Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christian Aid Seeks Aid for Survivors of Jos Christmas Eve Bombings in Nigeria

Special to Assist News Service
From Christian Aid Mission

JOS, NIGERIA (ANS) -- While the Nigerian city of Jos is still in flames and under a 24-hour military curfew, the first eye-witness reports have begun to come in from indigenous missionaries trapped by the continuing violence. Over 80 people are now confirmed killed in the bombings and assaults on Christmas Eve and the death toll is mounting as street fighting continues.

Christian Aid has set up an emergency hot line to accept donations for the victims at 1-800-977-5650, persecution gift code: 550MCM.

According to a trusted indigenous leader, thousands of internally displaced refugees are on the move. He confirmed that pastors and Christian leaders were targeted and killed in the attacks.

Christian Aid Mission Africa Director Rae Burnett said that the missionary, who is executive director of the one of the mission agencies Christian Aid assists in Jos, is asking Christians around the world to urgently pray for Christians in Nigeria, especially those in the city of Jos.

“We are in regular contact with indigenous missions’ leaders there and are already collecting aid for the survivors – helping them to bury the dead, rebuild homes and churches and heal broken lives,” says Rae Burnett.

Wire service reports say authorities first believed the attacks were orchestrated by a militant Islamic group that has killed dozens of Christians since September in the region. However a new and different terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the Christmas Eve assassinations in Jos and church burnings in Borno State as well.

Rae Burnett released parts of an email report from Gabriel Barau, the executive director of Missionary Crusaders Ministries, who was in Jos for a Christmas field visit when the attacks began.

“Right now, my family and I are still trapped on the outskirts of Jos where Muslim fanatics have set the city on fire once again,” he wrote yesterday. “I will send more reports and updates on this as I get more information tonight and tomorrow.”

Gabriel confirmed reports that the violence began on Christmas Eve when he says seven terrorist bombs were planted in two churches and a market area within Jos City, Plateau State. All exploded successfully, killing many victims.

“Because of the tense situation, I am not able to take any pictures as the city has been taken over by military personnel. The governor has ordered the military to shoot-on-sight anyone caught fomenting trouble.

“Meanwhile the city is locked up. Conditions are tense and many people are still looking for their lost ones. I understand that the many refugees in the city already number over 300,000 – people who have fled their homes because of attacks.

“While the Jos violence is still going on,” Barau said, “another six people including two pastors were killed and a church burnt down in Maiduguri, Borno State. We need prayers for the believers and the work we are doing among these people as radical Muslims are becoming very hostile to Christians in Nigeria. Our mission board, MCM, has a missionary already surveying Maiduguri to help reach the Kanuri people there who are 100% Muslims.

“Pray for our people and missionaries among the Muslims. We will not relent in our efforts to reach them as the Lord is raising up a people for his name among them. Pray for us.”

Christian Aid Mission is an evangelical organization helping indigenous missions proclaim the gospel to all nations. Indigenous missions carry on where Americans are no longer allowed to go as missionaries.

Call 1-800-977-5650 to donate. Please use gift code: 550MCM.
Christian Aid Mission (

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

AFGHANISTAN – Jailed Christian denied access to lawyer

Release is calling for prayer for a Christian prisoner of faith who faces a possible death sentence for 'apostasy'.

Said Musa, who has worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross, has been detained in Kabul since May and is said to have suffered torture, abuse and death threats in custody. He has not yet been allowed to consult a lawyer.

Release understands that charges have not yet been brought – but his arrest was reportedly connected with his decision eight years ago to leave Islam and become a Christian.

Said, who has a prosthetic leg, was arrested after video footage showing Afghan Christians being baptised and participating in prayer gatherings was broadcast on national TV. The broadcast triggered protests throughout the country and prompted some – including a deputy leader in Parliament – to call for Christians to be executed.

Said's family were not informed about his whereabouts for two months after his arrest.

Release is now encouraging supporters to write polite letters to the Afghan authorities expressing concern about Said's situation.

Another Afghan Christian, 25-year-old Shoib Assadullah, has been in detention since October – after he gave a New Testament to someone who then informed on him to the authorities. Shoib, who became a Christian five years ago, is being held in Mazar-e-Sharif district in northern Afghanistan.

(Source: Release source)

• Pray that Said and Shoib will remain resolute in their faith and know the Lord's comfort, protection and guidance.
• Pray specifically that Said will be granted access to legal counsel. Pray that the cases of both men will be tried quickly and will lead to acquittals.

• Please write a polite letter to President Karzai expressing concern about Said Musa's plight. You can send it via email to: or fax it to 020 7581 3452.

For a sample letter and more about Said, go to:

The information in this email can be reproduced in church magazines and news bulletins, provided the source is acknowledged

Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 9RT, UK
Tel: 01689 823491
General enquiries:
Website address:

Through our international network of missions, Release International serves persecuted Christians in 30 countries around the world by supporting pastors and Christian prisoners, and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles; and working for justice.

Registered Charity (England No. 280577) and company ltd by guarantee (England No. 1506576) Registered office: Times House, Throwley Way , Sutton , SM1 4JQ

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Christmas Really Means.....

At Christmas time there was a man,
who looked so out of place.
As people rushed about him,
at a hurried sort of pace.

He stared at all the Christmas lights,
the tinsel everywhere.
The shopping center Santa Claus,
with children gathered near.

The mall was packed with shoppers,
who were going to and for.
Some with smiles, some with frowns,
and some too tired to go.

They rested on benches,
or they hurried on their way.
To fight the crowds for purchases,
to carry home that day.

The music from the stereo,
was playing loud and clear.
Of Santa Claus and snowmen,
and funny nosed reindeer.

He heard the people talk about,
the good times on the way.
Of parties, fun and food galore,
and gift exchange that day.

I'd like to know what's going on,
the man was heard to say.
There seems to be some sort,
of celebration on the way.

And would you tell me who this is,
all dressed in red and white.
And why are children asking "him"
about a special night.

The answer came in disbelief,
I can't believe my ear.
I can't believe you do not know,
that Christmas time is here.

The time when Santa comes around,
with gifts for girls and boys.
When they are asleep on Christmas Eve,
he leaves them books and toys.

The man you see in red and white,
is Santa Claus so sly.
The children love his joyful laugh,
and twinkle in his eye.

His gift packed sleigh is pulled along,
by very small reindeer.
As he flies quickly through the air,
while darting here and there.

The children learn of Santa Claus,
while they are still quite small.
When Christmas comes "he" is the most,
"important" one of all.

The stranger hung His head in shame,
He closed a nail pierced hand.
His body shook in disbelief,
He did not understand.

A shadow crossed His stricken face,
His voice was low but clear.
"After all these years they still don't know."
And JESUS shed a tear.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christians in court on Monday, please pray

The Christian Institute reports,

'The Christian owners of a Cornish guesthouse are due to appear in court on Monday because they restrict double bed accommodation to married couples.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull are being sued by homosexuals, Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall, who claim the policy is discriminatory.

The guesthouse is not just a business, it is also Mr and Mrs Bull's own home.

The case will be heard at Bristol County Court on Monday 13 December and is scheduled to last for two days.

The claim is brought under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, the same laws that have caused faith-based adoption agencies to close down or drop their religious ethos.

If the claim against the guesthouse is successful, Mr and Mrs Bull may be ordered to pay up to £5,000 to Mr Preddy and Mr Hall for injury to their feelings.

Mr Preddy and Mr Hall's legal fees are being paid by the Government-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Christian Institute is funding Mr and Mrs Bull's legal defence.

This case could determine whether Christians are permitted to operate B&Bs that restrict double bed accommodation to married couples.

Please pray:

For Peter and Hazelmary Bull, that they will know God's love and support during this difficult time.
For the judge, that he will come to a just decision.
For our legal team, that they will present the case clearly and persuasively.
For the news media, that they will publish balanced and accurate reports.
For the staff of The Christian Institute, as we support and advise Peter and Hazelmary.'

Public money is being used to fund a private prosecution of Christians. We are a sick society. On Monday my London bus had adverts from Stonewall, 'Some people are gay. Get over it.' I was tempted to pull them down.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

NIGERIA – Three Christians killed in night raid on Jos village

Suspected Fulani militants killed three Christians and injured one other in a night raid on a village near Jos in Plateau state.

The attack on Kwata Zawan last week brings to 540 the number of Christians killed in the Jos area since early March, according to Release partner Stefanos Foundation.

Eyewitnesses told Stefanos Foundation that a band of about ten gunmen dressed in animal-skin jackets and with blackened faces raided Kwata Zawan just after 10pm on November 25. One villager, Sonshak Amos, who ran into the gunmen outside the village, narrowly escaped being attacked with a cutlass and was able to raise the alarm just before the shooting started.

Two men, Iliya Gya and James Gya, were shot dead in their homes, and another, named only as Alfred, was also killed. The village leader Julius Gya, whose brother was among the dead, was shot in the arm.

'Because we were unarmed, we were so scared to come out,' villager David Haruna Samson told Stefanos. 'When everything went calm, we came out and found out that three people were killed.'

Stefanos Foundation, which is supporting survivors, has expressed concern that a nearby military post did not intervene, despite villagers raising the alarm. It is also concerned that perpetrators of other recent attacks on Christian communities have still not been brought to justice.

(Source: Stefanos Foundation)

• Ask God to comfort and strengthen villagers in Kwata Zawan as they come to terms with the violent assault on their community.
• Pray that politicians and military leaders will take resolute steps to protect vulnerable Christian communities in the Jos area, a flashpoint for anti-Christian violence.

Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 9RT, UK

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pakistani minister: Christian woman should be freed

It seems like the earlier report I posted was not accurate.

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A Christian Pakistani woman sentenced to death for blasphemy is innocent and should be released, Pakistan's minister for minority affairs told CNN.
According to a CNN story written by Reza Sayah, “Shahbaz Bhatti reached his conclusion after a three-day investigation into allegations that Asia Bibi defiled the name of the Prophet Mohammed during an argument last year with Muslim fellow field workers.”
Bhatti said he personally submitted his finding to President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday and recommended that Bibi be freed.
“This case was filed on the basis of religious and personal enmity,” Bhatti said.
Despite the minister's recommendation, it is still not clear if or when Bibi will be pardoned by the president.
Zardari asked Bhatti to propose names for a committee of scholars and experts who would recommend reforms “to effectively prevent the misuse of the blasphemy law for personal and political reasons.”
“On Wednesday, a presidential spokesman and spokeswoman told CNN that Zardari will pardon Bibi only if necessary and after the legal process has taken its course,” said the CNN story.
“Bibi has appealed her conviction and death sentence, a process that could take months.
“Bhatti said he has advised Bibi's lawyer to file a petition for the court to rule on her appeal as soon as possible. He also said the president has called on authorities to provide added security for Bibi while she is in prison and when she's released.”
Bibi's husband told CNN his family received death threats soon after his wife's case made headlines.
ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
Visit our web site at: -- E-mail:

Friday, November 26, 2010 By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Telling it like it really is.

Asked about the Islamist terrorists’ 'perversion of the religion of Islam', Lt Col Allen West replied:

Let me say this. I don’t care about being popular – whatever. The first thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to study and understand who you’re up against. And you must realise that this is not a religion that you’re fighting against: you’re fighting against a theo-political belief system and construct; you’re fighting against something that has been doing this thing since AD 622 – since the seventh century, 1388 years. You want to dig up Charles Martel and ask him why he was fighting the Muslim army at the Battle of Tours in 732; you want to ask the Venetian fleet at Lepanto why they were fighting a Muslim fleet in 1571; you want to ask the Christian – I mean the Germanic and Austrian knights why they were fighting at the Gates of Vienna in 1683; you want to ask people why they fought at Constantinople and why today it’s called Istanbul because they lost that fight in 1453. You need to get into the Qur’an: you need to understand their precepts; you need to read the Sira; you need to read the Hadith, and then you can really understand that this is not a perversion: they are doing exactly what this book says.

I want to close by saying this. And I think we have said this all through this morning so far. Until you get principled leadership in the United States of America that is willing to say that, we will continue to chase our tail because we will never clearly define who this enemy is, and then understand their goals and objectives which is on any jihadist website, and then come up with the right and proper goals and objectives to not only secure our Republic, but to secure Western civilisation.- Lt Col Allen West, Republican Congressman from Florida

Christian woman facing death for blasphemy is freed

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
Visit our web site at: -- E-mail:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Asia Bibi pardoned by Pakistani president and now in hiding

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
ITTANWALAI, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- The ASSIST News Service (ANS) -- -- has just received the good news that Asia Bibe, a Christian mother of four who was sentenced to death on November 8, 2010, for alleged blasphemy, has now been freed.

Asia, who had already spent the last year and a half in prison, was set free today (Monday, November 22, 2010), after being pardoned by Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari.

According to a source in Pakistan, "She has gone now into hiding over fears for her safety."

The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) told ANS that it “welcomes the release of Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan."

Bibe was found guilty of blasphemy despite there being no evidence that she committed the crime and her repeated denial of the charges laid against her.

She was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad by Muslim field workers following a dispute over their different faiths. When she was asked to bring a cup of water, the women refused to drink from it, saying that it had been touched by a Christian and was therefore “unclean.”

She was arrested in June 2009 in her home village of Ittanwalai, west of the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore, and prosecuted under Section 295 B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which carries a mandatory death penalty.

The case has made international headlines and thrown the spotlight on Pakistan’s unjust blasphemy laws.

CLAAS, which provides free legal assistance to Pakistani Christians, says that is delighted by the decision to release Asia and hopes that it brings the country one step closer to repealing the blasphemy laws.

Nasir Saeed, Coordinator of CLAAS in the UK, told ANS: “This is the only acceptable outcome to what has been a travesty of justice from the outset. Asia Bibi should never have been charged with blasphemy, let alone found guilty and sentenced to death.

“The ordeal faced by her and her family is unimaginable to most people outside of Pakistan who are largely unaware of the abuse and discrimination faced by the tiny Christian minority there.

“The blasphemy laws smack in the face of democracy and human rights and only reinforce the notion that Christians and other religious minorities in the country are somehow inferior and less human.

“We are relieved and overjoyed at Asia Bibi’s release but so long as the blasphemy laws remain in place there is no telling when another innocent Christian will face being executed because of something they said.”

This law is a disgrace in its use and abuse to harrass Christians. How can you blaspheme a mere man?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Afghan convert tortured and abused in jail

Barnabas Fund is calling for Western governments to intervene on behalf of an Afghan convert from Islam to Christianity who has been tortured and abused in prison because of his faith.

Said Musa (45), a father of six, was arrested in late May as part of a crackdown against Afghan converts to Christianity and was due to stand trial this week. Observers say he is likely to be charged with apostasy from Islam – a crime that is punished by death under Islamic law. Some leading political figures in Afghanistan called earlier this year for the execution of converts. (Read Afghan Christians Plead for Help as they are Exposed and Threatened with Execution – 18 June 2010)

In a heart-rending handwritten letter, which he passed to a Western supporter who visited him in jail last month, Said appealed for help and prayers from his brothers and sisters around the world.

He wrote:
"To the international church of world and to the President Brother Barak Obama President of the United States and to the head of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan!

"My name is Said Musa 45 years old. I have been working since 15 years as a Physiotherapist in I-C-R-C (International Committee of the Red Cross) orthopaedic centre in Kabul, Afghanistan. About four and a half months before by security force of Afghanistan I (was) captured, due to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world. One person (____) he is spy of (____) [a] leader in Afghanistan. He told about me (to) the Government's officials, 'He's believer, He's head of church in (____)'. He showed my house to the security force. Since that time I am in jail. The authority and prisoners in jail did many bad behaviour with me about my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, they did sexual things with me, beat me by wood, by hands, by legs, put some things on my head, mocked me ‘He's Jesus Christ', spat on me, nobody let me for sleep night and day. Every person spat on me and beat me. Also the prosecutor wrote something wrong against me. He told from himself something wrong against me on my file.

"He is stimulating every day the prisoners against me, ‘He is also in jail due to spy for Iran country', to reveal the church in Kabul. I'm in a very and very bad condition in the jail.

"I agree with long imprisonment about my faith even for long life. Because I'm the sinnest person in the world. Because sometimes they treated for died I refuse my faith due to died. Sometimes I tolerate the persecution but immediately I acknowledge my sin before Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Don't refuse me before your holy angels and before your Father.' Because I am very very weak and sinful man.

"Nobody could accept my defender before the court. If I say I am a Christian man he immediately spat on me and abuse me and mock me! I am alone between 400 handlers of terrible values in the jail like a sheep. Please, please, for the sake of Lord Jesus Christ help me. Please send a person who should supervise my document and my file, what I said in it. My prosecutor has told something wrong to the judge because he asked for money but I refused his request. Please, please you should transfer me from this jail to a jail that supervises the believers. I also agree with died on cross of my pride. I also agree with the sacrifice of my life in public, I will tell the faith in Lord Jesus Christ son of God and other believers will take courage and be strong in their faith. Hundred percent I am stable to my word. I have family of seven - one wife, three daughters and three sons. My big son [is] about eight years old. One of my daughters can't speak, she has some mental problems.

"This is a request from me to all over the world, people please help me. I could not have any person to help. For the sake of Lord Jesus Christ please pray and immediately help me and rescue me from this jail. Otherwise, they will kill me, because I know they're very very very cruel and hard hearted!

"Your destitute brother in the world.

"Please my English writing is not enough good. If I did some mistake please forgive me! From Kabul Provincial jail."

Said was arrested following a television broadcast in Afghanistan on 27 May of a baptismal service, which led to a frenzied anti-Christian response including public demonstrations and government threats. Said, who has previously had a leg amputated, was one of around 25 believers subsequently detained. At least one other Christian may also remain in jail, possibly many more.

Barnabas Fund calls on Western governments to put pressure on the Afghan authorities to release Said and uphold the country's commitment to freedom of religion.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

The West can no longer turn a blind eye while the Afghan regime that it fought to put in place imprisons and tortures ordinary Christians and is calling for them to be killed simply because of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please write to your elected representative and ask them to raise this as a matter of urgency with the relevant government department (for UK readers please ask your MP to raise it with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

Please Pray

That the Afghan government will come under increasing international pressure to release Said and uphold the right to religious freedom throughout the country.
That the Lord will strengthen and uphold Said who, despite his ordeal, is determined to proclaim his faith in Jesus.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy

Ministry leader says Pakistan has "crossed a line" in sentencing a Christian woman to death for blasphemy.

by Brian HuttPosted: Tuesday, November 9, 2010, 6:46 (GMT)

A mother of two has become the first Christian woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Asia Bibi, a field labourer in her thirties, was handed the sentence by a court of sessions in Punjab province on Sunday evening.

She was found guilty of committing blasphemy against her fellow farm workers in the village of Ittanwali during a heated discussion about religion in June last year.

Some of the women workers had reportedly been pressuring Bibi to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. During the discussion, Bibi responded by speaking of how Jesus had died on the cross for the sins of mankind and asking the Muslim women what Muhammad had done for them.

The Muslim women took offence and began to beat Bibi and she was locked in a room by some men. According to partners of Release International, a mob reportedly formed and “violently abused” her and her children.

The charity, which supports persecuted Christians, said that blasphemy charges had been brought against Bibi because of pressure from local Muslim leaders.

Release International’s chief executive, Andy Dipper, expressed his shock at Sunday’s ruling.

“Pakistan has crossed a line in passing the death sentence on a woman for blasphemy,” he said.

In addition to the death sentence, Bibi has also been fined more than £700 – equivalent to two and a half years’ wages for an unskilled worker.

Release’s partners in Pakistan say the sentence is a crushing blow for Bibi, who had been hoping to be acquitted and return to her husband and children.

“Although Asia has great courage, her dreams of release have vanished now. Please pray for her encouragement, strength and protection.”

They are planning to visit Bibi in prison as soon as possible.

Release has launched a petition against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. It fears that the passing of the death sentence against Bibi could set a harmful precedent in other blasphemy cases.

Another Christian woman, Martha Bibi – no relation to Asia Bibi – is on trial in Lahore for blasphemy. She was accused of committing blasphemy after a dispute with builders in Kasur who reportedly refused to return equipment belonging to her.

Mr Dipper said Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were “wide open to abuse” and that Christians and other minorities were often accused of committing blasphemy by Muslims as a “vengeful way of settling scores”.

He warned: “In effect Asia has been sentenced to death for sharing her Christian faith. In previous cases, the death sentence has not been carried out. But this could well mean a life sentence for Asia in appalling conditions on death row.”

Release’s online petition can be found at:

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Election having once pitched upon a man, it will find him out and call him home, wherever he be. It called Zaccheus out of accursed Jericho; Abraham out of idolatrous Ur of the Chaldees; Nicodemus and Paul, from the College of the Pharisees, Christ's sworn enemies; Dionysius and Damaris, out of superstitious Athens. In whatsoever dunghills God's elect are hid, election will find them out and bring them home. -JOHN ARROWSMITH (1602-1659) one of the Westminster divines

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Elaine N. Aron-

While it is wise to accept what we cannot change about ourselves, it is also good to remember that we are never too old to replace discouragement with bit and pieces of confidence and hope. -Elaine N. Aron _The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You_

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Response to The Bush Memoirs

Predictably when this was referenced on Facebook I got flak from my friends. I expected no less. But there was one supportive post with this quote,

"The Sermon on the Mount is the last word in Christian ethics. Everyone repsects the Quakers. Still, it is not on these terms that Ministers assume their responsibilities of guiding States." - Winston Churchill

Winston was right. A distinction is to be made between Christian personal ethics, turning the other cheek, and those of the state which bears the sword.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Bush Memoirs

No I have not read them and do not expect that I will. As expected, not well received by our liberal media. Horror of horrors, he claims water boarding was not wrong and saved lives. So far I have only heard one source in favour of his stance, The Sun.

So here is a first for me. I applaud the Murdoch rag. I do not want to stand on the moral high ground with all the rest and deplore harsh treatment of suspected terrorists. Desperate diseases require desperate remedies. The man who said that died after torture. We celebrated his failure last week.

Bush had been vilified all the time by our media. I believe he is an upright Christian man who did his job with a lot more moral integrity than the man in office before him. But then, Slick Willy did not set that bar high at all.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Thomas Arnold 1795-1842 -

First, religious and moral principles; secondly, gentlemanly conduct; thirdly, intellectual ability.
Thomas Arnold 1795-1842

The distinction between Christianity and all other systems of religion consists largely in this, that in these others men are found seeking after God, while Christianity is God seeking after men. THOMAS ARNOLD

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) -

One thing only has been lent to youth and age in common -- discontent.- Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) Poet. Son of Thomas, headmaster of Rugby

We cannot kindle when we will
The fire that in the heart resides,
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides; —
But tasks, in hours of insight willed,
Can be through hours of gloom fulfilled.
Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) Morality (1852), st. 1.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The changing world (3) Catton School 1952-56

It was NOVEMBER 13, 2007 when I blogged my last memoir.'The changing world (2) Skipton on Swale'. I ended that with my name carved on the bridge together with that of my teenage love. Visiting there last month I was saddened to see the bridge closed for renovations which will mean the loss of my lovelorn inscription.

My schooling started age 5 in Topcliffe, the old school in the centre of the village. All I remember of it is we had slates when I started. But within a year we moved to Skipton and i was at Catton School.

I saw it last month, now a private house. But in 1952 the children between the ages of 5 and 15 from the villages of Skipton and Catton were all there in two classes. The only escape was to pass the 11 plus exam. When I was there until 1956 I knew only two locals who had gone to Thirsk Grammar School. You started in the infants class then went up to the older one. I cannot remember at what age I moved up but i was a precocious child who suffered some bullying for being perceived as teacher's pet. Well I was Miss Mather's star pupil.

What I remember from her are a few poems. She taught me Daffodils by both Wordsworth and Herrick. From Westminster Bridge, and Going Downhill on a Bicycle. She got me through the 11 plus at the age of nine, a year earlier than normal so I had a year in hand all the way through senior school at Thirsk.

At Catton I was introduced to politics. There was a general election and everyone supported the local Conservative M P, Robin Turton. His Thirsk and Malton constituency was one of the safest Tory seats and he eventually became Father of the House of Commons, Local children chanted,

Vote for Turton.
Don't go for a burton.
Vote for Mytton
And get bitten.

Being the natural reactionary and finding my father to be Labour I suggested we put up the village's only labour poster. dad had more discretion than political valour. Being chapel, Methodist, when the majority were Church, Anglican,, one was used to being different. We went to Sunday School in the morning and chapel in the evening. The only times we has afternoon services were Sunday School Anniversary and Harvest festival. The latter was followed by Monday evening service, harvest supper and auction sale of the harvest produce which had decorated the chapel. Fir the Sunday School Anniversary we pupils were seated on a special platform over the Communion Table. One had to learn a recitation. my first, back at Topcliffe in 1950, age four was,

Jesus died for all the children
All the children in the world.
Red and yellow,
Black and white,
All are precious in his sight.
Jesus died for all the children
All the children in the world.

That 11 plus exam was in two parts, the first local, the second in Thirsk. I recall being somewhat tearful with the strain of the second part.

Age 8 in 1954 we had a new family member, my brother Geoffrey. My father had graduated from an Autocycle to BSA Bantam 125 on which I could ride pillion.

I remember Bonfire Night with local bonfire and fireworks of our own in the garden. Boys threw penny bangers and we liked the jumping jacks too, now all gone. November 4th was Mischief Night when we knocked on doors and ran away. We also tied garden gates together. But letting off fireworks except on November 5th was not acceptable.

Christams and New year mornings children would rise early and go round the village luckybirding. We sand and begged.

Lukybird, luckybird,
Cluck cluck cluck.
If you don't get up
You'll have no luck'
A hole in your sicking
Hole in your shoe,
Please will you spare us a copper or two.
Lukybird, luckybird,
God bless you.

Before I left Catton I had already earned some money too. Autumn term half term week was Spud Bashing week. Even under 10 one worked potato picking on local farms for a few shillings. Being allowed to bring up the tractor along the row was a treat. But the old horse was more efficient. You only had to call for the horse to bring up the cart into which one tipped the skip of spuds.

There were several old RAF sites around the village and the old war time bomber aerodrome. We plated around them as children. Most have gone now but there still stands the old RAF cinema building. There in June 1953 I won third prize in the Coronation day fancy dress competition. I was an old sea dog, a pirate with pyjama bottoms for trousers, mainly sun tan lotion to darken my torso, and a goose wing for a cutlass. it was a cold wet day. The next weak we saw the Coronation on film at a Thirsk cinema.

Cinema visits were a rarity. The only films i was taken to were religious ones, Quo Vadis and The Robe. Entertainment was dad's valve radio. It had MW, LW and SW. Of course it was all BBC except for the adventure of Radio Luxembourg. Favorites were have a Go with Wilfred Pickles, Mabel at the table and Harry Hudson on the piano. There was Life With The Lyons and also Dan Dare. Sundays were radio free

Eberhard and Emmy Arnold -

You have perhaps waited for years to be freed from some need. For a long, long time you have looked out from the darkness in search of the light, and have had a difficult problem in life that you have not been able to solve in spite of great efforts. And then, when the time was fulfilled and God's hour had come, did not a solution, light, and deliverance come quite unexpectedly, perhaps quite differently than you thought?- Eberhard Arnold, (1883 – 1935) German writer, philosopher, and theologian, "When the Time Was Fulfilled"

It dawns on me more and more how trivial and short our lifespan is. It is like smoke; it is like a flower, it is like grass, it is like a butterfly&emdash;for it passes so quickly, flying away. Nobody, no one can bring back wasted years. One wishes that one would have always lived with Eternity in mind. - Emmy von Hollander Arnold (1884-1990)

Husband and wife founded the Bruderhof community.

Friday, November 05, 2010

NIGERIA – Women and children killed in brutal night raid on Plateau village

Four children and two women were killed when gunmen launched a night-time assault on a Christian village in Plateau State, according to Release partners.

Stefanos Foundation reports that gunmen raided Ranwianku at about 11pm on October 25, shooting at villagers and attacking them with machetes, despite the presence of an army barracks little more than a mile away. Homes were set alight and cattle killed.

One man, Umaru Hole, lost his wife and three children in the attack. The other victims were an elderly woman and a young boy who was brutally attacked with a machete.

Stefanos Foundation will be providing emergency relief and trauma counselling for survivors of the raid with financial support from Release. Ranwianku is 18 miles from the state capital, Jos.

Most eyewitnesses interviewed by Stefanos Foundation said that the gunmen were speaking the Fulani language. Fulani Muslims have been blamed for previous attacks on Christian communities in and around Jos this year. The villagers are all ethnic Irigwe Christians.

Villagers said that all ethnic Fulani people had left the village over the past decade, since tensions had flared between Muslims and Christians in Plateau, although some continued to graze their cattle near Ranwianku.

The funeral for the six victims of the attack was attended by several clergy, a senior military commander and community leaders, many of whom urged villagers not to seek revenge. The military chief assured villagers of his commitment to 'bring lasting peace to the state'.

(Source: Stefanos Foundation)

• Ask God to pour out His love and comfort over the village of Ranwianku – and particularly on the three families who lost loved ones in the raid.
• Pray that Plateau officials, including the military, will remain true to their word and do more to bring lasting peace and protection for vulnerable Christian communities.

Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 9RT, UK

Ernst Moritz Arndt -

He who fights against tyrants is holy, and he who tames the arrogant serves the Lord.-- Ernst Moritz Arndt ( 1769 – 1860) German author

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Books read in November 2010

1. The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography by Barbara K. Lewalski

This is not an easy to read book. It is a detailed, very scholarly work. it is more than a biography for Milton lived at the most turbulent period of English history and held important office under The Commonwealth. So we learn a lot of English history too as well as having commentary on Milton's poetry and prose.
This is the life of one of England's most illustrious sons. Fluent in eight languages, he went blind in his early forties. He never saw his second or third wife and wrote a notorious book on divorce when estranged temporarily from his first wife. The main apologist in print for regicide and republic it was amazing that he survived the Restoration alive. He had friends in high places and an international scholarly reputation in his favour. Defender of liberty and unorthodox in his Christianity he remains the man to give the lie to the stereotype of a joyless Puritan age where the arts were not valued.

2. The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk

The memoirs of a noted journalist who has covered most of the conflicts in the Muslim world for several decades are exceedingly long and detailed. In fact they are an endurance test which I failed in the end. Unremitting brutality, folly and torture need in my opinion a shorter presentation before this reader is wearied too much by it all. He starts in headline fashion relating his interviews with Osama Bin Laden then his coverage of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Then we have the Iranian revolution and the war with Iraq. Most interesting for me were his personal family history of his father and then his account of the Armenian genocide and the continuing failure of the West to make Turkey admit to its atrocities.

3. A Journey by Tony Blair

I have read the autobiographies of the two previous prime ministers but with their policies I had sympathy. Reading Blair I am dealing with a man whose politics are not mine. In fact I find him arrogant in his dismissal of those who disagree with him over things he merely takes for granted like the EU, removal of hereditary peers and civil partnerships. However, the fascination of the book is the insiders view of life at the top of the greasy pole and the anecdotes concerning the mighty.

Blair comes across as very human. I assume his account is honest. He describes his apprehension at taking his only ever government post, prime minister. He confesses apprehension. He says he had not been favorite to be Labour leader. Brown, who lost out, is the chancellor he could not replace, but the man who coveted the premiership and who would move from Blair's New Labour path.

One is surprised at some whom Blair liked as men, Paisley and Bush. He defends the latter as a man of intelligence and integrity. He was though not the skilled political operator like Clinton. Clinton in common with Labour colleagues caught up in sexual scandals is sympathetically excused. According to Blair politicians enjoy extra-marital sex as a relaxation form the job. For Tony, that relaxation was holidays overseas.

Blair's most positive achievement in his career seems to be the Good Friday Agreement. How it was achieved is detailed and fascinating, as are the accounts of Diana's death, 9/11 and 7/7. Policy wise there are it seems no regrets, certainly not over Iraq. He does though wish he had not wasted so much time over fox hunting which he now seems to view with relative sympathy.

Blair is a man who knows and feels responsibility, especially that of sending people into combat. He has a sense of humour and tells some good stories These anecdotes make the book entertaining and not a mere political bore.

Blair does not wear his professedly Christian heart on his sleeve. There are few references to any faith motivation, his faith being as liberal as his politics.

What will history's verdict be? For me he is an able leader who made Labour electable. He brought us peace in Ireland and war overseas. I can admire the man and dislike his policies.

4. Leading from the Front: An autobiography by General Sir Richard Dannatt

I read this book because I was impressed by the author's Christian testimony in the press. It is here in the book but I think muted in a typical traditional Anglican way. So I was rather disappointed that there was not more about how his faith influenced his life.

The general got to the top army post and was only denied charge of all the armed forces because of his outspoken standing up for the interests of his troops in a way the Labour government did not appreciate. One admires his courage on behalf of his troops and also his courage under fire in Northern Ireland.

If one is not into the technicalities of the army large parts of the book are hard going but Dannatt comes across as a first rate soldier and family man.

5. A farm in Perivale by Eva Farley

This book is more than the title may lead you to believe. It is a history of Perivale and Ealing from the earliest times as well as the account of the author's family life in the farm at the foot of Horsenden Hill. Most interesting is how a farming village was in the 1930s transformed into a London suburb. The photos are of poor quality but it is a fascinating book for anyone interested in the locality.

Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) -

After the reading of Scripture, which I strenuously inculcate, and more than any other ... I recommend that the Commentaries of Calvin be read ...For I affirm that in the interpretation of the Scriptures Calvin is incomparable, and that his Commentaries are more to be valued than anything that is handed down to us in the writings of the Fathers -- so much that I concede to him a certain spirit of prophecy in which he stands distinguished above others, above most, indeed, above all. - Jacobus Arminius (October 10, 1560–October 19, 1609), the Latinized name of the Dutch theologian Jakob Hermanszoon served from 1603 as professor in theology at the University of Leiden.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Dick Armey (1940- ) -

If I were in the President's place (Clinton) I would not get a chance to resign. I would be lying in a pool of my own blood, hearing Mrs. Armey standing over me saying, "How do I reload this damn thing?" -Congressman Dick Armey

You cannot get ahead while you are getting even.- Dick Armey

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tourism takes over

Enjoying a two week holiday in the north of England I am led to muse on how much the tourist trade has altered towns and villages. First we went to Skipton to see the statue of my hero. Fred Trueman. The town seemed to have a large number of tourist shops and a gross overdose of Halloween. I loathe this American commercial festival with its occult symbolism. I even had to endure BBC TV telling me all about modern witches and druids and what a wonderful pro-feminist religion it is.

But back to Yorkshire. If I give Skipton a 6/10 tourist influence, then Grassington is 9/10, redeemed from the ultimate mark only by one being able to enjoy a pint of Black Sheep Rigwelter strong bitter. A rigwelted sheep is stuck on its back and will die unless helped upright. Grassington is totally dominated by tourism. It has changed the village from the traditional place one would come to see.

My home town of Thirsk, at 4/10 is going that way too. Traditional newsagents and toy shops, Fox's and Dodsworth's are no more. Following the Herriot label one pub has become the Darrowby Arms and we have the spectacle of Rosie and Jim's Junk Shop. Richmond is 2/10 and seems to have escaped the trend.

Keswick is 10/10 tourist but Kendal I put at only 2/10. It gets top marks as a shopping centre and for informing the visitor of its history. Kendal is different for so much is old yards off a main street. We are staying 46 steps up above one such yard. At least that saved us from the pestilential trick or treaters. One shortcoming is the failure to identify churches on the street maps displayed.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Two countries where it is not safe to be Christian

Reports from Barnabas Fund.

A case of blasphemy has been registered in Pakistan against a Christian family. Yousaf Masih and his wife, their son-in-law Zahid and two other men have been included in the charge.
Yousaf, his wife and his daughter are illiterate and very poor and were living in a rented house. When they moved in, the toilet room had no roof, so a relative gave them a sheet of plastic to use. In early July, a group of Muslim neighbours noticed that the plastic sheet had words from the Qu’ran written on it. A dispute ensued between Yousaf’s relative and their neighbours, and a mob gathered near the Christians’ house, demanding their immediate arrest for “disgracing verses of the Qu’ran”. The family fled from their home, fearing violence.
Pray for Yousaf Masih and his family, especially those who have been arrested. Pray that the Lord will grant them His protection. Pray too that the case against them will be dropped. The punishment specified in the Pakistan Penal Code for defiling, damaging or desecrating the Quran is life imprisonment.

Pray for Christians in Pakistan, who suffer so much under the “blasphemy laws”. Pray that there will be a change in the attitudes of the authorities so that these laws will no longer be used to settle scores against Christians.

A Christian convert in Iran has died from injuries received when he was badly beaten by a relative. Middle East Concern has reported that the beating occurred because the relative disapproved of the man’s decision to leave Islam and follow Christ.
There have also been a number of reports of Christians being detained in Iran and one story of good news for a Christian released from prison in October.
In July 2010, a group of 15 Christians were arrested in Mashhad while on their way to spend time with fellow believers. Most of the group were released after a week, but according to Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN) three Christians remain in detention, charged with apostasy. It has been reported that families of those detained have been told they “must persuade their loved ones to renounce their Christian faith and embrace Islam once again”.
A church leader in Ahvaz remains in detention following a raid on his home in late July; his condition is unknown. His wife and 6-year-old daughter were also arrested but were released after several hours of interrogation. A group of nine Christians were arrested in September and charged with carrying out evangelism in Hamedan, as reported by Iranian state television.
Tina, the wife of an Iranian pastor, was arrested on 8 June and sentenced to life in prison in August, but following an appeal she was released on 11 October. Her husband, Yousef, was arrested on 12 October and he was still in detention at the time of writing.
Pray for the bereaved family of the Christian who died as a result of his injuries. Pray that his wife and children will know the peace and comfort of the Lord. Pray too for the relative who carried out the beating, that he will come to know Christ.

Pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are still in prison, that they will know the presence of Jesus.

Praise the Lord for Tina’s release, but please pray for her husband, that any charge against him will be dropped and the family will be reunited.

Pray that Christians in Iran will not be intimidated by the harassment and arrests and that they will continue to stand firm in their faith.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pakistani Christian Men ‘Falsely’ Accused of Blasphemy

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
Visit our web site at: -- E-mail:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

By Jawad Mazhar
Special Correspondent for ANS, reporting from Pakistan
RAHWALI, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Two young Pakistani Christians have been accused of blasphemy, resulting in threats by local Muslims to burn them alive.
The two men, Nasir (aged 20) and Hanif (aged 24) -- known to be best friends in the town of Rahwali, a suburb of Gujranwala -- were implicated in a what is alleged to be a false case of blasphemy under article 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, according to a report from CLASS (Center for Legal Aid Assistance Settlement) obtained by ANS.
Rev Sharif Allam, a local pastor serving in the Church of Pakistan in Gakhar, about 75 kilometers (an estimated 46 miles) from Lahore, and Mr. Joseph Francis, National Director of CLAAS, told ANS by telephone that both men have been “falsely implicated” in the blasphemy case and have “fled the area in fear of their lives.”
Rev Allam, who helps the Christian community in social, economic, political and legal affairs, said the matter is a “very sensitive issue in the area” and that the Muslim community was “ready to attack local Christians and burn them alive.”
According to Rev. Allam, there are only 30 Christian families living in Rahwali, among more than 300 Muslim residents. Most Christians there, he told ANS, are “poor and illiterate and are used to doing manual labor to meet the needs of their families.”
Nasir is known to have done different kinds of labor, including working with masons and collecting scrap from door-to-door and then selling it to scrap shops. He also worked as hawker, selling different items on the streets.
Hanif, who is also known as Chand, was reported to be a government servant, working for the Pakistan Army as a sweeper at the Rahwali Army Base, which he has been doing for the last eight years.
Nasir's father, William Masih, told CLAAS that the alleged incident of blasphemy took place on October 16, 2010, when Mohammad Baig, a factory night watchman, called Nasir and Hanif late at night and asked them to sell some books to a scrap dealer.
Apparently, Baig told Nasir that he would pay him for selling the books, weighing almost 80 kg. Nasir allegedly asked Hanif to help in taking the books to the scrap shop. In one night, they sold two bags of books to a scrap dealer and one bag to another dealer, and were paid for the books.
In the morning, when one of the scrap dealers saw that the books were actually Islamic Holy books, he came to Nasir, returning the books and demanding his money back. Nasir told him that he had spent money, but he would return it soon. As a result of this conversation, the scrap dealer became angry and started shouting, alleging that Nasir committed blasphemy and had insulted the Islamic/religious Holy books.
Nasir and Hanif then fled from the factory, but the owners and other local Muslims went to the police station to register a blasphemy case against Nasir and Hanif.
When local Muslims learned that Nasir and Hanif had left the area, they become furious and aggressive toward other Christians living in Rahwali.
At about 9:30 p.m. on the evening of October 18, 2010, Mohammad Zahir, a cleric from a local Mosque, along with about 50-60 young Muslims, started shouting at local Christians. Zahir told the Muslims to attack the Christians.

One of the local Christians informed the area police, who were on the scene immediately, and the angry Muslims left the area and did not attack local believers as was threatened.

Local believers were reported to be scared, and unable to sleep that night. Early in the morning of October 19, most of the Christian families fled the area to save the lives of their children and young girls from any harm.
Pastor Allam was informed about the incident and was asked to negotiate with police and the factory owners. He was able to speak to the police, the factory owners and other some influential leaders from the Muslim community, telling them that Nasir and Hanif were innocent and asking them to allow time for police to solve the matter.
The Muslim factory owners demanded that Nasir and Hanif should give an oath in the church about their innocence, and would then forgive them of all charges of blasphemy.
Pastor Sharif Allam immediately called Mr. Joseph Francis of CLASS and informed him about what was going on in the area.
Local Christians, led by Rev. Allam and Mr. Francis, gathered in the church, together with Muslims under the leadership of Mr. Faryad Sethi, who accused Nasir and Hanif of blasphemy. Pastor Allam then instructed all the believers about the oath they were making according to the Old and New Testaments.
ANS learned Mr. Joseph also addressed the public, giving some other examples of incidents of blasphemy, and also educating them about the importance of reconciliation, interfaith peace, love and harmony between the two communities.
Also present were Nasir and Hanif’s parents, who took an oath in the presence of those gathered, stating their sons were illiterate and innocent, had committed the offence unknowingly, and that the two young men were not aware that what they tried to sell were, in fact, some holy books.
Pastor Allam, Mr. Francis, Mr. Sethi and the young men's parents then went to police station to make written statements of compromise through legal procedures.

Jawad Mazhar is a Pakistani journalist specializing in writing about Christian persecution. He was born on November 28, 1976 at Sargodha's village Chak and raised in Sargodha, a city in Pakistan’s Punjab province. He earned his Bachelors Degree from Allama Iqbal Open University majoring in computer sciences and has taught at various educational institutes in his country. He is also involved with “Rays of Development,” an organization working for minority rights in Pakistan. He says, “My aim is to help eradicate Christian persecution through my writing as I bring the plight of these brave people under the spotlight of the whole world.

An evening with the history of Stafford

Last night we attended a buffet reception for the Stafford Coastal Cruising club who were the guests of the deputy mayor in the mayor's parlour, Stafford Civic Centre. We were guests of Katy's sister and brother in law who are yacht owners and club members.

The mayor's sergeant who is his mace bearer and keeper of the regalia showed us round and gave a lecture on the history of Stafford right back to a 8th century hermit. In the year 913 Stafford was fortified by Ethelfleda, Lady of Mercia and daughter of Alfred the Great, becoming the new capital of Mercia . Queen Ethelfleda ruled Mercia from Stafford for five years as Queen of Mercia, after the death of her father and husband. At around this time the county of Staffordshire was formed. King Alfred's son Edward, with the crucial aid of Ethelfleda, finally conquered and Christianised the Vikings who had settled in the east of England.

In 1206, King John granted a Royal Charter which created the Borough of Stafford. The actual charter was on display, a vellum document older than Magna Carta. Two silver maces, originally to protect the civic officers were over 800 years old and had been handled by both our queens, Elizabeth, A magnificent golden mace worth £500,00 was Jacobean dating from the first mayor of the borough. It so impressed James I that he said it should never be laid down and it always stands upright, one of only two royal maces to survive the Commonwealth.

It was though a Commonwealth relic which lead me to regret not having my camera. The metal breastplate Bradshaw, judge at the trial of Charles I is on display. I knew he had an armoured hat but did not know about this armour worn under the judicial robes.

After declaring Charles I guilty as a “Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer, and a public enemy,” Bradshaw did not allow the king any final words. Under English law, a condemned prisoner was no longer alive and therefore did not have the right to speak, and Bradshaw followed this tradition strictly. He was buried with great honours at Westminster Abbey.] On his deathbed Bradshaw said that if called upon to try the King again he would be "the first man in England to do it".

Charles II was restored to his throne in 1660. On 30 January 1661 – the twelfth anniversary of the regicide – the bodies of Bradshaw, Cromwell and Henry Ireton were exhumed and displayed in chains all day on the gallows at Tyburn. At sunset the bodies were beheaded. The bodies were thrown into a common pit and the heads were displayed on pikes on top of Westminster Hall.

Bradshaw said disobedience to tyrants is obedience to God.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

These I have watched

1. The Last King Of Scotland

Forest Whitaker a wonderful performance as the maniac with charm, Amin. The young doctor is rather far fetched. Fiction is meant to be believable. What mission hospital would recruit a man with his sexual mores? He does seem to confirm that the human male does not have an adequate blood supply to engage brain and penis at the same time. The popularity then the horror of Amin's rule is well conveyed, so well that those who watched with me did not find this to be suitable entertainment.

Lance Armstrong (1971- ) -

The truth is, if you asked me to choose between winning the Tour de France and cancer, I would choose cancer. Odd as it sounds, I would rather have the title of cancer survivor than winner of the Tour, because of what it has done for me as a human being, a man, a husband, a son, and a father. - Lance Armstrong

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with? - Lance Armstrong (It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life)

Without cancer, I never would have won a single Tour de France. Cancer taught me a plan for more purposeful living, and that in turn taught me how to train and to win more purposefully. It taught me that pain has a reason, and that sometimes the experience of losing things — whether health or a car or an old sense of self — has its own value in the scheme of life. Pain and loss are great enhancers.- ibid, As quoted in Forbes Magazine (3 December 2001)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Karen Armstrong (1944- ) -

I had a number of strong religious beliefs but little faith in God.There is a distinction between *belief* in a set of propositions and a *faith* which enables us to put our trust in them. ~Karen Armstrong

Indeed there is a case for arguing that Homo sapiens is also Homo religiosus.... like any other human activity, religion can be abused but it seems to be something that we have always done. It was not tacked on to a primordially secular nature by manipulative kings and priests but was natural to humanity. Indeed, our current secularism is an entirely new experiment, unprecedented in human history. We have yet to see how it will work. It is also true to say that our Western liberal humanism is not something that comes naturally to us; like an appreciation of art and poetry it has to be cultivated. Humanism is itself a religion without god -not all religions, of course, are theistic. ~Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong is an apostate formrd nun with a penchant for looking favourably on things Islamic.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Raul Armesto -

The world isn't interested in the storms you encountered, but whether or not you brought in the ship. - Raul Armesto

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Good news for a change.

News is usually the unusual and bad. It is man bites dog, not dog bites man and certainly not man is dog's best friend. But this week we have had our news dominated by a good news story. 33 miners trapped half a mile from the surface in a Chilean copper mine had at first been given up for dead. After 69 days we saw them brought to the surface one by one. I will not forget the emotion shown in the faces of waiting relatives. But it was a pleasant surprise seeing newly freed men first kneeling to give thanks to God for their rescue.

As miners were being pulled from Chile's San Jose mine last Wednesday, most were wearing tan T-shirts over their overalls. The Chilean government told reporters the green overalls were designed to help absorb the sweat as they ascended to the top. But why the miners were wearing a T-shirt over their overalls and with a logo on the T-shirt's left sleeve, 'Jesus'?

This 'Jesus' was the logo from the film of the life of Jesus. Campus Crusade for Christ International was able to send an MP3 audio version of the Jesus film and an MP3 audio version of the New Testament in Spanish down the mine. The Jesus film explains that the New Testament tells how Jesus is laid in a cave tomb after his crucifixion. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. In the Jesus film, women come to the tomb and find the stone that blocked the entrance has been rolled away, the cave empty. It is not clear if the miners saw the resurrection story as a parallel for their hoped-for rescue, but miner Jose Henriquez passed along a letter from inside the mine.

'Thank you for this tremendous blessing for my co-workers and me. It will be good for our spiritual edification. I am fine because Christ lives in me. We have prayer services at 12 noon and 6 pm.'

Henriquez said goodbye with Psalm 95:4, which says, 'In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.’ A few days later, Henriquez asked for special T-shirts. The T-shirts were a gift from Campus Crusade for Christ Chile. In the front you can read, 'Gracias Senor' – 'Thank you Lord.’ and on the back, Psalm 95:4.

When the mine collapsed, three of the miners -- including HenrĂ­quez -- were active Christians. Since then, two more of them have made professions of faith. The wife of one of the miners who became a Christian since being trapped in the mine has also accepted Christ.

I first read about the T-shirts on Facebook early Friday morning. The story quickly went viral there and I was left wondering why it had nor been picked up in main stream media coverage, There had been 24 hour news coverage on TV but I had heard nothing. I am told that Sky News had referred to the shirts but I had not seen it while I watched their coverage. BBC Radio 5 had covered it but in the early morning hours. Since then I have heard news of discord down the mine and above ground arguments between wives and mistresses. Back to the usual bad news.

What we get in news coverage is what the journalists think we want to watch, hear or read. This is not 'whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable'. Scandal and gossip are all too often what we prefer. The mind set too is secular. Try looking for the faith or religion section on major internet news sites and you will be hard pressed to find much at all. Western news is secular and very selective. In Britain we are not as insular as the news coverage in the USA but African news can be hard to find. The Mumbai killings were all over our news but many more were killed in the Jos riots around the same time and coverage was minimal. One murder in the UK may make the headlines while hundreds killed in Africa are ignored.

Journalists will tell you they try to be fair and objective. You should remember they are there to give you what they think you want.

Verbal Missiles and Belligerent Behavior Can Produce Hellish Consequences

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
Visit our web site at: -- E-mail:

Friday, October 22, 2010 By: Norm Nelson
President of Compassion Radio
Special to ASSIST News Service
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (ANS) -- Canon Andrew White is known as “the Bishop of Baghdad.” I first met him in 1999 when I made my initial trip to Iraq and visited St. George’s Church on Haifa Street in a city that was suffering even then.

Andrew, who grew up in Bexley, in the suburbs of south-east London in Kent, England, has been serving St. George’s in the midst of circumstances that, frankly, would drive most clergy out of ministry altogether.
The church has repeatedly experienced damage from bomb attacks in its neighborhood, a few of which have specifically targeted St. George’s. Andrew has had to wear body armor and a helmet while being transported to and from the church building in an armored vehicle with armed guards during significant periods of his war-time tenure at the church.

At one point, all eleven of St. George’s Iraqi church staff were murdered, and only a handful of men were left as part of the congregation because most of them had been driven out of Baghdad (and, in some cases, out of Iraq) by threats made against them.
Andrew, himself, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that is apparent at times in his slightly slurred speech. However, never has his speech contained words of hatred, or self-pity, or expressions of a desire for revenge, or bitterness regarding the almost unimaginable circumstances under which he serves. Everyone in the community calls him “abouna,” Arabic for “father.” It is not just an ecclesiastical title. It is a way of addressing him with the love that people feel for him.
What has happened at St. George’s during a near decade of war is that a congregation of 2,000 has gathered out of need and a desire to serve others. Clinics providing various kinds of medical assistance, outreaches providing food for those unable to obtain it for themselves and their families in the violent city, educational programs for children, trauma counseling, a host of other life-sustaining services and, most of all, glorious worship of God are constant characteristics of life in this parish.
At Compassion Radio, we love this church and its pastor deeply. We have repeatedly provided financial aid and prayer support for it. It’s very satisfying to give to a ministry that so clearly reflects the heart and spirit of the living Christ and the good news that He calls His disciples to live out.

But the costs of discipleship in Baghdad are escalating seriously. In the past few days, the British Embassy in Baghdad and Iraqi Intelligence have contacted Canon White and informed him that they have uncovered specific plots to target St. George’s and destroy it. The threats obviously include targeting Andrew as well.
Threats against St. George’s and against Andrew are, of course, not new. But these threats are rooted, at least in part, in the announcement by a Gainesville, Florida pastor some weeks ago that he intended to burn copies of the Koran.
As Andrew puts it in a recent communiquĂ©, “An army Colonel came to see me to announce that this is still linked to the threat of the Florida pastor to burn the Koran. The fact that it did not happen means nothing to the extremists here.”
There is something that we Americans acknowledge from time to time known as “the law of unintended consequences.” Clearly, that law is operating right now in relation to St. George’s. Actually, it’s been in operation in Baghdad and throughout Iraq for a long time. Its horrific effects stem from words and actions thoughtlessly and ignorantly expressed by people who ought to know better . . . people like the Gainesville, Florida pastor who announced his Koran-burning plan.
Did that pastor harbor a desire to trigger an attack on a courageous congregation in Baghdad? I doubt it. I’m not prepared to call him a bad man. I don’t think he is. But he is an unwise man, a foolish man. And his foolishness made public has produced dire unintended consequences for vulnerable brothers and sisters half-way around the globe. I must admit. That makes me angry and breaks my heart.
The Florida pastor is not alone in his foolishness. There is an attitude growing in our country, the United States, infecting even some evangelical Christians, that combines a dangerous mix of hubris and aggressiveness which incites unwarranted violence against innocent people. Though they’re reluctant to speak out publically, these victims quietly wish that we would (to put it bluntly) stifle our rhetoric and restrain our thoughtless behavior. They don’t need us to make their already difficult lives even tougher.

Tough talk sells in America . . . at least with a sizable segment of our population. Tough talk gets attention. It’s often regarded as a sign of courage. It’s even considered patriotic. But, however well the incendiary language may “play” to an American audience, it can be lethal overseas. I recall a prominent American Christian leader who used volatile language to describe Islam a few years ago. He was praised here at home for “telling it like it is.” His domestic popularity quotient soared. But I was in Afghanistan at the time, and his comments sent at-risk Afghan believers into hiding. Their perplexed response to his words was, “Doesn’t he realize that we’re going to pay a price for his remark?”
I truly doubt that he did realize it. But being clueless can bring the hammer down on those in already hazardous situations.
At this moment, thousands of Iraqi believers have been driven from their homes in one of the cradles of Christianity and are subsisting in places like Damascus and Amman. They are refugees because political expediency in the wake of 9-11 trumped a careful consideration of what a war of revenge would do to followers of Jesus in their ancient churches along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. American military leaders promised a campaign of “shock and awe!” Their words voiced an unwise sense of American invincibility. Some might call it arrogance.
That’s how the Iraqi Christian refugees we interviewed in Damascus heard it. The secular government maintained by the brutal Saddam Hussein was far from ideal, but it at least allowed these followers of Jesus to practice their faith securely in their homes and freely in their places of worship. There were no churches targeted for bombings back then.
Quiet conversions to Christ happened. I know. I recorded conversion testimonies for Compassion Radio listeners to hear. I remember a poster in the gift shop at St. Benham’s monastery near Mosul that read, “Iraq for Christ.” I photographed it and praised God for the evangelical spirit that was openly alive in that place. Bibles used to sell briskly at the Baghdad Book Fair. Not anymore.
Today, there is a real possibility that Christianity will be silenced and driven out of what is now officially called, since the war “The Islamic Republic of Iraq.” That’s a hard possibility to consider since Iraq is a place where there are physical remnants of a church building dating back to the second century, and from which, in the eighth century, the first Christian missionaries were sent to China.
Really, now . . . if advancing the gospel and seriously honoring our Christian heritage matter to us, what kind of “victory” have we achieved in Iraq at the cost of closed churches, a muzzled witness and disenfranchised disciples now on the run in foreign capitals? Not much, I would say.
I am not timid about suggesting that we American evangelicals, who for the most part have supported policies that have increased the risks faced by a now much-reduced Christian population in Iraq and complicated the lives of those scattered outside their homeland, owe something to these brothers and sisters in Iraq.
We might begin paying our debt to them by acknowledging that they exist. That seems fundamental, but it is rare in American churches. Then we might pray for them in some systematic way. Interceding for them during the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 14, 2010, would be a good time to start. Then we might seek out information about the dispersion of Iraqi Christian refugees, some of whom have relocated on our own doorsteps.
Compassion Radio has information about them, as do other organizations such as Open Doors USA and Voice of the Martyrs. A further step might be to provide some financial support for them. Again, Compassion Radio can help answer inquiries.
But this is not a pitch for Compassion Radio. It is a plea for an amplified awareness of the Body of Christ, and an active acknowledgement that the Lord of the Church has organically joined us to distant members in Iraq and other global locations. Just as we would speak and act carefully and sensitively concerning anything that affects our own precious children, siblings, spouses and other family members, so we should carefully consider that our words and deeds that have consequences for our spiritual family around the world.
What will happen to Andrew White and St. George’s Church in Baghdad? I don’t know. We do know that, ultimately, the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church. In the meantime, our verbal missiles and belligerent behavior can produce hellish consequences for Iraqi believers. That’s something they do not need. I’m confident that “abouna” White and his amazing congregation would agree.
Norm Nelson is President and host of Compassion Radio, a unique faith-based, boots-on-the-ground activist media ministry based in Lake Forest, California. The program is heard daily across the United States, and in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East to involve listeners in responsible servant outreach to the neediest people in the toughest places on earth.

Compassion Radio has mobilized its partners to launch and support dozens of Compassion projects, including: restoring schools in Afghanistan; providing shelter and care for abandoned infants in South Africa; supporting “safe houses” for North Korean refugees; funding blindness-curing eye clinics in Ghana; and delivering emergency food and medical provisions in Iraq, Iran, Gaza, the West Bank, Sudan and Sierra Leone.

Grace Personified!

"The glory of His grace." Ephesians 1:6

The glory of grace is its freeness! Grace . . .
fixes upon objects that are most unworthy;
bestows upon them the richest blessings;
raises them to the highest honor;
promises them the greatest happiness;
and all for its own glory.
Nothing can be freer than grace!

The glory of grace is its power! Grace . . .
conquers the stubbornest sinners;
subdues the hardest hearts;
tames the wildest wills;
enlightens the darkest understandings;
breaks off the strongest fetters;
and invariably conquers its objects.
Grace is omnipotent!

The glory of grace is its benevolence! Grace . . .
has delivered, supplied, conducted, supported, and glorified thousands;
brings the inexhaustible fullness of God--to supply the creature's needs;
opens the treasury of heaven--to enrich poor, miserable, and wretched creatures on earth.
gives away all it has--reserving nothing for itself!

Jesus is grace personified! In Him grace is displayed in all its beauty, excellency, and loveliness. "Full of grace." John 1:14

O Jesus! glorify Your free powerful, and benevolent grace in me! -
(James Smith, "The Pastor's Morning Visit")

The grace of God is what distinguishes the truth of Christianity. It is the story of God;s gracious saving initiatives to unworthy rebels.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hadley Arkes -

The modern liberal will strike a militant posture in defense of rights, but he can no longer explain why that biped who conjugates verbs should be the bearer of rights.- Hadley Arkes, Natural Rights and the Right to Choose - political scientist. In 2010 Arkes, born and raised a Jew, converted to Catholicism, which he described as a fulfillment of his Jewish faith

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Muslims or Mohammedans?

The former is the established present usage. The latter is an old one deemed insulting as Muslims do not worship their prophet.

But why is it that they react more strongly to perceived disrespect for their prophet than their Allah? When we lived in Nigeria, Allah's name was constantly take in vain.

How much?
Ten Naira.
i.e Is it so? Yes it is.

They would not dream of substituting Moh's name.
Why is a mere man so revered?
I think it is because Allah is so transcendent, so remote and other that no personal relationship is possible. Th Sufis do try. But for most Muslims, obeying God is doing what Mohammed did. You look to the Hadith to find what is the tradition - which shoe to but on first, how to clean your teeth etc.

Christians have WWJD but what Jesus did is not necessarily normative. He came to die not to give a comprehensive template for living. So we’re not to ask, “What did Jesus do?” so we could copy what he did. But we’re to ask, “What has Jesus done?” because he has done all for our salvation. The gospel is Christ’s life, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension and session at God’s right hand. There’s nothing in that gospel that we could do.–

But for the Muslim, their prophet's life is the great template. Isult him and they are insulted too.

Of course it has its limits. I do not see Muslims riding to the mosque on a camel. It is a bit like those Christians who reckon they have a Regulative Principle of Worship. The early church had no buildings but they do.

But Muslims really are followers of Mohammed and may be so named I believe. I won't do it because I want to be friendly. I respect them, not their false prophet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Aristotle (384-322 BC -

A democracy is a government in the hands of men of low birth, no property, and vulgar employments. - Aristotle, Rhetoric, Independency

All men by nature desire to know.-Aristotle

Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient -- Aristotle

How many a dispute could have been deflated into a single paragraph if the disputants had dared to define their terms. -Aristotle (384-322 BC)

Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.- Aristotle

If things do not turn out as we wish, we should wish for them as they turn out.-Aristotle

It is easy to fly into a passion--anybody can do that--but to be angry with the right person to the right extent and at the right time with the right object and in the right way--that is not easy, and it is not everyone who can do it. - Aristotle

Man is by nature a political animal.- Aristotle

The bad man is continually at war with, and in opposition to, himself. - Aristotle

The best political community is formed by citizens of the middleclass. -Aristotle

The proof that you know something is that you are able to teach it.-Aristotle (384-322 BC)(Quoted in Jean Guitton's _A Student's Guide to Intellectual Work_ [1951]

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.-Aristotle

Thinking is sometimes injurious to health. - Aristotle

We can do noble acts without ruling the earth and sea. - Aristotle

We cannot learn without pain. - Aristotle

Wicked men obey from fear, good men, from love.- Aristotle

Wit is educated insolence. Aristotle (284-322 B.C.)

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars. -Aristotle, _Poetics_, 22, 1459a 5-7

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A protest too much.

Christian voice protests, about 'SECRET HALAL MEAT SALE'.

'Britain 's biggest supermarket chains are selling halal lamb and chicken without telling unsuspecting shoppers, reported the Mail on Sunday.

The paper had to force an admission out of Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, and M&S, none of whom tell shoppers whether their lamb is ritually slaughtered, even when a Muslim slaughterman is intoning 'Bismillah Allah-hu-Akbar' (meaning 'In the name of Allah, who is the greatest') over each animal killed.

No beef sold is halal, it seems. But 5% of chicken sold in Tesco is halal as is 35% of the store's UK lamb. None of it is labelled as such. The Co-op is the same. We believe that only Asda and Morrisons clearly label their ritually-slaughtered meat but we were waiting for confirmation as we went to press.

The scandal applies mostly to lamb. 70% of New Zealand lamb sold by British supermarkets is slaughtered according to Muslim law. The reason is that New Zealand supplies a growing Muslim consumer base in the Middle and Far East . It was the New Zealanders who developed the 'pre-stun' method of slaughter, rendering the animal unconscious by electric shock, rather than by a captive-bolt pistol, which is very 'haram' (forbidden).

But none of the New Zealand halal lamb is labelled as such, so consumers do not know that they are buying and eating ritually-slaughtered meat. A growing proportion of meat slaughtered in British abattoirs is also halal, using the same method, and that does not appear to be labelled 'halal' in many stores either.

In their statements, the supermarkets were determined to present the issue as solely one of animal welfare. They appeared oblivious to the religious implications of the Islamic blessing pronounced over each animal killed. But even that could not explain the procrastination, ignorance and/or inability to explain the facts to consumers that the supermarkets displayed.....

There are three issues here, we believe. Firstly, there is the matter of humane killing. A spokesman for one of the supermarkets assured us their over-riding concern was animal welfare. They have gone out of their way to assure the animal rights lobby on that point, although the RSPCA are not yet satisfied.

Secondly is the subject of the Islamic declaration, the shahada, being said by the slaughterman. If the shahada is pronounced, even with pre-stunning, the meat is halal enough to offend those of other faiths.

Thirdly, even if people are not bothered in the slightest by what is said as their Sunday roast faces the butcher's knife, there is the growing problem of Islamic creep. Why are the supermarkets demanding,, or at the very least accepting, that halal lamb in particular be foisted on their customers, 95% of whom are non-Muslim, instead of providing specialist authentic halal products clearly labelled as such in areas where there is a demand? How long will it take at this rate before every slaughterman in the land is a Muslim?

The story illustrates the point made by Stephen Green on BBC1's Sunday Morning programme on 26th September that too many concessions are made to Muslims - and this at a time when Christians face crackdowns and discrimination.'

If God's law to Israel favour slaughter by throat cutting I do not see why Christians should protest.The Apostle said we should raise no questions over meat sold in the market. An idol is nothing as are all false gods. Multiculuralism does favour other religions over the Established one but this IMO is a worthless protest.I am more concerned at the shortage now of butchers selling pork on the London street.

Aristophanes (448BC - 385BC) -

By words the mind is winged. - Aristophanes (448BC - 385BC)Greek dramatist

You cannot teach a crab to walk straight.- Aristophanes

The wise learn many things from their enemies. -Aristophanes, 450-385 BC, Birds, 414 BC

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ludovico Ariosto -

Nature made him, and then broke the mold.-Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533)_Orlando Furioso_ [1532], Canto X, Stanza 84- Italian poet.

From which comes,

God broke the mould of solid gold which once held Barry John.- Max Boyce

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) -

Dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion. . . . Religion, as mere sentiment, is to me a mockery. - Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) _Letter to Agostino Ricchi_ [May 10, 1537] Italian author

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Victory for Pro-Life Protesters as Prosecution Dropped

Two pro-life protesters are celebrating today after hearing that they will not be facing a criminal prosecution for a silent vigil outside an abortion clinic.

The two Christian protesters, Andy Stephenson, 35, and Katherine Sloane, 19, were arrested twice by police in Brighton this summer for standing outside the BPAS clinic in silent protest with a banner showing an early aborted child. The police asked them to take down their banner but on both occasions they were arrested after they refused. Mr Stephenson tried to explain to the police that they had a lawful right to protest. On the second occasion they were held for fourteen hours at Brighton police station and questioned under caution. Today they heard that the threatened criminal prosecution against them had been dropped.

Mr. Stephenson said: “We are very pleased that the right decision has been made. We have to ask why we were held in a police station for fourteen hours and why our banners were confiscated. We will continue to campaign to highlight the dangers of abortion and the killings that happen at these clinics.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: "We are really pleased that common sense has prevailed after pressure was brought to bear. Thank you to all of you who supported and prayed for us. It is not appropriate to silence and to censor those who speak out against abortion. The freedom to engage and provoke public debate on this matter of life and death must continue to be safeguarded."

Both Mr Stephenson and Miss Sloane are supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

Friday, October 15, 2010

CLC seeks to intervene as Islamic Fundamentalists granted Judicial Review of Home Secretary's Decision to Stop Hate Preacher entering the UK

Islamic fundamentalists have gone to the High Court in an attempt to over-turn the Home Secretary's decision to ban 'hate preacher' Dr Zakir Naik from entering the UK. The case has been fast tracked and Dr Naik’s two day hearing starts on 20 October 2010.

The case, which so far has been kept out of the public spotlight, has been revealed after a Christian minister, Reverend Mahboob Masih, made a legal application to the court to support the Government's position. Rev. Masih was sacked from his job as a radio host in 2008 for allegedly offending Muslims after allowing a Christian apologist to defend Christianity during a radio discussion on Dr Naik’s preaching.

Revd Masih's papers, lodged with the Court, state that "In my view and in the light of my experience of work in the Asian community in Britain, he should be completely barred from all western capitals until he has moderated his uncivilised behaviour, his distorted views on Western life and cultural values and ended his inflammatory oratory style."

Dr Naik decided to seek this judicial review after the Government's decision last summer to ban him from entering the UK days before he was due to arrive here on a preaching tour. Home Secretary Theresa May banned him on the grounds that his presence "would not be conducive to the public good" after Dr Naik claimed that "every Muslim should be a terrorist" and, regarding Osama bin Laden, "if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him".

Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of the Christian Legal Centre, which has been advising Revd Masih, warned: "Dr Naik’s views are extreme and inflammatory, and we do not think they should go unchecked. Being allowed into this country is a privilege and we should not allow extremism to be encouraged in the UK. We fully support the actions of Revd Masih."

Revd Masih's case is being brought by the Christian Legal Centre, who have hired the religious and human rights barrister Paul Diamond.

We value your prayer support at this time.

Andrea Minichiello Williams
020 7935 1488
Christian Legal Centre

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) -

The chief reason warfare is still with us is neither a secret death-wish of the human species, nor an irrepressible instinct of aggression, nor, finally and more plausibly, the serious economic and social dangers inherent in disarmament, but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene. -Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) _Crises of the Republic_ [1972], "On Violence" German Jewish political theorist

The hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself. Hannah Arendt On Revolution [1963]

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thoughtless for the day

Giles Fraser holds high office in the C of E but his words on Radio 4 this morning were sub-Christian. Topically at Man Booker time he was talking about how difficult it is to write about sex or God. Both are too mysterious.

But God has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ and we have four gospel accounts of him. What more revelation do we need except the Spirit to open the word to us. That work seems lacking in Fraser.

Martin C. D'Arcy (1888-1976)

Leave Him [God] out of our explanations, and the life of thought is decapitated... Without God, everything dries up.- Martin C. D'Arcy (1888-1976)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lessons in British diplomacy: From Nigeria to Sierra Leone

Lessons in British diplomacy: From Nigeria to Sierra Leone
When I lived in Nigeria it was said there were three classes of expatriates. First class was diplomats. In 12 years the only one I met was the American consul in Kaduna who came to me for Hausa lessons. In the my last two years in Jos, with my colleague Garba Adamu, I taught Hausa to expatriates and a few odd southerners who wanted to be at home in the North.

Second class among expatriates were those in commerce. I met the odd tin miner on the Plateau, but I was expatriate third class, a missionary, and we had little social contact with expatriates outside of our church communities.

Reading Craig Murray’s book, The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and other Conflicts I Have Known, one is transported to the world of expatriate first class, the diplomat. It is a fascinating story from of a British diplomat who worked in Nigeria from 1986 for four years. Then in 1998 he became Deputy Head of Africa Department, (Equatorial) for the British Foreign and Commonwealth office when Robin Cook was Foreign Secretary. His story starts with his part in the Arms to Africa affair, a major incident in the Blair government as they sought to stop civil was in Sierra Leone. He exposed the unethical nature of the British supposed ethical foreign policy. The word of a former Guards officer engaged in private security was preferred to his by a parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee enquiry. The government refused to prosecute a mercenary and a diplomat for breaking an arms embargo though they had all the necessary evidence. The author was transferred to become Deputy British High Commissioner in Ghana.

He contrasts the safety of Accra with Lagos where he says he could not stroll round bars and restaurants at night. He is critical of the records of both countries since independence. In Nigeria ‘The entire government machinery can be simply envisaged as a pump, with the flow or resources only going northwards…. Import licensing has overwhelmingly favoured Northerners,.. the Dangotes and the Dantatas .. . those pulling the levers of power have been Northerners, the effect of this has been the funnelling Northwards of many hundreds of billions of dollars of Nigeria’s looted oil wealth.’ He says French intelligence services bribed Abacha, (who he sees as the worst ever Nigerian head of state, to maintain his banning of British Airways after Nigeria was expelled from the Commonwealth. Shell he says bribed Babangida and police and military commanders suppressing dissent on the Niger Delta. In Ghana Murray was to get into trouble for saying that British firms were involved in corruption. He thinks it extends to the top level of New Labour itself.

Murray’s father had been in business in Ghana and Murray shows a real love for the country. He was instrumental in ensuring that Rawlings agreed to stand down when constitutionally obliged to and that elections were free and fair. He exposed the corruption of Rawling’s regime and his wife’s profiting from fraudulent business deals at the expense of British taxpayer. Negotiating a peace deal for Sierra Leone from a hotel in Togo he describes a meeting with rebel leaders where he realises he was the only person present who had not murdered anyone. He also had encounters with lethal green mambas. By contrast I never came across a live poisonous snake in 12 years in Nigeria.

There is an amusing account of the Queen’s state visit to Ghana and the discomfort of the High Commissioner when he did not receive the customary knighthood. Murray always turned down offered honours. We also get insight into the character of Robin Cook and he does not emerge smelling of roses. Murray is very critical of the Blair and Bush administrations. He was subsequently removed form his post as ambassador to Uzbekistan and left the diplomatic service. He is a maverick but a good writer, full of humour. No other sort of author would choose such a non-commercial and eccentric book title. He does explain it. He comes across as a man of professional integrity and ability, honest about his own failings, especially in marital infidelity. Read and enjoy an expose of the misdeeds of New Labour and of African regimes.

Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274) -

Abuse does not rule out use. --attributed to Aquinas

Man cannot live without joy; therefore when he is deprived of true spiritual joys it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures.- Thomas Aquinas

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine. --Thomas Aquinas

The most hopeful people in the world are the young and the drunk. The first because they have little experience of failure, and the second because they have succeeded in drowning theirs. Thomas Aquinas

Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate. -Thomas Aquinas

By nature all men are equal in liberty, but not in other endowments. - Thomas Aquinas

Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand. -Thomas Aquinas

If forgers and malefactors are put to death by the secular power, there is much more reason for excommunicating and even putting to death one convicted of heresy.-Thomas Aquinas

Monday, October 11, 2010

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. 121-180 A. D. -

All is ephemeral,--fame and the famous as well. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. 121-180 A. D.

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it. - Marcus Aurelius Antonius (121-180)

Our life is what our thoughts make it.-- Marcus Aurelius (121-180 A.D.)

Remember this,--that there is a proper dignity and proportion to be observed in the performance of every act of life.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. 121-180 A. D.

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, (121-180), Roman Emperor

Shame on the soul, to falter on the road of life while the body still endures.-- Marcus Aurelius, _Meditations_, 2ndC A. D.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Marie Antoinette -

Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it the moment when my sufferings are to end?
Marie Antoinette Queen Consort of France, wife of Louis XVI. 1755-1793 on the way to the guillotine 16 Oct 1793 "Women of Beauty and Heroism"Frank B. Goodric

It is quite certain that in seeing the people who treat us so well despite their own misfortune, we are more obliged than ever to work hard for their happiness. The king seems to understand this truth; as for myself, I know that in my whole life (even if I live for a hundred years) I shall never forget the day of the coronation.-Quoted in Antonia Fraser, Marie Antoinette (2001) [New York: Anchor Books, 2006, ISBN 0307277747], p. 135

I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long. - Marie Antoinette