Because Blog

A different kind of vaccine

If you happen to visit Lichfield Cathedral this week, you might get more vaccine than vicar.

It is as much symbolic as it is diagnostic that this is the first place of worship in England to be transformed into a vaccination hub.

Diagnostic because the corona crisis has uncovered where much of our nation’s hope lies. Not in priests and pews but in the NHS and inoculation. The latter is now our saving grace, the new ‘miracle’ on the block, giving us our lives back. In these times, hope comes more from the medical sector than the big man in the sky.

Symbolic because churches for centuries, ever since a radical new hope burst forth from the streets of Jerusalem from a man they called Messiah, have been the place where a weekly shot in the arm of hope was administered. Indeed, this use of the church as a place for vaccinations stirs something in our psyche, reminding us what churches were about in the first place: inoculation from plagues. And I’m not talking about the pandemics types. I’m talking about mass vaccination of a different kind, offering relief and protection from other plagues.

A few years ago, the Pew Research Centre asked why people went to church. I think the results suggest what this different kind of vaccination is for. Three of the top four reasons why people go to church are: to make me a better person; give children a moral foundation; and for comfort in times of trouble.[1] Not bad inoculations!

Now, I agree, churches like the one in Lichfield can come across as austere, pious, places for the holy, not people like us who sometimes live messy lives, struggling through the day trying to pull some kind of order out of the chaos. But you’d be wrong. Churches are communities that somehow, and over time, help inoculate us against our worst habits, against the moral uncertainty, and against the anxieties we face day-to-day.

And I know you may ask, but how do I get to a church in lockdown? Well, if you’re interested, here is the church I attend on Zoom: Launch Meeting – Zoom.

If you decide to come along, please say hello – I’m the young-looking guy in the square glasses.

Richard Fowler info@because.uk.com

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

[1] Why Americans go to religious and church services | Pew Research Center (pewforum.org)

Keeping the US economy afloat

This week, I was reading about Joe Biden’s stimulus plan for a U.S. economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. $1.9 trillion doesn’t sound like much when you read it quickly, but when you realise that is 1.9 with 12 zeros after it, it’s quite something to consider.

If his proposal is passed by Congress, Biden wants to make a direct payment of $1400 dollars to every single American household. Will his plan work? Only time will tell. But many are already describing it as simply throwing money at the problem.

Contrast that with another plan devised by arguably the greatest world leader in history, Jesus Christ. He didn’t throw money at problems, he threw solutions. He fed the poor, healed the sick, restored sight to the blind and forgave the unforgivable. In fact, that last action was the solution to the biggest problem of all, the conundrum that at the end of every human life, there is death.

Jesus died and rose again so that we might do the same.

You could call that the most successful stimulus plan of all time.

Peter Mill info@because.uk.com

Peter is editor-in-chief at Because

What does 2021 hold in store for us?

Let’s face it, 2020 was a stinker of a year and all around the world, people are hopeful for a better, brighter 2021.

What do you think the future holds in 2021? I thought it would be interesting to review some of the different predictions people have made for this year, so I did a little desktop research and here’s what I found.

Top of a ‘2021 predictions’ search result in Google is the cartoon franchise The Simpsons, which, in November last year, predicted that the world would end on 20 January 2021. (Don’t laugh, fans of the show believe it correctly predicted the coronavirus pandemic and the 9/11 tragedy.)

Next up is the Nostradamus, who apparently believed a comet would hit the earth this year, causing earthquakes and other natural disasters.

At the more believable end of the spectrum, I found a fascinating survey conducted by the multinational market research conglomerate, Ipsos. In October last year its Global Advisor 2021 Predictions poll canvassed over 23,000 adults around the world, asking them what they expect to happen in 2021. I’d like to share a few of their findings with you.

A whopping 68% of respondents believed that a successful vaccine for COVID-19 would be developed – a prediction that has already come true. Yet 61% believed that people will still be wearing a mask in public places for most of 2021. Less optimistic were their predictions regarding economic recovery, with only 32% believing the economy will have fully recovered by the end of the year. While, slightly scarily, 47% believe there will be a new global pandemic caused by a new virus.

Of course, we’ll have to wait until the end of the year to see just how good the general public is at predicting the future, but the likelihood is they are no better or worse than all the other seers, sages and Simpsons.

In the meantime, I’d like to leave you with the story of one man whose predictions have always come true, every single time. His name was Jesus Christ.

Jesus predicted when he would die, where he would die, how he would die and even that he would live again just 3 days later. Every one of these predictions came true. So what does that mean for you and me? It means we can also believe his promise that he is going to return and save the world. 1

And that, I believe, is the most important prediction you will hear in 2021. In fact, ever.

Peter Mill info@because.uk.com

Peter is editor-in-chief at Because

1 The Bible: John 3:17 (NIV)

A lesson from the wealthiest men on Earth

Being a teacher of teenagers is amusing as it is unpredictable. But one predictability is their answer to the question, ‘what do you want to be when you are older?’, the answer I’ve heard more than any other is…

“I want to be rich”.

Maybe we do too. But deep down we know there is something missing from this answer. And what’s missing is revealed by the two richest men on Earth.

Last week, eccentric entrepreneur Elon Musk became the richest man on earth. Overtaking Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who held the top spot from 2017. This reminded me of a Bezos interview just after he acquired the richest man title. Asked for his reactions, he said, “I would much rather they said, ‘inventor Jeff Bezos’, or ‘entrepreneur Jeff Bezos,’ or ‘father Jeff Bozos’, those kind of things are much more meaningful to me”. Interesting answers. So what about Musk? He simply tweeted dismissively, “How strange…Well, back to work…”. And Musk is not going to be hoarding that wealth either, “About half my money is intended to help problems on Earth, and half to help establish a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure continuation of life”[1]. So what do these answers tell us?

They tell us something important about living a fulfilling life. That meaning is not easily persuaded into your life through wealth. Indeed, meaning and fulfilment comes in the opposite direction of money. What do I mean? I’ll answer that with another question, what is the connection between Bezos and Musk’s answers and activities?

Wealth is not what gives them meaning, rather it comes from what they put into the world, not what you take out of the world.

The “I want to be rich” answer fails to understand that we are driven by deeper motivations than just material acquisition. What these men are doing with their riches uncovers a human and universal truth. It is much more meaningful – much more fulfilling – to put something into the world, than to take something out. Maybe it is how we are wired, or maybe it’s because meaning demands that we aim for something bigger than our being. Whatever the reason for this truth, it confirms a principle Jesus taught himself, saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”[2].

I suppose if we live a life trying to ‘get money’ as our primary focus it will inevitably reap a harvest of life deficient of meaning. That’s a soul-sickness, an internal lostness, I would prefer to avoid. Instead, a life meaningfully lived is a life that gives more than it gets.

So this week, what are we going to give? What are we going to put into the world?

Richard Fowler info@because.uk.com

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

[1] Elon Musk becomes world’s richest person as wealth tops $185bn – BBC News
[2] The Bible, Acts 20:35 (NIVUK)

You’ll never walk alone

I’m a fan of 1960s’ pop music so it was sad this week to hear of the death of Gerry Marsden, the lead singer of the Merseybeat band Gerry and the Pacemakers. They had many hits including ‘Ferry ’cross the Mersey’ and ‘I like it’, but perhaps their most famous song was ‘You’ll never walk alone’. Originally it was a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel which Gerry took to the top of the charts in 1963 with it becoming an anthem for Liverpool football club, and more recently the song reached the number one spot again with Captain Tom Moore, Michael Ball, and the NHS Voices of Care choir.

This song, as well as a football anthem and a recognition of the work of the NHS, is one that Christians can also embrace. The Bible tells us that Jesus will be with us to the end of the age and that God will never leave or forsake us.[1] With whatever we face over this next year, including the tighter lockdown imposed this week, this knowledge gives us the strength to walk through the storm with hope in our hearts because we are not walking alone.

Barry Robinson info@because.uk.com

 

[1] Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5.

1 2 81