Monday, 17 November 2014

Rochdale

Rochdale

Listening to the news coming out of Rochdale I know, as everyone is saying, that this is not the end of the story. For my readers who follow what is happening in the  British news, or those that don’t watch the news, there has come to light the fact that some 1,000 plus young people have been abused, prostituted and beaten, giving them lifelong problems.  Yet they were under the care of the authorities and had allocated social workers.  Police were also aware, but no one did anything in case political correctness was interrupted or their carers where put in jeopardy.

When I look at the regulations governing social work, fostering and the care of young people in the UK so much of it is good.  Good regulations, good intentions with an emphasis on good practice.  However it’s not so much the regulations that are at fault, rather the culture.  A culture that from many social workers is a culture of, I must protect my back at all costs.  I must make sure if something goes wrong then I don’t get the blame, and if it does go wrong how I can make sure I do not take any responsibility.  I must protect my career and my income my salary my job!

I have some sympathy with the approach, not a lot but some. I know that Social workers are often criticised for doing and criticised for not doing.  It’s a no win situation. But there is a huge cost to that culture, and who pays the cost of that, well as we can see in Rochdale it is of course vulnerable young people and children, the very people that the social workers and the system is there to look after and protect.

I wonder if it’s the training that puts this culture into the system.  Or is it Mrs Thatcher’s fault with her ‘look after number one’ that was promoted in the 80’s, or is it that we fail to think in terms of good and bad.  Even the word evil has become politically incorrect.  Often I will say to people when in those difficult situations ‘we need to ask what is right’ not what protects me or defends me, or my interests.  It can be that I lose out by doing what is right, it’s still wrong not to do it.

I’m also sympathetic to the ‘whistle blowers’ don’t tell me that they will be fine, legislation assures them that they will be protected, it’s too ‘under the carpet’ for that, I  still think they need to blow the whistle, even if being right puts them in the wrong place.  I do know what this means, we had a case whereby I encouraged a young person to take a particular authority to court for the wrongs being done to them, the authority used our service, I did think, they won’t use us after this, (I.E. encouraging the young person to take them to court) the young person won the case, rightly so, the local authority did not use our service again, can I prove that it was because of this case, of course not, it’s just one of those things.  Would I do it again, unfortunately yes, I say unfortunately because the moral imperative is more important than the consequences that I might suffer.

What do we need to do going forward, well maybe we should make sure that would be social workers foster for a year before being approved to start with, but what is really needed is a change of culture, that is not easy, usually it means a change of heart and many people don’t think that is possible, and certainly don’t know how it can be achieved.


Adrian Hawkes
Edited by Gena Areola
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Monday, 6 October 2014

Words

Words
I like words, actually trying to speak French gives me great frustrations as I know my vocabulary is incredibly small, which it is not in English.  I remember telling a story to a young lady in French, and at the end I said do you understand me, “yes” she replied, and then I asked “then why are you laughing?”  She replied, “Because it’s like listening to a five year old!”

I used to think that words where just how you expressed things, and so got irritated by those in the equality lobby who wanted to change expressions like chairman to chair person or manhole to person-hole.  It seemed to me to be picky and stupid.  I no longer think that way. I recognise that our words come from our thinking and actually re-enforces our actions.  So if we are sexist, using sexist expressions just enhances our bias.

For those of us who are followers of Jesus language is such an important element, words are important.  The great thing is that John, in his book in the New Testament part of the Bible, in the very the first verse says a very interesting thing about words; he says ‘The Word, became Flesh, and dwelt amongst us’.  He is of course talking about Jesus, and powerfully presenting the fact that God puts his words into action, in flesh and bones, so that we can really understand what is being said by a physical being in a historical setting in our time/ space/ world.

So then we as followers of this Word go on using words wrongly, and though we profess to say we think/believe something we, usually because it’s easier, use words that say the opposite.  Let me give you some examples.  We say we believe in the Priesthood of all believers but then refer to clergy and laity, which sort of in action tell you the opposite to what we have said we believe.  We say where you go to church, implying that church is a place or building, yet we profess to believe that we as people are the body of Christ, i.e. church.  I know it easy shorthand, but it is actually in action saying something opposite to what we say we believe.  People get irritated with me when they ask where do you go to church, and I reply, “You can do that?”  Puzzled look, what do you mean?  Well you can’t go to church you can only BE church – sure lots of the church can gather together, but you cannot go somewhere when you are it.

A friend used to ask me with a smile when I used to ask what time is the Service, do you mean for the car or do you need a service station. What do we think ‘divine service is anyway’ I guess if it is as scripture would have it ‘present your body a living sacrifice’ then I can understand?

Of course we use words in language to cover up the seemingly unacceptable don’t we so ‘Collateral damage’ ‘Friendly fire’ what we are really talking about is dead people, people who have been killed, but that sounds a bit harsh doesn't it.

Words are important, let’s try and say what we mean and mean what we say.


Adrian Hawkes
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Edited By Gena Areola.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

Some time ago, before the tribal troubles in Kenya I was speaking at a conference.  I was using for my talk the story of the Good Samaritan.  Knowing a little about the tensions of the area I used as my illustration one of the tribes, who in the area where I was, was not very popular to say the least. I chose this least popular tribe and used the tribal name instead of a Samaritan.

At the end of my talk, and the meeting over I was taken on one side and told how dangerous it was to speak thus. Much better to tell the story with the Samaritan as the good neighbour, as I did not understand the culture of tribal enmity, and by putting one of the ‘despised’ tribes in place of the Samaritan I was living dangerously, and people would not like it.

I wondered how we might tell the story today, maybe in the streets of London or New York perhaps, and some poor Christian guy has been mugged and beaten and is lying in the gutter.

Along comes a good Charismatic Pastor, who knowing that he has to preach to his good congregation hurries by on the other side of the Road, must protect himself to deliver the sermon.

Then along comes a worship leader par excellence, boxed instruments over the shoulder, ready to lead the people in Praise and Worship, very necessary that he was on time to tune the sound and check “1,2, 1,2, 1,2”, shame for the man in the gutter but there are people to lead, to stand, to raise holy hands; Very important that he was early to get it all ready.

Finally, a young Muslim guy saw the man from his nice new car, he stopped and lifted the mugged young Christian and put him, dirt and all, on the back seat of his new car and drove very quickly to the nearest hospital, phoning the police on his mobile.  He then visited the poor guy every day he remained in hospital until he was well again.  Which one I wonder was the man’s neighbour?
                .....................................................................

You can read the original story in Luke 10:25-37 I have put some of it here for you from the New International Version (NIV)


Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind ‘and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Adrian Hawkes
For adrianhawkes.blogspot.com
Edited by Gena Areola
w. 666


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Progressive Humans

Progressive Humans

A few of my friends have commented on this subject of late, which has set me thinking.  Every so often we have this flash of how progressive we are today, how clever we have become and how sorry we feel for those older or past that did not have our knowledge and so progress, and oh how civilised we have become.
I think that was the sort of zeitgeist around 1913 particularly in Europe and then of course came World War One 1914 - 1918 with all the civilised countries of Europe and then the world trying their best to annihilate each other.
Then of course the talk was that this was the war to end all wars, we would then become civilised. The progress of the humans could continue, we know so much better than those throughout history our forefathers and the like.  The dream was of course shattered by World War 2 1939 to 1945 with its mayhem and destruction and inhumanity to mankind by very ‘civilised progressive humans’.
It doesn’t take long for things to settle down, and I would guess that there was positivity in the 50s and certainly, there was ‘peace and love man’ in the 60’s and we are back were we started, the accident of the universe allows us to get better and better, we after all know so much more than those who went before.  Yes we have access to information at the touch of a button, we can get it on the internet, not that we always remember what we learnt or even had the wisdom to use what we know, but surely we are getting so much better, so much more civilised?  Perhaps we should not mention the Stalin regime, or Pol Pot or maybe Iraq, Syria, Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia Herzegovinian, do I need to say more?
As I think about the propensity to think that we are so much cleverer, wiser, knowledgeable than those who have gone before us, they didn’t know much did they, very superstitious, often using God to explain those things that they did not understand, at least that is what some would have us think. I am reminded, as I think about this ‘clever us now’, of an argument or was it a discussion between C. S Lewis that he relates in one of his essays.  The question is put that how silly it would be to imagine that if there is a God he would be interested in this tiny place Earth, of course the argument goes, in history they looked up and saw the sky and they did not know how large it was therefore it could seem that the Earth was the centre of the universe, now of course we know better.  I imagine Lewis pulling a book off the shelf and reading as follows, and perhaps saying “is this the sort of thing you mean?” and reading from the book he has pulled “in relation to the distance of the fixed stars Earth must be treated as a mathematical point without magnitude” “is that what you mean?”  I am sure the protagonist would reply “yes, that’s just what I meant, that’s what we now know”. Then Lewis checking, as if he needed to, saying “Oh this is from Almagest, Book one Chapter five and it was written by Ptolemy 2,000 years ago, so they obviously knew that then!”
I can hear the protagonist saying, “Well what about the nonsense of the virgin birth then? We certainly know how children are produced, and maybe Joseph didn’t understand”.  “That would be strange,” Lewis may have replied, “for then I wonder why if Joseph did not know the normal course of pregnancy he would record that on discovering his wife’s condition he was ‘minded to put her away’  Mathew chapter 1 verse 19.

 We really must stop thinking that those ancient people did not have knowledge were stupidly ignorant of normal processes of life and therefore were duped by what the Bible would list as miracles.
So are we really progressive humans, infinitely more knowledgeable, wiser and definatly more civilised?

Adrian Hawkes
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Edited By: Gena Areola

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
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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
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Edited by Gena Areola

19.07.13