“The Deaths of Millions May be One Tiny Tantrum Away”

“The deaths of millions may be one tiny tantrum away” says Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Ican: a coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organisations that has worked for a treaty to ban the weapons.

Ican were praised for highlighting the dangers of nuclear weapons as well as trying to eradicate them. A key and brave Ican campaigner is Setsuko Thurlow, an 85-year-old survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing. She was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building at the time, and said that most of her classmates, who were in the same room, were burned alive.

“Processions of ghostly figures shuffled by. Grotesquely wounded people, they were bleeding, burnt, blackened and swollen.” Setsuko Thurlow

Setsuko Thurlow

Key Facts on Ican

  • Ican, formed in 2007
  • Its mission is to highlight the humanitarian risk of nuclear weapons.
  • A coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • Based in Geneva
  • Helped get the introduction of a UN treaty banning the weapons, which was signed this year.
  • 122 countries backed the treaty in July
  • Talks boycotted by the world’s nine known nuclear powers
  • Only three countries, the Holy See, Guyana and Thailand, have so far ratified the treaty, which requires 50 ratifications to come into force

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Pope Francis seems less of a peacemaker as he doesn’t mention persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar/ Burma

Today Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic church, urged respect for “each ethnicity and its identity”, adding “religious differences need not be a source of division”. This was said when on a visit to Myanmar/ Burma, when lots of people were hoping he would mention the Rohingya by name, and state the fact they’d been persecuted.

persecution

Yet Pope Francis failed and did not mention the Rohingya by name. The reason was that there were fears by the Catholic community in Myanmar/ Burma that if he criticised the government and military there would be repercussions against the small Catholic community in the country. So even the Catholic church has many strengths, including in its humanitarian work, where there are many good men and women working tirelessly to improve the living conditions of people who live in challenged situations, it has weaknesses too.  The facts is that its leader, while he might look like a world peacemaker, should first and foremost look out for his own people. I’m not sure how much Pope Francis is living by the guidance Jesus gave in his Sermon on the Mount

Matthew Persecution

Are animals sentient beings?

First let’s check you know what sentient means.

Sentient – adjective – able to perceive or feel things.

animals around table

Most of the UK’s animal welfare law comes from the EU, so it is quite interesting right now as part of Brexit whether MP’s in Parliament are choosing to continue the EU legislation word for word or water it down for a future UK outside the EU. The first step, with MP’s saying that animals are NOT sentient, seems to show they are not going to see animals as creatures that perceive and feel things.  The RSPCA said to Farming UK: “It’s shocking that MPs have given the thumbs down to incorporating animal sentience into post-Brexit UK law.” Meanwhile Nick Palmer, head of policy at Compassion in World Farming, said: “How can the UK be seen as a leader in animal welfare when the repeal bill fails to guarantee that animals will continue to be regarded as sentient beings? We urge the Government to reintroduce the commitment into the Bill.”

Some countries like New Zealand have shown far greater consideration of animal rights:

sentient new zealand

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It’s not really about religion, it’s about the power of nations

So far it has felt like a Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but people are fearful it might soon turn into an open conflict. The Independent reports how the greatest threat to world peace coming from the Middle East is not terrorism but the wider Sunni-Shia religious conflict.

‘This is not really about religion, any more than the wars of religion of the 17th century, or the conflict in Northern Ireland, or the bloodshed in Bosnia. In almost all great so-called religious conflicts, what lies behind the shouting of the clerics is a contest between the power of nations. This one is, in reality, a contest for dominance in the Middle East between Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Tehran (Iran).’

Middle-East-Political-Map

The Guardian also reports on the mounting tension in Lebanon, due to the power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

‘Now, more than at any point in modern history, Iran and Saudi Arabia are squared off against each other as a race to consolidate influence nears a climax from Sana’a (in the Yemen) to Beirut (in Lebanon).’

Coal Industry Silently Killing People in Bosnia

There are severe levels of pollution in Bosnia because they’ve switched back to coal in their power plants rather than importing more expensive oil from Russia. A 2 minute video from the BBC explains the danger to life due to this decision.

Bosnia-Herz

It’s a shame when Bosnia is such a beautiful country. We briefly discuss Bosnia in our lessons when we consider all of the conflicts in the last one hundred years. It’s incredible that some students have never heard of Yugoslavia or the conflict from 1992-95.

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The Boy with the Topknot

There’s a new 90 minute BBC drama about Sathnam Sanghera, a boy born to Punjabi immigrants living in Wolverhampton, covering topics like secrecy, mental health and the life of a second-generation immigrant. It’s based on a best-selling book where the protagonist moves to London and embarks on a career as a journalist, while gradually building up the courage to tell his traditional Sikh parents about his English girlfriend.

 

 

 

You’ll be able to catch it on BBC Two at 9pm on Monday 13th November, or after that on BBC iPlayer.

Sacha Dawan who stars as the older Sathnam says that he nearly turned down the role as it felt too close to home, and made him think about his own upbringing too much. As a young man he also felt like he “was running away, not just from my culture, but from stuff that was going on at home.”

I’m hoping the drama not only gets the audience thinking about how it feels to be an immigrant and the struggles of growing up in a new culture, but also some facts about Sikhism. Fingers-crossed!

Watching TV or film and learning about Christian worship

It is such a natural form of revision to be watching TV or film and suddenly spotting something you’ve learnt in class. It is so exciting to be able to explain something, understand it better, simply because you were in that classroom, listening and concentrating on that particular day.

Some students have had the challenge of comparing TV and film which show liturgical and non-liturgical worship. Well done to my Year 10 Tuesday afternoon class who did so well on this homework.

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non-lit

  1. Four Weddings and a Funeral would be a good film to watch for its many scenes inside a church. For Roman Catholics and some Anglicans you’ll also get to see some sacraments.
  2. The BBC’s recent drama called Broken which I’ve previously referred to on the Blog is fantastic not only for showing liturgical worship (the eucharist is given in every episode) but also its depiction of a local church community with food banks and diversity.
  3. Songs of Praise is on television every Sunday afternoon, or you can catch a number of previous episodes on YouTube.
  4. Coronation Street has a brilliant 2 minute scene showing parts of an infant baptism from a few years ago.
  5. There is a really peculiar scene from the Kingsman: The Secret Service film, which shows a church massacre (15 rating). Watching simply that scene makes no sense unless you know more about the film.  The actor Colin Firth play a suave secret agent, Harry Hart, who recruits a kid from the streets named Eggsy (Taron Egerton) to be part of the Kingsman. But Eggsy is quickly thrown into the fire when evil tech-whiz Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) creates a technology that can cause mass terror across the globe, and only the Kingsman can stop him. On the hunt for Valentine, Hart ends up at a hate church group in Kentucky. While Hart is in the church, Valentine tests his technology, which causes the SIM cards in everyone’s phones in the church to make them become homicidal maniacs. There is then this three-and-a-half minute sequence in which we watch Hart shoot, stab, slam, and break everyone in his path as the guitar solo from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” plays in the background. It’s peculiar and unsettling.
  6. The Simpsons has a plethora of church scenes, including this one when Homer refuses to go to Church. Listen out for Lisa saying a snippet of the Lord’s Prayer. Another short clip is from when the Simpsons go to an evangelical church. Not to do with worship but really clever is the Protestant Heaven Vs Catholic Heaven with all its national stereotypes.
  7. Family Guy has numerous satirical moments where you can learn about Christianity. Students often forget that singing is a form of worship, New Yorker’s in Church has an opening prayer, and the Mr Booze clip shows an drinking den turn into a fake alcoholics anonymous based on a church with pews and singing.

We realised that a lot of our choices were comedies and openly mocked Christianity for laughter. It is interesting how far comedy is deemed acceptable going about some faiths but less so others. An article in the  BBC Religion and Ethics page debates how far comedy should go, and the BBC also reports on whether Islam has a sense of humour (of course it does!). Finally there New Humanist website decides that no idea should be able to escape satire and comedy.

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