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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