Friday, 17 June 2022

 PCC EVENT July 2021 – Almost out of Lockdown.

 

Phoenix Community Care has for many years sponsored and created social events. These events have been for its staff, Foster Carers, those cared for, our Unaccompanied Minors, and the team supporting them.

During 2020, because of CV19, almost all that we have done has had to be online, although we have continued to have face-to-face meetings with our UAMs (Unaccompanied minors) as language is often an issue, and if one has a government form to complete, extremely hard to help with that online.  On top of that, if the boiler breaks down, one cannot fix it remotely. We have tried to protect our staff as well as we could with protective equipment, and we have only recorded one mild case amongst our young people during the whole period.

We have all missed that personal interaction with every one of our placed people. Staff and friends of PCC organised this “Almost Out of Lockdown” event in July.  Hiring school grounds in London, with football facilities, bouncy castles, boxed food etc.  A big thanks to Sunny and Talitha (one of our Foster Carers), who put in all the nuts and bolts to make this a successful day.

The Weather was kind. The food was great. The music was loud. The conversations and catchups were too numerous to count. The younger children bounced. The older children had catchups and made new friends. The UAM’s soccer team took great delight in beating the PCC staff team at football, for which they received actual medals.

All in all, some eighty-plus people came for the day. Thank you for all the positive comments about our time together. We are looking forward to the next year-end event.

 

Adrian

13.07.21

W.292 

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

 

DAFFODILS, ROLLING FIELDS, SHEEP … AND CITIES.

 

I have designed a course on the subject of Culture. I have had the privilege of delivering the course to those taking degrees in theology, to students who have completed advanced training in Counselling, social workers, foster carers, and sixth form students.

For many who have a church background, I usually ask the question: “What it is you might see on what may be called, a “Christian Calendar”, Christian Magazine, Daily devotional books, or other such literature?” Most students give me the common answer, being the first part of my heading—daffodils, rolling fields, and perhaps even nice clean white sheep grazing in total serenity.

When I ask if readers have ever seen a city in such literature, I often see the lines on people's faces as they think on it.  Usually, the answer is, “No! Never!”

I was a regular visitor to churches in the USA for many years, and what surprised me was the venom I found in many countryside churches concerning cities. People almost want such places to explode or slip in the sea and never be seen again.

Our company office is in Tottenham in the heart of London, and somehow, Tottenham has a bad name for Knife crime. There is a lot of it. Yet there is also a great deal of community care. I noted during the days of CV19 the many community-organised groups that got together to deliver food, do shopping for locked-in people, cook meals for free and provide them for those in need. So much of that kind of behaviour. So, sure, Cities can be dangerous. However, let me tell you what I see as the positives of Cities.

      They can be places of protection and safety.

      They can be places where people skills can be best deployed, as in industry.

      They can be where organisations can be most usefully designated, giving great opportunities to many.

      They can be places where individual people-skills are best developed - specialisation.

      A place of a wonderful community and co-operation (unity).

      A place of wealth creation.

      A place of resource.

      A place of influence beyond its borders and often is.

In other words:

It should be good.

      A place of richness, in terms of creativity, how about, 'Silicone Valley”?

      A place of vision - Where there isn't vision people perish

So be careful what you think about Cities. They are actually great places to be.

Sadly, people who move to the countryside look at me with sympathy when I tell them where I live. “How sad for you!” they say. “What a shame! I would hate to live in the City.” Usually, I am too polite to respond, - but, do you know how insulting it is to say derogatory things about where people live? Do you know that more people live in cities than anywhere else in today's world?

For my Christian readers, those of you are used to seeing Christian literature with fields, flowers, and cottages with flowers around the door planted by a flowing stream with lambs jumping in rolling hills outside your living room window. Have you ever looked at what God promised us at the end of the age?

The New Testament Apostles went to the biggest and most influential cities, not country villages. Epistles are written to the likes of huge cities like Rome, Ephesus, Corinth Philippi, and Thessalonica.

Revelation Chapter 21 verse 2 is striking, isn't it country lovers? What God promises us at the end of the age is a city, how amazing is that?

Words 600

Adrian BlogSpot

 www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.co.uk

 

 

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

 FAMILY / COMMUNITY

 

Isn’t it interesting how much talk about community and family there is at present? I thought I ought to get in on the act and give my two pennies worth. It’s an important subject. One that I think is somewhat misunderstood and often misused. It is interesting to note that lots of the politicians are jumping on the family values, the “back to basics” bandwagon, giving us various versions, and being careful of the slippage - or is it sleaze?

 

And what do you mean by “family”? The tragedy of the UK is that these values have come to mean “nuclear family”, which being interpreted equals Dad, Mum, 2.4 kids and a family car, living in their own castle (house). This, we are strongly led to believe, is “normal family life”. Sadly, many Christians have adopted this version of family, and seek to make it sacrosanct. Worse is to come. We are now on the pathway, and unfortunately, many are already there, to be part of the “micro family.” Again, this is being interpreted as equalling one parent and, usually, one child. Is this the next pathway to normality?

 

The great tragedy of the nonsense of the micro and nuclear family syndrome is that even those that follow Jesus proclaim this as normal. Recently, I heard it pushed forward as a sign of maturity. “Leave your father and mother. Cut all ties. Then you will be grown-up”. Sounds a bit like, “Taste the forbidden fruit and you will be just like God, having the knowledge of good and evil.”  Recently, having spoken at a meeting, a gentleman shared with me that, as part of some training course he recently attended, he had been taught that “divorce is a sign of growing maturity!!!”

 

Sadly. As followers of Jesus, we are very often unable to see clearly through our cultural mist. We fail to know that what we have inculcated is neither from the Bible or Jesus, but simply secular philosophy that is permeating our culture, and it is imbibed by us with our mother’s milk.

 

So, we hear people say things like, “An English man’s home is his castle”. People say it as if they were quoting scripture, along with such things as, “leaving your parents is a sign of maturity”. Hey! These are not the words of Jesus!

 

There are many right signals to healthy development, such as good attitudes. The fruit of the Spirit is a good starter too, along with loyalty and faithfulness. Sure, the Bible tells us that people leave home to cleave to a wife or a husband. In such a circumstance the Bible surely says to “leave home”, but it does not say, “discard.”  I know too that it says, “children obey your parents”, and having left the childhood state “obey” definitely needs to be replaced by “respect.”

 

Now, I do not want to be all negative, for, if there is a wrong way to do life, it presupposes that the right way may also be available. However, if we are to reach it amid our British culture, we will need to press hard to get there.

 

I believe in extended families. There. I have put my cards on the table right at the start. This is a hard one to argue in “Nuclear Family Britain”. Even the architects, planners and city designers conspired in the 60’s and 70’s to make it hard. They pulled down the pre-war and wartime slums, and rightly so, but then they built tower blocks, dispersing the old communities/extended families to the four winds. Better housing was needed for some, but at what cost? Perhaps it was the cost of destroying extended family/community that was socially just too expensive. More than we could afford.

 

I lived in the late 1960’s in the North of England, in a place called Grangetown. It was a small town on the edge of Middlesbrough. I was there to see the last stage of the local slum clearance. The planners were in the throes of demolishing the last of the back-to-back, one toilet for four houses streets, at the bottom of town.  They were moving people into the up-market council estates in lower and upper Eston. I was granted one of these houses, and very nice it was too. It had modern amenities like central heating. I thought it was well done. Imagine then my surprise when I watched the protests of the tenants of lower Grangetown. They protested long and hard. They tried to resist the demolition. They petitioned the council. They refused to move. They got in the way of the bulldozers. They argued with the workmen sent to do the job. They clung for as long as possible to their back-to-back shared loos. As far as I can remember, Aunt Ethel took the “Custer’s last stand” posture. I looked on with amazement. Why? The houses had had it. Upper Eston was so much better.

 

Well, so they were. But then, I didn’t understand what was really going on. Now I see it better. It wasn’t just the destruction of bad housing. Yes! That really needed to go. However, it was also the destruction of the community and the displacement of extended families. Aunts and Uncles, Grandfathers and Grandmothers, cousins and even those that were twice removed, family adoptees who had earned the title of honorary aunt or uncle, and sometimes even honorary gran or grandad, and on occasions a secondary mom or dad were all to be separated in different estates. In badly housed Grangetown they all lived within hailing distance. They were all there to help, to advise. To lend a hand, to babysit, to arbitrate on discipline, to be a second opinion on important events and even to council and correction. Yes! They would also take part in the squabble and arguments of course – but that is all part of life. However, to leave, to demonstrate maturity, to become a micro or nuclear family – perish the thought. That idea never entered their heads. That would have been disloyal or unfaithful, and who in their right mind would ever want to do such a terrible thing.

 

Who would want to diminish community, or dismantle extended family by such foolish action? Well, the planners did. They probably only saw the bad housing and did not think through all the social implications. They failed to see great communities and/or extended families. The bulldozers and diggers, ball and chain cranes and demolition teams moved in, and the bad housing was suddenly there no more. Now, we could all get on and do life in our “graffiti-ised” tower blocks and our sensible nuclear/micro family’s boxes. We have come of age, become mature and grown-up. How sad! How untrue! How lonely!

 

We need to reverse the trend. Hard but necessary. It will probably be uphill. We will need to fight the mindset that has pervaded the culture. We will need to push towards housing that accommodates more than 2.5 children. We need to change the crazy thinking that creates such unrestrained loneliness in people. We need to affect that change in the planners, the politicians, the children, the social services, the church, as well as in you and I, in families and singles.

 

We need to re-sell such things as loyalty, stability, faithfulness, being there for each other, and other outmoded things like that. That does mean no arguments, no squabbling, or disagreements. It should mean that we produce community and extended family for the long haul. It does not mean that nobody goes away, moves house, or goes international. That’s silly! What it does mean, is that there is always that sense of community, real family and extended family belonging.

 

Community and extended family are important, for it is there we get our functions sorted, corrections stated, and where we activate our usefulness. We improve our skills, both relational and otherwise. We are wisely connected to the wider world, not drifting independent islands in a sea of independent micro nonsense. In a community extended home, we have personhood, we are needed, valued, wanted, and we belong.

 

So, how do we start? Well, there are lots of ways really. Buy a larger house for starters! “Oh! That is economically impossible”, I hear you say. “I cannot afford a bigger mortgage”. Yes! I know that. But what if you shared the mortgage and shared the running costs. What then? Would that be so damaging? So awful? “But it wouldn’t be just mine, would it?” you say again. No! That could be the first problem. However, if you did it, then you could take in one of those students that just moved into your area or one of the new followers of Christ that doesn’t have anywhere to live. You could even help homeless immigrants. You could foster. You could adopt. The opportunities and the needs are almost endless.

 

Forty-five years ago, many of the new churches started in house groups. Often the need caused them to move into extended homes. Sadly, many who pioneered that way have now reversed the trend and have gone back to the “castle”, “siege” mentality. “I need my privacy”, we cry. Do we? Why? As Christine Nobel said, “The problem with the English castle and its privacy is that it is often in that privacy that many things happen that should not happen.” We can see that is true in our child abuse statistics. We can see it in the figures on the English and Welsh child protection Register, some 90,000 at the time of writing. We can see it in the battered women’s hostels and the sad need of an oversubscribed, yet necessary Child Line.

 

Maybe extending the family could bring greater community protection. Protection being also on the lips of Politicians these days. The so-called, “maturing process” of the nuclear and micro family certainly has not worked. It is time for followers of Jesus to extend their family and help recreate community!

 

(Usually, these Biblical references to family are used in the sense of extended family or household. Here are some of those references.   Genesis 18:19. Exodus 12:4.  Leviticus 25:41.  Numbers 3:22.  1 Chronicles 4:27. Judges 6:15.  Judges 9:2.  Judges 18:19.  Amos 3:1.  Acts 10:7. Acts 16:15.  Acts 16:31.  Ephesians 3:15.

Philippians 4:21.)

 

 

 

Originally published May 1997

 At Pioneers City Zone Event.

Slightly adjusted for the now

adrianhawkes.blogspot.co.uk

W. 1738

Thursday, 23 December 2021

 

Metanarrative 2.

Not the first time I have written on this subject. You may have guessed that I think it is important.  What is a “metanarrative” anyway? It means “the big picture”.  Or, to put it another way; “a world view”, how one sees something, how one sees oneself” and others and how one reacts or interacts with the world at large.

I know that you know that what one does, says and or reacts to, all starts in one’s mind. So; thinking is extremely important. It is the brain that guides us, even when we think it isn’t. It is like the many times my car drove me to the wrong office after we had moved to a new address.  Of course, I blame the car. However, the truth is my brain just did what it had done many mornings before and parked me in the old parking place.

So; what we think of the world and our place in it will, of course, affect our actions. My concern is that many do not think that their world view is one that can be detrimental to others because of that view. Of course, others have different metanarratives than me. (See my blog. http://adrianhawkes.co.uk/?s=metanarrative+  this is a good description of an atheist’s world view.

Worldviews that see the world just as some kind of physical, time space only machine, end up treating people like machines. That is not very pleasant.  Then, of course, there are those who see people as just another clever animal, resulting in people that treat people like animals too.

We all live according to our metanarrative. It is in our psyche and thinking. Our thinking directs our actions. Think about the thinking of Eric Harris.  If you do not know who he is/was, let me tell you he was the youngster who shot dead 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High school in Colorado USA. We can see his metanarrative in one of his notebooks which was discovered after the tragic event He wrote, “There’s no such thing as True Good or True evil. It’s all relative to the observer.  It’s just all nature, chemistry, and math. Deal with it!” Now tell me: Does our metanarrative matter?

 

Then there is that metanarrative that says we are all here just by an accident. Now that is somewhat pointless, don’t you think? Richard Peters (1919-2011) puts it best. Again, I add, if you don’t know him, he was a major educationalist in his work place. Peters was Professor of the Philosophy of Education at the Institute of Education (founded 1947) University of London. In 1971 he was Dean of the Institute. Under his guidance the Institute grew fast and considerably influenced the development of the philosophy of education in England. But - what was his metanarrative? His metanarrative of course reflected itself in his metanarrative’s direction for education. He could do no other. With that foundation of thought he tells us, “Our basic predicament in life is to live with its ultimate pointlessness. We are monotonously reminded that education must be for life. Therefore, obviously the most important dimension of education is that in which we learn to come to terms with the pointlessness of life.” Great isn’t it. No wonder we have such an increase in suicide.

 

All “Big Stories” (metanarratives) have consequences – for good or ill – for individuals, communities and wider society.  The current secular big story that is being pushed in our current culture carries particular risks of harm and conflict for everyone. It affects how you will be treated and how, by your metanarrative, you will treat others. Are you just a consumer, a number, a machine, an animal? Are you nothing but an accident? How does your metanarrative make you think, and of course act?

Adrian Hawkes

Adrianhawkes.blogspot.co.uk

w.638

 

Thursday, 4 November 2021

PLATFORMING

 Platforming

Let me say right from the start that freedom of speech is a crucial aspect of living in a democracy.

I also am sure that freedom of speech should be limited to freedom that does not incite violence against others.

On the other side of this discussion is the whole issue of the cry that, “the left is doing this”, i.e., limiting freedom of speech. Wherever that is proposed and whoever may be doing the proposing, I am opposed to it. I have to say, however, that it does feel to me that in some regions of our public life, I am not allowed to disagree.  It has almost come to the point where, not only must I agree in my speech with things that I inwardly really disagree with, but I am pressed to think “correctly” and differently in my head.  Who said George Orwell’s Thought Police was a work of fiction?

However, the left is evil and always are the people pulling the whole world down by proclaiming socialist values like Health care, suitable housing, equality in the workplace and respect for the individual. In contrast, the right is so right it would never do such things. It supports freedom of speech.  Really?

Maybe the honest answer is that it is just using a cleverer approach to suppress such freedom. Perhaps the big lie works better and is less transparent. Perhaps if we use personal emails that cannot be checked, freedoms of information can be circumvented.

Then, if we have greater control of the press, what is reported can look like freedom of speech, but it is platforming of a different order in reality.

Listening to recent news discussions on certain politicians who others are accusing of lying is that platforming of a different order, the defending politician with regards to such accusations responded by saying, no, this is not lying its: wishful thinking, it is an exaggeration, it is hope, it is what people want to hear, and lots of other words but of course not of it is a lie, and none of it is closing down real freedom of thought and speech.

Isn't it the fact that both ends of the spectrum are keen to close down any thinking and definitely one of speech that contradicts the current line that is being pushed, usually in the interest of one segment of society whose plan is to push said agenda above all else, no matter what anyone else thinks or wished to say?  In other words, you shall not discuss; you must only agree. And in deciding, you must not only speak as we would have you too, but you must think correctly too, and the thought police will be watching. We will platform you either by not allowing you to speak or by clever, subversive actions that present you being heard anyway. I am against both methods, how about you.

 

Adrian Hawkes

www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.co.uk

W. 491

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

 

WHAT IF?

I was Thinking through Tyndale's translation of the Greek New Testament word, “ecclesia.” Tyndale translated this word in his translation of the Bible as, “congregation”. An, “ecclesia,” was a political assembly of citizens of ancient Greek states, especially the Athenian. It included the citizen’s periodic meeting for conducting public business and considering the council's affairs.

Noting that Tyndale only uses the word, “church,” twice in his translation and both are in reference to temples for such as Zeus (The Tyndale New Testament (1525) uses the word "church" twice, in the New Testament. Acts 14:13, 19:37. On both verses the word is representing heathen, idolatrous temples.)

Along with Martin Scott, I have been looking at alternative views of people such as Judas and Peter.  I wonder if we should have an alternative idea of what Paul was seeking to do as he went from City to City, establishing, “Ecclesia.”

In our modern times, we think of that word “Ecclesia” as “Church”, whatever we mean by Church! However,, an Ecclesia was the “called out ones” organizing a city. Was Paul thinking in terms of an alternative City organization with particular regards to “The Alternative Kingdom”, which, as I see, it is here and is also coming.

To enlarge on that concept, it seems to me that when Jesus put things right that were wrong, he often implied that, “The Kingdom of God is amongst you”, or, it “has come.”  So, when there is a lack of Justice, we can turn that around and bring in Justice. When that takes place the Kingdom of God has come, perhaps not in its fullest sense, but it has arrived nevertheless. Likewise, when we bring Healing, Rightness, Peace etc., It becomes the Kingdom of God right here and now in our time-space world.

So, my question is: What did Paul see as he planted Ecclesia in the different Cities? Did he also have in mind a political level of change in the City?  This is extremely unlike the “church” model that we now have, which really, it seems to me, is very much made in the image of the synagogue structure with its building and meeting places. Also, we probably need to note that the forms must have changed and become more ridged and religious after 312 and the reign of Constantine the Great.

Before that, it is evident that Christians had a powerful changing effect on the Cities and their culture, practice and habits.  We can see, that by the empty temples and the problems of what to do, as seen by Pliny the Younger, who wrote to Caesar for advice, with some entirely complimentary remarks about the Christians, wanting to know if they should be killed. 

He writes: "…the practices of Christians are that they meet on a certain day before light, where they gather and sing hymns to Christ as to a god. Binding themselves by oath, not to commit some crimes. Rather, they pledge not to commit any crimes such as fraud, theft, or adultery. Subsequently they share a meal of, "ordinary and innocent food". The apparent abandonment of the pagan temples by Christians was a threat to the pax deorum, the harmony or accord between the divine and humans, and political subversion by new religious groups was feared. This was treated as a potential crime.

Pliny ended the letter by saying that Christianity is endangering people of every age and rank and has spread not only through the cities but also through the rural villages as well. He attempted to assure Caesar that he will put it right and that it would be possible to check it. He argues his procedure is working and tells Trajan that the temples and religious festivals, which had been deserted before, are now flourishing again. There is a rising demand for sacrificial animals once more. Is that an economic desire?  Maybe he was right, or perhaps he was positively hopeful.

Recently I watched a short commentary on TV talking about the rise of Methodism in Cornwall, UK. The interviewer asked, "Why, historically was the Methodist religion so acceptable and so followed in Cornwall?" The couple being interviewed said that once Methodism had hit the area and Wesley had preached, things changed.  The Employers started paying better wages, and started treating working people better, as well as with respect. The whole area became more prosperous and settled.  Is that a political implication of the Ecclesia applied to a place or City.?

We have talked ad nauseam in specific areas concerning church structure. Maybe we should look again; but this time with radical questions, in the same manner in which we looked at Judas and Peter differently, what about Paul? What was he thinking and doing?

My thesis is, that even where you have 'bad' Christianity, if you place a Map of the world down, those “bad” places still seem better in treating people, increasing equality and other “good” Kingdom things than areas that lack such influence.

My own little story is this. I was in Africa at the wedding of a couple. I had just married them.  A couple of guys were also at the reception. Seeing me, they came over to chat and started by asking,  “Do you remember us?” I did. They went on; “You changed our lives. We came to hear you the first time you came to this country.”  I laughed, to which they responded, “Don't laugh! Not only did you change us, but you also changed our village/town, and now we have changed the next village and town.”  I was at a loss to understand what they were talking about.

It seems that the first time I was there, I had been to their village, and they were suffering from famine and lack of water. Ladies were walking miles to get some, usually dirty, water.  My response was, “This is terrible. I don't know what to do, but let me send a couple of friends here.”

My friends went, installed water tanks, encouraged them to open businesses, expanded a “Joseph principle” to them of storing their food goods in the times of plenty. It seemed that at the time of this wedding, they were again in a shortage of rain and famine. However, they went on to tell me, “It doesn't matter. We are prospering. We have water. We have grain, and we are feeding the next village as well as our own people.”

Is that a political change? Is it an economic one? It seemed to me that the “ecclesia” were the ones who were leading the town, officially or not.  And it certainly seemed to me to be some of that Kingdom had come.



Adrian Hawkes

www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.co.uk

 W.1115.

20th February 2021

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

 

Monogenerational

It is a problem.  It is a problem because it puts us into boxes and the boxes are too small.  In recent forums that I have been party to, I note that people suffer from the syndrome of monogenerational thinking.

That is a pity because it does not allow them a natural breadth of understanding.  It also allows people to make incorrect statements yet hold on to them because of the influence (and dare I say, intimidation) of the sound room of their mono generation.

In many life, work, and family areas, we are not confined to our age group. We interact across ages.  There is nevertheless the danger that we gravitate to what we consider is our generation, as that - maybe - makes us feel safer and more comfortable.  I would suggest that it is not a helpful thing for us to do.

Running an independent school, the “powers that be” complained to me that our age range was far too comprehensive. We had children from 5 to 18 playing and learning together. The establishment take was that young people should be herded into their peer/age grouping. I noted that in the real world, i.e., the playground, older children softened their play to take account of the little ones, and if one of the little ones happened to fall, then along would come to their aid a big brother/sister (not a birth brother-sister) and administer support, help, and comfort.  In the learning centre, it was likewise, more experienced learners helping young or less experienced students.  In fact, for me, the whole “non-peer group” approach had positives all around, and I still do not know what the negatives were.

In my work experience, I watch our younger staff reporting to senior outside agencies, and often their opinions are disregarded.  I then watch an older staff member take up the call, saying the same situation, sometimes almost verbatim and I witness a different, usually positive, response.  I think that ageism monoculture is at fault.

Suppose we want to positively respond to the world with a significant person bringing a contribution to progress. In such a hypothetical case, we must not live in a soundbox, be that one of monoculture, monogenerational, or dare I say it, one of the educational or financial peer groups.

Speaking at a conference not so long ago, I noted all the early morning newspapers on display. I, in my session, asked how many of the conference delegates (all “would be world changers”) had read a morning newspaper. Almost all hands were raised.  Then, I think I asked if they knew which was the best-selling newspaper in the UK. Not one person got the correct answer. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/246077/reach-of-selected-national-newspapers-in-the-uk/)  At this particular conference, the best-selling newspaper was not even on sale. I guess the organiser had assessed their audience correctly.  My arguement was that if you do not know how the world speaks, you will not communicate to the majority effectively.

Monogenerational thinking will lead us astray. We need to mix our age groups. We need to push ourselves to hear those who come from the broadest possible grouping, age wise, work wise, wealth wise gender wise and every other criterion where we don’t fit in or know about. Otherwise, we will be found with wrong views, wrong perceptions and wrong actions.  May I also add that we need to read the papers we do not like and, (horror of horrors!) listen to the music we say, “is not our thing!”

Adrian Hawkes

www.adrianhawkes.blogspot.co.uk

W. 588