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

Resisting without imposing

In the 1980s Lesslie Newbigin argued that the modern multicultural worldview simply did not have the resources to stand up against absolutist worldviews. Sadly the rise of radical Islam and the results of the EU referendum and US presidential election seem to be proving him right. As postmodern thinkers have often pointed out, worldviews come at a price. Because they are comprehensive in scope and because they depend on a particular narrative of the world they have a tendency to become absolutist ideologies. They tend to negate all other visions, describing them as deviant or disruptive. Continue reading

Different God – Different People

tio logoGod is different from us. His thoughts, His ways, His perspectives are different from ours. In fact, He is so different that He cannot be known by us unless He chooses to be known. Everything we know about God is because God has chosen to reveal it to us.  What He does reveal is how different He is and that how, by coming to know Him personally, we too become different.  Indeed, we become so different from those without a personal relationship with God that we stand out and often find ourselves in conflict with a secular worldview. What the Church has to offer the world is found in its difference from the world. The world needs the Church but what happens when this difference is eroded by the delusion of sameness?  Simply, the Church then has little or nothing to offer the world that the world does not already have.  Sooner or later, it becomes impotent and irrelevant. Yet, by not fearing its own difference and by having confidence in the difference released through the gospel and the Spirit, the Church can offer wisdom unattainable by any other means or agency to wider society. My passion is that the Church would discover and share its wisdom about people with intellectual disabilities; people who bring the gift of difference. The Church needs to sing a new song. First it needs to learn it. Yet, in reality, the power of people with intellectual disabilities often stuns and/or scares the Church. Practice (finding solutions) is sought without theology (forming a spiritual foundation) and ecclesiology (facing up to what/who Church is for). Do we simply need to re-discover how revolutionary we are?  Perhaps my young daughter Amy (who has Down syndrome) can help? Continue reading