Persecution: A Biblical Perspective (Talk)

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to give a talk at the New Life Conference 2009 giving an broad overview of what the Bible says about persecution and offered some thoughts as to how we as Christians should think about the idea of being persecuted for our faith.

The talk is in 4 parts, I hope you find it helpful – as I mention at the start, this was the first time I’d done a talk on that scale, so any feedback or thoughts in the comments would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

Part 1 (9:34)

Download Part 1 here.

Part 2 (9:41)

Download Part 2 here.

Part 3 (10:14)

Download Part 3 here.

Part 4 (5:46)

Download Part 4 here.

You can find out more about the persecution faced by Christians around the world today through Open Doors: www.opendoorsuk.org

Jon Stewart mocks Parliamentary rules on satirical use of Commons footage

You may not have picked up on this story last week, but it appears that Jon Stewart did…

A bit of background first…
As might be expected, the appearance of Rupert and James Murdoch before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on July 19th generated a great deal of media interest both here and abroad (now there’s an understatement for you!).  It was no surprise either, therefore, that US comedian Jon Stewart (he of the Daily Show fame) took the opportunity to lampoon the Murdochs in much the same way as he so often lampoons the News Corp-owned Fox News.  Further to this, he also then did a segment on David Cameron’s appearance before the Commons on the Wednesday, in which he faced some particularly tough questioning from the Labour benches (and they didn’t even include the pointed question from the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ Dennis Skinner on his meetings with News International executives).  Stewart is in rapt admiration of the combative nature of our legislative assembly, crying out ‘That’s awesome! That’s your C-SPAN? That’s f***ing awesome!’ (C-SPAN is the US equivalent of BBC Parliament, broadly)  You can watch the segment below (apologies that I can’t get the embed code to work properly!):

Watch the video here.

So far, all seems normal.   I love watching the Daily Show and was annoyed when Channel 4 decided to drop it from it’s weekday programming on More4, only leaving a solitary ‘Global Edition’ episode late on Monday nights.  Now, I don’t usually remember to watch this, but on the following Monday (25th July), I happened to be by the TV at just gone 11pm and saw that it was due to start, so I tuned in.  Or so I had hoped.  Unfortunately, to my disappointment, the announcer said that the Daily Show Global Edition wouldn’t be airing this week, replaced by some random documentary about Michael Jackson. ‘Well that’s just great,’ I thought. ‘Typical’ and went to bed instead, not thinking any more about it.  However, saw that I wasn’t the only who had noticed this – Blogger Chris Spyrou asked on Twitter why it wasn’t shown, to which the ‘Channel 4 Insider‘ responded ‘Sorry compliance probs so we couldn’t show’.  TV writer Graham Linehan followed up asking what these problems were and received the response ‘We are prevented by parliamentary rules from broadcasting parliamentary proceedings in a comedic or satrical context.’

This was apparently news to many people, although was presumably well known by producers of shows like Have I Got News For You and Mock the Week, as they would no doubt have used such footage otherwise.  The story was also picked up by Helen Lewis Hasteley in the New Statesman, who blogged about it first here. (H/T to her for filling in some more of the details on the story that I hadn’t seen previously.) Continue reading

Rory Stewart MP critiques strategy in Afghanistan

I thought I’d share this 20-minute video with you that I’ve just watched.  In it, Rory Stewart (MP for Penrith and the Border) criticises the current military strategy employed in Afghanistan, drawing on his personal experience of the country to suggest a better way of doing foreign policy – a more humble and honest approach, which seems to me to be eminently commendable.

The talk was given at a TED Global event in Edinburgh and I highly recommend having a look:

Rory Stewart is on Twitter at @RoryStewartUK

The Apprentice meets Lego…

Warning: Those who haven’t been watching this season of The Apprentice may find the following videos confusing!

I had the good fortune the other week to discover a series of videos on YouTube by the highly talented ‘BolegBros‘ doing amazing things with audio from the latest episodes of the Apprentice and animated Lego characters.  Enjoy watching their offerings for Series 7 below: Continue reading

How (Not) to Teach Children about God

Mrs Lee was looking for some nice children’s songs to play to Boaz the other day and came across an album called ‘Sunday School Sing Alongs’ on Spotify.  You might think, ‘What could be more harmless than that?’ Well, indeed, that’s what she thought.  The first song in the album is entitled ‘Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sun Shine In’.  How utterly lovely!  That is, until you start to listen to it…

The first words are:
‘Mommy told me something
a little kid should know.
It’s all about the devil
and I’ve learned to hate him so.’

What?! That’s how you open your song for children. Really? ‘It’s all about the devil’.  Sure, that’s the way to warm their hearts and inspire their young minds in their journey in faith: get them obsessed with Satan and looking for him under every rock.  Even allowing for the fact that it’s probably a good idea for children to be aware of the devil, I’m pretty sure that it’s not ‘all about’ him.
Other gems later on in the song include the mildly terrifying, ‘When you are unhappy,
the devil wears a grin’ (better watch out if you fall and scratch your knee. It might hurt a bit, but that’s nothing compared to having the Prince of Darkness on your case if you start crying, so get smiling. Now!) and the pastorally sensitive ‘Smilers never lose and frowners never win.’  Man, that Jesus guy was such a loser in Gethsemane, wasn’t he?  Not to mention David in the Psalms (what a wimp!) or Jeremiah in Lamentations (lighten up a bit!).
Overall, I’d probably advise against unleashing this travesty of a song on your children or Sunday School anytime soon.  To top it all in the weirdness stakes, here’s the song as sung by Pebbles and Bamm Bamm from the Flintstones. Bizarre.

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Reflections on the ‘rapture’ that never was

It has taken me somewhat by surprise just how much media coverage 89-year-old Harold Camping has generated this week with his bold assertion that the ‘Rapture’ was due this Saturday at 6pm. On the one hand, it’s not that surprising as we all enjoy the occasional crackpot conspiracy theory and that’s especially true in the secular media when said crackpot is a religious nutjob to boot. When the prediction fails to materialise, cue the calls to steer clear of such ‘faith-headed’ thinking and stick to the safer waters of reason and science. Well, so tweeted Prof. Brian Cox earlier this evening anyway.

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