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A Public Faith – Miroslav Volf

This author is always worth reading, though it can be hard going.

Debates rage today about the role of religions in public life. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, various religions come to inhabit the same space. But how do they live together, especially when each wants to shape the public realm according to the dictates of its own sacred texts and traditions? How does the Christian faith relate in the religious pluralism of contemporary public life?

This covers the same sort of ground that Niebuhr did last century. But mnuch ha changed – mainly totalitarian muslim extremism.

There is no unique path in which the Christian faith does or should relate to culture. A Christian political theology should be far more sophisticated than that.

He draws a false wedge between mysticism – escaping from and prophetic –enggoing with the world.

There are two “malfunctions” that faith traditions can succumb to by attempting to serve the common good. The first of these is “Idleness” (ch. 2). Their faith is too overwhelming, and so they adopt an infantile smorgasbord approach to faith, which typically avoids dealing with fundamental matters. These Christians find themselves constrained by the narrow systems they work with and assimilate these without attempting to adhere to the imperatives of their faith, sometimes disabling the ability to engage contemporary issues, rendering their faith somewhat redundant.

The second malfunction is “Coerciveness” (ch. 3). Volf discusses the desire for some faith traditions to impose their faith globally and how this will eventually necessitate violence. Likewise, secularists wish to exclude religious opinion from the public realm, which in Volf’s mind will inevitably demand violence also. But that shows ignorance of humanism. Instead, by employing a “thick” practice of faith, a peaceable life of faith can be lived. This “thickness” is a high quality of faith that outshines nominalism. A “thick” faith will always resist resorting to violence, claims Volf.

‘Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.’ Was by Dean Inge not G. K. Chesterton.

The last aspect of Part I is a constructive suggestion for Christians to work towards “Human Flourishing” (ch. 4). Unsurprisingly, Volf undergirds this suggestion with the Christian concept of “hope,” following Jürgen Moltmann’s eschatology. “The expectation of good things that come as a gift from God—that is hope” (p. 56). In light of the coming hope in the person of Jesus, Christians must not be duped into thinking that this should be equated with contemporary Western notions of “satisfaction.” Rather, Volf urges, “love God and neighbor rightly so that we may both avoid malfunctions of faith and relate God positively to human flourishing”

He contradicts himself when he says that Christians should look outside themselves for Wisdom – earlier he had spoken of the Christ indwelling within.

In today’s globalized world, religions cannot be neatly sequestered into separate geographic areas. As the world shrinks and the interdependence of people increases, ardent proponents of different religions come to inhabit the same space. But how do such people live together, especially when all of them want to shape the public realm according to the dictates of their own sacred texts and traditions?

When it comes to the public role of religions, the main fear is that of imposition—one faith imposing aspects of its own way of life on others. Religious people fear imposition—Muslims fear Christians, Christians fear Muslims, Jews fear both, Muslims fear Jews, Hindus fear Muslims, Christians fear Hindus, and so on. Secularists, those who subscribe to no traditional religious faith at all, fear imposition as well—imposition by any faith—since they tend to deem all of them irrational and dangerous.

Such imposition is exemplified by mulsim Qutb’s argument:

  1. Since there is “no god but God”—the basic Muslim conviction—God has absolute sovereignty on earth.
  2. That God alone is God means for Qutb that all authority of human beings over others is illicit. Every human authority (except that of prophet Muhammad as the mouthpiece of God) is an idol, and compromises God’s oneness and sovereignty.
  3. Guidance as to how to lead one’s personal life and how to organize social life comes from God alone (as revealed through the prophet Muhammad). Just as the one God “does not forgive any association [of another divinity] with His person,” so God does “not accept any association with His revealed way of life.” Obeying the commands from some other source than God is as much idolatry as is worshiping another deity.
  4. Islam is not a set of beliefs, but a way of life in total submission to the rule of the one God. The Muslim community is “the name of a group of people whose manners, ideas and concepts, rules and regulations, values and criteria, are all derived from the Islamic source.”

Its external relations:

  1. Muslims are called to cut themselves off completely from communities that exhibit ignorance of the guidance of God.
  2. Since God is one and the Creator, the law of God that regulates human personal and social life, as formulated by the prophet Muhammad, is no less universal than the so-called laws of nature; both laws apply always and everywhere.
  3. “The foremost duty of Islam in this world is to depose Jahiliyyah [ignorance of the divine guidance] from the leadership of man, and to take the leadership into its own hands and enforce the particular way of life which is its permanent feature.”
  4. Muslims are called to embrace the faith that there is “no god but God”—a faith that must be embraced freely, since there is no compulsion in religion.

The fear of imposition of religious views often elicits demands for the suppression of religious voices from the public square. The people espousing that view argue that politics, one major public sphere, should “remain unilluminated by the light of revelation” and should be guided by human reason alone, as Mark Lilla has put it recently. This is the idea of a secular state, forged over the last few centuries in the West.

The centre of the Christian faith suggests a relation to the broader culture that can be roughly described in the following six points:

  1. Christ is God’s Word and God’s Lamb, come into the world for the good of all people, who are all God’s creatures and loved by God. Christian faith is therefore a “prophetic” faith that seeks to mend the world. An idle or redundant faith—a faith that does not seek to mend the world—is a seriously malfunctioning faith. Faith should be active in all spheres of life: education and arts, business and politics, communication and entertainment, and more.
  2. Christ came to redeem the world by preaching, actively helping people, and dying a criminal’s death on behalf of the ungodly. In all aspects of his work, he was a bringer of grace. A coercive faith—a faith that seeks to impose itself and its way of life on others through any form of coercion—is also a seriously malfunctioning faith.
  3. When it comes to life in the world, to follow Christ means to care for others (as well as for oneself) and work toward their flourishing, so that life would go well for all and so that all would learn how to lead their lives well. A vision of human flourishing and the common good is the main thing the Christian faith brings into the public debate.
  4. Since the world is God’s creation and since the Word came to his own even if his own did not accept him (John 1:11), the proper stance of Christians toward the larger culture cannot be that of unmitigated opposition or whole-scale transformation. A much more complex attitude is required—that of accepting, rejecting, learning from, transforming, and subverting or putting to better uses various elements of an internally differentiated and rapidly changing culture.
  5. Jesus Christ is described in the New Testament as a “faithful witness” (Rev. 1:5) and his followers understood themselves as witnesses (e.g., Acts 5:32). The way Christians work toward human flourishing is not by imposing on others their vision of human flourishing and the common good but by bearing witness to Christ, who embodies the good life.
  6. Christ has not come with a blueprint for political arrangements; many kinds of political arrangements are compatible with the Christian faith, from monarchy to democracy. But in a pluralistic context, Christ’s command “in everything do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matt. 7:12) entails that Christians grant to other religious communities the same religious and political freedoms that they claim for themselves. Put differently, Christians, even those who in their own religious views are exclusivists, ought to embrace pluralism as a political project.

Volf concludes with four propositions that he believe support religious pluralism in the public square:

  1. Treating all as equals because all are related to the one God (not sure how this works for polytheists or atheists)
    2. Practicing a Golden Rule ethic of love for neighbor.
    3. Claiming no right for ourselves we do not grant to others.
    4. Renouncing all coercion of religion.

But the only pluralism possible is a pluralism of liberals – totalitarians can’t enforce their truth as the only truth because it would exclude other truths.

I didn’t know that Islam has a positive version of the golden rule – so those who claim that this is unique to Christianity are wrong.

He follows Moltmann in regarding Pentecost as the birthday of the Church, which rubbishes the continuity with Judaism.

Read behind this whole text, once again, is Volf’s personal history and struggle against the political coerciveness of communist Yugoslavia and the genocide that took place between Christians and Muslims from Serbia, Bosnia, and his native Croatia.

  1. In what ways does the Christian faith malfunction in the contemporary world, and how should we counter these malfunctions (chapter1-3)?
    2. What should be the main concern of Christ’s followers when it comes to living well in the world today (chapter 4)?
    3. How should Christ’s followers go about realizing their vision of living well in today’s world in relation to other faiths and together with diverse people with whom they live under the roof of a single state (chapters 5-7)?

Quotations:

A central challenge for all religions in a pluralistic world is to help people grow out of their petty hopes so as to live meaningful lives, and to help them resolve their grand conflicts and life in communion with others

 A major purpose of the Christian faith is to shape the lives of persons and communities. Yet faith often idles in many spheres of life, spinning in one place like the wheel of a car stuck in the snow. Granted, faith’s idleness is never total—if it were total, faith would soon be discarded, for the faith that does nothing means nothing.

to reimagine the relation between the gospel and the multiple religious and nonreligious cultures in contemporary societies. My goal is to dispel the gloom and generate new hope for Christian communities at the beginning of the twenty-first century—both a more modest and a more robust hope than the churches in the West have had in recent times. To state my goal pointedly: I want to make Christian communities more comfortable with being just one of many players, so that from whatever place they find themselves— on the margins, at the center, or anywhere in between—they can promote human flourishing and the common good. Under different circumstances, they may then reacquire the vibrancy and confidence of the early churches.

“My goal is to offer an alternative both to secular exclusion of religion from the public sphere and to all forms of ‘religious totalitarianism’—an alternative predicated not on attenuating Christian

“My contention in this book is that there is no single way in which Christian faith relates and ought to relate to culture as a whole. The relation between faith and culture is too complex for that. Faith stands in opposition to some elements of culture and is detached from others. In some aspects faith is identical with elements of culture, and it seeks to transform in diverse ways yet many more. Moreover, faith’s stance toward culture changes over time as culture changes. How, then, is the stance of faith toward culture defined? It is–or it ought to be–defined by the center of the faith itself, by its relation to Christ as the divine Word incarnate in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Most malfunctions of faith are rooted in a failure to love the God of love or a failure to love the neighbor. Ascent malfunctions happen when we don’t love God as we should. We either love our interests, purposes, and projects, and then employ language about God to realize them (we may call this “functional reduction”), or we love the wrong God (we may call this “idolatric substitution”). Return malfunctions happen when we love enither our neighbor nor ourselves properly–when faith either merely energizes or heals us but does not shape our lives so that we live them to our own and our neighbors’ benefit, or when we impose our faith on our neighbors irrespective of their wishes.

First, [Augustine] believed that God is . . . a “person” who loves and can be loved in return. Second, to be human is to love; we can chose [sic] what to love but not whether to love. Third, we live well when we love both God and neighbor, aligning ourselves with the God who loves. Fourth, we will flourish and be truly happy when we discover joy in loving the infinite God and our neighbors in God.

“As we share the wisdom of our religious tradition, we should keep in mind that the person to whom we offer wisdom is also a giver, not just a passive receiver. As givers, we respect receivers by seeing ourselves as potential receivers too.”

The challenge facing Christians is ultimately very simple: love God and neighbor rightly so that we may both avoid malfunctions of faith and relate God positively to human flourishing. And yet, the challenge is also complex and difficult…”

“To become a Christian means to divert without leaving. To live as a Christian means to keep inserting a difference into a given culture without ever stepping outside that culture to do so.”

“Sharing religious wisdom makes sense only if that wisdom is allowed to counter the multiple manifestations of self-absorption by givers and receivers alike and to connect them with what ultimately matters–God, whom we should love with all our being, and neighbors, whom we should love as ourselves.”

The prophetic role of Christian communities— their engagement to mend the world, to foster human flourishing, and to serve the common good—is nothing but their identity projecting itself outward in word and deed. Two consequences follow. First, the followers of Christ are engaged in the world with their whole being. Engagement is not a matter of either speaking or doing . . . The whole person in all aspects of her life is engaged in fostering human flourishing and serving the common good . . . Second, Christian engagement concerns all dimensions of a culture.

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Face to Face and Heart to Heart: People of Faith in Dialogue

People talk together over coffee and work and in lots of informal situations.

Bedford Council of Faiths as part of its discussion evenings held one called: ‘Mind the Gap! How Young people’s approaches to faith differ from those of their parents’

We need to involve Confucians, Pagans, Rastafarians and Taoists

It is interesting that the Chief Rabbi’s definition of holiness is ‘separateness’, which I think has both a good side and a dangerous side.

CCJ believes that real dialogue also means listening; not going there with the agenda ‘I am going to talk and you are going to listen’. It started with breaking down misconceptions, not tackling the big issues. It seems to me that this is relevant to dialogue today. Sometimes we try to jump in at the deep end before we can swim.

What about praying together? Thus asked a Bristol representative.

Fellowship over food is possibly one of the most popular activities shared by all inter faith initiatives.

Somebody talked about not being too cerebral. Academic work as well as meetings at national level are really important.  “But what I feel has come out of today is the absolutely essential need to meet other people and make relationships with them.”

An ‘old Chinese proverb’ is also helpful to remember: “Speaking without thinking is like shooting without aiming.”

It’s online here

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Sermon for Lent 3 A; Proper 21A continuous track Exodus 17:1-7 Water from the rock

The water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life- words of Jesus in John’s gospel.

 

In the name…

 

 

 

It’s good to be back here

 

Since the last time, I had a stroke and spent nearly three months in hospital.

 

I can’t help looking back

 

Last time I could walk unaided.

 

I could sing.

 

Now I can’t.

 

 

 

Most of us in this chapel have got more years behind us than ahead of us

 

And I’m sure most of us look back.

 

 

 

The good old days.

 

 

I recently read an article lamenting how modern day life was rife with chemicals, genetically modified food and artificial additives that were unsafe and would give us cancer

 

and how much purer and cleaner it must have been 100 years ago.

 

They seemed to forget that the life expectancy 100 years ago was about 55 #

 

as people died from smallpox, polio,

 

and any number of infections that these evil chemicals can now cure.

 

 

 

In our first reading, the Israelites look back on the supposedly good old days.

 

 

“If only…”

 

If only we hadn’t left Egypt.

 

Things are so bad here that anything else is preferable.

 

Like us they tended to glorify the past.

 

“There we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread.”

 

Life was much better back then.

 

We had all we needed to eat: meat and bread.

 

But they don’t mention the slave drivers who controlled their every waking moment.

 

They don’t mention the execution of every male child who was born to them.

 

 

 

The real danger with looking back on the past like this is that it poisons the possibilities of the future.

 

The people grumble against Moses and Aaron and say “you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

 

They say, we have no hope.

 

We have no future,

 

There’s only the prospect of death.

 

 

 

The people want water.

 

the book of Exodus abounds in those same chapters in water imagery.

 

Most important is the Nile River.

 

It flows a thousand miles from deep in the heart of Africa,

 

The centrepiece of the Nile is its delta:

 

90 miles long, it fans out to drain into the Mediterranean Sea across approximately 150 miles of coastland.

 

Inside that area is some of the most fertile territory on earth due to the annual inundation which replenishes the soil and which made Egypt the breadbasket of antiquity.

 

 

Water is where the baby Moses is placed

 

and it is from water that he is drawn out.

 

Several of the plagues had their origin in water,

 

water turning to blood

 

frogs coming forth from water.

 

The climax of the water scenes is the miracle at the Red Sea

 

God pushes back and piles up the waters so that the children of Israel can cross safely onto dry land,

 

and then unleashes the watery chaos onto the army of the ancient world’s greatest superpower.

 

 

 

As Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote—“water, water, everywhere; but not a drop to drink”.

 

 

 

My father spent most of his war service in Egypt.

 

An engineer servicing RAF planes.

 

Although he was a life-long atheist he was interested in the Bible.

 

I have some of his black and white photos of the Sinai desert of our reading.

 

Including porous rocks.

 

 

 

He’d met a local who knew all kinds of places to find water that no one else would think of

 

 

If you look at the waves in the sand, you can detect what have been rivers

 

With banks, and clefts in the rock for tributary streams,

 

and at times even rushes and shrubs fringing their course”

 

signs of “water, water everywhere, yet not a drop to drink.”

 

The desert rocks are like sponges.

 

The water is very rich with calcium

 

as the water runs over the rocks a calcium deposit forms trapping water inside.

 

Later when the dry season comes the stream dries up

 

But you can burst the deposit and the water will come forth.

 

 

 

Whether water from the rock was a miracle of from natural causes,

 

The point is that God had provided it.

 

He was ahead of his children and had got it all ready for them.

 

 

 

Jewish feminist scholar Ilona Pardes sees Exodus as a “national biography” in which Israel is born, nursed, fed and reared

 

in preparation for maturity in the new reality of the Promised Land.

 

She reads our episode as a tale of Israel beating on God’s rock-hard breast before drinking therefrom.

 

just as Israel had to learn absolute dependence,

 

so too must we.

 

a relationship with this God requires a movement into a zone of aridity and barrenness,

 

adopting a posture of absolute dependence before the one who will meet even our most basic needs

 

the narrative does not flinch from the perils of that life in such an environment

 

a life which moves between fountains and feasts, famine and thirst

 

 

 

We live in a world that promises all kinds of things to fulfil our desires, our thirsts, our needs.

 

But it’s a dry place when the job dries up.

 

It’s a dry place when your health which once flowed like a mighty stream now is just a trickle.

 

We are, all of us, “the thirsty ones.”

 

 

 

water in the desert is very hard.

 

The mineral deposit in “hard water.” plays havoc with the pipes and sinks.

 

left unattended, the mineral deposits need to be chipped away manually or with the use of acid.

 

When we become hard and brittle. Christ can chip away our hardness so that we might have life and become life-giving to others.

 

 

The Israelites are presented with the sure sign of God’s presence, and they can go on for another day.

 

So can we.

 

 

 

Paul saw the rock as an allegory for Christ.1. Cor.10:4.

 

He gives the water that will truly satisfy, gushing up into eternal life.

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LETTERS from the TRENCHES: A Soldier of the Great War BILL LAMIN

The youngest of four children, Harry Lamin was born in Derbyshire in 1877 and left school at the age of 13 to work in the lace industry. In December 1916 he was conscripted into the 9th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, an infantry unit with which he served in France and Italy until more than a year after the war had ended. On the Western Front he took part in the Battle of the Messines Ridge in June 1917, and then in the costly, long-drawn-out agony of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres), in which he was wounded.  Harry’s battalion was later ordered to Italy as part of an Anglo-French force sent to shore up the Italian Army. Seeing action on the Piave front, the 9th York and Lancasters served in Italy until Austria sued for an armistice after the crushing defeat of Vittorio Veneto. With the war over, Harry remained in Italy, transferring to the Royal Munster Fusiliers in April 1919, and was finally demobbed in January 1920. Throughout his time in service, Harry wrote beautifully observed letters home to members of his family and to friends. Whether describing some action during Third Ypres; the frequent and often tedious marches and train journeys that were the lot of the “poor bloody infantry;” the mountainous country of the Italian front or the shattered landscape of Flanders, his narrative is always stoical, uncomplaining, good-humoured, and profoundly moving. Annotated, edited, and arranged by Harry’s grandson—who discovered the letters in a drawer—this is an insightful tribute to a fine, brave, selfless and honourable man who endured everything that the war could throw at him and still came up smiling.

 

Displaying a typically British sense of humour, he went on: “It’s a rum job waiting for the time to come to go over the top – without any rum, too.”

In September he describes how he was injured by shrapnel in an attempt to capture enemy soldiers, and a month later describes the Battle of Menin Ridge. “It was awful – the shelling day and night. What do you think, Fritz came over about five o’clock in the morning.

“We had an exciting time for an hour and a half, I can tell you, but we beat him off. He never got in our trenches.

“They brought liquid fire with them and bombs and all sorts, but not many got back.”

Private Lamin worked in Nottingham’s lace industry before being conscripted in 1917, aged 29. Most of his letters home are to his elder sister Kate and older brother Jack and this collection first appeared on a blog..

The blog is here

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Titanic

Cameron’s inspiration for the film came from his fascination with shipwrecks; he felt a love story interspersed with the human loss would be essential to convey the emotional impact of the disaster. Production began in 1995, when Cameron shot footage of the actual Titanic wreck. The modern scenes on the research vessel were shot on board the Akademik Metical Keldysh, which Cameron had used as a base when filming the wreck. Scale models, computer-generated imagery, and a reconstruction of the Titanic built at Playas de Rosarito in Baja California were used to re-create the sinking. The film was partially funded by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. It was the most expensive film ever made at the time, with a production budget of $200 million.

In 1996, treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his team aboard the research vessel Akademik Mstislav Keldysh search the wreck of RMS Titanic for a necklace with a rare diamond, the Heart of the Ocean. They recover a safe containing a drawing of a young woman wearing only the necklace dated April 14, 1912, the day the ship struck the iceberg. Rose Dawson Calvert, the woman in the drawing, is brought aboard Keldysh and tells Lovett of her experiences aboard Titanic.

In 1912 Southampton, 17-year-old first-class passenger Rose DeWitt Bukater, her fiancé Cal Hockley, and her mother Ruth board the luxurious Titanic. Ruth emphasizes that Rose’s marriage will resolve their family’s financial problems and retain their high-class persona. Distraught over the engagement, Rose considers suicide by jumping from the stern; Jack Dawson, a penniless artist, intervenes and discourages her. Discovered with Jack, Rose tells a concerned Cal that she was peering over the edge and Jack saved her from falling. When Cal becomes indifferent, she suggests to him that Jack deserves a reward. He invites Jack to dine with them in first class the following night. Jack and Rose develop a tentative friendship, despite Cal and Ruth being wary of him. Following dinner, Rose secretly joins Jack at a party in third class.

Aware of Cal and Ruth’s disapproval, Rose rebuffs Jack’s advances, but realizes she prefers him over Cal. After rendezvousing on the bow at sunset, Rose takes Jack to her state room; at her request, Jack sketches Rose posing nude wearing Cal’s engagement present, the Heart of the Ocean necklace. They evade Cal’s bodyguard and have sex in an automobile inside the cargo hold. On the forward deck, they witness a collision with an iceberg and overhear the officers and designer discussing its seriousness.

Cal discovers Jack’s sketch of Rose and an insulting note from her in his safe along with the necklace. When Jack and Rose attempt to inform Cal of the collision, he has his bodyguard slip the necklace into Jack’s pocket and accuses him of theft. Jack is arrested, taken to the master-at-arms‘ office, and handcuffed to a pipe. Cal puts the necklace in his own coat pocket.

With the ship sinking, Rose flees Cal and her mother, who has boarded a lifeboat, and frees Jack. On the boat deck, Cal and Jack encourage her to board a lifeboat; Cal claims he can get himself and Jack off safely. After Rose boards one, Cal tells Jack the arrangement is only for himself. As her boat lowers, Rose decides that she cannot leave Jack and jumps back on board. Cal takes his bodyguard’s pistol and chases Rose and Jack into the flooding first-class dining saloon. After using up his ammunition, Cal realizes he gave his coat and consequently the necklace to Rose. He later boards a collapsible lifeboat by carrying a lost child.

After braving several obstacles, Jack and Rose return to the boat deck. The lifeboats have departed and passengers are falling to their deaths as the stern rises out of the water. The ship breaks in half, lifting the stern into the air. Jack and Rose ride it into the ocean and he helps her onto a wooden panel only buoyant enough for one person. He assures her that she will die an old woman, warm in her bed. Jack dies of hypothermia but Rose is saved.

With Rose hiding from Cal en route, the RMS Carpathia takes the survivors to New York City where Rose gives her name as Rose Dawson. She later finds out Cal committed suicide after losing all his money in the 1929 Wall Street crash.

Back in the present, Lovett decides to abandon his search after hearing Rose’s story. Alone on the stern of Keldysh, Rose takes out the Heart of the Ocean — in her possession all along — and drops it into the sea over the wreck site. While she is seemingly asleep or has died in her bed, photos on her dresser depict a life of freedom and adventure inspired by the life she wanted to live with Jack. A young Rose reunites with Jack at the Titanic‘s Grand Staircase, applauded by those who died.

Themes

  • Baptism
    • ship and passengers sinking in ocean – Rose emerges a new person
  • Covenant
    • Jack: “You’re gonna go on, and make lots of babies, and watch them grow. You’re gonna die an old lady, warm in her bed. Not here, not this night. Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me. And I’m thankful for that, Rose. I’m thankful. You must do me this honor, Rose. Promise me you’ll survive. Promise me now Rose, no matter what happens, or how hopeless.”
  • Discipleship/Righteousness
    • In the THE TITANIC penniless Jack is invited to dinner by debutante Rose.  He has no white tie and tails to wear to the formal occasion, but a friend of Rose dresses him in her son’s formal attire– which are just his size.  If he chose to not wear them he would be ejected from the dinner, much like the wedding guest in Matt. 22 who refused to wear the appropriate wedding robe at the banquet.  Those who say they want to live in the kingdom of God decide every day whether to use the means of grace Christ offers. As Isaiah 61:10 “he (God) has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…”   ( Wayne Evans)
  • Faith
    • Rose’s perseverance and trust
    • Jack encourages Rose to have faith as they ride the sinking ship down and then dive into the water.
  • Love
    • between Jack and Rose
  • Prayer
    • prayer scene as ship is sinking, the string quartet playing hymns (submitted by Ann Fontaine, Lander WY)
  • Resurrection
    • final scene in movie
  • Sacrifice
    • Jack sacrifices his life for Rose – decides not to try to climb out of the water in order to give her a better chance to survive.
  • Transformation
    • Rose’s love for Jack transforms her
  • Trust
    • Jack: “Take a deep breath and hold it right before we go into the water. The ship will suck us down. Kick for the surface and keep kicking. Don’t let go of my hand. We’re gonna make it Rose. Trust me.”

 

Lewis Bodine: [narrating an animated sequence of the Titanic’s sinking on a TV monitor] Okay here we go. She hits the berg on the starboard side, right? She kind of bumps along punching holes like Morse code, dit dit dit, along the side, below the water line. Then the forward compartments start to flood. Now as the water level rises, it spills over the watertight bulkheads, which unfortunately don’t go any higher then E deck. So now as the bow goes down, the stern rises up. Slow at first, then faster and faster until finally she’s got her whole ass sticking up in the air – And that’s a big ass, we’re talking 20-30,000 tons. Okay? And the hull’s not designed to deal with that pressure, so what happens? “KRRRRRRKKK!” She splits. Right down to the keel. And the stern falls back level. Then as the bow sinks it pulls the stern vertical and then finally detaches. Now the stern section just kind of bobs there like a cork for a couple of minutes, floods and finally goes under about 2:20am two hours and forty minutes after the collision. The bow section planes away, landing about half a mile away going about 20-30 knots when it hits the ocean floor. “BOOM, PLCCCCCGGG!”… Pretty cool, huh?

Old Rose: Thank you for that fine forensic analysis, Mr. Bodine. Of course, the experience of it was… somewhat different.

 

Ruth: So this is the ship they say is unsinkable.

Cal Hockley: It is unsinkable. God himself could not sink this ship!

 

Rose: [thinking both of them will die soon] I love you, Jack.

Jack: Don’t you do that, don’t say your good-byes. Not yet, do you understand me?

Rose: I’m so cold.

Jack: Listen, Rose. You’re gonna get out of here, you’re gonna go on and you’re gonna make lots of babies, and you’re gonna watch them grow. You’re gonna die an old… an old lady warm in her bed, not here, not this night. Not like this, do you understand me?

Rose: I can’t feel my body.

Jack: Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me… it brought me to you. And I’m thankful for that, Rose. I’m thankful. You must do me this honor. Promise me you’ll survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.

Rose: I promise.

Jack: Never let go.

Rose: I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go. I promise.

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Local Authority Engagement with Faith Groups and Inter Faith Organisations

A survey of England and Wales. Produced in partnership between the Local Government Association and the Inter Faith Network.

Some local authorities help fund associations whereby people of fait can represent their concerns. However, there is a suspicion that the most vociferous are not really representative.

Some cite SACREs as their only interest in this matter, though an alarming 24% are unaware of their existence.

The process of conducting the survey revealed that in a number of cases it was difficult to find the person most suitable for completing the questionnaire. In some authorities. Tthis was because responsibilities for faith issues are shared between a number of departments. Analysis of the job roles of those respondents who completed the survey showed faith issues to largely sit with community development or cohesion officers or equalities and diversity officers.

Some produce guidance booklets about sensitivities for, e.g. police.

As always,.Leicester is ahead of the game.

It’s online here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shut out – Shelter

MORE than a million households in Britain are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020, owing to the benefit freeze and the escalating cost of rents in the private sector, this report suggests.

The housing charity has analysed the rising costs of private rentals across the country, and compared them with the maximum amount of housing benefit available. It forecasts that a million households will experience a growing shortfall, which could force them out of their homes — the majority of those affected are families with young children, the disabled, and pen­sioners.

More than a million private rent­ers currently have to- claim housing benefit to help cover the cost of their rent. Many of them are already in work, but, owing to high rents and slow wage-growth, they cannot meet the cost of even the cheapest homes without additional support.

Local authorities are also finding it increasingly difficult to find rented properties that are affordable for those on housing benefit.

It examines the wider housing market context, affordability and Local Housing Allowance rates, the attitudes private landlords have towards low-income tenants, and the upfront costs and additional hurdles that bar tenants who might have been able to afford ongoing rents. The briefing examines what current schemes are in place to assist people into accommodation and sets out recommendations for change. It is based on a review of current literature and interviews with advisers at Shelter advice hubs all over England to understand what is going on in different areas of the country.

The report said: “Growing numbers of households are both becoming homeless and being trapped for months or even years in temporary accommodation, Unable to find a new settled home.

The growing shortfall between benefit levels and private rents is greatest in London, but the problem is widespread elsewhere in the coun­try. Households who tried to in­crease their earnings to meet the shortfall would find their benefit cut further, trapping them. The level of housing benefit has been frozen until 2020.

Shelter has urged the Government to end the benefit freeze.

Quotations:

Every day I look at around 15 different estate agent sites online, trying to find properties. I find properties that would be suitable but they say no DSS, no pets, no smokers, no children. I speak to agents most days trying to plead my case and I buy local papers trying to find somewhere to live. But I have had no luck at all… God know what is going to happen to me, my son and my dog. The whole system is unfair, wrong and seriously needs to change. Landlords need to be more understanding with people receiving housing be nefit.” Mother of two, 46, former trainer for people with disabilitis

“The wife was a deputy headmistress, the husband stayed at home with their four children. The family tried to find other private rented housing but the prices had gone up so much since they had moved into their original place that they were no longer in the sort of situation where it was easy to get together the money upfront, as well as affording the actual rent. So things had really changed for them and they said ‘we never go anywhere for help but we don’t know what else we can do’.”

Mortgage lenders should stop barring landlords from renting to housing benefit claimants. UK housing charities should monitor the use of legislation in the Republic of Ireland to stop landlords barring housing benefit tenants from their properties

“There’s so many adverts for private rented that say ‘no DSS’ despite the fact that the DSS was scrapped donkey’s years ago. Especially the big estate agents. There are landlords that will take people on benefits but then the issue becomes the standard of those properties and the kinds of landlords that we’re dealing with.”

Reasons why landlords are reluctant to let to LHa claimants

Common reasons for prejudice against housing benefit claimants include media perceptions, bad experiences with tenants, rent arrears, market competition and mortgage requirements banning the renting to housing benefit claimants. Shelter’s survey of private landlords found that of those who preferred not to let to

LHA claimants:

  • 29% said this was because of stories from the media and other landlords
  • 21% said it was because they had let to LHA claimants in the past and had badexperiences with tenants paying rent
  • 14% said their mortgage companies did not allow it.

Other surveys have suggested landlord reluctance stems from fears about rent arrears and delays in housing benefit processing.

It’s online here

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