Displaying items by tag: christianity
Wednesday, 31 October 2018 17:40

The Failure of Public Policy

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2: 3-4)   How has our society arrived the point where wide-spread abortion is not only tolerated but promoted, and a beneficial view of euthanasia is endorsed in parliamentary bills? Why was a romantic view of same-sex marriage given media endorsement and such a prominent focus in the marriage plebiscite and in politics? Why is sexual experimentation promoted, often in the context of unwittingly promoting violence against women through the implicit endorsement of pornography?

This is the first part of a series of articles written by Neil Foster about the Ruddock Review's leaked contents. The subsequent articles can be accessed at Neil website, here.  

A media outlet here in Australia has released what it says are the 20 recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock. The Report itself was delivered to the Government in May 2018, but has not officially been released. Apparently the Government is planning to release the Report at the same time as announcing its official response. The main issue which has generated controversy during the last week, in which there was a selective leaking of some of the recommendations, were proposals dealing with the rights of religious schools to take into account the sexual orientation of students in certain areas. The changes proposed were not radical changes to the existing law, but were presented as such when first publicised. In this post I want to briefly set these recommendations in context and offer my preliminary response.
Published in Religious Freedom
Saturday, 04 August 2018 10:34

Notable Christians: Sophie and Hans Scholl

(Photo credit: JStorDaily) Just over 75 years ago some very brave and passionate young people were executed in Germany for daring to resist Hitler and the Nazis. Two of the main players were sister and brother, Sophie and Hans Scholl. Their stories are now engraved in history, and they have inspired millions along the way. Robert and Magdalena Scholl had six children, including Sophie and Hans. They were raised as Lutherans and a Bible in the home was there to be read and studied. Her mother was the more religious of the parents, and her father early on came to oppose the Nazis. As the Nazis came to power, all the Scholl children at first became keen supporters of the Nazis, and some even joined the Hitler Youth, much to their father’s horror. But they soon grew very uneasy with what was happening in their country as they began to see what was really going on.

Published in Christianity
Thursday, 28 June 2018 00:01

The Heresy of Mohammed

The following extract is taken from the book, "The Great Heresies" by Hilaire Belloc, first published in 1938. Born in 1870, Belloc wrote over a hundred books on history, economics, military science and travel, plus novels and poetry, as well as hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles. Belloc died in 1953.

Published in Christianity

Yesterday I wrote about the victory of Colorado cake-maker Jack Phillips. While I still stand with that piece, the only thing I regret was the title I ran with – in haste. I had to dash out, so I quickly changed a more innocuous headline to a more eye-catching one. [Read this story here on Bill's website.] However, anyone reading the piece instead of just going by the title would have seen that this win was hardly an end-all and be-all decision by America’s highest court.

Published in Religious Freedom
Monday, 23 April 2018 21:02

Teachers: The Red Cent Rules

There are older teachers around today that are as depressed about modern education as many of the Tavern's customers. Most ordinary punters, both dads and mums consumed with work, send their kids to what passes for schools, whether they like it or not, to have their little chaps and chapesses spend more time with a (very possibly) uneducated moron than they do with themselves. It is a bleak picture. Older folk remember many of their early years' teachers with affection and gratitude, but few kids today will have such pleasant memories.

Monday, 02 April 2018 19:30

A Tale of Two Men - and Two Faiths

[Apr 1, 2018. Photo credit Herald Sun]

 Today is Easter Sunday. Christians the world over celebrate the most important event in human history: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the heart of this event is one person giving his life for others, so that they might live. This is self-sacrificing love at its greatest.
Published in Islam

The recent decision of the England and Wales Court of Appeal in Pemberton v Inwood [2018] EWCA Civ 564 (22 March 2018) upholds what was in effect disciplinary action taken against a Church of England clergyman, the Reverend Canon Jeremy Pemberton, on account of his entering into a same-sex marriage. The decision is a sensible one which upholds the religious freedom of the Anglican church to operate in accordance with its fundamental religious beliefs.

Published in Religious Freedom
Wednesday, 14 March 2018 22:38

Signs of the Times

I think one of the issues with the recent revision of marriage is that many people found it hard to understand how the meaning of words can change change so quickly.

Words are seemingly increasingly fluid today - much like gender is regarded in certain circles. ‘Equality’ and ‘marriage’ were the two key words to undergo revision in 2017 in Australia, and it is no mistake that Yes groups connected these words in simple slogans with the overall aim of promoting ‘love’ to help stimulate revision.

Love is Love?

For example, take the University of Sydney advertising campaign in 2017 that was presumably linked in to the marriage debate: “Unlearn Love”.

The meaning could be taken several ways, but I am sure that the university was not saying that the love of two men is not love. I believe they were saying that married love is not what you always thought it was, and that now the new idea is to challenge the status quo and develop new ideas and ways of expression.

I always find it helpful in this new era of re-defining words to ask people when they say anyone can be married to ask them what marriage is and gently probe their response. Usually most people have a restriction on who can marry (not-with standing that most pro Yes Marriage voters would not have even been aware of the restrictions in Section 23 of the Marriage Act).

There is also a lack of definition when one probes the meaning of the word ‘love’ today. Perhaps defining ‘love’ is now too difficult or exclusionary? It is much easier to say, ‘Love is love’, and to sing about it than think about what it means. Perhaps those of us in the church could help the wider society learn more about the types of love mentioned in the bible? We need to be reminded of some of the hard sayings of Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5: 43-44)

   

Marriage and Gender

Newtown in inner-city Sydney was one of the few local areas that had a significant number of local businesses and groups involved in publicly supporting the Yes vote. Among hundreds of signs and slogans in Newtown, this sign about gender was the clearest in its revisionist context. The move away from the understanding of marriage as a natural biological union from which children are produced and nurtured centres marriage on a form of romantic love where individual fulfilment is the key to that love. Sameness is promoted rather than complementarity. It reminds me of the part in Seinfeld where Jerry in contemplating marriage realised what he was looking for all along – himself.

Ridicule of Belief

I am wondering if understanding of, or even basic awareness of the deepness of belief for people of faith could become increasingly rare in wider society? I know that Newtown is a rarefied context, but is the issue broader?

On the day of the marriage survey announcement a mural was proudly unveiled on the back of the Botany View Hotel in Newtown, Sydney.

Presumably the designer Scott Marsh had in mind an exemption from the Additional Safeguards Act that was in place during the marriage survey up until and including 15 November 2017, namely that part that mentioned “a communication communicated solely for genuine satirical, academic or artistic purposes; or” (Division 1, Subdivision A, Section 6, 4 (b) Marriage Law Survey Additional Safeguards Act 2017) as Marsh chose to celebrate the day by denigrating two prominent Catholic figures as well as the Catholic faith. Tony Abbot was illustrated wearing a bridal dress and tiara along with an allusion to performing a sexual act with the straw in the bottle of wine, as well as being depicted placing his hand down the pants of a buffed up Cardinal George Pell who was depicted as a lifeguard wearing a rainbow swimsuit. Not unexpectedly, this mural prompted considerable reaction. Within 24 hours the mural had been splashed with white paint and then later painted over with black paint, with some wording left (The Happy Ending). Groups representing differing viewpoints converged, including (mainly Maronite) Christians who wanted to pray and witness to their faith. This development led to a local police presence, albeit to ‘keep the peace’ between the different groups. In the days following people added to the black canvas with a wide range of insults, swearwords as well as blasphemous comments and praiseworthy comments about Jesus. This whole saga continued for several weeks, with regular blackening out, though by February 2018 the graffiti language decreased markedly as activists presumably have moved onto to other causes.

One intriguing aspect from some of my discussions around the area was that while people were very upset at the perceived ‘vandalism’ of the mural, some could not understand that the mural had been offensive in the first place.

 

True Rainbows

I have been able to capture some lovely images of natural rainbows in Newtown. One was in 2009, and one in February 2018. These rainbows always provide a measure of hope and help me to continue to reflect on a holy and living God, our creator and redeemer.

Published in Marriage

I have often sought to make the case for concerns about surrogacy. It is problematic on so many levels. Like the other Assisted Reproductive Technologies, our scientific and technological abilities to do things are outstripping and outpacing our moral reflection on them. And in the process, plenty of harm is being done.

Published in Right to Life
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