Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Clips: the Christmas C(h)ord

The very talented Dai Woolridge and a very clever little video. This will mean most to guitar players (watch until the end!)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas Clips: Second Chance

This cracker from the Churches Advertising Network (they're wackier than they sound) is great for all ages, still can't decide if the snobbish donkey or surfer dude shepherds are my favourite character

Friday, November 25, 2016

Christmas Clips: The Christmas Linebacker

Still have no idea what a linebacker is, but this always makes me laugh. If the inflatable santa in your front garden looks like it's been rugby tackled, that wasn't me, honest...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Christmas Clips 'The Well Good News of Christmas'

First in a series of a video clip a day from now until Christmas. The very talented Dai Woolridge narrates a retelling of the old story, there's a tie-in booklet from the Bible Society

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Remembrance 2016

 The Royal British Legion creates a video every year for Remembrance Day, here's the 2016 one. We will remember them.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

What I learnt about November 5th

The best way to start the bonfire which marks this historic celebration of the sovereignty of Parliament is to use a copy of the Daily Mail. In some cases it has been known to combust spontaneously, mere paper unable to bear for any length of time the combination of fear, prejudice, lies, sexism and anger without undergoing a profound change in chemical composition.

On all other days of the year, members of the public are also advised to stand well back from the Mail, and if handled to do so at arms length, with gloves, away from crowds.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016 gay cakes and gymnasts

Louis Smith is censured and sanctioned for mocking Islam in a private video, a Christian business is found to be acting illegally by refusing to decorate a cake with a message that it disagreed with.

In both cases there are big issues around freedom of speech, the place of religion, the nature of offence, and the kind of society we are becoming. Peter Tatchell, perhaps suprisingly, backs the bakery in the 'gay cake' row, because of the free speech issues it raises:
This verdict is a defeat for freedom of expression. As well as meaning that Ashers can be legally forced to aid the promotion of same-sex marriage against their wishes, it also implies that gay bakers could be forced by law to decorate cakes with homophobic slogans.
It seems the judges have decided that businesses cannot lawfully refuse a customer’s request to propagate a message, even if it is sexist, xenophobic or anti-gay and even if the business owners have a conscientious objection to it.
Although I strongly disagree with Ashers’ opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be compelled to facilitate a political idea they oppose.
In Louis Smiths case, he has been suspended for two months for mocking Islamic prayer practices. Alex Morton at Conservative Home takes British Gymnastics to task for 'enforcing a new blasphemy code':  
Had Smith assaulted or deliberately abused Muslims going peacefully about their daily business I would be the first to call for action against him. But we have a longstanding division between ideas and people in this country: the latter are protected, while the former are rightly fair game.
 As a Christian I've pretty much got used to mockery of my faith as an accepted part of British culture, from Dave Allen to Ricky Gervais, to people crossing themselves 'in fun'. BBC2 broadcast 'Jerry Springer, The Opera' - this is not a country where mockery of faith is somehow unacceptable or a minority sport. So why is Louis Smith so special that he deserves a ban? If he'd dressed up as a vicar and said 'bless you my child', nobody would have batted an eyelid.

Islam is notorious for resisting scrutiny - there aren't many Muslim-majority countries where you can convert from Islam, or question its tenets, without getting some kind of sanction. It happens here. It is a far greater blasphemy to use 'blasphemy laws' as a pretext for violence towards Christians, or the inevitable chorus of 'God is great' at every rocket and bullet fired from Afghanistan to Syria, or the abduction and sex trafficking of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram, or the murder of Parisian cartoonists. On a scale of offense, these things are off the scale compared to Smiths moment of drunken foolishness. How many people are tweeting #JesuisLouis in response to the death threats he has recieved?

Behind all of this is a deep confusion about faith itself. Any belief system worth its salt has to be able to withstand scrutiny - to have the confidence to compete in public with other belief systems with confidence in its own integrity, truth and relevance. I'm aware that Christianity once took the approach that is so prevalent in Islam now - respond to questions by shutting down debate and threatening violence. That's not what Jesus did. To be honest I'm not sure what Mohammed did, and how he modelled for his followers the way to deal with questions and mockery, but the military overrun of Mecca is perhaps a pointer. Is it possible for Islam to integrate into, and embrace, a culture based on freedom of speech and religion, which is modelled more on a suffering Son of God than a conquering general? In our post-Christian confusion, there is a real danger that we carve out a criticism-free space for Islam, a privilege not afforded to any other religion, and a dangerous space in which to exist. Neither Christianity, nor Islam, nor any ideology, is at its best when there is no freedom to question, confront and criticise.