The White Christian’s Burden

This is the text of a talk I gave at Greenbelt Festival 2014. The theme of the Festival was “Travelling Light”; my talk was originally called “Travelling Heavy”, and I summarised it for the programme as follows:

Christianity doesn’t travel light. It is weighed down with history, much of it shameful. But if we don’t understand our past we can’t understand how it continues to form us, and we’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes. What would it mean for us to deal with the burdensome history of Christendom?


I want to start by telling you three stories, that may or may not be familiar to you.

The first story is about the 2014 Winter Olympics, which took place in Sochi, Russia.* Not long before the Winter Olympics took place, Vladimir Putin passed a law banning ‘non-traditional sexual propaganda to minors’, which is to say that there was a ban on anything that could be construed as pro-LGBT propaganda. It wasn’t very clear exactly what was being banned, or how thoroughly it was being banned; there was some ambiguity over whether wearing a rainbow lapel pin would count as propaganda to minors, and the Russian government said different things at different times about whether non-Russian citizens would be arrested for breaking the law. But there was a huge outcry in the UK and the US. Celebrities wrote op-eds. Stephen Fry wrote an open letter. Gay rights activists loudly argued that we should boycott Russian vodka, or even the Olympics as a whole. Lots of people I know, including lots of Christians, shared articles on Facebook and Twitter, and talked angrily about how terrible it was that Russia were doing such awful things to their LGBT population. Continue reading “The White Christian’s Burden”

The Right-Wing Messiah

Last night I saw a preview for Secret Millionaire, which caused me to seriously question my already tottering faith in humanity. Apparently based on the show where the boss becomes an employee for a day, Secret Millionaire asks its tititular millionaires to move to the areas of the US that have been “hardest hit” (by what?). There they will live among the poor, all the while trying to determine which family is “most deserving” of a sudden influx of cash.

The premise is disgusting, but familiar — after all, what is Jesus Christ but a fabulously wealthy individual who “took the form of a slave”? Continue reading “The Right-Wing Messiah”

Christian Social Teaching and the Politics of Money: Attempt at Liveblogging

The proceeding being the attempt at liveblogging the Centre of Theology and Philosophy’s (Dept of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham) conference “Christian Social Teaching and the Politics of Money” (July 9th-10th). I’ll try to post on the interesting bits. Do hope this doesn’t mess with everyone’s RSS feeds.

Continue reading “Christian Social Teaching and the Politics of Money: Attempt at Liveblogging”

Raising Money for Robbed Grad Students

Update: We’ve raised about £125 (~$250) so far. Keep it coming if you can, but this does help. Thank you to everyone who donated.

A good friend of mine here in Nottingham just had his laptop, with all the work for his PhD dissertation, stolen along with his wife’s laptop. Basically some asshole broke their living room window and found the two things of value in the house. He and his wife have suffered a very hard year; losing a parent to cancer with all the financial burdens of traveling from England to the US to be with them on top of that. This has just made everything that much harder for no good reason at all. The cops have told them they won’t really be able to find the computers, even though they know likely did it. I’m wondering if anyone in The Weblog community would help raise whatever funds we can to help them get back on their feet. If you could give anywhere from £5 ($10) up we could really help them out. Please go to paypal and click “Send Money” to anthonypaul[dot]smith[at]gmail[dot]com.