Archive for December, 2010

Bits and bobs

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Firstly, news that the Pope has recorded a message for the BBC Thought for the Day program, due to be aired Christmas Eve. This has irked the National Secular Society, much to the delight of Damian Thompson.

The Express carry the story that the BBC’s rendition of the Nativity story has angered Christians. As Richard Bartholomew rightly notes, this is total tosh and solely reflects the views of fundamentalist extremist Stephen Green of Christian Voice.

I watched my first episode last night and thought it was terrific, as does the entirety of the Christian Interweb, in fact I was Tweeted this last night:

When Mary said she felt the light within her – that’s how the programme made me feel – the light still burns brightly

Next episode is tonight 7pm on BBC1, do watch if you can.

The BBC are reporting on a new survey that reveals one-third of Brits believe they have a guardian angel watching over them. They’re also reporting on the world’s smallest Christmas card.

And finally, please do spare a thought for our beleaguered and traumatised Iraqi brethren as they cancel Christmas celebrations due to new security threats against them.

Crucifix by British graffiti artist Banksy

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

This comes via Ben Myers of Faith and Theology and as usual with art I don’t quite know what to make of it.

What do you make of it?

I’ve been advised that art should ‘challenge’ me in some way even if it’s downright terrifying. After seeing this particular terrifying sculpture online, I walked into my local Cathedral one morning and there it was in the flesh.

I’m not ‘challenged’ by this Banksy piece but it’s entirely possible that I’m missing the point in some way. Do let me know what you think, especially if you’re challenged by it or can see some meaning that’s sailed straight over my head.

More than 100 Canadian-Arab Christians targeted on an Al Qaeda-affiliated website

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Is nowhere safe for our Arab Christian brothers and sisters? This comes courtesy of Canadian blogger David of Anglican Samizdat:

The Star:

VANCOUVER—More than 100 Canadian-Arab Christians are listed on an Al Qaeda-affiliated website, apparently targeted because of their alleged role in attempting to convert Muslims.

Some of those named say concerned Canadian intelligence officials have contacted them.

The Shumukh-al-Islam website, often considered to be Al Qaeda’s mouth piece, listed pictures, addresses and cellphone numbers of Coptic Christians, predominantly Egyptian-Canadians, who have been vocal about their opposition to Islam.

In a forum on the website, one member named Son of a Sharp Sword, says “We are going to return back to Islam and all of the Mujahedeen (holy warriors) will cut off their heads.”

Three pages of the fundamentalist, Arabic-language website titled “Complete information on Coptics” sets to “identify and name all of the Coptics throughout the world who hope to defame Islam,” The website calls the Coptic Christians living abroad “dogs in diaspora,” a derogatory reference in Arabic.

Among those named on the Shumukh-al-Islam website is Samuel Tawadrus, a Coptic Egyptian living in Quebec.

“This is a direct threat against our lives,” Tawadrus said in an interview.

“They are trying to inform each other in hopes that someone can carry out this threat. They could be in Egypt and they could be here. Our names and our pictures are listed.”

Tawadrus’s picture and cellphone number were listed on the site.

…..continue reading

Christmas Decorations Gone Mad

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

After reading earlier that a giant Christmas tree has prompted threats of war, perhaps now I can see why, because if I lived next door to this, I’d probably threaten war:

Click here to see 24 more ghastly images.

Hat-tip Biblical Paths

Christian mental health worker Margaret Forester faces sack over anti-abortion booklet

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Here we go again folks…..grab the tin hats.

Telegraph:

Margaret Forester passed the booklet to family planning staff at the health centre where she works because she felt that the NHS was not offering patients enough information about the risks associated with terminating a pregnancy.

But Ms Forester, 39, said she was suspended from her job as a psychological wellbeing practitioner based in Westminster because managers at Central North West London Mental Health Trust disagreed with her personal beliefs.

She will appear in front of an internal disciplinary committee on Wednesday, charged with “distributing materials some people may find offensive”. Her supporters fear that she could lose her job.

The case represents the latest example of Christians who have come into conflict with state employers after expressing their religious views at work.

In Ms Forester’s case, she said she was merely having an informal conversation with colleagues in her office and had at not attempted to influence patients directly.

[.....]

Her case is being backed by the Christian Legal Centre, which has instructed Paul Diamond, the religious rights barrister, to act on her behalf.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, promised to “stand by” Ms Forester. “We believe that family planning advisers should have access to all information about abortion,” she said. Local government bodies should not suppress the full range of information, some of which gives the devastating and long-term impact of abortion and real alternatives to it.”

…continue reading

UPDATE: Christian Concern have now posted an article on their website:

Christian health worker prevented from working because of her personal veiws

Should believers be talking with atheists?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Paul Sims of the New Humanist has written an interesting piece reflecting on atheist – believer dialogue, entitled: Should atheists be talking to believers?

Paul is by his own [tongue-in-cheek] admission a moderate “accommodationist” who – from experience – is open to co-belligerence to confront shared foe such as extremist fundamentalists.

Paul recalls his ’round table’ discussion with Catholic Voices earlier this year and notes the berating he received from Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society as a result of attending this discussion.

Paul is especially concerned with the importance of civility and tone within the dialogue framework and is particularly critical of aggressive polemics. He rightly notes the preponderance of ‘aggressive extremist’ positions dominating public discourse and warns caution to those on his side of the fence.

Paul also notes that Humanism is not an homogeneous “movement” and that they’re generally eager to debate with believers.

Paul concludes with this statement:

The perception of “aggressive atheism” has, rightly or wrongly, taken hold in public discourse and it is something humanists and secularists need to be aware of if we are to influence debate on the range of issues that matter to us. If a bit of civil interaction with religious people could help to achieve this, wouldn’t it be worth it?

I would like to ask the same question, namely, does civil interaction with atheist / humanist / secularist folks achieve anything worthwhile?

There are of course certain militant ‘brands’ of atheism who are particularly aggressive and I would posit there exists a mirror ‘brand’ within the Christian community. These groups have a curiously symbiotic relationship with one another and I fear they will always co-exist. But is it time to fight against their domination of the public discourse and determine a more cordial and civil relationship to facilitate living together in harmony and understanding?

On an aside, there is a fabulous article over at the Independent today, which I would urge you to hop over and read, and is – in my opinion – a fine example of the civil, normal, intelligent christian:

Independent – My name is Peter and I’m a believer – George Carey may be telling Christians not to be ashamed, but devout Catholic Peter Stanford always worried that if he went public, he’d come across as a nutter. Now, he believes, it’s time to lose his inhibitions

Meadhowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield say no to Christian ‘flash mob’ choir as it would compromise impartiality

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Cross-post by Cranmer’s Curate:

Sheffield Station last week allowed a flash mob choir to sing Christmas carols in its main concourse. Last month Seaway Mall in Welland, Ontario, Canada, famously allowed a flash mob choir to sing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah in its food court. But the Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield, one of the largest in Europe, does not want a choir singing ‘the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever’ in its food court.

A spokeswoman told Cranmer’s Curate:

Meadowhall Shopping Centre is open to the general public and therefore must remain impartial towards any one religion or political leaning. The Centre would therefore be unable to give permission for a flash mob choir – similar to the one in Ontario, Canada – to perform.

An old friend of your curate sent him the YouTube video of the Ontario flash mob choir as his family Christmas card. It is the best Christmas card cc has ever received. The joy on the faces of the singers and the surprised delight of the shoppers are profoundly moving as the praises of the King of kings and Lord of lords ring around the food court:

And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!

But in the Siberia of political correctness the Hallelujah chorus is frozen out.

No room in the food court for the King of kings and Lord of lords because the centre management must not be seen to favour one religion over another. It must be ‘impartial’.

Except of course no shopping centre serving the UK public can achieve such religious impartiality.

The Name of Christ appears in the word ‘Christmas’, one world religion’s festival that gets a much higher profile in the shops than that of any other ‘faith group’ in the UK.

The banishment of Christmas from a shopping centre would not go down very well with the retailers.

A few good links

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Anglican Samizdat – And He shall reign forever and ever! Including at Orlando’s International Airport.

Accepting Abundance – Why Do You Believe in God? A response to Ricky Gervais

Calvin L Smith  Some Rather Attention-Seeking Christmas Research

Catholic Online – Priest says Muslim extremists want to rid Middle East of Christians

AsiaNews – Five Iraqi Christians seeking asylum returned from Stockholm. UN protest

Clayboy – Q’s Christmas story revisited

Clerical Whispers – Churches halt decline, new research shows

Kineti L’Tziyon -Weekly Bracha 47

Gordon’s Blog – Support for young earth creationism declining in the USA but rising in the UK

Political Correctness watch – European Commission criticised for omitting Christmas on EU school diary

Telegraph – The appearance of the Star of Bethlehem, which in the Bible guides the three wise men to Jesus’ birth place, can be backed up by science, according to an astronomer.

First Things – Most Excellent Vid on Mariology

Total Lunar Eclipse Tuesday Morning 21st December: And The Moon Shall Be As Blood

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Don’t forget to watch the total lunar eclipse tomorrow morning (21st December), here’s some info pertinent to UK readers:

UKPA

There will be a total lunar eclipse on Tuesday morning, when the Earth casts a shadow onto the Moon.

On the day of the winter solstice, December 21, the full Moon will start to pass through the cone of Earth’s shadow at 6.32am.

The partial eclipse begins when the Moon first enters the dark inner, umbral part of the Earth’s shadow, and will become a total eclipse at 7.40am.

It will reach its maximum at 8.17am, and end at 8.53am.

From southern parts of the UK, the initial partial phase and the beginning of totality will be visible, but the Moon will be dropping down into the western sky as dawn approaches.

From those locations, when totality begins, the Moon will be very low in the west-north-western sky, close to the horizon and in a rapidly brightening sky.

From locations in Scotland and Northern Ireland, totality will be visible in its entirety, but the Moon will be low down after the time of greatest eclipse.

….continue reading

And what does this event portend for us? Yep, you’ve guessed it, the start of the Apocalypse, or the Rapture, or both.

One snowflake handcrafted by God

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Yep, this is an actual photo of a snowflake:

Isn’t this just remarkable and beautiful?

This to me really does reflect the breathtaking marvel of our God.

You can find further images here, and some lovely Christian reflection on this here.

Hat-tip: The Anchoress – First Things

Switch to our mobile site