Thursday, 1 May 2014

April Round Up

April was a big month in the Christian calendar. It saw the celebration of Easter, where we remember that Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose again. Easter is of huge significance to Christians and, in terms of church attendance and services, is often seen as a big deal.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of the transformative message of Jesus being one that cannot be ignored. In his Urbi et Orbi Easter Address, Pope Francis also talked of the power of the Gospel: "In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death." Both asked listeners to check their own lives, and spoke of the Church's role in displaying this transformative power. I liked what Pope Francis spoke of in his homily on Easter Saturday. He called on people to reflect on their own 'Galilee': the moment when they first encountered Jesus. This is a great way to personally reflect on the power of the gospel and, hopefully, respond with a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

Eric Pickles said that Britain is still a Christian country and called for militant atheists to stop imposing their agenda on Christians. This was repeated by David Cameron in his Easter address and in an article in the Church Times. This caused a great stir, with letters being sent to the Telegraph and everything. Justin Welby blogged; Attorney General Dominic Grieve responded; Jack Straw agreed. There were some cynical comments about whether this was all just a political gambit, especially to win back the traditional churchy votes from Ukip. Polly Toynbee notes that this ploy may not get Cameron the votes he expects. Apparently, the C of E is more Lib Dem and Labour than Conservative and she pointed out that Anglican Leaders clearly voiced their opinions about poverty in the UK, writing to political leaders (including Cameron) to tackle it.

This letter was in response to the Trussell Trust's figures about food bank usage. Again, this announcement was not free from riotous controversy. However, Twitter saved the day once again. Praised for how it was used in the Iranian elections and the Arab Spring, Twitter is perhaps the superhero of social media sites. Outraged at the Mail on Sunday's criticism of food banks, the users of Twitter expressed their feelings as well as putting the money where their mouth is. The Trussell Trust received over £100,000 worth of donations in the wake of this incident.

Twitter was also used in promoting Stephen's Story and helping to raise vast amounts of money for Teenage Cancer Trust. You can follow his progress on his twitter account.

Fighting poverty, tackling cancer: what will Twitter do next? Complain about mumbling actors. (I suppose two out of three for worthy causes isn't bad.) Over two-thousand complaints were made about Jamaica Inn's incoherent speech. The screen-writer even joined in (on twitter, of course).

If the words of the Archbishop, Pope Francis or David Cameron hasn't convinced you, or you're not as impressed by the work of the Trussell Trust as the twittersphere is, then maybe you should listen to Richard Dawkins. Apparently, he is now leading people to faith. I'm not sure if that was the 'Galilee' that Pope Francis was thinking of.

Quick Questions
  • What is your 'Galilee'?
  • Is the UK a Christian country?
  • What are your thoughts on food banks?
  • Do you use twitter?
  • What have I missed?

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