Friday 18 February 2011

Selective Homophobic Theology

A man in the states has just had another tattoo added to his collection. It's one he is proudly showing off on ABC news in repsonse to a hate crime against a gay man.

I think that may be the amount of ink on his arms had made it impossible for him to turn the page to Leviticus 19 and verse 28 where he will find:

'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.' New American Standard Bible
It just shows how taking a word from the bible in isolation can really show up the hypocrisy of narrow mindedness. When Christ was asked what is the greatest commandment he said it was 'Love'. That is all encompassing, that is something that is sometimes lacking in churches that look down on, or exclude in part or in full people from their congregations die to their sexual orientations. Where are such churches without love, they are nothing except an noisy gong or a clashing cymbal.

Hat tip to Gill Troughton via my cousin Rachel

Tuesday 15 February 2011

'Reform' too Positive but 'Ficticious' Figures are Fine #BBCFail

I've just sent the following complaint off to the BBC.

Earlier this evening during the main national evening news there was coverage of the No to AV's claim that the AV referendum would cost £250m of tax payers money. There was no counter argument to this figure so many watching could have taken it as factual reporting.

Through the day the Yes to Fairer Votes spokespeople had pointed out that £130m of this was supposedly for counting machines which the Electoral Commission say will not be used here. £82 million was based on the cost of running the General Election, not all of this cost will be separate this time as there are local and assembly elections in much of the UK anyway. All of these counter arguments could be heard on Sky or ITN, but were lacking on the BBC.

Seeing as the BBC are refusing to use the word 'reform' when talking about the referendum as it seen as being too positive and biased to the Yes campaign, I'm surprised that they allowed this figure branded about by the No campaign to not be investigated and stated as if it were fact.

If the BBC are truly trying to act impartially in the forthcoming referendum they need to be fair and scrutinise both sides of the debate equally. In the past week, and especially today, they seem to singularly have failed to do so.

As Others See Us - Great Northern Irish Television

Last night those of us in Northern Ireland were treated to a trip down memory lane. Now of course a lot of trips down memory lane here are full of darkness as where the starting points of last night trips.

The travellers were Kate Adie, Peter Taylor, Bill Neely and (newly announced Yes to Fairer Votes vice-Chair) Martin Bell. The starting point on their journey was when they were all sent (apart from Bill who was born here) to Northern Ireland to report on what was going on here from the 60s through the the start of this millennium.

They travelled back to the Shankhill, Falls, Bogside in Derry/Londonderry, Ballykelly and other locations showing what the place is like to day an talking to some of those from all sides about how things were then and how they have changed. Some of them admitted that things weren't perfect yet, but all agreed that things were better than they were when first they had come into contact with the reporters.

You can see it here on iPlayer and take a look yourself at the before and now shots of this land that I'm proud to call home.

Monday 14 February 2011

My Funny Valentine

I have a question this Valentine's Day.

Would a heterosexual couple want to have a civil marriage (they not being allowed a civil partnership) in a place of worship?

The answer I think you will find is no. If a heterosexual couple wanted a marriage in a church, synagogue or mosque they would go for a religious marriage ceremony. Therefore why is there talk of allowing civil partnerships to same sex couples to be allowed in places of worship, most particularly are these deemed civil?

As a gay Christian and a advocate for equal marriage I'm actually going to agree with the Archbishop of York in saying that we shouldn't force churches to hold gay marriages. But what I see that he misses is that we shouldn't force those groups, denominations, maybe even parishes that wish to do so not to be able to.

When the Liberal Democrats passed their Equal Marriage motion in September it included the key phrase "that wish to do so", this is the key. If we are truly living in a country of religious equality we must allow those religious groups that wish to carry out same sex marriages to do so, we must also allow those that don't to do so. But to allow for the first group we must enable them all to be able to do so, it is then up the internal governance of that religion to come to their own agreement of what they will allow.

This should not be requirement but an enabling.

The one problem I have with the allowing of "civil partnerships" in religious settings is that a civil partnership ceremony cannot have any religious language, or hymns or any other religious reference into the ceremony. It is basically a non-religious commitment. Surely if a same sex couple want to commit to each other in a religious building they want to do so in the eyes of men and God, but to allow the current format of civil partnership to be carried out in a religious building you are almost saying to God, look we'd love your house and want to use it for our ceremony, but we can't thank you, we can't here from you, in fact you can't be there at all.

What is the point?

Either we get rid of the ridiculous two tier system of marriages and partnerships, or we acknowledge that a ceremony in a place of worship is a religious ceremony whether for marriage or partnership. A civil partnership in a place of worship isn't an act of worship but merely a convenience to try an appease those of us who have faith and same sex attraction. It's a cop out, it's a half-hearted step, it's not equal.

Friday 11 February 2011

Olympic Cycling in Places that Feels like Home

Image via
I'm looking forward to the London Olympic Cycling Road Race, the route of which was announced yesterday.

As regular readers of my blog will know I follow the cycling races and not just the Grand Tours (although these are somewhat easiest especially the Tour de France). So this circuit is particularly exciting for me. The reason being that as a Kingston University graduate who used to cycle everywhere as a student there are large parts of the circuit that I can feel in my legs as I've cycled them. There are other parts I can visualise because I have been there.

Mark Cavendish team GB's best sprinter and in a pack finish best chance of a gold in the men's race is also quite excited about the course he said:

"Competing in a home Olympic Games is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"To compete in the road race on the opening day of the London 2012 Games in front of home fans is going to be amazing.

"I look forward to checking out the course in detail and to experiencing the well-known cycling terrain in Surrey through to the finish on The Mall."

It is going to be exciting. Watching the circuit up and down Box Hill near Dorking may well be the prime viewing spot as well as the Mall for the finish. But I'm loving the fact that some of the places I used to cycle and indeed use to run alongside are also to be included in the route. It really will feel like a home Olympic course for this Kingston Alumni and former member of that institutions Athletics team.

Thursday 10 February 2011

***BREAKING*** Belfast Flight Crashes at Cork Airport - Fatalities Reported

10:56 There is breaking news on the BBC that a Manx 2 Flight from Belfast to Cork has crashed. Reporst are that eight of the passengers on board have been killed and 14 are injured.

My thoughts and prayers are with all the relatives of anyone who was on that flight at this time and the uncertainty of their situation.

update 11:48: According to the Belfast Telegraph Manx2 Flight NM 7100 left Belfast's George Best Airport at 8:12 this morning bound for Cork. There were 10 passengers and 2 crew on board. On  arrival it found the airport on Ireland's south coast shrouded in fog.

The pilot made an aborted attempt to land on runway 17, but due to the low visibility her turned around and make a second approach this time to runway 35. This attempt was also aborted and he went around again to return towards runway 17.

Eye witnesses report that they heard a loud bang soon after the plane touched down and a fireball. Gardaí, fire crews and ambulances from across the city and county are responding.

The Telegraph is reporting that only six of those on board are dead, but their families and those who were also on the flight  must still be awaiting news.

The number for concerned relatives to call is Manx Airlines (028) 9042 7004

Update 11 Feb 7:21

The names of those that have died include
  • Pat Cullinan from County Tyrone a partner in the accountancy firm KMPG. 
  • Brendan McAleese a business man from Cookstown, Tyrone and a cousin of the husband ot the Irish President Mary McAleese. 
  • Captain Michael Evans deputy harbour commisioner in Belfast.
  • The Spanish pilot of the plane and his Irish co-pilot
  • And a British businessman.

Donal Walsh a volunter for International Fellowship of Evangelical Students is one of the six survivors apparently walking away from the crash with only minor injuries.

The following is the statements from the Northern Irish political parties or their spokespeople (more when I find them)

Margaret Ritchie SDLP

Naomi Long Alliance

Tom Elliot UUP

As this is a breaking story I will be updated as the day progresses

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Blogged Elsewhere: There will be an AV Election in the Lords

As anyone who has followed proceedings in the House of Lords, with regard to the Bill that could bring about a referendum for a fairer voting system for Westminster elections, the Labour peers have dragged their heels.

There are still 92 positions for hereditary peers in the House of Lords. This was the number that was decided upon in 1999 would exist until all hereditary positions were removed. However, when one of that number dies, there is a by-election in the upper chamber...

Read the full story at Fairer Votes Belfast

It was Fifty Years Ago Today...

Well it was 50 years ago today,
In Matthew Street they first time to play,
In leather jackets and their Cuban heels,
Four local lads who'd induce squeals,
So may I intorduce to you,
The act you've known for all these years,
John, Paul, George and Pete* - The Beatles!

* Yes on 9th February 1961 Pete Best was still the man hitting the skins when the Beatles took to the stage for the first of their 292 appearances at the Cavern Club up until 3 August 1963. Richard Starkey better known as Ringo Starr wasn't to join the band until the following year.

Hat tip to the Guardian.

Monday 7 February 2011

"Compelling" but Still Ongoing

Alistair Campbell is to appear just up the road from the Yes! to Fairer Votes offices in Belfast today to speak to students at Queens about his new book People and Power. Speaking in today's Belfast Telegraph he says Northern Ireland’s peace process was "one of the most compelling" issues of his Downing Street career.

Whilst for Alistair it is compelling for those of us who are living with the new threats of security alerts all over the province in recent days it is still ongoing. Admittedly what Campbell's boss, Tony Blair, enabled here in Northern Ireland has taken us a great distance, the people are wanting to live in a shared present (something that some of our political class have yet to realise) but there are still some resisting this is a violent way.

Some people only know objection as a armed conflict here. They seem unable to articulate their argument in a sensible non-threatening way. Others are still so obsessed with the past that they cannot look beyond events and actions in the past and work with those whom they historically were opposed to to move things forward.

Of course as in 1998 the people are ahead of some of the politicians once again. The recent Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) draft programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration was widely slated for being a management of division and not a programme to eradicate it. The fact that it only focused on sectarianism and racism and ignored other 'excluded' communities within Northern Ireland, in fact putting those other needs unto a back burner, showed a lack of vision.

There is plenty of talk about a 'shared future' in Northern Ireland but what the people want is a shared here and now, a shared present. So while the work of Tony Blair for Northern Ireland may well have been compelling to those who witnessed it firsthand it is as yet unfinished. It is up to the politicians in Northern Ireland to bring that task to such a natural conclusion. It may well be up to politicians that have yet to rise up and be counted, however what Northern Ireland needs is to be normal, not some unruly young nephew that is confined to the corner almost out of sight at parties.