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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

And not radical islamists?

Given that Sarah is an attractive, powerful, intelligent woman who is successful in her own right and has challenged and beaten corrupt men and corporations?

And that she doesn’t believe, for example:

  • Women are inferior to men.
  • Women should have fewer rights and responsibilities than Larry the Cable Guy.
  • Women count for one-half of a dude in giving evidence in a court of law.
  • Women should be horse whipped if they ever make their husband feel like a dork.
  • Victoria’s Secret Miraculous Bra (with extreme level 5 cleavage) makes God angry.
  • Women can’t say squat in regard to whom they’ll marry, what they’ll wear, where they’ll live, or whether or not they can divorce their cheating and/or abusive husband.
  • Girls can be wed beginning at the ripe old age of frickin’ nine.
  • Women should be cool with hubby having a couple of hoochies or female slaves on the side.
  • Women, on the pretext of “honor,” should be locked up, isolated and unable to have a girls’ night out at Mango’s on Ocean Drive.

While radical islamists do believe those things, and are earnest about putting them into practice, to the point of killing people who disagree.

It’s a mystery.

I am not normally given to swearing, but honestly, for f&#%’s sake.

As if you needed another one, reason number 126,475 never to go into an Anglican church again.

Gay vicar, 65, to ‘marry’ Nigerian male model half his age.

According to the article, they met and fell in love at a Christian conference in Togo.

And don’t they look lovely together:

Gay vicar to marry male model

Gay vicar to marry male model

Really, for f&#%’s sake.

The early years of the coming decade will be the last few years of life for many Anglican parishes in the Western world.

Those parishes, some supported by legacies or property income, are home to the last of a generation which would already be gone if it were not for the extraordinary increase in life expectancy for ordinary men and women over the last 100 years.

It is a generation which has failed in its most fundamental calling – the call to pass on the faith to the next generation.

But then, why would a parishioner encourage his children to worship at an Anglican church, or invite her friends?

What inspiration or encouragement has there been in the liberal (in the worst sense of the word) agenda relentlessly imposed for the last forty years?

Or from bishops and other clergy outrightly denying the words of Christ and the teachings and example of the apostles, espousing every popular cause from women priests to gay marriage and global warming, but unable to talk about sin and forgiveness?

Or from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who cannot bring himself to suggest that sharing the Gospel with Muslims might be a good thing, but claims that sharia law is inevitable in Britain because some people ‘do not relate to the English legal system.’

Excuse me? Then why are they there?

But despite everything, the church is capable of taking a stand, and the church bells still ring out to call the faithful to action.

Sorry, what action?

To support the UN talks on bio-diversity. Of course.

This is Shaznaz Bibi. A muslim women who was not sufficiently docile.

Shaznaz Bibi, Muslim Woman

An isolated incident? There are more photos in an article called Terrorism that’s Personal.

Since 1994, a Pakistani activist who founded the Progressive Women’s Association to help such women “has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area. In only 2 percent of those cases was anyone convicted.”

The article makes the point that terrorism is not a distant political movement. It is real murder, mutilation, and horror for millions of men and women.

Today also brought news of a couple stoned to death in Afghanistan.

It is all very well to say that these events are not representative of Islam, which is a religion of peace, yada yada yada.

But religions are a reflection of those who founded them. Jesus was gentle, forgiving, truthful, giving, respectful in all his relationships.

Mohammed was a serial murderer and rapist, a torturer who had sex with a nine year old girl when he was fifty-four.

These comments from a Muslim website are typical of the veneration given to him by Muslims:

… we look to divine guidance in order to define for us good manners and character, exemplified by the Prophet, as God said:

“Surely, you (O Muhammad) are upon a high standard of moral character.” (Quran 68:4)

God also said:

“Indeed in the Messenger of God you have a beautiful example of conduct to follow…” (Quran 33:21)

Aisha, the wife of the noble Prophet, was asked about his character.  She replied:

“His character was that of the Quran.” (Saheeh Muslim, Abu Dawud)

The Koran authorises violence against women, Mohammed exemplified violence against women, including the rape of women captured in war.

So how is disfigurement, rape and murder contrary to the ‘real teaching of Islam?’

If the Quran and the example of Mohammed are not the real teaching of Islam, what is?

And if this violence is wrong, a defaming of Islam, where are the protests and outrage from real Muslims at this misrepresentation of Islam, on a scale anything like the vengeful wrath expressed over the cartoons of Mohammed a few years ago?

Ben-Peter Terpstra points out that it is much easier to make up your own Jesus if you have no idea who the real Jesus was.

In fact, if you have never read the Bible at all, and you are talking to other people who have never read the Bible, and have no intention of doing so, you can say what you like without fear of contradiction. Or at least, confident that your worthless opinion has as good a claim to respectful consideration as anyone else’s worthless opinion.

A few years ago I was arguing (politely) with the wife of a Sydney clergyman about the real presence of Christ in the eucharist.

‘But that’s just your opinion,’ she said, meaning that her opinion, or that of anyone who agreed with her, had just as good a claim to truth.

My argument was that this was not just ‘my opinion’ but what the church had taught unanimously until the 16th century. I know the scriptures on this fairly well, and some of the early church fathers. I quoted from John, Paul, and a few 2nd century letters and sermons.

Her response was ‘Well, I don’t care. I know what’s right.’

That was the end of the discussion, of course.

But for liberals (I mean the Labor kind) it is diversity, discussion, the journey, that is important. More important than the truth. Actual objective facts get in the way.

Ben-Peter writes of the Bible:

And that’s why Labor hacks despise it. Don’t teach the New Testament – and the next thing you know Jesus is a vegetarian feminist, driving a hybrid with a pro-gay marriage sticker. Or the Old Testament is just a mean patriarchal manifesto.

If you can make Jesus in your own image, you can claim him (or her, after all, who really knows) for your cause.

So the last thing you want is people reading the Bible, and finding that far from being enlistable in the latest cause de jour, Jesus’ life and words, with their claim to be eternal and objective, demand a response of repentance, a life of serving His cause.

Of course you can always pretend to read the Bible, and talk about ‘the trajectory of the Scriptures,’ which means that Jesus seems to have been an all right sort of bloke, so we can be confident that if he had known what we know, and been as clever we are, he would have thought the things we do.

But once we have allowed ourselves to encounter the real Jesus, making him in our own image is no longer an option. The choice we have is to remake ourselves in His.

According to Monday’s Australian:

The peak UN body in climate change has been dealt another humiliating blow to its credibility after it was revealed a central claim of one of its benchmark reports – that most of the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 because of global warming – was based on a ‘speculative’ claim by an obscure Indian scientist.

The 2007 IPCC report included a claim made several years earlier in New Scientist by Syed Hasnain.

Hasnain’s claim was not subjected to any checks. The IPCC did not refer to any other glaciologists before publishing it, nor did they talk to Hasnain.

At the beginning of this year Hasnain admitted the claim was an off the cuff remark made in a telephone interview, and that it was not based on any research.

Nonetheless, Hasnian’s off the cuff remark became a central plank of the IUPCC’s 2007 report. The chief writer of the relevant section, Professor Lal, followed the WWF, which had picked up the original New Scientist story, in claiming the predicted glacier melt was ‘very likely.’ In IPCC parlance, that means a likelihood of greater than 90%.

All this on the basis of no research whatever.

Glaciologists including Julian Dowdeswell of Cambridge University say the claim is inherently ludicrous – no possible level of warming could result in that level of melting – and asked how such an egregious error could have appeared in the report. Professor Lal has admitted he knows nothing about glaciers.

US evangelist Pat Robertson says the reason Haiti is so poor, and suffered the recent devastating earthquake, is that 200 years ago its people made a deal with the devil.

This is the kind of nonsense that makes me embarrassed to be a Christian. But Robertson’s comments lead Francis Clooney SJ, to ask some interesting questions about God and justice and good and evil:

Does the world make sense from a Christian perspective, or not? God allows: the question — that of theodicy — is the age-old one: if God is all-good and all-powerful, why the hurricane? the earthquake? …

Mr. Robertson is clearly trying to come up with reasons for why such things take place — to preserve his conviction that the world is in God’s hands, that nothing happens except by divine decree …

Better to ask, I suggest, “Where is God when such events take place?

If there was any kind of deal with the devil, it was made by the Duvaliers.

The people of Haiti have suffered enough without being told it is all their fault.

Pat Robertson makes one good point – the difference in wealth between the half of the island that is the Dominican Republic, and the half that is Haiti.

This is not because Haiti made a deal with the devil. Nor is there any significant difference in the natural resources available to each.

The difference has been in government accountability and free elections. There is a huge correlation between free elections and GDP.

The US is taking the lead in relief and rescue efforts in Haiti. Well of course. The UN is about as useful as a tinker at a Tupperware party.

Incidentally, Australia’s promised support of $10 million is second only to that of the US.

Like Rupert Wyndham at Climaterealists, I have had some clashes with senior clergy over social issues including climate change.

However, I don’t think I have ever written to an archbishop in tones quite like this:

And, dare it be said,  for those such as yourself, in the vanguard of so called “faith communities”, who arrogate to themselves the role of moral leadership, this gives rise to serious questions,  does  it  not? Indeed,  in many ways,  “Climategate”  is  less about   the “science” – which anyway  is garbage – than it is about the integrity of the scientific process, an issue of immensely greater ethical significance for all who value truth as well as democratic accountability.  AGW science has been exposed as a fraud, by far the gravest in the entire history of science. The AGW hypothesis itself is no better than a glib and distorted misrepresentation of a 100 year old speculation relating to the so-called Greenhouse Effect allied to invented evidence concocted within the guts of a computer by  individuals with a predetermined agenda coupled with huge personal  vested  interests – financial  and otherwise …

That, of course,  leaves you in a quandary,  does it not? Either you repudiate this ethical obscenity and, in a spirit of Christian repentance,  exercise moral authority or you continue to promote it and abrogate moral auhority.  Although religious leaders often seem to find the concept seductive, what you cannot do is both to wolf your bun and hang on to your penny.  Your predecessor thought he could. He was wrong.

Ouch! But quite right.

It is one thing to have gangs of scientists saying ‘We’re scientists. The world is ending. Give us billions of dollars and we’ll fix it.’

It is another thing entirely to have religious leaders telling people they are stupid or immoral if they disagree.

What on Earth is the Press Association thinking with this headline:

Malaysian church attacked in feud ?

This is the fourth church to have been bombed in the last week.

Malaysian police say the attacks were probably carried out by mischievous pranksters.

Really?

This is not a feud. A feud involves bitter and drawn out hostilities on both sides.

There is certanly hostility here, but on one side only.

This is not a feud, it is terrorist persecution of a religious minority.

A recent Malaysian court ruled that a Catholic newspaper could continue to use the world ‘Allah’ for God. Bombings of churches naturally ensued.

Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. It was used by Jews and Christians for hundreds of years before Mohammed came along.

But some Malaysians believe that use of the word Allah by non-Muslim religions may encourage people to think that those religions are acceptable alternatives.

In English, this would be like the Catholic church burning down Mormon temples because they have been using the word ‘God’ for God.

Religious freedom is guaranteed to non-Muslims under the Malay constitution, but Malays are Muslim by definition – Malaysia is a Muslim country – and Malays are not permitted to convert.

Strange how the liberal media seems to think it is perfectly OK for Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, etc, etc, to be Muslim nations, but that it is racist for Israel to be a Jewish nation.

There are some positives, however.

First, in the court’s recognition that under the Malaysian constitution, other religions had the right to use the word Allah for God.

Second, in the clear statements by many Malaysian political leaders and journalists that this kind of violence is not acceptable.

The problem is that many Muslims know very well that Mohammed would have found it acceptable. And Mohammed is the model for every Muslim, not the constitution of any country, even a Muslim one.

We arrived home in SA on Saturday night. Before church the next morning, we went to McDonalds for breakfast (Well why not? – It is cheap and convenient, they make good coffee, and the hot cakes aren’t bad) and picked up a copy of the reliably abysmal Sunday Mail.

There was a short article about the tribunal into the behaviour of Bishop of The Murray Ross Davies.

The Archbishop of Adelaide has had an extraordinarily difficult task in dealing with what is the worst crisis in episcopal leadership in the history of the Anglican church in Australia.

Earlier in 2009 the Archbishop had announced an enquiry into Bishop Davies’ actions as Bishop. That enquiry produced some 100 signed statements from people around the diocese alleging various kinds of verbal, spiritual and emotional abuse. Once those statements had been received, a tribunal could not be avoided.

The legal status of the tribunal is doubtful. Bishop Davies has made it clear he will not be stood down while the tribunal proceeds, and that he does not believe the Archbishop or the Primate have any right or authority to intervene in the Diocese of The Murray. He may well be right.

I suggested a couple of months ago that it was doubtful anyone outside the Diocese of The Murray could act to remove Bishop Davies. Nonetheless, clear findings of ongoing abuse by a carefully conducted and impartial tribunal might give Diocesan Council the stateable reasons and courage it needs to end Bishop Davies’ employment.

I hope and pray that the tribunal will reach its conclusions reasonably quickly, and that actions will then be be taken which will give the best possible outcome for the Diocese and for Bishop Davies and his family.

Whatever that outcome is, it is likely that this will be the end of The Murray as a conservative anglo-catholic diocese.

That statement needs to be clarified a little. The Murray is not an anglo-catholic diocese. It is a polychromatic middle of the road Anglican diocese which has been served by traditionalist anglo-catholic clergy.

As long as their views have been heard, and they have been treated with care and respect by their clergy, the people of the Diocese have been generous in accepting that the Diocese and the wider australian church have been well-served by the special witness of The Murray to a particular and important strand of Anglican faith.

That has changed.

Traditionalist clergy in the Diocese, and organisations like the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) and Forward in Faith, have supported Bishop Davies to the point of refusing to hear or give any credibility to reports of  inappropriate behaviour by Bishop Davies.

Even worse, they have shared with him in efforts to damage the credibility of anyone who complained or did not toe the line. This has left lay people feeling betrayed and deeply hurt.

The crisis in the diocese is not just over Bishop Davies’ leadership. It is a crisis of trust in the clergy.

This sense of having been betrayed, not just by a traditionalist bishop, but by almost all of the traditionalist clergy and the organisations to which they belong, means that it will be near impossible for someone who shares Bishop Davies’ conservative views to be elected.

The Anglican Church will be poorer for this.

The election of Mary Glasspool as assistant Bishop of Los Angeles will be the end of the Anglican Communion.

Ms Glasspool is a practising lesbian who has lived for twenty years with her partner.

This election comes six years after the election of active homosexual Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.

The unequivocal witness of the Judeo-Christian tradition over nearly four thousand years is that homosexual acts are wrong. This was the unchallenged view in the Christian church until about fifty years ago.

Conservatives say the sudden, culturally driven rejection of long-held beliefs about leadership and sexuality is not only intrinsically wrong, but makes it impossible to comunicate the faith with anny confidence. If the church now says it has been wrong about these key things for the last 2,000 years, why should anyone believe anything it says now?

Muriel Porter claims that we conservatives have talked about damage to the Anglican Communion before, and threatened to leave before before, and so can be safely ignored in any current debates.

It is true that there have been no major public splits in the Anglican Church of Australia.

It is also true that there have been dramatic declines in church attendance over the lasty thirty years.

If life expectancies had not increased by twenty years or so over the last century, Anglican churches around the country would be empty.

There are some exceptions – Sydney and its satellites. But Sydney stands outside the mainstream of the Anglican Church of Australia. That is not a criticism!

Many thousands of men and women who have been Anglicans all their lives have left in despair rather than form new semi-Anglican denominations.

If Muriel Porter means this process is likely to continue no matter how far the church strays from its moorings, then she is probably right.

Members of the Australian Defence Forces are currently deployed in the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Afghanistan, Israel and the Sinai, Sudan and Iraq, as well as in border protection around Australia.

Some 3800 Australian service men and women will be spending Christmas away from their families.

Thanks. And may God bless you and keep you safe, along with those you love.

Why do atheists insist on imposing their religious views on the rest of us?

Atheists are a tiny proportion of the population in Australia.

Seventy percent of Australians are Christians, or have some affiliation with a Christian church. Many of the rest are Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, or members of a myriad of smaller groups.

By all means let’s hear what the atheists have to say. But why should there be outrage from them when anyone else has a point of view on a matter of public policy?

On the flight from Adelaide I read bits of the Adelaide Advertiser over the shoulder of the man in the seat next to me.

There was an article by a woman I had never heard of and whose name I cannot remember, bemoaning the influence of Christianity in public life.

As examples of this nefarious influence, she pointed to the defeat of the voluntary euthanasia bill, and exemptions for religious groups from aspects of anti-discrimination legislation.

These exemptions provide, for example, that a muslim social welfare group does not have to employ a man who lives in a sexual relationship with another man, that a Jewish school does not have to employ someone who believes Jews are descended from pigs and monkeys, or that a catholic parish does not have to employ someone who thinks the pope is the anti-christ.

In other words, these exemptions are about protecting the feelings and beliefs of others, even when when we disagree with them. Even atheists. And I agree with the writer to the extent of acknowledging that this is indeed Chrstian influence at work.

Take two minutes to do a simple thought experiment.

Consider countries where there has been a long history of Christian influence in public life.

Now think of countries under Islamic or atheist regimes.

Where are you more likely to find justice and democracy? Where are you going to be safer if you are lesbian or homosexual? Where are women’s voices more likely to be heard? Where is there a higher level of wealth, of quality education and health services?

In which direction do refugees and immigration flow? Where would you rather live?

The writer of the Adelaide Advertiser article decries the fact the Tony Abbott has called for compulsory Bible classes. She says she is happy for the Bible to be taught in schools, with other fiction.

I am not sure Tony Abbott has called for compulsory Bible classes.

What he said was that it was impossible to understand Western culture; law, music art and literature, without a knowledge of the Bible. He is right.

One of the consequences of the influence of the Bible, and of Christianity in general, is that people like the woman who wrote the Advertiser article can parrot their ill-informed and poorly thought-out opinions and expect them to be taken seriously.

And thank God for that.

The Times reports that experts claim a first century shroud discovered in a tomb near Jerusalem proves the Turin Shroud could not have been used to cover Jesus’ body.

The Hebew University in Jerusalem said “Based on the assumption that this is representative of a typical burial shroud widely used at the time of Jesus, the researchers conclude that the Turin Shroud did not originate from Jesus-era Jerusalem … this discovery has laid to rest the myth of the Shroud.”

The ‘shroud’ the investigators investigated was a winding wrapped a round the body of a man who suffered from leprosy.

The leper’s shroud was a simple two way weave, the Turin Shroud is a three over one herringbone weave.

There is a very big assumption in the experts’ opinion, which they are kind enough to point out: “Based on the assumption that this is a representative of a typical burial shroud widely used at the time of Jesus …”

This is a bit like someone in the year 4,000 digging up a 20th century pauper’s grave, noting the plainess of the coffin, and claiming this proves other claimed coffins and caskets from the same period could not be genuine because they were made of metal or better quality wood, or had nicer trim.

Jesus, though himself poor, had wealthy friends. This is John 19: 38-40:

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.

100 pounds of spices – this is a huge amount of myrrh and aloes, and extraordinarily expensive.

It is hardly beyond imagining that Jesus’ body might have been wrapped in a better quality cloth than the single poor quality cloth wrapped around a leper that for no apparent reason is assumed by these experts to be the standard burial cloth used at the time.

I am agnostic about the Shroud, as I am about many relics.

But in this case, the experts are letting their agendas show a little too clearly.