The Big Easy appears to be gone

I've been reading a few reports about the destruction wrought upon New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. Even on Tuesday, when there seemed to be some sigh of relief that the Hurricane had not done as much damage as people feared, I could see some telltale signs that things were not good at all.

If you didn't know already, New Orleans is below sea level, and has been kept dry by a series of levees to prevent water from coming in. The problem is that some of these levees have broken in the hours subsequent to the Hurricane. Water is pouring in from the nearby Lake Pontchartrain, a salt water lake that is connected to the sea to the east. Most of the city is now inundated by water, with some parts of the city completely submerged, while other parts being 2-3 feet deep.

There is absolutely no question whatsoever that the city is in a dangerously critical condition. The city can't function without the water being drained, and that can't happen until the levees are repaired or rebuilt.

I'm not sure how long it took to build the levee system, but repairing the major breeches will take time. I'm guessing months. There is no point in draining the city of the water until the source of the inundation is removed. Then there's the issue of the remaining levees - with the damage caused by the Hurricane, the entire levee system is suspect, especially if the city is subjected to another hurricane (which is a reasonable possibility). So the levees need to be totally rebuilt.

It will also takes months to remove the water from the city. The city actually has its own pumps to drain excess water during the wet season, but these pumps are unlikely to be operational. It could take a month or two to repair them and get them running again - assuming the levees are fixed.

Then there's the problem of subsidence and long term water damage. The water in New Orleans is likely to remain there for many months. During that time, wooden houses would degrade beyond useability, and the foundations of brick or concrete houses would become suspect. So even if the levees were fixed and the water removed after six months (which, to my mind, is hopelessly optimistic), I would guestimate that between 50-75% of the city's buildings would need to be demolished.

So what of the 500,000 citizens of New Orleans? Where do they go from here?

The fact is that most of these people now have neither a home nor a job to go back to. They are now refugees, unable to return to the city that they have lived in for many years. The fact is that many of these 500,000 are even now seriously considering moving to another city, or even another state. Six months is a long time to spend living in a tent next to your car, relying upon charity to pay your bills.

There is a real chance that New Orleans will no longer be a functioning city.

There's no doubt that if the levees are fixed and the water is drained and if the rubble is removed that people will come back. But I think that it would only be a fraction of what it was before Katrina hit.

Do you know what's sad? Having advertisements on this blogsite which you can click on to find a hotel in New Orleans. I'm not responsible for the content of the ads - I wish the Google adsense people had made an executive decision to remove those sorts of ads.

And you know what else is sad? These songs are going through my head:
When the Levee Breaks ("If it keeps on rainin', levee's gonna break...")
The House of the Rising Sun ("There is a house in New Orleans, they call the rising sun...")
Long before the Superdome (The Simpson's "New Orleans" song - "Long before the Superdome, where the saints of football play, lived a city that the damned call home, hear their hellish roundelay...")

From the Department of Wha's Happnin?

April 2002 - another day of casual teaching

The phone call arrived, as usual, at around 7 in the morning - like all phone calls for casual teachers. I had been asked to fill in for a teacher at RTHS, one of worst government schools in the Hunter Valley.

So off I went. It was early-April and, while Summer had gone, the weather was still fairly warm. On this day, however, some evil low pressure system was hovering somewhere and blowing a strong, ever-colder wind.

As all teachers will tell you, teaching school students on a windy day is not fun. For some reason, the teenage brain, already mooshed around by uncontrollable hormones, goes even crazier. I was not looking forward to the day at all.

When I got my class list for the day it seemed sweet. I was replacing a year 11 Drama class in the morning, a year 10 drama class after recess, one period off, followed by 2 periods of English/History for a year 7 class in the afternoon before knock-off time. Year 11 students were always easy to handle, and the year 10s could often be controlled by the use of reason. It was the year 7s, though, that had me worried.

The Drama classes were easy. As per usual, the teacher who I was replacing that day had asked me to do tasks that the class had already done. Besides, both year 10 and 11 had some long-term drama project that they were working on. All I had to do was sit on a chair and make sure the different groups were working properly.

But the wind had got up year 7 - big time.

When I walked into the class for the first time, the entire class was screaming abuse at some poor 12 year old girl sitting in the front row. The language they used was probably the worst I had ever heard a classroom of kids use - and these kids were 12 going on 13. I won't repeat what they said, but I will say that the kids essentially claimed that she had a "part-time evening job" that was so enjoyable that she quite often worked for free. Moreover, she was also quite skilled at the job, and was quite creative in what she was able to do.

And yes - all this from a bunch of 12 year olds.

Obviously the girl was getting more and more upset. Tears were welling up in her eyes, but also anger.

She was then approached by a pipsqueak from the back of class. A "pipsqueak", in my terminology, is one of those incredibly small year 7 students who has yet to begin any form of growth spurt. Pipsqueak year 7 boys are usually the smallest in the class.

This pipsqueak started yelling at her even more, describing in accurate detail her preferred method of evening employment and how he felt that she would not be worth the money and so on. The girl got up and pushed him to the back of the class.

She then got the pipsqueak's head and slammed it into the brick wall at the back of class.

What was I doing during all this? What I have described to you is merely the first 5 seconds of my entry into the classroom. I was still trying to get everyone to be quiet.

Naturally the pipsqueak was hurt and began crying. When his head hit the brick wall I swear I could see the wall move. On one side of his head he had scratches and blood where his little skull had impacted the hardened clay.

He complained of dizziness and asked to go to the sick bay. Because of the noise I had to take him outside to speak with him. I agreed that he should go to sick bay, whereupon he began to head in the correct direction - although I reckon he found it hard to walk in a straight line.

I walked back into the classroom and found it in an even worse state of affairs. The entire class was repeating their assertion that the girl had regular evening work, although this time they claimed that she actually paid her customers. The girl was weeping uncontrollably. She asked me to leave the classroom.

I decided not to let her go. I felt that if I allowed her outside she would continue her vendetta against the pipsqueak. Besides, I was able to silence the class somewhat and begin the lesson.

Within ten minutes a new problem emerged.

Because of the wind, many trees around the school had deposited leaves. Some trees even dropped their seeds. There is one tree - the name of which escapes me - which has a seed pod the size of a golf ball. For some reason, these pods are covered in spikes. Unfortunately, some students had smuggled in about 100 of these seed pods and began throwing them around the class. I remember as a kid being hit by one of these things - they really sting. And so a seed-pod war developed between two sides of the classroom.

At this point, pipsqueak turned up from sick bay, a small band-aid on the side of his poor sore head.

Every time I confiscated 10-20 seed pods, more would appear. Eventually one student got up out of his seat, went to the other side of the class, and threw, at full strength, a seed pod into the face of another student who was sitting less than a metre away.

The riotous behavior then turned into a major fight. The student who had been hit by the pod stood up and began laying into the other student as hard as he could.

Now I'm a big bloke. 186cm tall and over 100kg. These kids were 12-year old shorties. Despite the use of my booming voice, the fight continued. I walked up to the back of the class where the fight was going on, grabbed each student by the collar behind their heads, and forcibly separated them.

Which was fine... except that the student on my right, after being forced back, tripped over a schoolbag and fell, cracking his head against the hard concrete surface of an underfunded NSW government school classroom.

At some point I lost it. I began yelling at the top of my voice. It was the only thing I could do. The kids listened and were quiet for a while.

The problem is that the school is located in an area known for high unemployment, high rates of welfare dependency, high rates of crime and high rates of drug use. Many of these kids in this class came from abusive homes where their parents had no jobs and/or took illegal drugs. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the kids themselves were addicted to something.

The lesson began to proceed normally, with the occasional seed-pod delivery and derisive comment about the girl who worked evenings.

Then four kids on the side of the class decided to do something that boys their age quite often do - something really disgusting.

I knew there was something up because the four kids had stopped talking for about ten minutes and were sitting still. When I looked over at them, I realised what they were doing - they were moving their mouths like they were swooshing water in them. They had stimulated their saliva glands and filled their mouths up with the substance. Occasionally, one of them would open his mouth and gape at a neighbour, who would respond with some sort of comment like "ewww! That's gross!".

Eventually one of them put his hand up and spoke to me.

Boy: "Shir, can we shpit out the window?" (saliva dripping from mouth as he speaks)

Me: "No. You cannot. Just swallow the stuff! Now!"

Boy: "Yucstch, thash disgussing! I wanna shpit out the window!"

At this point the boy and his three cohorts opened up the side window and delivered their oversized gollies into the outside world.

Now I need to remind you of something - it was a windy day. A very windy day.

Needless to say, the oversized gollies did not travel far. In fact, due to certain laws of physics and thermodynamics, the delivered objects actually reversed direction and collided with the very people who had launched them.

No one except me could appreciate the irony of seeing four boys having their faces covered with their own spit - although I have to admit that poetic justice, rather than irony, was my major feeling at the time.

The bell sounded and the class was over. I had survived perhaps the worst day of casual teaching I had experienced, at one of the worst schools in the Hunter Valley.

I decided to never go back to that school again. Years later I met a teacher from the school who told me that many teachers have had nervous breakdowns from working there - even teachers who had transferred there after 15-20 years teaching experience.

The great thing about the experience is that I was able to tell it as a story to many classes in other schools. "How would you like to know what RTHS is like?" I would ask. The kids always love hearing about how bad other schools are, and would ask me to tell them. I would tell the above story to the class, with students gaping in amazement.

And it would kill ten minutes of class time - always a good thing when you're a casual teacher with no lesson plan...

From the Blogososphere Department

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.


The God of cause and effect?

Some people believe that God is some agent of divine cause and effect. In other words, if you do A+B+C, then God will respond with X, Y and Z.

There is some element of truth in this assumption. For example, if a person repents of their sins and trusts in the death and resurrection of Christ as the means of their salvation, then God responds - forgiveness.

However, even this sort of simple equation is messed up when you take Monergistic regeneration into account. This means that when we repent and believe, we only do so because we have been regenerated by the Spirit of God in the first place.

Taking into account God's sovereignty, as well as the explicit determinism found in Scripture, it becomes pretty obvious that God is the one who is ultimately working in us, rather than us trying to work God.

For example, Christians who believe in A+B+C => God doing X, Y and Z are essentially like people typing in the pin number on the divine ATM. God responds automatically when you hit the right buttons. This is totally unbiblical - in fact, it is the other eay around. It is God who hits the buttons, and we who respond in a predetermined way.

All this is important when we consider the Christian life. Far too many Christians expect God to bring them to self-actualization, that somehow, God is able to turn us into super-christians who have victory over every sin, have no health problems and are continually "on fire" for the Lord. This expectation is totally unbiblical. God does not promise us prosperity and self-actualization this side of the return of Christ.

But it is this expectation that cause Christians to act in certain ways. A few years ago I was teaching at a church school here in Newcastle. It is run by a fairly theologically liberal protestant denomination - so most of the teachers are essentially nice pagans. One teacher, however, was a born-again Christian who attended a Charismatic Bapist Church. One day in the staff room, some teachers were talking about cancer and discussing ways of prevention. The Christian teacher jumped on the conversation straight away by proclaiming that she will never get cancer because she and her husband pray three times a day that God would protect them from it.

Such faith? Yes, but such stupidity too. This woman and her husband had fallen into the trap of believing in the cause and effect God. They were somehow convinced that by praying three times a day, that God would automatically protect them from contracting cancer. I wasn't there in the staff room at the time, but I was there afterwards as all the unbelievers shook their heads in disbelief and anger at what this woman had told them.

God is not going to bless you or reward you in a tangible way if you do certain things. When I was a Christian teenager, I used to think that the reason why I would have a bad day at school was because God was punishing me for not having a Quiet time that morning. I even remember Christians at the time calling Quiet Times "Crunchies" - they change the colour of your day. (Note to non-Australians. Crunchies are a chocolate bar. In the 1980s, an advertising campaign told consumers that Crunchies "change the colour of your day")

But this is not the God who has revealed himself to us in the Bible. While it is true that the Psalms and Proverbs contain many "cause and effect" situations - such as God blessing the good and judging the wicked - there are also many instances where the writer laments at the apparent injustice of evil people prospering while good people suffer.

Under the Old Covenant, God's people (the nation of Israel) were subject to a "cause and effect" situation. If they feared God, then God would keep them and their land safe. If they turned away from God, then God's patience would eventually wear thin and he would no longer keep the nation safe. Of course, we all know that Israel didn't keep the covenant, and suffered as a result.

The New Covenant - the church - is not subject to these "particular" promises given under the Old Covenant. That's why we don't sacrifice animals and why we consume pork. In the same way, the promises of physical blessing are no longer applicable.

So how can this help our Christian lives? We need to remember that whenever we suffer, we are not necessarily suffering because we have somehow done something wrong. Let me give two examples:

  1. You sin by drinking too much alcohol and you become intoxicated. While driving home, you crash your car and spend the rest of your life as a quadraplegic.
  2. You sin by punching and knocking out an opposition player in a fight during a game of football. As you drive home, a design defect in your car allows the brakes to fail. You crash and break your elbow.
In the first case, there is a direct link between the sin and the suffering that has been caused. In the second example, there is no link whatsoever between the sin and the suffering.

But someone might argue that the car crash was a divine retribution for the sin that the driver committed when he knocked that man out - and if not divine retribution then some other form of natural "cause and effect" that exists in our universe. "What comes around, goes around" someone told me once.

It is this second example that many Christians have fallen for. They think that there is some form of cause and effect in place when it comes to sin. They also believe the same when it comes to obedience - that something positive will occur as a result of a person's godliness and love for God.

Too many Christian think that their life circumstances are linked to their sin, or at least to their inability to serve God more fully. To counteract this, Christians try to be more godly, in the belief that God will bless them as a result. When this does not occur, people assume that their suffering is a result of their own failure, and makes their situation worse.

The opposite problem is that when a person prospers, it must therefore be a result of their godliness and close walk with God. When this occurs, people become full of pride. Moreover, they also have less compassion for those who are suffering, since they will assume that it is the fault of the sufferer that they are suffering.

Ultimately, the greatest gift that we have is eternal life. We may suffer terribly from all sorts of physical or emotional ailments - but God has provided us with life eternal through Christ. And this is not the result of our godliness or enthusiasm, but the result of God's gracious act of salvation.

So when we suffer, we must remember that it is unlikely to be our fault, or that God has responded to our sins by making us suffer. We must remember that Christians and non-Christians suffer alike, and that God blesses both believer and unbeliever with the fruits of creation.

And when we prosper - we must remember that it is only because God has blessed us undeservedly. We do not deserve prosperity. It is not the result of our good works or godliness. We should thank God continually for our circumstance, and thank him that we do not suffer.

From the Theosalient Department

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.


Watching New Orleans

I'm sitting here at my computer watching the French Quarter Web Cam in New Orleans. It updates every minute and I get to see how much Hurricane Katrina is affecting the city. I'm half expecting the high rise buildings on the cam to fall over, or for the power to go out on the street lights, or for the web cam to cease operating.

There are dire predictions as to what might happen to New Orleans in the next few hours... the way some people are speaking, the city might even be totally destroyed.

The Infamous XI

  1. Geoffrey Boycott - Convicted of assaulting a former girlfriend
  2. Salim Malik - Attempted to bribe others to throw matches
  3. Shivnarine Chanderpaul - Shot a policeman in the hand
  4. Rashid Patel - Attacked an opposition player with a stump on the field
  5. Hansie Cronje (c) - Bribed to throw matches
  6. Trevor Chappell - Bowled the underarm delivery
  7. Greg Dyer (wk) - "Caught" a delivery rolling on the ground
  8. Shane Warne - Drugs, women, mobile phones and bribery
  9. Makhaya Ntini - Charged with rape
  10. Tony Lock - Charged with molesting children
  11. Matthew Brimson - Exposed himself in a team photo
  12. Peter Roebuck - Indecent assault of two teenage cricketers
Umpire #1 Shakoor Rana - argued with Mike Gatting and delayed a Test match
Umprie #2 Tony Randall - convicted child abuser

From the Department of Attempted Humour

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.


This is who I am

More stupid "Christians"

Three leaders at a Korean church in Sydney's north have been jailed over the bashing of a female church member who did not attend regular services.

Junior assistant pastor Chi Yeong Yun, 37, and bible study teachers Tom Chae-Yong Lee, 22, and James Kang, 21, from the Open Door Korean Church at Chatswood, pleaded guilty to assaulting 19-year-old Angela Kim in July last year.

In the NSW District Court today, acting Judge Joe Gibson gave Yun, described as the architect of the plan, a 12-month jail term while Lee and Kang were sentenced to up to six months.

All three had served some time in custody although were on bail in the leadup to the trial.

On July 8, 2004, Ms Kim was kicked and punched by the three men at a park in Bobbin Head in Sydney's north leaving her with extensive bruising to her arms, legs and buttocks.

During the trial, the court was told Ms Kim had not been attending church and was generally perceived to be disrespecting her elders.

(Full Report)

1 John 2.7-11

Introduction - I want to know what love is.

Over the years, certain words in the English language have been used so often
and in so many different ways that their meaning changes constantly.
As decades and centuries pass,
the cultural context of these words quite often moves its meaning in a radically different direction.
Let me give you some examples.

Some of you might remember going to the pictures when you were young,
and you may remember the film titled “The Gay Bachelor”.
When the film was made, the word “gay” meant happy and carefree.
But we all know what it means now.

Or let’s take modern slang.
I’m a teacher of course
I was with a group of school kids the other day
and they referred to something as being “sick”.
Now we might think that they were criticizing something,
but of course they were saying that something was very good.
If I say that my car is sick, you might interpret it to mean that it needs a service.
But to some teenagers, I’m saying that my car is wonderful.

Sometimes people take words a little bit too literally.
There is a story about an Australian woman in London who was invited to a party.
On the invitation were the words “bring a plate”.
So this unsophisticated Aussie assumed that the person was somehow lacking in crockery
and turned up with an empty plate.
The same person had been a teacher,
and years beforehand she was being visited by a school inspector.
After discussing all the important issues, the inspector left and said “see you later”.
This poor person waited around for hours for him to come back!

The word “love” is one of the most misunderstood words in our language.
Everyone has an idea of what love means,
and there is naturally some common thread running through,
but the fact is that in our world today the word “love” has been
misused, misapplied and misunderstood.

One of the best ways to examine how the word “love” is understood
is simply by reading the lyrics of popular songs.
In the mid 60s, The Beatles said
Love, love me do. You know I love you. I’ll always be true. So please, please, please, love me do”.
What we have here is love being defined as teenage attraction.
Later on, The Beatles stated that “All you need is love
- which in the context of the time meant you wore psychedelic gear,
took LSD,
tried to be very nice to one another
and protested against the Vietnam war.

Because the word love can mean so many different things,
it can be used as some sort of weapon.
“That’s not very loving” is a phrase that causes guilt in the hearer,
but what does the speaker actually mean?

Here in 1 John, the Apostle is instructing us about how Christians should be loving one another.
But we need to remember that our understanding of love at this point has to be determined by what John says,
and by what the rest of the bible says.
So we need to question our own assumptions,
and we need to let them be challenged by what God says here in his word.

In the ancient Greek language that the Bible was written in,
the word “love” is used to translate three different Greek words,
some of which you may have heard.
The first is the word “eros”, which we get the word “erotic” from.
However, eros is not so much talking about sexual love as it is talking about love for something that is worthy of being loved.
So eros love is loving something that deserves love.
Another word for love is the word “philio”, which is the love we have for family or friends.
“Philadelphia” literally means in ancient Greek “The city of brotherly love”.
Of course, the Greek word most used for love in the Bible is called “agape”,
and is the opposite of eros love
- agape love is love for someone or something that does not deserve to be loved.
God’s love for us is agape love
- God loves us and cares for us, but not because of anything good or worthy in us.
The idea is that love stems from the lover
rather than the person or object being loved.
When John talks about love here in the passage we’re looking at, he uses the word agape.

2.7-8 Old and new love.

Let’s move onto the text now.
The first point I want to make is titled “old and new love”
and looks at verses 7 and 8.
Let me read them to you.

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

The first thing John says is “dear friends”.
We have to remember in our examination of love in this passage that
John is not writing some stale theological discussion paper,
he is writing because he cares about the readers.
“Dear friends” is saying that they are not only friends of John,
but that he holds them close to his heart.
So as we examine what love is,
we need to remember that John is someone who loves.

The second thing we see here is that John is speaking about something which he calls “an old command”.
What is this old command?
Why is it so important that John call it old?
We need to remember that John was writing to a church that was being influenced by false teachers.
These false teachers were called “gnostics”
- they had received special spiritual knowledge.
In a sense, what they were gaining was “new knowledge”,
and they were going around speaking about this new knowledge.
John, however, is not speaking about any new spiritual insights or teaching.
John is saying that what he is writing is nothing new.

John is here referring to the gospel that the church had heard.
In the section before this one, you may remember that John was speaking about Jesus being a sin sacrifice.
That when Jesus died on the cross, he took our sins upon himself.
So when John says “I am not writing to you a new command but an old one”,
he is referring to the gospel that was preached to them when they became Christians.
This message does not change.
The meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection does not change over time.
Its meaning is eternal and universal.

But John then does something a bit strange.
He has started off by saying that he is not writing a new command,
but then goes on to say in verse 8 “yet I am writing you a new command”.
What is he doing here?
Is he contradicting himself?
Not really.
He’s actually referring back to what Jesus said.
We read earlier from John chapter 13, verse 34, where Jesus says
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Now John is a little mysterious here.
He doesn’t actually say that the new command is to love one another.
It’s fairly obvious that it is because verses 9-11 make that clear.
What he does in verse 8 is to examine where this new command is shown,
and how it relates to darkness and light.

He says that this new command - the command to love one another - is “seen in him and you”.
What he is saying is that love is first seen in Christ, and is then seen in the lives of Christ’s followers.

Anyone who reads through the gospels is aware of the fact that Jesus loves people.
He uses his divine power to heal people of their sicknesses,
and he teaches those who came to him about the kingdom of God.
But his greatest act of love was his death and resurrection.
Jesus freely accepted the mission God gave him,
which was to die as a sin sacrifice.

But this love is also seen in the lives of those who follow Jesus.
There is no doubt here that John is stating that love is a natural result of being Christian.
But we need to be reminded, yet again, that love here needs to be determined
not by our own understanding of the word,
but by God as revealed in the Bible.

John mentions the fact that the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
The picture we get here is of the dawn of a new day.
There is still darkness, but the light is already shining.
Now we know that when dawn comes, there is only one way to go
- the darkness recedes and the light of day shines around.
Remember here that John uses the terms “light” and “dark” as symbols of good and evil.
John is saying here that God’s goodness and salvation in Christ
is lighting up a world trapped in darkness and sin.
And it is in this context that our love for one another is shown.

There are two areas of application I want to make at this point before we go on to examine love in more detail.

The first is that we need to be wary of Christians and Christian organisations that promise something new.
John wrote to a church that was being led astray by false teachers
- teachers who had received new knowledge,
but had lost the old truth in the process.
We need to remember that the old message of Christ’s death and resurrection does not change.
Just because it is the year 2001 does not mean our understanding of God should be different to the church in ages past.
More importantly, we need to remember that the old message of the cross is always going to be our central focus.

I received a brochure the other day advertising a Christian conference that will be held in February 2002.
I won’t mention the conference or the speakers,
but just listen to the topics that some speakers will be talking on:

* “New understandings in the apostolic”
* “Fresh perspectives and strategies for the (great) commission.”
* “New paradigms for 21st century ministry”
* “Taking new ground with Life-giving Leadership that will release the church.”
* “Doing the stuff of the kingdom - fresh understanding and impartation to minister”

Now I’m not saying that this particular conference or its speakers
are in any way the same as the false teachers that John warns us about,
but the fact is that they are focusing upon what is fresh and new
- and that is of concern.

The second point in application is that the new command
- the command to love -
is based upon the old command
- the gospel which saves us.
What I am saying here is that
if we are to understand what it means to love one another,
we need to firstly understand the salvation and forgiveness that is given to us in Christ.
If we are to understand love,
we need to understand Christ.
And if we are to love properly,
we have to experience God’s love through Christ.

What I am saying is that no one can love properly
without having experienced God’s love for themselves.
If a person is not a Christian,
then they cannot love properly,
because they have not experienced the forgiveness and salvation
given to us by the God who loves us.
Of course, if we have experienced forgiveness and salvation,
then we do know what it is like to be loved by God,
and we can then love others.
This is why it is so important to always be reminded of the gospel that saves us
- the gospel acts as the starting point for our beliefs and actions.

If you hadn’t worked it out already,
I come here to preach I always preach the same thing.
It doesn’t matter which part of the Bible we’re looking at,
or whatever topic or theme we need to examine,
I’ll always be preaching the same gospel throughout.
Why? Because it is the starting point of all our beliefs and actions.

2. Love and Hate (2.9-11)

Let’s move onto the next point I’d like to make
- love and hate.
Let me read to you verses 9-11.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

It may seem strange, but one way of defining what is good is to define what evil is.
In this case, we can work out what love is by understanding what hate is.

One of John’s recurring themes throughout this book so far is the idea of light and darkness,
and we see it again here in these verses.
John makes the point here,
as well as in other verses in chapter 1 and 2
that true followers of Christ do not walk in darkness
- they are not evil.

What John does here is make this point a lot more specific.
True Christians
- those who are truly in the light -
are those who love their brothers.
John uses the opposite to make a further point
- those who do not love their brothers are not in the light
and are not true Christians.

Verse 9 makes that very clear
- those who claim to be in the light but hate their brother
are not in the light at all but are in darkness.
Verse 10 goes on to point out the opposite truth,
in the way we know John likes doing
- those who love their brothers are living in the light,
and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.

Just look at that phrase “there is nothing in him to make him stumble”.
What is being referred to here is something within the person that causes that same person to stumble.
When the Bible uses the word “stumble” here it is talking about something that causes a person’s faith to be harmed or destroyed.
So what John is saying is that a person who loves his brother has nothing in him that will harm or destroy the faith he has.
It’s not talking about making another person stumble,
it’s talking about something within that individual that causes that individual to have their faith harmed.

This is an important point because
it is saying that our own understanding of God,
our own godliness,
is important when we love other people.
How do we know this?

Remember that John is writing to a church that is being influenced by false teachers
- teachers who denied some of the most important facts of the Christian faith.
When John in verse 10 says that “there is nothing in him to make him stumble”,
he’s talking about these false teachers.
The false teachers have something within them that makes them stumble
- they have denied the truth about Jesus.
Those who have accepted the truth about Jesus
- only these people can love properly.

In our individualistic age, we like to think that we are independent of one another,
but that is not the case.
Our belief in Christ is so important that without it we cannot love others properly.

Verse 11 is just another one of John’s little literary tricks
- it is just another way of saying what verse 9 says.
Those who hate their brothers live in the darkness and walk around in darkness.
He is blind and does not know where he is going.

So the picture we have of those who hate their brothers is one that is very dark.
And of course we know that when John is talking about walking in darkness
or living in darkness,
or being blind,
he is describing someone who does not have the light of God in their lives.
A person who cannot love their brothers is not really a Christian.

So how can we apply all this?
There are 4 points of application I’d like to make.

1. You cannot be a Christian and not love your brother or sister in Christ.

John makes this point very clear.
Remember last time I was preaching here I made the point that John does not see any division between faith and action?
A Christian will always love their brother or sister in Christ.
If you do not love the person next to you,
in front of you or behind you in this church today
then you are disobeying God.
Why do we love each other?
- obviously we are commanded to do so,
but we do so because God first loved us.
Because we are so full of the joy of being loved by God,
we love our brother and sister in Christ.

2. I’ve said this one before - You cannot love properly unless you are a Christian.

God made us to be relationship with him.
Although unbelievers love and experience love, they do not know what love really is unless they become a Christian.
If we are an unbeliever, we do not love God.
And if we do not love God, we can’t love others the way God wants us to.
Love is not some scientific object that can be understood and applied across the spectrum of humanity.
You cannot look at love and say
“how do moslems love?”
or “how do hindus love?”
or “how do atheists love?”.
Love is something created and defined by God,
and something that we can only fully understand when we are in relationship with him.

This is an important point to believe when the world criticises us for holding onto our beliefs.
Many non Christians hate the church because of our stand against homosexuality.
They will argue
“How can you be preaching love when you won’t even accept the deep love between two people of the same sex?”
You see, the world has its own understanding of love,
and when the church is asked to define love the two come into conflict.
We can only come to the conclusion that you cannot experience or understand the love God has
until you have been taken out of the darkness and brought into the light.

3. You cannot love properly with a stumbling block.

John is not commanding us to be perfect here,
but what he is saying is that our relationship with God is the starting point when we love others.
If there is something that is hindering or harming or destroying our relationship with God,
then it is destroying our love for others as well.

A few weeks ago I met a Christian man
who attends one of the stronger evangelical churches in Newcastle.
During my conversation with him, the subject turned to the existence of Satan.
Although this man was a Christian and went to this evangelical church,
he refused to believe in the existence of a literal Satan.
Now it was not as though he was denying the trinity or the resurrection of Jesus,
but he was choosing to disbelieve God’s word.
What could I do?
I didn’t point the finger at him, or command him to repent,
I simply stated that I couldn’t help believe in Satan because the Bible clearly pointed out his existence.
I didn’t say that he was denying the Bible, but he got the message.
Now the fact is that until he repents of his sin in this area, he cannot love others properly.

This is actually the reason why ecumenicalism can be dangerous.
Ecumenicalism is the belief that all Christian forms of worship and understanding are acceptable.
Should we get together with the other local churches in joint worship?
It might work, but can we have fellowship with anyone who denies the basic beliefs of Christianity?
If the churches are gospel-preaching, Bible-honouring churches then that is fine.
But if they don’t believe in the Bible, we should probably avoid it.
It’s not that there aren’t Christians in those churches,
there most certainly are,
but that does not necessarily mean the church is believing Christian teaching.
The problem with ecumenicalism is that it does away with Biblical truth as being important when loving people.

4. Practical ways of loving.
John doesn’t give a lot of advice at this point on exactly what it means to love others in a practical sense.
Because of this we won’t spend a great deal of time on this point.
The Bible has a great deal of practical information about love and loving,
and I suggest that you read
1 Corinthians 13,
the book of James
and the second half of most of Paul’s letters for more practical issues.

John’s message to us at this point is practical
- to love properly we must be Christians,
and we must not have any stumbling blocks in our lives to hinder our relationship with God.

I started off today by saying how the word “love” is often misapplied and misunderstood in our modern world.
Well, I don’t think we’ve been able to fully define what love actually is,
but we have been able to focus on the important areas of Christian love.

So what is love?
Love has to be defined by God.
When God speaks of love he speaks of love which is determined by the lover, rather than the object loved.
By this I mean that God loves us even though there is nothing in us that deserves love.
We don’t have to earn God’s love,
he chooses to love us for who we are.

And how do we know God’s love?
How do we experience it?
We know it through Christ.
By sending his son to die and rise again,
God gives us the means by which we are forgiven and have friendship with him.
When we turn to God in repentance and faith, we experience in full the love God has for us.

And it is only by experiencing this love that we can understand what love is,
and how we should love others.
More than that, if we have experienced God’s love
then we have no option but to love our brothers and sisters.

And if we love our brothers and sisters,
we are to make sure that our lives have no stumbling blocks in them that will hinder or destroy our faith.
Because our relationship with God is central in our relationship with others.
We love others because God first loved us.

Let me pray.
Heavenly Father, you loved the world so much that you sent your son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. We thank you that we have experienced your love and thank you that you love us for who we are, rather than for what is good in us. Give us hearts that love you, and gives us wisdom to love others. Expose in us any fault or belief that hurts our relationship with you, so that we can love others more fully. Lord God, we live in the light of your salvation. Thank you for taking us from the darkness and bringing us into safety. Thank you that you have turned us from blindness to true sight. And thank you that you have turned us from hate and indifference to love you and others. AMEN.

From the Keyrgmatic Department

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

John MacArthur - Aging Terribly



Two cows jokes with realistic endings

I laughed my frontal lobes out when I read Jokes with Realistic Endings from Something Awful.

I also enjoy the "two cows" humour. Eg:

Definition of Capitalism:
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

So I decided to add the two together. Be afraid...

You have two cows, both of which you use for the purpose of financial gain.

You have two cows, both of which are your responsibility to look after as part of your job in the local agricultural collective.

You have two cows, the financial gains from which may possibly be subsidised by the government in order to preserve the rural culture you live in. You also have very good health care.

You have two cows. At the same time you respect and value women as equals.

You have two cows, which are ultimately protected by your Lord and his professional soldiers.

Christian Fundamentalism:
You have two cows. You also attend a Fundamentalist Christian church and hold to the beliefs that are taught therein.

George W. Bushism:
You have two cows. You do not realise this because, by being quite wealthy, you do not need to account for everything you own. Moreover, your duties as President of the United States require you to leave such an undertaking to others, whom you employ.

You have two cows whom you treat with utmost respect because of your religious beliefs.

You have two cows, both of whom belong to you and no one else.

You have two cows, both of which you see as a wonderful gift from God.

You have two cows, which, along with you, risk being killed due to enforced collectivisation.

You have two cows. You also think Adolf Hitler is a great leader.

You have two cows, which you look after well despite your gloomy outlook on life.

You have two cows and really enjoy looking after them.

You have two cows, which you have kept after carefully working out the pros and cons of their presence.

You have two cows who live in a paddock that has been specially designed to make as little impact on the original environment as possible. Once they die, you choose not to replace them because you know that cows produce a lot of carbon dioxide, which is bad for global warming.

You have two cows. However, due to your intake of mind-altering drugs, their appearance to you is occasionally unusual.

You have two cows, but constantly worry about what the government might do to them - or yourself for that matter.

You have two cows. You also don't believe in the existence of God.

You have two cows whom you believe to be the result of the evolutionary process as described in most biology textbooks.

You have two cows, both of whom suffer greatly because you are too drunk most of the time to adequately care for them.

From the Department of Attempted Humour

Public Domain Dedication

This work is dedicated to the Public Domain.

Being nice to Prisoners of War

Scott Gerwehr and Nina Hachigian from the RAND corporation have written an article in The New York Times about a Prisoner of War program that America used during the Vietnam war that was incredibly effective (In Iraq's Prisons, Try a Little Tenderness)

Basically they argue that treating POWs and suspected insurgents nicely and with respect is much more likely to work than the current system of abuse. They base their argument on the studies of the Vietnam war program called Chieu Hoi:

Under Chieu Hoi, defectors and prisoners who proved cooperative received clemency against treason charges as well as good food, health care, vocational training and jobs. At the same time, they were systematically indoctrinated with literature, classes and activities to persuade them to support the South Vietnamese government.

Studies carried out during the war by the RAND Corporation found that thousands of those former enemies who participated in Chieu Hoi became good sources of intelligence on the Communist forces, provided American advisers and troops with cultural and linguistic knowledge, enlisted civilians to support the American cause, and even took up arms against their former Vietcong and North Vietnamese comrades.

One unidentified Marine officer quoted in a 1973 RAND study said that a Chieu Hoi participant named Truong Kinh, who worked as a scout with his division, killed 55 Vietcong and North Vietnamese fighters in a single day, saving American lives and gaining "the admiration and respect of every marine in the company."

Captured enemy documents now in the archives of the Army Special Operations Command discuss the powerful effect of Chieu Hoi on the enemy. One Vietcong report from 1966 says: "The impact of increased enemy military operations and 'Chieu Hoi' programs has, on the whole, resulted in lowering of morale of some ideologically backward men, who often listen to enemy radio broadcasts, keep in their pockets enemy leaflets, and wait to be issued weapons. This attitude on their part has generated an atmosphere of doubt and mistrust among our military ranks." The Vietcong feared the program, and expended a great deal of effort in attempting to thwart it through assassinations, infiltration and counterpropaganda.

...American forces in Iraq would have nothing to lose in applying this basic psychology and developing a pilot program based on Chieu Hoi. It is an inexpensive and nonviolent approach that can aid the counterinsurgency: there are some 10,000 prisoners being held in Iraq, and "turning" even a small fraction of them could reap huge dividends in terms of gaining intelligence for our forces, diminishing support for the insurgents and reducing anti-American sentiment among average Iraqis.

In addition, running our prisons under the Chieu Hoi model could help reverse the terrible propaganda defeat suffered with the revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib. Nongovernmental groups like the International Red Cross and Amnesty International would praise America, bringing more international support. And prisoners released by our forces would return to their communities with stories of American generosity and tolerance, increasing support for the United States' efforts.

Some Americans would undoubtedly criticize a program that treated prisoners and defectors well, arguing that insurgents who kill our men and women do not deserve kindness. This is understandable: during the Vietnam War, Chieu Hoi was often derided as "rest and recreation for the enemy." But we are up against a determined insurgency; a desire for retribution should not be allowed to stand in the way of effective policy and our ultimate success in Iraq.

Sounds like a great idea. But, as I've said elsewhere, America often makes decisions from a position of pride rather than upon pragmatism. Abu Ghraib came about because of this pride. Chieu Hoi came about because of pragmatism.

Bad headline

Shark attack victim was 'doing what he loved most'

What - he had previously been eaten by sharks and enjoyed it?


From the Department of Attempted Humour


Al Mohler lets me down again

Al Mohler is not my favourite Calvinist. Despite being one of the signatories for the Cambridge Declaration, he is currently one of the board members for Focus on the Family and one of the proponents of the Justice Sunday movement.

Mohler has just written an article on his blog about the Self-Help and Actualization Movement - SHAM for short. Since this particular topic is one of my pet hates, the article is quite interesting.

Mohler does a good job at exposing the inherent problems with the movement - if self-actualization is possible by following the teachings of this movement, then why are so many books and seminars being held year after year after year. Surely if these programs are successful, why are people always eager to come back for more?

I have my own limited experience of this movement. Many years ago when in ministry, I was encouraged by my boss (the assistant pastor) to read
The One Minute Manager and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. They didn't do much for me, which left me wondering how it was that God could use secular management and self actualization techniques to benefit the growth of the Kingdom of God - something I am still wondering.

Mohler's article is a great summary of the work done by Steve Salerno, a freelance journalist who has done a lot of research into money scams in America. And as such, Mohler's words ar every useful.

The problem is that he has let me down, again. While Mohler is able to easily denounce SHAM thinking in America and rightly condemns it, he fails to make a synthesis between it and the Christian faith. It is interesting that Mohler mentions that the New Age movement has moved from spells and meditation into SHAM thinking - but he fails to note that the Evangelical church has done the same thing.

Robert Schuller, Joel Osteen and a multitude of others who lead evangelical churches in America are essentially preaching SHAM. This is one of my major issues with AMerican evangelicals - so many churches are failing to teach sound doctrine and preach the Gospel of Christ. Instead of preaching about Christ, they preach about our own human potential. Such an outright distortion of the Gospel is not limited to America - listen to Brian Houston and you'll see the same thing. The long-term result will be an evangelical movement that is blind and crippled, and where unbelief will spread.

These things are not what Mohler speaks about. He condemns SHAM, but not the way it has changed the Gospel. Obviously he is concerned with SHAM and its effects upon America generally - but he does not go the extra step.

Come on Al. Get it together.

From the Theosalient Department

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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The Liberal media running their own negative campaign

Let me be perfectly frank: George W. Bush is the worst president in U.S. history. I never thought anyone could beat Nixon, but here we are.

Mind you, I am always one to give credit where it is due - even to those who differ with me politically. Unsurprisingly, I find Bush to be bereft of such credit - except in political acumen. I am certain that future historians will look at this period of history and shake their heads in amazement.

One of Bush's great strengths is that he knows how to win politically, regardless of the consequences. Since I have no respect at all for people who can achieve such things, it is not necessarily something I can respect. Bush has turned Negative Campaigning from an artform into an artistic movement. How else was he able to paint John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam war veteran, as a purse-carrying nancy boy? Selling freezers to eskimos comes to mind.

The thing I hate about negative campaigning is that it attempts to influence the masses through images and sound-bites that may not actually reflect the truth. The whole spectre of negative campaigning is so repugnant that it exposes some of the basic structural flaws of modern democratic politics.

The problem, now, is that the left-wing of American politics has discovered that it, too, must run their own negative campaign. I recently complained about Bob Herbert's article Blood runs red, not blue, and today I am faced with yet another piece of negativity - this time by Maureen Dowd, entitled My Private Idaho.

Dowd's article is not so much opinion as it is opinionated. She makes a list of all the problems with America and shows how Bush prefers to spend time on vacation rather than working. Moreover, she also makes some cheap shots, referring to Bush's "beloved feather pillow", his decision to try to lose some weight, and his US$3000 mountain bike that is "tenderly unloaded" to the tarmac by an Air Force One steward.

Like Dowd, I am sick of Bush and everything he has done. I just hate it when those who are supposed to represent the more progressive side of politics start using tactics that I find personally repugnant. I prefer politicians to stand up for what they believe in rather than commit acts of public hypocrisy. That's how I feel about Bush and his supposed Christian faith, which is meant to transform a person's behaviour to be more like Christ. I certainly can't imagine Jesus okaying a campaign of lies against his political opponents - so why should a Christian politician?

It all comes down to a political gambit. If progressive politicians in the US are willing to stand by their supposed ethics and not engage in the tactics of their opponents, then the chances are that they will lose in the short term but win in the long term. Such a behaviour should start with progressive commentators like Maureen Dowd and Bob Herbert.

From the Department of "Wha's happnin?"

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Pat Roberston issues Fatwah against Venezualen president

Sadly, this is not part of my "Attempted Humour" section.

TV host urges US to kill Chavez


How often does Japan have to say sorry?

It's like clockwork. Every six months or so someone somewhere has a go at Japan for not apologising for its involvement in World War II. We are angry that Japanese school history textbooks cover up their military atrocities, and every time a politician goes to the Yasukuni Shrine and honours Japanese war dead, we are reminded yet again of Japan's recalcitrance in this area.

But should we? There are some very important things we need to take note of before we reach any conclusion.

The first thing to look at is whether or not Japan has apologised. The Wikipedia article on the subject is very detailed - since 1972, Japanese politicians and leaders have made public statements that explicitly admit that Japan's imperialism before and during the war was wrong. If you examine the text of these statements, a clear picture emerges - they have apologised for their actions, and they have not attempted to deny or minimise what they did.

What is important to note is the fact that the Japanese Diet has not made any formal apology. This has not, however, due to any lack of trying on behalf of many Japanese politicians. The fact is, however, that past Prime Ministers and other politicians have admitted guilt. Is there the need for an "official" apology by the diet? Let's leave that thought hanging.

History Textbooks
The second problem concerns the textbooks. We'd like to think that Japan's school system is monolithic and has only one history textbook that everyone has to use. Nothing is further from the truth. The wikipedia article on the subject shows that there are many different history texts that are used by Japanese schools - each from a different publisher and each competing against the other for market share.

Controversy arose when, in 1997, a textbook written by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform was published. The society is essentially a right-wing populist organisation that is seeking to glorify Japan's role in the war. The result was massive protests across Asia against such a biased view of history.

But remember that this textbook, published by Fusosha, had to compete against others from other publishing companies. The statistics show that hardly any Fusosha textbooks were used. A paltry 625 were used in Japanese schools in 2002, making it the 8th most popular - the bottom of the list. At no. 7 was the Nihon Bunkyo Shuppan history text, with over 31,000 being used.

But what of these other textbooks? As far as I can tell, there were no protests about the other textbooks used. There is a Wikipedia article which contains quotes from the Tokyo Shoseki textbook, the most popular Japanese textbook in 2002 with 40% of the market and over 688,000 copies in schools. If you examine the quotes, you will notice that Japan's role in the war is not covered up at all. Japan is clearly portrayed as the aggressor, and wartime atrocities are explained well.

At this point my research into Japanese history textbooks comes to an end. I can't vouch for the other 60% of the 2002 history textbook marketplace, but I have yet to see any complaints beyond the Fusosha text.

So what do we learn about Japanese history textbooks? We learn that any concerns about revisionist texts are over-exaggerations. Completely pro-Japan texts have made no inroads into Japanese history teaching at all. Moreover, the most popular textbook appears to approach Japan's wartime involvement from a factual, objective stance.

Yasukuni Shrine
The third problem concerns the Yasukuni Shrine. Why is it so controversial for Japanese politicians (including the current prime minister) to visit and pay homage?

The shrine honours the Japanese war dead, and has been operating in that capacity since 1869. Yes, that's 1869 - the nineteenth century. The names of 2,466,532 Japanese and colonial soldiers who were killed in war are written into the shrine's Book of Souls.

The problem is that the book lists 14 Japanese Class A War Criminals, as well as over 1000 others executed for war crimes. This means that anyone who goes to the shrine to pay homage to the war dead also pay homage to these war criminals. As far as I know, there are no other Shinto shrines where the war dead are remembered.

While I naturally believe that Japan's military expansion prior to, and during, the Second World War was completely wrong, I do not for one minute believe that every single soldier who died is some form of war criminal. Moreover, while I think that Australia's involvement in Vietnam and the 2003 invasion of Iraq was completely wrong and unjustified, I cannot refuse to celebrate the memory of those Australians who died during those conflicts.

And, of course, there are problems with Australian soldiers as well. Some were obviously war criminals too. Does that mean that I celebrate the memory of war criminals whenever I visit the Australian War Memorial? Of course not.

2,172,000 dead
We need to remember that Japan lost the war. Moreover, they lost approximately 2,172,000 soldiers and civilians during the war. This compares favourably with Australia's 40,101, Britain's 495,700 and America's 413,000. When we consider the forces arrayed against Japan during the Second World War, it is incredible that the allies lost so few men - especially when you remember that the death figures just quoted for Australia, Britain and America include the war in Europe.

China, however, lost 17,500,000 during the war - due almost exclusively to Japanese actions. Moreover, 15 million were civilians. China suffered the most from Japan's actions, and Japan has not covered up this fact.

But I will say it again - Japan lost the war. They paid for their military folly with the lives of over 2 million of their people. They also had their industrial power ripped apart by allied air raids, and three cities - Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki - were totally and completely destroyed. The nation was humiliated.

Japan, like Germany, made an effort to repair much of the damage that they had caused. The Wikipedia article on the subject gives some interesting details, including the long term strategy of investing in the development of Asian nations like Taiwan and Korea.

Racism on our part
When I was at University a few years ago, I did a study of World War II propaganda. It was interesting to compare the anti-German propaganda to the anti-Japan propaganda. In almost every case, Germany was portrayed as Hitler or one of his cronies. This meant that the hatred was not projected towards Germany as a nation, but to its figurehead. I even remember one propaganda poster that showed the German nation as unwilling slaves under the control of Hitler and the Nazi party. The result was that the German people were never seen as the enemy to hate - they were merely deluded by the spell of Hitler.

By contrast, the anti-Japanese propaganda focused exclusively upon racial characteristics. Although the emperor was occasionally shown, the Japanese enemy was almost always portrayed as a semi-human monster, uncivilised and driven by animal instincts. It was a far more racist image, drawn from our deep-seated fear of physical differences between Europeans and Asians. Germans were not subjected to such fear, mainly because they looked like us and came from a more similar culture.

This racism, unfortunately, continues. We in the West keep demanding that Japan apologise and make amends for the war, while at the same time not demanding the same from Germany.

Don't get me wrong - Japan still has problems coming to terms with their war guilt. It is a political and cultural "hot potato" that is unique amongst the former Axis countries. The problem is that we have assumed too much without checking the facts: Japanese politicians have admitted guilt and formally apologised for the war; Japanese history textbooks are nowhere near as biased as many think; people who honour the dead at the Yasukuni Shrine are unlikely to be justifying Japanese war crimes.

Japan has also "made amends" for the war: they lost. Millions dead. That was the price that they had to pay. Moreover, since 1945 they have done nothing but benefit the world - albeit in an Adam Smith sort of way. Japanese imperialism is dead - they do not threaten any of their neighbours any more and their constitution explicitly prevents any such action from occurring. They have provided a strong economic centre in Asia to ensure that the region has remained stable and prosperous since the war.

We need to recognise and respect Japan and its people - mutual respect is always a good thing. With such respect in place, Japan may find it easier to come to terms with their past, and heal their own self-inflicted wounds.

So I end with the title of this peice - how often does Japan have to say sorry?

From the One Salient Overlord Department

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Why don't they have this? #1

I just turned 3 lights on so my son can play with his toy car. I wonder how much it costs?

It would be great if we had an electricity meter inside the house that has the current pricing structure built in as well. We can look at the meter and say "Hmm, we're using up 5c per minute over what we should... there must be a light on somewhere..."

But of course it is much easier for the electricity companies to just sent you a bill...

The future of Jason Gillespie

Jason Gillespie's Ashes series is pretty much over. Series figures of 67-6-300-3 do not fool anyone. Unfortunately, many are predicting the permanent demise of this fine bowler.

I personally think that Gillespie still has much to offer, but I think that he should put out of his mind any thoughts of an early Test recall. These are my thoughts on the issue.

  1. He should retire from One-Day International cricket immediately. I think Shane Warne has become a better bowler since he retired from ODIs, and I think Gillespie will as well.
  2. He should not offer himself up for selection for the Australian Test side until October 2006. That's more than a year away, but it is not retirement.
  3. In that time he should aim to complete a full season playing for South Australia as they attempt to win the Sheffield Shield. A full season playing 10 first class matches will allow Gillespie to "go back to the basics" and regain form and confidence as he plays against lesser abled opposition. This is what they should have done to Brett Lee last season rather than employing him as a glorified drinks waiter.
  4. During the Australian winter, Gillespie should make a serious attempt at playing English county cricket. He's in England now, and should try to approach a county about the possibility of playing next year. English county cricket is gruelling because it is cricket day-in day-out and, while I think Australian Shield cricket is of a higher standard, County cricket is getting quite strong because of all the Kolpak players. Gillespie needs to prove himself both as a wicket-taker and as being able to play a lot of matches, and English County cricket will give him that chance (16 first-class + lots of List A matches).
  5. Once he finishes his county stint, he can return to Australia and play for South Australia again, but this time making himself available for Australian selection. Hopefully, with lots of wickets behind him from the previous 12 months, he can make a strong case.

From the This Salient Sportinglife Department

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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I am a sadist too

John Naughton, a writer for The Observer, wrote an interesting piece about how he was able to ignore the latest internet virus warning.

I sort of know how he feels. All around him are people who are screaming and jumping up and down and stressing out because their important files might be compromised. Some are internet and pc savvy enough to update their virus definitions, have personal firewalls and so on - but many just don't have the skills or the knowledge to be able to do anything about it.

Naughton, however, goes through the virus scare without any concern whatsoever. He has not had one virus or worm or piece of malware on his PC since 1999 - and this despite the fact that he is connected to the internet 24/7.

You see, Naughton runs Linux.

In the early days, when Naughton was confronted by people regaling him with stories of viruses and worms and how they have hurt them, he would often speak to such people about the great virtues of Linux and how safe it is and how wonderful open-source software is and so on. The problem was that his audience just didn't want to listen. Eventually, Naughton decided to stop talking about Linux and simply nod in sad agreement, "mouthing the soothing bromides favoured by vicars when dealing with terminal cases." I'll let Naughton tell the rest:

And the moral of the story? Simply this: as far as computing is concerned, most people are masochists. And I am a sadist, because I have stopped flogging them with the truth.
Yep, that's how I feel. A friend of mine recently switched from Linux back to Microsoft XP when he bought a new computer. I can partly understand his decision, but on Saturday we were on dialup for about 3 hours as he downloaded new virus definitions. The computer is also very slow for the first 15-20 minutes of its operation for some reason. But I won't say anything - there's no point since I have Cassandra Syndrome about things like this.

From the usr/bin/oso Department

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

N.C. J.P.

This morning I was officially sworn in as a Justice of the Peace for the state of New South Wales.

The functions of a Justice of the Peace under the Justices of the Peace Act 2002, following the repeal of the Justices Act 1902, are primarily:
  • administering oath declarations or affidavits, and taking statutory declarations and affirmations principally under the Oaths Act 1900;
  • witnessing signatures; and
  • attesting and certifying documents.

Sydney Anglicanism - more concerns

I often go to Sydneyanglicans.net where I occasionally read articles and get frustrated by having the "Southern Cross" link image change everyday (an obvious ploy to get regulars to click on the link and read articles they may have ignroed the day before).

Today's article is concerning however - What Would Sydney Anglicans Wear?

Sydneyanglicans.net believes there is room for one more t-shirt in your life - and has launched a cutting edge Christian talent quest to find it.

“Sure Sydney Anglicans are conservative theologically – but does that mean they have to be saddled with the c-word when it comes to fashion?” asks Sydneyanglicans.net editor Mark Hadley.

“Our God’s creative, and we think his people are too.”

So what's wrong with a T-Shirt you may ask... nothing, except that it represents a shift from substance to image, from meaningfulness to meaninglessness. Mark Hadley appears almost embarrassed by "the C-word" (although I have to admit that I did a double take and thought "does he mean the four letter word??")

Next thing you know the Sydney Anglicans will start up their own chain of Christian hairdressers.

Mind you, this post was written by someone who ordered three Rugby tops from Canterbury NZ with "Martin Luther 95" (all red), "Calvinist 5" (striped red & black, wearing as I type) and Presbuteros (black). But that's my own dorkiness, not a corporate/denominational one - which is totally acceptable thank you very much so don't bother even commenting about it and no one will get hurt.

From the Theosalient Department

© 2005 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.