La Shawn Barber writes a stirring post about gunpoint conversions and the Christian view on the whole issue. I noticed, repeatedly in the comments, the refrain
"I'd 'convert' to stay alive, but I wouldn't mean it. God will understand"
To which my response is, "Really?"
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not going to stand here (or sit painfully, as I am doing) and proclaim that I will die for Christ. Peter's hubris on that matter is warning enough to stay silent on an issue I do not yet have to face. Still, Peter, when the time came, stood firm in the faith and died for His saviour, by the grace of God.
Many of our brothers and sisters faced a similar situation to a gunpoint conversion to Islam - all they had to do was throw a few grains of incense on the altar to the Roman emperor. They didn't have to 'mean it in their hearts' - but the very act of physically throwing that incense was an acknowledgment of the deity of the Emperor - and thus a denial of their Saviour.
They knew it, the authorities knew it - and that's why they ended up as human torches.
So, you're on your knees and a bearded Muslim holds a gun to your head and demands you recite the shahada, and become muslim - submitted to Allah. Let me remind you what the shahada says -
"I bear witness that there is no deity (none truely to be worshipped) but, Allah, and I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah"
Now, you may at this point, think of all the people you may leave behind if that gun goes off. But let me point out to you that you are considering denying the Lord who bought you for the sake of your children. And I believe that scripture has this to say to that idea..
If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luk 14:26
But hey, God understands, right? And after all, we're not really converting, are we?
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Mat 10:33
This is a hard teaching, that's for sure. But did you really think that 'pick up your cross' just meant to work really hard at not gossiping?
Now, granted, there is always mercy. Peter, already mentioned, is a good case in point. But it is one thing to humbly be silent and not make bold claims about martyrdom. It is quite another, in a place of relative comfort, to plan to disown your Lord by your words, just to stay alive.
If that would be your considered choice in that circumstance, I beg you to examine your heart, and to ask yourself, as Christ asked Peter - Do you really love Him?
La Shawn Barber writes a stirring post about gunpoint conversions and the Christian view on the whole issue. I noticed, repeatedly in the comments, the refrain
Readers who have been following along for sometime may recall my little attempt at bookshop vigilantism, wherein I chucked a copy of a 'devotional on the Tarot' behind a bookshelf rather than have anyone buy it.
Well, the bookshop in question is moving premises, so my shenigans will soon be discovered. I wonder if the book will find a place in the new store, all dusty from its long hibernation. Anything is, sadly, possible.
I took a hobble around it today, as we were in town, on the off-chance that there might be some cut-price Spurgeon paperbacks. There were a number of copies of 'The Gospel according to The Beatles'. Which wasn't a Spurgeon book, in case you're wondering.
There were a number of display cabinets full of sentimental statues and crystal mantelpiece decorations, all set off perfectly with halogen spotlights. Around a third of the entire space was full of CD racks.
There was quite a bit of wall-space given over to displays of angel key-rings, which you could choose depending on your birthstone, and assorted jewellery, ranging from fishes embossed in everything from gold-plate to painted clay to various cloth bracelets with assorted initials.
The section which used to hold the tracts now held a number of psychology based leaflets aimed at helping youngsters 'fit in', and a few little booklets by Creflo Dollar on 'How to Honour your Man of God'.
All in all, what with the greetings cards section, too, books accounted for around a quarter of the entire bookshop.
It's long been my suspicion, but today was a good illustration - Evanjellybeans don't read. They prefer to grow spiritually by interior decoration, the music they listen to, or allow their kids to listen to, at least, and the wearing of jewellery is a witness all of itself.
The store doesn't close for another week, so nothing has yet been removed from the shelves, but as I walked round today, making the deeply difficult decision to refrain from purchasing the cheap, leather-bound copy of 'The purpose-driven life', it felt as empty as if there had been no books in there at all. For all the vacuous content of most of the wafer-thin paperpacks and worldly magazines, there really may as well have been none there.
I am a bibliophile - completely in love with books. The Lord of all chooses to speak to me through the means of a book. I am connected to the faith of my brothers and sisters from all over this planet, and from every age since Christ walked this earth, through the things they have written. I have cherished friends from hundreds of years ago, because of books.
I have rarely left a bookshop feeling terribly numb. But today I did. Can such a Vanity Fair of nothingness really be called a Christian bookshop? Can a shop with barely a quarter of its available floorspace given over to books truly be called a bookshop?
I am comforted that in the town where my church meets, there is still a Christian Bookshop which is genuinely a bookshop. A quarter of that is devoted to bibles and commentaries alone. Yes, it does sell a few other things - cards and wrapping paper mostly - but it is still, emphatically a bookshop.
Can I encourage you, reader of this little pink blog, crack open a real book this week - break into Bunyan or Brooks, read some Irenaeus, peruse a hefty commentary - but most of all, open your bible and use the concordance to find a verse, instead of BlueLetterBible. Above all, be a reader. The preciousness of books, and the ability to read is something we neglect at our great, great peril.
Well, not really. I was reading this morning about the American FDA allowing the so-called 'Morning after pill' to be readily available without prescription to women over 18.
I think it's a silly idea, because all it does is re-enforce the notion that there is such a thing as 'consequence-free' sex, and will do absolutely nothing to deal with sexually transmitted diseases.
But that aside, I was rather amused by the comment made by the Chief executive of the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug (and, you'll be sure to take note, makes a LOT of money from it)
While we still feel that Plan B should be available to a broader age group without a prescription, we are pleased that the agency has determined that Plan B is safe and effective for use by those 18 years of age and older as an over-the-counter product," said company chief executive Bruce Downey.
Should I pelt him with sarcasm for pretending to give a brass farthing about the welfare of the women and girls he wants to sell his product to? No, I think the point is already made.
Well, well, well. Seems that many men are just not very compliant with the feminist agenda. Bucking the persistent pressure to have us all culturally neutered, it appears sticking to 'tradition' is just as popular among new fathers.
To quote Caroline Bingley, I am all astonishment. Despite the suggestion in the article that 'something needs to be done!', I am sure many women will be quite relieved to know that Daddy isn't planning to go long term part-time to change more nappies.
I am amused that there is a notion that 'fatherhood' and 'work' are twin roles you should learn to combine. Let me make it plain to any slackers out there - being willing to work is part and parcel of being a good father.
Don't get me wrong, in my current state of disability, my gracious, Christlike husband has been picking up the parenting and household slack without fail. And, to be fair to him, he has always changed nappies. In fact, he was very proud to have been the first nappier and dresser for all our girls in the hours after they were born. He is always ready with a hug, with correction, with fun whats-the-time-Mr-wolf games.
But one of the primary contributions of his fatherhood is to work. He works a fulltime job, with much responsibility, and still does the ironing for me at the moment.
So, young men, as you contemplate marriage and fatherhood, ponder this - it is no bad thing that you should work hard for your family to provide for them, instead of taking a part-time position and maybe having your wife pick up the financial slack so you can play house for a while, in an attempt to be all caring and compassionate.
In fact, working for your family is more than a good thing for you to do. As a husband and father, it's your job.
In addition, I actually got a comment on the BBC website about this. I said:
I would much rather my husband works to bring home a decent wage than takes a part time job to be all 'caring'. Keeping a roof over our heads is infinitely more caring than spending half the week learning baby massage.
Providing for your family is part and parcel of fatherhood, just like attempting to breastfeed is part of motherhood. We're not a neutered species, we're male and female for a reason.
It might be 'old fashioned', but I'd rather have food on the table than be 'fashionable'.
Regular readers may have noticed that I'm not short of an opinion or two. While this is not neccessarily a bad thing, and can be a positive plus for a blogger, it does have some very serious pitfalls, not all of which I avoid.
For instance, as someone who is at the very conservative end of the scale in lifestyle, politics and even economics, and is also a Christian, it's terribly easy to fall into equating the two. Especially when I have come to many of those conservative ideas through my faith, both biblical study and the influence of Godly people.
Now it takes time to realize that whether or not someone is godly, it doesn't mean that everything they hold to is compatible with that. It also means that there is a whole swathe of opinion that they may legitimately hold to as a Christian that doesn't have any bearing on the validity of their faith - even if they came to those opinions through the practice of that faith.
I'm always using my dear best friend as my stock example, but our differences really are quite significant in a topic of this kind. She believes very much in Labour principles (the MP Clare Short and Jackie Pullinger are her heroes), and is fervently against the death penalty.
I am Mrs anti-welfare state (not because I don't believe we shouldn't care for the poor, mind, but because I believe that individuals should take on that responsibility, not be taxed to have the state do it) and I do believe that the death penalty is right and proper.
We discuss these issues and never really come to a conclusion, because both of us base these beliefs on our understanding of scripture. Now, I'm not of the silly minded nonsense that both of our positions on these issues are 'equally valid'. That is a frankly meaningless phrase that does more to dampen and destroy real discussion than anything else I can think of.
The simple fact is that one of us is right and one is wrong. But perhaps there is also a sense that we're both looking at the same issue, but at different places of it. My friend is using one part of Christian belief to inform her opinion - that of mercy to the sinner, and I use another - that of the legitimate place of the governing bodies in maintaining order in our world.
I hold strong opinions about many things, from right-to-life issues, parenting issues, economic issues. But it would be very foolish of me to behave in a way that suggested that any 'proper' Christian would agree with me on all those things.
I might find it hard to understand why someone would be a Christian and think that euthanasia was ever acceptable, but I do have a Christian friend who saw her dying mother suffer greatly, and found herself swayed towards the fringes of the pro-euthanisia movement. While still fervently disagreeing with her, and doing so on the basis of my faith, I cannot claim she is not a believer because she holds to that view - because opinion is not the basis for being a believer.
To bring it down to slightly less emotive issues of opinion - I believe in the principles of courtship as opposed to dating, and that the use of contraception, in the vast majority of cases (though not all) is based on more selfish motives than are good for a believer. These convictions come out of the practice of my faith, and I am committed to them. But if you do things differently with your children, and perhaps see contraception instead as a means of stewardship, while I'm happy to argue the toss with you, it has no bearing on your place as a believer, or mine.
It's easy to get carried away with the steam of argument, and it's easy to let opinion cause ruction where there should be unity. I've seen it happen a number of times on message boards and e-mail listings.
But grace is our bottom line, friends. We come before the Lord, not on the basis of who we voted for, or what we believe about abortion, or even if we have helped the poor. Our basis for coming to Him - and thus our basis for walking together as brothers and sisters - is the magnificent grace of God on an undeserving people. A people who will so often turn a conviction into a club to beat others with, and a measuring stick to determine who is far from the Kingdom or not.
Lets be gracious with one another, as brothers and sisters, perhaps at very different places on the path, but all coming in a the narrow gate, and all in need of encouragement and admonition on the way.
Well, apologies for bringing up politics again. I shan't do it again for a while after this.
But as a woman who has voted Conservative a number of times, I wanted to make some comment on Mr Cameron, the shiny face of New Conservatism. Aside from being fond of his bike and keen on glaciers, there's really not been much of any substance at all coming from the leader of the opposition. Now, slowly, there appears to be a trickle of policy information leaking out, and none of it appears to have the slightest bit to do with either the Conservative worldview, or the issues that concern the 'man on the street'.
I know that I have never woken up in a cold sweat over the possibility of more people building houses in their gardens. I have had quite a few intimidating and hair-raising experiences with disrespectful young 'hoodies', usually when I have my young children in tow - often in the park - that give me no desire to 'hug a hoodie' at all. In fact, it's made me wish I carried pepper-spray.
We happily make compost with our vegetable waste and t-bags, we re-use jars and I generally don't use the plastic bags at the supermarket. We turn lights off when we leave the room, we put on a jumper if we're cold, not the radiator, and I endeavour to make and mend our own clothes. Thankyou very much Mr Cameron, but I do these things because my mother taught me to be frugal, not because I have panic attacks about carbon emissions and glaciers.
We drive a 7 seater vehicle because we have three (and nearly) four children, and we have to put each child in a special car seat almost the size of your cuddly glaciers. We also value having an extra seat so that we can transport my teacher friend who comes to our house for respite because she gets worn down living in an area surrounded by those huggable Hoodies. Therefore, I am distinctly unimpressed that, even though we already pay car tax and exhorbitant petrol prices, you wish to tax us more because we're being mean to those blessed glaciers by not transporting our family in a wheelbarrow.
But mostly, Mr Cameron, I am deeply frustrated with the patronising notion that the only party that has ever produced a female Prime Minister feels the need to 'woo the women' with quotas for women MPs, and the irritating notion that as a woman, the policy that would interest me most is childcare costs.
This is from the Conservative party website, and I've quoted the portion that most gave me the irrits for its blatant flannel and complete lack of difference to current government thinking. I've put the meaningless lip-service flannel in green, and the policy statements that actually offer no choice at all in red:
It's up to us as a society to give mums the support they need. Some may choose to stay at home and that's a valid and worthwhile choice.
But the majority will return to work and that's an equally valid and worthwhile choice. Society shouldn't try to direct women but to direct help to women where it's most needed. Before the last election we agreed with the Government's proposals for extending maternity leave.
In addition we supported the idea of allowing mums to take the additional money but over a shorter time period. That is something we should consider again. Instead of imposing a choice on mothers, we should support the choices that mothers make for themselves.
Mothers who work should not be made to feel guilty. Nor should mothers who stay at home. Let us stop trying to tell families how to live their lives. Let us instead support the lives that families live.
...there are three principles that should guide my party when thinking about childcare and parenting.
Providing financial support for the childcare choices that families themselves make; not using financial support as a stick to force parents into a particular choice. That means looking at whether we can expand the kinds of childcare supported by the childcare tax credit.
Secondly, expanding the range of childcare choices available. That means ensuring the government does not seek a monopoly in the provision of childcare or nursery places and that voluntary and private providers are not crowded out.
And third, realising that government has a role in protecting the careers of women who want to take time off to look after their children, particularly when they are just born.
Right. So even though I am making a 'valid' choice to stay at home and raise my own children, and you want to 'support' my choice, that support essentially is a policy of nodding your head in smug approval, while you give my husbands tax money to the women who want to pay someone else to raise their children?
Forgive my lack of enthusiasm for such a socialist policy. And I do hope that, as you respect my choices so much, you'll understand that, while you don't put forward policies that address the glaring problems of the transport infrastructure, the health service, and an education system that produces ignorant illiterates, you won't be getting the vote of this particular woman.
I received a letter in the post a few days ago from a pro-life organization that I'm on the mailing list for. It's a useful thing to keep tabs on whats going behind the scenes, from people who have much more time than I do to be investigating legislation.
Apparently an MP introduced a private members bill to parliament that would have greatly restricted abortions. Now, it's worth pointing out that a private members bill generally has as much chance of becoming law as the shopping list I scrawled on the back of an old envelope last week. But I will always applaud anyone who stands up and says that killing babies is wrong. So, much kudos to Mr Lawrence Robertson (MP for Tewkesbury).
It was the government response to this proposal that I wanted to highlight. Essentially, the Minster of state for public health argued that fewer abortions would put the abortion industry in dire financial straits and mean the loss of many jobs.
At this point, many things might be going through your mind. I might make a comment along the lines of 'Ah, diddums, the poor people will have to go and make a living without mutilating tiny children', and you may well nod your head in agreement with my sarcasm.
But my mind fairly quickly went to a parallel that neatly illustrates the bizaare inversion of values in our modern, compassionate society.
These 'loss of jobs' arguments were put before the government when the ban on fox-hunting was proposed, and they came to absolutely nothing. Those big bad red-coated hunters were put soundly in their place because killing those cuddly-wuddly furry creatures is wrong. If people lose their jobs and rural people find themselves yet again misunderstood and playing second-fiddle to the townies, well, that's just too bad.
But lets compare the two villains of the piece, shall we?
Mr Russett-coated Renard may look all appealing, but he's probably just seen off next doors pet rabbit and the chickens in that farm down the road. He may well have overturned bins and strewn germ-laden rubbish about.
Tiny person, unseen, makes mum feel a bit sick as she grows. Wow. Nasty stuff.
Now, you may be of the opinion that fox-hunting was well out of order, and was right to be banned. I'm ok with you holding that opinion. But what kind of commentary is it that the government ignores the economic argument in favour of acknowledged vermin, and yet uses that same economic argument against unborn children?
So, in case you're wondering, I'm pretty sick right now. Hormones do a remarkable job, and having had a number of miscarriages, I'm grateful for their presence in the proper quantities. But they're not fun.
Apart from being nauseous to a hellish degree, I find myself a deeply emotional participant in everyday life. I'm trying to be extra careful what I blog. Given how notorious written communication is for giving unintended offense, I feel this is wise.
I had just this afternoon banged out a post on some of my views on various issues, ranging from the welfare state to the concept that war is something a Christian should only support if they have their backs to the wall. For those readers who are insatiably curious, I don't agree with either of those positions.
But, as I read the post back to myself this evening, having gone away and come back to it, I realized that much of it, though a true representation of my various conservative-with-a-small-c beliefs, was simply a hormone hazed frustration relief exercise.
My long-suffering husband knows enough about me not to let me watch Question Time at a certain point in the month, so you can imagine the eggshells he walks on when I'm pregnant and there are various happenstances in the world I am bound to react to.
One of the things I find intriguing about the period in my late teens and early twenties when I had no relationship with my father is how very, very different from him I turned out politically. My father is a dyed-in-the-wool socialist - a union man for whom Maggie Thatcher is a swear-word. I recall buying him a Maggie alarm clock - the kind you throw against a wall to turn it off - and his furious reaction before he realized it was a joke.
I, on the other hand, have developed into a full-orbed conservative - believing very strongly in small government, low taxation and a hefty dose of personal responsibility. As it turns out now, I don't think we're all that far apart at the core - he's an old-school disciplinarian who believes in respect and politeness, and now works for the police.
But one thing we never, ever do is talk about politics. Because he is a pig-headed union man, and I am stubborn, gobby Tory. Maybe I am the next Mrs Thatcher, who was, after all, only a grocers daughter.
So, that being said, I shall promise to be very careful about inflicting things on you, dear reader, that could conceivably be termed 'hormonally induced venting'. I shall exercise restraint, and only veer off into Fawlty-esque florid rants when I have eaten enough ginger cake beforehand to be sure I'm well-balanced.
Anyway, as you were.
I've thinking about religious differences and personal relationships. I have a best friend who is very different to me on her understanding, say, of the gifts of the Spirit. We're still good friends, and we sort of fudge the grey area between us.
I'm reasonably careful when I'm around her not to unneccessarily criticize something we might watch together on television, but she knows that there will be a boil-over point at which I start chucking things at the telly, and generally finds it funny. There's a lot of honesty between us about these things - I don't pretend she doesn't believe she speaks in tongues, and she doesn't pretend that I raise my hands in 40 minute long worship sessions.
I'm sure there are moments when we both listen to each other and smile and nod. I'm equally sure there must be moments when she is frustrated with me and my beliefs, as I occassionally am with her. However, our friendship is important, and bottom line, we both believe in the grace of God through the finished work of the cross.
I have other friends who I differ with on issues that go much more fundamentally to the heart of faith. It is very hard, for example, to see a friend become part of a false religious system. It's hard precisely because it gives her so much happiness. She is content, and all she wants is for others to rejoice in her rejoicing.
Who doesn't want their friends to be happy, especially when we have seen them very unhappy? What kind of friend does not rejoice in these things, but instead finds herself deeply saddened by them? Well, a friend like me, I suppose. I'm not sad that she is happy, of course.
And yet, I can't rejoice with her, because truth is so much more important than comfort. I really struggle with that. Humanly speaking, I really want to restore the closeness that we shared, but I know that I would have to compromise my very faith to do that, which I cannot do.
It doesn't help that she will not see it that way. Her understanding is that she has come to the fullness of faith, and that no real theological breach is there, because I am simply one of the separated brethren. She writes beautiful things about her spiritual walk, framed in Roman Catholic sentiment, and intends them 100% as blessings to others, including me.
Even in writing this, perhaps she will begin to write me off as a friend - one of the fabled 'anti-catholics' who refuse to listen and instead want to slander Mary and the pope.
This is not my heart. In fact, my heart is broken. Friendship and truth. It's a painful business.
Now, that got your attention, didn't it?
I was thinking about how a Christian should sensibly approach the topic. Not whether we should do it or not, I would hope there wouldn't be much variety of opinion on that. I mean acts of blasphemy committed by various unbelieving members of society.
There are various opinions. One is, of course, enshrined in the blasphemy laws of this land which are a bit of a legal minefield anyway. Some Christians believe it's all a bit silly and God is big enough to take care of Himself, so we shouldn't worry about it. Still others believe in pickets and protests at blasphemous plays and the like.
In looking at this, the word that keeps cropping up is 'offense'. It's a rather slippery term. Worldwide, Muslims let their feelings on their own definition of blasphemy be known by rioting, demonstrating and generally demanding new laws for religious censorship. Which once again highlights the Muslim worldview that you have to impose good behaviour from the outside. Recent law in England narrowly avoided a situation where being religiously offended could become an criminal act.
I find myself on the liberal end of the scale on this issue, which is a rather unusual and mildly unpleasant feeling. I don't believe the Blasphemy laws of this country have any sensible place in modern society. We are not a theocracy - therefore we have no place prosecuting people for 'religious' crimes. This is a helpful link to the current understanding of blasphemy law in the UK.
I also don't think we should stand outside theatres with banners, shouting about how offended we are by whatever blasphemous nonsense may be going on inside.
Now, do I think Blasphemy should be given a special pass because we live in a secular society, and most people don't worship the Lord anyway? Well, no, not a bit of it. I'm not even coming at this from a pragmatic point of view about what works and what doesn't - though I have to say, in terms of fighting against blasphemous talk, picketing a theatre does resemble an ant pushing a car uphill.
No, I do emphatically believe blasphemy is a crime. But against who? When I hear that 'Jerry Springer the Opera' makes the sickening claim that God raped Mary, who is being slandered? Now, yes, I certainly should be horrified by such a claim, because I know it is a false and hideous accusation. But is it blasphemy if it offends me?
Blasphemy is surely that because it offends God. Therefore, our approach to it should be the same as the right approach to adultery. It is a sin - and those who commit it will come under judgement - not by a member of the earthly judiciary, but by the Almighty creator.
The result then, should be that our prime motivation, when speaking out against blasphemy, is not offense but compassion. To illustrate :-
Your father has made a beautiful steam locomotive. It's shiny green and the machinery is perfect. Everyone who has seen it thinks how marvellous it is. It begins a journey on some tracks, and builds up a good head of steam.
However, further down the line, you notice a man standing on the tracks, shouting.
"That's not a train, it's a cabbage! If I was going to make a train, I'd make it much better! Your father stole that train! I don't even believe that train is there!"
Now, you could stand, watch and listen to the man, and become deeply offended by the rambling nonsense that man was saying. But surely the more pressing thought on your mind would be that he was about to be pureed by an enormous locomotive train.
People casually blaspheme everyday, oblivious to the consequences, and we can see their precarious position all too clearly. By all means speak out when you hear someone blaspheme, but don't tell them it offends you - tell them it offends the Almighty creator God who will one day judge them for every single word they speak. Use something that denigrates our gracious God, and turn it into something which glorifies Him.
I heard a woman on telly a few days ago use a phrase I'd never heard before, and found grim in the extreme.
She was giving one of these soundbite exhortations on one of the god channels, and, as most of these things seemed to be, it was all about self esteem, et al. Now, whether or not we should be esteeming ourselves, and whether not doing so enough is really our problem, is a whole other post.
No, I wanted to share the phrase she used with you, to see what your reaction would be. Now, I've already mentioned mine, which may well colour your view of it, but please, if you do disagree with me, speak up.
She said that we should let go of the past and...
"Live the adventure that Christ died to give us"
Now, is it just me that finds that phrase jaw-droppingly irreverent? Christ's death on the cross was for the purpose of giving me the spiritual equivalent of an Outward Bound course?
Is the biblical meaning of exhortation 'pep-talk'?
I could go on and on about this, but I really do want to know if any of my readers have a different reaction to this phrase. Over to you.
Here's the problem. All over the world there are assorted nutcases with assorted causes who are prepared to kill, maim and otherwise effect mischief in the pursuit of those causes.
There are also many people who hold to those causes to a much less insane degree, and indeed, are not desiring to hack anyone apart to make a point.
To make my point clearer - there are indeed moderate Muslims, who do not believe that it is right to strap a bomb to yourself and take a trip on a tube train. They are horrified to be associated with such things.
But here's the reason the problem will remain a problem. You cannot stop the nutcases by having focus groups with the moderates.
You can discuss community measures with mild-mannered, sensible Muslims all you want. It isn't going to effect the crazies.
This isn't even about whether or not Islam supports the violent, murderous actions of the Jihadis. I believe that at it's core, that is the case, but it's irrelevant to the issue. The fact is that the nutcases do believe that they are backed up by their faith, so how does having talks with those of their faith who disagree with them solve anything?
Or does it just give the illusion that we are actually attempting to arrive at a solution, when really, we haven't thought it through at all?
I think the same each time the news announces that someone has said the situation in Iraq is one of the reasons more nutcases are appearing. The powers-that-be feel they must deny it, because they don't want to admit that their actions may have given the nutcases another pretext.
But of course it's true. If Mr Jihadi believes in the worldwide Ummah, and you attack a part of what he considers to be that Ummah, then guess what, it will become another reason to attack you.
I think half the problem is in denying this. Yes, invading Iraq caused there to be more nutcases recruited to the nutcase cause. Invading Afghanistan and defeating the Taliban recruited more. Publishing cartoons caused it again. Any number of worldwide incidents caused that to happen again and again.
Yes. So? Should we seriously let people, whose only response to something they disagree with is to kill anyone associated with those they disagree with, decide what is right and appropriate for us? If it was right to invade Afghanistan, then what does it matter that more were recruited to the nutcase brigade?
Is there really a sensible case to be made for tiptoeing about in case we upset people who delight in pretexts to murder? Or actually, must there be another way to deal with those kind of people?
How would we deal with that kind of private individual normally? If Bob next door found your planning application to build on the garage offensive, and killed your granny because of it, would it be your fault for wanting an extra bedroom?
If someone is nutty enough to think that murder is an appropriate response to anything they find offensive, then I say give them enough rope, and stop pretending that talking to those who disagree with them anyway will solve anything at all.
You may commence beating me with sticks now.
Inspired by something Kim said..
Timothy Dalton as Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre.
"Do you find me handsome, Miss Eyre?"
"Have you had your eyes tested recently, dear? I'm Timothy Dalton. Before they chose Mr Potato-head as the latest Bond, they made a point of picking attractive men...."
Kiera Knightly running about in Blue Wode and a bikini.
In the north of England. Methinks the blue in the Wode wasn't all that neccessary.
Kevin Costner saying that he'll be near Nottingham by nightfall, on foot,
while standing in front of the White cliffs of Dover. England is a small island, sure, but it's a bit bigger than a theme park, Kev.
Sticking Jesus and John from The Last Supper on roller-skates in the trailer for The Da Vinci Code so they look like they're having a cuddle.
Oh yes, that proves it. If I hack apart fine art and play jigsaws with it, I can tell you who really invented the wheel. Please.
Glastonbury in Somerset is one of my favourite places. It is the claimed cradle of Christianity in the UK, festooned as it is now with all manner of loopy baubles. After around a year and a half of difficulties, my lovely husband allowed me to schedule some time away, retreat style, and I chose Glastonbury.
I spent most of the time sitting in Glastonbury Abbey. I like Glastonbury Abbey. Like any other grand church building, it has that air of cloistered, tranquil holiness, set apart from the bustle of the everyday.
And yet the floor is grass, and blue sky and clouds are in place of a vaulted roof. Which is wonderfully appropriate really, given that the idea of a vaulted ceiling, from an architectural viewpoint, is to draw your gaze and mind heavenward. Can anything truly do that better than the heavens themselves?
I found myself thinking a lot about freedom and being free while I was there. I found that I didn't really think they were always the same thing.
Dragonflies in many hues were darting about the cloister walls, flying where-ever they wanted to, subject to the bluster of the wind. But they were there because of the pools of water in the grounds. Free, as they are, to fly many miles away, they are constrained to hover in the Abbey, because that's where the water is. Are they any less free because of that? Perhaps. But is their freedom diminished? I wouldn't have said so.
I did not feel free. I was pretty much constrained by how much pain I could endure, and the trip was cut short because of that. Yet within the Abbey I had freedom to read, walk, sit when I needed to.
Did I truly have more freedom there than at home? I was alone. Yes, I could determine the shape of my day, but only so far as my limitations would allow. I was the same person there. Surrounded by the fascination of incensed bookshops and curiosities, I still gravitated to what I know to be true.
The trip was cut short, but it was useful, none-the-less. Quiet space, time to think, to breathe.
I need my family. I am dependent and this is no bad thing. I am no longer footloose and carefree, with the illusion of open choice before me. I am a mother, a wife, a Christian. These thing planned out for me do not hold me back. They are my circumstances but they are not my prison.
When we're young, we fondly imagine our many choices are entirely free - and ours alone to make. As we grow, and take each turn along the path, our choices appear to narrow.
Has anything really changed? Or, in actuality, have we merely been peeling away layers of illusion of being 'free', until we see our ordained place and we know freedom?
So, did those feet really walk upon Englands green and pleasant land? It's rather unlikely to have happened 2000 years ago with Uncle Joe. But it happens everyday that this world exists - same as He walks all about this creation of His. And I am very grateful to be placed here in this land that still bears so many of His footprints, even though some have been distorted and filled in.
I pray that in His providence He has not finished with us, and that one day He will bless my country with a fresh awakening to His gospel. That's the only real freedom there is.