#PleasePray

Did You Hear About the Time I Had a Disagreement with a Member of Parliament?

Pfffft!!! For want of a better word to articulate the sound and emotion of my exasperated sigh as well as my arms raised to my waist, palms facing outwards. I had intended to finish off and post this week my second ever blog, which was meant to be a post about the time I climbed a mountain, but instead I’m writing my second ever blog about my Twitter hashtag #PleasePray with a much more somber tone.

This hashtag basically represents a social media movement(currently consisting at the moment of 1 person = me), who believes that the global persecution of Christians is increasing and many are being bullied, slandered, abused, threatened, beaten, raped and killed. Much of this is going unreported or being deliberately ignored for whatever reason and even when it is reported, the frequency and extremity of the problems Christians are facing is being downplayed, skewered and even trivialised. In these circumstances with the media silence it can be ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and my twitter hashtag #PleasePray is a social media exercise to redress this.

I actually originally had in my mind to broach the Kim Davis situation this week for the #PleasePray, but by the time Thursday came around, I felt led to highlight the Syrian Christian plight instead and it’s here I need to seemingly digress to fully explain my pfffft! moment.

The political cartoon has been around for centuries and often mixes thought provoking satire with social criticism. Whilst not a student of the form, I am certainly an appreciator of the art. These are often found in daily newspapers and in the modern realm of the internet, in the online version too.

The Guardian’s Steve Bell and Martin Rowson are among the vanguard of this genre in the UK in my opinion. However as great as their use of intellect, humour and thought provoking imagery to convey and capture an issue is, I will say that even they are not always successful in walking the fine line of decency and can cross over into being crude, pointlessly salacious and amidst other things – banal.

At it’s best though, a political cartoon is satirically thought provoking, facilitates debate and is influential. This is achieved via analogies, irony, exaggeration and symbolism. According to Wikipedia “A political cartoon commonly draws on two unrelated events and brings them together incongruously for humorous effect. The humour can reduce people’s political anger and so serves a useful purpose. Such a cartoon also reflects real life and politics, where a deal is often done on unrelated proposals beyond public scrutiny.”

So to connect all that I’ve touched on already in this post, please see below:-

Cartoon Twitter Discussion

The above depicts the desperately saddening recent incident of the drowned Syrian boy on the beach as well as the largely ignored plight of persecuted Christians whom are as mentioned above, being bullied, abused, threatened, beaten, raped and killed in significant numbers.

As you will note below, this picture then drew a response from the current member of parliament (MP) for Bristol East – Kerry McCathy, who seemingly was unable to either:-

  1. Consider that the cartoon was really touching on a different aspect of the crisis, one that I agree with and this relates to the lack of media attention given to over 200 million persecuted Christians worldwide. I’m not propagating a false victimhood narrative here as thousands, if not millions are really dying each year because of their Christian faith and this is going largely unreported.

And/ Or

  1. Appreciate that destructive satirical political cartoons are not primarily designed to titillate or necessarily be instantly palatable. Pfffft!!!

Enter Fabian Breckels, a councillor for Bristol, who like Ms McCarthy is also a Labour party member. He tried to helpfully explain the purpose and meaning behind the deconstructive satirical cartoon but to no avail. The cartoon is attempting to illuminate the media disparity of the situation, not demean but the Bristol East MP was basically having none of it!

For my part I retweeted the cartoon because it connected with my cyber activist prayer movement hashtag #PleasePray. As a Christian I believe prayer is very powerful and simply put prayer is earthly licence for heavenly intervention. Instead of feeling helpless, Christians can actually channel those emotions of empathy and compassion in prayer. Praying something like this will have a great impact in the many ongoing situations:-

Dear Lord God,

We know that those who follow and worship You, may as a result be persecuted, therefore we pray for strengthening, comfort and encouragement to all those who suffer harassment, violence, abuse, imprisonment and even death for being followers of Jesus Christ. We also pray for those who persecute your people; may their hearts be turned towards you through the faithful witness of those they persecute. Amen.

Heavenly Father,

We ask that you would make us ever mindful of our brothers and sisters around the world who need us to stand with them as they suffer in your name. Teach us what it means to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony; we pray that we would not love our lives so much as to shrink from death.

O Lord, hear our prayers,

In Jesus Name

Amen

*The above is adapted from Release International’s great website, whom have more suggested prayers, prayer points as well as great scriptural references also.

*If you’re interested, you can learn more about what is happening to Christians in different countries from the Open Doors website, here you can view their compiled world watch list.

In addition to prayer (#PleasePray), if you’re interested, both websites also have sections where you can donate to the work they are doing.

I do feel compelled to add that I am not connected to either the Open Door or Release International Charities, so don’t hate on them if you dislike this blog. Neither am I an internet chugger of any kind and if it weren’t for my twitter profile pic, I doubt they could pick me out of a line up. I just respect and value the work they are doing.

So finally, it’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and I would suggest that a good political cartoon is often worth many more. As the cartoon is unsigned, I cannot speak about the mystery individual’s wider personal and/or political affiliations or goals, all I can say is that their illustration was able to effectively speak expressively in far fewer words than I have used in this blog to convey a feeling held amongst Christians like myself about the plight of the persecuted Christian. Whilst I concede it is somewhat shocking and therefore understandable that this political cartoon may not of been palatable to the Labour MP, it is not however indecent and is actually a worthy contribution to its genre, operating within the centuries old license to be satirically controversial, which in my opinion is a tough line to walk as even the best of them can sometimes fall foul.

Okay – I’ve had my say, but what are your thoughts on the matter? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.