Friday, July 03, 2015

Well and truly over the rainbow

In the wake of last week's momentous US Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage across the United States, several of my Christian friends expressed their support for it by superimposing a rainbow flag, the symbol of the gay rights movement, over their social media profile pictures.

Pastor Kevin DeYoung of the Gospel Coalition, has written 40 questions that are addressed to Christians who support same sex marriage. I'd also like to put these questions to my friends. To this list I would also ask them how they would define the noun Arsenokoitai, used by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.

As I reflect on what scripture says as a whole about marriage and sexuality, it seems to me that any Christian who wants to honour God with how they express their sexuality has only two options. They either marry one spouse of the opposite sex, or stay celibate. I do not see how there is another option, unless I have that wrong.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

400 posts

Today marks the 1936th anniversary of the death of the Roman Emperor Vespasian, who ruled from 69 to 79 AD.

Vespasian is a significant figure in Christian history. He reigned during the first Jewish revolt of 66-70 AD, which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and the final exile of the Jewish people from their homeland. These events are described in the writings of Josephus, but long before that, the synoptic gospels record that Jesus himself prophesied about them (Matthew 24:1-3, 15-20, Mark 13:1-2, Luke 21:5-24).

At the same time that Jesus spoke of these events, he also spoke of his second coming. This portion of the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. When and how this will take place is a matter of debate. The key thing is to make sure that we, and I include myself in this, are in right standing with God.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Lend me a fiver

The United States Treasury has announced that it will put a woman on a redesigned $10 bill that will be introduced in 2020. As of today it has not been decided who she will be. As long ago as 1967, soon after the introduction of decimal currency, the first version of the
Australian $5 note featured a portrait of the 19th century English humanitarian, Caroline Chisholm (1808-1877).

Universal female suffrage was achieved in Australia in 1902, but not in the United States until 1920. This is a rare historical instance of Australia leading where the United States follows, rather than the other way around.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Overpriced, overly salty popcorn

Over the weekend I saw Jurassic World. The first film in the franchise, Jurassic Park (1993), was groundbreaking for its time. It pushed the envelope in the use of visual effects. Since then movie audiences have been bombarded with CG heavy blockbusters.

The sense of wonder that permeated Jurassic Park is missing here, even though the visual effects are definitely more impressive and fluid. Bryce Dallas-Howard's character, Claire, a park manager, isn't as fully fleshed out as Laura Dern's Dr. Ellie Sattler, while Owen (Chris Pratt) once again plays a variation on the likeable rogue persona he honed in Guardians of the Galaxy. The rest of the supporting cast acquit themselves well.

I wasn't disappointed by this film, but I wasn't overwhelmed by it either. The action sequences are punctuated by a genuine feeling of suspense, and moments of humour as well. I also liked the nostalgic Easter eggs. It doesn't pretend to be anything more than what it is; a crowd pleaser.,manual

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Sound and fury

William Shakespeare's classic tragedy, Macbeth, returns to the big screen this September in a new film adaptation directed by Justin Kurzel, and starring Michael Fassbender as Macbeth, and Marion Cottilard as Lady Macbeth. The trailer looks promising. It should compare favourably with Roman Polanski's compelling 1971 adaptation.

Fassbender and Cottilard will next be seen in the forthcoming movie adaptation of Ubisoft's blockbuster Assassin's Creed game series, also to be directed by Kurzel. If this film does well enough to warrant sequels, presumably each installment will be a lazy retread of the previous one, with a few minor tweaks.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Mixed feelings

Former Victorian Premier Joan Kirner, who was in office from 1990 to 1992, died after a battle with cancer. She was 76. As a conservative I didn't agree with her politics, but for the most part I respected her. She governed under very difficult circumstances, and led a dysfunctional and incompetent cabinet.

I add this qualifying statement because after Kirner left politics, she was involved in establishing EMILY's List Australia, a network set up to help progressive women candidates run for elected office. This organisation has been quite successful. A key plank of EMILY's List's platform is the principle of reproductive rights.

Kirner was also a long time advocate of abortion law reform. In 2008 Victoria enacted laws allowing late term abortion after 24 weeks gestation. Pro-abortion Labor parliamentarians were instrumental in getting this legislation passed.

Joan Kirner must bear part of the responsibility for these laws. I am sad about her passing, but I am also sad about the numbers of abortions in Victoria.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dogmatic bigot

Part of tertiary education involves developing critical thinking skills, and learning to engage with ideologies and beliefs differing from your own. The library collection of any tertiary institution represents a spectrum of scholarly opinion. In plain English, just because an item is held in the library, it does not mean that the institution, its faculty, or library staff endorse the viewpoints of its author, authors, or contributors.

It is unprofessional for librarians to refuse to hold resources just because they disagree with the opinions expressed in them. I write this wordy disclaimer because my library holds literature both supportive of, and hostile to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishnas. 

Some of this literature was written by ISKCON's founder,  (1896-1977). I noticed that he went by the title of "His Divine Grace." It strikes me as blasphemous that the late Swami, a mere man, would consider himself to be divine in any sense. He was an ordinary man, just like I am, and in need of salvation from Jesus Christ, just like I am (Romans 3:10, 23, 7:18).

The Bible consistently attests that Jesus is the only sinless man who ever lived. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 4:15, 9:14, 1 Peter 1:19, 2:22, I John 3:5). I wouldn't want to entrust my eternal destiny to another fallen, sinful human being such as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, or indeed any other spiritual leader of his ilk. It would be pure folly.