Donald and growing up


Last week the script writers and producers were at work at the White House. The star of the show was to be a former reality TV show presenter and star. The intended audience, from whom approval was sought was the American populace. And the stage? Ah, this is where the audacity of the producers knew no bounds. The stage was to be the world. There was to be self choreography, all liberals and left of centre political supporters would take to the streets to join in a communal act of protest with a global dimension. And the American President would present himself to the people as the one who can stand firm against the un-American Liberal elites of the world. And it worked.

The stage was set, in utmost secrecy, so when the new President, Donald Trump was photographed signing the executive order “PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES” this was a surprise to everyone except the President’s inner circle. With that, the drama unfolded. Slowly at first and then it gathered momentum. Protests spontaneously arose across the globe. Great TV. Especially at home in the USA. The Donald for his home audience was tough and fearless, a man of his word. A man who stands up to liberal thinking across the globe and puts America’s interests first. And now he can begin to “drain the swamp” with his public approval. Like Putin, Trump does not have to deliver on the economy, but instead both can rely on populism – doing what the people want.

So, should we take all this lying down and give up the protests? Should we just accept that Trump will meet the Queen? The answer to these questions is YES. This is not capitulation, but a call to a different kind of resistance. Donald trump feeds on publicity. Deny him the publicity. To be quite honest, the internal affairs of the United States are nothing to do with us. What is of concern is how our citizens are treated, and in the age of trade, whether the US does anything to affect our trade. Remember, the tyrants of the world, Robert Mugabe, Sadam Hussein, Vladamir Putin, Gadaffi, Adolf Hitler… All these have exploited a popular mandate. Plato wrote that Democracy eventually degrades into tyranny. For Plato, this was inevitable. But it does not have to be this way. Smarter opposition is required. We need to resell the values of liberalism to an audience who are tired of “Political Correctness”. Trump’s core constituency, like the core constituency of the Brexit vote, are those who find themselves ever more excluded and unvalued and who see their national identity eroded. To oppose Donald Trump and to prevent his administration descending into tyranny, his core constituency needs to be addressed and listened to. These people need a hand up not a hand out. Protests and petitions may make us feel good but do nothing to address the core concerns of Trump’s supporters.




Je Suis Charlie

So this week, after the terrible slaughter, apparently sanctioned by Al Qaeda, the stories in the press are still focused on the events in France.

Charlie Hebdo is back in production, with a record print run and cartoon of Mohammed on the cover.

The depiction of Muhammad is forbidden in Islam apparently – although this could change.

The original prohibition was to prevent idolatry, and to stop the prophet turning into a deified being.

Has this worked? Mohammad is a creature, just like us. The ban on images has had the opposite effect to what was intended. Muhammad is now a semi divine being and no longer human.


And now, prepare to be offended. Pictures of Mohammed, bare faced.

Prepare for the worst – riots in Karachi, bombings in London, extensive media speculation and the BBC will not show these images.

Or maybe not – for what is really offensive about these images?


Muhammad in Medina

"Muhammad 6". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –


Muhammad and the Angel Gabriel c. 1425



And this is my favourite

depiction of Muhammad receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. From the manuscript Jami' al-tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, 1307, Ilkhanate period.



And now for something more serious.

The mindless bullies of Islam will not like this one for they are the targets, and their pride will be pricked.

But out of respect for the Prophet, the face has been blanked out


The text is

Prophet: I am the prophet, arsehole

Jihadist: Die Infidel








White van man (or woman) and the Labour Party

I must admit I was totally at a loss when the White Van Man story broke during the Rochester bye-election. A photo of Dan Ware's family home got the political classes all a-twitter. Just what was so wrong about the picture tweeted by a Labour shadow minister Emily Thornberry? A house, a white van and a collection of England flags. And the message? Hmmm. That was the problem. The message is what people read into the picture. Labour is sneering at… whom? Ok, for a public figure, the tweet was misguided. It was a picture of a family home that was readily identified by the wider press, not really fair on the family. It was the picture of the home of a serious England football supporter.

Personally, I think that only people who should be hanging their heads in shame are those who run the Football Association for their incompetence. Mr Ware and all of us are consistently let down by the lack-lustre performance of England's football team. Come on, we have world class athletes because of world-class organisation. And the Football Association? Just as well they were not running the 2012 Olympic Games. We would still be waiting for the venues to be finished. And as for winning medals… If we as a nation are capable of fielding a world class athletics team, ought we not be capable of fielding a world class football team?

But that is enough of football. The story of Dan Ware and his white van has some serious lessons for all the political parties, especially the Labour Party. There is no evidence that Mr Ware is a political animal. It is extremely unlikely, that however much the political parties begged and pleaded and sucked up to Mr Ware, he would have voted at all in this bye-election. Mr Ware, like a sizeable proportion of the population, does not belong to the voting classes, and it is the voting classes who matter in any election.

And just who are the voting classes? Some people have their favourite teams, just like Mr Ware, and they will vote consistently for their team. Switching allegiances to another team seldom happens. If your team disappoints, you just don't vote. But why the allegiance in the first place? Perhaps it is something to do with class, a great British preoccupation. It is more to do with people like me, and people who share my dreams and aspirations, and people who understand my fears. And then there is the consumerist aspect. I vote for the candidate/party who will do the most for me and my family, a secondary factor may well be who will do the best for my country. And also there is ideology. A shared vision, a shared vision – I vote for the party/candidate who shares my beliefs. Complex. All political parties are out to get your vote, and are determined to show that they are people like you and me.

For too long the Labour party has not looked at what s really happening out there in the constituencies. If a voter votes for a party who is "most like me", then it is even more so for membership of political parties. Imagine Mr Ware turning up at a constituency party meeting. Mr Ware is self-employed, with several business ventures. He is not anti-capitalist, he does not have great allegiance to the collective power of the trade unionists, and he is English working class of working age. All of which sort of excludes him from membership of the Labour party, and the Conservative party. Lib Dems? No. UKIP perhaps? A young party, with no clearly defined membership profile? If Mr Ware decided to join a political party, this is probably the party he would join.

This is the problem for the Labour Party, the roots of which are an alliance of the interests of the working classes in a bygone age and those who bought into an ideology which promoted a more equal and just society. The key is the bygone age. The lives of working class people has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Industry is not what it used to be. Employment is more fragmented. Collectivism only exists in a few places. And so the Labour Party has become the domain of public servants, health workers and some trade unionists. White Van man, the self employed tradesman does not fit into this picture at all.

Both Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher understood a fundamental truth of our democracy, that people have aspirations, that people want autonomy and the tools to be able to support themselves and their families. Unless the Labour Party looks again at the legacy of Tony Blair and his Mondeo Man, the Labour party will replace the Lib Dems as the rump third party in our democracy.

Gay Marriage Cake Debacle

Thursday 6th November

Today the battle between the Belfast baker and gay rights rumbles on.

I am not too sure about what annoys me more about this story. First there is the assertion by so many that this baker was standing up for Christian values. Next is the entrapment by the gay rights organisation – that cake itself was not a wedding cake, but a vehicle for a political slogan.

First the Christian values. Jesus was remarkably quiet about gay marriage, given that so many Christians feel that making a stand on this issue is a testimony of faith. What does Jesus say? Love your neighbour as yourself – does that not encompass "accept your neighbour for who they are"? Jesus also taught "Do not condemn; and you will not be condemned. Pardon and you will be pardoned". Jesus' harshest words were often reserved for those who thought they understood the law and the scriptures "you load men with intolerable burdens and will not lift a finger to lighten the load" (Luke 11:46). Be careful, all of you who preach against the Gay community, for you may be called to judgement yourselves. Our faith as Christians does not encompass demonising others, but rather we care called to embrace and accept all for who they are. As Christians, we are called to bring the Good News of Jesus to others, not to enforce a moral code that can be tenuously drawn out from a few verses in Scripture. It would not be against our faith to bake and decorate a cake for a gay couple who wish to celebrate their marriage. Neither would it be breaking faith for a Christian Registrar to officiate at a ceremony for a gay couple. It would be against our faith to condemn whole groups of people to living in misery just because they are who they are.

Second point. The cake. It is within the gift of the state to determine what relationships can be determined as marriage. For instance, in the UK first cousins can marry. But Canon Law in the Catholic Church decrees that first cousins cannot marry. In the UK, divorced parties can remarry, in Ireland this is a comparatively recent phenomenon. And so it is with gay marriage. It is the state which decides on this matter. In Northern Ireland, the State has decreed that the only marriage recognised is between one man and one woman. To change the mind of the state is a political act. And so, the slogan "Support Gay Marriage" serves a political end, to change the mind of the state and to enable gay marriage. Should a cake bearing a political slogan, for a campaigning event be treated, in the same way as a real wedding cake or other celebratory cake that would celebrate the union between a gay couple. The gay activist was asking the baker to produce a cake with a political slogan he did not agree with. Suppose the slogan was "Support Joining the Euro" and the baker was a well known UKIP supporter. Would anyone be surprised that the bake would turn down this commission?


The modern day Scribes and Pharisees of the Catholic Church

Saturday 18 October 2014: Breaking news – Synod of Bishops reject “welcome to Gays” and also reject accepting divorced and remarried Catholics.

The conservative bishops in the Catholic Church have won, and Pope Francis’s attempt to “modernise” the Church has failed. A triumph for the old order. But only just. At stake was the acceptance of homosexual relationships and the end to the permanent excommunication for those who had divorced and then remarried. What was needed was a two thirds majority for these proposals. There was a majority, that is the good news, but not a sufficient majority to bring about change.

This though is just the start of the battle. The Catholic Church has a problem with sex and gender; the symptoms are for all to see, from paedophile priests to the bizarre ban on all forms of “artificial” contraception, as well as the issue of women’s ministry in the Church. Our bishop has resigned, a good bishop, because he could not cope with the demands of a celibate life. These bishops and archbishops and cardinals have been appointed by conservative popes – the miracle is that so many are willing to look again at Catholic teaching and practice and to vote for change.

There is another problem. An arch- conservative faction of the laity, now gathered under an umbrella called “The Voice of the Family”. There are other organisations, such as the Association of Catholic Women. A faction that sees itself as the guardians of the true Church, ready to write to the bishop each time there is a deviation from the “true” teaching of the Church.

And where would Jesus be in all this? What would he say, he who turned on those trying to trap him saying “Alas for you lawyers also! You load men with intolerable burdens, and will not lift a finger to lighten the load” (Luke 11:46 – from the Gospel read on Wednesday 15th October 2014). What would Jesus say to those wishing enforce “Church teaching” in all its rigidity? Such teaching that denounces all gay relationships, bars those who are divorced and remarried from the life of the Church, or prevents couples resorting to IVF when this is the only hope of having a healthy child and demands total celibacy from a 100% male clergy? Would a modern day Gospel have Jesus dining at the home of Zechariah and his partner? Would the marriage at Cana be between a man and a woman who have both been divorced?

Pope Francis is to be commended for his efforts to bring the compassion of Jesus back into the pastoral teaching of the Catholic Church.

And for this who oppose this, the Scribes and Pharisees of the Catholic Church? Did Jesus really say at the Last Supper “take this and eat, but only if you obey the letter of the law”?


Islamic State or Satanic State?

I am the One that whispers in the ear of the believer. My voice is beguiling, seductive.

I promise much to the one who follows me. Such rewards. Paradise at the highest level. Wealth. Power. Women. Whatever you desire I can give you.

I whisper in the ear, “Come, and I can show you the true meaning of what is written – a meaning that is hidden from the eyes of the ordinary believer. But you are special. You will understand what others cannot. And you are brave enough to act on this”

I whisper in the ear to the one who longs to hear my voice, “Come you are my chosen one, follow me. For today we will take vengeance on those who deny the truth, today the kafir will die, the kafir and his wife and his children. I may call you to become a martyr, for that will please me and your reward will be great, I may call you to give your life to kill the kafir”.

I whisper “You are chosen to show that Islam is not the soft religion that so many want it to be, a cosy religion that absorbs the heresy of democracy and allows different faiths to live together. Come I can show you that this is blasphemy.”

I whisper, “Come you are called, join my Jihad”

I whisper and they listen.

My name is Satan and my black flag is flying.

Editor’s note:

Ordinary Muslims are incredibly upset at what they see is happening. Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are the complete antithesis of what they believe. Satan is at work, now just as he has been throughout the whole of human history, whispering in the ears of anyone who will listen. Islamic state or Satanic State – the choice is yours.

Alan Henning: Hero and Martyr

Saturday morning. We woke up to the news that Alan Henning had been brutally murdered by his captors. We know little about Alan, except that he was an ordinary sort of chap who wanted to do good. Lots of people are like Alan, except he took it a step further, or indeed, several steps further, by giving up his time and money and family life in order to help the Syrian people. And in the end, he gave his life.

Alan was definitely a hero. But was he also a martyr? The Greek meaning behind the word “martyr” (μάρτυς) means witness. In one sense, all Christians and Muslims are called to bear witness to their faith, and so, all true believers are “martyrs”. However, another layer of meaning is added to the word “martyr”, namely that the exemplary martyr is the one whose witness results in being put to death, the one who dies because of their witness. For Christians, the ultimate martyr is Christ himself. Alan is a martyr, for bearing witness to a better vision of humanity, and for that his life was taken.

Alan’s family are distraught, but they should be proud that Alan was the man he proved to be, brave and generous. And perhaps his courage and humanity should be recognised, a posthumous perhaps. The ultimate would be the the Nobel Peace Prize.

May you rest in peace Alan, and may we not forget what your goodness.

The resignation of Bishop Kieran Conry

Today it was announced that Bishop Kieran Conry was resigning as our Bishop, because, as he put it, he had been unfaithful to his calling as a priest.

As his letter was read out, the church was silent. There had been no warning, jut this, a resignation. For most people, Bishop Kieran was a good bishop, approachable, a man of faith, human… And it is that humanness was seems to have led to his downfall. Another priest has been sacrificed on the altar of perfection. And the swivel-eyed loons of an austere, ungiving Catholicism are dancing in ecstasy on the grave of Bishop Kieran’s reputation. Who is next in their sights, Cardinal Vincent Nicholls? Perhaps Pope Francis? Would even the Lord himself have passed muster, with his dangerous, liberal ideas that floored the Pharisees with their emphasis on “right” teaching and living? Would St Peter, that flawed individual, or St Paul, riddled with angst, be good enough? Today’s gospel challenges all of us who think we know what makes a good Christian. The true followers of Jesus are those who know they need to be forgiven, the tax collectors and prostitutes.

This should be a wake-up call to the whole Catholic Church, to stop denying the humanity of our priests, to stop crucifying our priests by expecting them to be “in persona Christi” all day and every day. Sadly, for Bishop Kieran, there may have been no other course of action, he had to resign. We know not the details behind his resignation. But many of us wish he did not have to go. Cannot a flawed human being, truly contrite, make a good bishop?

It is time for the Church to change, to concentrate on the mission of the Church, to bring the Good News of God’s love for us to the world. It is time for the Church to realise that blanket priestly celibacy is counterproductive and does not sustain the Church’s core mission.