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The first conversation was encouraging. It was with Sup. He is a 21 years old Malay, of South Indian origin.  Sup is at Aberystwyth in the third year of his law degree. He anticipates that he might go into copyright law.  He is an atheist and I had the opportunity to ask what the big idea was regarding atheism. He wasn’t keen to persuade me of the merits of atheism however, he did share why he rejected the all knowing and all loving God.  He couldn’t get to grips with the fact there were so many claims for knowing God, why a supposed good God would permit such devastating suffering in the world and shared with me his understanding of the evolutionary process that discredited the biblical account. Sup was that rare breed of listener and reflector. While he shared he equally gave himself over to listening.  I was able to show how his understanding of the Christian worldview was little more than a cultural caricature and share some of the intriguing aspects of the biblical record of human history. We had an all too brief, but most enlightening chat from Bristol to Cardiff.

The second chat was bewildering. A physics student in a Stokes Croft coffee shop shared with me his understanding of the Big Bang theory. We then progressed to discussing laws of thermo dynamics with his other friend a computer studies guy, while their two female friends expressed concern that this was all a bit deep. However, we got onto the laws of maths, logic, science and morality and this is where it turned weird. I sought to establish that two plus two equals four; yesterday, today and tomorrow no matter where you are in the universe. However, I wasn’t expecting obfuscation.  I then found the literature student challenging the meaning of words.  These were post modernists in-extremist.  They weren’t ready to accept the reality of anything, even to the point of acknowledging the painting on The Art Cafe wall behind them had a painter.  Should that have been the point to test their theory by punching one of them on the nose? It got really unsettling when I struggled to get them to acknowledge that the rape of a six year old girl was wrong.  Totally absurd.

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Municipal Dreams

If a single estate can be taken to encapsulate the social, political and planning history of council housing in this country it is probably Knowle West in Bristol.  You’ll find in it all the hopes and dreams, all the good intentions and unintended consequences, that have marked the complex story of council housing over the last hundred years or so.  And you’ll find families and communities that have lived this story in all its complexity.

Broad Walk, Knowle © Phil Jaggery and made available under a Creative Commons licence Broad Walk, Knowle © Phil Jaggery and made available under a Creative Commons licence

To begin with, let’s cast our eyes a little wider.  In the interwar period, the Bedminster and Knowle Estate was the largest of Bristol’s interwar council schemes.  Building began in 1920. By 1939 the estate as a whole comprised over 6000 council homes and a population of some 28,000.

As we saw in last week’s post, this was the product of three…

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I have seen that the people of Bristol believe in the God of the Bible, they are in great company. See what Winston Churchill, one of Great Britain’s greatest statesman made of the Bible:

He believed the Bible – literally. He stood like a rock against Hitler and tyranny and he stood like a rock against liberal critics of God’s Word, the Bible.

Here is what he said: ‘We reject with scorn all those learned and labored myths that Moses was but a legendary figure upon whom the priesthood and the people hung their essential social, moral. and religious ordinances.

‘We believe that the most scientific view, the most up to date and rationalistic conception, will find its fullest satisfaction in taking the Bible’s story literally and in identifying one of the greatest human beings with the most decisively forward ever discernible in the human story.

‘We remain unmoved by the tomes of Professor Gradgrind and Dr Dryasdust. We may be sure that all these things happened just as they are set out according to holy writ.’

 

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Following diligent research, meeting people on the street, and having engagement on this blog, we can reach the unmistakable conclusion that the people of Bristol believe in the God of the Bible. You may find this surprising, as the common misconception is that there are many different beliefs, leading the received wisdom that we are many faiths, we are multi-faith. However, that is only in appearance, it is an illusion, presented by man’s suppression of the truth. For example, the men who flew planes into the Twin Towers, it makes clear in Romans 1 20, were without excuse. They may have chosen to  believe a lie, however, they knew what they were doing was wrong, in the same way that Pharaoh knew that not releasing the Israelites was wrong.

LIkewise, in Bristol people love their sin, want to stay in it and therefore reject the God of the Bible. This is why the argument of the self proclaimed atheist proves absurd, because he is making knowledge claims with no basis for knowledge apart from his own senses and reasoning, which is of course, a viciously circular position. They remain on my prayer list in the hope that God grants them repentance.

arronP1010193

Aaron loves his music. He’s been singing and playing guitar in Somerset and recently moved back to the big city to study music business management. Aaron had an epiphany two weeks ago and has determined that he is going to walk the Pennine Way. He’s enjoying settling into Bristol where he’s soaking up the community and culture. He loves real music, organising events and entertaining. We had a fascinating chat about life’s reason and purpose.  He kinda sorta believes that the world came together in a great cosmic accident.  I really hope he takes the opportunity to go to the open mike night at the Star and Dove.

Sam and Work

Sam and Work

Ever been to Turkey and had a hot towel shave? When now you need travel no further than fresh cuts on Stapleton Rd. My Kurdish barber’s name was Rim and worked alongside the business’s owner, Sam, who is from Istanbul. The enterprise, that has been up and running for 4 months, was thriving when I visited for a close shave.

A Thriving Enterprise

A Thriving Enterprise