April 27 - April 30, 2002
Tuesday 30th April, 2002
The world is insane, according to writer and
musician Mark Butterworth in a provocative posting to his
Sunny Days in Heaven weblog. And to prove it he’s setting up a website
where you can read, completely free of charge, his book Brightness
Springs. (You can of course still choose to
buy it, from Amazon.) I’m in the process of doing the same with my book,
Living Water to Light the Journey, though I’m not completely mad—my
book is out of print.
Blogging for the Lord
A week ago I sent out questions to lots of Christian bloggers, asking how
they started, where they get their material, what sort of audience they
attract, how they view the future for Christian blogging, and so on. I found
the replies fascinating, and I've written them up for an article
Blogging for the Lord now posted on my
site. I think you'll enjoy it.
A Few Miserable Aborigines
From Angela Shanahan’s
regular column in The Australian:
We seem to have lost the ability to distinguish the dehumanising effects of
pornography even when they are all around us and are affecting the most
vulnerable of our citizens. Aborigines are the most obviously vulnerable
and…have been affected. But when will censorship as an issue of freedom
start to be overshadowed by the corrupting effects of pornography as an
issue of freedom?
Even the most vigilant parent is unable to protect their children against
the pornography of modern culture, which has permeated the mainstream.
Perhaps when our own vulnerable and confused children have been corrupted we
will stop thinking of this in conventionally blinkered terms that have been
partly dictated by pornographers who give themselves airs under the guise of
the Eros Foundation, principled social libertarians instead of pushers of a
product that thrives off the misery of young men, women and, above all,
Until then, we'll only have to worry about a few miserable Aborigines.
Monday 29th April, 2002
Inside the Christian Ghetto, Book Division
From Terry Mattingly’s
latest column, quoting a lecture by novelist
What if William Shakespeare had been preparing [Romeo and Juliet] for sale
in stores linked to what used to be called the Christian Booksellers
Association? What changes would he have been pressured to make? The lovers
would meet, just as before, and the parents would still disapprove. Probably
one set would not be Christians at all, providing a convenient subplot of
salvation….As newlyweds, Romeo and Juliet would strive to evangelise those
lost parents. Shakespeare would manfully struggle to build tension, but "the
fix would be in," with a happy ending assured….In the final scene, Romeo's
parents would be converted and, as Juliet's father leads them in prayer, the
sun would break through the clouds over Verona.
Jakarta, Not Jeddah
Read Ralph Peters’
compelling article to learn why America (and Australia) should be paying
far more attention to Indonesia:
Indonesia is the least understood Muslim state. While its population of over
200 million is almost 90% Islamic on paper, less than 20% would qualify as
good Muslims by Saudi standards. No other country offers so wide a variety
of Islamic practices as does Indonesia, where Hinduism and Buddhism
prevailed far longer than Islam has yet done. Folk beliefs still haunt the
mosques and Muslim schools, and "pure" Muslims struggle, with only marginal
success, to persuade the others that the local, Sufi-influenced forms of
Islam are all wrong. Jakarta, not Jeddah, is where the future of Islam will
be decided. And we are not even seriously engaged, although our extremist
enemies have been pouring in money and peddling hatred for decades.
The Islamic world is rich in possibilities
and remarkably various. By betting on the Arab states, we have been letting
our best prospects slip away--abandoning global Islam to the apostles of
terror. In military terms, we have "left the battlefield to our enemies." If
we really believe that Islam is a great world religion, we need to treat it
as such and engage it where it is still developing--on its vibrant
frontiers, not in its arthritic Arab homelands.
Double Standard? – No! Never!
An Australian church delegation has returned
from the Sudan
appalled at the treatment there of Christians, and determined to
pressure our near-silent government to speak out, as it often did in
opposition to apartheid in South Africa.
According to the head of the delegation,
Anglican Archbishop Ian George:
The churches of Sudan have asked us to tell the world that their people are
being persecuted on three fronts. This persecution is racial, economic and
religious….It is like apartheid in South Africa but with an additional
religious element. It is astounding that there was so much interest about
South Africa and support for the ANC. But there seems to be no world
interest in Sudan.
What? Double standards in world affairs?
Hard to believe.
Prosperity and Environmental Extremism
Economic prosperity has not been kind to
organised religion in this country. As Australia has grown richer, the
number of believers has declined. And there have been other consequences,
David Hale is always worth reading. He is rare among top US economists
in taking a particular interest in Australia. (He is also a charming bloke,
as I found when I met him in Tokyo some years ago.)
In this morning’s The Australian he
says (article not available online) that global oil production is expected
to start declining around 2012, after 140 years of steady increases. At the
same time Australia’s level of oil self-sufficiency will have declined from
80%-90% to about 40%. Also at the same time, China and other East Asian
countries will be experiencing explosive growth in their oil demand.
A small Aussie company,
Southern Pacific Petroleum, could help. It has oil shale reserves in
Queensland that could potentially produce as much as 30 billion barrels of
oil. (For comparison, the US and Canada together have an estimated 28
billion barrels of oil reserves.) But development of this resource is
hampered by objections from Greenpeace, which claims it will contribute to
global warming. Yet according to Hale, oil shale will not have a more
detrimental impact on the environment than other forms of fuel.
As he writes:
One of the interesting questions raised by Australia’s prosperity is whether
it will encourage environmental extremism detrimental to the country’s
long-term interest….The strategic case for helping Southern Pacific to
overcome the Greenpeace boycott is overwhelming.
Gary Peterson for generous comments about this site and for adding a
Sunday 28th April, 2002
Another Knight, Another Performance
British pop star Sir Cliff Richard has
endorsed the new Australian CD, “Hearts of Faith”, which features music
from the suffering church of the Maluku region of Indonesia.
Christians in Maluku have suffered terribly for their faith. Their songs
have come directly out of the fire of persecution. I warmly commend this CD,
which will both break your heart and inspire you to worship. Through their
songs we can share in the sorrows and suffering of our brothers and sisters
in Maluku who have lost everything for the sake of Christ.
Another ageing rocker, Sir Paul McCartney,
is also involved with Indonesia. He is expected to help
headline a concert next month in East Timor, to celebrate that nation’s
first anniversary of independence.
No word yet on whether much younger Aussie
star Kylie Minogue will reprise her
last huge East Timor gig.
Saturday 27th April, 2002
The Devil Made Me Do It
The secular lefties who are so prominent in
Australia’s Aboriginal rights movement have a problem: Aborigines are among
the most spiritual people in the world. Their spirituality imbues just about
everything they do.
But the lefties can’t really acknowledge
this. Otherwise they’d be forced to concede that other spiritualities—ie:
Christianity, for example—also have merit. Yet neither can they damn
Aboriginal spirituality as an out-of-date superstition, because that would
be paternalistic and might suggest that Aborigines are primitive. So they
tend to ignore the issue altogether.
Not so Northern Territory judge David Angel.
accepted that a young Aboriginal man was under the control of a “kadaitja
man” demon when he violently attacked six relatives after a night of
heavy drinking. The judge released the offender and told him to seek out a
medicine man to reverse the kadaitja man’s spell.
Wonder if the courts will now also accept a
made me do it” defence from a Christian.
Spontaneous Human Combustion
Anne Wilson started her blog five days after me and it’s impressive. In
just a couple of weeks she’s posted comments on architect Glenn Murcutt and
singer Nick Cave (both Aussies), the King of Afghanistan, Ally McBeal and
spontaneous human combustion. I’ll be watching with fascination to see what
she offers in the coming fortnight. She says in an email that she found my
site through a link on Chris Johnson’s
Midwest Conservative Journal. Thank you Chris.
Chinese Repression Worsens
The Chinese are cracking down even more
harshly on religious activity.
The new policies make illegal several dozen specific kinds of religious
activity, including evangelistic outreach outside officially permitted