Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Alternative Christmas Message

Any thoughts?

Iran's Ahmadinejad to give alternative Christmas message

Ruth Gledhill's comment | Full text | 'Christ would be on our side'

Jewish groups were up in arms today when it was revealed that Channel 4's "alternative" Christmas Day broadcast is to be delivered by President Ahmadinejad of Iran.

Mr Ahmadinejad's speech will go out at 7.15pm, four hours after the Queen's traditional Christmas Day message is broadcast on the main channels. His message is a spiritual one but includes some more nakedly political elements - including the implicit claim that if Jesus Christ were alive today, he would oppose US hegemony.

“If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers,” Mr Ahmadinejad will say in a speech to be shown in Farsi with English subtitles.

“If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over. If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime.”

It is no the first time that the broadcaster has courted controversy since Quentin Crisp delivered Channel 4's first alternative Christmas message in 1993. In 2006 a fully-veiled British-born Muslim woman used the message to attack Jack Straw, then Home Secretary, for his criticism of the niqab (face veil) earlier the same year.

Stephen Smith, director of the Holocaust Centre, said Mr Ahmadinejad's message should be treated with caution. The Iranian President has repeatedly called the Holocaust a “myth” and called for the annihilation of Israel.

Mr Smith said: “Many of his political and historical views are very dangerous and do not uphold the views in his message. I think this benign message is deception. People need to be alert to the fact that this is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Henry Grunwald QC, president of the Board of Deputies, added: "The appearance on our television screens of a man whose prejudices are so well-documented and who has openly called for the eradication of another member country of the United Nations is an affront to decency.

"To invite him to deliver a Christmas message, even a so-called alternative one, fills me with disgust. Whatever he may say in his 'message', his words on other occasions and his actions towards minority groups in Iran should have disqualified him from filling this television spot."

But Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4's head of news and current affairs, defended the choice. "As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad’s views are enormously influential," she said. “As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view."

A Channel 4 spokesman said that the message was filmed in Iran but it was kept top secret in case it fell through at the last minute. The message will be broadcast several hours after the Queen's to avoid any implications of equivalence between the monarch and the Iranian leader.

Britain and Iran have rocky relations, particularly over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.

In October, David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, warned of a possible nuclear arms race in the Middle East if Iran was allowed to press ahead unchecked with a uranium enrichment programme.

In response, Tehran accused Miliband, who is Jewish, of having “strong ties with Zionists”.

Relations between the two countries hit a low last year when Iran seized 15 British sailors and marines in disputed waters in the Shatt al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq. The troops were released safely nearly two weeks later after a televised meeting with Mr Ahmadinejad.

The Queen is to use this year's broadcast to acknowledge the impact of the credit crunch on many families as recession starts to bite.

“Christmas is a time for celebration, but this year it is a more sombre occasion for many,” she will say, emphasing the need for cutbacks. “Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and naturally give rise to feelings of insecurity."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Topics of Discussion

With a new year fast approaching, I am looking for new ideas.  Initially, there were some posts and topics that provoked some discussion.  As of later, however, the board has been relatively silent.  I am open to hearing what you would like to discuss.  If you have suggestions, please post them as a comment, or drop me an email @

Additionally, if you have expertise in a certain area and are interested in writing a piece for debate and/or discussion, please let me know.  I would love to have some guest writers in the coming year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

$3 Worth of God, Please

Wilbur Rees mused:

“I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please,

Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep

But just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the


I don’t want enough of him to make me love a [a person who is different than I] or

Pick beets with a migrant.

I want ecstasy, not transformation;

I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth.

I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.

I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.”

This is the attitude that many Christians have.  It's an attitude that has resulted in the commonly held belief that Christians are hypocrites.

What if Christians were to quit embracing this kind of faith?  What if they were willing to allow their faith to the core?  What if, rather than being intellectually naive, Christians thought through and wrestled with their faith?  What if, rather than blindly following the crowd, Christians took the radical nature of faith, hope, and love seriously?  What if, rather than overlooking their own faults and sins, Christians set aside their castigating of homosexuals and pro-lifers- instead looking at their own tendencies to overeat, be judgmental, and apathetic?  What if, rather than just talking about what God can do and how he can change peoples' lives, Christians actually joined God in his redemptive work- restoring our communities, helping people to kick the addictions that are ruining lives and marriages, etc.?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I Don't Know If I Like Christians...

Tony Morgan, a pastor, posted this on his blog this morning...

After going back and forth on this for a couple of weeks, I’ve decided to just do it. I mentioned recently that I’m not sure I like Christians. With the help of some of my friends, here are the top…

10 Reasons I Don’t Like Most Christians

  1. They consistently seem angry and bitter and worried. I thought Christians were supposed to reflect joy and kindness and peace.
  2. They don’t dream big dreams. That seems odd given the fact that we’re supposedly worshiping a God who is “able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare ask or hope.”
  3. They seem to worship their theology more than Jesus. For whatever reason, this appears to be especially true for folks that come from a reformed theology.
  4. They don’t like it when other people or ministries experience success.Think about it. There are Christians who would be overwhelmed with joy if NewSpring experienced fewer salvations, fewer baptisms and our attendance dropped.
  5. They use prayer as an excuse for inaction. They’re waiting for God to do his thing, but they aren’t willing to step out in faith and obedience.
  6. They’re more concerned with the BMW next door than the lost person who drives it. Christians hate people with money. They’re willing to sacrifice time and money for those without it, but they’re satisfied to let “rich” people go to Hell.
  7. They would rather people live life without Jesus than give up their personal preferences. What happens when your preferred teacher doesn’t teach? What happens when your preferred worship leader doesn’t lead? What happens when you don’t like the music?
  8. They are fake. They dress up a certain way on Sunday and they live as completely different people the rest of the week.
  9. They think they’re better than other people. That’s why they create rules to follow. It helps differentiate why they are holy while others are not.
  10. They’re comfortable with mediocrity. Doesn’t matter where. Think Christian music and movies. Think how we invest our time and money. You don’t seriously think God deserves our best do you?

The reality is that I’ve sinned in just about every one of these areas. It pains me to say that, but it’s true. If people hear the Gospel and reject Jesus, that’s one thing. If I’m the barrier to people accepting Christ because of me and my sin, that’s a completely different deal. Fortunately, God’s much bigger than my stupidity.

When does your humanness get in the way of people knowing the hope, forgiveness and love of Jesus? Does your life make people curious about the claims of Jesus or does it make them flee? What would you add to the list?