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Showing posts from May, 2007

Me and Jesus: Episode 2

I went to the lunchtime Meeting for Worship at the Manchester Quakers today. Unfortunately my prayers turned to thoughts and frustrations about what I don't understand so I left feeling worse than when I went in. I hate it when that happens. This is where I'm at: This is the conversation I have had, will have and imagine having: You're not a Christian. Yes I am. But you don't believe in the Trinity. I don't think that's what makes someone a Christian, or at least a follower of Jesus. So what makes you a Christian? When I say Christian I mean someone following Jesus, following Jesus' teaching. Didn't Jesus teach that he was divine, and that we should believe in him and his death on the cross for our sins? No, I don't think he did teach that. So what do you think he taught? This is the point I get stuck, what did Jesus teach? The liberal answer I often get is something like: God is love, love God and love neighbour. Which is all v

The Man Who Never Died

This is the story of the Man Who never died: and who proclaimed that he who's born must be re-born; and he who's dead must rise from the state of death. For it is not the nature of man to die, but to live from no-time to no-time. ... Men said to Him:- 'How shall we live?' and He said:- 'By dying to yourselves!' When asked, 'How shall we die?' He said:- 'By being alive to what never dies within you!' He healed the sick, bringing them back to themselves. ... In prayer you say nought to thy Gid, but listen to His SILENCE like the flower opens its heart out to the mystery of the unknown stars. Prayer is a secret dialogue between lovers, where the mind questions in doubt, and the heart answers in faith. 'The Man Who Never Died' by Gopal Singh

The World Can't Wait

Sign this message to G8 leaders here . Dear Angela Merkel and Tony Blair, I am writing as a concerned European citizen to ask that you make this year's G8 Summit and EU Presidency really count for the world's poorest people. During 2007 you have enormous influence on the world stage and the opportunity to make this a decisive year in the fight against global poverty. When you meet with G8 and European heads of state in June, use your influence to: · Deliver the extra debt cancellation and extra aid that was promised in 2005, and more, without imposing harmful conditions · Ensure that international trade deals are just, and help reduce poverty by not forcing poor countries to open their markets to unfair competition or destroying decent work · Provide funds to deliver education, clean water, sanitation, and healthcare for all, including upholding trade rules to provide affordable and quality medicines, and keep your promise that no one should go without treatment fo

Me and Jesus: Episode 1

Sometimes prayer is non-thinking, sometimes full of prayerful thought, where the heart and mind come together in beautiful song. Tonight I've been praying thoughtfully and thinking prayerfully. This is what I've decided: 'A disciple is not above the teacher.' What do I need to decide for Jesus to be my teacher? Do I need to believe he is infallible? No. I only need to acknowledge that my teacher has greater knowledge than me, at least in one particular area. I acknowledge that Jesus has a greater experience of God than I, so he can be my teacher. Which is not to say that I cannot argue with my teacher, or disagree with him. But he does have things to teach me. I know and acknowledge that, so he can be my Teacher and Guide, for now.

Bah

Next week I was supposed to be going to a 'Post Christendom' conference with Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia and Stuart Murray but it's been cancelled. Bah. After I was quickly reading Stuart Murray's book (which has a very cool cover) to be able to say something intelligent to him. Ah well. I'm just going to have to read the book as well as the website of the Anabaptist Network which seems pretty good. I'm warming to the idea of identifying as Anabaptist, but I'll have to identify as a Christian to do that. Hey-ho.

Am I a Christian?

I've been struggling with this question for my whole life really. I love God, and I like Jesus, most of the time. I'm certain Jesus wasn't the second person of the Trinity, and that he didn't die to take away my sins (as certain as it's possible to be in matters of faith). Let's just put that to one side. But even if I am talking about the religion of Jesus I have some problems. Not least of which being that that religion was Judaism. Jesus seems quite a distant figure that I only get glances of. Some glances amaze me, some horrify me. I'm happy for Jesus to be a prophet of the past that I can get a lot from, but what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus in 2007? I want to be a follower of Jesus, it would make my life clearer in some ways, and I would feel like I belonged in ecumenical settings where I spend a great deal of my time. But I have problems. So I'm going to devote some time this summer to wrestling with this question. And I'd like he

Defend freedom of information

On Friday 18th May, Conservative and Labour MPs voted to exempt Parliament from Freedom of Information laws, creating one law for MPs and Lords and one law for everyone else.The Bill - introduced by a Conservative MP - will now go to the House of Lords, where it can still be stopped from becoming law. Sign the petition against this law here.

Response to Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown makes some interesting points on his blog . Unfortunately he doesn't allow comments, but asks for feedback by email so I've just sent this to him. Dear Andrew, I’ve been reading your blog, which is very interesting and stimulating. It is a shame that it is not on a format like blogster or wordpress (and I don’t really know anything about what’s the best thing) where comments would be possible and debate more easy. In regard to your entry beginning ‘This, then, is my dilemma’ I have a few thoughts that I wanted to share. (I’m also posting this on my blog). I think you bring up some very important points but I have some concerns. Are the two different Unitarianisms really ‘very different’ and entirely incompatible? When Channing preached the ‘Unitarian Christianity’ sermon he divided his thoughts into two sections: the methods used by Unitarians in approaching the Bible and the doctrines that Unitarians believe by approaching the Bible in this way. It seems to me

Government response to petition on blood donation

Here's a petition I signed on the Number 10 website: We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Overturn the National Blood Service (NBS) ban stopping Gay and Bi (G&B) Men giving Blood." Details of petition: "Blood in the UK is tested for HIV and Hep B&C before use. The NBS say the record for testing is exceptionally good. Last year patients received three million+ units of blood and blood products, 6 of which were infected with a blood borne infection (or only 1/100th more of a risk if Gay and Bi men were to donate). UN and World Health Organisation position for blood donation is not to discriminate against groups of individuals. HIV is now at its fast growing rate in the heterosexual community. The polices of the NBS are outdated, making decisions as to whether or not your allowed to give blood on how honest you are. Internationally the following countries repealed their life Bans on G&B men giving blood: Italy South Africa Sweden Spain Portugal Rus

Blow the Whistle

I'm really annoyed I can't get to this. Please go if you're in Manchester, and find other ways of keeping up pressure on governments to tackle poverty if you're in the rest of the UK or another G8 nation. Blow The Whistle - Half Time To Halve Poverty Sunday 20th May, 3-4 pm, Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester 2007 is the half way mark to the aim of the governments of the world to halve global poverty by 2015. The Blow the Whistle campaign aims to draw attention to the disturbing lack of progress from world leaders in fulfilling their commitments which were made by in 2000. Blowing the Whistle Half Time to Halve Poverty will be a powerful reminder to the UK government that we are as committed to the poor and to justice as we have been during recent years, as expressed in the Make Poverty History campaign, Jubilee 2000, and other high profile campaigns. This can be a powerful reminder a few weeks ahead of the next G8 conference in Germany in June. But to make the big

Me in Taize

The Taize community website have just put up a video about the community that you can watch online. It's a good video that captures the spirit of the place, plus it does feature moi with some rather fetching stubble (Steve from Birmingham if you can't work it out). Worth watching. I'm heading back there this summer. It will be the first time I've been back in 4 years. Except this time I'll be going as an out and proud Unitarian, not as someone tagging on to some Anglicans. That will be an interesting experience I think.

Tradition

What is the division within Unitarianism? I think it might be simplistic to speak of Christian and non-Christian. A more accurate way I think is to talk about different attitudes towards tradition. Some Unitarians see what has gone before as important, others much less so. Of course us liberals in general have little time for tradition. But I am very much of the opinion that tradition does matter. It's the radical catholic in me. It matters where we've come from, our story so far. We are not bound by that story, but our own story does emerge from that. We need roots. Although often people put the label 'Christian' on me, it's not one I freely use for myself. I may do one day, but I am still of two minds of whether I want to use the label 'Christian' or not. I am still unsure what that might mean. But one thing I am is a traditionalist. I don't want a religion made up yesterday. I don't want something disembodied from its history. Whether we still

Mission Implausible

I'm in the middle of reading this book. A central theme is that modernity and postmodernity in Europe has undermined the 'plausibility' of Christanity so Christians need to build structures that protect and reinforce the plausibility of the Christian story. I've just been mulling over this. My question is this: does following Jesus depend on a worldview? Is Christianity a worldview? My feeling is that it isn't. My feeling is that Jesus didn't come to start a worldview or a religion but to tell the people around him how to live their faith more authentically in a transformed relationship with God. When the Jesus movement later expanded there was the need to build a 'worldview' that successfully married Hebrew and Greek culture. And so a philosophical system was created and so were the creeds. But I don't think Jesus' message is actually tied to that worldview. I think worldviews come and go, and that one is going, or it has already gone. I think

Does anyone know anything about the Development Commission?

Apparently it exist in the late eighties to early nineties. It was meant to 'develop' some volunteer congregations to get them to grow, and apparently there was some talk of developing new churches in towns without a Unitarian presence, but that never happened. But clearly it had some pretty serious funding. The language of 'development' is interesting. I want to smack the label 'evangelism' on this kind of thing. What can be learnt from the successes and failures of this venture?

Election results, in my neighbourhood and beyond

Here are the results in my ward, Rusholme: Abu Chowdhury (Liberal Democrat) 1241 Atiha Chaudry (Labour) 746 Nahella Ashraf (Respect) 535 Penny Collins (Green) 224 Daniel Valentine (Conservative) 190 I don't mind saying that I voted for the LibDem, the sitting councilor, and he won. That's the first time I've voted for a LibDem and they've been successful. I was very aware of the anti-war Respect party campaigning in a very visible way here. Although they came third, they weren't really a threat. I thought they might do better here. I also don't think I've ever lived in a ward where the Conservative came fifth and last. That tells me a lot about the neighbourhood where I've lived for six months. In Manchester overall things stayed pretty much the same, Labour are in power, Liberal Democrats in opposition, there hasn't been a Conservative councilor in 11 years