Sunday, August 31, 2008

There is no truth whatsoever in this story.....

... but I was LOL when I saw the video
Let me reassure worried friends. I cannot stand. I am not a US citizen and even if I was you have to be born there to, as they say, run for office. In England we stand for office. I am better at standing, being too plump for running.

MoD to hold bearskin hat meeting

BBC says,The Ministry of Defence is to meet an animal rights group to discuss alternatives to the bearskin hats worn by guards at Buckingham Palace.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has approached Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney to design a new shape for the 18in hat.
The charity has previously called for fake fur to be used, but said the MoD was not happy with prototype designs.
Baroness Taylor, minister for defence procurement, will meet Peta on Tuesday.

The MoD says it is open to alternatives to real bearskin, but that previous attempts to replace it with synthetic fur have failed because the material has not been durable or weatherproof enough.
The ministry also wants to avoid if possible any change in the look of the red-coated sentries guarding Buckingham Palace, whose uniforms have long been one of the top tourist sights in London.
However, Peta is proposing a new hat shape and has also approached designer Marc Bouwer as well as McCartney and Westwood.
Robbie LeBlanc, Peta's director for Europe, said that although the group was proposing a different shape for the hats it did not mean the new design could not become "iconic".
"Most people think it's fake fur and when they find out it's real and it takes one bear to make a hat, they are appalled," he said.
The meeting is the culmination of a media campaign by Peta that has included a naked protest outside Buckingham Palace.
More recently, comedian Ricky Gervais sent an open letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, calling the continued use of real fur inexcusable.'

Ricky really should stick to his Office job. McCartney and Westwood could be better employed designing dunce's caps for themselves and PETA, AFAIK an American group. The Guards have distinguished historic battle honours. I doubt if the will add PETA beneath the likes of Waterloo. The question is, can we rely on the Ministry of Defence to defend them? But it is intersting how the skin that keeps the rain off a bear is the most effective in protecting humans too.

An "alternative" convention speech

David Brooks, op-ed columnist in the New York Times, writes on August 29, 2008.

'My fellow Americans, it is an honor to address the Democratic National
Convention at this defining moment in history. We stand at a
crossroads at a pivot point, near a fork in the road on the edge of a
precipice in the midst of the most consequential election since last
year's "American Idol."

One path before us leads to the past, and the extinction of the human
race. The other path leads to the future, when we will all be dead. We
must choose wisely.

We must close the book on the bleeding wounds of the old politics of
division and sail our ship up a mountain of hope and plant our flag on
the sunrise of a thousand tomorrows with an American promise that will
never die! For this election isn't about the past or the present, or
even the pluperfect conditional. It's about the future, and Barack
Obama loves the future because that's where all his accomplishments

We meet today to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans, a
generation that came of age amidst iced chais and mocha strawberry
Frappuccinos(R), a generation with a historical memory that doesn't
extend back past Coke Zero.

We meet today to heal the divisions that have torn this country. For
we are all one country and one American family, whether we are caring
and thoughtful Democrats or hate-filled and war-crazed Republicans. We
must bring together left and right, marinara and carbonara, John and
Elizabeth Edwards. On United we stand, on US Airways, there's a
25-minute delay.

Ladies and gentleman, I never expected to be speaking before you
today. Like so many of our speakers at this convention, I come from a
hard-working, middle-class family. I was leading a miserable little
life, but, nevertheless, overcame great odds to live the American
Dream. My great-grandfather fought in Patton's Army, along with Barack
Obama's great-grand uncles' fourth cousin once removed.

As a child, I was abandoned by my parents and lived with a colony of
ants. We didn't have much in the way of material possession, but we
did have each other and the ability to carry far more than our own
body weights. When I was young, I was temporarily paralyzed in a
horrible anteater accident, but I never gave up my dream: the dream of
speaking at a national political convention so my speech could be
talked over by Wolf Blitzer and a gang of pundits.

And today we Democrats meet in Denver, a suburb of Boulder, a city
whose motto is, "A Taxi? You Must be Dreaming."

And in Denver, we Democrats showed America that we have cute daughters
who will someday provide us with prestigious car-window stickers. We
heard Hillary Clinton's ringing endorsement of "the weak-looking thin
guy who's bound to lose."

We heard from Joe Biden, whose 643 years in the Senate make him
uniquely qualified to talk to the middle class, whose family has been
riding the Acela and before that the Metroliner for generations, who
has been given a lifetime ban from the quiet car and who is himself a
verbal train wreck waiting to happen.

We got to know Barack and Michelle Obama, two tall, thin, rich,
beautiful people who don't perspire, but who nonetheless feel
compassion for their squatter and smellier fellow citizens. We know
that Barack could have gone to a prestigious law firm, like his big
donors in the luxury boxes, but he chose to put his ego aside to
become a professional politician, president of the United States and
redeemer of the human race. We heard about his time as a community
organizer, the three most fulfilling months of his life.

We were thrilled by his speech in front of the Greek columns, which
were conscientiously recycled from the concert, "Yanni, Live at the
Acropolis." We were honored by his pledge, that if elected president,
he will serve at least four months before running for higher office.
We were moved by his campaign slogan, "Vote Obama: He's better than
you'll ever be." We were inspired by dozens of Democratic senators who
declared their lifelong love of John McCain before denouncing him as a
reactionary opportunist who would destroy the country.

No, this country cannot afford to elect John Bushmccain. Under
Republican rule, locusts have stripped the land, adults wear crocs in
public and M&M's have lost their flavor. We must instead ride to the
uplands of hope!

For as Barack Obama suggested Thursday night, wherever there is a
president who needs to tap our natural-gas reserves, I'll be there.
Wherever there is a need for a capital-gains readjustment for targeted
small businesses, I'll be there. Wherever there is a president
committed to direct diplomacy with nuclear proliferators, I'll be
there, too! God bless the Democrats, and God Bless America!'

I do not understand all the humour but it's worth blogging as I was disgusted by our biased BBC TV news describing Obama's speech as magisterial. Gone are the days when the BBC gave news as news not comments dressed as news.

New pressure over faith schools

BBC says,'Ministers are being urged to stop faith schools in England selecting pupils and staff on the basis of their religion.
Accord, a new coalition of secular and religious figures, wants the government to stop state-funded schools engaging in what they say is "discrimination".
It argues that all children should have equal access to good local schools and that segregating them on religious grounds harms community cohesion.
The government argues faith schools can help boost standards in deprived areas.
There are about 6,850 faith schools in England out of a total of 21,000 schools. The vast majority of these are Roman Catholic or Church of England.
But they also include about 40 Jewish schools and a handful of Muslim, Sikh and Greek Orthodox schools.

In September 2007, Schools Secretary Ed Balls said the government would open more faith schools where there was parental demand.
But the move has angered some teachers who complain of discriminatory employment practices.
The Accord coalition is made up of religious leaders, humanists and teachers who have come together to call for, not an end to, but a change to faith schools.

It is being chaired by Rabbi Jonathan Romain, the minister of Maidenhead Synagogue.
He said: "Our aim is for every single school to welcome children from all backgrounds. It is a simple goal, strongly supported by the public, educationalists and students."
He added that as a rabbi he was committed to Jewish values but he also understood that no one would gain if this was done in a way that damages community relations.
Faith schools can be very over-subscribed because they often do better than local authority-controlled state schools.
And many have claimed their ability to select pupils on the basis of their faith means they can engage in covert forms of academic selection.

Accord claims that forthcoming research shows the family wealth of pupils, rather than the religious ethos of the school leads to better than average grades.
One of the coalition's supporters, Reverend Iain McDonald, Minister of Southernhay United Reformed Church in Exeter, Devon said the present system "encouraged hypocrisy".
"There are those who attend church in order that their children qualify for admission to a particular school and never set foot in the church again after the children have been accepted."
General Secretary of Association of Teachers and Lecturers Dr Mary Bousted said: "All children - regardless of their religion, culture, and family income - should have equal access to the best possible education in a good local school.
"Allowing schools to pick and choose pupils is not the best way to achieve this or to create young adults with the confidence and personal skills to live and work in our vibrant multi-cultural society."
Children's minister Kevin Brennan said faith schools were a long-established part of the state school system in England.
"Parents should be able to choose the type of education and ethos they want for their children. The bottom line is that faith schools are successful, thriving, popular and here to stay.
"It is down to locally accountable councils and communities themselves, not some campaign group, to decide what sort of schools they should have."
As well as changes to the admissions and staffing criteria, Accord wants to see faith schools follow an objective and balanced religious education syllabus - covering a range of religious and non-religious beliefs.
It wants compulsory acts of worship to be replaced with stimulating multi-faith and secular assemblies.
These might feature religious leaders from different faith groups coming into the school to give talks in assemblies.
It says: "Given the dangers of segregation and the importance of community cohesion we need schools that welcome all and are committed to non-discrimination."'

Liberals whether secular or apparently religious are often united in their beliefs. The one thing I can agree with in their report is that present selection on C of E schools encourages the hypocrisy of temporary church attendance. But Accord seems to me to be wedded to the comprehensive and opposed to all selection. Its proposals go against the raison d'etre of faith schools and if implemented would lead to the loss of their distinctiveness and achievements. For once I am on the side of the government. However, in the light of our post 9/11 world I believe Muslim schools require very close supervision.

Sheep to march over London Bridge

BBC says,'A woman who was made a Freeman of the City of London last year is to exercise her right to drive sheep across London Bridge to highlight two causes.
Amanda Cottrell, from Challock in Kent, aims to promote attempts to raise £50m to restore Canterbury Cathedral and a scheme backing local food production.
She will be joined by Viscount Linley and historian Dr David Starkey.
The right of Freemen of the City to drive sheep across the bridge is a privilege dating from the 11th Century.
Mrs Cottrell, 67, a former High Sheriff of Kent, said: "This is a unique and, I hope, effective way to raise the profile of both these issues. I am very much looking forward to the event.
"Something like this hasn't happened for about 10 years so it's a huge deal.
"It's a fantastic way of promoting two causes but we will have to hold on to the sheep because the police are concerned they might launch themselves into the Thames."'

I think it would have a much higher publicity value if she could get the Archbishop to lead the flock and then launch himself into the Thames. I'd like to see Starkey jump too.


The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. -- Deut. 29:29

The most perfect way of seeking God, and the most suitable order, is not for us to attempt with bold curiosity to penetrate to the investigation of His essence, which we ought more to adore than meticulously to search out, but for us to contemplate Him in His works, whereby He renders Himself near and familiar to us, and in some manner communicates Himself. ... John Calvin (1509-1564)

In natures, we see God, as it were, like the sun in a picture; in the law, as the sun in a cloud; in Christ we see Him in His beams; He being 'the brightness of His glory, and the exact image of His person. - STEPHEN CHARNOCK

[Christians], at their best, know that often they don't know. They do not have all the answers. They do not have God in their pocket. We cannot answer every question that any bright boy in the back row might ask. We have only light enough to walk by. Howard A. Johnson (1915- )

God has spoken.
There is a revelation of His will which we have in God's Word. On this basis we demand that the pronouncement of Gid's Word be obeyed in each clash of principles. Human interference or discretion is only to be decisive where God's word is unclear.
Everyone agrees that human insight must yield to God's pronouncements.The disagreement begins because our opponents do not believe God Himself has spoken while we confess that He has spoken.
Abraham Kuyper, The Standard, 7 June 1873

When God wants to speak and deal with us, he does not avail himself of an angel but of parents, or the pastor, or of our neighbour. Martin Luther

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees, and flowers, and clouds, and stars. Martin Luther

The secular university is scandalized by the claims of revelation. Those who have, for whatever historical reasons, become seekers-on-principle, cannot tolerate the allegation that truth is a gift. To have to receive offends those who have determined to take.... Louis Mackey (b. 1926)

The purpose of revelation is restoration, the renewal in us of that likeness to God which man lost by sin.---- Stephen Neill in The Lion Christian Quotation Collection, 1997

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Return of Christ-

From time to time, as we all know, a sect appears in our midst announcing that the world will very soon come to an end. Generally, by some slight confusion or miscalculation, it is the sect that comes to an end.-G K Chesterton

We must never speak to simple, excitable people about "the Day" without emphasizing again and again the utter impossibility of prediction. We must try to show them that that impossibility is an essential part of the doctrine. If you do not believe our Lord's words, why do you believe in His return at all? And if you do believe them, must you not put away from you, utterly and forever, any hope of dating that return? ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The World's Last Night

I have resigned from the planning committee and am on the welcoming committee.- Donna Newton on fellowship with those who have differing views on the return of Christ.

Neither the nearness nor the remoteness of Christ's return is a rule to regulate us in the ordering of our temporal affairs. Spiritual preparedness is the great matter. Arthur W. Pink

Retirement -

To retire is to begin to die.--Pablo Casals (1876-1973)

Friday, August 29, 2008

New Labour old shari'a

The Christian Institute says, on Friday, 29 August 2008
'Councillors in Tower Hamlets, East London, have been told not to eat in town hall meetings during the Muslim month of Ramadan.

But the same council has renamed a staff Christmas party as a ‘festive meal’ and banned Guy Fawkes at bonfire night.

All elected councillors have been sent an email asking them to support Ramadam by not eating during daylight hours.

Special arrangements have also been made to disrupt council meetings to allow for Muslim prayer.

The move has led to accusations that the Labour-run council is favouring one religion over others.

Councillor Stephanie Eaton, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “I was rather disconcerted to see that the arrangements put in place for Ramadan, which we support for Muslim colleagues, have been imposed upon all councillors.

“We object to the request that non-Muslim councillors observe the fasting rules for Ramadan. This sends out the wrong message to our community.”'

Resurrection -

Go my friends and shed no tears,
I must lie here till Christ appears
Anonymous epitaph

In the bitter cold of winter the trees stand bare and seem to be dead. But in the spring, they burst forth into leaf and flower, and the first fruits begin to appear. So it was with the Master's death and resurrection, and so it is with all who faithfully bear the burden of suffering and death. Though they may seem crushed and dead, they will yet bear beautiful flowers and glorious fruits of eternal life.

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.- Chinese Proverb

Men and women disbelieve the Easter story not because of the evidence but in spite of it. It is not that they weigh the evidence with open minds, assess its relevance and cogency and finally decide that it is suspect or inadequate. Instead, they start with the a priori conviction that the resurrection of Christ would constitute such an incredible event that it could not be accepted or believed without scientific demonstration of an irrefutable nature. But it is idle to demand proof of this sort for any event in history. Historical evidence, from its very nature, can never amount to more than a very high degree of probability. - J. N. D. Anderson (1908- ), Christianity: the Witness of History [1969]

Let us always remember that the end of the resurrection is eternal happiness, of whose excellence scarcely the minutist part can be described by all that human tongues can say. For though we are truly told that the kingdom of God will be full of light, and gladness, and felcity, and glory, yet the things meant by these words remain most remote from sense, and as it were involved in enigma, until the day arrive on which he will manifest his glory to us face to face. -JOHN CALVIN

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection into eternal life . - Book of Common Prayer "The Burial of the Dead" (1662)

Morning breaks upon the tomb,
Jesus scatters all its gloom.
Day of triumph through the skies--
See the glorious Saviour rise.
Christians! Dry your flowing tears,
Chase those unbelieving fears;
Look on his deserted grave,
Doubt no more his power to save.

Ye who are of death afraid,
Triumph in the scattered shade:
Drive your anxious cares away,
See the place where Jesus lay.
Collyer [before 1834]

The Watergate cover-up reveals the true nature of humanity. Even political zealots at the pinnacle of power will, in the crunch, save their own necks, even at the expense of the ones they profess to serve so loyally. But the apostles could not deny Jesus because they had seen Him face to face, and they knew He had risen from the dead. No, you can take it from an expert in cover-ups -- I've lived through Watergate -- that nothing less than a resurrected Christ could have caused those men to maintain to their dying whispers that Jesus is alive and is Lord. Two thousand years later, nothing less than the power of the risen Christ could inspire Christians around the world to remain faithful -- despite prison, torture, and death..- "BreakPoint with Chuck Colson" 28 Mar 02

The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding), lies here, food for worms; but the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.- Epitaph on Benjamin Franklin's grave, composed by Benjamin Franklin.

Receive every day as a resurrection from death, as a new enjoyment of life; meet every rising sun with such sentiments of God's goodness, as if you had seen it, and all things, new-created upon your account: and under the sense of so great a blessing, let your joyful heart praise and magnify so good and glorious a Creator.-
William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728]

Our striving is not for survival but for resurrection.- Mary McGrory quoting a dissenting Bishop in discussion of _The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response_, a document written in 1983 on the subject of unilateral disarmament.

Because upon the first glad Easter day
The stone that sealed His tomb was rolled away,
So, through the deepening shadows of death's night,
Men see an open door... beyond it, light.
Ida Norton Munson

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun's eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened Paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection day, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He's King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
Charles Wesley, 1739

Responsibility -

Freedom is a package deal - with it comes responsibilities and consequences.

We are responsible for the effort, not the outcome.

We set the sail; God makes the wind.

It's my business to do God's business and it's His business to take care of my business.

None of us are responsible for all the things that happen to us, but we are responsible for the way we act when they do happen.

Why people get married: Because sooner or later, something is bound to happen which they can't blame on the government.

God says, 'Choose what you will and pay for it, '- Spanish proverb "

We cannot make events. Our business is wisely to improve them.-Samuel Adams (1722-1803) In "The Speaker's Electronic Reference Collection," AApex Software, 1994.

To keep your feet on the ground, carry some responsibility on your shoulders.Failure to hit the bull's-eye is never the fault of the target. -Gilbert Arland

I've often said, the only thing standing between me and greatness is me. - Woody Allen New Yorker 1996

Chiefly the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands.- Francis Bacon. 1561-1626. Of Fortune.

When things go wrong it's rather tame
To find we are ourselves to blame,
It gets the trouble over quicker
To go and blame things on the Vicar.
The Vicar, after all, is paid
To keep us bright and undismayed
John Betjeman: "Blame the Vicar" -from "Church Poems", published by John Murray

Responsibility. A detachable burden easily shifted to shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star. -Ambrose Bierce

The great thought, the great concern, the great anxiety of men is to restrict, as much as possible, the limits of their own responsibility.- Giosué Borsi

Remember this, that as Noah was drunk with his own wine, and as Goliath was beheaded with his own sword, and as the rose is destroyed by the canker which it breeds in itself, and as Agrippina was killed by Nero, to whom she gave breath, so if ever you are eternally destroyed, you will be destroyed by yourselves; if ever you are scourged to death, it will be by cords of your own making; and if ever the bitter cup of damnation be put into your hands, it will be found to be of your own preparing, mingling, and embittering!- Thomas Boston

The thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you. - Tom Bradley (1917-____) "The Impossible Dream," 1986.

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; itis not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.- William Jennings Bryan

Blame is for God and small children. Ralph Bunche (1904-1971) In "Papillon."

I did it to myself. It wasn't wasn't a pusher, it wasn't being blind or being black or being poor. It was all my doing. -Ray Charles, on his heroin addiction

Chains provide warmth against the cold blast of freedom. - in alt.quotations 2000

The price of greatness is responsibility - Churchill

The enemy is within the gates; it is with our own luxury, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend. - Cicero.

You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.- Stephen W. Comiskey

We create the world in which we live; if that world becomes unfit for human life; it is because we tire of our responsibility. -Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise (1938)

I only set the stage. You pull your own strings.-John Milton aka Satan, in Devil's Advocate 1997

Quote from the Boss... "I didn't say it was your fault. I said I was going to blame it on you."- Robert J Elkins

Cripple him, and you have a Sir Walter Scott. Lock him in a prison cell, and you have a John Bunyan. Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have a George Washington. Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln. Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes Franklin Roosevelt. Burn him so severely that the doctors say he'll never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham -- who set the world's one mile record in 1934. Deafen him and you have a Ludwig van Beethoven. Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have a Booker T. Washington, a Marian Anderson, a George Washington Carver. Call him a slow learner, "retarded," and write him off as uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein. As one man summed it up: Life is about 20% in what happens to us and 80% in the way we respond to the events.- Ted Engstrom

A man who enjoys responsibility usually gets it. A man who merely likes exercising authority usually loses it.-Malcolm S. Forbes

We improve ourselves by victories over ourself. There must be contests, and we must win.- Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

We must have a citizenship less concerned about what the government can do for it and more anxious about what it can do for the nation.- Warren Harding (1865-1923) Republican National Convention, 7 Jun 1916.

There are inalienable obligations as well as inalienable rights.-Abraham Joshua Herschel

Those who cannot think or take responsibility for themselves need, and clamor for, a leader.-Hermann Hesse (1877-1962)_Reflections_ [1974], #106

I thought I was doing the right thing, I was obeying orders, and now, of course, I see that it was unnecessary and wrong. But I don't know what you mean by being upset about these things because I didn't personally murder anybody. I was just the director of the extermination program in Auschwitz. -Rudolf Hess (1894-1987), Commandant of Auschwitz, April 11, 1946 interview with Dr. Leon Goldensohn, from "Nuremberg Interviews," Goldensohn, ed. Robert Gellately, responding to question from Goldensohn about whether Hoess' role in the extermination of 2.5 million at Auschwitz was upsetting to him

God givers every bird its food, but he does not throw it intothe nest.- J. G. Holland

Responsibilities gravitate to the person who can shoulder them.- Elbert Hubbard

Personal responsibility is a difficult thing to ask for in a nation which has attempted to find a societal "root cause" for all things. - Shapley R. Hunter, 1992

Duty is ours; consequences are God's.- GENERAL STONEWALL JACKSON

No man was ever endowed with a right without being at the same time saddled with a responsibility. -Gerald W. Johnson

Keep always in your mind, that, with due submission to Providence, a man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself. - Samuel Johnson: Letter to Joseph Baretti

He that embarks on the voyage of life will always wish to advance rather by the impulse of the wind than the strokes of the oar; and many foulder in their passage; while they lie waiting for the gale. -Johnson

We must exchange the philosophy of excuse -- what I am is beyond my control for the philosophy of responsibility.- Barbara Jordan (1936-1966) Speech at Bar Association, 1967.

[I]t is...the individual's task to differentiate himself from all the others & stand on his own feet. All collective identities...interfere with the fulfillment of this task. Such collective identities are crutches for the lame, shields for the timid, beds for the lazy.-C. G. Jung, "Late Thoughts," in _Memories, Dreams, Reflections_

The measure of our future success and happiness will not be the quality of the cards we are dealt by unseen hands, but the poise and wisdom with which we play them.`` Choose to play each hand to the best of your ability without wasting the time or energy it takes to complain about either the cards or the dealer or the often unfair rules of the game.`` Play both the winning and the losing hands as best you can, then fold the cards and ante up for the next deal! . - Joe Klock, Like Klockwork: The Whimsy, Wit, and (sometime)Wisdom of a Key Largo Curmudgeon by Joe Klock

I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime. - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-____) In "The Speaker's Electronic Reference Collection," AApex Software,1994.

The reason people blame things on previous generations is that there's only one other choice.- Doug Larson

he game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as playing a poor hand well. -H. T. Leslie

A man may fall many times but he won't be a failure until he says someone pushed him. - Elmer G. Letterman

Responsibility by definition means answerable or accountable for. And what is a person responsible for? Everything he thinks, says or does. Why? Because no matter what or whom one can blame for the circumstances of his life, he is still stuck with the consequences of everything he thinks, says or does. People can be terribly unreliable but never irresponsible. Thus there is no way a person can be irresponsible because everyone is answerable or accountable for everything he thinks, say or does, does not do or neglects to do. Until people fully realise that they are totally responsible for their lives, we as a society collectively will be operating under a false and distorted assumption of what responsibility means.-Sidney Madwed

We have the Bill of Rights. What we need is a Bill of Responsibilities. Bill Maher, 1995

Everything that used to be a sin is now a disease.- Bill Maher, 1995

We are responsible for actions performed in response to circumstances for which we are not responsible.-Allan Massie, A Question of Loyalties

The feeling of a direct responsibility of the individual to God is almost wholly a creation of Protestantism.--- John Stuart Mill

Nothing of all these evils hath befallen me
But justly; I myself have brought them on;
Sole author I, sole cause.
John Milton. (1608&endash;1674). Samson Agonistes

A right without an attendant responsibility is as unreal as a sheet of paper which has only one side. Felix Morley

I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.- James Rhinehart

I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty. - John D. Rockefeller Jr.

One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty in finding someone to blame your troubles on. And when you do find someone, it's remarkable how often their picture turns up on your driver's license.- P. J. O'Rourke

There's only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.- P.J. O'Rourke

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
William Shakespeare. Julius Cæsar. Act i. Sc

Man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet is nevertheless at liberty, and from the moment he is thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. - Jean Paul Sartre

The great appeal of fatalism is as a refuge from the terror of responsibility. -Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Victimization status is the modern promised land of absolution from personal responsibility.- Laura Schlesinger

Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will - his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals. -- Albert Schweitzer

I've always known I was gifted, which is not the easiest thing in the world for a person to know, because you're not responsible for your gift, only for what you do with it -Hazel Scott (1920-1981) Interview, Dec 1972; in "Notes and Tones," by Arthur Taylor, 1977.

You can't keep blaming yourself, Marge. Just blame yourself once and move on. -Homer Simpson

Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences. -Robert Louis Stevenson

Many modern psychotherapists have adopted as their credo, Socrates' declaration that "the unexamined life is not worth living." But for modern man that is not enough. We should pledge ourselves to the proposition that the irresponsible life is not worth living. -Thomas S. Szasz _Law, Liberty and Psychiatry_ [1965]

Any set of social and economic arrangements which is not founded on the acceptance of individual responsibility will do nothing but harm. We are all responsible for our own actions. We cannot blame society if we disobey the law. We simply cannot delegate the exercise of mercy and generosity to others.-Margaret Thatcher, speech to the Church of Scotland General Assembly, 21.5.88

We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state. - Margaret Thatcher

I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. "I have a problem, I'll get a grant." "I'm homeless, the government must house me." They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation. - Margaret Thatcher"Aids, Education and the Year 2000," Woman's Own, 3 October 1987,Page 10

There is a living tapestry of men and women, and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend on how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves. And each of us, by our own efforts, is prepared to turn round and help those less fortunate. - Margaret Thatcher"Aids, Education and the Year 2000," Woman's Own, 3 October 1987,Page 10

As human beings, we are endowed with freedom of choice, and we cannot shuffle off our responsibility upon the shoulders of God or nature. We must shoulder it ourselves. It is up to us.- A. J. Toynbee

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.- Mark Twain

Don't go around saying God owes you something. God owes you nothing. He is here first.- GW, adapted from Mark Twain

Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him and to let him know that you trust him.-Booker T. Washington

This being the Age of Therapism, my local school, which has a leaking roof, has a resident team of forty counselors. Talk and listen, talk and listen. All will be cured. Therapism absolves us of personal blame, assures us that there is no such thing as a moral problem, only one of confusion, for which the cure is counseling. Look at it our way, beg the therapists, the universe is essentially good! The fat aren't greedy, or genetically doomed: no, their unaesthetic shape is caused by abusive fathers. As in Erewhon, our criminals are mentally ill, poor things, and the ill (as in AIDS) are the criminals: they didn't eat right. All things are mendable; the pedophile and the rapist can be cured by talk and investigation of the past; the police, unlikely to catch the robber, can put the robbed in touch with their Victims' Support Group. All shall be well, and all shall be well. Once Christianity was the opiate of the people; now its sleeping draught is Therapism. -Fay Weldon, 1998

As a reporter, I interviewed, traveled with, reported on, and deplored Richard Nixon's actions for much of his career. As a columnist, I frequently criticized his presidency. Later, after his political career was ended, I studied Nixon and his record, talked to his friends and enemies, reviewed my own words and memories, and concluded that he was neither evil nor a victim, except of himself--and we're all that kind of victim. - Tom Wicker _Character Above All_

Misfortunes one can endure: they come from outside, they are accidents. But to suffer for one's own faults--ah! there is the sting of life.- Oscar Wilde, _Lady Windermere's Fan_

Often nowadays we hear a question posed that is not really a question. It is an oblique assertion of what the ostensible questioner considers a self-evident truth. The question is: Should we not all respect and honor one's differences? The gravamen of the "question" invariably is that differences of race, ethnicity and sexuality all should be "respected" and "honored."
I disagree. Why should respect and honor accrue to accidents of birth? Given that they are accidents, what, precisely, is there to honor? Surely, respect is owed to, and honor should flow to _individuals_, for their attainments of intellectual or moral excellence, not merely because of any membership in any group. - George Will

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The lust for academic respectability is the major cause of intellectual whoredom.- R J Rushdoony

Respect -

In my day, we didn't have self-esteem, we had self-respect, and no more of it than we had earned. -Jane Haddam

I respect everyone. I even respect journalists.- Alexander Popov

Goodwill is earned by many acts; it can be lost by one.- Duncan Stuart

When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet deep down in his private heart no man much respects himself.- Mark Twain

Often nowadays we hear a question posed that is not really a question. It is an oblique assertion of what the ostensible questioner considers a self-evident truth. The question is: Should we not all respect and honor one's differences? The gravamen of the "question" invariably is that differences of race, ethnicity and sexuality all should be "respected" and "honored." I disagree. Why should respect and honor accrue to accidents of birth? Given that they are accidents, what, precisely, is there to honor? Surely, respect is owed to, and honor should flow to _individuals_, for their attainments of intellectual or moral excellence, not merely because of any membership in any group. - George Will


The birds are moulting. If only man could moult also -- his mind once a year its errors, his heart once a year its useless passions. - James Allen (1849 &endash; 1925)

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: "To rise above little things." --John Burroughs (1837-1921)

THE object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. - G.K. Chesterton, 'Daily News.'

Every man naturally persuades himself that he can keep his resolutions, nor is he convinced of his imbecility but by length of time and frequency of experiment. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)_Prayers and Meditations_

I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's. - Henry Moore (1898 - 1986)

Resolutions, like the good, die young. --Fulton John Sheen (1895-1979) _Thinking Life Through_ [1955]

Good resolutions are simply cheques that men draw on a bank where they have no account.--Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Resentment -

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Carrie Fisher

Repetition -

Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again. - André Gide, 1869 - 1951

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Repentance -

If you're headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns

Semper peccator, semper penitens

To my eternal shame, I even got my wife and daughter to back me up with witness statements supporting my lie. But then my opponents ambushed me in the middle of the trial with clear documentary evidence that I had told a lie on oath. My credibility as a witness was shattered. I had to withdraw from the libel case. And within 24 hours my whole life was shattered too. The former Cabinet Minister had impaled himself on his own sword of truth, with explosive and apocalyptic consequences. Some people have expressed surprise that I am still in one piece after being so torn to shreds in the onslaught of media vilification and castigation I received at the height of my dramas. A great deal of the criticism of me was vitriolic; some of it was vicious; and I deserved most of it. When these thunderbolts were raining in on me from all directions, I turned to my Christian faith,imperfect though it was, and began to ponder more deeply than ever before on the great themes in the gospels of love, penitence, redemption and resurrection. Although I am sceptical of fox-hole conversion, nevertheless the time when I was at the nadir of my misfortunes was the time when I turned more humbly and penitently than ever towards Our Lord Jesus Christ. -Jonathan Aitken in The Tablet. 12 June 1999

Then Isaiah heard the wonderful words: 'This has touched your lips. Your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for.' And the Scripture goes on: 'Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? And I said: Here am I! Send me.' Note the total unconditionality of that response, 'Send me'. It does not mean, 'Send me, I was going that way anyhow', or 'Send me, I was planning to do that', or 'Send me, I rather like the sound of that idea'. It may mean something much more disagreeable. In my case it means, 'Send me to prison'.- Jonathan Aitken in The Tablet. 12 June 1999

There is one case of death-bed repentance recorded, that of the penitent thief, that none should despair; and only one, that none should presume. -Augustine (354-430)

I have often loved darkness,
observed lying vanities,
forsaken thy mercies,
trampled underfoot they beloved Son,
mocked thy providence,
flattered thee with my lips,
broken thy covenant,
It is of thy compassion that I am not consumed.
Lead me to repentance, and save me from despair;
Let me come to thee renouncing, condemning, loathing myself,
but hoping in the grace that flows even to the chief of sinners.
At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin, and abhor it,
look on him whom I pierced,
as one slain for me, and by me.
- From The Valley of Vision. A Bennett

If you have sinned, do not lie down without repentance; for the want of repentance after one has sinned makes the heart yet harder and harder.- John Bunyan

No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief.- Calvin Commentary on Acts 2:21

An error gracefully acknowledged is a victory won.- Caroline Gascoigne

A man does not mind being blamed for his faults, and being punished for them, and he patiently suffers much for them; but he becomes impatient if he is required to give them up. - Goethe, _Maxims and Reflections_, early 19thC

A dead end street is a good place to turn around.- Naomi Judd (1946-____)

Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are, the more you need it and the less you can do it.- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

A governor of a certain state was visiting the state prison, and stopped to talk with a number of prisoners. They told him their story, and in every instance it was one of wrong suffered by an innocent person. There was one man, however, who admitted his crime and the justice of his sentence. "I must pardon you," said the governor; "I can't have you in here corrupting all these good men." --Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) _Lincoln's Wit_ [1958],

If men expect God to return to them in prosperity, they must return to Him in pentience. The flower avereted from the sun must turn toward it, to catch its genial smile.- Thomas V Moore, A Commentary ofn Zechariah, 1856 ( on Zec 1:3.)

There is no carbon paper between the pages of life. Each day is new and God's mercies are freely available. How thankful I am that I don't have to make up for lost time with God. We live in a world where our days are packed with appointments and responsibilities. People and institutions often require the "make-up work," but relationship with God begins fresh each day - Donna Newton

I quit telling my husband"I'm sorry", when he said, "So's the rest of your family!"-Pat Nordman

The New Testament word for repentance means changing one's mind so that one's views, values, goals, and ways are changed and one's whole life is lived differently. The change is radical, both inwardly and outwardly; mind and judgment, will and affections, behavior and lifestyle, motives and purposes, are all involved. Repenting means starting a new life.-J. I. Packer, Concise Theology, PG. 162.

Every time we say, 'I believe in the Holy Spirit,' we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it.-
J. B. Phillips, Plain Christianity 1954

A Christian is a person who has the possibility of innumerable new starts.- Francis Schaeffer

A true repentance shuns the evil itself, more than the external suffering or the shame.- Shakespeare

Repentance is in every view so desirable, so necessary, so suited to honor God, that I seek that above all. The tender heart, the broken and contrite spirit, are to me far above all the joys that I could ever hope for in this vale of tears. I long to be in my proper place, my hand on my mouth, and my mouth in the dust... I feel this to be safe ground. Here I cannot err... I am sure that whatever God may despise... He will not despise the broken and contrite heart. - Charles Simeon (1759-1836)

A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than yesterday.- Jonathan Swift

Let any man turn to God in earnest, let him begin to exercise himself unto godliness, let him seek to develop his powers of spiritual receptivity by trust and obedience and humility, and the results will exceed anything he may have hoped in his leaner and weaker days. - A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God [1948]

Repentance is a grace of God's Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed. -- THOMAS WATSON

God keeps open house for hungry sinners - THOMAS WATSON

Repartee -

Silence is the unbearable repartee.- Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Judge Willis tried to think of a decisive retort. At last it arrived.'Mr. Smith, have you ever heard of a saying by Bacon--the great Bacon--that youth and discretion are ill-wedded companions?'
'Yes, I have,' came the instant repartee. 'And have you ever heard of a saying of Bacon--the great Bacon--that a much-talking judge is like an ill-tuned cymbal?'
'You are extremely offensive, young man,' exclaimed the judge.
'As a matter of fact,' said Smith, 'we both are; but I amtrying to be, and you can't help it.'
Such a dialogue would be held brilliant in a carefully-written play, but that these successvie rejoinders, each more smashing than the former, should have leapt into being upon the spur of the moment is astounding. - Winston Churchill, 'F. E. First Earl of Birkenhead', in _Great Contemporaries_, 1937

On another occasion, in the crowing period of his life, he was addressing a meeting in his old constituency. He said at one point: 'And now I shall tell you exactly what the Government has done for all of you.'
'Nothing!' shouted a woman in the gallery.
'My dear lady', said Lord Birkenhead, 'the light in this hall is so dim as to prevent a clear sight of your undoubted charms, so that I am unable to say with certainty whether you are a virgin, a widow, or a matron, but in any case I will guarantee to prove that you are wrong. If you are a virgin flapper, we have given you the vote; if you are a wife, we have increased employment and reduced the cost of living; if you are a widow, we have given you a pension--and if you are none of these, but are foolish enough to be a tea drinker, we have reduced the tax on sugar.-- Winston Churchill, 'F. E. First Earl of Birkenhead', in_Great Contemporaries_, 1937

To a woman heckler shouting "I wouldn't vote for you if you were the Archangel Gabriel" .....
If I were the Archangel Gabriel, madam, I'm afraid you would not be in my constituency.- Sir Robert Gordon Menzies , at Williamstown ,Victoria

William Howard Taft (1857 -1930):I have been talking for a quarter of an hour, but there is so much noise that I can hardly hear myself talk."
Crowd member: "That's all right, you're not missing anything.";

Wilde once appeared onstage after one of his plays to accept a standing ovation. During the applause, however, someone in the audience threw a rotten cabbage on stage. The witty playwright simply leaned over, picked up the cabbage, and replied: "Thank you, my dear fellow. Every time I smell it, I shall be reminded of you."

Voter: "I'd sooner vote for the devil."
John Wilkes (1725 - 1797): "And if your friend is not standing?"

Remembrance -

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The Larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Scarce days ago
We lived , felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved ,and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw ,
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.
In Flanders Fields, Major John McCrae, May 1915, at Ypres

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We shall remember them.
Laurence Binyon, For the Fallen, 1914.

If there is any substitute for love, it is memory. -Joseph Brodsky

There's a grief that can't be spoken
There's a pain goes on an on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.
Here they talked of revolution
Here it was they lit the flame
Here they sang about 'tomorrow'
And tomorrow never came.
From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On the lonely barricade at dawn!
Oh my friends, my friends, forgive me
That I live and you are gone.
There's a grief that can't be spoken
There's a pain goes on and on.
Phantom faces at the window
Phantom shadows on the floor
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more.
Oh my friends, my friends, don't ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more.
Marius, a character in _Les Mise/'rables_, a musical by Alain Boubilm and Claude-Michel Scho/:nberg, 1980 "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer Based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo

Remedies -

The remedy is worse than the disease. Francis Bacon. 1561-1626. Of Seditions.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Religion -

Don't need a new religion, haven't used the old one up yet.

I am, therefore, of opinion that men ought, (after they have examined with unbiased judgments every system of religion, and chosen one system, on their own authority, for themselves,) to avow their opinions and defend them with boldness.-- John Adams Diary Mar. 7, 1756; 'Works' II, p8

Religion cannot pass away. The burning of a little straw may hide the stars of the sky, but the stars are there, and will reappear. --Carlyle

One sees a trend in our political and legal cultures toward treating religious beliefs as arbitrary and unimportant, a trend supported by a rhetoric that implies that there is something wrong with religious devotion. -- Stephen L. Carter, _The Culture of Disbelief_, 1993

...religion is the only firm foothold of all power; that cast loose or depraved, no government can be stable; for when was there ever obedience when religion did not teach it? - Charles I to Queen Henrietta Maria in Jemes Barbary, Puritan and Cavalier, p.174

It is rather ridiculous to ask a man just about to be boiled in a pot and eaten, at a purely religious feast, why he does not regard all religions as equally friendly and fraternal. G K Chesterton _The Everlasting Man_, 1925

Americans increasingly prefer to be described as "spiritual," rather than "religious." There is a telling difference here: the word "religion" comes from the Latin word religiari, for "binding," and that's the last thing we want our faith to do to us. - BreakPoint with Charles Colson Commentary #011109 - 11/09/2001

Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but live for it. --Caleb C. Colton

There is in me, as there is in men everwhere to-day, a hunger for a positive faith that will..."satisfy the soul of the saint without disgusting the intellect of the scholar". Though neither a saint nor a scholar, I have this hunger because I belong to this generation and this is the modern religious hunger. There is something in me that holds me fascinated at a street corner listening to a Salvation Army exhorter, despite my inner revolt against his inadequate conception of life and religion. --Glenn Frank, 1923

If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?--Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

[By the end of the '70s, many people] hungered for religion's sweets, but rejected religion's discipline; wanted its help in trouble, but not he strictures that might have kept them out of trouble; expected its ecstasy, but rejected its ethics; demanded salvation, but rejected the harsh, antique dichotomy of right and wrong. --David Frum, _How We Got Here: The 70s--The Decade That Brought You Modern Life, For Better or Worse_

Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.- Mahatma Gandhi

Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning. - William H. Gates III

This life is just a testing ground. It's not a popular view, I know. People will.say that I'm sort of a mindless robot who's using religion as a crutch to get through life. Well, I'm not a mindless robot, but I am using [religion] as a crutch to get through life. ~Mel Gibson

And then there was another question. I had met Christ, but what kind of a Christian had I become? Was I a Protestant, or a Catholic? I avoided that question like the plague. I just didn't know, and I didn't dare ask. Years later when we were living in Geneva, my son was born and I had to register his birth. As I filled in the forms I came to the question 'Protestant ou Catholic'? I replied 'Chrétien' &endash; 'Christian'. 'But,' said the Registrar, 'that doesn't exist &endash; the computer won't accept it!' I went to my Pastor, who explained about Henry VIII and the birth of the Protestant movement. But I couldn't reconcile any of that with what I read in the Bible! After three days of arguing with the Registrar, the deadline approached and she gave in. 'Look, Monsieur Gidoomal, I've created a separate box here - it's marked "Chrétien" and we've even changed the computer programme!'- Ram Gidoomal "Karma, Politics and the Holy Spirit" - A Review of the CPA's Future, Address to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Group, Saturday June 19th 2004 Friends House, Euston

Every man, either to his terror or consolation, has some sense of religion. James Harrington (1611-1677)

Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion. - Falsely attributed to L. Ronald Hubbard say his followers, however see for other evidence.

The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, bravery to which the wings of human nature have spread themselves, have been flown for religious ideals. -William James

The very strength and facility of the pessimists' case at once poses us a problem. If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that. The direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root, from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief. The spectacle of the universe as revealed by experience can never have been the ground of religion: it must have always been something in spite of which religion, acquired from a different source, was held.... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Problem of Pain

There is no surer sign of decay in a country than to see the rites of religion held in contempt. Niccolo Machiavelli

As the observance of divine institutions is the cause of the greatness of republics, so the disregard of them produces their ruin; for where the fear of God is wanting, there the country will come to ruin, unless it be sustained the fear of the prince, which temporarily supply the want of religion.
Machiavelli, _Discourses_, 1519

Since I have known God in a saving manner, painting, poetry, and music have had charms unknown to me before. I have either received what I suppose is a taste for them, or religion has refined my mind, and made it susceptible of new impressions from the sublime and beautiful. O, how religion secures the heightened enjoyment of those pleasures which keep so many from God by their being a source of pride! -- Henry Martyn

Religion is the sign of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. - Karl Marx

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children are smart. H. L. Mencken

To be political is to be religious, i.e. to acknowledge a god as the source of ultimate authority over the nation.The kingdom of God grows by means of the preaching of the gospel. Nonetheless, the object of this war is the conquest of 'nations', as Christ made clear in his Great Commission. Stephen Perks ,'Christianity As A Political Faith' 'Christianity & Society', April 2004

There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham.-- Anna Sewell (1820-1878): "Black Beauty," 1877.

Whenever a man talks loudly against religion,-always suspect that it is not his reason, but his passions which have got the better of his creed.--- Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy.

Religion holds the solution to all problems of human relationship, whether they are between parents and children or nation and nation. Sooner or later, man has always had to decide whether he worships his own power or the power of God. A. J. Toynbee

Thursday, August 21, 2008

SAN'A Yemen persecution of Christian converts

Fon News says,'SAN'A, Yemen — Yemeni police have detained at least nine people this year for converting from Islam to Christianity, a security official said Tuesday.

The nine were arrested between May and early August and remain in police custody, said the official.

Converting from Islam to any other religion is illegal in Yemen and can be punishable by death. But in previous cases, those arrested are usually released after they revoke their new faith and pledge to return to Islam.

Three of the nine were detained in west of the capital, San'a, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He declined to provide details about the others.

A family member of one of the detained said he fears those arrested could face torture or abuse in prison. The family member, who declined to be named because of security concerns, said Hani el-Dahayni, 30, was detained in May after police stormed his office and confiscated computers and compact discs.

Relativity -

Relativity applies to physics, not ethics.- Albert Einstein

How long is a minute depends on which side of the bathroom door you are on. - Albert Einstein

....our times when it is unfashionable to be sure of anything, when anything is tolerated except intolerance and when any individual is infallible except the Pope. - Anne Widdicombe MP, The Path To Rome

Regret -

Four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past, the neglected opportunity.- Omar Idn Al-Halif

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humbles hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. -Sir James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937) _The Little Minister_ [1891], Chapter 1

Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have. -Louis E. Boone

Classic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. ROLLING IN THE MUCK IS NOT THE BEST WAY OF GETTING CLEAN.- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

I regret many follies which sprang from my obstinancy; but without that trait I would not have reached my goal. - Carl G.Jung

Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.- C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Regret is the cancer of an otherwise healthy life. -Pitz, Shaun

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.- Harriet Beecher Stowe

For of all the sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been."
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) Maud Miller, stanza 53

No man is rich enough to buy back his past.- Oscar Wilde

Regeneration -

Christ never undertakes to heal any but he makes a certain cure, 'Those whom thou givest me I have kept, and none of them is lost' (John17:12). Other physicians can only cure them that are sick, but Christ cures them that are dead, 'And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins' (Eph. 2:1).-THOMAS BROOKS

. ...the first effect of the power of God in the heart in regeneration is to give the heart a Divine taste or sense; to cause it to have a relish of the loveliness and sweetness of the supreme excellency of the Divine nature.- JONATHAN EDWARDS

Sheep and swine can both end up in the mire. Yet the essential difference in their two natures is quie visible from the reaction each has to its fallen condition. While sheep do stray and stumble into the mire,they quickly loathe the situation and struggle to get free. They may be dirty, but they desire to be clean. They may be stuck, but they bleat for their shepherd to come and save them out of the muck. But swine, in keeping with their nature, wallow in the muck, content to stay there all day.- JOHN ENSOR

Christ it was who gave me hope, which is himself (and) revealed himself in me, and gave me his spirit and gave me his grace, which I found sufficient ... he it was that opened to me when I was shut up and had neither hope nor faith.
George Fox - The Journal of George Fox. Nickalls ed. I2

Regeneration is a single act, complete in itself, and never repeated; conversion, as the beginning of holy living, is the commencement of a series, constant, endless and progressive.-A. A. HODGE

When God works in us, the will, being changed and sweetly breathed upon by the Spirit of God, desire and acts, not from compulsion, but responsively. - MARTIN LUTHER

I felt myself absolutely born again. The gates of Paradise had been flung open and I had entered. There and then the whole of Scripture took on another look to me. -Martin Luther (1483-1546)

It is not the tempest, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, but the still small voice of the Spirit that carries on the glorious work of saving souls.- Robert Murray McCheyne

Just as in the beginning "God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light' so, at the moment he appointed for our new birth, he said, "Let there be life' and there was life.- J. A. MOTYER

We are helpless to cooperate in our regeneration as we are to co-operate in the work of Calvary. -IAIN MURRAY

Regeneration. It is in Christ that the people of God are created anew. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Eph. 2:10). . . . the beginning of salvation in actual possession should be in union with Christ because we have found already that it is in Christ that salvation had its origin in the eternal election of the Father and that it is in Christ salvation was once for all secured by Jesus' ransom blood. We could not think of such union with Christ as suspended when the people of God become the actual partakers of redemption--they are created anew in Christ. -John Murray (Redemption Accomplished and Applied,

When God initiated the plan of redemption, He didn't set out to make fallen people better. His design was to make them new. - Donna Newton

Let them pretend what they please, the true reason why any despise the new birth is because they hate a new life. He that cannot endure to live to God will as little endure to hear of being born of God.- JOHN OWEN

Infants do not induce, or cooperate in, their own procreation and birth; no more can those who are 'dead in trespapasses and sins' prompt the quickening operation of God's Spirit within them .- J I Packer

It has pleased God that divine verities should not enter the heart through the understanding, but the understanding through the heart.- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

No one can truly say that Jesus is Lord, unless Thou take the veil away, and breathe the living word. Then only then, we feel our interest in His blood.- JOHN WESLEY, hymn, Spirit of Faith, Come Down.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reformation -

sola fide * sola gratia * sola Scriptura * soli Deo gloria

Semper Reformanda et Reformans

It is the reformed attitude, rather than the reforming one, that I think has caused more damage to the Church than most things in current days. In possessing the keys to the kingdom, we are in danger of hitting other pilgrims on their journey to the celestial city with those keys, instead of trying to unlock more truth together.- Trevor Allin

Reforms come from the bottom. No man with four aces requests a new deal. Frank Baer

Luther's rejection of Papal authority was not due to any difficulty he may have experienced in reconciling the claims made for the Petrine office with the character of the men who occupied the Papal throne in his time, nor to any confusion caused by the Conciliar Movement. His objections went much deeper and sprang, not from the concrete existential situation of his time, but from his theological principles. Luther saw quite early that his theory of justification by faith alone implied a denial of any divinely appointed hierarchy in the Church. Already in 1518 he had accepted the Hussite doctrine that the True Church, the Church of the promises and the Mystical Body of Christ is invisible. Luther's saving faith is the response of the individual soul to the Word of God revealed in Scripture; in his theology there is no place for any created activity to mediate to men God's saving action nor for any active sharing by men in the dispensation of grace or divine truth. ... George H. Duggan

Reformation ends not in contemplation, but in action. George Gillespie to the House of Commons, March 27 1644.

To reform a man, you must begin with his grandmother. Victor Hugo

Let men say what they will, or pick holes where they may, they will never succeed in disproving these facts. To the Reformation, Englishmen owe an English Bible, and liberty for every man to read it. To the Reformation, they owe the knowledge of the way of peace with God, and of the right of every sinner to go straight to Christ by faith, without bishop, priest, or minister standing in his way. To the Reformation, they owe a Scriptural standard of morality and holiness such as our ancestors never dreamed of. For ever let us be thankful for these inestimable mercies.-- J. C. Ryle (1816-1900), Five English Reformers

For (Martin) Luther, the sola of "Sola Scriptura" was inseparably related to the Scriptures' unique inerrancy. It was because popes could and did err and because councils could and did err that Luther came to realize the supremacy of Scripture. Luther did not despise church authority, nor did he repudiate church councils as having no value. His praise of the Council of Nicaea is noteworthy. Luther and the Reformers did not mean by "Sola Scriptura" that the Bible is the only authority in the church; rather, they meant that the Bible is the only infallible authority in the church.... R. C. Sproul

I dream of a new reformation -- a reformation that is not simply a renewal of life but a new vision of life: a vision that yields new forms and structures in society and culture. As long as Christians restrict their Christianity to a religion, a faith that is compartmentalized and isolated from life, they can have revival but never, ever reformation. We need to hear and do the Word of God in all of our lives.- . R.C. Sproul

Rednecks -

The term used to describe them (Ulster Scots) was rednecks, a Scots border term meaning Presbyterians. - Arthur Herman, How the Sots Invented the Modern World, 2001

As a symbol of their covenant with God and each other, the Scottish Covenanters began wearing a red collar around their neck. Noting the symbolism, the English began to derisively refer to these religious dissenters as "Rednecks." Thus, the origin of the term was born in Christian reformation and resistance to religious and political coercion. Due to their religious and political oppression, and eventual defeat, many of Scotland's Covenanters fled their homeland and came to settle the American South. So it is that the South became the historic home for the Scottish "Rednecks," who sought to live according to the true teachings of the Bible. In Praise Of"Redneckism" By Wayne Carlson - 02.19.02

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More dhimmitude

From the desk of The Brussels Journal

A quote from the press agency AKI, 18 August 2008

The Islamic Community in Serbia said on Monday it was not satisfied with the withdrawal of Sherry Jones’ novel, The Jewel of Medina, from the country’s bookshops. Referring to the book released by Belgrade publisher Beobuk three weeks ago, the organisation’s leader Muamer Zukorlic said it was “offensive to Muslims” and demanded all of the published copies be handed in. He also called for director Aleksandar Jasic to repent for what he had done.

After an initial complaint from the Islamic community, Jasic apologised saying the company "had no intention of insulting Muslims in Serbia" and announced the book would not be available in any bookstore in the country. But Zukorlic said on Monday that this was not enough. […]

The book was due to have a world premier in Serbia, since its US publisher decided against selling the book fearing the reaction of radical Muslims. […] The novel is a love story about the life of Aisha, the seventh wife of the Islam prophet Mohammed, and follows her life from her betrothal to the prophet when she was six-years-old.

A quote from a statement by The Random House Publishing Group, 18 August 2008

After sending out advance editions of the novel THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, we received […] cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence […]. We stand firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some. However, […] in this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel.

A quote from Andrew Klavan at PajamasMedia, 12 August 2008

The very need for such apologias and the very fear felt by Random House condemn the violent principles of the gangsters they’re appeasing. [Dan Brown’s novel] The Da Vinci Code spends its nearly five hundred pages trashing the central beliefs of the Christian community. But for all the hysteria in intellectual circles over fundamentalist Christians, no one had to cower before them or make mealy-mouthed excuses.

Don't be fooled by China and the games

This is a country with little liberty.

Jeremy Reynalds reports as Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
'BEIJING (ANS) -- Members of an American Christian group have ended a standoff with Chinese customs officials over Bibles they were trying to bring into the country.

Voice of America (VOA) reported Vision Beyond Borders leader Pat Klein said Monday that he and three others spent 26 hours at the Kunming airport in the southwestern province Yunnan, waiting for officials to return more than 300 confiscated Bibles.

A representative for the group, Dyann Romeijn, told VOA the four decided to leave the airport Monday after it became clear Chinese officials would not return the books. She said Klein became concerned he and his traveling companions - including a 78-year-old man and 15-year-old boy - would be forcibly removed from the airport.

VOA reported the group was attempting to bring the Chinese-language scriptures into Kunming for distribution. But U.S embassy officials later told them that doing so violated a Chinese law prohibiting the import of religious materials other than for personal use.

The VOA story reported that China does not allow missionary activity and strictly controls independent worship. Individuals who worship outside state-sanctioned churches, mosques and temples are frequently harassed. Some are arrested and sentenced to prison, or forced to work in labor camps because of their beliefs.

VOA reported that last Sunday, a prominent Chinese Christian activist said he was arrested by police while on his way to a church service attended by U.S. President George Bush. Bush was in China to attend the Olympics and to hold meetings with Chinese officials.

VOA said a human rights group reported that the activist, Hua Huiqi, said he was beaten and threatened by authorities while in detention, but later escaped and is now in hiding.

VOA noted that some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press.'

Olympic medals so far

gold silver bronze
China 45 15 21
U.S.A. 27 28 28
Great Britain 17 11 11
Australia 11 13 13

Seoul 1988 - the Brits got 5, while the Aussies got 3. Thereafter, the Aussies have always ended up on top.

• 17/9 in Athens
• 16/11 in Sydney
• 9/1 in Atlanta
• 7/5 in Barcelona

As long as we beat the Aussies I care not about how many medals. I am in fact ambivalent about a success built on money from the Morons' Tax, aka the National Lottery. On the one hand I do not approve of lotteries but OTOH I do not apporove of tax being spent on sport.

My one mystification about the Olympics is why are we GB and not UK for we have team members from Northern Ireland which is part of the UK not GB.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Redemption -

Redemption. It is also because the people of God were in Christ when He gave His life a ransom and redeemed them by His blood that salvation has been secured for them; they are represented as united to Christ in His death, resurrection, and exaltation to heaven (Rom. 6:2-11; Eph.2:4-6; Col. 3:3, 4). . . . Hence we may never think of the work of redemption wrought once for all by Christ apart from the union with His people which was effected in the election of the Father before the foundation of the world.John Murray (Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Recycling -

Recycling Tips - Old telephone books make great address books.
Just cross out the names of people you don't know

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It feels like Christians are being discriminated against

..... the multiculturalizing of the law has given rise to a steady stream of conflicting judgments that appear to display bias against traditional British culture. To give but one example, last year, Lydia Playfoot, 16, lost her high court battle to be allowed to wear, at school, a Christian chastity ring, which she viewed as emblematic of her faith, and her commitment – as a Christian – to refrain from pre-marital sex. Recently Sarika Singh, 14, won her high court case to be allowed to wear a silver bangle, at her school, as part of her Sikh faith. Miss Playfoot’s told the BBC, after losing her case, “At my school Muslims are allowed to wear headscarves and other faiths can wear bangles and other types of jewelry and it feels like Christians are being discriminated against.” And this sense of discrimination by the authorities is becoming widespread among the indigenous population of Britain.-A. Millar Fractured Society: The UK, the Relativity of Law, and a New Bill of Rightsr , 2008-08-15

US rivals try to woo Christians

BBC says,'US presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama have been trying to woo Christian voters at a televised religious forum in California.
The two men shared a stage for the first time since securing nomination.
Speaking first, Mr Obama defended his support for abortion and same-sex civil unions, but said marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
Republican John McCain affirmed he was pro-life and that he strongly supported preserving the status of marriage.

At the beginning of the first hour-long interview, Mr Obama told the pastor that America's greatest moral failure was its insufficient help to the disadvantaged.
The Democratic candidate noted that the Bible had quoted Jesus as saying: "Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me."
He said the maxim should apply to victims of poverty, sexism and racism.
Mr Obama also reaffirmed his belief that marriage should only be a "union between a man and a woman", although he also defended his support for same-sex civil unions and for the granting of similar rights to same-sex partners.
If he were president, he said he would not support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage because the issue was one for state governments to decide.
On abortion, Mr Obama stressed he remained pro-choice and that he believed in the "Roe vs Wade" Supreme Court ruling supporting it.
However, he did say that he would seek to reduce the number of late-term abortions and unwanted pregnancies.
'Pro-life president'
Mr McCain was asked similar questions by Mr Warren. When asked about America's greatest moral shortcoming, he responded by saying that its citizens had failed to "devote ourselves to causes greater than our self-interests".

When asked about his stance on abortion, the Republican candidate declared he opposed abortion "from the moment of conception".
"I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies. That's my commitment to you," he said to applause.
Mr McCain also said he supported preserving "the unique status of marriage between a man and a woman" and that he was against the decision taken in some states to allow same-sex marriages.
"That doesn't mean people can't enter into legal agreements. That doesn't mean that they don't have the right of all citizens," he said.
Conservative Christians form about one-quarter of the US electorate. They largely support the Republican Party, but have not shown great enthusiasm for Mr McCain.
He identifies himself as Baptist and has made a strong appeal to social conservatives and evangelical Christians during his campaign.
But he rarely discusses his faith. Earlier this year he said: "I'm unashamed and unembarrassed about my deep faith in God. But I do not obviously try to impose my views on others."
The Illinois senator, a Christian, has made a point of discussing his religion on the campaign trail and has been courting religious voters with a presence on Christian radio and blogs, and other events. '

Seems to me that Obama's Christianity has as much relevance to his politics as did Blair's, that is no Biblical influence in the areas related to sexuality.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Reconstruction -

Reconstructionist beliefs
1) Christ, not man, is king.
2) The beginning of all Biblical government is self-government.
3) Other covenant institutions (church, family, etc.) do not derive their power from the state, but from God.
4) We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
5) Natural man and societies have a proclivity to slavery and tyranny. (Depravity)
6) The role of the state is to execute justice.
7) Biblical law is the guiding principle of all rightly instituted political systems.
8) God raises up and sets down kings.
9) God reckons his accounts (Deut. 28).
10) There is a time to fight (and a time to die) to defend God's truth and to protect your family and neighbour.

The Christian Reconstructionists have linked the hope for "Christian nations" with (what I call) "idealistic post-millennialism," in which they expect "the nations to be converted, [where] people will WANT to live Godly lives, will VOLUNTARILY institute theocracy (Christian republics) in their nations, and will unify their churches freely and cordially. This is a triumphalism of a sort, but a triumph gained by converting the heart, not by imposing the will"
James Jordan, personal letter to E.A.P., June 25, 1981

One desire has been the ruling passion of my life.One high motive has acted like a spur upon my mindand soul. And sooner than that I should seek escape from the sacred necessity that is laid upon me, let the breath of life fail me. It is this: That in spite of all worldly opposition, God's holy ordinances shall be established again in the home, in the school and in the State for the good of the people; to carve as it were into the conscience of the nation the ordinances of the Lord, to which Bible and Creation bear witness, until the nation pays homage again to God. Abraham Kuyper, 1897.

Now as Christians we believe that the basic starting point is the regeneration of man. Then man takes and applies that faith. For Christians the basic government is the self-government of the Christian man. Then the basic governmental unit is the family. This means that every father and mother will be more important in the sight of God than heads of state, because He controls children, property and the future. Then the third is the church as the government, fourth the school as a government, fifth your job governs you, then sixth society governs you with its ideas, beliefs and standards, and seventh, one among many forms of government, is the civil government.
Today, we are implicitly totalitarian. We speak of the state as the government. That's totalitarian. So we have to rid ourselves of such things. The Christian theonomic society will only come about as each man governs himself under God and governs his particular sphere. And only so will we take back government from the state and put it in the hands of Christians.- RJ Rushdoony , God's Law and Society.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rebellion -

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.
John Bradshaw (1602-59), English lawyer, regicide. Inscription at Bradshaw's final burial place near Martha Bay. See Henry S. Randall "Life of Thomas Jefferson" (1865) vol. 3, appendix 4, p.585. He presided at the trial of Charles I. Buried in Westminster abbey, his body was exhumed at the Restoration and hanged in public, like that of Cromwell.

However these deeds of men are judged in themselves, still the Lord accomplished his work through them alike when he broke the bloody scepters of arrogant kings and when he overturned intolerable governments. Let the princes hear and be afraid. But we must, in the meantime, be very careful not to despise or violate that authority of magistrates, full of venerable majesty, which God has established by the weightiest decrees, even though it may reside with the most unworthy men, who defile it as much as they can with their own wickedness. For, if the correction of unbridled despotism is the Lord's to avenge, let us not at once think that it is entrusted to us, to whom no command has been given except to obey and suffer.
John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion [1559]

He that has once concluded it lawful to resist power, when it wants merit, will soon find a want of merit, to justify his resistance to power.- Samuel Johnson, Sermon 23

We need to stop being such cowards about Islam

Johann Hari writes in The Independant on Thursday, 14 August 2008
'This is a column condemning cowardice – including my own. It begins with the story of a novel you cannot read. The Jewel of Medina was written by a journalist called Sherry Jones. It recounts the life of Aisha, a girl who was married off at the age of six to a 50-year-old man called Mohamed ibn Abdallah. On her wedding day, Aisha was playing on a see-saw outside her home. Inside, she was being betrothed. The first she knew of it was when she was banned from playing out in the street with the other children. When she was nine, she was taken to live with her husband, now 53. He had sex with her. When she was 14, she was accused of adultery with a man closer to her own age. Not long after, Mohamed decreed that his wives must cover their faces and bodies, even though no other women in Arabia did.

You cannot read this story today – except in the Koran and the Hadith. The man Mohamed ibn Abdallah became known to Muslims as "the Prophet Mohamed", so our ability to explore this story is stunted. The Jewel of Medina was bought by Random House and primed to be a best-seller – before a University of Texas teacher saw proofs and declared it "a national security issue". Random House had visions of a re-run of the Rushdie or the Danish cartoons affairs. Sherry Jones's publisher has pulped the book. It's gone.

In Europe, we are finally abolishing the lingering blasphemy laws that hinder criticism of Christianity. But they are being succeeded by a new blasphemy law preventing criticism of Islam – enforced not by the state, but by jihadis. I seriously considered not writing this column, but the right to criticise religion is as precious – and hard-won – as the right to criticise government. We have to use it or lose it........ what does it reveal about Mohamed that he married a young girl, or that he massacred a village of Jews who refused to follow him? You don't have to murder many Theo Van Goghs or pulp many Sherry Joneses to intimidate the rest. The greatest censorship is internal: it is in all the books that will never be written and all the films that will never be shot, because we are afraid.

We need to acknowledge the double-standard – and that it will cost Muslims in the end. Insulating a religion from criticism – surrounding it with an electric fence called "respect" – keeps it stunted at its most infantile and fundamentalist stage. The smart, questioning and instinctively moral Muslims – the majority – learn to be silent, or are shunned (at best).....

Since Jones has brought it up, let us look at Mohamed's marriage to Aisha as a model for how we can conduct this conversation. It is true those were different times, and it may have been normal for grown men to have sex with prepubescent girls. The sources are not clear on this point. But whatever culture you live in, having sex when your body is not physically developed can be an excruciatingly painful experience. Among Vikings, it was more normal than today to have your arm chopped off, but that didn't mean it wasn't agony. If anything, Jones's book whitewashes this, suggesting that Mohamed's "gentleness" meant Aisha enjoyed it.

The story of Aisha also prompts another fundamentalist-busting discussion. You cannot say that Mohamed's decision to marry a young girl has to be judged by the standards of his time, and then demand that we follow his moral standards to the letter. Either we should follow his example literally, or we should critically evaluate it and choose for ourselves. Discussing this contradiction inevitably injects doubt – the mortal enemy of fanaticism (on The Independent's Open House blog later today, I'll be discussing how Aisha has become the central issue in a debate in Yemen about children and forced marriage).

So why do many people who cheer The Life Of Brian and Jerry Springer: The Opera turn into clucking Mary Whitehouses when it comes to Islam? If a book about Christ was being dumped because fanatics in Mississippi might object, we would be enraged. I feel this too. I am ashamed to say I would be more scathing if I was discussing Christianity. One reason is fear: the image of Theo Van Gogh lying on a pavement crying "Can't we just talk about this?" Of course we rationalise it, by asking: does one joke, one column, one novel make much difference? No. But cumulatively? Absolutely.

The other reason is more honourable, if flawed. There is very real and rising prejudice against Muslims across the West. The BBC recently sent out identically-qualified CVs to hundreds of employers. Those with Muslim names were 50 per cent less likely to get interviews. Criticisms of Islamic texts are sometimes used to justify US or Israeli military atrocities. Some critics of Muslims – Geert Wilders or Martin Amis – moot mass human rights abuses here in Europe. So some secularists reason: I have plenty of criticisms of Judaism, but I wouldn't choose to articulate them in Germany in 1933. Why try to question Islam now, when Muslims are being attacked by bigots?

But I live in the Muslim majority East End of London, and this isn't Weimar Germany. Muslims are secure enough to deal with some tough questions. It is condescending to treat Muslims like excitable children who cannot cope with the probing, mocking treatment we hand out to Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. It is perfectly consistent to protect Muslims from bigotry while challenging the bigotries and absurdities within their holy texts.

There is now a pincer movement trying to silence critical discussion of Islam. To one side, fanatics threaten to kill you; to the other, critics call you "Islamophobic". But consistent atheism is not racism. On the contrary: it treats all people as mature adults who can cope with rational questions. When we pulp books out of fear of fundamentalism, we are decapitating the most precious freedom we have.'

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reality -

Reality is what refuses to go away when I stop believing in it. P. K. Dick

Humankind cannot bear very much reality. T S Elliott

The masses think that is is easy to flee from reality, when it is the most difficult thing in the world.--Ortega y Gasset

Either you deal with what is the reality, or you can be sure that the reality is going to deal with you. Alex Haley (1921-1992)

I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it. - Garrison Keillor

For the wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality, and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline and virtue. For the modern mind, the cardinal problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique. C. S. LEWIS, The Abolition of Man

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust though art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Longfellow, ' A Psalm of Life'

For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearance, as though they were realities and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.-- Niccolo Machiavelli

Reality is something you rise above. Liza Minnelli (1946-____)

We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.
Iris Murdoch (1919-____) In "The Times," 15 Apr 1983.

Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it Jane Wagner

For the wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality, and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline and virtue. For the modern mind, the cardinal problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique. C. S. LEWIS, The Abolition of Man

It's not denial. I'm just very selective about what I accept as reality. -- Bill Watterson, "Calvin and Hobbes"