Tag Archives: religion

Love thy neighbour

loveThe most disturbing event that has seemingly happened in the wake of last week’s referendum result is not the state of the stock market (which after an initial panic has now recovered and more), nor is it the pound’s exchange rate (which might be low, but it’s been worse), no it seems that the ugly face of racism and intolerance has resurfaced.

It’s not just the obvious type of racism either. There has been vitriol thrown by friends to other friends simply because of where they were born, or who they worship. There has been vile abuse thrown in the direction of people, simply because they voted a different way to their friends.  There has also been a whole torrent of abuse hurled at the older generation of this country for doing nothing more than exercising the same democratic right as everyone else!

And frankly, that makes me ashamed to be human!

As human beings we are all individuals. Everyone is a unique person with their own way of life, goals, dreams and ambitions.

No one, whatever (or however) they feel, has the right to pass judgment on another human being because of the colour of their skin, their nationality or because they have differing opinions to you. Those are precisely the qualities that make us unique individuals.

I was in church on the Sunday before the referendum (just after the murder of Jo Cox and the shootings in Orlando) and the sermon was related to one of the readings that day from Galatians:

But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Jesus Christ.”

The preacher went on to quote Zoughbi Zoughbi, the founder and director of the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Centre, who said simply that:

“God is not racist”

[Note, God can also refer to any other holy, religious ethereal being]

So if God can see past colour, creed, nationality, etc., why can’t we?

In the Bible there are at least 30 quotes about loving thy neighbour. It is also, I believe, a theme that runs through Islam, as well as many other religions.

The world is crazy enough at the moment without adding fuel to the fire, so why can’t everyone love their neighbours. After all, as it says in Leviticus “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

So, as Martin Luther King put it – stick with love.

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Friday Poem – Psalm 94

Of course, I am sure the same words ring true for any religious group.  For my part I only have one request, a bit like Henry II when he asked the immortal question “who will rid me of this turbulent/troublesome priest?”, I wish someone would help me remove the pebble in the shoe that is Mr Wrong No. 2 – a little wiccan magic would go a long way right now I fear 😉

Psalm 94

The Lord is a God who avenges.
    O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
    pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, Lord, will the wicked,
    how long will the wicked be jubilant?

They pour out arrogant words;
    all the evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush your people, Lord;
    they oppress your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the foreigner;
    they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The Lord does not see;
    the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;
    you fools, when will you become wise?
Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
    Does he who formed the eye not see?
10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
    Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
11 The Lord knows all human plans;
    he knows that they are futile.

12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
    the one you teach from your law;
13 you grant them relief from days of trouble,
    till a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not reject his people;
    he will never forsake his inheritance.
15 Judgment will again be founded on righteousness,
    and all the upright in heart will follow it.

16 Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
    Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
17 Unless the Lord had given me help,
    I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.

20 Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—
    a throne that brings on misery by its decrees?
21 The wicked band together against the righteous
    and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the Lord has become my fortress,
    and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.
23 He will repay them for their sins
    and destroy them for their wickedness;
    the Lord our God will destroy them

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Friday Poem – The Genius of the Crowd

An AMAZING poem by the American poet Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)crowds

What do you think?

The Genius of the Crowd

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art

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Out of the Mouthes of Babes – Religion

When picking SC up from school the other day, his teacher beckoned me over.

Gulp!

The she proceeded to tell me what had happened in RE that day.

Apparently, the class were discussing what it meant to be Catholic.

Cue, SC putting his hand in the air.

“I’m not Catholic. I’m a Christian!” he pipes up.

His teacher thought it was hilarious, especially, as she added “I’m not either!”

Then, the other day when we were walking out of school with some friends he suddenly turned to his friend and asked “Are you Catholic or Christian?”, to which his friend (being a year or so older) replied “both!”

SC was a little puzzled to say the least. It would appear that in his world you can either be Catholic or Christian, you cannot be both!

Maybe we should have a little chat…

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What are Angels?

We all know the stereotypical image of angels – chubby cheeks, innocent faces, wings, harps, etc.angels

But “what are angels” was the question posed in church today, as it was St Michael and All Angels Day.

According to the vicar, the word itself has derivations from both Greek and Hebrew meaning spiritual being, which is where I suppose the image of an angel with wings stems from!

Further that it also stems from a belief that when God created the heavens and earth, he created 3 levels – the heavens filled with spiritual beings, earth and the underworld.

Apparently the word angel appears only 300 times in the Bible and only 2 angels are given names – Michael and Gabriel.

But what are angels?

Angels are messengers and are sent to deliver information to us – whether that be a lesson we need to learn, or the confidence that we are on the right path – they are purely messengers.

I believe in angels.

I also believe that angels can be spiritual beings and humans.

Sometimes it is angels in their human form that teaches us our greatest lessons in life, and the spiritual angels that then give us the confidence to keep on going.

I also believe we have guardian angels. Someone sitting, watching over us, helping and guiding us in all we do.

What about you?

Do you think angels are real or are they just mythical beings made up from the realms of fantasy?

Do you believe in Guardian Angels?

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Out of the Mouthes of Babes – Gods

“Mummy?” said SC as we were driving home this afternoon, “who made the Gods?”gods

“I mean,” he continued, “the Gods made the people, but how did the Gods begin?”

“Ummm!” I answered, “to be honest, I have absolutely no idea sweetheart!”

 

And I don’t.

It is one of those questions that really doesn’t have a definitive theoretical answer behind it.

Any tips on how to answer this question would be gratefully received.

 

(And, no it isn’t a typing error, he really did say Gods in the plural)

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Out of the Mouthes of Babes – Easter

“Why is it called Good Friday?”, asked SC this morning whilst he was eating his breakfast.easter

“I don’t know darling,” I answered, “It doesn’t seem a Good Friday really, seeing as it’s the day Jesus was killed!”

“But, mummy,” he replied, “Jesus was happy to die, because he died for us.”

“Yes, but why did he die for us?” I asked.

A moment’s silence.

“I don’t know mummy.”

“I’ve got a good idea,” said I, “why don’t you ask your school teacher why it’s called Good Friday, and whilst you’re at it, ask her why it’s called Easter!”

Time passes, and SC is sitting in the bath.

“I know why it’s called Good Friday mummy,” he says, “it’s because that’s what they decided to call it!”

“I see, and is that what your teacher told you?”

“Yes, mummy.”

So, a not really helpful answer from the faith school (I could have come up with that one myself), and my question still remains unanswered.

Why is it called Good Friday and why is this period called Easter?

And whilst we’re at it, why do we say Happy Easter?

Answers gratefully received.

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The Children’s Bible – in a nutshell

I cannot take any credit for this, it was in my local church magazine this month. Even the original child author was not named in the magazine, so I don’t know who, where or even when this was written – if I did, I would credit.

The below is not meant to offend anyone. It is merely the result of a child being asked to write a book report on the entire Bible.

The resulting report should make us wonder though, how often we take for granted that children understand what they are being taught…

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness and some gas. The Bible says The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said “Give me a light!” and someone did.

Then God made the world.

He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t been invented yet.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than this brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharoah after God sent ten plagues on Pharoah’s people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them his Top Ten Commandments. These include: don’t lie, cheat, smoke, dance or covet your neighbour’s stuff.

Oh yeah, and I just thought of one more: Humour thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses’ best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn’t sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.

There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don’t have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mum is always saying to me, ‘Close the door! Were you born in a barn?’ It would be nice to say, ‘As a matter of fact, I was!’)

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Sad Judgees.

Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they names a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He heated many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Sad Judgees and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn’t stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus dies for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

I would have given this book report A+ for effort and entertainment value alone.

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What does it mean to be spiritual?

Does it mean the same as having faith? Or can you be one without the other?

I would say that faith and spirituality are two separate and distinct features about a person. I firmly believe that you don’t have to have one to have the other.

I have faith. I believe there is an ultimate being somewhere out there – obviously, being Christian, for me that is God, but I also respect that other religions have their own ultimate being. I try to lead a good life and go to church pretty much every Sunday, listening to the sermon and trying to make sense of it through my own experiences in life. This is, after all the done thing if you have faith, isn’t it?

But.

To be honest, I find more peace, serenity and faith sitting alone in a church than I do when there is an entire congregation there. I also find this same feeling when I’m alone with my own thoughts on the top of a hill, in the middle of the countryside, or in the middle of the night. When I’m thinking and trying to make sense of my life.

And that, I believe, is why I also have spirituality. I believe in God, but I also believe we are more than just flesh and bones. We have a spirit, a soul, a thinking being, something that ultimately makes us what we are. To me the flesh and bones is just the canvas, our soul is the artwork and ultimately the beauty.

The one question that keeps popping into my head, and has done since I was a teenager, is what happens when we die? Sure I get the body wears out. But what about our souls?

If there is no higher plane, then surely our thoughts, feelings and emotions are nothing more than a chain reaction of several nerve signals sent from the brain, therefore (logical side kicking in), we should be able to switch off our feelings like we can switch off a tap?

But we can’t, can we? If we didn’t have souls, we wouldn’t be able to love another being, it would just be a simple case of procreation, no feelings, no emotion, no nothing. But we don’t, we search our entire lives to find that one true love, the one person who holds not only the key to our heart, but a ‘soul-mate’!

I firmly believe in souls, or spirits, for want of a better word.

So what is spirituality?

According to Wikipedia: Spirituality is belief in an ultimate, or alleged immaterial reality, an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her beinghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality

Doesn’t really explain much, does it?

But how do you find that inner path, the way to enlightenment?

Enlightenment comes from within.

It is ultimately about finding yourself, but I don’t believe you can find yourself on a distance learning course, a 2 week retreat, or even a 6 month jaunt to India.

You can only find yourself by making mistakes and learning from them.

Some people take a lifetime, some of us take several lifetimes 😉

Yes, I believe in reincarnation and that we have been on this earth many times in different guises. Why do you think we get that feeling of de ja vu?

For me, being spiritual is about being at one with myself. Yes, I’ve made mistakes, and no doubt I’ll make many more before this journey is over, but I don’t regret anything. I am happy within myself, I have found peace with my life. I can’t change what is ultimately my pre-destined path. I can alter directions, veer around rocks, try to fool myself, but at the end of the day I’ll still end up where I was meant to be.

I believe that sharing a spiritual experience with someone is a magical thing indeed. It can be anything from music and literature to religious rituals. It’s not just the meeting of two human beings, or even two minds, it is the meeting of two souls who make a deep connection.

And that connection can be stronger than anything you have ever experienced before. Whether that connection is destined to last for a few short minutes or a lifetime, who knows? But isn’t that ultimately what we are all searching for a connection with another soul?

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