Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The first lady's man strikes again

Bill Clinton
There's no doubt that sex sells in marketing. Former US President Bill Clinton, whose private life has always been somewhat colourful, with more twists and turns than the roads through the Scottish highlands, is believed to have a secret mistress. That's one of the allegations in Ronald Kessler's forthcoming book, The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Live of Presidents. 

Before a new biography or autobiography is published, its marketers often release salacious tidbits to the media to create pre-release buzz around it. Clearly that's what is happening here, and the public is probably thinking, "So, Bill's up to his old tricks, is he?"

The reader of this blog will never see it turned into a trashy supermarket tabloid or gossip column. I abhor gossip and rumours. The only reason I'm writing about it is because I wonder what impact this story will have on Hillary Clinton's ambitions to make a second run for the Presidency in 2016. Could an allegation like this stall her campaign at the traffic lights? Should she be a candidate, once again she'll have to deal with rumours and innuendo about her marriage, much like her husband did during his 1992 candidacy and entire tenure of office as President.

Bill Clinton's infidelities and his character issues were arguably one of the reasons why Vice President Al Gore lost the 2000 election to George W. Bush. Perhaps he's now dashed his wife's Presidential ambitions as well. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why not?

Without a doubt it is one of the most horrible books ever written. It is the rantings of a deranged maniac. I feel repulsed even looking at it. Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf has been banned from publication in Germany since 1945. In 2015 its copyright and ban will expire. German politicians are debating whether or not its publication should be permitted from 2016.

Munich's Centre for Contemporary History plans to publish an annotated critical edition of the book. While this is understandably a very sensitive issue for victims of the Nazi regime, their descendants, and the German people in general, a critical edition seems to me to be a great idea.

Mein Kampf is a historical document that should inform part of the collective memory of Germany's past, and needs to be studied, engaged with, and shown for the work of evil that it is.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/mein-kampf-returns-german-ministers-prepare-to-lift-ban-on-publication-of-adolf-hitlers-controversial-manifesto-9562903.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/08/opinion/should-germans-read-mein-kampf.html?_r=0

Monday, July 07, 2014

Fair dinkum

The Dalai Lama
I spent a portion of the weekend clearing my backlog of sermon podcasts to listen to. Among others, I often listen to Phil Fernandes, who once served in the United States Marine Corps, and is the long serving pastor of Trinity Bible Fellowship in Seattle in the United States.

He often speaks on the classical Christian doctrine of the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. My takeaway from these sermons is that the fact of Jesus being the Messiah is so well attested by scripture that it should be beyond dispute. Anyone who studies these passages should be left with little doubt that these verses describe Jesus and not somebody else. 

To know the real, you have to know the counterfeit. Just as bank tellers are trained to detect counterfeit currency, Christians need to train themselves to detect spiritual counterfeits. The early Christians had to take close heed to Christ's warning about "false Christs" (Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22).  These warnings were echoed by the apostles in their writings (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3, 2 John 1:7). The early Christians were not immune to spiritual deception. 

Neither are we, their contemporaries. These days Christians need to be more discerning than ever. Who are some modern false Christs? Fernandes mentioned cult leaders Sai Baba (1926-2011), Bhagwan Shreee Rajneesh (1931-1990), David Koresh (1959-1993) and Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama is addressed as "Your Holiness." It is offensive for any mere human being to carry such a title. Holiness connotes the idea of being pious, pure, and saintly. Jesus is the only sinless man who ever lived (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:25). Because of this, only through believing and trusting in Jesus can any sinful, fallen human being have reconciliation with God.

As for the Dalai Lama, his teachings lead people astray and away from Jesus. He denies that Jesus is God in human form, instead asserting that Jesus had lived previous lives, and that his purpose was to preach a message of tolerance and compassion, and to help people become better human beings. Since he offers a distorted version of what Jesus taught and who he was, he meets the biblical definition of an anti-Christ.

Years ago some friends of mine went to hear the Dalai Lama speak at one of his public meetings in Melbourne. They reported that most of what he said consisted of feel good generalities. There was no notion of human sin, the need for repentance, and accountability to God. He might tickle your ear with inspiring sounding words, but I definitely would not entrust him with my eternal destiny. He might be charismatic, charming and affable, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but he is still an ordinary man in need of salvation.

http://www.gotquestions.org/Dalai-Lama.html

http://instituteofbiblicaldefense.com

Monday, June 30, 2014

Let me politely decline

After a massive public outcry last week, Islamic activist Uthman Badar had his invitation to speak on the topic of "honour killings are morally justified" at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney in August cancelled.  In media interviews Badar later claimed that his views were misrepresented. Even if Badar is telling the truth, the real issue is why this man was even being given a mainstream platform for his views.

Badar is the Australian spokesperson for Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic political movement whose goal it is to establish a worldwide caliphate, in other words, to bring the world under the rule of a global Muslim theocracy, ruled by shariah law, including Australia. Were the festival organizers aware of this when they invited him, or that this movement is banned in some countries?

I pray that Islamists, or indeed theocrats of any persuasion never achieve their aims. Any theocracy is neither desirable nor feasible. The Islamic caliphate is definitely a dangerous idea. If there is one positive thing to come out of this controversy, it is that more people will become aware of it and other Islamist movements, and make an effort to be properly informed about them. Be alert but not alarmed.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The funny and serious dichotomy


At the risk of milking a joke too much, today I turn my attention to The Police's 1978 hit, Roxanne. Years before Sting embarked on a solo career with songs like Russians and campaigning to preserve Amazonian rainforests, he shows his social conscience by singing against prostitution.

As a child hearing this on the radio, I had trouble making out the lyrics. The chorus goes:

Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)



I'm not joking when I thought that it sounded like "Ooo roo roo red right." It wasn't until years later that I properly understood the lyrics and the meaning of this song. Indeed, I used to sing it on the way to church on Sundays, because the congregation I belonged to met in a building that was on the same street as a brothel, and I often saw customers arriving and leaving said premises on a Sunday morning.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bill Cosby's secret Australian connection

The Brown Hornet
As I sit and write this I'm only 30 minutes drive from the Mornington Peninsula, one of the state of Victoria's premier tourist destinations. In addition to its historic sites, spectacular coastline, amazing beaches, and gourmet produce, it has also contributed to the music scene.

Australian Crawl came from Mount Eliza, was founded when its members were at school together, were active from 1978 until their 1986 breakup, and were one of the most popular bands of the era. Lead singer James Reyne was famous for his unintelligible vocals. Take for example their 1980 single, Downhearted, which hit number 12 in the Australian charts in July of that year.

I left my heart back in the Orient
Down on Bali bays
It's not the way that I should feel
But it's the way I'm gonna stay

Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really started
Yeah
Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really start

It seems all wrong to be back home
There's no end in sight
Should I be made to drag you through
This lovers and spite

Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really started
Yeah
Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really start

Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really started
Yeah
Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really start

I sometimes think that we should stay
Happy on the farm
I sometimes think I'll give it all away
This love and all it's charms

Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really started
Yeah
Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really started

Yeah
Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really started
Yeah
Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really start

It's clearly a song about love and loss. This was lost on me as I heard this song on early 1980's AM radio. To my untrained young ears, it sounded like James Reyne was singing about the Brown Hornet, a superhero who appeared in the animated television series, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, which Bill Cosby created, produced, and hosted.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of websites about misheard song lyrics, which are known as mondegreens. Some of them are quite amusing to look at. Reyne's unique vocal style was obvious fodder for these sites.

http://amiright.com/

http://www.australiancrawl.com




Friday, June 06, 2014

A good habit to be into

It was 40 years ago in 1974 that Adelaide based nun Sister Janet Mead of the Sisters of Mercy order had a worldwide hit with her rock version of The Lord's Prayer. She was the second nun to have a top ten hit in the Billboard Hot 100, preceded in 1963 by Sister Luc-Gabrielle, who had a hit with Dominique.

Following in Luc-Gabrielle and Mead's footsteps is Sister Cristina Scuccia, an internet sensation who won the Italian version of television singing competition The Voice. It remains to be seen how her career will turn out after this, but good on her for her achievement and sharing her gift with her fellow Italians.

Mead has shunned the limelight, but she deserves the distinction of being among many Australian female solo artists to have international hits in the 1970's just like her contemporaries, Olivia Newton-John and Helen Reddy.