Posts Tagged ‘values’

What value do we attach to the UK?

October 14, 2014

With just seven months until the general election in the UK, it is clear to many that there is a battle developing in the field of ideas. Maybe we could go further and suggest that there is a battle for the very soul of the nation?  Earlier in the year our Prime Minister seemed to touch a nerve when he commented that this is a Christian country. This immediately drew squeals of reaction from the atheist commentators who kick against any reference to faith in any of our national governance. Equally, those who disagree with the current government challenged the Christian credentials of the Prime Minister to be able to make such a statement. Perhaps we should use the comments of David Cameron to open up discussion and debate?

Whatever our political opinion or faith position, or secular atheism, the immovable historic fact is that this nation has been especially shaped by Christian thinking over the past several hundred years. This lends us an opportunity to start conversations and get people thinking. I believe that it is more than a mere opportunity and that there is a pressing crisis which demands input.

Perhaps our freedoms and generally stable national life are a consequence of Christian thinking – within all parts of the political spectrum? Perhaps the Biblically informed approach to respecting life, property, government, local authority, education and the family is a major factor in why we have a  country which people want to immigrate to? It is ironic that the Judeo-Christian teaching on offering hospitality to the vulnerable and alien amongst us is the original basis of welcoming people from all nations, and now Christian thinking is being sorely challenged by many of the very people who have enjoyed the privileges of freedom and peace. Indeed it is Christian thinking that should shape the care for the vulnerable, for the equipping of the uneducated, and envisioning for the hopeless. This is why I passionately believe that Christians should be influencing the political landscape. This is not about having a political party which takes an evangelical approach to belief but rather that the case for Biblical thinking is strong, credible and beneficial. The Gospel is a case for truth and right living which has tremendous consequences which are beneficial to all people in our communities, people of all faiths and of none. The principles for family life, community cohesion and national government which are revealed through the Judeo-Christian scriptures are timeless and unmatched. We should all be thinking about how we can prepare to engage and influence the upcoming political debate. We have a lot to offer in the coming seven months which may benefit the coming generation.


December 1, 2011

I keep meeting people who have been hurt by ‘absolutes’. It seems that many of those we interact with are bruised from their collisions with absolute truth – or rather the impact of those claiming to have simple, hard edged answers to all of life. The issue here seems to boil down to the experiences that people have had – often negative encounters.

I have observed a number of issues at play here. Some of those who offer their opinions in the form of simplified absolutes are often not as well informed as they pretend to be. The easy answer may only be a vehicle for prejudice, such as generalisations about races or cultures. Many take a political stance based on loyalty to a party or parents, rather than consideration of the arguments. When someone’s opinion is based on wafer thin understanding, they usually put it across with more aggression or vehemence than necessary. An insecure position seems to feed a wrong attitude. In response to imperialistic, dogmatic, non-consultative and authoritarian approaches, many have reacted by retreating from anything that seems inflexible or definite.

The flipside also needs looking at: We have had a generation of being told to ‘live and let live’; that all positions need to be heard. The desire to compensate for past arrogant views of other cultures has pushed us towards making a god of ‘tolerance’. Tolerance that is, of everything except absolutes.

The grave danger is that our society simply polarises: Most people can sense what is authentic, and can also smell a rat. Strongly held opinions aggressively preached by those who will not listen or engage with other views, are discouraging and repelling. On the other side, changeable and indistinct reasoning dulls the argument and ultimately frustrates those seeking answers.

We may not have a monopoly on absolute truth, but let’s ensure that with a good heart, we genuinely pursue truth, more than the vindication of our position.

William Roscoe – Good to Great?

May 26, 2011

William Roscoe - looking to the future

Three powerful features link William Roscoe from Liverpool in 1811 to Liverpool in 2011: He had a passion for Liverpool to rise to be the cultural capital of Europe. He was determined to see the end of the slave trade, and he understood the value of communication, arts and business in making a difference in society.

Roscoe came from a humble background, his father a pub owner and market gardener. He started out helping his father but life changed when he was twelve and he bought his first book. This led him on a journey of self education and awareness of the arts. He qualified as a lawyer, wrote poetry and fell in love with the classic arts and in particular Italian art and culture.

Although he became a successful banker and lawyer he held onto his beliefs and values. While he was collecting Italian art he was writing moving poetry and used his poems to challenge the educated classes to think differently. In one poem he saw through the ages to a time when Liverpool might suffer hard times:

“The time may come – O distant be the year – When desolation spreads her empire here, When Trade’s uncertain triumph shall be o’er, And the wave roll neglected on the shore . . . and not one trace of former pride remain”

His passion and determination to see the transatlantic slave trade ended was captured in a 10,000 word poem called ‘The Wrongs of Africa’ captured in these few lines of challenge to British society and Christians:

 Blush ye not,
To boast your equal laws, your just restraints,
Your rights defin’d, your liberties secur’d,
Whilst with an iron hand ye crush to earth
The helpless African; and bid him drink
That cup of sorrow, which yourselves have dash’d
Indignant, from oppression’s fainting grasp?

Roscoe directed his vision and values on many fronts. He was successful in business, promoted the value of parks and the countryside, championed the arts and was active in politics on behalf of the poor and oppressed. He was elected as an MP and spoke for the bill abolishing the slave trade in 1807.

This man sets an example for leadership in 21st century: He was a man of conviction and values, who demonstrated determination in his own education and business development. He was a campaigner for human rights and environmental concerns. He was not afraid to venture into politics and risk making enemies by challenging the status quo. Roscoe understood that greed and abuse of fellow human beings will ultimately be judged by God, and that there is much in this life to enjoy, much more than mere material gain.