Blame for Wars?

13 03 2014

In many ways this is a follow on to my previous writing about who was to blame for World War 1.  To even attempt to write this blog I have to confess my ignorance. Not only am I painfully aware of so many areas of ignorance about life in general, but specifically, here at least, I need to confess my ignorance about the two world wars of last century. I guess that this ignorance is shared by a great many, and many would say, does it matter? I suggest it matters if for no other reason than it should make us think (and pray) and learn from such times.

Aware that we were going into a centenary year this year,  in respect of The Great War, I determined it was time to remedy some of that ignorance and started with World War 2, simply because I had run across Max Hastings’ book on it entitled, “All Hell Let Loose.”   It is a meaty tome of some six hundred pages and I grab a few pages when there are a few minutes spare – which is not the best way to read such a book – and I am about half way through.  It is not all about strategies etc., but about what went on affecting ordinary people and ordinary soldiers and as such is, I suggest, compulsory reading for anyone with romantic ideas about wars. It was a most terrible time in history if for no other reason than the shear numbers of casualties and the ways they died or were injured or were treated.  If Max Hastings is half right no one comes out it whiter than white; in fact the exact opposite.

As I have picked up this book, again and again as a Christian I could not help thinking, “Where is God in all this?”  Now I know I covered much of this in the previous blog but it bears repeating or expanding upon.

The crusading atheists berate a God who is supposed to be love, and when it comes to examining the last century, a God who apparently either caused it or sat on the sidelines and laughed.  No the atheistic viewpoint gets two-faced at this point because if you don’t believe there is a God you can’t blame ‘Him’ for such events, and if you can’t blame Him then you are left with a simply miserable view of mankind.  All of the humanists’ optimism is revealed as complete bunkum when you examine the history of the last hundred years. You can’t just blame Hitler or Stalin, because they both had powerful underlings who could have stopped it all early on.  But more than that, the record shows that vast numbers of ordinary Germans were just as excited about their nation’s imperialistic aims as Hitler was.  The things happening in Crimea today indicate that Russian nationalism is as strong in ordinary people as it is in Putin and his leaders.  Little changes.   I think the optimism of the Humanist Manifesto has to be  one of the best examples of self-delusion that you can find on the planet.  Go to virtually any continent on the globe and you find self-important people being unkind to other people (the nicest way I can put it.)

Put aside the atheists for a moment, for they are a minority grouping.  The majority  grouping believe in a God, even if many of them think He is either impotent or not concerned with us.   But what are the options that you are  left with if you do believe there is a God, when you come to consider these two wars?  At first sight, there are just two: either that He caused them or that He just sat back and did nothing about them. Perhaps we need to consult the Bible for a parallel example to help us. The apostle Peter, preaching under the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and speaking about how Jesus had died, declared, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”  In other words Jesus’ death had been part of God’s plan and He foresaw the way events would work out as sinful human beings rejected His Son and eventually crucified him.

Now let’s take a mundane example from everyday life. You are a school teacher of a primary school and as you watch them play in the school playground you see they constantly fight. You go outside and tell them off and tell them to stop fighting. After this happens three times, you call them all in and they are all made to sit in their classroom in silence for half an hour.  So far no one is objecting to that.  Now, to change the picture, supposing some cattle or sheep contract a contagious and virulent disease. We know what happens, we’ve seen it in recent years.  The government order whole herds or flocks across the country to be destroyed and burned. Suppose a wounded soldier’s foot injury contracts gangrene. The only way to save his life is to cut off his leg.  Suppose ten terrorists take hostage a school full of children and start shooting them, one an hour until their demands are met.  We watch as the SAS go in and the body count of dead terrorists is 100%.  We all cheer.  We measure these things against the harm that will be caused if such drastic action is not taken.

OK, I’m speculating now.  Suppose God could see the direction and outworking of the 18th and 19th centuries and could see that in response to His enabling/allowing the advancement of science and technology, our foolish response was to reject Him and turn to godless atheism (examples of which were seen in Hitler and Stalin and many others). And suppose the logical response of that was to lift off all restraint which, if left unattended, would result in inhumanities beyond our present wildest dreams that would affect the entire planet and rob us of our very humanity.  If we had the eyes to see that, would we not stand in awesome silence and say, “God is just, God is wise, we are so stupid, this was the only course of action that could have happened to save us as a world.”

Of course we have not learnt and we are still so tainted by this self-centred godlessness that we probably laugh at such an idea, but it is the most rational one around. As with what Peter said about Jesus, suppose God knew the path that foolish and wicked men left to their own devices, would go down resulting in World Wars, and if that is what they chose, maybe, just maybe, they might learn from it and the future of humanity be saved.  But have we learned? The signs are not great.

If God allowed us a financial crash (brought about by the greed and folly of men) with some longer term effects, has that brought us to our senses?  The signs are not good.  Is God gently lifting off His hand of restraint again so that foolish and godless imperialistic semi-dictators can do their own thing yet again?  If not Moscow, might it be some other ‘power’?  Gloomy talk and I don’t like gloomy talk, but when will we come to our senses?  Have the various movies coming out of Hollywood portraying a nuclear disaster ending, been a warning?  Put this all aside if you like but the key question still stands – are you, are our leaders, is our nation, demonstrating godless, self-centredness, and if so, then what hope is there for our future?

Disillusioned with Humanity?

7 02 2013

Disillusioned with Humanity?

Job’s wisdom came with an interview with God. I often think how different we would all be if we each had ‘an interview with God’ and would thus be able to realise how great He is and how small we are, but it’s not like that. It seems that the Lord in His wisdom allows us to go our own way but then He either brings or allows (and there is room for debates in individual occurrences) things to cross our lives that make us question the views that we had of ourselves as almost divine-like beings.

But real life for us begins when we proceed along, to use a picture that Jemima Khan has recently used in respect to her attitude to Julian Assange over the principles of WikiLeaks, “a journey of admiration to demoralisation”.  So much of the time we live with self-admiration but we only come to a place of reality when we become demoralised over what we are really like. Then we come to God for help.

Our society in the UK is going through a journey from admiration to demoralisation. We, as a society at least, abandoned God back in the last quarter of the twentieth century and became a self-admiring society that, free from its religious shackles, could now grow up and reach its full potential. Yet the truth is that in any and every area of our society over the last ten years we have been found to be drastically wanting and demoralisation is setting in.

Being cut free from the strictures of absolute morality, government authorities and media, all made up of self-admiring individuals, have opened the doors to liberal freedoms –  but these chickens are now coming home to roost.

In the financial realm, the mockery of the bankers continues unabated after over five years of mismanagement. I recently came across a comment written by Clive James a couple of years ago that seemed to describe it all so well: “Even the legitimate financial system had all the trappings of a racket, including a wonderful mechanism whereby which the banks that lost your money were saved from ruin by being given more of your money so that they could award it as bonuses to the very people who lost your money in the first place.”  That is the bizarre nature of the world without absolutes that we have created.

If we move into the realm of relationships and sexual freedom, even the most liberal of writers is now forced to concede that it is not going well.  In a world freed from absolute morality, it is no wonder that promiscuity so often undermines marriages and committed cohabitation alike, it is no wonder that many men struggle with sexual imagery in their minds that drifts into reality and produces sexual abuse, rape, child abuse and so much more, it is no wonder that teenage pregnancy rates, abortion rates and STD rates are at almost epidemic proportions, it is no wonder that young people and old alike despair at ever finding that elusive quality called love.

It takes a Sunday journalist to state it clearly: “Children fare best, and are less likely to be a problem to society, if they are raised by married parents. Those married parents are far more likely to remain together – and so provide a stable home life for their families, as well as being a socially cohesive force in the community – than are those who are unmarried. These are just bald statistical facts.”  But it seems most of us don’t like the facts.

Perhaps the icon for demoralisation should be Jimmy Saville. If he was guilty as so many seem to claim he was, wasn’t the guilt also spread through those who turned a blind eye to him. Expediency was obviously the name of the game in the world freed from absolute morality. Only now, it seems, after he is dead, is the curtain being drawn back and the magnitude and extent of the sin revealed.

Demoralisation is striking in every quarter. In the realm of politics, in recent weeks I have now twice heard, from what were once staunch Conservatives, about both Prime Minister and Chancellor, the equivalent of “This man must go!” and yet the alternatives seem equally bad. Moral ethics appear to have no part to play in modern politics, only what is expedient or seems good at the time to an unanchored mind. Much of the malaise experienced within this society today must be laid at the feet of politicians and media people alike who have their own present-day agendas built on nothing less than what seems good to them today. Already we have said, the chickens are coming home to roost, but still they plough on opening further doors to future social chaos. Today’s laws thus create tomorrow’s chaos.

I have heard a few comments of “There must be an alternative to all this,” but generally society acts like the frog in the saucepan of water bring gradually brought to the boil, and seems unaware of just how bad things are. Self-admiration is a difficult thing to overcome; indeed it often takes crisis to shake our self-sufficiency. Whether we are suffering from the effects of global warming or from a cycle of unpleasant weather systems, as a country we have been getting pounded by the weather for the last few years.  Perhaps it is only those who suffer flooding again and again who begin to face the reality that they are small and puny and have little or no power in the face of such things. We will eventually learn to build flood-proof houses but we are slow to learn how to do that, and to recognise our own frailty and need of God’s help.

Perhaps the process would be accelerated if London was seriously flooded. That would be a wakeup call! But would that bring such people as our national leaders to their senses? The book of revelation shows crisis after crisis but still the stupidity of mankind meant they failed to turn to God for help. Self-admiration can be both the most blinding and the most stunting characteristic of the human race. How tragic.

In the midst of the process that I have referred to as “a journey of admiration to demoralisation”, we fail to face the truth that all of us are human beings prone to getting it wrong.  The recent classic case of Chris Huhne, a man who found himself getting caught doing one relatively small thing wrong (speeding), shows the folly of self-admiration that desperately seeks to cover up any failing. In his case he sought the help of his wife, but when the marriage broke down, found himself exposed and then had to tell lie after lie for years to try to cover it up. One sin (speeding) + one sin (conspiracy with wife) + multiple sins (lying and denial) = rejection of an MP by society. How much more simple would it have been if he took a driving ban originally and the whole thing passed into obscurity. Instead self-admiration dragged on for ten years before demoralisation set in and the truth was faced.

At a corporate level we are hearing yet again of the failings of the NHS, this time because of deaths occurring while in NHS care. Yes, of course we can do better but for the moment we are going through the media frenzy yet again where truth is hazy. Only this morning I read of nurses who dropped an 86 in the ward and two weeks later the lady died. Whether the two things were linked is unclear, but people (nurses) are human beings and from time to time they get it wrong. Did they drop that lady purposely? Of course not!  In fact so fearful were they of repercussions that they pretended it had not happened. Self-admiration seeks to cover up and avoid truth.

The recent snow brought many school closures and with them, criticism about wimpish schools. One good article on the subject suggested it was nothing to do with that, but more that head teachers were fearful of litigation. The payouts that have been paid in recent years by education authorities for even minor natural injuries, things that happen in day to day living, like tripping over, have been incredible in both numbers and size. This is a society failing to handle its demoralisation by blaming whoever it can – except yourself – and, along the way, making capital out of others. Greed and selfishness walk hand in hand with self-admiration. And all the while, God in His goodness, is quietly working to bring people to their senses. As I’ve asked before on these pages, how long will it take?

Silent Night, Holy Night

25 12 2012

Six o’clock in the morning and the house is silent.  The potential of the day is just lurking, waiting to come alive. It is Christmas morning. No doubt in many homes with young children, parents have been forced into wakefulness already.  For us it is yet to come. My mind has already wandered over the preparation of the potatoes, the parsnips, the brussel spouts and much more. And it has put those thoughts aside for those things, by necessity will push their way to the forefront later on. Now is a time for reflection. Yes, the presents have been wrapped, the food has been bought in and we can do no more, so now relax, sit back for a few minutes and ponder on the wonder of this day.

The Christmas accounts of the Gospel are amazing. It is no wonder that some are trying to push them off Christmas cards, no wonder they try to challenge this day saying silly things like, “Well it was a pagan festival that you Christians hijacked.”  Smart move whoever did it. Now we’ve anchored this day to act as a particular day of remembrance. So it could have been January 10th, May 15th July 6th, who cares! It’s just a day when we remember something incredible – a baby cried (almost certainly) and God was suddenly out in this world in human form.

We can’t cope with that really, the thought of a baby expressing God, or even later on of a grown man being God while still man. My wife and I have been reminded recently of the illustration of the meal offering in Leviticus where flour and oil mingle together to form one material – you cannot distinguish between the two but they are still two materials blended together. Thus God clothed in humanity revealed himself to us.

I have sometimes pondered on why He didn’t just occupy a grown human body but that would have required one of two things. Either he would have to invade the will of an adult human being (and God never invades our free will) or He would have had to create a unique human figure at the age of say thirty (but God doesn’t do magic and anyway such a being would not have thirty years of human experience  and it seems that God made the most of this unique time in HIS experience by entering into so much of what we experience.)

So often when we say, “But Lord, you don’t understand what I feel, what I’m going through,” He replies, “But I do, I’ve been there!”

But there’s an even more mind-blowing thought and it is that which we see particular in John’s Gospel where Jesus speaks about having come down from heaven where he had existed before.  This baby born on whatever day it was, was containing the incredible third person of the trinity, the Son of God, who has always existed as one expression of those three expressions of that one God. We’ll never understand it this side of death, but that unique expression of God that we call ‘the Son’ had always been, and now was in human form.

I recently heard Christians testifying at a Christmas service and was saddened that they could only focus on Jesus coming to die. As critically important and real as that was, they missed the sheer wonder of God putting Himself in human form so that He could reveal His character to us through this human being. How do we know we have a loving and good God? Look at Jesus. Read the Gospels with an open heart and see the wonder of this ‘man’ and marvel. Every life he touched, he touched with love and goodness. He healed thousands, he even raised the dead and all he did was an expression of God’s goodness and love and, yes, eventually he died on a Cross to take the punishment that was due us for our sins.  Those of us who have been Christians a long time tend to lose the wonder of this person who ministered in Israel for three years some two thousand years ago.  Pause afresh and reflect and wonder.

I like the nativity stories because they are so blatantly supernatural – angels turning up all over the place, dreams given to guide, and a supernatural man-less  conception. Awesome! I recently heard someone trying to explain what the ‘star’ was that guided the wise men to Bethlehem, and was left thinking, “Well I suppose that’s what it might have been – but it might have been something else, but who cares – somehow God managed to guide these astronomers cum astrologers to Bethlehem where He used them to be the supplies of the finances that the young family needed.”  Why is it that we feel we have to explain every detail of HOW it all happened. Sorry, I can’t explain virgin birth, I can’t explain angels and lots more, but if God says this is what is, then OK. There is sufficient that I do understand, that I’m happy to rest in the bits that I don’t understand.

It’s like Christmas is a time (whenever it actually was) where God says, “Here you are. Here are my gifts to you – a massive pile of evidence for you to unwrap and think about, to help you believe, and when you come to the bits that you can’t understand, don’t worry, I do!”

A baby in a manger, angels, shepherds, wise men. It’s just the start of the story and there’s nothing else like it in all of history, in all of the world. So ponder on it, think about it, marvel over it and don’t let the opening of presents or preparing food  or whatever other practical things force them on you this day, detract from the wonder of it. Whatever else you do, stop and say thank you.

God in the Headlines

6 09 2010

1“Once upon a time there were newspapers, and the newspapers did report the news. 2Then the newspaper proprietor-in-chief said, “We need to sell more copies – make the news!” 3Meanwhile in heaven the angels came to present themselves before the Lord (Job 1:6) and Satan came with them. 4The Lord said to Satan, “Nudge one of your lads to say something silly again. My people are getting lethargic and need stirring up.” 5And verily on the first day the Times newspaper did quote from Stephen Hawking’s latest book, with great clamour, for the said Stephen Hawking did declare that God did not create the universe, and the Lord simply looked down and smiled as Rowan Williams and many other great religious names did rise up and take the headlines on the second day. 6And lo, A-level RE teachers throughout the land gave thanks for the free resource material provided for them.”

In case you weren’t aware, that basically is what has been happening in this past week.  God grabbed the headlines on two consecutive days and the rumblings will no doubt continue on for a while.

What are we to make of Stephen Hawking’s pronouncements?

Theories not Facts

First of all realise that what is being talked about is theory not fact. This is just one atheist pontificating from his clever viewpoint.  Fans of ‘The Italian Job’ will remember Michael Caine’s closing words as they hang out over a deep ravine, “Hang on lads, I’ve got an idea!” The learned professor has some ideas – and that’s all they are.


Stephen Hawking is a very clever professor with a brain bigger than most of us. The trouble with such people is that there are very few of the rest of us who can understand their pronouncements. From a scientific standpoint there is virtually no one who can say, “Well, actually, no….”  A dangerous position!

Quantum Physics opened the door

Quantum Physics is an area of science where things don’t work as they should. Scientists are quite divided about whether Quantum Physics is real but it opened a door of thinking that said, “You can believe anything really.” Thus SH now says, it is possible for something to come from nothing; it’s OK to believe that. However, for the rest of us, the concept that ‘something’ can come from ‘nothing-nothing’ (as Schaeffer Schaeffer called absolutely nothing) is utterly impossible and science itself has always declared that – until now!

But Supposing…

Supposing, just supposing, that beyond our wildest imaginations there is some ‘mechanical way’ for something to come from nothing. That is still a process and the Bible’s claim is that God is the One who has designed all processes. Even if such a process exists (and it seems unlikely), that still doesn’t prove God doesn’t exist; it merely reveals one more staggeringly clever part of His design of the world.

Didn’t ‘God say’?

The Biblical record is that God spoke the command and it was done – something came into being, the world was created. How He did it is beyond us; how long He took to do it is debatable. An atheist says He didn’t; the Bible says He did. Choose which authority you believe!

The Loss of Truth

8 06 2010

It has been over a month since I last wrote here. I fear writing. I read so many good writers and wonder whatever have I got to contribute and how badly I compare with them. Yet I find myself here, clicking on a keyboard again.

The election has gone and the dust has settled. Our new Prime Minister makes seriously ominous noises about the difficult times to come, even with talk about our whole lifestyles changing, yet somehow I have this feeling of unreality. Yes, I am sure there are people unemployed now who were not two years ago. Yes, I am sure I  am paying more tax now than I was two years ago but bizarrely life continues on and on. I’m not sure what is real or true any longer. Where I live there are still as many people out shopping and still as many people taking holidays. Is that genuinely coming to an end soon?

I suspect that when we move into the realm of Government policy we should never try thinking about truth. The last government put much stress on the values of early learning and reports today say we spend £5B annually on early years provision.  A report from the Office of National Statistics now suggests there is little or no impact on outcomes from starting children off that much earlier.  On a day when my third grandchild is starting nursery school for the first time, I am grateful that it is there, but am under no illusions about its impact on her which comes far more, I am sure, from her parents (and hopefully grandparents!!!).  I have this horrible feeling that so many chickens bred in the past thirteen years are coming home to roost. The truth was not out there!

I recently stood in a Freeport, looking around as my wife shopped in this environment that is artificial and soulless. It is supposed to be a place where you can buy good more cheaply than in the high street, yet it seems they are cheap because they are the rubbish end of each firm’s products, the cheap and nasty end. The range of shoes or clothes didn’t even seem as good as in the high street. We were being sold a lie. I will stay away for a long time until my memory has dulled and my wife asks that we visit again. That Freeport appears a place of deception. The truth is not there.

In the past month we also had reported in the media, a court case involving three young children and questions of the ability of young children to tell the truth was questioned. I have also heard of a case of a man of otherwise impeccable morality being accused of abuse by a girl of eight – and being found guilty on no more than her word, despite contrary evidence and despite a dubious background of child and immediate family.  It is a seriously worrying world where our fear of abuse has frightened us into a loss of perspective where truth has been lost.

And then there have been the funny phone calls. The first one was several weeks ago, purporting to be  from a Building Society and started out asking for security information. I assumed a scam and put the phone down. A week later a similar call, apparently from NatWest bank starting out the same way. Ditto response –  but I started wondering. A few days later a further call apparently from NatWest. This time I asked questions which seemed to fluster the caller who talked about my loan application. I haven’t made one I insisted. He left sounding even more flustered. Yesterday a fourth call, apparently from a firm of surveys who had been instructed by a man from NatWest in Birmingham to carry out a survey for us on a house in the district we were thinking of buying. No, we weren’t. Is someone trying to take NatWest for money in my name?  Have you tried making contact with a bank recently on the phone – not easy! Eventually I gatecrashed  a girl at the security side of the credit card centre who eventually transferred me to the fraud people, who appeared very laid back. Perhaps it happens so often they don’t care. Oh well, I did warn them.   Identity theft is a major industry today and it’s all about lies and deception.  The truth is out there somewhere – perhaps!

I fear because my God is concerned for truth and justice and both seem to be in increasingly short supply in our society today. But it is Summer and so when the sun  shines we can forget about the nasty elements of life – but they are still there. My only hope is that even as truth seems to have gone out on the tide, one of these days it will come rushing back in and life will change for the better. A misguided hope? Time will tell.

God’s other book

18 08 2009

I came across an interesting quotation recently – one I’d seen before, but it came afresh: “There is a long-standing tradition in Christianity that God wrote a Book of Works (Creation) as well as a Book of Words (the Bible).”

For the last two weeks my wife and I have been out in the midst of God’s “Book of Works”  The Psalmist wrote “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psa 19:1,2) and “The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.” (Psa 97:6). The apostle Paul wrote, “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Rom 1:20)

The clear declaration of those verses is that God’s greatness is obvious and should be obvious in what we might call ‘nature’ or ‘creati0n’.  I have lost count over these past two weeks of the number of times my wifre and I just stood and looked at the wonder of the country before us and just went, “Wow! That is incredible!”

Many years ago when I was having to write an essay with a strong philosophical base for part of my Teacher-Training Course, I chose to write about the existence of rainbows.  I’m reminded of that when I pick up Richard Dawkins’ book Unweaving the Rainbow. It is a book to show how wonderful creation is – without any God, it is wonderful. That is the message of it, I believe. it is a defensive book because in the preface he quotes from his colleague, Peter Atkins: “We are children of chaos, and the deep structure of change is decay. At root, there is only corruption, and the unstemmable tide of chaos. Gone is purpose; all that is left is direction. This is the bleakness we have to accept as we peer deeply and dispassionately into the heart of the Universe.”

I like that quote for it reveals all that is left when you take away God from the equation. Solomon, in his latter years, when he had drifted away from faith and lost sight of God, declared similarly, “Meaningless! Meaningless! says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless. Everything is meaningless.” (Eccles 1:2). What is fascinating is that Dawkins agrees with that quote YET feels he has to revel in the glory of the wonder of this incredible world.  He too recognises the wonder of the world in which we live. You can’t avoid it – only try and ignore it.

But I noted some interesting reactions within myself as we gazed over tremendous vistas or stood in awe in an arboretum of nearly three thousand specimens of trees, shrubs & bamboos from around the world. The variety of size, colour and shape was incredible. We marvelled at such beauty.

But hold on! Why should it be that if I am simply the product of random time and chance molecular activity that I should have such feelings and such concepts. Surely ‘beauty’ is a mere illusion, a chemical reaction? Why should I feel refreshed and restored  after spending time in these environments where my eyes and (sometimes) ears were made accutely aware of the amazing beauty around us? We can rationalise it, categorise it and try and explain it, but it is something that still has the capacity to make all such intellectual exercise seem rather pointless. I was reminded of the poem:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

(William Henry Davies)

As I have stood and stared, I have found a response rising within me, “Lord, that is wonderful. Thank you so much.”  I feel sorry for those who have no one to thank.

The Meaning of Life (3)

25 09 2008

The recent worldwide financial upheavals of September 2008 raises a variety of questions. I was sent a link to a major article about credit derivatives (do your own research!) which was a real eye opener. It prompted me to do a Google search for more information and the following was my e-mail response to the one who sent me the original document link:

Thank you for that – excellent and scary!  I have subsequently been looking elsewhere on the Net. What is even more scary is that there have been major concerns expressed for most of this year about CDs!!!!  This was all foreseen!!!!!!

The reply I received back was as follows:

I know – and the very worst thing about it all – when the whole global economy starts to unwind and taxpayers take the hit of huge government bailouts coupled with extreme (possibly even hyper) inflation levels, the one group of people who’ll remain unaffected by it will be the fat cat bankers who caused the whole mess and are now content to sit back and drive their Ferraris round the south of France whilst having their lifestyle supplemented by the 20 buy-to-lets they bought from their immoral sized bonuses since these type of assets won’t really be affected (in relative terms) by inflation…. Try explaining that to Joe Public who’s diligently worked 50 hour weeks in his job, saving for his nest egg retirement and that’s now going to wither away due to the extreme levels of inflation we’re all about to suffer….

I have heard or seen on radio or TV a variety of city brokers all justifying why they are there “to make money”. That, I have a feeling, we could sympathise with if they were making money in the same way as the guy who drives an ice cream van, or runs his own Garden Centre or whatever else – where reasonable profits are acceptable. As my correspondent pointed out, the problem with the banking world is that it is so vital to the economy that if it goes down the whole economy goes down (so some say – time will tell perhaps) and so Governments will bale them out – and they still talk about big bonus payouts but now they are paying out with MY money – and I object.

Now I could go down the path of Government intervention to stop this happening again, but others are already doing that. No, for this site, the key considerations have got to be moral. I have commented before on this blog that today’s moralist actually says that “It is all right if it feels right” which I suspect is the mantra of the city broker making a fortune out of (or even creating) others’ misfortunes. As I also previously commented, the truth is that we really don’t believe that because as soon as we are done down by someone else or some other grouping in society (bankers?) we shout, unfair!

So what we have recently seen (and many of us prophesied this meltdown, and the sub-prime property fiasco, at least two years ago) is a large and diverse group of people (because it wasn’t only bankers!) being utterly negligent for their own self-serving purposes. BUT here’s the crunch: if you don’t believe in any Final Arbiter of moral standards (God) then you have nothing on which to base your ‘opinion’ that this was a moral wrong. If you start from the standpoint of belief in the God of the Bible, then you can say, these people were morally guilty and God will hold them answerable, because the Bible is quite clear about exploitation by the powerful that creates injustice. Why? Because God says He is concerned for all people and holds us accountable for the way we live out our lives and if that involves exploiting others, then you’re in trouble. The broker retreating to his nest egg WILL still be accountable, even if he thinks he isn’t. Just watch his space.

But remember, the issue in this ‘meaning of life’ discussion, goes right back to the beginning, your starting place, which determines whether you really do have any grounds to complain. Think on it. I’ll comment further later.


26 01 2008

Experiences linked with belief are interesting. It has been said, “As a man thinks, so he is” which makes what we think, the prequel to what we do and experience, you might think. Not always.  I wrote briefly yesterday about Richard Dawkins, a very bright man who has a very fixed set of beliefs – and they will lead him to live a very specific sort of life. Believing is not always easy.

I once sat with a student and talked about the merits of the Christian case for over five hours. At the end of it they said, “OK, you have utterly convinced me, I believe all you have said, the evidence is overwhelming, but I have to tell you that I like my life of sin (their words!) and I’m not going to change it. Thanks.” And with that they got up and left and I never saw them again.  Belief was overcome by experience.

I was talking with a different student and they eventually said after a couple of hours, “Well I can hear what you are saying and understand all you are saying, but I still can’t believe there actually is this God you are speaking about, who is real and personal.” I was stumped. After a moment I said, “Would you like to try an experiment?”  “What sort of experiment,” they replied.  “I want you to humour me. I want you to pretend to pray. All you do is close your eyes, I’ll pray and then you can utter words into the air. See what happens.”

They reluctantly agreed to do it.  I prayed some simple words to the Lord I knew, closed with an “Amen” and sat silent. After a moment or two, this person started, falteringly, to speak some words into the air, to a being that wasn’t there, just to please me. After about ten seconds they stopped and broke into tears and eventually sobbed, “He’s here!” Experience overcame belief.

It really is funny, this belief bit, because most of us have a set of beliefs but if we were challenged as to why we have them we wouldn’t be sure. Others of us have firm beliefs that were born out of negative experiences. As I read the follow-ups on-line to newspaper articles by atheists, there is often, it seems, bitterness in the supporters who seem to have had a bad deal with life or, more probably, with religion. For that I feel said.

It’s when you look at religious experience you realise how varied it can be – and often not good! I have travelled a fair bit of the world, and there are some freaky people around who go by the name of Christian, and that is disturbing (but God still loves them – which sets off a completely new train of thought!). The truth of that though, is that there is no great Magisterium that monitors every person and checks their beliefs – and their subsequent behaviour.  The result? Some freaky people doing some freaky things, but that doesn’t say anything about the Christian Faith at such; it just says there are some funny people who buy into it, and their outworkings of it are a bit strange, but then we’re all a bit strange, aren’t we, us human beings! It’s a good job God doesn’t write us off until we get it completely right!

I don’t know what it was initially that led me towards Christian experience because initially I was quite happy with my beliefs that I was a good person living a good experience. Yet eventually, one day something happened, but that’s another story.

Where are we going?

25 01 2008

Browse back if you like over these last blogs. What have we observed? A recognition that live is made up of experience after experience, a recognition that we sometimes hurt ourselves by what we do, yet we don’t want to be chided, just loved and accepted; the recognition that although we get abused and hurt, mostly we keep on. Then came pondering about the reality of our experiences and especially of church experiences, and finally an imaginary pastor looking into the minds of his hurting flock. Each one of those hurting people are going through experiences where they cry out to be loved and accepted and understood. The awful thing is that God through Jesus understands us, feels with us, loves us and accepts us as we are – but has committed His caring into our hands. He wants those of us who call ourselves His children to be that expression of love, caring, acceptance and understanding to one another – and so often we do it so badly.

So does that make me want to give up?  No!  I read Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion last year. I read his words, “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down,” and felt really sad for him and for the church. I felt sad for him because the only Christians this very bright man has come across have never let him know the simple wonder of their experiences with God. I felt sad also because in my knowledge of the church there have been many utterly selfless people, given over to helping others, and they tend to be the main people injecting good into our society without vitriolic condemnation of the rest, but no mention of these people is given in the condemnation of The God Delusion.

No, I don’t want to give up; no I don’t want to become an atheist because  a) I have thought through the pros and cons of both sides and Biblical Christian faith as traditionally seen wins hands down (don’t denounce it until you understand it genuinely), and b) I have seen the wonder of lives transformed for good through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

If Richard and others can say they have witnessed the down and out, the drunkard or the prostitute being radically transformed for good when they heard the enlightening words of atheism, then great. All I know is that I have witnessed many, many people’s life experiences utterly transformed for good through the good news about Jesus Christ that Richard wants to denounce. How sad is that.