Apollo 8 Christmas Bible Reading fallout

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

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Stephen Fry and “blasphemy”

I saw an article this morning: “Stephen Fry investigated by Irish police for alleged blasphemy” * and thought it appropriate to draw attention to two articles I posted in 2015 after Fry had made similar rants.

https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/self-aggrandising-foolishness-from-stephen-fry/

https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/the-calvinistic-athiests-attitude-to-god/

Personally I ‘m opposed to blasphemy laws. God is more than capable of facing the rants and ravings of wilfully ignorant fools.

 

A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

 

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* https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/may/07/stephen-fry-investigated-by-irish-police-for-alleged-blasphemy

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

What Colour is Oscar?

oscar-statuettesIt’s been many years since I took any interest in the Oscars. At one time I wouldn’t miss the TV broadcast of the awards and I’d do everything I could to make sure I didn’t hear any results before I saw it.
The broadcast in Australia was always delayed so it could be screened in prime time.
But as I said, that was long ago. These day’s I wouldn’t recognise the titles of most the films nominated.

The segment of the awards that kept my interest longest was the tribute to those who’d died during the year, where there could often be more surprises than in the announcement of the winners.
This year, in the lead up to an awards show that I won’t be watching, I couldn’t help being made aware of the controversy regarding the lack of African Americans among those nominated.

It seems there will be some boycotts.

As I said, I no longer take much of an interest in the awards themselves, but the threatened boycott raises one or two issues about race. Maybe it’s time to divide the nominations equally, so out of the standard five nominees for each category there should be one white nomination, one black nomination, one Hispanic, one Asian and one gay.*

Maybe it’s the only way to ensure all appearances of prejudice are avoided.
But then again, maybe it would be nice if race and colour played NO part at all – that ALL could consider others AND THEMSELVES as actors, directors etc., instead of actors/directors of a particular race or colour, and an Oscar category can be populated entirely with “white” names – or entirely with “black” names without leading to claims of racism.
And if only that same attitude could be seen across all sections of the community…

But maybe that’s expecting far too much in a world where racism clearly remains a serious problem, and where some sections of the community can continually be referred to (even by themselves) as “minorities”.

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* Just to be sure that no one misunderstands. That comment was not intended to be taken seriously. However, despite the intentional flippancy, it can’t be denied that a similar approach is often taken in the casting of TV shows in the US.

Prayer Shaming… article by Emma Green.

Prayer Shaming After a Mass Shooting in San Bernardino

Following the murder of at least 14 people in California, the reaction against calls for prayer has been sharp.

There’s a clear claim being made…, and one with an edge: Democrats care about doing something and taking action while Republicans waste time offering meaningless prayers.

There are many assumptions packed into these attacks on prayer: that all religious people, and specifically Christians, are gun supporters, and vice versa. That people who care about gun control can’t be religious, and if they are, they should keep quiet in the aftermath of yet another heart-wrenching act of violence. At one time in American history, liberals and conservatives shared a language of God, but that’s clearly no longer the case; any invocation of faith is taken as implicit advocacy of right-wing political beliefs.

Complete article:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/prayer-gun-control-mass-shooting-san-bernardino/418563/

I wonder how some of those conclusions were reached?

Could it be because the devotion of so many “Christians” to a particular party-political stance has given an impression that makes those judgements seem valid?

AUSA

Self-Aggrandising Foolishness from Stephen Fry

Stephen FryThe quote to the left (attributed to Stephen Fry) is a clipping from yesterday’s newspaper. After reading it part of the book of Revelation came to mind where it is said that man responded to trouble and tragedy not by repenting (ie recognising and turning from his own sin) but by cursing and blaspheming God.

In other words, man blames God for what man has done.

Contrary to Fry’s accusation against God, everything God created was GOOD, even mankind. But God gave mankind freedom of choice: 1) to have an ongoing life of ease, untroubled by death where evil wasn’t even a concept to grasp: or 2) to gain an experiential knowledge of good and evil through disobedience to God. The consequence of that disobedience was the cause of all of the misery that Fry attributes to God and contrary to his accusation the misery he mentions IS our fault because of the sin that man freely chose and has continued to choose through history.

In his statement Fry demonstrates wilful ignorance, as well as an incredible degree of pride and arrogance that leads him to believe he has the right or would even have the guts to address the Holy and Righteous Creator in such a manner.

Would Fry prefer it if God had created mankind as a race of pre-programmed puppets with no freedom at all? I suspect what the answer would be to that question, when so many recently have come out in support of freedom of expression after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. People like Fry want the freedom to deny God or to mock and berate Him, yet still want to blame Him for what results from the exercise of that freedom.

I agree with Fry that the world is full of injustice, pain and misery but reject his accusation that God is to blame for that state.

God is not capricious, mean-minded or stupid. While Fry blames Him for evil in the world, in reality God has created a way to end the effects of the evil that is given a place in God’s creation by man.  But that way requires man to freely trust God to turn TO Him and to turn FROM sin.

Sadly, it is a choice that most (including Fry) refuse to make.

Protect Middle Eastern Christians. (article from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem)

Unequalled

At a press conference on Monday (13 Oct 2014) in Jerusalem, prominent leaders of major Jewish and Christian global organizations announced an historic joint initiative calling on world leaders to take urgent, determined actions to halt the brutal persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

“The current plight of Middle East Christians is heart-breaking and even western churches have to do more to bring the suffering of our fellow believers to the forefront worldwide,” … . “But to have a prominent global Jewish leader lend his voice to this moral call for protecting the region’s persecuted Christians is unprecedented in modern times. We welcome all others of goodwill who will take a stand now for these vulnerable ancient Christian communities.”

“Just as Christians defend Jews against anti-Semitism, just as Christians support Israel, we Jews have an obligation to speak out against the growing persecution of Christians in many parts of the world,”.

“Islamist extremists have launched a full-fledged assault on our Western values, on our civilization, and Jews and Christians must work hand in hand to defeat this threat. For too long, the world has remained silent in the face of this evil. We must act before it is too late,”

Complete article here:
http://us.icej.org/news/special-reports/call-world-leaders-halt-persecution-middle-east-christians

Psalm