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June 7 - June 10, 2002



Monday 10th June, 2002


Bene Diction posts:


The Burnhams

The Sydney Morning Herald says the US is embarrassed by the botched rescue attempt of a Martin and Gracia Burnham and nurse Deborah Yap in the Philippines.


The American missionary Martin Burnham survived for a year as a hostage of Abu Sayyaf bandits only to die as he shielded his wounded wife from a barrage of bullets believed to have been fired by Philippine soldiers during a bungled rescue operation supported by United States forces.

The botched rescue operation is an embarrassment for the Bush Administration, which sent helicopters, sophisticated surveillance equipment and more than 1000 troops to the Philippines this year to help train local forces - an exercise whose primary objective was seen to be the freeing of the Burnhams.

Despite initial claims by the Pentagon that it learned about Friday's operation only when it was informed of Mr Burnham's death, the Philippine Defence Secretary, Angelo Reyes, said American forces had been actively involved in "the planning and execution" of the attack.

Gracia Burnham will soon be joining her children in the US.



Instapundit Extra

The numero uno of bloggers has put online his answers to journalists about blogging.



Talking Food

Parkay Margarine has developed in store theatre.


No need to call the therapist when that container of margarine starts talking to you at the supermarket - because it really is.

Strategically placed tubs of Parkay hitting the shelves this week will be able to shout at you to urge you to buy them over the competition.

As you pass one of the tubs, a motion-sensor chip triggers a digital sound device that yells, "Butter!" And another chip makes the tub wiggle slightly.

The idea stems from the 1973 Ďbutterí ads.


So, do the detectors shut off when you take them home? This could make the midnight trip to the fridge an adventure you may not want to have.



Blog Watch

Touchstoneís David Mills has a convicting post on sloth.


Relapsed Catholic has a nod from the prof today and lots of moral outrage.


Our Catholic bloggers arenít the only ones outraged by the article in the Trente Giorni journal that says the media is anti-Catholic. Midwest Conservative Journal weighs in.


Holy Weblog  is back and busy.


Meryl Yourish looks at Arafat from three angles today. Tal G. has a post on the latest attacks in Israel. Kesher Talk is another Jewish blog worth taking a look at.


Well, well. A weblog  bookwatch.


I havenít been able to access daypop for a couple of days. Is anyone else having a problem?



Voids and Expectations

I donít see much point in telling other bloggers what to do. Blogging is personal work. Telling Andrew Sullivan to link more or Martin Roth to use perma links can begin an insidious arbitrary rules process, and we are already facing enough of that from media companies and governments. When other bloggers start to dictate what a blog should be, it isnít too long before that anal retentive nonsense becomes what a blog ought to be. Blogs have comment sections, and email access.  If readers want perma links or anything else, they arenít afraid to say so. Itís up to the individual blogger to decide how to accommodate the readers. A lot depends on bloggersí technical expertise, and I wish tech bloggers were more patient with the rest of the sphere. As for other types of rules, I donít think this crowd is going to comply.


That said, I agree with the blogosphere model. We do cluster into communities. There is content overlap between communities. War blogs cover tech issues. Christian blogs cover political issues.  Overlap is good. Blogs are successful because of the passion, personality and perspiration put into them. And bloggers have different measures and standards of what success is.


I am a journalist. My broadcast career has colored how I perceive the world, and how I relate to information and people. I like giving information as quickly and as accurately as possible. My little black heart is blessed to pieces when people inform and educate me. Iím secure when I know, even if it isnít what I want to hear.

I am also a Christian who does not believe in isolation. And yet, I am intensely private. That can be crazy making. I am also a Canadian. Since September I have seen my neighbors to the south begin to notice in new ways how other countries think, act, interact, and perceive the US.  I traveled a fair bit in the States and was constantly surprised at how little my neighbours knew about people and places beyond their borders. Iíve seen them visit my country and not know the first thing about us. When September shifted American focus, I rejoiced. Sadly, I believe I am seeing a slide back to the way it used to be.


I agree with Mark Byron that the Christian blogs are behind the rest of the blogosphere. Iíd say a bit longer than six months, but that is a moot point.


Having followed the Burnham kidnapping, Friday I went to various news sites first to gather. Then I hit the blogs. I hit, what for me, was an unexpected void.


I expected war bloggers to mention the Burnham kidnapping. Instapundit seems to have had it first. All of us in the northern hemisphere woke up to the information, didnít we?


Maybe not. Big media in the US is notoriously blinkered. I got most of the early information on the Burnhams from overseas papers.


I grieved. I didnít think or believe the Burnhams would escape with their lives. Fifty-five thousand people have been murdered by the Aba Sayyaf terrorists. The kidnapping wasnít going to end the way I wanted it to. But over the past year the Burnhams had been noticed by the USA media, and I naively assumed Iíd see more of a mention on the net. I had my feelings to deal with because I followed their kidnapping from day one. I have prayed for them, their family, their church, their community and their captors.


The biggest thing I had to wrestle with was my expectations of the Christian blogs. Honest and hard questions have been asked the past year about the kidnapping. I have questions back. Are we bloggers ready to step forward and answer? Can we engage in intelligent discussion? Do we care? Do we have opinions?  Does the world outside our borders engage us?


Martin Roth is a faithful steward of the semi-definitive Christian blog list. As I went through it Friday my heart sank. Many are personal blogs. I read about what movie was going to be seen this weekend, about last nightís barbeque, or the latest acquired tech toy. Some are Catholic blogs that deal exclusively with Catholic issues. Some cross-over blogs that post current events missed the Burnham story. I moved from sadness into irritation, which is why I posted Fridayís Blog Watch the way I did. I think now I was seeing the glass half empty instead of half full. It isnít the first time. It wonít be the last.


Martin Roth deserves a great deal of credit for letting an encamped canuck go on a tangent. This is his blog. I donít have the courage or energy to start my own. The north-south hemisphere thing suits what I think believers on the web are about. It fits my personality and privacy. I believe God has put Martin Roth and me together in this time and space and outside the USA borders for good reasons. One event does not make or break the Christian community of the blogosphere. The gang linked at the left is a diverse group. So no, Bene Diction, bloggers arenít going to post what you want them to, the way you want them to, when you want them to, or why you want them to. Thank God.


An honest atheist had the post that clarified my thoughts for me. Captain of the USS Clueless, I salute you. Note Bene, a catholic blog, you were salve to a wound. EslerFried, I like your heart for the world. Brothers Judd, on the mark. Iíve been stopping by comments sections. If I missed any of you, thanks from Martinís space. Blog on.



-posted 9:30am, by Bene Diction



Saturday 8th June, 2002


Martin Roth posts:


More from My Book

ďVirtue died in Australia on 23 May 1994, at 4:30 in the afternoon.Ē


That was how I started the Introduction to my book Living Water to Light the Journey, published in 1999. Itís now out of print and Iím steadily placing it here on my website.


What did I mean?


Simply this: I believe a point arrived when it became clear that our societyís premier institutions no longer viewed moral education as a necessary component of the upbringing of our children. That was one of the themes of the book.


You can read the Introduction here. Also online are Chapters seven, eight, nine and ten.


-posted 4:05pm, by Martin Roth



Bene Diction posts:


Blog Watch

I wanted to see what blogs mentioned missionaries, martyrdom, kidnapping or any kind of political or military comments or analysis of the Burnham kidnapping and attempted rescue.


So farÖÖInstapundit The Corner C-log Mark Byron ladydusk joyfulchristian In Between Naps  Nota Bene EslerFried Christdot Brothers Judd Book of Joshua and Relapsed Catholic.


Of those blogs, only 3 have any commentary so far. Iíll be checking this weekend and popping into comment sections.


Heal Your Church has been googling himself and getting mentioned on some major blogs.


Iíve been to about 200 blogs today. I think I have a rant coming on. However, my twin and I celebrate a milestone birthday this weekend, Martin is taking a deserved day off, so think and link on your own. The rant will wait.



Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

Martin Burnham, 42, the New Tribe Missionary kidnapped a year ago by the Muslim terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, is dead. His wife Gracia is in hospital with gunshot wounds after Philippine troops attempted a rescue.  There are conflicting reports on whether nurse Deborah Yap, captured with them a year ago, is alive.


Christianity Today has complete and thorough coverage here.


He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

                                   Jim Elliott died 1956

             When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

                             Dietrick Bonhoeffer died 1945

Background on the Burnhamís long ordeal is at Christianity Today. has front-page resources on grief and unanswered prayer.


Mission and aids groups estimate 160,000 Christians will die for following Jesus Christ in the year 2002.



The Anniversary of Tiananmen Square

Pan Hu has a story of survivors in the National Review Online.



A Different Kind of Mission

Christians and Jews help the IDF.


-posted 11:55am, by Bene Diction



Friday 7th June, 2002


Bene Diction posts:


Blog Watch

Tim Blair can now go here, and create Martin Roth, the Cartman of Christianity. Link via Sgt. Stryker.


The captain of the USS Clueless asks, Do you prefer unpleasant truths or pleasing falsehoods?


The younger generation explores community and worship at


Country Keepers has a link to a site that encourages and helps people who want to be Christian writers.


Shark blog is a welcome new addition to the warblogger crowd.


Midwest Conservative Journal had a great take down of bummed-out Episcopalians who just returned from the Middle East.  Now he tackles the WCC.


Mark Byron gets interviewed for an article in FaithWorks magazine on blogging. He has some good things to say in his post.


-posted 7:45pm, by Bene Diction



Martin Roth posts:


Bomb Kills Four Indonesian Christians

By this weekís standards it wasnít a big bus bombing. I guess thatís why I wasnít even aware of what had happened in Indonesia.


Hereís the text of an email I received last night from International Friends of Compassion, an Indonesian Christian organisation:


A bus travelling from Palu to Tentena, Central Sulawesi, with about 45 Christians on board was bombed yesterday, killing 4. Dr Jeff Hammond, IFC Indonesia, reports that one of the dead was a Pentecostal pastor who was sent from Palu to assist IFC in rebuilding homes in the Poso region. Another 17 others were injured in the attack, including a mother and child who are among those on the 'critical list'. The bomb was planted at the back of the bus. A second bomb under a seat at the front of the bus failed to detonate.


This attack comes just five days after the Indonesian Military began withdrawing troops from Poso, Central Sulawesi. The military commander had been quoted in last Friday's Jakarta Post as saying, "the pullout showed that the situation in Poso had improved greatly."Ö.


Laskar Jihad boasts that 600 of its fighters are still active in the Poso region and Christians now fear a repeat of the terror which led to attacks on 21 Christian villages late last year. The presence of Laskar Jihad, and their ability to arm themselves with firearms and bombs places the "Malino Peace Agreement" in a tenuous position. This latest attack has placed the large Christian town of Tentena on high alertÖ. 


Dr Jeff Hammond, further reports that just ten days ago 2 Christians were killed in Masane, 10 km from Poso. These were refugees coming from Tentena to harvest their fruit trees. Both were shot and one beheaded. Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports of further bomb attacks in the Poso region in the last 48 hours. These reports are yet to be confirmed.


-posted 11:35am, by Martin Roth




I was interviewed this week (via email) by a reporter for a Christian news agency, on the subject of Christian blogging. One interesting question was: How can blogging be beneficial to Christians as a communications tool?


I think it can be useful in all kinds of ways. I cited an idea that was once suggested to me, that a missionary could start a blog to communicate with supporters at a home church.


And a church could start its own blog to allow its members to communicate ideas with each other and with a wider public. Thatís one of the aims of the Opinionated blog from Sydneyís Toongabbie Anglican Church.


The blog is described as ďa collection of thoughts, views, observations and opinionsĒ with the purpose:


* to encourage considered thought on issues relating to the Christianís walk;


* to encourage our church to be dwelling on the word of God beyond an hour each Sunday;


* to bring to the greater world a new view of Toongabbie Anglican, and clear godly-, gospel- and Bible-focussed thought.


Anyone looking to ways in which blogging could play a role in the life of the church should examine this site.



It Canít Get Any Worse, But It Will

In the distant days (two months ago) when I was a novice blogger I sent out emails to lots of other bloggers asking if they might give me a mention on their sites. Some were exceedingly generous.


I hope I will always be generous to others who contact me.


Edward Kim emails to say his Veritas webpage is a neat Christian site, and it really is. Here is how he describes it:


This site mines the internet for spiritual gold. To assure a well-balanced mind and soul, we add two or three materials a day from a wide variety of sources so that the philosophers of the church will further develop their emotional health and the artists will further develop their intellect. There is no greater need in Christ's kingdom today than for well-rounded believers to meet a dying world with the gospel.


So feel free to peruse, download, or print these must-read articles at your leisure. I've made it a happy ritual to print out the latest article and read while eating breakfast. It's my spiritual vitamin for the day.


Edward is also editor of The Chosun Journal, which is dedicated to ďinforming, provoking, mobilising consciences for the sake of human rights in North KoreaĒ. Thatís a cause I support. My wife is Korean, born in Seoul to parents who had fled from the North.


Thereís a huge amount on the site. Go there, explore and be appalled that the plight of the North Koreans is almost certainly far more desperate than you imagined.


On the site I read a Newsweek article by Christopher Hitchens. Here is his conclusion:


On the one hand, the country is marked by rigid and fanatical militarization, complete censorship and total party control. On the other, it continues to be plagued by galloping underdevelopment, scarcity and social implosion. No food and no culture. No future and no past. Just an unbearable present, both predictable and unstable. It can't get any worse than this, except that it will.




David Kopel asks if I might consider mentioning MaryLinks, which he describes as


an extensive categorized collection of web links about the Virgin Mary. It's a solid starting point for surfers who want to investigate any of a wide variety of Marian topics.




Joshua Sargent of the Book of Joshua notifies me of BlogTrack. I havenít tried it, but it sounds neat.


Here is his description:


Found a vital app for all bloggers and those who just read them! You need to go to BlogTrack and sign up and add your favourite 20 blogs (like The Book of Joshua) and go login whenever you want and it automatically checks your 20 favourite blogs in like 30 seconds and lets you know which ones are updated. I no longer have to check out Jordon's blog, Andrew's, or any of my other favs 3-4 times a day to see if they're updated, I can just let BlogTrack do it for me!


-posted 10:50am, by Martin Roth



Bene Diction posts:


This Isnít Just About Cows!

Oh good grief!  Many of us have been following the story of the Masaiís gift of cows to the American people. The insensitivity and stupidity of this American diplomat is outrageous! There could be a happy ending.  Go here. If the Masai can make an effort, so can other ordinary folk.



Itís Not the Cold War Any More

Indiaís military is actively seeking war as thousands of Westerners flee the region.  Diplomatic efforts may be insufficient to prevent further escalation. This paragraph hidden in this report reveals a sobering truth.


India's military believes that it now has political backing for war. An officer said the beleaguered ruling coalition was "fully aware" that backing down at this juncture would mean political suicide.

While army personnel know exactly what they are saying and doing, Pakistani and Indian villagers really donít understand what a nuclear explosion means. Westerners are relearning that concept in a new and chilling way because of computers.



Still Afraid to Speak

Even Chinese writers that have found freedom in the west find it difficult to write about Tiananmen Square. Only about four novels have been attempted, and the literary world canít quite figure out why. Notre Dame Professor Howard Goldblatt thinks part of the problem is a sense of shame and failure.


"My sense is that it's with them deep down in their guts, but that they don't write about it, partly out of self-protection but also because it's a hard thing to analyze," he said.

"It's hard for them to say, 'I'm writing a novel about how our government killed perhaps thousands, certainly hundreds, of our people for demonstrating for democratization.'"

See Martinís post yesterday and his article on the right side.



Open Mouth, Insert Foot

And while Chinese authors are trying to find their voice an award winning British author doesnít know when silence his. Phillip Pullman has been trounced all over the world for calling C.S. Lewis a propagandist and racist at a literary festival this week.  He has written the Dark Materials Trilogy that celebrates atheism. He has been called the C.S. Lewis of his time. Buddy, you donít even come close.



And While We Are on the Subjects of Writers, War and Stupidity

A Christian Science Monitor reporter has discovered that using his credit card overseas is not a good idea. Here is his tale of misfortune.  He just wanted waffles. What he got was a lot of waffling from agencies that are supposed to investigate theft, arms sales and other activities that have nothing to do with breakfast.



One Truth Doesnít Cancel out the Other Here

Italy is in an uproar over Antonia Socciís book, The New Persecuted. Socci says the untold story of the 20th century is the murder of 45 million Christians. He is under attack from Muslims, Jews and academics.


Others said Mr. Socci was part of a rightwing revisionist effort to distort history and promote a hawkish response to perceived threats.

What am I missing? The Masai probably donít even read, and they grasp basic concepts of human nature, conflict, religion and sacrifice better than diplomats, academics, and generals. Rather than spout hyperbole, this small tribe acted, and gave freely. Come to think of it, so did a Nazarene carpenter and His Father 2000 years ago.


-posted 9:40am, by Bene Diction