30 October 2008

Atheist evangelism

A group of people in Britain are engaging in "atheist evangelism" by sponsoring bus advertisments with the slogan "There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life".

Simon Barrow: People are as likely to be sceptical about the 'atheist bus' as they are about being sold religion:
This week the 'atheist bus' project finally gets wheels. After scrambling around for a few thousand quid, the money has finally come in to perambulate an inspiring message ('There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life') around our streets, bringing merriment to millions...

To those without a huge vested interest in promoting or dissing religion, this probably looks a slightly odd initiative. Frankly, the slogan is a bit anodyne. It's the non-believing equivalent of 'God may very well exist. Now have a nice day'. But it will probably still be enough to upset counter-evangelists of the kind who like to tell everybody they are going to hell for not subscribing to their particular doctrine, and who think atheism is very, very naughty.

Simon Barrow also comments about it in his blog FaithInSociety, and several others have also commented on it. In fact, so many people have commented on it that further commentary might seem to be redundant.

I tend to agree with Bishop Alan’s Blog: London Atheist ads: Shome mishtake?, when he says: "Perhaps this particular ad is more agnostic than atheist, and we still have to await a genuinely atheist poster ad."

But what interests me are the values expressed by the ad, which are assumed rather than explicitly promoted. They are not really atheist values, because there can be no specifically atheist values, since atheism is the absence of something. Atheists may have all kinds of values, and all kinds of reasons for holding them, but the values and the reasons for holding them owe nothing to atheism. Marxism-Leninism, for example, is strongly atheist, but the values it espouses are not based on atheism, but on a particular theory of economics and history. Ayn Rand, who detested Marxism-Leninism, and proposed an alternative, capitalist ideology, was also an atheist. One could multiply examples, but the point is clear -- there are no specifically atheist values.

I don't know whether the sponsors of the bus ad are calling what they are doing "evangelism". But "evangelism" means "spreading good news", and the sponsors clearly believe their message is good news and they are spreading it, so it is evangelism of a sort.

But what is the message that they intend to convey? And what is the message that people receive?

I can't speak for others, but I can say what message I receive from the ad. Whether it is what the sponsors intended to convey, I don't know. But if any of them read this, perhaps they can tell me if I've got it right or wrong. And if the intended message doesn't get across, then it means that there is either something wrong with the sender, or with the message, or with the recipient.

So what is the good news?

"Behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy: There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life".

And that sounds like another message I've been hearing a lot on TV lately:

"You only have one life, so make it a full one with world-class entertainment."

Both messages seem to have the same underlying values, the same basic message:

Eat, drink, and be entertained, for tomorrow we die.

The advertisements are being placed on British buses, so they will be read by rich and well-fed Westerners. Simon Barrow notes elsewhere (Cold water, buses and shared humanity | Ekklesia) that it raises interesting issues about "the extent to which the philosophy reflected in the bus slogan - ‘There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’ - is widely shared (much more than many church leaders seem aware), and so on."

And yes, that philosophy is widely shared in prosperous Western societies, even if that prosperity is under threat of a recession.

And we see on TV how people "enjoy life" in Britain -- teenagers getting drunk. They send each other inane messages on their cell (mobile) phones, with scarcely a thought about the fact that in parts of the Congo armed groups are fighting to control access to coltan, one of the ingredients that makes such "enjoyment" possible, and that people, including teenagers and young children are being enslaved or killed as a result.

Will the message on British buses come across to people in strife-torn Congo as good news, so that they can "enjoy life", and have a full one, with "world-class entertainment"?

Oh yes, the message, the philosophy, of the slogan is widely shared in the rich West.

So how do I interpret it?

There is probably no God, so go ahead and enjoy your life, even if it is at the expense of other people. There is probably no God who cares about them, so you don't need to care about them either.

Forty years ago I was studying for a Christian doctrine exam, and instead of reading the text books for the course I read a book written by a Methodist minister in Zambia, Colin Morris. It was called Include me out: confessions of an ecclesiastical coward, and this is how it began:

The other day a Zambian dropped dead not far from my front door. The pathologist said he'd died of hunger. In his shrunken stomach were a few leaves and what appeared to be a ball of grass. And nothing else.

Colin Morris's book wasn't aimed at rich well-fed atheist evangelists, but rather at rich well-fed Christian ones, and at ecclesiastical bureaucrats, and he challenged them to think about how the message they put across, in words or deeds, in what they did and what they didn't do, could have come across as good news to "an ugly little man with a shrunken belly, whose total possessions, according to the police, were a pair of shorts, a ragged shirt, and an empty Biro pen."

There is probably no God, so it doesn't really matter if your leaders, using your taxes, rain down bombs on people in Yugoslavia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, just so long as you continue to enjoy a full life, with world-class entertainment. There is probably no God who cares about them, so don't let their plight interfere with your enjoyment of life.

Some of the things Colin Morris said 40 years ago are just as valid today, and they apply to all rich well-fed evangelists, atheist as well as Christian, including me.

Much theological writing is a highly elaborate conspiracy against that little man with the shrunken belly and his skeletal brethren. It is an exercise in endless qualification, dedicated to showing why we cannot take the words of the Galilean Peasant at their face value or follow His example simply. Let some Manchester bus conductor murmur that he can follow the words of Jesus but cannot follow the words of some of the men who followed Him, and he will earn himself a lecture. This would be to the effect that Jesus cannot be understood except within the whole framework of the History of Salvation and that he did not actually say many of the words reported of him in the Gospels, so he must take our words for what is fact and fancy, because we know!

The biggest problem for Christians with the philosophy behind the bus advertising is not that it is unacceptable, but that its message of hedonism is accepted all too easily by so many Christians. Again, to quote Colin Morris:

Our failure towards the little people of the earth is more than a lapse of simple charity for which sincere contrition can atone. When our Churches have crumbled and our vestments have rotted and the wind blows through the ruins of our ecclesiastical structures, all that will stand and have eternal significance are creative acts of compassion -- the effectual signs of the presence of the Kingdom.

Because the Gospel is simple, the judgement is immediate. It awaits no historical summing up of all things. It can be put plainly and in first-person terms. I saw a starving man and there was no gnawing pain in my belly. I saw a hunchback and my own back did not ache. I watched a pathetic procession of refugees being herded back and forth sleeplessly, and I slept well that night.

29 October 2008

Gun culture - Child killed at creche

The gun culture kills again -- is a cell phone worth a child's life?

The Times - Child killed at creche:
Police spokesman Captain John Maluleke said yesterday’s killing was triggered when a 15-year-old boy was robbed of his cellphone by an 21-year-old man at the Steytler Square park in Westdene, off Park Lane North and Fourth Avenue, while walking home.

“The schoolboy ran home and called his father, who was armed with a gun, and they drove around the area looking for his assailant. After spotting the robber, the father chased him and a shot was fired, accidentally hitting the child at the Sunbeam Creche.

“The 47-year-old father [of the robbery victim] has been charged with murder. The robber was caught by police and will be charged with robbery,” Maluleke said. Both men are expected to appear in court tomorrow.

28 October 2008


Up at 4:10 am, woken by sound of gunfire. There were about four shots, and the dogs didn't bark, then about a minute or two later, four more shots, very close together, as if from an automatic weapon. Then the dogs barked. After a few minutes a police helicopter was circling overhead. It's still circling as I write.

Heard something similar on 5 Dec 1996, when it sounded like a minor war. Turned out to be an attempted heist of a security van at the freeway interchange about 2 km away. This is much closer. Back then there was automatic gunfire for more than a minute, and when daylight came there were empty cartridge cases all over the road verge. This time there were not more than 10 shots altogether.

Update: it's now 4:45, and the helicopter seems to have gone.

27 October 2008

Memories, or not, as the case may be

Thanks to Quaker Pagan Reflections: Memories and Not for this meme...

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now (even if we don't speak often or have never met), please post a comment with a completely made up, fictional memory of you and me.

It can be anything you want - good or bad - but it has to be fake.

When you're finished, post this little paragraph in your blog and see what your friends come up with...

Humanist weddings grow in popularity in Scotland | Ekklesia

Perhaps Comte's religion of humanity has at last come of age.

Humanist weddings grow in popularity in Scotland | Ekklesia:
The recent growth in humanist marriages in Scotland means they have overtaken Episcopal ceremonies for the first time, say organisers of the ceremonies. Since they were first made legal their number rose from 82 in 2005 to 710 in 2007.

The Humanist Society of Scotland (HSS) now says it expects to marry over 1,000 couples this year and predicts it will help 1,500 more to tie the knot in 2009, reports Scotland on Sunday newspaper.

24 October 2008

Study finds more U.S. Orthodox Christian converts - USATODAY.com

Study finds more U.S. Orthodox Christian converts - USATODAY.com:
Although Orthodox churches were historically immigrant communities, the study found that nine out of 10 parishioners are now American-born. Thousands of members had converted to the faith as adults: 29% of Greek Orthodox are converts, as are 51% of the OCA.

'I would not have expected this many,' said Alexei Krindatch, the Orthodox Institute's research director. 'My sense was that in Greek Orthodox, it would be around 15%, and OCA maybe one-third.'

It would be interesting to see how that correlates with the language used in services. I suspect that more OCA parishes use English in their services.

The Times - Planners have turned our cities into toilets

The Times - Planners have turned our cities into toilets:
In Jo’burg, as soon as people leave their homes, criss-crossing the length and breadth of townships and suburbs, they do not have anywhere to go to the toilet. Work is the only place. But with 27 percent of people in Gauteng unemployed, many are job-seeking, passing empty hours or visiting friends. Hours pass in the public realm.

People are now accustomed to creating their own, impromptu urinals. They are desperate. Or they are totally habituated to it and may not bother to look for a toilet.

Since I retired, I rarely go downtown. But when I went to work by bus, there was a public toilet in Church Square in the centre of Pretoria. It's still there, admittedly not very well-maintained, but it works.

The problem in Johannesburg seems to be a worldwide one. A few years ago we visited the UK, and travelled around visiting friend and family and being tourists. In London, where i had worked several months as a bus driver 40 years before, one thing that was noticiable was the lack of public loos. Forty years ago you could buy The good loo guide in any book shop. There were loos at all the railway stations, and in many public places. If you wanted to go to the loo before a train journey, you could. But 40 years later, we couldn't find them. Some stations had a prefab plastic contraption with space for two people, and it cost a pound to enter them. That's about R15, where it used to cost a penny.

It seems that now public planners expect people to piss on the platform, or piss in the street.

I've been reading Samuel Pepys's diary, and it stirred up my interest in the period, so I've also been reading Ronald Hutton's The Restoration, which covers the period of the plague in 1665, and the great fire of London in 1666. One of the legacies of the Victorians was the idea of public sanitation -- that local authorities had the task of seeing that there were working drains and and public loos and other things for the prevention of the spread of disease. And Johannesburg, which was basically developed and planned as a Victorian city, got all these thing as soon as it was clear that it was becoming more than a temporary mining camp. Apartheid building regulations actually doubled the number of loos that had to be put in public buildings.

But in the 21st century, it seems we are expected to piss in the street.

And I suspect that neoliberalism is to blame.

23 October 2008

Brian Cloughley: Kid Killers are Barbarians

Brian Cloughley: Kid Killers are Barbarians: "People who kill kids, for whatever reason and no matter in what manner, are disgusting, murderous, cowardly barbarians."

I take that to include aerial bombing, suicide bombing and abortion.

Hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace

The politics of abortion: The Moral Minefield

Matt Stone has asked for an informal synchroblog on the politics of abortion -- Glocal Christianity: Abortion, Politics and Christianity:
Is abortion the only political issue that should count for Christians as we decide who to vote for in elections? Should the church be a single issue community?

Beyond that, what does it mean to be pro-life? I am pro-life, but I ask, is there a broader way of looking at the issue, one that includes care for the lives of 'born' children as well as 'unborn' children?

And Janet Woodlock writes in Secret Women's Business: The Moral Minefield:
debate has raged over the U.S. election on Alan Hirsch’s blog, a fascinating glimpse into the passionate and divisive world of American politics. I’ve been reminded of this passage because it is the closest thing to an abortion in the biblical record. (ripping babies out of the wombs of mothers would cause the death of mothers in a world without surgery or antibiotics, so I don’t think those passages count).

I noticed that a lot of Americans who were anti abortion said they were going to vote Republican in the last couple of elections for that reason. It seems that they were conned by slick political rhetoric from politicians who were unable or unwilling to fulfil their "anti-abortion" promises. Has the number of abortions in the US diminished significantly over the last 8 years?

If I were American, I would regard abortion as a non-issue in the election. Regardless of what politicians may promise, you can rest assured that if elected, they are not going to do anything about it.

And as for wars, when one party was in power the US bombed Baghdad, and when the other party was in power the US bombed Belgrade. So both the major US parties are bloodthirsty warmongering abortionists.

"Put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man, for there is no help in them" (Psalm 2)

In the Christians and Society forum we recently had a straw poll on "How pro-life are you?" and found that few people were consistently prolife.

The thing that most agreed was immoral was reckless or negligent driving.

On the question of the morality of killing, whether in war or by abortion, it seems to me, as an Orthdox Christian, that in these matters Western theology is legalistic. In Western theology "justification" seems to be central to debates about salvation, and everything else. Is homicide justified or justifiable? Is a war "just" (and theologians have laid down criteria of a "just" war). Are we "justified" by grace? And if so, is it through faith, and if so, is it through faith alone? Is the grace imputed or imparted?

While "justification" is not absent from Orthodox conceptions of salvation, it does not seem to be as centraql as it does in Western theology.

And similarly, Orthodox theology does not seem to have any conception of a "just" war. All wars are the result of human sin, and no killing is justified. The Orthodox Church, however, is not a "peace church", in the sense of the Quakers or Mennonites. Many Orthodox saints were soldiers. But killing in war is not thereby "justified". It's not OK. A soldier who kills in battle cannot say "It was a just war, and therefore that killing is not a sin I need to confess, because it was justifiable homicide and therefore a righteous act." The canons of the Orthodox Church require soldiers who kill in war to confess that as a sin and do penance.

We live in a sinful world, a world in which wars happen. Wars are part of the fallenness of the sinful world and cannot be "justified". Killing in war is a sin to be confessed, no matter how "just" the cause for which the war was fought.

And so with deliberate abortion.

One can come up with all kinds of rationalisations, in order to try to "justify" it -- to "save the life of the mother" or for some other reason. But none of these rationalisations make it OK. It is still a sin that needs to be confessed. But there is also no sin so great that it cannot be forgiven. Abortion is a sin, but it is not the only sin, and it is not the worst sin. Perhaps "single issue" voting on this kind of thing is just as sinful.

22 October 2008

What will Caliban do next?

Zero Plus Zero Equals Zero - by Philip Giraldi:
If the next president is John McCain, one might well expect a continuation of the Bush Doctrine, with its disregard of world opinion and its emphasis on preemption and the use of the military to solve complex international problems. If it is Barack Obama, he will hopefully have a predilection to negotiate before bombing and a greater willingness to listen to the views of America's foreign allies. But on key issues such as the Middle East, where Obama is advised by neocon-lite Dennis Ross and other Clinton administration holdovers like Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke, one can expect little change. There might even be a regrettable tendency to demonstrate an Obama administration's seriousness by picking a 'small crappy little country and throwing it against the wall' just to make a point, something that leading neocon Michael Ledeen has recommended (hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace.

The first decade of the 21st century has been marked by the Caliban versus Taliban wars. At least that is what it seems like, in the light of Robert Browning's poem, Caliban upon Setebos:

Thinketh, such shows nor right nor wrong in Him
Nor kind, nor cruel: He is strong and Lord.

Am strong myself compared to yonder crabs
That march now from the mountain to the sea;
Let twenty pass, and stone the twenty-first,
Loving not, hating not, just choosing so.
Say, the first straggle that boasts purple spots
Shall join the file, one pincer twisted off
Say, this bruised fellow shall receive a worm,
and two worms he whose nippers end in red;
As it likes me each time, I do; so He.

And Caliban seems to be an appropriate metaphor for the USA -- much strength, little intelligence, arbitrarily throwing some crappy little country against a wall like a crab, just to make a point, or even to make no point at all, as in the case of Iraq.

21 October 2008

Will the real maverick please stand up

American political terminology is sometimes lost in translation, and perhaps sometimes lost even in American English.

New York City News Service: Mavericks Lost in Translation:
Both Senator McCain and Governor Palin also routinely describe themselves as mavericks – a term said to have originated from 19th Century Texas statesman Samuel Augustus Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle.

Katz defined maverick as “a quintessentially made-in-America word for someone who often goes his own way."

But John McCain and Sarah Palin still seem, to most observers, to be branded Republican, unlike Colin Powell, the true maverick, who felt free to follow a different herd. And after being forced to destroy his own reputation by lying publicly for the party cause, who can blame him?

Colin Powell – The Real Republican Maverick : Clips & Comment:
What did Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell do when Dick Cheney and George Tenet fed him bad information and sent him to the United Nations a la Adlai Stevenson? He waited an appropriate amount of time because he’s a gentleman, he packed up Dick Armitage, and left the Administration that stabbed him in the back and left him out there hanging. Now that was Mavericky. Not relying on the broken down Republican Party, Powell took his own counsel this weekend and endorsed Barack Obama for president.

Someone in the alt.usage.english newsgroup remarked that terms like "maverick" and "renegade" seemed to have favourable connotations in the USA, at least among some sections of the population, whereas in other parts of the world they were viewed more negatively, with their implications of disloyalty.

It also casts more doubt on the research findings of Jonathan Haidt, who said that conservatives placed more value on loyalty as a moral value than liberals do (see Notes from underground: The moral high ground -- or is it?), because it seems that in the US it is people who like to portray themselves as conservative who have a positive view of terms like "maverick" and "renegade", where the former means someone with no particular loyalty, and the latter means a turncoat -- someone who is positively disloyal.

20 October 2008

Cellphone cameras

I was playing around with my cellphone camera a couple of days ago, late one night when we stopped at a garage to buy some cold drinks. While my wife was in the shop I took some available light photos with my cell phone just to see what happened.

Here is the garage forecourt:

I then rested the camera on the steering wheel and took the car instrument panel, less than a foot away. I expected an out-of focus underexposed blur (it was lit only by the forecourt lighting), but the result was actually quite readable.

I'm impressed.

For those interested in such things the phone is a Nokia 2760, which I think is pretty near the bottom of the range. I got it free when I switched my account from MTN to Vodacom at the beginning of the year, but have only just worked out how to get the photos off the phone, so I hadn't used the camera much.

Tim's Blog: "Better than Church?"

Tim Norwood (a Church of England vicar) asks if blogging is better than church.

Tim's Blog: "Better than Church?":
A friend of mine (who is probably reading this) also commented that reading the blog was 'better than going to church' - which I do take as a compliment, but it does raise some interesting questions. To what extent can the blogsphere provide opportunities to 'be' church?

A few years ago, I was quite interested in the idea of on-line church and a few of us began to think about how to do it. We started with cell church methodology and looked at ways to do this. I even bought the 'cybercell' url (and still own it). When the diocese put money into cutting edge ministries and launched iChurch I was seriously tempted to apply for the job (which unfortunatley was part-time). It's been interesting to watch iChurch develop in similar directions to CyberCell - which never got off the ground because I didn't have enough time to invest in it...

And he has some quite interesting thoughts on the topic.

Some of his comments made sense to me. Among other things he said that reading his bishop's blog made him feel closer to his bishop. And yes, blogging is a way of sharing thoughts with people one doesn't see every day, and allows one to communicate with people who are geographically out of reach.

But there are also limitations in blogging. Comments allow some interaction, but it is not inherently an interactive medium. It is basically a one to many medium. Some have tried to overcome the limitations by having synchroblogs -- many people blogging on the same topic at the same time, but it is still a collection of individual viewpoints. Blogging remains communication without community, and therefore cannot be regarded as a form of church, or "fresh expressions" of church, much less a substitute for church. Though I suppose a lot depends on what you regard as church. If your model of church is the Protestant "preacher-congregation" one, then yes, blogging can be much the same thing. If you go to church primarily to hear sermons, then yes, you can just as easily read them on blogs -- but is that all that church is about?

Online worship and prayer, however, seem to me to be an impossibility. But again, that may depend on your understanding of worship. It seems to me that some people regard worship as a kind of holy sing song, and "worship leader" means someone who leads singing -- a kind of combination of a choir director and a cheer leader. But even if that were one's understanding of worship, could you do it online?

The computer on which I am writing this has no speakers connected. I don't listen to podcasts or watch videos, partly because I'm often surfing the web at 3 am and don't want to wake the family, and partly because I can't afford the bandwidth. But if I were to join in singing hymns at 3:00 am the family would soon be very annoyed.

19 October 2008

AlterNet: How Wall Street's Scam Artists Turned Home Mortgages Into Economic WMDs

Those who caused the Wests financial crisis are now amking a fortune in consulting fees explaining how they did it.

AlterNet: How Wall Street's Scam Artists Turned Home Mortgages Into Economic WMDs:
The alphabet soup of exotic investments that represent the immediate cause of the banking mess is so complex that many of those 'innovative' financiers responsible for bringing the global economy to the brink of collapse are now making a fortune in consulting fees explaining just what the hell it is that they created. According to the Financial Times, Robert Reoch, the London banker who may be responsible for creating the first of the now-infamous debt-based securities, is now 'swamped by investors who want to extricate themselves from derivatives-linked messes, or simply to understand the products that came out of the past few years of intense financial innovation.' The Washington Post reported that Joe Cassano, the financial products manager 'whose complex investments led to (AIG's) near collapse,' is raking in $1 million per month in consulting fees from the ailing financial giant to help sort out the toxic sludge on (and off) the bank's books.

Bring back the building societies, I say.

18 October 2008

Forcing priests to wear robes 'absurd', says theologian - Telegraph

Forcing priests to wear robes 'absurd', says theologian - Telegraph:
Clergy should not have to wear robes during services because such rules are 'absurd in the 21st century', according to a leading theologian.

Garments such as the cassock and surplice are a form of 'power dressing' which reinforce class divisions and prevent the wearer getting the Lord's message across, said the Rev Andrew Atherstone.

In a report titled Clergy Robes and Mission Priorities he called on the Church of England to allow ministers and parishioners to decide what dress code was appropriate.

[schori_technicolor_yawn.jpg]Hat (aye, well, mmm) tip to Father David MacGregor of Port Elizabeth, who adds, in his own blog Contact Online Weblog: "And when, O when, will we see the last of those absurd hats ?"

Anglican Priest Father David Heron comments: "It is well known that evangelical clergy don't like wearing clerical robes because they don't believe in the priesthood, and they like to pretend they're laymen. Now a raving Protestant says they should be abolished altogether! Crazy"

And I think, crikey, the 21st century? Have we reached it already? What a surprise!

And my mind goes back 40 years to a previous generation who said much the same thing as the Rev. Andrew Atherstone. The only difference was that it was the 20th and not the 21st century, and they weren't British Evangelicals, but Dutch Roman Catholics.

When I was studying in the UK in 1966-67 I spent the Christmas vac with some Dutch Augustinians in Breda and Nijmegen. And one of the ways in which I thought they were quite kinky was that they held views like those of the Rev (isn't Rev a bit 19th century?) Andrew Atherstone -- that their religious habits were a bit passe in the 20th century, and so they got all up to date by wearing business suits.

A friend of mine from England came and joined me for a week, and remarked that as the Dutch religious were abandoning habits for business suits, just the previous week he's seen a DJ on a British TV show wearing a monastic habit. These Dutch monastics were so desperately trying to be with it that they were quite without it.

We persuaded one of the Dutch Augustinians to put on his habit specially for a photo.

The previous summer the British satirical magazine Private Eye was advertising T-shirts with "Jesus saves" and "God is Love" printed on them, and John Lennon appeared on the front page of the Daily Mirror wearing one. I ordered a few, and persuaded the Dutch Augustinians to wear them with their business suits.

Oh yes, and the "Karl Marx" one I was wearing also came from Private Eye

But as for John Lennon and the Beatles, by the time I was staying with the Dutch Augustinians, they looked like this:

As we used to say back then: Dress happy.

As for me, I'm just glad that Orthodox clergy are not required to wear that most ludicrous of articles of attire, the dog-collar.

Oil prices are dropping -- the sky is falling

Anja Merret puts her finger on something that has been puzzling me recently too: why we are told that falling oil prices is a sign of depression. Six months ago we were told that rising oil prices would increase the cost of basic goods and services, and make the poor poorer. Suddenly it's become a Bad Thing, in media reporting, at least.

anja merret - chatting to my generation � Hollywood has moved to Wall Street:
During the past months the media has been reporting that the USA and UK are in a recession. However, since mid September ‘Father Christmas’ came early for the media, as the ‘Credit Quake’ took over. It was a much greater disaster to ride and make headlines with than with something as silly as a recession.

This is how it went, more or less. The financial markets took a huge tumble. Bad lending practices as well as some nasty rumours led to a few banks pleading poverty. Liquidity crunch was the reason given for this. Bad management decisions might have been a reason as well, one wonders. So the governments of the developed world pumped money into the affected banks and the financial market at an astonishing rate.

Then the oil price fell from an economy killing high of just under $150 per barrel. It’s now fluttering around the $80 mark. Suddenly this was bad news. Really? This tumbling oil price, from levels only supported by the greed of the oil traders and producers, was perceived to be a disaster. What? It’s almost unimaginable to think that anybody would consider a falling oil price to be bad news.

I think Anja Merret has put a finger on something that has puzzled a lot of people; well, it certainly puzzled me.

I'm all in favour of reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and finding alternative sources of energy. Finite resources will not last for ever, and when they're gone, they're gone. So when oil prices doubled earlier in the year, I thought that might be taken as a salutary reminder of the urgency of the need for finding alternative energy sources.

But, as Anja Merret points out, it is suddenly, in some quarters at least, being interpreted as sending a quite different message, and one wonders why.

17 October 2008

Forced conversion to Islam in the UK?

It seems as though the Westminster City Council in the UK is forcing Christian children to be brought up with Muslim families.

St. Mark's London:
We, the Coptic Community in the UK, petition the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, the Rt. Hon. Ed Balls, MP to consider the placement of 3 Coptic Christian children , by Westminster City Council, with a Muslim foster family. Section 22 of the Children’s Act 1989, sub-section(5) states that the local authority, in making any decision, has a general duty to give due consideration to the child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and linguistic background. The placement of those 3 children has failed to support their racial, cultural, linguistic and religious identity. There is evidence that it is seriously undermining their religious beliefs and we are gravely concerned about the confusion of identity of those looked after children.

It sounds a bit strange to me. Is this really happening? Or is it actually all part of an Anglo-American plot to eradicate Christianity in the Near/Middle East, and in people of Near/Middle Eastern descent (the Christian population of Iraq has halved since the US-led invasion in 2003).

15 October 2008

The bully state

Yet more evidence of moral degeneration. Compassion seems to be in short supply.

Daily Star: Fine for sick lad:
A BOY of 12 was sick as a parrot last night – after being fined �50 for vomiting in the street.

Bradley Brooks was returning home from a birthday party when he started feeling unwell.

He put his plastic drink bottle on a telephone junction box and was sick. But he was then stopped by community wardens who issued him with a fine.

Bradley, of Grimsby, Lincs, said: “I thought they were going to ask me if I needed any help – but instead they fined me.”

Sounds like child abuse to me. Hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace

14 October 2008

An integrated transport system for Gauteng

An integrated transport system for Gauteng came one step closer with the establishment of the Gauteng Transport Management Authority, and the announcement of a single ticketing system being developed for public transport in Gauteng.

city of johannesburg - One ticket system plan for Gauteng:
A SINGLE ticket system is being rolled out that will make using public transport across Gauteng a whole lot easier.

The system, similar to London's Oyster Card - a form of electronic ticketing used on public transport services within the Greater London area - is being rolled out by the Gauteng Transport Management Authority (GTMA), a new transport management body.

'The single ticketing system will see travellers being transported seamlessly and with much ease around the province,' said Eezi Raboroko, the chief director of transportation management in the province, at the GTMA launch, on Thursday, 9 October.

This is something that has been long overdue, and I wonder about the timing of the announcement -- just after the removal of Mbhazima Shilowa as Premier of Gauteng. It has been very much Shilowa's baby, and he is one of those who pushed hardest for it.

13 October 2008

Ping Technorati, Ping Technorati

Ping ! Ping ! Pingety pingety ping !

is supposed to be a blogging tool that lets you see what is going on in the blogosphere. The trouble is that it takes up to two weeks for it to be updated. You can find out what was happening in the blogosphere two weeks ago, but you can't find out who is blogging about breaking news and what people are saying about it. You can ping as much as you like, but it can be days, if not weeks before new blog posts are recorded.

The South African equivalent, Muti, is much more efficient.

Terrorism Acts and police states

I understand that South Africa's notorious Terrorism Act of 1967, which made South Africa a fully-fledged police state, has been repealed.

In Britain, a Terrorism Act has recently been introduced, and, has been having a similar effect to the South African one, of turning Britain into a police state. This incident, which took place a few years ago, is an example.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Labour issues apology to heckler:
The Labour Party has apologised after an 82-year-old member was thrown out of its annual conference for heckling.

Walter Wolfgang, from London, was ejected from the hall after shouting 'nonsense' as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended Iraq policy.

Police later used powers under the Terrorism Act to prevent Mr Wolfgang's re-entry, but he was not arrested.

When such draconian legislation is introduced, government spokesmen give the usual reassurances that the innocent have nothing to fear, that the police can be trusted not to abuse their powers, and so on.

And almost inevitably, the powers are abused to suppress the civil rights of ordinary citizens, which seems to have happened in this case. In the light of this kind of thing, Gordon Brown's Vorsterian urge to introduce 90-day detention to Britain is even more scary.

11 October 2008

US election campaign rhetoric

As I've said elsewhere, the US presidential election campaign has reached the boring stage, in which mud-slinging has replaced rational debate on policies. But some people seem to find it more worrying than boring, especially when it comes to things like this

OPINION Blog | The Dallas Morning News:
It's increasingly worrying that John McCain and Sarah Palin are embracing the acceptability of campaign tactics that play to the most racist and intolerant tendencies among their supporters. John McCain knows that Barack Obama has no links whatsoever to terrorism, and yet he's doing everything he can to create that linkage. And he's unleashing Sarah Palin to do his dirty work while McCain claims to be above this condemnable form of negative campaigning.

Hat-tip to Scyldings in the Mead-Hall who says: "I’m sorry, but intentionally or not, it sounds far too much like the tactics of a certain rabble rousing housepainter from Munich." And tactics familiar to those of us in South Africa who lived through the National Party regime of Verwoerd, Vorster et al.

I haven't been following it all that closely. Much of the rhetoric flying around now does not come from the candidates but from their "campaigns", and their supporters engaging in juvenile tactics of misspelling names in laboured political puns.

If I've seen it once, I've seen it dozens of times, people claiming that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a Muslim. That's about as convincing as saying that Sarah Palin is a Muslim because she's the governor of Al Aska.

I read newsgroup headings about the RePUGs and the GOP'ukes and the DemocRATs, and I think of all the benefits that the Internet had brought mankind -- that infantile insults like these can be transmitted around the world instead of being confined to late-night seedy bars.

So I take this kind of rhetoric with a pinch of salt.

I remember that at one time the Anglican Dean of Johannesburg, Gonville Aubie ffrench-Beytagh, was charged with terrorism and that one of the items on the charge sheet was that he had said that Brigadier "Rooi Rus" Swanepoel of the Security Police (a nototious torturer) should be shot. It was a casual throwaway remark that anyone could make, and to treat it seriously as evidence of a conspiracy to kill him seemed ridiculous.

The courts thought so too, and ffrench-Beytagh was acquitted.

And so I'm inclined to think that this kind of rhetoric by the US presidential "campaigns" is just silly season hype.

But then I remember that Robert Kennedy was murdered while campaigning. And Martin Luther King, though not a candidate, was murdered a few months before.

So perhaps it's more chilling than I thought.

10 October 2008

Blogrolling hacked

The server at www.blogrolling.com has been hacked, so at the moment my blogroll at the bottom righthand sidebar is empty, and I'm not able to add new blogs to it.

08 October 2008

Interreligious dialogue

This post is part of a synchoblog (synchronised blog) from people of different religious backgroounds on the topic of Interreligious Dialogue.

Like many others, I've blogged on this topic before, and so I won't repeat everything I've said in previous posts here, but will rather provide links to the other posts, with some commentary, and apologies to those who have read them before, especially since two of them were posted as part of Christian synchroblogs.

Taken together, they are quite long, so I hope people won't find them too boring.

In many ways they are a response to the views of some Christian theologians, whose views on interreligious dialogue I disagree with.

Notes from underground: Christianity: inclusive or exclusive? (Synchroblog)

Notes from underground: Theology of religions

Notes from underground: Theology of religion and interreligious dialogue

Notes from underground: Christianity, paganism and literature (synchroblog)

Notes from underground: Towards a theology of religions

As far as I can see there are three ways in which one can approach interreligious dialogue.

  1. Avoidance
  2. Finding common ground
  3. Discovering similarities and differences
There can be many reasons for avoiding interreligious dialogue, including the idea that since all others are wrong, dialogue is not needed. All that is needed is a monologue from us to tell "them" the error of their ways, because we have the truth.

The "finding common ground" approach is usually based on an attempt to find something that everyone can agree on, such as "tolerance", and that the only thing we will not tolerate is intolerance. Unfortunately this means that we often overlook areas of real disagreement.

I'm an Orthodox Christian, and I believe what an Orthodox theologian, Fr Thomas Hopko, had to say about tolerance:

Tolerance is always in order when it means that we coexist peacefully with people whose ideas and manners differ from our own, even when to do so is to risk the impression that truth is relative and all customs and mores are equally acceptable (as happens in North America).

Tolerance is never in order when it means that we remain idle before wickedness which harms human beings and destroys God's creation.

To be tolerant is to be neither indifferent nor relativistic. Neither is it to sanction injustice or to be permissive of evil. Injustice is intolerable and evil has no rights. But the only weapons which Christians may use against injustice and evil are personal persuasion and political legislation, both of which are to be enacted in an atmosphere of respect. While Christians are permitted under certain conditions to participate in police and military actions to enforce civil laws and to oppose criminality, we may not obey evil laws nor resort to evil actions in defence of the good. This means that Christians are inevitably called to suffer in this age, and perhaps even to die. This is our gospel, our witness and our defence.

To me tolerance means co-existing peacefully with people whose ideas and manners differ from my own. If it means no more than that, it means at least that.

If I discuss religion with people whose ideas differ from my own, then I want to be sure that if I disagree, then I disagree with their actual beliefs and not a caricature of them, and if I agree, then I agree with their actual beliefs, and not a caricature of them. This approach does sometimes, however, cause clashes with exponents of the Baha'i faith, who believe that all religions are fundamentally the same, and that theirs is a harmonisation of all of them. That can lead them to overlook areas of real disagreement.

In interreligious dialogue then, there are four elements:

  1. Your religion
  2. My religion
  3. Your interpretation of my religion
  4. My interpretation of your religion
Unless all four are present, we don't have dialogue, but two monologues.


List of participants

Here are links to the other participants in this synchroblog

And here's a link for some matters arising from this synchroblog.

06 October 2008

Tutu says he might not vote

Desmond Tutu, the retired Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, has said he might not vote in next year's general election, because of infighting in the ANC.

Tutu says he might not vote: South Africa: Politics: News24:
Johannesburg - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said he would welcome the creation of a viable opposition in South Africa, after ruling party infighting forced former president Thabo Mbeki to resign, in remarks published on Sunday.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who turns 77 on Tuesday, told the Sunday Times newspaper he was dismayed by the turmoil in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the party that brought Nelson Mandela to power after the end of apartheid.

One of the problems with this is that South Africa, unlike some other countries, has a pretty wide choice in elections.

In the USA, for example, if you don't support one of the two main parties, there's little alternative. There's little to choose between the two, because there's very little difference between the two main parties when the gain power. The more vituperatively and viciously the "campaigns" attack each other, the smaller the differences between them appear to be.

In South Africa, on the other hand, we are spoilt for choice. In one election we had the Soccer Party. It didn't get much support, but there were about 30 others to choose from. The problem with not voting is that it doesn't send a message to the government. Voter apathy can have any of a number of causes. But voting for an opposition party -- any opposition party -- sends a message, because in proportional representation every vote counts, while non votes count for nothing.

The only valid reason I can think of for not voting is floor-crossing. My children did not vote in the last election for that reason. They saw no point in voting because the whole process was meaningless. I think that is one reason for political apathy among the youth.

I have been told by someone that there will be no more floor crossing, and that it has been abolished. If that is so it is good news. But it has been very muted news. I haven't seen much publicity given to it, and if voters are to be roused from their apathy, it is quite important that they should know that, if it is true. If the people you vote for are likely to become crosstitutes within 18 months, there's really little point in voting at all.

Bishop Desmond has for many years had the knack of drawing attention to the ills of our country. At one time one of those ills was that the majority of people in our country did not have the right to vote. We do have that right today -- let's not throw it away.

05 October 2008

The party's over for Iceland, the island that tried to buy the world | World news | The Observer

Iceland won the 2007 UN poll as the best country to live in -- I hope no one moved there on the strength of that.

The party's over for Iceland, the island that tried to buy the world | The Observer:
This North Atlantic volcanic island, which is the size of Cuba, with a population of 320,000 - the size of Coventry's - is an unlikely player on the global financial stage. It is famous for its fish, geysers and for winning the UN's 2007 'best country to live in' poll. But Iceland built its extraordinary wealth on the crest of the worldwide credit boom and now the crunch is sweeping it away, bankrupting a people for whom the past eight years have been, for most of them and by their own admission, one long party.

The nation's celebrated rags-to-riches story began in the Nineties when free market reforms, fish quota cash and a stock market based on stable pension funds allowed Icelandic entrepreneurs to go out and sweep up international credit. Britain and Denmark were favourite shopping haunts, and in 2004 alone Icelanders spent �894m on shares in British companies. In just five years, the average Icelandic family saw its wealth increase by 45 per cent.

Iambic Admonit: An Odd Christian Genre?

Iambic Admonit's blog has some interesting thoughts about that odd Christian genre, the Testimony:
An Odd Christian Genre?:
in practice, the giving of testimonies is rather odd. First of all, people often add strange emotional responses into their delivery. More disturbing than that, however, is the pre-determined narrative structure into which testimonies are supposed to fit. There are, in my experience, only two narrative forms that are permissible—and really they turn out to be the same. The first is the “I was born into a Christian home and accepted Christ at a young age, but it didn’t really make a big difference into my life until such-and-such life changing event or decision happened and everything has been perfect since then.” The second is the “I was born into a non-Christian family and lived like the devil until such-and-such life changing event or decision happened and everything has been perfect since then.” You see? So the first really big problem, in my observation, is the assumption that everyone’s life ought to fit into one of these two almost identical story-patterns. And what’s worse, this assumption is built upon certain theological beliefs that (I think) are unexamined and probably wouldn’t hold up to severe doctrinal critique or exegesis.

I once participated in an evangelism training programme, Evangelism Explosion. One of the first things that new trainees were required to do was to write out a testimony, and read it out to the training group. And most of these testimonies did in fact fall into one of the two categories that Iambic Admonit describes: the "Christian upbrining" model or the "reformed gangster" model.

And when trainees went out to evangelise (two trainees with an experienced trainer) then at the beginning the only thing the trainees would be expected to do would be to give their testimony.

Since the Evangelism Explosion training programme was developed by a Presbyterian minister, D. James Kennedy, I assume that its basic presuppositions were Calvinist, but that also seemed a bit odd -- if Calvinists believed that people were predestined to be saved or damned, a testimony seemed to be redundant.

I felt a bit awkward about this requirement. I could see the point of it in the training. If you are trying to commend the Christian faith to others, then you need to be able to articulate why it is real to you, and many people, faced with the need to do that, don't know where to begin. Hence the training, awkward as it may seem to begin with, is intended to help people become confident in speaking about their faith.

Yet in my experience the best testimonies have been spontaneous and unrehearsed, called forth by circumstances. There's an Afrikaans saying, "wat die hart van vol is, loop die mond van oor" -- what fills the heart flows out of the mouth.

What seems most odd to me about the genre is the expectation, in some Christian circles, that people can be put on the spot and asked to give a testimony in front of a bunch of fellow Christians. For some, indeed it is a fixed part of the ritual. It is that, rather than the genre itself, that strikes me as odd. I'm glad to say it is not part of Orthodox ritual.

But I found Iambic Admonit's thoughts on the matter interesting.

04 October 2008

Spring is here

There's a big thorn tree in the corner of our garden, and towards the end of September it was in flower, covered with small yellow flowers.

A couple of nights ago the car was covered with the flowers when I went out to fetch my son from work, and out in the street there were gread drifts of flowers, though far from any of the trees, of which there are several in the neighbourhood. There had been a bit of wind, so perhaps that scattered the flowers.

We had been living in our house for twelve years before I actually noticed the tree flowering. I wonder if it flowers more in some years than others. It was certainly noticeable this year.

I'm not quite sure what kind of tree it is -- some species of acacia, but which, I don't know.

03 October 2008


Back in 1971 I watched a B-grade horror film at the Windhoek Drive-in.

It was called The vulture, and one of the villains in it was described as a "nucular scientist".

It was the first time I'd heard the word "nucular", and assumed it was an order of magnitude more dangerous than "nuclear". As fusion bombs are far more destructive than fission bombs, so nucular bombs would far more destructive than nuclear ones.

Thirty years later, comes the 21st century, and the President of the United States begins talking about "nucular weapons". Has the science fiction of the 1970s become reality in the 21st century?

Well, why not?

We have these smart bombs that can hit the precise window of the Chinese Embassy that they are aimed at -- why not nucular ones that behave like nuclear bombs on steroids?

But the plot thickens.

The language fundis at the alt.usage.english newsgroup have been discussing the use of the term "nucular" by the US vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.

Apparently she spoke about nucular weaponry being the whole being or essence of too many people and places on the planet.

Then someone else pointed out that "nucular" seemed to be a term that characterised the leaders of the US Republican Party. Perhaps it is a kind of shibboleth, by which the faithful can be distinguished. Members of other parties reveal themselves by not using the magic word.

But another one of those fundis dug deeper, into the Oxford English Dictionary, and this is what he found:

I'm not sure that it's been brought up here before, although I suspect it has, but "nucular" appears to be a "real word" as well, although one that appears to have fallen out of use before "nuclear" became common. The sense is "of or relating to a nucule", which is defined as
  1. Originally: each of the seeds in a nuculanium (obs.). Later: a small nut or nutlet; a section of a compound (usually hard) fruit; a nut borne in an involucre. Now rare.
  2. The female reproductive structure (oogonium) of a charophyte.

The OED cites this sense of "nucular" in 1876 and 1935, flagging it as "Bot. rare". There are hits in Google books from 1855 through 1911.

I can't remember anything about The vulture other than the fact that it featured a nucular scientist. I've forgotten the plot, the setting, and everything else. It was memorable only because it was where I first heard the word "nucular". Perhaps the vulture in the film was a wooden vulture, or perhaps we are all living through a B-grade horror movie. .

MS Outlook and YahooGroups

Yesterday I got a message in a YahooGroups mailing list from a friend -- let's call him Pete.

Pete's message began


I immediately wondered why Pete was writing on behalf of Dave.

Had Dave's computer crashed?

Or, worse, had he been taken ill, had an accident, been kidnapped or arrested?

So I asked Pete why he was writing on Dave's behalf, and was Dave OK, and he said he wasn't writing on Dave's behalf at all -- the computer had put that phrase in automatically. He assumed that it was something done by YahooGroups.

I'm a member of several YahooGroups mailing lists, and I've belonged to some for years, and I've never seen it put in anything that before.

I asked Pete what mail reader he was using, and he said he was using MS Outlook.

I was aware that many Outlook users have problems in participating in mailing lists because of Outlooks deficient quoting system. I know that many of them have solved these problems by using Quotefix


and I recommended Quotefix to Pete.

But none of those who have had quoting problems with Outlook have mentioned this particular problem -- of some software, somewhere along the line, inserting text to the effect that the poster of a message was writing on behalf of someone else.

Perhaps some prankster has hacked the YahooGroups list server,

But whatever the cause may be, has anyone else had similar problems when using Outlook as a mailing list reader, whether with the YahooGroups or any other listserv?

Is it a problem with Outlook, or with the server, or with both?

And if you have found a solution, please let me know, so I can tell Pete.

02 October 2008

Five influences

I've been tagged by The Skylding to list five people, living or dead, who influenced my spiritual path in a positive way. For The Skylding (as a Lutheran), this had to exclude Jesus Christ and Martin Luther, and so assume that for me, as an Orthodox Christian it excludes Jesus Christ and the canonised saints of the church, or it could just become an exercise in listing one's favourite saints.

So here goes.

1. Steyn Krige -- high school teacher

He taught me for most of my time in high school at St Stithians College from the age of 12 to the age of 17. For the first couple of years he taught Geography, Chemistry and Scripture. Chemistry wasn't his field, and some of his experiments went horribly wrong, and I think he cookbooked his lessons. But he was a good teacher, and even when his experiments went wrong and the expected didn't happen, we knew what was supposed to have happened.

The year before he came to the school I had begun to break away from my atheist/agnostic upbringing and become interested in reading the Bible, and Steyn Krige hosted voluntary Bible study groups in the housemaster's flat where he lived with his family. He also arranged camps during the school holidays -- in the Western Cape, in the mountains of Lesotho and in other places. And he it was who guided me and showed what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

2. Brother Roger, CR - Anglican monk

When I left school, I encountered the Community of the Resurrection (CR), an Anglican religious order whose members often came to preach in our parish church, St Augustine's, Orange Grove, Johannesburg. Most of them were priests, but Brother Roger was one of the few lay brothers, and he spoke at the first conference of the Anglican Students Federation, held at at Modderpoort in the Free State in mid-winter, which is the coldest place I've ever been to.

He spoke on Pilgrims of the Absolute, and introduced us to people like Leon Bloy, and Beat Generation authors like Jack Kerouac, and presented the Christian faith as quite countercultural. Over the next few years I was a regular visitor to the CR priory in Rosettenville, and Brother Roger kept me supplied with books from their library. I was taking English literature courses at university, but he opened my eyes to a far wider variety of English literature than the English departments of South African universities -- Samuel Beckett, the Beat Generation authors, Charles Williams and many more.

Brother Roger took great joy in the world and life and living. He once opened an art exhibition for a Jewish artist friend of his, Harold Rubin, whose works were seized by the police a couple of days later, and he was charged with blasphemy. Brother Roger was hauled off a train to Durban to give evidence at his trial, and eventually he was acquitted. There is more about Brother Roger, and the paper he read at the student conference, at my Pilgrims of the Absolute web page.

3. Revd John Davies - Anglican priest

John Davies was invited to speak at another Anglican students conference, on Religion versus God. I wasn't there to hear it, but listened to it on tape afterwards, and published and distributed the hard copy as a kind of tract. When I was a student at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg he led a parish mission at St Alphege's Church, which was near the university, and shared a vision of the parish as a Christian community and didn't just talk about it, but demonstrated it. Some of the things he introduced then, like house churches, have since become quite commonplace in Western Christianity, but then they were new and quite radical.

I got to know John Davies and his family quite well in the 1960s, and he and his wife Shirley, and children Mary, Mark and Elizabeth, became very close friends, and helped me more than they will ever know. In 1970 they returned to the UK for a visit, and were told on leaving South Africa that they would not be allowed to return, and have never been back since. I was glad to be able to travel to the UK in 2005 and see them again.

4. C.S. Lewis - Anglican author

The first three are people I met in person, but the last two are ones I only knew from their writings. But their writings have influenced me a great deal.

In the case of Lewis, it was his fiction that influenced me most; first his science fiction stories, and later his Narnia stories. I also read those of his fellow-Inkling Charles Williams, though I did not realise that they knew and influenced each other until much later, when a friend introduced me to Tolkien's works.

I read a few of his non-fiction works, but was never very impressed with them. There is quite a bit of talk nowadays about narrative theology, and I think Lewis excelled at that, rather than at propositional theology. He was also aware of the difference in outlook between premodern and modern people, and wrote in such a way as to make it possible for the modern mind to appreciate premodern ideas.

5. Fr. Alexander Schmemann - Orthodox priest

One of the things that troubled me about Western theology was that it seemed to be divided into two camps. I called them Pietists and Social Activists, though others may have different labels for them. The activists were always wanting to do something, to change the world and make it a better place. The pietists, on the other hand, kept saying that this was too "political" and that Christianity should be more "spiritual". I felt uncomfortable among both camps. It seemed to me that each was proclaiming a one-eyed vision of the Christian faith, and that we needed to see with two eyes to see it in all its depth.

And then I read Fr Alexander Schmemann's The world as sacrament (an expanded edition was called For the life of the world), and he said, much more clearly and succinctly, what I had been trying to say on the subject. And eventually it became clear to me that things were not going to get better in the Western Church -- that the two tendencies were getting into more pronounced conflict, and so, about fifteen years after first reading Schmemann's book, I joined the Orthodox Church.


And now I'm supposed to tag some people.

The Elizaphanian
Fr John d'Alton
Roger Saner
Reggie Nel


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