Politics


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here…in part because I’ve been pretty busy with reading for school and haven’t come across anything that has got me too fired up. Then I was watching the CNN world report that they show here in the UK and saw a story that just made me shake my head in dismay.

President Obama held a press release yesterday announcing the he is opening areas on most of the east coast of the United States, areas north of Alaska and possibly part of the coast of the coast of Florida for off-shore drilling and gas drilling. This move is mystifying on a host of levels.
1) The environmental impact. I won’t say much more on this, as people will either agree or disagree on this one…you either get it or you don’t…and sadly if you’re an evangelical Christian (like I am) in North America the odds are you don’t get it because a passion for God’s creation and environmental concern clash with your theology of blessing as you rock your Chevy Suburban on it’s 1.5 mile drive to the supermarket.
2) The article states up front this is a play to get bi-partisan support for other environmental legislation before the mid-term elections in November. Yet the reaction from Republicans is predictable, Obama didn’t go far enough. The only thing that will make most Republicans happy is unlimited access to Prudhoe Bay.
3) He campaigned against new off shore drilling!!!
4) And perhaps most significantly is, he wants to open access to drilling where there is little oil and that is recognized by most experts. If there was substantial oil and gas there wouldn’t they have been begging for access already? Peep the video from CNNfor confirmation on this one. It’s an interview with Boone Pickens, former British Petroleum big wig.

I know politics is a tough game President Obama, but no thanks. The price isn’t worth it on this one.

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On the train on the way home from a meeting in central London, I was reading one of those free papers they give all the train station travelers. I read those mostly for the sports stories…honest.

On the front cover of this paper was a headline that read: ‘D’oh homer_simpsonLevels: How Homer Makes You Brighter’. Now who wouldn’t want to read an article that claims watching The Simpsons can make you smarter, or as the typical Simpsons viewer might say, ‘makes you more smarterer’?

The article states, that a study done on 170 TV viewers from the US, Greece and the Netherlands, that watching TV comedy and dramas like The Simpsons and The Sopranos ‘helped viewers acquire new political insights’. Nearly 1 in 4 viewers said ‘they had a better understanding of political issues after watching the shows’ and even scarier 54% of viewers thought Homer Simpson was similar to real life people, that these fictional TV programmes were nearly as believable as news broadcasts, and that after watching the shows they discussed them with friends and adapted their political and ethical outlooks.

HUH?

So are they actually trying to say that watching these shows can be beneficial to be people from the standpoint of organizing their political and ethical beliefs? Or is this study more of a reflection about how low the comprehension of political and ethical issues in our cultures really is, that The Simpsons and Soprano’s can have a ‘positive’ effect on viewers. What’s next…a study showing that people get relationship and dating advice from Friends, Sex In The City and Desperate Housewives? Oh yeah…that probably does happen.

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/96146/Schools-could-close-for-Islamic-festivals

People's mandala - 12 hands

An interesting news story appeared on BBC news this morning in London. Manchester City council is considering passing a new law where a school could close for a day if more than 40% of the students are absent, presumably because of religious holidays.

The possible decision is arising out of the fact that large numbers of Islamic students are absent from schools on some Islamic holidays. While in and of itself this appears to be nothing abnormal, it has been asserted too many muslim students missing school due to Islamic holidays in a ‘Christian’ country could cause social cohesion in England to deteriorate. The logic supposedly goes that if religions are allowed to take days off from school from their own holidays, this could encourage segregation within communities.

What concerns me about this assertion is that it places the burden of ‘social cohesion’ on schools. While I agree schools are one of the primary focal points of any community, the schools primary purpose is education, not to create social cohesion. But critics argue Christianity remains our state religion and claim communities risk becoming more segregated if different religions dictate school calendars. It is this kind of thought process that seems to dilute a school’s ability to deliver a quality education and give a child the environment they need in which to work on individuating.

Second to this, it is surprising as a Canadian who has lived in the United States and now lives in England, to move from one country where they still think they are a Christian nation (when it certainly appears on every level that it isn’t) to a post-Christian nation and to hear people assert that Britain is still a Christian nation. Third, i’m shocked that someone would assert that in order to be ‘british’ means you have to have one holiday calendar. ‘Either people are British and have a particular holiday system, or we decide to carve the country up into areas that are Muslim and non-Muslim, and I think that’s what this does.’ I’m an evangelical Christian who is still modern enough to believe it is the one true way but post-modern enough to see the danger in statements like this…the right to religious diversity must be preserved…schools must be allowed to deliver quality education, not be charged with the preservation of social cohesion.

The ultimate victims in this kind of thinking are the kids.

Just over a month ago The British Humanist Association started running adverts on the sides of London’s famous red double-decker buses that said, ‘There’s proably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life’.

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It is an interesting tactic and one that has prompted alot of conversation among Christians and non-Christians a like.

A couple points to make about their advert.  First, the word ‘probably’.  Doesn’t evoke a real high sense of certainty does it, but accounts for the natural amount of doubt that exists in our culture about many things.  Second, the use of the word ‘worrying’ actually communicates that people are worried about the existence of God or a god and what place He or it has in their lives.  This is good news for Christians, this is an opportuntiy.

Sadly though, some Christians here in London also sensed that opportunity and have run with it in a very uncreative, un-incarnational and very typically cheesy Christian manner.

This month a new series of bus adverts will appear on London buses.  The Christian Party, led by George Hargreaves, raised enough money for their adverts to appear on 50 London bendy buses.

Their full advert reads: “There definitely is a God; so join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.”

christian-bus-ads-001

This makes me so a little embarrassed to be a Christian.  Why is it that Christians so often feel the only response to an ‘attack’ is to fight back in kind when Jesus so clearly called us to turn the other cheek and to walk a second mile when asked to go one mile.  (Matthew 5:38-42).

And let’s not ignore the mixed message here.  The ‘Christian Party’ is not a clear reference to a ‘party’, a fun way of life, a good time as culture would understand the word party.  The Christian Party is a political party…George wants you to join his freaking political party and by doing so, you’ll be able to enjoy your life!!!  So now Christianity is more about political party affiliation…just like in the United States.

I have a t-shirt from a musician I like, Justin McRoberts and on the front of the tshirt it says ‘They will know we are Christians by our Tshirts’…need a new tshirt that says, ‘They will know we are Christians by our Bus Adverts/Party Affiliation’…yeah, I think that teaching of Jesus is somewhere in the Apocrypha.  I’ll get right on researching that one!!!