Seems like this is quite a week for remembering…

First there’s this one:

SomethingToThinkAbout-33

But important as that is, no doubt most Australians and very many in Indonesia will be thinking of Bali.

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I can recall when and where I first heard of it – in The Forresters in Surry Hills while having Sunday Lunch with Ian “The Dowager Empress” Smith and others. My colleague at that time at SBHS, Russell Darnley, was considerably closer.  Read Russell’s own account on that link and also My First Visit to #Bali Since the October 2002 #Bombing (2010).

Violence and extremism are no more a recent phenomenon in Indonesia than in countries like the UK and the USA.  Both Indonesia and the USA fought wars of national liberation against colonial powers.  Both have constitutions and a sense of nationhood, grounded in such violent struggles. Many countries have their own uniquely violent histories and their own particular forms of extremism.  Attempting to make some historical sense of violence, extremism and associated acts of war and terror, requires some consideration of their context.  This is often a useful exercise because it helps to resolve a sense of perspective and scale.

The Bali Bombing was an horrific event that touched me personally, yet for me it’s difficult to distinguish between the madness of the suicide bomber and the madness that suffuses the actions of a nation state that, while understanding the imprecision of its technology, still persists with actions that euphemistically result in collateral damage, the death of innocents and destruction of their homes and infrastructure.  When I see images of white phosphorous raining down as people scatter in terror, I’m reminded that we live in a world where love for our fellow humans is held in scant regard by many.

Writing about the Bali Bombing of 12 October 2002 is a theme that recurs for me, but I’ve published only a small part of what I could say on this tragic event. Some of my work is far too graphic for accessible online publication, such material best lends itself to the print medium not the openness of the Internet. More is yet to be written but I’ve waited for a greater maturity of insight, which I hope might come, before writing further on this subject.  Part of the process has been a re-visiting of the places where I lived and worked before and during those tragic days…

See also Honours for carers of Bali wounded (2004).

There are some good items appearing at the moment in The Sydney Morning Herald. For example: Bali’s hidden bomb victims.

…"They all know I am a widow of a Bali bomb victim," Rencini says. "I’ve been coming here for more than two years. They don’t treat me special because of that, but they do treat me kindly. We are all here struggling. This is a man’s world; I am a woman. They protect me."

By the end of the night, Rencini has earned the equivalent of $4.50 after costs – less than half the price of a cocktail at a tourist hotel bar.

She is one of many widows, fatherless children and survivors who are the hidden victims of the Bali bombs. Each has dipped into a near unimaginable well of resilience to survive, often helped by the good hearts of strangers…

And while some direct their energy into a generalised hatred or fear of Islam – we all know the Islam=Terrorist mindset – we would do well to reflect on the many nuances we non-Muslims and non-Indonesians hardly ever grasp, thereby missing what could be parts at least of real solutions, solutions that are indeed appearing right now and deserve to be known and encouraged. For example: Turning away from radical doctrines.

The radical Islamist preacher who once helped establish terror group Jemaah Islamiyah in Australia admits he wanted to make the country a financial hub for the attempt to overthrow the Indonesian state.

Abdul Rahman Ayub was once one of Australia’s most wanted men, also believes a cell of 30 or more jihadists that he helped indoctrinate may remain active in Australia and that authorities know little about them.

Ayub, who was the deputy leader of JI in Australia to his twin brother, Abdul Rahim, has told The Sun-Herald they were sent by Indonesia’s godfather of terrorism, Abu Bakar Bashir, in 1997 to train young radicals in their form of Islam.

Abdul Rahman Ayub … once one of Australia’s most wanted men. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Both brothers stayed until 2002, the year of the Bali bombing. In his first interview with an Australian journalist, Ayub says the brothers taught perhaps 100 people about the violent form of jihad.

”When I came back from Australia in 2002, to my knowledge there were about 30 people [who were still radicals in Australia],” he says. ”I don’t know about their recent development, whether they’re still active or not, but I believe they are still there. Neither I nor ASIO know the exact figures, nor how active they are.”

Ayub was trained in Afghanistan between 1986 and 1992 to fight as a mujahid, or holy warrior. He was an expert in unarmed combat and became a confidant of the Bali bombers Hambali (whose wedding he helped pay for) and Mukhlas. He says at one time he respected Bashir ”more than I respected my parents”.

However, he denies he had any advance knowledge of the Bali attack and insists he never wanted an attack on Australian soil.

”My mission was to preach Islam … Bashir told us not to commit any violence in Australia – we treated Australia as a country for taking political asylum,” he says.

”But we did teach jihad against Indonesia, against Suharto at the time. We taught about forming an Islamic state, but in Indonesia, not in Australia.”…

Ayub says the attack of September 11, 2001, Bali and Roche’s plot were errors that had changed how Islam was regarded and had damaged his own faith in violent jihad. ”I was furious. I was very against those attacks because it hurts Muslims themselves … It hurts humanity and it hurts our principles,” Ayub says now.

Over a number of years he abandoned his former belief in the overthrow of the Indonesian state. He says he believes now that Muslims should fight only as soldiers in a war zone.

Ayub hoped Indonesia might become an Islamist state but now believes it cannot be rushed: ”It’s God’s decision. If Allah wants to give it to us, it will happen.”

He works around Jakarta as a freelance theologian, preaching Islam. His brother, who left Australia three days after the Bali bombing, runs two schools. Abdul Rahim declined to be interviewed but, according to Abdul Rahman, has also given up belief in violent jihad.

With about 35 other former mujahideen, Abdul Rahman is working through the ”Afghan Alumni Forum” to de-radicalise some of Indonesia’s young jihadists and inoculate Indonesians against the radical doctrine.

You might prefer that people like this all became Christians/Atheists/Agnostics/Dudists and forgot all about Islam, but it isn’t ever going to happen. On the other hand, this is now someone that no longer reoresents any kind of threat to us – and isn’t that the outcome we really desire as well as the outcome we can actually have, it appears. Bless the “Afghan Alumni Forum”, I say.

See also Indonesia’s jihad factories: uncovering nurseries of terrorism’s next generation.

I see that at the time I tangled, so to speak, yet also almost agreed with Piers Akerman, whose bon mots on Alan Jones we can no doubt look forward to on QandA tonight. Let’s replay 2002:

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Piers Akerman has really done a fine job on Osama bin Laden in today’s Daily Telegraph (Sydney). Now it so happens that I do not disagree with much of what he says: Osama bin Laden is a frightening creep with a very deep hatred of the West and is undoubtedly a ruthless, dangerous, fanatical and murderous opponent of tolerance, particularly for "any who may be interested in fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling or trading with interest" — all of which, incidentally, are frowned on by the Bible and, traditionally, by the Catholic Church and to this day by the Anglican Church in Sydney — not to mention my own (or erstwhile own) Presbyterian Church**. There is a certain irony in Akerman here, as gay-friendliness (to select one aspect of interest to me) is not really the thing one associates with Akerman, though intoxicants is possibly another matter. Or so I am told.

Nor do I disagree that bin Laden and his like (that sad and murderous young man in Indonesia comes to mind, the human bomb that it is now thought blew up Paddy’s Bar in Bali) are "perverting the tenets of Islam", to quote Akerman’s headline. Well, they are at least perverting what the majority of the practitioners of Islam actually believe, though the Good Book (the Islamic one) is just as embarrassing as its Jewish and Christian cousins in this respect. All the Big Three Sacred Books have things in them that are anti-civilisation.

The best thing to do with such books, in my view and also in the view of many others, is to grant their historicity, their contexts of origin, and to jettison what is in them that reflects their age and keep what is still of value, or what still offers guidance for living, as much in all of them does. Islam is in a difficult position here as it has been even more bibliolatrous than Christianity, and proper critical study of the Koran, while not unknown in the Islamic world, encounters difficulties. But so does proper critical study of the Bible in ultra-Orthodox Jewish circles, where the age of the planet equals the current Jewish year (did you know the Jews count from the Creation?), or in Bible Belt America where the seven-day creation still has its supporters, along with nutters who believe the 1611 Bible is itself the very Word of God, and so on. We will consign them to Landover Baptist Church where they belong.

OK, so what is my complaint then, since so far it appears I agree with Akerman essentially? It is this: he is such an prat that he leaps into the theology of Islam with a show of knowledge without even checking his well-thumbed Children’s Encyclopaedia, let alone the Koran, and therefore commits a series of howlers that would have a Muslim kindergartener cacking himself with laughter, except that in the current climate such pig-ignorance is both stupid and dangerous. One recalls what George Orwell said, quoted a couple of entries back. Akerman represents the nadir (a good Arabic word) of opinion journalism; if advertising is brainrot of a particularly pernicious kind, Akerman’s attitude towards accuracy is brainrot of an even more insidious kind, since his opinions become the opinions of thousands of loyal readers. His worldview, God help us, becomes theirs. He is their surrogate brain, as it were.

Had he done his homework, Akerman would have known that the Koran itself, and subsequently Islam, has from the beginning counted Moses and Jesus as prophets. He would know that Islam has no quarrel with the fact that Judaism and Christianity predate it, as it in turn predates Presbyterianism. He would know that at times in Islamic history this has led to policies of toleration for other "people of the Book"– Jews and Christians. For example, the persecuted Jews of Spain found refuge under Islam. It is true that Osama bin Laden does not represent this more benign stream of Islam, of course — Akbar the Great or Suleyman the Magnificent he definitely ain’t. But Osama did not invent the Islamic interpretation of Moses, or the Abrahamic origins of the religion, or its connection with Jerusalem (for what that is worth, which is no more or no less than the Jewish and Christian connections — in other words, best forgotten for the sake of everyone else in the world.) You would think Osama had, to read Akerman.

Then Akerman is so unreflectively Eurocentric (as he almost always is) that you would think Osama had invented Islamic (and Third World) disquiet with Western/American culture and power (the Crusades and all that subsequent Imperialism and the current mess in Israel/Palestine). Yes, Osama exploits these issues, no doubt; but he is not insane in pointing out that they are issues, and the West has been very remiss in coming to terms with them. He is Hitler-like in the way he uses the issues for his own ends, but just as Hitler did not have to invent the ruinous state of the German economy in the 1920s and the injustice of Versailles, so Osama does not have to invent the postcolonial legacy. All this is much better argued by others, so I will not continue, but refer you, for example, to the site the Empress sent last weekend.

Finally: although, as Akerman points out at the end, Christ did say vague things about "rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s", the separation of Church and State is in fact a very recent beast indeed. Ask a Catholic or Presbyterian in early nineteenth century England about that — if you could. Further, it is something the anticlerical Enlightenment won for some of the West (Ireland took longer, Russia under the Tsars never succeeded) not something which the Church willingly granted. It is, further, something the USA still has not really learned — in God We Trust and all those arguments about prayer in schools. Which is not to say that the USA is not a million times more desirable than a Taliban-style (or Cromwell-style) theocracy; it is. And it is true that such liberal values are very much threatened.

But then so is good journalism by the likes of Akerman. His grasp of Church History and Western Intellectual History is little better than his grasp of Islam. The trouble is, people will think I am a smart-arse and Akerman is a good bloke, as ignorance tends to go down well with the mob. Ask any commercial radio talkback jock or station owner. The more meretricious the product the more likely it is to attract the ratings, and advertising dollars just come rolling in.

Slightly ironic today, that last point!

** It’s ten years too late, but I should point out that as far as I know no Christian church currently condemns “trading with interest”. Indeed most of them practise this!

This video really ought to be deeply offensive

… to just about every believer in The Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or any other alleged holy book. But no-one ever notices. Perhaps it’s the tune.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

Last I heard God was not offended. In fact I believe He is a fan.

John_Lennon_Imagine_Lyrics

…Over the course of human history blasphemy has been understood to be unacceptable in most human societies, and often entails extreme sanction. The American, and to a lesser extent Western, elevation of liberty of speech over the sacred values of the community is a peculiar counter-cultural trend which has become normative. But that doesn’t mean that it’s normal or natural. I stipulate here the term “sacred values of the community,” because though blasphemy connotes violations of religious norms, obviously outrage can be triggered by violations of sacred communal norms more generally. Imagine, for example, if someone violated Lenin’s Tomb during the 1950s in the Soviet Union. Jonathan Haidt has alluded to this issue. Someone who reacts calmly to “Piss Christ” might not react so calmly to “Piss Martin Luther King.”

This points to the second issue. Not only is there is a human universal of offense at violation of sacred norms, but those sacred norms vary from culture to culture. So, for example, I have pointed out to followers of the Abrahamic religions that the core documents of their own faiths and the dominant interpretations are often gravely offensive and hostile toward those of other religious traditions. There is a certain incommensurability of offense across cultures. What may be sacred to one culture may be offensive and blasphemous to another. To give an example, the institutions of sacred prostitution has cropped up repeatedly over human history. Many religious people would consider prostitution in the service of gods or God blasphemous, whereas others might consider it an exalted act. Similarly, blood sacrifice, whether of humans or animals, has been central to many religions, and taboo and blasphemy in the context of others. In contrast to this there are acts and violations which seem relatively universal in interpretation. This is clear when offended people make analogies to insulting one’s mother; this is generally communicable across societies, because emotional family ties are fundamental. And the collective paroxysms of rage, anger, and violence, due to violations of communal honor probably draw from the same cognitive reflexes as those which are triggered by violations of family honor….

Archbishop Jensen on QandA last night–objective? No.

Archbishop Jensen and I are twins – well, both born in 1943 and there are a number of points at which we may well have almost met. I, you must recall, was myself a teenage Calvinist.

Last night the Archbishop expressed qualified accord with the asinine remarks of the voice of the Australian Christian Lobby. This is hardly surprising as underneath all the polish and politeness this is the bottom line of both of them.

1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2:2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

That from Paul to the Romans. I am always intrigued by the fact that lesbian acts – or perhaps some kind of pagan sacred sex practice which would at least link to Paul’s argument rather more obviously – precedes what may or may not be an account of male homosexual acts. Notice I have avoided words like “homosexuality”, as that concept did not exist as such in Paul’s day. I am intrigued, of course, because in English-based law lesbianism was never illegal. There is a probably apocryphal story that Queen Victoria would not assent to outlawing it because she did not believe such a thing was possible.

For me the passage above is an interesting and by no means straightforward set of views by a first century Christian convert from Judaism – and the writer would not have considered himself to be composing sacred scripture valid for all ages. That was decided several centuries later in retrospect when the process of establishing which of many texts that were circulating were “canonical” occurred. That, if you like, is an objective view of the New Testament. Nothing new, I might add. 

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I recently read Bart Ehrman’s Forged – Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (2011). To my mind Ehrman is much nearer objectivity than Peter Jensen ever is. Peter Jensen’s forte is special pleading – and that I guess is what he is paid for. You may see an extended example in his 2005 Boyer Lectures. I don’t propose to argue the toss on fundamentalism (Jensen wouldn’t subscribe to all the baggage that term comes with), evangelicalism and Biblical scholarship – whether committed (Jensen’s kind) or objective (Ehrman’s kind).

The authority of God’s word remains a key struggle for all Christians " even in places like Sydney with a strong biblical heritage " said Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen at CMS Summer School’s communion service on Sunday.

Dr Jensen, speaking in his capacity as CMS President on 2 Peter 2 and 3, warned the 2000-strong gathering of CMS members, supporters and missionaries against false gospels that promise elusive liberation.

"Freedom is not simply a multiplicity of choice,’ he said. "We are created as worshippers of the one true God.  You will reach your full human potential when, and only when, you are worshipping the Lord God. That’s where you will achieve your greatest freedom.’”…

While Romans is an authentic document, according to objective scholars, 2 Peter most definitely is not. But in either case given that God has never written any kind of book to cure our longing for certainty in a troubling world, this does not really matter.See also Let’s keep a sense of perspective here, right?

At the same time I wish that another of the panellists last night would really do her homework. Her account of the Bible was indeed crude and laughable, a point I found myself in agreement with Peter Jensen.  I am sure she is a good woman, as one would gather from having seen her in Go Back to Where You Came From on SBS, not to mention her profile:

Her extensive charity and community work includes Asylum Seeker’s Resource Centre, Homelessness and Broken Rites. She is a proud ambassador for Dying With Dignity Victoria, International Day of People with Disability and the Patron (along side Father Bob) of Griefline and was one of the founding members of Friends Of Public Housing and a Tafe Champion.

But subtlety is not her strong point.

Now the question: do GLBT people have lower life expectancy, and if so, why? The underlying point in both Jim Wallace and Peter Jensen, however they gloss it, is that they take a quite literal and authoritative take on Romans: men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. Not acting on same sex attraction at all was what in rather mealy-mouthed fashion Peter Jensen was advocating last night, abstinence and perpetual virginity, even if he also advocates listening to people and being non-judgemental.

PETER JENSEN: Thank you, Tony. God did create homosexuals. I don’t need the gene to tell me that. God created homosexuals. God created every person and loves every person, without doubt.

TONY JONES: No, I mean he created if there is a gay gene, would you say the creator was responsible for creating that?

PETER JENSEN: Well, I would say that that that may be the case but we’re not talking about same-sex attraction, we’re talking about the acting out of same-sex attraction. We’re talking about well, I realise that we’re living in a very, very different world from the one I’m talking about but I’m living in a world where a number of my friends have life long committed themselves to no sexual relations.

TONY JONES: All right, I’m just going to interrupt because there are several people with their hands up. We’ll take this gentleman here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, Peter, I’m 100% gay and I’m HIV negative and I’m not going to die any time sooner than anybody else.

PETER JENSEN: I’m glad to hear it.

I think it pretty well indisputable that the tradition, as continued by Peter Jensen and ACL, is utterly destructive for GLBT people. It certainly was for me. Perhaps we have moved on from the 1970s when a Wollongong Anglican person’s way of helping an also mentally ill colleague of mine was to counsel him that he was committing the sin against the Holy Spirit for which there is no forgiveness. Fortunately that same friend found rather more charity from a Catholic priest in Sydney, but not before, driven over the edge by that Wollongong Anglican, he had attempted to do away with himself. 

I could go on, but I have said enough for you to see that I believe Peter Jensen’s pose of objectivity is just that – a pose. His mind, as true believers always do, is already made up because the Infallible Book has told him what to think.

Contrast Shout Out Health.

Contrast:

truluck

And, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, it doesn’t matter whose Infallible Book (or tradition) we are talking about. The thing the world really needs is a sifting of the wheat from the chaff in ALL traditions, because they are all only too human. Not one of them is certain, not one of them is perfect. That’s the way it is, and it’s a shame we can’t get used to it.

See also my GLBT resources (last updated 2007).

And add to the mix: Healing the Gospel: Did Jesus Die to Save Us From God? by Derek Flood (Sojourners: God’s Politics).

Why did Jesus have to die? Was it to appease a wrathful God’s demand for punishment? Does that mean Jesus died to save us from God? How could someone ever truly love or trust a God like that? How can that ever be called "Good News?"…

When did the good news become bad news?

Behind all of this lies an understanding of the cross rooted in retributive justice known as penal substitution. Simply put: in this theory of the atonement Jesus is punished (penal) instead of us (substitution). Penal substitution is, without question, the most widespread theory of the atonement today. So much so, that many people do not think of it as a theory at all, but simply as "what the Bible says.”…

It wasn’t always that way of course. For the first thousand years, the work of Christ was understood primarily in terms of God’s act of healing people, and liberating them from the bonds of sin and death. This understanding of the atonement is known as Christus Victor. But gradually there was a shift towards a legal focus, and with it a focus on violent punishment.

The message was flipped on it’s head: instead of the crucifixion being seen as an act of grave injustice (as it is portrayed in all four Gospels), there was a shift towards the claim that God had demanded the death of Jesus to quench his anger. Not coincidentally, this coincided with increased violence perpetrated by the church, and it went downhill from there.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if your theory of the cross completely contradicts everything Jesus stood for and taught… it’s probably wrong. It’s sad that I need to say this, but the Gospel is rooted in love of enemies, not in retribution. Retribution is the opposite of forgiveness. So the idea that the entire work of Jesus was to fulfill the demands of retribution is simply absurd. It’s high time we went back to the focus of Jesus, which was not on violent demands for so-called justice, but on restoring broken lives, and showing enemy love. That’s what the cross is really about….

Next day

There have been responses in the press over what Archbishop Jensen had to say on Monday night: Sue Kelly on Heckler, for example. Several letters:

As an Anglican, I cannot sufficiently express my disappointment and indeed outrage at the theological arrogance displayed by Archbishop Jensen on Q&A (”Anglican archbishop backs Christian lobby’s gay views”, September 11).

The Archbishop does not speak for all Anglicans in Australia, and I would suggest many in his own diocese are appalled. Sydney Anglicanism is a form of propositional Christianity based on a belief the Scriptures are the word of God and must be interpreted literally. It does not represent the majority view of Anglicans throughout the world.

We all grapple with changing social issues, but it is unhelpful to attempt to reduce these to propositions based on a literal reading of texts written in a different social environment.

Jensen pretends that he wants a debate on the issues; in fact, he is convinced of the truthfulness of Biblical statements which, for example, require wives to ”submit” to their husbands, and he is merely seeking a platform to pursue that agenda. He was therefore unable to answer the simple question that if we are created in the likeness of God, and sexual orientation is part of our DNA, then how can we condemn same-sex orientation.

 Brian Abbott  Armidale

And this news story: ‘Unhealthy’ gay lifestyle claims tied to bad study.

A Sydney researcher who runs the Gay Community Periodic Surveys, Martin Holt, said Dr Jensen’s vague assertion that the lifespan of practising gays was significantly shorter than heterosexual men seemed to originate from discredited US research.

”The gist of the Camerons’ argument was that lesbians and gay men must die younger than their heterosexual peers because they appeared to be under-represented in studies of older people,” Dr Holt, from the University of NSW, said.

A Danish epidemiologist, Morten Frisch, said the research flaws were ”of such a grave nature that no decent peer-reviewed scientific journal should let it pass for publication”. Dr Frisch’s 2009 study found there was an increase in the mortality rate of same-sex couples in the first few years of marriage but this was likely due to pre-existing illness.

”Although further study is needed, the claims of drastically increased overall mortality in gay men and lesbians appear unjustified,” he concluded.

A public health researcher, Julie Mooney-Somers, of the University of Sydney, said a biennial survey on the health of lesbian and bisexual women had found some gay women had health issues – higher rates of smoking, mental illness and alcohol abuse – but there were no inherent health risks with being a practising lesbian. Such health issues were likely to be the result of higher rates of discrimination, she said.

While practising gay men were at risk of HIV infection, the disease was also a problem for heterosexual couples.

Having just finished From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism (W W Norton 2010) by Canadian-born Darren Dochuk, I am keenly aware of just what a snake pit the world of US religion is,  that anyone can claim to be just about anything and call him/herself “an Institute” and give the appearance of scholarly integrity. Such, it seems, is the case with the grandly self-titled Family Research Institute. See Exposing Junk Science About Same-Sex Behavior.

Miscellanea again — 2

Yesterday’s post really did take an interesting turn!  Today there will again be some nostalgia but first I begin with something futurish…

This is already being built down here in Wollongong, or at least the hole is growing where it is meant to go.  Sadly experience here and in Sydney, which had a very long-lasting hole where Anthony Horderns used to be, means we need to cross our fingers, eh!

a3b0ca95-3436-4eb3-9186-cef44a08478b

Looks good though. Today the same mob, according to The Illawarra Mercury, are floating an even grander idea about what to do with a former industrial and manufacturing hub like The Gong.

Wollongong’s CBD should be anchored by a dynamic university precinct to breathe life back into the city, a new planning report has recommended.

The GPT Group has presented to the city’s councillors and business community a commissioned review of Wollongong’s planning guidelines and long-term vision documents, suggesting radical changes are needed to attract more people to live in the CBD.

The report, prepared by world-renowned urban planners CIVITAS, recommends the city’s building height limits be scaled back to allow for better views to the escarpment and a reduction in the amount of inner-city land zoned for commercial development.

Seven key "character" precincts each with a different make-up of residential and commercial space should be established, it said.

The plan earmarks a revitalised MacCabe Park as a highlight of the CBD, to be bordered by a string of residential high rises, akin to New York’s Central Park.

Setting up a University of Wollongong faculty in the city’s east, possibly on the former Dwyers site, would also act as a catalyst for regeneration of the CBD, the report said…

Well they didn’t float this today or even yesterday, as Wollongong City Council makes clear in this 31 August release.

Wollongong City Councillors and staff have spent the last few days workshopping concepts for the future of the city centre.

Council accepted an invitation to hear from Joe Hruda, a principal of Vancouver-based company, Civitas Urban Design & Planning, on the vision and analysis of our city centre.  This work was commissioned by GPT prior to construction of the West Keira development.

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery OAM said: “There are a number of exciting ideas presented and it’s important that our Council which is relatively new be provided with differing opinions, views and ideas on how a city centre can be made innovative and lively, and how our city centre, with its unique and enduring characteristics, is attractive and sustainable for our citizens, visitors, and businesses. This is also timely given the recent State government’s NSW 2021 plan to rebuild NSW.

“With GPT creating a bigger presence in the city they engaged Civitas to provide a fresh look at the City Centre. Council was interested in hearing the ideas and concepts to help Wollongong realize its potential. With this in mind Council has asked also engaged Design Urban Pty Ltd to independently review the analysis and recommendations of Civitas…

It is worth looking at Wollongong City’s (PDF) CBD Action Plan (2010).  Even if only for the pictures… Winking smile 

Now back in the mists of time in – wait for it! – THE SHIRE!

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That was taken in 1961 in Glencoe Street Sutherland, just across the road from the Presbyterian Church, which you may see below 50 years on.

In the post accompanying that I wrote:

Sutherland Presbyterian Church and manse. I was an elder here  at the age of 21, and Sunday School Superintendent. In the mid 1960s exciting events occurred in this church, the congregation mostly leaving to form the Presbyterian Reformed Church. At that time I resigned. See my 2008 post Uncertain dogma, The Shire, and related musings.

But that was still a few years in the future in 1961, when I was 17/18 and living in Como, though at Sutherland every Sunday morning and evening. I didn’t know the boy in the photo – but then it appears he was a Catholic and even though I had actually fraternised tentatively with some Catholics at Sydney University – indeed sat next to one in English – I didn’t really know any Sutherland Catholics – or Tykes, as we probably said at the time…

Nostalgia can be a deceptive jade, I fear.

Let’s keep a sense of perspective here, right?

So that means first things first, matters of cosmic significance – or at least of great historical import – should come first, right? Right…

So…

sixinarow

Right. Now to what was on SBS last night.

bibles-buried-secrets-vi

Now I really wasn’t sure what this would be like, whether it would be one of those oh golly pseudo-histories so often seen, done in breathless History Channel style with heaps of otiose re-enactments, or whether it would be something halfway respectable. It was a bit of both – rather an overdose of re-enactments/scribes sitting around wearing tea-towels and so on – but it was also very much up to date and thought-provoking. The Biblical Archaeology Review wrote: "The producers have done a magnificent job summarizing over a century of biblical archaeology and biblical scholarship in two hours. The film strikes a balance between the old-fashioned biblical archaeology approach, which tried to prove the Bible’s historicity, and the extreme skepticism of some minimalists, for whom the Bible contains little factual history.”

Par for the course were the tinfoil hat wearers at the American Family Association who organised a petition against impartial scholarship and for sectarian propaganda: "PBS is knowingly choosing to insult and attack Christianity by airing a program that declares the Bible ‘isn’t true and a bunch of stories that never happened…”

I have been interested in this topic for ages, and studying Near Eastern Ancient History at Sydney Uni in 1960 began my acquaintance with archaeology and real history, as distinct from apologetics and propaganda. Then flash forward to 1988 when I found myself tasked with teaching the history of Ancient Israel to a class of Orthodox Jews at Masada College. And so on. And more. Despite which I am still a constant Bible reader – even if I now regard it as a fascinating collection of texts that when it comes down to it are just texts like any other – and, as back in the 1950s Cam Williamson of Sutherland Presbyterian Church used to say, a text without a context is a pretext.  My idea of context has broadened somewhat since then, of course. And last night’s program nicely summarised what context now means to serious historians and archaeologists.

NARRATOR: These heaps of stones were once a magnificent palace and temples, which were eventually destroyed. But when archaeologists date the destruction, they discover it occurred about 2200 B.C. They date the destruction of Jericho to 1500 B.C., and Hazor’s to about 1250 B.C. Clearly, these city-states were not destroyed at the same time; they range over nearly a thousand years. In fact, of the 31 sites the Bible says that Joshua conquered, few showed any signs of war.

WILLIAM DEVER: There was no evidence of armed conflict in most of these sites. At the same time, it was discovered that most of the large Canaanite towns that were supposed to have been destroyed by these Israelites were either not destroyed at all or destroyed by others.

NARRATOR: A single sweeping military invasion led by Joshua cannot account for how the Israelites arrived in Canaan. But the destruction of Hazor does coincide with the time that the Merneptah Stele locates the Israelites in Canaan.

So who destroyed Hazor?

Amnon Ben-Tor still believes it was the Israelites who destroyed the city. But his co-director, Sharon Zuckerman, has a different idea.

SHARON ZUCKERMAN (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): The final destruction itself consisted of the mutilation of statues of kings and gods. It did not consist of signs of war or of any kind of fighting. We don’t see weapons in the street like we see in other sites that were destroyed by foreigners.

NARRATOR: So if there was no invasion, what happened? Excavations reveal that Hazor had a lower city of commoners, serfs and slaves, and an upper city with a king and wealthy elites.

Zuckerman finds, within the grand palaces of elite Hazor, areas of disrepair and abandonment, to archaeologists, signs of a culture in decline and rebellion from within.

SHARON ZUCKERMAN: I would not rule out the possibility of an internal revolt of Canaanites living at Hazor and revolting against the elites that ruled the city.

NARRATOR: In fact, the entire Canaanite city-state system, including Hazor and Jericho, breaks down. Archaeology and ancient texts clearly show that it is the result of a long period of decline and upheaval that sweeps through Mesopotamia, the Aegean region and the Egyptian empire around 1200 B.C….

Fascinating stuff, and consistent with the kind of scholarship you may find on The Bible and Interpretation site, which I have long respected. There is a nice subsection there on media and Biblical Studies: Scholars, Frauds, the Media and the Public. 

Again, see also other entries on this blog –  for example Is that all there is? And how to remember 9/11 constructively… — and on Floating Life and on my 2006-7 archive.

There is, I discover, a more recent documentary series of the same name as the PBS/Nova one (2008) SBS showed Episode 1 of last night. Made by Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou for the BBC in 2011, it is available on YouTube.

Exploring my inner Scot — 3

You ken that I was an Elder of the Kirk at one time, and that, at the end, in a Kirk that closely resembled what you may read at the Inverness Branch of the Scottish Reformation Society.

In contrast the official gateway to Scottish Culture is bland pap.

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Of course one of Scotland’s – and the world’s – great treasures is Rabbie Burns. His satire on the most characteristic dogma of Scots Calvinism is as potent today as it was over 200 years ago.

O Thou, that in the heavens does dwell,
As it pleases best Thysel’,
Sends aen to Heaven an’ ten to Hell,
For Thy glory,
And no for onie guid or ill
They’ve done afore Thee!

I bless and praise Thy matchless might,
When thousands Thou hast left in night,
That I am here afore Thy sight,
For gifts an’ grace
A burning and a shining light
To a’ this place.

What was I, or my generation,
That I should get sic exaltation?
I wha deserv’d most just damnation
For broken laws,
Six thousand years ‘ere my creation,
Thro’ Adam’s cause.

When from my mither’s womb I fell,
Thou might hae plung’d me deep in hell,
To gnash my gums, and weep and wail,
In burnin lakes,
Where damned devils roar and yell,
Chain’d to their stakes.

Yet I am here a chosen sample,
To show thy grace is great and ample;
I’m here a pillar o’ Thy temple,
Strong as a rock,
A guide, a buckler, and example,
To a’ Thy flock.

And so on. Not only is Holy Willie a hypocrite, as becomes obvious if you read on, but God is clearly in urgent need of psychiatric assessment. A psychopath of the first order. However, the people often rose above their beliefs – or were buoyed up by them to a supreme confidence in being indeed a chosen sample, and this, along with a passion for education, helps to explain the enormous contribution the Scots, in our case via their boat people, have made to British Commonwealth, US and world life and culture – far greater than one might expect given their numbers and the remoteness of Scotland.

On that see also To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora, 1750-2010 by T.M. Devine.

Why then did it send so many of its citizens abroad? The answer varies according to time and place of origin. Emigrants came from all over the country. Some, particularly in the Highlands and islands, were certainly poor, even destitute, and the clearances in the late 1840s and early 1850s were undeniably brutal and often coercive. Most of those who left, however, were not utterly impoverished; many had skills and qualifications. Some were driven by martial spirit, missionary zeal or imperial fervour. The empire, Mr Devine points out, was an emphatically British venture in which the Scots saw themselves as equal partners with the English, giving them self-respect as well as prosperity.

The main motive, though, was the desire for a better life and more opportunities. In this, and in their readiness to work hard, Scots were much like emigrants elsewhere. Similarly, like other emigrants, they persecuted native Americans, exterminated aborigines, stole land, defrauded their partners, exploited their workers and happily traded in opium. They did not trade in slaves, not much anyway. But Scotland’s economy in the 18th century was inextricably intertwined with slavery through the sugar, tobacco and cotton industries, plus the civil and military structures that sustained them. Scots were pretty average in other ways, too. They made bad investments, could be thoroughly prejudiced (often about each other) and, it should be remembered, frequently returned home as failures (over 40% in the 1890s).

Yet in some ways they were untypical. They were often educated, which helped to account for the high numbers of lawyers, doctors and engineers among them. This in turn may explain why they were so influential in the lands where they settled. They were also militaristic, religious (David Livingstone, still revered in Africa, became a Victorian saint), loyal (notably to the Crown in the American colonies) and liberal (reflecting the Scottish Enlightenment). Above all, they were numerous, at times proportionately more so than any European nation except the Irish and perhaps the Norwegians.

I have been having fun with, among other sources, exploring my Presbyterian and Scottish background via Project Gutenberg. Here is some of what I have in my Calibre Library and on my Kobo Reader.

scotbooks

Of those let me highlight one.

scotbooks1

That’s a good book – and the page is linked too.

Consider this:

IN no country and at no time has a more searching system of ecclesiastical discipline been attempted than in Scotland in the first century after the Reformation. Not only was the teaching or the practice of the unreformed faith punished with the severest penalties, not only was attendance at church and the learning of religion, as the reformers understood it, rigidly enforced; but even the private life of the people was watched and scrutinized. The behaviour of the congregation on the way home from divine service, the amusements which formed the relaxation of the people, the dress of the women in the street as well as at kirk, the snuff-taking of the men, domestic broils and filial misbehaviour in the various households,—these and other such matters were discussed by ecclesiastical tribunals and visited with pains and penalties, as much as offences against human or divine laws. The country was overspread with a network of church authorities claiming disciplinary powers, there was quite an arsenal of punitive machines in every district, and the whole system was kept in motion by the free use of espionage. Verily, in Scotland “new presbyter was,” as Milton said, “but old priest writ large,” larger in fact than the original by far. Even the soldiery of the Commonwealth, sufficiently used to the methods of Puritanism in England, were astonished and disgusted with the ways and means of Scottish discipline; so much so that during their stay in the country in 1650 they destroyed many of the weapons of this intolerable tyranny; and it is indeed surprising that the people themselves accepted it so long with submission. That the Church has authority to use discipline over its members is admitted; and that at the present time this authority is too little recognised is, in the opinion of very many, equally true; but in the day of its supremest power the Scottish Kirk Sessions seem to have usurped a universal authority. The punitive rights of the State, the proper control which a man has within his own house, even that discipline which every one should learn to exercise over himself, all these, as well as that influence which more strictly is the province of the Church, the Kirk endeavoured to control and enforce by means of its own ecclesiastical courts.

Of these courts the first was the “Exercise,” as it was at first quaintly called, from the custom of “making exercise,” or critically examining a given passage of Scripture; more properly described as the Presbytery. Next to this came the authority of the Synod, or district court, and the final appeal lay to the General Assembly. Of these the higher courts not infrequently did much more than exercise appellant jurisdiction, issuing orders to spur on the zeal of the inferior ones.

The methods of punishment employed by the Kirk were various. Excommunications were freely launched against offenders, especially against those who did not accept in their fulness the teaching and practices of the reformers. Public penance was also resorted to, often in addition to some other form of punishment; the penance usually involving the use of the “repentance-stool,” or the jaggs, or jougs….

scotbooks2

The jagg or jougs consisted of an iron collar fastened by a padlock, which hung from a chain secured in the church wall near the principal entrance. An offender sentenced to the jagg was compelled to stand locked within this collar for an hour or more before the morning service on one or more Sundays. About the time of the Revolution this dropt out of use, chiefly from the fact that the State no longer suffered the powers of the Kirk to be carried with so high a hand; several of the old jaggs, however, yet remain. At Merton, Berwickshire, at Clova, in Forfarshire, and at Duddingston, Midlothian, the instrument may still be seen attached to the kirk wall; the jaggs of Stirling and of Galashiels have also been preserved, though removed from their original places.[12]

Besides the repentance-stool and the jagg, which were specially the weapons of the kirk, there were other instruments of punishment employed by the State, to which the Kirk also did not hesitate at times to have recourse. Just as the Spanish Inquisition handed over those whom it condemned to the “secular arm” for punishment, so the Scottish Kirk passed resolutions desiring the bailies to put this or that offender in gyves; magistrates were requested to imprison others, “their fude to be bread and watter;” employers were instructed to fine or chastise servants who used profane language; and town authorities were solicited to procure appliances for “ducking” certain classes of sinners. The brank or scold’s bridle, the stocks, and the pillory, were used by the ecclesiastical, no less than by the civil, authorities; the Kirk also imposed fines, decreed banishment, used the steeples as prisons, and inflicted mutilation, and even death, upon offenders; its power to enforce these sentences being largely due to the fact that civil disabilities followed the pronouncement of excommunication. The excommunicated person was an outlaw; he could hold no land, might be imprisoned by any magistrate to whom he was denounced, and was to be “boycotted” by friends, followers, and tradesmen; any one showing him the smallest consideration, or affording him the least assistance, was liable to a similar punishment. These large powers were only abrogated in 1690.

Among the offences dealt with by the Kirk, a prominent place was given to adherence to the unreformed faith, and to any apparent lack of zeal for presbyterianism. Saying mass according to the ancient rite, or even hearing it, or giving any countenance to such as did so, was severely dealt with. Hamilton, Archbishop of St. Andrews, was summoned, with nearly fifty others, before the High Court in 1563, charged with saying mass; and although he was liberated at that time, he was subsequently hanged. For a similar “crime,” John Carvet was put in the pillory at Edinburgh, in 1565; other priests were banished in 1613; and another (John Ogilvie) was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered in 1615. For hearing mass, John Logane was fined a thousand pounds in 1613, and many persons were from time to time imprisoned, or otherwise punished. The Church festivals were also put under a ban. The General Assembly in 1645 prohibited schoolmasters from granting a holiday at Christmas; the Kirk Session of St. Andrews punished several persons for keeping that festival in 1573; and in 1605 the same authority at Dundonald summoned a man for not ploughing on “Zuile day” (Yule). To harbour a priest, to possess books of Catholic devotion, to paint a crucifix, all these were recognised offences, which were visited with fines and imprisonment. In 1631 Sir John Ogilvy of Craig was committed to jail for “daily conversing” with supporters of the old faith….

If there had been a few Bamiyan Buddhas to blow up in Scotland some of those old Presbyterians would have been up for it.  For example:

abbey

Well what a day! After a beautiful breakfast off we went to Girvan. [link on image above]

We passed a beautiful old abbey and couldn’t resist a photograph.  It is called the Crossraguel Abbey and was built in 1244 by Duncan, Earl of Carrick.  See website:  http://www.maybole.org/places/crossraguel/abbey.htm

This abbey was destroyed during the Reformation when the Roman Catholic Church outlawed throughout Scotland and England by King Henry VIII.

Not quite right as Henry VIII’s changes did not apply in Scotland, which afterwards had its own Reformation. Crossraguel continued as an Abbey until 1560. Henry VIII died in 1547.

500 years of Roman Catholicism, and any semblance of religious tolerance, came to a juddering halt with the Reformation in 1560. In Scotland this took the form of an orgy of destruction driven by an especially radical brand of Presbyterian Protestantism ("Presbyterian" means governed by representative committees rather than by a hierarchy of bishops). It led to the supplanting of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland by the Presbyterian Kirk; and to the loss of much of the magnificent architecture built during the previous 500 years.

But to leave it there would be unfair. However, that is it for today! Enjoy the Burns.

  • And on contemporary boat people, as distinct from my own ancestors, do make sure you read Lucy Robb in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.  I can’t bring myself to discuss the current cesspit called Parliament on this at the moment – but she does have something worth saying. Whether the dolts will take notice is another matter!  God, even Clive Palmer made more sense the other day than they have lately!

Fascinated by Tyndale…

Political or what? From his Prologue/Translation of Jonah (1531):

tyndale1¶ And in lyke maner sens the world beganne / where soeuer repentaunce was offered and not receaued / there God toke cruell vengeaunce immediatly: as ye se in ye floud of Noe / in the ouerthrowēge of Sodō & Gomor & all the contre aboute: & as ye se of Egipte / of the Amorites / Cananites & afterwarde of the very Israelites / & then at the last of the Iewes to / ād of the Assyriens and Babyloniens and so thorout all the imperes of the world.

¶ Gyldas preached repētaunce vn to ye olde Britaynes that inhabited englōd: they repented not / & therfore God sent in theyr enimies vppō thē on euery side & destroyed thē vpp & gaue the lōd vn to other naciōs. And greate vengeaunce hath bene takē in that lande for synne sens that tyme.

¶ Wicleffe preached repētaunce vn to oure fathers not longe sens: they repēted not for their hertes were indurat & theyr eyes blinded with their awne Pope holy rightwesnesse wherwith they had made theyr soules gaye agenst the receauinge agayne of ye weked spirite that bringeth .vii. worse then hym selfe with him & maketh ye later ende worse then the beginninge: for in open sinnes there is hope of repentaunce / but in holy ypocrisie none at all. But what folowed? they slew their true & right kinge ād sett vpp .iii. wrōge kīges arow / vnder which all the noble bloud was slayne vpp ād halfe the comēs therto / what in fraunce & what with their awne swerde / in fightīge amonge thē selues for ye crowne / & ye cities and townes decayed and the land brought halfe in to a wyldernesse in respecte of that it was before.

¶ And now Christ to preach repētaunce / is resen yet ōce agayne out of his sepulchre in which the pope had buried him and kepte him downe with his pilars and polaxes and all disgysinges of ypocrisie / with gyle / wiles and falshed / ād with the swerd of al princes which he had blynded with his false marchaundice. And as I dowte not of ye ensamples that are past / so am I sure that greate wrath will folow / excepte repētaunce turne it backe agayne and cease it.

See also English Bible History: William Tyndale.

… The printing of this English New Testament in quarto was begun at Cologne in the summer of 1525, and completed at Worms, and that there was likewise printed an octavo edition, both before the end of that year. William Tyndale’s Biblical translations appeared in the following order: New Testament, 1525-26; Pentateuch, 1530; Jonah, 1531.

His literary activity during that interval was extraordinary. When he left England, his knowledge of Hebrew, if he had any, was of the most rudimentary nature; and yet he mastered that difficult tongue so as to produce from the original an admirable translation of the entire Pentateuch, the Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, First Chronicles, contained in Matthew’s Bible of 1537, and of the Book of Jonah, so excellent, indeed, that his work is not only the basis of those portions of the Authorized King James Version of 1611, but constitutes nine-tenths of that translation, and very largely that of the English Revised Version of 1885…

The Betrayal and Death of William Tyndale

Tyndale was betrayed by a friend, Philips, the agent either of Henry or of English ecclesiastics, or possibly of both. Tyndale was arrested and imprisoned in the castle of Vilvoorden for over 500 days of horrible conditions. He was tried for heresy and treason in a ridiculously unfair trial, and convicted. Tyndale was then strangled and burnt at the stake in the prison yard, Oct. 6, 1536. His last words were, "Lord, open the king of England’s eyes." This prayer was answered three years later, in the publication of King Henry VIII’s 1539 English “Great Bible”.

Tyndale’s place in history has not yet been sufficiently recognized as a translator of the Scriptures, as an apostle of liberty, and as a chief promoter of the Reformation in England. In all these respects his influence has been singularly under-valued. The sweeping statement found in almost all histories, that Tyndale translated from the Vulgate and Luther, is most damaging to the reputation of the writers who make it; for, as a matter of fact, it is contrary to truth, since his translations are made directly from the originals, with the aid of the Erasmus 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament, and the best available Hebrew texts. The Prolegomena in Mombert’s William Tyndale’s Five Books of Moses show conclusively that Tyndale’s Pentateuch is a translation of the Hebrew original.

How did you go with the Tudor English?

And, even allowing for the points made by that enthusiastic historian, just what that Tyndale actually believed has a place in the 21st century? One shudders at so much that followed him, on all sides in Britain, Europe,  and America eventually.

For example, can we still really admire the 18th century Calvinist Jonathan Edwards, “widely acknowledged to be America’s most important and original philosophical theologian”? Or should  we just recoil from the fact that once it was more than OK to attribute such obscene psychopathology to the Creator of the Universe? (And still is among quite a few in the Islamic and Christian worlds…)

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The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.

Thus are all you that never passed under a great change of heart by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin to a state of new and before altogether unexperienced light and life, (however you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, and may be strict in it), you are thus in the hands of an angry God; ’tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction.

However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things that they depended on for peace and safety were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes, as the most hateful and venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince: and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. ’Tis ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world after you closed your eyes to sleep; and there is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you han’t gone to hell since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you don’t this very moment drop down into hell.