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

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Nuke or No Nuke

Before I became a Christian, eight years ago, my understanding of the Christian world was that it was confined to the word of the Bible which, in turn, didn't stray beyond committing good acts and performing kind deeds. The possibility even of those everyday issues which concern everyone being of any relevance to Christianity was beyond my understanding.

Of course, Christians would have faced the same issues as non-believers but I didn't think that theology strayed into those boundaries. In my mind I had constructed a metaphysical world which Christians inhabited, shrouded by a lack of understanding of what it meant to be fighting one's way in the physical realm.
The recent Japanese catastrophe has again reminded me of my utter ignorance. For two reasons, I have started to wonder about the implications of Nuclear power from a Christian standpoint. Firstly, because the word 'nuclear', for me, immediately conjures up images of death-black and white photos from Hiroshima of human beings lying dead on the exact spot they were standing before they were struck. Secondly, because it is Easter and a time of Jesus' death.
In the political landscape of combating climate change nuclear power had been gaining support because of its’ ability to be a clean provider by reducing greenhouse gases and improving the EU’s dependence on other forms of energy supply. Nuclear energy is used to produce one third of the electricity currently generated in the EU alone. However, as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster on 26 April it can safely be assumed that the bad experience of this will become part of the debate on the future of nuclear power.
As Christians can we support something that has a power and purpose of destruction when used during war? On the other hand, our duty of stewardship towards God's creation demands that we take every action to safeguard Planet Earth. Is Nuclear part of God's creation?
Genesis 2:15, 'The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it'. I am no theologian but I think the answer lies in examining the intent of the usage of nuclear power. If it's used to kill people and destroy parts of the earth then I cannot support it. However, if it is being used to preserve God's beauty then I will support it. When accidents happen, as with Japan, I will put it down to an 'Act of God' but the context for this won't be in the sense of this is what God intended.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Was there a Christian slant to the Budget?

The budget has been well received overall as being one that will drive growth, attract investment into the country and has dealt with the problem of the rising cost of living by providing concessions for first time home buyers and introducing a fuel cut. Was there anything in it, though, to give a Christian hope?
  1.  I was personally delighted that the Chancellor acknowledged that 'a society should not just be judged by the strength of its economy'. Charitable giving in the form of reforms to Gift Aid and changes to inheritance tax reform to encourage people to leave money to charitable causes were in the budget. This reform has received the backing of the Charities Aid Foundation.
  2. £100 million for Science research centres will allow research to be done into areas such as the environment (climate change is a social injustice and every Christian bears a responsibility to safeguard God's creation) and life sciences.  
  3. The increase in the personal allowance to £8,105 will give millions of people extra money in their wage packs every month. This also increases the incentive to work, making work more lucrative than welfare benefit payments.
None of this takes away from the fact that most of us are affected in one way or another financially and drives home the fact that we need to distinguish consumer greed from a genuine consumer need. Aidan Vaughan, Chair of the Association of Christian Financial Advisers, said, 'our nation has to learn the painful lesson of spending less than we earn and to work out the difference between needs and wants'.

Therein lies the Christian message for me. Rampant consumerism and excessive individualism has contributed to the nation's debt. People (not everyone) have come to rely on the safety net of credit and borrowing to cushion their wants. At what point do we need to draw a 'faith line' and take responsibility for our actions?
Luke 16:3
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (material wealth or possessions.)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Sunday, 20 March 2011

How do you develop yourself as a Christian?

'Personal development' is a buzz word in the work place that has been transported into the personal sphere of one's life. There are thousands of books on how to improve your memory, diet, reinvent yourself and whatever else you want to change, adopt or chuck out. However, when it comes to being a Christian the answer to developing yourself seems to lie in a strait jacket of reading the bible and going to church.
Surely, there must be more to this.
This narrow description does not take into account the layers of identity that we have, as an example, our civic engagement which allows us to effect micro level changes that contribute to our overall existence as a Christian, how our religion allows us to build our personal capacity to become responsible and valuable members of society; and, even, how we use our religious faith to embolden ourself in fighting back against any injustice we see or experience.
My personal analysis of my Christian development has made me realise that my brand of faith centres around gender neutral theology and how everyone is entitled to share in the gospel; and the responsibilites that go with being a Christian to right for equity and justice.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Christian snobbery

The Cleaning Woman

There was a little old cleaning woman that went to the local church. When the invitation was given at the end of the service, she went forward wanting to become a member. The pastor listened as she told him how she had accepted Jesus and wanted to be baptized and become a member of the church.

The pastor thought to himself, "oh my, she is so unkempt, even smells a little, and her fingernails are not clean. She picks up garbage, cleans toilets - what would the members think of her." He told her that she needed to go home and pray about it and then decide.

The following week, here she came again. She told the pastor that she had prayed about it and still wanted to be baptized. "I have passed this church for so long. It is so beautiful, and I truly want to become a member."

Again the pastor told her to go home and pray some more. A few weeks later while out eating at the restaurant, the pastor saw the little old lady. He did not want her to think that he was ignoring her so he approached her and said, "I have not seen you for a while. Is everything all right?"

"Oh, yes," she said. "I talked with Jesus, and he told me not to worry about becoming a member of your church."

"He did?" said the pastor.

"Oh, yes" she replied. "He said even He hasn't been able to get into your church yet, and He's been trying for years."

How do you get to Heaven?

A man dies and goes to heaven. St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates.

St. Peter says, "Here's how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in."
"Okay" the man says, "I attended church every Sunday"
"That's good, says St. Peter, " that's worth two points"
"Two points?" he says. "Well, I gave 10% of all my earnings to the church"
"Well, let's see," answers Peter, "that's worth another 2 points. Did you do anything else?"
"Two points? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans."
"Fantastic, that's certainly worth a point, " he says.
"hmmm...," the man says, "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart."
"That's wonderful," says St. Peter, "that's worth three points!"
"THREE POINTS!!" the man cries, "At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!"

"Come on in!"

Thursday, 10 March 2011

My Network of Christian Bloggers-add yourself too

Christian bloggers are a friendly bunch of people willing to take risks and explore new pastures. I posted a blog a few days ago with the intention of creating a mini network of bloggers and asked visitors to leave details of themselves. Well, it worked and I am delighted and grateful to the bloggers who took the time to tell me about themselves. They are as follows:

Nancy Wallace, a CoE priest in the UK. Her interests are christian theology, social justice, ethics, music, watercolour adn history. Nancy has written a really good blog post on the Samaritan woman.

Ellie Finlay is a solitary nun who lives in Oklahoma. She runs a small non-profit organisation called St John's Centre for Spiritual Formation. Ellie has a myriad of interest and two other blogs. She has posted an essay on 'All Will Be well' - Polyanna Platitude or Responsible Mystic Theodicy? on the blog I have listed.

Rick is an episcopal priest in Nevada, USA, with a huge interest in his lawn. Rick's blog has a funny post on
'The 7 Best and Worst Things about Being an Episcopal Priest'.

Robert is a teacher in Birmingham, UK. I have huge respect for teachers because they are creating our adults of tomorrow. Robert has a thought provoking post on how salvation is reached. He has another blog on beekeeping at

Paul is a retired Episcopal priest living in New Mexico, USA, and describes himself as 'one of God's odd children'. His blog is an interesting mix of politics and religion. I am always interested in the interplay between the two.

6. JCF doesn't have a blog but do look out for his incisive and humorous comments elsewhere. He describes himself as 'GenderQueer, Episcopal lifer (laity)'.

This is one of the most entertaining blogs around hosted by two men, one being Andy who left a comment. He is, in his words, a Christian, husband, volunteer Church youthworker, webdesigner / social media geek  and taker of photos.

Margaret is a busy woman who seems to be an expert at multi-tasking. A true woman! She has numerous blogs, lives in Yorkshire and is reading Delia Smith's 'A Feast For Lent'.

Florence is an eclectic mix. She is 'Bespectacled and more than slightly misanthropic, laBiscuitnapper is a curious mix of contradictions and personality disfunctions. She is a Physics with Theoretical Physics student at Manchester University, a sceptic, cynic and closet romantic. If you don't know what to make of it, just imagine what it's like for her.' Florence has written a blog post on loneliness and I am full of admiration for her honesty and franknesss.

A mummy blogger living in America who holds competitions on her blog. Pop over if you fancy some goodies.

This wouldn't be complete without a mention of Mad Priest who manages to hold us all together with his wit, wisdom, dirty jokes and rantings against injustice.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Hello Christian Blogger. Who are you?

I adore the fact that I am a part of a very strong fraternity of an online community which I refer to as 'Christian Bloggers'. We visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Dialogue and debate is created. In the process we take away a perspective of the blog owner based on their opinions, rants and ideologies but how much of each other do we really know? 

I attended a networking course last week on how to create a network of contacts based on face to face meetings at parties, conferences or business events. The essence of networking is about creating a group whom you can rely or call upon whenever a need arises. To do this, however, you need to dig a little deeper and get to know the other person. Online networking is harder, granted, because we rely on the blog owner's decision to impart what they wish to share with us. Our opportunity for an exchange of views and opinions and to introduce a topic of conversation that we favour is limited. Often we don't know what the blog owner even looks like.

This blog post is an attempt to get Christian Bloggers to introduce themselves and to get to know each other better-online networking Christian style. Yes, I know Facebook and Twitter got there first but I am tying this experiment in with Lent. Please leave a comment below on who you are (do expand on this) and what you are giving up for Lent or not. I am not giving anything up for Lent and, instead, I resolve to read a book dedicated to Lent which I bought 3 years ago and have never got around to reading. Post a picture of yourself if possible too.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The juxtaposition of charity and christianity

Every Monday volunteers with the Missionaries of Charity turn up and do a soup run near Westminster Cathedral in the centre of London. On any one night there are up to 150 homeless people in the vicinity. That's a staggering amount of people who need feeding. The homeless are extremely grateful to the Charity for this food handout. However, this soup run is in danger of being scrapped because some councillors don't like the way it attracts large numbers of homeless people to the area. Apparently, homeless people have turned parts of Westminster Borough into anti-social areas.
I am reminded of the time I was on holiday in India and the tour guide told us not to give any money to the begging and starving children because 'it will attract more of them'. Others who have been to places like Egypt tell me that tour guides there warn of the same. When did poverty become a pest control program in the way we don't leave food scraps lying around on the kitchen floor in case it attracts rats? These people who turn up with their hands outstretched are human beings. They may be smelly, dirty and disease afflicted from sleeping rough but they still command the basic rights of humanity.
The proposal to ban the Charity is also backed on the grounds that food handouts only serve to keep people on the streets longer. Apparently it stops people facing up to the reality of the harmful lifestyle they have adopted. The flipside of the former comment could be taken to read that starving the homeless will see them off the streets for good; and the latter implies that every homeless people has chosen to be a wanderer, as if it were an indulgence to be homeless.
I have spoken to a number of homeless people and they are there NOT through choice. A handful, perhaps, have bought into an ideology of living without ties to a structure or a place but I don't think the majority would choose to spend cold winter nights on a pavement.
The fact that the soup run in danger of being scrapped takes place by a cathedral makes it all the more sad. The concept of juxtaposition makes us stop to look at our surroundings. The juxtaposition of charity and religion is not just a textual concept; it lives and breathes and reaches out to people who cannot fend for themselves. I sincerely pray that this soup run will not be banned.