Pluralism is often blamed for putting restrictions on what Christians can or cannot do or say. The recent British Airways Cross debate demonstrates one aspect of that. However, I recently came across a more positive aspect of what pluralism can do. This is great… this is what the BBC website says about Christianity. Apparently it hasn’t always said this, it was updated recently to reflect Christians real views.
The rules of a tolerant culture say that all opinions are equally valid, therefore all opinions should have equal (or proportionate) airtime. The rules of postmodernism imply that there is no single overarching truth, there for all ‘truths’ must be equally represented. Organisations like the BBC and BA inherently agree to run their businesses under these rules. Hence the cross rule for BA who can’t be seen to favour Christians over anyone else. However, they also can’t be seen to discriminate either.
Of course, as a Christian, I can’t agree with the implied rules of the culture, but I’m quite happy to use secular means to carry Christian truth.
What is interesting about the BBC article is their use of story. It’s not just a 12-point list of abstract beliefs but they give details of what it actually means to be a Christian – how it impacts lives.
I remember about four years ago a colleague said to me “As far as I can see, God doesn’t actually do anything.” At the time I was a bit flumoxed for an answer as we had already spent the best part of two years debating the relation between God and science. Rather than continue the abstract philosophical debate with a bit of apologetics, perhaps the best thing is just to demonstrate in person and tell stories of my own faith.
Maybe now is a moment for a bit of testimony sharing. What has it meant for me to be a Christian so far today? Well, I got up and read a chapter from Characters Around the Cross, about Judas, and was gently convicted of my tendency to focus on material things. I walked into college and prayed for a couple of friends, one of whom has just experienced a recovery (healing?) from a long standing illness. I heard a great talk in chapel about the promise of ultimate future and the final victory of Christ, which made me want to worship him. And I was greatly encouraged by some news from a colleague, that God had answered a long-standing prayer.
I’m back. Not blogged as much as I was hoping to. Ah well. Here’s a list of high and low points from my month away.
– Spending lots of time with my wifes large family. There were 12 of us in the house just after Christmas.
– Having a fun day out nordic-skiing
– Having time to read – White Teeth (Zadie Smith). Excellent book which paints a very real picture of first and second generation ethnic minorities.
– Going to Atlanta to be Best Man for a school friend, who was also marrying an American.
– The temperature being 20 degrees celsius in Atlanta for a mid-January wedding.
– The Pound/Dollar exchange rate.
– Being ill on Christmas day and missing Christmas lunch.
– The lack of snow in New Hampshire, limiting the amount of skiing possible. Although Colorado, Texas, and the Mid-West had unusual deluges, New Hampshire had its first smowless Christmas in 20 years.
– Realizing still quite how many American Christians still don’t believe in global warming – mainly, it seems, because the first people to promote the theory are pro-choice democrats.
Stuff that I have noticed so far:
1. Detroit airport is quite fun. There is a cool fountain type thing, a monorail which takes you from one end of the terminal to the other, and a blue light-show thing (above) on an underground walkway, and regular tv screens showing American Football games. However, Detroit airport is not complete. It has a huge void at its centre. The planners made a major mistake which affects every single passenger. Detroit airport suffers from the lack of a Dunkin’ Donuts. Every airport should have a Dunkin’ Donuts. That’s why I come to America.
2. Away in a Manger, and some other carols are sung to a different tune (my wife would be very proud that I didn’t call it the ‘wrong’ tune!). Not that there is anything wrong with the tune – it is a perfectly nice tune, but it made me realise how slight cultural differences and small changes in established Christmas traditions can change the feel of Christmas a little – putting emphasis in different places. Whilst part of me is thinking “It shouldn’t be done like that”, the other part is enjoing the enrichment that different cultures can provide.
3. Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings. We have started to hear this a little in England (Birmingham named their Christmas season ‘Winterval’ a few years ago), but here, although there are many more practising Christians, the standard greeting from shop assistants and in town centres is ‘happy holidays.’ Presumably this is so that practising Jews, Muslims, Seikhs and others will not be offended (usually, these people wouldn’t be offended anyway). Maybe this is a good thing that the consumerism of the season is separated, albeit slightly, from the birth of Christ. Nevertheless, I always have a policy of replying with ‘Merry Christmas’.
Flying tomorrow – America here we come!!!!! Show covered mountains, skiing, roasted chestnuts on an open fire, overly decorated homes, snow angels, starbucks gingerbread latte, snow people, “have a nice holiday!”, family, lots of sweet things, Christmas cantatas, and………
the land of the comedy license plates! Each state has a little slogan on their number plate, which is supposed to sum up the state somehow. For example, Missouri has “Show Me” because apparently Missouri people need to see evidence before they believe anything. Maine is “Vacationland” and New Jersey is “the Garden State” (it should be “The Strip Mall State”). I’m going to New Hampshire, where the slogan is “Live Free Or Die”, which is apparently what the nationalists shouted as they went into battle in the war of Independence. Hmmm… nice and welcoming for a Brit!
People also have little personalised messages on their licence plates too. Here’s a selection that I saw in South Carolina and New Hampshire over the summer – one is particularly proud of their stewardship!
This one is advertising their favourite psalm, seen in the car park of a Christian summer camp…
And this on the side of a breakdown vehicle. Perhaps if he’d walked in the law of the Lord he wouldn’t need his car?
An article about the perils of lying…
From the BBC:
A South African man has been fined $140 for taking a week off work, telling his employers he was pregnant. Charles Sibindana, 27, stole a certificate from a clinic during his pregnant girlfriend’s checkup, a court near Johannesburg heard. He then added his own details to the note and submitted it and took seven days off work, seemingly unaware that only women consult gynaecologists.
His employers became suspicious and investigated the matter. On passing sentence Magistrate Bruno Van Eeden warned Mr Sibindana “not to walk around faking sick letters from gynaecologists” as if he was pregnant, the South African Press Association news agency reported.
From… http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/ 6190772.stm