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Heroes August 31, 2009

Posted by Richard in Uncategorized.
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As another rugby season begins and my boots are being laced up for another year I start this season the most disillusioned I can remember. This is not due my age and decreasing fitness nor the Lions losing but how rugby has filled the newspapers this summer. The stories at Bath rugby have been one and the other has been about\’Bloodgate\’

A hero of rugby has ruined his reputation and it is hard not to look back at all he has achieved before Harlequins and question what and he has done. Dean Richards has long been looked up but not any more.

As I return from leading on two Scripture Union residentials and think about starting another term I am challenged about how people see me. I am challenged to be real and authentic so people do not have misconceptions about me but also to have good friends who give good advice and being wary about choices I face to ‘succeed’

Dean Richards

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Pakistan blasphemy legislation petition August 26, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Justice.
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I often get asked whether Christian-Mulsim dialogue is a worthwhile activity. People want to know whether it actually achieves anything, do we tackle difficlut issues or just sit round having a nice time.

Well I hope the following link gives some indication of the fruits of our labours. It’s a petition to the Pakistani governement asking for the repeal of the Blasphemy laws in that country. These laws have been used by some Muslims to legitimise attacks on christians and this happened in a particularly viscious way recently.

This petition has been written by a Muslim and a Christian and has come about in part due to the discussions we’ve had at dialgue events where we’ve been able to highlight the plight of Christians in Pakistan in a way that doesn’t blame the Muslims here but enables them to see the injustice of what’s happening.

Do take a look, sign it if you can, and if you’re unsure about the value of dialogue I hope this inspires you to see its worth and get involved.

Pakistan blasphemy legislation petition

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A Cross Cultural Gathering August 25, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Entertainment.
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I’ve just got back from a very nice trip to France with the family. We visited a variety of interesting places: castles, caves, towers, cafes etc. During our 2 week stay there was one moment when I realised I was in a truly multi-cultural setting. I was surrounded by Muslims Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and secular people from a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. All of us joined together with a common purpose… to see Mickey Mouse come past in the parade at Disneyland Paris! For all it’s glitz and commercialism Disneyland was a truly global, multi-cultural and multi-faith gathering, much more so than any other tourist sight we visited.

Now I do try not to spend my hols reflecting on work, but it did strike me as interesting, and perhaps a challenge to those of us engaged in bringing together young people of different faiths. I’ve always resisted taking young people to visit churches or mosques as I’m not convinced that’s what they want to do. The new charity a few of us have set up is called The Feast to reflect our ethos of celebration and enjoyment at bringing people together. But here it was writ large, not perfect, but an interesting challenge.

More to Learn August 14, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Youth Work.
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The other day I spent some time with the Faiths Act Fellows . This is a group of 30 young leaders spending a year with The Tony Blair Faith Foundation. They came from the UK, the USA and Canada and included Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Athiests and Bhuddists. Whilst I was providing some training for them on dialogue with young people it also gave me some great insights into the diversity one encounters when working on a wider scale. They raised issues of concern to their communities and in their situations. Some of the guys from the States and Canada brought up concerns that I haven’t encountered here in the UK.

I have to say that they were a group of enthusiastic, passionate young people committed to doing something towards building peace and understanding. And in doing so taught me, once again, that however much I might think I know there’s always plenty more to learn.

Makes you think August 4, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Young people.
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There was an interesting contrasting piece in the Times on Friday. Two articles – one reporting on Camp Quest – an atheist camp helped financially by Richard Dawkins (Britain’s first atheist camp) and a CPAS Venture Christian holiday (helping children keep the faith). The two articles offer an interesting contrast especially for someone devoting two weeks to running such events this summer. Ruth Gledhill sums up the two articles quite well on her blog here

I have long felt that there is nothing particularly Christian or even spiritual about the residential experiencs. The former Soviet Union used Pioneer Camps as part of their strategy for training youngsters in their ideology. But there is something about the what happens when you put a group of young people together. However in that atmosphere we can create space for open honest questioning and investigation – that is what I experienced most last week.

Of course – I believe God was at work but i counted it a real privilege to be with such a great group of people on holiday with God as a natural part of all we did. I was again struck by the relevance of the Bible for all time.

Is it Just me? August 4, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Young people.
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There is, what I think is, a rather worrying report on the BBC website today about the increasing numbers of teenagers ‘sexting’. Sending intimate or sexually explicit images by ‘phone. The report highlights the dangers of this and in the middle of it there is this quote from Helen Penn from CEOP The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which I’m sure is an excellent organisation. However, she says “We can completely understand why young people want to post these images to each other.” Perhaps it’s just me being prudish or old fashioned but given all the inherent dangers or problems associated with this … I can’t.

Real Friends? August 3, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Media, Young people.
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There’s been 3 items about social networking that have caught my attention in the past few days

The first was the report written by 15 year old Matthew Robson claiming that few of his friends ued Twitter and wanted stuff for free off the internet. It seems to challenge some of the previously held views about the way teenagers use the internet

Second was Archbishop Vincent Nichols reflections that over use of soical networking leads to young people not being able to form authentic friendships

Finally was Thought for the Day by Giles Fraser that argued that too often church was only interested in ‘thick communities’ ie the traditional close knit community. Whereas for young people who were different, either through ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith, fashion or whatever then the ‘thin community’ on-line provided a place for them to find genuine community.

Different views, different ages. No real conclusions but a discussion that youthworkers need to keep up with in the coming years / months / weeks depending on how fast all this changes!