Moving On

Over the past fortnight we’ve seen (at least) two major debates blow up on social media , one about doctrine and the other about practice resulting from public statements made by prominent Christians.

The general structure of those debates tends to follow the following lines:

  1. There is an initial emotive reaction – this might be positive, negative or both at the same time.
  2. This is followed by some people attempting a thoughtful critique of the issues involved
  3. More debate and discussion follows. Those who critique and disagree with the original statement are sometimes accused of being churlish, pedantic, unloving. In turn, the supporters are told they are naïve (sometimes both of those charges have a level of truth – but not always).
  4. Somewhere along the line the message goes out that we are meant to shut up and move on. This particularly comes from those who wanted to be generous.

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Not just clumsy … Wrong

You’ll have seen the commentary on the Northern Men’s Convention and the controversial publicity for this year’s event. Following Graham Nicholl’s challenge on the Affinity site that the language of the invitation was clumsy, a statement from the convention appeared on their website this morning apologising and acknowledging that the language was “clumsy.” By midday, that apology had disappeared Continue reading

Is Immigration a problem?

The Northern Men’s Convention is getting into some hot water on twitter. This year’s convention is headed “Men Standing alone: Holding the Word of God in the Worst of Times.”  There are a couple of things making it unpopular. One is its description of the “Gay rights lobby…” I suspect that anything we say that shows a commitment to the Bible’s teaching on marriage” is going to cause offence.

However, this sentence has also been picked up upon.

“Add to this scenario the increasing problems associated with immigration, and Islam in particular and indeed many other things which push Christians further and further to the margin.” Continue reading

The Foreigner in your midst: Immigration, Racism and The Church

The other day, I picked up on the theme of “the foreigner in your midst.” There is a Biblical principle for how we treat, love and care for immigrants. I want to push that a little bit further because, as the campaigners for the abolition of the slave trade realised, when someone has put their trust in Jesus, they are not a foreigner in our midst, they are part of God’s people, they are part of the family. Continue reading

Target Cultures, Hostile Environments and Immigration

Amber Rudd resigned on Sunday evening not because of the Windrush Generation scandal (although that created the context for her resignation) rather, it was because she misled the House of Commons over whether or not the Home Office set targets for deportation removals.

Part of the confusion seems to be around different definitions of target.  Now, for as long as I can remember, there has been strong political support for controlling immigration. Not only that, but there has been a long history of setting targets both in government and in private business in order to encourage improvement. Hospitals have been set waiting time targets, manufacturers will have on time delivery targets, schools have targets for % Grades 9-5 (replacing the old A* – C) and individual pupils will have target grades. So, I am inclined to think that the confusion may have been genuine rather than intentional misleading as I’m not sure what Rudd had to gain from this.  Continue reading

Urban Identity and Class Fragmentation

I’ve been starting to put together some thoughts about urban theology and urban missiology over the past year – and part of my plan for a sabbatical in the summer is to give some more time towards this.[1]

Here I want to put out a few thoughts about class and identity. These are not fully formed thoughts or complete answers but hopefully will help move the conversation forward. Continue reading

#HomeForChristmas – No Room?

I was at the airport in good time, ready for the long-haul flight to Hong Kong.  There was just one snag. I got to the front of the queue only to be told “You’re not on this flight.”  That was strange because I had my ticket ready and everything. But you see, the airline had over-booked the flight.  So I had to wait around to see if there was a spare seat if someone didn’t show up. Continue reading