May 3 - May 5, 2002
Sunday 5th May, 2002
Shhh – Don’t Disturb the Christians
Keep it very, very quiet, but those
Mayday protestors demonstrating against McDonald’s, Nike and other
symbols of US-led globalisation have picked the wrong target. If you want to
see some local retailers where American hegemony reigns supreme, just check
out our evangelical bookstores.
I went yesterday to the nearby
Word bookstore. There, as usual, I saw shelf after shelf after shelf
laden with the latest US priorities — a large display of Prayer of Jabez
merchandise, huge numbers of Left Behind books, Max Lucado books,
volumes on the end times and creation science and the evils of Harry Potter,
Charles Swindoll books, John C. Maxwell Christian success books, Amy Grant
CDs, Christian diet books, Gaither Gospel Series CDs and videos, and much,
Virtually all from America.
Of course there are plenty of other stores
in Australia packed with imported goods. What about the Disney stores or the
Warner Brothers stores (not to mention the Nike stores)?
Yes, they’re selling US brand merchandise,
but most of it is made in various Asian nations, boosting the economies of
those countries and providing people with much-needed employment
opportunities. By contrast, most of the books and CDs and videos at Word and
Koorong are printed and manufactured in America and imported from there,
directly boosting the US economy. (I’m not necessarily critical. I’m pretty
There are some Australian products. There
are local books, but only a few of them are displayed in any great quantity.
There are also locally printed versions of popular American books. But they
are swamped by American-sourced product. Only the big display of Hillsong
worship CDs provides much competition. Indeed, I would challenge anyone to
find a chain of stores in Australia with a higher proportion of its
merchandise that’s US-made than our evangelical bookstores.
But wait, there are some products made in
Asia. For example, there’s the Prayer of Jabez mug. And the “Let Us Fix Our
Eyes” walnut cross with silver metal insert. And the Jabez notepad with
magnet. And the “I Am the Vine, You Are the Branches” wall hanging. And the
Jabez prayer journal.
They’re all made in China.
China, of course, is a country that is
ruthless in its repression of unsanctioned Christian groups, with mass
arrests, torture and execution the official policy.
But keep it very, very quiet.
Mustn’t disturb local Christians.
"As for the [Sept. 11] Tragedy, We Can't Prove That Muslims Did It"
listens to the future in Indonesia and it
sounds disturbingly like the present in the Middle East.
Doctors Just Wanna Say Sorry
Most doctors would like to be able to
admit mistakes, and behave as if they are human beings who don't have
all the answers. Concern that they are accepting legal liability often
Perhaps many doctors act like gods because we, as patients, treat them like
gods. But in recent years, I think an increasing number of doctors - even
surgeons, often the most maligned for their aloofness - have been prepared
to reduce professional distance and reveal their humanity and
A Good Start
Indonesian police have
arrested the head of
Laskar Jihad, which has been inciting violence against Christians in the
With the Dalai Lama due soon for his fourth
tour of Australia, today’s Sunday Age
reports again on the huge growth in
Buddhism in this country.
The number of Australian Buddhists is believed to have increased by more
than 70,000 to at least 210,000 in the past decade. The last census showed
there were 2.5 times as many Buddhists as Jews in Australia, and nearly as
many Buddhists as Muslims.
The paper interviews a local Anglican who
switched to Buddhism, and implies that many other Australians are doing the
I doubt that. Most of the growth comes from
the sudden surge in Asian migration to Australia during the past 15 years.
The real story—one that has not been picked
up by the local media, which relentlessly ignores all Christian good news
stories—is the amazing number of Asian migrants who are joining the church.
This is real spiritual revival.
Dalai Lama, Superstar
Ticket prices for upcoming shows in Sydney
Disney on Ice - $20.80-$49.20
Hot Shoe Shuffle musical - $48.85-$58.85
Branford Marsalis - $60
Investing & Getting Rich, with Robert
Kiyosaki - $71.70
Man of La Mancha musical - $72.50-$82.50
Diana Krall - $83.65
Dalai Lama Tribute Concert - $78-$138
Saturday 4th May, 2002
Anglican Media Melbourne - "Bias Continues"
Melbourne's Anglican Church places news reports from around the world on
its website. Why do those about the Mideast conflict seem so biased against
Israel? In my
latest article I present my findings.
Wow, It’s Going To Be Quite a Mass
Headline from the online edition of
Rev. Shanley Will Stand Trial in Mass.
Compaq Computer – 1 cent
Compaq Australia has sent
urgent emails to customers:
Unfortunately, due to a system error, certain Presario notebooks were posted
Web Store last night (May 2) for a price of $0.01 instead of their usual
sell prices of $2,799 or $3,999.
The company is refusing to honour contracts for $14 million worth of
computers that were bought for less than $40.
The list of
Christian weblogs has swelled by one. I
realised I had omitted the popular
Christianity Today blog.
“To be degraded with one's full permission is still—well, degrading”
It’s scary the stuff you know without even
wanting to know it. Partly it’s a consequence of spending so much time on
the internet. But how come I knew so much about the first series of the
Big Brother TV programme, without ever watching? (Last night I watched
20 minutes of the latest series, and was amazed at the tedium of it.) Now I
find myself knowing a lot about an American reality dating show The
Bachelor, even though it hasn’t been screened here on Australian TV.
Gina Dalfonzo has a
comment on it
It may seem likely that cultural garbage
will never go away, but without people willing to point out that it is
garbage and needs to stop, the likelihood becomes certainty. Shame isn't
dead—yet. But the day that not one person can be found to say, "In the name
of Christ, forbear," it will be.
Friday 3rd May, 2002
How a Stamp-Collecting, Church-Going, Teetotal Suburban Solicitor Got Me
I was hoping that the Good Weekend
cover story on Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock would go up on the
website of The Age or the Sydney Morning Herald, but it
hasn’t. Never mind. I can still comment on it.
With the sub-title, “How a stamp-collecting,
church-going, teetotal suburban solicitor became one of the most
controversial ministers we’ve ever had”, it attempts to explain how this
seemingly gentle and compassionate Christian man could preside over what
many (including myself) believe to be cruel and heartless policies towards
It is not just that the policies
themselves—locking children in detention centres for years, refusing to
allow refugees in leaky boats fleeing oppressive Middle Eastern regimes
entry to Australia for processing—have been cruel. But Ruddock himself has
been a crucial part of a sneaky campaign of
lies and misinformation, along with the demonisation of the refugees.
The article, spread over six pages, doesn’t
really manage to explain all the contradictions of the man, and I’m not
about to try. I’m writing this commentary because it was partly due to
Philip Ruddock—a Christian, as is the Prime Minister John Howard—that I
started this blog.
When the Tampa crisis erupted last
year—a Norwegian freighter had picked up hundreds of refugees trying to
reach Australia and whose boat was sinking, leading to a major Australian
military operation to stop the freighter from entering Australian waters—I
was appalled at the policies of our government.
As a Christian I thought Jesus had commanded
us, in the story of the Good Samaritan and elsewhere, to help the stranger
in trouble. For the first time in my life I wrote a letter to my Member of
My MP, Kevin Andrews, is a prominent
Christian. He led the fight to overturn the legalisation of euthanasia in
the Northern Territory. I appealed to him as a Christian to take a stand
against the Government’s policies. The reply I got was bland in the extreme,
noting my concern and telling me what the Government was doing.
I found it hard to believe that so many
Christians supported—often with enthusiasm—policies that demonised refugees,
that refused them entry to Australia (that is, refused them entry to
Australia just for processing; if they turned out not to be true refugees
then of course I believed we had the right to send them home again), or that
locked them up, sometimes for years, in
outback detention centres.
For example, the leader of Australia’s
Christian Democratic Party, Reverend Fred Niles, issued a disgusting
statement on the refugees, a statement that I feel is tinged with
A leader of the
Salt Shakers Christian ethics group wrote sarcastic letters to the press
against the refugees and against those Christians who supported their cause.
I kept wondering.
How can parts of Australian Christianity
maintain a huge infrastructure of high-fee
private schools that may once have provided the masses with an
opportunity for a Christian education but which now exist mainly to help the
elite of this country—and increasingly, the
elite of Asia—get into the best universities?
How can parts of Australian Christianity
support chains of large
bookstores that lavishly promote the latest American fashions—Prayer of
Jabez merchandise and books on the evils of Harry Potter—but where you
struggle to find information on the suffering Christians of the world?
Why do so few Australian Christians seem to
occurring against brother and sister Christians, just across the waters
Why are so few Australian Christians excited
beyond words about the revival taking place in the Chinese church and the
huge growth in Chinese congregations in Australia?
I wondered what had happened to the message
So I started this website.
Jihad isn’t occurring only in the Middle
East, says the
Wall Street Journal, which looks again at Indonesia.
list of Christian blogs has edged up to
120. I could be dreadfully wrong, but unless I get another mention on
InstaPundit or somewhere similar it’s probably not going to grow too
much bigger. The point now is what to do with it. I’m hoping to write
thumbnail reviews of as many of the sites as possible, to be included in the
list. But even if I can manage two or three reviews a day, it’ll still take
a couple of months to get through them all. Stay tuned.
reports that Christian leaders have issued a
Statement of Conscience, accusing North Korea and the Sudan of massive
human rights violations.
The torment "suffered by faith communities of Sudan and North Korea may be
more brutal, more systematic, more deliberate, more implacable and more
purely genocidal than those taking place anywhere in the world today,"
according to the statement….
Norbert Vollertsen, who as a visiting physician has documented numerous
North Korean abuses [see yesterday’s post, below], told those in attendance
that the country's regime is an updated composite of the world's worst
dictators. The government of Kim Jong-il views Christianity as the worst
kind of subversion of the communist state, he said. Missionary pastor Tim
Peters, who has helped run an underground railway through which North
Koreans escape the country, added: "The fury with which North Korea meets
Christianity is hard for us [in the West] to understand."