Importing indignation

June 11, 2020

The murder of George Floyd was heinous and the protests in his home state and home country are understandable.

But do those protesting understand what Theodore Dalrymple calls those pesky statistics?:

To the citizens of most Western countries, the numbers of people killed by the American police are rather surprising, to say the least, but so are the numbers of police killed.

Roughly speaking, a policeman in the United States is about fifty times more likely to be killed than to kill, and this is without taking into consideration that the majority of the killings by the police are at least prima facie justified by self-defense or the interruption or prevention of a serious crime. Let us exclude only half of those killings on these grounds (probably a gross underestimate): This means that a policeman is 100 times more likely to be killed than to kill.

Let us also suppose that the police are killed by black and white in the same proportion as blacks and whites commit homicide in general (again, a generous, that is to say a conservative, assumption). This means that a policeman is about fifteen times more likely to be killed by a black man than to kill a black man, and again this is not to take into account the fact that many of the police killings would be at least prima facie justified.

A black man is about thirty times more likely to be killed by another black man than to be killed by a policeman (and some of the police are themselves black, of course). A white man is only fifteen times more likely to be killed by someone of any race than to be killed by a policeman. Are the police biased against whites? . . 

None of this alters the individual responsibility of the policeman who must surely have caused the death of George Floyd. (Would the latter have died anyway, even if not under arrest and treated in the way he was treated?) Nor does it alter the responsibility of the accessories before the fact. But it does cast a strange light on the rioters, and even on the peaceful demonstrators, most of whom seem to have expressed little concern, much less moral outrage, at the much more frequent murder of blacks by other blacks, or at the comparatively high rate of the murder of policemen. (The general homicide rate in the U.S. is about five per 100,000, that of policemen fifteen per 100,000.).

Now, it might be argued that an unjustified killing by an agent of the state is far worse than any other kind of killing, so raw statistics do not apply. I can see that this argument has a certain force. On the other hand, the killing of an agent of law and order also has a special seriousness, for it undermines law and order itself. And egalitarians who uphold the sanctity of (or at least the inalienable right to) human life are ill-placed to claim that one killing is worse than another. . . 

Black lives matter, all lives matter.

So why no marches for the persecution of Christians ‘at near genocide levels’?

Why no protests against all sorts of atrocities in many different countries?

Is there something about the USA that makes this crime much, much worse than many others committed in many other countries?

And why are we importing indignation anyway? Don’t we have more than enough to be protesting about here?

How about the death of one year-old Sofia Taueki-Jackson a couple of weeks ago?

Or the four year old Flaxmere boy who has been discharged from hospital where he was being treated for permanent and severe brain damage?

Perhaps it’s too soon to be indignant about the unexplained death of a young child in Palmerston North. It might have been the result of illness or accident.

Or it might have been yet another to add to the sorry toll of babies and children maltreated and killed far closer to home than Minneapolis.

Anna Leask wrote of the 61 little names on New Zealand’s roll of dishonour:

A child is killed every five weeks, putting us high on list of world’s worst offenders.

Sixty-one. It’s the number of children who have died as a result of non-accidental injuries in New Zealand in the last 10 years.

Their names are scars on a shameful landscape of child abuse – Chris and Cru Kahui who would have turned 10 today, Nia Glassie, JJ Ruhe-Lawrence, Jyniah Te Awa.

Thirty-one of those young ones were violently assaulted. They were kicked, punched, thrown, stomped or bashed to the point of death.

New Zealand has the fifth worst child abuse record out of 31 OECD countries and on average a child is killed here every five weeks. . . 

That was written four years ago. How many more little names have been added to that roll of dishonour since then?

The Child Matters website says:

Between 1 January 2019 and 30 November 2019, 11 children and young people have died as a result of homicide in New Zealand.

The Homicide Report

Released 13 May 2019

  • Every 8th homicide victim in New Zealand from 2004 to 31 March 2019 was a child
  • More than two thirds of the victims were aged 2 or under
  • Of the cases where the killer’s relationship to the victim was known, 27% were mothers, 24% were fathers, and 17% were de facto partners.

We don’t need to import indignation, there’s far too much here that ought to be raising anger and sorrow.

So why have the protests in the wake of Floyd’s death spread here?

Is it because it’s far easier to borrow another country’s ire than address the problems in our own?

Or is the murder just an excuse for protests that are really about thinly veiled anti-Americanism?


Inconsistencies and control freakery

May 18, 2020

From the start of lockdown we’ve been plagued with inconsistencies in which businesses can or cannot operate and what we can or cannot do.

Using essential rather than safe as the rule for whether or not businesses could open was the cause of most of the inconsistency under Level 4.

Control freakery seems to be the reason for some of the inconsistencies under Level 2.

We can go to brothels and strip clubs now and will be able to go to bars later this week but still won’t be able to go to church.

This has prompted Simon Bridges to write an open letter to the Prime Minister:

I write to you on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who practice many different faiths and religions, who continue to be unable to gather in any meaningful way for worship this weekend because the Covid-19 restrictions your Government has chosen to keep in place limit the number of people who can attend religious services to 10.

New Zealanders of faith have understood the need to sacrifice their freedom of religion to gather for worship to support our fight against Covid-19.

People of all faiths have done their part, however they are now being told that despite our alert level being reduced they are still no longer able to meet for worship.

New Zealanders find it inconsistent that you allow large numbers of people at bars, restaurants or sporting events but continue to deny more than 10 people gathering for religious services.

It was right to increase the number of people who can attend funerals and tangi – it is right to do the same for our faith communities.

Religious institutions are in a better place than almost any other organisation that is allowed to host larger crowds, and are therefore able to ensure appropriate physical distancing and health precautions are taking place.

I strongly urge you to reconsider this limit so New Zealanders of faith can gather and worship this weekend and participate in what is one of the most defining aspects of their lives: expressing their faith through worship. 

Yours sincerely

SImon Bridges

The answer Health Minister David Clark gave to Simon O’Connor’s question on this shows the control freakery:

O’Connor put the question to Dr David Clark in Parliament on Wednesday, claiming the Government failed to consider New Zealanders’ rights to freedom of religion when it drafted the COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill.

“Is the Minister aware that strip clubs are allowed to open during alert level 2 but churches are not, and if so, why is one deemed so much safer than the other?” he asked.

“Speaker, I think the Member will understand – both he and I are people that have interacted with churches, that I know – that people often attend services of worship for fellowship reasons,” Dr Clark responded.

“They are there to worship, but they are also there to mix and mingle with others. The purpose of having rules around gatherings – places people gather to intermingle – is precisely to ensure we are keeping the space for people, the appropriate social distance, and keeping the virus out.”

Dr Clark went on to explain that commercial premises such as strip clubs had their own requirements to ensure people did not intermingle. . .

Fellowship is part of church attendance but if bars and strip clubs can be trusted to ensure their patrons don’t intermingle, why can’t churches be trusted to ensure their congregations do the same?

An appeal from more than 75 church leaders asks government to have faith in them:

Whilst we understand the reasoning of having public groups of no more than 10 (50 now at funerals) we believe and would argue that our church people are generally highly responsible and hopefully better behaved on the whole compared to some behaviour at late night bars etc. It is far easier for us to track and trace, because we already know our church families.

We are not asking to be open seven days a week until all hours. Church gatherings mainly take place on one day of the week.

We would like you to consider that churches be able to resume services with the same restrictions and safety measures in place that other sectors of society are operating under. As bars are allowed to reopen, surely the church, as a place of nurturing, stability and support in the community should be able to open as well.

If you have faith in business owners, we request you also have faith in us. . . 

The nearest church to us seats about 120 people but it’s unusual to have more than about 20 people at a service.

It would be possible to require people to register their intention to attend, limit numbers to ensure social distance could be maintained, have no singing, and control entry and exit to ensure no-one breached the distancing.

It’s a Presbyterian Church, the parishioners will be sober which is more than can be said for at least some of the patrons at bars and strip clubs and they can definitely be trusted to keep far further away from each other than prostitutes will be to their customers.


Have a blessed Easter

April 10, 2020

A friend speaks of being blessed, rather than being lucky.

Whatever it means to you, may your Easter be a blessed one.

Stay home, stay well, stay safe.


Old religion opt in, new one compulsory

January 14, 2020

The government is planning to make religious instruction in schools opt-in:

Parents will be required to give explicit permission in writing for their children to receive religious instruction at state schools under a planned law change.

It may be the beginning of the end of primary schools offering religious instruction.

Education Minister Chris Hikpkins told the Herald he believes in secular education and does not believe schools should be offering religious instruction.

“But we need a bit more of a national conversation about that before we get into that,” he said. . . 

Although the religion isn’t specified, in most schools it’s Christian, the one which has shaped our laws and ethics.

Meanwhile, the new religion will be part of the compulsory curriculum:

The Government’s new climate change educational material for year 7 and 8 students skirts close to taxpayer-funded propaganda, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The new taxpayer-funded curriculum promotes the campaigns of Greta Thunberg, School Strike for Climate, and even Greenpeace. Students are encouraged to reduce their feelings of climate guilt by participating in this kind of political activism.”
 
“Left-wing campaign groups would be spewing if the national curriculum ever promoted the Taxpayers’ Union vision of a prosperous low-tax New Zealand. The national curriculum should not be used to promote particular political groups or agendas.”
 
“A sensible climate change policy would focus on the science and policy options. But even on these points, the course is weak: it promotes a tax on carbon while failing to mention that we already have an Emissions Trading Scheme.”
 
“A major portion of the material is fluffy, condescending rubbish. Students will have to sit through five different sessions focused on their feelings about climate change, with activities including a ‘feelings splash’ and a ‘feelings thermometer’.”

The teacher resources even include a 15-page ‘wellbeing guide’ for teachers and parents, which warns: Children may respond to the climate change scientific material in a number of ways. They may experience a whole host of difficult emotions, including fear, helplessness, frustration, anger, guilt, grief, and confusion. When discussing the material, teachers may encounter students who cope through avoidance, denial, diversionary tactics, wishful thinking and a range of other coping mechanisms.
 
“This isn’t teaching kids how to think – it’s telling them how to feel.”

I don’t have strong feelings on the change to opt-in for religious instruction although there is a place for teaching ethics and also the knowledge of Christianity, and other religions, that is required to understand our culture, history and literature.

I do have strong feelings about this evangelical approach to climate change which has a lot less to do with science and reason and more to do with indoctrination and belief.

Schools should be teaching not preaching. Any instruction on climate change should be about science, not religious fervour and emotion.


Sowell says

December 27, 2019


The reason for the season

December 24, 2019

Jim Hopkins remembers Christmases past:

. . . Christmas always stirs strong feelings and vivid memories for me.

I grew up south of the tracks in Christchurch when coal was king and fired the steam trains that thundered through. Dad was the vicar at St Mary’s Addington and, for him, Christmas was one of the most important times of the year.

Which should come as no surprise, though it may do now.

A birth in Bethlehem is, after all, the reason we actually have a Christmas holiday. And that birth used to be an integral part of the celebration.

Recognised in school nativity plays, on the wireless, in newspapers, its story touched most people’s lives.

Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men shared the limelight with Mr Claus and his elves.

Needless to say, the vicar’s offspring took their place in the pews – along with the rest of the community. Service first, pud and presents later. That was the drill.

I can still see the interior of that old church, dark timber beams, dust motes drifting in the light filtered through stained glass windows. I can hear the carols. I can smell the Christmas lillies. These memories return every year, as time grows longer, becoming ever stronger.

But the Christmas I remember is a faded thing. As the churches have lost (or surrendered) their influence, so faith has left the festive season.

Christmas today is a strictly secular affair with scant public recognition of its religious roots. The establishment avoids them and the media simply ignores them.

Bad for business or just old hat, anything biblical is off the agenda. Those who run the fourth estate may argue that’s because fewer people say they’re Christian, to which the reply might be, maybe that’s because you’ve spent decades dismissing their beliefs.

Whatever the reasons, it saddens me that the spiritual dimension of Christmas has withered as it has. Because the nativity story literally marks the beginning of a faith which, whatever the woke folk may say, is a core piece of our heritage and the foundation of our morals, manners and laws. For that reason alone, it has a place on Christmas day. . .

A few days ago I read a media release from a government entity (which I now can’t find) explaining how it’s sensitive to employees who don’t celebrate Christmas.

Fair enough, but sensitivity shouldn’t mean pretending it’s something else, especially when it’s not applied to celebrations for other religions.

No-one pretends that Diwali isn’t a Hindu festival, we’re not asked to skirt round, we shouldn’t be offended if someone wishes us happy Hanukkah so why the pussy-footing around Christmas?

You don’t have to be a Christian to understand and acknowledge the reason for the season.

You don’t have to believe what Christians do.

And Christian or not, we’d all be better off with more reflection on the real message of hope, joy, peace and love.


Easter’s late

April 19, 2019

It’s Good Friday, one of the holiest of days in the Christian calendar, though probably just another holiday for many in an increasingly secular country.

But why is it so late this year?

The Bible doesn’t spell out the exact date that Easter occurs on, but it does say that Jesus was crucified during the Jewish holiday of Passover. According to the Catholic magazine America: The Jesuit Review, in the year 325, the Council of Nicaea decided to celebrate Easter “at the very time of Jesus’ Passion,” the Christian term for the final days of Jesus’ life before his death and resurrection. The Jewish calendar is calculated based on lunar months, so to link Easter with Passover, the Council of Nicaea decided that Easter would be observed “on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox.” Basically, because the moon affects when Passover falls, the moon also affects when Easter falls.

But this year the northern hemisphere equinox and the full moon we’re on March 20th. So why wasn’t Easter last month?

Back in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII made some additional rules about calculating Easter’s date when introducing the Gregorian calendar. According to Space.com, these rules said that Easter would always fall between March 22 and April 25 — and that the Catholic Church would always mark the vernal equinox on March 21, even though the astronomical vernal equinox can be anywhere from March 19 to March 21. This year, the first full moon after March 21 was on April 19, which is a Friday — meaning that this Easter will be on the following Sunday, April 21. . . 

That’s this weekend.

Whether or not you are Christian, May your Easter be a blessed one.


Faith first for Folau

April 16, 2019

Rugby Australia has issued a breach notice to Israel Folau:

Folau sparked outrage after posting to his Instagram account last Wednesday night that “hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators” — adding they should “repent”. . . 

What he said is not just a tenet of fundamental Christianity, Muslim and Jewish religions would also regard these as sins.

At its core, this is an issue of the responsibilities an employee owes to their employer and the commitments they make to their employer to abide by their employer’s policies and procedures and adhere to their employer’s values,” Rugby Australia said in a statement.

Freedom of expression, outside work, obviously isn’t one of those values.

“Following the events of last year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations. It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action. . .

This is an employment issue. Folau had been warned and ignored the warning. But was what was required of him fair?

In doing ignoring the warning, he’s chosen to put his faith before football:

Israel Folau is sticking to his guns no matter what it costs the embattled Wallabies superstar.

And he is continuing to place his faith in his religion, despite the storm airing his beliefs on social media has caused within both the Australian rugby and society in general. . . 

It’s obviously a decision that’s in the process right now but I believe in a God that’s in control of all things,” Folau told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Whatever His will is, whether that’s to continue playing or not, I’m more than happy to do what He wants me to do.”

Folau said he would not mind one bit if his rugby career was done as long as he got to do The Lord’s work.

“First and foremost, I live for God now. Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it.

“In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first.” . . 

It’s not that long ago that not doing anything against which Folau is warning, would have been a code of conduct that was generally accepted as the right one and the condemnation of people who didn’t follow it would not have been remarkable.

Even now, while some have used social media to confess to being guilty on several of these counts, how can speaking out against any of them that hurt others be wrong?

But of course it’s not Folau’s condemnation of drunkenness, adultery, lying or thieving that’s caused the furor, it’s the inclusion of homosexuality.

Bob Jones points out:

First, these remarks are totally consistent with the Bible (and the Koran) so why the uproar?

Second, why did the critics, including the Prime Minister, solely complain about the reference to homosexuals? What about us drunks and fornicators? Doesn’t she care about our pain? We know the answer to that, namely unlike fairydom we’re not fashionable at the moment.

I can understand journalists concentration on homosexuals as few are whereas make no mistake, the vast majority I’ve known are drunks, adulterers, liars and fornicators to various degrees, so too heaps of MP’s.  A double-standard here methinks.

My contact with journalists and MPs hasn’t involved drunkenness, lying and fornicating but I don’t move in Sir Bob’s circles.

This whole episode is a classic pack-hunting media contrivance. I have difficulty believing a single drunk, fornicator, homosexual, adulterer or liar reading Israel’s remarks gave a damn. He’s entitled to express his religious beliefs as much as I for example am, to continue pursuing my life-long mockery of religion. . . 

An employment breach is between Rugby Australia and Folau but how many would have known about it if the media hadn’t picked up the post?

Only those who follow his account, at least some of whom no doubt agree with him, and others would be following him because of his footy fame and not be troubled by his faith.

But the mainstream media, as happens too often, picked up the post and broadcast it to the world. They then reported the outrage they’d stirred up and also the concern about people who might be upset by it who probably would have been oblivious had the media not generated the publicity.

The offenderati reacted predictably by condemning him and wanting to silence him.

Why when, as Michael Redell points out,  few share his beliefs?:

. . . If –  as most New Zealanders and a large proportion of Australians now claim to –  you don’t believe in the existence of God, let alone of eternal separation from God or Hell, it is hard to know why what Folau is saying should bother you.   You surely believe he is simply deluded and wrong, as he will discover (or rather not) when he dies.

If you don’t believe what he says why not ignore it, or counter it with rational argument?

That probably is the view of a fair number of people in New Zealand and Australia today.  But it isn’t the view of those holding the commanding heights –  MPs, leader writers, columnists, business leaders and so on –  who have demanded that it be stopped.  They simply cannot abide the thought that someone of any prominence should openly affirm that sin is sin, and that homosexual acts are among the things labelled as sin.

Here I’m not mainly interested in the Australian Rugby Union. I have a modicum of sympathy for their position, even if (as I noted in an earlier post elsewhere on these issues) the problem was partly one of their own making.   Rugby could just be rugby, but that’s not enough for today bosses.

My interest is more in what it says about our society – New Zealand and, it appears, Australia –  that no prominent person is free to express centuries-old Christian belief (views backed, rightly or wrongly, by the law of the land until only a few decades ago) when it trespasses on the taboos and sacred cows (“homosexuality good”) of today’s “liberal” elite.  And if no prominent person can –  and it is interesting to note that not a single church leader has been willing to stand up openly for Folau, and the Scriptures –  how will those less prominent be positioned.   Folau may lose a multi-million dollar contract, but he’ll already have earned much more than many ordinary working people make in their life.   But what of the ordinary employee of a bank or of one of those right-on government agencies.  It might not even be a personal social media account, or a speaking engagement at the local church.  It might be nothing more than a reluctance to participate in celebrations of what (in their belief, in the tradition of thousands of years) sinful acts.   The issue here isn’t someone proselytising across the counter of the bank, any more than Folau’s “offence” involved activity in the middle of a game, but a totalitarian disregard for any view –  no matter of how longstanding –  that doesn’t fall into line with today’s orthodoxy.

This is what concerns me too.

I don’t share Folau’s fundamental version of faith.

I find a lot of the Bible contradictory and when I do I choose the option that shows love and grace – turn the other cheek rather than an eye for an eye, for example.

But Folau’s are honestly held beliefs. They don’t impact on his playing ability, he wasn’t preaching during a game, why shouldn’t he be allowed to express them?

And there’s also the niggling thought that some religions are more equal than others and if his was another faith rather than Christian, he would he have been given a little more leniency.


Christian privilege?

December 7, 2018

Statistics New Zealand is copping criticism for playing ‘Check Your Privilege Bingo’ at a workshop:

The game had a five-by-five board, with squares including ‘white’, ‘Christian’, ‘able-bodied’, ‘no speech impediment’, ‘male’ and ‘heterosexual’.

“Officials at a Stats NZ technical workshop today spent an hour having participants singing, hand-clapping and playing ‘Check Your Privilege Bingo’,” said National finance spokesperson Amy Adams. . .

According to the event schedule the game only ran for 15 minutes. 

“Yet at the same time New Zealand continues to wait for the 2018 Census results after a shambolic process that resulted in significant data gaps and we’re yet to see anything on the last two years of child poverty statistics.”

I agree that this doesn’t seem to be good use of time and it is particularly galling when the census was a shambles but I was intrigued that being Christian makes you privileged.

When it’s okay to put a condom on a Catholic icon and call it art, when people are killed for mocking the prophet of one religion but Jesus and Christ are used as curses and the politically correct pussy foot round every other creed but Christianity, is it really a marker of privilege?


Power of love

May 20, 2018

Episcopalian bishop, Michael Curry, gave the address at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

He began:

And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

From the Song of Solomon in the Bible: “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it out.”

The late Dr Martin Luther King once said, and I quote: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. For love, love is the only way.”

There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love. . . 

He continued quoting the Bible, Martin Luther King and towards the end quoted French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin:

. . . he said, as others have, that the discovery or invention or harnessing of fire was one of the great scientific and technological discoveries in all of human history. Fire to a great extent made human civilization possible. Fire made it possible to cook food and provide sanitary ways of eating which reduced the spread of disease in its time. Fire made it possible to heat, warm environments and thereby made human migration around the world a possibility, even into colder climates. Fire made it possible, there was no Bronze Age without fire, no Iron Age without fire, no Industrial Revolution without fire. The advances of science and technology are greatly dependent on the ability and capacity to take fire and use it for human good. . . 

And de Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.

Dr. King was right. “We must discover love the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.” . . 

You can read about de Chardin here.

 

 


Quote of the day

March 30, 2018

There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham. Anna Sewell who was born on this day in 1820.


130 Muslim leaders refuse to perform prayer for London attackers

June 8, 2017

More than 130 Imans and religious leaders have refused to perform a funeral prayer for the London attackers:

Muslim Imams and religious leaders condemn the Manchester and London terror atrocities and urge fellow Imams to refuse to perform Islamic funeral prayers for the terrorists

“We, as Muslim Imams and religious leaders, condemn the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London in the strongest terms possible. Coming from a range of backgrounds, and from across the UK; feeling the pain the rest of the nation feels, we have come together to express our shock and utter disgust at these cold-blooded murders.

We are deeply hurt that a spate of terror attacks have been committed in our country once more by murderers who seek to gain religious legitimacy for their actions. We seek to clarify that their reprehensible actions have neither legitimacy nor our sympathy.

Though at no time is it acceptable, that such ruthless violence was perpetrated during the season of Ramadan, in which Muslims worldwide focus on pious devotion, prayer, charity and the cultivation of good character, demonstrates how utterly misguided and distant the terrorists are from our faith and the contempt which they hold for its values.

Alongside our friends and neighbours, we mourn this attack on our home, society and people, and feel pain for the suffering of the victims and their families. We pray to God that the perpetrators be judged in accordance with the gravity of their crimes in the hereafter. Their acts and wilful dismissal of our religious principles alienates them from any association with our community for whom the inviolability of every human life is the founding principle (Q.5:32).

Consequently, and in light of other such ethical principles which are quintessential to Islam, we will not perform the traditional Islamic funeral prayer for the perpetrators and we also urge fellow imams and religious authorities to withdraw such a privilege. This is because such indefensible actions are completely at odds with the lofty teachings of Islam.

These vile murderers seek to divide our society and instil fear; we will ensure they fail. We implore everyone to unite: we are one community. In the face of such dastardly cowardice, unlike the terrorists, we must uphold love and compassion.

Such criminals defile the name of our religion and of our Prophet, who was sent to be a mercy to all creation.

We commend our police and emergency services – with whom we stand shoulder to shoulder – for their rapid response, arriving at the scenes while risking their own lives to protect the victims and public. Their response exemplifies the courage, humanity and honour we must exhibit in such difficult times.

We pray for peace and unity, and for all the victims of terror both at home and across the globe, who are targeted, irrespective of their faith.”

This is a an unprescedented, and welcome, move.

I don’t pretend to know, or understand, much about Islam.

But terrorist attacks and the people who perpetrate them in the name of the faith are as abhorrent to the few Muslims I know as they are to people of other faiths and no faith at all.


Quote of the day

June 15, 2016

[Of the parralels between the railways and the church] both had their heyday in the mid-nineteenth century; both own a great deal of Gothic-style architecture which is expensive to maintain; both are regularly assailed by critics; and both are firmly convinced that they are the best means of getting man to his ultimate destination. Rev. Wilbert Awdry who was born on this day in 1911.


Quote of the day

March 8, 2016

Prayer without desire is like a bird without wings; it cannot riseBramwell Booth who was born on this day in 1856.


Quote of the day

April 7, 2015

. . . Taken as a group, the writings in the Bible represent human beings struggling to work out this strange notion of right and wrong, and which is which.

That is where, I think, God resides, and also where humanity lies: in our need to work out right from wrong. The fact of our flawed state as human beings means we do not get it right, and also our perceptions of God will always be similarly flawed.

This is why, in turn, I do not trust certainty in either religion or in atheism. It is often said that the proselyting atheists of the Richard Dawkins mould are just fundamentalists of a different kind, and I think this is true, in a way which goes beyond the obvious levels.

But to deal with the obvious first: there is a missionary zeal, certainly, Dawkins et al share with the more foam-flecked fundamentalists.

But mostly, both actually serve to deny humanity. In the case of the crusading atheists, they seem to be trying to extirpate something which has been uniquely human, which is this development of religious belief down the millennia.

In the case of fundamentalists, of any stripe, the restrictions they prescribe for human behaviour is a similar denial of basic humanity and to the central mystery of our existence. . . Rob’s Blockhead Blog

I think his thoughts on fundamentalists apply to politics as well as religion.


Quote of the day

March 17, 2015

. . .  I’ve never disliked religion. I think it has some purpose in our evolution. I don’t have much truck with the ‘religion is the cause of most of our wars’ school of thought, because in fact that’s manifestly done by mad, manipulative and power hungry men who cloak their ambition in God. – Terry Pratchett

Hat tip: Rob Hosking


Pen mightier than sword or gun

January 9, 2015

Cartoonists across the world have  respounded in solidarity with these killed in Paris:

Cartoonists around the world have put pencil to paper in solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo artists slaughtered in Paris, admitting their own fear of being targeted but vowing they will not be silenced.

In the small world of political satire, many cartoonists knew the journalists at the French weekly magazine who were among 12 killed by suspected Islamists on Wednesday. They expressed their anguish and deep anger at the killings in the way they know best. . .

They are showing the pen is mightier than the sword or gun.

The gunmen showed the weakness of their beliefs by responding to words and pictures with guns.

They couldn’t counter the message so shot the messengers.


How strong are they if words scare them?

January 8, 2015

Twelve people have been killed and others injured in Paris:

Gunmen have shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in an apparent militant Islamist attack.

Four of the magazine’s well-known cartoonists, including its editor, were among those killed, as well as two police officers.

A major police operation is under way to find three gunmen who fled by car.

President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack “of exceptional barbarity”.

It is believed to be the deadliest attack in France since 1961, when right-wingers who wanted to keep Algeria French bombed a train, killing 28 people.

The masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car. They later abandoned the car in Rue de Meaux, northern Paris, where they hijacked a second car.

Death threats

Witnesses said they heard the gunmen shouting “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “God is Great” in Arabic (“Allahu Akbar”). . . .

How strong are these people if they are scared by words?

How weak are their arguments if their best response to satire is to kill?

How powerful is what they believe in if it can’t stand up to ridicule?


Marry or else – church

April 29, 2014

A Gore church has given one of its members an ultimatum to marry her de facto partner or leave him:

A 72-year old Southland woman has had her 30-year church membership revoked because she lives in a de facto relationship.

The Calvin Community Church, a Presbyterian church in Gore, has revoked the membership of one of its long-term members because her relationship with a man she lives with was “at variance with what is expected of a member of Calvin Community Church”.

The woman said she was told “out of the blue” she had to either marry her long-term partner, leave him, or no longer be a church member.

She was still able to attend the church, but she has declined to do so because “they have discussed my private life around the table”. . .

The woman and her partner, who have both been married previously, have been together for eight years and have been living together in Gore for three years.

As a Christian, she said she would prefer to be married to align with her beliefs.

But her partner was not ready and it was not anyone’s place to force someone into marriage, she said.

“There is only one judge and that is God. Why break up a happy relationship. I’m very happy living with him, I’m too late in life to go through a relationship upset.”

“I’ve thought about it and prayed about it and I’m happy with my relationship.”

Elders at the Gore church disagreed.

In a letter to the distraught woman, senior pastor Keith Hooker said those who wished to be counted as members were responsible for upholding the church’s standards in accordance with scripture.

It was the church’s view living unmarried with a long-term partner did not meet those requirements.

“You have said that your partner is not willing to marry you. Although being married is outside of your control it is, however, your decision to remain in the relationship,” his letter says.

“While we respect your right to live in a de facto relationship, it is quite clearly at variance with what is expected of a member of Calvin Community Church.” . .

Cohabitating without a marriage certificate used to be called living in sin.

This church still believes it is.

She’s still welcome to worship but not be a member.

It’s the church’s right to do that – is it right to do it?

 

 

 

 


Missed connection

April 18, 2014

She recalled that when she was a child hot cross buns and Easter eggs were sold immediately before Easter and eaten on Good Friday and Easter Sunday respectively.

Her younger colleague asked why.

She said because the cross was a reminder of the crusifiction and while the eggs were linked to spring festivals there was also a theory they resembled the stone at the entrance to Christ’s tomb.

The colleague looked blank.

She said, “You must have heard the Easter story.”

The colleague nodded and said she had a vague recollection of it but had never made the connection between it and Easter food.

She could well be in the majority.

Last year’s census showed fewer than half New Zealanders are affiliated to a Christian religion.

In 2013, the number of people who affiliated with a Christian religion (including Māori Christian) decreased to 1,906,398 (48.9 percent of all people who stated their religious affiliation), down from 2,082,942 (55.6 percent) in 2006. 

Graph, People affiliated with Christian religions, 2001, 2006, and 2013 Censuses.

The conversation above suggests that with the loss of faith there’s also been a loss of knowledge about the historical and cultural context of celebrations like Easter.

 


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