Monday, June 23, 2003

Web Clips, week to June 21

This week, the big event in Jamaica was a local government election, and overseas,
we had the launch of J K Rowling's fifth book in the Harry Potter series, as
well as the aproval of so-called "same-sex marriages" by a Toronto

1. Jamaica's Headline News

The June 19, 2003 Local Government election can be summed up:

  • The landslide winner: None of The Above (NOTA) with about 60% no-show.
    (I am tempted to propose a new ballot, with a NOTA line item. If NOTA wins,
    a second phase election would be held, with a fresh slate of candidates .
    . .)

  • The alienation of the security forces: 78% of police and 91% of the Army
    did not vote. This is truly worrying.

  • 3-years probation for the JLP to show that it is a serious contender for
    national government. (In the past, to the 1940's, there had been a two-election
    cycle in government/opposition for the two major parties. The October 2002
    General Election marked the second time in succession that the Jamaican electorate
    did not think it wise to call the JLP back into national Government: December
    1997, October 2002.)

  • A clear shot across the bows of the governing PNP in the aftermath of the
    post-election slide in the J$ and the imposition of a sharp jump in consumption
    taxes and prices. The "progress" in the election slogan "Log
    on to progress" has not ben evident.

Overall, the issue is that Jamaica is clearly in kairos, and therefore is open
to reformation through Christ. [Acts 17:24 - 27.] The challenge to the church
is to lead the way in repentance, renewed thinking in light of Christ's treasures
of wisdom and knowledge [Col 2:3, cf. 1 Cor 2:16 "we have the mind of Christ"],
and God-centred, God-blessed reformation.

2. Global Pottermania

The midnight, Summer Solstice: June 21 2003 launch of the latest Harry Potter
book was an international news event as much as it was a publishing event. In
an era of rising neo-pagan thinking, there were worrying signs of a large number
of Children becoming caught up in the neo-pagan worldview. Three web clips appeared
to be very relevant:

Caryl Matrisciana raises the question that Pottermania may represent a rising
tide of neo-pagan thinking among the young, e.g. 'Latin American critics [are]
complaining "that the world of magic through which Harry Potter travels is a
metaphor for the New Age philosophy that is hostile to the Christian faith,
and thus Harry Potter is an assault on Latin American values." '

David Kopel counters: 'J. K. Rowling is an Inkling. That's the well-argued
thesis of John Granger's fine book The Hidden Key to Harry Potter. Granger demonstrates
the absurdity of the claim that Harry Potter is anti-Christian. And even if
you've never worried about charges brought by misguided fundamentalists, The
Hidden Key will substantially augment your understanding of what's really at
stake in Harry's adventures.' Thus, he links Rowling to the circle of writers
in the 1950's that was centred on Christian authors such as C S Lewis (Chronicles
of narnia) and J R R Tolkein (Lord of the Rings). [Here, it may be significant
to note that recently the publisher of the former series has tried to edit out
the Christian imagery in lewis' work, and to commisssion new books in the series
with the Christian themes eliminated. Cf.
If Lewis is being Bowdlerised, why is Rowling being praised?]

Joel Miller argues along a similar line, citing Douglas Jones: "the deeper
compliment [to Christianity] is the story's use of a Christian psychology. In
its generic sense, a psychology is just a worldview's characteristic way of
interacting with life.
[Remark: Excellent working definition!] There
is a distinctive Christian psychology, a Hellenistic psychology, a modernist
psychology, a postmodern psychology, a Wiccan psychology, and so on. The Potter
characters could have been written with any of these. They could have acted
like those resentful infant-adults of the Iliad; they could have had the psychology
of ancient druids. But they don't. Instead, the Potter stories give us largely
[Remark: telling modifier!] Christianized witches, witches who have fully absorbed
Christian ethical categories: love, kindness, hope, loyalty, hierarchy, community,
and more."

3. The 1984 Vatican Encyclical on Liberation Theology

Liberation Theology continues to be a strong force in more liberal theological
circles in the Caribbean, long after its heyday in the 1980's was cut off in
the aftermath of the collapse of the Socialist Bloc in the early 1990's. The
Vatican's comments in 1984 on this subject are still well worth reflecting on
as we come to a more balanced view on the church's role in reformation and transformation
of society.

". . . Liberation is first and foremost liberation from the radical slavery
of sin. Its end and its goal is the freedom of the children of God, which is
the gift of grace. As a logical consequence, it calls for freedom from many
different kinds of slavery in the cultural, economic, social, and political
spheres, all of which derive ultimately from sin, and so often prevent people
from living in a manner befitting their dignity. To discern clearly what is
fundamental to this issue and what is a by-product of it, is an indispensable
condition for any theological reflection on liberation . . ."

4. Iraq (& Iran) watch . . .

William Rusher argues: 'Our failure to find any such weapons to date (save
for two mobile biowarfare laboratories) has struck some of Bush's critics in
the Democratic Party and the media as a splendid opportunity to make a little
political hay . . . . The basic facts are not in doubt. . . . The trouble is,
there was nothing minimal about the quantities specified by the United Nations
in the 1990s, and even admitted to by Saddam. We are talking about tons . .

June 22 - U.S. soldiers, acting on a tip, seized code equipment and piles of
top secret Iraqi intelligence documents in a raid Saturday on a community center.
The find, including references to a nuclear program, is being sent to senior
intelligence analysts to look for information on Iraq's banned weapons programs
. . .

In a related development, with the EU and UN joining the US in putting pressure
on Iran in light of questions on its nuclear reactor programme -- NB Iran has
had research reactors since the 70's (I was taught in Physics by one of the
former leaders of the programme) -- there is significant pressure from within
for liberation from the reign of the Mullahs and Ayatollahs. here, Safire comments:
'President George W. Bush's message to "those courageous souls who speak out
for freedom in Iran" hit the right note: "America stands squarely by their side,
and I would urge the Iranian administration to treat them with the utmost of
respect." .Bush's studied avoidance of the disparaging word "regime" signaled
that it is political change that is needed, not regime change . . . By breathing
on the spark of freedom without blowing too hard, and by leading the increase
of pressure on a crumbling dictatorship, we may be able to limit the spread
of nuclear weapons without having to take them out.'

5. Have the Chariot Wheels been found in the Red Sea?

One of the most famous stories of the Bible is God's parting of the Red Sea
to save the Israelites from the Egyptian army and the subsequent drowning of
soldiers and horses in hot pursuit. But is there evidence that such an event
did in fact happen – and if so, precisely where did it take place? The issue
is surfacing some 3,500 years after the event is said to have taken place with
reports of Egyptian chariot wheels found in the Red Sea, photographs to document
it and new books by scientists that could lead to a whole remapping of the Exodus
route and a fresh look at ancient biblical accounts . . . But despite all of
Elmer's excitement, others who have been to the same location are not so sure
what is being viewed underwater are the remnants of the great chase and urge
extreme caution regarding the unsubstantiated claims . . .

6. Roots of the Accounting Scandals

The global economy is still stalled in the doldrums, and the continued wave
of corporate corruption scandals is scaring away potential investment.. Craige
McMillan gives a different, sobering, perspective: 'the "tax-book gap." . .
. Traditionally, this gap was almost completely explained by depreciation, employee
share options, and foreign income. But by 1998, [research by Mihir Desai of
harvard Business School] found that these adjustments accounted for less than
half of the gap . . . the Economist [("Many Happy Returns?" May 10, 2003, p.57]
was willing to give [explaining the other half] a try. "Perhaps the gap is due
to the growing use of Enron-style rule-gaming, which creates (briefly) healthy
accounting numbers but cannot get past the more prudent tax rules. If so, a
growing tax-book gap may herald accounting troubles to come." ' Has the tendency
to deride truth and right in the name of tolerance fed a climate in which fuzzy
numbers games were played with corporate accounts? "Righteousness exalteth
a nation . . ."

7. Apostasy watch: The Toronto cursing?

Excerpt: 'Same-sex marriage is on the way to enshrinement in Canadian
law following the government's decision yesterday not to appeal a provincial
court's ruling that allowed homosexuals to be wed. Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien
will file a bill within weeks that would make Canada only the third country
to sanction same-sex matrimony, along with Belgium and the Netherlands'

Comment: Traditionally, Caribbean people have had very friendly relations
with our brother to the north, Canada. many of us are therefore very concerned
to see the Government of Canada joining Belgium and the Netherlands in the "same-sex
marriage"social experiment that seems headed towards doing great damage
to families and to children: could someone please explain to me how I am to
tell my 4 year old about Mr Smith and Mr Smith moving in next door? [That is,
has the secularised West's tendency to shunt aside moral considerations and
the concern to create a public domain that protects the young, now crossed a
point of no return? have law makers lost the common sense ability to discern
that the biological and social functions provided by maleness/femaleness and
the family are obvious and vital to the survival of a civilisation? Rom 1:18
- 32 anyone? (Cf. previous clippings on the path-breaking work of NARTH:]

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