Thursday, January 30, 2014

Exegetical Dancing ...

So I am a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing. I absolutely love watching the growing competence of the dancers as they submit to the discipline of the dance steps as opposed to gyrating "free style" and writhing away without the steps to get in the way. Time to take some steps towards some dance classes available over here (and persuade the fuzband that he needs to do them!).

Strictly
might be all glamour and performance on the Saturday. But the reality behind that extravaganza is a group of people (some with two left feet!) taking on a challenge to learn the discipline and rules of becoming a dancer. It might feel  dazzling on Saturday night but in actual fact, the performance is merely a 3mt result of endless hours of rigorous and sometimes gruelling training. And exhaustion. Of learning the rules, learning to move differently, learning to put aside assumed modes of dancing, learning to forget about yourself and let the music take over, learning to let go of  your ideas of whether you can dance or not (and whether you look stupid or not). The days leading to the Saturday are purely about focusing and learning what the tradition of a particular dance has to teach you. And on the Saturday - of course you need the nerves of steel to take harsh and ruthless criticism from the judges - especially Craig RH. There is the need have the guts to admit you were not doing it very well, and then move on.

I think all this is a great metaphor for some things.

For relationships, for disciplines of study, and especially now, for me, for theology.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the "Exegesis" section of the Theology I am doing, has been creatively renamed "The Exegetical Dance" with accompanying "exegetical dance steps". It is actually very much like Strictly in principle.  You let go your presuppositions, you take on the discipline of learning new steps, of understanding the tradition of the dance of the particular section you are doing, while also submitting to new movements that have grown within that dance.

It is exhilarating, just as Strictly is...and sometimes as exhausting I think. Sometimes you find it hard to let go the old ways of random moves that you have collected over the years assuming them to be the right steps. But there is no growing without change, and there is no change without letting go of "the old" and "taking in the new". We are not static in our knowledge of God, or scripture, or how to live. But w
e don't change our modes and ways of moving or thinking (or relating and studying) easily. We are creatures of habit. We always believe we are right. We assume we have all the answers.

Here's to a season of great roller coaster rides through dance classes this autumn,
Strictly Come Dancing and Theology. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Off with his head"...Or why I like Top Gear

There was a time when someone would say "off with his head" and we all laughed. No one took the Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll seriously. Or "The Spanish Inquisition" of the Pythons for that matter. And what about their "I like Chinese songs", or "Never be rude to an Arab"? No one ever got their knickers in a twist assuming that this was really really bad or terribly irresponsible.

Comedians are
supposed to do this sort of thing.

No one takes comedy as prescriptive! 


But the Ofcom hooha some time ago - about Jeremy Clarkson's remarks on The One Show - brought home the realisation that there were winds of change about the landscape of British humour. A huge hullaballoo followed these remarks with people "really offended" and "really disappointed".  And cries and howls for pain and punishment for JC (not Jesus Christ).

This of course led me to reconsider why I like Top Gear. And why I like this trio who seem to really get up people's noses.  


First a qualifier (for those who don't know my political spectrum): I am extremely "left wing"...in fact one mad "test" I did, suggested that I was at the "grenade lobbying terrorist end of the spectrum". Really. In those words. In fact, when I got married, a good friend of mine, in one of the after dinner speeches, described me as "card-carrying communist". I believe passionately in Fairtrade, climate change, caring for the environment, and justice. I am mostly pacifist and I get fired up when I see racial discrimination or prejudice. 

Etc etc. If you get my drift.  

Why then, and how, can I possibly be a fan of Top Gear? 


Well for several reasons.

It is brilliantly comedy. One 
of the few TV series where the presenters have a huge laugh,  play a lot, enjoy each others company (while slagging each other off) and absolutely love what they do. They always remind me that enjoying the things we did as children is ok. That life is not too serious that it demands we give up the wonderful gifts of "play", "fun", "laughter". 

Jeremy Clarkson, and the other two petrol head lads are naturally funny people - they have a very high sense of the ridiculous. I do not say this lightly. As a (very heavy) fan of the Python clan I have discovered that JC is a comedy lover, not just a "petrol head". His heroes are - hold your breath here - the Python clan. And if you do not take that aspect of him into account, you will miss the many many Top Gear nods and references to the Pythons and their style of humour and comedy. According to Jeremy the Pythons are the last great thing that Britain produced. His most priceless possession is the Python "Big Red Bok" signed by the six Pythons. Moreover, if you check out James May's TV you cannot miss the Pythonic aspects they have - including the Terry Gilliam style artwork with introduction and credits.  

The gift of offending The insanity of the Python sketches, and Fawlty Towers is always evident in Top Gear. And Python fans know that almost everything the Pythons did was absolutely offensive and quite insane. The Pythons made Britain and the world laugh at itself and everything else. Even other races! Ooh lala! The thing is, everyone knew they were taking the piss. The clue being, that the Pythons laughed at everything, including themselves. One of the great traits of British humour - being able to laugh at oneself, not take offence easily, or oneself too seriously. And Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May have that wonderful quality of not taking themselves or each other seriously, of being able to direct some of the harshest send up to themselves. Hamster, Captain Slow, and the Orang Utan being their names for each other. 

In the hooha over the remarks made by JC, I realise that there is a generation out there that is losing this ability. 

It is a comedy act as well as about cars Top Gear might be politically incorrect, and the three lads might be "offensive" to some - but I wonder if anyone has considered the possibility that this might be a comedy act. And the three blokes - comedians. 

Well - most comedy shows do not pretend to be the truth or real. And surely no one believes that everything said on TV has to be taken absolutely seriously?! Especially in a comic act.

The Pythons, and MOST comedians of today, tune their acts, into a fine art of saying outrageous offensive things. Most good comedians are able to do that and Top Gear is no exception to the rule. Most good comedians will question and send up anything and everything around. Most will be offensive. And outrageous. In fact most do say far more outrageous things about society and the world around than Top Gear or Jeremy does or did. Those who take offence at Jeremy ought to sit down for a few nights and watch a few recent comedy shows...no one is spared, and the language is far more ruthless and offensive than his. Trust me - I watch a lot of offensive comedy, and Jeremy Clarkson pales by comparison. 

Their love for cars is infectious and educative
When I first started watching Top Gear I knew nothing or cared nothing about cars. A year I knew all the makes and styles. And understood what makes a good car. I had begun to appreciate the amazing creative genius and engineering skills behind cars. I started identifying those that looked beautiful - where care and imagination, and passion for beauty had kicked into the production - where beauty mattered with cars. Not even expensive cars. Ordinary cars. I understood the impatience and frustration that the Top Gear lads felt when cars were shoddily put together. And when I got my driving licence, and got on to driving different cars, I understood why they were so annoyed that the engineering of some cars was rubbish.

You only have to look at our roads to realise the actual rubbish styles and designs of cars - it won't cost much to have something aesthetically more pleasing. One does not need a duvet dumped onto the backside of a Megane cars, or the grimaces at the front of cars, or the clumsy shapes. A desire for excellence in production is not a bad thing - something the car industry has forgotten. 


Downsides... I do sometimes find the level of damage and wastage on Top Gear programmes difficult. I disagree with some of the politics and environmental aspects of the programme. But that is not the whole truth, is it. There are many TV programmes that cost a lot of money and ruin the environment a lot more I would think - than running a car around a track or participating in a race. It isn't black and white. There are aspects of environmental conservation and climate change JC supports and cares about (shock horror!). There are some things he says - with regard to politics and society - that I find refreshing. I suspect he voices what many of us secretly think in the hidden places of our heads but don't want our images tarnished by saying out aloud. I suspect that what are often described as "racist" attitudes - often echo our own prejudices and hang ups about other races that we are too polite to show. 

I like Jeremy Clarkson. And James May. And Richard Hammond. And I know a lot of people will be quite annoyed by that.

But it is time people move away from black and white images of people. And the demonising of programmes or people. It is time they chilled a bit, resuscitated the great British trait of sardonic humour, self deprecation, and idiocy when it demands it. And trust me the world needs a lot of that. Britain does too.

For there is nothing more unattractive than the absence of humour and a plodding high minded misguided seriousness about the world and ourselves. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Someone has started painting "autumn" ...

Today Someone had splashed vibrant colours on the wet pavement. The canvas of Norn Iron is having its grey landscape splashed with red, orange, yellow, brown. Well at least a jolly good attempt is being made, and it makes a nice contrast - one has to give it that.

I scuffled through the bright leaves wondering if I can pick up the colour and preserve it for the winter...just splotches of yellow, orange and red when it goes all dark and cold. Imagine a frieze of autumnal leaves filling the living room wall? :) Now that kind of art really is fabulous - it will brighten up winter and create a permanent living firey blaze in the room. I bet it will even *feel* warmer just to have the colours on the wall.

I used to revel in Keats - but I have to confess that reading "Ode to Autumn" in Norn Iron is always depressing. There is now a dawning realisation that there is always going to be a distinct absence of the good old sunny blaze of Keatsian Autmnal Glory over here. All that palaver that Keats makes about "Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness" is quite out of sync here. As for "the maturing sun" it is detinitely more weedy here and I haven't seen much of it at all. I wonder how many of us in Norn Iron here sat glaring at the TV displaying the inhabitants of England flaunting their warm blazing "end of summer" frolics. How inconsiderate of them to lie languidly and supinely on the grass and beach! How provocating of them to go swimming with barely any clothes on while we - Norn Ironers - piled on the fleeces and cardigans, and cowered submissively indoors. While they waved their bbq implements around and let the smoke rise from their happily burning sausages, we switched on the oven, grilled our chicken and crouched on our sofas.

Keats hadn't a flipping clue. I seriously don't think that bees in Norn Iron will think that the "warm days will never cease" - more likely they are cursing and swearing under their breath as they get soaked and drenched. More likely the Norn Iron bees will be really bad-tempered unlike their happy sunny English bee cousins. Keats obviously did *not* have Norn Iron in mind when he wrote.

Now Shelley - now he was more with the Norn Iron scene.
O West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,"

That is more like it. Dear old Autumn blowing in the Winter. Now Norn Iron does proper winters. I love autumn, but I also love the stark beauty of winter (provided it doesn't do an overdripping season). The shapes and silhouettes of trees - which we never see at any other season. The dark scuptured branches and tree trunks. It is like seeing the world pared back to its bare essentials - sans flowers, green, colours - and realising it is still magical, still artistically maginficent.

Hats off to good ole Shelley for capturing the essence of an autumn we recognise. An autumn that "HAH" as it throws pre-winter rain, winds and cold at us. . Norn Iron extends a hand of comradeship and congratulations to the ole young handsome Romantic.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cabbages and Kings. And doggies.

A friend told me today that I oughta restart the blog.
I am restarting my blog.
Today I am writing about Cabbages.
And Kings
And Doggies.

Cabbages are only tasty if they do not taste like cabbage - fuzband said the other day. "What is the point of that?" he asked. If I am being honest...I fail to see the point. Ditto for brussel sprouts, although to be quite honest, in a world that is big on looks the brussel sprout at least *looks* interesting. Pity that we have to eat it though. Trouble with both is that they smell evil when being cooked.

Kings. They go with cabbages apparently. For some reason. Although the Walrus is not really a reputed source of information. Or trustworthy for that matter. After all it ate the Oysters.
Kings anyway are a bit similar because often they can be tasteless. And the smell of evil sits heavily on some of them...even without them being boiled. In these progessive days, however, kings are a bit obsolete - what with bankers, prime ministers, presidents. Democracy. Instead of a cabbage or king then.

Now doggies. That is what is most interesting. We are going to be catted and dogged. Awww. I personally prefer a Marley although fuzband pervesely maintains that having a dog bouncing around and knocking things over is not really useful. Tchhh. No imagination at all. What we need to remember is that a cat expects a servant, and the dog expects a master/mistress. More about that later I suppose.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Trivia - the vague passing stream of consciousness!

I live in the stream of consciousness. Everything sort of flowing through my brain like a veritable flood of "thought bites". Virginia Woolf was quite right in a way - even though sometimes reading it gets a bit tiresome - to experiment on the technique of representing the flow of human consciousness through our minds all through our day (or the sleepless nights) for that matter.

Here, for the record are some of mine!
"Shall I be inspired to paint a complex polychromatic image on paper or keep it simple and go for a monochromatic effect of painting the town red...Should I be an artist or an artful wrecker?"

"
Married life, we have realised, is made up of a massive content of the everyday. How then to enjoy life through the repetetive trivia that floods in - organising of meal rituals, grocery shopping, cleaning, washing?
A sense of humour and a bit of hilarity help. Also having both spouse and spice immersed in a barrage of... domesticity is definitely better than one being footloose in a fancy free manner."

"
I am thinking that having a mother who likes to cook a full blown Sri Lankan meal is not a bad thing! Although I am not sure I like the murmurs about "poor boy" (which translated means "why don't you wait on him hand on foot"!)"

"
I am supremely tired with a Media that appears determined to scupper the ConDems efforts at a Productive future."

"
So we have the unholy alliance on. What strange bedfellows indeed. ;) methinks it might do the Tories a world of good to have some jolly good LibDem policy.
I have to say that having two fairly good looking men leading the nation is almost as good as having a man and a woman. What you lose in intellectual and staying... power, you gain in visual dynamics."

Fuzband would point that the stream of consciousness flows unhindered through my brain!
Sheez, if I was disciplined enough to write a stream of consciousness tome, I could be living with riches, fame and scandal. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened yet!

Give them a brush! They need to tar Gordon Brown... or someone.

Yesterday, Gordon Brown did one of the rarest things a politican can do. He admitted failure publicly.

I for one was filled with respect and admiration for a man, who not just resigned, but who did so publicly and accepted his failure before the nation. It takes a man of some stature to do that. Let us not forget this. Not many politicians of today will stand up and say - "I failed", and we better appreciate it because we won't see many doing it in the future. Very few people of today, least of all politicians, can do what Gordon Brown did yesterday. And Britain should be proud of politicians such as him. He may have failed, made mistakes, but please everyone, he admitted it and left.

Yet very few in the media or the political arena highlighted this or dwelt much on this. It was passed lightly over. What did arise was much bad press for resigning at "this point of time", speculation of his motive, judgement about his holding on after elections. All of which may or may not be true. None of us will know, because that is in his conscience and between him and his God.

I thought much about this. And came up with a few puzzling things. For instance, when else could he have resigned - just before elections leaving the Labour party without a leader and destabilised? Maybe Labour did not at that point have a suitable leader to match GB's expertise or stature - and a new face just before elections may have been suicidal. Maybe. I don't know.

If he resigned soon after the elections would he not have left the country destabilised? I wonder if people are aware that Gordon Brown followed due constitutional process in the event of a hung parliament. A document drawn up prior to the election for just such a prcess.
He did so to the letter, as yesterdays general political consultancy indicated (an official political process with an official committee of consultants televised during its discussion on the process and governance - not a mindless wittering from a passing politician or opnionated wotsisname!). GB was "expected" to act the way he did, or else the nation would have been paralysed at a time when it was fragile and unstable (although I am really not sure I understand why every flipping thing in this world depends on the MARKET! It is a bit of a sorry state is it not?).

What were people muttering? A lot of unkind things. He would have to be "hosed out of No. 10" said one. That he was "camping there and would have to be removed" said another. For goodness sake...get a grip! I find these uninformed and malicious responses quite abhorrent. Mostly because they are incorrect, and unkind. And made without a clue about what it is like to stand in the shoes of GB!

Is it so wrong for GB to put the future of the party first in the precipitous resignation? Is it one hundred percent clear that all he did was because he was a selfish moron? If it is the case that he was the reason Labour failed - which is what everyone said (and I am sure the Labour party said it again), then he was merely doing what was right by them. Of course the timing was vital - because it appeared that even after *three* days the Libdem and Tory talks were not yet conclusive. Surely, the Labour party are "obliged" to offer a coallition in a situation like this? Unless of course the entire country wanted to go for another election and leave the country in so called "peril" at the mercy of "market forces". In the event of Tory-LibDem talks falling through, where would a minority government of the Tories, with LibDem and Labour votes going against their policy in the economic crisis leave the nation? In chaos I suspect. Where would a delayed offer from Labour to the LibDems - a week after their talks with the Tories concluded - leave the nation? In chaos I suspect. There is an urgent definite need for even a small majority vote in parliament to take the nation through the recession. Or at least the next few months.
Without that the nation's future is not very stable.

We might do well to consider, just a little bit, the difficulties politicians and parties face right now. We need to believe in the possibility that there might be principled (yet fallible) people in there - Tory, LibDem and Labour - working towards the best decision for the nation. We need to believe that leaders might be trying to put aside differences to ensure the stability of the nation. Not everyone is a Devil or Deep Blue sea all the time. Or a yellow submarine for that matter.

We are looking of a group of fallible people, with fallible parties, prone to mistakes, prone to be unsure, prone to not be omnipotent, omniscient or in any sense "god" in this situation.

Can we just treat them as such and appreciate what they are attempting to do!

Released today "Sleeping with the Enemy"...the new hot political movie

You have to admit that the current situation - post election is one that deserves a place in the epic movie genre. "Sleeping with the Enemy" is not really an epic movie, but one can always have a "adaptation" scenario whence which it mutates into one.

Of course who is the enemy? In this case the mutual bedfellows - which ever they turn out to be. Currently his Toryness is talking to the man who holds the trump card. Can you imagine these being happy bedfellows? How in the name of all that is sacred, profane, holy, and unholy, can his Toryness do a deal with the Trumper? The mind boggles.

The trump card holder must be feeling pretty powerful and uncomfortable at the moment...the poor man. It is definitely the classic case of "between the red devil and the deep blue sea". Imagine the Trumpcard man's position: if he leaps into the deep blue sea, he will have to stomp on his moral conscience, back track on all his policy and lie down to be tickled. And tormented of course. If by some chance (or cunning plan) the poor man to lie down with the devil in red, his conscience will still be tormented (by unhappy citizens) for backing the old lost horse that should have been shaking a hoof and retiring to the stable, leaving No. 10 free for his rightful Torynesses.

To be honest, when watching a programme on the elections (fuzband describes it as "endless witter" which is more or less true after you hear the information and discussion once!), the clever technology and computery pals had done a cool trick. They tweaked the electorate colours of the map of the British Isles to reflect the actual proportion more closely - and guess what? The reds and blues were almost equal. You see a seat of 500 is equal to a seat of 5000 (to stretch it a bit). It therefore does *not* follow immediately that those with the most seats technically have the most votes. What it does indicate is that they techincally have the "right to govern"! In fact a close colour spectrum across the island seems to me a pretty close election.

The voting system is another story that is too complicated to go into here, but fact of the matter is that the Deep Blue sea and the Devil in Red were pretty close. There is a purity of statement here - no one has been given a vote of confidence. It is more the indication of a lack of confidence than not. The red patches and blue patches were almost equal. This is why we have not seen the Hon. incumbent of Downing Street packing and leaving immediately with the stately wave from the door and car, and wise words (maybe another apology to Ms Hysterical Duffy - thought personally at this stage he might be inclined to tell her to "sod off" in public...what has he to lose now!).

Let's not get too carried away in vilifiying the present incumbent of No. 10, even if he made some big mistakes. People might be pissed off with him for what has happened to the nation, but let's be honest - everyone wants, no, the word here is "needs", a scape goat; His Browness has been the proverbial goat. In more ways than one! So everyone wants him sent off into the wilderness with their misdemeanours, their mistakes, their overspending, their greed laid on his shoulder. Especially some in the Labour party whose sins are many! The way that people hoohaad about Gordon Brown, one was hard pressed to remember that a large number in the Labour govt, as well as the banking cohorts needed a good kicking where it hurts - in their seats and their pockets respectively.

Ok, so the man made mistakes...but the man is a flipping human being is he not? Does anyone *really* think that his Toryness or his Colin Firthiness is going to govern faultlessly, perfectly and with absoulte spot on judgements. Believe me they will fail. Not because they are evil monsters, but because they too are simply human. Unless one is prepared to believe that one of the is God and, despite the wideness and strangeness of beliefs people acquire like the "Jedi Faith", I doubt anyone believing that.

What one needs is not infallible women or men for good governance, but decent well intentioned humans who have in place good measures and restrictions now put in place to prevent fallible men and women allowing their humanity to lead them into places they should not go. A safeguard against their own humanity. No amount of good will, charm and sweet smiles is going to make a man or woman an infallible leader.

So let's face it - his Browness is not "worse" than his Toryness or Cleggy Firthiness. He may not have the looks and social graces of the latter two, but social graces do not a good leader make. It just makes for a good public profile (especially when looking sideways - which one needs to do with a lot of the politics!)

The latest is the call from SNP for an alliance of Labour, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru (please someone explain why Cymru pronounced Cumry - honestly can't someone reverse those letters or something!) in a "progressive alliance". It seems the easiest in terms of seeing eye to eye on policy to some degree, and could make for a happier "British" nation with representation at governance from its varied parts (where is Norn Iron in this bedfellow choice time?). Nick Clegg is at the moment considering the offer from His Toryness and it is bound to twist people's knickers into a knot if he goes for a swim in the deep blue sea. But I wouldn't like to be in his shoes. What is the right thing to do? Could any one of us know the right thing? Either way he is bound to be damned by some, and so is His Toryness. You can bet on that.

Whatever the case may be, what we do not need is an unholy alliance that results in unnecessary breeding. Imagine what can be bred - my imagination writhes at the thought. We would not like to have the spawn of an unholy alliance turning into tadpoles and stalking the nation. And who would ultimately want a breed of frogs emerging at the end of the day.
(I suppose if there were any princes among them - one could take to kissing them regularly, but given that the royalty are not much of a catch either...that puts paid to any benefits)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Camer on to it, Brown - it, or Nick it!

In the past few days fuzzband and I have been avidly following the political debates - the national as well as Norn Iron ones. We have been poring over the newspapers reading bits out, arguing (ahem I mean "discussing"). It is the big question these days: How are we supposed to vote?

Actually the title of this piece has absolutely no relevance to the choice that we have here in Norn Iron. Nevertheless... the clans, cohorts and names do not matter at this point; the principles of how I vote as a christian do.

I was a bit appalled to read a supposedly thinking "christian" website giving advice to christians on "how to vote". It seemed to boil down to a few myopic perspectives such as "abortion bad", "marriage good", "gay rights bad"...which I need hardly point out is a misguided and grossly inadequate view of what justice, morals, integrity, voting, governance, society and wellbeing of a nation is about. I mean does everything boil down to sex, reproduction, or family life? There are bigger things to think about. Read the Old Testament, and it will demonstrate that God is far more furious, far more passionate about injustice, oppression, greed, dishonesty. To be quite honest, and this might make some of us uncomfortable, God did not really focus too much on the sexual misdemeanours of His chosen prophets and patriarchs. Neither did He root much for the now idolised "nuclear family". Witness, if you have forgotten, the many wives, concubines, affairs and wandering hands of our forefathers. Listen again to the relative silence of God on this, and hear again His thundering statements about His displeasure at the treatment of aliens, widows, the weak, the vulnerable and the oppressed. Listen as God lays down standards for a just society - a society where the weak and vulnerable are important, where personal prosperity and individual success are not encouraged, if the cost is the life and livelihood of the poor.

Now, I do not want to sound anti moral - but it seems to me that a sound overview of the Old Testament can tell us what really is at the Heart of God's thinking in terms of the outcome of the elections. Obviously God cares about sexual purity, about marriage and about family (extended, not just nuclear). However He cares as much, perhaps even more, about some of these other things. Discomfitting!

I have also been thinking of how God selected David to be the King of Israel - how did a young shepherd boy qualify in the eyes of God, to lead a troubled nation.

So how should we vote, as Christians?

I listed a few principles for myself about how I should vote, and how I should not vote :) Not that anyone ought to take what I say, but perhaps it is good for us to think through who we vote for and why.

1. Do not vote for any party, or person out of
a) habit (I have always voted for the llama)
b) family tradition and generational loyalty (My family has always voted for the monkeys)

No person or party and no policy is infallible enough to demand our unquestioning loyalty.

2. Do not vote irresponsibly without thinking about the basis of your vote.
We are called to have the mind of Christ, and to think the thoughts of Christ in all of our deliberations - be they spiritual, material, political. Or anything else.

3. Do vote for a person or party who upholds the wellbeing of not just your own little world, but God's world.
Vote for someone who cares about this nation as well as other nations, who is passionate about the wellbeing of the Earth, and is concerned about the exploitation of the poorer nations and the oppressed in all nations.

4.If voting for "the devil you know", do not vote in a vacuum. This is not year zero.
Democracy is a process by which we remind our politicians that they are accountable to us, and that if they betray trust, they will not be trusted. On the other hand, being human, I suppose no political party will be perfect, all knowing. Remember the past actions of the parties - without forgetting that people and parties can (sometimes) change! We are not judging human fallibility, for all governments are fallible. We are judging the failure in integrity, the levels of dishonesty.

5. Do not discredit a new party simply because it is new.
New brooms not only do sweep well, but they are often required when old ones have worn out. God did choose a very new and unlikely "broom" to be the King of Israel... :) This said, new is not always good; we need to give the new brooms a fair consideration as to whether their fibres bode well for a good sweep (and clean up).

6.
Do read through the manifestos - they are the summary and statement of intention of any party.

As I informed fusband, I will not vote for Nick Clegg on the basis that he looks like Colin Firth ;) Actually, I am in no danger of voting for him as the lib dems do not stand in Norn Iron... but that is neither here nor there! What matters is what his manifesto states. In a similar vein, Gordon Brown's clumsiness at the camera and debates, his gawkiness and absence of social "camera polish" - they do not really count in our decision. What matters is what the Labour party declares in its maniefsto. By implication then, the camera polish of David Cameron's slick "buffed" (as one newspaper put it) appearance has no weight in our decisions. Look where Tony Blair's flair took the nation!

It is the manifestos, the declarations, intentions of a party that matter to me. However ugly, gauche, grumpy, slicked, polished, buffed, or Firth-ian, its leader might be!

As far as possible we should vote for a man, or woman, who is someone after the things of God's heart and upholds His care for nations and the world. Even if they are not Christian!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What the donkey did that day

Palm Sunday thinkings after the Palm Sunday service.


The setting
Before the Jewish passover feast. Now known as Palm Sunday. A few men, a discussion, a donkey selected, a ride into Jerusalem, and an outpouring of celebration. Most importantly the declaration of Majesty and Kingship.

So I solved a mystery this Lent. A few mysteries really.

I learnt that Jesus chose the donkey for His entry into Jerusalem not just in fulfilemnt of prophecy (in Zechariah your king comes to you...gentle and riding on a donkey). It was also in a long line of tradition of old testament practice: Judges and Kings rode a donkey (instead of a majestic horse, camel or limousine...or whatever regal ride they had) when they went on a mission or visit of peace! Jesus was clearly making a statement, and one that the crowd immediately recognised.

The crowds recognised His stature and hailed Him as King of Israel, Son of David, He who comes in the name of the Lord, while hailing the era as the coming kingdom of our father David. I always wondered why and how the crowds were so astute in hailing Him that way, when He had all along tried to keep His head down, and been recognised or seen as Teacher, Rabbi, Master, Lord. Never as King! But the donkey not only echoed prophecy, it echoed the practice that the crowd recognised...a king, with his subjects, *entering* a city on a donkey. This was a King who was bringing them Peace.

It could also have been the deciding factor which catupulted Judas into betrayal. Judas would have recognised the gesture too - this was a King who was bringing peace and truce, not a Messiah intent on deliverance. Perhaps the gesture of feet washing that followed was only further evidence to Judas that Jesus was not going to be the "king triumphant" he longed to see arise against the Romans.

Perhaps it also explains why, when Jesus was arrested and tried, the crowd turned against him because they probably saw Him as a false king who had somehow made them believe something that was not true. Instead of bringing peace with the Romans - as His entry into Jerusalem suggested - Jesus had not even negotiated or attempted to establish this truce or peace. Instead, the crowd probably felt that He had failed in the mission of peace (that they had so correctly recognised when He rode into Jerusalem) when He got arrested. Which was why they asked for Barabbas instead.

Palm Sunday...what a day!