What is this Freedom Anyway
Lots of talk on Face book and other Social Media about the Trump election and of course the Brexit out election, so I think this is a bit of a different take.
When I listen to my American friends, who voted Trump it’s all about abortion, and along with that an anti what they would call libertarian swing, when you listen to the Brexiters, it’s about freedom from the shackles of the EU, jobs, and the fact that the elite have ignored us and what we really are saying and wanting. There are so many similarities in the reasons in both countries.
I am sure that I will not be the first to say this or the last but is it a cry for freedom, freedom from the elite, the professional politicians, freedom to as they say in Brexit so that we can be in charge of our own destiny as a nation, (fat chance of that).
So what I will not be first in saying is I wonder if the libertarians have overplayed their hand. If I ask myself where I sat, I am sure many people would put me in the libertarian camp. I don’t think I have the right to tell other people how to live, act, sexual preferences, dress, even politics.
However I do object to being told that I must agree with what I don’t agree with, that I am not allowed to express views that are different to what has been deemed by the liberally lobby to be politically correct.
I do object to having to make cakes with slogans on that I don’t agree with. I do object to being told to be silent because that what I think , be it on sexuality, marriage, politics, education family or whatever is different to yours. That is where the hand has been overplayed.
Now I do want you to be able to express your opinion, even if I don’t agree with it, I want you to put forward your argument even if I think you are wrong, I don’t want you to make a cake expressing my opinion which you disagree with if you don’t want too. I even want you to be able to have platforms to speak on, I don’t want universities and the like banning speakers that they don’t agree with that is not grown up students studying that is childish. But that is where we have got to.
And so to the ballot box and now I have the chance to vote for what you don’t want and won’t like because that is my last chance to express a view that is different to yours.
Yes I know that ultimately it will hurt me, but I have been cornered. It is a bit like what happens in riots, we burn down the buildings that serve us, accommodate us, help us, not at all sensible but for a very brief moment it makes us feel better, even if long term it makes us worse off than where we started.
It all comes back to that freedom that we feel has been taken away, Socrates said in that first treaty on politics way back in 399 BC that democracy is about equality and freedom and we all want to be equal and freedom is that we can all do as we like.
We could argue about where that equality has got us to but let us look just at the freedom. We can all do as we like, the problem is that currently you can do what you like but I am not allowed to say I don’t agree with you!
It’s an old chestnut, but we do not understand freedom. We cannot do as we like there are rules, not just governmental rules, and Gods rules if you like, or you probably will call them rules of nature.
You can’t jump up in the air and keep going up; the law of gravity makes sure you come down. Saying you don’t believe in the law doesn’t not work, so if you jump of a tall building hoping to go up you might but not in the way you intended.
The same principal applies to governmental laws in certain situations, so in the UK the rule, law, of the Road is drive on the left, if you chose to ignore it and dive on the right, you will end up a mess pretty quickly.
Now tell me this, here are two inexperienced climbers, they both arrive at their chosen challenge, one says I am free to climb this mountain and I will do it by myself. The other say I am free to climb this mountain and he hires the best guide he can find, who ties him by rope to himself and they both climb together, and come down together. The free climber dies on the mountain side. Which was free to climb?
So are you free, well if that means you can do as you like I doubt it.
There is a time recorded in the Old Testament part of the Bible in Judges 18 and 21 which says ‘and every man did what was right in his own eyes’ actually it was chaotic and awful.
When we think that everything we want to do must be right, because we want to do it is very dangerous, to society but to us as an individual also; There are many things if you want to do it, I can’t really stop you, but please don’t make me agree with you, or silence me or stop me from saying something opposite to your opinion – when you do that what happens in a democracy is that there is a back lash and you get what we have in two recent elections.
Dylan says in one of his great songs, whoever you are you have got to serve somebody, and he is right. The Bible puts it a different way, but it’s really saying the same thing it say whoever commits sin is a servant of sin, (John 8:34.) I know sin is not a politically correct word, but there you go again, and I know many don’t believe that it exists, it just a different behaviour model.
Of course Jesus said something else about serving somebody He said to those who were following him, there to serve him, I no longer want to call you servant but rather friends because I want you to know what I am doing.(John 15.15)
Maybe being his friend we could climb that mountain.
Free, well just what is freedom?
Edited K. Lannon
24TH January 2017
Bit of My Theology
It gives me some food for thought when people say ‘Its God will’ and everything that happens is ‘Gods Will’. I am not so sure. If that was the case, why does Jesus tell us to ask God that ‘His will be done’ if it’s going to be done anyway, seems a sort of waste of time.
Rather it seems to me that God will is affected by my free will. Can God change his mind, yes of course he can and there are lots of examples in the Bible of this. Can I go against what God wants or wills, most certainly, not a good Idea but it certainly can be done.
Does God change his Plans dependant on my pleas and of course the pleas of others. Yes of course He can and does. Does God give us sometime the things we ask for even though they are not good for us, yes certainly especially if you nag Him enough. Again not a good idea, but certainly it happens and it’s not good. For those who need Bible, to back up my theology, just check (2 Kings 20 or 1 Kings 11)
I think it’s very humbling that God will ask my opinion and he can change things according to my requests.
The thing we do have to note here, is that God does promise to make things ‘work for Good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes,’ even though the thing that maybe has happened was not His will, nevertheless He will make it good for some.
So how do we know that it was an answered prayer? That’s a hard one, especially when there are lots of people praying for opposite things. However it is much easier on the smaller scale, when one asks God for those things that are seemingly strange, out of reach, or just plain impossible, and He answers prayer. Many who do not believe in prayer put it down to ‘coincidences’ my delight is that when I pray I get a coincidence.
Seems like answered prayer to me. Check out just one of those answers:(http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/index.php/2013/08/the-answer-my-friend-is-blowing-in-the-wind.html)
So are these latest political events answers to prayer, I don’t know, am I allowed to say, I don’t know? Maybe they are, then again maybe they are not, or maybe I hope not, they are one of those Quail events we shall see.
Then of course we come back to those coincidences that I have harked on about many times on my Blog.
It seems to me that it’s possible to get a coincidence by praying, maybe that’s answered Prayer? Of course for those who cannot envisage a God who is personally interested in us, and will actually communicate two ways with us then all of the prayers, answered or otherwise are just part of the accident of nature?
There seems to me to be some great planning going on somewhere.
Edited: Keith Lannon
Charity Starts at Home?
The amount of times I have had people say this to me, and on social media, and in other forums it’s getting tiresome. It’s used when I talk about helping refugees and asylum seekers, sadly Christian use it like scripture to me. It not! Scripture that is!
Can I ask what do we mean by this, where is home, your little house, your 2.5 children, your street, your country? What are you talking about?
I supposed I can almost forgive those using the phrase who would not claim to be Christians, or Followers of Jesus, but for those who make both those claims I do have a problem.
Jesus tells us what is commonly called the story of the Good Samaritan. Of course at the time when Christ was walking around in Israel, now self respecting Jew would ever go to Samaria, as the woman at the well said to Jesus, when he asked for a drink of water, “you’re a Jew and you ask me for a drink of water don’t you know that Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans”. Of course she did not know that Jesus had previously said to his disciples, “I must go through Samaria”; an amazing statement in of itself.
So let me counter that awful get out ‘charity start at home’ by reminding ourselves that Jesus said we are to love our neighbours, and then follows that statement by asking us to decided who are our neighbours, and the answer is not well pleasing to the people who never went to Samaria, as the neighbour turns out to be one of them.
In Africa I was speaking to a group and telling the story of the good Samaritan, I changed the story knowing that I was speaking to people of one particular tribe, and I knew that they hated another tribe so I made in my story the tribal member that helped a member of the hated tribe. People came up to after the meeting and said, you should not have done that, people hear hate the people of that tribe, don’t you know, err der! Maybe someone should have told Jesus that too.
Recently I had the privilege of going to a regular happening at a local Synagogue, where well over a hundred refugees where being fed, clothed, and financed by the local congregation, every nationality and religion turning up for help. I asked who is financing this and was told we are, at the moment its costing us about £30,000 a year.
The other very important point that I should make, especially to those who say they are Christians, follower of Jesus, is that Jesus commanded us to ‘love our enemies’.
So next time I say we need to be helping, caring for those pushed out by war be it from Syria, Eritrea or wherever, I know that I have responsibility for my family, but maybe that other statement of Jesus is apposite ‘that you should do but this you should do also’ please don’t tell me Charity starts at home it’s just plain the wrong response.
Edited Gena Areola
Help me why is it so?
Talking to my friends in the USA who know these things, and also to people in the UK parliament they tell me that the rudest letters, the most vitriolic complaints almost always come from those who say they are Christians. Why is that so?
Talking with a Christian Journalist friend, he tells me that the worst letters of complaint the most condemning and nastiest come to him from Christian readers, why is that so?
I know that when people find their way to Jesus, they are often not nice people, usually they know that and that is why they come to Christ for help, for change, for a new right life. I have often had people say to me you need to love me as I am God does, my often thought with such people is, that’s very hard because you are horrible, you are just not nice.
I do know that God loves us as we are, there would be no hope, or grace if He did not as a Muslim friend once said to me, if God does not show us Grace there is no hope for any of us. However it is very clear that the plan for those who follow Jesus is that we should not remain as we are ‘Horrible’ if you will, but the plan is to change us, make us more and more like Jesus. So his values become our values.
I constantly find that people who call themselves ‘Christians’ do not seem to haves the values of Jesus and although they claim to be following him their actions really give me a problem. Yet I find some who make no claim to be a follower of Jesus, having values, actions, grace and concern for others in a Christ like way. They may even call themselves atheists or people without faith.
Even Paul had those who were Asiarchs in Ephesus who did not share the ‘Jesus-bit’ but were ardent defenders of him even when their own future status and comforts were greatly under threat.
A friend of mine said ‘The tension comes when we view evangelicals as ‘brothers and sisters’. I don’t think my discernment is simply cultural – I think I discern it in the Spirit. But working together with a number of them is all-but impossible, or, there is a small uncomfortable area where we can work together. Then, with those who are not believers, I do not discern that bond, but find where they share the values of Jesus we can go a long way forward.’
Let me tell you a personal story, I was part of a church group, working with them I bought a house they provided the deposit however from then on I paid all cost mortgage, repairs everything. Then they fell out with me; silly me had put the whole property in the name of the group, it seemed spiritual at the time!
It did not seem so good when they issued an order ejecting me from the property, a life on the streets with wife and three young children did not seem a good idea. Fortunately God was there and I was able to buy back the property I had paid for, at a very inflated cost, my ‘brothers and sisters in Christ making a goodly profit out of my distress.
So reason for this story, well at the same time as all this happened I had entered into a seven year contract to rent a shop, we were about three years in. I read the contract carefully, should have done that when I signed it. I realised that I had signed away a lot and given the landlord great power over me. What to do,
I went to see them, one Muslim one Hindu owing the shop. I showed them my contract saying I realise you have lots of power to take me for everything. They both read it carefully, yes they said we have defiantly got you, however we are also in business, so we think we should be kind to you, you are released, and they ripped up the contract. I was happy but disappointed too; I was puzzle as to who was Christ like, who really were my brothers and sisters, who had the Jesus value.
So now can you help me understand? Maybe C.S. Lewis had it right in his last battle.
Emeth, one of Rishda’s men and a devout follower of Tash, insists on seeing his god. Rishda tries to dissuade him, but Emeth enters the stable, and the dead body of another soldier, who was stationed in the stable to murder the rebellious Narnians, is thrown out instead. Aslan invites him into His world, Emeth says he cannot come as he has never severed Aslan, always Tash, Aslan say all you did was for me even though you thought you were serving Tash.
I think it’s good we all get to know this stuff, but I am particularly thinking of my American Cousins as I write. Particularly the Christian Right wing so called.
The term socialism was first introduced by Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825), the French social theorist also credited with the advent of Christian socialism and what would later become labelled as “utopian socialism.” The term itself refers to a collective mode of production and political economy.
Socialism’s roots go far back beyond Marx’s works. Church’s actually led the first socialist movements. The US gave birth too many of Socialism’s key concepts.
The original Socialistic concepts date back to 1700s and influenced even the founding fathers of the US. You find many of them embedded in the Constitution and in laws passed over the years. Prisons for example were one of the first major socialist contributions to society. Before prisons came about, people generally were publicly punished with physical punishments, financially punished or executed. There was not much in between.
The first prisons date back many years. Socialists in the early 1800s made major penal reforms in the US which quickly spread to the rest of the world completely redefining crime and punishment. That is an example of early Socialism in the US and its predating Marx.
There are things that puzzle me about my American Cousins, and I love the USA. But from a Jesus Follower perspective, I want things that are good for people so I cannot understand why as a Jesus follower I would not want to promote Health Care for everyone at the point of deliver, I want people to be as healthy as possible, whether they can afford it or not.
Then again, another area, I want people to be housed, I don’t want them to be homeless, even if they cannot afford it. How can we help them?
Yes I know that when it comes to government enforcing these things that where the problems start, why is that, well much as people don’t like to hear it we are as people not intrinsically good, rather we are selfish, self-serving, and we tend to look after number one, us!
If you look at History when Christians are in control of the levers of government we have not done very well, but does that mean I should forget Biblical commands to Love Justice, (Matt 12:18 Luke 11:42 Gal 5:22:23.) If government of whatever ilk try’s to put in place things that do good, help people, give justice, welcomes strangers amongst us (Exd 22 and Exd 23.) Surely as a follow of Jesus I would want to support such action.
Likewise when people are being unjustly treated, marginalised, poor and denied the means to help themselves by government policy should I not cry out against such things?
The problem is we like to read the parts of Scripture that we like. So we would like to put things on one side such as (Matt 19:24) concerning the rich man, or (Acts 4:34 on, having all thing in common) and I often hear Christians say such things as well that was then, this is now, you cannot do things like that now. Why not, is that part of scripture we don’t like?
I often hear people say, why should we support free loaders, or as my Mother in law used to say why don’t those people get a job. Sorry but that really is uneducated.
On frequent visits to Kenya, another country I love, I have often asked leaders what do you need. They will say things like more crusades, more meetings, and more preachers. I look around and think no, what you need is more jobs. I see loads of people who want to work, need to work, would work hard, sitting waiting trying to find work, are they free loaders.
We need to understand that often the way society is structured means that the opportunities you are given are not just or righteous, the poor are often not poor because they are lazy or free loaders, or unwilling.
Please there is a lot of other reasons way beyond their control that put them in such positions. And if the follower of Jesus can change their position for the better be that by influencing government policy, or direct action to help, then God calls us to do it. To quote Jim Wallis – A Budget is a moral document.
And a bit more Wallis to end The Biblical prophets do hold their rulers, courts, judges, landowners and employer accountable to the values of fairness justice and even mercy, evil and sin is in the concentration of power, politics and economics need to be held accountable to Justice especially in the protection of the poor.
Fair outcomes not necessarily equality should be the goal of governments.
Socialist or whatever, let those who follow Jesus cry out for His values in His world.
I have just read one of our Independent schools ‘A’ level student’s research paper on the Berlin wall. It made me think about the whole subject of walls, particularly as, as I write walls and barbered wire are very much in the news.
Supposedly walls should keep us warm and safe, at least if you have roof on your house as well, however as we look though history walls have also had other uses and somehow get into our psyche, and it seems to me many times ending up with negative connotation. In fact it seems to me that each time you see walls, proposed walls, or building of walls there is the feeling of failure, loss, or the fact that our world is in a bad place.
I guess the biggest wall of all is the Great Wall of China, built to keep our others who might attack which are why all of the walls seemed to have been built, on the basis we are all right and we don’t want you in or out in some cases so let’s build a wall. In a sense a great symbol of failure,as it demonstrates that you need to be controlled, either by being held in or kept out. What it cannot do is control thinking, though those that build the walls, I think, really would like to be able to do that.
So let me just site a few walls to show what I mean. Berlin wall of course was built to keep East Germans from running away to West Berlin, and thus loosing it key workers and intelligencer; So really a failure of an ideological way of thinking. Then maybe Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans, surly that must represent the failureof the Romans to control the Scottish Nation, or to conquer it so a wall was built to keep the Picts as the Romans called them out. The last standing division or wall in Europe is in Cyprus showing us the failure of politics, religion and ethnicity to get on and work together for peoples best good.
The fact that walls are a strong sign of failure the world continues to build them, demonstrating to all who can see how useless we are at getting things right, so between 1950 and 2010 the world has built some 50 admissions of failure. In such places as Israel, India, Pakistan, Georgia and South Ossetia, Mexico and the USA a fence at the moment, but listening to the politics of the USA in 2016 it seems as though this failure need to be reinforced by a proper wall! Then there is India and Bangladesh, North and South Korea, Spain & Morocco even in Northern Ireland ‘Peace Walls’ still celebrate the fact that people fail to get on. There is a sand wall built between in the Western Sahara to seal out Morocco. Shall I go on? These are just a selection of the world’s walls. The border between Botswana and Zimbabwe is separated by an electrified fence. Malaysia and Thailand are separated by a wall, as are Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Iran and Iraq, and Kuwait and Iraq.
And now in 2016 European countries again want to put up walls offailure in Bulgaria, in Greece, certainly the UK has spent millions on its own wall of failure on French territory, to keep out those from the so called Calais Jungle. I would have thought that the world and its leaders would be embarrassed to keep using such high profile symbols of their failure, but it seems not.
It seems that the current Pope thinks that building Bridges is a much better idea than building walls, maybe he has a point. I know that as a follower of Jesus that should makes us generous rather than selfish and if we want to build failure walls because we perceive people as our enemies, the Jesus instruction is to Love your enemies. Walls don’t work.
Sitting down inside
Funny to see recently on Face Book the fact that Richard Dawkins is wondering if we need Christianity as it is not blowing people up, or saying that those that do not believe should be killed. Maybe he needs to take an even deeper look.
What really puzzles me Is why people think that a forced acceptance of something, means that I or anyone else has really accepted that premise, belief, thought. What a silly idea.
It also puzzles me that people think that if you are not allowed to speak something different to their point of view, their perspective then that is fine, they must be right, again what nonsense.
Yet this is our world, people have views that I don’t agree with, lifestyles that I think are wrong, attitudes that I think that if followed by lots of people will lead to their destruction and sometime the destruction of lots of others too, however I am not allowed to say opposite to what is the P.C. position, my view must not be heard? Now does that mean that the argument, position, life style of the others is so wrong that they cannot bear to hear anything opposite to what they have chosen right or wrong?
I joined a political party once, just to go along to the meetings and understand how they thought and how it worked. I tried to sit at the back and keep quite. One day they announced that they had made a terrible mistake, they had invited someone to speak to the meeting, and discovered he was a member of another party. They said obviously they could not listen to him. I being very naïve asked a question, this was my question, “Why are you afraid to listen to another point of view or perspective, is our own position, argument, perspective, so weak that we cannot possible listen to someone we might disagree with and disagreeing with him come to understand our position, thoughts are after all are better? He is not from our party was the answer! “yes but does that mean we cannot hear what he has to say”? The answer again, “you don’t understand, he is not a member of our party and so he will say what we don’t agree with so we can’t hear that”? I gave up!
So we live in a world where people are being killed because they disagree, don’t believe what you believe cannot possible hear even a view that is different from the party line. So this year in Brunei, Somalia, Tajikistan all banned Christmas celebrations as it might damage the thinking of the rest of the population apparently it was because of fear that people would be led astray. I wonder how weak the thinking of those people is?
I remember one of those stories, apparently a little boy was would not sit down at the meal table, he was only small and insisted on standing to eat, I think his opinion was that the food went down better that way. His Father got really upset and kept trying to make him sit down remonstrating with him with many words. The little boy refused, in the end the Father got fed up with discussion and arguments, and putting his hand on the little boys head pushed the little boy down until he was sitting. The little boy looked at his Father and recognised that he definitely was stronger than him, but then he said, “Dad, I know that you have got me sitting down at this table, but I want you to know I am actually standing up inside!
There is a lot of us around that are actually standing up inside!
You in your small corner and I in Mine
When I was around 5 years old, I went to Sunday school. I liked the people, I liked the other kids, but what I remember most is one song that they always sang. I guess I sang it too as I can still remember all the words; maybe you know it too. It starts off with, “Jesus Bids Us Shine” and ends with the line, “you in your small corner and I in Mine.” I hated that line; I still don’t like it now. I don’t think I liked corners and particularly not small ones; I certainly did not want to be in one.
When I was 11 years old I made my first trip, as the Brits say, “overseas”. I went to France with my school for a week. We travelled third class, as you could in those days, on a ferry across the channel to St Malo. Third class meant that you could not go inside the ferry; you had to stay on deck come rain or shine. They did give you a blanket and you could snuggle up to the funnel to keep warm.
Fences on Cliff Tops
Often times when we make new laws or change old ones, we are not thinking of the consequences unseen up the road. We would do well to do so; even when those decisions or laws are made with the best intentions in mind.
Early on in the UK, a law was brought in to make tenancy of rented housing more secure. The good reason for it was that some people were being put out of their rented house for very little good reason. However, the unforeseen consequences were that for a period it actually created homelessness. People were reluctant to give others a room in their house if they thought they would turn out to be a bad tenant. That of course was not the intention, but that was what happened.
I wonder, as I look at recent changes in legislation in the USA and the UK, if we are heading for unforeseen circumstances that we will not like. Of course, from a legislation point of view it may have been done for good reasons like equality and freedom, but are we really sure of the outcomes?
I don’t know, but I do wonder what our new freedom so called, our new equality so called, the removal of fences if you will; I wonder what they will bring up the road. I wonder if they will have good or bad effects on our society.