2000s when owning a flat screen TV was the social mobility signifier for many households. Does it not seem all lame now?
John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, wants greed to be made as socially unacceptable as racism and anti-gay feelings. Dr Sentamu says that a cultural shift is needed in a country where 'wealth has for so long been seen as a mark of status'. The impressive part of what Dr Sentamu says is his advice on how the system of reward needs to be altered. The Archbishop has certainly thought this one through. He says that those who have rewarded themselves the most handsomely should not be given a Queen's Honour.
Therein lies the recognition that greed is ingrained in our culture and the incentives for greed are plenty. Greed is to be distinguished from proportionate reward. For all the jokes and cynicism hurled at the 'Occupy' movement for being unwashed, time wasters etc I think the movement has done far more to raise the profile of inequality than any individual or organisation. I have become a fan of Occupy St.Paul's myself.
I am not an anti-capitalist. I have not lived in any country where capitalism has not been practised as a politico economic system so I don't know any different but that matters not a jot. The self-serving capitalism we have seen is wreaking havoc. Some will say that capitalism is self-serving. I am sure there's some truth in it but markets do not have a free will of their own. Manipulation is part of the free market and the inequality gap is now punishing the bottom half of the human graph.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

An example of Wickedness in the Name of Xmas

 The comment below was posted on a newspaper website today in response to an article on Occupy St.Paul's. The snobbery, prejudice and elitism expressed is, frankly, nauseating.

The party is over, Your point is kind-of made.
But you do not have anything to replace the system you protest about.
You can't even TWEET without it.
Just go away.
Leave Christmas to the faithful - and give thanks to their tolerance.
Think about that - hard.
In some other religious domains you would have been tortured, and then hanged or be-headed by now.

I just hope this person is not a Christian though the reference to 'faithful' suggests that he/she is. I would hate to be sharing my Christian space with this moron.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

'Mafia' and 'Gaystapo'

There is something quite disturbing when references to historical events or organisations are made to compare modern day controversial incidents with. To put things in context, the word 'Gaystapo' was used in an article published by the Church of England newspaper. The writer, Alan Craig, compared gay rights campaigners to Nazis. The comparison with the 'Mafia' mob was made today by Tom Watson MP during a select committee hearing which was questioning James Murdoch on the phone hacking scandal.

If nothing else, the use of labels of yesteryear on today's tin cans of public thought and political debate is just plain lazy, at the very least, and factually wrong, at the most. The use of certain words does frame and influence contemporary thought. People in the public sphere need to think responsibly before casting labels into the mass of society.  There is free speech and then there's irresponsible speech.

It is easy to guess the gist of what the labels of 'Gaystapo' and 'Mafia' were meant to refer to: organised stealth like growing influences. Well, why not say this then instead of pointedly citing history by naming organisations associated with killings and torture? Far more importantly, why is a Christian mainstream newspaper lending support to such inflamatory language?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

'How do you know what Jesus would have done?'

On BBC Question Time last week Peter Hitchens posed the question to the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, 'How do you know what Jesus would have done?' This was said in the context of the St.Paul's resignations where opinion was divided and those who thought the church's actions were wrong based it on the premise that it went against how Jesus would have acted.

Frankly, the circumstances surrounding the question are irrelevant because the question itself raises an important fundamental issue of faith teaching. As Christians, surely, we ought to know how Jesus would have acted or, at the very least, had an informed opinion on the matter given that we have this book called 'The Bible' which documents what Jesus said and did. (Yes, I do know that some things in the bible are open to interpretation and especially of St.Paul's view.)

The question is not about the Science of predicting an outcome based on variables but on a set of teachings which provide a clear framework for Christian lifestyle decisions. Our Christian faith and daily pray is not unconnected to what went on before but is linked to achieving an outcome that accords with what Jesus desired. Even in this ever changing world of madness characterised by shaky economics, unpredictable political outcomes and feared natural disasters I still think that the actions of Jesus can safely be a predictable bedrock.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Illegal immigrants are human beings

At the weekend I was outside a nightclub in a Midland town on a hen party. A Chinese woman was selling novelty items to the clubgoers. A man went up to her and shouted in her face. He said: 'Get an f... visa and get a job'. I shouted at him to leave her alone. He laughed in embarrassment at having been challenged and walked off.

What gives people the moral right to challenge those who are vulnerable or who seem lesser than them? Nothing. The whole Daily Mail ethos is based on judging people because of their race and perceived circumstances. That Chinese woman was seen as a leech on society and, therefore, fair game for verbal abuse. To me the obnoxious man was the leech on society because he looked like he was drunk already, was going into a nightclub where he would, presumably, get more drunk and be a burden on the resources of the police or the NHS (A&E)where loads of drunk youngsters end up on a Friday and Saturday night.

This is why I applaud our church for looking after immigrants and for treating them as human beings.

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Black Swan of the Week -St. Paul's

A book called 'The Black Swan' written by a former Wall Street trader, Nassim Taleb, is doing the rounds among the politically minded because of its' hypothesis that history consists of random high-impact events rather than day to day detail. Taleb refers to 9/11 and Harry Potter and cites these as Black Swan events, a rarity which people will remember. White Swans are a depiction of normal everyday events that do not stick in one's minds.
There is much more in the book in terms of further analysis but this is the core message.

Applying the Black Swan theory was what happened at St.Paul's a Black Swan event? After endless talk about the decline of Christianity and sparse pews, we saw public anger and fury at what they saw as the church's indifference to injustice. Startlingly, so much was made of Jesus throwing money changers out of the tent. Horror was expressed at St.Paul's decision to ask the demonstrators to leave because it was seen as being contrary to Christianity. There was, suddenly, hope for Christianity.

It is rather difficult to unpack the whole saga of the chaos of St. Paul's because it involved the initial welcome from Canon Fraser, then the Church's u-turn, resignations and then another u-turn. Public opinion shaped these events to a large extent but do remember that the resignations seemed to bolster people's faith. When St.Paul's finally relented about the eviction proceedings it was as if an equilibrium of rightness had been restored.

I honestly think that the Black Swan moment was people's belief in the role of the church and not the split in the church.