Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Web Clips and Comments

July 14, 2003

HIGHLIGHT: This weekend, the Soufriere Hills Volcano, in my second home
territory, Monsterrat; had a massive dome collapse and associated ash eruption
that threw volcanic materials 40,000 feet into the air, and deposited a thick
layer of ash across much of the South and centre of the island.

Thankfully no-one was killed, and the main ash flow from the dome -- a mound
of hot materials that had been forced out of the volcano over the past several
months (piling up to 3600 feet above sea level) -- went down the Tar River valley
to the N E, and off into the sea on the East Coast.

Contacts in Montserrat are grateful that lives have been spared, and the few
buildings in the Salem area that have collapsed under the weight of deposited
ash were in the main lightly built structures, such as bars. Concern was expressed
for the welfare of some of the people evacuated over the past several months,
who are in need of welfare support, especially support for basic food and similar

(NB: In the 1995 - 97 period, as concluded by a Commission of Inquiry, inadequate
shelter conditions, poor management of exposure to hazards and desensitisation
to danger as well as personal reckless disregard for the danger contributed
to the deaths of over a dozen people in the June 25, 1997 collapse and pyroclastic
flows. Official figures hover at about 20 deaths for the June - August 1997

Web links:

Preliminary AFP report: http://www.thecouriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,6749194%5E401,00.html

Monstserrat Volcano Observatory: http://www.mvo.ms/

Cascades Volcano Observatory: http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/

Nat. Geog. Article: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/98/volcanoes/

Montserrat Reporter newspaper: http://www.montserratreporter.org/

1. Mbeki Speaks on Africa


Next year Haiti commemorates a full two hundred years of the establishment
of the first modern black republic out of the defeat of the Napoleonic French
empire in 1804. South Africa will celebrate 10 years of the post-Apartheid era.
And the two countries, one the poorest in the Diaspora, the other the leader
of the Black Motherland, will do it together. Mbeki asked the hard questions
of what went wrong with the Haitian Revolution, when the sister American and
French Revolutions brought such different results for freedom and development.
What went wrong with the African decolonisation, freedom and development project?
. . .

2. Legislating Morality: a Must

Don Crawford has reflected on the US SC sodomy ruling, and has published a
powerful column on law and morality . . .


statute laws are the legal enforcement of moral principles such as "Thou shalt
not kill." Any criminal statute you choose - whether about fraud, extortion,
due process, assault, ad infinitum, are the legislating of morality into the
criminal code . . . Not only are all statute laws the legislation of morality,
but furthermore it is no historical accident that it is the Judeo-Christian
moral code that has been legislated into Western law . . . . it is not a coincidence
that the West has been predominantly the world of Christendom and the fertile
soil from which has sprung the world's ideals of the sanctity of all human life,
the fundamental equality of all persons, the sovereignty of the people, due
process, and our basic freedoms . . . . Sadly, our system of jurisprudence with
all its respect for individual human rights is not the norm in the world. Rather,
that system springs from a particular moral system and code . . . . "What moral
norms should be legislated?" That is a legitimate question. And the answer is
we legislate a category of ethics. We legislate those ethical norms that have
to do with: (1) all persons being treated with equality under the law, (2) protecting
the weak and the innocent, and (3) protecting the general welfare. In short,
we legislate the area of ethics known as justice. So, are ethical norms concerning
sodomy and marriage appropriate matters of justice? The medical and historical
evidence is overwhelming - though totally ignored in the current non-factual,
politically correct discussion - that sodomy and marriage are appropriate norms
for legislation . . .

3. Pedophilia (and more) on the "normalising" agenda


. . . this May, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was . . . publicly
debating a proposal for "Lifting [The] Pedophilia Taboo." Several APA presenters
"proposed removing … pedophilia, exhibitionism … voyeurism … from the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)." The DSM - the bible of the
mental-health field - tells psychiatrists, judges, juries and the rest of the
world what is or is not abnormal human behavior, and what to criminally "punish"
versus what to therapeutically "treat."

Sadly, in Literary Arts secvtion, The SunDay Magazine, Jamaica Observer, p.2;
a Ms Peta-Gaye Stuart has published a naive gush piece on the Pride Week events
in Toronto, where "same sex marriages", so called, have been ever
so unwisely recently given standing under the colour of law. That is, we see
evidence that the "normalising" of perversion is happening among the
Caribbean's upper and middle classes, who are most vulnerable to fashionable
trends in secularist, apostate and neopagan thinking.

We therefore need to read the signs of the times and respond in an informed,
principled way that respects people but insists that matters of justice and
public morality must be firmly handled in the interests of especially our children.
(For, the creation of a "public" domain is in the main justified by
the need to provide family-friendly space in the community so that our children
can be well brought up; with minimal exposure to inappropriate influences. Or,
have we forgotten?)

4. On the Slander Front . . .

First, I am saddened to have to observe that the jamaica Gleaner was found
by the Privy Council to have spent sixteen years sustaining a libellous accusation
against Mr Tony Abrams, a former Minister of Tourism. One prays that the ruling
will begin to motivate that media house to follow the NY Times down the path
of beginning to clean up its act. (Of course, on this matter, I speak as one
who over the past several months was unjustly attacked by a columnist and was
denied the effective right of reply: see http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/1st_Easter_Timeline.htm
and http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/debating_fundamentalism.htm
for my to date unpublished responses.)

On a similar note, the WMD debate has been heating up in the USA, with many
declaring or implying that the Bush Administration has been lying; a theme that
has been pounced upon by many of our pundits, who seem to have more of a deep
rooted hostility to what the US has traditionally stood for than a concern for
international justice -- judging by the telling silence on the ongoing Cuban

However, we would well do to heed the observations made over the weekend that
"smoking gun" evidence has been found on especially chemical weapons,
and will be forthcoming. So, let us refrain from rash pronouncements and hostility
rather than sound, well-considered judgement.

In that context, we should consider the points made by Clifford May in National


Mr. Bush never claimed that Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium from Niger.
It is not true - as USA Today reported on page one Friday morning - that "tainted
evidence made it into the President's State of the Union address." For the record,
here's what President Bush actually said in his SOTU: "The British government
has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium
from Africa." Precisely which part of that statement isn't true? The British
government did say that it believed Saddam had sought African uranium. Is it
possible that the British government was mistaken? Sure. Is it possible that
Her Majesty's government came by that belief based on an erroneous American
intelligence report about a transaction between Iraq and Niger? Yes - but British
Prime Minister Tony Blair and members of his Cabinet say that's not what happened.
They say, according to Britain's liberal Guardian newspaper, that their claim
was based on "extra material, separate and independent from that of the US."
. . . Saddam Hussein did have a nuclear-weapons-development program. That program
was set back twice: Once by Israeli bombers in 1981, and then a decade later,
at the end of the Gulf War when we learned that Saddam's nuclear program was
much further along than our intelligence analysts had believed. As President
Bush also said in the SOTU: The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed
in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development
program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different
methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. Since Saddam never demonstrated - to
the U.S., the U.N., or even to Jacques Chirac - that he had abandoned his nuclear
ambitions, one has to conclude that he was still in the market for nuclear materials.
And, indeed, many intelligence analysts long believed that he was trying to
acquire such material from wherever he could - not just from Niger but also
from Gabon, Namibia, Russia, Serbia, and other sources . . .

4. Shuttled by Foam . . .

This week, there was dramatic news footage that showed that the first suspect
almost certainly did it: Columbia was done in by a 2 kg lump of foam that hit
its wing and caused a hole in the leading edge that may have been nearly a foot
across. The breaking up of the wing as hot plasma penetrated its interior was
just a matter of time. Sad.

However, there is a not so happy environmental angle to the story: the shedding
problem was reportedly triggered by a shift to a more "environmentally
friendly" foam: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33545
. Thus, it seems there is a need for us to balance the set of factors at work
in a given environmentally-tinged situation, led by sound judgement, not hype
and hysteria.


IN CONCLUSION: I am preparing for an upcoming Conference, and so will
be out of circulation for a couple of weeks, please pray for this vital conference;
that God will help us wake up to the spiritual challenges the region faces on
the threshold of the new milllennium. Grace be to you all . . .

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Week to July 5, 2003

(Sorry to be delayed, I was not only busy but unwell over the weekend.)

On Saturday, as I walked by the Magazine rack in my neighbourhood Supermarket,
my eye was captured by the cover of the June 30 2003 Time magazine.

There we saw a clenched fist, grasping a golden cross against a chiaroscuro
background, with the caption: "Should Christians Convert Muslims?"

That all too caricatured cover, on public display at eye-level in a Caribbean
supermarket, says it all:

(1) The Secularists and neopagans frame the issues and decide what are issues.
So, why are we looking to the declared enemies of the faith to give us accurate,
fair and balanced news on matters of the faith? (If Christians are murdered
because of that cover, will Time pay compensation to the relatives? Or will
they extend the underlyiong theme of the story, and blame the victims?)

(2) When did you see a Time cover-picture of a bombed hospital in Sudan [just
ask Franklyn Graham if you need a file shot!] , with the caption whether muslims
can justify bombing, murdering, raping and /or enslaving or simply abusing and
exploiting those they call "kaffirs" i.e. unbelievers? [ http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1§ion=0&article=28335&d=4&m=7&y=2003
and http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33396

(3) Why wasn't the Caribbean's Templeton Prize winner --Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
-- on the cover instead, with his call to stop the wicked practice of murdering
muslims who decide that another faith better meets their spiritual needs? Or
is freedom of expression only a problem if the one who wants to express is a
secularist or neopagan? [Cf. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33406

(4) More generally, we need to reflect on what bat Ye'or calls "Dhimmitude."
[ http://www.dhimmitude.org/d_history.php

Clearly the news ain't fair, balanced, or responsible when it comes to Christians.
It is high time for Christians in the region to develop our own alternative
news sources and services. Why should we let those who obviously are enemies
of the faith define how we think about the world and its concerns?

CLIPS . . .

1. Cuba update

It seems Mr Martin Henry paid a recent visit to Cuba, and has some interesting
things to say: http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20030703/cleisure/cleisure3.html

"Cuba is among the last holdouts, alongside China and Vietnam, in the
collapse of Marxism. As the USSR learned, the economic opening of the system
is particularly dangerous to the political ideology. Cuba really has no choice
in the new world but to open its economy to free trade both externally and internally.
Those 1950s Chevvies can go on for only so much longer and there is no barter
of sugar for Ladas today. A vigorous tourist trade is emerging as the backbone
of the struggling economy. Both the Cuban and American governments tacitly recognise
that the blockade is full of holes. Maintaining each other as enemy is of enormous
ideological and political significance. It is very doubtful if La Revolucion
can survive the death of the Leader or the end of the blockade. A witty professor
of Humanities at La Universidad de la Habana declared Cuba to be in a time of
intellectual and ideological ferment . . . ."

2. Bigamy next

The so-called Christian polygamists want to follow up on the US SC privacy
rights hearing: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33409
. On the law, science and policy implications of the decision see http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33434
. let us pray that our region's intelligentsia does not pick up this trend any
more than was apparent on our chat shows last week!

3. Depression and Vitamin b

having heard the above, you may feel in need of some good old vitamin B, which
is now emerging as an anti-depressant, according to: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20030705/hl_nm/vitamin_depression_dc_1


Web Clippings & Comments

week to June 27, 2003

The major development for the week is the relaunching of the companion
reference web site for this blog: http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/
. (The site was earlier kindly hosted through a service that has now had to
withdraw free hosting; over time, this new site will be migrated to full commercial

Key clippings and comments:

1. "Privacy" rights, sexuality agendas and family

During the week, there were several developments that are significant for the
Caribbean and the wider world; however, perhaps the most important probably
largely passed under the radar screens of our local media: the U
S Supreme Court's sodomy ruling
, following hard on the heels of the Ontario
court's "same sex marriage" ruling. In both cases, the rulings have
in th emain been viewed in the media as civil liberties triumphs, but in fact
the critical development is the potentially damaging, or even destructive implications
for marriage and the family, thus society and civilisation itself.

Here, I was particularly saddened to hear a BBC reporter interviewing a Family
Research Council spokesman on the ruling. She asked him, in effect, to comment
on why one would want to legislate against an "act of love" done in
the privacy of one's own home. In his reply he pointed out that such activities
in fact have serious public health consequences: 52% of cumulative AIDS deaths
in the US are from the 5% of the male population that has at one time or another
indulged itself in the acts in question. That is, the law (BTW: seldom enforced)
served as a teacher/warning . . . one of the legitimate and traditional functions
of law.

(NB: The context
of the FRC spokesman's remarks
is the point that: ' "The law (banning sodomy
in the state of Texas) demeans the lives of homosexual persons," Justice Anthony
M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. "The men are entitled to respect for their
private lives," Kennedy wrote. "The state cannot demean their existence or control
their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime." '

Rebutting, Kevin McCullough notes: 'What? How does it demean someone to simply
encourage them to practice good health? Does Justice Kennedy honestly believe
that sodomy (anal intercourse) is an act that shows respect to the person it
is done to? And how does it demean a person to point them toward living a moral
life? And if the state says that one cannot make consensual sexual activity
a crime - are we really ready for the totality of what that means - pedophilia,
adultery, incest?')

But, as soon as the FRC spokesman had pointed out this inconvenient fact, the
BBC reporter cut him off with the claim that the Service now needed to go to
its Sports broadcast!

What relevance is this ruling to the Caribbean? Obviously, we have just seen
how one of the most respected news sources in the region is tilting the news
on this topic; in itself important for those who want their news accurate, fair,
and balanced. (Partly in response to this sort of tilting, the clippings below
will give the side you are unlikely to hear, at least at a level above that
of a semi-comical strawman trotted out only to underscore the "unwashed
fundy" stereotype.)

But moreso, this development has not happened in a cultural vacuum: the West's
sevcularism and neo-pagan agendas have set out to reshape Western Civilisation
to suit their preferences, perceptions and expectations, and through media,
academic and intellectual power, this agenda will continue to be projected globally.
(Recall the threats of economic sanctions for several Caribbean tourism destinations
because the countries had sodomy laws and were unwilling to host "Gay cruises"
in their tourist ports.)

What of broader implications?

FRC Speaks:


Bill Murray of FRC observed in the lead-up to the ruling: ". . . legislating
morality is supposed to be passe, and, as the recent Gallup poll found, mainstream
America is warming up to the homosexual lifestyle. Yet even as the homosexual
lobby praises what it sees as the enlightenment of the American people, Gallup
found that there remains a clear majority of Americans for whom the idea of
so-called "gay marriage" is still too radical. What these Americans may not
realize, however, is that the forthcoming decision in Lawrence could do to the
sanctity of marriage what Roe v. Wade did to the sanctity of life . . . . gay
activists wisely see Lawrence as their Roe v. Wade. They know that if the Court
can create a constitutional privacy interest for same-sex couples which forbids
laws such as the Texas sodomy ban, then gay activists can use the Court's rationale
to push for their broader agenda: protected rights to sex, adoption, employment,
and, of course, marriage. "


In an immediate reaction to the ruling, David Gasak adds: "With today's
decision the court continues pillaging its way through the moral norms of our
country. If the people have no right to regulate sexuality then ultimately the
institution of marriage is in peril, and with it, the welfare of the coming
generations of children. While it may feel good to some that a stigma is lifted
from a particular group, something else has been lifted - the boundaries that
prevent sexual chaos in our culture. In recent years we have seen a sharp rise
in unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and heartbreak of every
kind. By unlocking one of society's last social seatbelts, the court has guaranteed
only one thing - more fatal collisions lie just down the road . . ."

David Limbaugh on Legal implications of judicial activism:


Alluding to 2nd US President Adams's remark that the US Constitution would
only work with a religiously-rooted, moral people, Limbaugh commented: "[Adams]
meant that for the Constitution to serve as a long-term guarantor of our freedoms
the American people, by and large, would have to guide themselves by absolute
moral standards - not ones that shift with the sands of political correctness
. . . Judicial activism is grounded in moral relativism and sustained by the
notion that there are no moral standards that cannot be bent or broken to conform
to society's ever-changing moral condition. When our constitutional freedoms
are planted in the unstable footings of moral relativism, they are but a step
away from extinction. This is what Christians mean (and what Adams meant) in
saying that no matter how brilliantly crafted our Constitution, it will not
survive as a liberty-preserving instrument without moral underpinnings. Indeed
our liberties are insured by limitations on government rooted in moral absolutes
. . . "

Derrick K. Olliff and Dewey H. Hodges respond to Daniel Helminiak's Gay


"In this age of cultural pluralism and ethical minimalism, Christians
who, consistent with biblical revelation, publicly declare certain activities
to be sinful have met with severe opposition. The opposition intensifies when
those activities involve "consenting" individuals and do not involve outright
violence. To denounce those activities is, it is thought, to violate the culture's
"absolute" and "invariant" laws of tolerance and inclusion. Homosexual behavior
has fast become one of those activities. Surely, it is maintained, those who
oppose such a personal, voluntary practice are either "homophobics" in need
of a culture lesson or religious bigots deserving scorn. This type of uncritical,
emotional response has grown strong in today's secular culture. An even
more alarming issue, however, is the gain of support for this response within
the Christian community. Christians themselves are, in growing numbers, sacrificing
biblical truth on the altar of humanistic relativism . . .

rebuttal (link not currently working) : http://members.aol.com/stephven/rebutt.html

response to attempted rebuttal: http://www.crta.org/social/response_to_helminiak_2.html

"Our original paper ["A Reformed Response to Daniel Helminiak's Gay Theology,"
Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics (http://www.reformed.org)] presents
many arguments against pro-gay theology as espoused by Daniel Helminiak and
others. Therein, we also present a case for the orthodox position of the Christian
faith concerning homosexual behavior. Helminiak has recently written a paper
intended to be a rebuttal to ours, but in so doing he failed to refute any of
our arguments, leaving our case untouched. Moreover, we believe honest scholars
will see that he has done his position a disservice by his extremely poor scholarship,
numerous misrepresentations, wild accusations, unwarranted assumptions, and
numerous logical fallacies . . ." [NB: very typical of the Spongite ilk.
For my own experience of this, cf. http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/1st_Easter_Timeline.htm]



"Is Sexual Orientation Fixed at Birth? The best overall
summary of most respected researchers is that homosexuality (like most other
psychological conditions) is due to a combination of social, biological, and
psychological factors . . ."

"Gay criticism has not addressed the classic family configuration"; it has
merely "asserted away the considerable evidence" for the existence of family
factors. Studies which attempt to disprove the existence of the classic family
pattern in homosexuality are "convincing only to those with a need to believe."


"Serious scientists have long known that a simply "genetic" cause for
homosexuality was highly unlikely, but the mass media conveyed the misimpression
of genetic causation to the general public. In the Globe article, prominent
researchers admit the distinct limitations of the "born that way" theory. "Gay
gene" researcher Dean Hamer comments, "It is the same for every human behavior--environment
matters for extroversion, smoking cigarettes, just about anything you can name."
Interestingly, Dr. Hamer--himself a gay man--adds that science remains "just
as clueless" as ever about the environmental influences on homosexuality. Dr.
Hamer's statement is consistent with a position taken by most gay advocates,
who flatly deny the existence of evidence that points to certain family and
social influences on homosexuality. (Gay advocates almost invariably either
say "I was born that way," or "How I became gay doesn't matter.") Only prominent
gay writer Andrew Sullivan has publicly given credence to the Freudian model
of homosexual development . . ."

2. CJET 2003 Publication:

The Volume 7 of the Caribbean Journal of Evangelical Theology was issued at
JTS/CGST's Graduation Friday. In it there are several articles of interest to
thinking Christians, and they are written at a quite readable level generally

Humility: The Devalued jewel of the Human Psyche

The Missionary message of First Thessalonians

Ecclesiastes: Mission in a Post-Modern/Post-Christian World

Ethics, Reformation and Development in the Caribbean (Online version here)

Theology and Culture in canonical-Historical Dialogue

Critical Review of Spong's "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism."

3. Natural Gas Shortages Expected


"Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham warned Thursday that severe natural
gas shortages and high prices are "a national concern that will touch virtually
every American." Abraham, opening an industry summit on natural gas, acknowledged
there are few steps that can be taken to increase natural gas supplies. But
he said the Bush administration sees the emerging crisis as a top priority and
will try to mitigate any effects."

This may, of course, be very relevant to Jamaica and to Trinidad. The former
country has been thinking about shifting to Natural Gas and the latter has abundant

4. ME Watch: Is the Mohammed Al Dura Death as often reported in the media?


"In one of the messages Osama bin Laden released after the Sept. 11 attacks
and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he began a list of indictments
against "American arrogance and Israeli violence" by saying, "In the epitome
of his arrogance and the peak of his media campaign in which he boasts of 'enduring
freedom,' Bush must not forget the image of Mohammed al-Dura and his fellow
Muslims in Palestine and Iraq. If he has forgotten, then we will not forget,
God willing." But almost since the day of the episode evidence has been emerging
in Israel, under controversial and intriguing circumstances, to indicate that
the official version of the Mohammed al-Dura story is not true. It now appears
that the boy cannot have died in the way reported by most of the world's media
and fervently believed throughout the Islamic world. Whatever happened to him,
he was not shot by the Israeli soldiers who were known to be involved in the
day's fighting -- or so I am convinced, after spending a week in Israel talking
with those examining the case . . ."

let us see where the truth eventually comes out on this matter.

5. ICOC Watch

Over the past week, the representatives of the ICOC tradition on Baptism have
abandoned the discussion thread: http://forums.delphiforums.com/ICCdiscussion/messages?msg=6780.1

6. Douglas Goodman Scandal & Trial

Love Herald this week reports a troubling scandal and trial affecting one of
the largest evangelical churches in the UK, a trial that harks back to the 1980's
televangelist scandals.

Okay, see you next week.