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

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Happy NY, Out With The Old, In With The Same?

It's THAT day of the year again when one wonders about what can be ditched to begin the new year with a spring in one's step. Out with the old tedious practices and mindsets that have proven to be life sapping leeches. In with a new life enhancing routine that will rocket one to great heights of self-fulfilment.   

Does it ever happen this way? I normally make a list of 10 resolutions but only ever manage to accomplish about half. My intentions disappear at mid-point through the list. This is probably because numbers 6 to 10 contain things that I should give up but don't want to. Willpower versus 'Oh, What the hell I will try next year'. Old habits die hard and I am mistrusting myself even before the clock strikes midnight. 

There is a glimmer of hope though for me. For the last two years I have been intending to read about the history of the bible. Never got around to it until today. I am either making a late start on my 2012 resolution or an early start for 2013. I got out my 'The Bible for Dummies' book and read the first chapter. I am either going to end 2013 as a dummy myself or as someone who finally knows something about biblical history. 

Happy New Year to the Christian blogsphere and here's wishing you all the best with your resolutions. May God bless you as you step into 2013.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Santa is recovering

Santa Claus drank 233 million units of alcohol on Christmas eve during his visits to 700 million children.  Whyte & Mackay, Scotch distillers, who had their staff out working with the elves and Santa number crunched these figures after a very busy night. However, only 30.5% of kids had bothered to leave a tipple out. In my day we not only left a glass of whisky out but had water for the reindeers and mince pies for everyone who  was on a nocturnal sleigh ride. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

'C' for Christmas, 'C' for Christ and 'C' for Compassion

Rampant consumerism at Christmas irritates me and so it was with great interest and more than a tinge of sadness that I read an article in The Independent by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown about the disconnect between the compassion of Christmas and the consumerism that surrounds it. Actually, I could have added another 'C' in the title for Capitalism because, according to Yasmin, 'Christianity is dying because it has sold its soul to capitalism'.

The trigger for the article was a dinner party that Yasmin attended at which she told a posh woman, referred to as 'Mrs Rich', about a conversation she had had with a homeless woman who was lonely and desperate for human company because people ignored her. 'Mrs Rich' was 'extremely snobby about the encounter and blamed the poor for choosing poverty. In her view, people chose poverty by not taking up jobs done by migrants.

What has happened to compassion? Has it been superseded by capitalism? While I don't think that Christianity has sold its soul capitalism I do take Yasmin's point that Christmas has been hijacked by an economic system that masks misfortune as 'choice'.  It is an uncompromising position that is untouched by the birth of Christ, the celebration of compassion and the spirit of giving during Christmas. Christmas, for many, is the high point of the spirit of capitalism instead which involves expensive present buying and an excess of food. Eating more than we need to has become a common Christmas joke as we compare how much weight we have put on.

Dare we hope for a change to take place in 2013? If it did what would be the trigger for a change in attitudes  towards those on welfare? Whatever the answer I do know that the church has a role to play in helping change mindsets as much as helping those who cannot afford to help themselves for whatever reason.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, 23 December 2012

'Hidden Hunger'

Just when you think that enough phrases and adjectives have been used to describe the suffering of those who cannot afford to fend for themselves in these dire economic circumstances then along comes another one to mark the next low on the graph of misery. This time it is the phrase 'hidden hunger' and it really does mark a very low notch on the graph.

'Hidden Hunger' describes those who are struggling financially but who are refusing to accept free food from places like Foodbanks because they think it carries a stigma. Taken to an extreme does this mean that we are going to see people dying from hunger or, at the very least, becoming malnourished? All this during the Christmas season when people indulge in an excess of food?

As household debt level soars and people's financial hardship hits a steep curve it seems as if this is being accompanied by a decline in an understanding of the economic realities for many. People who experience helplessness are being blamed and vilified for a situation that is seen as being their fault. The 'haves' no longer acquaint themselves with the great goodness that welfare was meant to provide and stigmatise those who don't have with tags like 'scroungers' and 'skivers'.

What the 'haves' don't realise is that such misfortune as losing one's job can strike anyone and there are no guarantees that you or I will not have to rely on a Foodbank someday.

Friday, 21 December 2012

There are 'good' guys and there are 'bad' guys but both have guns

At a press conference today Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), called on the US Congress to immediately pass legislation to place guards with guns in schools by the time classes resume from winter breaks in January. He said the proposal was aimed at stopping the next killer "waiting in the wings", claiming that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". 

Good cop, bad cop, good guy, bad guy is an age old demarcation of, quite obviously, bad from good. It is a theme that recurs in movies, plays, books, your neighbourhood, among your friends and enemies and even in the bible. Unlike in the movies though the good guys do not always win. There is also another consideration, in movies like Pulp Fiction and Clint Eastwood ones the line between good guy with a gun and bad guy with a gun was fuzzy and confused. Good and bad can be fused sometimes. 
But in the world of the NRA, if good guys were armed they would be able to shoot down the bad guys. All it takes is a good guy to have a gun so when the bad guy turns up he, well, had better watch out. The good will cancel out the bad. 
The twisted logic of the NRA and the perverse argument that it peddles to safeguard the vested interest that it has is the real 'bad guy'  here. The power of a gun emanates in equal measure from the purpose that it has, to kill or maim, as much as from the person pulling the trigger. I have never held a gun but it doesn't take an idiot to work out that the skill and dexterity of using one must lie in the swiftness of pulling the trigger and the accuracy of an aim. In other words what if the bad guy is a much better shooter than the good guy? The NRA's stupid logic presupposes that a higher form of wisdom will prevail in judgement during a shooting to ensure that good will triumph over evil.  
The only higher form of wisdom we need here is something steeped in morality and prayers to ensure that such demeaning and worthless justifications do not allow the current situations of mass killings to recur. 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

David Cameron's Christmas round robin

David Cameron's Christmas round robin

The 23rd Psalm for Computer Users

The Lord is my programmer, I shall not crash
He installed his software on the hard disk of my heart
All of his commands are user-friendly
His directory moves me to the right choices for his name's sake

Even though I scroll through the problems of life
I will fear no bugs, for you are my backup
Your password protects me
You prepare a menu before me in the presence of my enemies

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life
And my file will be merged with his and saved forever

William R Cox

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Three Ages of Man

The three ages of man: 

1. He believes in Santa Claus. 

2. He doesn't believe in Santa Claus. 

3. He is Santa Claus. 

Monday, 10 December 2012

A 'Wicked' Sense of Humour

I am referring to the prank played by the two Australian radio DJs who called the hospital where Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge) was staying and whose 'sense of humour' set in motion an unfortunate train of events that led to the death of the nurse who answered the call.

Did you laugh when you heard about the call on Tuesday as it was relayed on the news channels? I didn't. That's not because I don't have a sense of humour. It is because my immediate thought was for the nurses who had taken the call. The ordinary folk who strive very hard to do a good job but who don't possess fully the power to control their working environment. I was also worried that one of the nurses could have been foreign and may not have fully understood the British humour of corgis and 'Mummy'. No one could have foreseen death but my thoughts went along the path of jobs lost and depression. Sadly, the first nurse committed suicide (yet to be confirmed officially).

When a prank is played on an unsuspecting person there is no level playing field. The 'victim' is clueless and, therefore, powerless. If you add into this mix cultural differences then the story gets murky. Asian humour is quite literal. Nuances are often lost. Corgis barking in the background may be an obvious to many but it isn't to just as many people. Also, the radio DJs have said today that they put on 'awful' accents and didn't expect  their call to get through. Why do Australians have such an obsession with accents? Many of their adverts on British TV feature a particular pronouncement of their accent. Anyway, many Asians and possibly other foreigners may struggle to distinguish one 'fake' British accent from the 'true' one. This prank assumed that everyone in the chain was fully versed with the humour supposedly involved. They weren't, tragically.

Prayers please for Jacintha Saldanha and her family who are suffering.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Another blog post about THAT vote

The moment of the result of the General Synod vote on whether to allow the ordination of women as Bishops will always be remembered by those affected as one of those 'where were you?' memorables. People still talk about where they were when Princess Diana died or when 9/11 happened and, granted, the vote wasn't a life or death situation but it was a deadly depressing moment for those who cared about a 'yes' vote.

I was sitting in front of the computer reading a minute by minute account on a news website. I had to read the verdict twice because, like many others, I wasn't expecting it to be torpedoed. Neither, as it turned out, did hundreds of others. I know this thanks to social networking, Disbelief turned to anger and this was all played out on Twitter. If ever there was evidence needed of the irrelevancy of the Church of England then Twitter that evening provided plenty to the CONTRARY.

The negative vote was enough to bring out the non-pew fillers who still look to the Church as a moral compass.  The inability of the Church to embrace gender diversity was a source of some deep disappointment and sadness. In fact, for the first time the Church was trending under numerous headings 99.9% (in my opinion) were in support of women bishops. Among thousands of tweets I must have only seen about 3 tweets in a space of 2 hours that supported the vote.

People still do care about the church. The Conservative folk  have used the 'irrelevancy' argument to support their views by stating that modernising the church to cater to the progressive moderns will not lead to more churchgoers. Rubbish. Whether it will lead to more churchgoers or not is THE irrelevancy of the debate. The church does not exist like some profit making cinema or theatre which depends for its' existence on headcount. While headcount does matter, of course, as income does the true measure of the church's sustainability is about spreading the message of Christ. Sustainability needs Christian relevancy.

When people can identify with the church then sustainability will take root. A minority of Conservatives will not make for sustainability.