Latest posts on Christian Aid

Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog

Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid

Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Monday, March 31, 2008

Barack and his padre (updated)

Well, I suppose it's one way to get your church magazine noticed: reprint an article by a Hamas functionary. It could cause a little embarrassment for one of your parishioners, though, if he's set his sights on the White House.

This is plainly a church after Christian Aid's collective heart. But those of us who don't admire anti-Semitic terrorists badly need to hear some reassuring words from candidate Obama.

Update: in response to the comment that's been posted here, I should say that I'm not calling on Obama to disown Jeremiah Wright personally - as a fellow Christian - in addition to disowning his views. The commenter is quite right about us being 'family' in the Body of Christ however much we may disagree. My goodness, if I were to walk out of every church where I took issue with the priest's politics...

But there is an 'on the other hand' here. Because there is a point at which a 'gospel' which has become purely an instrument serving political and/or racial ends ceases to be in any true sense the Christian gospel. Example (simply to make the point): the 'Deutsche Christen' movement in Nazi Germany. I hope that the distinction is not lost on Barack Obama and that the faith to which he was introduced by Pastor Wright was - notwithstanding the unashamed blackness of his church - indeed the Christian faith.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tommy this, an' Tommy that

St Lucia-born Rogers Jean-Baptiste has had his application for British citizenship turned down. Reason: he had to have been on British soil five years to the day before he made his application. And he wasn't. He was in Germany. In a British army uniform. Since when he's served two tours of duty in Iraq.

Kipling, I feel, wouldn't have been surprised. Though of course we've moved on a bit since his day. In these enlightened times we think even less of Tommy when he's getting shot at.

Hat tip to the Dumb One.

As not featured at Engage

The following comment on this post at Engage apparently hasn't got past the moderation. Why?

OK, the film's a one-sided, manipulative polemic (not a phenomenon entirely unknown on the Left - if someone made a film like this about conservative evangelicals a lot of the folk condemning this one would be in raptures). But, come on... Alongside the indiscriminate slaughter of unarmed civilians, it points to anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, judicial murder and hostility to democracy. None of this is made up. When, exactly, did these become right-wing concerns?

My friends, if you're not careful I might start feeling that my democratic rights stand a better chance of being defended by the likes of Geert Wilders than by people like you.

David T of Harry's Place, another who should know better, comments on the similarity between Wilders' film and Al Qaeda films. Well, given that the subject matter is identical that's not altogether surprising. But you might hope the fact that in the one case the motive for showing scenes of carnage is to shock, whilst in the other it is to inspire, would merit a passing mention. HP often comes down commendably hard on spurious moral equivalences, but really this one takes the biscuit.

PS Due to a variety of circumstances I'm still not finding much time for posting. Doubtless a cause for quiet satisfaction in some quarters. Apologies to readers to whom that does not apply.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Loonies of the Catholic persuasion

What is the perennial and irresistible appeal of anti-Semitism to nutters of just about every description? As Damian Thompson reveals, the Catholic lunatic fringe is no exception to the rule.

'The SSPX is currently negotiating with the Vatican about returning to full Communion with the Holy See', Damian tells us. That's nicely phrased to spare his blushes - he, like me, being a big B16 fan - but of course the verb 'negotiate' is reciprocal. You can't be negotiating with someone who isn't negotiating with you. Let's hope and pray that the Holy Father doesn't disappoint us, but takes a tough line. He may have some sartorial tastes in common with these people, but does he really want them on board so long as they're spouting this poisonous nonsense?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Black Propaganda in the War on the Past

Spot what this post from Laban and this one from the Dumb One have in common.

A little economy with the truth, but hey, what does that matter if it helps to convince us that life before the Great Cultural Revolution wasn't worth living? And what are facts but the social constructions of the powerful, anyway? Which is scarcely an exaggeration - consider this from one of the Dumb One's links:-

'For now, Rigoberta’s academic fan club resorts to what may be termed the Tawana Brawley defense, named after the New York teenager who faked a racially motivated rape. The lawyers and civil rights activists who defended Brawley said it didn’t matter that she had concocted her tale, because a racist society causes such desperation. As legal scholar Patricia Williams put it, “No mater who did it to her, and even if she did it to herself, Tawana Brawley has been the victim of some unspeakable violation.”'

Remember this one? This is from a document apparently emanating from Yale University, no less:-

'The old saying, “a rule of thumb” comes from the rule that a man could not beat his wife with a rod thicker than his thumb.'

I've heard this repeated in good faith (and duly believed it myself), and read it in a book by a Christian feminist. It's an urban myth. Or you might prefer the description here: a 'gender hate crime'.

Nobody told them

'If Hamas is not an antisemitic organization how does Seumas Milne explain the fact that on Thursday night Palestinian fighters thought it was a smart political move to walk into a Jewish Yeshiva in Jerusalem and kill eight Jews who were studying their religion?

'Perhaps nobody had told these Jew-killers that Hamas has commissioned a re-drafting of the Covenant?'

- asks David Hirsh.

It doesn't seem to be doing a great job of briefing its own spokesmen, either. But doubtless Comrade Seumas can explain everything.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What It's All About

I can't do elegies, and my local churchyard was once a country churchyard but no longer. Never mind. While wandering through it today, my eye was caught by a small gravestone beside the path. It bears the inscription 'Treasured memories of Darren X' (I won't give the full name).

A hackneyed phrase, perhaps, easier to inscribe on a stone than in a heart? Wait - the grave is immaculately tended, and in the vase in front of the headstone there are fresh flowers. And there are dates on the stone: one in July 1968, one in August 1969. The treasure is treasure indeed.

One of the questions which could be asked is where God was on that day in August 1969. It's a fair question, of course, and I can't get much beyond answering that he knows and I don't.

But there is another question: why were there flowers, and what do we do with the Why? Do we do our best to explain it away? Or do we fall on our knees before it as before the Mystery of Mysteries?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Engage, Muslim attitudes and the 'clash of civilisations'

A Gallup poll on worldwide Muslim attitudes gets a somewhat triumphalist write-up from Engage. A more considered reponse, focussing more on the methodology and statistics than on the intensive spin that's been put on them, would not go amiss.

A sample of the spin: 'Gallup found that majorities in many predominantly Muslim countries as well as the United States report experiencing enjoyment, smiling and laughing, and enjoying good-tasting food' it says here. Well, thanks for telling us, but I imagine that even Samuel P. Huntington is able to distinguish between Muslims and zombies, whilst here in the UK there can be few of us indeed who have not enjoyed good-tasting food cooked by Muslims.

Here are just a few points Engage might want to consider:-

1. Is it not absurdly simplistic to reduce the diversity of Muslim attitudes to a binary typology of 'moderate' versus 'radical', determined by responses to just two questions about attitudes to the US?

2. 'Only' 7% are 'radical', the poll finds. Well, OK, but 7% of 1.3 billions is 91 millions - this won't give al-Qaeda too any nightmares about running out of recruits.

3. The bar for 'radicalism' is set pretty high. Not only must the respondent have an 'unfavourable' or 'very unfavourable' opinion of the US, he/she must admit to feeling that the 9/11 attacks were 'completely justified'. Anyone merely thinking they were more justified than not gets to be a moderate.

And on this basis Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who condemns 9/11 but openly condones suicide bombings in Israel, is a moderate - not a view that has found much favour with Engage up to now. Nor is he in any way an isolated figure: there can be no doubt that if the poll had canvassed opinions on terrorist attacks against Israel it would have presented a very different picture of the fault line between 'moderate' and 'radical'.

4. From the Yahoo report which Engage quotes:-

'"Ironically, [radicals] believe in democracy even more than many of the mainstream moderates do, but they're more cynical about whether they'll ever get it," said Esposito, a professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University in Washington.'

That 'even more' is an interesting way of putting it. The poll asked whether 'moving toward greater democracy will help Arab/Muslim societies’ progress.' Whilst 'radicals' were split 50/50 on this one, just 35% of 'moderates' answered affirmatively. We're not exactly talking about moderation in any Lib-Demish sense, are we?

I do take Engage's point that it's essential not to 'paint the Devil on the wall', to use one of my favourite German phrases, and the poll did produce some genuinely encouraging findings. But there is another danger, too: that one day liberals will discover that the 'clash of civilisations' was lost while they were busy looking the other way.