We’re moving to Virginia, USA!

Peter and LorenzaMy wife Lorenza and I have exciting news to share! On June 7th we are moving to the USA, to the beautiful state of Virginia.

Lorenza, with my support, will be opening a dance studio business in Winchester, VA. We have applied for and obtained E-2 visas for the USA, allowing her to start up this business. These are not “green cards”, so we will have the right only to be temporary residents. I will simply be an accompanying spouse, but will have the right to work. We expect to be living in nearby Woodstock, in the Shenandoah valley.

It has been a long and busy process for us to get this far. It started last summer when we fell in love with Virginia and made new friends at a church there, Portering the Glory. Since then we have been back twice, to decide on our business strategy and to make detailed arrangements. The final step was last week in Rome, Italy, where we went to get our visas as Lorenza is an Italian citizen.

We have booked our flights for June 7th. That will give us not quite three months to get our building ready to open for business at the beginning of September. We expect to be busy! So if there is little or no activity on this blog for some time, you will know why.

By the way, this explains why I am selling my car. I wish we could take it with us, but apparently a huge amount of bureaucracy would be involved to prove that it has had the minor modifications required to make it legal in the USA. I might buy another one the same in Virginia, but will likely have to pay quite a lot more for it.

This also explains my interest in US politics. We won’t have votes in November, but we will have to live with the consequences of how others vote.

NEWS FLASH: Benny Hinn reconciled and to remarry Suzanne

Benny and Suzanne HinnThe controversial evangelist Benny Hinn has been reconciled to his ex-wife Suzanne, and is planning to remarry her in December. At least, this is the report I have heard from a friend of a friend who heard Benny announce this in New York City last night.

This is good news indeed! Two years ago I reported on Benny’s “broken heart” when his wife filed for divorce. Last year I wrote that after his divorce he was still ministering. It is clearly for the best for everyone that the couple are reconciled and remarried.

Let us pray that they will have a long and happy new marriage, and that Benny will continue to have a fruitful ministry while being sure to spend adequate time with Suzanne.

“no question … Barack Obama is a born again man”

Official portrait of Barack ObamaStephen Mansfield in the Huffington Post quotes Joel Hunter:

There is simply no question about it: Barack Obama is a born again man who has trusted in Jesus Christ with his whole heart.

Hunter, a pastor from Florida, is apparently one of President Obama’s current team of four spiritual advisers. He reports a significant change in Obama’s life since he arrived at the White House:

Obama is having a new encounter with truth.

This means that, according to Hunter, the President would no longer suggest that all religions are essentially the same. I trust that this also means that he would now stop carrying in his pocket “a tiny monkey god”, which made me suggest in 2008 that he might in fact be a Hindu.

Meanwhile there seems to be no question that Obama’s apparently most likely opponent in this year’s elections, Mitt Romney, is not a born again Christian, at least as evangelicals would understand the term.

So who should American Christians vote for? If they choose to vote for Romney, they should at least admit to themselves and to others that they are voting for the policies they prefer, not because they want to see a Christian in the White House.

2006 Suzuki SX4 1.6 GLX 5dr Auto Hatchback £3,900

We interrupt our regular programming (or at the moment lack of programming) for this commercial announcement. But it’s not a paid ad, as I am selling this myself:

2006 Suzuki SX4 1.6 GLX 5dr Auto Hatchback5 Door mini-SUV style hatchback, Red, Petrol, Automatic, 7 months MOT, Low mileage, Air conditioning, Power assisted steering, Trip computer, 3×3 point rear seat belts, Remote central locking, Immobiliser, Folding rear seats, Priced for a quick sale. £3,900.

UPDATE: Missed this important point: only 44,000 miles.

If you are interested, please contact me in a comment or using the contact form. Or go to the full ad at Auto Trader.

Cameron tried to send love to Murdoch editor: FAIL!

I haven’t kept up with the details of the Leveson inquiry into the British press. But I sometimes see headlines of something really shocking, and sometimes of something really stupid. But today’s news takes the biscuit: something potentially shocking but also so hilariously stupid that no one will take it as seriously as they perhaps should.

Rebekah BrooksToday at the inquiry, as the BBC reports, it was the turn to give evidence of Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the Murdoch newspapers the News of the World and the Sun, and then Chief Executive of  Rupert Murdoch’s company News International until she was forced to resign in 2011.

It has long been known that Rebekah is a personal friend of Prime Minister David Cameron. So it is hardly surprising that they exchanged regular text messages, although she has called allegations that he texted her 12 times a day while opposition leader “preposterous”.

But what really seems preposterous is this part of Rebekah’s evidence:

She said the prime minister signed off most texts with the letters DC but occasionally used the acronym LOL.

But she said he stopped this when he learnt the text shorthand stood for “laugh out loud” not “lots of love”.

In other words, David Cameron, a married man, was in the habit of trying to send “lots of love” to this woman friend, but he in fact completely failed to do so! I’m not sure which is more concerning, that he would have this kind of relationship with a newspaper editor, or that he would be so incompetent at expressing his love. I’m sure Rebekah indeed laughed out loud when she found out what was happening.

I hope these revelations don’t cause difficulties between David and Samantha Cameron or between Rebekah and her husband Charlie Brooks. But I would be pleased if they signal the end of the far too cosy relationship between the British government and the Murdoch controlled press.

Larry Wall’s Quantum Proof that God is Good

Larry WallThanks to Tyson for posting an interesting article (originally from 2002) by Larry Wall, the inventor of the Perl programming language, on how his scientific mind led him to belief in God. In the article he is responding to an atheistic or possibly deistic questioner who seems to hold that Christian belief is incompatible with science.

Here’s a taster, showing how Wall bases his response in quantum mechanics:

A lot of folks get hung up at point B [“God is good to people who really look for him”] for various reasons, some logical and some moral, but mostly because of Shroedinger again. People are almost afraid to observe the B qubit because they don’t want the wave function to collapse either to a 0 or a 1, since both choices are deemed unpalatable. A lot of people who claim to be agnostics don’t take the position so much because they don’t know, but because they don’t want to know, sometimes desperately so.

Because if it turns out to be a 0, then we really are the slaves of our selfish genes, and there’s no basis for morality other than various forms of tribalism.

And because if it turns out to be a 1, then you have swallow a whole bunch of flim-flam that goes with it. Or do you?

I don’t claim to understand all of this, but it is interesting!

New Mayan Calendar Find: World Won’t End in 2012

The BBC reports a new find of “the oldest-known Mayan astronomical tables”, as part of a find of wall paintings at a site in Guatemala. Indeed, Mayan art and calendar at Xultun stun archaeologists, and should also stun armchair predictors of the end of the world. For it seems that among the discoveries are
Mayan art from Xultun

astronomical tables, including four long numbers on the east wall that represent a cycle lasting up to 2.5 million days … representing a calendar that stretches more than 7,000 years into the future.

So no longer can it be claimed that according to the Mayan calendar the world will end this year. There is apparently no more basis for predicting an apocalypse on 21st December 2012 than there was for Harold Camping’s similar predictions for 21st May and 21st October 2011. (Why does everyone go for the 21st of the month?) And it looks likely that these New Age doomsday merchants will end up with as much egg on their face as Camping already has.

Well, Harold Camping has repented of his false predictions, although only after the event. We can only hope that the people looking to the Mayan calendar will do the same, preferably before the day, and spare us all a circus in the build-up to that date.

Gay Marriage: Why Christians Shouldn’t Try to Ban It

J.R. Daniel KirkDaniel Kirk (no relation) writes an interesting post Regarding Amendment 1in North Carolina. It is interesting not only to people in North Carolina, or who consider it home, but to Christians worldwide, and especially here in the UK where moves to legalise same sex marriage are under consideration. This is because the core of the proposed North Carolina constitutional amendment is as follows:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

Daniel’s response to this is simple:

You don’t have to vote for Amendment 1, even if you don’t think God approves of homosexual behavior.

And this is the basis of his reasoning:

We have a responsibility to guard the morality of the church in a way that God has not given us responsibility to guard the morality of the entire world. …

When we hold positions for reasons that are clearly and fundamentally religious positions, we must take extra care not to impose these on our non-Christian neighbors–if, in fact, we would love them with our religious convictions in the same way we would have them love us with theirs.

In other words, as Christians we should not be seeking to impose our own moral standards on the world. If we try to do so, we are not showing Christian love to our unbelieving neighbours.

I agree. In fact I would take this a little further than Daniel does explicitly. If we seek to impose our moral standards on outsiders, we give them the impression that the Christian faith is a matter of obeying rules. That is a complete denial of the gospel proclamation to unbelievers, which should be that God loves them and gives them his grace even while they are still living sinful lives. As Craig Groeschel writes today for the Huffington Post, Rules Create Toxic Religion. And the sin of a homosexual relationship is no worse in God’s eyes than the sin of showing self-righteousness and of misrepresenting the gospel.

The issues here in the UK are rather different from those in North Carolina. Here we already have civil partnerships for same sex couples, and there is no question of abolishing them. So the human rights argument Daniel presents is not really applicable here. The pressure for allowing full same sex marriage seems to be coming more from the political correctness lobby than from the gay and lesbian community. So I will not come out in support of the government’s same sex marriage proposals. But I think Daniel has also given me good reasons not to oppose them.

“No” to Christian Political Parties and to Theocracy

Today is polling day for local elections here in the UK, in London and in many other areas, but not here in Chelmsford. So the discussion I am having here is primarily about the UK political scene. But the same principles apply in other democratic countries, and so I recommend this post, and the ones I link to here, to all my readers.

Houses of Parliament and CrossA few days ago Gillan Scott caused some controversy by posting an Interview with Malcolm Martin, Christian Peoples Alliance candidate for the London Assembly. In response to this debate, including to some of my own tweets, he asked the question Are Christian political parties really a good idea? Meanwhile Danny Webster responded to the same controversy with Why I don’t think Christian political parties are the best option. Both Gillan and Danny have been posting other good material on faith and politics over the last few days.

I can basically agree with what both Danny and Gillan have written about Christian political parties. I don’t want to condemn those who choose to join or support them, especially in the UK context where votes for them are more likely to be wasted ones than to usher in a theocracy. There is nevertheless a real chance that the CPA candidate will be elected for one of the proportional top-up seats in the London Assembly – and if so that is likely to be because of the party’s stance against gay marriage, an issue which is divisive even in London’s churches.

Gillan makes a good distinction between parties like CPA which “puts faith at the heart of its politics” and those which promote “a whole raft of biblical principles such as the basic human rights of every individual, social justice and the importance of marriage”, but not a specific faith. Neither Gillan nor I object to the latter – but are they really Christian? However, he has some serious reservations about the former:

If a party stands up and says that it represents the Christian faith, then the implication is that all Christians should agree with its policies.  As we all know though, Christians don’t agree on a lot of things and party politics is one of them.  The added danger is that such a party will be perceived as working towards a theocracy where the government subjects its people to what they believe is God’s will and of course because it’s God’s will it can’t be questioned.  Where this is taking place in the world in countries such as Iran, theocracy inevitably leads to oppression.

I’m not saying that theocracy is the CPA’s aim.  But they do want to promote faith in God and put him at the heart of politics. …

There’s nothing I can find in the Bible about Christianity gaining political power.  Israel in the Old Testament was a theocracy, but it was never intended to spread beyond the Jews who lived under the Mosaic law.  Instead in Romans Paul talks about us submitting to the authorities, not usurping them.

Indeed. It is parties like this which, if they become more than fringe groups like CPA, are seen as promoting theocracy, and are rightly condemned as teaching some kind of “dominionism”.

Gillan concludes as follows:

I would suggest that there are two ways God’s values will become prevalent in our society. One is through revival, which I long to see, but will only come through prayer and not politics.  The other is by Christians working their way into positions of power and influence where they can live out kingdom values.  That includes politics.  There are some fantastic Christian MPs and political activists who are doing just that.  They are working through the existing frameworks to influence what happens in government and in our nation.  They haven’t chosen to go up against the existing structures, but work in them and through them and I admire them for that.  Realistically, they will have more effect and do far more good than by looking to do something exclusively Christian and will gain the support of many more people, Christian or otherwise, in the process.

I completely agree. This approach is not “dominionism” and will not lead to a theocracy. But it will help to bring our society to work more according to the principles of the kingdom of God.