Category Archives: Church

Five ‘wise’ men

THE five Church of England bishops who have attacked Labour as “immoral” should not be dismissed out of hand.

After all, these giants of Christian leadership are the very people who have presided over a colossal rise in church membership and attendance. Such has been their inspiration to the nation, few people fail to consult them on great matters of import before coming to a conclusion. 

So when these Five Wise Men choose to ignore the work of this government in combating poverty in the Third World, we have to assume they have good reason to do so (perhaps involvement in such causes might detract from their party political work?).

When they ignore the tax credit system, the historically large increases in child benefit, the minimum wage or pensioners’ winter heating allowances, we must assume that the Five Wise Men have prayed long and hard to seek Divine Inspiration for their pronouncement and that God agrees with them.

And when they, by implication, dismiss the record investment in the NHS under this government, we should perhaps ask if the Church of England’s runs a Bupa membership scheme for its clergy.

More than all of this, we should remember that the description of the Church of England as “the Tory Party at prayer” was never more true than when there is a Labour government.

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Filed under Church, Conservative Party, Economy, Politics, Society

Comment of the week

TAKING a leaf out of Kerry McCarthy’s book, I’ve decided to initiate a Comment of the Week Award, to go to whoever leaves the most thoughtful, intelligent, bizarre, weird or wittiest comment over the previous week. There is no actual prize, of course – just the prestige and pride which will inevitably accompany such an honour.

And remember, the choice of Comment of the Week does not necesarily reflect or represent the views of the And another thing… Corporation, its shareholders or employees. 

And the inaugural award goes to one of my most regular contributers, Wrinkled Weasel, for this comment on yesterday’s post, Our Christian heritage still matters.

That’s funny, I thought I was visiting Cranmer for a minute, there.

You ask “why do our local authorities find it impossible to recognise and acknowledge other people’s traditions without feeling the need to devalue our indigenous faith?”

It’s a profound question. I am trying desperately here not to be party political, so here goes.

Local Government employees have it drummed into them that “equality” is paramount. It is an incessant background tape loop that informs everything they do. They are informed, in no uncertain terms, that “minorities” get a bad deal and that they must be given special consideration in all decisions. It leads to the rather crazy stories you get, such as the recent one in Bristol (a PC hotspot) where Stonewall was consulted when an attempt was made to clear foliage on Clifton Downs in case gay cruisers’ rights were infringed. (No one actually thought to contact local residents, whose homes look out on the Downs and who have to view a variety of perverted activities including those of doggers, whose pressure group got left out) It leads to a whole raft of local initiatives that can broadly be described as Political Correctness gone Mad. Strangely, I believe they are only doing their duty. There is enormous pressure on employees to be politically correct – inadvertently calling someone “love” or “duck” or “hinny” or “moi luvvrrr” or any of the local terms of endearment can have you before a disciplinary panel. Scary eh?

The background to this is a pluralistic, relativistic society with a tendency to favour aetheism. Hitherto real minorities have been foregrounded. Religious festivals emanating from outwith the UK have been given special prominence, in a genuine attempt to aid integration, but in doing so some ground has been lost by the predominant, ruling ethos, which was Christian.

Couple this with the spiritual reaction to Christians. As a genuine Christian you understand how people do not wish to be confronted with Sin – or to be more specific, their separation from God. Given the chance, they will find every excuse to run away from what we understand to be the Truth.

This mix of PC coupled with genuine social concerns, alongside man’s innate hatred of God is toxic. It is accompanied by a relativistic and at times nihilistic world view. It is also prey the the natural desire to be at the top of the tree – as soon as a minority senses it has a voice and a foothold, it will push for more and more.

Our philosophical abode, our legacy of popular thinking, has created a pyramid of hegemony with small groups angling for a higher perch. It has spawned an ethos that declares an end to scapegoating, but in reality it has merely created another scapegoat.

All of this comes into play in the working out of local government policy, as applied by its workers.

At the moment, we have an interesting dichotomy. The perceived demands of one group (e.e.Muslims) are in conflict with those of another (e.g.Gays). This is just one example of how this philosophical hook upon which local govts. hang their policies will ultimately break down. They cannot serve the demands of both communities when those communties have diametrically opposed agendas.

Christianity has so far been an easy target. We tend to be a bit laid back about it all. Yes there are a lot of loonies, but on the whole we are cool about attacks on our beliefs. What will be interesting to watch is to see society fragment even more, when the very minorities that have been championed start fighting like ferrets in a sack. This is one Pandora’s box that will lead to a very serious rethink of local government policy, if not national policy. At least, I hope so.

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Filed under Blogging, Church, Society

Our Christian heritage still matters

WHILE my mind’s on the subject, I thought it might be useful to try to add a bit more than Daily Mail-style indignation to the debate on “political correctness gone mad” with regards to Christmas.

It’s vital that all our communities value and respect other religions and honour their traditions. But the problem I have with the London City Hall approach – and this is replicated all over the country now, including in Glasgow – is that Christmas as a Christian celebration is now regarded as just one of a number of religious events during winter.

In fact, I don’t attach a great deal of spiritual importance to Christmas. It’s arguable that the Christmas story, romantic and beautiful though it undoubtedly is, is far less important to Christians than the Easter story. St Paul, who wrote a good deal of the New Testament (after the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles) seems not to have known about Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and the search of the Magi. Or even of the little drummer boy, come to that.

But Britain is a Chistian country. That does not mean that most of our citizens attend church regularly, or even adhere to the central tenets of Christianity. But we have a strong and important Christian heritage, and most Britons are cultural Christians, if not religious ones. And culture still matters.

There’s nothing wrong in embracing that fact, in accepting the fact of our Christian heritage.

In Middle Eastern Muslim countries where Christmas is celebrated, would anyone object to it nevertheless being regarded generally as less important than Eid?

Why shouldn’t children be taught the Christmas story in our schools?

Why must we feel defensive about saying that in the UK, Christmas is not just one of the religious festivals in winter, but the most important?

And why do our local authorities find it impossible to recognise and acknowledge other people’s traditions without feeling the need to devalue our indigenous faith?

Here endeth the lesson.

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Filed under Church, Media, Society

Why, oh why, oh why..?

WHY am I forced to agree with Boris, of all people?

If Iain Dale has got it right, then I’m afraid I have to declare on Boris’s side. If we’re going to take every Christian symbol out of Christmas, what’s the point in having it at all?

And do any of the PC officials at City Hall have any evidence at all that Christian symbolism at Christmas is remotely offensive to minorities?

Ronnie and Reggie have their prerequisite advent calendars this year: a Winnie the Pooh and a Thomas the Tank Engine one. But you have no idea how difficult it is to source a traditional advent calendar with a nativity scene. Fortunately Carolyn managed to buy one last year, which is now on display at Casa Harris.

Anyone who is offended at this can file their complaint in the nearest bin.

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Filed under Blogging, Church, Family life

The gospel according to no-one in particular

AND so it came to pass, that when the disciples arrived in Jerusalem, they did see a group of believers standing nearby. And Peter called to them, “Oi, you looking at my sepulchre?” And he smote one of their number with a wineskin and in a loud voice did beckon those who would stand against him, and called out, “Come forth if thou consider thyselves hard enough.”

And a great tumult did descend upon those gathered in the Holy City. And those who watched from afar did shake their heads and make a tutting noise. And a small child was heard to say, “Call themselves Christians, eh?”

From the Big Book of Pointless Religious Arguments, Chapter 1

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Filed under Church, Whimsy

Not enough faith to be a humanist

DESPITE the temptation, I’ve never succumbed to the lure of humanism. I subscribe instead to the Christian perspective, namely that Man is basically and fundamentally flawed (or “sinful”, if you will).

I recall a Christian poet (I think his name was Steve Turner but I’m prepared to be corrected) who defined humanist philosophy thus: “I believe that mankind is basically good – it’s just his behaviour that lets him down.”

That struck a chord with me at the time and ever since. This was brought back to me recently when I saw an ad over at Spiked Online for these T-shirts. I understand the message, and sometimes I wish I were optimistic enough to buy into it. But I’m not.

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Filed under Church, Media

PC RIP?

INTERESTING programme on Radio 4 this morning (and repeated this evening, I think) on the Daily Mail‘s favourite topic, political correctness – PC RIP.

I take the middle road on this one – PC has been invaluable in reminding us of the importance of respecting other people and their culture. But some of it is just BS. I’ve written here before, for instance, about Glasgow City Council’s ludicrous decision to stop serving “black coffee” (it’s now “coffee without milk”, believe it or not). It would be too depressing even to start discussing the many reasons why this is absurd; it’s enough that I insist on ordering black coffee whenever I’m in the city chambers, even when I actually feel like a nice latte…

But it’s near the time of year when I join with every Telegraph and Daily Mail letter writer in expressing horror and indignation at the worst example of needless PC of them all – that’s right, we’re in the run-up to “The Holidays”.

I have never been able to understand why America, where so many people attend church every week, has capitulated so entirely to the absurd and mindless practice of referring to Christmas as The Holidays. Even George W. Bush is scared to put the word “Christmas” on his Christmas cards. And the infection has spread over here, inevitably (and I don’t refer to Birmingham’s late, unlamented “Winterval”). A couple of years ago I noticed that the packaging for B&Q’s Christmas decorations said “Happy Holidays” and made no reference to the actual name of this particular seasonal celebration.

The assumption is made that the celebrating of Christmas is offensive to non-Christians. There are two important points here: firstly, I don’t care. If you’re not a Christian, that’s up to you, but since I don’t get offended by others celebrating their own religious festivals, then they shouldn’t get offended when Christians celebrate theirs. And if they are offended, fine – be offended, it’s a free country.

But secondly, and more importantly, I simply don’t believe that Muslims, Seikhs, Jews and others are offended by the celebration of Christmas, just as I would be willing to bet that there isn’t a black person in the country who would be offended by anyone asking for a black coffee.

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Filed under Church, Media, Society, Uncategorized, United States