February 2015

February 8, 2015

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

Christmas seems but a distant memory yet it is only the middle of January as I write this. So much seems to have happened. I spent a week in France over the New Year and on January 1st I was photographing and riding on trams in Paris including Montrouge and Porte de Vincennes. A week later these places were in the news for all the wrong reasons.

The start of 2015 has been quite worrying. There has been terrorist activity in France, massive demonstrations in Germany, counter-terrorism raids in Belgium, arson attacks on council premises and a funeral parlour on Oxfordshire, churches destroyed in Niger, attacks on Christians in Nigeria, continued fighting in Syria, increased fighting in Eastern Ukraine and the list could be continued. On top of this, electioneering has started in earnest in the UK with all parties being less than honest in offering improved services without extra money, xenophobia being whipped up by the anti-immigrationists and the alarming statistical announcement that by 2016 1% of the world’s population will have 50% of its wealth and the other 99% will share 50%. Our NHS is under extreme pressure, posts are being cut in police forces and fire brigades, schools are under pressure all because funding is being reduced in real terms.

What is the Christian response to all this? As Christians we have promised to follow Christ. He is our role model and we are to think, speak and behave like him. We have also committed ourselves to building the Kingdom of God here on earth. In other words the values of heaven must be the values of earth. Heaven knows no boundaries, neither must earth. People’s movements must not be restricted by their nationality. All inequality must be wiped out. Resources must be found to meet the needs and that will require us to pay more tax, willingly, joyfully because it is helping others. All forms of racism must be eradicated, weapons must be laid down and the desire to control others eliminated.

To expand on a couple of issues. Firstly I believe in the right of free speech, anyone can say what they like and I must accept that. However, alongside that I must remind myself that as a Christian I should not speak words that are deeply offensive and hurtful. It is a strange world that creates an offence of racism, sexism or homophobia yet the mocking of a religious leader or God himself goes unpunished. Swear words based on parts of the anatomy or the sex act are routinely censored yet the use of the words ‘God’ or ‘’Christ’ in a similar way is allowed with impunity. As a Christian I am deeply offended by this but what can I do?

The second example is more localised. We want hospital waiting times reduced, doctor’s appointments at a moments notice, more expensive medicines or medical procedures, faster Police response times, better education for our children, better council services and lower income tax. It can’t be done. As Christians we must say that we want better services and that we are prepared to pay more tax to see this happen and it must be income tax not VAT so that we become a truly egalitarian society in that the more we earn and the more we have the more we give to help society. Being Christian is not easy!