Monday, June 30, 2003
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. http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2001/10/easterbrook.htm.
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,
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
". . . 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 Chrétien
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: http://www.narth.com/)]
Monday, June 16, 2003
Weekly Web Clips
Week to Fri June 13, 2003
This week, I have continued to heavily engage the ICOC controversy online.
You may wish to follow the flow of argument (currently up to 178 posts) at:
. I have done so, in the hope that by addressing the underlying biblical and
logical troubles that have set the stage for the abusive discipleship practices
discussed in the forum (and in my posted notes at http://members.christhost.com/kairosfocus/ICOC_response.htm
), I will be able to help contribute to the much needed reform in the ICC and
in many other "more respectable" churches with similar problems.
This week, I have therefore paid a bit less attention to the usual news items.
But, I have found first some interesting OFF-line clips in the Father's Day
issue of the Love Herald:
1) The ICC's Troubles are discussed in a Faith Stockman article in the June
13 - 19 Love herald, p. 3.
2) Linstead back to basics, p. 6 discusses how one of the first post-emancipation
areas of settlement is reaching back to the roots of Jamaica's post-slavery
culture: the gospel in the community.
3) P. 8: The Media Demon raises several troubling questions about general and
Christian media houses in the US, with relevance to our region. (Not sure the
logo really fits though, Madam Editor!)
4) P. 9 on VMBS Marriage & Family series raises serious questions about
family life and its reformation in the interests of our Children. (P. 14 follows
up with more.)
5) P 15: Fell Tab and other churches are in the midst of a call to repentance,
unity, truth and trust in the face of impending judgement on Jamaica.
6) P. 20: Dr Sangster gives yet another solid book review, of the Caners' Unveiling
Islam, a book by brothers raised as muslims who converted to evangelical faith,
and are Baptist Theologians. Sobering, but putting hope for the Islamic world:
Christ. (The same hope that the secular, neo-pagan West needs in the face of
7) P. 21: VERY RELEVANT TO THE CURRENT ROADMAP DIPLOMATIC ISSUES: What appears
to be the concluding article but one in the long-running "Crash
Course" in Jewish history. This one discusses trhe settlement of Israel,
the wars that resulted, and the TWO palestinian refugee populations: in 1948
or so 472 000 Arabs fled. Similarly "820 000 Jews were forced to flee Arab
lands such as Syria, Iraq . . . Most of the property of these Jews, many of
whom were wealthy people, was confiscated, never to be returned. (Of these Jews,
525 000 settled in Israel.) . . . . The Arab countries did not easily accept
their defeat in 1948 . . . the PLO was founded in January 1964 by Ahmed Shukeiry
. . . "Those [Jews] who survive will remain in Palestine. I estimate that
none of them will survive." The first and consistent aim of the PLO was
the elimination of the State of Israel and its replacement by the State of Palestine
. . . a State of Palestine had never existed in history. The Arab people
living in this land during the days of the Ottoman Empire were simply Arabs
with no national identity. After the Ottoman Empire collapsed, in the days of
the British Mandate, both Jews and Arabs were considered "Palestinians"
by the British . . . . As of this writing, the Palestinian Authority, headed
by [Egyptian-born: Cairo, August 24 1929] Yassir Arafat, is conducting a terrorist
war which began in September 2000. It is clear that Arafat and many other Arab
states have still not abandoned their dream of destroying Israel."
1) Jobless recovery:
Impacts of global competition in skilled professional work areas: http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20030610-094627-8046r.htm
. Here, we see that if one can pay a programmer of radiologist in India to do
the job at half or less, why pay someone in the US to do it? (This of course
makes US programmers and radiologists worse off, but the people who buy cheaper
smart devices and the patients who get lower cost health care aren't complaining.)
Globalisation cuts many ways!
2) 9/11 21 Months on . . . and Mr Bush the Personal Evangelist to Kings
The ever eloquent and insightful peggy Noonan speaks: http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110003610
. A telling paragraph: "Mr. Bush speaking last week to Arab leaders when
he didn't know his remarks were being broadcast, speaking of what "Almighty
God" expects of them. That kind of fervor--a lot of that is traceable to 9/11.
In an interview two years ago, three months before 9/11, Mr. Bush told me of
his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their talk had turned
personal, and Mr. Bush spoke of his understanding of the nature of Christianity
and the meaning of the cross. Mr. Bush shows the impulses of the evangelist:
When something has saved your life and has the added benefit--you are certain--of
being true, you want to spread it around. But those impulses have come out more
publicly, less embarrassedly or self-protectively, after 9/11. "
3) Iraq Museum Looting Watch . . . Implications on the WMD Debate?
Have you seen any of our local pundits pulling back their intemperate remarks
based on preliminary, exaggerated claims of the Iraq museum looting? Here you
can find Krauthammer, hammering away on the point: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/krauthammer.html
. Could a similar development be playing out on the WMD
issue? As we watch, let us not forget jefferson's definition of debate:
the art of making trhe worse appear to be the better case.
In the meanwhile, the Arab world is reeling in shock as the death toll from
Saddam's torture chambers and execution squads continues to mount, headed for
the MILLIONS: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33042
4) Apostasy and Neopagan Agenda Watch
Sorry in advance to those who are squeamish.
Episcopalians (Anglicans) in New Hampshire have appointed as Bishop an openly
practising homosexual who reportedly abandoned his family when his daughters
were young children to go live with another man. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33023
. Cf. Rom 1:16 - 32 and 1 Cor 6:9 - 11.
Homosexuality is now being strongly pushed as "normal" or even desirable.
I cannot understand the mind-bending illogic requred to think that in the face
of obvious facts of biology, individuality and society, but here is a review:
. Kevin McColluch tries to untwist the thinking for the rest of us:
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33070 . (PS I was
once given an explanation of "Log Cabin" as in L C Republicans that
was shocking, so bad, so obscene and frankly unsanitary, unhealthy and nasty,
that I cannot print it. Could somebody out there assure me that it is not true,
5) Mind-benders 2: ME Roadmap Watch
The Suicide-bomber-Diplomatic 2-track approach to negotiating "peace in
the ME" : http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33041
6) Possible Roadblock on the road to the H2 Fuel Cell Economy:
Hydrogen may not be so benign after all, once it leaks and gets up into the
upper atmosphere where it affects the concentration of water vapour by chemical
raction to form upper atmospheric water. This may affect both the Ozone layer
and Greenhouse gas concentrations. (Water vapour is a far more imnportant GHG
than CO2. indeed, the debate over impacts of increased CO2 largely hinges on
whether on balance it leads to more lower atrmosphere water vapour: higher cloud
cover so cooling effect, or upper atmosphere, where it acts to accelerate heating.)
A busy week on the web, all in all!
Sunday, June 08, 2003
Weekly Web Clippings
June 8, 2003
Tuesday, June 6, 1944, fifty-nine years ago this week; American, British and
Canadian troops went ashore in Normandy, paying a terrible cost in lives to
defeat Hitler's aggression. Let us not forget, ever, the price of liberty.
This week, I followed up on the Boston Globe report, and found that indeed
the ICOC is in crisis. You may wish to look at the reveal.org web site and the
online Delphi ICC forums. What I sense is in this expose of the abusive discipleship,
manipulation and questionable teachings, there is opportunity for reformation.
Let us pray to that end.
News highlights of the week:
1) Report from a Missionary who knew Emporer Haile Selassie.
This is key to underscoring the historical facts surrounding this Christian
king, who many Rastafarians still believe to have been divine.
2) Fuller a Jamaican Missionary pioneer in West Africa
This profiles the under-reported role of Jamaicans and other Caribbeans in
planting the Church in West Africa.
3) Philip Jenkins on Reformation II
The Faith in the global age.
4) A Cuban Journalist speaks out:
At last, in Jamaica's Observer.
5) Iraq watch:
Nuke plant visited, and only about 50 "missing" items from Iraq's
Museum remain unaccounted for.
6) Apostasy watch:
Danish Pastor claims God does not exist, leading theologian sees this vieww