Post truth

truth-300x200The 2016 word of the year award has been given to ‘post truth’ apparently. A definition of post truth being:

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief:
‘in this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and come to whatever conclusion you desire’.

The philosopher AC Grayling in http://www.bbc.com/news/education-38557838 warns of the “corruption of intellectual integrity” and damage to “the whole fabric of democracy” that results from post truth. The connectability through social media and the power of ‘fake news’ is opening up a new world, one which many warn is not too dissimilar to that of the 1930s. In the article on the BBC Grayling does just this saying ‘the international landscape is more like the volatile, intolerant era before World War Two.’ If the thesis of Strauss-Howe (The Fourth Turning) holds then there is a more-or-less 100 year cycle which would also point to the dangers of the coming era.

Michael Shermer, author of The Believing Brain says that any challenge to one’s beliefs activates the same area of the brain that is involved in giving us our personal identity and raising an emotional response to threat. To consider an alternative belief is to be pushed to considering an alternative version of oneself. The power then of post-truth and of fake news plays into this. We all to readily accept what is said – and those in power are exploiting this – to believe something that resonates with our identity rather than question it. If it resonates then the ‘truth’ of it is secondary.

We are not yet fully to the end of the 100 year cycle, we are not quite at 1930, but the stage is set. The end of 50 years of peace in Western Europe seems unthinkable. Yet to suggest some 10 years ago that a post truth era would become established and politicians could run campaigns so blatantly based on that would have been equally unthinkable.

The power of the Gospel is that it challenges our identity. It challenges all belief systems, for it is foolishness to the Greek. It is contrary to what motivates our world system. It is a call to lose one’s life not find it. It is a call to believe in a God who will not bail us out but who will be crucified. We have an opportunity to sow now for the future, so that the 30s of the 21st century might not repeat the 30s of the 20th century. A handful of modest suggestions for the followers of Christ might be along these lines:

  • We do not swear allegiance to any power other than God. Surely by doing so we are taking on a measure of blindness. I appreciate that this could be viewed differently depending on one’s national background, however by being a member of the body of Christ I am by definition trans-national before any other national identity, and as Rowan Williams recently wrote about baptism that it does not set us apart from humanity but immerses us even deeper within it.
  • That whatever our political preferences we do not believe that the truth lies on the right or the left. That we are able to honour those who are politically of a different persuasion to us with genuine honour. If we do not then we are inviting powers to shape us that will exploit us.
  • That we are slow to believe everything critical, and refuse to tar all people of a certain category with the same brush.
  • That we listen to the opposite of what simply confirms us in our beliefs. If our identity is being renewed then there is likely to be something in the voice of others that God will use to help shape us. The Spirit works incarnationally.
  • We carry a generosity of spirit, and a passionate belief that God is at work on the big canvas and that we do not elevate our few pixels to being the whole image.

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Exile, aliens and home

Thanks to one an all for the comments on the previous post. Language can be such a challenge, and when analogies are used they often only describes a situation in part. Israel in Babylon were clearly in Exile, planted into a foreign culture away from the Temple rhythms, separated from their family inheritances. Exile was not an analogy for them it was a reality. Exile is a living reality for the many who are currently fleeing their lands due to war or extreme economic hardship. I might have received words about going into Exile – but the result is not as acute as the examples above.

Using the term ‘exile’ might also suggest that there has to be a change of geography or of distance from a previous setting, or that without that someone is lagging behind. I certainly do not believe that. The richness of the call of God is amazing. My background has not been that of the sacramental approach to the faith, but I, along with most non-sacramentalists that I know, would not for one minute suggest that the current pope or archbishop of Canterbury are not standing exactly where God has appointed them. This is the richness of God. I have so many colleagues that I have met over the years, and continue to meet from time to time, who are serving God in what might be termed traditional church settings. And serving God they truly are. Are such people not in exile? If I assume they are not in exile I also have to conclude that exilic existence is one existence for the people of God. The benchmark is not that exile is the new criterion that elevates one over another. The test we all face is that of serving God where we are. And in relation to the world (as defined by consumerism and not religious legalism) we are all to live as aliens. The greater the distance between heaven’s culture and the one we find ourselves living and working in will be the extent to which we are in exile.

Yet relating to the previous post and the sense in which I was using the term ‘exile’ there, I do consider that there are those who have been thrust out of what they have known to explore living in a culture that is alien to them. I do not suggest that this makes them superior nor would I wish them to be seen as inferior. In the context of Europe we have for years been seeing that thousands, and probably 10s of thousands, will find themselves uprooted from the familiar and be scattered to new situations where they will initially feel isolated and have to come in as those in need of being fed by the people of the land (Luke 10). Just a couple of days ago I had an email from a couple now in Athens that I had no idea had been taken there to slowly learn the ‘language’ of the land and gain the right to sow into it. They are one more example of those who at that level have been exiled. However it is not primarily about geography, nor is it about one’s relation to what might be termed a congregation. It is about a repositioning within the world. Nigel in his comment on the previous post raised the helpful point that if we are where God wants us to be then at a very real level we will be at home. That has to be the reality.

So exile might or might not be a good term. The embededness in the world, even if that is a society that could be familiar to us, is where God wants us to be. Alongside that there will be many who find themselves in a setting that is less than comfortable for them. They will at times look back to the former days where God was found. If I am correct that the aspect of royal priesthood is central to the election of heaven, then it is vital that the body of Christ will be comfortable with exile as an experience, otherwise we should not be surprised to see national sovereignty raising its head, walls being built and no home given to the refugee. I made a huge leap in the last sentence, but I think this is what is at stake.

As we truly get into 2017 I consider that one of the continual challenges will be, regardless of the level we feel alienated, will be our ability to embrace the mess around us. God’s world is a mess, and there is no prayer that is there to take us out of it, but that with the presence of Jesus to live within it. As a result we will get our feet dirty, and if we not abide in him we will find our hearts also are tarnished.

In my experience of exile there is a necessary element of being weakened. Of discovering that what I was formerly able to do I am no longer able to do. I think that is probably an ongoing experience. It is great to quote Scripture: ‘I can do all things…’ but the all things are through Christ, not through familiarity. For those evidently called into exile then there is also a key Scripture that comes before the one I just quoted. It is the one that says ‘without me you can do nothing’. And if he is to be found where we have not yet fully entered, we will have to learn to grasp with both hands the exilic condition, then we will be with him, then we will discover even if we are not able to testify to being able to do all things, that at least we are doing a few things that carry the hallmarks of heaven!

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This site

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!

The main area that I focus on and continues to interest me is how we should understand and live out the gospel. I am convinced (a perspective!) that we have to understand the implications of the gospel as being that of impacting the world. Although the kingdom of heaven can never be identified with any 'earthly' kingdom we are called to pray, live and act, so that we see greater measures of heaven manifest on earth.

I am very grateful that I have been deeply influenced by a charismatic theology, an anabaptist understanding of hermeneutics, a long-term involvement in the various intercessory / spiritual warfare, and the (more-recent) work associated with 'kenarchy'. backgrounds. They all influence me enormously and it will not take too much discernment to read those influences in these pages.

Why Spain

Why Spain

spain-mapGayle and I have lived in Spain since 2009 (Jan. 1 - start the year as one intends to carry on?) and although Spain was not a place that was on either of our radar, the continent of Europe certainly has been. In that sense we have a focus on Europe and live in Spain, however as we have dug into the history of Spain something has got under our skin.

Spain has only a recent history of democracy (1975-1977 being years of transition to democracy, post Franco), and has been subject to a two-party domination in politics, until the end of 2015 when that was broken. Although our hope is not placed in a political party we see incredible connections between the shift of the 'powers' and the time in history that has been unlocked through prayer.

Our own focus has been on the history of the land and we have had a strong focus on the Civil War (1936-39) and its aftermath.

We plan to be based in Spain long-term and increasingly look to connect with those who are embedded in the wider European context and are seeking to live out the implications of their faith in that setting.

WordPress design

WordPress design

wordpress_logo20I began developing sites for my personal use many years ago and settled on WordPress soon after it moving from being simply a blogging platform. I find it incredibly flexible and can empower virtually any style of site. My skills are in working with clients who wish something custom made for their use.

This site here is based on WP and uses a theme that I have developed. A site can be as simple as a set of posts and some pages, or any number of elements can be added such as this animated set of tabs that are activated when clicking the tabs above. All the sites are designed to be 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 developed 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.

This site
Why Spain
WordPress design

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!

The main area that I focus on and continues to interest me is how we should understand and live out the gospel. I am convinced (a perspective!) that we have to understand the implications of the gospel as being that of impacting the world. Although the kingdom of heaven can never be identified with any 'earthly' kingdom we are called to pray, live and act, so that we see greater measures of heaven manifest on earth.

I am very grateful that I have been deeply influenced by a charismatic theology, an anabaptist understanding of hermeneutics, a long-term involvement in the various intercessory / spiritual warfare, and the (more-recent) work associated with 'kenarchy'. backgrounds. They all influence me enormously and it will not take too much discernment to read those influences in these pages.

Why Spain

spain-mapGayle and I have lived in Spain since 2009 (Jan. 1 - start the year as one intends to carry on?) and although Spain was not a place that was on either of our radar, the continent of Europe certainly has been. In that sense we have a focus on Europe and live in Spain, however as we have dug into the history of Spain something has got under our skin.

Spain has only a recent history of democracy (1975-1977 being years of transition to democracy, post Franco), and has been subject to a two-party domination in politics, until the end of 2015 when that was broken. Although our hope is not placed in a political party we see incredible connections between the shift of the 'powers' and the time in history that has been unlocked through prayer.

Our own focus has been on the history of the land and we have had a strong focus on the Civil War (1936-39) and its aftermath.

We plan to be based in Spain long-term and increasingly look to connect with those who are embedded in the wider European context and are seeking to live out the implications of their faith in that setting.

WordPress design

wordpress_logo20I began developing sites for my personal use many years ago and settled on WordPress soon after it moving from being simply a blogging platform. I find it incredibly flexible and can empower virtually any style of site. My skills are in working with clients who wish something custom made for their use.

This site here is based on WP and uses a theme that I have developed. A site can be as simple as a set of posts and some pages, or any number of elements can be added such as this animated set of tabs that are activated when clicking the tabs above. All the sites are designed to be 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 developed 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.

Exile becomes normal?

Well that has been a true break between posts. We have been in the USA for the Christmas and New Year break, bunkering down with family. First time all together since 2012 so been great. Long flights ahead for us and we will finally be in Madrid tomorrow night, maybe around 24 hours of travel […]

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Lowest rate since 1971

This report came out a short while back that the USA now has the lowest abortion rate since the historic date of 1971. Statistics such as this are a huge challenge to those who hold to the sanctity of human life, and how we work with how Christian legislation and redemptive legislation might not always […]

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There and back

1450kms (900 miles) in total through the most wonderful scenery there and back. En route eventually snow-capped mountains, a final long tunnel and across the border to France. Two fully packed days to catch up with each other and then to pray and seek to make intelligent declarations for the continent of Europe. What a […]

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