Crumpled for the planet

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stop-ironing“We are entering the ‘Oh Shit’ era of global warming.”
Rolling Stone, 3 Nov 05

Seriously folks, global warming is really, really, scary.

Meanwhile here’s a worthy suggestion by Dave Walker of cartoonChurch.com. It’s ridiculous that we should care whether clothes are creased or not . . . but we do, I do sometimes. It’s worth thinking about why.

I would not want to work for any employer who would not hire me if my shirt were wrinkled.

After all, the crumpled look is fashionable.

You could say it’s globally cool.

crumpled

Advent: we’re not used to waiting

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Dr Rowan Williams’s Reflections on Advent are superb. Some extracts are below, but do read it all or view the video.

We’re not a culture that’s very used to waiting.

During Advent, Christians go back to that time of waiting as the Bible shows it to us. They read again the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Old Testament. They read about how people were longing for an end to slavery, longing to be back home in some sense, longing to be at home with God again, longing for reconciliation. And all of that is expressed in the most powerful metaphors, especially in the prophesies of Isaiah, metaphors about the desert blossoming, metaphors about the rain falling, metaphors about day dawning after there’s been a long, long night.

So during this four weeks before Christmas, that’s what Christians are reflecting on. When Jesus comes into the life of the world with something unplanned, overwhelming, something that makes a colossal difference, we long for it and yet we don’t quite know what it’s going to involve. … know some of the difference he’s made to our lives as individuals, to the life of the Christian community, the Church, to the whole world. And yet there’s more. We’re still waiting to see what might happen if Jesus was allowed into our lives that bit more fully; that bit more radically.

. . . Advent is a time when [Christians] do a bit of self-examination. Have I allowed Jesus in yet? Has the good news really made the full impact it might make, or is my life still locked into old patterns, into darkness, into slavery, into being not at home with myself or God or with other people? It’s a time of self-examination, of repentance indeed, facing myself honestly and saying sorry for the things that don’t easily face the light. And it’s a time of expectation and a time of hope. A time, therefore, also of quiet.

It’s been said so often it hardly needs saying again, but it is rather a pity that for a few weeks before Christmas we are saturated with Christmas carols. We don’t have quite the sort of quiet we need to think, ‘Well what would it be if Jesus really came as if for the first time into my life? What would it be for the good news really to change me.’ Because for that to happen I need some reflective time; I need some peace; I need to slow down; I need, you might say, to take my time about things.

… It may be deeply painful as well as deeply joyful. Death and judgment, and hell and heaven. It will be that experience of confronting the truth in such a way that you’re changed for good. We say yes to all of that even with the pain and the risk. Or God forbid we say no we can’t cope with the truth, we’d prefer our own darkness. And so part of our self-examination during Advent is looking into ourselves and saying, ‘Well can I get myself to the point where I can look at God and say well there’s truth and there’s beauty and light and love and it’s painful for me, weak and stupid though I am, to face that, and yet I’d rather be there with the truth, however much it costs, than be locked up with myself?’

During Advent, we try to get ourselves a bit more used to the truth—the truth about ourselves, which is not always very encouraging, but the truth about God above all which is always encouraging. The One who comes will come with a great challenge. It will be like fire on the earth as the Bible says. And yet the One who comes is coming in love. He’s coming to set us free. And that’s something well worth waiting for.

Only a little of what you fancy

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darkchocYes, a little of what you fancy does you good. Research shows that about 7 grams (not more) of dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) has a protective effect against inflammation and subsequent cardiovascular disease. This new finding is part of the Moli-sani population study by the Catholic University in Campobasso and the National Cancer Institute of Milan and was published in Journal of Nutrition

Read more …

Iran must be accountable

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As talks on Iran’s nuclear program we’re producing some small breakthrough, the Washington Free Beacon examined the state of five other rights demanded by the Iranian people—and not respected by their government.  Even if Iran does as the West wishes on matter nuclear, it must still be held to account for its apalling abuse of human liberties and freedoms.

There is no right of free assembly;
There is no effective right to a free trial and has been a massive surge in executions;
There is no freedom of the press.
There is no freedom of religion.

Pastor Saeed Abedini is just one of many imprisoned for the conduct of Christian worship. Iranian Christians were sentenced last month to 80 lashes for drinking wine during communion and possessing a satellite antenna. Members of the Baha’i community, a minority offshoot of Shiite Islam, have also faced persecution and violence.


The Iran authorities continue floggings and executions of minors and homosexuals and have the 3rd highest rate of capital punishment in the world. The butchering of gay and lesbian people has been particularly horrific. Iran continues frequently to execute gay men and some lesbians. It has been estimated that 4,000 lesbians and gays have been executed since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Methods of execution have included beheading, being chopped in two, stoning, burning alive, hanging and being thrown alive from a high building.

iran_hangingNothing has changed since The Times reported on 13 Nov 07 that Iranian politican Mohsen Yahyavi had told a meeting of British MPs in the UK that homosexuals deserve to be executed or tortured and possibly both. Britain is one country has regularly challenged Iran about its hangings of gays, and stonings and executions of adulterers and other alleged moral criminals. Mr Yahyavi, a member of Iran’s parliament, told the MPs that that if homosexual activity is in private there is no problem, but those in overt activity should be executed. He argued that homosexuality is against human nature and that humans are here to reproduce.

Mahmoud Asqari and Ayad Marhouni were hanged in Justice Square in Mashhad in 2005. Graphic photographs of the execution of the youths, who were under 18 when arrested, were released by the Iranian Students News Agency. President Ahmadinejad, questioned by students in New York about the executions, dodged the issue by suggesting that there were no gays in his country. “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country”, he lied. Yet Iran is also accused of cloaking executions for homosexuality with bogus charges for more serious crimes.

Dianne Francis asked in Canada’s National Post (11 Dec 07):

Is this why Iran has no homosexuality? Think Iran’s nuclear ambitions are frightening? We now are learning that this land of lunatics run by fanatics is undertaking its own Final Solution with homosexuals.Here’s the real reason why Iran’s President Ahmadinejad could say in September at Columbia University could dodge the question of executions and say that there were no homosexuals in his society. They are killing them.

publichanging

Former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, wrote in The Financial Times on  Why we must not take the pressure off Iran.

mouloodzadeh Mr. Makvan Mouloodzadeh was executed in Iran’s Kermanshah Central Prison at 5 a.m. on 5 December 07.He was a 21-year-old Iranian accused of committing anal rape (ighab) with other young boys when he himslef was still a child. At Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s trial, all the witnesses retracted their pre-trial testimonies, claiming to have lied to the authorities under duress. Makvan also told the court that his confession was made under coercion and pleaded not guilty. On 7 Jun 07, the Seventh District Criminal Court of Kermanshah in Western Iran found him guilty and sentenced him to death.

On the petition of Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s lawyer, the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, nullified the death sentence on 10 Nov 07, describing the sentence as in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land. The case was sent to the Special Supervision Bureau of the Iranian Justice Department, a designated group of judges responsible for reviewing and ordering retrials of flawed cases flagged by the Iranian Chief Justice. The judges defied the Chief Justice by ratifying the original ruling and ordering the execution. Neither Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s family nor his lawyer were told of the execution until after it occurred.

Whether or not the execution was technically illegal, it was utterly immoral and disgusting beyond belief.

On not being plant blind

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usa190

Natalie Angier praised plants in an elegant piece in the International Herald Tribune (17 Apr 07).

Show somebody a painting of a verdant, botanically explicit forest with three elk grazing in the middle and ask what the picture is about, and the average viewer will answer, “Three elk grazing.” … What you’re unlikely to hear is anything akin to, “It’s a classic temperate mix of maple, birch and beech trees, and here’s a spectacular basswood and, whoa, an American elm that shows no sign of fungal infestation and, oh yeah, three elk and a blue jay.”

According to Peter H. Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, many of us suffer from an insidious condition called “plant blindness.” We barely notice plants, can rarely identify them and find them incomparably inert. Do you think that you will ever see a coma as vegetative as a tree? “Animals are much more vivid to the average person than plants are,” Raven said, “and some people aren’t even sure that plants are alive.”

In the northern Spring, the article urges us to “venture outside and check out the world through nature’s rose-colored glasses-and the daffodil, cherry blossom, dogwood and lupine ones, too. If this view doesn’t move you, you’re pushing up daisies. Angier goes on to describe how plants are the basis of “virtually all life on earth”. “The most important chemical reaction on earth is photosynthesis,”

You don’t need much encouragement to notice plants from where I sit. Our courtyard, tended by James, is crammed full of roses, as well as camellias, gardenias, and other things. There are two parks just a few metres from our apartment and our street is lined with tall oaks and other trees. Maples are slowly growing outside my study window and I can see Black Mountain in the distance, covered with native bushland-we are fortunate to live where we do. The Australian National Botanic Gardens are not far away.

I notice plants, a lot; I’m frustrated by knowing the names of so few of them. Inner Canberra is a good place for plant lovers to live. We thoroughly enjoyed all manner of plants on our recent American journey.  But we were glad to see elk, as well.