Tag Archive: australia


Last week, Chris from Australia @Taliesyne, joined me for my A Frikkin Hashtag Twitterer game with the Jerry Maguire inspired tagline, #YouHadMeAt:

4 Nov with tag with Chris A Frikkin Hashtag

At one point Chris’ house was being flooded by a violent storm raging outside and he comes on and is apologising for not being on the game and i’m like, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW, GO SAVE YOUR HOUSE!” He did and returned to the game later when i couldn’t be around and it was a great Tag Team affair. Continue reading

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Christians-and-Muslims

i saw this on my Australian friend Dave Andrew’s Facebook page today and i think it will give us a lot to think about if we take it seriously – if you find it too long then at least read the bolded bit at the beginning and the ten ‘commandments’ at the bottom [but seriously, just read the whole thing!]:

And Now For A Quiet Word With My Fellow Christians:

If Jesus Really Is – As We Are Want To Say – ‘The Only Way’,
Then He Is Surely ‘The Only Way We Should Treat Muslims’.

Dave Andrews:

I used to teach a course on Christian community work at a Theological College near here. At the start of the course, I always got students to draw a picture of their ideal community. Not surprisingly many of the Christian students drew a picture of a Christian community with a church with a steeple with a cross on it at the centre of the community.

‘So your ideal community is a Christian community.’ I would observe.
‘Yes’ they would say. ‘It is.’
‘So where is the place in your ideal community for people who are not Christians? I would ask.
‘In our ideal community everyone is a Christian’ they would say proudly.
‘So’ I would say to them, ‘if everyone in your ideal community is a Christian, and you want to work to make this ideal a reality, then the only options for Muslims in your world would be for them to be converted – or be exterminated.’

And, believe it or not, that is exactly the same extreme, intolerant, militant, aggressive underlying attitude Christians accuse Muslims of advocating.

 

From time to time over the last thousand years Christians and Muslims have acted on that extreme, intolerant, militant, aggressive underlying attitude.

In 1095 Pope Urban II called for a ‘Crusade’, or ‘Holy War’, to be led by ‘Christian Knights’, who would fight against the ‘enemies of Christ’.

‘Cursed be the man who holds back his sword from shedding blood!’ was the cry of Pope Gregory VII ringing in the ears of the ‘Soldier of Christ’.

And, over the course of the next two centuries, they threw themselves into the task of killing thousands, if not millions, of ‘heretics’ and ‘heathens’.

When the Crusaders finally lay siege to the Holy City of Jerusalem, they slaughtered its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants.

Nicetas Choniates, a Byzantine Christian historian, wrote at the time, with evident distress, that:

‘even the (Muslim) Saracens are merciful …compared
these men who bear the Cross of Christ on their shoulders.’

But Raymond of Aguilers enthusiastically eulogised the massacre as ‘a just and marvelous judgment of God’:

‘Wonderful things were to be seen.
Numbers of Saracens were beheaded….
Others were shot with arrows,
or forced to jump from towers;
others were tortured for several days,
then burned with flames.
In the streets were seen piles
of heads and hands and feet.
One rode about everywhere amid
the corpses of men and horses.
In the Temple of Solomon,
the horses waded in blood up to
their knees, nay, up to their bridle.
It was a just and marvelous judgment of God,
that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers.’

Muslims have never forgotten these atrocities committed by Christians. And Al Qaeda was set up with the purpose to pay back today’s Crusaders
Recently my dear Muslim colleague and friend, Nora Amath, and I went to Buderim to talk about ‘How Christians And Muslims Can Live In Peace.’ Before we got there, a protest was organized by Restore Australia, who were picketing the meeting when we arrived.

Their argument was – Christians could never live in peace with Muslims because of what it said in the Qur’an. They said ‘their’ scriptures says:

– “Jews and Christians are the worst of creatures.” Quran (98:6)
– “Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends” Quran (5:51)
– “seize them and slay them wherever ye find them” Quran (4:89)
– “when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, smite the necks” Quran (47:3-4)
– “cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers” Quran (3:151)
– “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah” Quran (8:39)

I said there was a call in Deuteronomy 7:1-2; 20:10-17 for the people of God to slaughter every living thing they came across in the name of God,

– “In the cities of the nations,
the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance:
Do not leave anything that breathes alive!
Completely destroy them –
the Hittites, the Amorites,
the Canaanites, the Perizzites,
the Hivites and the Jebusites –
as the Lord your God has commanded you!’ (Deut.20:16-17)

But, I said, only a few radical extremist Christians and Muslims would believe their scriptures would literally demand them to massacre unbelievers today.

However, Mike Holt of Restore Australia, said ‘there is no “radical Islam” or “moderate Islam” there is only Islam. They all believe in the same Prophet, and the same God, the same book, the same Suras, the same Hadiths. It explains why some Muslims who are regarded as moderate Muslims can suddenly turn and kill their Christian neighbours’.

He was so blinded by his own bias that he couldn’t see my friend Nora, who was standing right in front of him, embodying of the very Islam he said didn’t exist, absorbing his hostility and responding with integrity, dignity and grace.

Later I asked Nora what she thought about this encounter with Christians so full of hate. She replied: ‘They are just like the Muslim extremists they hate’.
Christianity and Islam are the biggest religions in world, together making up over half the population in the world. if we both quote texts out of context and use them as a pretext to convert or kill one another, we will destroy our world.

We need to find another way. I was talking about this to one of my Muslim friends, Halim, who runs a restaurant across the road. He said ‘Dave, the only hope for us Christians and Muslims, is to get beyond the letter of our texts to the spirit of our texts – the Spirit of the Bismillah, the Arabic phrase, “Bismillahi r Rahman r Rahim”, that speaks of the mercy and the compassion of God, embodied in the person of the prophet Isa/Jesus in the Qur’an and the Bible.’

Christians would acknowledge Jesus is the ‘Way’, but we need to rediscover Jesus as the ‘Way To Relate To People Of Other Religions’, like Muslims.

Jesus criticized people of all religions – including his own – of promoting domineering leadership (Mark 10:42-43); acting as closed groups not open to others (Matt. 5:47); practicing empty rituals with no compassion (Matt.6:7)

But Jesus appreciated that God was bigger than his religion, and worked in the lives of people of other religions. Eg Naaman the Syrian (Luke 4.16-30)

Note Jesus appreciated people of other religions could have greater faith than people of his own religion. Eg the Syrophoenician Woman (Mark 7:24-30)

And Jesus appreciated people of other religions could be better examples than people in his own religion Eg The good Samaritan (Luke 10.29-37)

The Way Jesus related as a Jew to the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn:4:4-42) is the Way that we as Christians should relate to our Muslim neighbours.

We should

A. Acknowledge particularities – distinct rituals of worship (Jn.4;19-21)
B. Affirm universalities – all true believers worship in truth (Jn.4:23)
C. Don’t denigrate others – ‘don’t call down fire’ on them (Lk.9:54-5)
D. Take a conciliatory approach – ‘if not against you, for you’ (Lk.9:50)
E. Always accept hospitality – share food and drink together (Jn.4:7)
F. Practice respectful dialogue – explore the significance of Isa/Jesus as the Masih/Messiah – but not expect others to change religion (Jn.4)

Remember Jesus didn’t call us to convert others, simply to witness to others. Jesus said “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts1:8) And the best way to witness is by working for the common good. Jesus said “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt.5:16)
And it is in that Spirit, Nora and I organised for Christians to stand together with Muslims, at the Kuraby Mosque, Friday 26 September 2014 and say:

‘We ask all people to:

1. Act in an exemplary manner, being strong but gentle.
2. Adopt a dignified, friendly, courteous approach towards all.
3. Respect people regardless of their faith. Don’t tell other people
what you think they believe, let them tell you. Please listen.
4. Respect other’s views, even if we disagree with their views.
Acknowledge both similarities and differences between our faiths.
5. Not treat an individual as a spokesperson for their whole religion,
nor judge people by what other people of their faith may do.
6. Speak positively of our own faith, not negatively of another’s.
7. Encourage positive relationships between our faith communities.
8. Encourage constructive relationships with the wider community.
9. Use their wisdom, knowledge, skills and resources to serve others.
10. Discuss any problems face to face so we can solve them peacefully.’

[For more on Dave Andrews, check out his website over here] 

dave andrews

cricketlunch

i took a moment at lunchtime yesterday to step out of my body and just really take in what was happening in front of my eyes:

a guy busy in mid phone conversation running in to bowl to a batsman trying to play shots with just his left hand on the bat [as he had broken his right hand recently in a sister-encouraged skateboarding incident gone horribly wrong] while South African Sevens rugby player Paul Delport [who my two friends referred to as Thinus Delport the whole time and i didn’t just cos i didn’t know any better altho that was the name i recognised] stood to the side waiting for a catch…

okay it was not quite the 438 SA win over Australia that took place mostly while i was cycling a really enthusiastic Argus Cycle tour on the 12th of March, 2006, which in all probability was the greatest one day cricket match ever, but it felt like it should have been up there with the real sense of surreal that pervaded what was taking place before my eyes…

a moment later my friend MJ [aka Muscle-John, Majay, Michael-John] was writhing on the ground with the agony that cannot be properly addressed or tended to as my other mate [one armed skateboarding Roy Conrad Langhein] had the ‘great idea’ of emulating 2.21m [7 foot three] Pakistan bowling giant Mohammad Irfan by hoisting MJ on to his shoulders to bowl a ball from the same height, not taking into account that the forward motion and energy of delivering the ball might affect the centre of gravity so much that Mj would go tumbling forwards off Roy [altho with bits of him not able to go forward as easily due to Roy’s head being in the way causing said infliction] and deciding to rather appreciate Irfan’s height and bowling ability from the stands.

Really not Thinus Delport this one

we ended up sitting two rows behind Paul and he was just such a friendly dude. he spent a lot of time chatting to us about the rugby sevens set up and the first win SA had had in a tournament for a bunch of years which they had just returned from and some of the training schedules and so on. for me this really captured the heart of what test cricket watching in SA has always been about – the vibe and the people and the fun and the chance to unwind and forget for a second about the seriousness and tragedy of all that is going on in the country and the reminder of why it is important to leave the game at the end of the day and take up the struggles of being a part of making a difference in all those difficult areas so that days of cricket can be enjoyed.

the day ended with these two young black kids about ten rows in front of us just picking up the vibe of the beat of the music that was playing and dancing with such life and energy and just seemingly for themselves – we all cheered when the camera guy finally saw them and trained his camera on them and we are hoping they made it onto highlights footage of the day, but they really just seemed to encapsulate the hope and life and energy that exists in south africans and especially the youth of this country and the hope that difference and chance and betterment is possible and achievable and, dare i say it, even likely?

what a day. what a game. what a vibe. more, South Africa, more.

remcover

as depicted so well in my previous post by Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine cartoon fame, R.E.M. had something when they came up with their hit song that 73% of people know the two words “Leonard Bernstein” [but is it pronounced Steen or Styn? another mystery] to – It’s the end of the world as we know it.

with Australia and Americaland being on different days for a huge portion of any 24 hour period, it was always going to be a bit of a feat for the Apocalypse to arrive on precisely one calendar day only and presumably by the time your Australian friend stopped replying to your frenetic “are we there yet?” “are we there yet?” “are we there yet?” messages, you probably wouldn’t even have time to reach for your closest can of beans.

and so, no, the world hasn’t ended.

but it has ended as we know it. in fact it does that every day. unless there was some way for it to be completely frozen in every possible manner of time, energy and space, the day we wake up to is not the day we left behind. the world has changed. and more importantly our world has changed.

the question we have to ask ourselves [well maybe ‘have’ is a strong word cos i imagine most people don’t] is, ‘Is the world a better place today because of how i lived yesterday?’ and the more relevant question of ‘Will the world be a better place tomorrow because of how i choose to live today?’

this is a question of selflessness, service and Love vs. ego, pride and selfishness

it’s a question of community, congregation and fellowship vs. individualism, materialism and consumption

and it is a question of how am i involved in reaching out to those who are marginalised and lonely, considered by the world to be ‘the least of these’?

Jesus seemed to have a very strong opinion on that… and so if you call yourself a Jesus follower, this is quite probably something you should take note of:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

[Matthew 25.31-46]

i guess, the question is, as far as you are concerned… it is the end of the world, as you know it. do you feel fine?

yesterday at the Simple Way we had our very first session of Conversations at the Simple Way which three of us had largely been working on pulling together for a while – 15 people signed up to hang out with us as we did a couple of different sessions including one on intentional community, a practical serving the community aspect, a story over lunch from someone in the neighborhood who is involved in doing some really life-giving stuff within Kensington, where we live, and a sharing and question time around a specific theme – this one being ‘how to serve God with your Time, Treasures and Talents’ – it really was a great day and a few lines of thort or concept struck me as different people were sharing and i wanted to be able to pass those on:

Coz is a friend of ours from Australia [i know!] and he shared a little about being a good steward of your Treasures [so money and things] and one thing he said which really stood out was that “You can’t outgive God!”

now, maybe to some of you that will seem like an obvious thing. But i think to many of us, and even perhaps a lot of us that ‘know’ it as ‘an obvious thing’ we often don’t really believe it. i mean, not really. Rather our picture of God [whether stated or not, and usually not] is that of this long-bearded fellow sitting on a cloud with his lightning bolt waiting for the second we step out of line so that He can absolutely nail us and make sure that we behave better [which is possibly why we as the church have ended up so often focusing on what we are against and trying to avoid than what we are for?

but it is so true that we cannot outgive God – God is so completely generous and Loving and kind and compassionate and opportunity-giving and the list just goes on… we just maybe need to realign our minds [and our actions] to the fact…

it reminded me of this passage in Luke 11:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Coz spoke about it in terms of putting the focus on our giving. Trusting God and at times risking what might seem ridiculous in terms of being generous to others with the idea in mind that we cannot outgive God and so God will constantly supply our needs and how much more so if we have held loosely on to the things He has entrusted us with before. Those who are faithful with little will be entrusted with much.

How are you doing on the scale of generosity? [money yes, but also time and things and energy] And would it help you to be a little more generous if you truly believed that you had an uber generous God watching over you?

to read about “no technology time” head over here…

yesterday tbV and now my friend as well, brian watson, dropped in for a visit… from South Africa, brian is in the middle of doing his PHD in Arizona in stuff you would have to hear to not really understand [altho solar power and keeping particles the right distance from each other and a billionth of a meter thin wire all enter into it] and it was great to get to see him.

he is actually spending most of the weekend with a friend of his in NYC so trained his way through to hang with us from yesterday afternoon and then left eeearly this morning…

what was really cool was that in the village house over a snack and then later on the train and then outside Mad Mex bar and then on the train and then during and after the potluck we had a number of significant conversations. at least a week’s worth altho probly closer to a month or a year for a lot of people i know.

real talk. about real things. life changing things. frustration with wanting church to get it a little bit closer to God’s way things. relationship things. community things.

[and actually we did touch on sport and movies and food in there but the point being that we spent so little time together – relatively – and yet the conversation was so rich]

i hesitate to finish with a challenge cos i suspect the kind of people who read this blog are the kind of people for whom rich conversations are the norm – not necessarily every one, but at least sometimes, and preferably often. and so maybe the challenge is more about challenging the people you know who can get through a year or a month or a week’s worth of conversations and only have dealt with the latest or rehashed information about food, sport and movies.

our time with brian left us feeling like we’d grown a bit and hopefully he did as well. we got stuff to think about and hopefully gave some. as a result of some of the talk that happened things will probably change, maybe in small ways, but maybe later in larger ones.

i still want to be able to quote Monty Python and get amped when we thrash the Aussies in the coming cricket test match and defend Michael Schumacher’s comeback [give him a car, Ross!] and do weird and silly voices with Monkman and get amped for coffee and chocolate and mashed potato… but at the same time i want to grapple with the problem of the drug dealers on our doorstep and try to figure out how to do community living better with the people we live with, and discover how Jesus and His teaching translates to the Puerto Rican people who live across the road from us and figure out how to improve the aft6er school homework program and formulate an opinion on Occupy Philly and and and…

let’s practice speaking more life, more meaningfully and more real. ly.

so i guess in some small part it was thankx to a stalkery type australian girl that me and tbV started thinking about what we eat and then started No-Meat-Thursdays which has actually been quite a rad extension of our lives and only occasionally interfered with ‘normal’ life – so every Thursday we don’t eat meat just as a small small step in terms of meaning one-day-a-week’s less meat needing to be there i guess and i know a bunch of okes from enGAGE and maybe wider around have joined in as all so maybe soon we will have saved our first cow and can celebrate with a spit braai… okay maybe not.

but the point is that God put us in charge of this planet and gave us dominion over the animals and the fishes and so on and we have largely stuffed it up largely cos of selfishness and greed as is usually the case when we are talking about us and the stuffing-upness of life… so we have not done as we should and it is up to us as Jesus-followers to be involved in that – well it’s up to everyone really, but Jesus-followers have it as part of their mandate and i guess this is an area which is always viewed as separate from the church, often because a number of the people calling it to our attention are a bunch of nut jobs (lets be honest and yes that’s a generalisation but only because it is generally true – not ‘all’ but ‘a number of’ and usually the ones that shout the loudest and are thus more visibly seen).

a second thing me and tbV eventually started doing is recycling. a bit. in that i’m not sure we know exactly how to do it or if we’re doing it right but we have a container outside our back door for glass and one for cardboard and one for cans and one for plastic and we keep stuff separate from general garbage and stick it in there and we finally discovered a place in town (at the BP incidentally) where we can drop it off and did our first drop off the other day (after months of collecting and not knowing where to drop off)

so it’s not much for sure, but it’s something – one day of not meat and a bunch of recycling – it can be a little bit of a mission (going to braais on Thursdays and driving to town with bags of crap) but it is necessary and this is an area where i do think the church needs to get a lot more involved.

starting with you and what are you doing?

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