Dr John Coulter ✍ When my late dad took over as minister of Clough Presbyterian Church, near Ballymena, in 1963, I shared a church pew with a retired missionary to Africa - Nancy Alexander - affectionately known to me as Miss Nancy.

On Sundays before morning worship, Miss Nancy would share her tales of working in that challenging continent as a Presbyterian missionary. My dad was only in Clough a short time when she sadly died, but I always fondly remembered the tales about her evangelical witness to the Africans.

Ireland, north and south, has always had a rich history of sending Christian missionaries to Africa over the centuries.

If I take a visit several years ago to Kenya as a benchmark, the African Christian Church - of whatever denomination - is both growing and thriving in spite of the hunger, thirst, civil unrest and disease challenges which that mighty continent faces.

Contrast that with the present day geographic island of Ireland where liberalism, secularism and pluralism seems to be the order of the day. Dedicated evangelical Christian missionaries like Miss Nancy would be spinning in their graves at the religious state of the island they once called home.

Given the buoyant state of the Christian Church in Africa, maybe the time has come for Africa to send its missionaries to ‘save’ Ireland? Every year seems to bring new laws which clearly undermine the Biblically-based moral fibre of Irish society which Miss Nancy left in her prime to bring the Gospel message to the Africans.

With falling attendances at Sunday worship across many denominations and the perception that fewer people want to become clerics, how soon will we reach a position when in a future census Ireland is no longer classified as a Christian island?

That is not to decry the terrific work which many Christian missionaries still do in Africa and in other parts of the globe.

But the time has clearly come for the Christian Church in Ireland to face some bitter medicine in the form of the Biblical New Testament advice - take the mote out of your own eye before you take the beam out of someone else’s.

Put bluntly and practically - there is a huge mission field on our front doorsteps here in Ireland without having to trek all the way to Africa to find converts. Again, this is not to decry those who feel called by God to serve as missionaries in foreign soils.

Surely there are enough folk in Ireland who need spiritual counselling and Christian help without having to look overseas? The time has surely come, too, for the African church to return the serve in terms of missionary callings and send its Christians to this island to convert people to Christianity.

While many folk still designate themselves spiritually as Christian, there is a perception that many folk in today’s Ireland are really nominal Christians - that is, Christian in name only.

Indeed, that perception is fuelled by the concept they only darken a place of worship for baptisms, weddings and funerals - bluntly branded as ‘hatch, match and dispatch’ with an occasional Christmas and Easter service attendance thrown in for an image sake.

Is it a case in terms of evangelical outreach that our churches in Ireland cannot see the wood for the trees. They are so busy organising missionaries for foreign lands that they cannot see the increasing needs of people on this island.

This is an issue I have often wondered about since my teenage years. During the summer months, our youth fellowship would hold a Sunday evening open air witness on the greens of the housing developments in the local communities which the church served.

One Sunday evening, the youth fellowship went to Portrush to hand out Gospel tracts and chat to people. But why did we need to travel all the way from the north Antrim hills to Portrush when there were clear spiritual needs in the local community?

It has since baffled me why churches need to travel many miles away from their local bases to evangelise when there are spiritual needs in the communities in which they are located.

The time has now come to have the main focus on missionary work on the home mission field in Ireland rather than foreign shores. The falling numbers in the pews have a knock-on effect on the number of volunteers for home mission outreach.

If that is truly the case, then the Irish-based churches need to call on reinforcements from the African churches - come to Ireland where the need is most!
 
Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter
Listen to commentator Dr John Coulter’s programme, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 10.15 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM. Listen online.

Maybe African Missionaries Need To Evangelise Ireland?

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of One Thousand And Thirty Five

 

A Morning Thought @ 2163

People And NatureWritten by Hilary Horrocks.

10-April-2024

Five thousand people joined a march in Campi Bisenzio, near Florence, on Saturday evening 6 April, organised by the sacked workers at the huge GKN factory, who have been fighting for two-and-a-half years to keep their workplace open under public ownership and workers’ control.

Shop stewards from the ex-GKN workers’ collective at Campi Bisenzio,
Florence, leading 5000 marchers last weekend.
The large banner bears their slogan, Insorgiamo (Let Us Rise Up)

The dispute and the occupation of the factory continues, since an Italian labour court ruled against the final attempt to dismiss the 400 GKN employees just before the deadline of 1 January this year. Now, though, the workers are not receiving any wages.

The demonstration at the weekend was called by the workers’ Collective in response to an attack on the occupied factory by the management, the most likely organisers of a break-in in the early hours of the morning last week to cut off electricity to the plant.

The Collective was set up in 2017. In July 2021 Melrose, the owners of GKN, announced that they planned to shut down the factory and sell it off to property developers. Since then, the Collective has become a nucleus for a campaign that has won wide support in the climate justice movement and in the community.

The ex-GKN Collective has argued forcefully and convincingly, with the participation of academic researchers, for a just transition away from the factory’s former role of turning out car axles, towards the production of socially useful items such as cargo bikes and solar panels, vital in the battle to save the climate.

Campi Bisenzio is typical of the working-class areas near Florence, with a strong radical tradition, including support for the Resistance during the Second World War. (Stuart Hood (1915-2011), the Scottish writer and broadcaster who fought with the partisans, recalled in his memoir Pebbles from My Skull that his partisan group in the hills overlooking Campi could rely on its inhabitants for food and arms.)

The attack on the factory, and the electricity cut-off, was the culmination of weeks of intimidation against a Festival of Working Class Literature held outside the factory at the weekend. It had been threatened with being banned, on the ludicrous grounds that it was an illegal “rave party”.

But the Festival went ahead, attended by thousands of predominantly young people, some of them students from Florence, Bologna and other universities who have been volunteering with the workers’ collective for two years. It was full of life, with impressive sessions by committed speakers on working-class writing internationally.

The audience at the Festival of Working Class Literature held at the ex-GKN factory

A drone – suspected to be operated by a management stooge – could be seen spying on the Festival throughout the weekend.

There was a talk by the English author Anthony Cartwright on his novel How I Killed Margaret Thatcher, a semi-autobiographical reflection on the catastrophic deindustrialisation of the Black Country in the Midlands during the 1980s.

Film director Ken Loach sent a message of support, saying: “The GKN project demonstrates that the exploiters need us, but we don’t need them … You are setting an example that we all need to follow.”

In an inspiring collaboration between the occupying workers and the climate justice movement, the Collective announced the day after the Festival that solar panels had suddenly been installed over the weekend in the factory car park – something the management had promised, but had not accomplished, in ten years.

The panels, they said, had been brought from Germany by climate activists and were customised on the spot by the occupying workers, providing an alternative source of power to the sabotaged electricity supply.

The Collective is appealing for financial support and for subscriptions to a co-operative ownership scheme for the factory. Full details of this, and a recording of an excellent recent webinar on the campaign (in English), are here. 10 April 2024

★ Information on the campaign in English

★ The GKN Collective on facebook (mostly Italian, some English)

★ More about the GKN Collective on People & Nature here and here

⏩ People & Nature is now on mastodon, as well as twitterwhatsapp and telegram. Please follow! Or email peoplenature@protonmail.com, and we’ll add you to our circulation list (2-4 messages per month).

GKN Sit-In Festival ⇔ ‘The Exploiters Need Us, But We Don’t Need Them’

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of One Thousand And Thirty Four

Atheist Republic An openly lesbian Lebanese stand-up comic and LGBTQIA+ rights activist is facing criminal charges from Lebanon’s Islamic religious authorities on May 9th after her sketch about Muslim Friday prayers went viral and sparked controversy online.


Shaden Fakih has amassed a large online following for her jabs at Lebanon’s religious authorities and the sectarian factions that have long dominated the country’s political scene. 

But despite Lebanon’s reputation as one of the most open and tolerant societies in the Arab and Muslim world, her crude jokes have occasionally angered many Lebanese.

State-run National News Agency reported that Lebanon’s Supreme Islamic Shiite Council lodged a complaint against Fakih for “the crimes of blasphemy, insulting religious rituals and stirring sectarian… strife.”

Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, Lebanon’s Grand Mufti, ordered Dar al-Fatwa, the country’s top Sunni religious authority, on May 9th to file a complaint against Fakih for “insult and blasphemy against the divine glory and Prophet Muhammad.”

The NNA also said Dar al-Fatwa accused Fakih of “inciting religious and sectarian strife” and “undermining national unity,” A judicial source told Agence France-Presse that the Lebanese judiciary still hasn’t looked into the complaints against the comedian because the relevant judge is still abroad.

Continue reading @ Atheist Republic.

Insult To Islam? Lebanon Targets Lesbian Comic Over Prayers Jokes

Harry McCallion 📹 a former SAS member shares his views on the South Armagh and East Tyrone IRA Units, Gerry Adams & more.

Recommended by Christy Walsh.

Ex-SAS Man Speaks About IRA

Right Wing Watch 👀 Far-Right Broadcaster Stew Peters Plans An ‘Extreme Accountability’ Weekend Of ‘Bloody Bidens’ And Book Burning.
Kyle Mantyla 

Far-right broadcaster Stew Peters is a racist, anti-LGBTQ bigot who regularly uses his nightly program, speeches, and social media accounts to promote white nationalism and virulent antisemitism while spreading wild conspiracy theories, bigotry, and open calls for violence.

Peters has repeatedly called for violence against the government and his perceived political enemies, threatening time and again to deliver “extreme accountability,” by which he means public executions.

Now, Peters appears poised to take his radicalism out from behind the camera and into the real with an “Extreme Accountability Event” to be held in October at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino in New Jersey. According to the website, the theme of the weekend will be “Nuremberg 2.0” and the event will feature “drinks and specialty cocktails all weekend like ‘The Retribution’ and ‘Bloody Bidens,'” as well as “a red-carpet ‘Gallows Gala'” and a “Gallows and Mimosas” brunch.

But the highlight of the event will be a literal book-burning, reminiscent of those that occurred in Nazi Germany, which Peters has repeatedly praised.

Continue reading @ Right Wing Watch.

Weekend Of ‘Bloody Bidens’ And Book Burning

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of One Thousand And Thirty Three

 

A Morning Thought @ 2162

Anthony McIntyre It was our first time at a European level cup final.


Tickets for myself and my son as an early birthday gift from my wife, bestowed on us the day before the final, was a huge surprise. Never any chance of them being passed on as unwanted gifts; in any event, a practice I have never indulged in throughout my life. Given that my first attendance at a soccer match was back in 1963, turning up at a European final was a long time in coming. My wife, as ever, delivering the goods when they are least expected.

Our cup final quartet - the same one that made the Bohs-Pat's final back in November - was lucky to be able to assemble for this one. The Drogheda assembly point being beyond us, we opted to rendezvous in Dublin after earlier attempts to secure tickets for all four had not quite worked out. Paddy and his son managed to get theirs before the prices skyrocketed. That was it then, we thought: no final for us. Until my wife worked her magic. By the time her wand had waved, Paddy had already made his plans to be in Dublin early on to make the most of father-son quality time.


So, unlike our November odyssey, this time we improvised rather than planned. My son's friend, 'Sylvester', tagged along. He started the day with two shoes but didn't quite end it that way for a reason to be explained later. On the hoof might not just be the most appropriate phrase to describe a journey with a shoe short. 

The train ride to Dublin was lubricated by a few sips of Scotch, and then some, along the way. We met Paddy and Jason at Connolly Station from where we set off for pre-match drinks, using the bars along the route as pint stops. The beers for me at any rate were supplements to my Jack hip flask and reserve travel bottle . . . just in case.  In one of the watering holes we teamed up with a crew of Bayer Leverkusen supporters who were in high spirits. Given the outcome, better to have met them before the game than after it.


Three hours later we arrived at the Aviva. Fortunately for Paddy but not for ourselves, he followed the colour code correctly whereas we had to trudge on what seemed like a route march to get to our designated section of the ground. About an hour later, the worse for wear and with probably more alcohol imbibed than I should have, I told my son I was going into the pub to watch the game: no more walking for me. He tried to talk sense into me and at one point phoned his mother, inquiring what he might do with his ornery auld bollix of a da. I explained to her in a state not best characterised as sobriety that 'those bastards in EUFA' had sold more tickets than the stadium could accommodate so they had sent us off on this endless march to stop us congregating in one spot but at the same time keeping us out of the ground. I must have sounded like some paranoid conspiracy wingnut on a mission to explain that the EU is orchestrating the re-plantation of Ireland through a strategy of great replacement. 

My wife, used to my impatience and petulance, told my son to ignore me and head on in, that I was a 'wee baby having a temper tantrum.' He mocked me - somebody please help my grumpy old da. He can't walk anymore!! My wife's prediction that I would catch up came to pass, but only after I had bumped into a Drogheda guy we had met earlier in one of the bars along the way. He was knackered, having walked the same endless route, but he did persuade me to reverse direction. Within little more than five minutes we were there. It as as well I can laugh at myself, because with everybody else laughing at me, it would be a lonely stand from which to emit self-indulgent scowls of indignation.


Once inside the Aviva the atmosphere was intense as the fans from Leverkusen and Atalanta vied for decebilic supremacy. The seats we had, almost at the half way line, give us a panoramic view of the pitch. It was our hope that Leverkusen would emerge as victors. Xabi Alonso, the former Liverpool midfield maestro endeared us to his team but Leverkusen also stood on the cusp of a historic achievement which we wanted to feel part of: were they to win, followed by a victory in tonight's German cup final clash, they would have gone the entire season without losing a single game. 


It was not to be, and that opens the door to another Liverpool dimension - if you play against Atalanta the way Liverpool did you can only lose, and lose big. That's precisely what Leverkusen did. On the night they simply failed to turn up. A neat Atalanta hattrick from Lookman sealed their fate. It was a brilliant individual performance, matched by no other on the field.


We left the stadium, disappointed but not deflated. While my son got animated during the game neither of us really had a dog in the fight. It was just a great experience to have soaked up the atmosphere of a major European final. That, earlier in the year, we had hoped to see Liverpool there before they imploded is a story best left for another day.


The five of us met up again at Connolly Station close to midnight. Sylvester for some inexplicable reason opted to board the train to Howth. Upon realisation of his error he backed out just before it pulled out of the station. The doors closed on his foot: his runner rather than he made the trip to Howth. We told him not to worry, that he would be a shoe-in for a taxi once we reached Drogheda. 


So ended our trip to my first and probably last European soccer final. TMY syndrome (Too Many Years) has worked against me. There are only so many heartbeats in a human body and I have used up the vast bulk of them. Now, off to watch Leverkusen compete with Kaiserslautern in the German cup final from the comfort and sobriety of my settee. If it is as good a game as today's FA Cup final between the two Manchester sides, it will be pulsating from start to finish. Either way, no howling, no scowling, no ill-tempered, foul mouth old curmudgeon. Just a senior citizen rocking in his chair watching a game of soccer!

Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

Sylvester's Shoe

Lynx By Ten To The Power Of One Thousand And Thirty Two

Christopher Owens 🎤 Interview with Social Yet Distanced.

Recently, I sat down with Jack Varnell at the Social Yet Distanced podcast to discuss my recently published book “dethrone god”, the literary scene in the North and writing in general

Check it out below:

⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.

Christopher Owens Talking To Social Yet Distanced