Heated Debates & Graceful Responses

Over the weekend Christian, theologian, song-writer & blogger Vicky Beeching tweeted her support for the now legal equal marriage law in the UK and then spent the day receiving a variety of contrasting opinions in response. I wasn’t surprised that people had contrasting opinions however the tone of the tweets sent to her from people who call themselves Christian were shocking (Vicky started retweeting some of these!)

These tweets were the final trigger for me to actually write this post, the topic for which I’ve been thinking about for several weeks as I’ve read various stories including Christians dropping support for World Vision following their decision to allow married homosexual couples to work for them in the states (and have since retracted that policy) and seeing the Dr Christian ‘Cure Me, I’m Gay’ programme a couple of weeks back amongst other things.

This blog isn’t specifically about homosexuality it just happens that the triggers for me writing this come from publicity around it. The debate around women bishops is often equally heated.

Let me start by stating 3 things:

1 - I don’t have a problem with Christians having a variety of views, the bible isn’t always black and white and there’s always been a variety of opinions drawn from it.

2 - I think there is a time and place to challenge people on their views.

3 - I have personally found that as I’ve got older, looked more into things in the bible, grown in my relationship with God and developed my thinking that my views have changed. If people didn’t engage in discussions of faith then this probably wouldn’t happen.

The problem is the way in which some Christians go disagreeing. The tweets Vicky Beeching received over the weekend included people calling her a heretic, aggressively telling her to read her bible, telling her she would be going to hell, sending an horrific ‘women shouldn’t speak’ meme based on a verse in 1 Timothy and various other blunt and unloving responses.

I accept that there will be Christians who don’t agree with same-sex marriage but I feel like often with the church and disagreements theology gets pulled to the front and people pushed to the back which, in my opinion is the complete opposite to the example of Jesus!

My interpretation of Jesus and his teaching is summarised best in 3 ways;

1 - Jesus looked at the needs of individuals

2 - Jesus radically challenged the interpretation of the scriptures at the time

3 - Jesus teaches us to look at ourselves before judging others (how can you remove the speck of dust from your brother’s eye when there’s a plank in yours!)

Whenever Jesus came into contact with people he did so in a way which didn’t remotely judge people, He spent much of his time hanging around with those society (especially the religious leaders) rejected and sometimes (e.g. the woman caught in adultery) advocating on their behalves.

It strikes me that it’s very easy with things like equal marriage to strike up arguments of it being unnatural, redefining marriage etc. without accepting that it has a big impact on individuals.

There is nothing wrong with healthy debate, in fact I think it’s really important that we discuss these issues however threatening, carelessly worded generalisations have no place in that, they don’t encourage an open, honest discussion on how 2 people can have different interpretations of scripture which are both equally valid.

In any discussion of issues that Christians disagree on we must to do in a way that is loving, non-judgemental and acknowledges that whilst for us it may just be an irrelevant issue in our own lives for other people the issue of whether they can marry the person they love is a deeply personal issue. In the World Vision debate pulling your support the poor and for those suffering injustice because of a policy in another country strikes me as blowing things out of all proportion.

Summary

So if we disagree we must do it in ways which;

- Acknowledge that the person & people we disagree with are loved children of God

- Encourage discussion are are not blunt or unloving in the way they are worded

- Take into account that the people we are talking about are individuals. If we’re making a general statement about women bishops that statement applies to each & every female priest ordained in the Church.

- Accept that we may actually be wrong…after-all the church spent a lot of time thinking slavery was fine. We make mistakes, we get things wrong and our thinking and understanding of the bible does change with time.

As always, feel free to comment and discuss this post. I’m perfectly open to changing my opinion!

(Note: I appreciate this blog has been a little heavy on the use of same-sex marriage as an illustration, it just happens that it’s been the issue that’s led me to writing this…had there been lots of press/tweets on whether it was ‘Christian’ or not to have tattoos this post would have used those!)

March’s Jam

This month I’ve been listening to a massive variety of music and in particular heavier albums seem to have spent lots of time playing on my iPod (alongside me still playing Colbie Caillat’s album over and over again!)

However there have been other artists I’ve also been listening to, so here are my 3 recommendations from March!

Sarah Darling

I came across Sarah Darling about a year ago and downloaded her EP ‘Home To Me’ and earlier this month ordered her album ‘Every Monday Morning’. Sarah Darling is probably best described as soft-country pop, sort of like a less commercial Taylor Swift. Her music is just really nice and chilled out to listen to and perfect for the few times the sun has come out whilst I’ve been in the car!

Paper Route

I’ve had both of Paper Route’s albums downloaded for a while and rediscovered their album ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ a couple of weeks back and have been listening to it again. I guess the best way to describe them is pop/rock/indie with a really full sound and beautiful production. When I downloaded their album is was also free making it a fantastic find overall!

Of Mice & Men

One of the albums I ordered late in February was ‘Restoring Force’ by Of Mice & Me after discovering them via Last.fm’s ‘similar to…’ feature. Restoring Force is a fairly heavy metal album similar to bands like Bring Me The Horizon and it’s incredibly good! It took a bit of getting into but it’s become an album I can really listen to in its entirety.

Playlist

Here is a YouTube playlist with a couple of songs of the above artists!

As always please comment with your own recommendations…I always enjoy discovering new music. You can also use the ask feature here

Cure Me, I’m Gay - Some Thoughts

Last night I watched Channel 4’s Undercover Doctor: Cure Me I’m Gay and thought I’d blog a few of my thoughts about the programme.

I approached this programme as a Christian and  as a straight male (although don’t like sports, quite like Adele and have mostly female friends!).


As an overall I felt like the programme was fairly well-balanced, I didn’t feel like it suggested that all Christians were anti-gay and pro treatment for homosexuals but it just happened that a lot of those people offering those treatments featured in the programme were Christian, or at least say they are. (I don’t know if therapies like this exist or are promoted in other religions or not.)

My only criticism of the programme was that it didn’t mention the large amounts of Christian’s who are pro-homosexual regardless of their own, individual sexuality.

A few other thoughts…

NHS treatment
One of the things that surprised me was that intensive aversion therapy was available on the NHS until the 80’s, I guess that shows how much our society has changed over the last 20/30 years and how our understanding of human sexuality has developed.

Manipulative Language
I think one of the things that concerned me the most about the Christian therapies was that those offering them often seemed to use language which painted a different picture to what was actually true.

The Doctor from America who made Dr. Christian colour in his brain didn’t really have any training in the field but used his Doctorate/Dr title to suggest otherwise, likewise the UK based evangelical healer with his exorcisms used an array of medical terms to make it sound like he knew what he was talking about.

As a Christian these people being economical with the truth is concerning,I felt the same when I watched Derren Brown’s programme about faith healers. Equally I was uneasy about people charging for these services, after all if it’s something they genuinely believe is what God wants them to be doing then surely they’d do it for free? Jesus never turned his healing into a business and I don’t believe God works like that, even Paul’s ministry was funded by his sideline as a tent maker.

Homosexual Therapy
The problem with homosexual therapy is that it doesn’t really work.

In the few books I’ve read, the interviews on the show and other news articles I’ve seen (including one ex-gay ministry closing) the pointers seem to suggest that ex-gay doesn’t mean feeling sexually attracted to the opposite sex but that it’s people making a choice to be in a heterosexual relationship regardless of attraction, which ultimately when you add an unknowing spouse, kids and it all falling apart becomes something incredibly harmful to all involved.

It was also interesting that none of the ex-gay people Dr. Christian met were willing to go through the scientific test to see if their therapy had really worked…it’s like someone claiming to have had a broken leg healed refusing to have an x-ray to check! 

Final thoughts
Overall I found the programme interesting, sadly I wasn’t shocked by the views of different Christian groups because it’s I expected to hear but I am disappointed because I didn’t feel like any of them really took the well being of the individual into account. However, I think this is a wider issue with the churches approach to homosexuality. More often than not it’s easy to make a judgement or mass statement about a group of people without taking into account the individuals in this group that are effected and hurt by the things said (perhaps that’s another blog in itself).

If you didn’t watch it I recommend giving it a watch. You can find it here.

February’s Jam

It turns out I’ve sucked at blogging this month however things have been pretty busy and I have been producing some content for giffgaff which I’ll round-up on a post next week sometime.

It is however that time when I write about the music I’ve been listening to in February (although Colbie Callait from January’s jam is still stuck on repeat!).

So here we go…

Cassadee Pope

Cassadee Pope was the lead singer of pop-punk band Hey Monday before releasing a solo EP and winning the Voice in America. Her debut solo album ‘Frame by Frame’ is something I’ve listened to a fair amount this month.

It’s by no-means a ‘blow you away’ album but does have some nice tracks on if you like soft country-pop (kind of Taylor Swift-ish)

Ally Burnett

My musical discovery of the month was Ally Burnett after reading that she had sue’d Owl City & Carly Rae Jepson because their song ‘Good Time’ sounded like her song ‘Oh, It’s A Love Song’ (other than the ‘oh’s they don’t at all!).

Her music is, again a little bit like Taylor Swift but with slightly more attitude. Ally has 3 EP’s to her name which I’ve downloaded and have enjoyed them quite a lot. In particular ‘Hell hath no fury like a songwriter scorned’ is a track I really like…largely due to the title!

Falling In Reverse

Finally and in complete contrast to the others I’ve been listening to a fair amount of rock/metal/random-genres-thrown-in band Falling in Reverse. I’ve had both their albums for quite a while but have rediscovered their second album ‘Fashionably Late’ this month and really enjoyed it again…their faster tracks are spot on for the treadmill too!

Playlist

Here’s a YouTube playlist of 2 of each artist. Enjoy…feel free to comment with recommendations. (Warning: Falling in Reverse swear a bit!)

January’s Jam

Ok so it’s not quite the end of January but I probably won’t have time to write this post any other time so here are my 3 favourite artists from January.

Colbie Caillat 

A friend mentioned Colbie Caillat’s album ‘All Of You’ as part of a Facebook tag and having a similar music taste I headed to Spotify to listen to her and promptly ordered the CD. 

I listen to a lot of music and often have albums on repeat but it’s a long time since I remember becoming as obsessed with an album as this one. All Of You is basically a beautiful pop record and spent most of January in my car stereo and being played in iTunes.

Billie Joe & Norah

Just before Christmas Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) and Norah Jones released a folk (?) album ‘Foreverly’ which I got for Christmas. It’s very different from what I usually listen to but is a really nice chilled out album perfect for rainy days sat in the warm.

Randy Rogers Band

I’ve had to come to terms in recent months that I like a little bit of country music. The Randy Rogers Band are one of those artists. I’ve had their album ‘Rollercoaster’ for quite a while and rediscovered it this month and also ordered their self titled record. The best way to describe RRB is country-rock and it’s nice to drive to or just listen to at home…in particular I love Randy Rogers strong accent which comes through in the songs.

Playlist

Have a listen to 6 tracks from the artists mentioned above below

My Top 5 Albums of 2013

Once again it’s time for my annual ‘Top Albums’ post. I think probably in the 7 years I’ve been writing these this has been the toughest year to choose my favourites (especially limiting to 5) but I’ve got there (eventually) and here they are (in no particular order).

1 - Skillet - Rise

Skillet have been around for years but I’ve never really listened to them but stumbled across their song ‘Sick of It’ earlier this year, headed to Deezer to listen to ‘Rise’ and promptly ordered the deluxe CD of rise.

Rise is an incredible rock album and doesn’t contain a single bad track, Skillet also seem to have this nice blend of sharing their faith without being overly Christian about it…which is nice. 

My favourite tracks are: Rise, Sick  of It, Salvation & Freakshow

2 - Bring Me The Horizon - Sempiternal (PA)

I discovered these guys at Leeds Festival when they played after New Found Glory and really liked them (although wasn’t convinced about the lead singer’s stage persona!). Sempiternal is a really heavy metal album with a fair amount of screaming making it one of the few metal albums I own.

Sempiternal is produced incredibly well, is lots of fun to listen to very loudly in the car and only really has 1 or 2 tracks I’m not so keen on. My favourite tracks are: Shadow Moses, The House of Wolves & Antivist.

3 - Fall Out Boy - Save Rock & Roll (PA)

2013 started off with Fall Out Boy announcing the end of their hiatus and they returned with (what I think is) their best album yet. Save Rock & Roll has a different feel to their other albums, it is still primarily a rock album but has clear influences from a variety of other genres. They also added a few extra people onto the record including Sir Elton John!

My favourite tracks are: The Phoenix, Young Volcanos & Save Rock & Roll.

4 - Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart (PA)

Adding to the diversity of music in this list Frank Turner’s acoustic/punk/folk album ‘Tape Deck Heart’ was another album I discovered by accident when he appeared on BBC Breakfast (I later saw him live at Leeds Festival).

Tape Deck Heart (deluxe edition in particular) is a great album and a lot of fun to listen to and even some of the slower tracks are ones that I really like on it. My favourite tracks are: Recovery, Losing Days, Tattoos & We Shall Not Overcome.

5 - Jimmy Eat World - Damage

The latest album in a long line of incredible albums from Jimmy Eat World continues where they’ve left off in the past but with enough evolution to be a progression. Damage is quite a short record with only 10 tracks but is really good.

My favourite tracks are: Book of Love, Steal You Back, Damage & You Were Good.

So there you go…my top 5 albums of 2013. I have a list of about 5 albums in front of me that didn’t quite make the cut…maybe I’ll post them another time. What were your favourite albums last year?

Have A Listen

I’ve added all these albums to a Spotify playlist which you can stream below. (Please be aware that some of the albums have naughty words in and so if you’re offended by this perhaps you’ll want to skip Bring Me The Horizon, Fall Out Boy & Frank Turner)

December’s Jam

The end of December seems to have rapidly crept up on me which means it’s time to write my ‘December’s Jam’ post…I’ll also be writing a ‘Top Albums of 2013’ in the next few days.

So without further-a-do here are my 3 music recommendations from December. (I’ll put a YouTube playlist with a few tracks at the end of this post)

Layla

A more independent/unknown artist seems to sneak into these and this month that happens to be Layla. Layla (aka Jose Vanders) released her 1st EP as Layla last year (The New Year EP) and then her second earlier this month (Yellow Circles EP). I’ve got both on CD and they’re just really nice, sweet pop and she has a really good voice too!

Jars of Clay

I’m not a huge fan of Jars of Clay however their Christmas EP is one of my favourite Christmas albums because it’s easy to listen to, well thought out and incredibly well produced…they’ve even reworked a few of the classics.

Simple Plan

I’ve been listening to Simple Plan for 10 years and they snuck out a little EP earlier in the month and it’s just good fun pop-punk and I really like it.

Playlist

Here’s a playlist of the artists mentioned above.

Party’s Over (Photography)

A couple of weeks ago I had an idea of taking some photos of party poppers in ‘action’ and so when I saw some in a shop I got some.

Today I spent some time playing around with the concept and discovered that I couldn’t actually catch the reaction of the popper exploding but could catch a few other things.

The full photo set is here but here are my favourites.
(The first photo was for my original ‘explosion idea’…to have control of the popper and camera I’d placed it in a music stand)

Party's Over 1

Party's Over 11

Party's Over 11

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