Challenges of culture

First I seem to be a little slack on the old posting front so a few catch ups.

I read a great (!!) response to a book this morning that made me laugh… Writing about a UK author, the person wrote: he might be a big shot in the UK but I tell you the truth the man is a blasphemer.

I tell you the truth!!!!

Now that is quite a statement…

Andy Knox, a good friend who has boundless energy and passion, has a blog Reimagining the future that provokes us just to do that. He works in the health sector and is appalled at the consistent breaking down of the health service in the UK (and beyond) through performance demands that are economically driven. So for fans of, and for those labouring inside the health service in the UK here is a great article written from the experience of a US doctor who had to use the NHS while in London. Care for those in the land – residents or not – is something that, for me, echoes the OT requirements.

Culture challenges

But to the main thoughts of this post – two references to culture and the challenges. We are all appalled at the horrendous current scenario in Ferguson and Greg Boyd (who grew up as the son of a Civil rights supporter, and so was free of racism) writes an incisive reflection. He recounts how in the O.J. Simpson trial, close to 90% of African Americans thought O.J. should be acquitted, while the same percentage of whites thought he should be found guilty. Those were moments that caused him to ask a question (as a non-racist). His article suggests that there are walls that we as privileged (colour, race, class, gender, religion) never come up against. We are ‘free’ because we do not experience life from below. (Read the article here).

(Why the different responses from the two communities in the O.J. Simpson trial? Mainly down to their experience of authority.)

My second illustration is from a story recounted to me from Madrid. A (British) pastor went to visit a big Christian convention in Madrid. He left before the end and was just at the stage of putting his keys in the car lock when two men threatened him from behind demanding money. Shocked, he turned around, and recognised that he had seen both men inside the convention. He challenged them with, ‘But I saw you inside…’ The response:

“We are sorry we did not realise you were a brother.”

Funny and also sad. (Though of course we can all rejoice at the benefits of being a brother/sister!!)

And, if you are like me, something rises up within to go straight for the weakness of that expression of faith. I would be tempted to use the word ‘hypocrisy’. The convention was for a group of churches with a specific ethnic background, and although I would not suggest the questionable morals were reflective of the whole group, they probably expose a weakness in that culture. Easy to critique.

However it raises for me the question of what am I blind to because of my culture? Either (as per the Boyd article) I have never lived on the underside of a prevalent culture so am ‘free’, or am blind to what in my lifestyle negates my claim that ‘Jesus is Lord’.

In the Madrid scenario ‘non-brothers’ were viewed as fair game… do I view ‘others’ as fair game, where their loss, can be my gain?

Lions and creation stories

This short TED talk is worth a look. Richard as a 13 year old Masai solved how to scare away lions so as the Massai livestock could be kept safe. Humorous at times, for example when he describes how he used a scarecrow but how the lions worked out that when the scarecrows did not move over a period of time they were not going to be fooled by that.

The other part that took my attention was when he said that

My community, the Masai believe that we came from heaven with all our animals and all the land, for herding them and that is why we value them so much.

We are reading again the Creation stories from Genesis 1 and 2 and have been comparing them also to the Babylonian and other ancient stories, so it was interesting to hear this young Masai giving their story in brief. He is a highly intelligent boy and I was tempted to think how he would answer a set of questions such as:

  • Do you believe the Masai story of creation?
  • OK, but do you think it is literally true… that the account is the way it actually happened? Do you think the story is true?

I can’t answer for him but I guess he would answer ‘Yes’ to the first one, then look puzzled at the second set of (clear) questions. They are only clear in a given context, and are anything but clear in a context relating to a creation story. In that context the story can well be true and a myth.

So I guess you can see where our reading of Gen 1 and 2 are taking us.

One new feature – the contrast of Gen 1 and 2:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (and in the chapter we read of 6 days – Gen. 1:1).

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Gen. 2:4).

Not simply the contrast of 6 days to the 1 day of creation, but the reversal of the order, on the day he made the earth and the heavens.

Rich, rich, rich…

The Masai story tells them to herd the animals. Our story – what does it tell us? True myths are more powerful than scientific discoveries.

I wonder if the Masai who come to faith should drop their story or should they keep it alongside the Hebraic ones?

About this site

I am the main contributor to this site, though there are guest writers from time to time. Hopefully, what is presented are perspectives not the final word!

I am currently developing a part of the site with a focus on the 'gates of society'. That section will develop more as a forum with links to other articles, so that it becomes a resource for the future. I will also be looking for other contributors into the various subject-areas.

In my spare time(!!) I enjoy putting together wordpress sites, and also coaching people to make their own - open to hearing from you on that too.

Magazine articles

Just some more blogs? No, of course not, nothing even similar... well maybe very similar indeed, but hopefully you can use them differently. At the foot of this home page you will find 10 more blogs, these ones are grouped together, they will only be replaced every few months with a new set of 10. They can be downloaded as an emagazine, or read here as blogs (click on one and read, or use the 'emagazine' link in the menu above). Here on this site you can also add your comment.

Their core focus will be toward the gates of influence in society. They will not be the final word, hopefully provocative with some practical aspects thrown in.

The first four volumes will be uploaded here in quick succession, after that a breather before the next one. You can access earlier volumes from the emagazine page using the menu at the top of this page.

So you see - nothing like a blog!!

WordPress design

I develop WordPress based web-sites specifically made for your site. This site here is based on WP and uses a theme that I have developed. It can be as simple as a set of posts and some pages, or a few additional elements can be added such as this animated set of tabs that are activated here. I also plan the sites so that they are mobile-friendly, being responsive, they adjust to the device being used to view them.

If interested in a site feel free to make contact. I also have various courses on WP theme development. If interested in taking one of them online, or indeed you would wish to contact me about presenting a course to a small group.

Previous posts

Living sacrifices

Watching the news is not an easy thing to do at the moment. Everything seems to be exploding, and whatever one thinks about military interventions, who would wish to be a world leader at this time? Imagine being a peace-loving, follower of Christ and being presented with the situation that we now face in Iraq. […]

Prayer that changes history

One of the issues raised about the area of predestination / foreknowledge is that of prayer. Greg Boyd has been blogging on this and I won’t repeat here what he says. Boyd is an Open Theologian (future is not predetermined and is to some extent ‘open’) so naturally argues that prayer is about effecting real […]

Peace loving

Here are 13 examples of peace seeking initiatives within Israel and Gaza. Cross Palestinian and Israeli. There is for example one that involves former Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian militants, who ‘decided to put down their weapons and fight nonviolently for peace’. ‘Theophilus’ at Dover Beach yesterday posted ‘a short video about the violent history […]

Israel and moving beyond…

I understand the many posts / facebook statuses about Israel. They are a unique people (loved because of the patriarchs) and have been a persecuted people, and there are those who would wish them into oblivion. However… In the present – and future conflicts we have to move beyond the blanket support for Israel, as […]

Take 3 minutes

Just take a few minutes to watch this video from Jon Snow. I appreciate for many any issue surrounding Israel throws up the issues of land, promises and eschatology. However, there are issues beyond this. The average age of someone in Gaza is 17… so many innocents (children) are dying. Young people will never have […]

What time is it?

Thanks for the comments on the TULIP post… and the advice to wrap head in cold towels. I am sure it makes a significant difference. So with many wet towels at hand I will have a short go at ‘time’, God – inside or outside of time? This is one of the big conundrums philosophically […]

Not so fast Jehan

Reformed theology has been around for a long time – since the, when was it again? Ah yes the Reformation. One of those Reformers of course was John Calvin (born: Jehan Cauvin – hence my title). It has also gained quite an impetus with the likes of John Piper, Wayne Grudem et al. Of course […]

Narcissus

I have posted before on ‘The Narcissistic complex’. An Anglican vicar with a background in psychology explained to me that this was not some form of unbalanced self-love but was more complex. Narcissus fell in love with an image of himself, and my colleague explained that this was often what drove people, and was a […]

Go and be

Nothing particularly new in this post but I am going to reflect on two phrases that are very useful handles to understand two different practices. ‘Come and see’ has been the unwritten strap line that has shaped a number of more recent church structures. ‘If we build it they will come’ was a little adventurous […]

Magazine Articles

Editorial Vol 2.1

In this issue there are a number of articles to respond to. Dyfed reviews Roger Mitchell’s thesis Church, Gospel & Empire. Roger’s book is his thesis so we should not expect it to be an easy read, however, with Dyfed’s review I think the book will be accessible for most. In a recent blog Roger […]

When is a Gate not a Gate?

It is a simple question. Should religion be treated as a gateway in the model of the city that we explore on this blog? Martin and I have both, perhaps instinctively, said no. Then Martin invited an article on the topic: then I got to thinking: then, well, you’ll see.

Ownership, stewardship & forgiveness

“So the business leaders of today are not capitalists in the sense in which Arkwright and Rockefeller were capitalists. Modern titans derive their authority and influence from their position in a hierarchy, not their ownership of capital. They have obtained these positions through their skills in organisational politics, in the traditional ways bishops and generals […]

It’s the Economy stupid!

So much talk about the economy, but what is the economy? Is it just pounds and pence? Dollars and Euros and cents? The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the system of trade and industry by which the wealth of a country is made and used.”

W.I.L.D. voices for the poor and the powerless

For some time I have been wrestling with the issues of money, care for the poor and how our present western economic system seeks to support people in need. As a community at Antioch, Llanelli we have a focus on ‘God’s presence and the poor’ and over many years see the day to day pressures of folks who are increasingly struggling financially in these challenging times.

Church, Gospel & Empire: a review

‘How is it that the best of church experience in both traditional and radical expressions tends to relapse to hierarchical domination and control?’ This is Roger Haydon Mitchell’s chilling question in his introduction to his newly published PhD thesis, Church, Gospel & Empire.

Art shaping culture

It has been received wisdom for a while now that economic power is shifting from the old world to the new world. Continental Europe is faced with tremendous headwinds to do with spiraling social costs and an ageing population that means growth over the next 100 years will be hard to come by. In the developing world on the other hand very low wage rates and high worker motivation are combining to create a compelling long term argument for excess growth rates and wealth creation for those markets.

Values: unelectability

I watched a film recently ‘Ides of March’. A film looking at people on the campaign trail. The governor has sex with the intern (definitely a big ‘no’ in the film)… However, the areas that were far more challenging though were to do with the ethics of winning votes. One example were meetings with fellow politicians to gain their endorsement. Making a deal so that votes could be guaranteed – in return a position in the forthcoming government.

Wealth: redefinitions

Definitions of course have their limitations, but I was provoked and challenged when sitting listening to a Zimbabwean speak. His question to us was to consider what are we were investing into. To help us he used the two phrases of ‘artificial’ and ‘creational’ wealth. One he said was how the (industrialised) West defines wealth, but is illusionary. This he, therefore, termed ‘artificial’.

Come back Christian nation

Abortion, gay marriage, Sunday trading (sorry, strike that one off, as we like that now)… All evidence that we are losing it. The ‘look, once we could see Cathedrals and church spires on the landscape, now Mosques are where churches once stood’ type of statement are all laments about what is disappearing.