Thursday, 16 December 2010

Freedom for Gossip

I am really conflicted. I want to like Julian Assange and all that he's doing , except I find what he's doing so valueless that I am really struggling to applaud him or back him in any way.

The USA's desire to 'get him' is sickening. In fact general government reactions to him would be laughable if it wasn't so scary. At the same time though, we seem to be applauding him as a kind of bastion for free speech. We are starting to to see him as a champion of a cause when really all he seems to have done is put out a steady stream of sensitive gossip.

Looking at what has come out from wikileaks it is just information that will make it harder for those in power to speak well to each other. As a result of what he's published it's likely that countries will treat conversations with each other more suspiciously and cautiously. More like talking to a journalist than another diplomat or government bod. This can only further cloud and mask plain speech. It's not a gain. It seems to me that this potential loss of plain speech is also not offset by any gains from the 'revelations'.

What do we now know that we didn't before? Prince Andrew was a bit of a prat? There has been different agendas between David Cameron and the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai? Not ground breaking, impressive or worthwhile really.

I can't go along with accolades for him that shout him as 'the savior of freedom' as I saw one commentator on You Tube say. And yet..... and yet.... The governments are out of whack here and we must speak up.

Lets just be clear what we're speaking up for. Freedom is the thing we are concerned about isn't it? The right to speak freely and well. Gary Goldhammer points out quite rightly though that, 'that transparency without judgement is gossip, not journalism.' Making the point that although Assange say publishing improves transparency this is not always the case. Judgement, analysis and care also have a place.

In the end I suspect I will sign petitions and object to the way Assange is being treated but that is because it is wrong for the bigger guys to adopt the position of a bully when things don't go their way. We need to make sure that it is never OK to be stood on just because you become a nuisance. Our governments should be able to deal with Assange maturely and with 'due process' and we need to shout at them loudly and with force if they don't.

I don't really think though that I can applaud or give thanks for Assange. Gossip is just gossip at the end of the day.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

God Bless Halloween

Yes I know I'm seasonally out of sync, but Like I said in a previous post, things got busy. I have wanted to post on Halloween since, well, Halloween. I have said previously that I don't really get why groups of Christians have such an adverse reaction to it. It always seems a bit, er, petty to me really.

This year I heard people say the same things, 'it celebrates evil' or, 'I really dislike the Americanism of trick or treating'.


I have never come across a parent who, while dressing their child in whatever monstrous costume, imbibes the message of, 'yes we are doing this so we can learn how good it is to hate and do bad things'.

Instead when we dress our children or , indeed ourselves, we caricature evil on Halloween, we make it ridiculous and laughable, the monstrous becomes less powerful rather than more powerful. As for the 'Americanisms', there is for me, a touch of lazy racism in this. Because it is American it does not make it bad and for parents to accompany children as they visit neighbours and friends and receive sweets; well that seems to me to be a rare moment of building and establishing community links. In sort, a good thing.

As for Christian presence in this, well I think it's ripe for the taking. All Hallows Eve is our festival. Why not own it and cash in on the possibilities of the cultural practices around it?

This year we put on a Halloween party at church. Children from the neighbourhood were invited. They dressed up, we did gory crafts, we went trick or treating. We also took the time to have story; our stories. Our trick or treating was to an old peoples home where they were thrilled to see the kids.

The result. Our Beeline group (which is an overtly Christian group for children aged 6-11) gained 6 new children and our mums and todds group gained around 15 new children. Halloween was a blessing. I reckon God is in most things if you look. God Bless Halloween

It's been a while

I logged in today and saw it's been too long since I last stopped by. The reason is simple. Winter has come and with it the busy arrived.

The shelter we run has needed some prep and then we have been open for the last 2 weeks straight.

I am always amazed at the effect the shelter has on us. I am always amazed at the volunteers that come out again and again. There has been something about the shelter that touches people enough for it to work.

This year we have had a lot of Eastern Europeans with us. They have 'no recourse to public funds'. That means that if they are not working then the majority cannot claim benefits or housing. I have enjoyed getting to know some of them this past 2 weeks. It's been quite the privilege. They are full of fun and are slightly bewildered at the volunteers helping them. I invited some of them to Christmas dinner at the church and the reply was 'we'd love to, it's the best place'.

I would agree. What we do is inspiring people to come and work along side us, volunteers are now starting to just turn up. Not just for the shelter but for other stuff as well. New folk are passing by and are really heartened by our approach. Businesses are giving things and this year some of those that came to the shelter in the first year have decorated for , gardened and supported others in the community in need.

You know sometimes, its all a little Acts 2. Now and again there is a little bit of a sense that the vision we have held and are trying to hold, the vision of truly being church, welcoming all and taking Jesus very, very seriously is in God's keeping.

I am always astounded by how hard following Christ is. It is so very 'other'. Amidst all the struggle though there is a lifting and a coming together. God sending followers and the vulnerable, the gifted and the wounded. The struggle will continue of course, my natural default settings are not geared to sacrifice, or patience, those are lessons that Jesus has to continually give extra tuition for. I remain though, a committed student.