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Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Broadcaster, musician, song writer, tea drinker and curry lover.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How Harold Camping might have done us a favour

So the day of the Rapture, as forecast by self-styled "prophet" Harold Camping, has come and gone, to no one's real surprise. For those who were wondering, a tumultuous earthquake was to shake the world at 6pm in every time zone starting on the International Date Line and rolling west across the globe.
My first reaction to all this was anger. Anger that someone can so blatantly misuse the Bible (which clearly says that none of us here on earth will know the time or the hour of the world's end - Matthew 24:36) to essentially drag the name of Christianity through the mud again. His blinkered insistence that he was right was only made worse by his continual vows that the Bible doesn't lie (which is true), but then using it to back up his flawed beliefs.

So yes, I was angry. Angry because this man does not represent what 99.99% of Christians believe - of course. Then I felt sorry for him. This is a great example of just how lost people really are. How we as humans try to over think what is in fact a very simple Gospel. Camping is sadly just one of a myriad people who seem to wish the message of Jesus was far more complex than it really is, but there are many examples here on earth of how we continually strive to elevate our status as thinking beings to those of near gods. I really hope Camping sees the real truth. maybe someone can yet put him straight - if he'll listen.

Finally I've come round to thinking that Camping and his Family Radio followers, despite raising obscene amounts of money in support of their failed premise, could well have done us a favour.

Somehow, Camping has managed to draw worldwide attention to his Doomsday "prophecies", and I would argue that one positive effect of all this is that the world is now TALKING about it again. let's not forget here that the world IS going to end. Before we relax too much, what Camping is talking about, IS - in some shape or form - going to happen, and still we do not know when. Could be tomorrow, could be next year, but isn't this a great opportunity to seize world attention and tell them how important it is to be ready, how important it is to know the Jesus who is coming back, with the clouds?

Christians need to be telling those who are perishing that there is an end to the world, and also that there is hope. Camping has - unwittingly - handed us an amazing opportunity as the world watches, to maybe lift the debate to another level. What am I...what are we..going to do with this opportunity?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Under Scrutiny...

I've been trying to decide whether I want to say anything on the subject of the bin Laden assassination, since I know that whatever I say will be criticized by some people, but to put anything in the public eye, one has to be accustomed to opposition, so I'm quite prepared for that!
I have to say my initial reaction was tempered very much by what I was doing at the time. I turned on Fox News about 7.15 on Sunday evening, expecting to see a retrospective of the Royal Wedding (yes, I KNOW!), and was instead met with Geraldo Rivera and guest speculating endlessly on what might be the subject of the President's upcoming national TV address, due for 7.30 PST.
Now bear in mind at this stage that nobody actually knew anything about the subject matter of this address. I immediately went into Dove work mode and logged into the Dove Newsroom Twitter account, so I could give updates about whatever was going on. In fact, it was on Twitter that the first rumours of bin Laden's death started appearing. Moreover, the official confirmation of this appeared on Twitter a good five minutes before Fox got a hold of it.
Prior to finding out the truth, the speculation on Fox was connected with Libya, with some wondering aloud if there had been some sort of attack - chemical or otherwise - against the US. Now remember that for the President to address the nation at 10.30pm EST is very unusual, so these were distinct possibilities.
When the news finally broke on Fox and was confirmed, I very quickly switched to CNN as I was not comfortable with the celebratory reaction of Geraldo. He was high-fiving his guest (a former general, who looked rather embarrassed), calling it the greatest night of his life, and referring to the S of a B being dead. Highly unprofessional in my book, but maybe not surprising. [Interestingly enough, when I briefly switched back to Fox a half hour or so later, the altogether more professional Bret Baier had been installed as anchor, much to my relief.]
As to my personal reaction, I certainly won't pretend there wasn't a measure of satisfaction that the world's most wanted terrorist had been taken out, along with a deep sense of gratitude for the bravery of the Navy SEALS, who did their job in very dangerous circumstances, deep gratitude to President George W. Bush for starting the process of finding and removing bin Laden, and of course the current President for what must have been a very difficult decision - a brave one too.
I must confess to a feeling of discomfort watching the gatherings outside the White House and in Times Square (and later at Ground Zero). These people seemed to be mainly students, and there were no more than a few 9/11 relatives to be found. I wondered if relatives of the fallen really would feel the closure that some thought would come. I also wondered if we really would see an end to the Al Qaeda attacks. Sure we'd taken out the leader, and dominating charismatic figure, but we'd instantly created a motive for those who remain to continue and step up their campaign.
Unlike some, I do not believe that the demonstrations were organized. I think even young people remember clearly the sight of Palestinians jumping with glee after 9/11, and (rightly or wrongly) felt led to do the same. In addition, with social media being what it is, news of what had happened travels incredibly fast on Twitter and the like, remembering too that the President's broadcast was delayed by an hour, giving people ample time to find out what had occurred and gather wherever they wanted to.
Although I chose not to dance in the street, and didn't feel it to be an appropriate response, neither did I feel it appropriate at this early juncture to spray Bible verses about loving one's enemies around willy-nilly, like some felt led to do. To my mind, this is the easiest thing to do, and if we are not really careful, it can easily reinforce the public perception of Christians as judgmental, self-righteous and "holier-than-thou". There have been one or two rather pharisaical posts on social media networks in the past few days, I'm sad to say (along with some mis-quotes). The best posts by Christians have been of a measured and thoughtful nature, and well away from the judgements that have characterized a lot of the Christian response.
I hope that now we can all get back to being vigilant for further attacks, continuing to pray for our persecutors, and making sure that our own house is in order as we live our lives as Christians under the scrutiny of the world, and our creator.