Well, the summer has come to an end. Not that you would know it from the temperature here in Hong Kong, which is in the mid-thirties centigrade. The fashions here have gone autumnal as the Fashion Houses roll-out their Fall/Autumn collections. It is a bit strange seeing people in Central Hong Kong wearing European autumn dress in such hot temperatures, but that's fashion for you!
It was good to be able to get back to the UK to visit family and to have a break. But now the Schools are back and it's pretty much business as usual. This Autumn, I will be teaching another Christian Ethics course and as I only found out about it over the summer, I am having to move quickly to get ready! I imagine that some of my thoughts and opinions will creep on to this blog.
This Autumn will see the US elect a new President and Vice-President and no matter where we live in the world, we will be affected by the American voters' choice. The campaign this year is making headlines over all over the world. We all know about Barack Obama having watched him for the past 18 months or so during the primary campaign. But now there is the surprising choice of Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate grabbing the headlines.
Like many, I don't much about Sarah Palin. We will get to know more about her over the next two months. I do know, however, that there is something very nasty about some of the press coverage and comment that there has been about her. Liberals seem to hate the fact that it was conservatives that picked a woman. And they hate the fact that Sarah is not their sort of woman.
On the BBC's 'Any Questions?' programme in the UK this week, a feminist contributor unleashed an amazing tirade of personal abuse against Sarah and all she stands for even criticizing her hair-style. The intolerance of those who claim to be champions of tolerance and inclusiveness can be breath-taking. We will include you as long as you are one of us.
Sarah Palin may not be everyone's cup of tea. She may or may not get elected. Surely, however, she is entitled to the same sort of respect that she herself showed Hilary Clinton whose views were more to the liking of those who are so venomous toward Sarah.
Sarah has not made her faith part of her campaign. And yet at the moment she is being subjected to some of the nastiest comments I have seen simply because she used to go to a Pentecostal Church and is a committed evangelical Christian. Again, tolerance doesn't seem to apply when you actually believe in something unfashionable like God actually being active in our world.
Anyone who knows me will know that I am not a Pentecostal Christian, but I think Christians need to be very careful before joining in the attacks on a sister in Christ just because they don't like her particular brand of faith. This coming Sunday, I will be preaching on the set reading, Paul's words in Romans 14. Paul talks about those whose faith is strong enough to allow them to eat what they like and those whose faith is weak so that they avoid eating meat that may be ritually unclean. Paul is clear that he agrees with the strong, but says that he would rather never eat meat again if it hurts a fellow-member of the body of Christ.
Instead of joining with unbelievers in their attacking Sarah for her faith, we should be praying for her, not that she gets elected necessarily, but that God will watch over and protect her as she is assaulted for the nature of her faith in Him. We need to pray that her faith will stay strong in the test she is facing. We can only hope that her opponents will stick to the issues and legitimate arguments over policies.
Sadly, that doesn't seem likely any time soon.
And those of us who believe in tolerance, inclusiveness and openess to others need to avoid the hypocrisy of believeing in it only when it applies to those people we like and get on with.