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Reluctant Worshippers Rise Again: Anyone Welcome, No Questions Asked, Just Take a Seat and listen to MaryBS tellus all about her work with ASYLUM-SEEKERS.....

(51 Posts)
revjustaboutwipestheslateclean Fri 02-Jan-09 12:29:01

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revjustaboutwipestheslateclean Fri 02-Jan-09 12:30:28

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morningpaper Fri 02-Jan-09 12:32:34

wow sounds really interesting, will keep at eye out

ruty Fri 02-Jan-09 12:46:11

thanks for that M ary BS - it is very interesting , how awful for those families to be separated, and no knowledge of when they might see each other again, especially at Christmas. God has always been a source of strength for the oppressed - for black people under slavery, and the amazing music born out of that source of strength - for jewish people in the holocaust, for so many in times of war and famine. And, for Christians at least, i think it is very pertinent that Mary and Joseph and Christ were refugees, homeless, without belonging.
Maybe it is a kind of luxury to be agnostic/athiest, something that has been born out of a society in which we have everything we need. Yes i know other societies have been athiest too, but the way in which we as individuals can now question the existence of God [i call myself a christian agnostic] could come from being spoilt in a way, having too much. Of course many say it comes from scientific discovery, but i see no reason why scientific progress and a belief in God cannot go hand in hand - science can help us understand the wonders of creation even more,, IMO.
Anyway rushing, maybe not making sense, but just a thought! grin

NorthernLurker Fri 02-Jan-09 12:53:01

Thanks Mary - it always strikes me how much the events around Christ's birth show us how God is for everyone - nothing in that story is as it 'should be'. There is no room for them, Mary wasn't married when she became pregnant, the shepherds were as I understand it just about the lowest of the low in Jewish society, the wise men were strangers from so far away, there were angels flashing around the countryside talking to people! It all adds up to a picture of how amazing God is, how God is there in the worst and most reduced circumstances and how his transforming power can touch ALL lives.

If angels and demons can't seperate us from the loe of God then neither can laws and barbed wire and distance and heartbreak.

NorthernLurker Fri 02-Jan-09 12:53:35

That should be 'love' of course blush My new years resolution is to read posts befor posting!

revjustaboutwipestheslateclean Fri 02-Jan-09 13:08:16

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ruty Fri 02-Jan-09 13:08:34

just had a shower and realised what i said was a bit garbled. Of course athiests suffer personal tragedies and maintain their belief there is no God. Perhaps it is the release from oppression that enables us to reject the idea of a creator, of somebody that watches over us. Perhaps the pattern towards athiesm is just part of our social evolution. But still, a belief in God has shaped so many events in history when people have been oppressed, that the belief, regardless of whether God exists or not, can be a huge force for good and for strength. AS is the Christian story. OK. will shut up now. grin

ruty Fri 02-Jan-09 13:11:41

oh yes i hate that rev, when people say, ah, it is God's will. But then people say that in other terms too, 'destiny' 'fate' etc. The whole free will parable in the Christian faith is a brilliant concept.

revjustaboutwipestheslateclean Fri 02-Jan-09 13:15:36

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revjustaboutwipestheslateclean Fri 02-Jan-09 13:17:15

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ruty Fri 02-Jan-09 13:18:07

I like the 'pain in the ass for the establishment' Christian approach. grin

Clockface Fri 02-Jan-09 13:26:03

Good one, Mary!

For me it raises the whole question of how to communicate somehing meaningful and helpful about God to people in really difficult situations. The best I have come up with is just to be with them, to listen and to stay with them through the difficulty, rather than try to provide an easy 1-2-3 formula for improving their lot. But then I wonder if that's a bt too passive...

Anyway, several posts in and no-one has offered any food! So, wuold anyone like some Christmas cake? Truly delicious (courtesy of Fiona Cairns, cakemaker extraordinnaire...)

KayHarker Fri 02-Jan-09 13:26:05

Bizarrely, this reminds me of an episode of Doctor Who (well, that's probably not an earth-shattering shocker, but bear with me...).

Gridlock is about all these people trapped in an endless motorway, going round and round. They can't get out of their cars, but they cling on to little family/friendship groups, and they all have this unifying hope of getting to their destination, and they all have this religious faith which is expressed by singing hymns together at different times of day.

Now, no doubt, the 'religion' means different things to different people, but it's a fascinating balance between the religion being part of what keeps them subdued in their trap, or what actually sustains them through the difficulties.

I don't know the answer to that in the wider world, but I think I'm very much in the group that believes that God is immanent - close to us in suffering, largely because the idea that He isn't, that He is distant and impersonal, isn't something which makes me a better person ultimately. I'm better, in whatever circumstance I find myself in, when I believe God is there with me. In that sense, I think I'm probably a rather bad advert for religious belief, because I'm clearly not a very nice person to begin with!!

Clockface Fri 02-Jan-09 13:31:20

I don't agree with your logic there Kay. I think you're being hard on yourself. Think about it;

You are a better person because you believe that God is with you.

Does that therefore mean that by definition you start off bad and become good by your belief?

Or that you start off good and end up better?

Or that you start off hungry and end up full? And that being hungry, you are preoccupied by your hunger (as hungy people are) but by being full, you can relax and see to the needs of others? I think that for me, the hungry / full imagery describes what my faith does for me much better than the bad / good or even the good / better dichotomies do.

Blimey...dichotomy...sounds medical.

revjustaboutwipestheslateclean Fri 02-Jan-09 13:33:28

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Clockface Fri 02-Jan-09 13:34:46

Oh yes! It is fantasic cake. The creme de la Mer of Christmas cakes (but cheaper thankfully!)

KayHarker Fri 02-Jan-09 13:46:07

I had Christmas cake this morning with my cuppa. Charcoal coated in masses of sugar, it was. grin

clockface, the hungry thing is good, I like that. I'm always really challenged in conversations with those atheists who can quite clearly live very good moral lives without reference to God, you see. I know that whenever I try to do that, I mess up in a catastrophic way, which always leads me to the conclusion that I must be a lot worse to begin with, iyswim.

Nettee Fri 02-Jan-09 17:13:24

Thank you Mary BS - shocking to think we treat people that that in this country - and humbling as you say

Revjustabout - thanks to you too for putting up with all the flack, exposing your career to discussion and keeping these threads going - much valued over here

ClarissimoUsedToBePeachy Fri 02-Jan-09 17:21:14

Than you Mary I really enjoyed reading that.

I agree faith works both for and against people in terms of how they choose to view it- opiate of the masses V freedom inspiration. My dissertation was on the effects of Christianity on the Slave Trade and I found exactly that: that for every inspired kindly giving Chriostian fighting the good fight there was another citing that Slavery was God's order and white men were superior in the Bible sad. I wabted t conclude Christianity was a mahor favctor in the end of the trade (transatlantic), but I found that it was lso a major factor in the start up and the continuation.

I praise God that one of the upsides of the Media is that the oppressed often have a vice: when we see starvation, homelessness, death how can we not feel moved by it? We do not always have money to give bt we can all pray and offer what help we can, even if its just a bag of clothes for Oxfam or an e0-mail petition on a site like Amnesty.

revjustaboutwipestheslateclean Fri 02-Jan-09 17:39:38

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HallelujahHeisBorntoMary Fri 02-Jan-09 18:26:26

In some cases, all I could do is just "be there", particularly if the detainee could speak very little English. I had a feeling of being SO powerless. In some ways it was like comforting a small child who didn't understand WHAT you were saying but understood the tone in which you said it. And to put my arms round him if needed/permitted.

I would NEVER tell someone that it was God's will that they submit, and I never saw anyone doing that. I met one detainee who saw it as his calling to help others, and I was full of admiration, that despite his own plight, he could think of others.

And do you know, just being there gave ME a boost too, because no-one was judging me, or finding fault in me, in what I said or what I did, and I think I really needed to feel/hear that blush blush blush.

I think I got far more out of it than I gave...

And I forgot to mention the cake!!! Anyone for galettes des rois (Kings' cake - traditional at Epiphany)??


DutchOma Fri 02-Jan-09 20:56:10

Oh wow, that cake is amazing.
Very thoughtful reflection too Mary, thank you.
These detention centres are really a blot on our society, especially the ones that hold children. And so very few people know about them, although it is beginning to penetrate to the national conciousness.

revjustaboutwipestheslateclean Fri 02-Jan-09 21:29:45

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DutchOma Fri 02-Jan-09 22:00:15

The stories my dd tell me about the detention centre she has contact with (Yarl's Wood) make your blood run cold.

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