Entries from April 2009 ↓

News: Interfaith Tolerance Has Many Forms Including None

From good old OZ comes an excellent example of ‘do as I say and not as I do‘ …

CAMDEN’S Christian leaders have united to condemn the Quranic Society, which wants to build an Islamic school in Camden, for espousing views which are “incompatible with the Australian way of life”.

The leaders of the St John’s Anglican, Camden Presbyterian and Camden Baptist churches and the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary signed a letter to Camden Council arguing that the proposal was not in the public interest.

“Camden is increasingly becoming a multicultural community, but when one part of the community seeks to dominate the public space, as we have seen in Auburn, Bankstown, Lakemba and more recently Liverpool, the social impact is unacceptable,” says the letter, which was read at the Quranic Society’s appeal to the Land and Environment Court yesterday.

“Our concern is the Quranic Society inevitably advocates a political ideological position that is incompatible with the Australian way of life. This includes promoting Quranic law as being superior to national laws and regarding followers of any rival religion as inevitably at enmity with it.”

Quoted from the SMH web site

Alex McCullie

News: Christians Reminded Of Resurrection – Think Physical

Tom Wright, well-known religious writer and Bishop of Durham, has chided Christians and their churches for down-playing  and even mythologising the resurrection of Jesus. And why not? Take-away that as a historical event and you are left with Jesus as a pretty good man rather than being the true son of God. Would that also drop Jesus down the prophet league ladder and then wrap it up for Christianity?

Wright wants Christians to realise we are talking about a full-blown, fair dinkum physical resurrection – not some airy-fairy, namby-pamby floating off to heaven. According to Wright the resurrection continued the brutality of the crucifixion story. “The Passion of Christ” viewers would appreciate the blood and gore of this R-rated event.

Of course I was never sure how Jesus and any other resurrected people would look. Would Jesus still have the broken limbs, nail wounds, wip marks, torn flesh, collapsed lungs and so on. And what about skin colour and rigor mortis? Stiff body parts would not be appropriate. Paul made this even more problematic when he promised the physical resurrection of all dead people with the imminent coming of the “Son of Man”. That’s too horrible to contemplate! So thank God it didn’t happen.

Here’s the full article from Times OnLine .

Alex McCullie

Comment: Ancient Morality (Biblical Style)

I don’t quite know what to make of the Old Testament (Jewish scriptures) authors. I’m thinking of the morality of the ten plagues that God inflicted on the Egyptians.

You know the Bible story. The Israelites were enslaved and poorly treated by the Egyptians. Moses was commissioned by God to free the Israelites with God’s divine power. After some poor starts with his own people’s doubts and with ignored threats, Moses enacted the first five plagues with God’s help. Pharoah was unconvinced. So God changed his approach. Before enacting the worse plagues God ensured that Pharoah would still resist even against his own best interests (“hardened his heart”). Therefore God was able to inflict more pain and suffering on the Egyptian people as well as show his absolute supremacy over Pharoah as a rival “living God”. The final plague was a beauty with the killing all first born humans and animals.

I’ve always struggled with the US decision to drop the second atomic bomb over Japan to end World War II. Was the time delay enough for the Japanese to surrender? US argued it was. Here God wouldn’t allow Pharoah to surrender. Now, I don’t  hold any credence with this story – I’m not that gullible. In fact there is no or very little extrabiblical support for any Jewish captivity in Egypt let alone a mass escape to freedom. However these stories do say a lot about the religious authors of the Jewish scriptures and their moral values.

I know we need to be relativist when assessing the moral values of past generations. But it is hard to see how the forced infliction of pain could be venerated in scriptures. How would have these writers responded to our examples of evil – Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin? Admiringly?

Alex McCullie