Why I want to be an extremist and a fundamentalist

Blog pic 1

Extremist = bad

Fundamentalist = bad

Moderate = good

These three things are held true by most people when it comes to religion. The extremist kills, the fundamentalist hates and the moderate is nice and warm and fluffy.

So, why do I want to be an extremist? Why do I want to be a fundamentalist? Why do I want to be anything other than moderate?

Look at the definitions at the top. Look at what extreme and fundamental actually mean. Think about how that would apply to Christianity, based on its central message.

Does rejecting people because of their lifestyle sound like something which forms the central core of Jesus’ teachings? Or does calling them to follow him, dining with them, talking with them and loving them sound more like it?

Does taking the lives of people for their sins sound like Jesus? Or does telling them to “go and sin no more” strike you as more fundamental to his way?

Does the pursuit of wealth for the few come across as an extreme example of Christian teaching? Or does selling everything and giving the money to the poor fit the bill?

Does a love of Queen and country seem like the central tenet for us to hold onto? Or does the seeking of God’s Kingdom over all earthly kingdoms sound like our main aim?

Does a rejection of people based on race, colour or creed sound like a divine calling? Or do you think that welcoming strangers and making disciples of all nations is the thing we are called to do instead?

Extreme love.

Extreme grace.

Extreme forgiveness.

Extreme acceptance.

Extreme devotion to God.

Extreme sacrifice.

Extreme peace.

Extreme generosity.

Extreme service of others.

Extreme life.

These, as the result of Jesus’ teachings and his sacrifice, allowing the Kingdom of God to break into this world, are the fundamentals of Christianity.

This is what true Christian extremism and fundamentalism looks like, not the false gods of the religious right in America or similar noisy factions throughout the world.

They are extreme, but not extremes of Jesus’ way.

They aren’t fundamental, but are quite the opposite as they twist and distort the truth.

And what of the “moderates”? What of the Christians who are “average in amount, intensity or degree”? Who actually wants to be one of those?

Is feeding the poor ‘average’?

Is worshipping a God that most people in the West don’t believe in ‘average’?

Is visiting the prisoner, or the sick, or the grieving, or the lonely, even though you don’t know the person ‘average’?

Is worshipping and praying with and for refugees who nobody seems to want ‘average’?

Is proclaiming your faith in the face of oppression, as many around the world have done, ‘average’?

Is speaking words of forgiveness, then singing songs of worship before being decapitated by masked men on a beach ‘average’ or ‘moderate’?

No. This is extremism and fundamentalism at its purest and most beautiful.

A quote has been posted on social media a lot recently. It says ‘If your fundamentalists are bad, there’s something wrong with your fundamentals’. I believe the fundamentals of Jesus were everything which is good. I believe that when you look at Jesus you see what an extremist, what a fundamentalist should look like.

It’s time we looked like that as well and took back those two terms to show what they can and do really mean.



We all need a rest

Matt 11

This is one of those weeks which I knew I was getting myself into when I applied to be a Reader in Training for the Church of Scotland.

I have an assignment due in by the end of this week (only 500 words and, in a rare moment of organisation and good time management, I have actually done it). I am driving the 160 miles from work at 5pm on Friday to the college I’m studying with in Dingwall in order to be at a conference day on Saturday. I have a week’s worth of studying and a lecture (plus, of course, a full time job). Oh, and I’m preaching on Sunday for the first time at my placement Church, so I also have a sermon to write.

All mixed in with being a taxi for my kids.

It genuinely feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes. You are pushed from pillar to post as your nose is constantly stuck in a book, or you’re glued to a computer screen or you’re behind the wheel of a car. It’s almost as if your life amounts to less unless you are constantly busy, always on the go; like the proverbial fly with the blue backside.

But sometimes you just need to stop. You need to have a break. You need to push through that guilt you feel for not working towards the next thing on your to do list (as if I’m ever organised enough to have a to do list!!) and just rest. Modern life gives us too much to worry about and not enough to just sit back and enjoy; it’s our responsibility to do that for ourselves. Nobody is a robot – in case you are, in which case no, I’m not Sarah Connor, now go away – we are flesh and blood and that needs to rest occasionally.

I need to remind myself of this as the work really starts to ramp up. Yes, I’ll work hard, I’ll give all I can give to it all. Not, however, at the expense of my wellbeing or family life. If I did that, I’d be no use to myself, my family, to my workplace or to God. Even he rested on the seventh day (or, arbitrary period of time, considering the creation story in Genesis is just an illustration).

So, I watched the Rugby this afternoon after doing my assignment. Then I did more reading. Now I’m doing this, just to get some stuff out as a therapeutic measure.

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30; The Message)

Yes, we all get tired and burned out. We all need to rest and be refreshed. So I will stop and enjoy life, I will watch a bit of sport, I will chat with my family and I will just spend time with Jesus.

Anyway, I have a sermon to write…

Can everybody be forgiven?

To err is human, to forgive is divine.

The old saying is as true as they come. Screwing up is the easiest thing in the world, some of us are naturals at it. Forgiving, however, is nigh on impossible at times. Especially if the person you need to forgive is yourself.

The issue of forgiveness came up in Cole Moreton’s recent interview with Chris Langham for the Independant. Langham, a successful comedy actor and writer, was jailed in 2006 for downloading indecent images of children. He went from having a career which was at its height (he’d won two BAFTAs just days before his arrest for his role in the political satire The Thick Of It) to being, understandably, a total pariah.

Despite the judge in the case ruling that Langham was not a paedophile (his defence was that he was researching a role) there is no doubt that his crime helped to perpetuate the abuse of very young children. For this, and his self-professed “arrogance” in thinking he could get away with it, he appears to be extremely repentant. His wife and children have, admirably in my opinion, stood by him and he is now trying to raise money to make a film about the remarkable Lifeline Nehemiah project in Sierrs Leone.

He appears to be trying to rebuild his life, yet one very telling line from the interview betrays an awful truth,

“I am not to be forgiven. That has been made clear to me.”

Not to be forgiven. He has committed a crime so heinous, so unspeakable, that forgiveness just isn’t possible.

In the case of those who commit sexual crimes against children the offences are, in our society, pretty much the worst you can commit. Few other crimes would lead to virtual unemployability, threats of violence, vandalism to property or the possibility of being chased by the press in the same way paedophiles or others convicted of offences similar to Langham go through. Even murderers can find redemption sometimes, just look at the career convicted murderer Leslie Grantham managed to have.

Is any crime, however, unforgivable? Is there anything one person can do which means that they can never take place in society, be rehabilitated or accepted by their fellow human being? Is anybody beyond salvation?

It’s so easy for us to hear that question and answer that there is. After all, how could there be forgiveness for Hitler, Jimmy Savile, Pol Pot, Myra Hindley or Fred West? Surely they have all committed acts so horrific that there is no way back.

““He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:46-47‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

““So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

““If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:8-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

These are just a snapshot of the mentions forgiveness gets in the New Testament and, if you look closely, you’ll see that the only condition upon forgiveness is repentance. There’s no mention of being forgiven, unless you have committed certain crimes or sins. It’s simple, repentance and forgiveness, that’s it.

That even applies to what society views as the most awful of acts. John 8 tells the story of a woman who had committed adultery. In Jesus’ time this was almost as bad as it got, and was punishable by stoning. It led to Jesus famous piece of advice, when asked if she should be stoned,

““Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”” ‭‭(John‬ ‭8:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

As the mob disappeared, Jesus picked her from the ground, asked her where her accusers had gone and told her that he does not condemn her. Again, his only caveat was his last command,

“Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”” (John‬ ‭8:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Repentance. All she needed was repentance, to truly feel sorry for what she’d done and strive to turn from all her wrongdoings.

That is all any of us need. Even Chris Langham, despite his fears, can get forgiveness. Even the vilest of paedophiles, most violent of murderers, most ruthless of dictators, can gain forgiveness for their sins. All of their sins, no matter how bad. Maybe not from everybody, maybe not even from anybody on Earth, but definitely from the one who matters.

The tough thing is, we are called to be like Jesus who, in turn, reflected the nature of God the Father. So we are called, not just to be forgiven, but to forgive as well. It’s not an easy message to hear or carry out as our natural instinct is often for revenge and outrage. However, if we surrender ourselves to God’s will, let Him shape us, then we can forgive. We can bring hope to the hopeless and true beauty out of the ugliest of situations.

Sounds like something worth doing, to me.

The gates are open

Yesterday, the above cartoon was published in Britain’s voice of reason and compassion*, the Daily Mail. (*sarcasm overload)

It upset many, many people, something I guess they’d actually be quite happy about as it means more publicity for their brand of hate. Publicity which, yes, I am granting them more of now (albeit only to the 70-100 readers each post gets on average on this blog. So not much publicity, really). For me, the reasons I got upset were fourfold.

Firstly, it meant I was angry at the Daily Mail yet again, despite trying so hard to just ignore them.

Secondly, the use of the sudden death of someone, Cilla Black, to make an attempt at humour based on a humanitarian crisis. It lacks class and humanity on many levels.

Thirdly, “illegals”. So many of the people at Calais at the moment are running scared from war, extreme poverty and persecution. They are human beings who want a chance of a better life which they don’t have, yet we do, due to an accident of birth. Yet the Mail decides to go a step further than the constant description of these refugees, these people, by most of the media as “migrants”, and decides to completely dehumanise these people by labelling them “illegals”. As if they have no right to exist, no right to compassion, no rights at all. It disgusts me!

Fourthly, though, was the heavenly imagery used in the cartoon. Hundreds of people locked out of God’s Kingdom whilst riot police try to keep back an influx of these “illegals”, whilst judging one person as worthy due to her elevated social status. It’s an image which so misrepresents God’s desire to accept us all that it was this which made my blood boil the most. 

In the letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote this,

“Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (‭‭Galatians‬ ‭3:23-29‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬)

Today, Paul may well have said that there is also no celebrity nor illegal. All are welcome and justified by their faith in Christ alone, not by their place of birth or bloodline. There is no need to climb over the fence, as some are doing in the background; rather, if we knock, the door will be opened for us.

That is what is truly wrong. The idea of God, the one who made the heavens and the Earth, the one who breathes life into us, the one who came down to Earth in order to die and save us from ourselves, the one who invites every one of us into a relationship with him, would lock the gates on those most vulnerable. Christ spoke more about helping the poor, sick and marginalised than anything else, except for the Father’s Kingdom. He did this to make the exact point Paul did to the Galatians; we are all equal in God’s sight and all equally welcome into His courts through Jesus. 

There is no need for us to queue or clamber over gates. There will be no policing, no truncheons, no hatred, no fear, no desperation. There are no “illegals” or legals. Instead, as Matt Redman put it in his song “Holy Moment”,

“We will run run run

Through your gates, o God

With a shout of love!

With a shout of love!”

People are people

It’s one of those New Testament stories which many people who aren’t particularly familiar with the Bible know. Acts 9 tells us how Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee who had been zealously persecuting the Followers of The Way (soon to be called Christians), was travelling to Damascus when he was blinded by a bright light and heard the voice of Jesus asking why he was persecuting Him. Saul then met a Christian in Damascus called Ananaias who placed his hands on Saul, who then regained his sight (scales literally fell from his eyes, where the saying comes from). Saul changed his name to Paul, made it his mission to spread the Good News of Jesus to as many as possible and, in doing so, ended up writing most of the New Testament.

It is the most amazing, dramatic story of redemption; one which has served as an example of hope to Christians for 2000 years. It has always been seen as the most startling example of a life transformed by the risen Christ.

Today, however, there may be stories coming out which are almost, if not equally as amazing. Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in the Middle East have reported a former fighter with ISIS who started dreaming about Jesus telling him he was killing His people. This man was so affected by this and other things which happened, including a Christian who gave him his Bible before being killed, that he has run away from ISIS and given his life to Christ.

The article in the link suggests, although only anecdotally, that this is not an isolated incident. If so, this is an amazing testament to the way people’s lives can really be changed by an encounter with Jesus and how even the hardest hearts can be softened. 

Now, I posted this link on Facebook and a friend of mine, perfectly understandably, pointed out that this makes no difference to those who have already been killed by the brutality of ISIS. He also commented that there was no redemption for those whose lives had been cut short. That is something I’d dispute, particularly in light of Jesus’ own words,

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭10-12‬ NIVUK)

What can be more righteous than refusing to bow down to such an evil doctrine as the warped version of Islam which ISIS espouse. Surely all those persecuted, and killed, by them have been blessed for doing the right thing. Surely their redemption is secure.

Those carrying out the persecution, however, are far from redemption. By redemption, I do not mean escaping from justice. Anyone who has carried out atrocities in the name of ISIS deserves to face justice, regardless of whether they now reject ISIS or not. However, their redemption as human beings, as children of God, as people welcomed into the Kingdom, is still possible if they do the same as the man who approached YWAM. The redemption they will receive, that this one man has received, is a spiritual redemption; one which shows the world that they are human beings, not monsters, and allows them to have the chance to do good with what remains of their lives.

Nothing will turn back the clock and undo the actions of persecutors, but God allows the slate to be wiped clean for every person, regardless of their actions,

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (‭1 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭12-17‬ NIVUK)

Paul is the example here. A man whose actions were comparable with those of ISIS towards Christians, but without whom the Christian Faith may not have spread so successfully in those early days. He accepted what he once was, but also accepted what he had become was through God’s grace.

So, I’m choosing, as well as praying for the persecuted Church, to pray earnestly for their persecutors. These are human beings, broken and hate-filled human beings, but people created in God’s image as we all are. I pray that each and every one finally sees the true face of the God they claim to follow and turn away from theatre of destruction they have chosen. Lives can be changed and saved by this, I honestly believe this. Violence against these people doesn’t work, but maybe a true act of love can do.

It’s Friday…


I work in pensions…

No, don’t go yet! Please!

Thanks. Now, as I was saying, I work in pensions. Specifically, I work in the new business department of a wealth management company which processes new pension applications. In the UK it is currently the end of the tax year and, as a result, my place of work is currently busier than the person changing the list of candidates on the UKIP website. People are desperately trying to put as much by as they can for their old age without being hit for a big tax bill, something especially this year as the amount you can put in over one tax year is about to reduce. It’s amazing how many people leave these things to the last minute and, as a result, we have an immense amount of applications in which we need to process before 6th April. The whole thing is pressure and stress; the stress of not having enough put by for retirement, the stress of getting in before the deadline, the stress of keeping on top of the work, the stress of worrying what happens if things aren’t done on time…

Stress is a fact of modern life. I guess it was probably a part of life for many in days gone by as well. Some stree about work, some are stressed because they have no work. Some stress that they don’t have enough money, some stress that they have none. Some stress about friends and family, some are stressed because they are alone. Some stress about their home while others are stressed about not having a bed for the night. Some are stressed about their weight whilst others are stressed because they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. It can consume you, leave you feeling isolated and hopeless, as if there is no escape from your circumstances.

So, we rush around, hurrying about to try to get as much done in the shortest time possible because we worry what’ll happen if we don’t. We cram our lives so full of stuff that we don’t give ourselves time to stop, take stock and think. Being busy, doing things, making money, these are things we are expected to do, things we expect of ourselves, so doing nothing except thinking and reflecting are somehow seen as lazy and counter productive.

However, stopping and being still is exactly what we need to do much of the time, just to a low us to cope with what we have to do.

This is Holy Week, the time when Christians remember the sacrifice of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That death is something Jesus knew was going to happen. He knew how he would die and the suffering and shame that it would entail.

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭39-44‬ NIVUK)

Now, over the last week I have felt like putting my head through a computer screen, snapping at people who don’t deserve it and throwing all the paper on my desk up into the air in despair. I haven’t at any stage, though, prayed that the work be taken from me and sweated blood! It really is one of those events which makes you take a step back and realise that Jesus went willingly into this situation, but he was utterly terrified of it at the same time.

It’s not death that scared him. He knew that, ultimately, he would be reunited with the father. However, the sheer pain, anguish and humiliation he was about to endure was mind blowing. David Instone-Brewer wrote this insight into crucifixion for Premier Christianity Magazine. It tells of the pain and humiliation from a physical and psychological perspective. It would have been unbearable, and Jesus knew this. This came through in the fear of this prayer; to take the burden from him if there was another way. He knew, though, that there was no other way, and he said that he still submitted to his father’s will.

This is the first point of hope in a semmingly hopeless situation. Luke tells us that an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. I don’t know how that looked or how Jesus was strengthened by this, except for one thing. Jesus was still in anguish, but he kept on praying. Sometimes the times we most need prayer are the times we least feel able to do so. Jesus found the strength in the depths of despair to keep his eyes fixed firmly on his father in heaven, praying for strength and, as we read in John’s Gospel, praying for hid disciples and all believers, knowing what they will go through after his death.

Suddenly, I feel utterly self centred and ridiculous. I have felt under, what I perceive to be, immense pressure at work, then I see Jesus praying for others as he knowingly and willingly approaches the hardest thing any human being has ever had to face. This is astonishing, more so because he is doing this for each and every one of us.

The reason he is able to do this is the reason he is doing it. His arrest, his beatings, his flogging, his mocking, his walk to Golgotha, his hands and feet being nailed to a cross, his shame, his pain and his death were not the end. He cried out that “it is finished”, but it was only his sacrifice for our sins which was finished. There was still one more unbelievable act.

The fact is that hoplessness is temporary. In the case of Jesus’ followers it wAs only a couple of days long. Hopelessness was replaced by hope. The hope that only a miracle can give. Hope that only victory over death can give. Hope that is only there in the risen Jesus, talking to the women by an empty tomb.

Therein lies the whole point. Sometimes things feel hopeless, or just difficult to bear or too stressful to take. They aren’t, they never can be, because Jesus lives.

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!


Reconciling faith and politics

I have recently been asked to explain who I am voting for in the UK general election in May and why, particularly within the context of my Christian faith. It was an interesting excercise to undertake, especially following a tweet I saw recently bemoaning how some Christians appear to talk more passionately about their political allegiances than about Christ. For me, however, the two are very closely intertwined. My faith in Christ and my reading of scripture have a massive influence on my political thinking.

Now, a quick word of comfort for you before you stop reading right now. This will not be one of those “12 reasons why Jesus was a socialist” or “Party X is the only one a true follower of Christ should vote for – and here’s why” pieces. There are far too many of those on the internet and I actually believe they’re all wrong, anyway. Jesus didn’t have a political principle in mind when he taught and he wasn’t minded to form the Galileean Labour Party either. He concentrated on bringing his father’s kingdom to Earth and on his ultimate sacrifice to save us from our own selfish natures.

What this is, though, is an explanation on why the way I have responded to Jesus’ teachings and sacrifice have largely shaped the way I think politically. Politics covers every area of our lives, as, if you have one, does a religious belief, so it’s almost impossible for one not to influence the other. When your faith is based around the most amazing grace imaginable, given by a perfect God to an undeserving world, you want to apply that to how you think the whole world should operate as well.

Grace is a wonderful concept which we sing about so much; Amazing Grace, Outrageous Grace, the triumphs of his grace, he rules the world with truth and grace; it is an integral part of our worship and the reason so many of us are drawn to God. However, it is all too easy to accept that grace for ourselves, but not to extend it to others. We only want to see welfare paid to the right kind of people, let the right sort of immigrants into our country, want to see the right sort of governments in other countries… that isn’t grace. In Matthew 25 Jesus didn’t talk about only feeding the hungry if they had a job, only welcoming strangers if they had the right skills. If we wish to reflect Jesus in our lives then we need to reflect his grace as well. It isn’t a licence to act as a doormat, letting everybody walk all over you and fleece you for every penny, but it is a call to open ourselves up to helping everybody in need. Everybody, whether we think they deserve it or not. Victimising the vulnerable for the ills in society or the economy, cutting their financial lifelines because “we’re all in this together” is not the way, in my opinion. 

It’s not Jesus’ way. 

Jesus healed the centurion’s servant because the centurion had faith that he could, not because the servant deserved to live. He healed the paralysed man on the mat because of the faith of his friends who lowered him through the roof, not because the man was too good a man to be in that situation. Jesus died on the cross because God loved the world so much that he sent his only son so that we wouldn’t die, but have live forever; he didn’t do it because we deserved it. He did it because we didn’t.

Jesus also, famously, told a rich man that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. This wasn’t because having money was a bad thing, but because of the relationship we can develop with money when we have it. Our society is centred around the capitalist ideal of wealth creation, but it is the creation of wealth for the sake of having money and being prosperous. Unfortunately, this means that money is the new god, desired and worshipped by so many that they lose sight of the one true God. The pursuit of material wealth for its own sake can be all consuming and leads to those with money storing it all up and not allowing the “trickle down” part of “trickle down economics”. So we all have to be aspirational; we aspire to a better job so we can get a bigger house or better car or more exciting holidays; satisfaction with your position is simply not acceptable. We even get politicians nowadays speaking out against those who don’t aspire to better themselves, at least in the way they deem to be acceptable.

As I said, having money itself is not a bad thing, but how you deal with it is important. We will always have the rich and the poor, but the rich need to realise that they have a responsibility to ensure that the poor are looked after. So, fair wages that people can actually live on, proper welfare, universal healthcare, fair taxation for all with the better off and corporations paying their fair share have all got to form a part of a fair economy which reflects the way the early Church shared their own money and the way Jesus taught us to support each other. In my opinion,anyway.

The way we treat our environment is important as well. Genesis tells us that God gave us dominion over the rest of the Earth, but this is not him giving us carte blanche to use all of the planet’s resources for our own ends without worrying about the consequences. When you are left in charge of something you have a duty of care, a responsibility to look after it. That is exactly what we haven’t been doing and are still not doing. We are poisoning the air that we breathe, polluting the waters we drink, shattering the earth beneath our feet and mistreating the animals we live alongside. To be somebody who stands up for the environment somehow leads to accusation of “tree-hugging” or putting plants ahead of people. The fact is that it is important that we look after the planet, partly because it’s the only one we have and partly because God has charged us with doing so.

So yes, I am very much on the left of the political spectrum. Yes, I am an environmentalist, politically. Yes, I am anti-capitalist. That’s all because of how I have taken the teachings of Jesus to heart. I also fully accept that, although I disagree with them, there are those on the right who have come to their conclusions also through reasons of faith. I cannot reconcile right-wing, capitalist or neo-liberal politics with Christianity myself, though. So I vote for left-wing parties in elections. I am now the member of a left-wing party and campaign for them because I believe that I am campaigning on issues compatible with my faith and that is why I am so passionate about them. No party will ever fully encompass my personal beliefs, but that’s because human beings are flawed and we will always be wrong about some things. All I can do is do what I think is right. That’s all any of us can do.