Friday, 20 February 2009

Student Activism?

I posted a few months ago about a Student protest on the issue of top up fees. In Monday's Times, Hugo Rifkind writes an article on Student Activism which is worth a read.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Blurring lines

The line between Atheism and Christianity is getting blurry! Couple of interesting articles have been brought to my attention

The first is simply the news that the Vatican have made public their belief that Darwin's theory of evolution is compatible with Biblical teaching. Evolution and Christianity have long been at loggerheads, and with this revelation along with this being the 150th year since The Origin of the Species was published, there should be calls made for open debate and more teaching on the matter.

The second is an article by Times columist Matthew Parry - An Atheist who sees a need for God in Africa. A really fascinating read.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Todays News: Mistakes - Making them and learning from them

The theme of today's local news has been mistakes. First we see the University of Ulster learning from their mistake of the late 60s to locate a University in Coleraine and not Londonderry with news of £250m worth of investment, equating to room for 2,000 more students. Derry is a thriving city, and one which has a much greater capacity to offer graduate opportunities. Coleraine meanwhile has never made the most of the opportunity on it's doorstep either in terms of the entertainment facilities on offer, or in persuading businesses to set up in the area offering jobs to Media, Journalism, Business and IT graduates.

In other news, Minister of Environment Sammy Wilson has once more proved himself to be fully incompetent, misguided and - in a nutshell - a numpty. His decision to ban a Government advert on Climate Change on the grounds of it being nonsensical propaganda beggars belief, especially when you consider his portfolio. It would be like Nigel Dodds (finance minister) denying the Credit Crunch. Other leaders have rightly spoke out against him, and I fully condemn his decision. This is only the tip of the iceberg, and one must wonder what exactly an environment minister who doesn't think the environment needs fixing does with himself all day? Skimpy holidays in France?

In time, the current executive will learn from these mistakes, but I only hope it isn't too late. It pains me to say it, but we must let America lead the way, and follow suit.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Forget the crunch, it's snowing!

With people in Belfast waking up to snow today, Northern Ireland continues it's tradition of always being behind the times compared with Britain. Following Monday's heavy snowfall in large parts of England and Scotland, I was struck when I read the Editorial in The Times the following day. It begins:

The first thing to say about snow is not that it disrupts our travel. It is not
that the economy suffers. It is not that the country cannot cope. It is not that
it started in Russia and then spread to the rest of Europe. The first thing to
say about the snow is that it is extraordinarily beautiful.
What? No griping about the £1.3 billion the snowfall is predicted to have cost us? No gurning about the complete lack of buses, the gritters who were unprepared? The article continues;

There is a joy to trampling through unspoilt snow that some children enjoyed
yesterday morning for the first time in their lives. Some children built their
first snowman and rolled their first gigantic snowball. The scene out of every
domestic window was a Christmas card from the fables of Dickens, five weeks too
late. Dull would he be of soul who would not look out of his own window and note
a scene touching in its majesty.
Did the editor nip out to the toilet and Santa Claus nipped in to change his leading article? Why all this sympathetic imagery, this optimism? I really was struck with a sense of disbelief as I continued to read the article. Such appreciation for the simple things in life looked totally out of place in a newspaper. Yet there it was, pushing aside our obsession with money, work, complaining and stopping - if only for a minute - to ponder the beauty of snow.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Christians at work

Yesterday I read the story of Caroline Petrie, the Christian nurse in Somerset who faces disciplinary action for offering to pray for a patient. This reminded me of the story of the Southampton Bus Driver who refused to drive the buses carrying the infamous "There's probably no God" slogans, which the bus company permitted somewhat. Are they right? Should they be punished? Or praised?

I think it's a tough one. How would I feel if someone offered to pray to Allah for me?

Personally speaking, I think Mrs Petrie has done nothing wrong. In asking simply if the patient would like prayer, she has shown compassion, and in accepting a polite 'no' has shown that she is not some wacky fundamentalist. Some patients who fear death would find prayer comforting, some would be desperate for it, clinigng to it as a last baton of hope. And Mrs Petrie belives that more than that, prayer works, and that by petitioning God to heal, he may just do that.

On the other hand, I disagree with Mr Heather, the bus driver. The slogans on the bus do not portray his opinion, nor could they be interpreted to do so. He refuses to drive a bus on the basis that he does not agree with the advertising on the side. What precedent does this set? Will he refuse to drive a bus promoting safe sex, without any advice to keep it for marriage? Will a Muslim refuse to work in a supermarket which advertises alcohol? It is a dangerous precedent to set in my opinion. As employees, we must obey those in authority above us. Peter writes in the Bible;

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to
those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is
commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is
conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for
doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it,
this is commendable before God.

Once again, the path of following Jesus is seen to be a radical, counter cultural one.