Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Advent Calendar Conspiracy

If anyone visiting this blog hasn't yet come into contact with the Advent Calendar Conspiracy, it's something I was asked to get involved with by Changing Worship, a friend in both the real word and the t'interworld.  Inspired by the Advent Conspiracy - a bid to get some real meaning back into Advent and Christmas by asking simple questions and taking simple but effective action - it's an Advent Calendar.  Each day there's a 30 second video clip which juxtaposes traditional images and sounds of Christmas as we know it in modern Britain and the western world, with images, sounds and ideas about the reality of our world, the changes we might like to see, and the truth sent from above.

You can get your daily dose of questioning by following the group on face book here - just like the page. Or you can follow them on Changing Worship's blog - follow the link above. We've really enjoyed putting these together - and I've found when I've revisited the clips I put together myself that new thoughts have been inspired.

In his article for the Christmas Radio Times, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams talks about what we mean when we bandy around the slogan 'What Would Jesus Do?' - he suggests it's all about asking awkward questions - and I hope that's what our little project has done this Advent.

Ethics and Gift Aid

I appreciate this is a slightly random topic but I have been thinking recently about the ethics of Gift Aid. Gift Aid seems to be a wonderful scheme which has benefited many charities, not least the church. It is available to all UK tax payers and means that by making a simple declaration you are able to add £0.25 to every pound you give to a charity.  This £0.25 is claimed by the charity from the government - and each £0.25 comes from the tax you have already paid.  So it is a way of re-allocating the tax you have paid to a charity of your choice.

So far so good.  But unless I have missed the point (and will be happy for someone to put me out of my ignorance) this means that every time I Gift Aid a donation, I am in fact taking money out of the tax I have paid to support essential services, and putting it somewhere else.  I know this seems churlish, but I'm not entirely sure that this is OK.  If my tax pounds are needed to support the NHS, schools etc. is it really ethical for me to choose to opt out of part of that essential payment by re-allocating it to my chosen charity?

I suppose for those who understand this area better than I there are many mitigating factors. I would be happy to be enlightened.