Thursday, 24 May 2012

Drogba: "I pray a lot. It was written a long time ago. God is wonderful."

The Sports Office in the Vatican have highlighted Chelsea striker Didier Drogba after the footballer celebrated his teams victory in the Champions League. He is a committed Catholic who has spoken about his faith before in interviews and when leaving his former club, Olympique de Marseille, he gave his team shirt to the local Cathedral of Notre-Dame de la Garde. It's still on display today.

Father Kevin Lixey, the director of the Vatican’s Office of Church and Sport, said: “The Vatican and the Holy Father is always very interested in such athletes as they are role models for others... if they give thanks to God for their talents, it is good for the young people who admire these star athletes.”

Drogba was seen making the sign of the cross both after scoring the equaliser with 2 minutes to go, and then again after holding his nerve and scoring the winning penalty. In an interview after the game he said, "It was fate, I believe a lot in destiny. I pray a lot. It was written a long time ago. God is wonderful. This team is amazing."

Father Lixey went on to compare Drogba and American football player Tim Tebow; both players recognise they have "a short time to witness to their faith" and that their careers are a "window of opportunity" to evangelise.

However Father Lixey believes that there is “no correlation between victory and their prayers,” yet Christian sportsmen are more likely to “give more to others in the team and can get along better with teammates".

Does Drogba promote a positive Christian image? He has been accused of diving and misleading referees in the past, is this a model of Christian behaviour? Is it important that young people do see committed and openly Christian sports stars?

Read original article:

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Love or Economic Growth?

Victoria Coren writes in the Guardian that the government have told us that they are going to focus on "the things that really matter" and forget about issues such as 'gay marraige' for the time being.

She quotes defence secretary Philip Hammond who said: "Clearly [gay marriage] is not the number one priority. If you stop people in the street and ask them what their concerns are, they'll talk to you about jobs and economic growth… The government has got to show that it is focused on the things that really matter."

She then highlights the fact George Osborne said something very similar; that gay marriage is "not a priority of the government" because the government is "focused on the really important issues that matter to people".

Coren suggests that the gay marriage debate is conveniently being sidelined by Tory ministers not in favour of it. It is easier to say that economics needs to be a priority than saying you don't agree with same-sex marriages.

She avoids the debate on whether gay marriage is right or wrong, but highlights the real question here, is love more or less important that the economy?

Coren says:

"The economy in this country – the basic, central core of what an economy is – is extremely healthy. We have an abundant climate, hardy British labour for building and farming and crafting, and brilliant inventive minds at work. If those gambling international speculators, who create nothing and build nothing, with their massive fantasy "derivatives market" and their mind-blowing "trillions of debt", all disappeared tomorrow, we'd still have an economy. We might not have flat-screen TVs with 200 channels – and City traders might not have private jets – but we'd still have food and coal and tables and new ideas."

Very true.

She then goes on to make clear that:

"We'd also still have love. Stripped of our credit cards, our electronic goods, our super-fast broadband, our international travel – and even of our welfare system based on cash and paperwork rather than simple sharing – we'd still have men and women, and men and men, and women and women, who felt joy and safety and hope, making promises and planning futures, because of this free and powerful human instinct alone."

Coren makes it very clear that people may well want to oppose gay marriage and have some valid reasons for it, but that to trivialise the feelings of love and desire for marriage is totally wrong.

She concludes:

I have a new daydream, of a parallel world, where our democratic leaders say: "We'll do our best for economic growth, but our priority is to concentrate on the things that really matter to people."

Should Cameron and Osbourne be sidelining issues such as gay marriage? Is it economic growth really more important than love? What is it that really does make us get up each morning? A safe job and a decent income, or having a loving partner?

Read full article here:

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

This is the title of a book by Michael Sandel which was a NY Times bestseller. It is book on the big questions in political philosophy and covers issues such as bank bailouts, equality and inequality, taxes, immigration, affirmative action, the role of markets, national service, same-sex marriage, the place of religion in politics and other ethics dilemmas of our times.

A website has been set up by Harvard University, which shows his lectures on a range of these ethical issues with questions for thought and reflection. A fascinating resource for those looking to take philosophy and ethics further!

The videos are all found here:

The World's Religions

This is too big to fit on screen.... but I have found it fascinating and a good half an hours reading! If you want a higher resolution copy, there is an download here:

It was created by the National Post in response to the world's largest gathering of athesits in Washington in March 2012. Read more here.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Why did the chicken cross the road ?

Many thanks to for this, a little light hearted relief for AS/A2 Philosophy and Ethics students:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

We give our version of the famous game “Why did the chicken cross the road” on the basis of some philosophers.

Plato: To get to the essence of good
Marx: It was historically inevitable
Machiavelli: To instill fear in other chickens
Nietzsche: On the assertion of its will to power
Sartre: The chicken was ordered to cross the road
De Beauvoir: One is not born chicken, one becomes
Samuel Beckett: Because he was tired of waiting
Aristotle: To stop being in power, but in act
Camus: To challenge the absurdity of the world
Darwin: Because the chicken in the evolution of species, has become an animal crossing
Epicurus: To have fun
Kant: for respect the moral law
Pyrrho: What road ?
Zeno of Elea: To prove that he could never reach the other side
Kierkegaard: In despair of his chicken condition
Shakespeare: That is the question
Stuart Mill: To maximize his pleasure
Galilee: And yet, he crossed
Heidegger: Because the chicken is the shepherd of Being
Descartes: I cross, therefore I am
Hegel: To realize the reason in history
Spinoza: The chicken thinks he has freely crossed the road, but it ignores the causes he did so through
Rousseau: Because the chicken is good by nature
Pascal: Because the chicken is a thinking reed
Heraclitus: The chicken crossed because we never cross the same road twice
Hume: For me the chicken is a fictional idea
Husserl: It is the constitution of the ego that epoche, a mutation ego-ego notwithstanding the noetic-noematic component which is the origin of the object “road” for the subject “chicken”.
Mitterrand: The Road, it’s war
Confucius: Act against chicken as you would have them do unto you
Freud: The road is very clearly a phallic symbol, the fact of the cross reveals a profound liberation of the instincts (or that) chicken.
Leibniz: To maintain the universal harmony of the world.
Voltaire: To reduce intolerance
Aristotle: Because the chicken is a political animal

See original here:

Arguements for Atheism

This video has been circulating the internet for years. Many atheists went mad when they saw it... equally some Christians agreed with it. However there has been much reported about how actually man has played a big part in adapting bananas. Is this good evidence for God as designer? Do people like this damage Christians' arguements for design in the world?

On a similar topic, a blog post on Patheos, outlined 3 arguments that athesits can no longer use for the non-existence of God:

1) Babies Are Atheists
2) Priests Abuse Boys
3) Light Before Sun

Read these in more detail:

Do you think that the evidence put forward is convincing? What arguments can athesists still use?

Monday, 14 May 2012

The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Prof. Richard Dawkins and Sir Anthony Kenny took part in a discussion titled "The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin". Held at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford in Feb 2012.

Video version:
Audio version (inc mp3 download link):

This was reported at the time with the headline: "Richard Dawkins: I can't be sure God does not exist"
Read more:

I have blogged about this before(, but this is a high quality video/audio download.

Are you suprised by some of Dawkin's or Williams' comments? Do you think God does 'clutter' our view of the world?

Friday, 11 May 2012

How would you best describe Christianity?

A group of Christian anti-gay activists line up to protest against the London gay pride parade at the Pall Mall. A young homosexual man reads the Bible in front of them. - July 2011

According to Americans aged 16 to 29, the answer is: "anti-homosexual". This was the response of 91% of non-Christians, and even 80% of churchgoers in the same age category.

In a piece of research conducted by The Barna Group, young people were asked what first comes to mind when asked about Christian faith. Interestingly, other things that ranked highly were: “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”.

Christians, such as myself, would hope it would be words like 'love', 'hope', 'charity', 'forgiveness' or 'justice'. Yet in America, it seems the biggest feature of Christians has become 'anti-homosexual'.

In the book that documents these findings, titled unChristian, David Kinnaman writes:
“The gay issue has become the ‘big one, the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimensions that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgemental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say [Christian] hostility toward gays...has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.”

More recent research, documented in Kinnaman’s You Lost Me, claims that one of the top reasons 59% of young adults with a Christian background have left their churches is because they perceive the church to be too exclusive, particularly regarding their LGBT friends. This number, he claims, totals 8 million twenty-somethings have left their various Christian churches.

The article highlighting this information ( was posted in response to North Carolina's democratic vote this week to ban same sex marriage:

From the

On Tuesday 8th May 2012, North Carolina officially passed an amendment to the State Law that says that marriage can only be defined as the joining of man and woman. 

However gay marriage was already banned in the state, so the effects will be small. The controversy arose more from that fact that so many people were ready and willing to go out and vote to further reduce the legal rights of homosexuals in the state; 61% voted to ban gay marriage.

Many Christian groups have campaigned hard to get this vote and change the law here. They have also been very vocal in their celebrations and vow to now continue to fight in further reducing the rights of homosexual couples in various states.

Is there a danger that Christians in the UK will feel, or already do feel, alienated from their Christian churches? The political atmosphere of the US is very different to the UK, but is there a danger that by the Catholic Church getting very involved in the current gay marriage legislation that their could be similar effects here? Is the law change in NC something to be celebrated by Catholics? Should Catholics be taking a lead from fellow-Christians in America in their campaigning?

Rachel Held Evans concludes her blog with this reflection:

So my question for those evangelicals leading the charge in the culture wars is this: Is it worth it?
  • Is a political “victory” really worth losing millions more young people to cynicism regarding the Church?
  • Is a political “victory” worth further alienating people who identify as LGBT?
  • Is a political “victory” worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with gays and lesbians?
  • And is a political “victory” worth drowning out that quiet but persistent internal voice that asks—what if we get this wrong?
Too many Christian leaders seem to think the answer to that question is “yes,” and it's costing them.
  • Because young Christians are ready for peace.
  • We are ready to lay down our arms.
  • We are ready to start washing feet instead of waging war.
And if we cannot find that sort of peace within the Church, I fear we will look for it elsewhere.


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Viral Video: ‘I did the right thing by not aborting’

Lacey Buchanan, a young mother from Woodbury, Tennessee produced a low-key video with hand written messages telling her and her baby's story.

After falling pregnant, doctors told her and her husband there would be difficulties with their baby. Despite being told he may not live until birth, Christian was born in February 2011.

However things were worse than even the doctors expected, with Christian suffering from a Tessier cleft lip and palate, which prevented him from closing his mouth, as well as cleft eyes, meaning that he was completely blind. Lacey says the condition affects only 50 people in the world, and requires extensive surgery.

Yet things were still worse to come as people made judgemental comments and stared at her new born baby; she couldn't leave the house:

“One girl even told me I was a horrible person for not aborting Christian in utero."

As Christian began to grow, he giggled and laughed and played like any other young child and things began to get easier for Lacey.

People also began to hear about Christian and his family and feeling inspired by their journey. Lacey has begun writing a blog:

Baby Christian

Her video has gone viral clocking up many thousands of views over the last few months; "I have definitely learned a lesson in not underestimating God’s ability to use people... I’m humbled and awestruck with the fact that God is using my son to fulfil His purpose! I just can’t wait to see how He uses Christian in the future!”

The video is now being extensively used by Pro-Life organisations, campaigning against abortion. It is indeed an emotional video, as Lacey moves from tears to laughter during filming and it does give one example of a young family's journey of pregnancy and life new. Yet it is not exactly clear whether or not there was a moment of decision regarding aborting the foetus. Perhaps as Christians that was not even an option, and equally even in the early stages it was not clear exactly the conditions that Christian would have to endure as a young child and into adulthood. Perhaps if they knew would their choice have been different? It is certainly provides a moment of reflection and one that poses many questions on the value and quality of life, plus the conditions under which individuals consider abortion. Interesting too that Lacey sees it as part of God's plan for her - could all Christians see things this way?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Religion & Media: Edexcel RE Unit 3

Time slot: Sundays between 4 – 6 pm, 30 mins

About: Christian, inter-denominational (=ECUMENICAL) programme, though very occasionally, inter-faith issues are explored. It takes place at a church or cathedral in the community from which the interviews are taken.

A different theme is taken each week: it may be liturgical – eg about a feast or season- eg Christmas or Lent, or it may be a religious or moral idea – eg marriage, forgiveness.

A presenter interviews experts in the theme, or ordinary Christians about their faith experiences or faith journey

Programme structure: HYMN / INTERVIEW / HYMN / INTERVIEW etc ending in a PRAYER by a religious leader in the community. Hymns have words on screen.

Target audience:1. Having watched a programme yourself, what do you think? Who would normally be at home, indoors at tea-time on a Sunday? Why do you think the hymn words on screen are helpful?
2. Do you think that people with no religious faith at all might watch occasionally? What might they make of it? Which parts of the programme might they find the most interesting?
3. Does the programme show religious people and religious ideas in a good light?
4. Might this programme have an effect on people who already have religious faith? What sort of people might find it helpful/useful? What sort of people might not watch it? Why?
5. If you were giving advice to the programmes producers about improving it, what would you say?

Exam Question: 
C) Choose one programme about religion and explain how it might affect someone’s belief about God. 8marks
The programme ‘Songs of Praise’ could affect people’s belief in God I a number of ways.

Some people watching the programme, seeing hundreds of people talking about God and praying to him might make them wonder how that many could be wrong. As such they might begin to believe in God.

Other people might be inspired to believe in God through listening to the interviews that appear on the show. The interview I watched was about somebody who had prayed for something and I came true. Some people watching his might think that if it has happened to that person then God could be real.

The programme features Bible readings and hymns. People may never have heard these before and might really enjoy them or find a great deal of meaning in them. For example the book of Job says that sometimes humans suffer for no particular reason but that faith gets you through. Someone who is having a hard time e.g. in lots of debt might take hope from this story and begin to believe in God.

On the other hand Christians who have watched an interview with someone who has had a prayer answered might believe that God does not exist if their prayer has gone unanswered. A Christian hearing this who has recently lost someone to cancer might be angry that God did not answer their prayers and so become angry that God did not answer their prayers and so become an atheist.

Exam Question #2:
C) Choose an issue from religion and community cohesion presented in one form of the media and explain whether it was fair to religious people. 8marks
Starting sentence: In September 2011, the programme ‘Songs of Praise’ presented an episode commemorating the tenth anniversary since the terrorist attacks in the USA on 9/11.

1. Name the issue(s) which were presented during the interviews- ie what did the programme- makers want the audience to reflect on? 

2. Write an outline of how the issue was presented, listing the main events and the way the events explored the issue.(eg did it show any bias? did it manipulate your feelings?)

3. Were religious beliefs included in the presentation? Why do you think this approach was taken?

4. Use this information to decide whether the programme’s presentation was fair to religious belief &/or religious people? Use evidence to support ideas. 

5. Explain why it is important to religious people that the issue is presented fairly. Use evidence to support ideas.

Exam Question #3:
B) Do you think that the media present religious people fairly?  4marks

Clips from YouTube:"10 Yrs Since 9/11"

These short clips from BBC Songs of Praise with an adaptation of model answer above is enough for pupils to be able to answer if the media questions comes up on Community Cohesion.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Y9 Exam Revision

Y9 - Exam contains material up to and including Unit 2D (not Islam):

There is lots of different resources hosted by the Cuthies website to help you with your revision - good luck!

Exams begin Monday 12th May!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

How to Win Votes: FREE FUNERALS (but at what cost?)

"Honduras murders: Where life is cheap and funerals are free"

The accolade for the highest murder rate in the world belongs to Honduras, an award I am sure that they are not happy to receive. It is also a country where many live in poverty and when a family loses a loved one, they can often not afford the funeral. The mayor of Tegucigalpa, Ricardo Alvarez (pictured below) said: "I found that people were being buried in plastic garbage bags”.

Ricardo Alvarez

One recent politician decided that a main focus of his campaign would be to offer free funerals for anyone unable to give their family member a dignifed burial. This vote-winning promise worked! It raises questions in the value and importance of a dignified burial in a country where financial resources could be better spent.

When a family needs help, they phone the city's mortuary where there is a stack of brand new coffins. They send out a black pickup truck with "Funeraria del Pueblo" painted on the side which takes the coffin, plus a stand, curtains and candles. The funeral is then held in the local church and afterwards buried in a plot provided by the People's Funeral Service.

One of the reasons this service is so important to the people of Honduras is because the murder rate is staggeringly high:

The National Commission for Human Rights has worked out that there is a violent death every 74 minutes in this small nation of about eight million people (not much bigger than the population of London). In the UK there is just over 1 person killed per 100,000 each year, it is 86 in Honduras.
Many of these deaths are violent, and usually involving a gun. The reasons for the murders are complex though:
  • The 2009 coup brought a wave of political killings
  •  Mexican drugs cartels now operate in Honduras
  •  It's estimated that 79% of all cocaine flights from South America to the US stop in Honduras
  •  There is one gun in Honduras for every 10 people, according to the UN
  •  Police corruption allows violent crime to go unpunished
  •  Two-thirds of Hondurans live in poverty
Due to poverty and poor medical care there are many deaths that are also from natural causes which means that the state-provided funeral service is kept very busy. On average it would cost $1,000 (£620) for a private funeral service.

Yoni Alexander Osorio Hernandez, works at the People's Funeral Service. He said:
"We also hurt for the families - especially because there is so much violence in our country. Most of the families who come to La Funeraria del Pueblo are very poor indeed. This is a service based on solidarity - solidarity with those families at a very difficult time for them."

Is the value of life being forgotten for some in Honduras? What can be done to change the violent mindset of some
people in Honduras? Do you think that providing this service should have been an important priority for the Honduras government? The cost of this service will no doubt affect budgets for things such as education and health, is this right? What is the importance of a dignified burial?

Read full article here: including links to listen to original BBC Radio 4 broadcast