Holy Week – Monday to Wednesday

So we have to reached Monday in Holy Week. You think nothing happens on these days but you are wrong. 

The days between Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday are called Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday and (something I didn’t know) Spy Wednesday. What a great name but we will get to that in a minute, first Holy Monday.

Christian’s remember the anointing of Jesus at Bethany. A woman who is believed to be Mary (not the mother of Jesus) but another – who Jesus had previously forgiven  – pour ed some very expensive oil onto Jesus’ feet. There are some suggestions that she was partly in giving thanks for her forgiveness others say it was a way of calming him before he was put to death on the cross.

Mary_Magdalen_anointing_Christ_s_feet_(f._15v)_Cropped

The one thing that is noticed by others who witnessed this was that the oil was expensive and probably the equivalent to a year’s wages. Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus complained that it could have been sold to help the pour but Jesus knew it was an exemplary act of kindness.

Holy Tuesday is a day when some Christians will remember the prediction of Christ’s death. Some readings in the church are of the passion of Jesus. In other words, the time of Christ’s suffering in the days leading up to his crucifixion.

Spy Wednesday is a time when Christian’s will remember the beginning of the end. The time when all the doubts and fears of Jesus’ followers accumulate in the man that is about to betray Jesus. Some Christian’s will say that this is the time when true evil entered Judas’ heart and he plotted to hand Jesus over to the authorities. A time when they realise that Jesus will soon die.

Vitrail_Cathédrale_de_Moulins_160609_59

Parsons Green Tube bomber Ahmed Hassan sentenced to life

Teenager Ahmed Hassan is sentenced to life with a minimum term of 34 years after leaving a homemade bomb on a packed underground train.

He just looks like any other teenager. His hair is a little crazy and looks like he hasn’t slept or eaten a decent meal in weeks. But Ahmed Hassan is a convicted terrorist who brought shock and panic to the capital September last year.

4A3EFD7800000578-5505959-image-a-32_1521201126733 2

‘I sentence you to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years. You will have plenty of time to read the Koran in prison. The Koran is a book of peace. Islam forbids breaking the law of the land. Islam forbids terrorism. You have violated Islam and the Koran by your actions.’

These are the words of Mr Justice Haddon-Cave the judge who sentenced Hassan. These aren’t taken lightly and not out of malice. They aren’t words that have been used in the heat of radicalisation or without knowledge and experience. Yet there are those people still in this country who have no idea how and what Muslims believe. They have taken it upon themselves to be educated by tabloid newspapers and right-wing commentators who claim to speak for the ordinary working man.

I have seen all sorts of ridiculous claims over the last few months about misconceptions and blatant fallacies when it comes to Islam. I challenged one person who said ‘They never arrest any Muslims and send them to prison like they do to Britain First leaders’. I gave them numerous examples of how this wasn’t the case; facts don’t matter to them.

Islam is a religion of peace. I will say that until my dying day. It is those who chose to distort, lie and make up their own rules to suit their interpretations of Qu’ran. You can take any holy teachings or writings and mangle them to your own way of thinking. You will see the world how terrorists and right-wing commentators want you to see it that process is called radicalisation. You are believing misconceptions, biased opinions, perverted and altered for their own ends.

I want peace, calm and tranquillity. I want unity among people of different faiths, religions and practices. I want to live in a world were people of different backgrounds and countries can learn from each other. I want to know how and why people think they way they do and educate myself. Make myself a better person and not shutting myself off from other human beings. This planet is an amazing place. It is full of decent, wonderful, hardworking people who make a great contribution to it. Closing your mind to the world is ignorance.

Conspiracy theories the new religion

You used to be laughed at if you believed in conspiracy theories and not the truth. Now the tables are turned. You aren’t normal if you don’t believe in them. 

I am really having a hard time with the internet and humans at the moment. I have spoken a few years ago about the ridiculousness of conspiracy theories. People who have revisionistic ideas about how they view past events and some atrocities claiming certain things didn’t take place.

I want to know why people believe in conspiracy theories and can this be linked in the same way that humans attach religion to themselves by giving their lives meaning, purpose and hope.

The fact that as humans we look for an explanation of events and occurrences. We want to know why things happen. The part of our brain the amygdala is the thing that kick-starts the processes of emotion. It starts out processing fear of something so when we are confronted with that which should scare us into running eg. enormous cat with a mallet chasing after us.

Our evolutionary brain helps us decide that which is a real or false threat. Then we look for the reason why something happened. One assumes that in child-psychology and development as a young person grows constantly as the question  ‘why?’ – a characteristic that parents no doubt will attest.

Our brains are processing that all that information and it’s not to say some conspiracy theories are all false, some do in fact turn out to be true. Someone, like myself, claims to be a free-thinker we are able to process quite clearly that which is true and that which is complete bullshit.

Take for example these posts from The Daily Star I have collected over the last year. These are all headline news topics written and presented to get you to (click bate) click and read. If you were to only get your news and information from this one site you probably be a nervous wreck unsure whether to the world is coming to end by either freezing to death, nuclear war or being fried in your own juices due to a heatwave.

c9f9dc7440e8630d49efa3fe9ab579bf

30f143f902a08f8c2870b106f78df411

When I was researching this post I found it fascinating that some people have a propensity to believe in conspiracy theories and this then moves on to confirmation bias. So even if you have all the facts in front of you people will still tend to trust their own thoughts and beliefs. That which you think is true is confirmed eg. all Chinese people eat green rice. You will seek out that information which confirms your belief rather than rationally choosing to look over information provided to form a new opinion. You don’t challenge facts and information even though you are told otherwise which leads to belief perseverance.

Every time I hear or read of some spurious claim on social media I have to test the information rather than relaying it others to make sure I am not sharing blatant lies. Our connection to social media now has allowed being sucked into all sorts of conspiracies and falsehoods.

Religion tends to rely on higher powers and hierarchical structures to confirm and guide people in all situations. Lots of people will claim that they are not a slave to anyone else yet allow facebook sites, twitter accounts, fanatical leaders to provide them with their own assumptions of the world.

So for me, I think those people who dance behind the pied-pipers of conspiracy theories are just the same as those who readily make decisions about their own lives according to how their holy scriptures or priests tell them. There’s no such thing as a free-thinking follower of religion neither is there someone who subscribes to organisations who promote and encourage ridiculous conspiracies.

Religious Hate Crime

Golding and Fransen jailed for what the judge said: “It was a campaign to draw attention to the race, religion and immigrant background of the defendants.”

I am no fan of the Christian Institute. I think their reporting is biased and targets the LGBT community unfairly. In a blog post, I wrote in July last year I explained to them that despite their claim that LGBT community is only 1.7% of the population nearly 50% of their youtube videos were about or mentioned LGBT people.

“I still believe despite the progress that this country as made we have a long way to go to be accepted in society. I did a short survey of the Christian Institute’s YouTube channel and tallied up the number of videos they had posted in 2017 to their site. It’s a total of 170 videos and out of that 69 videos mentioned LGBT issues; that’s nearly 41%. Even in their own videos, they quote that LGBT people only make up 1.7% of society; they devote nearly half of their content to LGBT issues.”

I know that I don’t like their views and I am certainly unhappy that they target people in the gay community with their own ideas about sexuality. I accept they hold those views as they are entitled to do so. That’s what is meant by free speech.

Let’s say for example got really angry with them and travelled to their offices and demanded to speak to someone in their organisation. If didn’t feel I had been heard and to make my views known again I could return to their premises and ask them why they held such views about LGBT community. I could follow their director after he left work and ask him questions.

Now, this is where the law comes in. At what point do the ideas of free speech end and religiously aggravated harassment start? There is a fine line between the two and laws were set up to protect people of faith from such harassment. This is what we are as a country whether we like it or not. When you read about those laws they are there to protect the people. This is what makes us a great country of respect for others religion.

But I have read comments about Fransen and Golding:

“18 WEEKS IN JAIL BUT MUSLIM RAPISTS AND KILLERS GET NOTHING FOR THEIR CRIMES AND THEIR CRIMES ARE REAL CRIMES…..SCREW EUROPE I’M STAYING RIGHT HERE…” – Lack of knowledge about the case. The perpetrators were jailed.

Other comments are either to foul to write or completely left-field and have nothing to do with the case.

I have said it before more education is needed in religion, not the lack of it or total removal as some have advocated. Just because you understand something does not mean that you have to agree with it.

Detective Inspector Bill Thornton of Kent Police said: ‘The crimes committed by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were abhorrent and motivated by religious insensitivities.

‘They claimed to be exposing the men who had been accused of rape when in reality they knew little about the case in question and could have put the trial at risk due to their reckless actions.

‘It was the bravery of the female who was attacked and the tireless work of Kent Police detectives who ensured the men responsible are now serving a significant period of time behind bars, not because of any misguided attempt by Golding and Fransen to claim credit for their conviction by bringing religion into the equation.

‘The fact that completely innocent members of the public were accused of being rapists, making them fear for their own safety, shows how little regard they have for the consequences of their actions.

‘Kent Police simply will not tolerate any offences that are motivated by prejudice and hate, and will investigate all such incidents thoroughly in order to bring those responsible in front of the courts.

Visit my Mosque

Over 200 Mosques across the UK opened their doors on the 18th February 2018. The theme this year was Open Doors, Open Mosques, Open Communities

I certainly felt a warm welcome, not only from the people at the desk signing you in but from all people who were involved in the open day. People were willing to answer questions you had about the everyday running of the Mosque to the plans for the future of the building.

The whole area is currently undergoing a huge building project where the Mosque – which looks unlike any other I have seen – will be built. It will certainly be a fitting sight and with a modern appearance be an asset to those living in the west end of Newcastle.

10854919_458247941007641_7265474683222165426_o

I had the privilege to see the plans for the new mosque it’s to be one of the greenest and ecologically sound constructions built in modern Newcastle. Its general theme seems to coincide with nature and inspires people to connect with the rich resources that the earth provides.

img_3096.jpg

I spent some time talking to some of the women of Mosque about their appearance and dress and how it was important to their own religious belief. There are a lot of misconceptions and general ignorance when it comes to how women in Islam present themselves.

IMG_3211.jpg

My view is where do you get your information from regarding Islam? Do you read the headlines that demean and misinform? Or do you go to the people who live, breathe and work for the religion?

I wouldn’t rely on the Beano to inform me of the British way of life. I wouldn’t ask right-wing groups on their opinion of Islam and other religions. I would ask the people who represent it.

IMG_3210.jpg

As I said to the people in the Mosque religious education in the UK has been abysmal for decades. Once people were schooled in religion and the knowledge of Christianity. Even that seems to be pitiful and lacking in certain parts of the education system. Always maligned and ridiculed as unnecessary for future life beyond the walls of school. I think its probably one of the most important subjects, especially for these times where lies have been planted into people.

Christian Institute

I got a pathetic response but hey at least it was a response. 

This week parents of a pupil removed their child from a school because a boy wanted to wear a dress and be known as a girl. In 2017 it might seem laughable and trivial but to a Christian couple it meant disrupting a child’s education.

I remember being hauled into the head’s office at school to help deal with a pupil who had been bullied. He wasn’t getting support or receiving praise for being different but my boss at the time was berating him for bringing in a school back that was different.

“Why can you bring something in that’s like everyone else?” She asked.

“Because I want to be me and this is who I am…” he replied.

There wasn’t a ‘Glee moment’ where the head teacher congratulates the pupil for their individuality and praises them for being who they are but tries to solve the intolerance and bullying by denying one person’s freedom of expression. All in a school bag.

My thoughts are clear on my former boss. She was a morally corrupt and bereft of humanity and empathy. She didn’t give a shit about her charges but was terrified that the  whole system would come down crashing at her feet.

My letter to the Christian Institute asking to speak about why their news feed was unbalanced was finally met with a response.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 16.19.33

Their opinion was that they just wouldn’t engage.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 16.19.15

Despite my years of experience dealing with church matters and education in this area.

The parents action which no doubt will be backed by the Christian Institute to further their growing sense of victimisation. But this is just the very reason why so many people now say that they have no religion. They are turning away from established religions in many parts of the world. The church and their non-sensical illogical beliefs have isolated themselves from the world. They will soon be made of mainly fanatical fringe belief systems. Where once the Church of England was the back bone of English society and culture soon it will become nothing more than Westboro Baptist lite.

 

 

Newcastle another Rotherham

When sexuality is distorted,  a deviant streak is created.

I, like others, are appalled at the crimes that have been uncovered in the north east of England. Men who have abused, coerced and forced girls into sex. Plying them with alcohol and illegal drugs to satisfy their needs.

Racists will, with almost certainty, try to capitalise on the situation and likely be planning a march in Newcastle (I wrote this a few days before a march organised by EDL was announced) to air their righteous indignation with a dose of ‘told you so’ about those bloody foreigners . If only life was so simple as their minds. It isn’t clear cut as that and I will attempt to explain why.

Sexuality and human relationships are complex things and where equality and gender is considered. If one sex is seen and superior to another, distortions and conflicts will arise.

In many religions the man is considered superior to the female. Stemming from thousands of years previous that, because the man is physically stronger than the female, she is therefore considered inferior. A woman should stay at home and a man go out to work to provide for the family. But to most in the western world we know that’s bollocks.

We have progressed and gender equality is written into law, although, as recently commented there is still a long way to go when it comes to giving men and women equal pay.

newcastle-crown-court-pa

There are still those who consider women to be there for the man that they should serve the man. You only have to look at tabloid newspapers and hear general conversation where women are considered ‘birds’ and other words which I won’t use here.

If this attitude towards women is ingrained in a culture as it used to be in the UK decades ago planting yourself into another culture where women are seen as vulnerable and open to exploitation this distortion will occur. It’s no secret that the men convicted in other towns and in Newcastle were from a predominately Pakistani heritage. It only becomes racist if you say that all men from this background are into child exploitation.

For me the problem has been the lack of knowledge and education, not of those who perpetrate such crimes but those who have been in power to stop them. Police and Social Services have been too complicit in turning a blind eye to the problem. They haven’t understood the culture and background of the men and dismissed the girls as being wayward and out of control.

What if then these men targeted boys? It would have been dealt with immediately. The imbalance of our attitude towards each sex is highlighted. You would be considered a pervert if you targeted someone who was a male and 13 years old but because they were female well they get what they deserve.

Our attitude should be that both boys and girls of that age are children in the eyes of the law and that where the investigation should start. People have been for a long time unable to say what they feel in fear of offending a part of a community.

I rang into a radio show once to talk about a restaurant that in was trouble with council officials because they wanted to call it ‘The Fat Buddha’. Officials believed this would offend the Buddhist community. It was absolute nonsense. There was a time when the Buddha starved himself and then gorged himself to find ‘Nirvana’ or enlightenment. In some parts of the world the Buddha statue itself is seen as a symbol of prosperity if the person rubs the Buddha’s belly.

nintchdbpict0002673164601

It’s this lack of understanding and knowledge that has caused so many problems. We have place religious understanding and knowledge of communities to one side and allowed officials to make ridiculous statements and decisions without consulting others first.

I understand how and why these men exploited vulnerable women and young girls. Doesn’t mean I don’t condemn these repugnant crimes. Education and understanding isn’t the same as being complicit or condoning such behaviours.