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

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Do you have any evidence of your Christian faith?

In a Times newspaper article dated April 22 (Good Friday) a letter from the Archbishop, Rowan Williams, was featured in response to a letter from a little girl who wanted to know how God was invented. What is interesting is that the parents of this girl are atheists but wanted her to have a frank response to this question. The father sent the letter to Lambeth Palace. This is what the Archbishop said in his letter to the girl (aged 6):

"...I think God might reply a bit like this...Nobody invented me but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn't expected. Then they invented ideas about me-some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible...'

The Archbishop's letter resonates with me tremendously. My brand of Christianity is very much based on my faith which is an intangible emotion. My faith works through prayer and seeing the spirit of God move through my life rather like kinetic energy which then transforms my faith into action. Being a Christian involves quiet assent somewhat which is why I find it quite sad that this is not enough in contemporary times where everything has to be evidence based.

I watch the debates on TV where Christian intellectuals and professor heavyweights have to produce evidence and debate the finer points of the gospel to convince the audience that our religion is real. You cannot proclaim your Christian faith anymore without knowing when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found (1947-1956) or whether St. Paul was accurate in his accounts.'Blinking heck' I say. Take a leap of faith. Go on, it works.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Rape and the Bible

The subject of rape is a highly emotive one for obvious reasons and currently dominates our global news because of the arrest of the former head of the IMF. Many people have said to me that they cannot believe in the Bible because of the amount of violence contained therein, rape included, that seems to have been approved by God. While I dispute the latter I still remain disturbed by the easy references to rape in the Old Testament.

Here are some passages:

''They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead four hundred young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan." Judges 21:10
The inference here is that these poor women were taken back to the camp and raped.

"Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves." Numbers 31:18

How do you explain to non-believers that some of the laws of the Old Testament are not followed anymore and the God we know of today does not condone rape or any form of violence against women? The social laws of the New Testament carry a spirit of compassion and empathy. When I put forward this argument I am accused of 'cherry picking' from the bible. Surely, the answer lies in the fact that Jesus was sent down to establish new social laws which render these acts wrong.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


In a House of Lords debate on extreme povery in the developing countries The Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham, said that more foreign aid should be channelled through faith based organisation. He cited the reason for this as being because non-state providers are 'often the most closely involved in the wellbeing of the poorest people and are to be found where government cannot reach'. The Bishop also called for more recognition of the role and contribution of faith communities in development and formore partnerships to be developed with aid agencies.

It is refreshing to hear a faith based slant on the debate on foreign aid. Following the death of Osama Bin Laden the debate has centred around the role of foreign aid in a political context. The true meaning of 'foreign aid' seems to have been lost in translation. The original wisdom of foreign aid was to reduce poverty and lower global levels of inequality. Along the way foreign aid became tied to economic conditions of the recipient country and it was abundantly clear that countries with bad economic conditions tended to suffer from civil unrest. This threw into question the role of foreign aid especially if the recipient country concerned was at odds with the donor country.

Perhaps an enhanced role for faith organisations will enable them (eg Christian Aid) to act as a neutraliser to the politics vs foreign aid debate.  While millions around the world go hungry and die politicians and voters alike have become cynical and mistrustful of foreign aid but continue to use it as a political tool. Even this strategy hasn't really worked if we look at Pakistan. If we strip away the political skin of foreign aid then we will be left with the notion of sharing-giving aid will help the poor survive and live. Let that be the first objective. The second objective should be  about helping these poverty stricken people rebuild their lives with economic assistance. Faith based organisations have a crucial role to play in the quest to cure global poverty.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Victims of Al Qaeda attack in London 2005

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has made the front page today of The Times newspaper for calling into question the shooting of Osama Bin Laden who was, allegedly, unarmed at the time. Al Qaeda's reign of terror and the resulting death of victims is at risk of being overshadowed by the debate over the Archbishop's words.

This post is my attempt to remind people of the suffering of our British 7/7 victims. Coincidentally today is the day that it has been ruled that the killings were unlawful. Here is a link to the names, photos and obituaries of the 52 who died on 7 July 2005 in London.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Go on, say 'YES'

No, this isn't a post about marriages. That was last week's news. For the benefit of those who live abroad and have been spared the countless times that we, in the UK, have had to listen to 'NO' and 'YES' tomorrow (5 May) the country will vote on whether to change the current voting system which is based on First Past The Post (FPTP). Tomorrow's referendum is about changing FPTP to the Alternative Voting (AV) system. The question being asked is this: At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?

Are you still with me? If you are you deserve a pat on the back and one of my curries. If you don't need an explanation of FPTP or AV please skip down to the last 4 paragraphs.

Anyway, FPTP refers to how a Parliament seat is won by a candidate. UK voters put an X beside the name of the person they support. The person with the most amount of votes cast in his/her favour wins the seat. There is no threshold or minimum level which must be acquired before a candidate is declared a winner. The majority rule applies here as in who has the most amount of votes cast in their names wins. Currently, candidates with as low as 30% of votes have been declared the winner because the other 70% of votes cast have been split between other candidates.

AV, on the other hand, works on the principle of distribution. On the ballot paper voters are asked to list in numerical order their order of preference of candidates. If there are 6 candidates called, for simplistic reasons, A, B, C, D ,E and F, voters must write down, for instance, 1 against A, 2 Against B and so on till number 6 is reached.

The number 1 votes for each candidates are put into a pile and counted. Anyone with over half of the number 1 votes cast wins. However, if no candidate has polled half or over half of the votes (3 or more in my example) then the candidate with the fewest number 1 votes is eliminated from the contest. As an example, if this candidate happens to be F then F's ballot papers are looked at again for the other choices made. If there's a number 2 vote for E then the vote is added to E's pile. This process goes on till a candidate receives more than half the votes.

I will be voting 'YES' but in no way do I think that Christians who vote 'NO' are going against the faith. It is only my view that the principles of Christianity accord well with the theory of distribution inherent in the AV process. Communion is distributed to the congregation just as Jesus did with his disciples. Our faith and belief is meant to be shared, which is another word for 'distribute', with others. Our very existence is meant to be distributive through the giving of ourselves or through our acts. In fact, the Archbishop has said that, 'We shall live lives of selfless generosity, always asking how the gifts given us-material or imaginative or spiritual or whatever-can be shared in a way that brings other people more fully alive'.

The process of reallocating votes in AV is a distributive process of democracy. Everyone's vote will count even if it's a number 2 or 3. If a candidate wins outright on a number 1 vote then he/she still wins with the approval of the majority of voters. Christianity doesn't sit well with monopolies. We don't hog Jesus or the scriptures for our own. The FPTP is a monopoly system which is not based on the majority of the votes cast. AV is inclusive democracy. has prepared a briefing pack. It states that no voting system can claim a scriptural mandate. Ten bishops have backed the 'YES' vote calling it a 'fairer voting system'. The policital think tank, Theos, states that 'the fact that AV will increase the likelihood of hung Parliaments is a positive consequence, as a hung Parliament is a clearer expression of the public's mood today, shifting as it has from two broadly defined and oppositional alternatives to a more complex and plural party system'.

Plurality and diversity are key themes of our modern society. An anachronistic voting system will not allow us to elect politicians that reflect these themes. Although the main political parties do have differences on how to tackle economic issues they have shared beliefs on championing equality, eradicating poverty and introducing progressive measures for society. A more inclusive electoral system will allow for an infusion of political views that could very well change the face of British politics for the better. If change hadn't been made in 1928 women wouldn't have been granted the same voting rights as men. In 1948 the business vote was abolished thereby rendering all voters to be of equal standing. We now have a chance in 2011 to change things.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden-instigator of Christian deaths

Osama Bin Laden is dead and, consequently, I hope that many Christians in Muslim countries who lived in fear of the murderous anti-Christian sentiment of Al Qaeda will be able to look forward to religious liberty. It was reported that the Al-Qaeda affiliated organisation called 'Islamic State of Iraq' had perpetrated the attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt, Iraq and other Muslim states. As a Christian I don't take any joy in another human being's death but I do hope that the ideology of anti-tolerant Muslim extremism and hatred will now be dismantled.