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Archive for May, 2010

“but now you’re just my delicious ickle snuggle-dumpling”.  Watching the nauseating spectacle of Mr and Mrs Cameron-Clegg pledging their political troths earlier, the  need for some good old-fashioned vicious political satire never seemed more pressing. Spitting Image would have had an absolute field day. The two Davids would have had nothing on this pair. “I wuv ooo”, “no, I wuv ooo more”, “I know I said that you were the devil incarnate, but that was just my teensy weensy ickle joke, my way of showing you how much I wuv oo”, “I love it when you talk tough on those benefit scroungers, it gives me a wibbly feeling in my tummy”…

Spitting Image would have had them mincing up the aisle of the Downing Street Rose Garden (and fancy choosing that as a venue) strewing rose petals and staging a 24-hour love-in and then both emerging hot, sweaty and triumphant at  having thrashed out their differences in a manly yet-loving fashion. *shudders*. The possibilities are endless.

Being a closet aficianado of Meatloaf, Paradise by the Dashboard Light suddenly takes on a whole new political resonance. You can see CallmeDave cast in the role of the wannabe lover, convinced he’s going to score a home-run, Clegg as the lover who won’t succumb until he has exacted firm committed promises, CallmeDave getting increasingly carried away on a sea of passion, his lust blinding him to the realities of the situation, with both parties finally  “praying for the end of time, it’s all that I can do…praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you” following a union of recrimination, regret and bitterness.

Alternatively I could see Mr and Mrs Cameron-Clegg singing a very convincing version of The Ballad of Tom Jones. “You stopped us from killing each other – PR, PR, PR, PR, you’ll never know but you saved our political lives. I never fagged for Louis Theroux, and I don’t come from Slough”. Or something.

Call me an old cynic but this ‘new politics’ has an eerily familiar ring. I also don’t believe that selling out your core principles re-branded as “compromise” is “grown up” you patronising so and so. It’s called hypocrisy and displays a seamy desire for power on both sides. So long as we’re in government it doesn’t really matter if we ditch most of our manifesto eh boys? Being “grown up” is leading by example, it’s showing courage and perhaps giving the country another opportunity to cast their vote, given the first round of voting was so indecisive. In an AV system isn’t the party that comes last, eliminated?

In the meantime, come back Spitting Image – you’re sorely needed.

Oh and in other news, I had a wonderful snapshot of middle England. The champagne being cracked open as Gordon made his exit and today when the news referred to “the prime minister, David Cameron” my mum clutching herself with joy,stealing a teary-eyed misty glance at my dad and declaring “how WONDERFUL to hear that” in paroxysms of delight, made my week!

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The internet is absolutely aflame with claim and counter-claim regarding Philippa Stroud. What disturbs me about this affair, other than Mrs Stroud’s alleged prayer-sessions, is that the mainstream press appear to have been subject to a gagging order and party to veiled threats on behalf of her lawyers, who have apparently been contacting a number of media outlets and reminding them of their duties under Section 106 of the Representation of the Peoples Act. This makes it illegal to publish any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct, unless the publication can show that they had reasonable grounds for believing the statement to be true.

Whilst I can recognise the agenda behind the whole story and still believe that it is being whipped into a frenzy by those who believe that the Conservative Party is full of homophobes and bigots as well as part of an ultra right-wing fundamentalist Christian conspiracy to grab power,  I think nonetheless that there are elements of this story which do stand up to scrutiny and upon which the press should be entitled to report.

Mrs Stroud’s statement is perfectly frank:

“I make no apology for being a committed Christian. However it is categorically untrue that I believe homosexuality to be an illness and I am deeply offended that The Observer has suggested otherwise. I have spent more than 20 years working with disturbed people who society have turned their back on and who are often not helped by state agencies. Drug addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill and the homeless are just some of the people that I and my friends in the charitable sector have tried to help over the years…The idea that I am prejudiced against gay people is false and insulting”.

I tend to believe her and I stand by my assertion that she is decent, honest and sincere woman, someone full of compassion, motivated by her Christian ideals who wants to help the most needy in our society.

What is telling about her statement, however, is that no mention is made of these reported prayer sessions which have caused widespread revulsion. When it was pointed out that the allegations did not concern her views on whether or not homosexuality was an illness but whether or not it could be “cured” by prayer sessions and casting out demons, her spokesman refused to elaborate.

It seems that there is factual evidence that these sessions did take place as there are at least two separate witness accounts and she has written a book God’s Heart for the Poor in which she explains with how to deal with demonic activity.

Without going into too much depth, ascribing homosexual inclinations to demonic activity is not a view held by mainstream Christianity. Indeed demonic activity is an extremely rare occurrence, in approximately 98% of cases it is deemed that there is no actual possession or demonic presence.There is no harm in praying for and with someone who is troubled by aspects of their sexuality however this is an entirely different prospect to what has been reported.

The Conservatives and Mrs Stroud’s office are clearly now involved in a major damage limitation exercise hence the various letters that have been sent to the media. I don’t believe that CallmeDave is a homophobic, his swift actions in the case of Philip Larnder have certainly displayed the impression that there is no room for anyone perceived of homophobia in his Tory Party and many of the party’s leading lights seem to display enlightened views.  My feeling is that someone in Tory HQ will have a few questions to answer with regards to the selection process and how someone who engages in questionable practices bound to alienate a vast proportion of the majority managed to slip through the net.

Whether or not Mrs Stroud is an honorable person is not in doubt. Whether or not she would be a worthy representative of the constituency of Sutton is up to the electorate who should be allowed to make an informed choice based on all of the facts. It is a sad day for democracy when the party traditionally associated with Libertarianism employs the tactics of the Soviet Union.

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I had election-induced insomnia last night and was going to blog about the pros and cons of various parties. For the first time in my life I feel like my vote actually counts given that I live in a marginal constituency, the Labour MP securing victory by a mere 314 seats last time. Just to add to the pressure, I have been nominated as proxy to DH who is currently away in the Holy Land.

I am still cogitating, mulling, funnily enough praying and have resorted to consulting the oracle himself . Like the oracle I’m not going to divulge where my crosses are going to be put. But it’s still a bit of a puzzle nonetheless.

I wish I had the surety of mind in the same way as I do about my faith – I wish I knew what the best thing to do was, but sadly I’m still twisting and turning with no definite conclusion. Rather than boring everyone with my angst-ridden musings or stream of religious/political consciousness, in no particular order, here’s my flippant musings:

  1. I can’t cope with another 5 years of Gordon Brown and that funny thing he does with his mouth
  2. If the Tories don’t get in my parents are talking about leaving the country and going to live in St Malo – bonus, free holidays!
  3. Nick Clegg irritates me by having a Catholic wife, bringing his children up Catholic and  she hasn’t yet managed to convert him.
  4. CallmeDave gives the impression that he would fornicate with the next-door-neighbour’s cat provided it went to Oxbridge and had a title. Furthermore CallmeDave would fornicate with the next-door-neighbour’s cat provided it had “done the right thing” and showed an inkling that it might consider voting for him.
  5. I feel that someone else should “have a turn” at being PM now, regardless of whether or not that’s a good thing.
  6. The Lib Dems seem very earnest, perhaps too earnest, like a bunch of well-meaning sixth-formers. Many of their candidates make me feel too old or for some inexplicable reason remind me of Mr Gibson, my somewhat unassuming RE teacher.

I fear the reality is simply that I must follow my head and vote Monster Raving Loony, who seem to be the voice of reason in this climate of negativity, tactical voting and mud-slinging. Policies include making all socks be sold in packs of 3 as a precaution against losing one, banning all terrorists from having beards as they look scary, and perhaps their most innovative policy yet, the GCSE lottery  Before the beginning of exams, the exam board will select a certain phrase which will be kept secret. If any pupil inadvertently writes this phrase in any exam, he/she will automatically receive straight A* grades and a free teddy.

Emmaline Pankhurst would be proud!

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AAAAAAAARGH. I have to stop reading the newspapers! It’s not good for my blood pressure. DH reads a certain religious newspaper guaranteed to have him stomping around the room, banging the kitchen cupboards, flinging said rag into a heap in the corner somewhere, only to surreptitiously retrieve it to be quietly read at a later day under the auspices of my beady eye. I feel like Michael Winner – ‘calm down dear it’s only a paper’.

In the grand scheme of things it shouldn’t matter, but the trouble is, the majority of our newspapers, be they the red-top tabloids or the broadsheets have some agenda to push. The Guardian’s has always been socialist. It’s interesting that they are now lending their support to the Lib Dems. Is this due to them attempting to poach readership from The Independent or alternatively due to the fact that the Lib Dems have the most genuinely socialist policy, certainly in terms of re-distribution of wealth?

What’s got my back up this time is this particular offering concerning Philippa Stroud. Leaving apart the factual errors in the story, but hey, let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good story, I think what winds me up is the attempt to associate the Conservative Party as being part of some worldwide evangelical conspiracy. Sure Phillipa Stroud might well be head of the CSJ, however note the phrase “the CSJ reportedly claims to have formulated as many of 70 of the party’s policies”. The key word being reportedly. It’s also worth drawing attention to the factually incorrect statement about the New Frontiers Church being closely allied to the US Evangelical Movement. Though it has in recent years expanded worldwide, including to the US, its roots are firmly in the UK, having sprung out of a church movement in the 1960s and 70s.

Many inferences may be drawn with regards to the Conservative Party’s plans to support the family unit, but the idea of the family being the cornerstone of a stable society is not limited to the Christian faith. CallmeDave has more nouse than to aggressively pursue a strongly evangelical agenda which is likely to alienate the majority of the electorate. What does the Guardian suppose is going to happen if the Conservatives get in? All of the recent equality legislation is going to be repealed and withdrawn? That’s hardly the way to secure  re-election or to take the country with him as he proposes to do.

Though it might seem that Philippa Stroud has some pretty ‘out there’ ideas, and I for one am not sure quite how helpful some of her notions might be, as one former church-goer noted, she ‘is not a bad person’. Furthermore she founded a Church and night shelter that helped drug addicts and alcoholics. This is not a pontificating spirituality, but one that rolls up its sleeves reaches out and attempts to offer healing to the broken. Is this such a dreadful quality?

What this article attempts to do is ally the Conservative Party to the US Fundamentalist Christian movement in an attempt to scare voters. Don’t vote for those Tories, they’re all secret homophobes, who are going to take away all our hard-won freedoms. Any Guardian reader that falls for this is as gullible as the voter who can’t see through the agenda of the Murdoch press.

There are many reasons to be skeptical of the Conservative Party, there are many reasons not to vote for them, but this attempt to portray them as a fanatic party heavily influenced by the evangelical movement, is a red herring.

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AMDG

For those unfamiliar with the acronym, AMDG stands for Ad maiorem Dei gloriam, meaning for the Greater Glory of God and is the motto of the Jesuit order. Everything must be done in order to reflect the glory of God.

Having given the matter some thought, I am aware that perhaps I have come across as intolerant and overly-aggressive which certainly is not my aim. What I am engaging to attempt, albeit in quite a ham-fisted fashion is some good old-fashioned Christian apologetics. Apologetics doesn’t mean apologising for faith, but derives from the Greek, apologia meaning a speaking in defence.

Part of my faith calls me to evagalise. However I am unable to do this effectively, help others to understand my faith if I don’t understand it myself. Unless I can discuss my faith rationally, I am unable to share it with anyone be they fellow Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus. agnostics or atheists.

I am unlike  the traditional “cradle Catholics” who are prone to accept dogma, doctrines and Tradition not because they understand them but out of habit ingrained in them as children. I had actually quite a loosely Catholic upbringing, with many of the outward trappings, but none of the catechism. Often cradle catholics simply accept the Church’s teaching at face value, which is entirely natural, it is how children learn.But at some point we must appropriate our faith intellectually, if we don’t understand our faith, how can we live it, let alone share it with those in need?

I have reacted very strongly to criticism that my faith makes me some sort of raving bigot, wishing to impose my morality on others and do them real damage. I understand people’s difficulty with the Church and with Catholicism in general, particularly in the light of the appalling and indefensible child abuse scandals. What I am seeking to do, is to demonstrate that my faith is well-thought out, rational and not the product of a mind that has been subject to pressure. Chances are that if you’re not questioning some aspect of your faith, you aren’t thinking about it.

What I did realise however is that I need to temper this and attempt apologetics and evangelism with love and sensitivity. Whilst the Bible does contain a call towards apologetics “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Ptr. 3:15),  St Peter also adds the following “Yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame” (3:15–16).

I do not wish to perpetuate the myth of intolerance. I recognise that an aggressive approach is counterproductive, so for any who have found my thoughts unpalatable due to having been addressed in something of a hectoring tone. I apologise.  My aim is to attempt to reflect the great Jesuit principle wherever possible.


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So Evan Davis, who is gay, advocates the right of  proprietors to turn away a gay couple from their B&B.

So does this mean both Evan Davies and Neil Midgely the gay assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph are also homophobic?  They have an extreme and irrational aversion to themselves. Quick someone call the men in white coats!

I can’t help but think that CallmeDave was somewhat precipitous in his decision. Still every vote counts eh Dave? Cynical. Moi?

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Mrs Gillian Duffy has reportedly turned down huge sums of money to sell her story to the press. According to Max Clifford she could make up to £250,000 but only if she wants to. She is currently besieged by reporters, hence she has employed a PR firm one, with admittedly Tory links, but this is due to a family connection. Feeling under strain, Mrs Duffy rang her daughter who is head of compliance at a Manchester firm of lawyers, who use Bell Pottinger North to handle their own PR.

“This has got no link to any political associations that Bell Pottinger as a group might have,” Mr Butters said. “This comes purely from the family connection. We have not tried to influence Mrs Duffy in any way, we have simply passed on to her the options that have been put to us. These range from doing a deal with a particular newspaper, to just reading out a statement outside the house. There have been lots of offers that have been declined, and some are still on the table.”

If Mrs Duffy manages to hold firm and resist the lure of easy money from people who wish to sway the vote and exploit the situation, she will certainly  prove herself to be a woman of enormous moral convictions as well as the voice of the people.

Had I been in her situation I would have undoubtedly fluffed my questions due to nerves. Had Clegg or Cameron (I’m still oscillating)  called me a ‘dizzy blond bimbo’ as a result of either misunderstanding my question, frustration, or plain disrespectful prejudice, then I wouldn’t hesitate to sign on the dotted line.

Mind you, they would probably have had a point!

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