Friday, October 24, 2014

Taking something good and using it for evil

Did you ever wonder why Islamic State militants make their hostages wear orange jumpsuits? I didn't either until I heard a sermon on the origins of Islamic State by Pastor Patt Fisk. Pastor Fisk said that they do this deliberately in their propaganda videos to mock what they see as the infidel West. Captured suspected Islamic militants who were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay and other facilities wore orange jumpsuits as their prison uniform.

Obviously they saw this as a humiliation against their fellow Muslims, and dressing their hostages in these same uniforms is part of how they are taking revenge against their former oppressors. I did an internet search for a suitable picture of one of these hostages, but all of them are too graphic and this blog is not the place for sensationalism.

As a Christian, I would hope that God's grace is big enough to reach anyone, but some people are irredeemably evil. Islamic State are deluded fanatics who are intent in bringing the entire world under the subjugation of their religion. They will never succeed in their aims, but they are serious threat to international security. Their actions demonstrate that they are not interested in diplomacy or peaceful negotiations. You can't negotiate with someone who wants you dead. Therefore military force is the only way to deal with them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's time for pedantry corner

1972 Labor campaign poster
Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam died today, aged 98. Both loved and loathed by many, he was a polarizing figure, but without question he was one of the most significant Australian political leaders of recent times.

In a game of journalistic one upmanship, rival news outlets rushed to be first with the news of his passing. This backfired for The Age, whose report this morning carried a quote from Federal Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shroten. Bill Shorten would be bewildered to see that his surname has changed. By this afternoon the error was corrected.

Google the Omniscient says that there are people with the surname Shroten in the world, but the White Pages says that none of them are living in Australia. 

This is another textbook example of what happens when you don't pay attention to detail. Times are difficult at Fairfax Media, with significant restructuring of the company in recent years, but surely they still have adequate resources to proof read and edit their content before publication. 

Friday, October 10, 2014


Wassim Doureihi
To almost universal derision, Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesperson Wassim Doureihi appeared on ABC TV's Lateline. He didn't do himself or his organisation any favours with his aggressively delivered answers.

Program host Emma Alberici repeatedly invited Doureihi to denounce the atrocities of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but he refused to do so. He was asked to comment on whether the actions of Islamic State (IS) fighters beheading people and taking their severed heads as trophies could be justified, but deflected that question too.

Nor would he say anything to dissuade young Australian Muslim men in Australia from joining IS. Hizb ut-Tahrir wants to see Australia become incorporated into a global Islamic caliphate governed by Sharia law. Again he would not be drawn on how he thought this would be enacted.

Rather than engage with Alberici on an equal footing, he wanted to present his own agenda. Did he have a problem with being interviewed by a woman who he presumably believes is inferior to a man? Read the interview transcript and you will see that he rejects the narrative of the war on terror given by Western governments. In his worldview, militant Muslims are simply the aggrieved victims of unjust and criminal Western militarism.

He also claims that Muslims are forbidden from killing innocent civilians. This raises the question of what exactly makes a person an innocent civilian, on what basis is their innocence or guilt determined, and infers that there is another category of person that it is justified to kill.

Islamic theology divides the world into two spheres; Dar al-Harb (House of War) and Dar al-Islam (House of Peace). Any part of the world not belonging to the Dar al-Islam is in rebellion against Allah and is therefore deemed to be at war against the Dar al-Islam, and must be subjugated. It is the duty of every Muslim to bring all of the world into the Dar al-Harb. Some Muslims are doing this peacefully, while others have a militaristic understanding of this obligation. Furthermore, there is plenty of Islamic scholarship arguing that is it permissible to kill civilians who are not a part of the Dar al-Islam and who will not submit to Islam.

This group has been banned in several countries. I think it's time to give serious consideration into banning it in Australia as well. While it doesn't speak for all Australian Muslims, should we tolerate a group that has no loyalty to the Australian nation, wants to overturn our existing form of government, and replace it with one befitting its nightmare vision of a global caliphate? No thanks. This is serious.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Let's be accurate

James Campbell of the Herald-Sun is speculating about who might become
Victorian Liberal leader if the Napthine government is voted out of office in the November 29 Victorian state election. Already the Liberals have narrowed the field down to two possible options; Treasurer Michael O'Brien, and Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

O'Brien went to Marcellin College, a private Catholic school, and then graduated from Melbourne University, and studied law. Prior to entering politics, he worked as a solicitor and barrister. Meanwhile, Guy went to Montmorency High School. Campbell might care to know that it was actually renamed Montmorency Secondary College when he attended there. After high school he went on La Trobe University, graduating from there with a Bachelor of Arts in 1995.

Campbell claims that aside from positions at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Victorian Farmers Federation, Guy has never had a real job outside of politics. That's not true. He leaves out part of his work history. I know for a fact that early in his working life, he had a part time job as a driveway attendant at a suburban service station. Doesn't that count? I pointed this out in a letter to the editor which was not printed.

I can't comment on Michael O'Brien, as I don't know him. Some politicians are career politicians with little grasp of the real world. Matthew Guy isn't one of them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Money down the drain

With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, every so often some parents get upset, perhaps understandably, because their children may have access to gambling apps. Some of these smartphone and tablet games are played using real money, deducted from the player's credit card. Some of them even allow the play to collect actual winnings. It's not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see how this could lead to them becoming problem gamblers later in life.

This is nothing new, however. In 1993 Nintendo released Vegas Stakes for their Super Nintendo console. The player visits Las Vegas casinos to play Craps, Blackjack, Roulette, Poker, and Seven Card Stud. I remember playing this game once in a department store demonstration area. I called it quits after two minutes. If more children played games like this, it would actually act as a gambling deterrent, showing it for the boring and pointless activity that it is.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lurking in the darkness

Several faith based organisations and non governmental organisations including the Bible Society, Micah Challenge, Salvation Army, Tear Fund, and World Evangelical Alliance have joined forces to highlight the issue of corruption.

They aim to collect 1 million signatures to present to world leaders attending the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November 2014.

Every year Transparency International releases its corruption perceptions index. In 2013, Denmark and New Zealand were deemed to be the world's least corrupt countries, and Aghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia judged as the most corrupt. That's hardly something to brag about, is it?

It is estimated that the cumulative cost of worldwide corruption is $1 trillion per year. This figure is comprised of the cost of corporate tax evasion and tax evasion by wealthy individuals. Think of the public goods that such a some of money could be used to provide, like healthcare, education, clean water, and food security, for example. This alone would save thousands of lives.

As well as being a justice issue, this is also a spiritual issue. It is a clear reminder, if any is needed, of a world under the curse of sin (Romans 8:22). It also gives the Old Testament warnings against those who acquire wealth through unjust means fresh resonance (Proverbs 16:8, 21:6, 22:16, 28:16, Jeremiah 17:11, 22:13, Ezekiel 22:13, Habakkuk 2:9).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

America's second oldest teenager

Whilst sorting through some donations today I came across this book called Making Choices. Author Lois W. Johnson gives advice on ethical decision making to teenage Christian girls.

It was published in 1988, but what amused me was the girl on the cover photograph.

She bares a strong resemblance to actress Gabrielle Carteris, who appeared as the studious Andrea Zuckerman in American drama series Beverly Hills, 90210, which aired from 1990 to 2000