Monday, 23 June 2014

Get ORFF my land!!!

We all suffer at some stage with Bigotry or intolerance, it may be occasionally it maybe regular, but we all do suffer from it at some point, even those of us who deny it. Personally i know i suffer with it at times, quick to put down, quick to put my own walls up, we all do it, unfortunately its part of human nature. There are certain things which contain bigotry and intolerance in a big way, Politics is one, Religion is the another, it goes with the territory. Some will now be saying no Andy your wrong i don't suffer with bigotry or intolerance, I'm not going to accept what you say, which basically proves the point, thats an act of intolerance to a view you don't like or maybe makes you think about your own actions. You see we all think we are right, we all have that element of pride, history or experience which says I'm right you are wrong.

In the last few weeks i have seen both intolerance and Bigotry, in all sorts of people, people of faith and people of no faith, and in reality they are both as stubborn, bigoted and intolerant as each other, i would even go as far as to say some people of faith are so bigoted and intolerant of others views its worse than those who have no faith. One of the cries you often hear from people of faith is that my way is right, because i have a different, better experience than you, or worse still because i have been studying longer than you, i have the higher ground both Biblically and morally (its been used with me in the last week)

So what do we do about it, how do we deal with the problem of personal bigotry and intolerance. Firstly we have to deal with our own, we have to listen, we have to learn, we have to be open to maybe changing some deeply held opinions. You cannot expect the world to be a more tolerant place until individuals start being less bigoted or intolerant. We have to start somewhere and it needs to start with you and me. Over the past week i have left a number of Christian sites, due to intolerance of others opinions or just plain bigotry, you see i know where my bigotry lays, i know where my intolerance lays, i know i can be  a real nasty, gobby, hard hat wearing fool, with an attitude which is very poor at times. Thing is i don't enjoy being treated with intolerance, so it would make sense to change my attitudes to things, not everything because as much as some of my views can be bigoted some of it is down to interpretation. Do you find yourself always needing the last word, always having to be right, if you do its a safe bet to say you suffer with intolerance and bigotry.

Its time for change but that is going to need work, its going to require a change of heart on certain things, it requires grace and understanding. Next time you post something read it back to yourself aloud, see if it still sounds ok or is it going to sound stupid when its spoken out? if it is bigoted or intolerant, it maybe an idea not to post it, none of us always need the last word, none of us is always right, but we all have that level of intolerance and bigotry no matter how small it is.

Pax people.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Mt Tribe

Labels are important, they give us information, they identify things especially in cooking or the kitchen. We wear labels to identify ourselves as such and such a person. We wear clothing labels to say a number of things from look at the money i have, to I'm sporty, our football shirt identifies us with other like minded people and gives us a sense of belonging. Labels it would seem are important, they help us, sometimes they hinder us, but we all wear a label of some description whether its a real one or a metaphorical one.

But there is a downside to labels, they can create an us and them mentality or worse still a have and have not mentality, they can especially in the young and teenagers help create bullying so its not all good, so do we need labels?

In cooking we do, you don't want to put half a jar of Paprika on your roast chicken, you don't want to use sugar if you don't like it. So labels have a point they inform us and help us. We wear them as a badge of honor and some of us wear them with pride, I'm a Leeds fan and am happy to nail my label as such to the mast. Also I'm a biker so i wear the uniform or label of that as well. My faith is my biggest label as its the biggest part of my life.

This is where it gets sticky, you see i genuinely think and believe Jesus was not and is not interested in the label we wear, he was all for equality, he was all for understanding and never sent someone away because they never wore the right label. He engaged with those outside and inside the circle of faith, treating all equally and not giving a snide remark towards those of a different class or social construct. It saddens me that many Christians will deride other Christians for not wearing the correct label, whether that is their church, their particular brand of theology or because they have differing opinions. Debate is great and needs to happen, but when it gets personal thats really not on. Over the last few weeks i have been told my theology on such and such is wrong, that my opinion is not as valid as someone else's as apparently i don't take the Bible seriously, not because of heresy, but because i think differently, my labels often get me into trouble. It has to stop, we serve a God of Love and as such need to temper everything we say with that love, we are not better than anyone else because they think differently, respect needs to be shown. Those labels are just that they are labels, they help but can hinder and cause division. Society wants to label everybody in someway, the Church should be acting differently and not labelling, one of the labels that really gets my goat is "Fundie" short for fundamentalist, its used as an insult 9 times out of 10. So what if i do have some fundamental traits does that give anyone the right to put in a slight dig and insult? One of my great friends is Tom Osbourne he is a minister (or will be soon) we are as different as chalk and cheese. He is very liturgical and likes his worship that way, I'm very add hoc in how i do things during worship. But Tom and i get on really well, he has seen my band a few times and i enjoy our chats, at no time have we hung those labels on each other or used them, we just accept each other and get on with Gods business.

Labels can be good they can be bad, i guess what I'm asking for is a bit of understanding, a bit of thought before we label people, especially without knowing all the facts, but we jump because we don't like the label someone wears. Thats maybe a big ask for some people, because their Labelism/Tribalism is very much ingrained, lets just try and be a bit more considerate about labelling people before we know all the facts and just have a quick soundbite to go on.


Monday, 9 June 2014

In the beginning

Firsts are very important milestones in our lives, they can define something for us, they can ruin something for us, they can make something magical for us, we all like firsts (and seconds). We have our first kiss, our first love, normally followed by the crushing blow of the first heartbreak. We have our first drink, our first push bike, our firsts are vitally important to how we view things in our lives, those first give us experience, some good some bad, but we learn from them or at least we should. One of my great loves in life is music and in particular Rock in its purest form, the first time i saw Whitesnake live for the first time i was hooked, the beat the lyrics, being stood with 5000 other fans screaming at the top of our voices, it was a defining moment in my musical education, a love affair that is still going strong since 1981, i often joke that the band has been the only stable thing in my life and in some respects its true.

But we have first in other parts of our life too, we have the first time we respond to God and how he responds to us, the first time a prayer is answered is phenomenal, it shows that God is interested in us as individuals. That moment when you realise for the first time is defining, it sets the pattern for what we start to understand about God, how he interacts with us and how we interact with him, because we do interact with him. First times are vital for our growth and for our ability to say "look it may look dark now, but it will get better". As we move along through life we tend to forget those first times, life compresses us, society compresses us and for some unknown reason CHURCH compresses you into a box of its own design, and we forget.
Over the last few months i have been saddened by somethings i here people say, saddened by peoples ability to forget the first, and think its always going to be bad news, its not all doom and gloom, we just sometimes need to change our glasses and look at things differently. We all go through bad times, none of us are immune, the time my father died was the first time in my life i had seen death up close and personal. It knocked the life out of me, stopped me in my tracks, you never do forget the death of a loved one, but through that pain and grief when Dennis died (my mums 2nd husband) i was able to do the funeral, it was hard, it was painful, it was a first time. But this time it was different, you see i believe in life after death, as much as i believe in life before death, and this time it was easier in some respects.
First times are vital to us, i can still remember my first kiss, my first girlfriend, my first bike (push and motor) i can still remember like it was yesterday that first encounter with God, that moment when God reached down into my messed up crappy life and said" hey son, take my hand i got you" that will never leave me. Firsts are important they are brilliant, they can be fun, they can hurt. Spend sometime soon thinking of firsts, and celebrating when things where probably a lot easier, because we all need to be child like at times.