Friday, 19 June 2009

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Ayatollah demands end to protests

The story is told of Ayatollah Khamenei getting a phone call in the middle of the night. When he answered it an urgent voice said, “You must come and fix my TV!”

“But I am not a TV repair man, I am Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader” he replied.

I know” said the man, “You are the only one who can fix my TV.”

“But I am Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. How on earth do you expect me to fix your TV?”

“You are the only one who can do it” came the reply, “You are the only one who can get these Imam’s off my television!”

Such is the power of cultic leaders.

The Supreme Leader’s speech at Friday prayers illustrates very well how absolute power is wielded in a cult.

Step one: Assert that while people inevitably have different opinions nevertheless there is a power that stands above all the controversy and remains untainted by questions of authority. This power paternal and absolute always knows and does what is best and if you know what is good for you you will recognise this one fact. To do otherwise is to defy reason and risk disaster.

Step two: Create a ‘them’ to put fear into people and distract their attention from the issues at hand; in this case the ‘great evil’ of the United Kingdom. This is an old and trusted ploy and has been used by leaders all over the world based as it is on the sound reasoning that people vote with their fears and not with their hopes. For Mugabe the ‘them’ is ‘British Imperialism’. Reagan used it in the 1980’s when he spoke gravely of the ‘axis of evil’. Bush used it in recent times when he concocted his ‘war on terror’.

Step three:  Challenge your listeners about where, in light of the above, their loyalties lie. Fawn over the people by congratulating them on how great they have proved to be, what they have achieved by their sacrifices. Remind them of how much their leaders have sacrificed for the greater good (its all in his speech) and dare them to break that wonderful image with doubt and dissent. Threaten them with unnamed consequences if they fail and promise them great security and progress if they submit to the only authority.

It works for most people every time but of course there are those who see through the facade and insist on change. They are the ‘disappeared’, the political prisoners, the excommunicated and the examples to others of what can happen to those who dare question or doubt the wisdom of the Supreme Leader and his Revolutionary Council (or army council, or Governing Body, or quorum of apostles, etc)

Those who submit know, many of them, that as they beat their breasts, shed tears, chant slogans and swear loyalty they are playing parts in a fiction and that issues are not truly resolved. But what can one man do? But to do nothing is itself a choice and an activity and for evil to triumph requires only that good men do nothing. There are good men and women in Iran today who are determined to do something and maybe we should stop demonising Islam and start praying for those courageous Muslims in Iran who are pressing for change.

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Ayatollah demands end to protests

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Xan Rice meets eco evangelist Craig Sorley | Environment | The Observer

A heartening story of a Christian actually engaging with today’s issues in a Christian way. Is environmentalism to be found in the Bible? This man shows that it is and God bless him in it.

While recovering from a brain haemorrhage, Craig Sorley had an epiphany – to spread the environmental word using the Bible. He took his green gospel to Kenya – now crop yields are up, the monkeys are back and even the Church is won over

Xan Rice meets eco evangelist Craig Sorley | Environment | The Observer

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Christians being ‘sidelined’, says head of Asian Christian Fellowship

“Christians in this country are being sidelined and discriminated and even some pastors have been threatened and beaten, because of preaching the Gospel,” he said.

“I believe it is time for Christians to raise our voices and stand up for our rights and values, which are being sacrificed in the name of political correctness.”

Who is speaking and which country does he have in mind? The speaker is Canon Yaqub Masih of the Asian Christian Fellowship so you might expect his concern would be for an Asian country but no. He is addressing the problem of growing persecution of Christians in the UK.

It is reported that one in five Christians now complain of discrimination because of their faith. Have you noticed that people hate Christ now? Say you are a Christian and often people will screw their faces up in a sneer and exclaim, “Don’t ram your religion down my throat!” Defend your faith and they speak disparagingly of Christian superstition and ignorance. The reaction is positively violent and they will speak of anything but Christ.

I think it is time we stopped apologising for being Christians. You may look through all of Scripture and never find a text prescribing political correctness or niceness (that bane of Western Christianity). By all means let us have the fruit of the Spirit, peace, love, etc, but always remembering that it is to make our Christianity more real and challenging not more respectable and accommodating.

Turning the other cheek does not mean turning our back on the truth; neither does loving your neighbour mean not warning them of impending judgement for fear of offending. Standing for truth necessarily means exposing and refuting error and while we do it with love we do it nevertheless.

Christians being ‘sidelined’, says head of Asian Christian Fellowship