Monday, 13 November 2006

Religious Festivals and Celebrations

Jonathan Petre has a report in the Telegraph Leave Christmas alone, say Muslims.

The statement reported comes from the Christian Muslim Forum whose website, which is in English, Arabic, and Urdu, carries the full text of the statement only as a PDF; it is reproduced below the fold here.

Religious Festivals and Celebrations

We have faced various calls over the past few years for the secularisation or de-Christianisation of certain religious festivals. In particular, certain local authorities have decided that Christmas shall be called by another (non-religious) name. The reason usually given is that to use a specifically Christian name for this festival offends members of other religious traditions.

As Muslims and Christians together we are wholeheartedly committed to the retention of specific religious recognition for Christian festivals. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus and we wish this significant part of the Christian heritage of this country to remain an acknowledged part of national life. The desire to secularize religious festivals is in itself offensive to both of our communities. We believe that the only beneficiaries of eroding the residual Christian presence in public life are those committed to a totally non-religious standpoint. We value the presence of clear institutional markers within society which embody the reality and mystery of God in public life rather than evacuating the public space of any such reminder.

We believe that our open and democratic society should promote freedom of religion in the public space rather than negatively restrict its observance. We welcome, for instance the public recognition of Eid al Fitr, as Muslims celebrate together at the conclusion of the month of Ramadan. We value the partnership evident in some local communities which gives opportunity for others to share with Muslims at this time of celebration. This is a positive way of affirming the public contribution that people of different religious traditions bring to our society. We believe that any attempt to privatise and hide the celebration of religious festivals promotes frustration, alienation and even anger within religious communities. Such negative approaches devalue religion and undermine the positive contributions that faith communities bring to society.

We also rejoice in the contribution and value of all religious communities in our country – Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and others. It is important for the integrity of all religious traditions that we recognise the centrality of major festivals within each community. In our increasingly diverse society we need to foster a mature and healthy approach to religious diversity which both recognizes the specific Christian heritage of this country and welcomes the important part that other religious traditions increasingly play within our culture. This demands a greater religious understanding on the part of government and local authorities than has been evident or necessary in the past.

We are thankful for those policies and actions which are responding helpfully to our changing religious environment. On the other hand we are concerned that those approaches which are based on anti-religious philosophies or a fear of religion are in danger of causing alienation in a wide variety of communities and fanning the growth of extremism. Those who use the fact of religious pluralism as an excuse to de-Christianise British society unthinkingly become recruiting agents for the extreme right. They provoke antagonism towards Muslims and others by foisting on them an anti-Christian agenda which they do not hold.

Human beings require occasions for festival and celebration and, for many in our society, these opportunities are fundamentally religious and spiritual in nature as we mark the high points in our different traditions. We call on all with responsibility in national and local government to give space and encouragement to an open and welcoming space for religious festivals as part of a positive contribution to community cohesion.

Released by Bishop David Gillett, Chair of the national Christian Muslim Forum and Dr Ataullah Siddiqui, Vice Chair of the Forum.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 9:59am GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News
Comments

I'm amazed a joint statement of this kind has taken so long to make it into the public realm, when the process of eroding and marginalising the Christian dimension of our culture has been steadily going on for the past 15-20 years to my recollection. So, did I do enough back then?
Our history is already being re-written, new 'facts on the ground' created, as Zionists say about Palestine.
Polly Toynbee on Radio Four yesterday complained about the one third of our state schools 'taken over' by Christians, with complete disregard for history of education in Britain, without contradiction or correction. Dodgy stuff. (Perhaps this is too dangerous when she's in full spate, I don't know.) But there is definitely an atmosphere of 'crusade' being whipped up by some secularists in broadcasting, and its inaccuracies undermine both balance and tolerance in public broadcasting.
Are we awakening to this rather too slowly?

Posted by: Keith Kimber on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 12:47pm GMT

Dear Keith,
Too slowly I suggest.
Though if there is a feeling that Christians have 'taken over' then there must be some effective work going on.

Posted by: DaveW on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 1:52pm GMT

There are two festivals going on around that time. One is Christmas, beginning Dec. 25 and continuing to Jan.6. The other is Xmas, which starts around, or this year just before, American Thanksgiving and goes on till Dec. 26. One is religious, the other is totally commercial. The fact that the commercial holiday was born out of the religious one confuses us. The easiest thing to do would be to go back to the Julian Calendar and keep Christmas on Jan 6. That way, the secular world would be able to have its Xmas, we could have our Christmas, and there'd be no confusing mixing of these two very different festivals. Having said that, there's something deeply wrong with a society where much of the commerce needs to co-opt one festival from one particular religion in order to finish the year in the black.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 2:27pm GMT

"The easiest thing to do would be to go back to the Julian Calendar and keep Christmas on Jan 6."

In parts of the Southern mountain country, January 6th was called "Old Christmas," and was celebrated as well as the December 25th date - in some places, I am told, instead of. Thi shows up on one of Lee Smith's fine novels, Fair and Tender Ladies [I think].

Commendable as it would be to separate the commercial from the sacred, I don't think it's gonna happen. It's like Halloween, which in the US used to be a time for kids to go trick or treating and get candy, and has now been taken over by the major brewers as a drinking holiday for alleged grown-ups. I beieve I read that Halloween is the 2nd or 3rd most spent-for holiday in the US, with xmas, of course, 1st. In fact I think it IS 2nd, with Easter a distant 3rd - could be wrong.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 7:01pm GMT

Dear Keith

I wonder whether PT might have just been subconsciously thinking that she wants people like her to "take over"!

I think that too many "opinion formers" feel shocked whenever they find anyone they disapprove of still being allowed to be involved in civil society... in any way other than as an interesting oddity!

Posted by: Dave on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 7:11pm GMT

Na. There is no 'secularist crusade' going on.

The practice of Christianity as an institutional religion has declined, if statistics around births, marriages, deaths, confirmations, ordinations, and ordinary Sunday Worship; and keeping of Festivals is anything to go by.

This has not been the result of a 'campaign' on the part of anyone, it must be reiterated.

But this has been an apparently natural process, which historians, sociologists in general, and sociologists of religion, have correlated with industrialisation in western society and concomitant developments and changes in the structures of society in general, & family life in particular.

Although I have been a comitted Church-going believer most of life,(having got going at age 3, and a bit of break between 1989 & the second invasion of Iraq), I have noticed some of the societal trends at first hand; and have had aring side seat for the utternaces and even occasional doings of 'prelates'.

I have noticed tendencies towards obscuarantism,anti-intellectualism, paranoia, paroachial mentality, self righteousness, hypocracy (in the literal sense), authoritariansm; and a general failure to engage with people's lives as is.

I think that for me, perhaps the worse aspect is the failure implicitly to respect and welcome other people and THEIR wisdom, viewpoint and sensibility. This has meant that many individual Christians and Church bodies failed to engage in conversations, relationships and collaboration in local communities and various other contexts.

Posted by: laurence on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 8:21pm GMT

I think that for me, perhaps the worse aspect is the failure implicitly to respect and welcome other people and THEIR wisdom, viewpoint and sensibility. This has meant that many individual Christians and Church bodies failed to engage in conversations, relationships and collaboration in local communities and various other contexts. Obviously there have been wonderful exceptions to this. We can all probably think of a vicar who engaged with the local community and helped to enable its growth and development. Some built community and others got buildings adapted or new build for use by the whole community in creative ways

I also remember the approach of 'Industrial Mission' in Britain, to enabling workers and employers to think theologically and in 'Kingdom' (Basileia) terms about industrial and social issues. Also, of the ' Pastoral Care and Counselling' movement which was as oriented to individuals,and families, and groups, as IM was corporately focussed.People like Peter Selby, Richard Lewis, Michael Jacobs, Rowan Williams,come to mind straightaway.

But for every one with some kind of radical engagmnet there were / are probably 100 others who do not radically engage with either individuals, families or communities.

There has been great reluctance for Anglican Evangelicals, Catholics and Broadchurch truly to engage with each other--let alone members of other denominations. LET alone today with members of all the great world religions. LET alone ordinary parishoners / citizens of Britian who are fairly secular; and due perhaps to the neglect of the Churhes to engage with their needs and perspectives down the decades. No conspiracy, no campaign.

However,these failures to enngage within the church and outside it have weakened the churches intellectually and morally,self marginalized and in a ghetto both spatial and linguistic --seculaisation....

The Churches' attempts to re-engage sound whiny & superfical; failing to respect both others in society, and the terms of the disxussions already under way...

....so as a lifelong 'Church person' I am far from convinced and if I feel this way............

(obscurantist, authoitarian, irrelevant.... you get it ).......

I find myself wondering... if what I have tried to articulate, here, will be engaged with, --or will I just receive gratutous insults and delphic comment from on high - or most lethal just ignore it / me? ..........


Posted by: laurence on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 8:32pm GMT

Further signs of a campaign of secularisation--or --is it a campaign of creeping 'sacralisation' ? :---

Elton John fears gay marriage future in Canada

Elton John fears gay marriage will be banned in his partner David Furnish's native Canada, by new less-liberal prime minister Stephen Harper.

John - who married Furnish in a same-sex civil union last year - expressed his concerns at a concert in Toronto last week.

Referring to Conservative Harper's replacement of Liberal party leader and former prime minister Paul Martin, the singer said: "It would be such a shame because Canada is such a needed voice of tolerance in the world."


Posted by: laurence on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 9:43pm GMT

Dear laurence,

Except that Sir Elton John didnt marry Furnish.. civil partnerships arent recognised as marriage in secular law and not in Christianity either or in most other religions I can think of.
So his fears are unfounded

Posted by: DaveW on Monday, 13 November 2006 at 10:52pm GMT

A fascinating conversation! Journalists of conservtaive and liberal leanings alike grasping the wrong end of the stick....

The "Winterval" myth seems to go on and on. The local authority in question was Birmingham. "Winterval" was a one-off commercial venture when Eid, Diwali, Chanukah and Christmas all happened to fall very close together. The right-wing press then went off chasing a "council bans Christmas" hare, cheerfully ignoring minor inconveniences like the bus-sized illuminated "Merry Christmas" signs strung up in places like the junction of New Street and Corporation Street and the front of the Council House.

As an earlier contributor has said, Polly Toynbee does seem remarkably clueless about the history of education. Unfortunately, it seems to have become axiomatic among her colleagues at the Grauniad that church schools are a way for the "middle class" to avoid their kids mixing with the lower orders. Returning to Birmingham again, it would be fascinating to invite Ms Toynbee to visit the city's C of E schools and point to the queues of posh Brummie mummies and daddies trying to get their sprogs into 95% Mulsim S. Saviour's JMI, Saltley, or S. Alban's secondary modern (if it still exists).

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 12:07am GMT

Take some points:

>Those who use the fact of religious pluralism as an excuse to de-Christianise British society unthinkingly become recruiting agents for the
extreme right.We also rejoice in the contribution and value of all religious communities in our country – Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and others.<

This apparently excludes humanism. I rejoice in pluralism, but what is the virtue in religions as such functioning, when say Buddhism is atheist in character, or Sikhism criticises Islam facing Makkah, or the Hindus are polytheistic and are full of idols which is criticised by Islam?

Why is there this need to keep an enemy, a bogeyman, something that is no more than neutral space, neutral space that is being confused with humanism, which is also an ethical approach to life?

Oh and what about neo-Paganism too? Another bogeyman.

In addition, these statements are made, but they are not reasoned out. Why is it important that these religions have a strong civic and social presence? The statement is not supported, nor about the fear of the fascist.

Plenty more relevant problems lead to fascism, including using the fear of a religion too influential as a way to continue a racist agenda. Secondly the British have always held churches at arms length, and the civic impact has been carried out whilst met with indifference, especially among the working class and later the middle class followed.

This stuff, in these "reports", belongs in cliche land, or perhaps the trading in cultural fear as practised by Bishop Nazir-Ali.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 3:26am GMT

In short the increasing and self willed isolation of church Organizations during the 20th century.

We - they.

Combined with attitudinal problems on the individual level.

I - they.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 8:20am GMT

Sorry please just remind me what pluralism is. Does pluralism require pluralism, or can it appreciate the individual parts of the diversity it recognises? I see no cultural fear as practised by Bishop Nazir-Ali, but surely a pluralist would acknowlege the parts the make up the plural as valid in there own right. Christian and other worldviews have opposing differences, if pluralism dislikes these differences its not fully plural.
As a Christian and not a pluralist I would like to see a Christian worldview adoptred by this country... is pluralism opposed to that?

Posted by: DaveW on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 9:23am GMT

It is not a question of what I would like, but what there is and how to deal with it. As it happens, religion often responds to privilege and power with a turn towards authoritarianism, so it does it well not to be in an ascendant position, a religion that arguably has its strongest message when not very strong.

Pluralism is not the agreement with other groups, it is a recognition of their reality, a willingness to engage with them and a social space that includes them. I have said about my position as being we who wants to include they while they stay as they.

None of that excludes criticism, of the other or those of your own camp.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 1:57pm GMT

I think its about time Christians of all varieties realised that Britain simply isn't the sort of country they would like it to be, and hopefully, never will be

The Christian dimension has been marginalised because the vast majority of people have no real interest in it

That has to be accepted, not glossed over

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 10:23pm GMT

I don’t go with so much negativity, I think as Christians it is important to remember that Jesus didn’t attempt to change the Roman government or the Sanhedrin, just the hearts and minds of people. Also many were offended by Jesus and stopped listening to Him, so no change there to this day. But some of the Pharisees did listen to Him and some of the government are Christians.
Most people in the UK are interested in Christianity enough to put their religion down as Christian on the census. I am sure we could debate which parts of the church are shrinking and which are growing.

Posted by: Davew on Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 12:01pm GMT

"As a Christian and not a pluralist I would like to see a Christian worldview adoptred by this country"

Why? Great Britain is not the Kingdom of God, neither is the US, Canada, or any other country. Even if a particular country could be run entirely on Christian principles, it wouldn't be the Kingdom. We have to work for the coming of the Kingdom, but that isn't done by making any one earthly kingdom a Christian one.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 5:43pm GMT

Dear Ford Elms,
By a Christian worldview I meant Kingdom principles, as His Kingdom is not of this world.

Posted by: DaveW on Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 6:56pm GMT

DaveW.

Some excellent comments on this thread. I loved this one you wrote "...surely a pluralist would acknowlege the parts the make up the plural as valid in there own right. Christian and other worldviews have opposing differences, if pluralism dislikes these differences its not fully plural."

Pluralism to be true to its philsophical intent must include in its advocacy the tolerance and freedom of speech of all parties.

What I see is a lot of parties saying is that there should be freedom of speech for "our" agenda but then it is okay for us to suppress others. Whenever we make the mistake of thinking that victory is to be the ascendant party in control of censorship, we have lost. For we have become the oppressor and the very thing we were fighting against.

Victory is not becoming your enemy. Victory is transcending your enemy.

For the overwhelming majority of humans, a victory towards a diverse pluralistic society is underpinned by a fundamental faith in God. The overwhelming majority of humans can only allow power to rest outside of themselves with a faith that God is just and true and will not allow their branch to whither away. This is one of the noble truths that even atheistic philosophies infer in their advocacy.

Civil society is dependent on this core underpinning. Whenever a group feels disenfranchised and in fear of the continuance of its beloved traditions, that group will respond accordingly. Disenfranchise enough souls, or take away their hope of restitution in the forseeable future, or have their suffering continue for too long and too hard and whole societies degenerate into civil unrest and uproar. That is why God again and again exhorts for true justice, that the noble commandments and sabbaths are not just for the Jews, but also for the servants and aliens in one's midst.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 7:22pm GMT

Dear Cheryl Clough,
In response to your comment "What I see is a lot of parties saying is that there should be freedom of speech for "our" agenda but then it is okay for us to suppress others. Whenever we make the mistake of thinking that victory is to be the ascendant party in control of censorship, we have lost. For we have become the oppressor and the very thing we were fighting against."
It depends what one believes. If one is a pluralist and pluralism means all views then fine but if one believes Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life then one cant be pluralist in faith. But in fact when you say ‘we become the oppressor’ who do you mean by ‘we’ The gospel of Christ is for anyone to believe or not and certainly not oppression. The central issue about a government is that in reality there is never going to be everyone happy with a government and everyone happy with every law a government passes, so the wish for a Christian government is no different from socialists wanting a Left wing government and capitalists wanting a right wing government.
You wrote "For the overwhelming majority of humans, they do not want diverse pluralistic society is underpinned by a fundamental faith in God." I would say fundamentally the opposite, people vote for a political party not a hung parliament.
The message of Christ is to be franchised again with God and not to be a disenfranchised group.

Posted by: DaveW on Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 10:53pm GMT

DaveW,
Then why this, with which I agree?

"I think as Christians it is important to remember that Jesus didn’t attempt to change the Roman government or the Sanhedrin, just the hearts and minds of people."

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 11:41pm GMT

Dear Ford Elms,
Well why not that statement? the more the hearts and minds of people chnaged the more there are likely to be in government.

Posted by: DaveW on Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 9:01am GMT

Now we sound like we are in the book of Judges. Where the Jews wanted a king, a nation to call their own. But they had fallen in love with a manifestion in this world and forgotten that neither the king nor the nation are God. They obsessed about their victory of manifestation and forgot the bigger picture.

The comments infer that only Christians can envisage or create a godly government denies that other religions are also trying to find God. That argument would hold if the world was Christian and rabid atheist only; but the world is much more diverse than that.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 9:38am GMT

DaveW,
It's just that, on the one hand, you seemed to be saying that the ideal would be a Christian government, then that we should not try to influence government, just individuals. I think I understand it better now. And call me Ford, BTW. I'll keep the W in your name so as to make the distinction from the other Dave, if that's OK.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 12:33pm GMT

Dear Cheryl Clough,
Thank you for those thoughts :-) Sadly I would have to say that other religions may be trying to find God but through Christ we have found God. Him your commnets infer Jesus Christ isnt 'the' way, 'the' truth and 'the' life but just 'a' way 'a' truth and 'a' life. I believe God so loved the whole world and died for all.
the bigger picture is that Jesus wasnt a white European like me but a Jew from the Middle East.

Posted by: DaveW on Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 12:45pm GMT

What are we doing to ourselves ?

Posted by: laurence roberts on Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 2:12pm GMT

DaveW

I found myself thinking further about your questions overnight.

One thing that springs to mind was the reaction of the UK's religious leaders after the July 7 bombings. There they all were, standing as a united front against terrorism (including ABC). Denouncing it as not being a valid religion. Either this united front was sincerely entered by ABC and cohorts, or it was simply a publicity front to placate a frightened people.

One of my pussycat contemplations is a joy at watching the puritans having to tap dance to say they are not like other religious leaders who refer to women as "meat", even though their theological underpinnings are based on the same premises. Similarly, I relish that puritans can not claim they are not like the jihadists, when like the jihadists they deny the holy spark in "the infidel" or "the unrepentant sinner" (depending on which camp you are talking about at the time).

Swish. Swish. You acknowledge the holy spark in all of creation, or you deny the holy spark in a puritanical xenophobic way. The former meant the united front post the July bombings was sincere. The latter means you are deceivers because it was a publicity stunt and you secretly hate "the others".

Swish. Swish. It's okay for the others to be starving or adversely affected by greenhouse gases or economic sanctions. Because they are not "holy"?

Then you have failed to live as Joseph, who averted famine for the Egyptians through the building of warehouses. In this generation it is the failure to store water and wanton destruction of the social and practical infrastructure (e.g. water, roads, power). The failure to develop just economic systems that avert or mitigate famine for decades.

The wealthiest nations in the world are Christian? But their wealth led them not to be as Joseph, but as the destroyer. What is the basis of their claim for holiness?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 4:33pm GMT

Dear Cheryl Clough,
Thank you for your response once again. I am sure many people would wish to stand as a united front against terrorism not just religious leaders.
You mention ‘hate the others’ a few times. Christians surely do not hate others but bless rather than curse even their enemies.
As to holiness I believe God is Holy and Jesus is our holiness, not the use of the earth’s environment. As to the use of the earths environment I agree its a poor result but are you saying that the wealthiest countries are Christian countries and not secular?

Posted by: DaveW on Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 5:09pm GMT

I am saying that the wealthy countries that claim their identity as Christians have been appalling ambassadors for both God and Jesus. They have actively colluded in developing a global economic model that institutionalises poverty (the opposite of Joseph who prevented famine).

Our holiness is not just an adjective, it is a verb. To comment that our holiness is not reflected in how we use the earth's environment is to state that such behaviours don't matter. Is that why it is okay to bully and mistreat those that don't flatter us? Because those who use the secret password ("Jesus") are allowed to do whatever they want. And the secret password "Jesus" gives them the license to break, mutilate, insult, deprive or ignore whatever they want.

Be warned, this will not be tolerated by God. Jesus has been separated from the wasteful shepherds, they have been shown to only selectively quote from his ministry. Jesus will not have to atone for such souls' errors. They will have to atone for their own. This is completely consistent with Ezekiel 18.

Reread Isaiah 28:15-19, which includes:

You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.” So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line... Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand.... The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 17 November 2006 at 9:31am GMT

DALAI LAMA SAYS SECULARISM IS THE TRUE ROUTE TO HAPPINESS

The Dalai Lama has come out in defence of secularism. Speaking in Tokyo, the Tibetan spiritual figurehead said: “Secularism does not mean rejection of all religions. It means respect for all religions and human beings including non-believers. I am talking to you not as a Tibetan or a Buddhist but as a human being having a friendly discussion and sharing my experiences on the benefits of cultivating basic human values.”

In a lecture on “A Good Heart – The key to Health and Happiness” the Dalai Lama emphasises that cultivating secular ethics – which he said has nothing to do with religion – benefits all human beings. He said strengthening inner values of warm-heartedness and compassion benefits both believers and non-believers in leading a happy and meaningful life. He said, “Love and compassion attracts, hatred and anger repels.” He also appealed for nuclear disarmament and that the 21st century should be made a century of dialogue.

Underlining the importance of internal and external values for a happy life, he said Japan has the potential to combine both values with its rich spiritual tradition and technological progress. “You have a rich spiritual tradition. The Shinto values of protecting nature and respect for the environment are relevant to this day. Buddhism as Japan’s traditional religion teaches humane values.”

Posted by: laurence roberts on Friday, 17 November 2006 at 4:44pm GMT

Dear Cheryl Clough,
As to your first point I wouldn’t go along with such a generalisation. One minute on this forum we seem to be saying we don’t want a Christian government and the next the government to blame seems to be regarded as Christian. The global economy isnt always to blame for poverty, in some cases it has helped alleviate poverty… but in many cases I agree you are right.

As to holiness I think it means belonging to, derived from, or associated with God, revered and set apart. I would say what you refer to regarding the environment is our poor stewardship. I would alos point out that war and civil war within a country are often to blame.

But I am sure we are considering the thousands dying of poverty and slavery as we speak, thank God for Jesus and the hope of glory and eternal life because humans seem incapable of managing the world

Posted by: DaveW on Friday, 17 November 2006 at 4:55pm GMT

I believe in Jesus Christ as Lord God regardless of what the Dalai Lama says.

Posted by: DaveW on Saturday, 18 November 2006 at 10:18am GMT

I don't think HH the Dalai Lama ventured into the field of christology.

(Might have been thought a tad indelicate,had he, as he himself, was said to be a re-incaarnation of the Bodhisatva of Compassion. And his birth heralded by special signs & omens--- does make many of the leaders of Christian denominations seem a bit dull by comparison.

Obviously, I do not include those whose origins are similar to those of HH DL -- which would seem to include Jo Ratzinger, the bishops of Rochester, Durham, Abuja, Carlile, and Duncan, Schofield and Iker, I gather from them !).

He was just putting forward a simple message of human co-operation & hope, around which, I think he hoped, women and men of goodwill might come together or at least encourage one another.

Posted by: laurence on Saturday, 18 November 2006 at 8:52pm GMT

DaveW.

Thank God for Jesus and the hope of the eternal life.

Yes, it is hard to overcome problems, and there are so many that need to be overcome. The global economy has helped many, but it has caused billions to suffer.

And some Christians and/or goverments and/or power brokers seem to have a sadistic idea of love.

You must love me because I am beautiful and able to shower blessings on you. But because I do not approve of some people who abide with you; I will deprive you of active love in the form of food, medicines, clothing, shelter, safe egress. Now if you allow your spirit to be broken, expel that which interferes with my plans, then I will consider whether or not to show you love. But be aware that next time I feel thwarted I will reinstate sanctions and controls until you repent again.

That is torture, that is sadism, that is conditional, it is self-oriented. It is not the unconditional love that comes from God.

Sacks quotes Jeremiah 22:2-3: "Hear the word of the Lord... you who sit on David's throne... This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do not wrong or violence to the stranger, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place."

The Jews have another concept, that they are all God's people, and where one stumbles, we all stumble. So if a power broker calls on the Christian/biblical God to justify their war mongering or hateful economic sanctions, then we all stumble as we are all held accountable. Complacency says we are not. Conscience says we are.

Ezekiel 3:17-21 tells us that if we can see something that would invoke God's displeasure or slur God's name, we are responsible for giving warning. If our warning is heeded, well and good for all. If ignored, then their sin is their sin, but failure to warn makes their sin our sin.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 19 November 2006 at 9:30am GMT

Dear laurence,
You wrote "I don't think HH the Dalai Lama ventured into the field of christology. "
Well I thank God that I haven't either.

You wrote "He was just putting forward a simple message of human co-operation & hope, around which, I think he hoped, women and men of goodwill might come together or at least encourage one another."
Much like that of God though Jesus Christ then.

Posted by: DaveW on Sunday, 19 November 2006 at 10:53am GMT

The Dalai Lama visited us at Cambridge University a while ago...so we had to ask him the most important question related to his identity:"Are you God?"

He laughed, smiled his great smile and said "They think I am, in Tibet!"
So, we asked again: "But do you think you are God?" Another big smile, a twinkle in his eye and the same response: "They think I am!" He, in his wisdom and humility, clearly thinks he is just a monk (which is good because it shows he is sane)

The DL is a great man, one of the greatest. He is clearly fun despite the suffering he lives through and he is a symbol of peace, a warrior for justice and a wonderful, wise peace campaigner...it is not a surprise that he, like most people, believes in an open society with freedom of belief and speech.

Despite what some "bishops" say, misleading good men like the DL by their made up pontifications, there was a man in Palestine couple of thousand years ago who did claim to be God and who would not have countenanced a pluralistic view because he said he is the way, the truth and the life - he said nobody comes to the Father except through him - even the Dali Lama needs to know this truth...I really hope the DL does not meet "bishops" who tell him the opposite to the words of that preacher from Palestine!

Posted by: NP on Monday, 20 November 2006 at 1:54am GMT

Dear Cheryl Clough,

I am not quite sure what your point is. I agree with you that the global economy has helped many, but has caused billions to suffer. The main things here that come to my mind are lack of fair trade/exploitation and a greedy drive for prophets and progress with no view to stewardship.
But could you explain what you mean by “And some Christians and/or governments and/or power brokers seem to have a sadistic idea of love.”
Firstly who are supposed to be Christian governments? After having already debated here that governments aren’t Christian so much as containing Christians or passing Christian based laws and regulations, I don’t think one can generalise like that. If there are governments of ‘poor’ countries which enslave and torture their citizens, or have civil wars that cause poverty, what should be the response of ‘rich’ governments to them, to ‘shower them’ with aid or look to pressure them to stop persecuting their people? Or both? So I cant see what you mean by love, torture and sadism in general.
I agree with your quoted passages from Jeremiah and Eziekiel. But God’s wish is for His name to be known through His people. I would bring to your attention if I may Luke 4. Jesus tells the people in His hometown who have only recognised Him as Joseph’s son about Elijah and Elisha. In 1 Kings 17 we see that Ahab had worshipped idols and turned away from honouring God, and ignored Elijahs prophecy. The widow at Zarephath a foreingner, recognised the God of Israel in the events, that same God whom is revealed in Jesus Christ. In my view Jesus teaches His disciples to help the poor in spirit and in material ways. This often begins in material ways. When it comes to religious festivals, I follow Jesus not the D L. peace on earth and in heaven through Christ, not just peace on earth.

Posted by: DaveW on Monday, 20 November 2006 at 11:35am GMT

As an Episcopalian in the US, I read the statement of the Christian Muslim Forum with fascination. The thinking in this statement seems to be that freedom of religion is best assured by government support of the religious nature of specific holidays. By contrast, the US separation of church and state doctrine requires privatization of religion when it comes to government supported promotion of particular faiths. Prominent examples would be a Nativity scene or the displaying of the Ten Commandments in a tax supported building, school, or park. In the US, this is seen as the best way to assure freedom of religion. My question is this: in the US, the privatization of religion is seen as a liberal position. It is the American right wing that advocates the opposite view. The Christain Muslim statement indicates that it is the British right that promotes secularization. Here, the right wing is characterized by patriotic nationalism and fundamentalist Protestant Christianity. What is the nature of the British right that might explain the difference? I co-teach a weekly class at our church for teens and would like to present this report for class discussion. I am sure they will ask about this.

Posted by: Michae Massey on Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 4:25pm GMT
Post a comment









Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.