Friday, 11 July 2014

Culture - Challenge - Change - Conform

Culture – challenge – change - conform
One of the things that I ask audiences who say that they are Christians is, if you are one have you changed and what methodology do you think, you or God uses to change you.
I get lots of answers usually things like:
  • ·         The Bible
  • ·         Prayer
  • ·         The Holy Spirit
  • ·         Meeting with other Christians
  • ·         Love
  • ·         And others sometime a bit more obscure


Of course all of those things have a bearing on change, if change is necessary, however that is not actually how we change. In fact the funny thing is that the Bible does tell us what the method of change is, and more than that it tells us how to maintain and continue with the relevant and vital changes that are needed to become a new kind of person. The Book of Romans starts us off...12:2  Don't be conformed to this world (allow the world to squeeze you into its mould), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Thinking is what changes us, what we think.  So often we don’t, think that is.  When I was a teenager I used to hang out in what was euphemistically called coffee bars, the place where young people could legitimately go. You went there before you went out, and came back there after you had been out, if you see what I mean.  It was the place you met your date before you went on the date… Bit more like a house front room with frothy coffee and the very required juke box.

One of the things I noticed is, and that hasn't changed much in 50 years is that the music had to be very, very loud. In fact so loud that you couldn't think, I asked a few of my friends back then why they like the music so loud? Most of them answered the same, well they said “It saves me from having to think”!
The trouble is there are many times that we think we are thinking but we are not; rather I would say we are conforming.  We conform to our culture our peers, those we feel we need to impress, be the same as, want them to like us, feel part of the crowd, and be accepted.  All of those things going on inside of us but often without much thought.

I have been to a lot of parties of late, most of which I have to say not my age group, but even when occasionally it was my age group I note the attempt to conform to the group is very strong.  Our cultures, that we don’t think about puts us into a box where we act, do, be, just like everyone else but without much thinking.

Let’s be honest it’s hard to change culture, not that we shouldn't try particularly when culture has it wrong, which often it has.  When you change your thinking you can change your behavior, but changing others thinking is not that easy, even if your thinking is right and their’s is wrong.  Think about Ignaz Semmelweiss, don’t know him, well in 1847 he discovered that if doctors washed their hands before attending women in childbirth it dramatically reduced deaths from puerperal fever.  His views were ridiculed and eventually drove him insane – not that he was wrong but it took some 15 years for Pasteur and Lister to develop their germ theory of disease which explained why Semmelweiss was right.

Going back to those parties, why is it that we have to have so much Alcohol, so much ‘same’ music, so much ‘same dress style’ so much conformity.  Are we thinking or just culturally conforming, and if we are just peer pressure conforming, are we right to do so? Are we that different to my coffee bar era, ‘well it saves me from having to think?’

To quote Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in ‘The Spirit level’ they said, It is a remarkable paradox that, at the pinnacle of human material and technical achievement, we find ourselves anxiety-ridden, prone to depression, worried about how others  see us, unsure of our friendships, driven to consume and with little or no community life.  Lacking the relaxed social contact and emotional satisfaction we all need we seek comfort in over-eating, obsessive shopping and spending, or becoming prey to excessive alcohol, psychoactive medicines and illegal drugs.
So why am I going on.  Well because I want to provoke you to THINK!  Think what about?
Well:
  • ·         Why are you here in this world?
  • ·         What is it that needs changing?
  • ·         What is it that you could do to effect change?
  • ·         Why are you just being one of the crowd?
  • ·         Where are you going anyway?
  • ·         When are you going to do something constructive?


Sometime the problem starts by what you think about yourself, again to quote the Bible it says in Proverbs 23:7 Paraphrasing “as you think in your heart so you are”  So what do you think about you, are you insecure, unsure, do you think of yourself as not so good.  Well to start with that would need to change if you are to tackle the thinking above.  And of course it can and should change.

 What should you be doing?  Shouldn't you be the person to change things, by first of all changing your own thinking?  Why be a ‘samee’ why not be a change agent? You could be a world changer, but first you probably have to change, personally I do that by firstly becoming a follower of Jesus, then trying hard to ‘not conform’ and putting on the mind of Christ, thinking about good things rather than bad, in fact seeking to renew my mind.  Not got there yet, but trying and on the way.

How about you, wouldn't you rather be here to change things rather than just be one of the crowd?  Think about it!  There’s a challenge!
Adrian’s Blog
Edited by Technicolour Text
W 1009

310712

Friday, 6 June 2014

Politics

POLITICS

I don’t usually write anything about Politics, but the recent elections at which I did vote, seem to me to be setting a trend that require lots of us who, maybe think differently, to say something.
An Iraqi friend of mine recently said to me, maybe there is a problem with democracy in that stupid people get to vote; perhaps we should have an exam before people are given the franchise?

Recently listening to the debate in a ladies’ hairdressers, waiting for my wife, who had just commented on the problems for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, I was staggered to discover from about 10 plus people there, she was the only one who knew that girls had been kidnapped.  They moved on in conversation to various other world shattering events, but it seemed to me that my wife was the only one who had a TV that showed any news programmes.  The world affairs, local and national politics seemed at such a low level of interest to them I wanted to scream argh…

It isn’t that this stuff isn’t out there it is, but as most of the main three political parties are saying the message has not got through, perhaps that is because they shy away from the real facts to try and be popular to those who don’t listen to them anyway.

The big issue over the UK and actually many other European countries has been immigration, immigration, immigration!  There have been lots of rhetoric but not many facts; Facts that are easily findable, such as:
1.       London, one of the most prosperous European Cities, owes much of its prosperity to the fact that it is such an international, diverse city due to immigration.

2.       When questioned about what percentage of immigrants that go to make up the UK population; people had wildly wrong numbers, usually way, way too high. In fact out of the 15.4 million refugees in the world currently, due to war, bad government and the like in 2012 the UK only had 193,510 of these people in the countries that go to make up the union and that represents just 0.33% of our population, did you know that? 

3.        Over a quarter of our NHS Drs are immigrants, I did not hear that fact quoted, maybe it was and I missed it.  Did you know that? I wonder where we would be if they all downed tools?
4.       When talking about immigration we don’t talk about emigration do we? Yet something like 5.5 million British people permanently live in other countries other than the UK, I wonder how those countries responded to those immigrants.

5.       Nasty one here, immigrants are 60% less likely to claim benefits than a UK born person, Oh dear what shall we do about benefit tourism?

6.       Oh and those pesky EU immigrants, taking all our funds, did you know that between 1995 and 2011 EU immigrants made a net contribution of £8.8 Billion more than they gained from being here.

7.       It seems for all the cries, most studies suggest that immigration has little or no effect on overall employment or British workers unemployment. I am pretty sure that often immigrants are job creators rather than job takers, and that they often end up creating wealth and employment on a grand scale. Think about companies started by immigrants, like Marks and Spencer’s, Burtons, Mumtaz Khan Akbar turnover £85 million, James Caan  Turnover £250 million, you probably know him if you watch Dragons Den. Sir Anwar Pervez who set up his first corner shop in London in 1963, expanding to ten convenience stores by the early 1970s and now head of Bestway which has the second highest turnover of any cash-and-carry in the UK.

8.       14% of start-up businesses in the UK were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs, according to a newly released report. The report says that there are 456,073 immigrant entrepreneurs working in the UK who have founded 464,527 businesses which employ 8.3m people.  http://www.workpermit.com/news/2014-03-14/

And just for fun have you ever been to an ODEON cinema, very British, why call it ODEON I wonder well actually his immigrant name didn’t seem to have the right ring so he thought up the acronym ODEON and in case you are wondering what it’s an acronym for, it stand for Oscar Duetsch entertains our nation.  Very English!

Enough already I hear your cry! But if we are going to have this debate lets have the other positive side of what make places like London so prosperous.  Yes there are problems of immigration I have some solutions to that too if you do not want the people to come and make us richer, but that’s for another day.

Adrian Hawkes
W.785
Edited by Gena Areola


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Negative - Lukewarm - Self Obsessed

Negative - Lukewarm – Self Obsessed
I don’t like to be negative but it is my imagination that in the UK there are lots of people who are living in a small bubble.
Isn't it great to be with passionate people? People who have vision, enthusiasm, Mission, concern for the big things?  Such people are attractive to be around, they draw like magnets they are not boring they are challenging, inspiring, and usually ‘life full’ and often fulfilled people. None of that is negative is it?
Yet around me I see lots of the alternative. Conversation, both in person and of FB is of the small talk kind. Latest dress, shoes, entertainment; usually fairly inconsequential, never going to change the world much less the small space where they dwell.  Often the pressure of life is the things that affect them personally, the things that they believe will bring them happiness.  Joy would not be something understood here.  Sadly the things they want are usually the ‘me’ kind I guess that is the spirit of the age ‘you are number one’!
The trouble is that this is not true; you are not number one, those things you aspire for you are really not important. The trouble also is that if you get them, hold them, usually they, like soap bubbles, will quickly leave you with just a wet palm. You will be left saying what is the point of it all? Why? Where? How? What is it for?  So sad!
It is quite interesting how much God does not like lukewarmness, listen to this from Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! In other words God does not want that stuff.  God likes passion!
The reality is that God comes to give ‘real life’ not boring, self-obsessed, lukewarm, negative life but real life. John 10:10 says this  
What those who live just for the ‘me’ or are content with the lukewarm, the selfish life do not understand is that to really live, have life, we need to be followers, not only that but when we follow the Son we find that love, meaning, reason to live, purpose in life, lack of boredom, lack of he question ‘what is the point?’, is replaced by care and concern for others. We discover that love is expansive (as of course is Evil) in fact we tap in to it to receive,  for the very reason we are here, the love of God flamed out and it expanded to you and me. 
It’s very strange that parents often say I can love my child but how would I love another one if I had one, and that’s the funny thing love expands, where there is need of it there is more of it, especially for the followers.
Being loved is satisfying, purposeful, meaningful and joyful. I want life I guess, I want others to have it too, and when I observe those around me who opt for the ‘me’ life I am angry at the robbery I know they are about to experience. My observations are that they do experience it, it is such a cul-de-sac.  The only way is to turn around from dead ends; they are just that, a dead end! Turn around and follow the Son, he will allow you to participate in the Father’s purposes, and even empower you to see it happen. Why stay in such a self-obsessed, rut.
Adrian Hawkes
adrianhawkes.blogspot.com
w. 611
Edited by Gena Areola

19.07.13

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist

I have thought about this a lot. It is one of those words that the English have borrowed from the German, but which in its usual dictionary explanation does not express all that the word implies. Some words are just like that, aren’t they?

The dictionary definition of the term is; “the spirit of the time and general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time”.  Well yes, but the thing is when you go into the background of the word from a German perspective, it has many layers to it.  This is perhaps why we don’t have a good feel of its translation or its common English usage. The word in German carries the idea of being in a fog, so the ‘spirit of the age’ is not recognised by you or me, because we are so influenced, affected, controlled by, engulfed by, our eyes covered by the fog of the spirit of the age that we do not know there is such a spirit nor can we see any alternative.  From a German perspective you can only assess zeitgeist in retrospect; looking back or, better translated, the ghost of the past age.  Then we can see what it was and know where they went wrong or how they could have done better.  Hind sight is a wonderful thing.

I often think it’s funny as politicians seek to correct history, and pardon this or that from the past, or say how the government was so wrong seventy or a hundred years ago and their party got it wrong then, let’s put it right.  As if we can put what we see now into history and make it different to what it was they saw and understood. I think that process is daft.

Why am I going on about this? Well one of the reasons is that I teach a class of senior students in our school and am talking them about entrepreneurs, and how to be one.  As I have talked with the class I am very aware of how often both in history and now, people cannot see certain things. Clever people like Albert Einstein, who said in 1932 there could never be atomic energy, or Thomas Watson the head of IBM said in 1943 that he could only see the need for about 5 computers in the world.

Even funnier to our mindset today was the president of the digital equipment corporation as late as 1977 said “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home!”  In 1927 H.M. Warner of Warner Brothers quipped “who the hell wants to hear an actor speak” as the possibility of ‘talking movies’ were coming on stream. David Sarnoff's associates, in response to his urging's for investment in the radio in the 1920 said of Radio “it has no commercial use and will not catch on”. Sir William Preece, Chief engineer of the British Post office said of the invention of the telephone: “Americans have need of it, but we do not we have plenty of messenger boys.”  Why did they say such things, is it zeitgeist?

I have often spoken to audiences about the problems Moses had with the children of Israel after they left Egypt. The thing is, if your next door neighbour is a slave, and your friend across the Road is a slave, and in fact everyone you know is a slave your vision of ‘freedom’ is a nonstarter. Zeitgeist has you; sadly you don’t want this ‘freedom’ thing what you want is more onions, leeks and cucumbers (The Bible, Numbers chapter 11 verses 4 to 6).  Can you blame them for the fog?

So are we suffering from zeitgeist now? I think we are, but how do we know? How do we break out? How do we change the future?

Cairine Reay Mackay Wilson was one of those people who broke zeitgeist, she wanted to become a senator in the Canadian parliament, the problem was that the zeitgeist of the time was that woman were counted as a non-person, therefore you could only have a person as a senator, so a woman could not do the job. From the point of view of the zeitgeist this was obvious.

Cairine did not accept the obvious and appealed to the UK Privy Council, Canada’s highest court. The ruling given changed the ‘nature’ of person-hood and Cairine became the first Canadian female senator.

So are we in the fog of our zeitgeist?  I think we probably are, and there are things we should see, things we could do, a better way to live, a better way to be, a different paradigm to be in.  What we need is to listen to the seers, and see what they see.

Maybe we need someone from the other side to come and tell us that there is a better way to live and be, and then we should listen to them.  Oh, He has already spoken.

W.844
Adrian Hawkes
Edited by Robyn Heather
Sunday, 23 March 2014



Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Nutty Newspaper Nonsense

Nutty Newspaper Nonsense

I reached the ultimate in surprise this week when I was asked if I knew that black people are able to receive a free oyster (bus and tube pass) if they live in London.  Come on all my black friends if you did not know this – get one – problem is I do not know where from.

The young lady who was telling me this story went on to tell me that the person who had told her this great piece of news, when told, “No, that is not true”, looked at her with that knowing look that says “Oh, that’s what you think”.

It really is nutty nonsense from people who read certain types of newspapers that come out with this stuff, and then when you tell them no it’s not true, prefer to believe their fairy tale rubbish rather than any real facts.
Some of the other apocryphal stories I have been told are as follows, usually by wide eyed people who when, like my friend who told me the story of free travel, are told “no, it’s nonsense”, look at you as though you are the stupid one.  Here are just some of them.  ‘Did you know that they now give foreigner’s free cars’ ‘It’s terrible that you can only get a house on the council if you are not English’  ‘Did you know that immigrants get £120.00 per week unemployment allowances’ and so on, I have heard lots more, I must admit that I had not heard the one about black people getting free travel until this weekend.  Nutty stuff or what?

Here are some of the real facts, problem is I guess, is that if you read certain newspapers so called, then even though you tell me you don’t believe everything you read in the press you will nevertheless not take note of these facts because it does not fit with what you want to think for whatever strange reason or ‘because you read it in the press’! But anyway:

A single adult asylum seeker receives £36.62 a week thats just £5.23 per day

A single unemployed UK citizen of the same age would receive £67.50, plus other benefits they may be able to receive.

Asylum seekers cannot claim mainstream benefits.

Asylum seekers do not qualify for council housing tenancy or housing benefit.

When questioned about what percentage of immigrants that go to make up the UK; people had wildly wrong numbers, usually way, way too high. In fact out of the 15.4 million refugees in the world currently, due to war, bad government and the like in 2012 the UK only had 193,510 of these people in the countries that go to make up the union and that represents just 0.33% of our population, did you know that? 

In 2011 UK did not feature in even the top ten of receiving countries for refugees, in fact the country that had the most in 2011 was surprisingly Pakistan . Jordan with its own population of around 6 million hosted something like 550,000. How does that compare with UK population of 70 million or thereabouts and the figure above?

Now my big problem concerning these nutty things, wrong as they are is not so much the people who put them into my face as though this was the truth about life and the universes, which is bad enough that people think these things, and fail to check it out.  I guess its worse that papers produce stories with very little fact around them, that beguiles such gullible people, and stirs them up, but the most frustrating thing of all is when government responses to this nonsense popularise by trying to pass legislation that says such things as we wont allow asylum seekers or refugees to get driving licences in this country, we wont allow them to get any health care for free, and of course we wont allow them to work. They already cannot.

 So then we put in that law of unforeseen consequences, what are desperate people to do, who have run away from danger in their own countries, have tried to feed their familys or themselves.  What should they now do, steal?  Become criminals?  Come on let us be reasonable and look again at those facts and figures.

*Most up to date good facts and figures can be obtained from: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk


Adrian Hawkes
For:www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.com
Edited by Gena Areola
W.740
28th October 2013


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Pick and Mix

Pick and Mix

Follower of Jesus

I am slightly puzzled by various people I meet up with of late, and some I hear speaking publically, who seem to want to stress to me that they are ‘people of faith’, that they ‘love God’, that they ‘are Christians’ or that they ‘are followers of Jesus’.  I suppose some of those statements could be understandable, but ‘follower of Jesus’, seems a bit harder for me to swallow.

Is it the Jesus who says ‘do whatever you like as I don’t mind’? I don’t know that one.  Is it the Jesus who says ‘whatever values you think fit you, that’s ok, as long as you say you are following me, that’s fine’?  I don’t know him either.  Is it the one who says ‘we are all going in the same direction and it does not matter what you believe’? I've never met him.

You see the Jesus I follow says ‘I am the way’. He says ‘take up your cross and follow me’. He says ‘if you love me then keep my commandments’. He is the one who says of some, especially those with power, and especially the religious; ‘Don’t expect that if they have hated me that they won't hate you because they will’.
We love the pick and mix that our culture wants to persuade us is the norm, a bit like the old Woolworths sweet model; ‘I would like to choose this but exclude that’.  It seems ok when we are choosing sweets, so why not when we say we are choosing to follow Jesus? ‘Oh I am happy to follow you down that path Jesus, but you want me to follow you down the next one too? Sorry I don’t like that direction so we will connect later’.  Is that how it works?

I don’t think so.  Becoming a follower of Jesus requires repentance first of all, and that word suggests a turnaround of direction.  In other words we go in a new direction, the Jesus direction if you will; and this new direction is very contrary to much of the world we live in.  It has a whole new set of values to start with, such as ‘love your enemies’ and ‘do good to those who use you badly’.  There are other things that give us problems too in this following, such as ‘deny yourself’.

 Oh dear, I thought my happiness and what I want, my emotions, my feelings, my particular leanings or desires, i.e. ME, was the most important thing in the world.  Well actually, following Jesus includes that difficult part of [dying to self and living to Him]. Oh dear, this pick and mix is such a problem, and this ‘I am a follower of Jesus’ is such a problem too.

 Let’s be honest, I like the idea of following Jesus, but not giving up on my wants, my personal desires, what I think is best for me, my choices; that’s a bit hard, maybe I will give it a miss and be a bit more honest in future and not say I am one of those people, maybe I will just say I like them but am not ‘following’.  A bit like some of those people right at the start 2,000 years ago; this is what happened then.

Acts 5:13 But even though people admired them a lot, outsiders were wary about joining them. On the other hand, those who put their trust in the Master were added right and left, men and women both.

Perhaps those admirers where just a bit more honest, what do you think?

Adrian Hawkes
For adrianhawkes.blogspot.com
12th January 2014
Edited by:
w.606


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Yes or No?

YES OR NO?

Our sound bite age is impatient with answers that take more than two minutes.  We want it simple and we want it quick and we want it to be correct and all encompassing.  Our culture may be in that ‘want’ position, but it’s unrealistic, unhelpful, untruthful, unfulfilling and just does not work.

I am reminded of the story of the old farmer, with a horse and cart riding through the country lanes with his dog by his side and a load of hay on the back.  A sports car came around a bed far too fast and crashed into the old farmer causing considerable damage an loss.  Eventually the farmer and the driver had their day in court and of course the farmer was trying to get compensation for his loss; on the other side the defence for the insurance company were trying to settle for as little as possible.

The lawyer defending the insurance company against the farmers claim had a last chance to cross examine the farmer in the witness box and he started by saying, now please sir please just answer my question with a yes or no answer, it very simple, did you or did you not when questions by the police officer at the scene of the crime answer the constables question, when he asked you are you all right, yes thank you I am fine. The farmer did not want to answer yes or know and began “well my Lord it was like this” he got no further as the lawyer interrupted with, now please just answer yes or no! Again the farmer tried,  ­­­I was lying in” again the lawyer stopped him, please sir I have already said a yes or no answer. The farmer tried a third time “when my horse” again the lawyer interrupted and said, please sir what is it that you don’t understand about yes or no?

Fortunately at this point the judge intervened and stopped the defence lawyer and said, I know you want a simple answer, but I am going to rule that we let the farmer answer the question in his own way. So please do not interrupt him again, we will hear what he has to say.

The Farmer thanked the judge and proceeded with his story “when the car came round the bend very fast it hit my horse and cart, the horse was knocked to the ground, my dog was flung over the hedge on one side of the road and the impact through me over the hedge on the other side of the Road.

I was lying in a ditch groaning with pain when the police quickly arrived.  Being in a farming community they looked at my poor horse lying on the ground and said this horse is in great pain and defiantly cannot be helped, as I say being in a country area the police are used to animal problems and one of them went back to the car and brought out a gun and then I heard them say this animal is really injured we need to put it out of it misery, and they shot my horse.

They then found my little dog who was whimpering in the ditch the other side of the Road from me and I heard them say again this dog is so badly hurt we need to put it out of it misery and they then shot my dog.

Finally the policeman carrying the gun found me in my ditch and looking at me with his gun in his hand he asked are you all right to witch I replied I am fine thank you”!!!

So what am I going on about, I have just watched on of those question type programmes on TV with all its discussions, trying to track the big issues of the day, but expecting people to give good summaries of complex issues in sound bite answers and reach helpful conclusions?

They never do because the sound bite, yes no answer does not really give us the depth and breadth of the understanding that often these questions need.  So what do you want, the easy yes or no, or something that is more meaty, accurate and really addresses the issue.

Adrian Hawkes
For adrianhawkes.blogspot.com
Edited By Gena Muoria
W. 721

24th February 2013