Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Having just a few hours previously posted Has William Tyndale had the recognition he deserves?, I am indebted to colleague David Gilchrist for his link to a Guardian report entitled…

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins the arch-atheist backs Michael Gove’s free Bible plan

Author of The God Delusion says providing free Bibles to state schools is justified by its impact on the English language

I was intrigued but, reading on, I discovered what he was backing –  Michael Gove‘s plan to send free King James Bibles to every state school.

As Dawkins reveals in today’s Observer, support for the Bible plan is justified on the grounds of literary merit and he lists a range of biblical phrases which any cultivated English speaker will instantly recognise. These include “salt of the Earth”, “through a glass darkly”, and “no peace for the wicked”. Dawkins states: “A native speaker of English who has not read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian.

Much as I would love everyone in the UK and Ireland to read the Bible regularly and have their lives changed by so doing, I can’t help being both cynical and disappointed.

Cynical, along with others, that…

The education secretary’s plan to send a King James Bible to every school is a tactic to keep us worrying about small change while billions are wasted elsewhere

… or something like that – see here

Disappointed, that we are back to the ‘missing the point of what the Bible is all about’ – as seen and heard so much during the 2011 4ooth anniversary of the King James Bible and in Dawkins’ utterings.  The Bible is not just a work of literary merit. It is God’s message in which he reveals himself to his created world and created peoples – and as a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators, I believe passionately that God wants that message to be understood by everyone in the language they understand best. I humbly suggest that very few if anyone’s heart language today is early 17th century English; and certainly not the language of 21st century school children in English state schools!

And disappointed again that the martyred William Tyndale continues to be ignored as the KJB is worshipped on the altar of secular literary merit.

Which brings me to why I am agreeing with the National Secular Society who say in the Guardian article that it is a waste of £375,000.

If that money is available, Mr Gove, please send it on to Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and we will put it to much more productive use on behalf of the 2,000 plus languages with no Bible whatsoever.

And to Mr Dawkins, my hope is that he will read the Bible in whatever version, so that he no longer sees everything “through a glass darkly” but comes to know the God who created him and everything else in the universe.

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Mali National Assembly

More than once, listening to Bamakois vent their frustrations at their unresponsive government and politicians, I’ve been reminded of my own country, where we have the best Congress money can buy and where corporations have the freedom to bankroll candidates who advance their interests over and above the common good. Whether in Washington or in Bamako, we need to confront the power imbalances that keep democracy from functioning.

This quotation is from the blog Bridges from Bamako, which is written by Bruce Whitehouse, an American anthropologist who has lived in Bamako for some time and writes with insight on the current political situation in Mali.

It is interesting how he compares the interaction of politics and vested interests in Bamako and in Washington – and in the light of current long running UK news stories – perhaps London can be added to the list.

Three very different cultures. Great similarities when humans too often work on the premise of  ‘Every man for himself, every man for himself.’

PS I continue to pray for peace and stability for all Malians and for the work of Bible translation in Mali to continue.

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Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.  As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.  They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.  Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”   But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”   So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.  That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.   Genesis 11:1-9

RBS to cut 3,500 jobs in investment bank shake-up

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has said it will cut a further 3,500 jobs, with most of them to happen this year.  The cuts are part of a reorganisation and shrinkage of its investment bank.  The losses, which will be split between its UK and international offices, come on top of 2,000 cuts announced earlier.  BBC news 12 January 2012

Today we see individuals and groups striving to outdo one another in the height and grandeur of their buildings. People and nations invest time, wealth, and political and technological expertise endeavouring to ensure security and a name. Associated is a fear of loss of identity through being ‘scattered’.

God’s evaluation is that such attitudes and actions are disastrous for the future of his world. The inhabitants’ focus is ‘us’ and ‘what we can do’, ‘our security, reputation and identity’. How different will be God’s subsequent action, as the genealogy (vs 10–32) leads on to Abraham’s family and a fresh beginning. God calls Abraham to leave familiar surroundings and his security, to go to some unknown place where ‘I will make your name great’. That is the path to security and a name, and blessing for ‘all peoples on earth’ (12:1–4).  SU WordLive comment on Genesis 11 by GJ Wenham

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While my blog has been pretty quiet of late, my friend and colleague Eddie Arthur has been more typically prolific.

When Prime Minister David Cameron recently spoke at the KJB 400th celebrations at Oxford and commented on the teaching of the Bible for our somewhat broken society, I wanted to write something. But I couldn’t think of anything that might have been useful to the debate… a lack of inspiration or a divine prompt to shut up and avoid writing something inane!

However Eddie has written something akin to what I wished I could have written – and did it much better: The PM, The Bible and Cultural Christianity.

Yesterday, in a speech delivered to clergy in Oxford, the Prime Minister added his voice to the many who have spoken up over the last year (read it here). I tend to avoid political comment on this blog, but given that the Prime Minister has wandered into my territory, I reckon I can make a few comments on what he said.

Here are a few extracts from Eddie’s comments – but I urge you to read the whole thing for yourself.

It is good to see the Bible being discussed in the public arena. Famously, Tony Blair “didn’t do God”, so it’s good to see a politician who is prepared to speak out on these issues. Whatever the merits of the content of his speech (and they are mixed, at best) the fact that the Prime Minister has got people talking about the Bible is something we should be grateful for.

The Bible is not a book about Values. Though the Prime Minister had a number of good things to say, his speech was undermined because, for all of his classical education, he doesn’t really understand what the Bible is about. He never mentions the central narrative of the Bible: God reaching out to reconcile a fallen world and a fallen humanity to himself through the death of Christ on the Cross. Indeed, as far as I can tell, the words cross or crucifixion never get a mention.

And in a kind of bittersweet conclusion…

David Cameron has done us a great favour in bringing the Bible into the public discourse, but though he has much to say that is interesting and of some value, he ultimately misses the point, which is sad. We need to continue to pray for him and all of those in authority.

Do read it all for yourself: The PM, The Bible and Cultural Christianity

That’s enough for now, but I will comment soon on Eddie’s thoughts in an article in The Guardian’s Comment is free section…

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Dear Mr. Cameron,

Please find below our third and final (for now at least) suggestion for fixing the UK’s economy.

I should add, Mr Cameron, that I am slightly apprehensive that some of my readers are equating these ideas with some of your current policies eg the NHS and weekly bin collections and thinking that I, like you, am totally serious in my suggestions.

The third suggestion should definitely be taken with a pinch of salt…

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Appleby almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Cumbria?

And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.

Thanks to a friend for forwarding these suggestions to me: original source unknown.

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Dear Mr. Cameron,

Please find below our second suggestion for fixing the UK’s economy.

Let’s put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.

This way the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.

They’d receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they’d receive money instead of paying it out.

They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance.

Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell.

They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.

They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling, pool and education.

Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ’s and legal aid would be free, on request.

Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens.

Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls.

There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. Live in a tiny room and pay £600.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out.

Thanks to a friend for forwarding these suggestions to me: original source unknown.

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Dear Mr. Cameron,

Please find below our suggestion for fixing the UK’s economy.

Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan:

You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:

There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force.

Pay them £1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire.
Ten million job openings – unemployment fixed

2) They MUST buy a new British car.
Ten million cars ordered – Car Industry fixed

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage –
Housing Crisis fixed

4) They MUST send their kids to school/college/university –
Crime rate fixed

5) They MUST buy £100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week …..
And there’s your money back in duty/tax etc

It can’t get any easier than that!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances

Thanks to a friend for forwarding this suggestion to me: original source unknown.

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… and just in time for the NI Assembly Elections!

Peter Lynas, a former barrister, political researcher and theology graduate of Regent College in Vancouver has recently joined us here at Evangelical Alliance NI as the new national director and will be combining this role with his position as operations director at Causeway Coast Vineyard. Peter previously worked for the Relationships Foundation, a public policy think tank in Cambridge, and led the faith@work programme at Belfast Bible College. He brings with him a great passion for uniting Christians in mission, especially in the workplace and speaking into government, society and the media. Peter commented on his appointment, “The Evangelical Alliance is about evangelical unity, not for its own sake, but to point people to God. Similarly, working in advocacy is not about protecting our Christian sub-culture. Rather it’s about wanting to transform society. That’s why I am excited to be joining the team in Northern Ireland.”

For more information on Peter click on the EA website here

This short video from Peter, standing on the one mile long approach to Stormont where our N. Ireland Assembly meets, has some thoughtful comments as we Nornirners go to vote next Thursday.

Nice one, Peter!

[Peter will be continuing EANI’s role of helping MAP – the Mission Agencies Partnership in N. Ireland and I look forward to working with him.]

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My friend and Baptist pastor Alan Wilson blogs  as Coastal Pastor: he wrote this morning…

Here are two questions in the light of Mr Brown’s stumble.

  1. How often do we flatter people to their faces while hiding a deep dislike, or even contempt for them in our hearts?
  2. How would we fare if we discovered this evening that all the words we speak today had been broadcast by a hidden radio mic?

Read the rest at Coastal Pastor… but for me Alan’s two concluding questions say more than all the media jamboree.

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John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

I had the pleasure of hearing John Sentamu speaking in Belfast on the eve of the recent Kingdom Come conference. One thing I vividly remember him saying was that while the “talking heads” would have us believe that Britain has become a secular state, as he travels around the country, he sees something different.

Especially living in N. Ireland, I am too often disenchanted with the choice of politicians that I have to vote for in Westminster elections. It is all too easy to feel that my vote will make no difference, but today John Sentamu guested on Ruth Gledhill’s Times Online blog Articles of Faith under the title Faith in Politics: Why Vote – and he’s making me think about it. He starts…

The role of church and religious leaders is one of warning their congregations not to sleep-walk down the street of despair, but to wake up and take responsibility to choose their political leaders. It is up to people to make up their own minds.

in between he writes…

It is right that Christians should engage with politics. It is right that they have a say in who represents them in Parliament and creates the laws that govern us. It is easy for people to switch off and say things like ‘they are all the same’ or pick issues such as MPs’ expenses as an excuse not to vote but, really, what does that achieve?

Giving into cynicism gets us nowhere.

We need to believe in hope and positive engagement. Civic responsibility, and service to the people through elected office, are massive responsibilities which no-one should take lightly.

and he concludes…

I do not accept that Britain is ‘broken’, everywhere I look around I see incredible people doing amazing things. I see ordinary people who care about their communities and their country and want to do something about it. I see people who want change and renewal. I see people who want to make a difference. I see people who want to have their say. I say to these people: ‘Engage. Speak. Listen. Vote.’

It’s an interesting piece from a very up front Christian leader in today’s church!

Go here to read the whole blog.

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