Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Saving minors from prostitution in India.

From Freedom Firm on Tuesday, 30 August 2011

We began the day in high hopes that by 4pm we would be on our way to rescue two minors who were located in the area. By 11am Sunemiya called the Senior Police Inspector to inform him as much, and our high hopes for a raid started to unravel at high rates. It was a short phone call with a clear message: “We understand that you have reliable information regarding two underage girls who have been illegally trafficked and are now in the area enslaved in illegal forced prostitution. But we are busy. Besides, there’s the big festival going on. Come back in one month. Better yet, we will call you.” By the time Sunemiya hung up, most of the oxygen had already left the room. The team’s mood switched from anticipatory to frustrated to pensive. But no one was surprised. If you caught the Inspector on a good day, he was India’s finest. But on this particular morning we were nothing more than a blip on the radar of Indian bureaucracy.

Slowly, the tiniest trickle of ideas began forming grooves upon the foreheads of everyone in the room. After some minutes, a decision was made and we jumped in the car in search of a computer printer that was capable of printing out a one page Word document. In this vast city of 10 million people, this was less straightforward than one would think. A few gray hairs later we sped off to our next stop, the SS branch, which is really just an unsettling name for a different police outpost in another part of the city. As we pulled up to headquarters, I seem to remember my watch saying 1:30pm. Even if we could gain a hearing with the Chief of Police, it would be highly unlikely that any sort of effective team could be thrown together on such short notice. What was even more questionable was the fact that Freedom Firm had only conducted one raid through the SS branch. It did not go well.

Evan and Sunemiya were soon power walking to the commissioners office and Rod and I waited in the car as chickens pick through a nearby pile of compost. After an hour or so they returned. As Evan slammed the door, he gave us the news: “We’re meeting them back here at 4:30 and they’ll have a team ready.”

At 4:30 we returned with bells on and I was brought inside the building to wait in the hallway while Evan and Sunemiya spoke with the Commissioner. As I sat on the wooden bench, neatly dressed men began to stare at me and talk excitedly in Marathi. I’ve already mentioned that Indians have perfected the art of waiting. A close second is their ability to stare at foreigners endlessly without blinking. I sat there in the heat of their gaze, a chai-wala sat down next to me and offered me tea. I politely refused even though it is against my value system to ever refuse hot beverage of any kind. After some counteroffers, he left and came back again. He gave the boiling tea to me in a plastic cup that was so thin I was positive that it would melt onto my lap. As I set it aside to cool, I was whisked into an office where a dozen men and women were standing around in light conversation. Suddenly I wasn’t the only one who looked out of place. Why did everyone look like they just walked out of a department store? I realized that these were cops dressed in “street wear.” I found myself wondering how they would ever pull this off with the tags still on their clothes. I turned to Evan and nervously asked which car we would be riding in.

Once it was clear that we could move, our entourage jogged down the many flights of stairs into the afternoon heat. There must have been two dozen people involved by now. Once outside of the building, Evan got a call from one of our investigators who informed him that we had ten minutes to get to the brothel. Any longer could pose a serious threat to the raid, not to mention their own safety. Suddenly, Evan’s conversation was drowned out by an impromptu gridlock of police vehicles, goats and chai-walas. It was positively existential. After about 10 circuitous minutes, our chariots awaited. By the time I went to get in Evan’s car, it was already full of police. I was directed to a follow car. I felt like I was a little kid in a gigantic shopping mall who just got separated from Mother. I ended up sitting in the worst possible place, right in the middle of the vehicle between two officers who were clearly annoyed and equally confounded by my presence. This would make it impossible to film the drive to the brothel, which was to be the opening scene of Horse & Rider (I’ll give away the beginning but I won’t spoil the ending). It was generally understood that if there was to be any filming of events, it would be done by the police for their own records. If they knew that I was carrying a camera, it could mean bad news for the raid. My number one priority shifted to hiding the fact that I was there to film as much as I possibly could.

After driving a short distance, the caravan stopped at a random location so that the cops could get out and stand around for apparent reason. This took at least five minutes. With everyone out of the cars, it was my only chance to reconnect with Evan. As I walked towards him, I was intercepted and put in Sunemiya's car. Just as I was preparing my camera, my door opened and I was thrown into a white SUV with more police who were as equally confused at the sight of my face. Since I was already in their ill graces, I went a step further and outright refused to sit in the middle (This way I could have a chance at filming). Then the police started asking me questions in Marathi. When that got them nowhere, they tried Hindi. We finally settled on me writing down my information for their records.

I turned on my small camera and hung my arm out of the window as we made our way towards our target. The drivers were instructed to stop their vehicles and we would travel the rest of the way by foot. We all rolled out and I set out to find Evan. After a mere five paces I was ordered back into the car to wait. Clearly there has been a communication breakdown. I chalked it up to the fact that they were not familiar with this type of crime fighting and were trying to remove as many variables as possible. Fair enough.

Soon someone got a call and they all started walking. I got out of the car to join them only to be put in another empty car and told to wait. When everyone was out of sight, the driver put the SUV into first gear and crawled along for about fifty feet. As soon as I saw the large crowd gathered, I knew I had missed the raid, but I also knew that amidst all of the circus of shenanigans, a raid had been pulled off. I jumped out of the car and filmed as much as I could while asking Evan for the details. One girl was rescued. The second girl was never found. The police rounded up a dozen other girls into the vehicle, presumably for questioning. Some were crying while most were silent. The rescued girl was showed no emotion whatsoever. She had been rescued and released three times before, and every time her brothel keeper would gain custody of her by posing as her mother and giving false assurances to the police that she will not put her back in to prostitution.

Evan and Sunemiya went to the station with the girls to spend the next several hours doing everything they could to ensure that this case would be handled properly and that she would not be re-released to her brothel keeper. I took a car and met up with Rod who was busy providing real-time updates of the events as they unfolded. While I was sorting out my elation and disappointment and crashing endorphins, Rod told me some really welcome news: The brothel keeper now identified as Vaijantibai Kalkhor was arrested and was being held at the station. As Evan described it later, her goons were coming in to negotiate her release all night long. If she is denied bail, this could be a positive turning point for many trafficked minors who end up in that district. But Vaijantibai is a very powerful woman, and only time will tell if her case will go to trial. In the meantime, the rescued girl will be put in a government home to begin the next chapter of her life.

Rod and I ended up waiting outside of the police station to try and capture some undercover footage of Vaijantibai being loaded into the police car. We waited for a few hours until Evan and Sunemiya had to rush to pick up their luggage and catch the overnight train to Pune. Rod and I went and had buttered chicken at a nearby place with a blue neon sign. We slept well that night and rose early to begin our final destination in the mountains of Ooty.

Please see The Times of India report on the raid:

This is the article

Nine girls rescued from red light area, one held
TNN Aug 27, 2011, 07.13am IST

Flesh trade|Brothel Rescue
NAGPUR: City police, aided by a Pune-based Non-Government Organization (NGO), raided a brothel in Ganga Jamuna locality on Friday evening. Nine girls, several of them likely to be minors, were rescued in the raid and a brothel-keeper nabbed. Sources said that one of the girls had been rescued for the third time.

Crime branch squad and the NGO team raided the locality after they were tipped-off about possibility of minors being forced into flesh trade. The NGO team had information about the presence of one of the minors, aged around 15 years, in the brothel. She had been twice rescued earlier.

The children welfare committee had earlier released the girl to woman identified as Vaijantibai Kalkhor, who claimed to be her mother. Though she was rescued as a minor a year ago, Lakadganj police had arrested her as a major the following year. A source in the raiding team claimed that Vaijantibai, who has been arrested in the action, had forced the teenager into prostitution despite claiming before the court that she would ensure proper care of the girl while pledging for the bail.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada. The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years. The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides." The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose." Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels . The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy. Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie's canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level. -- John Cleese - British writer, actor and very tall person

How Monopoly got prisoners out of jail

(You'll never look at the game the same way again!)
Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich,
and the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate their escape...
Now obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of 'safe houses' where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and shelter.
Paper maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush.
Someone in MI-5 (similar to America's OSS) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads,and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.

At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John Waddington,Ltd. When approached by the government, the firm was only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.
By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened, 'games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified for insertion into 'CARE packages', dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.
Under the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were regional system). When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

As long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's also managed to add:
1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly money!
British and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.
Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an
estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets.. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still another,
future war.

The story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public ceremony.
It's always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail' Free' card!

NIGERIA: Military believed to be complicit in attacks

From CSW 24/08/2011

In northern Nigeria, members of the military have been implicated in violent attacks against Christian communities. CSW speaks up against the continuing attacks.

Military accomplices in attacks

In the early hours of 15 August, nine people – including eight from the same family – were killed in the Heipang community of Plateau State. Members of the Nigerian military were implicated in the attack after four military identification documents were allegedly recovered at the scene.

There has been an escalation in violent attacks on villages in the state since 11 August, when three members of the same family were killed and another was injured following an attack by armed Hausa-Fulani tribesmen on Foron village in Barkin Ladi, only three kilometres from Heipang. During the early hours of 15 August, Foron was attacked for the second time. Three more villagers were killed, and according to unconfirmed reports, a military-issue helmet and blood-stained belt were found at the site. More recently,, armed attacks in the early hours of 21 August on Jol and Kwi villages in Riyom Local Government Area (LGA) left at least six people dead.

Special Task Force claim innocence in cruel attack

There have been a number of worrying reports regarding the conduct of members of the Special Task Force (STF) charged with maintaining peace in Plateau State, ranging from lack of intervention in raids on villages to suspected collusion of soldiers in the violence. According to unconfirmed reports, one of the victims in Heipang allegedly received a call from some STF men assigned to that area asking him to come out and assist them, only to be gunned down as he left his house. However, in a statement to the press, the spokesman for the STF claimed the man had been shot by the police after being mistaken for an attacker.

STF opens fire on female farmer protest

On 2 August CSW reported that members of the STF opened fire on a protest by hundreds of female farmers from Gyeri Village, 7km from Bukuru in Plateau State, wounding three of them. The farmers were protesting against the STF’s lack of intervention during attacks on over fourteen farms by machete-weilding Hausa-Fulani tribesmen. The attackers destroyed vital crops as they were ripening.

CSW claims “sad indictment on those in authority”

CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “The renewed increase in attacks on remote communities, coupled with reports of possible military collusion, continue to undermine any residual confidence in the STF to ensure peace and security in Plateau State. Consequently, many communities are now making alternative arrangements for their own protection. While this may be understandable given current circumstances, it is a sad indictment of those in authority, as ultimate responsibility for the protection of all citizens lies with state and federal authorities. A proliferation of vigilante groups is no replacement for effective law enforcement. CSW urges the federal and state governments to prioritise the unbiased enforcement of the rule of law in Plateau State, and to swiftly apprehend and prosecute any soldiers or civilians implicated in this appalling violence.”
We were in this area 70-82 and know these places well

Monday, August 29, 2011

Joseph Spoor 1813-69, Primitive Methodist preacher in North Yorkshire

The December quarterly meeting of 1837 appointed Mr. Spoor to open a mission at Boroughbridge. .... It was in a place near Boroughbridge that he had an encounter with an Anglican priest, which made great noise in the neighbourhood at the time, and which raised many a laugh at the cost of his priestly assailant. One Sabbath morning Mr. Spoor took his customary stand on the village green to preach the gospel. It will not be difficult of belief to those who knew him that his voice in prayer and preaching rang all over the village. The priest hearing this vociferating intruder, came out in a rage, saying, in a lordly imperious manner, "What are you doing here? what do you want, sir?" Mr. S.: "I am come to do a bit of work to help you, for I see by the state of the place that it needs more than you are doing." This was hard hitting, and heightened the anger of his reverence; so he shouted out, "You shall not preach here." Mr. S.: "I say respectfully but decidedly, that I shall." The priest, with rage burning in his face, exclaimed, "I'll stop you." Mr. S.: "There are several ways of stopping you, but there's only one of stopping me." Priest: "What do you mean; what do you mean, sir?" "Why," said Mr. S., amid the ill-suppressed laugh of the bystanders, who had gathered in considerable numbers, "take away your gown, and you dare not preach; take away your book, and you cannot preach; and take away your rich income, and you won't preach; while the only way to stop me is by cutting my tongue out." ..... So he kept his congregation, and preached to them earnestly the gospel of Jesus.

In the year 1838, while Mr. Spoor was on the Boroughbridge mission, a scene occurred in Ripon market-place which created a considerable sensation, and in which he and the Rev. W. Fulton figured prominently. Mr. Fulton's account of the event is mainly followed here. The two brethren, Messrs. Spoor and Fulton, met from their branch stations at the Rev. W. Lister's, the superintendent of the circuit. Mr. Lister being in the country, Mr. Spoor said, "Brother Fulton, what do you think if we go and have a preaching at the city market-cross this evening?" Mr. Fulton instantly agreed. They cast lots who should preach, and the lot fell upon Mr. Spoor. So they sallied out to the broad market-square, and took their stand upon the cross, which is rather on one side of the square. Mr. Spoor was giving out the hymn and leading the singing, when a policeman came up with official and peremptory air, saying "Come down, or I'll fetch you down quickly." But as Mr. Spoor was determined not to yield in his Master's service without a struggle, he planted himself firmly to keep his foothold, Mr. Fulton standing at his left hand. Seizing Mr. Spoor, the constable dragged him down; but he soon shook off his assailant, and leaped instantly upon the standing-place again. His impotence in opposing these two resolute and godly men being made plain to him the enraged officer cried out, "I'll have you down yet, I am going to get a warrant for you." While he was gone the singing went on gloriously; and Mr. Fulton was in the midst of a fervent and powerful prayer, when the rude officer returned with his "letter of authority," and rushing up to him, seized him by the arm, saying, "Stop a bit, I want to speak to you." But the prayer went on. "I kept praying on," says Mr. Fulton, "for the Lord in His mighty saving power to take hold of the crowd and save the policeman, and no one could clerk better than Spoor, and clerk he did right lustily. When I ceased praying and opened my eyes, the first thing I saw in the surging, excited crowd below was a struggle going on between Spoor and the policeman at the foot of the cross, Spoor struggling for his place, and to defend me whilst my eyes were shut in prayer. Presently a man came forward with his arms spread, crying at the top of his voice, while his whole manner was excited, 'I'll fight for the ranters.' An immense crowd now drew up, and people were rushing to the scene of excitement; all around the square the windows were thrown up, and every one looking towards us. The people seemed deeply concerned, but it was only amusement for Mr. Spoor and me. A force of constables was obtained, and we were marched off to the magistrates. They, in a very summary manner, were going to send us to prison for creating a disturbance. Despite of all we could say they determined to punish us by sending us to prison (familiarly called the 'Kittie'). When we heard that we were going to prison, my friend Spoor burst out with rapture — 'Glory be to God! the kittie for Christ! Hallelujah! the kittie for Christ!' He rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake. Mr. Braithwaite, a friend of ours, having some influence with the magistrates, hearing of our apprehension, hastened to the court, and demanded to know upon what grounds we had been committed. The policeman muttered something about 'a row in the market-place.' Mr. Braithwaite remonstrated against our being committed to jail upon such contemptible charges. We were allowed to explain the whole affair. The magistrates asked-'Are these men your friends?' Mr. B.: 'Not exactly that; but if you knew their character and worth as I do, you would protect them and not interrupt them.' Having been informed of the affair, the gentlemen on the bench turned upon the officer, and having reprimanded they dismissed him, saying, 'Go, you have betrayed your trust.' The populace outside, learning that he was the bribed tool of a publican, were so embittered against him for doing his 'dirty work,' that they would have maltreated him had he not escaped. Mr. S. and I marched to the chapel (for it was dark, and we could not continue the service out of doors), singing and exhorting the immense crowd, who filled the building. Spoor preached as I have very seldom heard him, and three souls were converted to God.

"A long and able letter appeared in the newspaper, insisting upon the right to conduct public worship in the open-air, and censuring the policemen and the magistrates. It was said to have been written by the Bishop of Ripon, Dr. Longley, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. I have heard Spoor tell this story with great zest. He was a marvellous man in those days,-a man of great power and earnestness, and far more eccentric than in after years.".....

It was shortly after his marriage that he had a rough, encounter with a footpad, as he was returning from Harrogate to Knaresborough one dark night. In a lonely part of the road the miscreant, by one bound from his hiding-place, was on him. With all his herculean strength Mr. Spoor grappled with the villain, and made him feel that there were arms stronger than his. In the struggle they fell into a ditch nearly dry, Mr. Spoor being uppermost. Now the robber found he was mastered. In surly and gruff tones he begged to be freed from Mr. Spoor's terrible grip. But there he held him, his knee on his chest, and his hand grasping his collar. Mr. Spoor now began to expostulate with his unwilling auditor, in a strain like this — "O you miserable wretched sinner, why do you want to rob me, a poor ranter preacher? I've been to Harrogate to publish salvation to sinners, and now you want to rob me. The Lord have mercy upon your wretched soul. I have very little money on me. If you go on this way the devil will get you as sure as I have you now, and there'll be no getting away from him. Man, going on this way, hell is your doom. You must repent, — repent and make restitution, or you'll go to hell. If you repent, God will save you, robber as you are, for Jesus died for thieves." During the delivery of this short sermon, the man gave unmistakeable signs that he considered it too long, and its application too pointed. He begged to be liberated, but Mr. Spoor would not heed his application, until to had promised to amend his life. Of course the man was prepared to promise anything in the circumstances. Having cautiously provided against a possible repetition of the assault he loosed his hold, and the man bounded over the hedge and disappeared. It took Mr. Spoor some little time to recover himself from so sudden a shock; but when he did recover, his heart bounded with gratitude, and his lips sang out a song of praise for this deliverance. The marks of the encounter remained on his person for some time.

From, THE EARNEST PREACHER Click on title.

Rosemary Ashton -

Britain opened its doors to all comers, but extended a warm embrace to no-one. - Rosemary Ashton, Little Germany - Exile and Asylum in Victorian Engalnd, p 243.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is inequitably biased

Published: August 25th, 2011

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has changed its mind over how it will intervene in the four cases of discrimination against Christians that will be heard in Europe soon.
The change follows a pattern of apparent indecision in recent months.
The EHRC said in July that it would intervene on behalf of Nadia Eweida, Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele in the European Court and would suggest the need for ‘reasonable accommodations’ which “will help employers and others manage how they allow people to manifest their religion or belief.”
It also said that the British courts had got it wrong in these cases, stating in a press release that “Judges have interpreted the law too narrowly in religion or belief discrimination claims” and that the courts had given “insufficient” protection to those manifesting religious beliefs.
The announcement took many by surprise. It was greeted with approval by Christian groups but was strongly criticised by secular and homosexual rights campaign groups.
However, in a subsequent consultation document, the EHRC has said that it will now act to support Chaplin and Eweida (whose cases relate to the right to wear a cross) but will oppose Ladele and McFarlane (whose cases relate to providing certain services to homosexual couples), stating that the “domestic courts came to the correct conclusions” in these two cases.
The turnaround comes after one of the Commissioners, Angela Mason – who was previously chief executive of homosexual rights group Stonewall – revealed in an interview with Pink News that the EHRC would no longer be putting forward the idea of ‘reasonable accommodation’ for Christians.
The Commission is now using a consultation to find out people’s views on whether the idea of reasonable accommodation “would have any practical useful application.”
Nelson Jones of The New Statesman commented: “This, after several weeks of mixed messages and in a rushed consultation with a deadline only three weeks hence, suggests that the ECHR is in almost total disarray on the issue.”
He went on to say: “This latest saga certainly points to a troubled organisation, uncertain of its role, vainly trying to placate contradictory points of view, and bearing the impression of the last pressure group which sat on it.”
The think-tank Civitas recently called for the EHRC to be abolished, saying that it contributed little and costs the tax payer too much money.
Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, responded:
“We are growing used to blunders and backtracking from the EHRC.
“I am not surprised that they have compromised on their intervention for Ladele and McFarlane.
“The Commission has a history of actively promoting homosexual rights where they come into conflict with freedom of religion and conscience. They have previously described Christian moral views as an ‘infection’ that might harm children.
“This is simply the latest example of concessions made to the homosexual lobby.”
New Statesman

Friday, August 26, 2011

I'm tired, I'm scared, I miss...

I'm tired of Neoconservatives only interested in political power hijacking my religion to get votes.

I'm tired of politicians only playing politician and working to keep their jobs instead of actually TRYING to get something done.

I'm tired of murderous morons being referred to as "Christian" fundamentalists instead of what they are--evil!

I'm tired of people thinking they've got to break things to get attention.

I'm tired of the rich thinking they don't have to pay attention to the poor, which makes them go about breaking things.

I'm tired of a world that refuses to "Come, let us reason together," and instead says, "My way, or the highway."

I'm tired of a world obsessed with sex, drugs and narcissism.

I'm scared of a world that says only, "My way, or the highway."

I'm scared of what it's going to be for Christians in the future.

I'm scared of the Democrats

I'm scared of the Republicans.

I'm scared of the Tea Party.

I'm scared of what's happening in Europe.

I'm scared for my country, and I'm scared for this planet.

I miss being able to say "Merry Christmas" and not feel like I'm offending someone.

I miss all those animated Christmas specials I grew up with.

I miss when heroes on tv and books were actually heroes, and not deconstructed to make us feel better rather than encouraging us to BE better.

I miss old movies.

I miss beauty, honor and kindness.


Just needed to get that off my chest.


Greg Gick

The HD I want to view.

'Dooyeweerd initially made his contribution to political philosophy, in his capacity as a research worker for the Dutch Anti-Revolutionary Party in the 1920s. In that position he came to the conviction that the further philosophical elaboration of the Kuyperian concept of sphere sovereignty could not be truly achieved without a much wider theoretical investigation that probed the basis of scientific and theoretical reflection itself. He thus began his scholarly attempt to give a coherent and systematic account of the general characteristics of creational diversity, the conditions that make theoretical thought possible thereby providing a systematic philosophical account of the dependence of all scientific reflection upon religious belief. Thus, what began as an attempt to provide a scientific account of why no one area of societal responsibility (incl. that of the state) should seek to maintain or control human activity outside its limited competence, broadened considerably as he elaborated his explanation of the structure and limits of science and theoretical reflection. The full impact of Dooyeweerd's political philosophy still needs to be assessed in terms of his contribution to the "science of law" (jurisprudence) which assessment is currently being undertaken by scholars who carry on with this same project.'

See Roger D Henderson Illuminating Law: the construction of Herman Dooyeweerd's Philosophy 1918-1928 (PhD thesis VU 1994)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pakistan's Christians need our prayers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'A Christian pastor in Pakistan, who was falsely accused of abduction after his brother eloped with a young woman from an influential Muslim family, is due to appear in court this week.

Pastor Shakeel, who spent three months in prison, told Release that he had been assaulted in jail but that God had used his detention to help other prisoners.

The pastor, from Punjab province, was accused alongside other relatives after his brother fled into hiding with the woman. He was then held by the woman's family and beaten before being handed over to the police. A First Information Report was registered in April and he was arrested.

Pastor Shakeel, who was recently released on bail, is due to appear in court tomorrow.

• Pray that Pastor Shakeel will be acquitted. Pray also for his good health.'

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

I have recently been involved in helping a young Christian Pakistani who fled his home village and then the country. He fell in love with a local Muslim girl; As a result she was murdered by her brother who also wanted to kill my friend. After three immigration tribunals this man has now been granted leave to stay in England. I received this message from his church leadership.

'Dear Graham J Weeks
Greetings and peace in Christ. first of all i must congratulate you and all other friends who were involved in helping out
>Mr. ****************. i would also appreciate your love for the believers around the globe. you have done a great job because you have not only saved ******'s life but also hundreds of christian people at his village in Pakistan. if he had been deported it could have resulted in tension and violence among Christians and Muslims in his village. All Glory be to God for the wonderful efforts to get this work done. please pay my regards and words of appreciations to all friends in UK.'

Truly Pakistan;s Christians need our prayers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The hassle renewing my pharmacist registration

Yesterday I received notification of the necessity of annual renewal of registration. In the good old days one sent off a cheque and that was that.

Now you must do this --

Fitness To Practise Questions Summary
Please find below your answers to the seven questions in the Fitness to Practise matters (Appendix 1).

Question 1:
Has a determination ever been made against you by a regulatory body in the United Kingdom responsible under any enactment for the regulation of a health or social care profession to the effect that your fitness to practise as a member of a profession regulated by that body is impaired, or a determination by a regulatory body elsewhere to the same effect?

Question 2:
Do you currently have any problems with your physical or mental health that may impair your ability to practise safely and effectively or which otherwise impairs your ability to carry out your duties in a safe and effective manner?

Question 3:
Have you previously been convicted or cautioned for a criminal offence in the British Islands or elsewhere (which, if committed in England, Scotland or Wales would constitute a criminal offence) or have you previously agreed to be bound over to keep the peace by a Magistrates’ court in England or Wales?

(Please note that Road Traffic offences in which the person committing the offence has been offered the option of paying a fixed penalty (e.g. certain speeding offences etc) will not be treated as a conviction for the purposes of renewal in the Register and need not be declared).

Question 4:
Have you previously agreed to pay a penalty under section 115A of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (penalty as alternative to prosecution)?

Question 5:
Are you currently under investigation by any regulatory body (other than the GPhC) or criminal enforcement authority (e.g. police or NHS Counter Fraud Service) in the British Islands or elsewhere?

Question 6:
Have you previously accepted a conditional offer under section 302 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (fixed penalty: conditional offer by procurator fiscal) or have you previously been subject to an order under section 246(2) or (3) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 discharging you absolutely (admonition and absolute discharge)?

Question 7:
Have you previously been included by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (also known as the Independent Barring Board) barred list (in England, Wales or Northern Ireland) or the children’s list or adult’s list maintained by the Scottish Ministers?

Appendix 2: Renewal Declaration
As part of your renewal you are required to complete the renewal declaration. The declaration that you will need to complete online or by phone is provided below.

I declare that
1. I am applying for renewal in Part 1 of the Register and I hereby declare that, in accordance with Article 20(3) of the Pharmacy Order 2010, I intend to practise as a pharmacist in Great Britain, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

2. The information that I have provided in this application for renewal is complete, true and accurate. I am also aware that I am under a duty to notify the Registrar of any changes to my name, home address or other contact details within one month starting on the day on which the change occurred.

3. With the exception of matters already notified to the General Pharmaceutical Council, I have and will adhere to the standards relating to conduct, ethics and performance and continuing professional development published by the General Pharmaceutical Council.

4. I have in place appropriate indemnity arrangements.

5. I accept that I am under a duty to notify the Registrar if within the renewal period there is any change in the circumstances relating to the fitness to practise declaration that I have made in Section A within 7 days starting on the day on which the event occurred.

I understand that
6. If the declaration included in this application for renewal is not completed to the satisfaction of the Registrar, my application for renewal will not be processed and I will be deemed to have failed to pay the renewal fee.

7. If I am found to have given false or misleading information in connection with my renewal in the register, this may be treated as misconduct, which may result in my removal from the Register.

Data Protection Act 1998
The GPhC is a data controller registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. The GPhC makes use of personal data to support its work as the regulatory body for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and retail pharmacy premises in Great Britain. Data may be shared with third parties in pursuance of the GPhC's statutory aims, objectives, powers and responsibilities under the Pharmacy Order 2010, the rules made under the Order and other legislation. Personal data may be processed for purposes including (but not limited to) updating the register, administering and maintaining registration, processing complaints, compiling statistics and keeping stakeholders updated with information about the GPhC . Please note that the GPhC will not share your personal data on a commercial basis with any third party.
Fees To Be Paid
£267 Renewal Fee

At this point the screen would not allow me to progress on line. So I tried to do it by phone. I was at a similar stage of an automated process when the same thing happened and I was cut off. On phoning the help line I was eventually told I had successfully renewed.


Here is the inflationary regulatory spiral.

08/12/2010 Part 1 - Pharmacist £ 262 + £182 = £444
13/01/2010 Part 1 - Pharmacist £ 422
16/01/2009 Part 1 - Pharmacist £ 413
06/12/2007 Part 1 - Pharmacist £ 395
20/12/2006 Part 1 - Pharmacist £ 283
29/12/2005 Part 1 - Pharmacist £ 267
04/01/2005 Part 1 - Pharmacist £ 256

In 2010 the regulatory body was split from our professional body (more governmental interference) so fees are now in two parts and this year will total at least £449.

On top of all that I have to prove I am still studying each years.

I registered as a pharmacist 44 years ago in a more trusting world.

The chronic disease of our age is over-regulation caused by lack of trust. There is no cure on offer. In fact most people think all is well and do not know they are sick.

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” - Mark 2:17

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


We live in a country called Daftland
The Britain we knew is no more
Where sensible people do ludicrous things
Or risk breaking some Daftland law.
In Daftland we've police dogs with muzzles
Less the villain has cause to complain
And to steal from a shop and say 'sorry'
Means your free with no stain to your name.

You had better leave lights on in buildings
When you lock up and go home at night
'cause the burglars might hurt themselves entering
And there's no way you'll be in the right.
When speaking be wary in Daftland
As some terms that you've used all your life
Now have connotations unintended
And you'll end up in all sorts of strife.

We elect politicians in Daftland
to give us the laws of the land
Yet eight laws in ten now come from abroad
The whole thing has got out of hand.
The borders are open in Daftland
And of migrants there's no keeping track
Just a few of the thousands illegally here
Will ever be caught and sent back.

The exception to this is the hero
Who fought for this land in the war
He's old and he's sick, he might cost us a bit
So he's not welcome here any more.
When the history is written of Daftland
Historians may just recall
That the craziest people in Daftland
Were yhe public who put up with it all

Arthur Ashe (1943-1993) -

From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life. - Arthur Ashe (1943-1993)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Francis Asbury -

My soul is more at rest from the tempter when I am busily employed. --Francis Asbury

God is gracious beyond the power of language to describe.- Francis Asbury , journal: 2 Feb 1779

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to cyclothymia.

He is manic depressive.
You are bipolar.
I am cyclothymic.

According to my new local psychiatrist I am cyclothymic not bipolar for I have not been so afflicted as to stop working. Methinks this nomenclature is a mere linguistic judgement rather than a reflection of an objective reality. After all what is a diagnosis of schizophrenia other than saying the person concerned has a certain set of symptoms? You are what you are. You are not necessarily on the inside what some 'expert' labels your can.

I was asked why I had gone so many years without seeking the help of his profession.

1. Pride and stigma. One should be able to cope. One is not mentally ill.

2. Lack of trust in psychiatry, especially advice from a professional who does not understand the spiritual and treat the whole person. Also I had read that psychotherapy had no better clinical outcome than taking a placebo or doing nothing.

3.Pharmacists are adverse to drug taking. It is more blessed to give than to receive.. If you might be alcoholic it is best not to imbibe when working in a bar.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Petition against the registration of civil partnerships on religious premises

'This petition initiated by the Protestant Truth Society (PTS) calls upon HM Government not to pass any legislation to allow the registration of civil partnerships on religious premises. It affirms the biblical teaching that marriage can only be between one man and one woman, and that any civil partnership registration has no place in any church building or on any other religious premises. It calls upon HM Government to do everything in its power to support the uniqueness of traditional marriage.'

If you'd like to sign this e-petition, then please visit

Also, if you'd like to forward this e-mail to others, then you're very welcome to do so.

Warm greetings to you all


Rev. R. Jeremy Brooks
Director of Ministry
Protestant Truth Society

Click on the post title for the link to sign.

Nigerian Military Suspected of Involvement in Attacks on Villages

Friday, August 19, 2011
By Jeremy ReynaldsSenior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SURREY, ENGLAND (ANS) -- Members of the Nigerian military have been implicated in violence in Plateau State after military identification documents were allegedly recovered from the scene of an early morning Aug. 15 attack.
According to human rights agency Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), four military identity documents were allegedly found after the attack on the community of Heipang, located close to Jos Airport, where nine people were killed. Eight of the victims were members of the same family.
CSW said the attack on Heipang was the latest of a series of attacks that have occurred since Aug. 11. It was then that three members of the same family were killed and another was injured following an attack by armed Hausa-Fulanis on Foron village in Barkin Ladi, located about three kilometers from Heipang.
CSW said according to unconfirmed reports, a military issue helmet and blood-stained belt were found at the site. Like Heipang, Foron was also attacked during the early hours of Aug. 15. This time three villagers were killed, and according to a number of eyewitnesses, the attackers were soldiers who fled the scene afterwards in a military-issue Hilux van complete with sirens.

There have been a number of troublesome reports regarding the conduct of members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) charged with maintaining peace in Plateau State. They range from lack of intervention in raids on villages to suspected collusion of soldiers in the violence.
According to unconfirmed reports, CSW said, one of the victims in Heipang allegedly received a call from the JTF men assigned to that area asking him to come out and assist them, only to be gunned down as he left from his house. However, in a statement to the press, the spokesman for the JTF claimed the man had been shot by the police after being mistaken for an attacker.

On Aug. 2 CSW reported that members of the JTF opened fire on a protest by hundreds of female farmers from Gyeri Village, seven kilometres from Bukuru in Plateau State, wounding three of them. The farmers had marched to the military outpost in protest at the lack of intervention during an attack by Fulani tribesmen armed with machetes on over 14 farms that had destroyed crops as they were ripening.

CSW's Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said in a news release, “The renewed increase in attacks on remote communities, coupled with reports of possible military collusion, continue to undermine any residual confidence in the JTF to ensure peace and security in Plateau State. Consequently, many communities are now making alternative arrangements for their own protection. While this may be understandable given current circumstances, it is a sad indictment of those in authority, as ultimate responsibility for the protection of all citizens lies with state and federal authorities.”
Johnston added, “A proliferation of vigilante groups is no replacement for effective law enforcement. CSW urges the federal and state governments to prioritize the unbiased enforcement of the rule of law in Plateau State, and to swiftly apprehend and prosecute any soldiers or civilians implicated in this appalling violence.”
Christian Solidarity Worldwide works for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

For further information, go to

Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Homeless in the City."

Additional details on "Homeless in the City" are available at Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at
** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

Friday, August 19, 2011

From 'Thought for the Week' - Rabbi Mark Goldsmith

.......we heard some remarkable statistics about the riots last week. One in particular surprised me. This is that of the 1733 people arrested across London so far resulting from the riots and looting, 86% already possessed a criminal record. Commander Basu said that this meant that what really happened in these riots was not that disaffected young people, previously blameless, rose up due to their difficult circumstances, but rather that London’s habitual criminals found a good opportunity to organise themselves to steal, evidence showing that they moved across London to do so. The point that he felt must be made is that no ethnic or local community in London should be stigmatised as a result of the disturbances, except for the criminal community. Twenty eight of the thirty three London Boroughs experienced disturbances and whilst no group in the Borough of Barnet exceeded 40 or 50 people and most were stopped in their tracks by the Police, there were violent gatherings of up to 2000 in Croydon and Tottenham.

Is there no more important news than A levels?

Yesterday morning I switched off "Today" on R4 as I was sick of wall to wall A Levels with the same rubbish about how results had improved. A Level grades are a debased currency like HM's Honours. I rang one young friend to hear her good news only to be told she was delaying opening the envelope. I regard it a my duty to encourage her self confidence! I expect she had done well though she is fearful. I also heard of someone who was told by a uni that she had been accepted the day before she received her results. So uni knows results before pupils do.

What can be done about adverts you do not want on your Facebook pages?

What can be done about adverts you do not want on your Facebook pages?


'Win an iPad

Predict the winning team in 5 sporting fixtures and win an iPad! Click here now for your chance to win!
23,519 people like Betfair.'

Well one person here detests gambling and its promoters.

Barnabas Fund in trouble?

lick on the title to see the page from Engage.

'ENGAGE is a not-for-profit company that was founded in 2008 to help empower and encourage British Muslims within local communities to be more actively involved in British media and politics'. The article is entitled, 'Charity Commission may investigate booklet on ‘The Islamisation of the UK’'

'The Barnabas Fund is a charity ‘dedicated to supporting persecuted Christians’ and is lead by Dr Patrick Sookhdeo. Sookhdeo, whose other publications include 'Global Jihad: The Future in the Face of Militant Islam' and 'Islam the Challenge to the Church,' has frequently written articles which distort Islamic texts and teachings to give the false impression that Islam is an aggressive, usurpatory religion.'

What they do not relate is that Patrick Sookhdeo was born to a Muslim family. He is an apostate in heir eyes.

It appears that Engage is hopeful that the Charity Commissiones will be kind to them and judge that PS's voice should be silenced.

'In an essay he wrote for the Spectator entitled ‘The myth of moderate Islam’, Sookhdeo argued that in the Qur’an one could “find texts which specifically command terrorism, the classic one being Q8:59-60, which urges Muslims to prepare themselves to fight non-Muslims, ‘Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies’”

I trust the Barnabas defence will be that all they have published is fair comment which should not be judged, caught 'out', off the spin of ENGAGE.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pharmacy Regulator confirms conscience clause remains unaltered

PJ Online reports,
Tue, 16/08/2011 - 16:11

'Pharmacists who refuse to offer services on religious or moral grounds should direct customers elsewhere
The General Pharmaceutical Council has issued a statement reassuring pharmacists that the conscience clause in the professional standards, which allows them to refuse to provide services on religious or moral grounds, has not been revised.

The GPhC took the step after reports earlier this week (15 August 2011) in the Catholic press indicated that new guidance meant the opt-out clause had been removed.

In its statement, the GPhC reiterated that it has not altered the existing 3.4 standard, which is the conscience clause of its professional standards of conduct, ethics and performance and which it updated last September.

The GPhC, however, did confirm that a review of the standard and its supporting guidance was scheduled to take place during its first year of office.

A spokesman for the regulator said it was due to consider options available about how to carry out the review at its September 2011 meeting. The review would take place "pretty soon within the next few months", he added.

According to the current guidance a pharmacist is expected to put a patient’s needs first. But if he or she feels unable to offer specific services such as emergency hormonal contraception or routine hormonal contraception the pharmacist is expected to refer the patient elsewhere taking into account any relevant clinical deadlines.'

Charges for Single Use Carrier Bags

In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of 'single use carrier bags' the Welsh Government has introduced a law which requires all retailers to levy a minimum charge of 5p for the supply of each bag.

Just when I am contemplating a similar charge for thoughtless/demanding customers who ask for a carrier. I shall be telling them I'm not mean, I'm green. 5p at least in the charity box. Some will get carriers FOC still, but most should pay.

'Long live immigration!' ???????????????

Long live immigration! wrote a friend

I would temper my enthusiasm for missionary opportunity and varied cuisine with some statistics.

From the last 200 prescription forms I dispensed, non-indigenees are 76%. One week I counted 50 different etnicities.

10.5% of forms were from people with low income or benefits. ( This % is low because most prescriptions are exempt from paying on age or other grounds)

Of these 21 forms all but one were from immigrants.

Most immigration throughout the ages has been motivated by economics. From the above count, IMO, it is the immigrants who benefit economically more than this host country.

Confessions of a Bipolar

On THURSDAY, AUGUST 12, 2010 I blogged on Cyclothymia,

He is manic depressive.
You are bipolar.
I am cyclothymic.

Since I wrote that I had an 'up' until October which was five happy months after five miserable ones. Next came an even worse down lasting over 8 months. Neither antidepressant nor CBT got me out of it. But now I have been diagnosed as clinically bipolar and await lithium therapy I am a happy man again. 'He drew me out of the miry pit'

The decline into depression was over a couple of months. Work triggered it. We has a holiday in the north with poor weather and on my return I had some staffing problems so extra work in a job where I was finding little delight and increasing frustration. Things started to slip. I was less active, more anxious. It culminated around Christmas, or should I say troughed. As a measure of how miserable I was I did not go out and buy any presents. I did not even want to go out and buy drinks for the season. I was back on antidepressant and a higher dose. It seemed to be of no help. Neither was CBT any real help except that it gave some hope of improvement. I was in the pit for eight months,

I write this after a month on the up. What brought the up? I can tell you what co-incided with it but whether his is causal is another mater. I has two weeks' holiday. I was not even looking forward to it. At he start we had some days with visitors from California, a young married couple who are a lot of fun. We visited Bath, Warwick and Westminster. Then I did a last minute booking to a self catering place in Shropshire and had a good three days there. On the Sunday we worshipped in a village where the pastor is a friend and we have known his wife for 37 years. She is a geriatrician and psychiatrist. Over lunch I told some of my up and down story and she asked f I had been seen by a psychiatrist for I am in her judgment bipolar and may benefit from lithium therapy. So back home I asked my GP for a referral and now await the appointment. So a bipolar diagnosis has made me happy? Causality or co-incidence? I reckoned my depression was work related. Te situation has not really improved but my attitude has dramatically changed. Methinks there is something chemical here, not merely mind but matter too. We shall see.

More to follow soon, D.V..

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Muslim Radicals Kill Ten Christians In Nigeria

Islamists Fighting To Eliminate Christianity From North Nigeria

Washington, D.C. (August 8, 2011)–International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that members of a radical Islamic group, Boko Haram, killed at least ten Christians in Maiduguri, Nigeria over the past two months in what a Christian leader is calling a “silent killing” of Christians.

In an interview with ICC, an anonymous local church leader explained, “Boko Haram is seeking to eliminate Christianity because they want Islamic (Sharia) law. They don’t want to see anything Christian in the northern states [of Nigeria]. That is why churches are being persecuted and Muslims who don’t follow the [hardline teachings of] Boko Haram are also persecuted.”

Boko Haram is close to achieving its goal of eliminating Christianity from Maiduguri. Most of the Christians have fled the city in fear of further attacks by the Islamists. Of the churches that remain, some have felt compelled to suspend their services to protect their congregations.

The Nigerian government, who has also been attacked by Boko Haram, deployed security forces to quell the violence, but came under sharp criticism from human rights groups for excessive use of force and the indiscriminate killing of civilians. The government of Nigeria has now established a committee to investigate the members of Boko Haram and look into the reasons for the violence.

The church leader told ICC that the few Christians who remain in the city are praying and fasting for God’s intervention. When asked what Christians could do to help, the church leader said, “They can pray for their fellow Christian brothers and sisters in Maiduguri. [We also] ask for assistance in the rebuilding of churches that have been burned down since 2006. The government has not compensated for the loss of Christians, but it has compensated for losses that Muslims suffered [at the hands of radical Islamists].”

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said, “We welcome the deployment of the Nigerian security forces to protect innocent civilians from the attacks by Boko Haram. We also welcome the establishment of the committee to investigate Boko Haram. We call upon the committee to look into the plight of the victims and ensure that the perpetrators of the violence are brought to justice.”

Monday, August 15, 2011

Guidance on the provision of pharmacy services affected by religious and moral beliefs

'The General Pharmaceutical Council is the regulator for pharmacists,
pharmacy technicians and registered pharmacy premises in England, Scotland
and Wales. As part of our role, we set the standards which govern the practice
of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

This document provides guidance on standard 3.4 of the standards of conduct, ethics and performance
which states
You must make sure that if your religious or moral beliefs prevent you from providing a service, you
tell the relevant people or authorities and refer patients and the public to other providers.
Status of this guidance
This document gives guidance to pharmacy professionals on what they need to do if their religious or
moral beliefs affect the provision of pharmacy services to patients and the public. Pharmacy
professionals may also need to consider their contractual obligations, such as the NHS Terms of Service,
if they are unable to provide a service.
This document also provides guidance to employers on what they need to do if they employ a pharmacy
professional whose religious or moral beliefs may affect a service they provide.
N.B. The GPhC Council has agreed that this provision will be reviewed during the first 12 months of
operation. '

It states

'If you refer a patient to another pharmacy, check that there will be a pharmacist available there
who can provide the service and that they have the relevant stock.'

I dispense the morning after pill. Except on the rarest of occasions I do not sell it. I do refer prospective purchasers to other providers who will sell it. But no way am I the keeper of my brother's stock levels. I have enough problems maintaining my own.
I will not be making such enquiries. I do not do it for any other product and will certainly not be changing for this.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reflections on recent riots

This was sent to me by a member of Alyth, a Reform synagogue in Finchley.

This week we have all been watching the unfolding horror of rioting and looting in London and the UK. Fortunately the Borough of Barnet, in which Alyth is situated has not fallen victim to the worst of this violence but many Alyth members will of course still be deeply concerned with what is happening. Some have been active in aiding local clean up efforts.

Back in June of this year Levi Hall, an ex-offender who was imprisoned in Brixton prison for firearms offences came to give a powerful shiur and sermon. Levi is now an expert counselor for current offenders helping them to change the destructive pattern of their lives while they are in prison. Rabbi Mark Goldsmith got to know Levi through his work with the Concord Prison Trust.

Levi Hall lives in Kennington, South London, where he is helping to set up a local branch of Clink – the restaurant run by prisoners and ex-prisoners as a way towards rehabilitation and building skills for employment. He is also a leader of the Brixton Black Families Forum, working with families to help their children find a positive future and to avoid gang culture and criminality. We asked Levi to write our Alyth Thought for the Week this week – giving us his perspective on the awful situation from a centre of the trouble. He wrote this powerful and complex piece in which he expresses his heartfelt fears and experiences.

Hungry Souls:

The times have changed and so have the needs of a young soul. We have forgotten that for every progress made a community loses something and is always pushed to be better than the year before. When I came to speak to you at Alyth I explained that we needed your family structure demonstrated to my black community for them to see how you cope with life challenges.

I start with the view of a twelve year old in my community in Kennington. He sees: “My mum and dad work hard. They are always tired but haven’t achieved enough for me to have the best. So I look at this and say I’ll do better and give them something back. My school in the area I go to isn’t the best but I’ll try my best. As I go through the system of education I begin to realize my best results would not allow me to have the best in life and for me to take care of mum and dad.”

“I am now in my early teens and examining the reasons things are the way they are in my community and how come all the other races have come over here and got their act together, done well, moved on. But no, not my community. Then I started to look at the reasons behind such a sad state of affairs. I have always known that there was racism and that accounts for some of the difficulties we face. But we are our own destructive factor - “the self-destruction of black civilization” the seeds were planted since slavery. But why, oh why, do we still water it?”

To the stagnation of our future generations a hunger has grown, on several different levels. Level one: for the basic human right to be equal with the normal way of life. Level two: to have the same opportunity as any other community -good schools, high levels of education which at the end could see job prospects and opportunities achievable. Level three: I look around for role models and they show me a picture that doesn’t lead me to belief in any system of support. When the footballers make it they (not all) get as far away from my community as possible buying houses in nice areas letting me know that where I live is not the place to be.

I see the other role models of the street soldiers, the gangsters, “going to get mine or die trying”.

The unfolding story of how to control certain parts of communities by boroughs and red tape and cuts in spending leaves a slow boiling anger that, because of where you were born and the colour of your skin, that the kind of life you are going to have is this. So the game is moved up a level: what can I do, sell a few bits make some money and buy that quality of life now - why do all that long thing of studying, working etc.?

Game on, the system teaches us the numbers game. The more we are the easier it is to make things happen for us, so we got together to earn, but having no moral guide as to how the game is played we started to implode robbing and killing each other. The system just manages the situation rather than solving the underlying problems. The forces that come into contact everyday with these elements of raw fury are scared and don’t quite understand but have the job of keeping order. They will come up against someone with a gun because that’s the norm these days. This fear by the police and lack of fear by the streets to use whatever to achieve their needs and wants of the moment is over-powering. So frustration mixed with ego along with pride of the police will cause them to do what happened. Of course they are human so they make mistakes! But people just needed an excuse to do the rest.

If you are in the game “getting mine or die trying” then death could and will happen, not because it was the police who pulled the trigger. If it was one of our own it would have had the same result. People are really feeling pressure. The old ways of doing things are over. Different paths need developing. A good future needs to be made clear and achievable for belief to return to the system and for us to gain control of our lives again. After all the journey is not a long one before it’s over. The hungry will be fed and the strong will prey on the weak. Things will change only when real talk begins and real outcomes are achieved.

Blessed be…..

Schaeffer and Van Til

Those with an interest in apologetics often ask what is the difference in the approach of these two Reformed giants.

The late Ed Clowney was present when Van Til and FAS met at Westminster. He told me there were no significant differences between them, I read VT just before FAS's first book was published. VT gave me a perfect critique of any non-Christian position but left me with nothing to say to challenge the infidel. FAS taught me to challenge them where their philosophy and their living mere dissonant. I have found this to be helpful with all manner of people. So with a Muslim you point out their failure to live uo to Islamic standards - having them tell you what those are first of all. To me this inconsistency of living approach is what the Reformed call preaching The Law. Find out what is the infidel's Law and go from there. (I prefer infidel to unbeliever as all have faith in something).

Do not mention race.

I read on a local forum of a shopkeeper who had apprehended a mugger. Someone commented,
But' I really don't think it helped to describe the alleged mugger as "Afro Caribbean".'

Why is it that people want to keep mention of ethnicity out of some things? Yet we have a whole race relations/equalities industry doing unnecessary work with pointless questionnaires, statistics etc etc. I had some building work done and the Planning Department wanted to know my ethnicity. I told them it was irrelevant but the chimney removed had been black.

Yet when the ethnicity of someone is mentioned it is decried.To report on ethnicity does not imply any causal link. It is merely part of the description of an individual.

I am happy to be, in no particular order., an English male Christian - and my sexual orientation is none of your business.

Friday, August 12, 2011

150,000+ have spoken out for Asia Bibi. Have you?

Dear Friends,
In Pakistan, more than 150,000 Christians signed a petition demanding justice for persecution victims, including Asia Bibi, a wife and mother accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Last month, The Voice of the Martyrs invited our readers to join their voices with those of our Pakistani brothers and sisters.
In the first two weeks, more than 50,000 people responded by adding their names to the petition at If you are one of those 50,000+, THANK YOU!
We are far from done, though, as we work together toward the goal of getting ONE MILLION SIGNATURES to present to the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., and to the Pakistani delegation to the United Nations. Will you help us reach that goal?
Here's how you can help:
Go to and sign the petition.
Forward this e-mail to your friends and encourage them to sign the petition.
Help deliver the petitions in Washington, D.C. VOM is holding a video contest promoting the petition drive. The winner will receive a trip to Washington, D.C., to help deliver signed petitions at the Pakistani embassy. For contest rules, information and materials to use in your video, visit
Thank you for joining us as we stand with Asia Bibi and other Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.
The Voice of the Martyrs

Thursday, August 11, 2011

TANZANIA – Pressure mounts on Zanzibar's Christian minority

Two churches serving the tiny Christian minority on Zanzibar island were burnt down in a week, amid mounting opposition to Christians on the archipelago.

In fact, Islamist extremists reportedly burned down two churches on Zanzibar island, which is part of Tanzania, within a four-day period. The Evangelical Assemblies of God Tanzania Church in Fuoni was destroyed on July 30 and the Free Evangelical Pentecostal Church in Africa, in the village of Kianga, was destroyed on July 27.

The congregations of both churches are said to be fearful and unsure now about where to meet. Tanzania's Zanzibar archipelago is 99.9 per cent Muslim and only 60 Christian congregations are said to meet on the islands.

The persecution is not confined to Zanzibar. In June, a Seventh Day Adventist Church was destroyed in Konde on Pemba, the second largest island in the cluster.

Pemba pastors interviewed by Compass Direct news agency report that for several years now the authorities have obstructed their attempts to build churches, even on land they own. One reported that he had been threatened by local Muslims.

Compass Direct also reports that influential Muslims are building what appears to be a hotel on a 100-year-old burial site owned by the Anglican church on Zanzibar. Officials have failed to respond to a complaint issued by the church about construction work on land it owns about two miles from Zanzibar's city airport.

A similar land seizure is reported in Wete city on Pemba island, where the Anglican church bought a burial site in Finya village in 2007, only to learn last November that a Muslim was claiming ownership of the site. The church says its appeals for help to the authorities, including the Tanzanian President, have so far fallen on deaf ears.

Two more Christians are reported to have died in custody in Eritrea. Religious rights charity Open Doors reports that the two women, 23-year-old Hiwet Tesfu and Zemame Mehari, 27, both died at the Alla military camp where they had been detained since being arrested at a prayer meeting in Dekemhare in April 2009. Both women had been in poor health but had been denied medical treatment, Open Doors reports. Both had also suffered torture. They were reportedly buried within the camp. Prayer Alert reported on July 28 that Eritrean officials had arrested at least 90 Christians since May and that 12 Christians were known to have died in custody since 2002. That figure now stands at 14, according to Release sources.

(Sources: Compass Direct, Mission Network News, Open Doors USA, Operation World)

• Pray for the Christian minority on Zanzibar who are experiencing mounting opposition from local hardline Muslims. Pray that the rights of Christians – including freedom of worship – will be respected and upheld by officials and local people alike.
• Please pray for the families of Hiwet Tesfu and Zemame Mehari. Ask God to comfort them and pray that they will stand firm in their faith.

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

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

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Very close to home - 2 miles

Monday, August 8, 2011
British Christians Call for Prayer as London Riots Spread Across the Country
By Michael Ireland
EALING, LONDON, UK (ANS) -- Riots in London over the weekend have left Christians greatly concerned for the future of their communities as more than 300 people were arrested and more than 60 charged with offences.

Violence broke out first in Tottenham, then Enfield, Walthamstow and Brixton on Saturday night, following the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan last Thursday.

The website says rioters attacked police
Burned out-cars smolder in Ealing (BBC website)

officers and set buildings and cars on fire, while looters caused further damage by breaking into shops.

The website quotes Nims Obunge, pastor and Chief Executive of the Peace Alliance, who said there were questions surrounding Duggan’s death that needed to be answered.

“We need justice, that’s what they’re crying out for,” he told the BBC. “They are crying for justice and we can’t ignore that,” he said.

He added: “It is right that this community should have the questions that it has answered and until those questions are answered I don’t think we can effectively re-build the community we want to rebuild.”

The website also quoted Alan Argent, minister of Trinity Congregational Church in Brixton, who said he was woken in the early hours of Monday morning by the sounds of looting and police moving in. He appealed for “restraint” and asked that Christians pray for Brixton and other areas affected by the riots.

“It’s a rather disturbing reminder of the unrest in the late seventies and 1980s and we just have to be hopeful that things don’t escalate,” he said.

“But it is a worry and we are concerned that some people may lose their jobs at a time of recession, because people may move out if they don’t feel this is a safe area, shops might close down and we may lose investment in the area.

“Brixton is a place of hope and promise. It has a cosmopolitan population that gets on extraordinarily well and the riots shouldn’t be allowed to set back the progress that has been made.”

Rioting took place in Ealing, west London, where the windows of a Tesco supermarket have been smashed out, a car was set on fire and rubbish has been strewn in public areas. There was also a fire in Haven Green park, opposite Ealing Broadway Tube (underground) station.

The Ealing Gazette newspaper reported one local council leader as saying “Police have control of Ealing.”

In an article for the Gazette by Poppy Bradbury the newspaper said Ealing Council leader Julian Bell tweeted at about 11.30pm Monday night (August 8): "Spoken to Ealing Borough Commander who tells me that the police have control of Ealing town center."

Bell's assurance came as riots swept across the capital, with violence also erupting in Ealing town center.

Riot police sealed off Haven Green, a popular spot for courting couples and people walking their dogs, following reports of cars and buses in flame and masked youths marching outside Ealing Broadway station.

Ealing Common councillor Jon Ball tweeted a picture of two cars and a Route Number 65 bus set on fire on Haven Green just before midnight on Monday night, as car windows were smashed and damaged in other areas of the city.

Sudha Venkataramana saw a car set on fire outside the family home just off Castlebar Road, Ealing, before 11pm.

She said: "We heard loud noises on the street at about 10.45pm. There was a group of 20 to 25 teenagers on the street in Castlebar Road off Pinewood Grove. We heard them smashing car windows as they went by and set this car on fire.

"Almost all the cars parked outside have their windows smashed and dented. I can't believe this is happening, so unreal. I hope the culprits are caught and punished."

A Gazette reporter was assaulted earlier in the evening and had his camera stolen after police sealed off Ealing Broadway and Ealing Broadway station.

Raphael, who lives in West Ealing, wrote on the BBC website: “I am at home with my family in West Ealing, 300 meters from the shops that are being attacked. There are hooded teenagers walking past our house with bottles and bats. The shop owner from the corner shop is standing up in front of his shop to defend it in case it is attacked. We are starting to talk about ways to defend our house because there are people shouting outside. We do not feel safe at all. We need help. I don't see any other way but to bring in the army.”

Chris Jones, a filmmaker and author, wrote on his blog ( ) : “It’s 3am and I am finding it hard to sleep.

“That’s because my home town, Ealing, is under siege right now. I am watching videos from Youtube, the BBC and Twitter pictures in disbelief at what a group of disorganized , but opportunistic, kids can do in just one night.”

Jones said he had been away, but came home Monday evening after hearing the news, and on the way back into Ealing, “I was hassled by a couple of kids no more than twelve years old while I was driving down my road.”

He continued: “Outside now I can hear the helicopter circling, and I can see the pictures being shot from that helicopter of the shop across the road from Ealing Studios [where the Monty Python TV series was made], set ablaze and fire fighters doing their best. I am in shock as I see shops, coffee houses and restaurants I visit, smashed and looted. Cars on fire on the street where I walk home.”

Jones said that Twitter “is a stream of information, misinformation, worried relatives, stunned residents (often with videos or pix) wondering what the hell has brought this to our door?”

He added: “I was in Ealing over a decade ago when the IRA set off a car bomb. Now I am here when masked kids run riot, thieving and destroying, unchallenged by an exhausted and overstretched police force.

“I feel sad and depressed this this is where, as a society, we find ourselves.

“Lord only knows what tomorrow will hold for us all as these terrible events are really just yards from the studio offices.”

All this comes after shops, bars and pubs in Ealing Broadway were asked to close around 5pm following police intelligence that violence could spark in the town center -- as horrifying riots spread across the capital and around the country.

Ealing Police had yet to give a formal statement.

A string of violence spread across London, and into other towns and cities across England following a protest in Tottenham, north London, on Saturday after Mark Duggan was killed by police last week.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and Prime Minister David Cameron were both reportedly on their way back from holiday as the Metropolitan Police were set to deploy more police officers to the streets.

This reporter and ANS Founder Dan Wooding both lived in Ealing in the 1970s. Together we worked on the Gazette’s predecessor, The Middlesex County Times, whose offices were located just around the corner from the London Transport Ealing Broadway train and subway station and Haven Green park.

** Michael Ireland is Senior Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can donate online to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior Reporter

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

Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

Monday, August 08, 2011

PAKISTAN – Health concerns for two Christians detained for 'blasphemy'

Release partners in Pakistan say they are concerned for the health and well-being of two Christian women detained for 'blasphemy' in Punjab.

Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) reports that one of the two, Agnus Bibi, is in such poor health due to a lung condition that she has been transferred to Faisalabad Civil Hospital.

Lack of medical care at Faisalabad District Jail where she has been awaiting trial for alleged blasphemy for six months meant that her health had deteriorated quickly. She has also reportedly suffered ill-treatment from Muslim prison staff – claims that the prison denies. 'Her failing health caused her great mental stress and depression,' reports SLMP, whose staff visited her in hospital recently.

Two guards have been assigned to her in hospital. Even so, SLMP says it is concerned for her safety, given that Christians accused of blasphemy are often the target of Islamist extremists, even before a conviction. Christian brothers Sajid and Rashid Emmanuel were shot dead outside the Faisalabad courthouse where they were on trial for blasphemy in July 2010 (Prayer Alert, July 20, 2010).

Meanwhile, Ruqiya Bibi from Kasur district, who is serving a life sentence for 'blasphemy' in Sahiwal Central Jail, is said to be in poor health because of an insect bite on her foot for which she has not received any medical treatment.

SLMP recently made it possible for Ruqiya's family to visit her in jail – after a long separation. An SLMP staff member described as 'heart-rending' the scene of Ruqiya being reunited with her husband and children. They could see one another but could not touch because they were separated by iron bars and a fence.

'She called her son and girl near the fence and kissed the fence like she kissed the kids,' the SLMP staff member reported. 'She was shedding tears continuously which showed her great pain and sorrow. Even the visitors of other prisoners got emotional seeing her.'

Ruqiya has been detained for the past three years and is currently being kept in solitary confinement, after threats from other prisoners. She has been promised safety in return for converting to Islam – but has refused and remained strong in her faith. SLMP reports that she and her husband, Munir, were both given life sentences but Munir was later released.

SLMP has been supporting both women and their families, providing financial and spiritual support. Neither family could otherwise afford to visit their loved ones in jail.

(Source: Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan)

• Ask God to protect and encourage Agnus, Ruqiya and their families. Pray that they will know God's goodness, His healing, His provision and His peace. Pray that both women will be released immediately.
• Ask God to sustain and protect everyone involved in the work of Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan. Thank God for their powerful, life-transforming ministry which brings hope in desperate situations.


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

Release International, PO Box 54, Orpington, BR5 9RT, UK
Tel: 01689 823491

My introduction to Al-Muhajiroun - Islamism in Ealing/

Wiki says, 'Al-Muhajiroun (Arabic: المهاجرون‎; The Emigrants) is a banned Islamist organisation that was based in Britain and which has been linked to international terrorism, homophobia and anti-semitism. The group was proscribed under the UK Terrorism Act 2000 on 14 January 2010 together with four other organisations including Islam4UK.

The Group operated in the United Kingdom from 14 January 1986 until the British Government announced an intended ban in August 2005.[5] The group was then relaunched in June 2009. Two other offshoot organisations, The Saviour Sect and Al-Ghurabaa had previously been banned for the 'glorification' of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2006.[6] It was also alleged to have run a Lahore safe house for visiting British Muslims.

Omar Bakri Muhammad and Anjem Choudary are known to have led Al-Muhajiroun. The group became notorious for its conference "The Magnificent 19", praising the September 11, 2001 attacks. The former Home Secretary Charles Clarke banned Bakri from the United Kingdom on 12 August 2005 because it was alleged that his presence was "not conducive to the public good."

On 16 May 1999 I was invited to a meeting of Al-Muhajiroun at Ealing's Town Hall. I have no idea why I received an invitation to the meeting. I had never heard of the group but I went along on that Sunday evening which as I look back now surprises me. Why was I not, as per usual at church?

Never before or after have I personally been present where Islamic revolution was proclaimed as the way to end the world's ill and usher in a resurrected universal caliphate. Omar Bakri Muhammah scolded those present for their support of Pakistan in the forthcoming Cricket World Cup. Nationalism was not Islamic.And his ideas were not cricket! At the refreshment break I asked someone how this revolution was to happen. Nothing democratic at all. Start with military coups.

I looked around the meeting. I was not the only white person present but I sensed I was the only such non-Muslim. I wondered it the security forces were listening. These guys were dangerous. How dangerous was their teaching was not evidenced until two years later, 9/11.

Since then I have talked to many Muslims. None has owned allegiance to such ideas. But in 1999 Islamist revolution was alive and well in my borough.

Another speaker that evening was Raheed Mahmood. On the night of 03/30/2004 Waheed Mahmood, (who has a brother Raheed), along with all other members of the Fertilizer 04 Plot was arrested on charges to attempt to carry out a terror attack. Waheed Mahmood's trial was opened in London on 03/21/2006 alongside 6 more defendants. He was one of the few who took steps to prevent his discovery and had unscrewed his computer hard drive.

Waheed Mahmood was the senior member in the Fertilizer 04 Plot and according to his judge "exerted authority over others".
Waheed Mahmood was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment on 04/30/2007. He was linked with Al-Muhajiroun so it is likely I listened to his brother. The plotters stored 600kg of fertiliser in nearby Hanwell to make bombs. Raheed is a common name but I wonder if I heard a bomber's brother speak.

Avoiding Responsibility for Riots and Looting

A peaceful demonstration was hijacked.
We did not get answers from the police.
People came in from outside.
The heart has been ripped out of the community.

One sympathises with those who have suffered in the Tottenham riots. But I am appalled by the comments above which I am hearing in news reports. Blame the police, blame outsiders. Blame others. The only people not yet blamed seem to be Arsenal fans.

This is brutal LAWLESSNESS followed by blatant BLAME SHIFTING. It is self harming behaviour.

Prize daft comment - ‎'Norma Jones, 48, who works in human resources, said she saw people of all colours and creeds running along her road carrying carpets looted from a nearby shop.'

Was she carrying out a survey of the beliefs of looters? Perhaps she is merely reflecting her HR training in equal opportunities and inclusiveness.

Friday, August 05, 2011

"La donna è mobile" ("Woman is fickle")

Last night, in celebration of our forthcoming 42nd wedding anniversary, I took Katy to Rigoletto at the Richmond Theatre. Despite an unscheduled break in the last act it was a great evening. Second row of the stalls one is right there with the performers.

The icing on the cake is "La donna è mobile" ("Woman is fickle"). However, sung by a lecherous, lying duke, this is a slander.

This woman is flighty
Like a feather in the wind,
She changes in voice — and in thought.
Always sweet,
Pretty face,
In tears or in laughter, — she is a liar.
The woman is flighty
Like a feather in the wind,
She changes in voice and in thought,
And in thought!
And in thought!

Always miserable
Is he who trusts her,
He who confides in her — his unwary heart!
Yet one never feels
Fully happy
Who on that bosom — does not drink love!

Woman is flighty
Like a feather in the wind,
She changed her words,
And her thoughts!
And her thoughts!

The woman he has seduced remains infatuated with this evil man.

The opera is very dark indeed. Men are lustful, liars, vengeful, murderers. Fatherly love leads to tragedy. Women are not fickle. The heroine's fault is constancy in her infatuation for a bad man. The ending is very very dark. A dead girl and a broken father. No justice for evildoers. But the music is great. Especially 'Elephants ears" - 'e di pensier!'.

My day in court

This week was my fourth appearance in Her Majesty's courts. I have twice been a witness before magistrates and once pleaded my own civil case before a judge in chambers. But this was an immigration judge, no wig but using a Mac book before him on the bench.

AFAIK he had summoned three cases, two bail hearings and this appeal all for 10 a.m. knowing full well that he could not multitask. So our appeal started after a wait of over four hours.

I was the fourth and final witness on behalf of a young Pakistani man claiming asylum on the grounds that his life is in danger in his home country. Living in rural Pakistan he became friendly with the daughter of a local Muslim leader. This was shame on her family so a brother murdered her and this young man and his family had to flee their village. He came to England on a tourist visa and simply stayed after it expires. The Border Agency did not pursue him.

But one day he walked into a Christadelphian meeting. ( They are IMO Unitarians)These folk welcomed him. He joined with them and was persuaded he should do the decent think and confess he was an illegal immigrant. That led to immediate arrest and detention. A friend found out and asked if I could help as M {name withheld) claimed to be a member of the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan. An immigration tribunal had accepted that M was a Christian in England but saw no evidence to corroborate his claim to be a Presbyterian from Pakistan,

I phoned him and was given the number of a lady from the Christadelphians who was helping him. She put me onto M's lawyers. I was alarmed to hear they were Muslims representing a Christian fleeing persecution but I was in for a pleasant surprise. The lawyer representing M was brilliant in court passionately pleading how M's life was in danger if the judge sent him back home. The lawyer pulled no punches about how Christians are the poor in Pakistan and Muslims use the blasphemy law to slander them.

I had contacted my own solicitor who advised me to prepare a witness statement for the court which I did in response to seeing a transcript of the original hearing . I was able to show that a young man who could recite the Lord's Prayer in Urdu had to be a Christian as Pakistan bans Christian schools from teaching our prayers to Muslims. Also his failure to name officials in his church was no surprise as our members in London would not know the names of moderator, clerk and treasurer in the presbytery.

The judge accepted that M is a Presbyterian from Pakistan despite his inability to name the 10 commandments, I witnessed that I did not think English Christians would pass this test and I was bold enough to ask the judge if he was a Christian who could list the commandments. Immigration tribunals have no proper expertise IMO in assessing whether an asylum seeker's Christian profession is credible. But this judge was OK. He accepted that M is a Pakistani Presbyterian who now is part of a Christadelphiian eklesia (their term of choice). But today we await his decision as Io whether M is in such danger that asylum should be granted.

These tribunals are not like a court where the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Here ever word of the appellant is deemed to be a lie unless he proves it true. Newspaper articles translated from Urdu may be forged and need certification. Asylum seekers from Pakistan are not to be trusted as they are from a corrupt society.So M needs evidence as to the threat to his life. Well yesterday I managed to produce some. I received an email from the general secretary od his denomination in Lahore to confirm his story of a life in danger. This has gone to the lawyers and I trust, the judge. We await judgment today.

M is a frightened young man. I pray hat asylum will save his life from those who would murder him for befriending a Muslim woman. And I trust my blog will not be accused of contempt of court for reporting on that which s still sub judice. After all, the judge has a Macbook too.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Martin Luther on Marriage as a School of Character

“Before I was married,” Martin Luther recalled, “the bed was not made for a whole year and became foul with sweat. But I worked so hard and was so weary I tumbled in without noticing it.” However, when Martin married the runaway nun Katherine Von Bora, whom Luther called Katie, the bed was made, the sheets were changed, and the house was kept clean! But life was not all roses for Luther once he was married.

Martin quickly learned that marriage means sacrifice, looking out not only for the needs of yourself but also of your wife and family. ”There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage,” he wrote. “One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before.” Roland Bainton, in his biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand, comments, “He soon discovered that a husband must take the wishes of his wife into account” (226). To take but one example, if it were not for Katie, Martin would have attended Spalatin’s wedding, encountering violence from peasants in order to get there. Luther no longer could just think of himself, but he now had a wife (and soon many children) to provide for.

A Resourceful Woman

Martin brought nothing into his marriage but some old books and smelly clothes. The Luthers started off with little financial advantage. The responsibilities around the house were not light either. Katie had to work the house and land they lived on to meet the needs of their household. Luther cared for the garden and Katie the orchard, pond, and barnyard. Katie slaughtered the hens, pigs, and cows herself! Martin wrote of Katie in a letter from 1535, “My lord Katie greets you. She plants our fields, pastures and sells cows, et cetera [how much does that et cetera cover?]. In between she has started to read the Bible. I have promised her 50 gulden if she finishes by Easter. She is hard at it and is at the end of the fifth book of Moses.”

Eventually Martin had a farm at Zulsdorf, managed by Katie. The Luthers would spend time out at the farm every year. Comically Martin wrote to his much-loved Katie, “To the rich lady of Zulsdorf, Mrs. Dr. Katherine Luther, who lives in the flesh at Wittenberg but in the spirit at Zulsdorf.” And at another time, “To my beloved wife, Katherine, Mrs. Dr. Luther, mistress of the pig market, lady of Zulsdorf, and whatsoever other titles may befit thy Grace.”

Martin was not an easy one to take care of. Often he was sick and at various times (if not all at once) he suffered from gout, insomnia, catarrh, hemorrhoids, constipation, stone, dizziness, and ringing in the ears. Bainton observes Martin’s love for Katie during these hardships:

Katie was a master of herbs, poultices, and massage. Her son Paul, who became a doctor, said his mother was half one. She kept Luther from wine and gave him beer, which served as a sedative for insomnia and a solvent for the stone. And she brewed the beer herself. When he was away from home, how he appreciated her ministrations! After a year of marriage he wrote to a friend, “My Katie is in all things so obliging and pleasing to me that I would not exchange my poverty for the riches of Croesus.” He paid her the highest tribute when he called St. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians “my Katherine von Bora.” He began to be a trifle worried over his devotion: “I give more credit to Katherine than to Christ, who has done so much more for me.”

Martin and Katie loved one another, and Martin valued Katie for taking such good care of his sorry body.

A Growing Household

The Luther household soon grew in number by leaps and bounds. Katie gave birth to a son, Hans. Martin wrote, “My dear Katie brought into the world yesterday by God’s grace at two o’clock a little son, Hans Luther. I must stop. Sick Katie calls me.” In his typical humor, Luther wrapped Hans in swaddling clothes and then said, “Kick, little fellow. That is what the pope did to me, but I got loose.” What I appreciate most about Luther’s journal entries at this point is how true his comments are to real life. As cute as Hans might have been, the late nights with a screaming baby were tiresome and a hardship. “Hans,” Luther said, “is cutting his teeth and beginning to make a joyous nuisance of himself. These are the joys of marriage of which the pope is not worthy.” Total, the Luthers had six children: Hans, Elizabeth, Magdalena, Martin, Paul, and Margaretha. Luther said of Elizabeth when she was born on December 10, 1527, “God has produced from me and my wife Katie a little heathen.”

But the ongoing noise of Luther’s household was not only due to their children but also to the many friends and students who were constantly at Luther’s doorstep. One of the most outrageous examples occurred on the night of Martin and Katie’s wedding. At eleven o’clock there was a knock at the door. It was Carlstadt, who was fleeing from the Peasants’ War, seeking a place to stay. Of course, the Luthers took him in. Carlstadt would not be the last. The Luthers took in the sick on many occasions. Most impressive, however, was the love the Luthers had for orphans. Martin and Katie adopted four orphaned children from their relatives, making a total of ten children (!) in the Luther household. Known for an open door, at times the Luther family had up to 25 children and student boarders under their roof. Needless to say, this was no small task for Katie. Even the mealtimes in the Luther household were occupied. Martin’s famous Table Talk came from the table where the Luthers had their supper. Students were always at his table asking questions into the late hours of the night. But the exhaustion was overwhelming, so much so that one night, when Martin was talking at the table, Katie went up to her room and literally passed out.

Life was hard. Family life was hard. Marriage was hard. And yet, Martin and Katie loved each other tremendously. They viewed marriage as a school of character, whereby God uses the hardships of daily family life to sanctify us. Bainton puts the matter as well as anyone:

In this sense it displaces the monastery, which had been regarded by the Church as the training ground of virtue and the surest way to heaven. Luther in rejecting all earning of salvation did not exclude exercise in fortitude, patience, charity, and humility. Family life is exacting. The head of the house has the lifelong worry over daily bread. The wife has the bearing of children. During pregnancy she suffers from dizziness, headache, nausea, toothache, and swelling of the legs. In travail her husband may comfort her by saying, “Think, dear Greta, that you are a woman and your work is pleasing to God. Rejoice in his will. Bring forth the child. Should you die, it is for the noble work and in obedience to God. If you were not a woman, you should wish to be one, that you might suffer and die in so precious and noble a work of God.”

Perhaps nowhere is the “school of character” more evident than in raising children. If you are a parent you know how stressful it can be and how trying to your own sanctification it can be to have a child who is relentless, disturbing the entire household with screams during the night. I know I do, and my wife more than I. Luther’s household was no exception. Bainton writes,

The rearing of children is a trial for both parents. To one of his youngsters Luther said, “Child, what have you done that I should love you so? You have disturbed the whole household with your bawling.” And when a baby cried for an hour and the parents were at the end of their resources, he remarked, “This is the sort of thing that has caused the Church fathers to vilify marriage. But God before the last day has brought back marriage and the magistracy to their proper esteem.” The mother of course has the brunt of it. But the father may have to hang out the diapers, to the neighbors’ amusement. “Let them laugh. God and the angels smile in heaven.”

Marriage and Patience

Martin’s words were never lacking the combination of biblical truth and humor. Luther exclaimed at one point, “Good God, what a lot of trouble there is in marriage! Adam has made a mess of our nature. Think of all the squabbles Adam and Eve must have had in the course of their nine hundred years. Eve would say, ‘You ate the apple,’ and Adam would retort, ‘You gave it to me.’”

Katie’s patience ran dry as well. She snapped at Luther one time, “Doctor, why don’t you stop talking and eat?” Luther snapped back, “I wish that women would repeat the Lord’s Prayer before opening their mouths.” But Bainton explains why their patience with one another, and especially with their many children, may have run out at times:

Part of the difficulty was that the rhythm of work and rest did not coincide for Luther and his wife. After a day with children, animals, and servants, she wanted to talk with an equal; and he, after preaching four times, lecturing and conversing with students at meals, wanted to drop into a chair and sink into a book. Then Katie would start in, “Herr Doktor, is the prime minister of Prussia the duke’s brother?”

Martin knew his patience was hard to find at times. He once said, “All my life is patience. I have to have patience with the pope, the heretics, my family, and Katie.” But as Bainton rightly observes, Martin “recognized that it was good for him.” Again, marriage and family was a school of character.

Despite the hardship of daily life, Martin loved Katie enormously. And he knew that marital love grows stronger over time. “The first love is drunken. When the intoxication wears off, then comes the real marriage love.” And again Luther wrote, “Union of the flesh does nothing. There must also be union of manners and mind.”

Martin’s love for Katie was evident especially when she was sick. He wrote, “Oh, Katie do not die and leave me.” Martin could not stand the thought of losing his “rib,” as he so often called Katie in joking.

But Martin and Katie loved their children as well, and they loved them more than life itself. Perhaps the most difficult trial Martin and Katie experienced was the death of their 14-year-old daughter, Magdalena. On her deathbed Martin prayed, “O God, O love her so, but thy will be done.” Bainton explains what happened when she died:

Luther reproached himself because God had blessed him as no bishop had been blessed in a thousand years, and yet he could not find it in his heart to give God thanks. Katie stood off, overcome by grief; and Luther held the child in his arms as she passed on. When she was laid away, he said, “Du liebes Lenchen, you will rise and shine like the stars and the sun. How strange it is to know that she is at peace and all is well, and yet to be so sorrowful!”

Peace and sorrow. May the marriage of Martin and Katie, as well as their love for their children, remind us today of Christ’s love for his church and the Father’s love for us as his redeemed children.

Matthew Barrett (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett has contributed book reviews and articles to various academic journals and he also writes at Blogmatics. He is married to Elizabeth and they have two daughters, Cassandra and Georgia. He is a member of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.

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