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We cannot pretend this violence has nothing to do with religion

After the terrible events last night in Paris, I thought I would reblog this post from earlier this year as it seemed more relevant than ever.

Grace + Truth

islamic-violenceMy next door neighbour is a devout Muslim and he is the best neighbour that it is possible to have. He recently replaced the fence between our gardens. Not only did he refuse to accept any contribution from us for the cost of the new fence, but while we were away he came round and coated our side of the fence too.

Over the years, I have got to know him and we have talked about our different faiths and what they mean to us.  There is no way that his generosity, kindness and essential decency can be separated from his faith. His beliefs and action are integral to each other.

Religion that leads to violence

In an attempt to stem the flow of anti-Muslim sentiment after atrocities such as 9/11, or the murders of Lee Rigby or the Charlie Hebdo staff, it is common to hear people say ‘this has nothing to do with Islam’…

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The secularisation of Martin Luther King

Ahead of Martin Luther King day tomorrow in the US and the release of the film ‘Selma’ in the UK, I am re-posting this article from 2013.

Grace + Truth

MLKThere has been a huge amount of coverage in this last week about the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’sI have a Dream speech which was delivered at the 1963 March on Washington.

The speech is widely considered as the most inspirational of the 20th century.  However, alongside the appreciation there is a consistent tendency of commentators to downplay or eliminate the Christian faith in King’s activism and the wider civil rights movement.

A Baptist Minister

So frequently is King is referred to as a ‘Civil Rights leader’ that many people don’t even know that he was and always remained a Baptist Minister until his death.  Despite the campaigning, the marches, the imprisonments and the Nobel prizes, almost every Sunday he would preach at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery or later on at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta.

It was because of his role as a Minister that, aged 26, he was asked to lead the boycott of…

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Three reasons why everyone should watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ this Christmas

Grace + Truth

In my view,It’s a Wonderful Lifeis not the best Christmas film ever. It is simply the best film ever, full stop.

Released in 1946, the film focuses on the life of a man called George Bailey (James Stewart) who lives in the small town of Bedford Falls. George intends to ‘shake off the dust of this crumby little town’ and get away to see the world and achieve great things. Yet through tragedy and his own sense of responsibility, he ends up spending his entire life in Bedford Falls running the building cooperative that his late father established.

He sacrifices a lot. He ends up giving the college money he has saved to his younger brother so he can go to university instead of him. During the depression he and his new wife give their honeymoon funds to keep the ‘Building & Loan’ going. All the…

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Social commentary, Uncategorized

10 Reasons why partnership working doesn’t happen

Everyone in government and charitable agencies is quick to say how committed to partnership working they are. Everyone agrees on the need to join up, work together and be smarter, but so often it doesn’t happen. Here’s my top ten reasons why: 1. We don’t do the arguing at the start Us British are not… Continue reading 10 Reasons why partnership working doesn’t happen

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Niall Cooper

Are you looking forward to the New Year with a feeling of foreboding or a spirit of hope and optimism?: An Advent Reflection

To be sure, there are many reasons to feel hopeless as we enter 2013:  The continuing threat of unchecked climate change; the countless children going hungry each and every day – at home as well as abroad; the impact of hikes in energy and food prices and squeeze on incomes; the imminent housing benefit cuts for three quarters of a million households; the seeming war of attrition against almost anyone struggling to make ends meet on benefits; the forced eviction of thousands of families from London.

On a more domestic note, will 2013 be yet another year of declining congregations, continued division over sexuality, theology and much else, and ever greater financial pressures on many local churches?

In the face of all this, do we still believe…

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