Nudity – 1

I do not know if you find that many people, especially Christians, do not wish to discuss controversial topics?  Well, one issue that is often never talked about is nudity, partly because it is difficult to ‘draw a line’ with it.  Then, it depends on whether we are focussing on male or female nudity.

Part of the issue is whether a part of a body is considered a sexual organ or not.  You will notice that in paintings down the ages, including many in churches, men and women were often shown ‘topless’.  Yet, today, we find it wrong for women to go topless, that is to show their nipples, yet men do.  That seems a contradiction, when one looks at history. What it is about the nipple, that we find shameful, even if the rest of the breast is shown, I do not know.  Only 70 years ago, men and women would not be seen dead in any swimming costume unless they were fully clothed! If showing nipples became more ‘normal’, then it would help in changing our current cultural attitudes which says by doing so, is ‘naughty’, and therefore exciting.  Also, it would help take away the focus on society’s obsession with the size and shape of bodies, male or female.

To me, the issue is more about whether the body is ‘sexualised’, that is posed to encourage arousal, as that, outside marriage, is saying ‘come and get me’, which means that the person does not consider themselves special.

Then, there is the issue of total nudity.  When one looks at history ( ), one finds this was quite normal and acceptable without a sexual emphasis.  People only wore clothes because of the environment, to protect themselves, or to cover their sexual organs. Today, nudity often finds expression in naturism (including Christians) because people like to feel ‘free’ and to connect with nature.

We must not forget that Adam and Eve were totally naked, and when they ‘sinned’, they only covered their sexual organs.  In some traditions of the early church, adult believers were baptised in the nude.  Covering is often seen as ‘shameful’, instead of liberating as God intended.

Now we come to the command to dress ‘modestly’ (1 Timothy 2:9).  If a person’s heart is inclined toward godliness, they will wear clothing that is neither provocative nor revealing in public, clothing that does not reflect negatively upon their personal testimony as a child of God.   Yet, deciding what is provocative or not, is very much down to cultural acceptance than having a biblical basis.  Hence, the question is where does one draw the line when it comes to what to wear?  A lot of what we do wear is to impress others, or to help us ‘feel good’, which to me is more about self than what God thinks.  He is more concerned about our heart and the relationship between us and Him.  Surely, that also says, we should also be more concerned about our relationships, socially or at work, rather than whether we look great.  But, that is not to say, we should make an effort to look nice because that shows we care about ourselves.

The issue now is how does one reconcile what has been said about nudity and what we wear?  Part of the problem is that in most countries, it is too cold or too hot not to wear some form of protective clothing, but in others it is not.  For example, in many African countries, women are topless and men only wear a basic loin cloth and we have no problem with that, but if a ‘white’ person did that in the same country, we probably would ‘frown’ on it, especially as far as women is concerned.

So, I think the problem is more to do with culture than anything us, and the media bombarding us with the idea that we should be obsessed with sex, and in particularly men having control over women.  We need to change our attitudes and see each person as special individual, not an ‘object’ to be used for whatever purpose (at work, in the home or wherever).  And also to see them as a person, whatever they look like.  Hence, the Church could take the lead in teaching and practicing about relationships in all sorts of situations, including the subjects of body image and nudity.  The process of change will be long, but it would be worth it.

Any thoughts on how to develop this discussion?



The Monarchy – 1

I admire all that the Queen has done for this nation over the many years on being on the throne.  It is amazing that she is still able to do all she does at her age!

But, do we really need a monarchy?  Alright she is good for tourism, but then we are treating the royal family like something at a zoo, to be stared at.

To me, it is perpetuating the ‘class’ system in this country; it means we give a lot of taxpayers’ money for their upkeep, especially with their many huge houses (which they do not need) and the large stable of horses and cars; the pomp and ceremony is not a very efficient way of doing things (it drags things out); and the Queen has to endorse Government policy whether she agrees with it or not – so why bother with Royal Assent?  Then there is the succession thing – what makes a member of the royal family suitable to be a monarch, especially when someone like Prince Charles does not want the job and the in-breeding often causes problems, like it did in the nineteenth century?  It would also allow the members of the Royal Family to easily marry someone from any ‘class’ for love, instead of duty or pressure, and lead a normal life.  I would suggest that the Queen and Prince Philip retire to Sandringham and the other properties are sold off, with some of the land used for social housing.  The rest of the royal family would then go into a ‘normal’ house and get a job to earn their keep.  When the Queen and Philip die, Sandringham should become a National Trust property and a museum.

Instead of a monarchy, we should have a republican form of democracy. I also think we should get rid of the House of Lords and all the various titles that go with it.  That should involve making things like lifetime peerages immediately non-existent. That also would save the taxpayers a lot of money and concentrate power in a new ‘Peoples’ Parliament’.

(See my posts on ‘Politics’ for more information.)

Hotels – 1

I have stayed in many different types of hotels in this country and overseas and have been amazed how standards very, and not just in the service one receives, but in the rooms, facilities and restaurants available.  Even within the various grading systems, there is no common agreement.  All of which causes confusion.

I believe that Governments should come together and agree a proper set of standards based on a number of factors and not have a grading system.  (In Dubai, there is a hotel which is ‘seven stars’ – how meaningless is that!)

A few suggestions:

Rooms – a lot of bedrooms are very cramp and cluttered, especially in Europe.  There should be a minimum spacious size set, making allowances as to whether the room has a single, double or twin, and has any other types of bed.  There should always be plenty of space to put one’s clothes, along with a desk and two comfortable chairs, as well as ’empty space’ to walk around (without feeling one is falling over the furniture).

En-suite bathroom – all rooms should have one and also be spacious, with shower, toilet and washbasin only or with a bath as well.  Soap should be provided.

Equipment and Furniture – a system should be set up to make sure everything is always in working order and meets health and safety standards.  They should also meet environmental standards, helping to keep the use of water and cleaning materials to a minimum, and working towards becoming self-sufficient in its energy use.

Staff – all staff should meet training standards in communication skills (including kitchen staff), service skills and any specialist skills depending on the position to be held.  This implies bespoke training schemes needed to be set up to bring current staff up to date. The training should be ‘cheap’, so as to encourage plenty of people to want to work in the industry.The hotel should have an ongoing training programme to make sure staff are up to date on legislation affecting the hospitality industry, including human trafficking, drugs and money laundering.

Pay – Creative ways need to be found to increase the pay of staff so as to encourage more people to come into the industry.

Restaurants – should use locally sourced food, cooked and served in hygienic conditions – every establishment should have an internationally recognised inspection award meeting the highest hygiene standards.  The restaurant itself should be spacious so that customers are not on top of each other.

Each hotel and restaurant should show signs stating which the various criteria it has met and when the latest inspections took place.

An independent body for each country should be set up that inspects each hotel and restaurant to identify what criteria they meet, according to international standards.  If a hotel or restaurant does not meet all the standards, then it will not be allowed to trade.  Other bodies can make comments on the service received.

This process should be done over five years and grants given to the smaller hotels to help meet the standards.

I believe such action will improve standards and increase tourism.

Statistics – 1

Statistics – you either love them or loath them!

Here is a definition from Wikipedia ‘Statistics is a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization of data.[1][2] In applying statistics to, e.g., a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin with a statistical population or a statistical model process to be studied. Populations can be diverse topics such as “all people living in a country” or “every atom composing a crystal”. Statistics deals with all aspects of data including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments.’

I have a problem with statistics – I am not sure that they are that accurate.

The issue is that that they can often be used to distort the truth about a subject.  For example, the television companies rely on a very small sample of what people watch to identify the ratings of any given programme.  But, in reality it cannot give a true picture of what people actually watch because not everyone registers their viewing habits.  Then there is fact that we often change channels during a programme for a variety of reasons which distorts figures.

Another area that is not very accurate is when it comes to counting people in certain countries.  Here there are  many issues such as to whether the figures are correct in terms of who belongs to what family; corruption – counting people several times for political reasons or to show that certain people groups are larger than they really are; the non-professionalism of the counters; are all people counted eg the homeless and refugees;and also many countries have not undertaken any kind of census for quite a few years. When it comes to counting refugees – does the UN and others exaggerate or under-report the numbers.? As far as I know there never has been any double-checking of any UN statistics since the organisation was created back after World War 2.  When you consider the UN is probably the biggest provider of statistics, one would have thought that checks should be made, especially as a lot of money is involved.

Many statistical models have been created, but I wonder how accurate they really are?  There never has been any really testing of them despite that they are only theories.

One area that particular concerns me is the counting of those who follow a particular religion.  For example, in Islam, whole families are counted as Muslims as well as subsequent generations, because it is a cultural ‘thing’, despite that there are many ‘categories’ of Muslims from ‘secular’ ones to ‘extremists’ – none of these are accurately counted, often because of fear of shame or dishonour.  When it comes to Christianity, it is almost as bad, especially when it comes to Evangelicals.  If a minister of church is evangelical, then the whole congregation is counted as such when the truth maybe very few actually have a living faith.  But, even those who consider themselves as evangelical may not practice their ‘faith’.  So, when statements are quoted that such a country has a very large population of Evangelicals, like Guatemala, I take them with a ‘pinch of salt’ when you see how much violence, corruption and children born outside of marriage exists.  Even in the UK, the figure of 7% evangelical is in reality is far too high when you start to dig into the working out of the faith of those part of ‘evangelical’ churches.  It also does not help that there are at least 17 ‘evangelical tribes’ with varying beliefs about key doctrines and practice.  Quoting ‘high’ figures can easily become ‘triumphalist’.  Instead, we should be looking at the real figures and take appropriate action in the area of reproducible discipling.

So, we can see that statistics can give a distorted picture of reality and therefore does not properly inform what our views should be about a given issue.  We need a better understanding of the contexts that statistics are used and get behind the ‘headlines’.  We also need to understand, in the case of religion, the belief systems of the various sub-groups, to properly understand them and therefore to be able to report objectively about them.