Friday, December 15, 2006

Recent coverage about the Ipswich murders...

Here's a helpful comment piece:

The Ipswich murders: they were women, weren't they?
Matthew Parris,,173-2502129,00.html

This one was interesting as well:

Prostitutes deserve as much sympathy as any murder victim
Joan SmithTuesday December 12, 2006,,1970129,00.html

But I found this headline rather annoying...

Drugs are the curse of our land and turn women into prostitutes
By Simon Heffer

Really? Are drugs the sole cause of prostitution? Actually, I think it's men. Obviously not all men, but if there wasn't a market for anonymous sex-on-demand, these women would find other ways to feed their addictions and make ends meet. I also reject to the author using the term 'tart' to refer to prostitutes. Either treat people with respect or don't talk about them at all. How would he like it if I referred to him constantly as something very rude? Also, I wonder, how could he even begin to understand what might drive a woman (or a man, for that matter) into a life of prostitution? Blaming drugs is very handy - it's a faceless evil. Looking at society's constructions that lead people to take drugs and to move into this kind of lifestyle is much more demanding. Which is why no-one wants to do it.

Also, a friend pointed out that the news coverage constantly refers to the victims of these murders as 'girls' - they were not girls, they were women. How interesting that even though this is such a serious issue, the victims themselves are not being taken seriously.

My heart and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims of these awful murders and to those who work and live in the area.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's a sad day in hollywood

Clooney mourns death of his pig:

Clooney, 45, added that he had no plans to replace the pet. "I think Max covered all my pig needs," he said.

Earlier this year Clooney took the pig for a flight in John Travolta's private jet, declaring afterwards that Max "absolutely loved it".

My mum always wanted one of those pigs.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Been a while since I posted...

... so there's a few things I wanted to mention.

Dave's blog (link below) has a rather good entry from yesterday about beating suspicious debating assumptions - something I should be reminded of frequently! Thanks Dave ;o)

A moving comment piece in today's guardian:,,1942826,00.html

I saw someone from the Israeli army yesterday on the news apologizing for the erroneous strike on Beit Hanoun that killed 18 members of the same family ( Perhaps it's not a particularly Christian view to take, but I found myself thinking that they'd sacrificed their right to be sorry when they purchased those weapons. I know that forgiveness is ultimately available to all who repent, but his words just seemed meaningless to me.

On a lighter note, I think this is a great idea:
Cyber tabloid will cover all the news that's virtually true,,1941903,00.html
maybe someone could set up a rival paper... mind you, there are probably already more by now. I wonder if it has radio stations yet. One of my colleagues is doing some work on the issue of online spirituality, and I bet there's huge scope for Christian involvement in online environments like Second Life.

It looks like they're not far off making the late pope a saint:
I think the concept of the sainthood of certain people can be helpful in identifying those who are inspirational role models, or who have something to teach us even today. However, I think there's a very real danger that we see these people as spiritual superhereos, utterly divine and devoid of humanity. It's very easy to forget that according to Paul, we are all saints (no, not the Appleton sisters) - that's what it means to be a member of Christ's church in the world (by which I mean in all denominations). The Saints identified by the Roman Catholic Church are important, but only if we remember their humanity. They show us what we're capable of in Christ - anything! Most of my favorite saints are still alive and kicking.

Thought-provoking article in the Times from yesterday:
Muslims in Glass Houses,,172-2442565,00.html
I don't know enough about the issues to agree wholeheartedly with the author, but he raises some interesting points. However, he does comment that 'The reason we hear so little about religious oppression in the Muslim world is straightforward: young Christians in the West don't become radicalized, and persecuted Christians tend not to respond with violence". That may currently be true, but Christianity must always be aware of its violent past in periods such as that of the Crusades. We don't have to keep apologizinging for things, but the good and the bad exist as part of our heritage and must be remembered.

This woman simply can't take a joke:
Linda Stein says:
"In humor or art theory, you could argue that his statement is so ridiculous that the very utterance of it proves the reverse, and therefore is an unmasking of his character's small mindedness. Some of Borat's most famous segments do just that, such as when the comic, who is Jewish, cajoles patrons in a country-western bar to sing 'Throw the Jew down the well' to expose covert anti-Semitism. But what exactly is he trying to unmask when he ridicules women?"
Perhaps covert misogyny? I cannot see how his jokes about Jews are any more or less offensive than those about women. Whether Sacha Baron Cohen had a moral agenda to expose bigotry, or whether that was a happy side-effect, the Borat movie is funny. It is inoffensive simply because it sets out to offend everyone and does so in such a ridiculous manner. I loved it.

That'll do for now, methinks.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Time for a wake-up call

Women's lives 'no better' in new Afghanistan

Deeply saddening. The headline doesn't do it justice.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pop mogul-turned-pastor pledges cash to help firemen in gay row

I love that headline.,,171-2429368,00.html

I've met this guy and he seems very nice. It's a shame, though, that he quotes the story of Sodom as a scripture against homosexuality. I think even my cat could recognize that this text is not about homosexuality. It's about gang rape and violation of hospitality.

If it is about homosexuality, it's certainly not any form that I would recognise, nor would most people I know.

Isn't it interesting that no one ever seems to comment on the fact that Lot offers his daughters as a substitute. Good old Lot.

Freud got there first,,171-2428935,00.html

Does anyone else wish that Richard Dawkins would get a new tune? Ok, I get it, he doesn't believe in God. And...? Does he not feel he has anything further to contribute to society?

It's not his arguments that annoy me - we all need to engage with these issues and be willing to debate them and grow from that. But I do object to his arrogance. And the fact that he doesn't seem to be able to work on any other theories. If he really doesn't believe in God, why waste all this time talking about it?

He raises interesting issues about what we usually term 'religious experience', but I'm rather tired of his arguments. Besides, Freud got there first.

Why is it that when I talk to God, I'm praying, but when God talks to me, I'm schizophrenic? Dawkins says little about the very real transformation that can occur in a person as the result of personal faith and these seemingly 'unreal' experiences. I'm not talking about a simple change in thinking or feeling - these can be brought about by many things and are often temporary. But there is something to be said about a change that happens within a person as a result of such experiences and, more importantly, a lived faith in Jesus.

He also critiques Aquinas' proofs, which is probably a good thing. We need to be able to criticism even our own spiritual heritage. Not sure how relevant this is for modern-day Christians, though - I don't think I have ever met anyone converted to Christianity through the 'proofs'.

Oh well, good luck to him.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

final ranty note...

There's an interesting couple of debates going on over on Dave's blog, although I reckon he's misunderstood me over my comments on the veils debate.

Oh, and one final ranty story for the day, though it's a couple of days old now:

I don't think I'm allowed to say exactly what I'd like to about this guy, but it ain't particularly nice.

But I like the idea of part-time work on full-time pay...

Feeling in a particularly ranty mood today.

First off, what's all this about Prince Charlie taking on the title 'Defender of Faith'? What does that even mean??? If the Buddhists are having a row with the Christians, who does he defend?

Though I have to say, I'm not particularly fussed that he should be the defender of my faith, thank you very much. That said, it's cool that he wants a multi-faith coronation. I think it should be representative of the people of England.

And another thing, there was a letter in the Daily Mail today (or was it the Express?) by someone who was outraged that the Archibishop of Canterbury had not spoken out to defend the woman who works for BA and has been told she can't wear her cross to work.

Who is he, her father??!! She seems to be doing a pretty good job of defending herself.

Oh, and Naomi Campbell has been arrested for assault again:
Good grief, that woman's going to set a record. Gotta love the T Shirt though.

And, another favourite article for the day, Chris De Burgh proves his miraculous healing powers...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Check out Dave's blog - it's cool

Here's a great blog to check out for all those with theological leanings:

Dave is an all-round top bloke and one of my favourite theologians. His blog's got a bit more of an academic and spiritual emphasis to mine, which is great for people like me who are complete geeks but don't quite have the brain power to work through it on our own.

He's also my best mate's fiance - hurrah!

Dave - sorry about the late posting! This week's been crazy.
Day's not got off to a grand start - freezing when I got up and the nightmare journey into work. Oh well, sitting on my butt on the train floor again I had another nice chat with a lady from St Margaret's Church in Rainham. Lovely lady, who was reading a Christian book about 'Growing Leadership'. Not sure I could handle that at 7am, but she seemed to be doing pretty well.

One of my coursework tasks is to review a book on Spirituality and History. Bought the book. Put it by my bed. That was two weeks ago. I couldn't bring myself to read it - my brain's mullered enough already. But last night was a major victory - I read the Preface and two pages of the Introduction - yay me!! The worst bit is always actually starting these things. Now it doesn't feel so scary.


Friday, October 20, 2006

the worst prisons in Asia...

...are apparently in North Korea, according to the nice chap I met on the train this morning. There were no free seats so we both had to sit on our butts on the floor - pretty undignified, but I'm pretty sure that 7am knows no dignity full stop. Anyway, turns out I was chatting to the editor of the Bill (ITV's police drama).

There's someone I didn't expect to meet this morning.

My favourite news story of the day (thanks to Toby):

All hail the Knicker Vicker!

Also interesting to see that the 'Veil Row' seems to be continuing in the press. There's an interesting letter in the Independent today by a Muslim woman who comments that the veil as helps to preserve the life of the family and quash promiscuity.

I only have a very limited understanding of Islam, but it seems to me that by placing the responsibility of this solely on the woman, the implication is either that she is the one who would initiate such advances, or that the poor men just wouldn't be able to help themselves if they happened to see her face. Surely this is degrading to both sexes? Read the article and make up your own mind. Radio four also did a very good documentary on this issue, which is probably still available on the Listen again feature:

All this said, it's clear that the current public debate is not about women's rights, but the fear of something different and the fear of segregation, and in many ways this certainly doesn't seem helpful, especially to those women who choose to wear the veil and are not given the respect that they deserve.

I think that a debate about the wearing of the veil and its implications for the role of women in Islam is to be welcomed, although I guess it should take place predominantly within the faith and the community of those who understand the issues involved.

ho hum...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New blog, same me

Been meaning to get into this blogging lark for a while now, and I'm so proud to have finally got my head round it.

Here's a funky site to get started on:

A must for those with a sweet tooth! It helpfully also has a diet blog so those shifting the pounds can chart their progress, leave tips and check out their BMI.

Not sure the two aspects of the site are entirely compatible, but you gotta admire them for trying. As someone who's managed to slim down quite a bit, I know I appreciated moral support like this. Not sure I'd want to share my progress with the world though.