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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stephen on the Schism in the Anglican Communion over the Gay Bishop

For me, the theological issues are one thing, but the politics and hierarchical nuances of the ecclesiastical hallways are just ridiculous.

Its a wonder there is not a symbol in the liturgy somewhere that indicates "fart here". The approval process for this symbol would have taken decades to decide, followed by another decade to agree on the form of the symbol. Then there would be another committee formed to adjudicate the olfactory affectations of allowable colitis, and yet another to consider aural dB limitations.

My point being "who cares"! I am not going to worship a deity who is concerned about trivialities; especially those attributed to His apparent original design.

Its about love of fellow human. The Southern African clan are just working their way through the same stuff their Northern colleagues worked through back in the 80s. They'll get there. But if they weren't stuck in a hierarchical political mechanistic institution that necessitates obfuscation, they would get there much quicker.
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Eileen critiques Christian Zionism

"Wisdom has built her house and she calls to all, 'Come, eat my food and drink my wine and you will walk in the ways of understanding."-Proverbs 9:1-6

"Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership…the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials...The President signed an Executive Order after September 11th giving the Pentagon license to do things that it had never been able to do before without notifying Congress. The claim was that the military was ‘preparing the battle space,’ and by using that term they were able to circumvent congressional oversight. Everything is justified in terms of fighting the global war on terror." (The New Yorker)

A nuclear Iran would make the 'Holy' Land a less desirable home for Jewish settlers, even though Israel's underground WMD facility in the Negev remains un-inspected.

In America, mis-informed Christians have been led by the Armageddon-based foreign-policy views of John Hagee, a false prophet who has captivated a congregation of 18,000 in his Cornerstone Church and millions who tune into his TV show to applaud the drum beat of a full-scale military assault on Iran.

Hagee is a 'Christian' Zionist who believes that the modern state of Israel is a divinely-ordained phenomenon and its establishment was essential to the Second Coming of Christ. Christian Zionists adhere to a misunderstanding of God as a Real Estate broker. Christian Zionists opposes land-for-peace negotiations and have no eyes to see or hearts that bleed for their Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers enduring under a 40+ year military occupation.

Many Christian Zionists fail at the commission to love all, and they seek to convert the Jews to their narrow small god or see them left behind in a nuclear holocaust that they erroneously believe they will be raptured/lifted out of.

The White House has convened a series of off-the-record meetings about its policies in the Middle East with Christians United for Israel (CUFI), Hagee's demented dream which sees CUFI as "the Christian version of AIPAC," referring to the pro-Israel group which is rated a close second to the National Rifle Association as the most powerful lobby in Washington.

Hagee has "endeared himself to key members of the Israeli right. [And] recently united America's largest Christian Zionist congregations and some of the movement's most prominent figures--including the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer and Rod Parsley, an Ohio preacher instrumental in launching Republican Ken Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign--under the banner of CUFI, creating the first and only nationwide evangelical political organization dedicated to supporting Israel." (The Nation)

On November 6, 2007, I attended a Hagee cult event in Miami and heard him claim, "Israel was re-born by an act of God and Israel lives! The Jews have suffered great persecution and survived slavery and the Final Solution! God Jehovah will bury Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran! The flag of Israel will fly over the undivided Jerusalem and be the praise of all the earth! It's 1938 again and the new Hitler is Ahmadinejad! Radical Islamisicts are threatening to develop nuclear weapons in order to destroy Israel and then the USA! But we are indivisible and we are both here forever!"

The oft repeated comment ascribed to President Ahmadinejad, that "Israel must be wiped off the map," was addressed by Virginia Tilley, Professor of political science who wrote:

"In his October 2005 speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad never used the word "map" or the term "wiped off". According to Farsi-language experts like Juan Cole and even right-wing services like MEMRI, what he actually said was "this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.

"In this speech to an annual anti-Zionist conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad was being prophetic, not threatening. He was citing Imam Khomeini, who said this line in the 1980s (a period when Israel was actually selling arms to Iran, so apparently it was not viewed as so ghastly then). Mr. Ahmadinejad had just reminded his audience that the Shah's regime, the Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein had all seemed enormously powerful and immovable, yet the first two had vanished almost beyond recall and the third now languished in prison. So, too, the "occupying regime" in Jerusalem would someday be gone. His message was, in essence, "This too shall pass." (Counterpunch)

What Has Already Passed:

Following the War of 1967, Israel gained an increased portion of USA foreign aid and military budgets, becoming the 'western pillar' of the USA strategic alliance against Soviet incursion into the Middle East.

During this period AIPAC and other pro-Israeli lobby agencies began their ascent to power in shaping USA foreign policy. The Roman Catholic Church and mainline Protestant denominations began to develop a more balanced approach to the Middle East, bringing them closer to the international consensus on the Palestinian question. Pro-Israel organizations interpreted this shift as being Anti-Israel and in turn began to court the conservative Christians.

In 1977, when President Carter stated "The Palestinians deserve a right to their homeland," the Christian fundamentalists and Israeli lobby responded with full page ads stating:

The time has come for evangelical Christians to affirm their belief in biblical prophecy and Israel’s divine right to the land...and affirm our belief in the Promised Land to the Jewish people.

The Reagan White House hosted a series of seminars from the Israeli lobby and Christian right. This was when Hal Lindsay, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority infiltrated the West Wing.

Falwell received a Lear Jet from the Israeli government for his personal travel and when Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear plant in 1981, Prime Minister Begin called Jerry Falwell -before he called Reagan- to ask him to explain to the Christian public the reasons for the bombings.

In 1996, Netanyahu and Likud ideology dominated Israeli policy and 17 evangelical USA pastors pledged their support of the illegal colonies in the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and full support for a Jerusalem under sovereignty of Israel.

The Christian Zionists launched a PR campaign under the banner: “Christians Call for a United Jerusalem.” They ignored the fact that they were in conflict with American policy and the Oslo process as well as a direct attack on Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant unity with the Churches for Middle East Peace that called for a shared Jerusalem.

In 2006, Hagee wrote in the Pentecostal magazine Charisma, "The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty."

This is only the first part of Eileen's article. See the full version on the Fighting Fathers Forum.
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Thursday, July 03, 2008

'The other Dave' talks about addiction recovery programs

ANY method of recovery is welcomed: be it holistic - to the traditional Alcoholics Anonymous.

The cost (if you can afford it) is money well spent - if it gets the monkey off your back, and puts the cork back in the bottle - as Marshall Hall, R.I.P, one of the great pioneers of treatment for alcoholism in Australia - oft told me when I was in recovery in his clinic in Melbourne.

Marshall helped Barry Humphries recover from his alcoholism. Humphries has made no secret of his indebtedness to Marshall Hall. If any member is interested Marshall wrote a marvellous book A Lonesome Road (with foreword by Sir Edward Dunlop) about his lonely road to recovery from the demon.

Marshall was a dyed-in-the-wool AA man. I can hear him now,saying:"Son, forget all this holistic stuff. AA is the only way you are going to get better."

I must admit, I got tired of dragging myself to AA meetings. I tried another approach Rational Recovery from Alcoholism by US author Jack Trimpey - with an introduction by Albert Ellis,the father of Rational-Emotive Therapy, adopted by practioners of CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy where you challenge your false beliefs).

Trimpey took issue with AA and its Twelve Step program. He claimed his method RR put the onus back on the individual and rational thinking - rather than AA's Higher Power and ' I have no control over my drinking without the intercession of a Higher Power' approach.

But, Trimpey did admit that for people with severe alcohol problems, abstinence was the best course. Not much different,at the end of the day, from the basic AA philosophy.

Trimpey was determined to get his "new" therapeutic approach to recovery from alcohol and other drugs accepted. He claimed "RR is news for the nineties."

Sceptically, and I stress this is my personal interpretation, A.T.I may claim its holistic path to substance abuse recovery is "news for the new millennium." But, then, the words of the late Marshall Hall keep ringing in my ears. "Son, AA is the only way...forget holism,rational recovery programs." I think the old b*stard may be right!

AA is free, you can't argue with its program - in fact, it is basic common sense. Yes, the Higher Power remains a sticking point. But, if I hit the grog again - I know that I would go back to the AA Fellowship - even just for a few weeks.
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Douggie on Coping in a Broken World

... life [is] full of fronts, coping mechanisms and fatalism.

Many people never realise this is how they live their lives and that this is the reality of living in a broken world.

I also think in one sense it makes it harder if people don't have an awareness of God. And if people do have an awareness and faith in God, that doesn't neccessarily mean a life of ease. In fact, it appears to be quite the opposite in fact. However, it can put our suffering into some kind of context and certainly know that Jesus also walks with us in the pain.

I know this all sounds like so much spiritual rhetoric and even simplistic but I often have to challenge my thinking around issues of faith in the what I quite often tend to be cynical about are quite often the deep spiritual truths of life ie: that God IS with us, He does know and he does care.

In spite of my depression (Zoloft, my drug of choice) and the times when I used to wonder why do I have to live this life I've got and why doesnt God just make things right, I realised God HAD done everything in fact more than I could ever realise or imagine to make everthing alright.

So while quite often my daily experiences in life still piss me off there is that deeper knowledge that God has made everything alright. My life is now not so much about WHERE is God in the middle of all this but an ackowledgement that God IS in the middle of alll this.