18
Aug
16

Clashes and Churches, by Riverbend

I’ve just finished reading Baghdad Burning, by Riverbend; the blog of an Iraqi woman published in book form.

The blog is still available on line at https://riverbendblog.blogspot.com.au/

Whether in book form or the blog itself, I feel it should be essential reading: even compulsory reading for anyone who thinks the 2nd Bush war against Iraq was justified. However, anyone who takes that view, would be unlikely to have their opinion changed by the words of someone who was on the receiving end of Bush’s “crusade” who saw the effects it had on what was once a thriving nation (albeit one ruled by a malignant dictator).baghdad burning

Last week churches were bombed- everyone heard about that. We were all horrified with it. For decades- no centuries- churches and mosques have stood side by side in Iraq. We celebrate Christmas and Easter with our Christian friends and they celebrate our Eids with us. We never categorised each other as “Christian” and “Muslim”… It never really mattered. We were neighbours and friends and we respected each other’s religious customs and holidays. We have many differing beliefs- some of them fundamental- but it never mattered.

It makes me miserable to think that Christians no longer feel safe. I know we’re all feeling insecure right now, but there was always that sense of security between differing religions. Many Iraqis have been inside churches to attend weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Christians have been suffering since the end of the war. Some of them are being driven out of their homes in the south and even in some areas in Baghdad and the north. Others are being pressured to dress a certain way or not attend church, etc. So many of them are thinking of leaving abroad and it’s such a huge loss. We have famous Christian surgeons, professors, artists, and musicians. It has always been an Iraqi quality in the region- we’re famous for the fact that we all get along so well.

I’m convinced the people who set up these explosions are people who are trying to give Islam the worst possible image. It has nothing to do with Islam- just as this war and occupation has nothing to do with Christianity and Jesus- no matter how much Bush tries to pretend it does. That’s a part of the problem- many people feel this war and the current situation is a crusade of sorts. ‘Islam’ is the new communism. It’s the new Cold War to frighten Americans into arming themselves to the teeth and attacking other nations in ‘self-defence’.

From the Baghdad Burning Blog (Saturday, August 07, 2004) full article can be found here:

https://riverbendblog.blogspot.com.au/2004_08_01_archive.html

The book I read was only the first volume. A second volume of Riverbend’s writings is also available.

BB vol 2

17
Aug
16

Extremist Secular Fundamentalism

Almost a month ago I started a post with the following statement:

While one cannot live by “likes” alone, the number of likes against an article or a comment – or their absence – can be a telling indicator of a readership’s attitude.

(https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/plebiscite-on-same-sex-marriage/)

After posting those thoughts I’ve seen something even more blatant than the situation that led me to write that article.

On the same newspaper website, I’ve seen comments ridiculing and belittling those who believe in (a) God have been getting “likes” in the hundreds. Previously it had seemed that 20 “likes” awarded to a comment was significant.

I’ve had varying degrees of involvement with Christianity and church during the past 40 years, and I’ve come across different kinds of hostile attitudes towards myself and other believers, but generally the hostility came from a small number.

This is the first time that I’ve seen such a popular opposition to those professing some kind of religious faith.
The cases I refer to above were actually responding to articles about Moslems, not Christians, but those replies were broadly aimed at a more general belief in God, not at any particular form of belief, or belief in any particular deity.

Examples:

Most people with any degree of individual thought have abandoned the idea of religion.just as nobody believes in fairies or the Loch Ness monster.
This goes for Christians and any other believers in mumbo jumbo. [161 likes]

And

Sorry, but I read the words bible and Koran and just switched off. I just can’t believe that in the 21st century people base their lives on, and excuse their actions because of, works of fiction which are centuries old [50 likes]

And

I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry anyone who is devoutly religious [108 likes ]

Most of the more extreme views some with “likes” in the multiple hundreds, were specifically targeted at Islam. While I have no agreement at all with Islamic beliefs, what I found disturbing about the comments and the fact that so many agreed with them, is that the degree of hostility directed towards people for having religious beliefs, and for actually living their lives according to those beliefs.

One example relates to a current news story about French resort towns banning the “Burkini” from their beaches. Commenters practically demand that Muslim women should conform to Western society’s standards and fit in with the world around them instead of making themselves separate from society by the way they dress.

People in Europe believe that muslims are not doing enough to assimilate properly, so why wear this religious garment? Why not try and adopt your new home`s customs and become progressive rather than regressive? [130 likes]

The point, m’lady, is not your decision to wear the all in one burkini. Knock yourself out.
It’s the ideology that claims you can’t wear a swimsuit that irritates us. [307 likes]

it’s, an ostentatious display of religious identity, and that isn’t something that should be welcome in secular liberal western countries.[50 likes]

The burkini is part of a ridiculous mindset that says that strongly held religious beliefs somehow have intellectual merit.[ 103 likes]

While most of these comments are addressed to an issue related to Muslims (women in particular) – I think they are no less hostile to anyone who takes their faith seriously enough to think their lifestyle should be shaped by something (Someone) other than society’s ever changing standards of morality.

It seems that secularity is becoming much more than an absence of religion, or a separation from religion; it is increasingly becoming anti-religion and is itself adopting the very worst traits of dogmatic extremism

02
Aug
16

Crazed Extremism

Clearly Islam isn’t the only religion to be afflicted with a “ratbag” loony element. That’s something National Party leader Barnaby Joyce pointed out recently.

“Every group has their ratbags, even Catholics.

“We had, in the past, the IRA, but if someone said every Catholic is a member of the IRA I would say ‘no we’re not’. They’re lunatics, crazy criminals who want to kill people who have nothing to do with the religion I practise.

“In Islam at the moment, they have also got a lunatic fringe. You can’t go through every person of the Islamic faith and say they are all just like them.”

Since then I’ve come across a disturbing example of this element from the camp of my old “friend” Danny Nalliah and his political party Rise Up Australia. I’ve written about Nalliah before on this blog: https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/category/danny-nalliah/

The following comes from Nalliah’s Rise Up Australia party spokesperson Rosalie Crestani:

Islam and Christianity are at loggerheads.

When you go right back to the crusades… and I will not say that the crusades were a completely bad thing because they were taking back land that was taken from them by the Muslims. Just like now I reckon we’re about to see, a crusade starting across,,, the western countries are going to start to rise up.

I mean the true western countries because I think America’s too far gone now.

They’ve got a jihadist in the White House. He’s the one that started ISIS mind you… he armed and he’s established them. He’s using the CIA to recruit…

 

In response to that and all of the other antichristian behaviour, rhetoric and false prophecy that has come out of the Nalliah camp in the decade since I became aware of him, all I can do is point again to the very strong warning Paul gives in 2 Thessalonians:

…because they refused to love the truth and so be saved… God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth.

 

______________________________________

The Rosalie Crestani quote came from a recording here, at roughly the 21 minute mark: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/earshot/putting-the-ex-in-muslim/7635674

That recording is the last of a five part series about Islam by an ex-Muslim. It’s a fascinating series, but contains short sections of comedic content that some will find offensive,

30
Jul
16

Quick thought

What world tries to dismiss with the label “religion” (usually meaning superstitious belief or an airy fairy attitude embraced by the weak and gullible) is what the genuine Christian would see as reality and truth, how things REALLY are; the very foundation of our existence, the essence of what maintains creation and gives it meaning.

At the foundation is the Creator God with complete authority over every aspect of what He’s created.

29
Jul
16

Democracy. Relativism. Kingdom of God.

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (Winston Churchill, from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947)

Recently I’ve come across a lot of people who seem to resent the idea of democracy, without considering the shortcomings of every other type of government tried by mankind.

They seem to think that their views and their desires should be imposed without regard for any democratic process. They consider those views and desires as “human rights” – without citing any foundational justification for the legitimacy of those “rights”.

The views I refer to have been centred on the question of same sex marriage in Australia. I’ve seen many individuals insisting that their “human rights” are being denied by anyone who suggests that recognition of same sex marriage in this country can only happen through a democratic process, culminating in being passed by parliament.

Those people who want to enforce their personal idea of their “rights” on the population at large have been quite vitriolic in response to anyone who would question their anti-democratic view – even towards some who have stated they support same sex marriage, but want the democratic process to be observed.

I see that kind of thinking is the natural outcome of the increasing relativist philosophy colouring the thinking of western society. Where truth is whatever “I” decide is truth and no one has the right to dispute “my” truth; even though their truth may be different.
The attitude shown says: “if their truth is different and they say anything against “my” truth, they are bigots, so replying to them in a rude and rancorous way is justified”.
That hostility seems to increase if the different idea of truth has its basis in scripture and relates to man’s relationship with God.

One of the problems with democracy is that we don’t always find ourselves on the same side as the majority, and democratically introduced legislation can be contrary to our own moral or political stance.

For Christians that difference is increasing as the world moves further away from long-standing historical, religious influences. It is easy to become discouraged and threatened by those changes, so it’s increasingly necessary to understand the truth of us being “not of the world, just as [He is] not of the world”; and that His kingdom is not of this world.

An Australian former politician, Bronwyn Bishop once suggested the best form of government was a benevolent dictatorship (as long as she was that dictator). Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I always took her self-recommendation for the job to be a tongue in cheek qualifier suggesting that all of us would think ourselves to be the only suitable candidate for that position.

While drawing considerable derision for her suggestion, I think the first part of Bishop’s view was more or less correct: that the best form of government is the rule of a single, unchallenged ruler who can be completely trusted to rule un-capriciously without rancour and without injustice.

In fact such a government is the type of rule that God intended, but man rejected; the type of rule that God will one day reinstate.
We see an example of man’s rejection of that kind of government when God’s chosen people of Israel demanded to be like other nations with a man for a king.

God gave them what they wanted after warning them of the consequences. And they suffered those consequences throughout their history, as did every other nation ruled by a man.

God could have left mankind to suffer under that choice of weak and corrupt human leadership and give up His right to rule over His creation. But He has a better plan in mind.
That better plan is Jesus, ruling as BOTH God and man, over His people for ever.

___________________________________________

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”…
…I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it,[j] for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

26
Jul
16

Plebiscite on Same Sex Marriage.

While one cannot live by “likes” alone, the number of likes against an article or a comment – or their absence – can be a telling indicator of a readership’s attitude.

As a case in point, I’ve recently entered discussion on a newspaper’s web site regarding several different issues, and found most comments were given at least a few “likes”.

However, when I joined a conversation about same-sex marriage, even though I didn’t express any outright opposition, I started to get some very hostile responses (all of which accrued several likes) while my own comments remained like-less.

But maybe the MOST telling aspect of that discussion was that most of my contributions consisted of me calling for civility – no matter which side of the fence a person stood and the majority of the responses I received were abusive.

I’ll be very open about the issue. I disagree with the concept of same sex marriage. However I recognise that I’m living in a secular democracy that decreasingly recognises the authority of God.

Within that democracy I have the right to vote and in the upcoming plebiscite related to same sex marriage, I will vote against it.

However, if the vote for change passes, I’m not going to lose sleep or get upset about it. Furthermore (and some Christians might find this unacceptable) if the plebiscite shows the majority are in support of recognising same sex marriage, and the government refuses to recognise that result and doesn’t pass legislation to make that change, I won’t be happy that the government ignored the result of the people’s vote.

Of course, that also applies should the people’s vote indicate an opposition to change. Since the government has chosen to take the plebiscite route, they need to respect and abide by its outcome no matter what that outcome may be. THAT is how secular democracy is supposed to work.

 

Perhaps ironically, the outcome of the plebiscite vote could be determined by the lack of involvement of the demographic group most in favour of same sex marriage – the 18-24 year olds who are the largest potential voting block NOT to register on the electoral roll.

With the plebiscite we might see a similar outcome as the recent Brexit referendum, where younger age groups were most in favour of staying in Europe, but were the largest demographic group who failed to vote at all, ensuring that their own wishes weren’t met.

 

___________________________________________

This link seems to be where my involvement in the discussion started:
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jul/24/marriage-equality-george-brandis-to-ask-cabinet-to-decide-plebiscite-wording#comment-79798485

And also see here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jul/24/marriage-equality-george-brandis-to-ask-cabinet-to-decide-plebiscite-wording#comment-79869150

20
Jul
16

Battle of Fromelles Centenary

bible page

A bible page with passages underlined that was unearthed in 2009. (Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

 

Today is the centenary of the battle of Fromelles, the first major involvement of Australian forces on the Western Front, described by the Australian War memorial as “the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history”, with 5,500 Australian casualties including approximately 2000 dead.
Hundreds of Australians went missing and their remains weren’t discovered until recent years when the bodies of 250 men were rediscovered in a mass grave near the battle site.

 

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-19/the-battles-of-fromelles-and-pozieres-100-years-on/7627170

Also see:

http://www.smh.com.au/interactive/2009/national/fromelles/main.html

and

Guardian article by Paul Daley

This blog entry was scheduled for posting at 2.00am on 20th July Sydney time which is approximately 6pm 19th July in Fromelles, France.

 

fromelles




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