An Attempt at Objectivity

As George Osborne’s first Conservative only Government budget was being delivered yesterday my Twitter and Facebook feeds began to be filled with anger, pain and scorn, with an undercurrentbudget_portal__7_2856733b of a deep sense of helplessness.

And I agreed with everything people were saying.  I agreed with the sentiments and my emotions resonated.  There was not a single post in support of the budget, in support of the Government, in support of the direction this country is being led.  It really got me wondering, why is it this way?  If the Conservative Party were voted into power last year in such a huge swing where are all the Conservative supporters now?  I pondered a few thoughts, maybe there is some truth in the 7 statements below:

  1. Lots of people say they don’t like what is happening to the poor but when it comes down to it they will put their own interests first and vote for what they perceive will make them better off.
  2. Lots of people like what the Government are doing but don’t feel confident to express this for fear of being heckled, or even abused, by others.
  3. There are many who benefit a little from current Government policies.  This means they enjoy a little extra comfort and security.  In comparison to the significant life changes that are imposed on many of the most vulnerable this raises no emotional response and therefore there is no impulse to express anything on social media.
  4. Nobody feels inclined to support the Government policies because they are self-seeking, income gap widening, dangerous and loathsome.
  5. Those who feel upset by the political situation have got it wrong and are caught up in a deluded whirlwind of conspiratorial negativity.
  6. It is cool to bash authority.
  7. By my own conscious and sub-conscious choosing my Facebook friends and those I follow on Twitter are skewed towards my own fairly socialist, left leaning political views.

I asked my Facebook friends and Twitter followers if there were any views that supported Osborne or the Government.  There was silence for quite a while and then a few people gave helpful responses.  The comments  ranged from factual to mildly pleased and were certainly void of any of the emotion that was featuring in my feeds.  Also, I know that those who helpfully commented also have strong misgivings about other aspects of Government policy.

I am pondering all this because my thought processes always take me down the line of anger and a desire for action.  Yet, I don’t want to indulge anger or take action for a meaningless cause.  I want to ensure I am objective in what I expend my emotion, energy and time on.

However, nobody seems to be able to come up with a strong and passionate reason for supporting the Government.  The budget and Government policies may offer small financial gains for many but these benefits are, in my opinion, woeful in comparison to the destruction that I see meted out on our communities.

I can only conclude that the anger is necessary and the need for change is critical.  If we care about our communities, and especially those who are vulnerable, then we must spend ourselves to see justice.   Action will look different for different people but I believe passively continuing with the status quo will lead to generations blighted by poverty and social exclusion.






Narnia obsession and entertainment culture

Anya is obsessed with Narnia.  Whilst there are definitely much worse things to be obsessed with I think it might be going a bit too far – every spare moment goes into listening, watching, reading, theologically reflecting or drawing Narnia or asking questions about it.

I was a bit worried because every time she goes to her bedroom she switches on the audio book.  Even if it’s just to get dressed, brush her hair and put some shoes on – she’ll be listening to Narnia at the same time.  When I challenged her she said it was because she was bored and I realised, just like me, she has become a victim of our entertainment culture.  That is, we cannot bare to have even a few moments with something to entertain us or something to do.

Anya is uncomfortable in her room with silence so it is filled with Narnia.  I am uncomfortable with nothing going on so will turn on the TV, check my emails/facebook, listen to the radio, read a book.  I know that none of these things are bad but much more often I’d like to take advantage of a bit of peace and stillness.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

Mark 1:35

Homesick at Christmas

To be honest I had barely missed the UK for the first two months in Montenegro.  There are a some people I had affectionate thoughts of and it’s frustrating not being able to watch Match of the Day.  But apart from that I was very satisfied being in Montenegro.

But I must admit Christmas time has hit a bit hard.  It hurts to think of friends and family gathering without you.  It’s nice to catch up on facebook but it also reminds you of what you’re missing.

Below you can listen to Coles Corner by Richard Hawley.  The video comes across a bit cheap but the music and lyrics resonate with feelings of loneliness in a way that lifts the soul.  Coles Corner was a traditional meeting point for Sheffield people.  It was before my time but I must have spent hours just down from Coles Corner waiting for buses and friends and watching the world go by.  Would love to spend just 10 minutes there now….


God Wants You To Know – Facebook App

I have noticed a few of these in my news feed over the last few days.

The sentiment behind it is probably very nice but I can’t help thinking this facebook application is very similar to Your Daily Horoscope!  You click a button and get a divine message to make you feel better.

I am not sure how a facebook application can claim to speak for the Almighty.  Maybe I’m missing a trick here but I really don’t like it!  I think it would be much better to ask God yourself what he wants to say to you rather than relying on a computer program.  He knows you, He loves you, He wants what is best for you – listen to Him.

I’m giving up the internet

It is Pancake Day today.  So, after the riotous joy of flour and eggs and milk fried together in a celebration of all that is pleasurable in life, there comes afterwards the period of time known as Lent.  It is symbolic of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert and lots of people like to give up things like chocolate during this time.

I have become increasingly aware of how much of a waste of time much of the internet has become in my life.  It has also come to my attention that many times I retreat into the cyber universe it is either to avoid an activity that would be very helpful and productive but takes up too much energy or it is to flee the stresses of life.

Therefore, I have decided to give up the internet for Lent.  I think this will be a good thing because instead of running to Facebook everytime life is a bit difficult I will hopefully spend more to running to God who is the only thing in this life that can really give my strength to continue.

I want you to understand that I am not aiming to become a social hermit.  I will still be using my email  and friends may even like to call using the once familiar communication tool known as the ‘telephone’.  I am not being too hopeful but maybe I will have the opportunity to meet some friends ‘face to face’!  I will also use the internet for one or two essential tasks such as online banking, finding info for work etc. but I hope you have caught the essence of what I am trying to do.

The idea was inspired by Claudia, one of the incredible young people I work with who told me she was giving up Facebook, and we would like to invite anybody else who thinks this would be a useful exercise to join us.  Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not the act of giving something up can only be beneficial and help you take a better look at your life without the buzz and distraction of games and instant chat getting in the way.

So I am signing off – until March 23rd – goodbye Facebook, Myspace, Scrabulous, Attack, MSN Messenger, Soccer Manager, BBC News…

But hopefully not goodbye to you…give me a call or drop me an email!  Or even pop round and see me!

Advertising is evil


I recently joined the facebook group I’d rather pay for facebook than put up with all the dumb adds.  OK so the deal is you are browsing around on facebook, or any website for that matter and adverts pop up for emoticons, ringtones, mobile phones, digital cameras or absolutely anything.  I never click on them.  But if facebook is worth $10bn each year I guess quite a lot of people must click on them.  And these are the people who are misled by the promise that they will be more fulfilled if they have that product.  So facebook might be free to me and most of you but there must be a lot of people out there paying a hefty amount for a load of stuff THEY DO NOT NEED!

How many TV adverts use sex to sell their products these days.  Come on!  Wake up you morons do you actually think a girl is gonna sleep with you just because you wear Lynx!  Well how come Lynx is the best selling deodorant for teenage lads!?

Please, please, please…next time you are in town and you think, ‘it would be nice if I had that,’ please just think why you want it.  Is it because a TV advert suggested you would be happier, sexier, more comfortable, be more fulfilled if you had it?  Do you like people coming to your door or ringing you up and suggesting you should buy windows from them?  I hate it with an unhealthy passion.  Well all advertising is working from exactly the same principle except it is more subtle.

You’re life will be fine even if your hair doesn’t stay silky smooth throughout the whole working day.  And you may just be able to be happy even if you don’t own a phone that can record top quality video footage of your mate pulling a moony out of the bus window.

If you wanna read more about these ideas check out this great blog.