This blog is supposed to be, as much as I can, my daily journey through life as a Christian. I hope it to be my thoughts and feelings on life but be as grounded in the Christian message as it can. My intention is not to create a daily readings or bible study guide but to look at my life in terms of a Christian trying to find and follow God's mission using his Life User's Manuel AKA the Bible.

Matthew 10 19-20

And don't you worry about what you'll say or how you'll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. - Matthew 10 19-20

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Jeremy Clarkson - Tried and Judged?

You may or may not be aware of the controversy surrounding Jeremy Clarkson in the British media at the moment over and alleged incident of him using racist language. Now anyone who knows of Jeremy Clarkson knows that his style and humour is always very close to the bone. He often uses terms and language that is intended to provoke a response and borders on causing insult. 

I don't want to role in on the circus surrounding the rightness or wrongness of anything he has, will or has supposedly done, more than enough people have done so already. What I do want to talk about is the trial and judgment meted out to this celebrity by the media solely based on the fact that he is a "celebrity" and therefore fair game. 

The first point which I want to make is that the word in question was never actually broadcast, was edited out in order not to cause offense, and if you believe the statements it was rerecorded and edited out on the say so of the so called racist Mr Clarkson. 

The second point is that the media has taken it on itself to go on a witch hunt in order to unearth something that it knows will sell, a story they know they can profit out of. To do this they have gone digging around searching and seeking for some slip up, a mistake, that they know they can build a controversy around. There has been a planned strategy behind this in order to discover, publish and follow up on something that they can tell the unsuspecting public is in their interests and instructing the public to be outraged by this.

As I said, I neither support or condemn Jeremy Clarkson for what he did or did not say or for his behaviours. Although I will admit to enjoying Top Gear with its irreverent sense of humour and school boyish approach. However I do feel that here we have someone who is being victimised for something he knew to be wrong after which he took steps to correct. Here we have a man not guilty of racism, but someone who having being brought up in a particular time period has grown to understand that what may have been acceptable in the past is no longer so. Here we have someone who knows that he skirts the boundary with controversy, but has obviously tried hard not to purposely cause offense on such a sensitive subject.

I don't know how anyone else feels, but I do object to being told time and again by the media about what I should be feeling offended by, I like the millions of other people in this country and around the world have a brain and I am capable of using it to make my own judgements and decisions. The number of people who felt it necessary to lodge official complaints about this issue a long time after the event in my mind shows a culture of people who are looking for what the media is trying to feed it, an excuse to be outraged. It was the same with Russell Brand and the Andrew Sachs debacle, how many of these incensed people were even aware of the original episode? How many of them actually watched that or any episode of Top Gear? Are we guilty of having the media that as a society we deserve? Lets not forget the recent scandals that the media industry has been involved with recently, are they using this and other "outrages" to try and hide from their own dirty past?

So this brings me on to the point I wish to make. Where should we stand on this situation and others like it? Do we weigh in and lay our voices with the camps of support or condemnation? Do we sit in the court of public perception and the media and pass judgment on all who are brought before us to be metaphorically stoned? Looking to scripture we know how Jesus chose to deal with such situations, when he said "He who is without sin may cast the first stone". We know not only from scripture but from our own life experiences that the rule you use to judge others will be used to judge you. I know that I myself even as a Christian live a life that is far from sinless, can we afford to live lives where we sit in judgement of others? I would hope that others could be forgiving towards my failings.

We know that what was said by Jeremy Clarkson was wrong, he has admitted as such himself. So where does that leave us? 

For me I feel we should be offering support to Jeremy Clarkson for the situation he is going through. We should make it known that we do not judge him or find him more guilty than anyone else for using abusive language. We should also make it known that neither do we support what he said or racism, hate, derogatory terms or any other kind of sin. We should be giving support to those affected by racism, those who suffer it in their daily lives and who face not only verbal abuse but physical and emotional abuse due to race. We should be educating our children and friends that all forms of hate and prejudice are wrong, including the hate and prejudice of those who are themselves guilty of hate and prejudice.

We can not live in a society that claims to be anti racist but yet is happy to be prejudice against people for other reasons such as celebrity. We need to let the mainstream media know that while we abhor the use of racist language, while we detest hate in all forms, we do not want to be guilty of what is essentially the same sin under another name by persecuting people for other reasons.

Society would be a much better place if people were more loving towards each other, more understanding and caring. If instead of looking for flaws and error we looked for opportunities to teach, learn and grow, if we looked for opportunities to love rather than hate. 

In closing this slightly ranty blog post (and I know it is the first in a very long time, recent traffic to the site has prompted me to get back on the blogging wagon again) I want to share some verses with you from Luke's gospel. If these don't tell us how to act with each other then there is very little that will.

Luke 6:41-42

‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

So in future, before we become obsessed and incensed by the latest newspaper frenzy lets think about how we should be acting and what we should be doing. In the end it all comes down to one word;


Saturday, October 01, 2011

Christian Driving

Ok, so I have been quiet on here for a little longer than I first intended. I am still working on my letter and it is taking longer than I thought so I am going to try and blog and write until it is finished.

Today's post is based on an experiment I have been performing for a few weeks now, I have been trying to see what difference driving in a Christian manner makes to my daily commute. Each day I spend up to about 2 hours driving to and from work and this has given me much time to try out various styles of driving to see which one works best.

I have to admit that naturally I am a very aggressive driver, I have always assumed that this style would be best as it would get me from point A to point B in the fastest possible time. Recently however the stress levels I have experienced in the car have been enough for me to try out a few different styles of driving to see if they make a difference.

The first difference I made was taking a different route to work, after a little experimenting I found a lovely route that takes me through some beautiful countryside with fantastic views that also uses less fuel, win win so far. Just the other day I realised that driving this route home rather than the motorway and the excessive traffic was leaving me feeling happier and more relaxed at the end of my journey which has led to my long term abandonment of the motorway.

Another difference which I am sad to admit I am finding difficult to always stick to, and one I have to remind myself of regularly is to drive in a Christian manner. To be courteous to other road users, polite and conscientious at all times instead of defending my road position and throwing hideous insults at those who get in my way. I have realised that on the days I drive with respect for those also using the road I may not always get home as fast as I could, but I do get home relatively stress free.

So my question is, when driving do you find that taking time to drive as a Christian and to appreciate God's creation improves your day, or is speed and short journey time the target for you?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Letter Writing

Hey guys hope you are all well. I am doing pretty good myself but have recently got a bee in my bonnet about the work I do and the Church I am a part of. This has led me to begin writing a mammoth letter which I will be sending to the leaders of my Church both nationally and internationally. Unfortunately this probably means that the time I would use to write on this I am likely to use in working on this letter. I may post the letter on here once I am done but I am not sure. So if I don't post for a little while don't worry I have not disappeared again I am just working on something else. Hope to be back on here soon, until then guys.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rugby World Cup

As I write this I am lying in bed watching England's first game in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Now I have been waiting 4 years since the last one for this one to start and like I do every 4 years I believe England can win the Web Ellis Trophy once again.

Rugby is a sport I love whether that is playing it or watching it I love it. However I have noticed at times that this sport can bring out the worst in me. I am well aware that this morning I have been very verbally aggressive and possibly slightly racist against the Argentinians and all because of 30 men running round after a prolate spheroid.

This aggressive nature is completely opposite to what my Christian nature should be, it is not compatible with the life I should be living. But how is it possible to reconcile my passion for this sport and my country and my Christian faith?

When I used to play myself we were always taught that we were to heap all our hate, anger and aggression on the other team so that combined with our passion we would be committed fully to a win. Equally though we were taught that respect on the pitch for our fellow players and to leave all those feelings on the field was the way we should be acting.

I think that this is similar to the idea of being strong on doctrine yet also strong on mercy. We can have this passion and have a righteous anger and still show Christian forgiveness and love by being merciful in the same way Christ was. We can want to win, we can push for victory, but not at the expense of our faith and values. We can hate what is wrong and hate what is evil, but not hate the people who are in the wrong or being evil. As Christians we should be tough on sin but gentle with the sinner.

Saying this it does not excuse the things I have felt and said this morning towards the Argentinians but it does show that we can have a passion and a desire to win in such things but we should always remember that as Christians we should love our fellow man, even if they are from Argentina.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

If it wasn't for those darn pesky Christians

I need to blow off some steam about something that happened at work tonight. I work as a support worker with people who are homeless, rootless or at risk of becoming so. This entails working with addicts, alcoholics, people with mental health issues and those working the streets. It is an absolute passion of mine to help these people and although I have not been employed to do this for long I know what does and does not work with this client group.

So tonight while working on our soup run four people in bright fluorescent jackets rocked up to my soup run asking who we are and what we do. It turned out that these people were from a local church who had recently begun doing outreach for the homeless on a Wednesday night offering hot drinks to the homeless and street beggars. This in itself is not a bad thing, anything that helps people in these situations can only be a good thing my issue lies in the fact that these guys are the new kids on the block rocking up to an established service attempting to poach service users is not in the best interest of said service users. My biggest bug bear is that they were actively attempting to coax my clients to their service, but they are not offering them anything past a hot drink and maybe a listening ear. Normally this is not a bad thing, the charity I work for believes strongly in service user led relationships and building relationships with service users by giving them time and not pushing an agenda. However when this takes a service user out of a situation where they are accessing a support service where they receive support that is available every day of the week and try to supplant this with just a one night a week service which only provides a hot drink this is doing harm.

What I see happening is a Church who have had the right idea but they have not followed it through properly. They have not looked at service provision already provided and looked to fill a need that exists, they have just simply had an idea and gone and done it. This for me is a massive waste of volunteer time, resources and funding that could have been utilised to do much more good in a different way. If they had looked at service provision they would have seen the nights when there is no provision and been able to set up a useful service. As it is they are providing nothing new and potentially causing harm to people who could be receiving practical help and assistance.

This is not the first time I have seen this happen, a Church sets up a scheme or program to help "the needy" but quickly burns out because they are replicating services and not providing anything of use. Like I said I have no objection to what these people are doing, helping these guys is fantastic, however by not researching the situation they are not helping they are potentially causing harm which is in no ones best interest.

One thing that I found didn't sit well with me was the need of these four to talk about God constantly. Ok, you are from a Church we get that, you want to help those who have a need, we get that too but why are you trying to convert people before you help them? Why are you presenting yourself with the unwritten proviso that by being Christian you are going to receive more help? It shouldn't be about trying to convert these people, we shouldn't be telling them that we will help them but fist we will pray about it. In time it may be that these people want to know about God, want to know why we do what we do, but it should never be something we require them to do. Help should never be provided on a basis of conversion, help should be freely given. We should be acting in a Christlike way, we should be helping these people but to do so on a basis of them listening to us sermonising is in my eyes wrong. Preach by your actions by all means, but to force your religion on someone when they don't want it is not going to win any souls.

For me the most telling part of the night was a quote from one service user who said to the Church group;

"This guy is my support worker, he looks out for me and has my back and for that I have his back. When I need help he is always there, he knows me and my situation and knows how to help. He's not just about a cup of coffee he is there when I'm rattling for drink and drugs and never judges me. I don't come here for the coffee or soup, I come here because I know he will be here and I know I can come tell him my problems and tomorrow morning he will be there to help sort them out. And any way I have enough problems as it is without you guys giving me more"

I know some people out there will disagree with me, but I am a Christian, I have a calling and a passion to help the homeless and the social outcasts, yes I want to win souls for Christ, yes I would love them to attend a Church but I am never going to force my religion on someone as recourse for providing help and I don't believe anyone else should either. If Churches are to do this sort of work they need to think about who it is they are really helping, are they doing this to ease their conscience or are they trying to help those who need it.  If they are really there to help those who need it are they really providing the right kind of help or could the money be better used by professionals out there day after day providing the help these people need and really making a difference.