May 7th…..Remember the poor

Where will you put your X on May 7th?  How are you going to decide?

If you have a secure job and want what is best economically for you then without doubt you should be voting Conservative.  You won’t go wrong with Labour or Lib Dem either.  If you are comfortable now then stick with the political establishment and nothing is going to change much – the colour flying over Downing Street might be different but our social landscape will remain the same.

However, if your desire is to see the poorest and most vulnerable in our society protected and empowered then maybe think of an alternative to the political establishment – and I’m not talking about the purple migrant bashers.  I would suggest that if you have a care and hope for those excluded from society then consideration should be given to a Green or Independent vote or maybe a spoiled ballot.

As a follower of Jesus I cannot bring myself to vote for my own needs and comforts.  “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)  If you love Jesus, if you love your fellow human – then don’t waste your vote selfishly.  Maybe you will come to a different political conclusion to me but do vote with your conscience.

West Bromwich vicar, Neil Robbie, has written a great and succinct post commenting on political thought processes with a different twist on who the poor could be.  Definitely worth a read for just 1 minute of your time.

If you have an hour then do invest it in listening to the late Simon Pettit’s biblical mandate for the poor.  This was recorded in 1998 and was a real watershed moment for the Newfrontiers famly of churches that I belong to – it provides a great introductory foundation on Christian teaching regarding the poor.

Election and Poor

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Do not fear the Paris attacks

Please, understand that what happened in Paris in the last few days was not:

  • Muslims attacking non-Muslims
  • Islam against the West
  • Anti-semitic
  • An attack on free speech
  • War

What happened was evil.  It was carried out by people who have most likely been exposed to evil themselves but have chosen to allow that evil to take root and bear horrible and terrible fruit.

Living in Western Europe is no more dangerous today than it was at the start of the week.  You are many more times likely to be killed driving your car than you are at the hands of a random murderer.  We have nothing to fear.

Sadly, and dangerously, the media seem to be loving it.  The coverage has been relentless, speculative and sensationalised.  The attacks were horrific but if they had not been reported, or at least not been hyped up, then the strange stirring of fear would not have been provoked in our communities.

Every day across the world similar and worse things happen but we do not hear about them.  Today 16 people have been killed in a bomb attack in a Nigerian marketplace.  You, I, and even someone sitting in a Paris suburb, have as much to fear from the attack in Nigeria as we do the attacks in Paris.  If you allow the Paris attacks to settle bitterness, fear, suspicion or hatred in you then you could be at the top of the slippery slope of allowing evil to bear fruit in your own life.  If you spread or indulge the scaremongering in conversation or on social media then you are actively helping evil spread like a deadly virus.

We all have so much in common.  To hate or fear other humans quite simply robs you of your own identity.  Do your bit – love your neighbour and love the stranger.

Put a shroud over Farage

So Nigel Farage says that businesses should make up their own rules after a women in a posh hotel was asked to cover herself with a shroud whilst breastfeeding.

Farage defended his comments by stating that ‘some people are embarrassed by breastfeeding’.  Apologies Nigel, but I’d be embarrassed by you if I saw you in public.  Perhaps you’d be so kind as to cover yourself with a shroud?

It really is concerning how attractive UKIP sound to many people.  They claim that the Tories have veered left and they are the only reasonable choice describing themselves as ‘centralist liberal’.  This diagram and explanation from Another Angry Voice is really helpful in taking the shroud off of the real Nigel Farage and informing how far from the truth the UKIP spin is.

Another Angry Voice: A Lesson in Political Illiteracy

Black Friday reveals detestable idol

Throughout the Old Testament God speaks to his people, urging them to put aside things that distract them from him, things that dishonour him.

At one point he says,

“Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on…do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt.”  Ezekiel 20:7

In ancient times God called his people out of Egypt.  Today God calls his people to come out of ‘the world’ around us.  That is, to be wise to the idols of the culture we find ourselves living in, and to cast these idols away.

Black Friday has certainly revealed one of these idols loud and clear.  Yet it is easy to distance ourselves from the blatant madness of Black Friday riots – but not so easy when the idol of materialism is dressed up in a cute John Lewis penguin advert.  Or when you do your weekly food shop and you see something that would make a great extra present for one of your kids.

All materialism serves to achieve is to distract us from worshiping God.  Whether we are getting ourselves crushed in an insane Black Friday shopping spree, or whether we are clicking on the insipid adverts in the middle of our facebook pages, we are demonstrating that we are putting our trust in the possessions we can accumulate.  Is that what you really want to be trusting in?

Tories promise pain for those on benefits

I haven’t looked into the detail of what George Osborne was gobbing on about today with regard to benefit cuts* so I’m only dealing with the headlines.  But I think that is ok, sometimes, because it is only the headlines that most people hear about and so that is essentially the message Osborne is trying to get out to the public.

I have two points to put to George:

  1. If you’re that desperate to save £3 billion why not cut a tiny bit of the approximately £60 billion we spend on defence.  Come to think of it why is it called the ‘Defence’ budget?  Looks more like an ‘Attack’ budget to me.   Incidentally, we spend a larger proportion of our GDP on the military than any European country (excluding former Soviet states).  I can’t see extremists instilling terror into Sweden, Belgium and Italy etc.  Maybe its just a coincidence or lack or reporting, or maybe other countries were sensible not to presume they could tell others by force how to live their lives.
  2. The little benefit credit cards you are going on about George, they are pure nastiness and will only serve to humiliate and divide and will not stop people spending on alcohol, gambling etc.  You make the assumption that the majority of people on benefits cannot budget.  And when you spout off about that sort of thing you just reinforce that lie to the rest of us.  How can you lecture others about spending money on alcohol when the tax payer had to pay £7,000,000 last year so that MPs can have cheap alcohol in the Commons?

I must say though, it is very thoughtful of George to scrap inheritance tax on pensions.  I wonder who that is going to benefit most?  Can you imagine how big the pensions are of all these rich Tories?

* Apologies George, I know they’re benefit ‘freezes’ not ‘cuts’, I just forgot for a moment.

 

Anybody actually care for Ashya?

There is a little boy in a hospital somewhere in Spain who has been taken away from his family.  The claim that the family of Ashya King have broken any laws is spurious at best.  We need laws to protect and guide but within those laws we have the right to choose whatever way we think is best to raise children.  I feel this family should be left alone to do their best for their son that they feel they can do.  We all see examples of parenting that we might not agree with but unless parents are mistreating their children, causing them harm, then the authorities should not intervene.  It appears the parents of Ashya King were simply desperately trying to make something happen to get their son better.

However, the most disturbing thing about this whole debacle is the whorish appetite for information by the media and, ultimately, from us, the British public.  What business is it of ours to know the details of the health of a little boy or the outcome of his tragic parents’ legal hearings?  This is a family at the height of torment and all our media can do is turn it into a Hollywood manhunt and show-trial.  I wish we could just leave them be and give their family and friends space and freedom to give them all the support they need.

Nobody seems to be thinking about the little boy left on his own in all of this.

Spoil your vote

Tomorrow in the West Midlands we have the ‘wonderful privilege’ of voting once again for the Police and Crime Commissioner.

I am not happy about this. I was speaking with a local councilor yesterday and he told me this election is costing approximately £3,000,000. On top of the cost of the actual election the Commissioner is to paid £100,000 a year and those selected by the Commissioner to represent the different boroughs in the West Midlands are each paid about £12,000 per year to attend a few meetings.

Because of that I am going to spoil my vote. I expect the turnout tomorrow will be minuscule and every spoiled vote must be counted I understand so, who knows, maybe the spoiled votes could win!

I think it is an important principle that we should make use of our right to vote. And not matter how apathetic you feel about a specific election or bunch of candidates I believe you should still make time to head down to the polling station tomorrow.

Anybody not going to vote?