Friday, August 26, 2005

Stigma Against Shoes-Off Policy

In an earlier post, I argued that it is really stupid that in Britain the cultural norm is to wear shoes in one's own house and the homes of others. I believe that there is a powerful social stigma against hosts and hostesses that prefer visitors to remove their shoes. It is thought by many people in Britain, that such people are either excessively house-proud or that they are obsessive about hygeine and cleanliness. This stigma is so strong that I know people who certainly are obsessive about cleanliness who would never ask a vitor to remove his or her shoes. Being proud of their supposed tolerance, most British people would respect a Japanese or Thai requirement of shoe removal, but would never tolerate such an expectation from a British person. The stigma against shoe-removing by British people is related to the 'Lady MacBeth' factor- an excessive concern with cleanliness is considered very suspect by British people. Britons are probably less concerned by dirt than other people's (that old British stoicism) and there is a common belief amongst many that a certain level of dirt is rather healthy.

I think the main reason for the opposition to the shoes-off policy is the importance of class in the British mindset. Every middle class Englishman or Englishwoman dreams of being upper-class; and no upper-class person would expect their guests to take their shoes off. If you have money, you can afford to have your carpets cleaned regularly and if they wear out, you can afford to replace them. Hence, if you worry about keping your carpet clean or wearing it out, you are obviously short of money. British people just have to keep up appearances (ironically, I believe Hyacinth Bucket, the heroine of 'Keeping Up Appearances' has a shoes-off rule. This shows how common she really is).

There is also a powerful stigma against people with 'smelly feet'. Many people are terrified of being exposed as having 'smelly feet'. It seems to be that this is quite irrational- most of the people I have met who claimed to have 'smelly feet' did not create any noticeable aroma after removing their shoes. The only strong foot smells I have encountered are from people who did not wash their socks regularly. Do people in countries where removing shoes is the norm never have smelly feet? The answer is probably yes and no. I suspect that most peoples feet in such countries probably smell a lot less, because shoes are removed more often. Thus, the people in Britain who fear exposure of their 'smelly feet' would find that their feet would smell a lot less if they took their shoes off in their own home and other people's homes. It is probably the case that in shoe-removing countries, any residual foot odour is either ignored or not noticed. Also, the practise of providing guests with slippers, as in Japan or Eastern Europe must considerably reduce this factor.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Excellent Material on Christian Headcovering

On of my pet rants is women's headcovering as taught in 1 Corinthians 11.
Here is a really excellent work on the subject:
http://crossover.ellison.net/HeadcoveringIntro.htm

Exclusive Brethren get their Own Offical Web-site!!

What a surprise. The Exclusive Brethren (Taylorite division) now has its own offical internet site. This is despite condemning computers and the internet as evil and a part of the Anti-Christ system. The Taylorites are happy to take advantage of computers and fax machines, but not to use them. What surprised me most was that they used the term 'Exclusive'. They themselves are unhappy to be called Exclusive. Presumably, the facilitators of the internet site felt that the use of the word was advisable.

The website can be visited at:
http://theexclusivebrethren.com/

Israeli Pull-Out from Gaza

The Israeli's are removing their settlements from Gaza. This is sad, because this is part of the land that God gave to Abraham and his descendants. The Jewish remnant will one day inhabit this land for all eternity. However, the Jews cannot expect God to bless them when they remain in apostasy. The Jews will only have peace and security when that remnant (only a third of those alive at the time) will accept Jesus Christ as Messiah. This will not occur until His coming again in glory. This prophecy can be studied in the last three chapters of Zecharaiah in the Old Testament. The majority of Jews will follow the Jewish Anti-Christ and will be destroyed for their idolatry. The fact that the Israelis have the star of Moloch, the evil fire-god, on their flag shows that they are heading in that direction.

I do not believe for a minute that the Palestinians will settle for peace once they get Gaza. However, I do think the pull-out is a shrewd move by Sharon. He is showing the world that he is the one making the compromises. Let us see if the Palestinians can match him in their sincerity for peace.

It seems interesting that the Jewish settlers have not been allowed to make a heroic last stand against the Palestinians. Instead, they are being evacuated by the Israeli army. Sharon ought to have said- "We are pulling out the troops. You can leave now or stay and be evicted by the Palestinians." The resulting bloodbath might even reduce the world's gushing sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fundamentalist "Thou Shalt Not's"

This is a list of things I would say Christians should not do and those I think are okay. Some Christians think it is silly to continually harp on about what Christians should not do. However, even they would say using pornography is wrong and would discourage smoking. We need to aply Biblical ethics to the modern world.

Smoking- Dont do it.
Using Pornography- Dont do it.
Drinking- Okay. Dont get drunk.
Going to cinema- Okay. Be discerning about what the film is.
Eating Black Pudding- Okay except where it would cause offence.
Rock Music- Okay. Be discerning about the choice of music.
Women wearing trousers- Dont do it.
Women wearing hair short- Dont do it.
Swimming- Dont do it.
Martial Arts- Dont do it.
Dancing- Generally avoid.
Yoga- Dont do it.
Going to football matches- Okay. But if you want to watch football it might be better to watch it home rather than be publicly associated with all that idolatry.
Watching T.V.- Okay. Be discerning about choice of programme. Would you want to watch most things on T.V.?
Jewllery- Okay probably. Dont wear too much.
Serving in Armed Forces- Difficult one. Probably best not to.
Wearing Cross- Dont do it.
Displaying Fish symbol- Dont do it.
Displaying 'Star of David'- Dont do it.
Entering Mosque- Probably best not to.
Using NIV/ NASB/ NKJV/ RSV or any other apostate Bible- Dont do it.
Going to Nightclubs- Dont do it.
Going to Pubs- Okay, but be careful.
Gardening on the Lord's Day- Dont do it.
Reading a novel on the Lord's Day- Generally dont do it.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Is it a Sin to Eat Black Pudding?

A lot of Evangelical Christians think it is a sin to eat Black Pudding on account of Acts 15:29, in which a ruling is made that Gentile converts, among other things should abstain from blood. Some people I know have suggested that it does not refer to blood as such, but to witchcraft, or eating live animals. This seems unlikely, however, I do not believe that this is a universal rule. Thus, in my opinion, eating Black Pudding is a sin only if it would cause offence. The reasons why I think this:

1. Paul does not refer to the Acts 15 ruling when discussing meat sacrificed to idols, but rather takes a different policy. Surely Paul could have spared a lot of words by just quoting the Acts 15 ruling.
2. The list of things banned in Acts 15 does not refer to murder, covetousness, adultery or stealing. The things banned are things that have ceremonial significance to Jews.
3. Some Christians point out that the universal Noahide Covenant forbids (probably-it could be interpreted to refer to eating live animals or murdering people) eating blood. However, animal sacrifices were carried out by Noah and his children, which is the reason for blood being forbidden to the Israelites.
4. Foreigners were permitted to buy from Israelites animals that had died naturally and which would contain blood (Deuteronomy 14:21).
5. Meat is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5). It does not say that it is sanctified by the removal of blood.
6. Jesus taught that it is not what enters a man that defiles him, but what comes out.

What I find incredible is the hypocrisy of those Christians who claim it is sinful to eat Black Pudding. They do not eat Black Pudding, but they do not make a point of only eating Kosher meat or draining blood from their meat before cooking it. A friend of mine told me that she always cooks meat well so that there is no blood. Would that be sufficent for a Jew? There will still be blood in it. I also suspect that she would not abstain from sausages nor that she would stick to vegetarian dishes in a restaurant.

It is also interesting that some of the Christians who abstain from Black Pudding are women who never wear a headcoveering in public worship. They believe that the Acts 15 ruling is binding on all believers, but not the 1 Corinthians 11 teaching (the first part that is). I suppose some Christians might suggest that I am inconsistent myself in holding that 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 is permanent and Acts 15:29 local and temporary. The difference is that in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul goes to some trouble to explain his reasoning, whereas in Acts 15, the policy is not explained and so we must consider for ourselves the context of this teaching.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Best Cocteau Twins Album

Which is the best Cocteau Twins album? The obvious answer is which ever I am listening to at the moment. The Cocteau Twins are my favorite band. I posses all their albums and usually listen to at least one every week. I find it very pleasurable, being an obsessive (dyspraxia coming in) list-maker.

It is easier to decide which I like least. I find 'Four-Calendar Caffee' just too mainstream and commercial-sounding. However, controversially, I like 'Milk and Kisses' least. This album is either loved or hated by fans. Some consider it to be the best Cocteau Twins album, perhaps because it was the last. However, though the vibe of the album is good, none of the songs really stand out and grab one's attention.

The album I enjoy listening too the most is 'Garlands'. This is not their best album, but I enjoy it because it is so different from the others, with Will Heggie's menacing Bass-work (where did he go?), the guitar distortion, the distant vocals and the punky vibe. This is an album for minimalists who dont mind a bit of eeriness. I usually have to play this album a second time after playing it once.

Deciding the best album is a choice of three- 'Treasures', 'Victorialand' and 'Heaven or Las Vegas'. All of them could easily be the best. 'Treasures' is more representative of the early dark, Gothic style of the Cocteau Twins and concludes with 'Dronimo'- which is surely the best of all Cocteau Twins songs. However, 'Victorialand' feels like the ultimate album whenever I play it. It is different from the others, being a purely acoustic album. It has a very graceful and organic vibe and presents a grandiose sense of natural melancholy. 'Heaven or Las Vegas', however, offers an equally appealing feeling of euphoria and a feeling of comfort that captures the sense of swimming in warm chocolate (not that I want to do this). It is very hard to say which of the three albums is the best (leaving aside 'Blue Bell Knoll and 'Head over Heels' which are also good in their own ways.).

I would recommend most people to listen to 'Heaven or Las Vegas' first, as this is the most accessible of the top three. Unless, that is, they were fans of stuff like Enya, Enigma or Dead Can Dance, in which case I would recommend them to listen to 'Victorialand' first.