I’m an immigrant (but it’s ok I’m the good kind)

I’m an immigrant.

But hold up. Before you leave this post disgusted, I’m the good type.

I’m not one of those immigrants in Calais who are trying to selfishly move to the UK so they can suck the life out of the country bringing their different skin colors and weird smells to our pale and floral smelling cities like London or Glasgow.

I moved to the USA a couple of years because I was able to and I had family and friends who helped us. I mean, we needed help because otherwise I would have had to probably limit my lukewarm chai tea latte from Starbucks to twice or heaven forfend, once a week.

Sure I moved from Belfast, where I had a great community of people around me, a job, a family who loved me, Boojum and a sense of belonging. But ever since they took Chilis away a few years ago I’ve had to wait once, (maybe twice if lucky) a year, until I visited to have a proper hot meal from a US chain restaurant.

And now Songs of Praise, a long running religious show on the BBC are offensively spending money to reporting from a migrant camp in Calais for this weekends episode. That is money that could have been much better spent on bringing back bastions of British broadcasting like Pets Win Prizes or Eldorado.

What does Christianity even have to do with people leaving oppressive living situations and traveling long distances in unbearable conditions to seek a better life anyway?

Jesus would have been ashamed to see the religion he so carefully structured around the rich, privileged and powerful reduced to reporting from this squaller. At least He had strict conditions for entry to the Kingdom of Heaven, like owning a camel. I haven’t seen one camel in the news reports from Calais and that is worrying.

And of course there will be those who claim Britain is anti immigrant and anti Christian because of all of this and especially after recent cuts to asylum support for parents with two children were announced. But we’re actually doing the Christian thing by forcing those people, oops I mean migrants, to live in even more poverty and so receive blessing from God, just like Jesus said.

Look, I’m all for helping people out a little but Jesus always made sure he kept his distance from those in need. That’s why he climbed a mountain to deliver his political manifesto the Beatitudes and another time got in a boat to preach, probably to demonstrate how cool boats were for any immigrants present who had any ideas about over staying their welcome.

And anyway, Britain has worked far too hard to make itself the country it is ever since our forefathers thousands of years before us just woke up magically one day with “British” virtues flowing through their red and blue blood. Although that’s because it’s always so bloody cold but still.

Britain is a country based on minding our own business and not getting involved in other countries affairs and now people from some of those countries, countries most of us have never been on holiday to and whom we most certainly did not have any negative influence on politically, have the cheek to take advantage of our good nature and Greggs.

Coming over here, taking our jobs that none of us really want.

How rude.

Jesus must be turning in his tomb.

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Who said it? Kanye or Jesus?

Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for. No, not an end to Madonna’s leather wearing and dancing days (we know you’re not 40 anymore). Even better. A new Bible that replaces all mention of God or Jesus with Kanye West.

I guess this is a natural progression for someone who has an ego so huge it makes Shia Labeouf seem like the shy retiring type. But if you’re honest can you really tell the difference between Kanye and Jesus? At least Kanye has made more than one album, although to be fair, Jesus’ first one sold really well.  Kanye

Below are some famous quotes. Some from Jesus and some from the new Yeezus. (Yeah I don’t understand it either). See if you can accredit the quotes to the correct Messiah.

A/ “I jog in Lanvin.”

B/ “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

C/ “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and  have it to the full.”

D/ “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”

E/ “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

F/ “I am so credible and so influential and so relevant that I will change things.”

G/ “I am God’s vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.”

H/ “Nobody can tell me where I can and can’t go.”

I/ “I have come to steal from the rich and give to the poor”

ANSWERS

A/ Kanye- This one is clearly Kanye by applying some simple logic. Jesus was like Superman which meant He never had to run, He just flew. Duh! Plus Jesus could never afford Lavin’s on a carpenters salary.

B/ Kanye- Somewhat surprisingly this was also Kanye. Presumably directed at his critics.

C/ Jesus- This one was definitely Jesus but could easily have been Kanye e.g. talking about how Spotify is stealing from millionaire musicians as opposed to Tidal which as far as I can tell is a new Laundry detergent that Kanye and his struggling to make ends meet pals like Jay-Z and Madonna have developed.

D/ Kanye or maybe, Jesus. Go on admit it, you genuinely can’t tell who said this.

E/ Kanye- LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL ha ha aahh…. ah no no… I can’t get that one past you. No, yeah, you’re right, that was Jesus.

F/ Kanye- Although Jesus could easily have said that if it wasn’t for lots of us screwing it up for him.

G/ Jesus- It’s hard to believe the man behind such hits as “I won”, from his final resurrection album, “Jesus Walks” about his stroll along the surface of water and of course the fan favorite, “Hold My Liqour” from his experimental Water into Wine era, never got to see them live.

H/ Jesus- Because if physics can’t stop Him, nothing can.

I/ Robin Hood

How did you do?

9 Sort Of Useful Tips For Surviving Your First Week In A New Church

Is there anything worse for a Christian than walking into a new church for the first time?

I am pretty sure it’s the worst thing that can happen to us. It’s so bad for me that I’ve only done it once in the year since I moved to Detroit.

There are a few things that everyone should know before committing to a new church and it’s not what kind of small groups they have or whether the Pastor preaches “straight from the Bible.”

No, there are far more serious considerations. For instance, what’s the coffee like and…. well that’s pretty much it, but in any case, here are a frustratingly 9, not 10 helpful (but mostly completely useless) “tips” to getting through the first morning in a new church, unscathed.

1. When, at the beginning of the service, the Pastor invites you to say Hi to the people around you, jokingly pretend to introduce yourself to your best friend beside you even though you drove together, just so you don’t have to go through the effort of having to actually say Hi to the guy who you don’t really care what He does for a job.

2. Free Starbucks coffee??? I feel like I’ve just won the lottery! Just don’t ask for a 13 shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with extra white mocha and caramel. It ain’t happening.

3. When the band starts playing and people gradually begin to stand up, you MUST stand up also. Even if you don’t feel like it. Especially if you don’t feel like it. Jesus died for you, the least you can do is stand for 10 minutes.

4. If, after about the 7th run through the chorus of that song the band are clearly using to fill up time because they didn’t practice this week, you want to sit down you may. Simply, sit down slowly and bow your head and close your eyes, embracing the “don’t bother him, he’s full of the Spirit” posture. Everyone will be astounded by your holiness for clearly being moved by Blessed Be Your Name….still, and you can catch up on some shut eye from staying up to 3am the previous night, looking at porn. Win, win.

5. Don’t know the song? Don’t worry, neither does the person controlling the powerpoint.

6. If the church announcements guy starts talking about what’s “trending” this week in the life of the church community, leave. You’ve accidentally wandered into Twitter.

7. Speaking of Twitter, live tweeting the sermon is simply how we use technology to spread the Gospel. And give off the appearance you were listening of course. Just make sure you have a suitably clever hashtag ready like #Rockinworship or #seriouslypastorthatwasonlyyourfirstpoint? And yeah, if you want to check the score of the game your missing for this while you’re at it, go for it. It’s all for His Glory.

8. WARNING! WARNING! THE COLLECTION PLATE IS COMING YOUR WAY! DON’T FREAK OUT!! I know, I know. You don’t want to seem like the stingy guy. But this is your first week and you’re not ready to commit financially yet…. Sure, go with that if it helps you sleep better.

9. Don’t tell anyone you like Rob Bell. You’ll be small group black listed forever. (Tweet this)

Anyone else have helpful tips for surviving your first week in a new church?
Let me know. I need all the help I can get.

The Identity Crisis of LAD and Jamie Bryson

Yesterday morning as I opened up my twitter feed to see what latest wacky method someone had employed for their Ice Bucket challenge, I soon found myself reading through another twitter discussion between Northern Ireland’s two greatest parody twitter accounts, LAD and Jamie Bryson. Only one of which is actually a genuine parody account believe it or not.

For those who don’t know and who maybe don’t even care let me explain briefly who LAD and Jamie are.

LAD are a satirical twitter account, who under the guise of a quintessential Loyalist seek to highlight the absurdities of those cultures in Northern Ireland (both Unionism and Republicanism) which from the outside must look like parodies in themselves. The obsession with flegs and culture and parades. They bring to light the contradictions that many in the political world of Northern Ireland seem to have no problem in portraying. Using twitter as their main tool as well as occasional parody videos (where they are strongest), they for the most part are successful, while being hilarious. Think, a sort of Stephen Colbert type character, that is employing the beliefs they obviously don’t agree with in order to highlight their absurdities. But with bad grammar (intentional) and an ironic love of flegs.

They are not however perfect. More on that later.

In the other corner we have Jamie Bryson. A young (at least I assume he is, his baby faced features make it truly difficult to tell), proud, Loyalist who was seen as a spokesperson of sorts for the fleg protests of November 2012, after Belfast City Council voted to fly the Union Flag on a select designated number of days, rather than the entire year. And yes, this did warrant country wide street protests and violence. Want to fight about it?

Jamie is passionate, of that no one can deny (is this a lyric?) but his own contradictions are his downfall. Like continually lambasting LAD for their “hateful” and “vile” attacks on those in his culture, while being caught on camera in a crowd of people throwing missiles at another community. D’oh!

But they both have something in common which may just be the last thread of hope for reconciliation between the two.

They both have an identity crisis.

With LAD, I’m never quite sure of who they are supposed to be. While they make a very good go at using humor to view the political situation in Northern Ireland, they often find themselves being sucked into petty twitter disputes with the likes of Jamie Bryson. They break out of character, which weakens the power that their satire has, as rusty and as rough around the edges as may be sometimes.

Compare this to earlier in the year when someone from the aforementioned Stephen Colbert show, tweeted from his characters account something which was deemed racist. It wasn’t. It was a use of satire to highlight the ignorance of racism. He wasn’t really being racist.

Rather than personally taking to twitter or social media to get angry or annoyed, he and his writers took a breath, stayed in character and delivered this amazing response on the next edition of the show.

This is what LAD need to perfect if they are to truly shake up the political landscape of Northern Ireland.

They need to understand that Jamie is someone who has a limited voice in politics and since many of his ideas would have been embarrassing at the height of the troubles, they should seek to make fun of them without getting personal. This only gives Jamie more ammunition and also distracts LAD from what they do best. Making fun of those who have outdated and harmful views on how Northern Ireland should be run.

Lately, Jamie has threatened to expose the real faces behind the LAD account. He says he knows, and he may well do. But LAD should put an end to this and expose themselves (simply their identity that is, nothing illegal). This would take the one trick Jamie could possibly have up his sleeve and would give LAD the chance to concentrate on doing what Northern Ireland politics is crying out for them to do.

Jamie’s identity crisis is just a little more sinister.

As someone who claims to be a Christian but sees no problem in attacking his fellow Christians, he fails to understand the life that Jesus came to offer everyone. Concepts like, loving your enemies, forgiveness, caring for those who face injustice (and no, having your flag taken away doesn’t count Jamie), and turning the other cheek. His faith is one based on fear, fear of the unknown, fear of what would happen if his identity, one held together by a tradition that is famous for it’s role in dividing communities not building it, was placed in something much larger, much more beautiful than “For God and Ulster.”

This is only important because the Gospel that Jamie believes in is far removed from the life that Jesus led where He challenged His own tradition and most pertinently for Jamie, one that is unrecognizable from the call to love His enemies.

Until Jamie, sorts this muddled view of His faith then His identity will always be confused.

For Jamie, this will diminish his great passion that he could direct at building a Northern Ireland where we make the next leap from peace to one where we trust those on the other side.

Perhaps even, to a time when there is no other side.

But for now, as Jamie threatens and promises to finally expose the faces behind LAD, maybe there is one possible explanation for why he keeps stalling.

One that no one would see coming.

What if Jamie Bryson is LAD?!

Now wouldn’t that be amazing?

When Christians miss the point. (How God’s Got This)

Do you remember when Rob Bell wrote Love Wins? Do you remember how it destroyed the Christian faith and led millions to Hell? Oh you don’t remember that happening? That’s because it didn’t.

Ah…but do you remember how Noah brought about the end of the Bible and thousands of years of respect for an ancient Holy Book? Continue reading

How to Noah you are a true Christian.

Inspired by my friend Craig Gross’s blog about Noah I have decided it would be really helpful if we had some way of telling who is really a Christian and who isn’t based on your opinion of the movie “Noah” and also the newly released “God’s not Dead.”

As many people have pointed out on blog posts, comments and Facebook statuses, ones opinions on these movies are critical in telling whether you are a true Christian or not. So throw away your books on predestination and election, don’t waste your time loving your neighbor. Those are all just facades to the true indicator of your faith; my fool proof, only slightly heretical, certified by no one in particular and snappily named,

“Are you really a Christian, really? Because I saw your Facebook status about seeing Noah and now I think I might have to turn all John Piper on your ass and bid you farewell” true Christian quiz.

Let’s go.. Continue reading