Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Surprise of Eternity?

Today's New York Times Sunday Magazine has an essay by Jim Holt, Eternity for Atheists.

It concludes:-

If death is not extinction, what might it be like? That’s a question the Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick, who died five years ago, enjoyed pondering. One of the more rococo possibilities he considered was that the dying person’s organized energy might bubble into a new universe created in that person’s image. Although his reflections were inconclusive, Nozick hit on a seductive maxim: first, imagine what form of immortality would be best; then live your life right now as though it were true. And, who knows, it may be true. “Life is a great surprise,” Vladimir Nabokov once observed. “I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.”

Perhaps the surprise about eternity for atheists is that there may not be a vast distinction between this life and the next. If you can't get it right in this life, why would the next be any different?

Brownsea Island--site of a Girl Guide camping trip

Long ago and far away, I was a Girl Guide in Kent, England. Our first camping trip was to Brownsea Island. It's still intact and more like it was then.

Geneva Perkins Easley's new book on Jesus

Perhaps this is the way to go?

Monday, July 23, 2007



Today we passed an injured fox by the side of the road. A wonderful friend (who is about to go off to begin vet school) was able to get the fox into one of his dog crates and to a local vet. The fox has a broken hip and will be able to stay at the vet until the hip resets. Anyone who would like to make a donation for the fox's upkeep is welcome to do so:-
Belfast Veterinary Hospital
193 Northport Ave
Belfast, ME 04915
(207) 338-3260

Here's some information about injured foxes. This one was probably hit by a car.

Something shared with Tony Snow

Who knew we'd have this in common?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lecture by Prof Davitt Moroney on rediscovered Striggio Mass in 40 parts

The rediscovery of the gigantic "Mass Ecco si beato giorno" in forty parts by Alessandro Striggio (1536-1592), lost since 1726, sheds important light on the connections between music and politics in the sixteenth century. Dating from 1566-7, it is one of the most extravagant pieces ever composed in the history of music.

Here's a link to the lecture recounting the discovery by Professor Davitt Moroney, University of California, Berkeley.

To listen to the recent performance of the Striggio piece until July 24th, here's a link to the BBC Proms where it was performed as Prom 6 (alongside Tallis' Spem in Alium for which it is thought to have been the impetus) with the Tallis Scholars and the BBC Singers conducted by Peter Phillips.

Striggio's 40 part mass (60 parts for the Agnus Dei) was performed throughout Europe and in 1567 he went to England on an unscheduled stop to meet virtuosos in the profession of music. Thomas Tallis was undoubtedly one of them. Tallis' piece "Spem in Alium" may well have been composed as the result of a challenge for an Englishman to do as well.

The Guardian thought this performance was the choral event of the year, if not the decade.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A new book An Acceptable Sacrifice: Homosexuality and the Church from SPCK is reviewed in the TLS by Archbishop John Hapgood. Its not pc but I always want to know if any of the articles are written by us glbt folk since I strongly oppose being the object of the discussion rather than the one doing the interrogation of the text. I can't tell from the review but perhaps someone else can?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

John Reaney wins his case against the CofE

Here's the legal report. Here's the statement from the Diocese of Hereford. Here's the local newspaper report from the Hereford Times.

I'd say this is a vindication of Susan John's statement on the incoherent policy of the CofE:-

Susan Johns has been a member of the House of Laity of the Church of England General Synod for 16 years and knows Mr Reaney from his time as a youth worker in Norfolk diocese.

She told the tribunal Mr Reaney, who she has known for over a decade, is inspirational and tireless in his work.

Mr Johns attacked the confusing position of the church towards gay people:

"The Church of England has no coherent position on homosexuality, in my opinion it is a shambles," she said, according to icWales.co.uk

"I cannot understand how a faith that professes to be open, honest and truthful can condone a situation whereby if a member of clergy covers up their same sex relationships, it is acceptable.

"But if they are open and honest and a person of integrity, there is condemnation and discrimination."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summer Courses at BC: Phyllis Trible and Jane Schaberg

July 23-27 at Boston College, Summer Session: Professor Phyllis Trible on Women in Hebrew Scriptures and July 30 to Aug 3, Prof Jane Schaberg, Women in the Scriptures: Gospel Stories of Women.

The Church and Women

(shamelessly purloined from the magazine America):-

A farmer, a stockbroker, and woman who was a lawyer were standing in line, waiting for their chance at entrance into Heaven.

St. Peter called the farmer first. "We have only one simple requirement for entrance here," St Peter said, "You must spell 'God'." "Easy enough," said the farmer, "G-O-D." And he entered Heaven.

Next, St. Peter called the stock broker. "We have only one simple requirement for entrance here," he said. "You must spell 'God'." "No problem," said the stockbroker, "G-O-D." And he went in.

Finally, the woman lawyer approached St Peter. "Good riddance to the world," she said. "My whole life, I've tried to excel in a male-dominated society, only to continuously bump into the proverbial 'glass ceilings' at every point. I can't tell you, St Peter, how glad I am finally to be rid of male chauvinism."

"Well, you'll certainly find none of that here," said St. Peter. "I'm sure you'll enjoy heaven, if you can meet this one simple requirement for entrance. You must spell "Czechoslovakia."

Savi Hensman on False Certainty About the Bible

Over at Ekklesia is a new article by Savi Hensman, "The Burden of False Certainty about the Bible." Recent statements on Biblical Teaching and human families opine that:

‘In both Old and New Testaments the generational family of father, mother and children is understood as the matrix in which healthy human relationships are formed (Genesis 2:24). Full humanity has consisted of two genders from the very beginning-male and female. The created order comprises sexual differentiation as God-given and good. Together, both man and woman were given the commission to pass on new life in fruitfulness and to rule over and care for the earth (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). This is why only both genders together can mould the world in a humane way. The good society, according to Scripture, is ordered to help families flourish economically, socially, and spiritually (Leviticus 25; Isaiah 61:1-3). Although the family may be distorted by the brokenness of sin or become a false priority in the life of discipleship, it derives its graceful potential from the Father, from whom all families in heaven and on earth are named (Ephesians 3: 14-15). The Church as the new family of God must be the place that supports families and those who lead the single life so that each believer may be fully equipped to serve God in his or her particular calling, so that families in turn contribute to the strengthening and healing of society at large.’

The author comments: I do not regard myself as ‘anti-family’, and indeed family relationships are important in my own life. But I was baffled. How could the church leaders who came up with the Statement think that?

Of course, there are some positive scriptural references to families, and to fertility, especially in the Old Testament. It is important that humankind includes males and females – indeed some might say that this reflects something of the diversity of creation. And the Bible is largely about responding to and reflecting God’s generous and creative love, in families and communities and beyond.

But where in Genesis are the generational families which set an example of how healthy human relationships are formed? Presumably Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel do not fit the bill? Indeed, how many such family units are there? Is not care of the widow, orphan and stranger – those outside the protection of the usual family structures – repeatedly emphasised?

While men and women both contribute to society, does this imply that everyone should be in a heterosexual relationship, and if so why? Does this apply to Jesus? What of those who are ‘eunuchs’ for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19.10-12)?

Indeed, I would have thought the Gospels would be shocking to anyone who puts too much value on advancing the interests of their family (nuclear or extended). Might it not seem irresponsible to abandon home, family and fields (Mark 10.28-31)? Does not following Christ involve ‘hating’ one’s family and taking up the cross (Luke 14.25-27)? Presumably Jesus’ own crucifixion did not exactly advance his nieces’ and nephews’ prospects of socially and economically advantageous marriage!

She concludes that while it may be difficult to live with ambiguous and even contradictory statements from the Bible, it is better than false certainty.

I couldn't agree more.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Rev. Peg Muncie at work

“Hi, I’m Peggy Muncie, a hospital chaplain,” she says. “Would you like a visit?”

She’s not there to thump. Deftly, she asks people how they’re feeling, then lets them vent their pain and fear, their anxiety and frustration. She nods, a little pushy with her probing. She flags a nurse. “Can you direct a doctor toward that patient?” she whispers.

And always, at the end of a visit: “Would it be all right if I prayed with you?” The health care chaplain will touch a forehead, hold a hand and quietly pray worries to the Divine, speaking with inflections that, as needed, may be Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim. For the Baptist woman in Bed 7 whose anxieties are making her chest pain worse, the chaplain prays for calm to allow the medicine to work. Gradually, the patient’s breathing slows.

“My job is to be present to patients without judgment,” Chaplain Muncie says as she pumps a hand sanitizer, “and to help them find out what is meaningful to guide them through the stress of illness.”

Great piece from the NY Times.

Death of Letty Russell

Letty Mandeville Russell, leading feminist theologian, dies at 78

Letty Mandeville Russell, one of the world’s foremost feminist theologians and longtime member of the Yale Divinity School faculty, died Thursday, July 12 at her home in Guilford, CT. She was 78. A leader for many years in the ecumenical movement, she remained active in ecumenical circles until her death, working for the World Council of Churches and the World YWCA.

She was one of the first women ordained in the United Presbyterian Church and served the East Harlem Protestant Parish in New York City from 1952-68, including 10 years as pastor of the Presbyterian Church of the Ascension. She joined the faculty of Yale Divinity School in 1974 as an assistant professor of theology, rose to the rank of professor in 1985 and retired in 2001. In retirement, she continued to teach some courses at Yale Divinity School as a visiting professor.

At various times Dr. Russell was employed as a consultant to the U.S. Working Group on the participation of Women in the World Council of Churches and as religious consultant to the National Board of the YWCA. Her first position was as a public school teacher in Middletown, CT in 1951-52. Over the years she served on numerous units of the World Council of Churches, including the Faith and Order Commission; the National Council of Churches, including the Task Force on the Bible and Sexism; and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the successor to the United Presbyterian Church.

In an introduction to a festschrift published in Dr. Russell’s honor in 1999 under the title Liberating Eschatology, fellow Yale Divinity School theologians Margaret Farley and Serene Jones called Dr. Russell’s influence on contemporary theology “monumental” and wrote of her “uncanny ability to articulate a vision of the church that is radical in its feminist-liberationist critique but that nonetheless remains anchored in the historic traditions and communities of the Christian church.”

In the East Harlem Protestant Parish, Dr. Russell focused her ministry on equipping her congregation of mostly black and Hispanic people to claim their voices as leaders in the parish and the community. Her experiences in Harlem led her to develop Bible studies that encouraged people of color to explore ways in which the Bible gives them voice and liberation.

At Yale Divinity School, Dr. Russell’s influence extended far beyond the confines of classrooms on Sterling Divinity Quadrangle. She was the inspiration behind creation of the school’s international travel seminar program, under which Yale Divinity School students have traveled to countries around the globe for direct encounters with the realities of religion on the world stage, frequently in impoverished countries.

Dr. Russell graduated with a B.A. in biblical history and philosophy in 1951 from Wellesley College, and she was among the first women to receive an S.T.B. from Harvard Divinity School, in theology and ethics, in 1958. She earned an S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary in New York in Christian education and theology in 1967 and two years later received a Th.D. in mission theology and ecumenics from Union.

A global advocate for women, Dr. Russell was a member of the Yale Divinity School Women’s Initiative on Gender, Faith, and Responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa and was co-coordinator of the International Feminist Doctor of Ministry Program at San Francisco Theological Seminary. The author or editor of over 17 books, her book Church in the Round: Feminist Interpretations of the Church and her co-edited work, Dictionary of Feminist Theologies, characterized her commitment to feminist/liberation theologies and to the renewal of the church. In 2006, she co-edited a book with Phyllis Trible of Wake Forest University entitled, Hagar, Sarah and Their Children: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives.

Letty Mandeville Russell was born in Westfield, NJ in 1929. She was predeceased by her sister, Jean Berry of New Jersey and former husband, the late Prof. Hans Hoekendijk. She is survived by her partner, Shannon Clarkson; her sister, Elizabeth Collins of Salem, OR; seven nieces and nephews; 14 great nieces and nephews; and a great-great niece. In addition, Dr. Russell felt that her wider family included generations of feminist and womanist activists and scholars around the world.

Memorial contributions can be sent to the Sarah Chakko Theological Endowment Fund, US Conference of the World Council of Churches, 475 Riverside Dr., Suite 1371
New York, NY 10115; the Global Women in Theology Fund at San Francisco Theological Seminary, c/o Pat Perry, 105 Seminary Road, San Anselmo, CA 94960; and the Letty Russell Travel Seminar Fund, Office of External Relations, Yale Divinity School, 409 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Life in Maine

E.B. White says it best:-

"Just to live in the country is a full-time job. You don't have to do anything. The idle pursuit of making a living is pushed to one side, where it belongs, in favor of living itself, a task of such immediacy, variety, beauty, and excitement that one is powerless to resist its wild embrace."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge today

The NY Times has an article on the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge today and coincidentally I crossed it in fog this morning! The article says:-

On a clear day, visibility extends 100 miles, allowing visitors to follow the curving, wide river north toward the peak of Mount Katahdin. Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park and the rolling Camden Hills can also be spotted.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Spirit and the New Testament

I've been reviewing biblical dictionary entries in preparation for writing an article on "Spirit" for a new biblical dictionary. Here's a sentence that is not untypical:-
"All NT writings present the Christian community as a spirit-endowed entity."

Is there one community behind NT documents? Surely not. Communities are hard to detect of course, and one should not presume that each document presupposes a community. But let's say there one in Matthew's gospel and ones reflected in each of the Pauline letters. Are they the same? I don't think so. Different Christologies for a start. Different notions of community, to be sure.

Then there's the question of whether each of these communities have the same ideas about the spirit, namely that each community is endowed with it. Surely not. Just take the gospels. Mark's pneumatology is unlike Luke's and Luke's unlike John's. And its hard, I think, to connect Mark with a specific community.

What makes a community Christian? And how do we give that word Christian content? If we have different ideas about Jesus behind Paul's letters and the gospels, just how elastic does that term Christian have to be?

So what's the point of the sentence? To impose a coherent doctrine of the Christian community as spirit endowed on each NT text. Is this helpful? I don't think so. Its an idea in search of data. So the question of where to begin is my current preoccupation.

Ruby-throated hummingbird


Here's a male ruby-throated hummingbird taking a breather on top of the feeder.

Gardening in Maine


The other day we bought a sedum to add to a small flower bed containing a chrysanthemum and an aster. As I dug up a place for the sedum, I uncovered a large rock. Surprise! So I dug it out and now it adorns the bed. This is what gardening in Maine is all about...apparently they BUY rocks on the Maryland shore so if someone could redistribute...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Christians remaining in Baghdad

An article from the Daily Star in Lebanon today about Christians in Baghdad reports on the current situation and concludes with a moving application of a snippet from yesterday's gospel:-

Amid the danger, however, Baghdad's remaining Christians continue to try to preserve the rituals that bind their community together.

"The children have been meeting here for more than a month, receiving Christian teachings to prepare to receive the communion despite these circumstances," Archbishop Matoka told AFP at the church.

"In the past we used to collect the pupils in the church car but this year their parents have to bring them to the church because of the bad security situation," he explained.

Several Baghdad Christian churches have cancelled their annual first communion ceremonies to avoid attracting danger, he said, but the Syrian Catholic Church decided to go ahead despite the risks.

"Our future is in the hands of God, but we know and see there is a hellish scheme to expel Christians from Iraq and the Middle East. I hope this will not happen. Christianity was born in these countries so how could we leave them? We have martyrs these days," the archbishop said.

"Many priests have been kidnapped and slaughtered. Terrorists are compelling Christians to convert to Islam or be killed ... Jesus told us: 'I would send you as sheep among wolves. Don't be afraid. I am with you."

DUH!!

A friend sent me this article from the Advocate about St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue. I have no first hand knowledge of the church.

Ain't It The Truth??

The Advocate reports this week on leaders of ex-gay programs apology to lgbt people for their work:-

As the director of an ex-gay ministry in Hayward, Calif., Darlene Bogle appeared on shows like Sally Jesse Raphael, Jerry Springer, and 48 Hours to tell people that being gay is “curable.” She wrote several articles and two books—Long Road to Love and Strangers in a Christian Land—about being an ex-gay and held workshops on the subject.

In 1990, Bogle met Des, who was attending one of her ex-gay workshops, and sensed instantly that God bought them together. Within weeks Bogle was asked to step down from her leadership position at the Foursquare Church and she was removed from the Exodus ministry.

Bogle, joined by former ex-gay ministers Jeremy Marks and Michael Bussee, held a press conference on June 27 at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center with Soulforce and Beyond Ex-Gay to apologize for exposing LGBT Christians to such indoctrination.
Ex-gay survivor Eric Leocadio was on hand to witness the official apology in Los Angeles. As a high school freshman Leocadio ingested two fistfuls of pills, hoping to kill himself so that he would not have to struggle with his sexual orientation. “When I survived,” said Leocadio, now 31, “I realized that God wasn’t done with me. There was so much more that God had planned for me.”

“I received a lot of mixed signals from the church,” he said. “Everyone gets unconditional love from God but only conditional love from the church, based on the concept of ‘wholeness.’ ”


Hands up all those of us who have felt just this last paragraph from the church??

Friday, July 06, 2007

Daniel Mahoney on Vaclav Havel's To the Castle and Back

City Journal contains a review of Vaclav Havel's memoir, To the Castle and Back published by Knopf.

As Havel made clear in earlier works, such as 1992’s Summer Meditations, he saw his new political role as fully consistent with his dissident opposition to totalitarianism. In his post-1989 books and speeches, Havel continued to defend a moral vision of politics that he called “nonpolitical politics” or “politics as morality in practice.” He identified this vision with the demanding but liberating task of “living in truth.” Havel refused to identify politics with a dehumanizing “technology of power,” the notion that power was an end in itself. Instead he defended a moral order that stands above law, politics, and economics—a moral order that “has a metaphysical anchoring in the infinite and eternal.” His speeches as president, many collected in English in The Art of the Impossible (1997), were artful exercises in moral and political philosophizing, enthralling Western audiences.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

TLS Review of "Wonderful Blood"

The TLS has printed Bettina Bildhauer's review of Caroline Walker Bynum's Wonderful Blood:-

Caroline Walker Bynum’s Wonderful Blood makes us see Christ’s blood, and see it everywhere in late-medieval Christianity: it streams from his wound on the Cross; it gushes into the waiting mouth of believers meditating on the Eucharist; it cakes on his forehead in the Passion; it soaks the earth of Golgotha; it miraculously appears when Eucharistic hosts are stolen or abused; it imprints the heart of devoted Christians; it saves, washes and nourishes all; in short, it emerges as the central object of Northern European spirituality in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

There are a few reservations but the review is on balance laudatory.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth, Everyone!

Alas, our dogs do not like fireworks :(

However, Happy Fourth to all!

News from the heartland of Lawrence, Kansas about a hearing in front of the City Commission on domestic partner registration :-

Once again LGBT people who spent their days going to work, taking care of their children, raking their lawns or weeding their gardens sat in stony silence as our opponents testified. Once again, we were labeled “immoral.” We were called “an abomination.”

The words hurt, as always, and the fear and anger directed at us seemed much larger than justified by our simple request. But this time something different happened. This time when the final vote came June 19, we won and it wasn’t even close.

The first domestic partner registry in the state of Kansas passed on a 4-1 vote. It’s scheduled to go into effect Aug. 1.

Less than three years after the religious right steamrolled over the LGBT community to put marriage bans in the constitutions of 18 states, we have done what once seemed impossible. Across the nation and even in red states like Kansas, we have become politically stronger than ever before.

Let's just remember the price of liberty.....eternal vigilance!

And, from north of the border comes this striking perspective from Mark Abley of the Star on recent developments in the Anglican Church of Canada:-

A small miracle occurred two days ago across the nation: Hundreds of gay and lesbian Anglicans showed up to worship in churches that had just scorned them.

I know, that's not the official story. The official story is that by a narrow margin, the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada voted to make it impossible for any parish in the country to bless same-sex couples. Warships and hamsters can be blessed, but not a loving pair of women or men.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Terrorist Threats in the UK and possible causes

The Bishop of Carlisle, The Right Rev. Graham Dow, has argued that the recent floods in the UK are God's judgment upon immoral society, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

"The bishop, who is a leading evangelical, said that people should heed the stories of the Bible, which described the downfall of the Roman empire as a result of its immorality.

"We are in serious moral trouble because every type of lifestyle is now regarded as legitimate," he said.

"In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as 'the beast', which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want," he said, adding that the introduction of recent pro-gay laws highlighted its determination to undermine marriage.

"The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God's judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance."

He expressed his sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with "environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate".

The West is also being punished for the way that it has exploited poorer nations in its pursuit of economic gain. "It has set up dominant economic structures that are built on greed and that keep other nations in a situation of dependence. The principle of God's judgment on nations that have exploited other nations is all there in the Bible," he said.

He urged people to respond to the latest floods by turning away from a lifestyle of greed to instead live thinking of the consequences of their actions."

Gay members of the Church of England on Sunday expressed their outrage.

The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association called Dow a "bronze age primitive".

The fallacy of this kind of thinking is that there is always a reason for disaster. As far as the recent terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow are concerned, perhaps there is. Johann Hari in the Independent, points out that

"a few hours before the first car bomb was discovered, a contributor to the chatroom on the Islamist al-Hesbah website wrote: "Today I say: Rejoice, by Allah, London shall be bombed." He gave his reasons for the murder plot he was clearly involved in: the Iraq war, and - just as important - the honouring of perhaps our greatest novelist, Salman Rushdie.

The choice of target - a nightclub on Ladies' Night - is also revealing. When a similar gang plotted to blow up the Ministry of Sound in 2004, they talked about their desire to burn alive the "slags dancing around".

This is a reminder that the bombers are not only blowing back against the worst in our system of government: the torture and chemical weapons in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and our support for Arab dictators. They oppose the best in our system of government too: the intellectual freedom to write novels that question religion, the sexual freedom of women to pick their own partners.

When I receive my own tedious drizzle of jihadi death-threats, they always mention my homosexuality long before they get round to my views on foreign policy. Their jihad is a war against free women, gays and novelists, as well as a war against occupation.

On all fronts, the solution lies not in abandoning the values of liberal democracy, but in adhering to them much more scrupulously. If we restrain our leaders whenever they try to violate our values by using torture, or chemical weapons, or by arming tyrants - indeed, if we put them on trial for it - we will choke off the more obvious blowback.

But that's not enough. We also need to unpick the totalitarian ideology of jihadism by democratically opening up Islamic theology, so that over a generation, fewer and fewer young men can convince themselves they are "good Muslims" when they murder innocents.

At the moment, there is an epic battle going on within Islam between jihadi literalists and those Muslims (disproportionately women) who want to reinterpret the Koran to make it compatible with modernity. This is a horrifyingly lop-sided fight. The literalists are lavished with cash from the Saudi Arabian monarchy: their mosques are flooded with petrodollars, their imams are trained in Mecca, they receive piles of poisonous textbooks free of charge, and they are even given British government cash to run their own schools. The liberals, by contrast, scrape by with almost no funds at all.

We need to reverse this situation by banning the Saudi money designed to fundamentalise British Islam, and instead lavishing government cash on the brave Muslim women's groups sprouting across the country. Free, independent Muslim women will raise their children with liberal readings of the Koran incompatible with blowing up "slags" or novelists.

The French government has just begun to do this, with the President, Nicolas Sarkozy, appointing the heroic Muslim feminist Fadela Amara to devise his strategy for the banlieues. But our government is failing to stop the Saudi poison because we are addicted to the oil they pump our way. As in Iraq, it seems that securing petroleum trumps undermining fundamentalism every time.

Until we complete this slow work of whittling down blowback and opening up Islam, we could face a car park full of car-bombs - and we may not be so lucky next time."

Yasmin Alidhai-Brown calls upon all sane ordinary Muslims to stand up and be counted. She concludes:-

I am not naive. Islamicists are cunning and well-connected. Their backers pretend to believe in liberal democracy while plotting its demise. But there are now passionate Muslim democrats standing up to be counted.

Imran Ahmad, young trustee of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, writes in Unimagined, his evocative memoir: "I have had great opportunities and choices. There still is racism in the indigenous society, it's undeniable ... but [compare] Britain to all those so-called Islamic countries, where tribalism is endemic and anything is used as an excuse for discrimination, hatred and mistreatment: village, clan, family, sect, province, class, money, gender, occupation, even shade of skin. At least Britain is committed to implement the highest ideals - personal freedom, social equality, human rights and justice."

With friends like these, Britain can beat its enemies within. Have faith; a time will come when jihadis will terrorise our lives no more.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Our Summer Parish: St Margaret's Belfast

Thought I'd mention our summer parish, St. Margaret's, Belfast. They are getting ready for the dedication of the new parish house expansion by Bishop Knudsen. Today we had our own guided tour with other parishioners after church. It is fabulous. After the dedication there will surely be pics on the website. St Margaret's itself includes Episcopalians of all shapes and sizes and is a very welcoming community.