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“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The deadly consequence of Political failure.

Islamic jihadist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who recently shot the Canadian solder, had previously planned to travel to the Middle East in to join fellow jihadists, but the Canadian authorities had revoked his passport.


Similarly, fellow Canadian jihadist Martin Couture-Rouleau who drove a car into two soldiers the previous day, killing one of them, also had his passport revoked by the Canadian Government.

Other countries along with Canada who have revoked the passports of its ‘citizens’ who are hot for jihad include Australia, and New Zealand.

Perhaps it's time for western nations including New Zealand to revisit this policy.  It is not unreasonable to suggest that both of the murdered Canadian soldiers would still be alive if their killers had been allowed to leave the country, and take their hatred back to the killing fields of Syria and Iraq.

Today there would be two less families grieving over the deaths of their loved ones.  

Furthermore, the remaining citizens of all three countries would be considerably safer given that ‘travel banned’ Islamic jihadists are still roaming the streets of our cities presumably looking for similar opportunities to strike against the hated infidel.

The present policy exists because our politicians naively believed that these men would be radicalized in Syria and Iraq, and become a danger when they returned home.  Everyone else has always known that the reason these men wanted to travel to Islamic war zones was because they were already radicalized.  If these two soldiers deaths are to count for anything, our politicians will realize their mistake, and now deport these jihadists with the cancelled passports to the Middle East, and all others who share their aspirations.

Unfortunately, the reluctance of our Political elite to accept that Islamic ideology is the motivation for these atrocities has hindered them from taking necessary action.  The same politicians who rush to quarantine those infected with Ebola, choose instead to leave violent jihadists at liberty in our communities. 


We have twice witnessed the deadly consequences of their failure.  Is that enough to instigate a change of policy?

Friday, 24 October 2014

To draw hasty conclusions would be "Islamophobic"

We appear to live in a planet over populated with lone wolves.  You know, the type that roam mindlessly around in the streets of London, Boston, Ottawa and New York murdering a trouper here, axing a policeman there.

If you listen to the mainstream media, the only thing connecting these wolves is a history of criminality and presumed mental illness.  I mean why else would you murder innocent soldiers and attack police with a machete?

Mark Steyn on yesterday’s Canadian killing…



So the guy who attacked the NYC police with a machete today just happened to be a Muslim, so what?

As did the Canadian killer who murdered the guardsman yesterday.

As did the Canadian who ran down two soldiers earlier this week, killing one of them.

Strangely, our political elite has ceased the obligatory "This has nothing to do with Islam" public statement following these atrocities.  Perhaps word has got back to them just how foolish they look uttering these empty phrases in the face of jihadist violence and the shouts of 'allahu akbar' still ringing in our ears.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

The end of innocence for Canada

Following a second attack against Canadian military personnel in the space of two days, both resulting in deaths and injury, the first at the hands of an Islamic convert, the second by an individual named by Canadian official identifies as ‘Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’, the Herald leads with the headline ‘The Gunman’s Motive is Unclear’.


Well, strictly speaking that’s true.  The gunman is now dead, so perhaps we will never know the real motive for his attack on the military personnel, and then a subsequent attempt to cause mayhem and death in the Canadian Parliament before a security guard shot him dead.

It is probable that an investigation will reveal something in his background that would have lead him, and possibly his colleagues to carry out this attack.

Which begs the question as to why the Herald would bother making a statement like this.  It echo’s President Obama post the Boston Bombings, warning that we should not ‘jump to conclusions’ as to the bombers motives. 

As if we had any reasonable cause to do so.

And so along with the Herald, we reserve judgement until the background facts are revealed.

If other suspects are captured, it will be interesting to see if Canada treats this as a civil crime, as military personnel were specifically targeted.  This has been Obama and Cameron’s response to Jihadist based atrocities committed on their soil, where military personnel were killed.

It is clear that in recent weeks the Islamic State in Iraq has been inciting their followers in the West to commit such atrocities.  They view themselves to be at war with the West.  Who can blame them when Western powers are busy bombing them; that is when they are not mistakenly re-arming them with airdrops intended for the Kurds?

If someone like the Islamic State declares war upon you, and you are bombing them, and just say for arguments sake, that one or more of their domestic followers kills military personnel in your homeland, is that a treasonous act or a civil crime?

To call it a civil crime is to make the pretence that these actions are unrelated to what is happening in the world of Islam.  That somehow ‘we are not at war with Islam’ or its followers, no matter how many times the perpetrator shouts ‘allahu akbah’ while hacking off your soldiers head, or quotes from the Quarn after the killing, or belongs to ISIS, or some other radical Islamic group.

It’s one thing to have a conflicted foreign policy such as we have seen the USA exhibit in the Middle East, but quite another to resile from a coherent domestic terrorism policy at home, all for the sake of political correctness.

How long before we admit that while ISIS is not the only legitimate expression of Islam, it is at least one legitimate expression.  We will never begin to hold the Islamic community to account for the jihadists in their midst until we are honest about the fact that at least one valid interpretation of Islam is motivating violent jihad at home and abroad.

Today it has been Canada and its people who have become victims of the West’s wilful blindness over Islam.  How many more of these attacks do we have to endure before our political leaders engage with reality? 

Update:


The man behind the Ottawa shootings is a Canadian convert to Islam whose passport had been seized by authorities, federal sources say. 

Perhaps it is time to question the policy that prevents young men like this from leaving Western nations to fight Islamic Jihad overseas?  Prevent them from returning by all means, but from leaving?

Especially when it is now clear that some will express their violence and hatred against local citizens.   Isn’t it the first duty of the state to protect its citizens, not ensure that its cities remain havens for violent Jihadists whose passports have been cancelled to prevent them leaving?



Monday, 20 October 2014

LGBT issues and the Christian church - more.

The conversation in the Christian church around the practice of homosexuality, is gaining momentum.  First the Pope sought to open the door to homosexuals but his Synod vetoed the initiative.


Then we have Hillsong mega church pastor Brian Huston recently unwilling to affirm the orthodox theological position on homosexuality, again wanting to take a more pastoral approach to ‘keep the conversation going’ with the gay community. 

New York City Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz said:

Hillsong in New York City has “a lot of gay men and women” and he hopes it stays that way. But he declines to address the matter in public because, in part, Jesus never did.

“Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent,” Lentz told CNN. “And I’m still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people.  You won’t find it because he never did.”

To be fair, one might also observe that Jesus didn’t speak publically about pedophilia either, but it would be an improbable stretch to take his silence as endorsement.

In order to best understand this issue in the light of Jesus teaching, it is important to provide some historical context.  The Jews amongst whom he lived and ministered were very familiar with the Old Testament.  They knew very well that the book of Leviticus chapter 18 verse 22 condemned homosexual practice.  For this reason Jesus did not need to restate the condemnation – it was widely understood.  However Jesus did quote from other passages of Leviticus thereby confirming the books Scriptural authority.

Besides, as John 3:17 tells us For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Jesus ministry was entirely focused upon attracting sinners to the light of life, not driving them into the darkness of condemnation and despair.

The Apostle John tells us that Jesus was ‘full of grace and truth’.  – (John 1:14).  Grace, in so far that he extended to each of us the undeserved favour and mercy of God, and Truth in that repentance is a prerequisite to receiving anything from God.

In other words, you cannot cling to your adultery, promiscuity or homosexuality with one hand, and hope to grasp hold of God’s grace with the other.  It is true that pastorally we must leave the door open for every sinner, straight, gay, bisexual and transgender alike.  However it is equally true that we must call sin for what it is, and not offer false hope to anyone.

I wrote an extended article on this subject some time ago, for those who are interested.

Gay sex is testing our ability to demonstrate both orthodoxy and love to the homosexual community.  We desperately need to share both in a spirit of humility, aware of our own failings and shortcomings, and our common need of God’s mercy and grace.

It's the culture, stupid.

We are familiar with President Clinton’s famous saying “It’s the economy stupid” when determining the outcome of political elections.  Commentator and Author Mark Steyn has a different view saying in his new book. ‘The [un]-Documented Mark Steyn’, “You can’t have conservative government in a liberal culture.”


Which is another way of saying ‘it’s the culture stupid’.

This is why the ‘conservative’ National Government of John Key has retained the entire liberal and socially ‘progressive’ policy platform of the former Clark Labour Government, including interest free student loans and middle class welfare ‘Working for Families’ legislation.  

While Kiwi’s wanted a change of face, they didn’t want to change the social direction.

This explains why John Key wants to make the alleviation of ‘child poverty’ a feature of his government this term.  He knows very well that the only structural issues keeping children in homes characterized by poverty are the entitlement welfare programs his Government supports, but perhaps if he provides ‘free’ school lunches as well as the ‘free’ school breakfasts, the problem might be solved?

So how did we arrive at a situation where our ‘conservative’ party has become the new progressives, embracing big welfare? 

The NYPost reviewed Styens new book today, and included this extract:

The most consequential act of state ownership in the 20th century western world was not the nationalization of airlines or the nationalization of railways or the nationalization of health care, but the nationalization of the family.

It’s the defining fact about the decline of the West: Once upon a time, in Canada, Britain, Europe and beyond, ambitious leftists nationalized industries — steel, coal, planes, cars, banks — but it was such a self-evident disaster that it’s been more or less abandoned, at least by those who wish to remain electorally viable.

On the other hand, the nationalization of the family proceeds apace, and America is as well advanced on that path as anywhere else. “The West has nationalized families over the last 60 years,” writes Vaidyanathan. “Old age, ill health, single motherhood — everything is the responsibility of the state.”

When I was a kid and watched sci-fi movies set in a futuristic dystopia where individuals are mere chattels of an unseen all-powerful government and enduring human relationships are banned and the progeny of transient sexual encounters are the property of the state, I always found the caper less interesting than the unseen backstory: How did they get there from here?

From free western societies to a bunch of glassy-eyed drones wandering around in identikit variety-show catsuits in a land where technology has advanced but liberty has retreated: How’d that happen?

I’d say “the nationalization of the family” is how it happens. That’s how you get there from here.”

Sixty years ago, you couldn’t have nationalized the family in the way Steyn suggests is happening today.  But then sixty years ago, we didn’t have a population clamoring for the Government to fix every social ill, support every family, feed every child, and eliminate poverty.  It took cultural change over the space of one generation to get here from there. 


As we have witnessed in New Zealand over the last six years, electing a ‘conservative’ Government changes nothing.  When the people prefer paternalistic state dependency to the economic risks of self-reliance and liberty, you know that culture trumps politics every day of the week.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

God is dead for the Girl Guide movement in New Zealand - and who gives a damn.

It’s official – God is dead for the Girl Guide movement in New Zealand.


God has been removed from the promise recited by all members of Girl Guiding New Zealand, after more than a century of being mentioned.

The move, which took place in April this year, has raised barely a ripple of dissent. "A couple of people have said they liked the old one better, but there's been very little comment," Girl Guiding NZ president Sonia Faulkner said.

Quite so.

Culture triumphs politics and religion, and sociologically speaking, God has not been part of political discourse or polite company in New Zealand now since the 1960’s.

I have a grand daughter who is an enthusiastic member of the Guiding movement.  For her God is still very much alive and part of her personal and family narrative.  In her life, and her parent’s life, God is not dead but rather one who is both a friend, saviour and Lord.

However apostasy is the new cultural norm, and in public life God cannot be mentioned, acknowledged or revered.  We are reduced to becoming the product of time plus chance in a random and dispassionate universe.  No longer can we argue ‘that’s not fair’ because that would be to call upon a universal standard of justice that stands outside of human experience.  All we are left with is ‘that’s not fair to me’ and well, frankly who gives a damn.

Not the guiding movement anyway.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Is that too much freedom for you?

The Pope’s recent outreach to the gay community not withstanding, the problem with Christians is that we are not sufficiently diverse in our attitudes towards the LGBT community in general.

According to ‘theblaze’ A civil rights commissioner has found that a Kentucky T-shirt company that refused to print shirts for a gay pride parade is guilty of discrimination, calling for its employees to attend diversity training.”



Company owner Blaine Adamson argued that Hands on Originals is a Christian business and that the views espoused by the T-shirt — which advertised a gay pride festival violated his religious beliefs.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, has defended Adamson throughout the two-year legal process.

I used to think that the lengthy legal ‘process’ was the punishment; living for all that time incurring costs and under a cloud of possible sanction, however the threat of ‘diversity training’ is surely enough to make the strongest Christian go weak at the knees.

Not that anyone cares if the owner or employees in the business change their beliefs, they just want them to go through the process, and conform to the Commissioner’s mandate.

Blaine Adamson is not the first Christian businessman to find himself in the cross hairs of the diversity Mullah’s big guns.  Jack Phillips from Lakewood Colorado faces a prison term (yes you read that correctly) for refusing to bake a cake to celebrate a gay wedding.  This is despite the fact that the Colorado State Constitution defines marriage as ‘between only one man and one woman’.

Jack Phillips is currently under a court order to bake same-sex wedding cakes if asked to do so. Under a Colorado law in effect in 2012, Phillips could be sent to jail for up to 12 months for his decision. Although that law has been repealed, it is possible that he could still be criminally prosecuted.

Ensuring that everyone conforms to diversity is taken very seriously in the USA.

I’m sure there are plenty of gay T-shirt printing companies in Kentucky and gay bakeries in Colorado, or at the very least companies that are willing to do business with the LGBT community.   So, why go out of your way to approach companies whom you suspect would rather not do business with you?

Well, to make your point of course – to rub the bigots noses in diversity until they bleed tolerance from every pore. 

And here was me thinking that only one religion mandated the submission of believers and unbelievers alike.  While imprisonment is a distinct possibility, for the moment they have stopped short of beheading.  Perhaps we should be grateful.

Personally I’d bake a cake for anyone, and probably print T-shirts as well, provided the subject matter was not pornographic or materially offensive (pardon the pun).  I have turned down customers who wanted to host websites for legal products and services that may not have directly breached our terms and conditions, but did not conform with my own views of what was acceptable.  One was selling sex toys and the other wanted to post pictures of their nudist colony.  While these were both legal activities I felt they stepped over the line of what we once called ‘modesty’.

On the other hand, we did host websites for the AIDS Foundation that gave quite explicit descriptions about how to conduct ‘safe sex’.


Business owners should be free to refuse business from a customer that breaches their personal ethical or moral standards, just as customers are free to boycott business that breach theirs.

Is that too much freedom?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Pope, homosexuality and the whole wazzoo!

You have to hand it to the new Pope he knows how to create a controversy, especially with his recent pronouncements on homosexuality. Is he embracing heresy or speaking pastorally?


The shocking truth is that Jesus was accused of being a ‘friend of sinners’ by the religious leaders of his day.  He ‘welcomed sinners and ate with them’ (Luke 15:2).  So how is this any different to the Pope reaching out to the gay community two thousand years later?

The challenge for those of faith and no faith is to interpret this new outreach from the Vatican to the gay community. Theologically it is clear that homosexual practice is defined as sinful by both the old and new testaments alike.  From Leviticus to Romans to Corinthians, the Bible makes it clear that God’s judgment rests upon those who engage in homosexuality.

To be clear, homosexuality is not the only sin that separates us from a loving and compassionate God.  Greed, lust, covetousness, idolatry… the seven deadly sins and more all combine to distance us from our creator.  The good news however is that while we cannot earn God’s forgiveness and favour, Jesus stepped up to the mark, and secured forgiveness and mercy from God on our behalf through the agency of the cross.

So what’s up with the church, the Pope and homosexuality?

I deeply suspect (although I don’t know for sure) that the present Pope is speaking pastorally rather than theologically to the homosexual community, both individually and collectively.  He is acknowledging ‘what is’ – that is to say there are men and women who are practicing homosexuals, but… and this is a significant but… there are some who desire to find their way back to a relationship with a loving God, and to experience grace, forgiveness, support and acceptance within the context of Christian community.

He wants to begin a dialog with people such as these, and God bless him for opening the door to conversation and the prospect of reconciliation.

Yes, there is the possibility that some may interpret his compassion as Papal endorsement of homosexual practice, and that’s what makes his invitation to dialog such a risky proposition.  But then Jesus was willing to be misunderstood in order to reach out to the prostitutes and sinners of his day.

Ok, so it didn’t end well for Jesus, but then on the third day he did rise from the dead, so perhaps grace and truth triumph in the end. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

To war or not to war, that is the question.

Our Prime Minster John Key has signaled that it would be ‘odd’ if we didn’t make some form of military contribution to the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq, with the clear indication that his government ‘doesn’t do odd’.


Should we fight?

The case for New Zealand’s involvement would be primarily based upon our historical allegiance with the western powers including Britain and the USA who are all committed to the war on ISIS.   That narrative has been, where our friends go, we go also.

Second, would be the natural sense of disgust at the barbarism and slaughter of innocents being conducted by the Islamic State in Iraq.  There is an arguable case for intervention on humanitarian grounds.

Then I guess there is always the domino theory that was popular at the time of the Vietnam War.  If we don’t fight them there, then one day we may have to fight them here.  The rational being that it is better to fight them there.

Should we refrain?

We should first admit that our knowledge of Middle Eastern religious, political and tribal tensions is weak.  Our NATO ‘ally’, Turkey views the battle between the Kurds and ISIS as one taking place between two terrorist groups.  They are happy to watch from the sidelines and proclaim a plague on both their houses.

America and Britain want to arm the Kurds and presently have ‘boots on the ground’ providing training and military support for them.  Does that mean Turkey views these as hostile actions by Britain and the USA?

Recently we have seen US foreign policy actively supporting the Islamic ‘rebels’ in Syria, many of whom are now fighting for ISIS today.  It’s clear that they have no idea which groups are their allies and which groups are their enemies within the world of Islam in the Middle East.

Iraq is not one homogenous religious, cultural and political landscape.  It is made up of majority Sunni’s minority Shia, Kurds, a few remaining Christians and other minorities.  To fight against ISIS is to take sides against the Sunni majority in favour of the Shia.  It is worth noting that Sunni villagers hold the Shia in contempt, and have suffered at their hands in ways not significantly less chilling than demonstrated by ISIS.

Is the Shia minority when in power any less barbaric than the Sunnis?  Not if history is anything to go by.  What is the rationale for taking sides in this conflict?

What did a decade of war in Iraq achieve?  If we were not able to bomb and slaughter our way to peace in Iraq after expending a decade of blood and treasure, what has significantly changed that we would now want to re-engage in this battle?

Even if it were possible to destroy ‘radical Islam’ in Iraq, would we then be forced to move the battlefield, and our engagement to Yemen? Somalia, northern Nigeria, or Sudan where the next group of Islamists extend their slaughter?

Is this a war that can be won by the West?

This is perhaps the most important question, and it’s one that rarely gets the attention it deserves.  Perhaps this is because we have assumed that superior military firepower guarantees military success.

It may have guaranteed success sixty or more years ago, but this is not the case today. Is there a war that America can claim to have ‘won’ since WWII?

When it comes to war, the one ingredient more important than firepower is the will and determination to utterly destroy and subjugate your enemy.  We have not had that mindset in the West since Churchill led the once ‘Great Britain’ to victory sixty years ago.

Today we are more interested in deploying our military simply to degrade our enemy’s capacity, limit their influence, and believe it or not, build their nations.

Second, assuming we still had a mind to win a war, you need to clearly identify your enemy.  If the utterances of our political leaders are anything to go by, we are incapable of even the most fundamental analysis of what we are up against.

We are not engaged in a war against Muslims per say.

However, we are at war with the ideology of Islam.

To be clear, we are at war with men and women motivated by Islam who are at war with each other, and with the infidels of the West.  If we fail to identify Islam as the motivating ideology, we will forever be fighting the symptoms without dealing with the cause.

To use a WWII analogy, it is the modern equivalent of our politicians saying Nazism is an ideology of peace because not all of its followers are violent or wish to engage in war.  

It is only the extremists who wish to fight, so let’s call them ‘radical Nazis’.

How helpful would that definition have been to the allies in WWII?

Can you imagine Churchill visiting the local Nazi conference in London, assuring them of their secure status within British society, and thanking them for their contribution to western civilization?

Or, when the first German bombs fell on London, standing outside Downing Street asserting that this has ‘nothing to do with Nazism’?

History tells us that both Islam and Nazism are supremacist ideologies that support violence where necessary to achieve their ends.  To pretend otherwise is folly.

Summary:

I expect John Key to provide some form of military assistance to support the war on the Islamic State.  There will likely be short-term success and battles won.  ISIS may even be destroyed. 

However, the long-term effectiveness will be minimal because it’s not ISIS that’s the problem.  They are just a symptom of a much wider malaise that we don’t have the political will to identify or engage with. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

“Anti-terror laws could prevent teaching from the Koran” – Sydney Morning Herald.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports: A Muslim cleric who preaches from certain passages of the Koran could be caught in the "broad" net of the government's new anti-terror law, Islamic leaders have warned.  Grand Mufti of Australia Ibrahim Abu Mohammad and the Australian National Imams Council have called for the offence of "advocating terrorism" to be removed from the so-called Foreign Fighters Bill, currently before Parliament.


To be clear, the Grand Mufti of Australia believes it is appropriate to allow teaching from the Koran and other Islamic texts that might reasonably be considered ‘advocating terrorism’.  These passages may include:

8:12 I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip."

2:216 Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.

5:51 "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people."

While the last passage is not violent, it does make it clear that faithful Muslims are not to take Christians and Jews as friends, or for that matter any infidel.  How then does a faithful Muslim integrate into Western culture if they are not allowed to make friends outside the Muslim community?

The fact that many Muslims ignore such verses does not diminish the fact that they are central to Islam, and that there are sufficient Muslims who take them seriously to create a problem for those of us living in the West.

In its submission, the Islamic Council of Victoria said the new law would incriminate Muslims who support "legitimate forms of armed struggle", including resistance to the Assad regime in Syria and the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

They didn’t say if “legitimate forms of armed struggle” also included resistance against the occupiers of Muslim lands, including Australia who has military advisors on the ground in Iraq and is running air strikes against Muslims who are part of ISIS.  We are left to guess.


The one good thing to come out of Australia’s proposed new anti-terrorism legislation is evidence of Islam’s incompatibility with western civilization, and the determination of the Muslim community to pushing back against anything that might restrict their ability to advocate terrorism against their enemies from their classrooms and their pulpits.