Moral dilemma

August 31, 2004

Here’s a joke I heard, apologies if it offends.

You are the President of the USA. NASA scientists call you up and tell you that there is a meteorite headed towards France which will obliterate everyone and everything living there in three days time at 4am in the morning. French culture will be destroyed forever.

As the President of the USA, you have at your disposal the Armed Forces to move to France and evacuate everyone living there before the meteorite strikes in the middle of the night. However, all your armed forces are currently fighting in Iraq. Do you:

a) Set the VCR to record the meteorite obliterating France at 4am? Or

b) Stay up and watch it live on CNN?

Had me in stitches lol


Therese pt 2

August 31, 2004

Therese wrote some comments in relation to something I posted a few days back, so I’ll write some more. She wrote:

Hi Sven.

What is it that makes a Christian plastic and bubble-wrapped to you? To be dismissive and blame everything on Satan? Is it to not have suffered real pain in your life, and not really having stopped to think about those who have, thus having had no real need for deep emotionally complex thoughts involving God and His purpose? (Not that we could ever even begin to know what that is..) I’m curious and would like to hear more of your thoughts on that, if you’re willing to share.

And what it is that defines life in “the real world” to you?

Oh, one more. What is “doing” Christianity? Is it “doing” as opposed to “being”? I don’t get the distinction.

Therese

1. Well, where to start? I think what I had in mind when I said ‘plastic and bubble-wrapped Christians’ (I had some specific people in mind) are those who have spent their entire lives in Church (as have I) to the extent that it colours every last part of their worldview and experience. Their ideas of converting people to Christianity is to convert them to a white middle class pietism that is alienated totally from the values and culture of those they are trying to reach. It’s the spiritual equivalent of having an ‘Little Englander’ island mentality, i.e. assuming your way of living and believing is the correct one, and that diversity (even within the same faith) is undesirable.

I say they are alienated from real life because they are not engaged with the rest of the world. I go to bars for example, but other Christians would be mortified that I did. I listen to metal music, they would be (are) convinced that such lifestyle practices are wholly incompatible with a holy life. That’s because their ideas of holiness are based upon being exclusive and shutting out the world, rather than embracing the world with love and mercy and so transforming it.

2. A lot of Christian thinking I come across is more of a primitive superstition that attributes good to God and evil to Satan, as though we are some small pawns in an eternal game of cosmic chess. The result of thinking this way is that when ever something dark happens, (for example, someone has depression, their house gets robbed, they get a speeding ticket) it is attributed to ‘Satan’ which results in people stigmatising the person involved, and if you’re unlucky they’ll pray for you or rather command Satan to stop doing things to you in a loud voice.

It misses the entire point and trivialises the problem of suffering, and far from listening to those who are genuinely suffering and encouraging them, it simply lays the blame on the devil and so excuses the Christians from actually doing anything of real meaning or help.

3. Life in ‘the real world’ means engaging with the real world as Christian and looking horizontally to the future which God has promised, rather than abandoning hope for the world and huddling together waiting for God to drop out of the sky and sort everyone out in the way we think they should be. It means looking outward and opening yourself up to others, not isolating yourself in a spiritual ghetto.

4. ‘Doing’ and ‘being’ – sound quite similar, but in there are some important differences. ‘Doing’ has to do with function and role play. For example, I am a waiter, I ‘do’ my job and then go home and am no longer a waiter until I go to work again.

‘Being’ on the other hand, is bound up with ideas of relationship and community, rather than function. I am a son because I have a mum and a dad. I am always a son, I don’t do it. Modern thinking ties up the worth of a person in what they do. The only trouble is that as soon as they stop ‘doing’ what is important, they lose their worth and value in society’s eyes. That’s why the unborn, the unemployed and the elderly are treated so poorly in modern technological consumer societies. They don’t do anything, they don’t produce anything, and so are of less value.

Christianity recognises the worth of a person based upon their relationship to God. God loves everyone because he is Love, not because they are doing something to impress him. The value of a person is defined by relationship, not by function. That’s why people have value, and why it is possible to forgive someone no matter what they have done, because as a person they are still of worth.

It’s also why Christianity can NEVER be reduced to morals, or simply a list of ‘dos’ and ‘dont’s’, because it is a way of living in relationship to God, not a list of tasks to perform to keep you on the road to heaven. I am aware that God loves me, and that he loves everyone else and so I too can love them and view them with hope and kindness, rather than judge and criticise them. They are always valuable and always important, because they are important to God.

That said, you’ll be aware if you’ve read a lot of my posts, that I still fall short of this by some way.

I think I also wrote about ‘doing’ Christianity, which I shouldn’t have done. My bad 😉


Mental note

August 31, 2004

It’s after 3am and there’s more stuff I want to blog, but am getting tired:

Coming soon:

* Therese left me more comments which I need to respond to, go and read her blog.
* My new band
* Moral dilemma
* ‘Fat people, and what they want’ – answered at last.


Work…is it really necessary?

August 31, 2004
It is now over four years since I left school, so little did I expect to turn up to work this evening and be told off like a schoolboy. What was my terrible crime? Well let’s catch up with the drama as it unfolds…
It is just after 5pm at Britain’s favourite restaurant. Sven appears and is ready to start work.
Co-worker: Ooo, Steve. I’m glad I’m not in your shoes, you’re so dead. Sam is well angry with you.
(Sven thinks: Hmmm. What could I have done?)
Enter Sam. He is actually an OK bloke, but on this occasion is a snivelling jobsworthy who is going to patronise me to the point that I want to write ‘nob’ on his forehead with a big black felt-tip pen. Think ‘Gareth Keenan’.
Sam: Steve, as you know, I am a reasonable man, but this takes the biscuit.
(Sven thinks: ‘Well that’s a relief. I though you were a crazed impulsive bezerker for a moment there. And where is the biscuit being taken? Do its parents know?’)
Now usually when I come into work on a Sunday morning, I like to have a cup of coffee for an hour before work, and then I clean the Ice Cream Factory.
(Sven thinks: ‘No time for your life story sunshine, gerron with it.’)
But unfortunately this Sunday morning I had to spend TWO HOURS finishing off the job you should have done last night, and was unable to have my coffee as usual.
(If you listen carefully, you can hear a violin playing very faintly in the background.)
Me: What am I supposed to have done, or not done?
Sam: Well as you are aware, we have a lot a fruit flies that breed on food that is left lying around. They only have a 24 hour life cycle, and so when I come in here and find flies on a Sunday, I know that someone who worked on Saturday did not clean up properly. That person is you.
(Violin stops suddenly. There is a dramatic pause.)
I found a piece of chicken behind the bin Steve.
(Sven laughs inwardly at the absurdity of the situation. Outwardly he gawps in disbelief that anyone could have actually been waiting two days to tell him off for such an offence. I mean so what? Most people in the world are starving.)
Furthermore*, you also left a pair of tongs in the lettuce overnight. Are you beginning to see why I am angry? (Well, no.)
(*The use of this word clearly indicates that he had prepared his sermon-cum-lecture over the weekend and probably rehearsed it in front of the mirror.)
Tongs do not stay in the salad overnight Steve. You know that.
(Sven thinks: ‘Well I’m sure that all the other vegetables were positively scandalized when they heard that the lettuce had spent the night alone with a pair of tongs. What did the Police say when you called them to investigate? I imagine it was something like ‘Stop wasting our time. This is not important at all, in any way.’)
Sven turns his head 180 degrees and stares out of the opposite window to the one he has been staring out of previously.
I’m not happy. Not happy at all. Not only did you leave the tongs in the salad and fail to pick up a piece of chicken from behind the bin, you also left the salad bar on overnight.
Sven: It’s not my job to turn the salad bar off. I don’t have the keys required to do it.
Sam: Perhaps, but you did leave beetroot and tomato in the fridge instead of throwing them in the bin.
(continues in similar vein for the best part of ten minutes. During the course of the rest of the trial/lecture, Sven is charged with 26 counts of NOT refilling the small pots of Parmesan cheese, not turning the dishwasher off, strafing Vietnamese civilians in 1969, dealing smack to children, failing to stop at a red light, perjury, not refilling the coleslaw tubs properly, smuggling weapons grade Plutonium into Iran, not taking the problem of fruit flies seriously, farting, stealing the crown jewels etc etc…Sven becomes disinterested to the point of actually physically being in a coma.)
So next time you have to close the restaurant, I want you to think more carefully about what you do.
Sven: Ok. Was that everything?
Sam: Yes, for now. But please remember you are working as part of a team, and that means commitment, drive, focus…
(Sven thinks: ‘Say one more patronising word, and I will actually yell ‘BUM!’ really loudly in your face and tell everyone you still wet the bed.’)
Sam finishes talking and smugs off to lecture someone else. Sven is left infuriated that he has actually been spoken to in such a way and contemplates the options that now lie before him. Does he a) sulk b) whinge internally to himself c) Tell Rambo what happened d) Pre-empt Rambo and blow up the whole restaurant (including fruit flies) with a flamethrower?
Thus far, I am mostly stuck at points a) and b), though headed towards d).
THE END….?

Conclusion: Jobsworthies shall be crushed.

This has really annoyed me for some reason. Grrrraaaaaagh.


…Matt update..Matt update…Matt update…

August 31, 2004

My housemate (Matt) has asked me to update the world on life after his modelling adventures. Now maybe I’m wrong, but this whole thing smacks of a SCAM.

After the initial glamorous ‘free’ photoshoot in the fashion capital that is Bolton, the lucky winners of the free photoshoot were to be selected to be put in the catalogue (the catalogue being the place that advertisers look through when they want to recruit people.)

Quel surprise then, when the producers of said catalogue call Matt back and congratulate him on having being selected to appear in their brochure. The snag? To be listed on their database, you have to cough up the sum of £200. Hmm.

Fully expect to NOT see Matt’s face on a billboard near you soon.


Bored?

August 30, 2004

I have four fish that live in my living room, or rather, in a tank in my living room. Many people say that fish are relaxing pets – this is true, but they are relaxing only because they do not do anything except wander round waiting for food. This is boring, and turns my fish from a potentially relaxing household pet into a tedious chore that requires feeding twice a day.

So imagine my delight when I came across Insaniquarium, a game that not only lets you feed your fish without having to leave your desk, but they also poo money and occasionally you get to shoot lasers at the aliens that invade their tank. Brilliant.

Alternatively if you get bored or stressed, you can now write your own punk music online.


Life in general

August 28, 2004

The last few months have been very strange, especially the last three weeks. I’m not sure why, but I became very withdrawn from everyone and very isolated. Part of it was deliberate – you just don’t get any free space and quiet in the middle of the city, but part of it was weird. It’s been a long time since I had anything like proper depression, and when I do it’s usually because I’m being inwardly stubborn about something.

I get angry at God, angry at other people and disillusioned with life in general. I hate it because there’s no rest in it, but then part of me enjoys it. A nasty tension to be in.

Anyhow, something changed in the last few days. I think I just gave up running from God, I can’t remember why I was now. I think it’s just the frustrations that build up – one of my biggest was a stubborn refusal to ‘do’ Christianity because there are so many Christians who really irritate me. Not all of them, but the ones who are plastic and bubble-wrapped and have absolutely no idea about life in the real world. They live in a world where problems are dismissed with proof texts and/or by yelling at Satan, and where any real suffering and lament is totally foreign.

I have no problem with Jesus though, even if many of his disciples frustrate me. I just need to be closer to him. God is light, and through his eyes we are able to see the whole world correctly and are able to love it and embrace it as he does. That’s the place to be I think.