Archive for July, 2016

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

19
Jul
16

The Myth of Religious Violence

William CavanaughA very interesting 14 minute interview about the claimed link between religion and violence.

http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2016/07/rer_20160706_1750.mp3

From this site:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/religionandethicsreport/is-religious-violence-a-scrap-in-backyard-compared-to-secular-v/7574124

13
Jul
16

Notes on an Exodus, Richard Flanagan

xnotes-on-an-exodusNotes on an Exodus : an essay is a small book by Man Booker prize winning author Richard Flanagan, illustrated by Ben Quilty.

Flanagan and Quilty travelled to the Middle East and Europe with World Vision, visiting refugees in camps and on the road, who were escaping from the violence of their homes in Syria.

While described as “an essay” in its subtitle, the book is more a collection of brief written portraits of the people Flanagan and Quilty met on their journey.

People who had fled villages, towns and cities to escape either the day and night bombing by Assad supporting Russian planes, from the violence and oppression of Daesh (ISIS), or both.

People who had fled prosperous lives to live in makeshift tents constructed from recycled garbage.

People who once owned productive farms and orchards but now have to survive on meagre rations of bread and tea or scraps collected from the floors of vegetable shops. Where a family survives (barely) with the help of their nine year old son, working as a welder for $3 a day. who has half his weekly pay retained by his employer to ensure his return the following week.

These are the kind of stories that we in the west prefer not to know so we don’t have to see the refugees as REAL people with REAL lives who probably weren’t so different from other people we know. Individuals we can’t disguise and dehumanise as a “flood”.

Flanagan’s vignettes of people he met bring focus to the plight of millions who have been driven from their homes and homelands. They should stir similar feelings to those stirred by the photos of the small body of Alan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach that briefly moved the conscience of the world. But sadly they won’t. All too quickly our collective hearts have rehardened.

Suspicion and hostility against the flood have been restored.

Alan_Kurdi_lifeless_body

05
Jul
16

Australian Political Scene as of 5 July.

We’ve just had our Federal election and the result is uncertain, with neither of the major parties coming out of it with a majority.

It looks like a deal will have to be done with a string of independents to form a workable government. The major parties are neck and neck and who’s slightly ahead depends on the source of information.

Media outlets put the Liberal-National Coalition in front but at the time of writing, the official Australian Electoral Commission results show the Labor Party ahead by 71 seats to 67 (with two of the projected Labor seats and three of the LNP seats listed as “close”). It doesn’t seem like either will reach the necessary 75-76 seats to gain a majority allowing them govern without relying on an independent ally.

There will also be an increase of minor/independent parties in the senate, which will make for interesting times. The election also brought about the resurgence of our own “Donald Trump” in the senate, a woman echoing Trump’s ban on Moslems entering the country as well as other racist attitudes.
It’s possible that along with herself, she could have up to three candidates from her party entering the senate. So complicated is the senate voting system, the final make up won’t be known for sure for a few weeks.

While most commentators seem to think the incumbent Prime Minister will slip back into power, I’m not so sure, because:

1) support in his own party is deeply divided, with hostility towards him from a “Tea Party”-like faction. If stability is questionable within his own party, how stable could his government be?

2) I can’t see his Liberal/National party ever having a working relationship with the Senate. Reportedly he’ll need the support of at least 9 out of 10 independents within the senate to get any legislation passed, whereas the other major party, Labor, with the support of the Greens will need only two independents to come on board. The latter seems much more likely to provide a workable relationship with the Senate.

______________________________________

Australian Electoral Commission count:

http://vtr.aec.gov.au/HouseDefault-20499.htm




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