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The single quality that makes the most difference to whether you are happy or not is thankfulness. If you are thankful for your life, and can see good and hope in whatever life brings you, you will be happy.

It is possible to be thankful in the midst of the most dire situations. People who are depressed have not usually had more suffering, more failure, more disappointment. They just spend more time thinking about the hurts and disappointments.

People who are happy are not happy because everything goes their way but because when things go wrong, even very badly, they can still find reasons to be thankful.

Garvan Byrne is a perfect example:

Who?

If you haven’t heard of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, then maybe we do need an inquiry into the mainstream media.

Yousef is a Christian pastor in Iran. He has never been a Muslim. Yet he has been sentenced to death for apostasy on the basis that his ancestors were Muslims.

From Melanie Phillips:

The brutal regime in Iran continues to inflict appalling levels of barbarity upon its own citizens.

A Christian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, aged 35 and the father of two children, has been sentenced to death for apostasy, a crime for which he was jailed two years ago. But this savage punishment is far worse even than it seems. For Nadarkhani is deemed to have committed apostasy merely because he has Islamic ancestry. Whether he was ever actually a practising Muslim was not even established. The Washington Post reported:

‘The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court has determined that Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Iran’s supreme court had previously ruled that the trial court must determine if Youcef had been a Muslim before converting to Christianity.

‘However, the judges, acting like terrorists with a hostage, demanded that he recant his faith in Christ before even taking evidence. The judges stated that even though the judgment they have made is against the current Iranian and international laws, they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.’

Now the Iranian authorities have claimed he is to be executed not for apostasy at all but for a slew of other crimes. As CNN reports:

‘Gholomali Rezvani, the deputy governor of Gilan province, where Nadarkhani was tried and convicted, accused Western media of twisting the real story, referring to him as a “rapist.” A previous report from the news agency claimed he had committed several violent crimes, including repeated rape and extortion. “His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity,” Rezvani told Fars. “He is guilty of security-related crimes.”

‘In a translated Iranian Supreme Court brief from 2010, however, the charge of apostasy is the only charge leveled against Nadarkhani. “Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32-years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19,” reads the brief.’

If there is enough international pressure, Iran may relent.

So pressure! Email your MP. Write (politely) to the Iranian Ambassador. Pray.

From the invaluable MEMRI.

With this sort of filth being taught publicly in Islamic countries, is it any wonder children grow up hating the Jews?

I think John Howard is a little too enthusiastic about Indonesia, where there is still a troubling level of Islamic violence against minority religious groups, and about the so-called Arab Spring.

There is reasonable concern that movements interpreted by the West as movements for democratic reform in Arab nations will only be democratic until Wahhabist governments are installed. Democracy is antithetic to Wahhabist thought since the obligation of Muslims is to work for the implementation of Sharia, while democracy places the opinions of men (and even kaffirs) above Islamic law.

Hence protests like this in Western democracies:

Islam - No to Democracy

Islam - No to Freedom of Speech

Nonetheless, Howard is right both to identify many positive changes in the world over the last ten years, and to assert the need for continuing effort and care.

Global warming alarmists and atheists seem to have the same problem when it comes to debating those who disagree with them – they lose.

Consequently, they prefer to snipe from the sidelines, refusing to debate, and justifying their refusal with insults.

This video, about proposed debates between Wlliam Lane Craig and UK atheists/humanists, demonstrates this perfectly.

The only reason there is no peace between Israel and Palestinian Arabs is because the Arabs do not want peace.

The three ‘Nos’ from the eight Arab states which met in Khartoum in September 1967 were: No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiation with Israel.

From David Meir-Levi in Frontpage magazine:

There is an eerie déjà vu about an unmistakable and oft-repeated process in the Arab–Israel conflict.  The process started in 1937 and has repeated itself with minor variations many times over the subsequent 74 years. The process is as follows: Arabs go to war with Israel, promising Israel’s destruction and the annihilation of its Jews.  Israel wins the war and offers peace. Arab leaders reject Israel’s peace offer, renew their promises of destruction and annihilation; and after a while they go to war again, and lose again, and Israel again offers peace.  Repeat this process 31 times and you have the history of the Arab-Israel conflict in a nutshell. …

Then came the biggest and best ever opportunity for a state for the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the UN General Assembly  Resolution #181 in 1947 – Camp David 2. From July 11 – 24, 2000 President Clinton presided over the second Camp David  accords. Prime Minister Baraq made what Saudi Crown Prince Bandar bin Sultan called the best offer that Arafat could possibly expect[iv].  This was an historic offer, with Arafat receiving 97% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and 3% of Israeli land, and a Palestinian Authority capitol in East Jerusalem.  All that was required of Arafat was an end to the conflict. He could not do it.

At Camp David, Dennis Ross​ has said, there was no comprehensive final settlement offered. The Israeli and American negotiators put forth ideas regarding borders, Jerusalem, and land transfers. One of those was a Palestinian state comprised of four cantons. Arafat rejected these suggestions, but did not raise a single idea himself. Shlomo Ben-Ami, one of Israel’s negotiators who took copious notes at the closed meeting and kept meticulous diaries of the proceedings, said that Clinton exploded at the Palestinians over their refusal to make a counteroffer. “‘A summit’s purpose,’ Clinton said, ‘is to have discussions that are based on sincere intentions and you, the Palestinians, did not come to this summit with sincere intentions.’ Then he got up and left the room.”

And then there are the continuing attempts in Arab media to deny any Jewish connection to Israel at all:

The great and exalted Allah commanded the angel Gabriel to place Muhammad upon the riding beast Al-Buraq, which was a cross between horse and donkey. The night journey was both physical and spiritual….Once he reached the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the angel Gabriel removed Muhammad from upon Al-Buraq’s back, and then he tied the beast to the Al-Buraq rock, which was called the ‘Al-Buraq Wall.’ The Jews changed its name to the ‘Wailing Wall,’ because the Jews are always trying to change Arabic names into Hebrew names….

Mohammud’s night journey supposedly took place about 621 AD. The Al-Aqsa mosque was built on the site of the Jewish Temple in 705AD.

Or this:

The Zionists must acknowledge publicly, in front of the world, that the Jews have no connection to the Palestinian Arab land, upon whose ruins arose the colonialist settler Zionist plan that settles and expels, represented by the Israeli apartheid state.  That which occurred two thousand years ago (i.e. the Jewish/Israeli presence in the land)…represents in the book of history nothing more than invention and falsification and a coarse and crude form of colonialism.

It is as true now as it always was, that if the Arabs put down their guns there would be peace, while if Israel put down its guns, there would be no more Israel.

Any doctor or family members considering turning off a ventilator or withholding food and water from someone who is ‘brain dead,’ or to use the currently preferred term, in a persistent vegetative state, should read the article Reborn by Steve Boggan in the UK Guardian first.

We have always been told there is no recovery from persistent vegetative state – doctors can only make a sufferer’s last days as painless as possible. But is that really the truth? Across three continents, severely brain-damaged patients are awake and talking after taking … a sleeping pill. And no one is more baffled than the GP who made the breakthrough.

For three years, Riaan Bolton has lain motionless, his eyes open but unseeing. After a devastating car crash doctors said he would never again see or speak or hear. Now his mother, Johanna, dissolves a pill in a little water on a teaspoon and forces it gently into his mouth. Within half an hour, as if a switch has been flicked in his brain, Riaan looks around his home in the South African town of Kimberley and says, “Hello.” Shortly after his accident, Johanna had turned down the option of letting him die.
Three hundred miles away, Louis Viljoen, a young man who had once been cruelly described by a doctor as “a cabbage”, greets me with a mischievous smile and a streetwise four-move handshake. Until he took the pill, he too was supposed to be in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state.

Across the Atlantic in the United States, George Melendez, who is also brain-damaged, has lain twitching and moaning as if in agony for years, causing his parents unbearable grief. He, too, is given this little tablet and again, it’s as if a light comes on. His father asks him if he is, indeed, in pain. “No,” George smiles, and his family burst into tears …

Although these awakenings are the most dramatic aspect of the zolpidem phenomenon, Percy Lomax, the chief executive of ReGen Therapeutics, the British company funding the South African trials, believes Nel’s work with less brain-damaged patients could be the most significant. Many stroke victims, patients with head injuries and those whose brains have been deprived of oxygen, such as near-drowning cases, have reported significant improvement in speech, motor functions and concentration after taking the drug.

No one should ever be written off. No one’s life should be ended because he or she is too much trouble, an inconvenience, or has no ‘quality of life’ which is what people say when ‘too much trouble’ is what they mean but they don’t want to sound selfish.

Reason number 12934618 to get the heck out of the Epsicopal church, if not the entire gluey mess that is worldwide Anglicanism.

Episcopalians will mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with a three day memorial including readings from the Koran.

Robert Spencer has selected some verses which might be appropriate:

Qur’an 98:4-6: “Nor did the People of the Book make schisms, until after there came to them Clear Evidence. And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practise regular charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight. Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures.”

Qur’an 5:14: “From those, too, who call themselves Christians, We did take a covenant, but they forgot a good part of the message that was sent them: so we estranged them, with enmity and hatred between the one and the other, to the day of judgment. And soon will Allah show them what it is they have done.”

Qur’an 9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

In words as slippery as fish oil, presiding ‘bishop’ Katherine Jefferts Schori said: “The anniversary is an opportunity for reflection” adding that the Episcopal Church “continues to work for healing and reconciliation. The greatest memorial to those who died 10 years ago will be a world more inclined toward peace.”

Well, yes. Except that peace and reconciliation have their foundation in truth, something the Epsicopal church seems to have lost track of completely.

Jennifer S Bryson notes the high proportion of captured terrorists who have had large amounts of pornography in their possession.

Pornography makes women and men masturbation aids. The actors cease to be human. Their only purpose is to provide physical stimulation. If they don’t do their job, they disappear – the page is turned, the next website clicked.

Pornography de-humanises both actors and users.

If we want to understand the inner workings of terrorists and would-be terrorists, we must seek to understand their entire person, including the relationship—or inconsistencies—between their words and actions. In the case of the 9/11 hijackers who visited strip clubs, and in the case of Abdo and among what seems like an increasing number of terrorists, actions include sexual perversions and pornography use that cannot be squared with what these ideological terrorists and their supporters espouse.

Terrorist acts rely on the ability to dehumanise planned victims. Victims are less than real, less than people. They are to be blotted out.

Bryson asks:

Are there security costs to the free-flow of pornography? If so, what are they? Are we as a society putting ourselves at risk by turning a blind eye to pornography proliferation?
 
I wonder further: Could it be that pornography drives some users to a desperate search for some sort of radical “purification” from the pornographic decay in their soul? Could it be that the greater the wedge pornography use drives between an individual’s religious aspirations and the individual’s actions, the more the desperation escalates, culminating in increasingly horrific public violence, even terrorism?

Or in this case, don’t say anything about who Muhammed really was and the things he did.

The radio presenter Michael Smith is being investigated by the media watchdog over his assertion that the prophet Muhammad ”married a nine-year-old and consummated it when she was 11”.

Actually Michael was wrong. Muhammed married a six year old and had sex with her when  she was nine. He was fifty-three at the time.

In an article called Rationalizing Pedophilia in Islam Raymond Ibrahim quotes a Muslim cleric talking about Muhammed’s nine year old wife Aisha:

“So you see, she was playing with her fellow playmates even though her day of consummation was that very same day—and all that they did was to fix her up for the prophet so he could have sex with her.

Now what do we see when the prophet married Aisha? Did he go to her and say “Okay that’s it, you’re married, you’re now a grown up, you’re supposed to be mature, you need to do this and that; you need to forget about your toys and your little friends; you are now a wife of a man, you have to see to my needs” and that’s it?

No. The prophet allowed her to continue playing with her toy dolls—indeed, the prophet even sometimes gave her such things to play with. [This hadith has more details, including how Aisha’s little girl friends would “hide themselves” whenever the prophet came to her until he called them out.]”

It should be noted that the cleric recounted the above with much awe and amazement—as if to say, “Look how indulgent and open-minded our prophet was!”

For Mulsims, Muhammed is ‘a perfect example of conduct’ not just in his own time, but for all time. Nothing he did can be considered wrong, anywhere, or in any time or culture.

One result of this, as Ibrahim points out, is that Sharia can never condemn the ‘marriage’ of young girls to older men:

Earlier this month we saw—or rather, were once again reminded—that Islam permits pedophilia in the guise of “marriage”: Top Saudi cleric, Dr. Salih bin Fawzan, issued a fatwa asserting that there is no minimum age for girls to marry, “even if they are in the cradle,” and that the only criterion is that “they are capable of being placed beneath and bearing the weight of the men.”

Kathy Shaidle suggests the key difference between Jesus and Muhammed was that Jesus raised a little girl from the dead, while Muhammed had sex with one.

I can think of a few more.

Jesus went to his death praying for those who tortured and killed him. Muhammed instructed his followers to ‘kill any Jew who falls into your power,’ attacked and murdered caravan drivers from Mecca because their city had rejected his message, and ordered the murder of an entire Jewish village. Consequently, Sharia declares that anyone who insults the prophet should be executed.

Jesus had genuine and respectful friendships with women. He listened to them and protected them from violence. Muhammed taught that women were unclean – on the same level as dogs – and took and raped whom he wished of women captured in his raids.

No doubt hearing this will be insulting to some Muslims. But if you don’t want comparisons made between Jesus and Muhammed, don’t ask people to make them.

Asking people to make that comparison is exactly what the ‘Jesus, a prophet of Islam’ billboards in Sydney do.

Anglican Bishop Rob Forsyth has no objection to Muslims buying billboard space to say whatever they like, but notes that billboards advertising Christianity would not be allowed in Saudi Arabia, or any Muslim country.

I dont object either. But Muslim leaders should be prepared for the fact that if they take advantage of freedom of speech in democratic societies to say what they like, they may hear what they don’t.

Those dastardly right-wing Christians are at it again.

This time they are claiming that we serve the poor best by being financially responsibile:

… we do not need to “protect programs for the poor.” We need to protect the poor themselves. Indeed, sometimes we need to protect them from the very programs that ostensibly serve the poor, but actually demean the poor, undermine their family structures and trap them in poverty, dependency and despair for generations. Such programs are unwise, uncompassionate, and unjust.

The group calls itself Christians for a Sustainable Economy. Here is a bit more of their letter to President Obama:

All Americans – especially the poor – are best served by sustainable economic policies for a free and flourishing society. When creativity and entrepreneurship are rewarded, the yield is an increase of productivity and generosity.
 
Compassion and charity for “the least of these” is an essential expression of our faith, flowing from a heart inclined towards God. And just as the love of God frees us for a more abundant life, so our charity must go beyond mere material provision to meet the deeper needs of the poor. To suggest that Matthew 25 – or any commandment concerning Christian charity – can be met through wealth redistribution is to obscure these truths. We encourage you to consider the whole counsel of scripture, which urges not only compassion and provision for the poor but also the perils of debt and the importance of wise stewardship.

Amen.

Given the demonisation of the Catholic Church’s position on the use of condoms, you might be excused for thinking that the science was settled: promotion of condom use is the most effective method of reducing HIV infection.

In fact, as the UN’s own study showed, condom promotion has never been effective in preventing AIDS. See Broken Promises: How the AIDS Establishment has Betrayed the Developing World.

Yet infection rates in Zimbabwe halved from 1997 to 2007.

You would think that this remarkable success would have been shouted from the rooftops, and proven ineffective condom promotion dropped in favour of something that really works.

But remember we live in a world where ideology is more important than fact, and seeming to do good is more important than actually doing it.

So what is Zimbabwe’s secret? Well, no secret at all, really. Just what the Church has said from the beginning. Change your behaviour. Abstain from sex or be faithful to one partner.

Just don’t look for this to become UN policy in a hurry. A UN report published at the beginning of June called for comprehensive state sponsored sex education, including use of condoms, for children from age ten, as a method of reducing AIDS infection rates.

If adopted, that policy will achieve just the opposite.

And no, that’s not jihad in the sense of the inner struggle against sin and weakness. It means the use of violence to achieve the impostion of sharia law and the establishment of a caliphate.

“The Soldier’s Prayer,” written in 1912 by Turkish nationalist poet Ziya Gokalp:

The minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks and the faithful our army.

From Andrew G. Bostom at Big Peace:

During August 2007, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) released “Radicalization in the West — The Homegrown Threat.” This insightful 90-page report evaluated the threat that had become apparent since 9/11/2001, analyzing the roots of recent terror plots in the United States, from Lackawanna in upstate New York to Portland, Ore., to Fort Dix, NJ. Based upon these case-study analyses of individuals arrested for jihadist activity, the authors concluded that the “journey” of radicalization that produces homegrown jihadists began in so-called “Salafist” (“fundamentalist” to non-Muslims) mosques characterized by high levels of Sharia—Islamic Law—adherence.

The landmark study just published, “Sharia and Violence in American Mosques” (Kedar M, Yerushalmi D. The Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2011, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 59-72) sought to expand considerably upon the NYPD’s post-hoc, case study approach—systematically gathering objective survey data, with much greater methodological rigor—and address these two a priori questions: I) Is there a robust association between observable measures of religious devotion, coupled to Sharia-adherence in US mosques, and the presence of violence-sanctioning materials at these mosques?; and II) Is there a robust association between the presence of violence-sanctioning materials at a mosque, and the advocacy of jihadism by the mosque’s leadership via recommending the study of these materials, or other manifest behaviors? …

In brief, survey data were collected from a nationally representative, random statistical sample of 100 US mosques, covering 14 states, and the District of Columbia. …

The study’s results provide clear—and ominous—affirmative answers to the a priori questions posed. Sharia-adherence was strongly associated with the presence of jihad-violence sanctioning materials, and the presence of jihad-violence sanctioning materials was in turn robustly associated with advocacy of jihadism by mosque imams—religious leaders. This key summary finding was highlighted by the authors:

…51 percent of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shari‘a-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim; 30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence like the Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Fiqh as-Sunna; 19 percent had no violent texts at all.

Thus 81% of this statistical sample representative of US mosques were deemed as moderately (30%) to highly (51%) supportive of promulgating jihad violence to impose Shari’a.

Even more disturbing is the fact that only 4.7% of regular Muslim worshippers attend a mosque where no violent jihadist materials are available, because the Sharia/Caliphate/Jihad supporting mosques are better attended.

It would be interesting to see a similar survey of mosques in Australia.

The ABC reports a ‘catholic’ doctor working at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital has had his Catholic faith shaken by the hospital’s refusal to provide written advice on artificial contraception to patients participating in a cancer drug trial.

Really? A Catholic doctor’s faith is shaken because the Catholic hospital he works at acts in accordance with Catholic teaching?

Catholic hospitals are leaders in cancer research. All such research involves risks. In this case, there is a possibility the drug could cause birth defects.

The hospital provides everyone considering participating in the trial with a statement of the risks involved, including a section on reproductive risks.

It would be sensible to avoid conceiving a child while taking the drug.

Advice about natural methods of contraception is also available at the hospital.

Essentially, this means keeping track of the woman’s cycles, and avoiding intercourse for a maximum of ten days around the time of ovulation. This is as effective as the pill in preventing conception. Because no drugs are involved, there are no side effects, nor any possibility that artificial hormones will interfere with the cancer therapy.

If you can’t refrain from intercourse for ten days at a time for a few months while participating in a drug trial, there is something wrong with you.

When Kathy had uterine cancer, she underwent surgery then a course of radiotherapy. We were not able to make love for six months. It was frustrating at times. It also gave us a chance to grow together in other ways, and to appreciate the gift of sex even more.

If that path is not for you, there are plenty of places which will offer all the advice you need.

But why would anyone, including a doctor, think they had the right to get such advice from a Catholic hospital?

I wrote a few weeks ago that the death penalty should be kept as an option, but used very rarely – when it seemed to be the only way to protect society from a vicious and dangerous criminal.

Osama bin Laden fitted that category.

The operation that lead to his death was carefully planned and carried out.  Those involved in both planning and operations deserve congratulations.

Two quotes from George Bush seem appropriate:

“When I take action, I’m not going to fire a 2 million dollar missile at a 10 dollar empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”

“Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.”

In the end, it was on Barack Obama’s watch that the time came when it was possible to take that decisive action. Justice has been done.

But the search for Osama bin Laden was not the prosecution of a criminal offence. It was a response to an act of war, a war declared and ongoing.

No one can doubt bin Laden’s intention and plans for his minions to carry out further attacks on the West.

If you start a war, you should be prepared for the people you have attacked to respond. You can’t destroy buildings and murder thousands of people and then cry ‘no fair’ when the country you have attacked decides the world would be a safer place without you.

The US responded to these threats in what seem to me to be the most fair and responsible manner imaginable.

It removed the person making them.

Al Qaeda is a many headed monster, but some heads are more equal than others, and the head removed was the most equal of all.

The attack on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan was a military victory. It deserves to be celebrated, for the courage of those who participated, and for the outcome.

A message has been sent: If you murder our citizens, if you attack our people, we will find you, and there will be nothing inspiring or noble about your end, which be like the end of a vicious, worm infested dog whose body is thrown by the side of the road to rot.

Also, Pakistan is not our friend.

There are three possibilities.

1.  Pakistan’s security forces had no idea bin Laden was living in their neighbourhood. In that case they are mind bogglingly incompetent and should not be trusted with a plastic bow and arrow, let alone nuclear weapons.

2.  Some members of Pakistan’s security forces knew bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, but they protected him rather than tell Pakistan’s political leaders. In that case, Pakistan is in deeper trouble than we thought. It is unstable and should not be trusted with a plastic bow and arrow, let alone nuclear weapons.

3.  Pakistan’s poltical leaders knew, but protected him rather than tell their allies. In that case, Pakistan is in deeper trouble than we thought. It may not be unstable, but it is definitely not our friend. It already has nuclear weapons, which it has developed rather than spend money on vital infrastructure.

Instead, the West has paid for much of its infrastructure with massive doses of aid.

Pakistan needs to demonstrate some trustworthiness, and a commitment to the welfare of its own people, including its non-muslim minorities.

Until it does, that aid should stop.