Red letter christians?

red-letter-christians

We are visiting family in the US right now, and the recent Presidential election is on everyone’s minds here.

Reports are coming in that apparent white supremacists have been attacking, verbally or physically, people who belong to minorities such as blacks, Muslims and Latinos. Right wing christians are expressing relief that Hilary Clinton, who they vehemently oppose because she is seen to be pro-abortion, pro gay marriage, pro political correctness, anti freedom of religion, and dishonest, didn’t get elected.

Meanwhile the people I have moved amongst have the opposite reaction. Shocked by Donald Trump’s victory, critical of his many obvious flaws and failures, concerned for the safety and wellbeing of people from minorities, including women, and feeling let down by the right wing christians overwhelmingly voting for Trump.

The nation is divided, and so is the christian church, though Trump appears to have the majority in each case. How should christians who fear the worst react?

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Are you an extremist?

Man carrying political sign

The dictionary defines an extremist as “a person who holds extreme political or religious views, especially one who advocates illegal, violent, or other extreme action.”

Search for photos tagged as “extremist” (as I did for this post) and the majority of the photos are of Americans protesting against their government, especially their President. The one I used is one of the milder and least extreme!

But ask Americans what actions they think are “extremist” and you’ll get some interesting, and perhaps surprising, answers.

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youth climate group

We came, we marched, who cares?

So, about 40,000 of us “marched” (I was more like strolling on a warm afternoon!) in Sydney; many, many more around the world.

The march was loosely organised around colour groups – Australia’s first nations peoples at the start, mostly in black, then a large contingent of Pacific Islanders (who are already feeling the effects) in red, many nations and many faiths in purple, youth and future generations in blue, and so on.

It was good fun, colourful, musical, good spirited. Lots of drummers, many colourful and imaginative costumes, an “ecopella” choir, a lone clarinetist, and many more.

So now we’ll see if the Paris talks become global actions, or not.

Reporting the news?

Most news outlets reported the march in Sydney, in Australia, and the world, fairly and as you’d expect – a few colourful photos, a few quotes from marchers and speakers at the pre-march rally, an estimation of the numbers.

But Sydney’s Telegraph, owned by Rupert Murdoch, was predictable (I actually did predict its response beforehand). It rarely provides genuine news these days, but is very selective about what it publishes, always puts a spin on what it does report (often very nasty in its headlines and digitally distorted photos), and has its favourite people and causes to hate. Climate change is one of its big hates, and columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are carefully selected to present the same misinformation. I predicted it would only mention the march briefly, and it would find a way to spin it to attack one of its favourite targets.

And so it proved. Yesterday there was the smallest possible news item, in a little box down the bottom corner of the page, and all it said was that the deputy leader of the opposition had criticised the Prime Minister at a rally in Sydney (the PM is one of the people the Telegraph are trying to undermine). That’s all.

But today there was a report of anarchists in Paris making a protest which resulted in clashes with the police, so of course this received a large spread because it suited the Telegraph‘s ideological purposes.

It is no wonder there is wavering support for the necessary action, when one of only three newspapers in Sydney gets so much misinformation and so little truth.

I remember when the world was very different

This is an adapted re-blog from Is there a God?

The world in 1945

I’m not sure if I was a normal boy, but I always loved maps. So one of my favourite books was the Oxford University World Atlas. I loved it because of the diversity of its maps – it even included details on the solar system (I loved astronomy too!) and the exploration of Australia by Europeans (the unexplored parts of the country were shown black, as if the first Australians weren’t even there). As you can see, I still have the atlas, much the worse for wear – sort of like me and the world it portrays! 🙂

I was born in 1945, right at the end of the Pacific war in which my dad fought. The atlas was from about the same period – it doesn’t show Israel as a separate country (which occurred in 1948). And it shows, as you can see in the above world map, the British Empire, on which the sun never set, proudly marked red.

The might and grandeur of the Empire was a wonderful fact of life in those days – we even celebrated Empire Day with a half day school holiday in May, and fireworks in the evening.

They were innocent days. But they didn’t last. (You can read more about my story, should you be interested.)

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Sometimes we need to be reminded

God cares about the poor, the suffering and the victimised. I don’t know why he made a world where so many suffer, but I do know he expects his people to do something about it – to ease the pain and to bring justice to the systems that cause the pain.

Sometimes we forget. But sometimes we are reminded. And music is one of the ways that reminds me, and moves me, the most.

So here are four video clips that generally leave me close to tears, that remind us of situations that may still be unfinished business, requiring repentance, or an apology, or a change of policy, or at the very least, the determination to not allow such victimisation to happen again.

I hope you watch all four, and I hope you both enjoy and are challenged.

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World War 1 – the war to end all wars?

Trench warfare

A hundred years ago, World War 1 was being fought across Europe. In a few weeks, Anzac Day, probably Australia’s holiest day, will be the 100th anniversary of the abortive, chaotic, mismanaged attempt by the Allies to occupy the Dardanelles.

It was later said to be the war that would end all wars. Sadly, that was far from true, but there are still some lessons christians can learn.

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Enough is enough – guest post by a former Prime Minister of Australia

Malcolm Fraser

Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister of Australia from 1975 to 1983. His Government was formed by a coalition of the same two parties which form Australia’s present conservative government.

Fraser was vilified by his opponents during his term as PM, but has since mellowed and become much respected by those on the opposite (less conservative) side of politics, and less popular with his former party.

The Government has just released a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report on asylum seeker children held in detention. The report is damning.

Malcolm Fraser has issued a press release which condemns the government (and by implication the opposition whose policies are similar). Read it and weep!

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