Friday, July 8, 2016

Britain's next PM will be a Christian & other news

In all the hoopla this morning (NZ time) about Britain's next PM being a woman (the contest is now Theresa May v Andrea Leadsom), I have yet to see a headline "Britain's next PM will be a Christian", both woman publicly declaring they are Christians.

In news closer to home, there is some news, at last, about our Christchurch Cathedral. Read here and don't ask me any questions because I know nothing more than is in the article! Anyway, it is progress, and, as the video shot by a drone shows, there is real regress in the state of the walls and pillars.

Then there is news from further away, from the east and the west, to the east and to the west. Something about an advert for the Orient, I gather. Now you see me, now you don't as I turn my back on you. Bosco Peters has the news here with many links, including to the recent Orthodox synod in which everyone agreed with everything, except for those who didn't agree to actually go to the Synod. So Anglican, as Bosco points out :)


BrianR said...

Why "extraordinary"? The Nobel "Peace" Prize has long been recognised as a joke, when you look at the recipients: Le Duc Tho and Kissinger (not long before the fall of Saigon), that Central American woman (Rigoberta?) who invented her 'memoirs', Barack Obama in February 2009 (for not being George Bush or maybe it was prospective, for bringing peace and freedom to the Arab world and uniting blsck and white in America).

BrianR said...

My innocent childhood was surrounded by liberal pieties I never questioned until much later: that "Mahatma" Gandhi was a Good Man, that President Kennedy was a paragon of Catholic virtue, and that the Nobel Prize for Literature meant Something - the gold standard for letters. As I learned more about literature (as well as the former matters), I gradually changed my views. This article explains fairly succinctly why the Nobel Prize for Literature is absurd (as well as obsessed with Swedish and Danish preoccupations), and the same could be said with the political nonsense that is the 'Peace Prize'.
"Then fools' approval stings and honour stains"
- T. S. Eliot, 'Little Gidding' (misquoted from memory)

Anonymous said...

Getting back to the topic, no rational person believes politicians anymore, Christian or otherwise. Cynical, perhaps, but all I can say for politicians is "oh bless".


BrianR said...

Andrei - I agree. The West (primarily the USA, I think) created Saudi Arabia, the source of the Salafist disease, but the West (Britain and France: Sykes-Picot) also created the mess that is Syria, Palestine and Iraq in the post-WWI carve-up (as well as Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia). Lebanon is another of these political concoctions that has been relatively stable in recent years, after years of extreme violence. The consequences for the Christian minority in those lands has been horrific.

But the problem also lies with the absolutist nature of Islam, which can never really cope with pluralism or democracy. That, I think is one of the causes of the disintegration of the USSR. Russians would never have tolerated becoming a minority in their own Russian-led empire. So the empire had to go. I do not think politicians in the West really appreciate that Putin's goal is to restore Russia from demographic and economic catastrophe. Ironically such a fate may now be facing the small states in the Baltics and elsewhere in eastern Europe (like Slovakia and Bulgaria) where birthrates have collapsed and great numbers of young people have emigrated to the West.

Andrei said...

But the problem also lies with the absolutist nature of Islam, which can never really cope with pluralism or democracy

Nonsense - to say that is hubris

Democratic regimes in both Syria and Iran were toppled in the aftermath of WW2 by the USA as is well known and replaced with compliant dictators

Iran today is a democracy and probably far more democratic than the USA where big money owns the politicians and no politician can achieve high office without the patronage of big money - Donald Trump if he is for real has come as far as he has because he has big money of his own

All recent British Labour party leaders until Jeremy Corbyn have been of the establishment and the reason why he is sneered at by the elite (though they'd never admit is)_ is because he is not of the Oxbridge clique and he has the rank and file of the British labour party behind him but not those who have a place at the high table in Parliament who aspire to high places within the Trans-Atlantic ruling elites, All totally undemocratic of course.

Islam is not incompatible with democracy but followers of Islam might not go along with the agendas of the Trans-Atlantic elites and therefore by the self serving definition of those elites be incapable of democracy

You should take a trip to Kazan sometime and see how Muslims and Christians can live together for centuries in relative harmony. Kazan of course is a long way to go and the malignant forces who use religion to divide and conquer to expand their Godless empire find it difficult to spread their poison there

BrianR said...

Well, colour me hubristic. One swallow doesn't make a summer. The overwhelming evidence from history is that democracy (free speech, freedom of religion, free association, freedom of movement) and Islam are NOT compatible. Islam always reverts to tribalism and persecution of minorities once it gets in the driving seat.

To say this is not 'hubris'. It's historical fact.

Andrei said...

Another "swallow" where democracy rules that you have been blinded to Brian Kelly is Indonesia which I think is the Nation with the largest number of Muslims in the world.

Democracy is just a word anyway - in reality in the Western World political power really lies with those who have money - they give us bread and circuses along with the illusion we have a say.

Do you think the "Brexit" will actually happen?

Look at hew Boris Johnson the leading champion for "Brexit" in the Conservative Party was taken out of contention for leadership of that party

As Mark Twain famously said “If voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it."

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
Good point re Indonesia, but it is the exception to the rule that Islamic states struggle to embrace true pluralism and participatory democracy.

Much is wrong in Western democracies, but (as I think Churchill said, more or less) every other system of choosing governments is worse.

And genuine change does take place at the ballot box, as NZ has found in (e.g.) 1935, 1975, 1984; and, as we have also found, genuine difference is made when participatory democracy chooses to refine itself, as we have done via MMP.

BrianR said...

I partly grant the point about Indonesia, but there are tensions in Islamist areas like Aceh where Salafism has insinuated itself, as well as clashes in West Irian and other places. It must be remembered that Indonesian Islam is usually considered rather syncretistic, with older substrata of Hinduism and animism. Malay Islam is ideologically 'purer'.

Andrei said...

"Good point re Indonesia, but it is the exception to the rule that Islamic states struggle to embrace true pluralism and participatory democracy."

You are guilty of cultural chauvinism here Peter

Other examples of democracy in countries with a majority Muslim population are Morocco and Algeria - we might look down our noses at their implementations of democracy because we want to believe we are innately superior

In Iran there are Christian members of the legislature! Bet you didn't know that - we don't like Iran because it doesn't obey Washington but all the Iranians I have ever met have been lovely people

One of the founding fathers of Baathism was Michel Aflaq, a Christian. Baathism is a dirty word to us because Baathism stands/stood against Western imperialism and hegemony and promoted Arab self determination and independence something the Western world has been subverting to advance its own interests since the end of WW1

Who is the Wests strongest ally in the Arab world? - Saudi Arabia, probably the most oppressive regime on the planet but who does the West undermine in the Arab world - leaders of pluralistic secular nations like Dr Bashar al Assad and that is why the Middle East and North Africa are a mess - they have not been left in peace to work out their own destiny for themselves

We will not tolerate leaders of those nations who want to chart their own course according to the cultural mores, history and interests of the people who actually live there

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
Ok there are some other exceptions to the rule; but not too many.
Baathist Syria was not an "Islamic state" was it?
(Baathist Iraq was scarcely a democracy!)
As for Iran: a country full of lovely people (a point overlooked by the West as it demonizes it) but do they consider they live in a participatory democracy or in a limited one, with the limitations imposed precisely by the "background" Islamic rulers?
The West's relationship with Saudi is highly problematic (I agree) and it could be ended anytime soon once motorists (such as me) wean ourselves off our dependency on oil.

Father Ron Smith said...

" Islam always reverts to tribalism and persecution of minorities once it gets in the driving seat." Brian Kelly -

And how, brian, does this not relate to Christians who vilify homosexuals?

Andrei said...

Peter - Baathism was an implementation of democracy in its conception and it was initially democratic in Iraq

The history of the region since WW2 is complex and complicated not the least by the fact that it is an area rich in strategic resources and occupies a strategic geographic position and outside actors want to control it - read up on the Suez Crisis of 1956 which was all about Britain and France trying to regain control over the Suez canal, nothing to do with democracy or the welfare of the people(s) of Egypt who are just pawns in "the Great Game"

I have taken to task the statement that followers of Islam are incapable of "democracy" and I am suggesting to you that when the peoples of these blighted lands have democratically elected leaders who have their citizens best interests at heart (as they should) that malicious outside parties have organized the overthrow of these leaders which is why democracy has remained fragile there

What can I say about how Iranians view their democracy - not much but I can observe that the voter turnout during the last elections was so high that they had to extend the voting hours to accommodate all those who wished to cast their vote

Meanwhile in that bastion of democracy the USA only about half the eligible voters bother because they perceive it to be a waste of time - which it is

I didn't bother voting last election because on my ballot paper three of the candidates were going to Parliament regardless and not one of them inspired me to tick their box as my representative

The composition of our Parliament is decided by unelected committees meeting in smokefree backrooms months before we go to the polls - all our vote determines is who from a small pool of marginal candidates, people we have never heard of for the most part, gets the nod and who misses out

Its a total joke if you think about it

BrianR said...

Well, as I referee this match, Peter scores in extra time and Andrei leaves for an early Ba'ath! :)
As I defined democracy above in the historic terms of Roosevelt's 'Four Freedoms' (free speech, freedom of religion, free association, freedom of movement - was I 'too subtle or obscure'?), it's obvious that no Muslim-majority society is democratic. Try holding evangelistic rallies in Morocco and see what happens! Try opening a new church in Tehran if you can. And yet great numbers of Iranians are - secretly - converting to Christianity.
One person -one vote is not the most important feature of a genuinely free and democratic society. The rule of law with the guarantee of fundamental personal liberty is. Such a thing does not and cannot exist in the Dar ul-Islam.
(BTW, 'Ba'ath' can be translated as 'resurrection', a message the Islamic world needs to hear.)

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Brian.

Western democracy is not a total joke.
No part of the GOP establishment, for instance, meeting in smoked filled rooms would have selected Trump to be the candidate for the American election.
No part of the Democrat establishment would have selected Bernie Sanders to push Clinton so hard in the primaries.
And this far out, does anyone know who will win that election?
Depending who wins, some big changes could come to America which are not being decided in backrooms!

Andrei said...

One person -one vote is not the most important feature of a genuinely free and democratic society.

I'm a man with two votes Brian Kelly, both equally worthless - you're not a Kiwi are you? :)

No society is perfect and in every society there are people who are or perceive they are oppressed. Whether or not they are oppressed maybe in the eye of the beholder in a lot of cases

Nor are your four freedoms absolute in any society

Polygamous Mormons might feel oppressed in North America for example and who can ever forget the fate of the Branch Davidians

And as for freedom of expression... The people who have run afoul of the thought police in recent times are too numerous to enumerate.

You are so immersed in your own culture and times that you might be oblivious to things that other people from other cultures or times might be horrified by.

What you need to be careful about is not demonizing people from strange places with different customs because that allows people with malice in their hearts to do the most atrocious things to them and you to turn a blind eye to it or even to participate.

But I entered into this dialogue over the concept that Islamic culture is not capable of "democracy" and I call BS on that on multiple grounds

BrianR said...

Yes, Andrei, I am a Kiwi, though a long time absent from the Shak-, I mean, Blessed Isles.
And if you are saying that freedoms are being abraded in a post-Christian, "politically correct" ( = cultural Marxist) world, I would be the first to agree.
Polygamous Mormons still act polygamously in the United States, as do the much greater number of serial polygamist atheists and faux Christians.
If you think I am "demonizing people from strange places", I suggest a. you don't know me; b. I know a fair bit about the struggle for human rights in the Islamic world (as well as having known a few converts from Islam who suffered for their troubles).
If you think freedom is an illusion in the west, try this thought experiment: Consider opening a new church in Tehran and distributing Christina tracts; then consider opening a new mosque in New Zealand and handling out Muslim apologetic literature. Which sounds easier to you and why?
(And do call me 'Brian' - no need for formality here.)

Andrei said...

OK Brian;

We are not really that far apart, its just that I see things from a different perspective perhaps

"Freedom" is just a buzz word - we don't have absolute freedom in the Western world but live under all sorts of constraints, happily so in most cases because they help make society function and they don't chafe too much if at all

As an extreme example we are happy to see people who have sex with children locked up because that horrifies us. In fact such behavior repels most of us so much that we would not care too much if perpetrators suffered extreme violence our loathing for them is visceral, well mine is

But there are those who promote this behavior - they are so marginalized by the rest of us they don't make too much noise but occasionally they show their faces e.g. NAMBLA

So there is a constraint that we support but it is a constraint never the less and sadly not universally supported by those who live among us

Andrei said...


A response to your comments about Iran

Nobody is claiming that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a perfect place but ever since the Shah was deposed it has been described by our masters as part of an "axis of evil" - Mordor

And yet you would be hard pressed to find examples of terrible things Iran has done to people outside its borders, Iran is not a significant threat to you or me in any way - there are other reasons why it is so demonized

"Consider opening a new church in Tehran and distributing Christina tracts..."

Consider this for years your Nation has been demonized by outsiders and foreigners from the Nations that hate you come proselyting your citizens with their form of religion which is entirely alien to your culture - can you conceive this might look to the Iranian authorities (and people) a lot like a rabid preacher of Wahhabism might appear to Western Authorities (does this perspective cause you discomfort?)

There are Christians in Iran, there are even Christians in Iran who arrived there in recent times as refugees and have been welcomed there

Christian refugees from Iraq and Christian refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh (and I bet you don't even know where that is or why there are Christian refugees from there) continue to move to Iran bringing with them their expressions of Christianity which have a long history in Iran

Andrei said...

Here's a famous quote for you to think about Brian
"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

That's Ann Coulter exercising her freedom of speech after 9/11

How do you think such words went down in Tehran? (Iran of course had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 but how many people do you think consciously recognize that?)

Peter Carrell said...

Hmm, Andrei
While I am sure those words didn't go down well in Iran, Ann Coulter is hardly "Spokesperson for the Western world at large, or even for the USA."

Is the larger point we are trying to grasp here the point that "freedom" is a matter of degrees? There is more freedom to follow one's religion in (say) NZ than in (say) Iran, but there is not absolute freedom to do so here (e.g. we are not keen on polygamous faiths!) and there is not absolute prohibition in Iran (which, notwithstanding your well made point about welcome to Christian refugees, has scarcely been a paragon of virtue since "the Revolution" re permitting (e.g) Anglicans to freely express their faith).

Andrei said...

'While I am sure those words didn't go down well in Iran, Ann Coulter is hardly "Spokesperson for the Western world at large, or even for the USA."'

I'm sure you realize Peter that those words find resonance among a lot of people in the West

The first comment on this thread that led us to here expressed the sentiment that Theresa May was in effect an appeaser for Islam.

There are a lot of things we consider to be wrong in 21st century Iran but that is also true for the USA (just watch the news), Great Britain and New Zealand - nowhere is perfect or even close

And to complicate matters we all carry our cultural baggage which biases us in ways that blinds us to our own sins while exaggerating the sins of others

AS followers of Jesus Christ it is our job to spread the gospel, not with cruise missiles and bombs though and not as a tool of imperialism either

My feeling is that if we want to support our fellow Christians in Iran we should do it through the Christian communities that exist there and have since the time of the Apostles but we have to be very careful in how we do this since our leaders are acting in a very bellicose way toward Iran and the last thing our brethren need is for our actions to be misinterpreted as advancing a political agenda

This is a very tricky matter, a minefield in fact

Peter Carrell said...

Agreed, Andrei!

BrianR said...

Andrei, I agree we are not so far apart. On some factual matters:

1. Yes, I do know where Nagorno-Karabakh is (and I didn't have to look it up) - a few years ago I was in conversation with Baroness Caroline Cox from Christian Solidarity International who was just back from visiting there, and long before that I followed the story of the Armenian-Azeri war.
One thing I do know is that the Caucuses, like the Balkans, is a place of immense complexity, and the victim of imperial power plays.
2. The little I do know about modern Iran tells me that it is a country of considerable ethnic and cultural diversity, while Persian culture is itself immensely rich and ancient (my postgrad studies were in OT literature from the Persian period). I do know that modern Iran is facing severe demographic problems in the near future as its population ages and young Iranians are reluctant to start families.
I think Iran was a (relatively) happier, freer country in the past, the Shah's Savak notwithstanding. Khomeini was a case of the "cure" being worse than the disease. Afghanistan was also a better place in the 60s and 70s before Soviet adventurism led to the Taliban.
3. Freedom of speech also means the right to call Ann Coulter the idiot she is.

Andrei said...

" Afghanistan was also a better place in the 60s and 70s before Soviet adventurism led to the Taliban."

Afghanistan in the 60s and 70s was a Soviet client state. Some bright spark in the CIA came up with a plan to arm the Mujaheddin to overthrow the Government and draw the Soviets into the conflict to stop it spreading to the Central Asian Republics

It was called Operation Cyclone and is well documented - Tom Hanks even made a film about it with Julia Roberts - a comedy bizarrely enough

Americans are really weird sometimes

And the plan worked very well - it helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union

The legacy of Operation Cyclone continues to this day and the good ol' USA has been involved militarily in Afghanistan nearly twice as long as the Soviets were with no end in sight - "Hoist by their own petard"

But since then they have ignited many other wars, they have got that down to a fine art

Starting fires is easy putting them out is something they haven't got a clue about

BrianR said...

Not exactly right. Afghanistan until 1978 tried to toe a non-aligned line. it was the Soviet-backed coup that tipped the country into war, costing a million Afghan lives, 6 million refugees and destabilising the USSR - with CIA help of course, that did lead to the Taliban and al Qaeda. In the 1970s western dress and education were not uncommon for women in the cities at least, and even churches existed in Kabul.
But what was the alternative - to let the Soviets' war spill over into Pakistan, as it certainly would have?

What modern Americans don't appreciate as a previous generation did is that a military presence is needed for many years after a war has formally ended. 71 years after 1945, there are still US bases in Europe - and who knows that they won't be used again?

Andrei said...

"What modern Americans don't appreciate as a previous generation did is that a military presence is needed for many years after a war has formally ended. 71 years after 1945, there are still US bases in Europe - and who knows that they won't be used again?"

There are a lot more American military bases in Europe in 2015 than there were 71 years ago or even 25 years ago

And if you want to know which God these armies serve you need look no further than NATO occupied Kosovo dominated by Camp Bondsteel an American military base paid for with the blood of thousands of innocent Christian Serbs