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Spiritual X-Factor

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Rolls Royce LogoThere is a great family story about an ancestor who was deprived of his prosperous, public company in a hostile take-over.  He struggled to find employment afterwards and used to use the Rolls-Royce and driver to go and collect his dole money.  The point is that benefits system is not something my family is really familiar with first hand.

I have never been a director of a multi-national company, however, since faithfully following a calling to leave my last employment, I have found myself adding to the ever-rising unemployment figures.  I am extremely blessed to have some savings left to me by my grandmother and feel grateful that I do have that ‘cushion’ that many people in my situation do not.  A little under a tankful of petrol a week’s worth from the government is tough to live on but everything is helpful at the moment.

However, I do have an ongoing issue with this whole job-seeker’s allowance which I wonder if all you prayerful people could help me with.

Although my nearest Job Centre is 15 minutes away, I was required, first time round to go to register at a large, urban one nearly an hour away (because of course as an unemployed person I have money to spend on petrol and parking).  I was seen 20 minutes late which wasn’t a huge problem but I have to confess I found emotionally tough; it required some pride swallowing and I was very much out of my comfort zone.  I came back with a horrible migraine and that was the rest of the day wasted – still I was setup and ready to go.

Under the rules I can work a maximum of 2 days a week and still claim, and since that initial sign on I have managed to find work that coincidentally requires 2 days a week; great.  Just before christmas they asked if I could do an extra day that week.  I am a jobseeker, I was pleased and grateful and accepted, phoning the job centre to alert them that I would not be claiming that week – here the troubles begin.

Because I did not claim that one week, I have to start the entire process over again.  Driving to the large Job Centre nearly an hour away, I got stuck behind a slow moving vehicle and got disastrously lost in the town itself so that I was 10 minutes late, big mistake, reschedule appointment, drive an hour home, waste of parking money, waste of morning (although presumably not a worry to them, as a jobseeker we, of course, have nothing else to be doing)

On the rescheduled date I had to bring my daughter who threw up all over herself with nowhere for me to be able to stop. Parking and fresh clothes expense but we did manage to get to the meeting and hopefully all is ready to go again.  I should point out, however, that far from encouraging me to work more, the  government are in fact doing the opposite and I will honestly admit to thinking twice if offered the occasional extra day again.

My question to you though…

Is this one of life little tribulations or is there a spiritual aspect?
Is this a case of trust in the Lord and not the government or is Jobseekers Allowance one of the many blessings He is providing?

Votes are not final and you will be relieved to hear that I reserve the right to decide for myself through prayer.  I am interested in your thoughts though.

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A Short New Year Poem

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As we herald in a crisp new year,
Let’s think back and shed a tear,
For all that’s happened; both good and bad,
And all those moments both happy and sad
Where we’ve been touched by the hand of another
To find the lowest of men is a brother.
We pray as we look to start time anew
That you, dear Lord, will give us a clue
As to what we are doing and where we are going,
And that your love and forgiveness remains ever flowing!
Amen

The Big Lie of Christmas

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In Ricky Gervais’s brilliant film “The Invention of Lying”, the central character is able to accrue both fortune and reputation from his ability to fabricate truth in a world unfamiliar with the concept of lying it is immoral, hollow and ultimately not enough.

CS Lewis in Miracles refers to lies as “the only defensive weapon of the child”, pointing out that “parents and schoolmasters so often tell us they can stand any vice rather than lying”.  In reality, lying is the only defense of the vulnerable, or to remove the positive spin, it is the final defense of the guilty (as many a public figure has discovered).

The bible seems pretty clear on this, Proverbs 6:16-19 lists, “six things God hates” one of which is “a lying tongue”.

Lying is a powerful vice that presents untruths as truth, attacks coherence by breeding confusion and destroys closeness by attacking trust.

What the hell is the story with Father Christmas then?

In going along with this christmas tradition we are routinely and pre-meditatively engaging in a complex and elaborate and endemic lie and through perpetuating it…

  • We are happy to model behaviour to our children that we actively discourage in our children;
  • we risk confusing them by presenting them with one view of the world before fundamentally undermining that view;
  • we risk our intimacy and influence with our children by adversely harming their trust in us.

For some reason these issues, serious ones in most contexts, are not considered important in this one context.

In that same passage in Miracles,  CS Lewis reasons that it is the “Rational and moral element in each human” that gives us evidence of the supernatural in our world; evidence of God’s hand at work.  That there is more to our world than just the order of “nature” seems undeniable to me as a Christian,

Yet the Father Christmas lie presents as true a supernatural figure who flies round the world, climbs down chimneys and gives presents to every living child (who has been good) all in one single night.  in stockings and presents we also provide physical evidence to support that lie.

In teaching our children about the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we also present a supernatural figure; who knows all, sees all, is all powerful and is everywhere.  But this time much of the evidence is spiritual and its physical form is less concrete and the source of which more open to debate.

Is there not a danger that in perpetrating a clear lie and providing evidence that seems tangible, we are irreparably damaging our children’s paradigms of the supernatural.  When they discover the lie, how are we encouraging them to vandalize their understanding and perception of God?

in an age where morals and truth is relativized and yet where people are seeking concrete certainties ever harder, the lie gains apace through commercialism.

I’m not completely sure of the origins of the Father Christmas concept, I may be wrong in assuming it to be some syncretistic blend of European Pagan and Neo-christian traditions.  Nor am I keen for my children to be the ones responsible for spoiling the ‘magic’ of the stocking for all the rest of their peers.

However, it does not sit well with me.  How about you?

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