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May 1 - May 2, 2002



Thursday 2nd May, 2002


The New Killing Fields

Dr Norbert Vollertsen was given unprecedented freedom to move around North Korea. He spoke to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation of his experiences:


These are the real killing fields of the 21st century. All those refugees are talking about mass execution... baby killing... about rape, about torture, about biological experiments. They are using Christians and other people in the opposition... in those so-called reform institutions... in those concentration camps... they are using those human beings like guinea pigs.


You can read a more extended interview on Breakpoint.


-posted 11:40pm



Read, Weep

Anti-Western and anti-Israel comments by Middle Eastern Christian leaders, reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute, should be no surprise. These men (it seems they’re always men) have a history of inflammatory comment, sometimes racist, which leaves Christians such as myself in despair about the nature of Christianity in the region and about the prospects for the message of Jesus—of love, of reconciliation, of forgiveness—to prevail. Here’s a précis of comments collated by MEMRI:


We – and I say this brutally, because he who remains silent is Satan – are facing the filthy Christians of the West.…We hear that the American Congress is demanding that Bush unleash Israel to slaughter the Palestinians. What kind of Christian is this?!…This is Christianity of the jungle. Our New Testament is not their New Testament, our Jesus is not their Jesus…our God is not their God.

-Father Manuel Musalam, head of the Latin Catholic Church in Gaza


The Western Christian, without love, tolerance, truth, and justice in his heart, must cast away his New Testament….If I were the head of the church where the American President Bush worships, and he came to pray, I would bar him from entering, because he has renounced the church's moral standards.

-Father Manuel Musalam


Our Palestinian people [in the Church of the Nativity] in Bethlehem died like a crucified martyr, on the rock guarded by the Israeli soldiers armed from head to foot who have no compassion, love, life, or tolerance.…The Jew has a principle from which we suffer and which he tries to impose on people: the principle of the “gentiles”. To him, the gentile is a slave. They [the Jews] give the [Palestinians] working in Israel only a piece of bread, and tell them: “This piece of bread that you eat is taken from our children, and we give it to you so you will live not as free men on your land, but as a proletariat and slaves in Israel, to serve us…” The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are based on this principle, and anyone who reads the Protocols feels that we are in this period with the Jews.

-Father Manuel Musalam


I do not wonder at the deeds of the leaders of the Israeli people, as they are the followers of Herod the tyrant who ordered all the two-year-old boys of Bethlehem murdered so as to kill Jesus, but failed!! …They still live with their dark and cruel hearts, rejecting all the prophecies of their prophets. The sight of their bloodstained hands is not unfamiliar to the human race!!

-John Jirjis, Egyptian Coptic clergyman


Real Christianity means love and harmony, and it exists only in Palestine and the Holy Land. In contrast, Western Christianity is false.

-Bishop Alex, head of the Roman Orthodox Bishopric of Gaza


Israel knows how to mislead the leaders of many countries, deceiving them [to believe] they have common interests with it... It managed to drug the leaders of those Christian countries – especially those who belong to no religion and do not know the road to Heaven, or who take religion's name and image but are totally distanced from its essence. They are manipulated by Israel, like marionettes, to destroy their religion. [Israel] has also managed to brainwash some whom it discovered to be highly susceptible because of their surly nature. Israel planted among them the spirit of hatred and rage towards the Arabs and Muslims…..Are you a Christian, Mr. Bush? I doubt it. Perhaps you are a Crusader. God alone knows.

-Coptic priest Marcus 'Aziz Khalil


Today, 2,000 years since the Judas affair, the same scenario repeats itself, and the Christian rulers betray Jesus. These rulers have become the Judas of our time. They have sold out the Messiah for their own private interests, and so as not to anger the Zionist lobby in America.…Perhaps the Church of the Nativity will be destroyed and turned into rubble. Bush, the head of the Christian rulers, will be responsible for what happens to it. He is proving to be the Judas of our time, for he has sold out the Messiah for the American Jewish vote.

-Egyptian Shura Council [Upper House of Parliament] member and Coptic Christian, Dr. Nabil Luka Babawi


Today the Jews shell the Church of the Nativity with artillery, and the Copts in the Diaspora do not pressure members of the American Congress with a demand to stop the attack on the Church of the Nativity and on Al-Aqsa Mosque….Why are the American Copts and Muslims not demonstrating to condemn the behaviour of the madman Sharon, who began to behave like a madman after he was hit in 1948 in a sensitive place of his body by a bullet, leaving him with one testicle only. This has affected him psychologically, and he has become a crazy psychopath using power to hide his weak point.

-Dr. Nabil Luka Babawi


The Zionist movement controls European and American public opinion….For this reason, we witness a weakness in the defence of the Christian holy sites on the part of America and the European countries.…[Western Christians] deal first of all with their interests, not their religion….In my view, they are not Christians.

-Elias 'Awwad, head of the Palestinian Roman Orthodox Church


Unfortunately, in the West today – Europe and America – all these [Christian leaders] are not Jews, but are led by the Jews. This religion [Judaism] is the enemy of God, the enemy of people, and the enemy of Christianity….There must be an awakening among the rulers of these countries, so that they return to punishing Zionism for its evil deeds towards all people. I hope it will be soon.

-George Saliba, Bishop of the Assyrian Orthodox Church of Mt. Lebanon and Tripoli


As is known, the Jews think that only they are human. Only they are the sons of Adam. As far as they are concerned, all the [other] peoples have the status of beasts.

-George Saliba


From the human point of view, the existence of the State of Israel is an historic sin. It is not sufficient to deem this sin the crime of the generation; it is one of the unforgivable sins, and no means of purification will help them.

-Coptic priest Marcus 'Aziz Khalil


These statements were all apparently made in Arabic, and were presumably not intended for a Western audience. Not that it matters. In any case, similar sentiments can be found in English-language press releases and position papers from the Middle East Council of Churches. These men are proud of their bigotry.


-posted 8:45pm



Hart Swab

Devoutly Christian painter Pro Hart, one of Australia’s most popular contemporary artists, has at last discovered how to stop a flood of forgeries. In what is claimed as a world first, he will mix in a swab of saliva with his paint as a DNA-coded marker. Hart, who has said, “I don’t consider myself anything; it’s only Jesus in me”, is noted for giving paintings and money to numerous causes, including to one of his favourite politicians, Pauline Hanson.



Today’s Apologies

The chairman of the Government’s Immigration Detention Advisory Group has apologised to asylum seekers for the lies of our politicians during the last election that “boat people” had tried to throw their kids into the sea, in order to pressure Australian naval personnel into taking them on board. No word yet on when the politicians themselves will apologise, though given their past record no-one’s holding their breath.


Meanwhile Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi did not apologise for the war, during his just-concluded visit to Australia. No-one asked him to and no-one expected him to. That didn’t stop the circulation-challenged Age newspaper from moving into tabloid territory with a front-page lead story this morning, “No apology, but Japan’s PM offers war tribute”.


-posted 12:55pm



Gambling Addiction

Reverend Tim Costello has a typically incisive commentary on our State Government’s disgraceful gambling fix:


“Labor will reduce the State Government's reliance on revenue from gambling." This was Labor's election policy statement in 1999. Gambling revenue as a proportion of state taxes was 16% when [former Premier] Jeff Kennett left office. It is now nudging 20%, elevating Victoria to the most gambling-dependent state in Australia and arguably in the Western world….


So why did Labor make such a promise?


It was shocked when still in opposition by Productivity Commission findings that Australia had 20.4% of the world's high-intensity pokies and that 42 cents in every dollar that goes through a poker machine comes from a problem gambler, someone who by definition has no free choice.


-posted 11:20am



Christian Blog List – Still Climbing

I compiled my list of Christian blogs in a hurry yesterday morning. I called it a semi-definitive list as a joke, trying to imply that because we can’t really define a Christian blog (a blog about Christianity? written by a Christian? attacking Christianity?) we’ll never really have a definitive list. But I thought I’d done pretty well in a short time in identifying 58 blogs. I’ve since been flooded with emails, and the list has now doubled to 116, and my assumption is that there are lots more. Which raises a problem. A list of 116 Christian blogs really has little meaning without some kind of comment about each, in order to guide interested visitors. I’m working on it.



Christian Bloggers

In my article posted two days ago on the phenomenon of Christian blogging I said they could probably be divided into four very rough groups (or “clusters”, according to USS Clueless), which I identified as Catholic bloggers, emerging church bloggers, Evangelicals and others who comment on religion and society, and personal diary bloggers. My emails have identified other clusters—a reform church group and an orthodox church group. Are there others?


-posted 11:05am



Wednesday 1st May, 2002


Quote of the Day

From Andrew Sullivan:


It’s still an amazing achievement to me that France is able to sustain a wave of both anti-Arab and anti-Jewish sentiment at the same time. Who says they’re not still a great power?



Church Attendance – Challenges Ahead

Australian church attendance has been falling for decades, but there’d been a sense from many of us that at last we’d hit bottom. The “Sunday Christians” aren’t there any more. No-one goes to church unless they really want to. At least, that’s how it seemed. But no. The Age reports that only 23% of those aged 15-18 years and just 18% of 19-25-year-olds were very satisfied with church, according to last year’s National Church Life Survey. Great challenges ahead.




Welcome to Alan Brandt, who’s doing some Soulsearching at his new weblog. Among his dilemmas:


I work as if I'm working for the Lord. But I'm also working for a boss who's a selfish penny-pincher who'll take my last drop of blood and sweat if I'm willing to give it to him. So what should I do, according to the Apostle Paul? Should I work and work and work, doing everything my boss tells me to do, no matter how unjust?


-posted 11:35am



Sunny Days in Heaven

When I was writing my article on Christian blogging I sent an email to Mark Butterworth, who writes the Sunny Days in Heaven blog. The email came back, undeliverable, “permanent fatal errors—550 Access Denied”. I’m not sure what that means, but when I sent Mark another email last night, in reply to his to me, it also came back. Sorry Mark, I don’t seem to be able to make contact.


-posted 9:05am



Proof That Glenn Reynolds Is Indeed Superman

Yesterday I posted on my site an article about the growing phenomenon of Christian blogging. I thought Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit might be interested, so I sent him an email about it, at 10:45pm (US time). Now, Glenn wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap. And I presume he’s inundated with emails pointing him to stuff that might be of interest. Yet he obviously read the email and then went to my site and read the article. He then posted a comment about it on his site. At 10:57pm. Brilliant.


-posted 8:48am



Christian Blogs - The Semi-Definitive List

Following my article posted yesterday on Christian Blogging, there has been a little confusion over my list of bloggers, at the end of the article. That list was only of those bloggers who had answered my questions. I have now compiled a more complete list of around 60 Christian blogs. (Though what is a Christian blog? A blog that's written by Christians? That's about Christianity? Or even that attacks Christianity? I'm not sure that I know.) Please contact me if you feel you should be on (or off) the list.


-posted 8:25am