And exactly what do you do?

This really is the question of the day…And just exactly what is it that you do? Have meetings, listen to presentations? Talk to your advisors? Practice your dance moves for the Barwell shuffle?

Honey, whatever you are wasting your time at, it’s not working… Start with something simple, go and install smoke alarms in the other towers in spitting distance from Grenfell. There a virtual flood of documentaries tonight about the other 4,000 tower blocks with the same problems as Grenfell. And, 5 days later there is still almost no one “in charge”…

So, do the right thing, get some adults in who will do something…

In the Presence of Humbling Greatness

Last night Janet and got to hear one of the great men of our time, Canon Andrew White,  otherwise known as the Bishop of Bagdad… He grew up a Pentecostal, and converted to the Church of England where he rose through the ranks until he asked to go and serve in Bagdad where he’s been for 20 years. He talked about loving your enemies, a concept  just cannot get to grips with. Early on in Iraq he got to know Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein’s right hand man…

Last week he performed the funeral for Aziz in Jordan, most of his time is now spent there, as Iraq is just a bit dangerous now… But he is going back, ISIS or not, his “people” are there and he’s not abandoning them… You can go to his Facebook Pages and his books to learn more, but being in the presence of such humble greatness made for an amazing evening…

 

Gay Marriage Part Deux

So, the whole issue seems to be irrelevantly spinning out of control.  In my previous blog on the subject, I was surprised at the way it was being handled and publicised.  As I mentioned last time, I have more than a small bit of experience in this matter.  I’m married to my High School sweetheart from when we were growing up in the 70’s in America.  Unfortunately we didn’t marry then, but went our separate ways.  We all hung out with a big group of friends, and Janet married one of our group.  27 years into  it he announced he was gay, and that was that.  For all the obvious reasons, if you are a woman, there isn’t much you can do with that…

I’m Catholic/Protestant and Janet is Protestant, so most Sundays we get more “church” than most of the families on our street put together.  There is no question how the two branches of the “church” feel about homosexuality…   For most of my life, I have subscribed quite closely to the views of both churches.  But last summer I spent 2 weeks in Dallas, and had the chance to spend some significant time with my friends Mark & Aubin Petersen, who, like me, had realised the great tragedy of how the churches treat gays, lesbians, and trans-genders.  Their “sin” was to reach out and try to bring God’s love to the gay community.  Of course the community reaction in America is a bit more stout, as they are all armed, and being gay in America can get you shot, especially in the “progressive” state of Texas.

As a result of it all, I’ve managed to spend a lot of time with two of America’s top academics on the subject, and had a chance to digest quite a bit of the literature.  The real problem for us as we consider gay marriage, is that we have somehow made it a referendum on homosexuality, and that just doesn’t work in a modern democracy.  I’ve read most of what has been said on both sides, and am quite shocked and appalled at the way those who call themselves Christians conduct themselves:

1-If those in the church think homosexuality is wrong, then why aren’t they reaching out to homosexuals?  And why don’t they fill the front row of each and every church?  Christianity is for the broken and damaged, if you think that homosexuals are broken and damaged, then put your “money where your mouth is” and reach  out to them…

2-Jesus set a pretty good standard on the concept of sexual sin when, with the prostitute, he called for the Scribes and Pharisees who were “without sin” to throw the first stone.  So we know that no sins were thrown…  During his 3 and a half years of ministry, Jesus covered most of the important issue of life and how to live it.  The total number of words that Jesus uttered about homosexuality?  Zero, that’s right zero…

3-The conservatives, including me, knew from the very beginning of this current government that one of the agreements that the conservatives made with the lib dems was to push through gay marriage.  Any other claim is disingenuous in the extreme.  Maybe is was a “deal with the Devil”, but we all made it, and it is time to pay the piper…

4-Homosexuality has been accepted by the world we live in and the government we elected.  They have the right to form civil partnerships, which in reality is just short of marriage.  There is no point trying to make this thing about the legitimising of homosexuality, we all already did that quite a long time ago.

5-We finally have had one of our politicians put forward the real truth of how several Tories feel.  Lavinia Seely did an interview with Paul Deach on the Surrey Heath Residents Network  two days ago that is too appalling for words.  She told Paul how she wanted equal treatment for gays whilst simultaneously maligning them in the extreme.  Ms. Seely skated pretty close to the edge on endorsing hate of all gays, you’ll have to decide for yourselves, but I certainly was not feeling the love.  The whole thing was reprinted in this morning’s Daily Mail, see for yourselves…

Ms Seely has dishonoured and disrespected all that Conservatives stand for, and the worst part is that she is the Conservative Leader of Surrey County Council.  Her comments are so outrageous, that she must step down as a County Councillor, there is no alternative…  Her threat to get Michael Gove de-selected is too crazy for consideration.  We need clear thinkers, not raving hating lunatics at the head of Surrey County Council.  Lavinia, do us a favour and just go away…  Christians, it is time to feel the love, not the hate…

Nones On The Rise… Is This Us Next???

Amazing article from USA Today yesterday: As Protestants decline, those with no religion gain by  on Oct. 09, 2012, under USA TODAY News

For decades, if not centuries, America’s top religious brand has been “Protestant.” No more.

In the 1960s, two in three Americans called themselves Protestant. Now the Protestant group — both evangelical and mainline — has slid below the statistical waters, down to 48%, from 53% in 2007

Where did they go? Nowhere, actually. They didn’t switch to a new religious brand, they just let go of any faith affiliation or label.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released an analytic study today titled, Nones on the Rise, now that one in five Americans (19.6%) claim no religious identity.

This group, called “Nones,” is now the nation’s second-largest category only to Catholics, and outnumbers the top Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists. The shift is a significant cultural, religious and even political change.

Count former Southern Baptist Chris Dees, 26, in this culture shift. He grew up Baptist in the most religious state in the USA: Mississippi.

By the time he went off to college for mechanical engineering, “I just couldn’t make sense of it any more,” Dees says. Now, he’s a leader of the Secular Student Alliance chapter at Mississippi State and calls himself an atheist.

Today, fueled by young adults like Dees, the Nones have leapt from 15.3% of U.S. adults in 2007, according to Pew studies.

One in three (32%) are under age 30 and unlikely to age into claiming a religion, says Pew Forum senior researcher Greg Smith. The new study points out that today’s Millennials are more unaffiliated than any young generation ever has been when they were younger.

“The rise of the Nones is a milestone in a long-term trend,” Smith says. “People’s religious beliefs, and the religious groups they associate with, play an important role in shaping their worldviews, their outlook in life and certainly in politics and elections.”

The study comes amid an election campaign where the Republican Party, placed Protestants on their presidential ticket for a century, has nominated a Mormon with a Catholic running mate.

Currently, the U.S. Supreme Court includes six Catholics and three Jews: Whoever wins in November may deal with naming a justice in the next four years.

Rev. Eileen Lindner, a Presbyterian pastor and editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, observes, “We are still twice as likely to be affiliated with a religion than Europeans, but there is strong evidence that our religious institutions, as we configured them in past centuries, are playing a less significant role in American life.”

Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptists Theological Seminary in Louisville, saw a welcome clarity in the report, even if he didn’t like the new picture in focus.

“Today, there’s no shame in saying you’re an unbeliever, no cultural pressure to claim a religious affiliation, no matter how remote or loose,” Mohler says. “This is a wake-up call. We have an incredible challenge ahead for committed Christians.”

Wanda Melchert, whose great-grandparents helped found Vang Lutheran Church in rural North Dakota a century ago, sees her church about to shut its doors and become part of a local heritage museum. The congregation worships elsewhere now.

“Out here in the middle North Dakota, religion is still very important and families still teach their children. There’s a strong faith base still here,” she says. But when Melchert looks at the changing national picture of religion, she says, “we’re praying about this. We feel there’s a great need for people to turn back to God. When we lose that, it’s dangerous for our country.”

However, Rev. Martin Marty, a historian of religion and professor emeritus of the University of Chicago, says he wrote a book half a century ago on varieties of unbelief and has long thought that religious cohesion “has long been overstated.”

Says Marty: “The difference is now we have names for groups like Nones.”