Friday, 31 May 2013

Comment on the latest spiritual phenomenon

Richard Taylor

Hallelujah, it’s revival season once again! Revival season is a bit like silly season but a little more of a minefield for the unwary commentator.

Let me hand the blog over to the following quote from the website of Victory Church, Wales to fill you in on the latest phenomenon in the UK Christian community.

“At almost precisely 7.35pm on April 10, 2013 the heavens opened over Wales, in the town of Cwmbran…a man who had been wheelchair-bound for ten years was healed; he picked up his chair and ran around the church with his chair held over his head like a trophy, while his wife jumped and span in grateful awe.”

We are now past day 50 of what has been called: ‘The Welsh Outpouring’.

For those of you who don’t know anything about Christian revival then I can only envy you. Basically it’s a historic phenomenon which debatably results in reduced crime rates, miracles, mass conversions and a kind of spiritual awakening in a particular area.

It is also a minefield. Half of the Christian community adamantly opposes it and say that the whole thing is disturbingly fraudulent. The other half will not hear a bad word spoken about it. And the two groups will go at it like the dysfunctional family we can sometimes be. People get polarised one way or the other and it is not a very beautiful sight.

I sense a little cynicism out there. Don’t worry, you are not alone. But I’m qualified and trained to comment. What I cannot do is perform the miracle of validating a healing which no editor seems interested in commissioning a struggling freelancer like me to write about.

Here are the basic facts.

1.      Victory Church is Elim Pentecostal in denomination.
2.      There are blog reports of 400 people attending the church and queuing outside it.
3.      The leader of the church is named Richard Taylor.
4.      Since April 10 there have been meetings almost every night with more unverified reports of healings.
5.      On Saturday 11th May the church claims that over 60 people were baptised. They intend to baptise more people.
6.      Richard Taylor is an ex-drug user turned pastor who now spends his time trying to help drug users and offenders. He seems genuine and has written a book called ‘To Catch a Thief’. He collaborated with the BBC some years ago to produce a programme designed to help people protect their properties from thieves
So is he stealing money from people in a whole new way? Not really. From all accounts any offerings taken are voluntarily placed into buckets. There are no calls for donations in the meetings.

Someone on Mumsnet lamented that the whole thing hadn’t received any news coverage (on a discussion thread called: ’Welsh outpouring not in the news?’).

That’s because people want verification of the healing which is often very hard to get.

Another mum commented: "...the journalist who reported the first genuine healing would be set up for life.”

Hallelujah!? But sadly for your intrepid correspondent, it seems that this scoop will be earned by another. Not even considering the spiritual aspect to the whole story (which anyone who has tried to report on these things will always encounter), there are still certain problems.

1.      Very few writers want to rubbish a genuine revival.
2.      Very few writers want to support a fake revival.
3.      The rest don’t even know what a revival is.

If you want to find out more then there is a Facebook page and a livestream of the church services linked to that. So those of us in need of some kind of healing can experience the dubious joy of watching other people get healed and not ourselves.

At this point I am neither for nor against it. All I know is that this blog entry will please neither side.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Isn't it ironic?

When I look back on my life I see a lot of ironies. For example, in my teenage years I was extremely proud of my intellect. I considered that my mind and thoughts were the one thing I could rely on in any situation. I remember sitting down, like King Nebuchadnezzar and believing that I was completely in control of my little kingdom.

What is ironic about that? The irony was that around about the age of 19 I found out that my mind was not as reliable as I thought. If conscience is a compass, then my compass well and truly broke.

At university I took a lot of recreational drugs. After a while using psychedelic and recreational drugs I began to realize that I wasn’t in control at all. I began to understand that I lived in a world in which I couldn’t win every argument. I began to understand that there was also a spiritual world. It reached such a point that one of my university friends called me ‘Mad Nick’.

My middle name is Christian. That’s a bit ironic considering I am a Christian (and then there is my surname White, (I am white) and my first name is Nicholas (I don’t wear knickers (usually)).

Despite my middle name, aged 19 I was prejudicially anti-Christian in practice. The drug use was largely hedonism and was a mistake I couldn’t see at the time. The further ironies came a few years after I stopped taking drugs. My conscience was still broken.

When I was baptised as an adult I was given this scripture as a kind of message from God:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5).

What I didn’t know at that point was that the drugs had caused a few changes in my brain which were to result in subsequent mental health problems.

Sitting down, aged 24 on a hospital bed with my kingdom in ruins I realized that, like King Nebuchadnezzar I had lost my power. I had lost my individual sovereignty to mental illness, mostly because of pride. The choices I had made had resulted in an ironic humbling. My drug-use caused my mental health problems. And it was my fault.

I’m trying to make two points with this blog entry. The first is my personal conviction that drug use can cause mental health problems. That is something those involved in the drugs trade don’t want you to believe. They want you believe that those with mental illness have used drugs in the past to self-medicate. Because any other possibility is simply bad for business.

The second point is to ask you to consider whether the ironies in your own life might point to the existence of God and your inherent value as a human being.

Most ironies are negative. If they point to the existence of a God who orchestrates these ironies like a good Author then obviously that leads on to a debate about the character of this Author. And that question, like the question about whether drugs can cause mental illness, is still being debated. Ironic.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

New Media Regulator Plan

(Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament)

Sick of decisions being made over your head? Distrustful of media and Government? Sick of media attitude, bias and intrusion? Worried that the new media regulator won't be independent?

If anybody wants to make a comment to the Department of Culture Media and Sport you have until 23 May to get your voice heard.

Anyone reading the new proposal will immediately realise that the language used in the plan is both archaic and inaccessible. Don't let this put you off, tell the authorities what you think about the whole issue.

You have a right to be heard. A new body will decide how all media complaints are handled. It will also draw up a new code of conduct for journalists and editors.

It would be a cruel irony if the process which is supposed to be instrumental in stopping people being misled is itself misleading and biased.

We are supposed to be equal. But, as Orwell said - 'some animals are more equal than others'. Don't let them bully you.

If you want to get your voice heard then go to the following page, read the document and email the link there.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Publishing eBooks

Quite a lot of my spare time is now spent collaborating on a project with a very talented writer. Okay, I’m biased, the writer is my wife.

The book we are working on is called ‘What Rocks Your World’ - a unique careers book for 13-19 year olds.

The difference between this book and your average careers book is that it is written by someone who genuinely cares for young people. She also happens to be well qualified and very experienced in the careers world.

What makes this particular book special is that it is accessible to teenagers. The whole point is to capture the imaginations of young people, to inspire them and give them a sense of purpose in life. So it meets young people where they are at by using the talent show format. It then goes on to show that they too have skills and talents which they can use in many different ways on the world’s stage.

So far we have done a lot of research and trialled out the book with both young people and adults. And we’ve set up a competition for a young designer to design the cover (it seems right that a young person should do this).

Now the book is written and we have gone through most of the proof-reading and editing stages. We have a few more things to do on it before it will be launched but we’re well ahead of our deadline of September.
Doing all this has given me even more experience in proof-reading, editing and eBook publishing at all stages.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve just set myself up as a freelance writer and editor. So one of the reasons for writing this blog entry is to offer my editing and eBook publishing skills to anyone out there who may have written something which they want publishing as an eBook. I can professionally edit your work for a very competitive price. I can also help with the formatting, publishing and cover design.

Please get in touch with me if this is something you would like to do. Take a look around my website

Also, I’ve started a promotion so that my eBook ‘Compliance is Futile’ is free on Amazon today (1st May 2013) if you haven’t read it already.