Sir Lionel Luckhoo’s Testimony

This week’s podcast takes us to the testimony of Sir Lionel Luckhoo, the Guyanese lawyer and diplomat.

He held the Guinness Book of World Records place for the largest number of successive murder acquittals (245).  He accepted Christ as his Saviour in the midst of his defence of Jim Jones before the Jonestown massacre in 1978.

He gave this testimony in August 1983 at a meeting of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Modern Palestine?

Although I can’t claim I saw Jesus in a dream as our friends in the More Than Dreams videos did, my saving encounter with Our Lord was a “direct divine intervention.”  That being the case, my early Christian formation didn’t get as much help from family and church as one would like.  But one of the instructions I did get was to read the Bible.  Even that was problematic: Bible studies weren’t a part of our home life, and scrounging a Bible wasn’t easy.  But eventually I found one suitable for the task.

Always one to look at charts and maps, the ones in the back intrigued me, especially the one above.  It was the mid-1960’s.  Where was the state of Israel?  And Jordan?

It took a long time to connect the dots, but I eventually realised that this Bible of mine dated from the turn of the twentieth century, and that the provincial structure shown above was that of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, thus the name for Jerusalem (el Kuds.)  It wasn’t long before British General Allenby would enter the city on foot and change everything.  But the map has historical value and thus it’s worth presenting, along with two others below.

Jerusalem at the same time. Note the “quarters” in the city, reflecting the millet system the Turks used to divide their various ethnic and religious groups. The Armenians were soon to suffer grievously at the hands of the Turks, and the Jews were soon to arrive in large numbers preparing for the State of Israel a half century later. The “Mosque Al-Aqsa” is the place after which the Martyrs Brigade is named.
The area around Jerusalem, obviously a more populous place now than then.

If You Want to Force a Moral Issue, Send In the British

Surprises never cease in the world, least of all the news that the Dutch are having second thoughts about their wide open society to the point that they have a conservative Christian party in the government and are starting to backtrack on much of the open sex and drugs that have made the Netherlands legendary.

In spite of being a centre for all this, gay marriage and more, the Netherlands has always had a more lively core of Christian belief that most anywhere else in Europe (I’ll admit that in spite of my dislike for Calvinist theology.)   This has been borne out by personal experience, largely in the construction equipment business, an industry not known for its Godliness.  One Dutch business associate complained a few years back that they were forced to take off “God is with us” off of the “Dutch logo” Euro coins.  The motto had been on the guilder for many years.  Another spent an evening regaling my wife and I with his stories of sending Bibles into the Communist countries, all the while with his cognac and cigar in the bar!  This, of course, from the country that produced Brother Andrew (who I think left off the stogie.)

But it seems that, with the Muslim community growing and all the other changes in the wind, it was the British that really got the Dutch goat:

And de Wolf (a Labour Party member of the Amsterdam City Council) said he is fed up with the planeloads of British thrill-seekers who take cheap flights to Amsterdam each Friday evening for weekend binges of sex, drugs and alcohol in his city’s red-light district, where scantily clad prostitutes stand behind plate-glass windows beckoning to potential customers.

I’ve documented the wild ride the hordes of immigrants from the British Isles has given North America, from their uninspiring work ethic (To Do the Work) to their religious adventures (Taming the Rowdies, Cape Henry and the Triumph of “Plan C”.)  And no review of the British is complete without talking about their behaviour at soccer matches outside the UK.  The genius of the British (and the descendants of those they exported) is that they make sin look so utterly trashy and revolting that they force everyone (including even-tempered people like the Dutch) to do something, be it tightening of laws, revival of Christians in politics, or just plain revival.  Perhaps this is the ultimate fulfilment of Paul’s statement:

Law was introduced in order that offences might be multiplied. But, where sins were multiplied, the loving-kindness of God was lavished the more, In order than, just as Sin had reigned in the realm of Death, so, too, might Loving-kindness reign through righteousness, and result in Immortal Life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Romans 5:20, 21, TCNT.)

Considering Things Carefully

The great Chinese author Lu Xun said that "Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it."  This certainly applies to the back and forth with Liam over same sex marriage and adoption.  Characterising it as a debate is a stretch; from this side, it looks more like a barrage of name-calling, ad hominem arguments and the like.  (It could be worse.)  Nevertheless there are two things that I have come to realise in the course of all this.

The first is that the advocacy of same sex civil marriage is the advocacy of civil marriage itself.  This is important in understanding why it is necessary to reject other solutions such as the abolition of civil marriage or civil unions.  The way things work in our smashmouth political system, once you take a position, you must pursue it irrespective of whether it is the best way to deal with a problem (for you or anyone else) or not.  There is nothing bigoted about characterising same sex marriage as a problem, because it is for those who want it (because it doesn’t exist) or those who don’t (because others are pushing for it.)  Moreover Liam can whine about positions he finds ambiguous all he wants, but this does not stop him from trashing concepts other than same sex civil marriage right after he complains about ambiguity.  In such a pugnaciously philistine environment there’s simply no incentive to propose solutions other than those commonly held.

The second is that civil marriage is inherently unequal.  There are people who are married and people who are not; this automatically creates an inequality.  Same sex marriage does not enhance equality, but only extends inequality to a new group of people.  In the midst of all of this, it is not clear who comes out the worse for it.  Same sex marriage people demand all of these "rights" that come with marriage, although Liam never gets around to enumerating what any or all of these "rights" might be.  Christians lament of the state of civil marriage and oppose the creation of same-sex marriage, but frankly the basic Biblical reasons for marriage are no longer enshrined in U.S. law.  In the midst of all this the marriage rate continues to decline; obviously a good number of heterosexual people have determined that the disadvantages of civil marriage outweigh its advantages for whatever reason.

Based on these and other considerations, I cannot accept Liam’s contention at face value that same sex civil marriage is a matter or right or logic.  Frankly I’m not much on accepting things at face value, especially if I suspect they originate with those who think more strategically or politically than Liam does.

They seem to have secrets which I cannot guess, and once they are angry they will call anyone a bad character…Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it.  In ancient times, as I recollect, people often ate human beings, but I am rather hazy about it.  I tried to look this up, but my history has no chronology, and scrawled all over each page are the words: "Virtue and Morality."   Since I could not sleep anyway, I read intently half the night, until I began to see words between the lines, the whole book being filled with the two words–"Eat people." (Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman, V)

Science for all? Maybe not…

The recent bombing (and attempting bombings) by physicians and engineers in the UK may have a greater casualty than just snarled airport security and throwing more people in jail.  The fact that most of the current round of bombers are physicians, engineers and others with scientific training should put to rest the secularist lie that, if we just had more science and "reason" in education, we would have a better world.

In celebrating the tenth anniversary of a website for geotechnical engineers, I made the following observation:

Engineers, more than those in the pure sciences, are painfully aware that they and the decision makers for the technology seldom overlap.  The responsible use of technology is generally the province of others.  Linked to that responsible use is a reasonably rational economic and political system, without which technology doesn’t get put into use well if at all.  In other words, really crazy systems tend to get in their own way.  Those who want their destiny to be better need to take the proper decisions to make that happen, one way or another.

Let’s take this a step further: science and technology are neutral in that their benefit or harm derives both how they are applied and even how the concepts of "benefit" and "harm" are defined.  Ultimately these all must be delineated and executed within some kind of frame of reference.  The results you get will depend upon the frame of reference you’re working from.

Many of the terrorists come from scientific and technical backgrounds.  Secularists would like us to think that such deep exposure to science–and the underlying logic–would demonstrate to them the "error" of their religious ways.  Physicians, for example, just about have to give superficial assent to evolution to get through their course of study, and as we all know evolution is the elixir of knowledge for the secularist.  But in the case of these terrorists, things did not go according to the secularists’ plan.  Beyond that, their technological studies rendered them more proactive than many of their Islamic forbears, who tended to be fatalistic. That’s a major sea change for Islam; advocates of free will in Islam lost that battle in the early centuries after the Hejira.  It’s a change that most in the press have missed.

Let me repeat: how you view science and its application depend upon the frame of reference you approach it from.  Last summer I wrote a piece entitled Coming Home from Heathrow, where I compared my own journey with that of another engineering student at about the same time, Osama bin Laden.  The training and temptations were very similar, but the outcome was different.  It is the choice of everyone trained in the sciences has to make.

Who Shall Spread the Good News: As the Rain

The podcast of Who Shall Spread the Good News? ends this week with the final track, As the Rain.

In the piece The Baptismal Covenant: The Contract on the Episcopalians, we expressed the following sentiment:

…we strongly suspect that the last covenant was strongly inspired by Peter Scholtes’ 1966 song “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love,” which sings of “And we ‘ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.”  For our part we prefer Roger Smith’s “As the Rain,” which speaks of “Breaking our pride/And making us whole.”)

It has been our pleasure to present these songs to you.  The 1960’s and 1970’s posed many problems for the Anglican and Catholic worlds, but this album wasn’t one of them.

Click here for more information.

Al Gore III Gets Caught Speeding 100 MPH

Well, at least he did it in a Prius.

But what did you expect of the grandson of the man who helped create the Interstate system (which is more than Al Gore II managed with the Internet!)  So what we have here is the following:

  1. Generation 1 pushes for Interstate highway system.
  2. Generation 2 pushes to undo environmental damage created by Generation 1.
  3. Generation 3 tries to combine the two with high speeds in a hybid.  But with controlled substances, this is tricky.

A Sensible Resolution to a Senseless Case

President Bush’s decision to extend executive clemency to Scooter Libby is a sensible way to resolve what has been one of the most dangerous prosecutions in recent memory.

The job of a prosecutor is to obtain convictions for crimes committed, not to manufacture them and then send people to prison.  The most recent "celebrity" example of the latter is the Duke lacrosse case, and mercifully Mike Nifong is finding out the hard way that this isn’t the way to obtain convictions.

Things like this make the Fifth Amendment a dead letter.  Won’t cooperate?  Obstruction of justice.  Have a slip of memory?  Perjury.

And liberals shouldn’t whine either.  After all, it’s not our fault your "boy" wasted the power of pardon on Marc Rich.  Too bad Fred Thompson couldn’t do to him what he helped do to Ray Blanton…

The Proposed Anglican Covenant: The Club Chimes In

It’s impossible to resist making some comments about Responses Offered by the Executive Board and Clergy and Lay Deputations to General Convention of the Diocese of Southeast Florida to Questions contained in A Short Study Guide to Aid the Episcopal Church in Responding to the Draft Anglican Covenant as Prepared by the Covenant Design Group, both because of its content and certainly where it’s from.

  • In one sense, it’s refreshing to see liberals in TEC lay it out so baldly after years of "conversations" and waffling.  Perhaps they are emboldened by their new Presiding Bishop, who is capable of this when she thinks the occasion calls for it.
  • The statement "Members of The Episcopal Church who supported the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and advocate for greater inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in the church have adopted these positions as a response to their “faithful, respectful, comprehensive and coherent” handling of Holy Scripture", indicate that the Diocese’s level of Scriptural understanding has not advanced since Bethesda-by-the-Sea’s vestry booted the ladies’ rummage sale from the premises forty years ago.
  • As long as the Diocese’s demographics are as they stand, statements such as "Missing from the draft document is any real consideration of the place of “justice” in the life of the Church and how to protect the “marginalized” and “weak” whom Jesus clearly called the church to serve" will ring hollow.
  • The statement that the Thirty-Nine Articles "were never authoritative for the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States" is absurd when one considers that a) they were included in every prayer book the church authorised until 1979 and b) they took the trouble to modify them and make them applicable to the situation the church faced in the U.S.  The statement that "Asserting that the member Churches were “led by the Spirit” in developing flawed or false Articles of Religion is a serious problem that reflects a significant theological chasm between the drafters of the Draft Covenant and The Episcopal Church" won’t hold water either, because the Articles were promulgated by the Church of England before there were any member churches.  And TEC’s communion with the CoE is something they’re doggedly holding onto, for both legal and other reasons.

The report ends up by recommending "…that no body or governing structure of The Episcopal Church be party to this Covenant, or accept or sign the current Draft Anglican Covenant."  This is unsurprising; however, conservatives should look at this with caution.  The problem with centralising structures is that their integrity largely depends upon those at the top.  The whole history of TEC over the last half century has been one where those at the higher level of the denomination have gained control of its structure and propagated their idea over the organisation.  As things stand now, the Covenant would shift the authority in the Communion to the Third World provinces, an improvement over the present state.  But if this were to ever change, we would be worse off than we are now.  The report states that "…the order of the Communion is in many ways only “apparent” and is, in any event, already ruptured."  It would serve the long-term integrity of the conservatives better to formalise this event rather than try to repair it with a covenant.