Lessons from History

Parliamentary government was breaking down at a moment when the economic crisis made strong government imperative… Hitler realised that his own opportunity had come sooner than he expected. The hard-pressed people were demanding a way out of their sorry predicament… To all the millions of discontented, Hitler, in a whirlwind campaign, offered what seemed to them in their misery some measure of hope. He would make Germany strong again…

William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

There are many places around the world that seem to echo the Germany of the early 1930s. A perceived lack – be it of food, of uncorrupted leadership, of employment, of morals, of religious observance, of effective criminal law – creates a vacuum. A vacuum creates tension. Tension leads to conflict. I pray we can work together for good, in humility, for Christ’s sake.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another. “

John 13:35 (NRSVA)

Give a Child a Future

schoolbook

There are quite a few blog posts floating around my head at the moment, but I have been too busy and/or too tired to actually write them. This is just a quick post to provide a link to the ONE campaign’s petition calling for education for refugees, the following is from an email I received earlier today:

Every child deserves an education. But right now, well over 3 million refugee children aren’t just away from their homes, they’re out of school.

The impact of this is devastating, with children often forced to work and, in some cases, having to agree to child marriages in order to survive.

These children have already lost their homes. They shouldn’t lose their futures, too.

This September, our leaders will be meeting in New York to discuss the global refugee crisis – they need to put education at the heart of that conversation. Sign the petition and let’s help these children get the future they deserve.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for signing.

Things Politick

The whole notion of faction or party was thought by many to be wrong and unpatriotic. For an independent MP to arrive at the House of Commons, speak up for his constituency, vary his vote and mix it with all of the parties was therefore perfectly normal. 

~ William Wilberforce: Life of the Great Anti-Slave-Trade Campaigner

by William Hague

Strange, isn’t it, how things change? From widespread slavery and votes for rich males only, but without factionism, to the 21st century votes for all but with factions deeply entrenched. I don’t think we have figured out democracy, even now. As Churchill reportedly said, democracy is just the least worst option. As followers of Jesus, the process of democracy must never become more than, or equal to, our desire for God. No political party or faction will ever be able to represent Christ. I guess we – prayerfully – stick with this ‘least worst’ attitude towards governance. I write with both the UK’s impending referendum on whether or not we stay in the European Union and the imminent US general election in mind.

Incidentally, what an inspiring man of faith was William Wilberforce! And William Hague (yes, that William Hague) writes surprisingly well.

Reblog: A Beautiful Kingdom Warrior’s Perspective on Race Relations in America

Very interesting post.

I imagine there are many negative things within British culture that cause polarisation. For instance, there is widespread prejudice against gypsies in the UK (some people say one shouldn’t use the term ‘gypsy’ but as far as I know it is what they identify themselves as). When you’re close to it you don’t perhaps see yourself as prejudiced, maybe you see it as common sense. After all, gypsy communities are often involved in crime and social disorder… or so the story goes.

More generally, people will say ‘I’m not prejudiced’ but then will spout the rhetoric of overtly divisive political groups who blame either immigrants or the unemployed for everything bad that has ever happened in England since Alfred the Great. The stupid thing is that the UK has a long history of being ‘multicultural’, going back two thousand years when the Romans first invaded. Various different races/cultures have invaded/influenced/imposed since then, until we invaded half the world under Queen Victoria (which was without doubt inherently racist!). All of us have mixed ancestry.

That said, there are some things that are perhaps more noticeable by outsiders, and in relation to the US it seems to me that America is obsessed with labels and putting people into boxes right from childhood. There is also the (now universal, in the internet era) phenomenon of opinions being given the same weight as facts, which is troubling in and of itself. One of the pitfalls of freedom of speech? In this sense, ignorance is often as much at fault as prejudice… and that fact just makes me weary. :-/

The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors

rosaparks

Becky and I began The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors this January as a place to empower Christian women and to host redemptive (redemption: n. the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil) dialogue on gender issues within Christianity.  We chose to name our blog “The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors” because we believe that our role as Christians is to partner with God in the redemption of the world’s brokenness, restoring God’s kingdom on earth.  When God presented Eve to Adam in the Garden of Eden, it was as his “ezer kenegdo” (Genesis 2:18, 20; ezer appears throughout the Old Testament to describe God’s help in warfare – i.e. the Warrior bit).

A simplistic summary of the story of the world is: the Creation (all was good, according to God’s plan), the Fall (all is broken and in need of redemption), and God’s Redemption Plan (encompassing all aspects of God’s restoration…

View original post 2,892 more words

Oppression Has Many Faces

There are two very interesting stories in the news today. The first tells the appalling miscarriage of justice that occurred in South Carolina over 70 years ago when a 14-year-old was arrested, charged, tried and executed for murder in the space of just three months. There is a sickening inevitability to the fact that the boy was black and the murder victims were two white little girls. How far gone do you have to be to react to the murder of two children with the state-sanctioned murder of another? Kristallnacht, anyone? Incidentally, why is the behaviour of the Nazis viewed as genocide but not the treatment of slaves and the descendants of slaves in the US? What about the behaviour of those acting on behalf of the British Empire, or the Portuguese Empire, or the Dutch Empire…? <sigh>

Will there be any redress to the boy’s surviving family? I hope so. My prayers are with them. I thank God that justice has at last been served, at least in part, and that young George’s name has been cleared. It’s too late to bring him back, and too late to find out who the real perpetrator was. So sad. But the judge has now done the right thing, and that is worthy of praise. It signifies change.

The second story is in the here and now, and not thousands of miles away but on my own doorstep. The British government has declared that it is now a crime to use coercion and controlling behaviour in a relationship. This is in addition to existing domestic violence laws. For victims (and former victims like me) this is so encouraging.

The following is from the BBC news report:

[Home Secretary] Theresa May said domestic abuse by intimate partners or family members was a “hideous” crime that shattered lives…

Coercive and controlling behaviour can include the abuser preventing their victim from having friendships or hobbies, refusing them access to money and determining many aspects of their everyday life, such as when they are allowed to eat, sleep and go to the toilet…

Mrs May said: “Coercive control can be tantamount to torture. In many cases, dominance over the victim develops and escalates over the years until the perpetrator has complete control. Putting a foot wrong can result in violent outbursts, with victims living in fear for their lives.”

‘Coercive control can be tantamount to torture.

Did I read that right? I am amazed. Thank you, Home Secretary, thank you! Not only have you put into words what I have wanted to shout for years, but you’ve actually made it possible for perpetrators to be prosecuted. Five years in prison is not long enough, in my opinion, but it’s a start. Thank you, Theresa May, from the bottom of my heart.

UK: Shut Down this Rape ‘Guru’ (a message from Avaaz)

‘In Japan he told his students, “Dude, just grab her.” In some seminars he teaches men how to choke women. In another class caught on video he told men they need to “short circuit the emotional and logical mind” of women — to get them into bed against their consent. He’s an evangelist of rape culture, and he’s coming to the UK in a week — unless we shut him down.

A self-described American “pick up artist,” Julien Blanc earns thousands for his sick classes, and in a week he’s scheduled to teach a sold out “boot camp” in London. But Julien is running into a PR problem: campaigns in Australia, Canada, Japan and Brazil have just taken off, asking governments to keep him out — and Australia revoked his visa this week! Now a new petition in the UK is taking off, calling on the Home Office to deny him a visa. It’s the perfect moment to jump on board and put him and his sexist snake oil operation out of business for good.

To allow this man into the UK sends a message that women are objects to be manipulated and preyed on, and it legitimises sexual assault. Not on our watch.Sign now, share with everybody you know, and let’s add the UK to the list of proud countries standing up for the rights of women.’

from Avaaz.

To read more and to add your name to the petition, please click here.

I’d be interested to know how this relates to laws in the UK about incitement to hatred and/or violence. Mind you, victims’ rights are often forgotten in favour of the ‘rights’ of convicted criminals… but this isn’t about me; it’s about my country and it’s about standing up for what is right. Sometimes the best way of doing right is to be seen to be doing right.

Help Save Mohammad from Execution

Mohammad, an Edinburgh grandfather on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan, is in a critical condition. He was shot by a prison guard and remains at risk of further violence. Mohammad has a documented history of mental illness and has been charged with blasphemy after becoming delusional. It is a tragic case. Tomorrow, Jasmine, Mohammad’s daughter is taking a petition to Downing Street (please see the link below).

According to 38 Degrees (a non-party-aligned political action group), a Downing Street spokeswoman said yesterday that “the PM has been following the case closely.” More than 70,000 people have signed the petition to save Mohammad. Please would you consider signing it too?

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/bringmohammadhome

Please would you also pray for Mohammad and for his family here in the UK. They must be feeling desperate right now.

Letter to my MP

Dear **** MP,

Today you will vote in parliament regarding whether the UK should join the air strikes against the terrible phenomenon that calls itself Islamic State. Not since WWII have we witnessed such barbaric ideological extremism threatening to spread across an already unstable region.

I do not know whether it is right for the UK to join with others against Islamic State, or whether we should refrain from getting involved in yet another war, where British troops inevitably become perpetrators of violence against innocent victims. It is a terrible decision to have to make. I write to tell you that I will pray for you and all other MPs today to make the right decision.

Yours sincerely…

Please consider contacting your local MP.