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Saturday, 27 May 2017

Manchester - Social Class Exposed!

As an adult who was a decade ago to be considered by a psychologist to possess above-average intelligence, I took advantage of such a revelation about myself by pushing hard at something I already enjoy doing. And that was writing, a beautiful art in expressing myself in words of thought, feelings, and will. When I was a boy attending a primary school around 1960, not only was I tasked by the teacher to show other children in the classroom how a word was read and pronounced, I also had relatives living abroad at the time, and I enjoyed writing letters to them. Unlike with the negative attitude shown a few years later by the majority of male classroom colleagues, I did not find writing as a burden, something which had to be done to avoid discipline from the staff, but rather something which left much room for development.

And so efforts to improve on the grammar, spelling and flow came mainly by reading books and newspapers, and noting how experienced authors expressed themselves. Books included fiction as well as mainly theological issues after conversion to Jesus Christ towards the end of 1972. Believe me, there were times when grappling with the grammar wasn't easy, although attending voluntary evening school and achieving a G.C.E. O Level pass in English Language was a big help in itself. In addition, there was a time, before acquiring the internet, when I was offered help from a professional writer from South Africa when I felt a strong desire to write a dossier about Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion. My friend, who has since moved to Northern Ireland to be close to his elderly mother, actually printed several copies of the book, one of them he kept for himself, and another I posted direct to Richard Dawkins who was still at the time lecturing at New College in Oxford. All this was somewhere between ten to eleven years ago.

Therefore throughout these blog posts published here, yes, I often throw a wobbly at certain academics. Writers such as Katie Hopkins, Richard Littlejohn, and even Stephen Glover, all contributors to the Right-Wing newspaper The Daily Mail, I have expressed my disagreement with them here. But not over their writing skills, but rather their attitude towards certain issues, namely their support for national superiority, and particularly Hopkins' view of ethical and political diversity as cockroaches and monkeys respectively. So I wouldn't be too surprised to learn that within the last 24 hours, she was dismissed from L.B.C. Radio for posting a tweet calling for a holocaust of all Muslims living here in the UK. Not surprising, however, is the rather loud silence of the newspaper itself, unlike the clear announcements from Yahoo website and The Guardian newspaper when the news of Hopkins' dismissal from the radio station was still at its breaking stage.

But given any unbiased journalist, reporter, or writer, I have admiration for him. Maybe even a form of worship. After all, part of worship, if not all of it, is an acknowledgement of the entity having greater intelligence, greater skills, greater powers and greater knowledge than what I have or could ever have. Maybe I can't help with the admiration, which engenders greater respect. Perhaps I can illustrate a practical example here. Let's suppose that we own our home, and we have a spare bedroom. So we decide that an extra source of income from a lodger would be beneficial. After posting an advert in the local paper, two applicants arrive at our door. One is dressed in a suit and is fresh out of university, and he is a budding writer or accountant. The other is a bricklayer or electrician, and he is casually dressed although still having a clean and tidy appearance.

Although I despise the class strata in our country, my instinct would still favour the first candidate. This is most likely due, in addition to a greater feeling of admiration along with a sense of privilege in having him in our home, it's also due to the fact that his university training and his employer has relocated him miles away from his family home, and this would justify his need for accommodation. The other candidate would far more likely to be still living at home, and yet desires some independence, maybe a break from his controlling parents, or more likely, not wanting to be seen by others as clinging to his mother's apron strings whilst watching friends of his age already married and raising a family, or taking months off to backpack the world. So instinct would tell me which one to choose to lodge with us, ensuring us that his income remains stable as long as he satisfies his employer.

The snag with all this is personality. Although the graduate, at least by outer appearance and profession, would be the ideal candidate, chances would be that the bricklayer would be a far better lodger in the sense of loyalty, camaraderie, and his willingness to conform to our way of life. Conversely, there is that greater possibility that the graduate may start feeling ill-at-ease lodging with us, as he sees us as beneath himself. This may lead to more frequent nights spent elsewhere, maybe at the home of an office colleague after a party, a supper, or a get-together over TV, but still keeping up with his regular payments. In all, there could be little social cohesion between us, with his spare evenings shut away in his bedroom, glued to the front of his computer, except for his brief visit to the kitchen to prepare his meal or coffee. Then after a month or so, he walks into our lounge with an announcement that he has found alternate accommodation more suited to his needs or closer to his place of work.

The bricklayer would most likely make an effort to be more cohesive and socially interact with us. Maybe an evening or two spent in a pub, or even include us among his fellow workmates over a drink. There is a good chance that he becomes interested in my past travel experiences, and would like to give it a try for himself. After all, I would explain that throughout my own long-haul travel career, I lived in a rented apartment which I was responsible for, and therefore did not live with or got any help from my parents, yet I was still able to travel. Then again, I would explain to him, there were certain advantages with living at home if long-haul travel was his intention. I would tell him of the Irish bricklayer I met during the month I was lodging at the backpacker's hostel in Israel, back in 1994. We had a hour-long chat as he shared his experience of a building contract during the year he spent overseas. Then I would relate about the Australian bricklayer I shared a hostel bedroom with while I was in San Diego in 1995. He too spent twelve months or more in the USA on a building contract, so he had told me. They both still lived at home, along with one or two other long-haul backpackers who were away for months rather than weeks. Maybe by living with us have added a level of zeal to his life and has helped him to set off in a clear direction. Who knows.

Perhaps this concept of birds of a feather flocking together has a ring of truth to it. What has really shook me about the Manchester incident was not so much about a deranged bomber inflicting carnage to a predominantly young female audience at the Manchester Arena. Rather, what I have found astounding was the reaction afterwards. Just before the blast there were two homeless beggars reclining near the entrance of the venue, a common spot, as the Arena was next to a railway station. After the blast, both gave themselves to assist and rescue the injured casualties, staying with them until they were collected by the paramedics and ambulance crews. One of the beggars, Stephen Jones, even admitted his disgust as he watched men in suits stepping over the injured so to hurry their journeys home. Meanwhile, the second homeless beggar, Chris Parker, bravely rushed over to the blast site and held an injured sixty-year-old woman, who died in his arms. Then he rushed over to a child who had lost both legs in the blast until she was picked up by the ambulance crews. He then tells of the tears he shed over the two casualties. Their dedication towards the injured was not only a reflection of a Christ-like compassion towards the unfortunate, but they both won public admiration for their efforts, and I believe were rewarded with enough resources, including six months of rent-free accommodation, to enable them leave a life of begging and find a job with a decent enough income for proper civil independence. And ironically, Steve Jones, before ending up as a homeless beggar, was a bricklayer.

Homeless rescuer Stephen Jones

Homeless rescuer Chris Parker

Although those two homeless beggars showed incredible courage and bravery, empowered by compassion, this comes only two days after writing and publishing my last blog, Clever? That's All Right Then! - where I referred to the arrogant Oxford University undergraduate, Lavinia Woodward, whose "talents" persuaded a Court judge to spare her from a prison sentence for stabbing her boyfriend in the leg during a pub disagreement. As I have expressed last week, Woodward came from a privileged upper-middle class family, and has successfully entered Christchurch College to train to be a cardiac surgeon. Full of herself and having no consideration for anyone else, her ferocious temper has landed her in trouble with other students in the past, causing at least one fellow-student to relocate her college accommodation. With such a black-and-white contrast to the Manchester beggars, would I have been willing to take her in as our lodger? Here lies the danger: If she had turned up at our door, and we were impressed with her university background and a promising medical career, we might have taken her in, totally unaware of her past, while at the same time turning away a homeless beggar such as Stephen Jones or Chris Parker. What I find so startling is that after just a few days with Woodward lodging at our home, I could well be lying in hospital with my face slashed by the sharp edge of a piece broken from a plate which was at first struck over my head in a screaming fury. On the contrary, Stephen or Chris could be enjoying a quiet drink with me at a country pub located a few miles out of town.

Should this blog appear to have a sexist slant, then it is worth mentioning here of another student, this time a male who was studying at Cambridge University. He was mentioned in one of my blogs written just a few weeks ago: What A Contrast! He is Ronald Coyne, the smartly dressed member of the Cambridge Union of Conservative Association. Having gotten himself stoned with alcohol during an evening out, he then passed a homeless beggar who was asking for a contribution of some spare change. Coyne took out a £20 note and holding it in front of the beggar's eyes, he also took out a cigarette lighter and set the note on fire. As the beggar watched the money burn, Coyne shouted out, There is your change! When his behaviour was discovered, the student was expelled from the Conservative Association, fearing the damage this could cause for the political party's reputation. Had he came to our front door, one look at us and he would turn his back to us and quickly walk away, perhaps with nothing more than a hesitated apology, if even that. To him, we would be seen as nothing more than parasites infesting the land.

Cambridge student Ronald Coyne.

If these issues have any truth in them, it makes me wonder about our perverted sense of class preference, and probably this includes myself as well. It looks to me that the wearing of a suit and tie does not change the wearer's evil character. Instead, all the smart clothing would do is polish up on the outside, to engender respect. Otherwise the heart remains the same. Couldn't this be any more appropriate? In Revelation 3:20, a vision is given by the Apostle John of the risen Jesus Christ standing at the door and knocking. He is waiting for the door to be opened, and he will enter through the door and have supper with the host. No discrimination there. The Lord is willing to enter the house of anyone who is willing to provide lodgings, which would change the host's eternal destiny forever.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Clever? That's All Right Then!

Something came up on the Media this week which, I have to admit, had made me feel very apprehensive! It was a case of a female medical student, Lavinia Woodward, of Christchurch College in Oxford, a very middle class cocaine addict, who was spared an immediate jail term by a judge, because having such a conviction recorded on her CV would destroy all her hopes of becoming a cardiac surgeon. The day after reading the article, I posted a message on Facebook saying that as a patient, I would not want her within a mile of the theatre whilst holding a scalpel.

Did she merely receive a parking ticket? No, it was much worse than that. Rather, she was guilty of grievous bodily harm, or GBH. During a disagreement with her boyfriend, a student from Cambridge, she stabbed his leg with a knife, threw a laptop at him, and also a glass, whilst together at a pub. Not that this was the first incident she was involved in. Despite the judge concluding that this was a one-off incident, fellow students at the college accommodation unit has testified of her violent behaviour occurring several times in the past, with one male student becoming frightened of her, and another female student asking the college authorities for a relocation of her residence, which was immediately granted.

Christchurch College, Oxford.

And so her sentencing was postponed, "for further investigation" by the Court, with a high probability that she would be spared jail in order for her to complete her studies and afterwards pursue her career as a cardiac surgeon. Imagine that. A cocaine addict with a scalpel, to whom you entrust your life and hope to come through the procedure with a healthily beating heart and everything else all hunky-dory. All because of her wealthy, middle-class background (her father also attended Oxford) and her brilliant learning abilities, there is a high chance of a reprieve. And that despite the universal opinion, by both Media and public alike, that had she been a shelf-stacker at Tesco's, then she would without doubt be inside already. The same applies if she had been male.  

Among my regular readers who are familiar with my lashing out at our Englishness, I hope this case will drive the nail into the coffin once and for all. It is nothing more than class favouritism, an attitude condemned by the Apostle James in his letter. I find it rather incredulous that despite calling our nation a Christian country, or at least one with a Constitution based on Christian principles, the vast majority holds the Bible as an ancient, obsolete book filled with myths and legends, even if regarded with a degree of respect, but no longer applicable to us on a day-to-day basis, especially in the realm of Science.

The reverence shown to academics and to successful professionals has made me think just where our priorities lie. Is education and career success the be-all-and-end-all of reverence and respect? Let's make a fictional illustration here. A middle class couple raises their son who successfully makes it into university. Then after graduation, and now in the world of work, he starts on the low rung of the ladder as a clerical assistant at a local office, but then rises rapidly into a managerial position, and eventually ends up among the Board of Directors, all within less than a space of twenty years. It can be said that this is Evolution symbolised in a miniature, personal scale. However, not long after leaving university, he marries his sweetheart he had met at college. But within their first decade after their wedding day, their marriage falls apart. Yet despite this, his parents beam with pride with their son's professional achievement, and even boasting about this to their peers, while at the same moment they brush aside the failure of his son's marriage as just one of those things which didn't work out, and therefore considered as barely relevant.

So what is the point of the story? Mainly this: Really, our culture, respected by many British church-goers, has turned God's priority on its head. Where all human accomplishments, including success in the office, will one day be destroyed by God himself. In turn, a healthy marriage has eternal implications, especially among Christian believers. Marriage between man and wife was instituted by God himself at the dawn of history when he married Eve to Adam, and sanctioned it. Unfortunately, now living in a fallen world as a result of Adam's transgression, marriage is something which takes effort to work out, rather like steering a ship through stormy waters, an endeavour, figuratively speaking, taking the efforts of two people. Really, by our experience of being one of a married couple, robustness of marriage is attained by a 100% commitment to each other. That is, for example, for me no longer living for myself, but to live for my wife's best welfare and interests. Because our God is love (1 John 4:8) - I believe in the importance of relationships way above career achievements, and no finer illustration is used in the Bible as comparing the love between husband and wife to that of Jesus Christ and his Church. This is, I believe is the most important lesson which people such as Lavinia Woodward must learn. Unfortunately for her, despite her high intelligence and learning, she is totally lacking in godly wisdom which her future profession will require from her.

Oh yes, the mention of Adam and Eve brings me back to the subject of Divine Creationism, now held to ridicule by all unbelievers, and even diluted to the level of Theistic Evolution by academic Christians. At present, at my daily Bible reading, I'm going through Revelation of St John, the last book in the Bible. At least in three places it is stated specifically that everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell are all created specifically by God. The first reference is found in Revelation 3:14 where the Lord addresses the church at Laodicea. The second reference if found in Revelation 10:5-6, when a mighty angel, with one foot on land and the other in the sea, has a private conversation with John, revealing an oath to God who made the heaven and everything in it, the earth and everything on it, and the seas with everything in them. And then, in Revelation 13:6-13, there is the threefold testimony from three angels who literally fly around the skies, apparently fully visible to all mankind. It's the first angel who exhorts the human race to worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the seas, and springs of water. 

I love it when revelations of God's truth often comes in threes. Three Scripture references, the three tiers of Creation - heaven (that is, the Universe), earth (meaning land rather than the whole planet) and the seas. The three angels flying across the sky proclaiming the everlasting Gospel, and then in addition to heaven, it's the earth, seas, and springs of water. The revelation of the number three seems to endorse the source of all life as the one God of three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As I see it, these Scriptures speaks volumes! Because such events such as 144,000 Jews called to preach the Gospel to the whole world - chapter 7, the slaughter of the two witnesses and their physical resurrection three days later, in the sight of the entire human population - chapter 11, as well as the rise of the two beasts (these are men of great power and therefore not actual animals) - chapter 13. None of these events had ever occurred so far in history. And so accepting that these future events will occur during the last days of human history just prior to the Second Advent indicates a thorough rejection of the record of Divine Creation worldwide. So much so, that it takes an angel from heaven to declare the truth of it, giving all mankind an opportunity to repent (Greek, metaneo - to change their minds about Creation and the truth of Jesus being the risen Christ and Creator). Such is the grace of God - something Lavinia Woodward needs to learn about, along with every scientist and advocate of Evolution.

Whether because I am a believer of the risen Christ, or whether it's instilled in the mind of every human being, I cannot but help recognise the awesome power of God whenever I see scenes of natural beauty. Deciding on the three favourite beauty spots I have visited both within the United Kingdom and worldwide wasn't easy, as there are plenty of candidates. Within the United Kingdom, I would place - in no significant order: In England, the Dorset Heritage Coast, the Lake District National Park, and Duncansby Stacks on the northern tip of Scotland. Worldwide, again in no significant order, I would place the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and the Great Barrier Reef as top places visited. Other potential candidates would include Mt. Etna in Sicily, where I stood on the rim of its active crater, Blue Mountains National Park near Sydney, and the Red Sea coral reefs at Eilat, Israel. In the UK, other sites of natural beauty which I visited would include Loch Ness in Scotland, and the Rhossili coastline in Wales.

Duncansby Stacks, Scotland.

The Evolutionist loves the Grand Canyon! To him, the cutting through of the Colorado Plateau by the river of the same name has exposed a near perfect evidence of the Geological Column consisting of sedimentary rocks laid one upon another in sequence by water. Never mind that a billion years of sedimentary strata is missing at the Unconformity Zone, where a more recent stratum is resting comfortably on metamorphic and granite bedrock, without showing any evidence of erosion that was meant to have taken place before the rest of the upper strata were laid down - yet the uniformitarian geologist will still use this fascinating natural beauty as proof that the truth of Divine Creation is safely debunked. Rather, whilst I was there in 1995, standing on Tonto Plateau halfway down inside the Canyon, I could not help notice the raised beaches with which the plateau consists, separating the rim of the Inner Gorge from the base of the cliffs defining the Outer Gorge. If these are raised beaches, then how much more powerful must the River have been in ancient times, compared to the under-fit river system we see at present?

Rhossili Beach and Worms Head, Wales.

Tonto Plateau inside Grand Canyon. Raised beaches?

These areas of natural beauty tells of the awesome power of God, as Paul testifies in his letter to the Romans (1:18-20). The Apostle could not be more accurate when he wrote that although creation testify the truth of God, men prefer to push away the truth. This is a crying shame. Because the truth of God is replaced by a knowledge which constitutes to be a lie. Gain a degree, or better still, a doctorate on this kind of knowledge, and he will be highly esteemed by the world. And even if he, or in this case, she, commits a formidable crime to the victim's hurt, the defendant's academic greatness will reprieve any punishment justly due, which would have been bestowed on everyone else with less wealth, brains and learning skills.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Father God I Wonder...

The above title is also the title of one of our wedding songs: 
Father God I wonder how I managed to exist without the knowledge of your parenthood and your loving Care...
I am aware that such a statement would be scorned to intensity by anyone who was not brought up by a church-going family, even by those whose parents did bring to church during childhood and are at present committed atheists, also by those who cannot justify the presence of a "Fatherly loving God" to a world full of suffering, war, starvation, disease, poverty - whilst the few who are well-off financially, who are also well educated and hold a good job - are more likely the ones who attend church and acknowledge a Fatherly loving God. In a city such as London during the 1970's, a man dressed in a business suit walks hurriedly past a beggar besotted by alcohol, pretending not to see him. The beggar is slumped there, not because he was foolish enough to throw away his life, but because of the yet-to-be-recognised mental illness known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. 

PTSD after spending six years fighting in a global war. Probably knowing that some 383,700 British military personnel had never made it through such a horrible conflict. His thoughts constantly going back to his days at the barracks. His days when he was lean, strong, muscular, clean-shaven, among his closest friends, and maybe with a special friend who was closer than a brother - very much like David and Jonathan. And the one he had to watch die from his war-wounds as he lay in his arms and listening to his last, gasping breath. And forever remaining shocked by such an experience, he never properly adapted to civil life, especially with food rationing lasting some years after that, he remained unemployable and eventually homeless, ending his days forlorn in the streets. Indeed, by the 1970's, the sight of some well-dressed people marching by, holding up high a banner which read, God Loves You stirred only revulsion. Even worse if the banner read, Prepare to meet your God! After such trauma, especially after the loss of such a close companion, anything religious or with any spiritual slant had as much appeal to the beggar as finding a live maggot in your food.

I guess I was very fortunate to have been born during the Baby-Boom generation. Just young enough to miss the obligatory National Service, as the compulsory side to it was abolished by Harold Wilson's Government by May 1963, when I was just eleven years old. Indeed, as I see it, this was God's grace, although many would disagree, blaming the doing away with National Service with the gradual decline of discipline, especially in schools, along with the de-masculinization of the average British man, a trend so deplored by many Right-leaning newspaper journalists and columnists.    

Probably I can understand why the love of God towards the world is so misunderstood or so difficult to grasp. By entering a Gothic church or cathedral, whether Anglican or Catholic, yet remains a constant reminder of our own shortcomings, and being in the presence of a holy God, to whom we all will eventually give an account. So, as a boy, conversation was in whispers, as if afraid to disturb God from his sleep (actually it was so not to disturb anyone deep in prayer, often seen in Catholic churches). And the need to dress smartly. After all, the invention of the term Sunday Best was by no means accidental, as if God would be offended at a shirt worn without a tie, the sight of denim, or trousers with a hole at the knee, or the sight of a damp circle under the arms, or for a woman to wear a top or dress with a low neckline, or heaven forbid, she arrives without wearing a hat or bonnet. And dare if you accidentally and embarrassingly let out a belch, or even a resounding fart in church! And so such a concept of who God is, with his rather judgemental, punitive character does not warm the average human heart to himself, but from the more timid he raises fear, or at least some form of apprehension.

And at school, that was exactly how God was perceived, and not only a number of boys became "atheists" but I too. Or to be more honest with myself, a God hater. Could this be the real reason why a biologist, after reading a recently-published book by Charles Lyell, The Principles of Geology, the scene was set to launch perhaps the most anti-Gospel philosophy a man can think of, and after a visit to the Galapagos Islands, he himself wrote, On the Origin of Species, which made its author a household name. No doubt, Charles Darwin grew up in a very similar religious environment as I did, maybe more so, for after growing up as a Unitarian, part of his higher education was at the University of Cambridge to train as an Anglican clergyman. Apparently, he couldn't have been that impressed with the character of God either, with his emphasis of holiness, accountability, and judgement, but rather thin on his love and redemption through Jesus Christ, for he never made it to the profession. So instead, his love of biology grew, and he eventually dared to challenge the record of Divine Creation as revealed in the early chapters of Genesis.

And so his theory of Evolution became the source of truth rather than that presented in Holy Scripture. And it should not be a surprise since Darwin was an Englishman, and even voted as the Greatest Briton of all Time by BBC Correspondent Andrew Marr not long after the turn of the Millennium, and in addition with Charles Lyell being a Scotsman, it's no coincidence that the United Kingdom has become the motherland of Uniformitarian Geology and its younger biological sibling.

The social repercussions of this Lyell/Darwinian theories could not be more devastating. Racism is linked to evolution, which is why in time past, particularly in the 1980's, bananas were thrown at black players at a football pitch by white supremacists and mimicking monkey sounds at the stands. And according to Internet sources, this still happens at parts of Europe to this day. And let's face it, I believe this form of racism is still present here, although in the subconscious rather than outright. Maybe, as I once watched on TV, there were City employers who secretly messaged their agencies not to send black candidates for job interviews. And how could I not mention The Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins referring to everyone who would have preferred to remain in the European Union as one of a population of monkeys, as an indication and a yardstick that English patriotism is linked to evolutionary advancement?    

And professing ours to be a Christian country as opposed of being Islamic, our culture still lacks the Fatherly love of God engrained in its consciousness, but still rather perceived to be more of a divine bully who has respect for those higher educated toffs who dress well for church, but has little, if any regard, for others who don't quite fit the ideal model. And yet I can hear the pages of the Bible rustle like leaves of a tree rustling in the wind. The apostle James devotes the whole of his second chapter of his letter specifically to this issue. He wrote against showing special favour to the rich man who enters the house-church (as they were in those days) dressed in purple and fine clothing, whilst at the same time showing contempt for the poor man in rags who also walks in. Oh, its all very well believing on the intellectual level that only one true God exists (in contrast to a pantheon of idols and lesser divinities) but what is that to the watching world if showing neglect to the one who is cold and hungry, even to the point of publicly dishonouring God?

James concluded that you see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone, and just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead - (James 2:24, 26). Sure, I'm aware that anybody has the capacity for doing good. Richard Dawkins was quite specific about this. The trouble is: Atheists such as Dawkins evaluate the motives behind these good deeds as more genuine within those who are irreligious, but more out of fear of eternal punishment within the religious group. And I have to say that he is right, at least in part. Because during the last forty-plus of being a Christian believer myself, I have come across teachings indicating that fear should be the correct motivation for Christian commitment, simply because our love for God and for each other is not yet made perfect. And this hadn't come from a church layman but from a Cambridge-educated and Bachelor of Arts graduate, church pastor, itinerant preacher and author of several books. It is unfortunate that although this scholar has given great credit to the Bible, its historicity and truthfulness, I have wondered what kind of impact has he made to the unbelieving world. Are favours and good deeds done to others out of fear or even out of apprehension for the possibility of eternal punishment really that virtuous?

Indeed, this sort of thing brings the whole of the Christian faith into disrepute in the sight and hearing of outsiders. Good deeds done out of fear. This is like petrol fuel being thrown onto the fires of atheism! As I once read in the spiritual section of a gay website, one contributor wrote in the forums that the trouble with religious people is that their so-called "goodness" is done out of fear of Hell, and therefore his atheism is justified, especially where churches hold a high condemnation rate for all homosexuals. I wanted to write a reply to defend my faith in Christ and save its credibility. I wasn't able to write anything. Why? Because I knew that he was right, and I had nothing to say. But even worse than that, the idea of God  as a fatherly figure is hardly given any credit, but instead perceived as a strict moralist and a sky-bully. Little wonder that he is looked upon as a kind of spaghetti-god in the heavens, a candidate for the most abusive ridicule from the gay community.

The true Christian lives in love, love for his heavenly Father and love for others, especially other believers. That is the main emphasis of John's first letter. Even in his Gospel, Jesus is recorded as giving a new commandment for all believers, and this new commandment is to love one another, because through this the world will know that they are Jesus' true disciples, that they love each other as he loved them, right to the point of laying down his life for the one loved, as Christ himself laid down his life for a sinning world - John 13:35.

Perhaps this was what Jesus meant when he says that we are the light of the world and a city built on a hill (Matthew 5:14-16) - so let your light shine so by your good deeds men may praise God in heaven. The only way that God could be glorified is for the sinner to repent - to change his mind from unbelief to believing in his heart that this Jesus is the risen Christ, and so he receives mercy, is justified, and given eternal life. Every sinner saved brings glory to God. And everyone who lives in genuine love can call God his Father, and convert the sinner from his ways. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Maverick in Oxford.

As I walked into a newsagent, I could not miss the page-size photo of Prince Philip occupying the front page of each newspaper stacked on the shelves. And not just one newspaper but at least three: The Sun, The Daily Express, and The Daily Mail, three of Britain's highest selling media. These newspapers, all of them supporting the Conservative Party holding the keys to 10 Downing Street, just poured heaps of praise to this elderly gentleman, the Duke of Edinburgh, husband to her Majesty the Queen. Just think of it: the national applause for seven decades of hard work with loyalty to his wife. Men and women across the land doffing their hats, so to speak, and taking a curtsey bow, "Well done, Sir. Your retirement is well deserved."

No doubt, at age 95, he deserves a restful retirement. True enough, in 1939 aged 18, he joined the Royal Navy and served through World War II, and remained in the Navy after the War ended in 1945. He then wound up his active service after thirteen years of military action in 1952, then aged 31, after marrying Princess Elizabeth in 1947. After this, his work consisted mainly of shaking hands with dignitaries and keeping a few paces behind his wife wherever the couple were out together in public. Not for him would "hard work" consist of lifting heavy boulders, bricklaying, cement mixing, pushing a wheelbarrow of concrete, pneumatic drilling of a hole or trench across the road, nor for that matter, rewiring a house or installing plumbing. Perhaps this could be the key to his longevity, by contrast to many labourers in the past who stepped off this planet before ever reaching seventy. Then to add to this, it takes only an infection within part of the Prince's anatomy, and the whole nation would seem to be in a grip of panic! But good for him, he has reached the middle of his tenth decade of life. A very good achievement, may I say. After all, if it wasn't for the skills of a cardiac surgeon just over two years ago, I would have considered myself very fortunate ever to reach seventy years of age, and at this time of writing, I still have over five years to go before my seventieth birthday.

Philip during his days in the Navy

The Duke of Edinburgh about to retire.

I see something of an phenomenon here. Here is a mortal who is held in very high respect, if not actually worshipped by much of the nation. So it is not much of a surprise that news of his retirement is splashed across the front pages of newspapers, such an announcement has gone far and wide across the globe. In the meantime, an unseen, anonymous luggage handler, who spent his working life ensuring that all your departing airport baggage are safely stored within the hull of the correct airline, finally reaches his moment of retirement, and yet not a single passenger would ever be aware of his special day. Elsewhere, someone may indeed bow in obeisance to the Prince, then once alone behind the wheel, inwardly curses the workman with his noisy pneumatic drill for being the cause for crawling traffic and journey delays. And just to add here, if I was present before the Prince or even the Queen herself, I would willingly bow in obeisance, as instructed by the Apostle Peter in his letter:

Show proper respect for everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.
1 Peter 2:17.

But as the apostle himself has instructed, the honour given to the king should never be at the expense of disrespecting men of all other social standing, or not loving fellow believers.

Yet there is this uniqueness about the human heart. After all, we may have a high regard for the Royal Family, as well as contrasting opinions for Government ministers. And as politics go, there are those who love the Tory Party and its leader and despise the Labour Party and its leader, accusing them all of incompetence. And there are those who feel totally opposite, having a preference for the Labour Party. And there are devoted Labour voters who are at present disillusioned with its leader. The same can be said about the Conservatives. Then again there is nothing new about all this. It is said that ancient Egypt, for one, exalted their Pharaoh to deification, and the divine ruler ordered his people to build a pyramid as a lasting memorial to his reign. The men who built the Pyramids were not slaves, as once thought, but paid workers. And I wouldn't put it past any of them that while Pharaoh was alive, many of the builders adored him, whilst others actually despised him, accusing him of being an equivalent of what we call a nerd or a prat today with his cruel, bullying dictatorship, as they scorned at any idea of him being divine. But these dissenters had to keep all this to themselves whilst carrying on with their work, in order to stay out of trouble.

Yet despite the mixed feelings among the ancient Egyptians, the work put in towards the king's tomb was felt generally by Egypt as a source of national security, taking in social coherence, military strength and economical stability. The presence of the king was their salvation, especially among the Pyramid builders, but also for everyone else too. As the Egyptian Pharaoh was the intermediary between the people and the heavenly realm, so it was with the Roman Caesar who was regarded as divine as well, the Emperor of Rome being the mediator between the Romans and the heavenly realm. Therefore as I see it, it cannot be a mere consequence that the Queen holds a threefold role of Head of State, Head of the Church of England, and Defender of the Faith. With being the head of the national church, history books tell us that she is the replacement of the Roman Pope as intercessor between her people and heaven. Little wonder that I have heard churchgoers say that our God is the God of England. Indeed, from Ancient Egypt, through to Rome, and onwards towards modern Britain, the need for an intercessor between the human heart and the divine realm has never seemed to have changed over the millennia.

And here lies the rub, with just a few active, church-going Christians of both past and present, fortunately not many. I am strongly disliked by them for debunking the value of Englishness, including the social class system and culture, and saying that all members of the Royal Family, along with all celebrities, and people of distinction are all mere mortals, and fulfilling all natural body functions as all humans and beasts alike do. And talking about the animal kingdom, I had to smile a couple of years back when our former Prime Minister David Cameron ignored the advice of his associates and went out to swim in the sea infested with jellyfish. Sure enough, he was stung, and he came out of the water looking and feeling like a right fool. The offending marine creature ought to have known that this particular human was the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and should have regarded him with the same respect we fellow humans had for him! But no. When threatened, the jellyfish had no alternative.

It was the same when I noticed the V.I.P. entrance to London Zoo as I walked by. This was separate from the main entrance, where the rank and file have to queue up at the ticket booths. Then I imagined the celebrity, or "very important person" - including the Queen herself, standing at the Primate cage, and watching the monkeys swinging from one branch to another in complete oblivion to her presence. Despite being our closest cousins, according to the Evolutionist, I doubt very much whether the presence of Royalty would have made any difference in the primate's behaviour. The same applies to all the animals in captivity.

To tell the truth, I find the concept of England being God's country very malodorous. There seems to be a bad smell to it. Perhaps its culture with its fanaticism for the class structure is far more tuned into the theory of Evolution, a concept borne out more from denial of God's existence, his creation and judgement, rather than from verified scientific research. Maybe as I see it, Her Majesty is more advanced in her evolution towards godhood than all of her subjects. This has allowed her to advance to the level of divinity where she can be the suitable representative on behalf of her country and its Commonwealth, by being head of the Church of England. And how parallel is all this to the lie in Eden, where the serpent offered a form of divinity to Adam and Eve if they disregard God and follow him instead?

And so as I was born into a family close if not at the bottom of the social ladder, I grew up with an independent mind, rather like my late Italian father, a Republican and devoted Labour supporter and voter, and who possibly had never properly understood why the English were so devoted to their beloved Queen. But he did have a deep respect for university graduates, especially those at Oxford and Cambridge. Maybe in those days of my boyhood, these were the only true institutions recognised for higher learning, and only a small percentage of the student population made it in. And so my father looked upon these venues with the greatest of respect.

And so as I pushed my wife Alex's wheelchair through the streets of Oxford, primarily for a combination of clothes shopping and a day out, I could not help feel somewhat intimidated by such beautiful architecture of these limestone-built colleges. But what has always struck me was that it was difficult for me to see these buildings as colleges. Instead they looked more like churches, or better still, cathedrals. And this brings me back to the Natural History Museum in the London borough of South Kensington. This is one of the most popular museums in the UK, and its architecture is not unlike one of many colleges in Oxford. But walk inside the main hall, and its interior has a striking similarity to that of any cathedral. And enthroned at one end is the statue of Charles Darwin, you could say, literally replacing the Cross of Christ.

As I stand in awe of these magnificent college buildings in Oxford, I can't help feeling small and insignificant compared to the students who are deep into their studies inside. When I was a boy, I had a longing to be a medical doctor or a journalist. Unfortunately, my slow learning at school has forever extinguished such dreams. Nowadays, as I look upon such buildings, my sense of unfulfilled dreams became more acute, and the feeling of weakness in my knees whenever a student is seen entering or exiting the college. How speechless would I have felt if one of these students, say a promising NHS surgeon or a rising writer and journalist, was to extend his hand in a friendly greeting?
Many Oxford Colleges resemble Cathedrals.

Today I had attended a men's half-day conference at a local church in my home town of Bracknell. The three sermons were excellent, Spirit-inspired discourses, but I wonder just how much these preaches would really be life-changing, or merely mulled over before slowly passing out of memory as the daily issues of life continues. Because in reality, it was the two breaks between sessions which held the real clue about what life in Christ is really about. Whilst most of the other men formed cliques suited to their interests, I sat alone at a nearby armchair, contemplating the street view outside. This made me think just how would I have been perceived as an individual if I held a degree. Because for some, I was no stranger, but someone well known for years, decades even, but without ever attending Grammar School and gaining a degree at university, there was little to talk about, having practically nothing in common. One Grammar School-educated graduate even felt reluctant to talk to me because, as he puts it, "We are in different circles." And I knew this English guy for as far back as 1978.

But a stranger did approach me with a genuine interest of who I am. When he mentioned his occupation relating to outdoor activities, by mentioning my hiking experiences at the Grand Canyon, we had stirred quite a conversation between us. Suddenly I felt a sense of belonging, even if he admitted that he is from South Africa. It's through this interpersonal uplift which gave fulfilment to the whole conference, rather than the preaching.

One of the sermons was about not allowing anyone to label us, except by God himself. Thus being a maverick is a good thing, a virtue. A maverick is someone with an independent mind. As I wrote I Stand Alone at Easter, I will always believe in a Thursday Crucifixion rather than on Good Friday. I will always confess the death, burial, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins, defeat death, and to give eternal life to every believer. I will always believe in Once Saved Always Saved. I will also stand up and insist that traditional Englishness is not allied with the Scriptures, neither is our national culture a mirror of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, going by what I have read and heard in the Media over the past twelve months, our national culture has a tendency to lean towards the occult - parallel to the Lie in Eden, where a false hope of deification was offered to our first parents, as such deception, at present, sending countless numbers into a lost eternity. Furthermore, I will declare the 6 x 24 hour days of supernatural Creation as historical fact, in opposition to the general held belief in Evolution as a theory. I don't care if everyone else thinks I'm a Creationist nerd and not to be taken seriously. I will always stand up for Jesus Christ and the historicity of Holy Scripture.

And I always will insist that there is nothing wrong with a man crying in public. Jesus himself did it at least twice during his ministry, and both incidents are recorded. And there is nothing wrong with two men greeting one another with a hug. Not British? Sure, but it's very beneficial to health and well-being. Yes, the preach I listened to earlier today was a confirmation of what I have suspected over the years - that I am a maverick, an independent thinker, and the consequence of this is that I have made a few enemies within the church as well as a greater number of friends.