P.S.

Welcome to p.s., an email and web discussion forum from Contemporary Christianity.

We issue p.s. every every month. In line with our aims, it seeks to "provide informed, credible and practical comment and analysis, rooted in biblical reflection and theological thought" on contemporary matters of broad public concern in Ireland.

We are aiming to engage Christian minds with issues in the public square, to inject new perspectives and provoke discussion.

 
Please note that the statements and views expressed in this articles are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.

Click on any of the issues raised, think about what is said and leave any comments you wish.

A CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY BOARD MEMBER WRITES…

I will never forget this day one year ago. Friday 24th June 2016 was a day of shellshock in my office – much more so, in actual fact than 9/11 fifteen years before it. But as we’ve since been told many times ‘Brexit means Brexit’, and for good or ill, that which seemed preposterous has become a kind of normal. Continue reading

A EUROPEAN LIVING IN NORTHERN IRELAND WRITES…

The first time I stepped foot on Northern Irish soil was a few days after our wedding almost 25 years ago. We had spent some days in London after getting married in my native Sweden, and having previously lived in London, I thought Belfast couldn't be that different. Sweden had joined the EU just a couple of weeks prior to our Big Day, which meant that I didn't have to apply and pay for a visa to stay in the UK. Continue reading

A CHRISTIAN FROM THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND WRITES…

So it looks like one of the world's most significant political and trade borders is going to be drawn across the leafy lanes and modern motorways that join the two parts of Ireland. At present you are able to move back and forth without noticing apart from being careful about speed limits, and having some "foreign money" in your pocket. (And no you can't drive at 120 mph on our motorways! And ok they will not take your Sterling coins at the M1 toll-booth but try getting them to take Northern Ireland notes in a Turkish fruit shop in North London! I have - they don't!) Continue reading

A CHRISTIAN WHO VOTED LEAVE WRITES…

We should be very cautious when someone tells us that they can interpret history’s direction. Nevertheless, events over the centuries suggest large multinational political units have not fared well. That intuition is reinforced by the warning that humanity’s quest to achieve greater political centralisation is ancient and sinful- a reasonable interpretation of Genesis chapter 11, verses 1 to 9 and especially verse 6. Continue reading

A CHRISTIAN WHO VOTED REMAIN WRITES…

 

On 23rd June 2016 I celebrated my 28th birthday. On the same day I also voted to Remain in the EU. My wife and I celebrated another year of life with a good old fashioned Northern Irish chippy, followed by French cheese, Spanish wine and Italian bread, and I went to bed really hoping I would get the birthday present I voted for. Alas, it was not to be and the contentment of an evening of good food and company soon passed away to be replaced by a feeling of unease. Continue reading

PS: THE EU REFERENDUM – ONE YEAR LATER

Next week will see the first anniversary of the UK Referendum and our collective national decision to leave the EU. The vote was finely balanced with Leave edging Remain by a margin of just 52 to 48. Brexit remains a source of formidable passion on both sides of its divide and will dominate political life in the UK for many years to come. Continue reading

Clouds – maligned and ignored!

I admit to not appreciating clouds – we simply have too many of them in this corner of the globe – although we had a welcome cloud-free few weeks in May this year.  Sunlight is usually in short supply; plant and crop growth are hugely dependent on it.  It’s a very different story in most other parts of the world where the sun shines relentlessly, where plant growth is instead limited by lack of water and urban communities either do not have water at all or else it’s in short or interrupted supply.

But I’ve been prompted to re-think my attitude to clouds when recently a Bible teacher said that ‘clouds signified God’s power’.  So I went in search of clouds in the Bible….

As well as being a visible sign of God’s presence to the Israelites as they wandered in the desert for 40 years (Ex. 13:21), clouds – black, dark, dense – appear in the poetry of the OT authors as they strive to portray God’s otherness (Deut. 4:11; 2 Sam. 22:11; Ps. 18:9 & 11; Ps.97:2; Nahum 1:13, etc.).  And it wasn’t just clouds but also darkness that was associated with God – ‘deep darkness’ (Deut. 4:11), ‘thick darkness’ (Ps 97:2).  I wonder how much of our emphasis on God as being light comes from our living in a relatively cloudy and dull part of the world.  We really don’t see much that’s positive about clouds at all.

In dry regions clouds promise rain – think of Elijah scanning the horizon after telling Ahab that God was sending rain.  Where rainfall is low, clouds are noticed when they appear.  They’re rare and they’re conspicuous.  Clouds also provide shade and even create their own breezes, so providing a welcome relief from the brightness and the heat of the sun. 

So what, we might say, in the context of our cloudy skies?  In the clear blue skies that are normal in the Sinai and in Israel, any cloud appearing would be remarkable and dramatic.  They might even make the occasion memorable. 

Realising this helped me read some Biblical stories with fresh eyes:  the cloud covering the Tent of the meeting (Ex. 40:34-38; Numbers 9:15-23); the Transfiguration; Jesus’ ascension being hidden by a cloud (Acts 1:9); Jesus’ return in a cloud (Matt. 24:30 & 26:64; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27; Rev. 1:7).  It’s intriguing how clouds are a significant part of these accounts where the Three-in-one is present to and with us on this planet.

I’m reminded of Joni Mitchell’s song:

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Might my awe at who God is be increased if I understood clouds better?  Joni Mitchell went on to look at love and life in this song, having been inspired to write it by watching clouds from above in an airplane.  May we be stretched in our knowledge of God and be inspired to worship Him more deeply through being willing to look at familiar objects, etc. in fresh ways.

Ethel White.

Ethel White is a research scientist in agriculture.

The right to free speech

In 2012 a furore erupted across South Africa following the public exhibition of a painting by a ‘white’ South African artist, Brett Murray. Expressing a strand of public perception relating to the numerous scandals surrounding Jacob Zuma, the current President of South Africa, it depicts the President in a Lenin-like fashion with his genitals exposed. As well as the painting being vandalised shortly after it was displayed, some even called for the artist to be stoned to death for the way he had insulted the President.  A fascinating debate followed raising the question of why something one might have thought as an acceptable form of political commentary within the context of a democracy could provoke such an impassioned response. Continue reading

Living as a minority.

Nepal’s new Constitution, adopted on 20th September 2015 established it as a secular state and provided freedom to profess and practice one’s own religion. The Constitution prohibited changing one’s religion and so any activities considered to be encouraging a person to convert from one religion to another can be deemed illegal. Religious behaviour disturbing public law and order and behaviour contrary to public health, decency and morality was banned. Minority religious leaders and human rights’ lawyers have expressed concern that the ban could make religious minorities vulnerable to persecution for preaching or public displays of faith[1].

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How to vote on Thursday

(Note: This PS was originally published on Steve Stockman's blog Soul Surmise and is used with permission.)
 
I am a roving voter who takes serious consideration of a range of issues before deciding who to vote for and in what order. Well, actually I vote for everyone. It is the order that is obviously crucial!
 
The first thing I have done over this campaign, and all those before it, is to neutralise the colours on the front of the manifesto leaflets and posters. I refuse to let our politicians insult my intelligence or use fear tactics in order to manipulate my vote. The UK/Irish border is NOT at stake in this election. If there is ever a Referendum on that issue we can surmise on it then. Not this Thursday!
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