Monday, 19 August 2019

Julie Birchill's bovine scatology?

In yesterday's Sunday Telegraph on the Sunday Comment page (14), Julie Burchill wrote about Woodstock, the music festival in 1969. It was fifty years ago at this time of year.

Her concluding remarks made me think about this "happening" which is now part of "the swinging sixties" nostalgia. I was a teenager in the Sixties and clearly remember the music, the film, the sex, drugs and rock and roll. I remember it. Was I really there? It was a time when there was free love, casual sex. And girls woke up in bed and asked, "what was your name again?"  It did turn sad and sour in the cold light of reality.

Julie writes:

Let this be a warning to us that good fences make good neighbours - and that Utopian enterprises always end up in vulgar wrangles over dirty money.

I would concede that this may happen often, but "always"? Past, present and future?
Does Julie mean in the future? Is there an eschatological dimension to these Utopian enterprises?

I wonder if she has ever heard about or attended Soul Survivor or Greenbelt. Probably not.
It could be argued that these enterprises, these festivals, are Utopian, as they embrace a view of the
future where righteousness reigns and perfection rules. Yes, there is Christian eschatology, a belief in the end times when death, evil and war are removed and the Kingdom of Heaven is established.

At Soul Survivor and Greenbelt there were no vulgar wrangles over dirty money.

  Soul Survivor comes to a happy end this year. It will cease, but like Woodstock the legacy will remain. Some of the memories will be happy rather than hippy. 

Friday, 16 August 2019

Petworth, what a pleasure to be there

The cobbled streets are delightful.

On a warm day it's good to find some shade to avoid the sun if you are fair skinned and freckled. 

The grounds of Petworth are magnificent. There are plenty of wonderful walks, an especially enjoyable experience on a bright August afternoon.

And as for the artworks in Petworth House, well they are also magnificent, marvellous masterpieces.

To be continued......

Here are some of them.

Wealth and status does not bring you happiness. Their story is a very sad one.

He died a painful death. His body bore witness to his trespasses and sins.
Henry VIII was a murderer and a thief.

Removing his head was an act of mercy. Well done you Puritans!
His son was a lover of pleasure and he persecuted people like John Bunyan.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Helping beggars?

Over the years I have met many beggars, rough sleepers, "pan handlers" and a few clever con men with very convincing hard luck stories.

There were quite a few around Gloucester Green, St.Giles and Bonn Square in Oxford. Hornchurch had some and there were plenty along the Embankment and South Bank in London.

One of the hard luck stories that I have heard is the cleverly constructed tale about a sick relative and needing some extra cash for the train or bus fare to get to them.

I remember working with a London City Missioner in north London who was conned by a young man, dressed like a tramp, in his thirties who said that had travelled to London to meet his brother and start a new life.  He claimed that he had fallen on hard times and run out of money during his long journey from the north of England. He spent a few days at the mission. He heard the Gospel. He was fed, given new clothes and some cash for his train fare to get to his brother.  When he was ready to leave, he thanked the missioner for his kindness and help, and then confessed that there was no brother or prospect of a new life with him. It was a convincing con and he was off to spin his sob story and to find another sucker who would help him.

If you give to some beggars then the money will go on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Some beggars are not poor. There was a beggar by St James's Park station who "earned" more than some of the shop staff. The Hornchurch beggars stank of marijuana.

I have supported Big Issue sellers, but sadly I have known of cases where they are not genuinely homeless or needy. However, I believe that most of them are in need of a hand up and not a hand out.

I would recommend that if you wish to help the homeless, beggars and the needy, then give to a well established charity, like the Salvation Army, London City Mission, Shelter and street pastors etc.

Don't give cash. Sometimes give food and drink, but always support the worthy charities. They invest in accommodation, clothing and food etc. for these people and have the resources to help them effectively. Sometimes I tell the young fit beggars to consider working on a farm. There is plenty of work. "If a man does not work, then he should not eat" is taught in the New Testament (see 2 Thessalonian 3:10). To beg and sit idly asking for money is soul destroying. It is spiritually destructive, so we should encourage these idlers to find work or to do something constructive. I do ask them, "have you considered fruit picking?"

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Sad to hear about abuse at Jesus Fellowship Church, the Jesus Army

When I first attended Bugbrooke Chapel, the Jesus Fellowship Church (JFC), in the early 1970s, I was really impressed by the charismatic Christianity, the vibrant worship and earnest evangelism. I remember Noel Stanton's powerful preaching and commitment to charismatic ministry. He was deeply loved and admired by his flock, which was growing rapidly. I had happy times of fellowship at the chapel and at Noel's manse. I met some truly gracious and loving Christian people at the JFC. I greatly respected David Lantsbury. He was one of the leaders, then a local school teacher, who shone brightly at that time. In those days it was part of the Baptist Union and part of the evangelical mainstream that was embracing the charismatic movement. It was a member of the Evangelical Alliance. In time both the Baptist Union and the Evangelical Alliance removed JFC from their membership.

 JFC became inward looking and many believed a cult. Noel Stanton was regarded as a supreme leader and prophet, who could not be disobeyed. The leadership began to embrace community living, and celibacy was seen as a higher calling and recommended way of life. The celibates and community dwellers allegedly thought of themselves as superior saints. The autocratic leadership style that evolved was a far cry from the democratic Baptist way, decisions by the rule of the members through church meetings.

Then rumours of abuse and accounts of heavy shepherding, strange manipulative practices and harsh control emerged. Now some horror stories are circulating and they have the ring of truth about them. There is a significant amount of personal testimony to serious sexual, psychological and physical abuse. And Noel Stanton does not come out well. About 2,000 attended his funeral at the Jesus Centre in Northampton. Hundreds were at his burial at Cornhill Manor. A YouTube video shows the event.  He has been accused of serious misconduct, and crimes allegedly took place on his watch as senior pastor and chief overseer/elder. It is very sad indeed that a man who saw many conversions, church growth, spiritual gifts, and congregational ministerial development, seems to have badly failed members of his flock. Some very dark deeds are now coming to light. Yet I remember the good times, in the early seventies when "the Lord took hold of Bugbrooke". Maybe you saw that TV documentary.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Jason Roy was robbed by a disgraceful umpiring decision by Dharmasena

Jason Roy was clearly not out today at Edgbaston in the ICC semi final match against the Australians. He did not touch the touch. His bat and glove were not near the ball, yet he was given out by Dharmasena. This bad decision needs a VAR system or hawkeye. It should not be left to an appeal system. If video evidence shows that at batsman is not out, then the bad umpiring decision should not stand. Never. It was a disgrace, and if Roy is fined for bad language then Roy should ask Dharmasena to pay for it. Dharmasena should give his match payment to charity. He does not deserve a penny of it.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Bashar al Assad should be tried for war crimes

There must be enough evidence now for a clear case against Bashar al Assad for committing war crimes in Syria. Thousands of documents reveal the extent and evidence of the atrocities. Many innocent civilians have been killed by government forces under the Assad regime. Hospitals have been bombed. There is no excuse for the carnage. The scale of destruction and devastation has been horrendous and it is still continuing. Shameful. And Vlad Putin has blood on his hands.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Israel Folau is being persecuted for his mainstream Christian beliefs

Israel Folau has expressed Christian views that are found in the letters of Paul in the New Testament. He stands by words written by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10.

Now he has lost his job and Rugby career. Israel is not willing to compromise his beliefs in what he understands is the word of God on homosexuality. He did not single out homosexuals, but mentioned those sinners listed in 1 Corinthians 6. He believes what people in other religions believe, that homosexuality is sinful and will incur the judgement of God. Many Muslims and Jews would agree with him. Yet now he is being persecuted for deeply held beliefs that have been part of orthodox, mainstream Christianity for centuries. Romans 1:26-32 could be cited along the same lines.

Israel Folau could be seen as acting honourably, charitably and lovingly in warning people of the consequences of their sins. And come the day of judgement, then he will be proved right.


River Stour