Monday, December 29, 2003

Web Clips and Comments: Dec 29, 2003

SYNOPSIS: The capture of Mr Saddam Hussein has seemed to spark both
the "premptive surrender"
of Libya
, which declared that it was abandoning its WMD programmes (including
nuclear programmes), and an upsurge in terrorism as the Islamists and Baathists
across the ME and world desperately try to still be in the fight. Sharon in
Israel has announced a disengagement option, where if talks show no progress,
he will pull back behind the now controversial West Bank wall/fence -- note
that a fence around Gaza has sufficed to prevent suicide bombings from the heartland
of Hamas and Islamic Jihad support!

Of course our local pundits continue their disconnect from and massive denial
of reality, both relative to the ongoing resurgence of the 1,000 year Jihad
that lasted from the 600s to the late 1600s, but also over local issues. For
instance, the Jamaica Theological Seminary-Caribbean Graduate School of Theology
[JTS-CGST] recently announced
the intent to become a regional Christian University
, only to be pounced
on by Mr Mark Wignall
, a former evangelical turned hedonist and secularist.
His major claim: that it is highly dubious that Christians can create a credible
university that addresses science and clinical psychology -- despite the existence
of the well-recognised Northern Caribbean University [a Seventh-Day Adventist
Institution] and the equally well respected JTS-CGST programmes in Counselling
Psychology and Guidance, at masters and bachelors levels. This I pointed out
in a rebuttal
that was published -- in a badly edited form. [I append the original.]

Perhaps the most significant item over the past two weeks or so is the David
Aikman National Review interview
, in which he highlighted trends in the
church in China, which he numbers at approximately 92 Millions. [BTW, if the
usual claim that circa 1950 there were 5 million Christians in China, then about
80 Millions by the early 90s are correct, then this means four doublings over
forty years, or a compound growth rate of some 7%. That would mean that if the
rate continued, the current numbers should be about 150 - 160 millions. Of course,
such trends are seldom very smooth.] He observes that the trends are parallel
to the Roman Empire in the 200's which had the educated classes increasingly
becoming Christian, even in the face of waves of persecution. Such a trend portends
a tipping point in which the Christian community attains critical mass that
affects the national character, culture and policy -- pointing out that South
Korea, with Christians as 1/3 the population and a similar pattern of conversions,
has "tipped." [If that is a good indicator, it suggests China may
be as little as 20 - 50 years away from tipping, if the growth continues at
rates similar to those over the past half-century.]

Of course, that would be globally decisive, as it would mean that the two greatest
powers in the world at that time would be strongly even decisively influenced
by the Christian World- and Life- view. On that basis, though we see regional
and global turbulence over the next generation, the underlying trend is in favour
of the Southern Christian Reformation, not the Islamists or the Secularists
and Neopagans.

Something to think and pray about, especially as we consider that the Caribbean's
Christian community are in large part the people from the 10/40 Window, brought
under the influence of the gospel, and now able and empowered to carry that
message to the world.


  • The current Advent Season brings to mind the perennial question of when
    Jesus was actually born
    ( Farah gives a minority view; the Shepherds in
    the Fields is usually held to indicate September-October) -- but, of course,
    Christmas is actually simply an Official Birthday, similar to the Queen's
    Birthday. I found a review
    on Saint Nicholas
    very interesting, given the beginnings of an attack
    on Santa Claus as being a religious figure too!

  • The reflections of Rabbi Lapin on the significance
    of Hanukkah and the miracle of provision and sustenance by God
    are well
    worth a thought or two in a world where economic and environmental crises
    are the cry -- sometimes, the hysteria -- of the day. But also, we should
    not forget that the Season is a peak time for persecution by those who would
    drive Christ from the public square, and the
    . Let us continue to pray for the suffereingf church under dhimmitude
    and jihad, as well as the church under seige by the secularists and neopagans
    in the West.

  • The US upgrading of terror level to Orange, has had quite an impact on International
    Travel, and will probably not do our Winter Tourist Season any good. It is
    claimed that the underlying
    is from Mr bin Laden's current plans. However, be that as it may,
    we dare not forget that the 9/11 losses were approximately equal to the number
    of babies aborted on any given day in trhe USA, and the blood of these innocents
    also cries out to God for justice, against the US establishment that refuses
    to hear their cry.

  • On this score, I was intrigued to see Jill
    Stanek point out a biblical fact
    I had long observed: that when Mary went
    to the Hil Country to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was in her sixth month,
    John the Baptist, by the Spirit, even in the womb responded to the weeks-old
    embryonic Christ in utero, with joy! (There is no way that perceptive, consistent
    and informed Bible-based Christians should view the embryo as less than fully
    human and fully deserving of protection of life! BTW, this should make us
    think again about the use of contraceptive devices such as IUDs and Morning
    After Pills (and some "standard" pills) that do not block conception,
    but prevent implantation.)

  • Neil Boortz raises a worrying question about how we perceive economic reality,
    and how
    our Profs and Teachers may in part be responsible for it
    , through manipulation
    of the classroom process. This is particularly in my mind because of a recent
    conversations with Christian brothers who seems to be fiormly of the opinion
    that the basis of the free enterprise economic system is greed and oppression
    of the working classes, not liberty and opportunity to pursue one's dreams,
    in ways that as Jeremiah 29 points out, can be compatible with the general
    benefit and advancement of the community. perhaps the online version of my
    CC article on Enterprise under God as a part of the work of the church should
    be of help. Cf. Table
    of Contents, Why Not Now

  • Dr Hamza, Saddam's bombmaker who fled to the West in 1995 and has spent
    years warning against the danger of the Iraqi programme, was seriously wounded
    in an assassination attempt in Iraq. The
    is worrying, and lends support to the credibility of his testimony.
    Don't expect to read this anytime soon in the writings of our local pundits!

  • In a similar vein, it is sobering to read the
    assessment of the Clinton Administration in 1998 on Iraq
    , and contrast
    the public pillorying of the Bush Administration's similar claims over the
    past year and a half. Let us hear Senator Lieberman, from a recent hardball
    interview with Chris Matthews: "I want to be real clear about the connection
    with terrorists. I've seen a lot of evidence on this. There are extensive
    contacts between Saddam Hussein's government and al Qaeda and other terrorist
    groups. I never could reach the conclusion that [Saddam] was part of September
    11. Don't get me wrong about that. But there was so much smoke there that
    it made me worry. And you know, some people say with a great facility, al
    Qaeda and Saddam could never get together. He is secular and they're theological.
    But there's something that tied them together. It's their hatred of us." Developing
    . . .


Global tipping point

The Aikman story raises several interesting themes as we reflect on the three-way
contest for the hearts and minds of a global world:

  1. The Secularists, neopagans and Apostates of the West

  2. The Islamists and Jihadists of the Middle East

  3. The rising Southern Christian Reformation

If the church in China can maintain an annual compound growth rate similar
to that over the past half century, within a Generation, China will become a
Christian culture. This alone would have great implications for the world, but
China is actually a striking example of a global phenomenon: the rising tide
of reformation that even now is transforming the South of the planet. For, Africa
has seen a truly spectacular explosion in Christian Faith over trhe past century
(which will make it and its extensions in the Caribbean ands the Americas a
focal point for the clash between militant islam and the Christian Faith), and
Latin America is shifting to a more evangelical form of the Christian Faith.
South Korea, as noted, has already tipped.

This highlights the responsibilityt of the Christians of the Caribbean. For
we are in the main the people of the 10/40 window, brought into the Caribbean,
and under the power of the gospel to liberate and transform, for instance leading
to relatively harmonious racial relationships, never mind the lingering but
thankfully fading stench of colour-class-race barriers.

Never have we been so well off economically, nor so well educated, nor so accessible
to travel. Does not this imply that it is a time for us to look back on the
heritage of the ex-slaves such as Fuller and Merrick, who in the 1840s pioneered
missions in Africa? Similarly, we cannot be dismissed in the North as right-wing
redneck ill-educated yahoos shouting out bigotry and fundamentalism.

Thatr is, we are well-positioned to play a leading roile in the work of the
church in bringing the gospel to the 10/40 window and the secularised and paganised

So, itr comes down to a familiar question:

If not NOW, when? If not HERE, where? If not US, who?



Monday, December 15, 2003

Web Clips and Comments: Dec 15, 2003


The current news is dominated by the capture of Mr Saddam Hussaein over the
weekend, which opens up a break in current trends in the Middle East. NB: (It
is quite telling to contrast the developing news with the tone and substance
of the local commentary by the punditocracy!) However, in light of a broader
perspective, several other recent developments are worthy of highlighting. Also,
we should remember that on December 17, this week Wednesday, the world will
mark its first century of heavier than air flight.


  • The current news on the fate of Saddam is telling: why is it that the Palestinian
    Arabs and Arab Street are dejected and/or in denial at the capture of a mass
    murderer with 400,000 victims lying in mass graves in Iraq? Why is there a
    silence on the part of the leaders of the Arab countries? Could there be implications
    to the prospects that througfh thorough interrogation, the
    links between Arab Governments, their Intelligence Agencies and Terrorist
    groups will be further exposed
    ? Developing . . .

  • Here in Jamaica, on Tuesday last, the Jamaica Theological Seminary- Caribbean
    Graduate School of theology dual school announced
    its intent to become a full university
    . it was immediately attacked
    by controversial columnist -- and secularist-hedonist former evangelical --Mark
    Wignall, on the assumed grounds that such an institution could not measure
    up to the true (That is, secularist) standards of scholarship! Not mentioned
    was the fact that currently the degree programmes in the institutions are
    accredited by the UCJ, nor that JTS-CGST graduates have a track record of
    academic as well as career excellence in the region and internationally, nor
    that Christian Universities in fact have a centuries deep tradition of academic
    excellence. Of course, the secularist worldview agenda is simply assumed,
    rather than critically assessed in light of its demonsytrated fatal flaws
    in modernist
    and postmodernist
    forms. [These links are of course drawn from a course
    web page
    for a JTS course.]

  • Over the past several months, the neopagan agendas in the West have made
    major advances in the court system and the wider culture, especially through
    the use of the concept of fairness to advance the idea of so-called
    same-sex marriage
    . (In fact, by attempted
    redefining of marriage
    , the secularists and gay movement inadvertently
    reveal the destructive
    of pulling manhood away from the primary social institution
    that channels male energy into productive directions through marriage and
    the family.)

  • In so doing, however, they have side-stepped the documented findings and
    issues that homosexuality
    cuts decades off one's life expectancy due to the unhealthy sexual practices
    and high incidence of violence within this sub-culture

  • Indeed, the very concept of "same-sex marriage" has the effect
    of destroying
    a keystone institution in human culture
    , mariage: the institution that,
    together with the family, channel the destructive potential of men into virtuous
    manhood. (In fact as well, homosexual partnershoips seem to be inherently
    quite unstable

  • Similarly, the recent appointment of an openly homosexual man as bishop
    in New Hampshire threatens
    to split the Anglican Communion
    and bring great discredit to the church
    at large. Maybe most telling of all is the thought that no heterosexual adulterer
    who left wife and young daughter to take up with another woman would have
    even been considered for the post of Bishop. For shame!

  • Similarly, Justice Roy Moore of Alabama's recent adventures betray the ongoing
    forgetting of the roots of liberty and self-government by a free people
    Ambassador Allan Keyes' response to the issues deserves to be studied carefully.
    So do the actual
    historic inscriptions

  • A recent
    commentary on the AIDS projections in Africa
    raises questions about the
    validity of the compiuter models used to estimate the current and projected
    numbers of victims. Of particular note is the use of South Africa data as
    a cross-check and the note that even in the areas that have notoriously been
    most affected, population growth trends have been at the 3 percent level,
    in some cases actually accelerating. This raises serious questions regarding
    the validity of the computer projections, and regarding the hype and hysteria
    that surrounds certain issues and agendas.

  • In Milan, COP 9 to
    the Kyoto protocol has been held, with the backdrop that Russia may refuse
    to sign on to the Kyoto pact on economic damage grounds, and in a context
    where the models seem to be being tuned to track the lower trends being mreasured
    by satellite soundings of the atmosphere. As a result, the projected global
    temperature incrtease over this century is now 0.74 - 1.5 degrees Crelsius,
    which takes the projected trend out of the catastrophic range. Again, the
    issue of the validity of computer models is in question, and the potential
    damage of basing policy on hypoe and hysteria is to be duly noted.


1. Can an Evangelical Institution be of solid academic standard?

Addressing the issue, Dr Noelliste the President of JTS-CGST is summarised:

As a university, the students would be exposed to a range of disciplines
with the proviso that courses would be taught from a distinctly evangelical
worldview. "There is no discipline that cannot be approached from a Christian
perspective and that would be our unique contribution to the Jamaican educational
system," Dr. Noelliste said.

Mr Wignall's revealingly cynical response was:

The point I am making is that while I recognise that religious institutions
have done wonders in education (I went to an Anglican school), the teaching
of religion by itself, especially the strictures inherent in Christianity,
should be seen as a personal attainment/belief and not something that can
be certified by a university. If a man or woman wants to study theology, then
by all means do so. But in my view, that person is then best suited for the
pulpit and not in some business organisation where his or her brainwashing
will be used (unwittingly) to fortify or condemn others.

This should serve as a red flag, revealing the penetration of secularist patterns
of thought in our governance classes and the opinion leaders who influence them.
It is amazing that no consideration of the evident collapse of the secularist
worldview was entertained, nor that worldview-level issues exist in the context
of alternatives that all bristle with difficulties, so the issue is to
develop a coherent understanding of these alternatives in light of the comparative

is time for us to wake up and act

If not NOW, when? If not HERE, where? If not US, who?


Friday, December 05, 2003

A Spiritual Geostrategic Assessment

GEM 03:12:04

Over the past several months, the three-way clash for the future has again been underscored: the secularist-neopagan-apostare West, the islamists, and the Southern Christian Reformation.

So, as I wind down the course I have been working on over the past little while [cf ], it is appropriate to do a quick review and examine our outlook. From this point on, I intend, from time to time, to develop similar reflection pieces, and to resume regular news clippings and comments: for, we must discern the times if we are to know what we should do.

This piece is a sort of catch up.

1. Review:

Headlines have been dominated by the continuing clashes associated with the renewal of the 1,000 year Jihad war; not only due to the campaigns and terrorism events, but also because the leader of the USA, an Evangelical Christian, has been the subject of not just criticisms of to this policy or that but an evident campaign to remove evangelicals from serious consideration for high office. Similarly, over the past several months, in the USA the 10 commandments were put in the closet as a threat to liberty; while so-called ¡§same sex marriage¡¨ is being imposed on society through the courts system in several leading western countries. Thus, we see how rapidly the three-way clash for the future is developing.

The Israel-Palestine clash continues ¡V with truth being the principal (but far from only) casualty of the ongoing war of terror, but has now taken on menacing global overtones. For, it reveals the rot in the international institutions, not only the UNH and its extensions, but also the media and pundits.

For instance, at a recent meeting of the 57-member international Islamic Conference Organisation; the retiring Prime Minister of the ¡§moderate¡¨ Islamic country, Malaysia, went on record that the Jews rule the world by proxy, and have others do their fighting and dying for them. This, to loud applause by an organization whose members include Guyana and Suriname in the Caribbean. There were some brief remarks in the media, then the world simply moved on.

Contrast: in the UN, when Israel recently offered a resolution regarding concern for the safety of its children ¡V as a parallel to a similar resolution offered earlier regarding Palestinian Arab children, it was reversed in intent through amendments, and was withdrawn. And that, against a backdrop where dozens (maybe hundreds) of Israeli children have become actual intended targets for ¡V and/or victims of ¡V murderous suicide terrorism attacks.

The latest development is of course a ¡§peace plan¡¨ in Geneva, where unofficial persons representing the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs have ¡§negotiated¡¨ a settlement to the conflict. However, reports are, that the Palestinian strategy in this was not serious: it was intended to sow discord within Israel, and logically, to further isolate Israel. More to the point, negotiations can only serve propaganda purposes when they are not between those who can undertake binding agreements ¡V and the warning that we are prone to say ¡§peace, peace¡¨ when sudden destruction stalks, should give us pause.

Sick. And, ever so sad.

Here in the Caribbean, we seem to be asleep at the wheel. On the agenda is business/sin as usual, and especially in Jamaica, desperation as usual. However, it is increasingly clear that none of our would-be political messiahs has a sound set of answers.

2. Key Trends and Challenges

The Israel situation is highlighted above because it reveals the underlying cynical hypocrisy and corruption in the world at international levels. [cf ]

This underlying issue is vital, as globalist institutional initiatives are the ¡§standard solution¡¨ to problems advanced by the secularist, internationalist policy-makers and pundits who dominate the thinking in our media culture and educational institutions. In turn, these institutions clearly show their alignment with the secularist, neo-pagan and apostate Christian agendas that are the first of the three major players in the global battle for the future.

In this context, the campaign to desensitize us to the destructive nature of sexual perversions is being boosted by the same forces. Suddenly, ¡§same-sex marriage¡¨ is on us, with evident intent to destroy marriage as a stable foundation for society ¡V if something comes to include everything, it has no meaning. Those who object are, as usual, being characterized as intolerant bigots; and the high incidence of divorce is being cited to hint that maybe there isn¡¦t anything there worth saving.

Of course, in fact, we see in this the very strongest proof that this agenda is extremely destructive to society. For, here we have an evident intent to exploit postmodern confusion about morality to remove the protective fences that for millennia society has rightly seen as vital in controlling the aggressive, lustful and violent passions of men in particular. From the days of Plato¡¦s Republic, this has been recognised as perhaps THE challenge to those who manage societies!

Running a close parallel are some worrying developments in the ongoing renewal of the 1000 year Jihad. For, serious reports by Mansoor Ijaz, a news analyst on the war, place bin Laden in Iran, currently near the border with Iraq. Other reports seem to back this up. Thus, the Sunni and Shiite branches of radical Islamism have come together, and in a context where the nuclear ambitions of Iran have been put on the international agenda under very worrisome circumstances that suggest collaboration with the Pakistani and possibly the North Korean programmes.

Given these links and the availability of weapons of mass destruction, I now project a dangerous but all too plausible possibility. Since a major goal of the islamists would be to unseat the current president of the USA in the next US election, it is likely that a plan is afoot to attack the US with such weapons during the next 11 months, most probably next summer or fall. For, that would ¡§demonstrate¡¨ the failure to protect the public and would greatly push the ¡§peace in our time at any price¡¨ policy. But, of course, false peace is no peace.

I hardly need to underscore the global panic that would be created by such an event, especially if it is a nuclear attack. (Of course, there have long been missing so-called ¡§suitcase nukes¡¨ ¡V i.e. demolition devices comparable to the Hiroshima Bomb but small enough to fit in a suitcase -- from the ex-Soviet arsenal.).

In summary, the two tidal waves that were envisioned as threatening the Caribbean are now in full flood. We see the secularists, neopagans and Apostates from the North, and the Islamists from the East.

3. What, then, should we do?

Jesus once rebuked the Pharisees, that they were able to read the signs of the weather quite well, but could not read the signs of the times. The contrast to the famous wise men of Issachar, who understood the times to know what Israel should do, is absolutely telling.

Unfortunately, this observation is equally telling against the governance ¡V that is, decision-maker ¡V levels in the church, institutions and wider community across the Caribbean. For, on the one hand, the region is ill-equipped to respond to the above global threats that now batter our region; on the other, we do not seem to be even aware of our mortal danger!

The first response is along the lines of the ANC¡¦s motto: UNDERTAND THE PAST, ACT IN THE PRESENT, BUILD THE FUTURE. For, as the Russians warn: ¡§Dwell on the past, lose an eye; forget the past, lose both your eyes.¡¨ That is, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

So, it should be no surprise to see that the first battle is for history and the heritage we have derived therefrom:

1] The modern experiment in liberty and self-government by free people was a reformation legacy to the world. But, that was predicated on the judaeo-christian, biblical world view: men, governed from within by the words and spirit of the scriptures, can be trusted to be free. We see all around us the consequences of forgetting this lesson as Western culture has decisively shifted to radical skepticism, secularism, neopaganism and associated apostasies of the Christian Faith.

2] The biggest single social challenge is ¡V and has always been -- men, especially young men. For, such men in the ¡§natural¡¨ state have the physical power, hormone-driven aggressiveness and lack of empathy that leads them to spin out of control once they forget God and the restraining influences that flow from a godly order for life, family and community. As Paul pointed out in Romans 1 ¡V 3, once this dynamic is let loose in a society, it disintegrates in an orgy of false wisdom, ungovernable and perverted passions and violence. This is clearly happening ¡V again ¡V in western culture in our time!

3] In the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, we have forgotten the key element in our heritage of liberty. It is no accident that the first black missionaries arrived in Jamaica in 1783, i.e. Gerorge Liele from Georgia, leading to parallel processes of evangelization, education, emergence of leadership, empowerment and liberation, culminating in the end of slavery as of 1834. Thereafter, Baptist missionaries and other evangelicals took the lead in the creation of the free villages that empowered the ex-slaves as citizens with stable economic foundations and families living on their own land. But of course, while heavily sexualized ancestral spirit statues are much in evidence, not one word about the history and heritage of emancipation can be found in the Emancipation Park in Jamaica!

4] Indeed, we see instead, that Dr Sultana Afroz, of UWI Mona Campus History Department, has spent the past decade imagining an Islamic past for Jamaica, one heavily weighted towards: jihad as the model for overthrowing oppression. It can easily be shown that the evidential basis for her claims is quite sketchy and over-extrapolated [ cf. ]; but in the absence of concern for truth in our history in a post-modern era of skepticism about truth, the historian has become a mythmaker, not a detective trying to find out the truth about the past so we may have understanding of our own times that will guide us as to what to do.

The obvious solution is to fix the past deficit. But, the governance levels in church and community alike are so influenced by the times, that this is now a very hard row to hoe. This is a long-term project.

That brings us to the way forward: a remnant-renewal and reformation strategies driven by faith-based covenant communities of trust and common vision. Once we get this going in our region, we can exploit the fact that the Caribbean is the region that was the first project of globalization, to carry such solutions to the wider world. Of course, that implies a renewal of our missionary heritage, which started in 1843 wit the first missionaries who went out from Jamaica to West Africa with the gospel and with ideas and techniques that helped pioneer development there.

4. The Example of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah¡¦s prophetic letter to the exiles from Judah, circa 600 BC, brings out some of the subtleties of how the remnant-renewal and reformation pattern can work in a diverse, potentially hostile community:

¡§Build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage . . . increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. . . . . For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.¡¨ [Jer. 29:5 ¡V 11.]

These are of course general remarks; they are consistent with individual cases where disappointment or worse happens. But, the community of the exiles as a whole is counseled to seek the peace and prosperity even of the land of their enemies and oppressors, who have carried them off into exile. And God promises to bless them and eventually to restore their fortunes:

„X Instead of the very natural focus on resentment over harm done in the past or even currently, the letter¡¦s focus shifts attention to undertaking projects that create progress, peace and prosperity in one¡¦s family, the people of covenant at large, and the wider (and often potentially or actually hostile or even oppressive) community. [This has much to say to our tendency to focus on our own unfinished history of slavery and oppression, rather than on opportunities for progress provided by the rich resources of our region!]

„X This shift of focus also illustrates the power of the GR/CI to break the cycle of mistrust, resentment and violence by setting out to build a future that reaches out across barriers and hatreds to promote community-wide peace and prosperity by building on opportunities that are within one¡¦s reach.

„X Further, Jeremiah reverses the usual view of the SD principle, that it is the powerful who must make the first move to promote sustainable development. Instead, he counselled a grass-roots up, start-small-and-grow, self-help based approach that moves out from building on opportunities to produce for oneself and to build a family, to seeking and praying for the prosperity of the wider community, as a covenant community of faith within the wider culture.

„X Thus, we see a shift from the typical development approach that emphasises the central role of the state ¡V statism ¡V to one that emphasizes individual, family and community-based strategies: moving from the margins to the centre, in short. (This exploits the so-called iron law of oligarchy: power circulates among elites, so until one has become a credible alternative leadership, one¡¦s needs, complaints or proposals will simply not be seriously entertained by those who hold power and so dominate the state.)

„X Similarly, there is an emphasis on nurturing the environment so that the way in which its resources and associated opportunities are exploited promotes meeting of basic needs across time and across generations: food, clothing and shelter. (Integrating Prov. 31:10 ¡V 31, such initial efforts can be turned into quite thriving business initiatives that build up the wealth of families and communities.)

„X Further, implicit in the focus on the family within the wider covenant community of faith, is the concept that a godly culture must be nurtured even in a hostile environment, and that the covenant community of faith should reach out to the wider community in concern and prayer, backed up by appropriate action that promotes the good order and prosperity of that wider community. (This is underscored by the point that this is in the mutual interest of all members of the wider community, including that of the community of the faithful.)

The long-term sustainability and benefits that flow from this path can be seen from the fact that this has been the consistent, and often successful, approach of the Jewish Diaspora ever since those dark and painful days of the Babylonian exile.

Across time, communities that work in the above way tend to become prosperous, well-educated and influential; as the stories of Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra and Esther illustrate. However, this progress may also provoke resentment and persecution, especially if there is an unwillingness to compromise core moral commitments and/or to assimilate to the wider community. (This has been one root of the many persecutions the Jews ¡V and Christians -- have suffered. Cf. 1 Peter 3:3 ¡V 6.)

But also, when communities are open to the importance of justice and broad-based participation and fairness in the community, the approach opens up to include possibilities for involvement in the sort of democratic participative governance approaches described above. (It should be noted that such approaches can be manipulated by clever interest groups who are able to distort perceptions or suppress key facts, so that the community¡¦s actions become disconnected from reality. In our time, this is unfortunately a commonly used tactic.)

CONCLUSIONS: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us?