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"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"
Edmund Burke
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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…is the reduction of Christianity to the status of a relic… The second 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 Christian faith."

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 Creator.
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 fed,
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 light."

THE HIVE

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 Rediscovered (1969).

"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 did… 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 of Reality.

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…ed).
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 be stirred.

Psychopolitical warfare
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. Why now?
This material has been available for many months. The effect? Even the most moderate Muslim will feel such white-hot anger against the western world.

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, 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 territories
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 wavers.

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 inform us
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.

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