In the last (at the moment) comment (of 93) on my post 42: Why would someone do this? I said to Alec "Am planning a post about engaging with the substance of Israel / Palestine. But no time yet."
Before I do that I want to respond to another point that seems relevant.
David Hallam has written a post First they came for the Jews, then they came for the Christians, then they came for…. which shared his distress over the killings in Baghdad on Sunday. However, he ended that post with a remark that I want to comment on when he said:
I just happen to note that the professional Methodist bloggers haven't mentioned Sunday's massacre.
- There are no "professional" (in the sense getting paid for blogging) Methodist Bloggers in the UK.
- I have been writing "42" since 5th August 2003. Nobody has ever paid me to write "42" (which should be obvious from the title "42: My life, the universe and everything". I have never asked anyone to pay me for writing "42".
- "42" is not hosted on a free platform, I pay all the hosting costs and have never asked anyone for a contribution towards those costs.
- I was not paid a stipend by the Methodist Church as a probationary minister until September 2005 by which time "42" was two years old. Before that I had never been paid by the Methodist Church.
- While I would consider "42" as part of my ministry in the sense that every part of my life is part of my ministry it is not part of my work. In other words the Leicester North Circuit does not support "42" and I do not count the time I spend on it as "work" thus reducing the time I give to the Circuit.
- My role as a Methodist Minister is not a 9 to 5 job and so I am sometimes able to write on "42" during the day without it being part of my work.
- Most of the time I spend on "42" is late at night after evening meetings. For example I have written 4 posts in the week since my holiday the post times are 1:03am, 1:22am, 12:43am, 11:08pm. The one post written during the day we between meetings, I got home from the last of them at 10:30pm. The previous 3 posts were written while I was on holiday.
- Anyone who has been reading "42" from the beginning deserves a medal but anyway they would note a significant reduction in the volume of posts since I became a minister (and a reduction in traffic).
My reason for making these clarifications relates to the debate we have been having on Israel and Palestine. When David "notes" that no professional Methodist bloggers have commented on a horrific set of killings in Baghdad then I believe it is problematical.
Firstly, I don't think it is helpful when a blogger, who celebrates his connection with the Methodist Church in the blog title and description, deliberately tries to mislead people. David Hallam knows that there are no "official" or "professional" Methodist Bloggers.
My concern is that people might quite rightly be saying: Well David Hallam is right, if the Church is paying these people to blog then why are they not commenting on these events? They might be thinking that the Methodist Church us deliberately ignoring some events. Equally they might try to present the thoughts of some bloggers as if they were official (which would of course for "42" requires them to ignore the disclaimer with the site).
So "42" is neither official nor professional (well the latter should have been obvious from the quality of the writing). However, like the rest of my life I consider it to be subject to the discipline of the Methodist Church. I take being an itinerant Presbyteral Minister within the Methodist Connexion very seriously. Among many things (such as being sent by the Church to where they want me) it means I hold my blogging accountable to the Church. That happens principally through the local Churches and Circuit where I am primarily accountable to my Superintendent Minister. I recognise that I have the potential in a public way to damage the Methodist Church which is why I have always ensured that the training institute when I was training and all my Superintendents since have been aware of what I do on "42" in my own time.
I have no idea why David thinks I should be commenting on the killing of Christians in Baghdad. It is not as if I regularly comment on the news.
One thing I am sure of. If I am going to start repeating the news and commenting on killings around the world I will not do so by commenting just on the killing of Christians. I believe it is unhelpful if Christians only comment on the deaths of Christians. It makes it seem that we we put a higher value on the lives of Christians than we do on the lives of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Atheists etc. That is not my belief, my Christian faith teaches me that all people are created in the image of God and that all people are unique and infinitely valued & loved by God.
So as much of what we write is connected with the local and with people who are of the same faith it would be easy to wrongly imply that we believe we are loved more by God that other people. If I then start commenting only on the death of Christians it will reinforce views by Jews, Muslims etc that I don't think they are as valuable to God.
Instead I want to celebrate that to God every person matters. That God notices and loves the refugee as much as the suicide bomber as much as the victim of a terrorist attack as much as the elderly lady dying in a British hospital. Indeed it is precisely because of this aspect of the nature of God that we are called to act in Israel/Palestine as well as in Syston, Leicester, UK.