Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford – The Death of Truth

Emotions are running high. Emotions have taken over the asylum.

Perhaps we should have known. Emotions trump truth every time. Emotions are more powerful in the public square than truth can ever be. Because the reality is . . .

No one knows the truth!

And that’s not even controversial. This is so reminiscent of the OJ trial. I still remember where I was when I heard the verdict on that case. And back then, we actually knew a whole lot. Nevertheless, the U.S. split along race lines.

This time, it’s split along party lines. Republican vs. Democrat. How odd that those who believe Blasey Ford are Democrats and those who believe Kavanaugh are Republicans? Hello, can we please bring in some reality here?

Outside the main protagonists, no one knows the truth!

We’ve been presented with two versions and . . .

No one knows which is right or even if neither is right.

We do know that Christine Blasey Ford can’t remember when the assault took place, or how she got home that night, because she told us. But then again, she can’t remember many of the details. That doesn’t mean the assault didn’t take place. It just means . . . well, it just means . . . repeat above sentences.

Sadly, the Me Too movement will pay a severe price for this. When a woman comes forward with an allegation, her testimony should be investigated. In most cases. But this isn’t a straight case of alleging sexual assault. This is an historical case steeped in politics.  She was immediately in touch with Diane Feinstein, for goodness sake!

So, now a movement championing justice for women has become deeply politicised. Bogged down in party politics of the worst kind. It’s awful to watch it play out. Getting at the truth in an even-handed way, well, that’s the casualty. And Me Too will suffer for it, by openly supporting a stance which, on the face of it, seems to embrace party politics.

I’m afraid the ‘why accuse him right now?’ retort is a legitimate question. Which is awful, because it’s possible, quite possible, that Blasey Ford was assaulted. By whom we don’t know. And then again, maybe she wasn’t. We just don’t know.

Getting that yet? We don’t know. Time for a big word. This is about epistemology. How we know things.

So onto the investigation.

An FBI investigation of a 36 year-old ‘he-said-she-said’ case? In one week. No court of law would hear such a case. Do you remember details from one night 36 years ago? Any response is tainted, as the conclusion of the investigation will be. Talk about a rock and a hard place for the FBI.

And I don’t see a way out from that.

So why is this happening? It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that it’s because this appointment will tilt the Supreme Court to the right. And possibly do it for a generation. That’s important for unborn children. It’s important for immigration and race relations and all sorts of issues. Some I feel strongly about, some I don’t. But they all have a huge impact on human life. And that matters.

To the women who are stating ‘you’re saying I don’t matter,’ my reply is ‘on the contrary, all human life matters, including yours.’ That’s the whole point of this hoo-ha. The Supreme Court matters, because its decisions can determine life and death and everything in between.

Sadly, the soap opera has been embraced by the nominee. Brett Kavanaugh made a big mistake by accusing the Democrats. HUGE. Because a justice on the Supreme Court is supposed to be impartial, interpreting the Constitution without a clearly expressed political agenda. Having said that, Kavanaugh is overtly political, having supported Republican causes throughout his career. But to respond in the way he did during a nomination process? That’s never done. Until now.

And that’s why, in the end, his combative response to questions may sink him more than the accusations.

Click here for an interesting perspective on the politicisation of Supreme Court appointments.

So, just one final question. And here my cards are placed clearly on the table.

Should a possible crime committed 36 years ago, and which can never be proved in a court of law, be sufficient to destroy this nomination?

In all the uncertainty, I think we do know the answer to that question.

Advertisements

DO NOT JUDGE! REALLY?

 

‘Do not judge!’

‘Excuse me?’

‘I said, do not judge. You’re judging people and that’s wrong, so don’t do it.’

‘I’m sorry, but isn’t what you just said . . . er, a judgement? A judgement about my judging of others?’

‘Yes.’ Harrumph . . . bluster and more bluster.

If the Boss says it, he must mean it, right? And he definitely said it. See Matt 7.1-2.

So, what’s going on?

First, let’s admit that judging is hard-wired into us. We judge all the time. What do you think of Donald Trump? Colin Kaepernick? Taylor Swift?

What do you think of the driver who cuts you off? Or the ex who rejected you? Or loud people? Or rude people? In fact, much of life revolves around trying to assess how other people are behaving and then responding appropriately, sometimes cautiously and hopefully, graciously. Furthermore, Christ tells us that we’ll know people by their fruit. You can’t talk about fruit, unless you make a judgement.

So, what’s going on? A couple of options. The rabbi Hillel, who preceded Jesus, wrote this: “Do not judge your fellow man until you have been in his place.” This is progress, I think. Certainly, it induces humility, because of course none of us has lived another’s life. And it is inching us closer to what Jesus is saying.

Which brings us back to his statement in verse 2: With the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

It looks like an Ultimate Judgement is in view here. When will I ever be in a position to truly judge another person fully? Never. I cannot mete out judgement on another person. Only God does that. At some point, a judgement will take place and it won’t be me – or you – who is doing the judging. It will be God.

At this point, we should all experience that horrible sinking feeling at the pit of the stomach. Oh my gosh, this is not going to end well. In front of everyone, my petty moral judgements of others will be unmasked and my own deficits will be revealed. When I judged my brother for his impatience and unkindness, I forgot to consider my own impatience. I’m not what I should be.

God, help me.

So, go ahead and judge. Assess the world around you and don’t feel bad, because there’s a lot about the world that isn’t right. But if you are ever tempted to put on a divine mantle and set yourself up in judgement over others, then just remember . . .

Oh my gosh, that’s not going to end well.

 

 

In Praise of Roger Federer

Hero worship. What seems to be the problem?

‘Ooh, be careful,’ they say, ‘don’t put mere humans on pedestals. Only God is worthy of worship.’ Well, obviously.

But I must say, I love a bit of hero worship. In fact, I think we’re built for it.

Which brings us to the great Roger Federer. He of the sublime tennis shot, able to conjure shots which mere mortals can only gawp at and applaud. Go on. Take a look at this video later.

It’s no doubt because tennis is ‘my sport’ that I love to watch King Fed (as we call him in our family). When you’ve played tennis for years, you know better than most that the shots Federer plays aren’t really possible. Or at least they shouldn’t be. Because those ten shots in the video are ‘just ridiculous!’ ‘Come on!’ shouts the commentator, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!’

And so it is with Messi and Kobe and any number of sporting geniuses.

Do you have your heroes? I hope so. I think it’s healthy. Here’s why.

Hero worship is a pale reflection of true worship and as such, it reminds us of what is involved in true worship. How so?

Take Roger Federer. He plays tennis. Really? I’m not sure he’s playing the same sport as me. What he can do doesn’t really seem possible . . .  and yet there it is, the ridiculous through the legs shot at a crucial point in the match, which leaves us all in awe. And yes, he did mean it.

So, first, he’s both the same as me – playing tennis – but he’s utterly different to me. He can do things I will never, ever be able to do. That’s the source of my admiration. That explains the dropping jaws.

This should remind us of holiness. God is like us – we are image-bearers – and yet he is utterly separate and different. The Jews used to call him ‘other,’ essentially a being quite different to humanity. And so he is.

And he is capable of accomplishing things we cannot do and never will be able to do. He creates ex nihilo. In Christ, he saves the world. We are but pale reflections of our creator, just as my forehand is a poor imitation of Federer’s . . . although I’m working on it, I’m working on it!

Second, I admire Federer because I want to be like him. No, I don’t want to be married to Mirka and have two sets of twins. My three are quite enough. And I don’t want his personality either, though the guy is very smooth.

I want to play tennis as he does. The skills he displays, I want those too.

True worship should draw us in that direction also. In worshipping God, we draw close to a loving father, who desires our growth. He desires for us to become like his Son. Worship should change us, motivate us to live lives worthy of our maker. It’s not indulgence and mushy feelings but transformative at its best.

Finally, there’s the issue of beauty. Nadal is raw power, Djokovic is metronomic, the supreme athlete, but most commentators are agreed: no one has ever played tennis with such grace, balance and beauty as Roger Federer. The combination of power and control, the way he floats around the court, it’s balletic and beautiful.

So to admire his tennis is to appreciate beauty. And where would we be without beauty? Beauty is one of the great gifts of this earth, based as it is on ultimate beauty. The beauty of God finds pale reflections in our experience here on earth. Yes, we are flawed, damaged and in need of restoration, but we are still able to perceive beauty and of course, we long for it. Beauty calls to us, speaks of divinity.

Are you moved by beauty? I hope so. The Puritans, who disdained it, have a lot to answer for, don’t they? Yet, how much more might we be moved by the creator of the universe? A being who is not simply the source of all beauty, but to use Plato’s language, its pure form? For God is Beauty. Capital B.

So, thank you, Roger. As your career nears its end (please stay a little longer) I’m grateful for the effortless grace and beauty of your tennis, which separates you from mere mortals. You will be sorely missed. Watching you has drawn me towards the worship of ultimate grace and beauty.

Of course, sports fans are especially prone to idol worship. But that’s not me. I’m never likely to mistake the reflection for the real thing. You may be an idol of mine, Roger, but let’s be clear . . . you’re no idol.

I’m after the real thing.

 

 

Remembering Dr. Billy Graham

1984. Student days. We drove all the way from Exeter to Bristol to see Billy Graham. Over 90 miles. I’ll never forget the scene. Huge stadium, filled to bursting with people but the weather was terrible. It was pouring with rain and we sat, bedraggled, in our seats, watching the great evangelist do his thing.

To be perfectly honest, he was rather a disappointment. I had always heard that he was a fiery preacher, that he would harangue us with heaven and hell and blitz us from our seats. He did none of that. His message was simple, straightforward, almost ‘boring.’ I had heard it all before – I’d been a Christian for over ten years by then.

And after twenty minutes, he wrapped it all up. Only twenty minutes?! We’d driven for hours to be there. Twenty minutes? Surely there was more. But there wasn’t. He was finishing up.

It was decision time.

And it was a simple call. Drenched to the bone in front of the massed crowd, he simply called people forward. No way, I thought. He’s not done enough. Will it be embarrassing if no one goes forward? What will they do?

But for the rest of my life, I will never forget what happened next.

Never. Ever.

They streamed forward. Thousands upon thousands of them. A flood of people surging forward, responding to the call. I remember watching in awe of what was taking place. Surely a twenty minute talk couldn’t produce that kind of effect.

Of course it couldn’t. No one can produce that kind of effect.

It send shivers up my spine to this day. To see what happens when God turns up and touches hearts. Billy Graham was used to this kind of thing happening. He’d been watching God touch hearts for decades and all he had to do was turn up himself. Be faithful. Preach the Word. God would do the rest.

What an awe-inspiring partnership.

As he passes into history, we remember Billy Graham not for his talents – of which he had many – but for the two richest virtues of the spiritual life:

Obedience and faithfulness.

He turned up. He was faithful. He played his part.

God did the rest.

Thank you, Dr. Graham for your faithfulness.

To God be the glory.

When does human life begin? Part Five

So, why is it so hard to convince the world that abortion is morally wrong?

One word: Emotions.

How do we come take a moral position nowadays, if we even take the time to think about morality at all? We do it largely by responding emotionally towards what we’re seeing. We don’t think it through, weighing the various arguments available. That’s far too much work. We don’t respond with our minds; we simply respond with our emotions.

And we respond especially strongly towards those who are suffering.

Consider abortion. It’s not really that hard to add this up. The fetus is a human being. That’s not even disputed really. We shouldn’t kill innocent defenceless human beings. Again not hard to see the sense in this position. QED. Debate over.

But of course, it isn’t. And that’s because the consequence of this conclusion is unwelcome.

The fetus is unwelcome.

So out come every possible argument you can imagine, some of which I have addressed. Each one is aimed at persuading us that the human beings in question ‘don’t really count.’

And we’re persuaded because we don’t want to think, we prefer to trust our feelings. In this case, we don’t respond emotionally to human beings we can’t see. We do respond emotionally towards women we can see.

That’s it.

That’s why we permit women to kill their unborn children in our society. Because our emotional sympathies are stimulated more strongly by women we can see than small human beings we can’t see.

The arguments in favour of abortion aren’t that difficult to dismantle. But tragically, it doesn’t make any difference. We will still dispose of these little ones routinely, for the most part because they aren’t convenient. And they don’t evoke in us an emotionally protective response.

That’s a terrible tragedy.

~~~

I hope you have been able to think through this issue carefully by reading my last five blog posts. I won’t be writing any more on this issue. I myself didn’t start reading and thinking through my own position until I was in my thirties. But once I did, it wasn’t hard to draw the conclusions I’ve argued for.

What you do as a consequence of reading these posts, well that’s up to you.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

When does human life begin? Part Four

In this contentious debate over abortion, it’s easy to find yourself miscast.

Pro-life advocates are seen as anti-woman. We want to ‘force women to suffer.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.

Pro-life is pro-life. All human life is valuable; female, male, big, small, able, disabled, whatever colour or creed, ALL human life matters. That’s why being pro-life isn’t anti-women, it’s in favour of protecting human life.

The consequences of our biology are unavoidable. Sex makes a woman pregnant, not a man. That’s not prejudice. It’s fact. And as a result, the pro-life position directly affects women far more than men. But the basic reality that a human being, a really small one, needs protecting remains the same.

No one will speak up for those with no voice . . . unless someone takes the difficult step of speaking up for them.

The violence of mid to late-term abortions is a horror, clear to anyone who knows anything about the procedure. But it’s not the raw violence of killing which should be the focus, as effective as those videos can be sometimes. It’s the reality that so many small people have their lives ended in such a routine fashion. We give them barely a thought. Pro-choice advocates can write blogs, do interviews, raise funds, but the unborn, they cannot defend themselves at all.

We cannot hold them, see them (without technology), hear from them. They cannot cry out for protection. They are small and vulnerable. Generally, our society is pretty good at giving care and protection to the vulnerable. The disabled have many benefits which previous societies never offered them. That’s good. Charities abound which care for those with cancer, addictions, debt, struggles of all kinds.

But the unborn? In our Western world, the debate is largely over. It’s been decided. We don’t and we won’t protect the unborn.

They are not worthy of our protection and care. And in many cases, we don’t feel guilty about this.

Why?

That’s for next time.

 

 

 

When does human life begin? Part Three

Time for another justification for abortion: It’s called the gradualist argument.

There are actually lots of gradualist arguments. Essentially, they assert the following:

At some point during pregnancy, the fetus acquires (something) and should be considered worthy of protection as a human being. Before that time, it can be destroyed.

That something might be one of the following (list not comprehensive):

  • Brain functioning
  • Consciousness
  • Viability
  • Sufficiently ‘human-looking’
  • Sentience (feeling of pain)

Often, the word ‘personhood’ is used in the argument. This is a term used in the debate to argue that simply being a distinct human being is not sufficient.

I’m going to cover all of these in one go with the following response:

We’ve already established that the developing human fetus is human. That isn’t in question. What’s asserted here is that this developing human ‘doesn’t count’ as a human because it lacks something – insert that something.

It doesn’t count because it does not possess something or it can’t do something.

Think about that for a moment. Think of humans you know who don’t have something or can’t do something. We call these people disabled. They can’t walk or hear or see or leaving aside disability, maybe we even say they’re not conscious – they’re asleep.

What’s wrong with this objection?

Since when does the value of a human being depend on its being able to do something? Some human beings can hardly do anything. Consider a severely disabled person in a hospital bed. Do they not ‘count’ because they’re not in possession of something or they can’t do something? No.

Why do they ‘count?’ Because they are human. That’s it. There isn’t anything else. It isn’t their relationship to other human beings (an argument I heard on the Moral Maze). It is simply that they are human.

Human beings are valuable. We shouldn’t kill small defenseless ones who don’t yet possess certain abilities or characteristics. That’s not a good argument.

Value is something intrinsic, related to the essence of what something is.

Human beings are valuable not due to our possession of certain abilities but because of what we are: human beings. The moment you reduce our value to our capacities, you open the door to denying us worth when some of us don’t have those capacities.

Consider the person lying in hospital in a vegetative state. They’re capable of precisely nothing. They can’t breathe, can’t eat, can’t drink. And yet you know perfectly well that’s a person lying there. They haven’t become a piece of meat and bone, they’re an intrinsically valuable human being.

One final point. All of us were, at one point in time, really, really small. Yup, that was you inside your mum, just a tiny dot. Then you grew and grew and emerged into the world. You were exactly the size you were designed to be at that early stage. Really really small. It’s quite normal when you’re only 6 days old not to feel pain or have a functioning brain. There is no good reason to disqualify you for being exactly what you should be at that stage of your development.

That you couldn’t do much at that size is not a good reason to deny you moral worth.

Next time, why being pro-life isn’t being anti-woman. In fact, it’s quite the reverse.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

When does human life begin? Part Two

I finished my last post with this question: Is the fetus a human being?

A better question is this one: When does human life begin?

There isn’t even debate on this one. Not really. Try this article for size. Click here.

Human life begins at conception. A new human being is created with a unique and distinctive genetic code. There is no such thing as ‘a potential human being.’ The biological facts are clear. This certainly settles the ‘but it’s just my body’ argument. That’s simply false.

The debate should be over . . .

Is a zygote (first stage of human development) a human being? Yes.

Is it morally wrong to kill innocent, defenceless human beings? Yes. Debate over.

But it isn’t, is it? For many reasons. So let’s deal with the next objection:

If you outlaw abortion, women will just go and have ‘back-street’ abortions.

Commonly called ‘the back-street abortion’ objection. Why does the argument fail?

In the field of ethics, it’s common to try and assess how much harm is caused to different parties. In this case, however, only one side of the equation is being considered. It is true that harm may come to a woman having abortion. She may not want the child, or perhaps there is risk associated with the pregnancy. Could be any number of reasons why the abortion is wanted.

But what about the other side of the scale? We’re talking about another human being. That’s already established on the basis of biology. So, which is more harmful? Taking the life of the new human being or the potential harm to the woman? There is nothing more harmful than killing something. To induce death, that’s undoubtedly the worst. And no amount of harm to the woman can be considered sufficient to justify the taking of a human life. (Later, I’ll deal with the ‘life of the mother’ issue)

Given these facts, the ‘back-street argument’ fails.

Finally observation. Notice the euphemisms used in this debate. ‘End a pregnancy.’ ‘Terminate a pregnancy.’ ‘Pro-choice.’ ‘A woman’s right to choose.’ The language is critical here. And very powerful. You’ll never read ‘kill a child’ or ‘destroy a human life.’

Given the strength of the pro-life position and the power of these arguments, why generally speaking, do they fail in our society?

Next time, the clever twisting and turning, the manipulation of language employed to persuade us that abortion isn’t actually the taking of human life.

When does human life begin?

Is abortion morally wrong? I think it is.

Next few posts: dealing with the most common justifications for abortion.

First up: Pro-choice has to do with a woman’s right to do whatever she wants with her own body.

The ‘it’s my body’ argument.

Response: Is abortion a women’s issue? Is this about a woman’s right to choose? Well, that’s how it is characterised. But the thinking here is flawed. Why?

Because although abortion affects women far more profoundly than men, the reason why abortion is a topic for debate doesn’t have anything to do with ‘choice’ or it being ‘a women’s issue.’

Those two are smokescreens.

How so? Have you ever seen a sonogram? Ever seen a developing fetus in the womb? If you’ve had kids, you’ll know that viewing that squirming image on the screen generates strong emotions. That’s your child in there and you know it.

The issue is and always has been this one:

When does human life begin? Is that a human child wriggling about in there?

That’s the question. That’s what the abortion debate is all about. Someone who states ‘but it’s my body’ isn’t making an argument at all. They’re simply assuming that the fetus is part of a woman. But that’s the very thing the debate is trying to answer. Simply stating your view doesn’t constitute an argument. What’s needed is your grounds for believing that the fetus is ‘part of a woman’s body.’

Allow me to appeal to your intuition. You know the truth of this statement:

It’s wrong to kill innocent human beings.

You don’t need a Bible to know this. You just know it. That’s why this isn’t a religious argument. It’s a moral argument based on our moral intuitions. If it’s wrong to kill human beings, then the only question which needs answering is this one:

Is the fetus a human being?

Next time, I’ll answer that question.

 

 

Championing the Truth

BeachI’ve written before about what I called the Belief Police. See last post here. You may want to reference it after reading the following.

So . . .

Poor Sarah Champion, Labour MP. She felt the need to resign from the shadow cabinet after writing an article in the Sun in which she described rape gangs in the following way:

“Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”.

Her crime? It’s not just Pakistani men. It’s also men from Iraq, Bangladesh and Iran, plus other Central Asian countries. Apparently, the article also included the line: “These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.”

What is the offence here? That she mentioned ONLY Pakistanis in that first quote? That what she described is false? That she mentioned race at all? I draw the following conclusion regarding our Belief Police:

A person’s race CANNOT be mentioned when talking about that person’s illegal or offensive behaviour. To draw a connection between a person’s ethnic origin and their crime is verboten.

Curiously, the BBC does use this phrase, ‘gangs composed mostly of men of Pakistani origin,’ but I guess Champion was missing that word , ‘mostly.’ Her slight mistake in not mentioning the other countries has lead her to believe she must resign.

So, let’s be absolutely clear about this. “Britain does have a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”. And Iraqi men etc. That’s not really an opinion, it’s a fact. Go do some reading on what’s happening and has happened around the U.K. The common denominator, I’m afraid, and Champion knew better than to go here, is that these are Muslim men. Sharp intake of breath.

If a society cannot write and speak truth, even when treading on the sensitive territory of race and religion, then it is slowly becoming a less open, less democratic and free society. We must be able to speak the truth, even if the truth offends those who patrol our ‘free speech.’

Why can’t Champion reply, ‘Sorry, I meant to mention other Central Asian countries. And strictly speaking, I’m not wrong. Pakistan is among those countries. What’s your problem? I’m just speaking the truth. This country has a problem. A BIG problem.’ I wish she were able to respond like this, but apparently in our current climate, she cannot. She felt the need to resign.

All truth is God’s truth, wrote Augustine, or some form of that quote. Truth about the Crusades, truth about slavery, truth about Pakistani men, mostly, who run rape gangs. To quote a cliché, the first casualty of war is the truth. Feels a bit like that right now.

 

 

 

 

 

THE BELIEF POLICE

What are you thinking about right now? Did you know that if you’re someone famous, what you believe – inside your head – could get you into big trouble?

If it gets out.

Okay, so you’re not someone famous. Nor am I, but my point is that this ‘trouble’ is generated not by behaviour, but by revealing the contents of your mind. Reveal beliefs which offend the dominant cultural belief-system and your entire sporting reputation may be on the line.

Welcome to the world of Margaret Court. (What a great name for a tennis player. If I’d been named Mikey Outside-half or Tommy Left Wing, my sporting destiny would have been revealed.) But back to serious commentary.

Margaret Court. Winner of the most Grand Slams by a female tennis player, 24. 11 in the Open era when it became much harder to win them. She is a tennis sporting great, no question. The equivalent of Rod Laver, another Australian great.

Until now. Until she revealed some of her beliefs.

Bad move. She’s a Christian and she told a Christian TV station that she disagreed with gay marriage. Apparently, her language was un-PC also, which didn’t go down well.

She didn’t lie, steal or hurt anyone. She just revealed her beliefs which conflict with our culture. Especially women’s tennis culture. Billy Jean King and Martina Navratilova are especially important in this regard. Both tennis legends, both gay, both activists for their sexual orientation. In female tennis culture, it’s a very bad move to offend them. Martina, in particular, is ticked.

In fact, it’s such a bad move that the court named Margaret Court Arena may now lose its name at the Australian Open. Having a court named after you is a great honour. But Sam Stosur, Australian former World number one, wants it removed. She has started corralling women’s tennis players for the cause, threatening to boycott the court. Because of Court.

They will probably win. Margaret Court’s name will probably be removed.

Our ‘tolerant’ liberal culture is tightening up. It’s more aggressive, more judgemental, more punitive than it once was. If you put a foot wrong, it will punish you.

Not for your behaviour. For your thoughts. Your beliefs.

What’s wrong here? Well, the idea that it’s how we think, or believe, which is so offensive. In just the same way that a ‘hate-crime’ criminalizes thought and belief, Margaret Court’s beliefs are on trial and found guilty. A ‘hate-crime’ is a criminal behaviour which is considered that much worse and therefore punished more severely because of the beliefs which are behind it. That’s why I don’t agree with the designation ‘hate-crime.’

Because only God knows the heart. Only God knows what we truly believe. And only he can judge us for our thoughts and beliefs. Hence the tenth commandment, which is a commandment relating to the heart: Do not covet.

In our society, we should criminalize behaviour, not thoughts and beliefs.

Because we’re not God. It’s as simple as that.

MANCHESTER CITY UNITED

I’m sure you were as shocked as I was by Salman Abedi’s suicide attack last week in Manchester. There can be few horrors worse than losing a child. I can only look into the abyss and shudder.

Here are some – perhaps rather uncomfortable – thoughts on Islamic terrorism.

1) There’s a cancer in the heart of one of the world’s major religions and it’s no good talking about ‘one bad apple.’ Apparently, the security services – Harry to you and me – can’t keep up with the number of ‘potential bombers.’ They can track, what, one to two thousand at the most, and there might be more than that. All living in the U.K. No wonder, even though the chances of becoming a victim of terrorism are still very very small, the media attention has generated a great deal of fear.

9/11?

One bad apple – or 18 bad apples, is no way to represent what happened back in 2001. A rough assessment of support for the 9/11 bombers in Iran has been calculated at around 30-40%. Sure, very very few would commit the crime, but like St. Paul at the martyr of Stephen, they approved. Millions approved. I know the U.K. isn’t Iran, but extrapolating from the numbers of ‘potential terrorists’ tracked by MI5, that means there are possibly thousands in the U.K. who approved of Salman Abedi’s act. That’s worrying.

2) Why did Salman Abedi choose an Ariana Grande concert? Have you asked that question?

Islamic fundamentalists hate liberal Western culture. It’s an abomination to them. And their attitudes towards British culture were on view in the recent BBC mini-series, Three Girls, which dramatized the cases of child grooming in Rochdale between 2005 and 2013. Nine men, mostly Pakistani, were jailed for up to 25 years for their crimes of child rape and abuse.

While in the dock, one of the men started shouting. He lambasted the entire court, accusing ‘the British’ of their permissive customs, namely allowing our young girls to get drunk, wear skimpy clothing and have sex before marriage. The shocking hypocrisy was not lost on the viewer. The man speaking was guilty of plying several under-age girls with alcohol and then raping them.

But what’s been revealed here? Self-hatred on the part of the man in the dock, that’s for sure. But also his hatred of our liberal British culture.

A couple of days after the Manchester bombing, I went on the Ariana Grande website to find out more about the artist. I watched a video in which two women made out, then a couple started having sex in an office setting, removing clothing with abandon and finally, an elderly couple started to become amorous on a bus. I won’t describe what happened towards the end.

This is the liberal culture which Islamic fundamentalists hate. It’s what Salman Abedi hated. Of that I’m fairly sure. Who knows how deep his own self-hatred went, but in blowing himself up in that location specifically, I’m sure he thought he was attacking our decadent Western culture. Or at least one of its representatives.

What lessons can we learn?

Well, I’m probably preaching to the converted when I say that the only antidote to hate is love. Christians know that love is costly, it hurts and even if we’re misunderstood, it’s always better to love and reach out than cast out and condemn. And if that includes reaching out to Muslims, all the better. Some Muslims are currently attending an Alpha course in my church. They’re ‘seekers’ and open to the truth. We pray they’ll discover the Way, the Truth and the Life. We pray they experience love in our midst.

But what are we to make of the sexually permissive culture which produces Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and the like? Would you take your 8 year-old to see an artist who sings about ‘walking side to side’ because she’s had so much sex, that’s how she walks now? How uncomfortable as a follower of Jesus to find myself horrified by the outrage of a terrorist and yet realize his views on our liberal culture might contain similarities with my own. It’s very unsettling.

It’s enough to make sure you don’t ever write about it on a blog.

Too late.

We live in a very uncertain world and frankly, even though it might sound like a platitude, what’s more important is that it’s true: Only the God of the universe can provide security. Only he can keep us safe, because he holds all our lives in his hands. He gives and he takes away. And all he does is good, for he himself is goodness by his very nature. And he is love.

So, as Jesus urged so very often . . . don’t be afraid.

Beautiful Life with Cancer

Discovering the Gift

Isaiah 43:1

...the One who formed you says, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine."

Mirth and Melancholy

Comment, comedy and capers for the faithful, faithless and fallible

Sam's Town

Comment, comedy and capers for the faithful, faithless and fallible

Tanya Marlow - Thorns and Gold

The Bible, suffering, and the messy edges of life

%d bloggers like this: