Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas on planet pope

I was working on an essay and came across this - which I shall most certainly use. Regulars here will know how highly I regard Giles Fraser: in fact I am thinking of changing my name by deed poll and undergoing cosmetic surgery...

The Holy Father has got the spirit of the season all wrong with his message of fear and exclusion

The Christmas angel tells us: "Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy for all people." The pope, on the other hand, has been using this Christmas season to spread entirely the opposite message, a message of fear and exclusion that seems more bad news than good. For, apparently, gay people threaten the existence of the planet in a way that is comparable to the destruction of the rainforest. I guess the idea is that if we all were gay, then we wouldn't be making any babies. Yes, it's a bit like saying that if we all were to become celibate priests we wouldn't be making any babies either. Except that would mean the Catholic church has itself become a threat to the planet. OK, that's a cheap shot. But the Holy Father has the ability to put even a vicar like me in touch with their inner Polly Toynbee.

So where does this religious obsession with making babies come from? I had a moment of epiphany some years ago in a refugee camp in southern Gaza. So many families had so many children, often a dozen or more. It was explained to me that the Palestinians' secret weapon against the Israelis was "the Palestinian womb". That women were regarded as part of a wider demographic struggle, and that having babies was vital to the war effort.

The writers of the early Hebrew scriptures were similarly caught up in a struggle for survival that made having babies a part of one's moral duty. Right at the beginning of the Bible, Noah is told by God to "be fruitful and multiply". Later Abraham complains that "I continue childless", to which God replies: "I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever."

This is the great obsession of much of the early history of the people of Israel. From this perspective, fertile women are politically valuable, and infertile women, homosexuals and eunuchs considered almost traitorous. Thus, for instance, the rather bizarre stuff you get in Deuteronomy that "no one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord".

But there's a twist here. For when it comes to the book of Isaiah, Jesus's favourite book of the Hebrew scriptures, this more enlightened biblical author realises that the obsession with children has warped the moral values of his culture. In direct opposition to the theology of Deuteronomy, Isaiah writes that "to the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths and hold fast to my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name that is better than sons and daughters". Note: better than sons and daughters. And what is true for eunuchs is true, by direct analogy, for people who are gay. Inclusion is not a piece of trendy modern theory. It is a biblical imperative.

Those who take the Bible as if it were a reference book cannot mentally accommodate the idea that the story being told is about the developing consciousness of the people of Israel, of how they got it wrong and how they are led to a new understanding by God. For Christians especially this new understanding is that God is there for all; that, as St Paul is very keen to insist, you don't even need to be a Jew for God to be there for you. Which returns us to the message of the angel: that Christ is good news to all. This is the ultimate communication of religious inclusion.

The broader theme of the pope's address concerns gender theory. His idea is that trendy philosophy has obscured the distinctiveness of male and female, which ought to be regarded as rooted in the order of creation. As it happens, evangelical Christians are often incredibly suspicious of this sort of line. They are afraid that it endorses the argument that, because homosexuality is actually prevalent in nature, and because people seem to be "born gay", natural law ethics could be won round to regard homosexuality as natural and thus good.

In light of this, conservative evangelicals have begun to take an interest in precisely the sort of gender theory that the pope excoriates. It seems bizarre to me that evangelicals have started to read postmodern philosophers such as Michel Foucault with approval, but what they argue is that because our sexual inclinations are not stubbornly rooted in nature, they are more plastic and thus they are capable of being changed. In this way they can argue that gay people are not gay because of intransigent nature but because of wilful disobedience. Foucault would turn in his grave.

And one last thing. Why on earth did the pope think Christmas a good time to ignite this sort of row? For while we are all spitting tacks, those worryingly androgynous angels are trying to get their own message across: peace on earth and goodwill to all. And all means all.

• Giles Fraser is the vicar of Putney

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Disrupted

Over the Christmas and new year period the weeks are disrupted. Some folks have the full fortnight off. Others ended up with their Friday night on the Wednesday. Then we get a Friday and Saturday with no preamble and football playing on the Friday and Sunday. Then we get another mad Wednesday night. Taking us through to silly o'clock in the morning on Thursday. For some its back to work on Friday, other are off 'til Monday so is it a big weekend or has the January slump set in already?
With my reading of the credit crunch, Mytown's house prices and home ownership rate and one of the bigger employers looking skittish for the new year I think the last big party will be new years eve.
It's always in interesting night to work. Obviously there will be loads more drunken fun. We get to see all of our regulars out and about in full fine fettle. And we get to see a club full to the rafters with all the egos of the drunken male groups, the bitchy dynamics of the female groups and the unfathomable working of the domestics. I'm sure it'll keep me busy for the last night in a while.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ho Ho Bloody Ho

Yes I'm full of the Bah-Humbug spirit. Too many drunken fools with too much spirit in them. The gentlemen seem just seem to be too drunk too early to even enter the venue. The ladies are worse.
Pretty as the lady might have looked in the poster in the window. Most of our female customers do not look good in cheap red sateen with white polyester fluff. Especially when a drink's been spilt down it and the fake tan has turned the white to dun. Similarly stockings may be festive but fishnets looking like chicken wire and muffin tops on the top of each thigh make me lose my appettite.
I'll be thankful for the time and a half. Apart from that I'll be thankful when it's over. Only tonight, boxing day, the saturday and then the new ears eve and new years day to get through 'til the students return and a sense of normality can return. And a full working week.

A Modern Nativity....

I thought I'd bring out one I wrote earlier: "Marlene's Nativity"

I hope you enjoy reading it. It is a favourite of mine.

Now, take my friend Marlene: she's a very artistic type. You probably know the sort -dangly Trade Craft earrings, pencils and paint brushes pushed into her hair geisha - style: half-moon glasses precariously perched an the and of her nose and a pair of Doc Martens - one red and one green. ('I've another pair like this you know.')

She's a leading light in regional amateur dramatics with a name for her radical re-workings. Her trans-gender 'Phantom of the Opera' is still talked about in hushed tones…… in Dewsbury. Marlene is also a bit of a committee junkie, an inveterate organiser and with a reputation for not tolerating fools: (i.e. most other people she knows). So I wasn't particularly surprised when she agreed to the Church Councils' request to stage last year's Nativity. Picture it, the committee gathered in her large kitchen, all shaker style furniture and IKEA fittings - very Chapel Allerton. Oh, and she had an agenda.

“To bring this story alive it has to be brought into the present. We must make it relevant!” And so she set about her task with relish - carrying the rest of us, I have to say, rather in the slipstream of her enthusiasm.

Her neighbour's daughter, Sigourney, was cast as Mary, notwithstanding the fact that at 14, she was pushing the boundaries of virginity somewhat.

“But she's ethnic. Don't you see she's perfect for the part: so 21st century marginalized.” and that was that.

Marlene had intended to use her contacts on the Pink Housing Co-operative to cast The Three Wise Men, but in the event she didn't get things all her own way: internal politics in the Housing Co-Operative being what they are, and with negotiations turning unpleasant, the Wise Men turned out to be Justin, Trevor ... and Brenda….and you probably remember that Marlene and Brenda have not been on civil terms since the unfortunate incident at the Turkish bath.

Well it won't matter' said Marlene, all hurt pride and a large gin. “No one will notice the difference- All they'll see is three moustaches. And they'll be Wise Men in this production. After all, we couldn't possible call them Kings; could we?" she said looking at Justin and Trevor and laughing like a drain. Blank looks from the rest of the committee. “Completely over their heads.” she said to me.

The rest of the casting fell into place: the local Imam graciously declined the role of the Angel Gabriel. "Well you can take multiculturalism to the point of political correctness and then where would we all be? Answer me that?" Observed Brenda. Terry, the local postman took his place in a stunning piece of symbolism that no one got, even when Marlene, to considerable consternation insisted that he performed in his uniform.

“Philistines.” she said, as she explained with elaborate patience for the third time the symbolism of postman as messenger of God.

“Actually, Marlene, point of order. The Philistines were a very cultured people”

“Actually, Trevor, any more points of order and you’ll be the back end of the donkey."

Sigourney's boyfriend Cammeron - that's with two m’s - was drafted in as the innkeeper. A night-club doorman by trade he had little difficulty with the lines- “You can't come in here, we're full' although he did tend to keep fooling around at rehearsals and ad-libbing: 'You can't come in mate, but you can, love, we're letting in girls for half price”.
Now Brenda likes to think of herself as worldly-wise, but she flummoxed us all with her references to Cammeron’s musical animal impersonations. Eventually she explained: “Cammeron’s hung like a stallion, Sigourney told me. So, what does that sound like then? How does one sing like a stallion?”

Joseph was to be played by Len, the church caretaker.

"But he's about 1000 years old Marlene."

"Joseph was older than Mary you know. Anyway, it says a lot about the exploitation of women in a patriarchal society."

Rehearsals came and went as rehearsals do.

"Marlene, I'm sorry to interrupt but I'm having trouble with my character. What's my motivation here?"

"Piss off Trevor. Any more of that Luvvy crap and you’ll be the both ends of the donkey.”

"Len, please! How often have 1 told you? Don't smoke during the birth scene - the baby Jesus is inflammable."

"Marlene, if I hear another Christian say: 'and Wise Men seek him still . . . .' I may just throw up"

"Brenda, they're not Christians, they're Church of England."

"But I've heard they're a very inclusive congregation."

"Oh is that right Justin? Inclusive are they? Well you try being heterosexual in this congregation and see where it gets you."

"Sigourney, no more piercings please - at least not before Christmas. I'm sorry Cammeron ... you've had what pierced? I see .... well, we shan't need to see that on stage thank you very much"

“Point of order, Marlene, technically, its not Christmas, its Advent, which means….”


"Terry. Drop the line about 'Special Delivery', it's not working-"

"Do I look 1st century enough in this?"

"It's Armani, Justin, you took fine ... Do up your flies."

And so the evening arrived --- and Marlene was proved right. It was a triumph- dramatic, moving and powerful. The stable became an old garage, back-lit in moody tones, the manger: the boot of a jacked-up wreck. Drug paraphernalia littered the floor. Three local characters shared a bottle around a brazier and stray dogs sniffed around the set. Everyone delivered their lines perfectly, and on cue it snowed. Even the arrival of Justin's nieces on set dressed as Frodo and Gandalf didn't raise an eyebrow.

It's hard to believe that it was nearly a year ago now, and here we are again getting ready for this year. It's going to be different this year though. After Marlene's triumph the church council members met in emergency session. Words like uncomfortable, inappropriate, trendy and travesty were bandied about.

So we're back to the traditional again - shepherds in tea towels carrying cuddly sheep and angels with tinsel halos. The relevant and the up-to date, it seems, have no place in the Christmas story.

A happy and blessed Christmas to all from D.P. and family.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Seasonal Stuff

1) What is the true story of the Nativity?

John Bell (The Iona Community): Radio 4's Thought For The Day - 22ND Dec

Listen HERE Especially if you love a Scottish accent!!

2) Face to Faith: The Guardian

Hanukah's hope for a victory of 'light' over 'darkness' has a universal resonance, says Howard Cooper

The annual lighting of the eight-branch Hanukiah is about to commence in Jewish homes around the world. Each night an additional flame is lit, as the mythic celebration of the triumph of light over the forces of darkness is again enacted. The symbolism is universal. Every culture has its cyclical rituals of renewal and regeneration, often embracing the motifs of fire and light. Christmas is upon us, and Diwali has passed. And this year the first night of the festival of Hanukah - tomorrow - coincides with the winter solstice. Even our secular calendars mark the event: the hours of daylight will slowly increase, and with the increase of light, the earth renews itself, offering us the hope of the springtime to come.

This need for a renewal of hopefulness is especially true at a time of financial instability, ecological collapse and escalating concern about the precariousness of our existence on a planet whose resources we are rapidly exhausting. When Barack Obama, following his election as US president, spoke of "those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright", he was drawing on imagery derived from biblical prophecy about the hoped-for survival of the community of Israel (Isaiah 30:17).

And the sense of renewed hopefulness around the world that has accompanied Obama's election emerges from his articulation of where he believes the "true strength" of America comes from: "not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals". This is a secularised version of the biblical vision put into the mouth of the prophet Zechariah (4:7), who declares in the name of God that the nation will succeed "not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit".

It is this sentiment that underlies - and is quoted on - the festival of Hanukah: that although the eight-day holiday originates in a historic memory of a military victory in a guerrilla campaign two millennia ago against foreign (Graeco-Syrian) occupiers, a nation's true success is to be measured in non-material ways; that there are other values - values of the spirit, the soul, the heart - that count for more than money, arms, possessions, material wellbeing.

Yet this lesson took centuries to emerge. Against all odds, a group of Jewish religious nationalists had taken back the temple in Jerusalem and re-dedicated it to their God - Hanukah means "Dedication" - but what started as a sort of old soldiers' holiday transmuted into an annual opportunity to reflect on the ways in which each generation has to battle against oppressive cultural and material forces to retain its grasp on certain transcendent spiritual values and ideals.

Thus a legend arose, in relation to Hanukah, that when the temple's cultic candelabrum (the menorah) came to be re-dedicated, there was but a single flask of undefiled oil to be found, enough for one day only. And yet - a miracle! - it lasted for eight days, till fresh supplies arrived. The Talmudic rabbis used this mythic narrative to justify the continued celebration of the "festival of lights", suppressing its militaristic origins in favour of its symbolic resonances: the faith required to persevere against the odds; the belief that sparks of enlightenment can outshine and outwit the darkness grafted to our souls; the audacity to hope that integrity and truthfulness can illuminate - and thus win out over - falsehood and destructiveness.

This vision became the spiritual core of Hanukah. The hope for the victory of "light" over "darkness" has a universal resonance. In his acceptance speech in November, Obama highlighted the "challenges that tomorrow will bring" - including "a planet in peril". This Hanukah I wonder what new "miracle" we now need? Is it the realisation that one may suffice when we imagine we need eight? That less is going to have to mean more? That our material resources are finite - including our oil - but our inner resources are beyond measure? That faith means depending on each other more than ever before?

Howard Cooper is a rabbi, psychotherapist and author

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I must have missed the audition

Take a look at The Priests here

(Youtube won't let me imbed this one so you'll have to go them)

This is my favourite carol

I think the second one to sing is the best. I wonder why?

I think it might be my calling to join them. I could do that!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Landmark ruling strengthens gay rights in the workplace

The Guardian 20th December:

Discrimination against gay people in the workplace will be treated more harshly by the courts after two landmark judgments yesterday.

Lillian Ladele, the registrar who refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies "as a matter of religious conscience", lost her case against Islington council in north London. And Stephen English, a married man who was driven out of his job after being repeatedly called a "faggot" by colleagues had an employment tribunal ruling that he had not been the victim of sexual harassment overturned by the court of appeal.

The employment appeal tribunal ruled that Islington council had been entitled to discipline Ladele and threaten her with dismissal, even though her conduct was the result of "her strong and genuinely held Christian beliefs".

The council had been entitled to the view that "it was unacceptable discrimination for the claimant to refuse to participate in civil partnership ceremonies. It offended some gay employees and involved discriminating against third parties making use of the services of the council." Although the tribunal acknowledged that changes in social attitudes towards gay people could be "genuinely perplexing" for some religious groups, it ruled that it was proportionate for the council to require its registrars to conduct civil partnerships. Ladele, whose case was financed by the Christian Institute's Legal Defence Fund, said she would appeal.

"The issues involved are iconic of a situation where there are clearly clashes," said Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute. "Many Christians will feel that religious rights always play second fiddle to sexual orientation rights and we feel a more balanced approach is needed."

Islington councillor John Gilbert said the judgment "provides clarity for employers across the country in requiring their employees to act in a non-discriminatory manner when discharging their public service duties".

In the second case, the appeal court heard that English, married with three children, had been told by an employment tribunal that he could not be the victim of harassment based on sexual orientation because he was not gay. He had been subject to "homophobic banter" because he attended a boarding school and lived in Brighton, the court of appeal heard.

The court said: "The incessant mockery created a degrading and hostile working environment, and it did so on grounds of sexual orientation."

"Until now, victims of this type of abuse had little or no legal protection," said John Wadham, legal director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which backed the case. "The fact that Stephen English's colleagues knew he wasn't gay does not excuse their behaviour, nor should it prevent him from enjoying the same rights to dignity and respect at work."

Afua Hirsch, Legal Affairs Correspondent

Comment: "Many Christians will feel that religious rights always play second fiddle to sexual orientation rights and we feel a more balanced approach is needed." Really? None that I know. A more balanced approach? Now what would that be, I wonder? Ah yes, allowing outdated understandings of human sexuality to take precedence. Very balanced.

The quality of British society will be immesurably improved by this ruling. Another step towards justice and fairness and another nail in the coffin of religiously inspired bigotry.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The things Kristyuns say:

"You are banned. You are not a Christian for Christians don't accuse brothers and sisters in Christ of being non-Christian."

Comment: Now there's just something about that. If I could just put my finger on it...

(Sorry, I did originally post a link, but it is out of date. It was called Bibliocity)

And just because it made me laugh:

I so wanted to slip this into the Yr 9 Christmas assembly to see if anyone would notice, but good taste (and the desire to keep my job in financially hard times) won over.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No really

When a tiny drunken, mentally special chav meets a cold, bored, tired me.
After a while too long standing in the freezing sleety drizzle I can loose some of my legendary patience. I normally don't let this mood creep past my professionalism. When faced with diminutive, socially bankrupt, intoxicated and aggressive chav what more can I do but have some fun and alleviate my mood.
'Good evening' as he approaches. He's thinking he's gonna walk straight on in.
'No sir, not tonight.'
'You what?'
'Not tonight, try somewhere else.' He's still kinda lodged half in the door beside me so I took myself a handful of horizontally striped sweater and returned him fully to the pavement.
'Walk away now sir, we're done'
'Who the fuck are you?'
My normal patient silence
'You fucking dare touch me'
More patient silence and he takes this as fear and steps right into my chest. It would be getting in my face but really he's not that tall.
I wheel out my last chance gambit with a 'Go away now. Just Piss off!'
A little bit of swearing just lets a muppet know you're ready to shift up gears and it could be getting personal.
A little stunned step back and a moment to shake some booze out of his undersized brain then he looks me directly in the eyes and I begin to chuckle. His adrenaline is making him shake. In a moment I'm shaking trying to hold my laughter in. He then does the most offensive thing I've ever encountered and flips me the bird. One whole raised finger.
I am still keeping eye contact and swat his hand down. He tries with the other hand and I think about bending the finger back. Before I get the chance his adrenaline loses the battle with his fear and he steps back to blow some more hot air.
'You don't know any real men in Mytown, do you?'
Not gonna rise to this one
'Who the fuck do you know?'
Probably more real men than you will ever in Mytown and beyond its apparently rather stagnant gene-pool.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Exam Marking and tears

Well, here at the Yorkshire College for the Under Parented, it is exam time again. This is also known amongst the staff as the period which will destroy Christmas if you don't get those papers marked before 14.45 this Friday!

I hate marking at the best of times, but mock-exam marking is the worst. Given that our Yr 11s will be sitting their final exams in a little over five months, the results are usually quite disturbing: on top of the culture which sees revision as a sign of effeminacy I have the added problem of:

"But it's only R.S. Sir. Who needs an R.S. qualification?"

I have set them last year's GCSE paper as their mock. Ignoring the many who are unable to understand the meaning of IN SECTION A ONLY ANSWER 1 QUESTION and the choice indicators: EITHER Q3 OR Q4 and who go on to answer every question on the paper (badly), we still have the joys of specific answers. Here is an example:

Q10: Explain the rights of those involved when abortion is being considered. (6 marks)

I am expecting something which includes:
a) Under the law a woman has the right to choose providing she meets certain specific criterea as set out in the 1967 Abortion Act.
b) The father has no legal rights.
c) Some analysise of U.N. Declaration of the Rights of the Unborn Child.
d) Evidence of an understanding that medical staff have a right of opt-out through conscience.
e) Perhaps some understanding of the conflict between a legal right and a moral conviction.

Here is the answer from the first paper I mark:

Their are serten rights of law for abortion of the way of it been considered for people because some people in the world have laws of it not allowed for it to be took place.

Well, I'm glad we've cleared that up then.

Comment: It's going to be a long week.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jauchzet, frohlocket!

I am still floating ten feet from the ground after our performance in Leeds Town Hall on Saturday night of Bach's masterpiece, the Christmas Oratorio. You can keep Handel's Messiah!

I was well outside my comfort zone with this as I had missed three rehearsals due to that virus (I was in danger of not being allowed to take part) and the German is very hard.

But, Oh Wow!

We (The Leeds Philharmonic Chorus HERE) were joined by the Manchester Camerata HERE, probably the best exponents of Baroque music in England and the outcome was pure magic. Such energy.

So, Jesus was a man of the Reformation: I never seem to get Church History right.

Yes, that is a great company. I bought one of their large print version (old eyes... what can I say?).

The only thing I don't like about them is they sell foreign language versions of the KJB. I don't think that's right. We know the only true translation is the 1600's version in English.

It's too risky for anybody to translate that into other languages. Mistakes can creep in... and that can lead to heresy. True Christians should only read English.


Comment: But some of my Estonian friends don't speak English. What should they do?

Friday, December 12, 2008

This is not about abortion or capital punishment.........

.......................but fat chance anyone will listen!

I am 100% pro-life, unless we're talking about capital punishment, in which case I am 100% pro-death.

See Here

If anyone wants to continue the discussion Steve, LPC and I were having two posts down, it continues at Steve's place HERE

Not for the faint hearted!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thank-you note

Only once, and I'm not sure just how sane the writer was. In the doorstaff closet, next to the rota's and the incredibly poorly written notes to doorstaff not to use their phones, was a thank-you letter.
It was from a thankful a punter, after having an asthma attack in the venue she had been swiftly and carefully treated by the doorstaff and her handbag found and returned to her. Not a massive thing in doorwork, just the kind of thing a professional team does on a nightly basis.
Very nice for someone to write in. Probably the only one who's bothered out of the thousands who we help. Some folks we go really out of the way for and barely get a nod good-night.
It was a nice little reminder every time we went out into the venue that at least one punter, once, even drunkenly, thought we did a good job.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some people just don't do humour/irony. But I persevere..

"I am a bit troubled. I believe my son has a girlfriend, because she left a dirty magazine with men in it under his bed. My son is only 16 and I really don't think he's ready to date yet. What's worse is that he's sneaking some girl to his room behind my back. I need help, God! I want my son to stop being so secretive!"

The link has now gone but this came from something called The Good News Prayer room.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

O.K: Let's try something less subtle

The previous post failed miserably largely because folk didn't read what it said but went off on one about what they thought it said. So here goes again:

Me and like-minded Christian students are trying to organize a mock stoning of openly gay students at our campus. We will be using crumpled up gray/brown construction paper to represent rocks, and will recite bible verses in opposition to their sinful nature. We will throw a volley or two of these "rocks" at every Gay person we happen to encounter that day. Here

Comment: Just in case you still haven't twigged these posts, this is not a post about homosexuality; it is a post about Christians.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Same old Tunes

Even through the ear defender and radio earpiece I get far more volume than I require. In the 10 years of working in clubs almost all of the music has changed. Is it any better? Is it any worse?
I couldn't really tell.
What the music in clubs does is attract folks in to dance. They dance to enjoy themselves, they dance to pull. That's the theory. Club managers decide to pay DJs an awful lot of money for a few hours performing on the decks. Some clubs like a pop and prattle style, others like non-stop banging tunes. The tricks to getting them to the bar, filling the dance floor or keeping them in towards the end of the night are all fairly standard gimmicks. Not rocket science and not foolproof but enough to fool most of the people most of the time.
Is it getting better? I couldn't really say, I don't listen to it. It's just a background, a simple distraction, it helps pass the time on a quiet shift but can drag if its missing the audience and only the drunks haven't noticed it yet.
I do have tunes I think are well produced, well crafted and so on.
I know what music I like but you won't hear it in clubs, it doesn't suit being played at screaming volume, it's not what you'd call readily accessible.

More things people say

I can sum it all up in three words: Evolution is a lie.

Comment: Who said education is wasted?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

(Sometimes) I just love the English education system

And this was someone's school science project!

Read it here

(Apologies to all right thinking people for using the Daily Mail)

Friday, December 5, 2008

For your edification: other people's views.

No, everyone is born Christian. Only later in life do people choose to stray from Jesus and worship satan instead. Atheists have the greatest "cover" of all, they insist they believe in no god yet most polls done and the latest research indicates that they are actually a different sect of Muslims.

More Here

Comment: OMG!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Luther, love and Gloria Gaynor

So, I was writing this essay for college and I came upon this which I had saved for a rainy day:

Face to faith

Giles Fraser guardian.co.uk, Saturday May 15 2004

"I did not love God and was indignant towards him, if not in wicked revolt, at least in silent blasphemy." Martin Luther's admission that he had come to hate God sparked a theological revolution that transformed the political geography of Europe.
For Luther, service to a God who demanded human beings earn his love had become service to a heartless despot, impossible to please. The confessional had become a private hell of never being good enough, of never earning enough merit to satisfy the unattainable demands required for salvation.

Luther's deep sense of human inadequacy meant that a God who dealt with human beings strictly on the basis of merit was always going to be a God of punishment. He thus came to see his former understanding of Christianity as inherently abusive, as a destructive cycle in which the abused child constantly returns to the abusive heavenly father for comfort.

Parallels with arguments that are now transforming the political geography of Anglicanism are remarkable. For the debate about homosexuality is about a great deal more than sex. It is about the nature of God's love for human beings, and has much in common with debates that drove the Reformation.

The message the church has given to gay Christians is the message Luther came to see as inherently abusive: God does not love you as you are - you need to be completely different before he will love you.

Take the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster's advice that gay Christians should seek to "reorientate themselves". "I would not set myself up as a medical specialist on the subject, that's in the area of psychiatric health," he said. But gay Christians who have tried to become acceptable to God by subjecting themselves to electric shock therapy, or by being bombarded with pornography, have been forced into precisely the sort of private hell Luther experienced in the confessional.

Luther's theological breakthrough was to describe a wholly non-abusive God, who loves his children gratuitously - not on the basis of merit. God's love is experienced as grace, freely given, not as a demand that, in order to be loved, human beings must become something impossibly different to what they already are. It was a conception that released Christians from bondage to a theological construction that made their lives seem as desperate as a hamster on a wheel.

Against those who would conscript this desperation into financial gain through the system of indulgences, Luther spoke of Christian freedom and the Babylonian captivity of the church; against those who would make sexuality part of a package of guilt and self-disgust, he would renounce his monasticism by marrying a nun. Ecclesiastical authorities can no more insist on celibacy than "forbid eating, drinking, the natural movement of the bowels or growing fat," he declared.

Following Luther, generations of evangelicals described the joy of being released from the burden of impossible expectations. Remember Charles Wesley's hymn: "I woke, the dungeon flamed with light/My chains fell off, my heart was free/I rose, went forth, and followed thee." The next verse begins: "No condemnation now I dread."

Being saved is evangelical language for describing the new life beyond the censure of an abusive God - the sense of facing the truth, of admitting it to others, of being accepted as one is, of being released from the burden of impossible condemnation. Being saved is an experience emotionally identical to coming out of the closet.

This is not political correctness. It is about the nature of God. For the one thing all Christians believe about God is that he seeks to call us out of darkness into light, out of pain into joy, out of deceit into truth, out of oppression into freedom. Amazingly, Gloria Gaynor's gay anthem - "I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses" - turns out to be the contemporary voice of Luther's own protest: "Here I am, I can do no other."

· The Rev Dr Giles Fraser is vicar of Putney and lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford.

Comment:I'd like to be Giles Fraser!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A new blog.

Can I draw everyone's attention to: Suffer the Arrows which I have just started reading. I am very impressed. Please leave a message of encouragement.

Monday, December 1, 2008


It's very easy when you work for an agency to be replaced. If the manager doesn't like the look of your face, if they're trying to cut back, if they want to piss off the area manager, if they'd rather keep a good bar-staff or any of a dozen reasons, good or not. None have anything to do with the quality of your work.
All you can do to keep yourself settled is simple. Be polite and friendly to the boss, ask how they're doing, keep an ear to the ground, don't whine to them unless you really have to, don't show them up to their minions, friends or peers. Be friendly with the other staff, even the new glass collector who you don't give a week. Make yourself part of the team, when they have staff nights off, go if you can, enjoy yourself in context. Don't vanish like there's wolves chasing you at the end of the night, it's that bloody late you might as well spend five or ten minutes seeing how it went for everyone else. Don't be unprofessional, even on your nights off, you can do that in a whole number of places, not where you work.
And don't above all of these sleep with the staff, from area manager to bar-back. Someone will always find out, someone will always tell everyone and unless you get married and live happily ever after it will come back and bite you in the arse, hard, with teeth.

World AIDS day

Monday, 1 December 2008
Alison Elliot
Prayer for the Day. BBC Radio 4.

One of my favourite photographs is of a bright four-year-old girl from South Africa, with big red ribbons in her hair, giving a side-ways smile for the camera. Earlier in the day, we'd met her and her friends from nursery, listened to them singing the South African national anthem, with their arms folded against their hearts, and we'd played with them on the kinds of trundle toys loved by toddlers everywhere.

The nursery was run by a remarkable woman, who was living in a caravan so that the children could be looked after. They were special children because they were living with HIV. They were lucky. Many of them were already taking anti-retroviral drugs. But in their young lives they were already victims of the myth and stigma that perpetuate this illness. One soulful three-year-old had been through the unbelievable trauma of the trial of the man who had infected her, in the belief that having sex with a virgin would protect him from the virus.

Respect and Protect is the theme of World Aids Day, marked again today, twenty years on from its start. Striking the right balance between these two ideas is important. We often feel most protective when we see images of helplessness and victimhood. Yet people who are living with HIV increasingly want to be portrayed differently. They're open about their condition and making a good contribution to the lives of others. Some might play on the fact that they are HIV positive, like the photograph "Positive Faces" in the National Portrait Gallery - an array of sixteen cheerful people, grinning, winking, laughing - nurses, children, old men, all of them living positively with the virus.

Lord of abundant living, cast your protective arm round the people we stigmatise that their contribution to a wholesome society may be openly acknowledged by everyone. Amen

For a moving first hand account read here