Friday, 23 October 2009

Question Time - an early Christmas present for the BNP?

I expect that Question Time on the BBC last night had a much larger audience than usual. I don't usually watch it as, to be honest, I don't enjoy watching our elected representatives made to squirm in front of an audience - am I too respectful? On last night's showing, I wouldn't have thought that the BNP will win many thinking people to its cause. It's policies seem to be based too much on the fear that comes from prejudice and misunderstanding. What is worth taking note of, though, is the general public's dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties. Most of the QT panel seemed to admit this. This throws them the challenge of getting their own houses in order so that disgruntled voters don't turn to the BNP as a protest vote. It seems that they are now doing this and I hope it isn't too late to rescue the reputation of parliament and the precious institutions of democracy that have made this country great.

I wonder if things have gone too far in an effort to clean up parliament. Personally, I feel that all MPs are becoming whipping boys for the few that have played the system corruptly. Not all MPs are the same. Most work conscientiously and without praise for the good of their constituents. In the bible St Paul encouraged his readers to pray for those who held political power - there was no democracy in his time. I feel we should pray for politicians before we persecute them.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Back from Swanwick

Last week I was with about 400 other clergy at Swanwick Conference Centre in Derbyshire for the Diocesan Clergy Conference. Much could be said, but my main reflection was that for the first time that I can remember at a clergy conference - in any diocese - the main times of worship took Evangelical and Charismatic spirituality seriously. So often evangelicals have had to accommodate themselves to the formal liturgical worship beloved of anglo-catholics, as if it's the only form of worship that can be shared corporately; or fobbed off with an early morning alternative venue for the few crazy charismatics. (That may be an exaggeration, but it's certainly how it has felt.)

However, this year at Swanwick the worship was brilliant. With a natural and organic blending of liturgy and informality, old and new music, catholic and charismatic I felt that we were engaging with God in a very special way that included every shade of the spectrum. It wasn't just a case of putting in different style to please everyone, but rather, some bold decisions were made to break out of some of the old moulds.

I came away refreshed by the worship and encouraged that, in spite of some significant and deep differences, we can unite in our worship of the risen Christ.

And the icing on the cake, for me, was travelling by train together from St Pancras. A real sense of fun and pilgrimage.

Madonna to wed Jesus

'Is Madonna to become a nun?' I wondered when I saw this headline last week in Metro. No, Madonna isn't to take vows of chastity (among others). Rather, for a moment, she considered her mortality - always a good thing to do - and decided she should live life to the full. It turns out, according to a news report a couple of days later, that actually she doesn't want to get married. In fact her words were, "I'd rather get run over by a truck."

It's a funny world that these superstars live in - a parallel universe to the rest of us. However I was amused by the line in the report: 'Despite being married twice before, the singer is said to want another lavish ceremony. "She knows that's what Jesus wants," said one of her relatives.' It puts a new spin on the motto WWJD? ('What Would Jesus Do?).

Actually, a few years ago Jesus came to read my gas meter. Sure enough, the meter reader, from Mexico I think, had the name 'Jesus' on his identity pass. You may have entertained angels unawares, but how many have had their meters read by Jesus?