I Soyuz This Morning.

The International Space Station must feel a lot roomier now, after half the crew came to the end of their mission and returned home.

Earlier today I watched the live coverage on the NASA website, of the Russian Soyuz capsule undocking at the start of its journey back to earth.

soyuz.png

On board were Anne McClain (USA), David Saint-Jacques (Canada) and Oleg Kononenko (Russia).

Travel to and from the ISS has been reliant upon the Russian Soyuz, since the end of the American Space Shuttle program almost 8 years ago. Soyuz flights begin and end in Kazakhstan, which has been the home of the Russian space program from it’s very beginning.

(Launched from Baikonur)

landing site

descent.png

Unlike the watery returns of US space capsules familiar from the Apollo era, the Russians have always had land based returns with their capsules thudding to earth in deserted countryside, the final descent slowed by parachutes and a sudden burst of rockets about one metre before contact.

Photos below: Oleg, Anne, and David, being helped from the capsule after a safe landing.

oleg.png
anne 2.png

david.png

Returned Soyuz capsule
returned soyuz

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All images are screen shots from the NASA coverage broadcast on https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive this morning (AEST).

Also see https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-television-to-cover-departure-landing-of-astronaut-anne-mcclain-and-space-station

All Have Sinned… The Wages of Sin is Death.

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The manufactured controversy of Israel Folau’s comments continues.

A few weeks ago I posted the observations in this article (fired for quoting the bible).

Recent events related to this issue have included:

Israel Folau starting a funding drive to raise money for a legal challenge against his dismissal.

Folau’s wife coming under attack for including a reference to the fund page on her own social media account.

The cancelling of Folau’s fund raising account by site owners. (“we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion” – with one exception it seems. They have no problem discriminating against a Christian).

The most recent article I’ve seen on the issue is another assumed “gotcha”, where a Christian spokesman is accused of dodging the question posed by a celebrity journalist, of  whether HE believes homosexuals are destined for hell. (Lisa Wilkinson’s brutal question for Christian leader supporting Folau).

A few points I would like to make.

  • Folau didn’t single out homosexuals as being destined for hell. He also listed drunkards, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves atheists and idolaters
  • I’ve yet to hear a chorus of condemnation from the others on that list – where are the accusations of adulterophobia, liarphobia, kleptophobia, etc.?
  • Folau’s fundraising attempts were ill-advised, considering his considerable wealth. That campaign merely gave his opponents added ammunition, contrasting the money donated to him with the difficulties being faced by similar fund raising for children in need.
  • The journalist mentioned above was so focused on the issue of alleged singular condemnation of homsexuality, that she ignored the actual AND CORRECT answer given by the interviewee.

[He] responded telling the panel hell isn’t simply reserved for homosexuals.

“The mainstream Christian belief on this is that all of us are born going to hell,” he said.
“We’re all sinners and I don’t think it’s helpful to say that Israel Folau’s post targeted homosexuals — it didn’t.”

He continued his lengthy response in defence of Folau’s comments saying we will all be judged on our sexual behaviours, including heterosexuals.
“I was on the list. I think each of us were on the list. We’re all sinners. We will be judged by God and we will be found wanting. I think that’s something that some Australians find offensive.

“But it is actually a Christian belief which runs to the very heart, soul and core of Christianity. And yeah, we’ll be judged on our sexual behaviours. Me, as a straight man, will be judged on my sexual behaviours and found wanting.”

That interviewee is absolutely right. EVERYONE is condemned to and deserving of hell. It doesn’t take any action on our part to make that our destination.

Folau’s message has been hijacked and portrayed as solely condemning of homosexuals, whereas the INTENDED message is that there’s an escape, a way out, an opportunity for everyone to avoid hell. That ALL humanity is given time to turn to Jesus who has made that escape possible.

Despite my agreement with the overall premise of Folau’s message, I do question whether, on two fronts, he’s spoken and acted in wisdom.

Firstly, taking the fundraising and legal action path has taken the issue away from the necessity and importance of people turning to Jesus, and the act itself hasn’t presented a good Christian witness.

Secondly,  while it has been common practice, presenting a gospel centred on an escape from hell can be unproductive. The world today has little spiritual awareness and I suspect that the idea of hell has lost any real meaning to the majority. Also, and significantly, Jesus is our primary source of references to hell in scripture, and those references were warnings ALL addressed to believers, or at least to those who claimed to believe.

He never used hell as a threat to get non-believers to follow Him.

How many astronauts does it take to change a light bulb?

 

Gloria and I have been following the International Space Station and its crew for the past few months, after seeing it pass overhead back in February.

Since then we’ve subscribed to NASA’s Spot the Station, receiving email advices about when it will be visible from our town. We have seen it many times now, most recently last night. We were hoping for another viewing this evening, but it seems like it will be too cloudy.

The crew inhabiting the station throughout our observation period has come to the end of their mission and will be returning to earth in a couple of days.

In the following video, Anne McClain, one of the three imminent returnees demonstrates the answer to the question “how many astronauts does it take to change a lightbulb?@

An Unholy Alliance

The populist right is forging an unholy alliance with religion

 

This … might go a long way to explain why rightwing populists have scored so many victories in recent years: populists have proven very adept at hijacking religion.

The deployment of religion is not about the doctrinal strength of religious life – religious practice continues to decline steadily in most western democracies, and most citizens are not involved in religious institutions. Instead, populists’ use of religion seems to offer a way of forging a new consensus. It is a tool to engage a society that is felt to have lost its moral centre.

The French fascist Charles Maurras said that he did not believe in God but “thought it crucial that people believed in him”. Amid the dizzying effects of globalisation, “God and country” populism offers a way of incorporating capitalism into some kind of traditional religious framework.

Read full article here:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/11/populists-right-unholy-alliance-religion

Suppressing the Truth

Barely two weeks after the election that saw Scott Morrison, the Pentecostal PM’s government returned to power with a tiny majority; when the PM and the Home Affairs minister* (responsible for the Australian Federal police) are both conveniently out of the country…
There were AFP two raids on the media related to stories investigated and published a year ago in one case, and two years ago in the other.

In one raid a journalist’s home was thoroughly searched (yet her work office wasn’t), and the public broadcaster, the ABC had its office raided about a different matter. In the case of the ABC raid the AFP were given the right to search, remove, or to “add, copy, delete or alter” documents of interest.
These raids are being seen as acts of intimidation against journalists as much as a search for evidence.

The old stories related to this case were unrelated, but both were embarrassing to the government.

1) A report on plans to use spy agencies to spy on the Australian public (see link in comments section).
2) A report about official investigations into possible atrocities committed by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

This government (especially the current PM and his Home Affairs minster) have a history of suppressing uncomfortable information. The case in the quote below is only one example.

[please click on, and read, both of the article links below]

It was after all under Scott Morrison’s stewardship of the immigration portfolio that the notorious section 42 of the Border Force Act was enacted, allowing for the jailing for two years of any doctors or social workers who bore public witness to children beaten or sexually abused, to acts of rape or cruelty. The new crime was not crime, but the reporting of state-sanctioned violence on the innocent.
National security was invoked then to justify the enforcement of a national silence over what were no more or less than crimes.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jun/05/the-afp-media-raids-aim-to-suppress-the-truth-without-it-we-head-into-the-darkness-of-oppression

Also see:
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jun/06/government-leaks-like-a-sieve-when-it-suits-them-critics-of-abc-raid-say

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*The Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton was responsible for overthrowing then PM Malcolm Turnbull. Dutton’s challenge of Turnbull failed to give him the leadership, but resulted in Scott Morrison taking over as Prime Minister.

The Big Exhale by Farhad Bandesh

The Big Exhale by Farhad Bandesh

I am a Kurdish artist.

I am a refugee imprisoned by the Australian Government on Manus Island for nearly six years. I have released a song and music video called The Big Exhale.

Hunted like a bird
Languish in a cage
Eyes full of tears
Holes in humanity

View on YouTube to see complete lyrics.

Also see the article here for more about the song and it’s singer:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jun/04/writing-for-his-life-manus-island-detainee-farhad-bandesh-releases-soaring-new-song

Also see a related story.

“How many more people must die on Manus before Australia ends indefinite detention?” by Behrouz Boochani

Refugees were counting down the days to the election. But our hopes have been dashed and the future is grim

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/03/how-many-more-people-must-die-on-manus-before-australia-ends-indefinite-detention

I have never seen the refugees on Manus so depressed. Even when Reza Barati was killed, when that innocent man was sacrificed … that time when the other refugees were bashed and beaten.

I swear, it has never been like this. Not even on Good Friday in 2017 when soldiers rained shots into the prison camp.

Even at the height of the violence and when confronted with death the refugees always maintained a sense of hope. However, the day after the election, everything sank into an abyss of darkness. The outcome of the last election extinguished the last glimmer of hope for freedom, it shut out any hope that remained after six years of purgatory. Overnight everything just slipped away.