Monday, February 22, 2010

PC Bullying

Good afternoon God,
From the time I was 10 until I finally managed to bore my tormentors at aged 14 I was bullied. I look back on that time with a mixture of remembered self-loathing and grief for a childhood lost. I have images of standing as a punch bag, being used as an ash-tray and being burned by cigarettes, of having hard earned paper-round money taken from me,  of books being trashed, hair pulled and clothes torn - but most of all - I remember the sound of scornful laughter. I know what it is to be the subject of abject ridicule for no other reason than for being small, being dyslexic, being stupid, being unfashionable, being religious.. for being me.

So I find it odd that bullying is now apparently all about being 100% politically correct in one's attitude and behaviour. There is little similarity between my childhood experiences and what is being described as bullying today... perhaps that is why I find the hypocrisy of the media as they report on the supposed bullying by the Prime Minister so transparent and abhorrent.

Sir Alan Sugar - note the title - is a publicly renowned media hero bully - the whole point of The Apprentice is that it supposedly takes hard nosed bullying to make it in todays secular dog-eat-dog capitalistic entrepreneurial world. So people queue up to try their hand at being his apprentice, at taking the abuse he dishes out in the board-room all in the hope of learning how to bully their way to job and maybe even their own  knighthood. And better yet - the whole world delights in watching as Sir Alan shreds the hopes of the candidates by pointing a finger and rudely announcing - You're Fired!

What is OK for Sir Alan - in front of the cameras - is apparently not OK for Mr Brown - why? I wish it were because bullying in the work-place - bullying in any place is not acceptable.. but of course, that is NOT what this is all about. This is about the forthcoming election.. in this case bullying is simply not politically correct.

It never is.

Bullying and party loyalty are often linked - in politics it is politely referred to as the whip.. in religion it masquerades as fundamentalism, extremism or denominationalism. But whether the bully is a prime minister or a district chair, a civil servant or a church steward, bullying is still repulsive, repugnant and de-humanising - and therefore a denial of you.

Sadly the Church is full of bullies.. and over twelve years of ministry I have met far too many 'Christians' who remind me of my earlier tormentors. From those who insist that everything they are doing is for the sake of the church/gospel, through to those who insist that they do what they do to me out of love for me! From violent tormentors through to passive aggressives .. the Church attracts them all.. as well it should, for the Church exists to welcome sinners as well as saints... but it has no place for their sins or for their perversion of the gospel.

Perhaps it was my earlier experience of bullying that has made me take such a strong stand against the bully's version of the gospel which attempts to present you God,  as some sort of super-bully. In their obsession with sin and hellfire You are presented as the one who waits for an opportune time and then demands all that I have, all that I have worked for, all that I am - for nothing! You are the bully who punishes me for simply being me, who delights in tormenting me and who has no real interest in me, other than as a source of  amusement, or entertainment.

Thankfully, my first-hand knowledge of what it is to be subject to such relentless humiliation means that I cannot and will not substitute the harder gospel of love, forgiveness and of grace for this cheap abusive gospel.

You have taught me to see Christ as the one who emptied himself.. so that I might have everything, who chose not to play party politics with the Pharisees and the Herodians, but who chose instead to speak the truth and name the hypocrisy he saw around him.  Christ never bullied anyone into belief, or denied a single soul their dignity as a fellow human being.. Christ offers what no bully ever does - choice - and the freedom to choose.

And that's the difference between the bully and you God - the bully does all that they can to deny freedom of will... they seek to diminish the will of their victim, by tormenting them, ridiculing and abusing them, by making them believe that they are of no account.

You offer life - in all its fullness.. and the freedom to choose it - or not.

I guess we will never know exactly what goes on behind the closed doors of 10 Downing street, but I do know that you give to us the responsibility to pray for those we elect to positions of power and to uphold them. Which means we do have a choice, we can buy into this politically correct form of bullying - or we can do as Christ did and name the hypocrisy and refuse to participate in it.


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