The Cupboard is Bare
by Betty Luks
In the words of the editor of the Jerusalem Bible - "two
of the principal dangers facing the Christian religion today
the reduction of Christianity to the status of a relic
is its rejection as a mythology, born and cherished in emotion with
nothing at all to say to the mind."
It would seem the Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide Ian George also shares
the editor's concern. In a letter to the Adelaide Advertiser,
11th March 2004, he wrote:
"In a world which seems increasingly dominated by noise, hyperactivity
and violence, it is characteristic of our indigenous people that they
should remind us of the importance of stillness and silence, and the
deepening of our consciousness in relation to our Creator, the environment
and ourselves. We, in the Christian Church and as a nation, are looking
increasingly to our indigenous people to help bring to birth in Australia
a fresh spiritual understanding of life and the land of which they are
the ancient inhabitants. The Aboriginals are the ancient spiritual leaders
of Australia. They are inviting all of us to explore the meaning of
life through new eyes, and many of us may see the meeting of an ancient
wisdom with the way of Christ. From this could be born a truly indigenous
These are not the remarks of a person new to
the Christian Faith, someone looking for 'meat' rather than 'milk' upon
which to 'feast and grow'-- this is the man appointed spiritual leader
of the Anglican Communion in South Australia!
In no way do I want to dismiss our indigenous
peoples' reminder of the 'importance of stillness and silence, and the
deepening of our consciousness in relation to our Creator, the environment
and ourselves'. What they are reported to have said indicates a deep
spiritual awareness and is a timely warning to the 'dumbed-down,' materialistic,
spiritually-barren western culture, within which we seek that stillness
and silence, and the deepening of our consciousness in relation to our
But here we have a spiritual leader, a shepherd, in effect suggesting
to his flock: 'We've got to go back to an ancient wisdom to find the
meeting place with the way of Christ' - and this from a man with two
thousand years of Christian teaching and tradition upon which to draw.
Sadly, the 'larder'
of the Christian Church appears to be empty, the shepherds have nothing
of substance to offer the hungry sheep. The words of Milton quoted by
Sir David Kelly in "The Hungry Sheep" - written 50
or more years ago - are so apt:
"The hungry sheep look up, and are not
But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread."
The ineffectual Church
Christopher Pearson insists the problem
of dwindling church numbers does occupy the minds of the church hierarchies,
"Sensual appeal of worship," Weekend Australian 17-18th
April, 2004. And rightly, he saw the "unexpected box-office surge
of longing for the numinous," as was demonstrated by the millions
flocking to Mel Gibson's film The Passion of Christ, as "a
terrible reproach to the churches."
It was "a reminder," he wrote, "that modern white people
cling to ancient meta-narrative as much as Aborigines do to their Dreaming
stories. Aboriginal Australia is, in one respect at least, singularly
fortunate. Its ceremonial life is normally paid lip-service at least,
and generally recognised as important and worthy of respect. Participating
fully in indigenous cultures, including the most challenging rites of
initiation into adulthood, is regarded as an enviable inheritance."
But, Pearson asks, why can't the shepherds and the Christian flocks
find any value in their own historical faith? He ponders, "How
strange that Anglo-Australia can't view its own heritage in a similar
Rudyard Kipling once wrote a political allegory,
using the natural order of bees in a hive as a setting for his story.
The hive was invaded by a great grey moth, having cleverly wheedled
her way past the guards by way of a great sob story. Settling herself
down in the nursery, she laid her own eggs amongst the queen-bee's and
these were duly attended to by the workers. In time, there were all
sorts of deformed and twisted oddities in the hive, affecting the healthy
function of the natural order of bees.
The time came when the bee-keeper had to destroy
the corrupted and diseased hive, but not before one young queen-bee,
having been protected and nurtured by workers loyal to her, was strong
enough to fly off and set up a fresh colony, according to the natural
order of bees.
The state of the Church
The Hive could have been written about the condition of the Christian
Church in the early 1900s. Broadcaster, journalist and author Malcolm
Muggeridge, son of one of the founders of the Fabian Socialist Movement,
married the niece of Fabians Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and wrote of
his experience with the 'deformed and twisted oddities' in Jesus
"In my childhood years there seemed no possible
question but that we were
the true heirs of Christian tradition,
even though we had thrown overboard Christian dogmas along with the
Christian deity. The clergymen and ministers who were prepared to join
with us on this basis conformed to a type, rare enough then, but now
prevalent, if not pretty well universal
My own feeling about them
was crystalised in Moscow in the early thirties when I had occasion
to show one of them around an anti-God museum. As we moved from one
exhibit to another, pausing before the books displayed long enough for
their blasphemous titles to be translated, I wondered when a sense of
shock or disapproval would register on his amiable countenance. It never
In the light of this and other like experiences, I have come
to regard clerical Christianity and its officers as totally farcical
-- as Kierkegard puts it, a folding screen behind which the Christian
evades the real strenuousness of being a Christian
"In any case," he continued, "I was generally uneasy
In an instinctive, intuitive way I understood that something more important,
more tumultuous, more passionate, was at issue than our good causes,
however admirable they might be. Something to do with the deep, inner
nature of life itself - mine and all life. Something inescapable, pursuing
and pursued, forever beyond my reach and yet under my hand; part of
the air I breathed, and lost in the wide firmament above.
As was to happen to me so often, I found in Blake the exact words:
To see a World in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour."
IS CHRISTIANITY 'REAL'?
Social crediter Geoffrey Dobbs expressed his
utter frustration with the organised Church in a letter to the Anglican
Catholic Quarterly Gazette, Autumn/Winter 1980 edition. Geoffrey
has written before on the practical importance of the Christian Creeds
in an essay "The Church and the Trinity". It was republished
in The Australian Heritage Series and Edward Rock has enlarged
on this essay in his book Trinitarianism: The Threefold Substance
Under the heading Whosoever Won't Dr.
Dobbs wrote: "Perhaps bad churchmen should not write articles and
expect good churchmen to take notice of them. There is no reason at
all why the Very Revd Robert Milburn should have found time to read
my article in the last Autumn/Winter number entitled The Church and
the Trinity (The Complaint of a Bad Churchman), or if he did, that
he should recognise it as a cry for help, or at least for a bit of notice
taken of the case put for a fresh and more practical look at the Quicunque
Vult (Athanasian Creed
But it is sorely disappointing that in his article on the Creeds in
the current number he should treat it with the currently fashionable
dis-esteem, relegating it to 'historical research' rather than 'congregational
use', holding that the arguments of the fourth century lack relevance
now (though I tried so hard to show that they had!) and that the assertion
"except a man believe he cannot be saved" implies a "somewhat
arrogant assumption of god-like powers of judgement."
It is this last statement which drives me almost to despair, and makes
me a self-confessed 'bad churchman' with little faith in a church which
has so little faith in its own doctrine. For what are its implications?
If I say: 'Whosoever will be saved in the material
sense it is necessary that he believe that matter is a trinity of one
substance and three phases: neither confounding the phases, nor dividing
the substance' shall I be accused of an arrogant assertion of opinion,
or merely of stating a reality which we all take for granted?
And what of time, past, present and future: and space and its three
dimensions? It is not just a matter of verbal assertion. Belief in the
reality of these trinities and the necessity to observe their natures
is built in to our very lives, and to ignore them is always disastrous
- indeed, we could not live otherwise.
I would go further and point to the obvious truth
that in any practical matter whatever, it is necessary to believe correctly
concerning the nature of what you are dealing with - that is, if it
is real. Whosoever sitteth on a chair, it is above all things necessary
that he holds a correct belief concerning the nature of the chair and
its precise position. Except he do this, verily he shall not be saved
from a bruised bottom!
Am I being funny about sacred things? No, merely
desperate! If there are always practical consequences attached to incorrect
apprehension of the petty realities, and more serious or even fatal
consequences where more fundamental things are concerned, why is it
regarded as 'arrogant' to assert, strongly and repeatedly, that eternal
life for us is utterly dependent upon a correct apprehension, in so
far as it has been revealed to our limited minds, of the nature of that
Ultimate Reality which created and sustains us and all things?
And by that I mean not mere intellectual assent, but the same sort of
taken-for-granted, practical application to everything, that one uses
when one sits on a chair. The only conclusion one can draw is that for
those Christians who take this prevailing view, the Ultimate and Holy
Trinity is not a reality in the common sense which has practical consequences,
but an optional opinion, a verbal formula which suited the fourth century
but not this. And between this world of verbal religion and the real
world in which we live, there is a great gulf fixed. Which is why, for
the most part, your churches are empty." (emphasis added).
LUNACY AT THE HEART OF POWER
THEY ARE DEADLY SERIOUS
Before reading George Monbiot's article, The
Guardian Weekly UK April 29th-May 5th, 2004, ask yourself, why are we
being subjected to revelations of the brutal treatment of the Iraqi
prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison just at this time? Is it another
of the Coalition's 'snow-jobs'? The evidence has been available for
many months -- why publish the photos just now? Publishing the evidence
of such brutal and humiliating treatment meted out to those Iraqi men
is not unlike throwing more petrol on a roaring fire, or more stones
on a disturbed bull ant's nest! It is dangerously incendiary.
The Iraqi people were subjected to barbaric treatment
by the West for ten years prior to the latest assault. Did you ever
see published photos of the Iraqi babies horribly deformed as a result
of the contaminated soil and environment -- a direct result of the depleted
uranium bombing by the US in the first Gulf War? Did you ever see any
photos of the children dying in hospitals pitiably short of medical
supplies, again the direct result of the western world's sanctimoniously
cruel 10-years of 'economic sanctions'?
I don't think so. It was only journals such as the British On Target
which published such pictures in the hope western consciences would
Those behind the interminable propaganda daily, hourly, beaming out
to us via radio, television and the internet, are masters in the arts
of 'mass-brain-washing' or mass-mind-conditioning'. Having studied the
human psyche for centuries they would have the techniques down to a
fine art. (You didn't really think it was first discovered and developed
by Freud and Pavlov -- did you?)
Oliver Miles, a former British Ambassador, accuses
the Coalition governments of misunderstanding or misrepresenting the
resistance of the Iraqi people to the foreign military occupation. He
writes in The Australian 11/5/04, "
it is the husbands,
brothers and fathers of those dead civilians who join the resistance."
He has "been told of fighters who declare quite simply that they
will be at peace once they have killed one American soldier."
Mr. Miles is aghast at the heavy-handedness of the US forces which continues
to have disastrous consequences: "I was in Aden in 1967 when the
British faced resistance similar to that in Iraq, though on a smaller
scale. To fire one shell from a tank to take out a sniper position was
a matter for serious political consideration. Helicopter gunships and
fighter-bombers were unthinkable. The expectation now that they may
be used in the holy cities of Najaf or Karbarla is horrifying; these
cities are as sacred to the Shia as Mecca is to the Sunnis."
"The disgusting revelations," he writes, "undermine any
prospect of decent relations between the occupation forces and the population.
Arab and Muslim tradition pays high regard to the modesty and dignity
of the individual, and public opinion will be deeply shocked
The Australian's (11/5/04) headlines read
"$700 million to protect our Icons
Terror, terror, cries little Johnny! We must have more 'protection'!
More 'security forces' to 'protect' the Sydney Opera House, etc. Today's
'security forces' become tomorrow's 'secret police'. Although one of
the highest taxed countries in the world, there is never enough money
for all social needs, but there is always more money for war and 'terrorism'.
Dog attack photos point to more abuse!
Another expose of the inhumane treatment meted out to the Iraqi prisoners.
This material has been available for many months. The effect? Even the
most moderate Muslim will feel such white-hot anger against the western
An Aussies fight for Fallujah
This is the story of one of 'our' young men serving with the American
marines in the 'war zone'. It is designed to create within us a sense
of guilt because we are opposed to the war and are therefore demonstrating
disloyalty to our own. Although angry at what is being done in our name,
we should be feeling guilty because we are disloyal to 'our own tribe'
as represented by this service man. We are meant to feel guilt, guilt,
Now read on
George Monbiot wrote:
"To understand what is happening in the Middle East, you must first
understand what is happening in Texas. To understand what is happening
there, you should read the resolutions passed at the state's Republican
party conventions last month. Take a look, for example, at the decisions
made in Harris County, which covers much of Houston.
The delegates began by nodding through a few uncontroversial matters:
homosexuality is contrary to the truths ordained by God; "any mechanism
to process, license, record, register or monitor the ownership of guns"
should be repealed; income tax, inheritance tax and corporation tax
should be abolished; and immigrants should be deterred by electric fences.
Thus fortified, they turned to the real issue: the affairs of a small
state 7,000 miles away. It was then, according to a participant, that
the "screaming and near fist fights" began.
I don't know what the original motion said, but apparently it was "watered
down significantly" as a result of the shouting match. The motion
they adopted stated that Israel has an undivided claim to Jerusalem
and the West Bank, that Arab states should be "pressured"
to absorb refugees from Palestine, and that Israel should do whatever
it wishes in seeking to eliminate terrorism. Good to see that the extremists
didn't prevail then.
An extraordinary delusion
But why should all this be of such pressing interest to the people of
a state that is seldom celebrated for its fascination with foreign affairs?
The explanation is slowly becoming familiar to us, but we still have
some difficulty in taking it seriously. In the United States, several
million people have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion. In the 19th
century, two immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated
passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative:
Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met.
The first of these was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next
involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its "biblical lands"
(most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on
the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The
legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and
their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.
The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah
will return to Earth.
What makes the story so appealing to Christian
fundamentalists is that, before the big battle begins, all "true
believers" (i.e., those who believe what they believe) will be
lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to heaven during an event
called the Rapture. Not only do the worthy get to sit at the right hand
of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best seats, their political
and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and
frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation that follow.
Sponsoring Jewish settlements in occupied
The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about. This means
staging confrontations at the old temple site, sponsoring Jewish settlements
in the occupied territories, demanding ever more US support for Israel,
and seeking to provoke a final battle with the Muslim world/Axis of
Evil/United Nations/European Union/France or whoever the legions of
the antichrist turn out to be. The believers are convinced that they
will soon be rewarded for their efforts. The antichrist is apparently
walking among us, in the guise of Kofi Annan, Javier Solana, Yasser
Arafat or, perhaps more plausibly, Silvio Berlusconi. By clicking on
www.raptureready.com, you can discover how close you might be to flying
out of your pyjamas.
The infidels among us should take note that the
Rapture Index currently stands at 143, just two points below the critical
threshold, beyond which the sky will be filled with floating nudists.
Beast Government, Wild Weather and Israel are all trading at the maximum
five points, but the second coming is currently being delayed by an
unfortunate decline in drug abuse among teenagers and a weak showing
by the antichrist (both of which score only two)
American pollsters believe that 15-18% of US
voters belong to churches or movements that subscribe to these teachings.
A survey in 1999 suggested that this figure included 33% of Republicans.
The people who believe all this don't believe it just a little; for
them it is a matter of life eternal and death. So here we have a major
political constituency -- much of the current president's core vote
-- that is actively seeking to provoke a new world war. They batter
down the doors of the White House as soon as its support for Israel
For 15% of the electorate, the Middle East is
not just a domestic matter; it's a personal one. If the president fails
to start a conflagration there, his core voters don't get to sit at
the right hand of God. Bush, in other words, stands to lose fewer votes
by encouraging Israeli aggression than by restraining it. He would be
mad to listen to these people. He would also be mad not to.
Editor's note: There is nothing new in
the plan for a 'greater Israel', or for a 'messiah' to rule from Jerusalem.
But this Jewish messiah is a political dictator who will 'rule with
a rod of iron'. These fundamentalists are horribly deceived.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir, Has 'Sin' replaced evil?
Growing up at a religious school nearly sixty years ago, I can't recollect
hearing anything about 'sin", or the scourge of 'sinners', but
we were introduced to 'evil', the example incarnate at the time being
Adolf Hitler, and we were busy killing millions of people all around
the world, so as evil would be destroyed, along with Adolf and anybody
else that got in the way.
As the United States of America has now become the world's number one
killer of people (and soldiers) in countries other than the U.S.A.,
my mind started to wander into the realm of how we are now on the other
side of the fence helping to "deal out" evil, and while contemplating
that thought, resorted to the definitions of these words.
Nothing complicated there, sin is defined as "missing the mark",
like footballers missing a goal or a cricketer missing the ball or the
stumps. But "missing the train" wouldn't be a sin, (yet!)
But evil appears to be that darker side of man, that which persuades
us to harm somebody without cause, which in that universal prayer that
Christ left us, asks that we may be "delivered" from that
impulse, or "rescued and set free from" our evil thought and
consequent action. So why didn't Christ exhort us to be delivered from
sin? Is it because sin is unintentional, and therefore forgivable, as
opposed to evil being deliberate and inexcusable?
Driving around a city that has more religious signs and exhortations
displayed than most towns and cities, the majority of which are telling
us that we are all sinners and nothing else, good or bad, and the remedy
for this guilt the signs bestow on us, is to attend that church to be
"saved". No suggestion that it might be a better idea that
our leaders attend, or those financing evil actions, or those making
huge profits from organised evil. No, it is us dumbed down sinners that
are the problem. Never a mention or suggestion about the sin of our
evil doing. Sin is good for business. Without it there would empty pews,
leading to an empty plate with no income for the priest and so the closure
of the church. The greater the burden of guilt, real or imagined, the
bigger the sacrifice in the plate.
"CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS" the signs
Well Mel Gibson has demonstrated to us a lot about that understatement.
He wasn't murdered or tortured or flogged or assassinated or executed,
he just died like we all do in our old age!! (Or from too much sin?)
His death is hardly worth mentioning, it's the sin that brings us all
together as one happy family for good fellowship and a cup of tea and
loving the Lord, while our other friendly earthly lords go on spending
billions of dollars in their evil pursuit of blowing civilians to pieces
wherever there is oil or other precious minerals, or wealth, they want
to be able to control.
Don't dare mention that Christ was executed by the method of crucifixion,
for confronting his lying leaders with the truth about money, after
an illegal midnight "Kangaroo" Court trial about other matters,
like destroying their temple. Raise that spectre and you can start looking
for another church that specialises in conversions!
Should we be concerned about evil at all, if,
as the good priest informs us the Lord is coming back to put everything
right? How often does this happen? Did he waste his time last time he
was here? Did he appear to the wrong Church? Will it be better on earth
after his next visit? His continual spiritual return over the last 2,000
years to millions of Christians or anybody willing to listen within,
has been of no avail.
Does it have to be in the flesh, another incarnation or another Messiah?
Well, if the media is to be the Herald, (and how else?) so we all know
of the return, George Bush seems to be the man, as he is getting rid
of anybody nominated as evil, and there is not even another Kangaroo
Court to justify it all. Professing to be a 'born again Christian' he
just knows! No mention of us sinners for this vast eradication enterprise,
he is emphatic about destroying these "evil" people on his
own. No mention of "saving" them.
In this vast sea of sin that we are drowning
in, there is no mention of the depth, or Truth. Nobody asks any more
that question that the innocent Pontius Pilate asked 2,000 thousand
years ago. The disciples thought that it was the TRUTH that was to set
us free, and told us so. What a tragedy if Caiphas's court should have
found Christ guilty of Sin, or worse, guilty of Lying. No, they could
hardly do that, as Christ had accused their father of being the father
of lies and they never denied that.
If we have not been "saved" from the consequences of sin or
the lie or evil or any other man-made problem, after all this time,
is it because we are using the wrong methods? Or listening to the wrong
people? Or going to the wrong Church? Or simply not doing what Christ
told us to do? After all it was pretty simple and easy, "Know the
Truth and the Truth will set you Free".
This means simply abandoning all the lies, for as Solzhenitsyn also
put it so simply, "Violence can only be concealed by the lie, and
the lie can only be maintained by violence", or to paraphrase him
for our times. "Terrorism can only be maintained by the lie, and
the lie can only be concealed by terror".
John Brett, Toowoomba Qld.