Category Archives: ethics

Nothing to be frightened of

I haven’t blogged for some weeks, but the recent news stories around assisted dying prompted me to share with you a fantastic book I have just finished. It is called The Welcome Visitor and is co-written by John Humphrys and Dr Sarah Jarvis. I have touched on this book in a previous post when I was reflecting on the death of my brother-in-law last year see https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/dignity-and-death/ .

This book is incredibly moving, and I would recommend it to anyone who has not yet mulled over the practical issues around caring for a loved one as they may pay the price for living longer and not dying as you are they would want them to. You see Humphrys and Dr Jarvis deal with the ethical, mental, physical, physiological ,spiritual and practical issues around the death of a loved one with such care, dignity, empathy and humanity. These are people who care about people;  they know what it is to have loved and lost for themselves and they want to see others learn from their experience. They take a wider look at how our attitudes to death have changed as doctors have learned how to prolong life beyond anything that could have been imagined a few generations ago. So, are we keeping people alive because we should or simply because we can? As the book itself outlines; “there are no easy answers, but the first step must be to accept that death can be as welcome as it is inevitable.”

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Filed under bereavement, death, ethics, suicide

Speaking out and hitting home

What makes a difficult personality- is it someone who tends to see the problems and things that need still to be done rather than to praise the achievements and successes of what has been delivered? I am thought to be blunt, direct, lacking in thought, insensitive and confrontational- and these are just the views of my family! Yet others tell me I am thoughtful, sensitive, patient, tolerant and a good listener. I sometimes struggle to understand which version of me people are getting and how much I am letting God down in how I conduct myself. I always feel that I act  consistently and that I am “a what you see is what you get” personality. Is it just possible that those  who are closest to me are likely to get the harshest treatment because I love them the most? Jeff Lucas has in the past made fun of  Christians who use the phrase “speaking the truth in love”, as a thinly veiled excuse for giving someone a verbal kicking. Throughout my life I have always got into difficulties when speaking up or taking a stand, so should I stop?  Thanks once more to Nick Fawcett’s Daily Prayer who reveals a truth through prayer that is tailor made for me:

“Help me to know when it is not only right but necessary to speak, and when such moments come, give me wisdom, sensitivity and courage, so that i will know the words to say and be enabled to say them. Give me that rare ability to speak the truth in love..Loving God, help me to speak your challenging, reforming and renewing word of truth, for your name’s sake. Amen.”

So, it’s not so much what I say as when and how I say it and the motivation of my heart in raising it. Let me be a builder up more than a knocker down!

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Bringing politicians to their knees on 7th June

Two-thirds of voters continue to demand an early General Election. Tomorrow sees the start of the week of prayer for Parliament and Whitehall- and God knows they could do with it. The prayer most politicians seemed to have been offering up in recent weeks is that their expenses will not be  published in The Daily Telegraph. The Bible Society, Christians in Parliament, Christians in Government and 24/7 Prayer have developed and launched a prayer resource to help Christians and Churches pray more effectively for politicians.

The pack features a parliamentary prayer guide, a 60-minute prayer meeting plan and a 7 day personal prayer guide for individuals as well as advice on ways to pray.

Let’s hope none of the Christians in Parliament figure in future Daily Telegraph revelations.

So if you’d like to find out more visit http://www.christiansinparliament.org.uk/

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Filed under Christian values, Christianity, ethics, faith, faith Christianity, politics, Prayer, religion

Hearing the truth in love

In the job I do, I have to contend with a number of folks with big egos- sometimes this is challenging. Sometimes these people will ask me “what do you think?” in response to a talk or piece of work they have produced, but they don’t really want to hear any criticism, however constructive. They  just a good old ego massage and the truth is I am not really good at it.. The truth can hurt and few of us find it easy to be honest in an awkward situation, and fewer still relish having the truth spoken to them. In his Daily Prayer, for today Nick Fawcett reminds us the importance of having the courage to see ourselves as we really are and to find the spur to rectify our faults, or to listen to others who have the courage to speak the painful truth to us. Nick proposes this prayer:

God of truth, you know me better than I know myself. You search my heart and mind, seeing me as I really am and confronting me with my true self. Forgive me that all too often I shy away from what is hard to accept, refusing to countenance anything that contradicts my self image. I find it so difficult to be honest, closing my ears to truths I would rather not hear. I avoid those who challenge and disturb me, preferring instead those who sooth and flatter my ego.

Thank you for all those with the rare gift of speaking the truth in love, not spitefully, vindictively, or harshly, not from any ulterior motives, but because they genuinely care. Thank you for those willing to risk my resentment, retaliation or rejection, in order to help me grow us an individual. God of all, give me humility and meekness of spirit, so that i may be ready to listen and examine myself, ready to ask searching questions about who I am and to change where necessary, ready to face the truth.

Gracious God, help me to open my life to your searching gaze and so open my heart to your redeeming love.Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

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Filed under bible, Christian values, Christianity, ego, ethics, faith, faith Christianity, honesty, Jesus, Prayer, religion

Shopping for votes

Yesterday I was shopping  in my local high street and came across a stall staffed by half- a dozen members of the British National Party (BNP). I could have walked straight passed and ignored them, but decided to ask them a simple question. I first asked the lady behind the stall with all the leaflets- “Could my black British  friends join the BNP if they were so minded?”- she wasn’t sure. I then directed the same question at the candidate standing for the BNP. He said emphatically “No!” I asked why not, as this is a British National Party and my black friends are British. He said it was because of the colour of their skin. He then added that he wasn’t racist- it was just a matter of keeping Britain a pure white country. He then got a bit of a history lesson from me about the so called ‘purity’ of the very mixed race nation that is Great Britain and  our very proud history as a tolerant and inclusive nation. After around 10 minutes of this he then started to get angry, raised his voice and completely disengaged from any kind of rational and informed discussion. He saw me as someone who had betrayed his vision of a pure, white nation. A woman who was giving out leaflet swore at me when I took a couple, tore them up  and then put them in the waste bin.

On this day of Pentecost we remember how the Lord sent his comforter- the Holy Spirit- who then inspired and equipped the  apostles to go out to the nations with the life-transforming message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This message would set the prisoners free, clothe the naked,bring hope for the poor, feed the hungry and  care for the fatherless. For over two thousand years it has been a message of hope, love and inclusion that pays no regard to colour, creed or nation- the first truly international  faith.

My conversation with the BNP reminded me just how for from the central message of Christ- love and inclusion- their policies are and has made sure that I will be voting in the forthcoming elections if only to help ensure they get no encouragement whatsover. If you are reading this  as a Christian, atheist, agnostic, humanist and you despise racism and what it stands for then please  think about casting  your vote on June 4th for any party but the BNP. Show them that Britain’s not racist.

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Run Terry, Run

terry waiteThe Times Newspaper recentlycarried an interesting piece from former hostage and special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the importance of Independent MPs at Westminster. Terry says about recent events; ” As spectator sports go I have to confess to mixed feelings. I take little delight in seeing anyone publicly injured and humiliated. But along with the vast majority of the population, I am amused and angry. Amused at the ducks, the moat, horse manure, dry rot and phantom mortgages. Angry that, as Jonathan Aitken (who ought to know about these matters) said on the Today programme, compliance has replaced conscience. The truth is that the gunpowder has been accumulating for a very long time. Increasingly a professional class of politician has grown and the more professional they have become, the more remote they are.”

The former Church Army Evangelist  was irritated by Roy Hattersley recent observation that independent MPs were a waste of space.  Waite says, “ He knows as well as I do that there is virtually no difference between the two main parties in Westminster and the vast majority of Labour and Tory politicians are gagged, bound and beaten by the whip. No self-respecting individual in touch with the the people of this country and wishing to represent them could possibly submit to that. It reduces the individual to mere voting fodder and that is what the majority have become. Small wonder that they turn their attention to dealing with dry rot at their second home rather than speaking boldly in Parliament.”  It seems as if Terry’s frustration  that politicians see themselves as an elite class has had an impact “Quite truthfully my mind is not yet made up and I guess there are a number of people in the same position as myself. We want the best for our country and if we take on the burden of office we will not take it on lightly and certainly not for personal gain. Perhaps a main contribution will be to put a bit of ginger into Parliament and encourage the long overdue reform of both houses. It is a total disgrace that once reform of the Lords was set in motion it was put on hold mainly because further reform would be too great a threat to the Commons. . Parliament is important but not the moribund Parliament we have suffered for far too long. The transformation from duckhouse to doghouse was rapid and took everyone by surprise. Now is the time for the people of this country to rally round those men and women willing to serve their country as independent Members of Parliament. They won’t have all the answers but they may well bring some fresh air into a political hothouse that has been suffocating for far too long. “

Sounds to me like this is the beginning of a stump speech. Terry’s autobiography  “Taken on Trust”was considered a classic account of man’s survival at the limits of human endurance. If he can survive the Lebanese gulag with the three resolutions of no regrets, no false sentimentality and no self-pity- he sounds like the right sort of independent guy for Westminster.

For the full report see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6367904.ece

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The greatest love of all?

priestsThis week I opened a copy of The London Evening Standard to find a strange bedfellow amongst the adverts for forthcoming concerts from Bryan Adams, Booker T, Spinal Tap and James Morrison. The Catholic singing trio The Priests are to play London’s Hammersmith Apollo on 17thJune. Performing live in concert with a full orchestra The Priests, who have already been seen on GMTV and the Classical Brits, will perform songs from their number one album including Ave Maria, Irish Blessing and Abide with me. Can you imagine the light show and the costume changes at this gig? I am sure it will be a sell-out concert and make a tidy profit.

When the recent revelations that thousands of children were beaten, raped or abused by clergy and members of religious orders Vincent Nichols, the new Archbishop of Westminster urged Catholics to pray for the victims yet said that it takes courage for the guilty clergy to confront their pasts. As the Archbishop himself pointed out; “Wounds need to be healed..they need to be met with honest, compassionate sensitivity…and start the road to recovery and healing.” Would it be appropriate for the Priests to help start this process and donate some of their profits to the victims of abuse perpetrated by some elements within the Catholic Church? That really would help the priests to go to number one in my charts.

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