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Showing posts from February, 2008

Breaking the Silence

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Have gone dark over the past two weeks because I was changing over my computer and working silly hours trying to clear the decks for a study trip I'm leading for CCWA and the Dept. of Social Development to Pittsburgh, USA next week looking at the state of the Faith-Based community sector there.
Don't quite know whether I'm looking forward to it or not... Still have heaps to sort out before I go... But I plan to blog daily when I am over there... Whether anyone else reads them or not, it will at least help me to process my thoughts...
So... next time I type something here, it will hopefully be from the home of the brave and the land of the freedom fries...

Party Political Priorities

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I could never be said to be a staunch supporter of DUP politics, or particularly of Ian Paisley Junior, but I have felt a little uneasy about the headlong pursuit of him by the baying pack of media hounds recently. Yes he seems to have been receiving more full time salaries than it would seem possible to deserve... Yes his handling of the Giant's Causeway shenanigans has more than a wiff of self-interest in it... Yes his constituency lobbying during the St Andrew's talks seems a tad inappropriate... and his personal financial affairs seem a little nepotistic... But I do wonder whether the media only noticed all of this because of who his father is. One conspiracy theorist recently suggested to me that his comments about homosexuality offended key people in the media (because we all know that those in the media are predominantly homosexual, being the sub-text). Another suggested that he has been fingered for attack by someone within the party. Anyway... for whatever reason, it …

The Law that Liberates

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Have you ever opened your mouth and said something only to think afterwards “I wish I hadn’t said that!” I do it all the time…
Well this week I wonder whether Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had a similar feeling after the British media whipped up a storm in the wake of him suggesting that it was inevitable that some aspects of Muslim Sharia law would be incorporated into British law…
As it was reported you would think that he had suggested the stoning of rape victims and the cutting off of thieves’ hands… (and given that many of the papers criticising him would suggest that such punishments would be going easy on thieves, I don't know what their problem is!) What he was actually advocating, was the recognition of the legal standing of some of the Sharia councils already active across Britain, operating, not in the field of criminal, but civil and family law, including the power to marry and divorce. He suggested giving these councils legal recognition in exchange for …

The Rich Man in His Castle

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Just come across something that has REALLY got my goat...
Currently I minister in Ballybeen, the second largest housing scheme in Northern Ireland, with all of the attendant problems that 1960s housing schemes have anywhere in the western world, and a few extra that are due to the nature of our little local difficulties over the past 40 years.
It has a high level of teen parents, single parents and blended families; large numbers of senior citizens; low educational attainment; a large level of debt problems; high levels of unemployment (all local manufacturing has now been discontinued).
Into the middle of this a local developer is planning to parachute a prestige, gated apartment complex called Skye Buildings. No mention of Ballybeen in any of the publicity... but its OK... even if those buying do realise where it is, the gates should reassure them that the peasants will be kept safely at a distance.
This is gentrification at it's worst. No sense of integration within the community.…

Healthy Fundamentalism

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Just a quickie. My wife pointed out this morning, a story on the BBC website about some research at Queens University that suggests that religious denomination can be a factor in health and mortality.
Apparently Catholics had higher death rates. The report claims this is based on a demonstrable link between this and deprivation... nothing to do with a more relaxed attitude within the Catholic community to drinking, smoking etc?
Strangely, Anglicans had the highest risk of dying from heart disease while Methodists have a reduced risk accidental death... In the latter case it is probably because Methodists are totally risk-averse!!! But I don't quite understand the former... Any suggestions? The most striking statistic, however, is that fundamentalists lived longest and had the lowest risk of dying from lung cancer or alcohol related diseases. I know now that there are those who will claim that this is a glowing endorsement of the lifestyle advocated by those of a more conservative, fu…