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Saturday, 22 April 2017

A Nasty Lie Exposed

Oh gosh, what a week this has been! Our Prime Minister Theresa May calling for a snap election to be held on 8 June. No! No! No! Not again! Please! Fifty days of inter-party wrangle flooding our TV screens, continuous online fodder waiting to be clicked on by the electronic mouse, and endless covering of the front pages of every newspaper. It is not too difficult to fathom out why she has made such a decision whilst on her Easter break in Wales. As an unelected PM, May felt the lack of moral backing in her attempt to get Article 50 on the move, to take Britain out of the European Union. As a fully elected politician, she will have that extra power to "Fulfil the will of the people" despite the rather thin majority of 52% of Brexit voters over 48% of Remainers.

And the Remainers have by now been referred to as Remoaners, and thanks to Katie Hopkins, Daily Mail columnist, we are now also referred to as Remainiacs. And so the slur is boldly published in a national newspaper which will not only circulate across the whole of the UK but around the world as well - not to mention the online browsing in addition. Really, come to think of it, do these journalists really reflect the attitudes of the English? No, I don't think so, because what I have seen and heard around me in real life over the past year, the majority of the public don't display any of that kind of attitude. Only these well-educated journalists at the computer keyboard. And when I say well educated, I'm referring mainly to both Grammar School and Public School education such as Eton, followed by great institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge (although Magdalen College at Oxford has rejected Hopkins at her admission interview - a possible cause for her on-going inward bitterness). But their influence is without doubt must have, for example, played a key part towards the hostility of the crowd of English European Cup football fans in Marseilles in June 2016, to charge aggressively through its streets shouting insults at the French - their hosts - as well as towards Russian fans who were also fellow guests at the tournament.
Oh such emotive shouting. And such hatred! But it does look as though patriotism spawns hatred towards all foreigners, both at home and abroad. And emotive expressions is an issue Hopkins is hard against, but not against the hatred shown by the England football fans, as I believe she would have been happy enough to have been involved in the street aggression. Rather, it's more to do with one of her latest articles, exalting and praising the elderly Royals for their ice-cold, unemotional stoicism, the ideal model of English reserve and stiff upper lip. So not surprising that she had ordered both Prince William and Prince Harry to "put a sock in it" after Harry admitted that he attended counselling sessions after twenty years of torturous feelings bottled up after witnessing the death of their mother Princess Diana at a road tunnel accident in Paris during August 1997.

But what either escaped Hopkins' attention, or she had deliberately omitted from her articles, was Prince William's concern about the biggest killer of all young men in the UK: Suicide. This is where William was directing his concerns; that the keeping a stiff upper lip for the sake of British stoicism is unwise if it's a compromise to the person's health and well-being. But Hopkins would have none of it. Instead, if someone can't hack it, then let him kill himself. Why would she care? Such a patriotic attitude is a classic example of Darwin's evolution through natural selection - the survival of the stoical strong in expense of the emotional weak.

Prince Harry - attended counselling.

As if all this was not enough to digest, as one who has retired from nearly half a century of honest working life, there was I, relaxing at a coffee bar, itself incorporated into our local branch of Waterstones Bookshops, along with a cappuccino and a day's copy of the Daily Mail newspaper. It featured an article written by columnist Stephen Glover. He was accusing a literacy author and fiction writer Julian Barnes of hatred, hysteria, and lies, leaving me with no other option than to believe that this Julian Barnes is a devout Remainer.

Wait a minute! Julian Barnes? He is not totally unknown to me. I recall 1997, having flown overnight on a cross-Pacific journey from Sydney to Los Angeles, on a route once featured in The Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest non-stop passenger flight. After a week spent in scenic San Diego, I boarded a Greyhound bus heading north to Los Angeles, to change buses there for my final destination of St Luis Obispo, a non-touristy town set some distance inland from the south-central Californian coastline. I chose this town because of its lack of tourist tat found in larger, more famous cities. I wanted to experience a taste of the typical American suburban life unhampered by famous locations and their visiting crowds. And the small backpackers hostel was nothing more than a normal suburban home with several bunk beds squeezed into two of its bedrooms (one for each gender) and registered with Hostelling International.

It was from this hostel which I hired the home-owner's bicycle to pedal the ten miles to Avila Beach, where I spent the day in pleasant weather before a fast burn-up cycle ride back to the hostel. The next day, with some free time, I sauntered into the local library. There, on one of its shelves, I spotted a book which title attracted my attention: History of the World in Ten Chapters - oh yes - and a Half - by Julian Barnes. I sat down to read the whole of the first chapter, which was a ongoing commentary of life inside Noah's Ark whilst the storms raged outside, as narrated by two stowaway woodworm. I was impressed with his literary imagination and ability.

That was twenty years ago. Reading Stephen Glover's article lashing out at whatever Barnes had written has not only aroused memories, but also curiosity on what this famed author had exactly penned. After noting the location of his original article from which Glover had quoted, it wasn't difficult for me to find Barnes' Diary in The London Review of Books website. I was intrigued by its length. If you think my blogs are long, they are indeed miniaturised by comparison to Julian's. It was actually a mini-novel about certain families from Germany, Belgium and France interacting with the English. Then, nearing the end, he gets to the point. Categorising The Daily Mail newspaper as the Pravda of the right, he brings up the case of the murder of Labour Member of Parliament and Remain supporter Jo Cox, by right-wing maniac Thomas Lair. Glover heavily criticises Barnes for accusing the newspaper of publishing a minor report of the killing after thirty pages of other news. Glover then emphasises that the Daily Mail had devoted its first page to the murder, then pages four, five, six, and seven, thus calling Julian Barnes an outstanding liar and promoter of fake news to prop up his support for the UK to have remained in the European Union.

Julian Barnes.

It was by first reading Stephen Glover's article in the Daily Mail, then arriving home, I was prompted by wonderful memories of my backpacking days to search the internet for the actual article by Barnes himself, from which Glover had quoted. What I have read was a shock to me! Because by quoting what Glover had written and then comparing his words to what Barnes has actually written, an inconsistency can be easily seen. A dishonest twist to Barnes' words by Glover intended to deceive his readers. Here is the comparison:

Stephen Glover: Referring to the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox a week before the referendum, Barnes claim "the Mail, which gave its readers 30 pages of more important news before deigning to report Jo Cox's murder."

Julian Barnes' actual wording: The Mail, which gave its readers 30 pages of more important news and comment before deigning to report the conviction of Jo Cox's murderer, and which has itself been deleted as a source of reliable information by Wikipedia.

The conviction of Jo Cox's murderer. That is what Julian Barnes actually wrote. Thus the reader of Stephen Glover's article is deceived. And the journalist's intention to deceive was most likely founded on his own principle of the reader's trust in his authenticity, as it was assumed that none of his readers would have bothered to check the source for themselves. However, the fact is that the murder took place on Thursday 16 June 2016, and I have no reasons to doubt that the Daily Mail did devote five of its pages to the case, including its front page headlines. But the conviction of the murderer himself took place at the Old Bailey on 23 November 2016, more than five months after the shooting occurred. Therefore if Barnes was referring to the conviction of Thomas Lair rather than to the crime itself, then it is within plausibility that the newspaper treated the case as a minor report thirty pages in from the front.

Therefore within a space of just two or three days, the inner dark secrets of the supposed virtue of patriotism are revealed. The first outlandishly against the apparent mawkishness and emotional sentimentality of two Royal brothers who both believe that sharing of emotions is beneficial and a possible antidote for the high rate of male suicide here in the UK. And this reflects the attitude of a bitter female journalist who had the most privileged of social status denied her by a committee sitting at Magdalen College in Oxford. Quite likely it was this loss of opportunity to gain a PhD degree, which initials would have trailed her surname. It makes me wonder whether her desire for the military was a way of getting her revenge, disguised by a "love" of our country offset by her hatred of Remain voters and demeaning them as monkeys, her disdain for public emotion, her wanting to throw out all immigrants from the UK, and her obsession for the social class divide.

The other journalist shows his patriotic love for Brexit by using deceit by deliberately misquoting another writer, a highly intelligent and eloquent Remain supporter. Then after ensuring that his deceit is well camouflaged, he has the audacity to accuse the Oxford-educated Remainer of being hateful, hysteric and a liar! And here is the irony: Stephen Glover received his degree at none other than Magdalen College in Oxford, as did Julian Barnes before him, yet the same rejected Katie Hopkins some years after Glover's graduation. In all, does the love for the economic, government, and social well-being of our country need to depend on lies, hatred, xenophobia, and partiality?

Loyalty to one's homeland is good if all its indigenous honoured God and obey his commandments, which includes a high respect for both home-born and foreign-born inhabitants. At the moment I can think of three Biblical characters who were very loyal to their nation, that is the nation Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, a city where God has forever placed his name. King David took Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his capital. Later he wrote psalms echoing his loyalty and devotion to Jerusalem. The whole of Psalm 122 is a good example of the King's loyalty to Jerusalem. Then the prophet Jeremiah shows his devotion to Jerusalem, and how its fall under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was the source of his grief which inspired him to write the book of Lamentations. But the most striking is the prayer delivered to God by the prophet Daniel, which is recorded in Daniel 9:1-19. Although he pleads for his people Israel, his land, and his city Jerusalem. But we read nothing of hatred, social class, national superiority, or xenophobia. Nor any appeals for imperial expansion either.

Instead, he pleads for God 's forgiveness for both himself and for his people from their sins, making a confession that God was very good in delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to give them their land promised to their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who was re-named Israel. And yet his patience having endured for his people, despite living for centuries in constant rebellion against God's holiness. Daniel expresses his own sense of unworthiness, along with the unworthiness of his people. He honestly blames himself and his people for the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of his people to Babylon. Then he pleads with God for his gracious forgiveness and undeserved goodness, along with the restoration of the nation and of the city where God's own name is written. The prophet's pleading is a good example of standing under the shadow of the Cross. When in that godly state, any differences between indigenous and foreigner becomes totally of no importance, as with the evils of nationalism, social class, and xenophobia are all washed away. In their place, everybody becomes aware of his own sense of unworthiness before the throne of a Holy God. And this sense of unworthiness brings everybody together in unity, all in desperate need for God's love and forgiveness, along with the need for reconciliation.

How wonderful it was when Jesus Christ came, who is the Truth, the Way, and the Life (John 14:6). He death, burial, and resurrection has not only brought forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to a Holy God, but has broken down every barrier which existed between Jews and non-Jews, nation against nation, class against class, even the gender divide. Total reconciliation is what Jesus Christ of Nazareth has brought to everyone who believes. On the face of Truth, lying, hatred, division, and patriotism surely cannot stand a chance!

Ancient men of faith knew this very well. Enough to eliminate all sense of patriotism well out of their lives. Men of faith of both the Old and New Testaments. This we know, for in Hebrews 11, a list of faithful men is given, which is sometimes referred to as the Faith Hall of Fame. The writer then concludes with this:

All these people were living by faith when they died. They did not see the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:13-16.

What a difference between these great men of faith and the likes of Katie Hopkins and other strong-minded Brexit voters, both within journalism and those of other professions and vocations. The two classes could not be more pole-opposites! I can't help believe that if these hate-filled, lying patriots continue to swallow what the Devil offers them, then eventually they will all be swallowed by the Devil himself, and suffer a lost eternity.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

I Stand Alone at Easter

Easter weekend has arrived at last, supposedly bringing a temporary end to the chilly Winter days until they return once again on the approach to Christmas. Unfortunately, as it's always the case here in England, the weekend of warm sunshine was during the previous week, when at last everyone ventured out into the streets, shopping malls, parks, and other attractions free from the heavy overcoats, jackets, scarves, and carrying an umbrella on the ready, all which epitomise public life in general here in the UK. But as I ventured out earlier this morning for my weekly dose of Starbucks cappuccino and a copy of the Daily Mail newspaper, once again the sight of overcoats, jackets, scarves, and the potential of catching sight of an umbrella were back on the agenda. For according to the Met Office, the Easter weekend will actually be chillier than Christmas Day 2016 by about a couple of degrees. Thanks to a persistent polar wind blowing in from Iceland.

But that did not stop the lengthy traffic congestions building up on our motorways and major trunk roads, as British families with characteristic stiff upper lips head for the coast for the long weekend, with full knowledge of the dreary holiday weather. Within many family cars, fathers silently curse the driver of the car in front under his breath whilst mothers attempt to calm their boisterous children with a promise of more Easter egg treats after arrival at their sea-side Bed & Breakfast hotel. Other vehicles stuck in prolonged stationary traffic hide their bored kids at the back seat from the outside world, whilst both parents try to engage them into a game of I Spy, using the first word beginning with "C" - with the five-year-old immediately guessing correctly by submitting his word, Car.

Well-to-do Dads who were not so slavishly addicted to the steering wheel were taking their families to the coast by express train, where without doubt the family would be more relaxed. Promises of more chocolate treats or the need to play I Spy may not have been such a necessity, as the kids, sitting by the window, were enthralled at the scenery as it whizzed past at a speed no car could ever attain, not even illegally. Then there were those who cannot hack the British holiday climate, making their way to the airport. But even here the traffic on the roads leading to the terminals were so congested with like-minded sun-seekers, that some frustrated drivers had literally abandoned their cars for a quicker way to the check-in desk. If there was one crisis that would melt the stiff upper lip to butter and cause the lower lip to tremble in rage and frustration - it's the risk of missing the flight.

And so Easter comes and Easter goes, and the pulse of life beats on. After three months of driving to work and ferrying the kids to school in the cold, wind and rain, Easter is perceived as the gateway for the coming Summer months. Perhaps the egg is the perfect symbol of this. It stands for the beginning of new life when the weather at last warms up, the chick hatch, the trees bud, the daffodils blossom, the sheep in their lambing season - and at last, heavy Winter clothing are once again stored away in the wardrobe and chest of drawers. A time for optimism. But did I leave something out?

According to a You-Gov poll, nearly half of the UK population do not prioritise the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ as the real reason for the long weekend. Rather, it lies in fourth place after the confection, the long weekend being a statutory holiday and therefore the need to get away. Yet, Easter is meant to be the most important festival in the Christian calender, even more so than Christmas, even if the former lacks the commercial glitter and party joviality which goes with the latter. And for many years I accepted without question that our Lord was crucified, died and was sealed in a rock tomb on a Friday, remained dead all day Saturday, and came back to life before dawn on the Sunday, even though I had found it hard that the total of 38-39 hours of non-life can equal three days - if 3 x 24 hour days adds up to 72 hours. Somehow, even from childhood, the figures did not seem to add up, which caused serious consequences in my perception of God and of the Christian faith. 

This was important to me, even back then. Because even after conversion near to Christmas 1972, I perceived God as loving his Son so much more than he loves me, that he wasn't patient enough to keep his body lying lifeless in the tomb for the full duration of 72 hours, so he cut the time short, so to speak, leaving me with a subconscious conclusion of my unworthiness, and that I had to "complete" the atonement by means of personal merit - something which is actually endorsed by the Catholic Church in which I grew up. To conclude that God loves Jesus much more than he loves me has left me in the state to question whether He loves me at all. Was God's character really like my father's and of the school teachers, who only perceived any act of kindness from me as a means of wanting something? In short, the Friday Crucifixion has made me doubt God's love. 

Then when I began to read the Bible after conversion, sooner or later I came across that one verse in the Gospels, and it was Matthew 12:40, which reads:

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

This verse stands alone in the entire New Testament, there is no repeated statement found in the other three Gospels, nor in any of the letters. Therefore this left me to check out the prophet Jonah and see for myself exactly what actually took place when he fled on board a ship from God's presence. In Jonah 1:17, the narrator states that the prophet was in the belly of a large marine creature "for three days and three nights" - apparently with no qualification for a shorter or longer duration. That is a bare minimum of sixty hours if only a few minutes of either a third day or night is considered. The maximum duration would be 72 hours - if nothing of a fourth day or night is included. And that is why I have considered the late Dave Hunt and the Berean Society he founded, a group committed to "Searching the Scriptures daily to see whether it was so" - as stated in Acts 17:11. In his book, How Close Are We? he advocates a Thursday crucifixion. This means that if Jesus died around 3.00 pm on a Thursday afternoon, was buried, and by dawn on the Sunday he was already risen, then the duration of his death would have been in the region of 63 hours, which is within the acceptable time frame of 60-72 hours, when considering that he was dead during the last three hours of the first day, by the normal reckoning of Hebrew numeracy.*

What does this all mean to me? By accepting a Thursday crucifixion rather than the traditional Friday execution changes everything, especially my perception of God's character and his steadfast love. And that despite that I stand alone in my church and in the wider Christian community. Although I am familiar with three other churches in my own town, plus up to ten other churches within a radius of thirty miles from home, I have not heard a single preach advocating a Thursday crucifixion. However, I did have two Christians at different times and at different places having spoken to me in likely agreement.

All the Elders at my regular church in Ascot believe in a Friday crucifixion. I was there with them yesterday, a Good Friday, worshipping God among a people I love dearly. I don't dispute this matter with the Elders. Instead I submit to them, as the Bible itself recommend. If at the Judgement Seat of Christ, I am asked by God himself why I dared to simplify what he had set up to be a very complex issue, then I will answer this to God alone, and I will not deny my responsibility.

A Thursday Crucifixion changes everything. With this I can be assured that God does what he says he will do. There are no short cuts with him, no renegade on his word. Instead, God's love for the likes of one as myself can be reassured by the keeping of his promises. The beautiful offshoot of such divine character is my assurance of salvation, Eternal Security, Once Saved Always Saved. If the concept of the Friday crucifixion causes me to question the love of God and his assurance of fulfilled promises, then how can I possibly believe in Once Saved Always Saved? Really, I'm beginning to wonder whether there is a connection between the Arminian idea that salvation can be lost with the lack of assurance of God's promises properly fulfilled. But on this issue of a Thursday Crucifixion, I will stand firm, even if all alone.

Just as I will stand alone, if necessary, in believing that both our planet and the entire Universe are no more than six thousand years old, and which came into existence by God's spoken word. Yes, I'm willing to stand alone in this, as I am ready to stand alone with Holy Scripture endorsing the historicity of Adam and Eve, and the Scriptural fact that the Atonement made by Jesus Christ on the Cross was because of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, endorsed as historic by both Jesus himself (Matthew 19:1-12) and by Paul the Apostle (Romans 5:12-21). In short, if Adam and Eve had never existed, then the whole of the Christian faith is fit only for the trash-bin. All the words in the Bible will not be worth the paper they are printed on.

And the same applies to Biblical semantics. I'm willing to stand alone in my conviction that the English word Repent means A change of mind, so verbally demonstrated in Peter's sermon narrated throughout the whole second chapter of Acts. I am ready to stand alone with the historical fact that in the Fourth Century AD, St Jerome mistranslated the Greek word for Repent to a Latin word for Penitence, thus changing God's plan of salvation from simply changing your mind about Jesus being the risen Christ, to the need to forsake sin, which involves works performed to exonerate the believer from his sins, and then to remain faithful afterwards in order to be saved. I will stand with this opinion that the Roman Catholic Church, along with quite a number of Protestant and Reformed churches, were never freed from St. Jerome's mistranslation, even if this great scholar did not make such a error with malicious intent.

And with these things I stand, even if no one takes any notice. And yes, I'm very much used to all that. Thanks to that great psychologist Cyril Burt who, in the early 1940's, composed a theory that innate intelligence could be measured at eleven years of age. This led to the 1944 Education Act, bringing in the eleven-plus exam for all primary school children, thus pigeon-holing every pupil according to how he performed in the test. Bright kids who passed were selected for Grammar School education, followed by University graduation. Those who failed ended up at the Secondary Modern school, back then known as the academic trash-bin, and geared for vocational and manual labour occupations. Ironic, coming to think of it. What I have found to be rather surprising was whilst the Alliance, including the British forces, were up against Hitler's Nazi powers, much time and attention were given over to such matters such as child intelligence and schooling. Of course, not only did I fail the eleven-plus, but came rock bottom, and condemned to sit at the slowest learning class in the whole school between the years 1964 to 1968. This resulted in four years of my life wasted. How come? Because all I received in secondary education was a re-hash of everything I had learnt at primary.

The snag was that if a student fails the exam by just one mark, he would be classed as a failure. Meanwhile, another student just scrapes through, and he would be categorised as a genius, and both go on to their respective schools.  Unless out of a stroke of good fortune, it does not allow for the chance of later mental development. However, I'm very happy to say that conversion to Jesus Christ as Saviour and exploring the Bible and reading it freely has vastly improved my intelligence and academic quality! And I'm not exaggerating. The Christian faith has done more than merely save my soul from eternal loss. It has made me a new man, a better person, here and now.

But this is England, blessed England. A land with its culture where the fate of an individual is determined before his twelfth birthday. Failed the exam? Then I must know my place. And sad to say, most, if not all, of our churches go along with this British culture. For example, fresh young leaders and preachers will always hold a degree. In the whole of the 45 years as a Christian believer, I hardly recall any exceptions. Rather, I do recall the Junior Church department at my home town fellowship, which was staffed by graduates, all of them believing in Evolution. They were most prominent throughout the late 1970's and well into the Eighties. In addition, the Church of England has always relied on the gene pool at Oxford and Cambridge for future leadership. As for Cyril Burt, it takes the opinion of just one doctor to decide the fate of countless numbers of students over the decades, without leaving room for later development of academic ability and intelligence. 

Canterbury Cathedral - Head of the Church of England.

This means that although I'm accepted and loved by my regular church, and even held at a high esteem by at least two of the Elders as well as by some of the students who attend, I doubt that I would ever be given a chance to teach, even though I might have a gifting for it. Some years ago, back in the early/mid nineties, a family suggested that, with my then knowledge of the Bible, I should teach a class, with themselves being willing students. But when I presented the idea to one of the Elders (no longer with us) - he said that this responsibility belongs to someone out of university and therefore better trained. Little wonder that, for a very different reason, he was defrocked by the congregation, and soon afterwards moved across the Atlantic to Florida.

It was to the likes of Cyril Burt that our schooling culture is at it is to this day, with the likes of me remaining unqualified for such responsibilities within the local church, whilst forever watching young graduates take their place at the pulpit or teaching a group. But nevertheless, I make my stand, even if it means standing alone.


*You can read more on why I believe in a Thursday Crucifixion by clicking here

Saturday, 8 April 2017

A Lesson from Mars.

I have a pretty good idea how famous author H. G. Wells must have felt about his environment he grew up in. Living at a posh area in Surrey, in the Woking area to be more precise, how he must have felt disillusioned over the might of the great British Empire which held sway throughout his Victorian era. Not that he was one of the subordinate indigenous nationals living under a subjugated realm of a faraway colony, but as one of a privileged Englishman whose residence was at the heart of the crème de la crème of imperial motherland. Day after day he was subjected to a vigorous social class system, where to give full honour to the King, or for that matter, the Queen, was paramount to earning your own salvation. On the other end of the scale, children of impoverished working class families were to be seen and not heard.

It was a country where rickets was common among working class children living in run down districts of many cities, due to its lousy climate, a lack of sunshine, smog created by black smoke from the chimneys of nearby industries - the "satanic mills" of Blake's poetry - the grime, the dirt, and the squalor, such a life of grim hardship. It was quite a contrast to the rich and the well-to-do living in the country or rural village. Having had enough to pay for a Doctor to call round whenever feeling unwell, they had no truck with the city commoner. Whilst child prostitution was something not uncommon among urban grime, in the countryside, village churches were always full on a typical Sunday. Such self-righteousness felt among them resulting in having harsh, judgemental opinions against the unruly commoner, along with a Pharisaical back-patting among themselves whilst cultivating a near-miraculous double notion of holding adoration for the Monarch and despising the poor at the same time.

Living in such an environment must have caused some level of resentment in H. G. Wells' heart. Because from his experiences he wrote his novel, War of the Worlds. So successful was his book, that after it was first serialised in 1897, it remains in print to this day. From it, various movies bearing the same title were made, and Hollywood Americanised the story. Also a musical version was created by Jeff Wayne in a form of a two-disc vinyl album, one which I have owned for several decades. With Richard Burton narrating as the journalist who was the first-hand witness and survivor of the alien invasion, it featured the Justin Hayward song Forever Autumn, which became one of Britain's top tunes.

The story is about an invasion of Martians into Britain, after years of examining human life on Earth from Mars. This was very much like a scientist examining bacteria thriving in a single drop of water. And that is a good comparison, because the Martian's brain was so huge by comparison with the human brain, that their minds and their intelligence were immeasurably superior. And these creatures were predominantly of brain, robbing their bear-sized bodies of agility and the vitality required for a healthy existence on our planet, especially one with a stronger gravitational force. All this was based essentially on Darwinism, with its concept that the larger the brain, the higher the intelligence. The biological cost to this was whilst the brain grew in size and intellectual power over the generations, there was in turn a gradual diminishing of strength in the wholly red body, which by then consisting of a wet-leather like skin, a partially visible pulsating bloodstream, flailing arms and legs and an enormous head bearing a face of two large, disc-like eyes and a lipless mouth which quivered and slavered, with drools of saliva hanging. Such a disgusting sight seemed to indicate entropy at work over the generations, contradicting Darwin's theory of upward evolutionary development for a puny physique with very limited athletic qualities.

But their technology was vastly superior than anything mankind can think of. Their tripod Fighting Machines with their heat ray and black smoke chemical weaponry were able to annihilate whole crowds of people in one swoop, demolish buildings, sink warships, and causing whole cities like London to be entirely deserted of people. And that was the point of the whole story.

The tale was all about the head of a mighty worldwide Empire falling on the mercy of a hostile alien power from which they had absolutely no means of defence. I believe that Wells would have secretly loved to have seen the fall of such an Empire. But the one consequence of such a hostile invasion was that every human being totally forgetful about his wealth, his social standing, his level of education, his profession, and the importance of Empire, to unite as one man for survival.

As the leaderless crowds fled the streets of London dominated by the tall tripods of the Martian Fighting Machines, there were aristocratic lords and ladies, politicians, doctors, businessmen, magistrates, bankers, craftsmen of all vocations, traders, chimney sweeps, layabouts, beggars, the elderly, along with housewives, housemaids, nurses, carers, students, boys and girls - children of wealthy families, children of road sweepers - all mixed within the crowds fleeing the city pell-mell, disorganised, terrified, to the coast for temporary exile to mainland Europe with a hope of being out of the Martian's reach. It was at the coast where a group of Martian tripods successfully sunk a warship which was engaged in full battle, bringing down a tripod and momentary offering a hope of victory for humankind. Instead, it was the beginning of the Massacre of all Mankind.

The journalist who narrated the story has had enough. Broken and without hope, he saunters back to London - enveloped in deep silence, passing deserted jewellers and grocery shops plundered and looted, to surrender himself to the Martians and to let them take his life. All of a sudden his attention was alerted to Primrose Hill, just north of Regents Park. There a cluster of tripods huddled together, one of them uttering one final gargled howl of despair, followed by a deafening silence. The journalist, his hopes suddenly rising, realised what had killed these unearthly creatures. Bacteria in the air. The humble bacteria attacking where no human was able to attack. Whilst the Empire lies in smithereens, it took our invisible, microscopic invaders to penetrate into these pitiful alien bodies to breed and contaminate their blood. It was a tremendous humiliation for the entire human race - with any sense of imperial pride, conquest, and military power shattered. The vast knowledge these Martians possessed had given them the ability to eliminate all bacteria from their home planet, resulting of the decline of their immune systems over the generations to the point of non-existence. So the moment they took their first breath of our air, they were doomed.

I find it amazing how the world of fiction can accommodate scientific facts so seriously. Maybe that what makes fiction so realistic to life that it can be given a level of credibility. It is very unfortunate though that far too many academics take the Bible as a book of fictional myths, and discredit any truth in it. One example is the reality of the Cross of Christ, his Burial, and after three days and three nights, his physical Resurrection, followed some weeks later by his ascension to the right hand of his Father's throne in heaven.

It is ironic, coming to think of it, that the Easter holidays are rapidly approaching, which is recognised by hardened atheists such as Richard Dawkins. Here in the UK the Easter break consist of four days off work - Good Friday, Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Bank Holiday Monday. As I see it, and perhaps as the majority of us British sees it, Easter is the gateway for the approaching Summer months, when thick woollies, heavy raincoats and galoshes are finally left in the wardrobe for the lighter apparel of tee-shirts, shorts, singlets, and the anticipated day trip to the beach. Sure enough, on Easter Sundays our traditional churches are prone to be packed, yet it is a shame that there is only one other day when churches tend to be full, and that is during the Christmas season.

And whilst churchmen and academics argue whether Easter should be regarded as a Christian or a pagan festival, various sects such as Jehovah's Witnesses regard the holiday as pagan and therefore condemned by Jehovah, as with Christmas and even individual birthdays themselves. I am also aware of various English families celebrating the Jewish Passover here in the UK, and that despite not only uncircumcised non-Jews are forbidden to eat the Passover in Holy Scripture, but the Bible insist that if one attempts to keep just one of the Laws of Moses, he is obliged to keep the whole Law, which would include annual blood sacrifices offered to a Levitical priest, himself a direct descendant of Aaron, in addition to the triple-tithe made to the Sanctuary, plus the annual waving of the first of the harvest crops to God at Pentecost, and the keeping of the Day of Atonement, along with the Feast of Tabernacles. Failing to keep the whole Law, even by stumbling on a minor issue, will result in eternal condemnation.

And so division exists between churchgoers and the non-churched, and among churchgoers themselves. Divisions, disagreements, bickering, fault-finding, judging one another, along with political and cultural issues - for example the political issue whether to leave or to remain in the EU, and the gloating and sneering of Brexit voters over those who had preferred to remain, as well as contending on which political party should be in power. On the cultural issue, its whether us strong bulldog Brits have lost our stoical self-reserve for a more emotional, sentimental, and mawkish attitude when facing a crisis, with interviewees shedding tears whilst in front of a television camera.

There is only one very specific need, not just in the UK but worldwide. That is to be under the shadow of the Cross, as well described in Acts 1:13-15. Just like the crowds fleeing the Martians in London, these people, about 120 in all, confined in a large upper room, were all united by a common bond. There were no disagreements among them, no gender divide, no class divide, no age divide, no educational divide, and most important of all - no theological divide. All were so bonded together that they were all as one man. Their conviction of sin, their sense of unworthiness in the presence of God. As Abraham once cried out, "I'm but dust and ashes." (Genesis 18:27). And as David declared to Saul after finding the King asleep in a cave, "I'm but a dead dog, a flea." (1 Samuel 24:14, 26:20). And Isaiah himself, when confronted by the very glory of God, cried out, "Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips..." (Isaiah 6:5). Such strong men could be brought to such a state of awe when faced with the glory of God.

These 120 men and women in the upper chamber were in exactly the same state when confronted by the Glory of God, which was in the Cross of Jesus Christ, and confirmed by his Resurrection from the dead. Compared to God's glory, every dividing issue evaporates. Every issue which causes divisions of all kinds - melted into thin air at the glory of God's presence. Really, it is a wonderful state to be in!

The crowds fleeing London were bonded together by terror. Those in the upper chamber were bonded by awe. But both groups were bonded, with every divisive ethical, religious, and social issue evaporated. Perhaps this is the greatest need for our churches at present, my church included. The special presence of the glory of God which would bring us all to our knees in awe and to forever change our lives.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

An Astonishing Incident at the NHS

Lately I have found myself becoming more impatient, forever searching for an item I have just used, and instantly forgetting where I have left it. Along with this feeling of frustration and memory-loss, comes swearing - uttering words I would never say in public, let alone in a church meeting, along with quick bouts of anger. In the gym I tended to tire more quickly as well, which led me to the incentive to stay away, cutting my normal schedule of three-sessions-in-a-week to just one session attended this week. This cutting down of gym left a feeling of emptiness within, a lack of personal fulfilment which was an addition to the already low moods I've been feeling already. As I sat there, browsing through the Internet, my wife asked what has come over me, with an explanation for asking that she has seen a change of personality lately. Or in short, according to her, I have become a different man, and not the guy she married.

And this includes my prayer life, which has dried up at the same time, even if I continue to read the Bible each morning. After Alex had brought all this to my attention, I had to sit and think. Because after being confronted with my new self, I had to search my subconscious to what has been the cause of it. It wasn't until the News bulletin began its TV broadcasting that the penny dropped. It was about Brexit. What else could it have been?

This was the week that our Prime Minister Theresa May launched Article 50 to the European Union president Donald Tusk in Brussels, paving a way for a two-year negotiation route to what is hoped for a trouble-free exit. Personally I was getting sick of it all - day after day, bulletin after bulletin, newspaper after newspaper - updates of the Brexit move keeps pouring into my soul until they spill out of my ears and vomiting out of my mouth. Then to read about and to hear about the constant gloating, the smugness, and the sneering from Leave-supporting politicians and journalists towards those who wanted to remain. And then we both wonder why I have experienced a personality change! 

As one journalist for The Guardian newspaper wrote; it will be the return of the dreaded Rule Britannia mentality. Whether he was being duly pessimistic or facing a possible future reality, that is a matter of the reader's opinion. As I have mentioned in last week's blog post, the right-wing newspaper The Daily Mail journalist Katie Hopkins, a very devout Brexit supporter to the point of fanaticism, she would gladly lift a gun to shoot some sense into a city of blind, deaf, and dumb monkeys whose majority had voted to remain, and to kick out all the immigrants. As The Guardian had pointed out, the future of Britain would be encapsulated to a gang of white boys leaving the pub at closing time, laughing and guffawing, and ready to beat into pulp anyone who doesn't match their nationalistic ideals.

Stephen Lawrence was such an example, making this case one of the century's most iconic of all racially motivated crimes. During the evening of 22 April 1993, a black student and a budding architect was murdered by six white youths after leaving a nearby pub. Although dressed in a tee-shirt, Lawrence had more intelligence than all six of the English white men combined. But during the Court hearing which followed, all six defendants were dressed in smart suit and tie, enough to impress the Judge to dismiss the case due to lack of Police evidence. Afterwards, BBC Panorama investigated key officers of the Metropolitan Police by sending one of their journalists as an undercover reporter, to expose the truth that the majority of officers involved with the case were on the defendants' side, a tragic truth behind the dismissal of the Court case, which led to several Police officers losing their jobs at the Met. No doubt, all six of these murderers would have been keen Brexit voters.

Stephen Lawrence

Then the story of BBC motoring programme Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson punching a colleague for failing to serve a roast beef dinner after a day's work, a dispute which took place 12 March 2015. Clarkson was praised by Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn for his bullish masculinity which encapsulates what it is to be British. No doubt, both Clarkson and Littlejohn would be keen Brexit supporters. But how is it that just two newspaper reporters can have such an influence on me, and to my opinion, the UK as a whole? Could it be that the paper's daily UK circulation averaged 1,510,824 during November 2016, together with 100,000,000 online visits during a typical month. So I assume that both Hopkins and Littlejohn must be close to being household names.

And so the prominently right-wing Media portrays the patriotic British and Brexit voters as having inherited a savage Viking mentality, which would not be out of place with the like of Hopkins picking up a gun. But not just to defend the country, but to invade another, subjugate its indigenous inhabitants and to set up a colony on behalf of Monarch and Country. Ah, the British Bulldog has woken up, and it has let out a resounding growl at last year's Referendum.

And I can just hear the rustling of the pages in the Bible. For King David wrote an astonishing prophecy found in Psalm 22, which is most striking from the King James Version, from which a part reads:

Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and roaring lion.
I'm poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted within the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
Psalm 22:12-18.

In this incredible prophecy of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ which was to take place a thousand years later, the people surrounding the Cross were depicted as three voracious beasts - the bull, the lion and the dog, all three looking to emulate the culture of the British, particularly the English. It is as if the whole country is influenced by a spirit in the air, bent on keeping the majority blinded to the Gospel of Christ. By reading Old Testament history, it looks to me that the prevailing enemy of ancient Israel were the Philistines. These people were the bane of Israel particularly during Samson's day, as were in the days of King Saul, and finally defeated by King David. Even to this day, any barbaric tribe or group of people are sometimes likened to the Philistines.

But the bulls with lion-like characteristics during the time of the Crucifixion were the Roman soldiers, who were directly responsible for the crucifixion, and immediately afterwards the throwing of the dice to determine who will get his clothing. John's Gospel details this well, letting us know that four soldiers were involved with the dividing of the Lord's clothing, all of them Roman (John 19:23-24). But mingled in the crowd, among the Roman soldiers were the Jews, mainly of the Pharisees, and other less hostile Jews, including the disciple John, along with women who also following him. As the spirit in the air had influence particularly over the Romans, as it did over the Philistines before them, so I can see the influence this spirit has over the British at present.

And its purpose has always been the same - to keep the inhabitants from knowing God through faith. The Philistines might have worshipped Dagon the fish god, the Romans bowing the knee to Jupiter, and the British having their own religion - Evolution, with its messiah Charles Robert Darwin. But these three are no different from the snake lying to Eve in the Garden of Eden. In order to turn our first parents away from God, he had to offer something which had appeal. To Adam and Eve, it was power towards divinity through knowledge and wisdom. To the Philistines, it was power through national conquest and empire, as were with the Romans. The British too has always wanted to conquer other nations to achieve supremacy, and the concept of Empire suited their desire to make their king divine, and so identify with him. And as for the new religion, disguised as Science, this was specifically designed to nullify the truth of the Gospel - allowing a great many to live their whole lives without God and ending in a lost eternity. So contrary to myth, the Snake is very much alive at present, and it is delivering a message almost identical to that delivered at the Garden of Eden - supremacy and a quest for (national) power, together with a godless knowledge and wisdom, all of these preferred above to that of faith and submission to God's love and sovereignty.

And so in the days gone past I felt my own faith in God stall and my prayer life drying up, as more news about Brexit continue to pour in. With my mood low and subject to short bursts of anger, frustration and strong language, I sat in our lounge browsing the Internet when my wife uttered a distress call from the kitchen. When I answered her call, I found her lying on the floor in extreme pain along her spine and down to her leg. Her pain became intense enough for her to scream the house down. I immediately found some strong Codeine pills which temporally eased the pain, and she soon fell unconscious. I had no other option but to make an emergency call for the ambulance. It was a while later, at an Accident & Emergency ward of a major hospital that she came round, and as the morphine administered inside the ambulance began to wear off, she again began to moan loudly. A doctor who was accessing her gave her another shot of morphine, which dulled the pain. It was at this occasion, whilst lying down on the hospital bed, that she clasped my shoulders to pull me close to her.

"Don't be afraid, you could have a heart attack. Please trust in the Trinity. He is Sovereign." 
(Alex always refers to God as the Trinity.)
She began to pray, using words approximate to these:

"Please Lord Jesus, reassure my beloved husband. I don't want him to be frightened and have a heart attack. Please strengthen him, and please assure him that between us everything will be all right."

I was quite astonished at her concern for my welfare eclipsing that of her own. She kept reassuring me of her love and devotion to me, alongside God himself, and what a wonderful husband I am and have always been to her. At this point she became more firm and you can say, more authoritative.

"Don't ever say that you are fat, or you are ugly, or that you are not very intelligent. You are absolutely gorgeous, and I adore you."  

Sometime later, a doctor assessed her and new medicines were prescribed, with repeated prescriptions to follow. We took a taxi home, and so far I'm happy to say that her pain has not returned. 

But one thing that does come to mind. What was it that had set my teeth on edge? Was it the constant flow of news about Brexit? Or was it really to do with putting myself down and comparing myself unfavourably with others, especially in the church? I guess I can't be too sure either way, but one thing I can be assured of - and that I'm loved by God who gave his only begotten Son, I'm loved by my wife who thinks the world of me, and it was God who drew us both to spend the rest of our lives together. With such a threefold assurance, what need is there to be angry at insignificant things if we are destined to spend eternity together in a righteous and glorious new world, a new city built by God himself.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

A Tough Learning Curve.

His boyhood environment could not have been more English in gentility. At a predominantly wealthy, middle-class southern county of Kent, sometimes known as the Garden of England; young Adrian Elms was the only dark-skinned student at an otherwise all-white Huntley School for Boys in Tunbridge Wells, a prosperous town close to the border with Sussex. He was bright, did well in class, and on the field he was a very talented footballer. He made every effort to be popular among other students. He was a source of good humour, attended reggae dance nights and enjoyed life to the full. He was often referred to as "black Ade" as it is said that all the other pupils at the school had never seen a black child before coming from Tunbridge Wells.

Despite his extroverted exterior, I have wondered what effect all of this had on the boy. Perhaps rather like an exhibit in a museum, he attracted attention, and so put in an extra effort in both academic and sport alike to equal them in their acceptance. But the mild racism he felt was a victim of, slowly ate into his soul. Because no matter how well he did at school, no matter how high a standard he managed to achieve, somehow he felt that he wasn't really one of them. He looked different, he felt different, and as such he was convinced that he was different. And within his subconscious, he was aware that he was not fully equal to them. A bright and clever academic? Therefore he might well have been aware of the history of prejudice shown to non-whites by the "noble" Caucasian. Centuries of Negro slavery in the New World, the presence of the Ku-Klux-Klan in the USA, Apartheid in South Africa, decades of white aggression by the Far-Right at English football stands, and various other acts of discrimination, including the murder of Stephen Lawrence by a gang of white racists in South London in April 1993. Such discrimination is present to this day - the latest being the aggressive xenophobia which has experienced a surge straight after the Brexit referendum. And that niggling feeling that being dark-skinned has made him trail behind his white-skinned colleagues on the Darwinian evolutionary scale, seeing himself as still closer to the ape than the more-advanced Homo Sapiens he shared the classroom with.

Little wonder that he was viewed with a level of suspicion by everyone else in the school, so he believed.

And throughout his school days, he had no interest in religion, especially Christianity. He might have been repulsed by the idea of a white, unloving English God, whose Son might well have indeed "walked upon England's mountains green, and on England's pleasant pastures seen" - despite this Son of God being Jewish, and therefore a potential, could-have-been victim of Adolf Hitler's pogrom to "solve the Jewish problem". And no doubt, a boy's school such as Huntley had based its entire curriculum on Church of England liturgy to be a good British subject of Her Majesty the Queen and of her entire white-skinned Government. So little wonder, some years after leaving school, whilst drinking in a pub, he responded to a racist snide with violence, slashing the perpetrator's face with a knife.

And so led up to the events of the past few days. A terrorist attack in the heart of Westminster in the name of Allah, taking the lives of four victims and injuring many others before he himself was shot dead by the Police. 

In the name of Allah? Or is it more to do with his rage against the British establishment, from which he had always felt some kind of exclusion, simply because of the colour of his skin? And using the name of Allah as a cover or excuse. Adrian Elms, or should I say Khalid Masood, never loved Allah - at least not in the same way as a Christian believer loves his Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, for the terrorist, Allah was a power source for hatred, disguised under a "holy" name of Jihad. To love the Lord Jesus is intertwined with loving both believers and unbelievers, and doing good to all, even to God's enemies as Jesus instructed in his hillside sermon (Matthew 5:38-48). The vivid contrast of attitude and behaviour between a devout Christian and a radical Muslim seem to enforce the idea that all religions leading to God cannot possibly be true.

And the hysteria which ensued after the London incident. As one English patriotic newspaper journalist wrote: "We as a nation is lost. Loss of hope, loss of the spirit to fight." And yet let's face it. The London attack was a minor issue - a tragic one, sure - but still comparatively minor. Yet I can't help sense a national panic on a giant scale. Day after day, the aftermath of the incident makes for headline news on both television and newspapers. A comparatively minor incident? In the London attack, only four people died, five including the terrorist. On 13 November 2015, 130 people died when a terrorist struck a nightclub in Paris. Then on 22 March 2016, 35 died when a bomb went off at Brussels Airport. But those two European attacks are minuscule when compared with the combined Twin Towers and the Pentagon attack on 11 September 2001, when up to 2,996 lives were taken. All three of these incidents were carried out by radical Muslims. Now imagine what state our nation will get into if a plane piloted by an Islamic terrorist was to slam into the Shard, Britain's tallest skyscraper, or into the Gherkin, a prominent building in the City, or for that matter, into the National Westminster Bank tower, also in the City? Imagine the giant plume of black smoke rising heavenward for hours on end. Indeed, how would our media react? And how long would it go on for? Food for thought, perhaps?

Not that I wish any of these things of course! But I cannot help the feeling of deep curiosity for the national reaction and aftermath of such a catastrophe - if our media goes into panic mode after just five deaths. As the aforementioned journalist, Daily Mail writer Katie Hopkins wrote,
Because all the while those forgiving fools in Brussels stood with their stupid hands raised in hearts to the sky, another mischief was in the making. More death was in the entire city of monkeys. Blind. Deaf. And dumb.
She then criticised Islamic London Mayor Sadiq Khan for being the son of a bus driver and called him a fool for praising the efforts of the Police, Ambulance and Medical staff for ensuring the safety of the surviving victims.    

I find such an article incredulous, but it has won support from many in the comments forum which follows. London, a city of monkeys? Or was she referring to Brussels? I think she was referring to both cities. Blind monkeys! Deaf monkeys! Dumb monkeys! And if it was London she had in mind, then the whole city of the blind is led by a one-eyed king, and tragically the one-eyed king is a son of a bus driver. Maybe if his father was an influential banker, a magistrate, or even a royal escort, she might have seen him in a different light. Who knows. But a city of monkeys? Oh yes, of course. The majority of Londoners are Remainers. And also very cosmopolitan. Blame the liberals for allowing large crowds of immigrants into our country and through multiculturalism, practically destroying it. 

Except - that this London terrorist was not an immigrant. He wasn't even born Muslim. Instead he was born right here in England, I believe from Christian parents, as far back as 1964. So this perpetrator was properly British, and not an immigrant. He had the same national status as I have. My parents were both Italian. So biologically speaking, I'm a full-blood Italian. But I was born here in England. In Westminster to be more precise. Both of us were home-born, and therefore having nothing to do with our entry into the European Common Market in 1973. We were both already here before then, and I was even old enough to vote In. Yet I have always been legally British. I hold a British passport, I'm registered as a legitimate British citizen. I worked for nearly half a century here in the UK and contributed towards the good of society which included paying of taxes and National Insurance. Both the English Lake District and the Dorset coast I consider as favourite natural beauty spots, along with being impressed with both Roman and Medieval history. And I have explored the UK from John O'Groats to Lands End, and Wales too. But according to Hopkins, because I voted Remain, I'm a liberal, a fool, a blind, deaf and dumb monkey, lost somewhere on Darwin's evolutionary scale. Indeed, her attitude is an insult to every Londoner and to every Remain voter across the country.

The opposing contrast between this female patriotic and the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth could not be more dynamic! God loves all mankind enough to give his precious Son to suffer a cruel death to atone for all, Muslims included. If it takes immigration of Islamic people into this or any other western country to heighten the chance to hear the Christian Gospel and believe, then I'm all for it. I long to see Muslims come to Jesus for salvation. It is so easy. The only requirement for the Muslim is to change his mind (repent) and believe in his heart that this Jesus of Nazareth is the risen Christ. Resurrected physically from the dead. That what makes the Christian faith so unique. Jesus is risen! Risen from the dead. This cannot be said about Mohammed, nor of any other religious founder or leader. Jesus is the risen Christ. And by believing, eternal life is given, and is saved from an eternity in Hell, separated from God. Only faith in Christ can change the world, not patriotism. If every single Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, European, American - both North and South - the British Commonwealth - if everyone repented and has a heart-faith in the risen Christ of Nazareth - only then there will be a big political and social improvement throughout the whole world.

Instead, Hopkins preaches hate - as much hate as the Muslims hate westerners. Really, in a sense she has become as one of them. She has even admitted that in her younger days she would have gladly picked up a gun and shoot. Really, I can well ask: Is there any difference at all between a patriotic Englishman (or ~woman) and a radical Islamic?

Such hate on both sides will not solve anything. Instead, hate will only bring death, and Hell will follow. This is a very serious matter. Eternity is a very long time indeed, and if God has already provided a way of escaping eternal separation, then it would be tragic for one to step into a lost eternity out of patriotism or religious extremism, when one can simply believe in the risen Christ and be eternally safe - not just from eternal punishment but into a loving relationship with the heavenly Father through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, with flawless love flowing between every redeemed saint residing in a glorious new world!  The same offer of salvation applies both to the English and to Muslims, along with all other nationals and hate groups.

Just in case I may have appeared as glib over those five deaths in London (including that of the terrorist), I mourn for them. It was a needless tragedy. But what makes it a tragedy is that all these deaths were premature - each life cut short. It is equally tragic to have happened in London as it did in Paris, Brussels, and in New York. But the truth is that we will all die. Everyone of us. It is a matter of sooner or later. As the Bible testifies:

It is appointed for all men to die once, after this the judgement...(Hebrews 9:27).

But this is so unnecessary. God promises eternal life as a free gift to every believer. Why not take his offer and be eternally acquitted? It's far, far greater in value than patriotism.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

An Open Letter to an Atheist.

Dear Atheist,

There is a growing number of websites on the Internet which looks to be pouring ridicule on intelligent people like myself who have a firm belief on a Young-Earth Creationism, along with the conviction that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Websites such as Atheists Against Pseudoscientific Nonsense, which at present has 78,283 Facebook likes, is just one of several sites of the same theme which in between them have hundreds of thousands of views, likes, and subscribers. Another Facebook website is Going to Hell in every Religion, with currently 120,368 likes. Then there is also Atheists Republic, with 1,556,910 likes. On You-Tube, one example of atheism is a seventeen-year-old rising video star, Cosmic Skeptic, whose real name is Alexander O'Connor. With currently 80,000 subscribers, one of his videos, Flat Earth Debunked, is at present credited with 333,230 views, and rising. The video is specifically aimed at Creationists who are seen as taking the Bible word-for-word in a literal sense, and in turn advocate a flat Earth, covered by a solid glass-like dome which the Bible refers to as the Firmament, and within this dome both the Sun and Moon hover at a fixed plane several thousand miles above the Earth's flat surface. In turn, other videos supporting the flat-Earth view includes Death to the Globe - 238,842 views; Flat Water - 439,336 views; and V Sauce: Is Earth Actually Flat? - 13,223,252 views - and all constantly rising, and most if not all of flat-Earth supporters are in favour of Biblical Creationism.

All this, any many more, has provided me with quite a fascinating research on how atheists, agnostics, and Christians feel about Creationism and Darwinism, a flat Earth or a spherical Earth. And within this line of thought, may I write what could be classed as an apologetic defence of the faith, which included Creationism and the historicity of Holy Scripture.

Photo from a Facebook Website.

Certainly, the book of Genesis opens with the six literal days of Creation. But I have never had a problem with applying the concept of a spherical Earth to the Biblical narration. Over forty years as a Christian believer, never once had I ever doubted that our home planet is round like a ball, which itself is orbiting a much larger fiery ball we call the Sun, which is our nearest star. In turn, our Sun is orbiting the nucleus of our Galaxy, which is itself one of many specks in a vast Universe. The narration of a six literal days of Creation, with the seventh day taken as a day of rest and inactivity does tell me something, and it's this: The forces of Creationism at work throughout those six days are not in operation now. In other words, there is no form of positive creation taking place at the present day. Rather all I can see is the opposite effect of entropy at work - the decline from highly organised to disorganised, a downward spiral. But do you want proof of Divine Creationism above Evolution without the existence of any superior intelligence? Then all you need to do is look at the mirror!

The Book of Genesis endorsing the truth of entropy? As seen from the lifespans of the early patriarchs, which averaged 912 years of age (with Methuselah living up to 969 years), what I can see is the shortening of longevity down to Joseph son of Jacob, the last character whose death is recorded in Genesis, as reaching only 110 years of age. Such a testimony does not bode well for Charles Darwin, who advocated an upward evolutionary spiral from apes to Homo Sapiens with an increasing lifespan. Rather, the narration found in the fifth chapter of Genesis seems to give credit to the scientific principle of entropy.

Yet as I look in the mirror every morning, there is something incredibly unique - life. To be alive, to be conscious, and have the ability to make decisions. Considering that everything I see and touch is made up of molecules, itself an arrangement of atoms, with each atom consisting of a twofold nucleus of protons and neutrons, with the electron orbiting the nucleus, rather like a microscopic Solar System. The type of matter discerned by how many protons, neutrons and electrons in each atom, and how the molecule is made up on what these atoms are and how they are arranged, whether the matter at hand is a solid, a liquid, or gas. Yet as I perceive living things, including myself, what is it between lifeless bedrock, a boulder, sand on a beach, or for that matter, the metal of which a rotating cog of a functioning engine consists. And these have no life in themselves, yet I perceive three kinds of solid matter under the Sun - inanimate objects, plants - including trees, and all fauna. The type of thinking which I find rather striking. I feel pain, I am concious of the world around me - as with most, if not all other animals. Yet all Homo Sapiens like myself, I have emotions which is stimulated by both my thoughts and by my environment - what I can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell - these can all have an effect on my feelings. On top of this, I can read, write, and solve difficult mathematical problems. These three seem to be unique to us humans alone, with not even our "closest relatives" of the Primate can achieve.

Yet what about the wooden trunk and branches of a tree? It is inanimate, the wood can be cut and from it, items such as furniture can be made. When cut, the wood feels no pain, it does not protest like I would if and when threatened. It cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell, neither does it feel any emotion. The wood of the tree looks to be just as inanimate as a stone or a lump of iron. Yet at just the right time of the year the tree buds and puts out leaves and flowers, has the knowledge of pollination, and able to reproduce. And so the sapling, like a baby, puppy, or kitten, starts small and grows on its own accord. Although the baby, kitten, and puppy all need feeding by the mother, the sapling grows into a tree without any assistance, as if a higher I.Q. is credited to the tree through total and complete independence.

Yet everything consist of atoms. Everything! From the simple atom of the hydrogen gas to the fiendishly complexity of the DNA molecule found within every living cell - all consisting of atoms - a nucleus orbited by electrons with quite a volume of empty space between the orbiting electrons and the nucleus. If all the atoms making up my body were to collapse within themselves, with every electron actually touching the nucleus, then I would be reduced to the size of a grain of table salt! I, like everything else in the entire Universe, consist mostly of empty space!

Yet I have life. Every animal are lifeforms of its own kind, whether on land, in the water or in the air, all having an awareness of its own environment. So how can it be that one group of atoms can cause a lump of rock or metal to exist in its lifeless form, whilst another group of atoms makes up a living organism? What is life anyway? What is the real difference between me, who can express myself to others through writing, and that of the computer which will publish my work with a single click of the mouse? No matter how sophisticated robots of a future age might be, artificial intelligence will never match real intelligence, as robots don't have a soul as we all do, both human and animal alike. And what is the soul anyway? How can one mass of atoms possess a soul, whilst another doesn't? And when an animal dies, the rapid decay which follows - what would be the actual change of the atoms taking place within the corpse?

I am fully aware how much you dislike the Bible anyway. And there are parts which even I at first have found rather disturbing. Take the stoning of a man to death for collecting sticks on the Sabbath. It is found in Numbers 15:32-36. For many years I took in this situation as someone who simply placed his needs above the law of the land. Or to someone who has forgotten what day it was. Now I realise neither were the case. It was the final fruit of years of willing rebellion. This man hated God and hated his laws, maybe because he knew that he was unable to keep them. Throughout his life he must have been warned over and over again. First by his parents, then later by his colleagues. Then one day he decided to put God to the test. And he faced the consequences. But why such a harsh punishment? And I have to admit to myself that the penalty was harsh.

If he had gotten away with it, the rebellion would have rapidly spread across the whole nation, and the Sabbath would have been eventually forgotten throughout Israel. What I find amazing is that because the Sabbath was instituted in Israel by God himself, we enjoy the weekend to this present day. After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Sunday began to be observed as the day of worship. But Sunday was never the Sabbath. The Sabbath was for Israel only, who were told to stay at home to rest, and not to go out to worship. But as our Saturdays were meant to prepare us for Sunday, by the time Jesus was around, the Jews had the Day of Preparation which always preceded their Sabbaths. It was on a Day of Preparation when Jesus was crucified, but this preparation day was to precede the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Jewish Passover was also eaten. It was a special Sabbath, or "a high day" - John 19:31.

Which brings us why God gave the Sabbath to the Israelites in the first place. To commemorate the rest from six days of Creation. Since God himself rested and so to speak, was refreshed, so he wanted his own people to rest and be refreshed from their daily work. So each weekend, most of us are actually acknowledging God's Creation week. Then again, are you married? If so, then you are acknowledging the truthfulness of the Bible and its historicity, when God created Eve to be a helpmate and companion to Adam, both whom God declared as husband and wife. This event was endorsed as history by Jesus Christ himself, from whom salvation comes (Matthew 19:6, Genesis 2:21-25). Also Paul the Apostle acknowledged Adam as a historic figure (Romans 5:14) - and he was later imprisoned and executed for his faith in Jesus Christ, who he called, "the Second Adam" - Romans 5:12:21. One very important fact emerges here. If Adam and Eve had never existed, then the whole of the Christian faith can be discredited, because without Adam's fall into sin, the crucifixion of Christ could not have happened. The same fallacy applies to Theistic Evolution. If death existed among Adam's parents and throughout all of his ancestry, then the Resurrection of Christ would have been meaningless, and leading to the reason that it couldn't have ever happened.

The same as with the Fall itself. Adam and Eve made aprons out of fig leaves sawn together, a way of reconciling themselves to God by self effort, that is, by religion. God had totally disregarded their aprons and had an innocent beast slain in order to clothe them with its skin. Our need for clothing is not due to an inadequacy in human evolution, but a verification of the need of an innocent substitute to atone for our fall from innocence. Even animistic African and jungle tribes who go about topless in the tropics always wore some form of belt to cover their groin. Does it look as though our unwillingness to go out absolutely naked, even on a hot summer's day, is an exact parallel to the shame our first parents had immediately after their Fall, and had to hide behind a bush when God appeared, apparently physically? (Genesis 3:6-10).

These are the three issues we take for granted each day of our present lives: Weekends, Marriage, and Clothing - all three had their origins in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. And wary or not, we acknowledge the truthfulness and historicity of Holy Scripture every day in our lives through these three issues. Yet you insist that the Bible is nothing more than a book of myths.

I am aware how repulsive the Old Testament can look to be. Here a nation is led by God to invade Canaan and slaughter all the indigenous inhabitants. Dreadful, isn't it? Until I came to understand that the Canaanites were sacrificing their babies and toddlers to their pagan idols every day. Just imagine for a moment. A newborn is taken from its mother's breast by the priest, who is standing in front of a statue of a beast, probably a cow or some other animal, or some demon-like entity. In front of the image is a brazier of burning coals. He places the child, completely naked, onto the glowing embers. For a few moments, perhaps up to twenty or thirty seconds, the baby screams. Then it falls unconscious and dies, and the flames chars its body. And then imagine this taking place up and down the land every day. Then I begin to understand what an abomination to God such a practice really was, and had to be stopped. There was also the grave danger of the Israelites adopting such a practice, and during the days of Elijah, for example, child sacrifices were made to Baal by the Israelites, a sin which led to their exile to Assyria and to Babylon. On top of such abominations, many of the Canaanites were giants by comparison to the Israelites, and posed a threat of eliminating the Jewish nation from the Earth altogether. If that had happened, then Jesus Christ wouldn't have been able to come, for he could only come after the Covenant made by God himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Then finally, the bit which frustrates a great many church-goes, especially Roman Catholics, is how a sinner can be saved. If the word could be so misunderstood, it has to be the word Repent. In the original Greek, with which the whole of the New Testament is written, the word is Metaneo - to change your mind. What the Bible is asking you to do is to change your mind from thinking that this Jesus of Nazareth was an imposter, a mere good man or moral teacher - to a heart-belief that this Jesus is the Christ, the Jewish Messiah, risen physically from the dead, and by his death on the cross, atoned for all our sins, and by his Resurrection, had defeated death, and eternal life is given to everyone who believes. It is that simple. But around 386 AD St. Jerome, when translating the Bible into the Latin Vulgate, instead inserted another word for Repent, which means Do Penance. This changes everything, turning simple faith into religion - a system of infused grace through human merit and good works, and such grace being lost by committing a mortal sin - unless an act of penance is carried out by the believer.

I can understand what a sheer frustration all this is, and believe me, I was an atheist myself during my teenage years. I have found out by experience that any works added to faith is soul-destroying heresy. And that included the need to turn from sin in order to be saved instead of just believing that this Jesus from Nazareth is the risen Christ.

We may say that we have sinned against God, which is true of course, but very few realise that we, through Adam, were also sinned against. The serpent lied to Eve, and she was deceived. And Adam was taken in by the deception. I guess that's why God has made every effort to redeem us, but made no attempt to redeem the Devil or his hordes. The Old Testament is a demonstration of a fierce battle taking place between God and the invisible evil forces in the air. These forces had tried to do everything in their attempt to thwart the coming of Christ to make atonement for us. And these forces were defeated by his Resurrection. But they are still blinding everyone who refuse to believe, and trying to convince them, through Science or otherwise, that the Atonement made by Jesus Christ had never occurred.

But Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was born of a virgin, and was crucified, died, was buried, and three days later rose physically from the dead. And since God has done it all, all that remains is for you to believe in your heart.

Yours Faithfully,

Frank E. Blasi. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A Reincarnation Of Nimrod.

The RMS Titanic was the greatest cruise ship that was ever built in British maritime history, which was launched on 31 May 1911. At 269 metres, it was the longest of three Olympic ships which were built at the same time, the other two were RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic, all three owned by Star Line. Built in Belfast and registered at the port of Liverpool, it set off on its maiden voyage on April 10, 1912 for New York harbour.

The Titanic was no doubt the apex in epitome of the great British Empire. With First, Second, and Third Class passengers, a rather dynamic encapsulation of our national culture, with first class bathed in luxury and looked on with special favour by the crew, whilst third class accommodation was more plain and lacking of that special attention from crew members with which all first class passengers enjoyed. It was also boasted that the structure of the liner was so sound, particularly of the main hull, that not even God was able to sink it. The attitudes of sheer pride, optimism and self assurance were incorporated into its design was also the epitome on how the British felt about their homeland and Empire. Perhaps even on how it looks from the outside counted high in importance as well, as the fourth funnel was non-functional, so I read once. Instead it was added to enhance the ship's status and majesty. Indeed, the unsinkable Titanic was the perfect encapsulation of the indestructible British Empire.  

Of course, we all know what happened during the early hours of April 14, 1912. A solid mass of frozen water happened to drift far further south from the Arctic than most other icebergs. The bow of the ship was heading at full speed towards it, and had the ship remained on course, chances that the sharp edge of the bow might have cut right through the ice, leaving minimal damage to the hull, and successfully docking at New York before the need for inspection and maintenance. Instead, panic gripped the crew members responsible and swerved the vessel to the left in an attempt to miss the iceberg. Wretched things those floating lumps of ice has always been, there was an underwater ledge or protrusion of some kind which tore into the unsinkable hull, and the water gushed in.

Oh such an irony of it all! The very vessel even God was unable to sink. And it was destroyed on its very first cross-Atlantic sailing - not by military might of an underwater torpedo launched by an enemy submarine, neither by a drifting mine, but by a lump of frozen water, itself in the process of melting into the ocean as it drifted south. As the encapsulation of the British Empire sank into the dark depths, up to 1,500 of its passengers, instead of being greeted by New York's Statue of Liberty, they found themselves standing at the throne of their Maker to face Judgement.

Yet I can't help but hear the shaking of the leaves, the pages of the Bible. Fierce pride, self-confidence and optimism resulted in the post-Diluvian population to amass and build a city and a tower which would reach to heaven (Genesis 11:1-9) - an epitome of human greatness and an attempt to reach immortality through their own efforts and without God. I can't help seeing strong similarities between the Tower of Babel and the RMS Titanic - the only difference was that whilst one attempted to reach the sky from the ground, the other - in a sense a tower floating horizontally attempting to cross an ocean, both came to their end before their initial destinies were fulfilled. It is to be noted that there was nothing wrong in these projects in themselves. From the dawn of history, construction and ocean navigation has always been the need for survival. But in these cases, motivation was the cause of such downfall.

And so I discussed with Alex whilst watching a BBC 2 documentary, Brexit, earlier in the week. This one-hour long programme was a series of interviews conducted by BBC correspondent Laura Kuenssberg, at both politicians and to the public in the streets. Most intriguing was an answer delivered by an elderly lady in Yorkshire when asked about last year's Referendum. Although I can't recall exactly her answer on a word-by-word basis, what's is quoted here is a good approximation:
I cannot understand why our Government has got us to vote in a referendum when we are not educated enough to know the facts behind such a decision we had to make.
Of all debates I have ever listened or read about in connection with this issue, nothing so far has ever eclipsed such a statement! And yet she was one of many who voted to leave the European Union.

What a contrast that statement was in comparison with one interviewee, former Education Minister Michael Gove. A devout Brexit advocate, he insisted that the UK should now walk away from the Union with no strings attached. When asked by the reporter of any adverse consequence of such a move, his answer was that we must be optimistic and be confident for the future of our country, for with our own efforts (without God) we will succeed with world trade without the need for European Union membership. Judging by his self confident and optimistic tone and attitude, I have wondered whether Michael Gove is a reincarnation of Nimrod, the ancient governor behind the Tower of Babel project!

Tory ex Education Secretary Michael Gove.

And on the same evening of the documentary, a casual browse on Facebook came up with a post by atheist Richard Dawkins. What he said was in a away a strong rebuke to Michael Gove and his fellow Brexit supporters, backing what our dear lady in Yorkshire has said, that how can we seal the fate of our children and grandchildren with such a future without knowing any of possible consequences, and on top of this, without any hope of reversing the decision in the future, or if ever the Union would ever accept the UK back into membership. And the worst aspect of all this will be that our children must face this brave new world alone, after all of those who voted out are dead and gone. So says Richard Dawkins.

If there was one occasion I had to agree wholeheartedly with such a persistent atheist, it has to be on this issue. For here is one occasion when Dawkins made far better sense than many "dumb" Christians who voted to leave, without proper knowledge and without many years left to live! And talking about "dumb Christians" - that is what people like Richard Dawkins perceive us to be who believe in the Young Earth Creation as historical. He did admit though, that he has more respect for a Young Earth Creationist who believe in the historicity of Holy Scripture, than he does for those who believe in Theistic Evolution - an attempt by Christians to make better sense of the Gospel to unbelievers.

Websites are popping up on the Internet, both on Google and on You-Tube, ridiculing us Creationists in believing that we live on a flat Earth. Yet despite of that, I don't believe that Dawkins is assuming we're thinking that the Earth is flat. In the forty-plus years of being a Christian myself, I have never come across a fellow Christian who believe in a flat Earth. But I have come across many, many Christian graduates who believe in Theistic Evolution. Yet lately, I have been watching videos of professing Christians advocating that the Earth is flat in accordance to Biblical revelation. There is a growing number of these videos which are gaining views by the thousands. These people are not hipsters or eccentrics who dress funny. They are professionals who dress for work in suit and tie, therefore a cause for respect. One flat-Earth advocate, I believe, is an airline pilot. As they insist that the Bible teaches a flat Earth under a solid dome known as the firmament, and is watched by scoffing unbelievers, I'm pretty sure that it won't be too long for an average Christian to be the target of relentless teasing and ridicule by scoffers, together with their rejection of the Bible.

Ridiculed by unbelievers who knows that the earth is spherical. So does the average unbeliever who uses the flat-Earth theory to ridicule the Bible, to deny the existence of God, and to trust in themselves, in science, in a strong economy, and their optimism for the future. To them, Science is their saviour, not Jesus Christ. And so is their belief in a strong, independent economy and in a rosy future.

I find this fascinating! I can't help but marvel at such a scenario.  A life without God whilst mocking the truth of the Bible, political optimism, self confidence, reaching to the skies by self effort, science as saviour, pride in nationalism and glory in national sovereignty, the Tower of Babel, the Titanic - I could well be asking: Are all these mental and emotional attitudes - from pride in national sovereignty and Empire to flat-Earth advocates - a fruit of an adverse spirit in the air bent on its attempt to keep us all from the truth of the Gospel and the glory of God? And could this adverse spirit be blinding us from the real reason why we are here: to know God and enjoy eternal life, which is in his Son Jesus Christ?

Hostility and ridicule against Holy Scripture is alarming. Why this hunch against the Bible - hatred even? Even if the Bible itself does teach a spherical Earth. For example, Isaiah 40:22 says that his throne is above the circle of the Earth. So these scoffers use this verse in their insistence that the Bible teach a flat Earth. But as a child, whenever I was able to see the Sun safely through a certain type of cloud cover, I was convinced that our nearest star was a flat disc. It looks so much like a flat disk. As for the moon, when full, it too looks like a flat disc. And during the first and last quarters, when the moon was only half lit, it resembled a white pancake carefully folded in half! The Bible writer's view was more understanding. A sphere will always look circular, no matter from which angle it is viewed from. Then Job 26:7 says that the Earth is round and hangs upon nothing. That is exactly what Neil Armstrong saw when he stood on the moon in 1969. My apologies to the scoffer, but the Bible and Science are far more true to each other than these sceptics makes out to be.

Earth taken from Moon's surface, 1969.

Science does not refute Holy Scripture, rather it backs it. Another example of this are the Levitical laws about sex. Science has discovered that promiscuity encourages sexual-transmitted diseases. This form of illness can be extremely painful and is also the cause of infertility. Also children born of mothers with such diseases were often arrived blind or crippled. In the Old Testament, God's intention was to spare us from such unnecessary suffering. And so did Paul to Christian believers at Corinth. He instructed them to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:12-20), because these Christians were bedding with prostitutes - a cause for Christ-dishonouring diseases which are fully backed up by science.

Hostility towards God and the Bible is totally unnecessary. One of the greatest verses in the Bible is Luke 11:13. Here are the words straight out of the mouth of Jesus Christ himself:

If you, being evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Receiving the Holy Spirit by the asking of one who is evil! There is no prerequisites. Jesus didn't even say that you must first believe in Him, although such a level of faith must be there in order to ask. There are, in my own opinion, three great passages in the Bible which encapsulate the whole Gospel: Luke 11:13 as just quoted, John 3:14-17, and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. Then the rest of the New Testament backs up into changing your mind from not believing to believing in your heart that this Jesus of Nazareth is the risen Christ:- will lead to salvation and reconciliation with God. It is so simple. I find it very puzzling that with great promises such as these, one can be so hostile and unbelieving.

National pride may seem like a virtue to those who advocate it, belief in a spherical Earth is common sense endorsed by Science, but only faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour make the believer fully whole, worthy and purposeful.