Category Archives: Politics

Why as a Christian I am voting…

The link below to an article on “Why as a Christian I am voting Conservative” was posted on a group I’m on this morning and I thought it was worth sharing.

I absolutely won’t be voting Conservative this time, and I struggle to understand why Christians continue to support the ‘Right’ even in the face of all the evidence of how utterly un-Christian they are.

I think that, if you vote for the principle of small government (which on the whole I do – and in fact I have in the past advocated not voting at all, as voting validates a fundamentally corrupt system that I doubt can ever be anything but corrupt), you actually have to step up personally and be the ‘Big Society’.

I don’t see that happening.

And this is the issue. If individuals won’t act sufficiently charitably (and yes, I know the rise of foodbanks has been phenomenal, but it’s nowhere near enough to cover all the needs that government addresses), it cannot be ‘Christian’ to allow a slide back into Victorian laissez-faire government, where the rich and powerful thrive and the poor and powerless lose more and more at the mercy of people who, well, have very little real mercy, it would appear.

If you’re Christian and vote to cut the support out from under people who desperately need it, on principle, but offer no alternative (I seem to remember Margaret Thatcher talking about giving people a hand up so they can begin to help themselves, but I don’t see even that being talked about now), leaving people in despair, how is that Christian?

I do think that ultimately, we have to recognise that government can and must never be looked upon as saviour (as we are seeing so clearly in the US with Trump), and it is always a case of choosing the lesser of two or more evils. You just have to ‘pick your poison’.

But we can’t allow our choice of government, or our ‘principles’, to abandon people in the pit of despair without doing anything to help them.

https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/why-as-a-christian-i-am-voting-conservative/

There are lots of reasons why I would not vote Labour either this time round, but that is for another day’s discussion.

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Aversion Therapy

aversion

I wrote this post once already, but the evil internet ate it up and it disappeared without a trace, so instead of the beautifully crafted original post, you’ll have to make do with what I can cobble back together from my memory.

A few weeks ago, my mother and brother came to visit us from that London, and on the Saturday they wanted to go to the cinema and the only thing that seemed remotely worth watching was Bridget Jones’ Baby, so we went to see that.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

Well this isn’t a review. In a nutshell, it’s a perfectly good and funny film (although I have to say it scandalised my mother! I forgot how rude and sweary Bridget Jones was!) But it is a stupidly inappropriate film for anybody who has recently had any kind of baby loss! I should have realised that, but I guess I felt ok – until the part in the film where Bridget goes for her (first) ultrasound scan, from which point, I was a complete wreck. I managed to contain my emotion outwardly until I got home and promptly locked myself in the bathroom and bawled my eyes out.

I told my little tale of woe to my Recurrent Miscarriage group, and lots of people said they wouldn’t even consider going to see it, one lady wanted to see but couldn’t face it and another watched it like I did and had a good cry afterwards, but she said she was glad she watched it anyway. I wish I hadn’t seen it.

On another note (but somehow related – I couldn’t tell you how my train of thought connected the two), I decided to take a proper break from facebook (it’s all baby photos and happy boasting announcements that make me want to vomit – maybe that’s the connection) and I noticed that an old friend, somebody I had known for years and with whom I had shared life’s traumas and troubles over and over – not just mine, but hers (she was evicted at the same time we were, she has a child with a chronic health condition that took ages to diagnose, as I do etc) had unfriended and blocked me, and not only on facebook but on Twitter as well (all my accounts!)

I was really ticked off because it seemed so petty. But apparently we had had what amounted to a fundamental disagreement.

I don’t actually remember exactly what she had posted but it was something along the lines that Trans people being allowed to choose the appropriate toilet for themselves was an outrage to public decency and a danger to all God-fearing girls.  As I recall, I tried to explain to her that being Trans was a little bit more complex than she probably realised. But she was so determined that she was right that she started making very unkind and wrongheaded personal judgments about one of my children (who happens to identify as Trans) and obviously that was not acceptable. I presume that she deleted me as soon as she realised I wasn’t prepared to let her do that.

Whatever.

Well. I’m prepared to say “good riddance” – that sort of ignorant attitude is not really what I want to surround myself (or my children) with.

But it hurts, to be judged, and to be summarily cut off in that way. And of course it worries me that these kind of attitudes are so prevalent, and I hope that my children can be safe and un-persecuted, whatever their personal choices that don’t hurt anybody else.

So just for the record I thought I would clarify some points about being Trans. I hope I’m not misrepresenting anybody, this is just my take on it all, as a parent.

  1. Being Trans – having gender dysphoria – is not a sin.
  2. Being Trans – identifying with a gender other than your birth gender – is not the same thing as being attracted to or having sexual relations with another person of the same birth gender. That can be the case, but it’s a separate issue. Still not a sin, even if you’re conservative enough to believe that all same-gender relations are inevitably sinful, with no exceptions.
  3. Being Trans does not automatically mean having a sex-change. (And frankly, having a sex-change is not necessarily a sin either!) ed.: I’m wondering what circumstances would make it a sin, actually?!
  4. Being Trans inevitably includes a range of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, fear and confusion. Please don’t add to it. Just be kind! Always.
  5. Being Trans is often seen in teenagers associated with Asperger’s Syndrome (in my own child’s case, gender just does not quite ‘compute’, and the whole idea of any kind of sex is disgusting). Not a sin.
  6. Trans people are not known for violence. The argument that allowing M to F Trans people use female toilets would lead to more rape or attacks on female children would seem to be deeply flawed on so many levels, and wholly without basis. The kind of people who desire to make those sorts of attacks are going to do it anyway, regardless of the law.
  7. Gender identity and sexuality are actually a little bit complex. Not the simple black and white, fixed boxes you might assume. It’s not just a matter of physical gender – it’s genetics, it’s hormones, it’s mental, it’s culture. It’s complicated. Take a step back before you jump in and condemn.
  8. And finally, who the (((bleep))) are you to judge? Get that plank out of your eye, people!

That is all.

No Treasure But Hope

I really know very little about Irish history, it is not something we are taught in British schools (not even the British side of the story – it’s just brushed aside completely, at least it was when I was at school, and I doubt things have changed significantly in that regard) which makes me a little sad as it is part of my heritage.

So I thought I would share this famous poem from the Easter Uprising of 1916 to mark its centenary, and since hope and despair as well as freedom and escape are such common themes on this blog.

The Rebel

I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,
That have no treasure but hope,
No riches laid up but a memory
Of an Ancient glory.
My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,
I am of the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten,
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
And, though gentle, have served churls;
The hands that have touched mine, the dear hands whose touch is familiar to me,
Have worn shameful manacles, have been bitten at the wrist by manacles,
Have grown hard with the manacles and the task-work of strangers,
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly, I am bone of their bone,
I that have never submitted;
I that have a soul greater than the souls of my people’s masters,

I that have vision and prophecy and the gift of fiery speech,
I that have spoken with God on the top of His holy hill.
And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with their sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children,
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have served, they who should be free,
Reddened for that they have gone in want, while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailors
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!

I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.
And now I speak, being full of vision;
I speak to my people, and I speak in my people’s name to the masters of my people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains,
That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer,
That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples
For whom He died naked, suffering shame.
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give.
Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars

P H Pearse

Quote

John Holt quote

“I don’t see homeschooling as some kind of answer to badness of schools. I think that the home is the proper base for the exploration of the world which we call learning or education. Home would be the best base no matter how good the schools were.”
~ John Holt

New Start for 2016 #homeed

1teddyrow

I’m still pondering and planning the specific details of what our home education will look like for the new term and the new year. But I think now is a good time for a re-think, so I’m starting with a new look and I’ve moved the virtual ‘furniture’ around a bit. (what do you think?!)

I don’t often post many links or photos because I am generally posting from my phone (it’s not impossible but it’s fiddly) – my health issues make laptop use too taxing. So I know plain text can be boring, but bear with me!

The last five years have been really hard for us as a family and disruptive to any idea of neat or formal, smoothly run education at home. We have moved 4 times officially (6 times if you count the three months when we were temporarily re-housed after flooding) amongst other things.

The situation now is that we’re squeezed into a smaller house with no garage or garden, and not allowed to use the loft space because we are renting, so a lot of our stuff including most of our books, is still in storage. We will either have to move again or do without the books indefinitely.

Whereas I thought we would be sorted and settled by now, we’re far from it and can expect more disruption to come. So I think that we can’t expect to have a normal, formal, ‘school at home’ experience any time soon, and perhaps that’s not what we need anyway. More on that next time.

~

Our hard times have coincided with a relative lull in hostilities between the government and the home education community, thankfully, because we are battle-weary and I know we are not the only family to feel that way.

But now the government has made their intentions clear, with Nicky Morgan announcing that a new review into home education may be necessary to ensure that we aren’t ‘radicalising’ our children by pretending to home educate while using illegal schools «sigh» so we are (not) looking forward to dealing with that next year.

Since the last skirmish, battle-weary as we have been, we have kept our heads down. I avoided posting home education links to my facebook, not wanting to offend (or bore) people. I even created a separate twitter account for home education.

However, now I think the time has come to raise our heads again and stand up proudly to say that as home educators, we are doing a respectable and honourable (though still unusual) thing, and despite the government’s continued attempts to unjustly slander us one way or the other, we are doing nothing worthy of government interference. We’re not invisible, and the government already has plenty of powers to deal with illegal schools as well as home educators that might happen to break the law in any way, without curtailing the liberty of the rest of us.

For any who are in doubt, Home education is a legal option; indeed it is the legal default option, and it always has been, since even parents who use schools retain the responsibility for educating their children, and the government’s attempts to shut us down by conflating us with illegal schools, just like all their other spurious claims, is completely unjustified.

Over to you:

Do you have any questions about home education?

I will attempt to post more often with details of what we do as part of our home education lifestyle, connections to the wider community (both locally and nationally), books and resources we use, interests we pursue, places we go and activities we engage in.

If you are a home educator, what are your plans for raising the positive profile of home education in 2016?

Thoughts on the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling

I’m seeing rainbows everywhere and it’s all very pretty…

But I’m curious to understand how the Supreme Court of the United States works, how did the case come before the Supreme Court, who brought the case, and is the granting of rights over all of the states the norm, or is it unprecedented? Is the Constitution affected in any way, and if so how?

I am wondering how the decision (that no state can deny marriage to a homosexual couple) affects the separation of church and state – does the ruling affect only civil weddings or religious weddings as well? If not, will the US take the next step, as the UK has, to permit gay marriage in churches? (If churches had decided to do it before the ruling, would the Government’s rules trump the churches? Would such weddings / marriages be declared illegitimate?)

Here in the UK we’re left with the ridiculous situation that only Anglican Churches are not permitted to conduct weddings for homosexual couples, not to mention the discrepancy between civil partnerships only being available to homosexuals, a situation which cannot possibly continue. The next logical and inevitable step is to declare, on equality grounds, that no churches are permitted to deny weddings to homosexuals.

That, like the ruling forcing businesses like Asher’s bakery and the bed & breakfast in Cornwall to do business against their conscience, would be a step too far, in my opinion, since it tramples on the rights of others to freedom of conscience amongst other things. But again, this is the inevitable logical conclusion when government is the arbiter of rights and liberties and has unfettered power to prioritise one group’s rights over another’s.

The permitting of rights, by the way, is antithetical to the very basis of UK law, which is grounded on the foundational idea that anything is permitted except that which is banned by government, as opposed to Napoleonic law which automatically bans anything which is not permitted by government – a very dangerous precedent and a very slippery slope. As I understand it (and I may be wrong, perhaps somebody can clarify this for me), this basic system of permitting rights is the US system as well.

And so then, more fundamentally, if the Supreme Court had ruled against gay marriage, how legitimate would that ruling be? (Was there an existing law banning gay marriage, or was it just automatically banned because it was previously not permitted?) At what point did the US Government become empowered to grant or deny rights? Do people even realise and understand the implications of it having such power?

If the Ireland vote a few weeks ago had ruled against gay marriage, the majority ruling against the rights of a minority, would that have been ok? Would it have been legitimate?

The whole idea that anybody should be permitted to vote against somebody else’s rights is troubling to say the least.

I saw a snippet of Rand Paul saying that the government ought to get out of the marriage business, and I’m inclined to agree (although I can’t find the exact quote, and I don’t know his reasons, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say I agree with him personally).

There’s a much bigger question about the role of Government, its boundaries, its legitimate powers, and I haven’t even touched upon the religious / spiritual dimension. That is perhaps for another post, when I have sorted through my thoughts.

Suffice to say that I’m uneasy about the whole idea of governments granting marriage licences (or refusing to do so), and on the other hand religious weddings aren’t, or perhaps shouldn’t be, the same entity as civil weddings. Of course there is no separation of church and state in the UK, so it’s all a bit more complicated.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts from a legal / liberty perspective. I hope it’s not too disjointed.

21st Century Christian

According to Cross Rhythms, the UK Christian music site in its history of magazines involved in raising the profile of Christian music, 21st Century Christian Magazine was “stunningly unfunny”, “conservative and cozy”, and its unwieldy name was “conceived by committee”. Critics apparently called the magazine “The Christian Yuppie”.

But it’s not how I remember it at all. 21cc ran from October 1987 to 1990, and for me it was radical and left-leaning, part and parcel of a radical and left-leaning Christianity, something you could unashamedly read in your squat and leave for your non-Christian mates to read.

Cross Rhythms goes on to say that “21st Century Christian eschewed the controversy and satire settling instead for a safer, cosier Christian overview, in the process cutting back still further its music coverage. Sales continued to slide downwards and by the time of its closure, in 1990, had reached only a little over 14,000 sales.”

I was surprised when I looked for it again a few years ago to find that it had had such a short run, and been so opposite to what I remembered, because for me it had felt important and influential, and I obviously took from it the opposite message that everyone else was seeing.

Most of the Christians I knew in the late 80s were slightly hippyish, vegetarian, rainbow jumper wearing, Greenbelt festival-going rebels and radicals, bringing the government down with love and flowers and marching for Jesus. It was a while before I discovered that most of the church was made up of comfortable, conservative-voting status quo-lovers (and not the metal kind).

The one good thing about being faced with an all Conservative government determined to abuse the poor and vulnerable at every opportunity, not to mention attempting to repeal the hunting ban and the Human Rights Act, is that I feel catapulted back to my youth and I’m encouraged to look again at Christianity as rebellion against the Babylon system. (Don’t be fooled, it was always the Babylon system, even when Labour was in charge, the Conservatives just make it much easier to see.)

Government is not our saviour, it’s not our friend, and it’s not a friend to animals, the environment or the world.

I bought a vegan cookbook last week called “Soy Not Oi: Over 100 Recipes Designed to Destroy the Government”. (Available through http://www.akpress.org )

Now is the perfect time to go vegetarian or vegan, question your assumptions, review your comfortable position and ask what you can do to make the world a better place in spite of government.

Are you with me?

Election Thoughts

On a selfish note:

For myself, and for every other home educating family in the UK, I am mightily relieved that our liberty is not immediately threatened as it would unequivocally have been had Labour won. Ed Balls specifically told us that he would “finish the job” of eradicating us if Labour got back in. So the fact that Balls has been ‘snipped’ is deeply satisfying.

And for my thoughts in more depth, see my personal blog:
https://cityborgontheprairie.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/election-thoughts/

Election Thoughts

Where to begin?

I wouldn’t normally stay up, but last night I caught the election fever and stayed up all through the night until 5:45 am when North Cornwall declared their result.

Right from the first Conservative wins of the night, I was astonished at the results, and this morning I am still amazed. It was quite, quite different to what I had anticipated.

Perhaps I hadn’t been paying attention – I was sure that Labour would do well, UKIP would gain a number of seats, and the only way the Conservatives would get back in would be to do a deal with SNP or UKIP, leading inevitably to a Labour-based coalition.

I’m sure nobody was surprised by the fact that the Lib-Dems did badly or that the SNP did well, but the degree to which the Lib-Dems have lost (and SNP have gained in Scotland) seem astounding.

That Labour did so badly and the Conservatives did so well, after five years of austerity, wrongly directed at the poorest and most vulnerable in society, is… well, mind-boggling really.

Let me say that, for myself, and for every other home educating family in the UK, I am mightily relieved that our liberty is not immediately threatened as it would unequivocally have been had Labour won. Ed Balls specifically told us that he would “finish the job” of eradicating us if Labour got back in. So the fact that Balls has been snipped is deeply satisfying.

But for hundreds of thousands of people – the poor, the disabled, the vulnerable, the mentally ill, the needy of every kind, I weep.

Personally, I was not able in conscience to vote either way – Labour has moved massively to the right, and both Labour and the Conservatives have moved massively towards authoritarianism in the last 20 years.

The Liberal Democrats were probably the most liberal in theory but of course, they lost my vote a while back for not doing what they promised, and not reining in the Conservatives.

UKIP were libertarian in some ways, and the most moral in others, but oh how careless they have been, attracting the worst elements in politics. A vote for them would have been out of the question.

I love the Greens for many of the things they stand for, but they are the most authoritarian of all.

Knowing that my vote would carry no weight anyway in this constituency (and for a whole host of other reasons that I’ll elaborate on if asked), I voted “NONE” of the above.

I did seriously consider voting for Mebyon Kernow – I wholeheartedly agree that Cornwall is under-represented and should have its own devolved parliament. So I’ll be watching and supporting them over the next five years and hoping that they develop into a non-authoritarian alternative.

Something I have been disturbed about in the run up to this election was the way in which Christians (on the left and right of the spectrum) spoke as though they believed that government can be the saviour, making everything right, and fair and stable (and moral!).

It can’t.

I loved Russell Brand’s Trews response to the election

[ https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=rRUQ6aPvs58 – note this link will take you away from this site as I am posting via mobile and haven’t figured out how to open a new tab. Bookmark before yougo! 🙂 ]

– recognising, I think, that compassion is the key, and realising that making government your saviour doesn’t bring about the spiritual awakening that is required for true revolution.

Perhaps, ironically, a government of oppression will bring about that awakening? As unpopular as they are, I think that the food banks are evidence of that. Good people will react with love and kindness when they see need.

(Some people will inevitably respond with hatred and violence instead – in words if not physically – and I think that it must be the Church’s role to speak up for and show compassion as an alternative Way)

But of course, the love and kindness of good people hasn’t been enough for the last five years.

What about the others? The rich, the bankers, the landlords, the moguls of big business, and even the “we’re alright” lot who are just comfortable enough themselves not to care about those of us who are not? (It would seem there are an awful lot of them!)

How can they be reached? I don’t believe that Labour would have oppressed them enough to have a spiritual awakening and see they’re in the wrong – quite the opposite in fact.

I always have to come back to the fact that the only ultimate answer, the only saviour, the only real alternative is Jesus – compassion personified. Thy Kingdom come.

Election Prayer

My battery is dying, so this will be a quick one. I just wanted to post this prayer for the election.

Abba Father,
We come into your presence on our knees,
And we acknowledge our sins and the sins of this nation – the things we have done and the things we have failed to do.
We ask for your mercy Father, for your Great Name’s sake.
Have mercy on this land and this people.
Restore us to yourself.
May your will be done in this election.
May we not get the government that we deserve, but the government that will bring glory to your name and heal this land.
In the name and for the sake of Jesus we pray,
Amen.

(c) Shoshana Sharon Tootill, 2015