Religious prejudice

Just been on Tumblr to have a quick look at a couple of themes. The first was who is blogging about the pending Ban on the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Russian Federation. April 5 is the big day for the court ruling. Answer not many people are mentioning it.

Secondly religious tolerance in modern society, here the horror spiked. The vicious and often vitriolic content of blogs about people with faith are so repugnant.

Former Believers

The worst type of anti-smoking campaigner is the former smoker. Likewise the biggest critics for many faiths are those former members.

One I looked at in passing was peddling a story of deprivation, isolation and cruelty, the statistics quoted were incomplete and out of context and the ascertains were outrageous. Yet more than 87 people had liked the post, added bile to the post with comments and a few reposts.

It is clear if you have an axe to grind whatever is said will be negative and when shared in an open forum people will read it. No laws against that.

Here is the thing if what the former believers state as truth were actually based in fact then many of these faiths would be prosecuted to the full extent the law allows because politicians like to get aggressive with hypocrites.

So the pinch of salt and find out for yourself has to apply.

Society and Faith

If you believe the evolutionist and atheist we live in a wholly secular world where the origin of life is beyond question. Society proves that isn’t the case as many rational and clear thinking people have a faith, attend or are members of a church. But the minority voices have a platform based on freedom of speech and equality.

Now having studied sciences and looked at the complexity of life, the universe and the things we don’t know about my personal journey has led me to the point where I wouldn’t trust my best guess let alone someone who has no time to listen to me.

The arrogance of science is that it asks people to believe that the basic premise is right when all the facts aren’t known.

One of my personal favourites is that the first cells somehow knew that they had to divide and reproduce if they were to survive. How? As a cell died did it have the capacity to survive without programming? We know we can play with DNA but we still have to play with, the DNA doesn’t suddenly develop an idea that if I add a frogs marker to my DNA markers it will improve my ability to do x or y.

Too little is known and too much unknown to have a categorical answer to this most perplexing question. But those who express a faith in another life form are ridiculed by the so-called educated or intellectual ones.

Trust is earned

Having worked with many scientists I know how many of their own partners wouldn’t trust them to tie shoelaces or drive the family car.

One scientist I worked with believed in the 1960’s we would all be so dead by the year 2000 that if we didn’t change so many things and that the world would starve if there were more than 6 billion people living on the planet. Today he is dead but at the end of his work he concluded that was the best information they had based on what they knew at the time.

That is my personal issue – we have science rammed down our throats as fact and we must trust it only to find that in ten years time they need new funding so the scientists come up with an alternative approach.

Science and religion are driven by money and power. Therefore it is possible to draw a sane conclusion that neither science nor religion can earn our trust if they keep changing their collective views.

So do the commonsense thing and test everything and draw your own conclusion.

Back to the Ban in the Russian Federation

8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses are writing – not protesting or rioting but writing to the six most senior officials in Russia to ask them to intervene in this court ruling.

Why should all Christians be concerned? Because Russia is using the Anti-terrorism laws to suppress  religious freedom. Once the Witnesses are banned most other evangelical groups will either capitulate to Russian demands or be banned.

One thing is clear Russia has these laws, France, Germany, Italy and the UK have them in varying formats which means that only state sponsored faith will be acceptable.

Jehovah’s Witnesses will not physically rise up, they will continue to be law abiding citizens, many may leave the faith because of fear but when Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and countless other rulers did the same they weren’t broken.

Check it out Here

The stabs of a Sword

Words when used to hurt are like the stabs of a sword. They penetrate deep into the body and are often delivered most effectively at close quarters.

How frequently have any of us been hurt by the unintentional slight spoken by a friend and relayed to many others.

Gossip – Malicious words

Here though is the challenge how difficult do we find it to close off the gossip of others. Journalists often call it public or human interest. Think about it, do we really need to know everything about everyone? Aren’t there things in our lives that we aren’t proud of? Wouldn’t we retreat to the darkest recess we could find if someone we trusted shared those personal facts.

So the initial stab is delivered by a friend, often through unguarded speech. Those facts are repeated with an element of “context” and interpretation, my favourite precursor “can you imagine what they were thinking?” Because it gives the listener the opportunity to do just that.

This gossip or these words become harmful through repetition as each telling associates a sinister link.

Human nature implies that we all want to hear this and all give space for listening to it.

For this Thumper from Bambi had it right when he repeated his mother’s words: “If you ain’t got nothing nice to say…”

The cutting remark

Personally I found this a favourite tool as a young person. But as I became more involved with Youth Charities, supporting projects around eating disorders and mental health it was clear the cutting remark isn’t clever.

Having never considered myself cruel I thought bringing levity to a situation worked to defuse  or distract. Only when working with a group of people taking charge of their lives was I made aware that my words although meant in jest, as a type of cutting comments had contributed to the agony they experienced.

A paper cut is painful, a thousand paper cuts are unbearable. So yes it appeared clever but the victim was generally the same person everyone else had a smart comment for. I always picked on the person who could intellectually compete but as time has passed I have learnt about emotional vulnerabilities.

Choose our words carefully because the cuts of a fine blade are as serious as the stabs of sword.

Conscious encouragement  

Try to use words with the precision of a scalpel. Look for ways to use criticism or direct personal comments to support the hearer.

Taking time to think before speaking is such an advantage. Remember the formula 2 ears, 2 eyes and 1 mouth for the ratio of times for speaking.

Knowing how our words are received is beyond us but we can reduce the danger to hearer by always ensuring our words are “seasoned with salt” and as precious as “apples of gold in silver carvings”.

We don’t get it right every-time. On Wednesday I commented flippantly about something and someone overheard and took my words seriously. They shouldn’t have been eavesdropping according to a colleague (who the comment was aimed at) but the apology for unintended offence reminded me that it is as much the setting as the audience.

So take care with the most powerful tool we have, it can start wars that last for generations or heal deep hurt. The scalpel or the sword it is very much our choice.

The spiritual person

Learning to reflect the spiritual person requires more than saying “I am a spiritual person”. Its more than doing things that others see as spiritual.

We live in a world of deception and the baring of souls; where every thing is both confidential and we have no privacy, no right to be who we are. In fact most of us are we those closest to us expect us to be.

The Spiritual Person has more 

The first point that separates the physical and spiritual is the acknowledgement that life is more than the physical existence. There has to be something that provides a context beyond this planet we live on, the solar system, galaxy and universe.

So we identify the seeker, the searcher.

What we do with the information we gather defines how spiritual we are. Many years ago whilst doing research into science, specifically physics and archaeology it became apparent that much of the information being presented as fact amount to interpretation of evidence.

Now there is a choice accept the conjecture or keep searching. Many of my contemporaries accepted what they had been told. Today they still hold it to be fact although the conjecture has changed more than once.

In the mean time the search went on. Because this offered a greater understanding, wider exploration and a chance to peer into the unknown as the mind wasn’t closed.

Becoming Spiritual

I have been asked if i think we are born spiritual and we are conditioned to close that part of ourselves off. The answer is I don’t know.

The journey began as a youth, looking at the inequalities and advantages different people enjoyed. The rights and privileges we have because we are born in country over another, yet we are all flesh and blood. I am told we are all related. So the questions began and the answers were difficult to find.

I have a passion for literature, science and art, an interest in design and engineering, skills in development and project management, analysis and rational thinking. Applying all those talents I began to ask what is spirituality?

The discovery that there is more unknown than known enabled me to seek answers. Personally the impact was not only discovering spirituality but a set of principles and values that transcend the material. Realizing that we have a greater accountability and thus far the human legacy has very few merits.

This spirituality has drawn me closer to the greatest universal power for “God is Love”. Love is principled, honest and accountable; good places to begin our personal journey.

For those with questions

Keep searching, keep seeking, keep looking because the way we live today is not the way life was intended, add the spiritual dimension and suddenly you find a freedom other desperately desire and can’t find.

 

Our Fears Limit Us

Life has the tendency to come up with the unexpected just when everything is going well.

It often comes from somewhere least expected and the impact is truly destabilizing. I have to say to those who have never experienced it personally two things:

  1. you are very lucky
  2. just check you haven’t been the cause for others and remained oblivious to the havoc caused.

Now our problems begin when we start to focus on the impact and looking from there to prevention, “just so this will never happen again”.

Reality Check

Life happens and we don’t get to choose. Build a fortress but you still get hurt.

Pain comes with living today and we have to manage our lives or slide into a shell that really does greater damage.

Irrational Fear cripples

There are some really healthy fears, rational and they protect us. I have a rational fear of being driven by an intoxicated driver. I know the potential consequences of accidents are increased because the influence of alcohol, therefore that fear prevents me from driving when I have had a drink. Additionally I won’t get into a vehicle where someone else has had a drink. A rational fear of drinking.

However in relationships, the workplace and socially when we allow our irrational fears can cripple us and limit the pleasure we get from life. Also the pleasure we can give to others.

Not wanting to be hurt or feel the impact of another life changing event means we live by second guessing everything.

We allow potentially minor issues to create a massive chasm.

Self Limiting Beliefs

These become our self fulfilling tool. I think that other people will hurt me therefore I’ll be on my guard for every time they do. Of course people get things wrong! So do we and we ask others to make allowances for us. We want them to accept our apology or reparation. By living out our fears we limit the chance to restore good relations. We remain vulnerable.

Why? because we have given in to this idea that fear is protecting us on all levels, but rational fear is there to do that.

In life be prepared to be hurt, manipulated and humiliated but then decide to get back in the fray, enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes achieving against the odds and creating bounds with others that really stand the test of bad times. You can’t do that if you live in fear.

Holding fast to Truth

Holding fast to truth is extremely challenging when we are unaware of what truth really is. The Media has accepted that the plurality of standards is acceptable therefore we can’t set our own standards without judging others.

For example the feminist demands that society accepts that women are unjustly treated everywhere. That women who don’t agree with feminism are somehow lacking intelligence or betraying all other women.

How can that be true? Is that the only acceptable way of looking at life?

The Truth about Freedom

Individuals have given their lives so others can enjoy freedom. So look at the freedoms that we inherit and ask how many of those who died would have accepted the outcome? I know a relative who died in WW2 would have cheerfully hung any non-heterosexual male because he believed it was an abomination. He didn’t die for a liberal society. Quite possibly if he had survived to the 1960’s in the UK he would have felt his sacrifice was in vain.

Truth isn’t untested, it must without the onslaught of all those who disagree. But freedom isn’t truth. Freedom is exercising a choice and accepting the consequences.

Poverty and slavery are abhorrent but for either to exist there has to be exploitation on many levels. Historical people were sold into slavery and trapped in poverty. Once free how they personally responded to the freedom by the choices they made is what governs the legacy their families have today.

Freedom has consequences and we inherit those consequences. Just as I can’t escape genetic issues caused by years of heredity we live with the outcome. Although it is years since poverty damaged our family health it will be years before those defects are eradicated from our progeny.

So what is Truth?

One statement covers it all “Your word is Truth”. This wasn’t an idle conclusion made by someone who had no idea about life, rather the word spoken of is the Bible.

I watched something today where a scientist in debate made a strong point that just because 98% of people believe something is true it doesn’t make it so. Popular belief said the earth was flat but the bible and science had already calculated and recorded that it was sphere hanging on nothing in space. That couldn’t be proved until the first circumnavigation of the planet by sea, then air and in space.

The truth could get you killed, surprisingly it still does. The truth about freedom today is that no one is really free. We all have one inevitability, we all die so all our work, activities, loves, fears and best efforts amount to nothing in history.

We will all be forgotten in human terms.

So how can the Truth set you free? The first point to acknowledge is that we have to search for truth and mean it. If I want to talk about creation with an evolutionist I have to accept it will be a battle of ideologies but if  we discuss the origin of life scientifically we establish there is room for both points of view. Then it is up to me to make my own mind up.

 

Religious Freedom Threatened

April 2017 looks as though it will be a month to remember for Christians living in the Russian Federation. If the Supreme Court upholds a judgement that brands the ministry of a Christian faith as Extremism.

Immediately the activities of more than 170,000 Christians will be criminalized, the 120,000 associates will be open to prosecution if they participate in acts of worship, meet with for the purpose of discussing the Bible and their faith with anyone.

Almost 300,000 peace loving Christians will have their religious freedom curtailed.

When President Stalin did this to a smaller number of Christians it was a constitutional decision. Today when the Russian Federation follows through it is evidence of state interference in a country that openly commits to freedom of worship.

The christian group facing this threat – The Russian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Other Christian Groups Affected

The decision to label non-orthodox groups that promote the Kingdom of God as the only solution to the problems Humanity faces opens the way for the state to bring action against any religion.

Looking at the Russian Federations record on the treatment of Christians we are witnessing the persecution of peace-loving minorities.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are the litmus test as they have always taken action through legal means to protect the Human Rights of individual citizens. Religious and social freedoms around the world have been established in the legal frameworks through their activities. Therefore once they have exhausted all legal means and the religious activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses are banned other faiths should prepare for similar treatment.

For the churches this will mean loss of buildings and property, confiscation of Bibles and literature, restrictions on worship and criminalizing of their activities.

Other Countries to Notice

Most Islamic Countries severely limit the activities of Christians, preventing meetings for worship, the ownership of bibles and speaking about faith.

Although there is more freedom in China today this is still limited for Christians, particularly for those faiths that promote political neutrality.

Eritrea has made an example of those who will not vote, engage in the political or military state. As these Christians claim they are a part of an International family that recognizes no borders and take Christs words to heart “to be no part of the world”. This stance has led to some being held without charge or trial for more than 20 years.

The persecution is based on the decision that these Christians have declared themselves stateless therefore they have no rights, no documents that will allow them to travel and no needs.

How long will this continue?

Last month I read a comment about illiberal liberalism. A permissive world that views any personal restraint as criticism and a judgmental comment on their way of life.

You can have freedom but the price to be paid is individuality has to be surrendered. The freedom to do as I please is not attractive because freedom without restraint gives permission for individuals to commit the most heinous atrocities.

We are clearly told that religious persecution will begin to affect all faiths, it doesn’t matter what religious path you follow the secular society will use its teeth to destroy religion.

Only the courageous will continue to worship and proclaim their faith at that time. We are tumbling to a world without restraint, without moral guidance and national identity is going to be the main faith group.

So while we have the opportunity let all Christians openly confess their faith, practice truth and promote the Kingdom of God in the hands of Jesus Christ as the only hope for humankind.

 

Time and Unforeseen Occurances

Wednesday 22nd March 2017, 41 people were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

4 deaths and many life changing injuries. We hear the politicians and clergy of all backgrounds and faiths say that this wasn’t about religion and faith. But that is exactly what it was all about.

One persons faith, however extreme caused him to embark on a course of events that will haunt so many. Like the November 11 attacks this colours the memory of all those affected.

In time the public will forget, politicians will herald the acts of bravery and the clergy will say this was just one person.The collective view is that we need to heal!

Here is a simple but profound truth: for those directly affected by yesterday nothing will heal the injury done. There is no way of undoing the violence, no way of  bring back the lives.

So today I was asked where was God?

It is really strange that when violent acts occur people think this is evidence that there is no God.

That conclusion is far from true. The Bible describes specific issues that affect all of us today as being a sign of troubled times, critical times, the “last Days”. 2 Timothy 3: 1-5.

When Jesus spoke of the last days he also included reference to this troubled period and government officials not knowing how to deal with the situation. With religious leaders just telling people what they thought they wanted hear. Matthew 24; Mark 10; Luke 21 provide those accounts in detail.

What conclusion can we draw?

As the Son of God told us to expect these things it should provide evidence that this is what we should expect. Why? 1 John 5: 19 We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one.

This links to our prayer for “God’s Kingdom to Come” and his will to take place on earth. When we say this prayer we acknowledge that at this time God’s Kingdom is not here on earth.

Therefore someone else is ruling over humankind.

So we return to the point sadly we have to accept that bad things happened to random people, good people and children, innocents! The absolute truism remains that Time and Unforeseen Events happen to all of us.

What made that individual drive through a crowded pavement yesterday, why those 3 people were killed can only be put down to the wrong place and the wrong time.

Don’t let fear and ignorance cripple but get to know what the bible really says and you’ll be amazed at the hope we share.