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
The Death of Free Speech
There are lots of times when we do not like what other people say, particularly if they say stuff about us, our good friends, religion, work, politics, or what we believe about God.
I know it’s a bit later than George Orwell’s gloomy prediction, and 1984 has come and long gone, but are we moving to the point where, not only have we got to act right, but we must also speak right. I am referring to being right according to what is PC. But more than that, we have to think right too! So, it may be late by thirty plus years, but has the Orwellian “Big Brother” world finally arrived?
There is a growing trend that says if I don’t agree with some issue, or if my different opinion is not PC, or even if I just don’t like it, then I must not be allowed to say it. Our universities are stopping people speaking because they don’t like the view point of some of their students or staff. I probably agree that a lot of what is being said is horrible, and distasteful; but doesn’t that suggest that the next stage is to demand that not only is one not allowed to say what one thinks, but that one must not even think differently, and then, if things escalate to stage three, the echelons of power in universities would probably have to kill the Thinking person who indulged in the atrocity of disagreeing with them.
There are many countries where one is not allowed to speak about the current politicians if it is detrimental, the reigning monarchs of the state defiantly, and definitely not the religion or religious personalities or leaders – that would be “blasphemy” and one would end up in prison or dead.
I do think it somewhat strange that a god has to be defended by humans? I am very sure that God is quite able to look after Himself. He does not need me, or anybody else to defend Him. And of course, He said, when being crucified, “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Of course, He was saying things that should not be said, at least to the leaders of religion, and/or religious views.
There are many things that in today’s world we are not allowed to say we disagree with. We are not allowed to disagree with same sex marriage. We are not allowed to disagree with homosexuality. And, we are not allowed to agree with people who are perceived to be “non PC.” Of course, I am sure that we should not be allowed to incite violence, or put people in danger, but does that mean I have to be seen to agree with them even if I don’t?
Many commentators are saying that what is happening in our “Free Speech” western democracy, where free speech is being limited, or in some places, not allowed at all, people are having to learn how to lie. Lie to the pollsters as to which way they will vote. Vote in such a way that, in the secrecy of the polling booth, they can express that which they were denied being able to say in the public forum.
My question is: If my arguments are so good in any particular area, does that mean that the only way my view cannot be presented is that I must be silenced – or even killed if necessary. That is not a nice world to live in. I am speaking from a position where people have written to me, telling me that if they had any power they would make sure my view was silenced .
I guess therefore my argument must be correct and the opposition so weak that the only way to win the argument or discussion is to silence any opposite view.
Edited by Keith Lannon
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
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.
My Place in the Sun
A lot of people have taken me to task because I have suggested that the E.U. referendum in the UK was very xenophobic. I do happen to think that in all areas both sides of the argument exaggerated and said things that were not true, but if you think sovereignty (whatever that is) economics, democracy or any of the other things swung it in favour of exit I am not sure where you have been. What swung it was we want to stop immigration. As I said before not all people who vote exit are racist, but all racists will vote exit. Sure some will have thought about the other arguments, though how anyone could cut through the noise to any factual knowledge I don’t know.
I said from day one, people will make their decision on this campaign emotionally. That’s how people make decisions; perhaps they shouldn’t but realistically that what people do. So what swung the vote were nasty racist posters, and we must control our borders. We need to stop people coming into the UK. It’s putting pressure on schools and housing. I wonder why no one ever asks how much pressure divorce puts on housing. How can we possible think or say that a lot of this rhetoric, posters and advertising were not xenophobic? I wish someone could explain that it was not a xenophobic campaign to my non UK friends, who work hard pay taxes, and were not allowed to vote but are quite afraid now; maybe sharing the fear of the two million plus UK citizens who live in other EU countries.
It seems perhaps surprising, but perhaps it shouldn’t be that London, which has the highest number of immigrants, and my area very, very many yet we voted to stay in. May be we understand the benefit of immigration. What is also surprising, but probably should not surprise me is how many of my non birth UK citizens voted out. Kenyans, West Indians, Sri Lankans, Bulgarians, who have UK passports, friends of mine, but voted out. It’s that yes I have my place in the Sun I have the sun bed and my towel is on it, say don’t you come in and touch it.
Let me tell you some stories which explain why I should not be surprised. Some years back I remember being in Switzerland, I was there with refugees who years before had come to the country escaping war, and lived in really hard conditions. But as is often with hard working, innovative, creative refugees they have done well. I’m glad, nice houses, nice cars, prosperous. I was aware that there were new wars at the time and new refugees coming into the country, so I asked my friends “how is the country coping with the new influx of refugees”. Their response; ‘Our country needs to do something to stop these people coming in’!
Story two, when we started helping refugees and asylum seekers in the UK we were advised to take some advice from an expert who was running a large half way house for people, not refugees but people with problems, we met the said gentleman, he was obviously from Asia and his turban sort of gave him away as not being of original English decent. His advice was most helpful, but then he asked what are you doing, my wife explained that we were setting up homes to help refugees and asylum seekers, his response to that was ‘we don’t want those people in our country’ my wife glanced up at the turban without saying anything, he obviously read her thoughts, and responded with ‘oh that, me I’m English’.
Story three, another friend of mine was running a youth club, arrived one day and asked the main worker where are all the young people today, they are not in the club, don’t know was the answer, looking out of the window he notice a whole load of young people kicking a football around, Oh he said I see lots outside, oh no came the reply they are not young people they are Polish.
I have all along during this campaign for in or out of the EU felt that the end decision was going to be made selfishly, we never once really asked will it hurt other Europeans, is it best for them if we leave, what do the immigrants hear in the UK feel about the anti foreigner rhetoric even the economic argument was always the selfish one.
Now, again not surprised, is to hear the Christians saying Gods will has been done, really? Why do people always think Gods will has been done, what a funny idea, why does Jesus tell us to pray that God will, should be done, if it always is? I am sure that often what happens is not God will at all. So we may say as the Muslims do Inshalla or as Christians say D.V Deo volente, “God willing”. God may be willing but that does not mean His will has been done.
Well now going back to that Brexit, was it what God wants. I don’t know. Personally to be non selfish, with all the wrong of the EU I felt it was better to stay in for lots of other peoples benefit, influence, the protections that the UK gave in negotiations to smaller countries. I listened to others in Europe who worried that if the UK left it would hurt them, I did not want that to happen. Am I sorry that I have said it was so badly racist influenced, no and sadly the post exit decision seems to have raised a terrible dragon of permission to be racist; with people shouting in the street go home, to various non UK people; Sad.
So was God will done, I don’t think so, but I am not sad about that because I know God well enough to know he takes all situations to make himself known, and for those who love him He makes all things work together for Good. So I am happy.
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 like words, actually trying to speak French gives me great frustrations as I know my vocabulary is incredibly small, which it is not in English. I remember telling a story to a young lady in French, and at the end I said do you understand me, “yes” she replied, and then I asked “then why are you laughing?” She replied, “Because it’s like listening to a five year old!”
I used to think that words where just how you expressed things, and so got irritated by those in the equality lobby who wanted to change expressions like chairman to chair person or manhole to person-hole. It seemed to me to be picky and stupid. I no longer think that way. I recognise that our words come from our thinking and actually re-enforces our actions. So if we are sexist, using sexist expressions just enhances our bias.
The Good Samaritan
Some time ago, before the tribal troubles in Kenya I was speaking at a conference. I was using for my talk the story of the Good Samaritan. Knowing a little about the tensions of the area I used as my illustration one of the tribes, who in the area where I was, was not very popular to say the least. I chose this least popular tribe and used the tribal name instead of a Samaritan.
Culture – challenge – change – conform
One of the things that I ask audiences who say that they are Christians is, if you are one have you changed and what methodology do you think, you or God uses to change you.
I get lots of answers usually things like:
- · The Bible
- · Prayer
- · The Holy Spirit
- · Meeting with other Christians
- · Love
- · And others sometime a bit more obscure