Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Here is Elizabeth's Christmas Prayer Bulletin.
Read about her new book here:

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 190 | Wed 19 Dec 2012

CHRISTMAS HERALDS HOPE FOR THE WORLD                                     

by Elizabeth Kendal 

We are 12 years into the 21st Century; 64 years on from the signing of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 23 years past the fall of Communism
in Europe and the end of the Cold War. Yet the world is not a safer place,
especially for Christians. For, while positives have progressed, so too
have negatives. And while proud, self-sufficient humanity likes to
congratulate itself on the positives, it is not very good at tackling the
negatives. For decades now, dangerous religious nationalism has been
building in post-colonial emerging democracies such as Sri Lanka, and
especially India. It is 33 years since the successful Shi'ite Revolution
in Iran and the failed Sunni Revolution in Saudi Arabia triggered the
Saudi-funded global expansion of Sunni Islamic fundamentalism, which is
pro-Sharia, pro-jihad, supremacist, imperialist and intolerant.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The North American Episcopal Church Goes into Meltdown

The North American Episcopal Church is in deep trouble, hemorrhaging congregants, deep in denial, and wandering far from the teachings of the Bible.  What will remain? 
"Bishop Peter H. Beckwith, leader of the Springfield, Illinois, diocese, wrote in a pastoral letter that the Episcopal church was “in meltdown.”
Beckwith has joined bishops in the dioceses of Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, California, and South Carolina in asking their church’s top official, the Archbishop of Canterbury in England, for permission to pull out [of the Episcopal Church].
Beckwith says the failure of the resolution introduced by conservatives to declare the church’s “unchanging commitment to Jesus Christ as the son of God, the only name by which any person may be saved” was extremely disturbing."

Monday, July 9, 2012

All One in Christ

All One in Christ - a sermon on Galatians 3:19-29 delivered at St Catharine's South Caulfield on July 8, 2012.

I am a feminist, and have been almost as long as I can remember.   Late in my teens I came to this conclusion, and told my older sister.  I said “I am a feminist.”  She reminded me of this just recently.

I intensvely dislike the fact that the dominance of men over women has been and all to often continues to be one of the organising principles of human life. 

Thirty five years ago, in 1977, I attended a national Christian youth conference of the Uniting Church.   Thousands of young people were gathered in Canberra for the event.  In the afternoons we would split up into elective workshops.  I chose to attend a workshop on feminist theology.  There were a few dozen women - and two men.  The other man besides me was the conference plenary speaker, Dr Phillip Potter, a West Indian, who was general secretary of the World Council of Churches.  The  thing we had in common - apart from both choosing to attend a feminist theology workshop - was that we both wore size 15 shoes.

It was a fascinating and very helpful workshop.  The focus was on gender roles in the creation story of Genesis.  What I learned deeply impacted my thinking on the issue of men, women and Christian faith. 

One other thing I remember about that workshop was that when the speaker couldn’t get the cassette tape to work, she looked up and in a room full of people looked to me to fix it.  I was annoyed and made a rude remark.  In a room full of women, in a workshop on empowering and accepting women’s roles, she looked to a bloke to fix a gadget. It was one of those defining moments which stick in your memory.  I thought: how hard it is to free ourselves.

Today it is great to be preaching about Galatians, and specifically a very important passage in which Paul speaks about how distinctions of race, gender and social status are set aside in Christ.

Remember Paul’s argument, which we have been following for some weeks.  After Paul had planted a church in Galatia, new teachers had come, and they wanted the gentile Christians there to become Torah observant - to become in effect Jews.  They argued that if you follow Jesus, you had to be an observant Jew.  It is one of the  ironies of history that in the early church the big question for believers was whether it was obligatory for gentile Christians to become in effect practicing Jews.

But Paul countered: observing the Torah (the law) cannot make you right with God. Indeed no one can be justified by following the Torah.  Being part of God’s people,  he said, requires faith, not circumcision.  Faith in Christ.  And the Holy Spirit comes by faith in Christ, as the Galatians had personally experienced.  Life in Christ is not about following the Torah - it is about believing in Christ and experiencing his Spirit.

This argument of Paul’s raises the obvious question issue of why have the the law at all?  And this is where we come to in Paul’s argument at verse 19.

The answer Paul gives is that the law was a kind of ‘guardian’ or tutor.  People were held captive - not free, but under the oversight of the Torah - until they came of age.  Paul actually uses the language of imprisonment.  Then he refers to a cultural institution well-known to people of his day - the pedagogos, translated in the NRSV as ‘disciplinarian’.

The law, Paul says, was a pedagogos or disciplinarian, preparing the way for Christ.  The Greek term refers to a slave-tutor who takes over the supervision of a young person while they are being schooled.  The slave-tutor would take the child to school, wait for them to finish, bring them home, and check that they were learning their lessons and if necessary apply discipline.  This was a kind of a baby sitter until the child comes of age.  It was a role for a slave - a slave kid minder. 

Paul says that now that ‘faith has come’, we are no longer subject to the pedagogos of the Torah.  We are no longer to be baby-sat by the law.  This is what we call in English ‘coming of age’.  In Christ, Paul says, we have come into the full status of being children of God:  the expression he uses is ‘sons of God’.

Our identity is now ‘in Christ’, and Paul refers to baptism as the way into this new identity.  He compares this to putting on new clothes.  We are now clothed in the new identity Christ has given us.  We have been changed.

The law’s function is thus completed - job well done.  We are now ‘in Christ’.  We no longer need a babysitter to walk us to class, walk us home and carry our books.

Remember that Paul is making his point against the agitators who are pressing Torah observance upon the Galatians, who were already ‘in Christ’.   So Paul states:  “There is no longer Jew or Greek”.  That’s because, Paul is saying, the function of the Torah is no longer needed, so the distinction it creates, between Jew and non-Jew (‘Greek’) has been set aside ‘in Christ’:   we don’t need the Torah to babysit us anymore now that Christ has come.  Once you are an adult, why start wearing your old school uniform again?

Then, remarkably, Paul extends his point to also include gender and social status: in Christ, he says, there is also no longer slave or free, and no longer male and female.  All dividing distinctions have been set aside.

Today we would speak of racial equality, social equality and gender equality.

All are ONE in Christ!

In the daily prayers of orthodox Jewish men there is a traditional prayer which praises God that he has ‘not made me a woman, a gentile or a slave’.  It is an old prayer, which seems to go back to the traditions of the Pharisees.  Paul had been a Pharisee.

There was also a similar ancient Greek pagan tradition for a men to thank the gods for being made a human and not a beast, a man and not a woman, free and not a slave.

So Paul was challenging the current understandings of BOTH Jews and Gentiles about identity.

There is no one tradition which has a monopoly on disliking being born a woman.  Indeed in this day and age there is raging epidemic of dislike for women being born at all.

In some provinces in China the male-female ratio show that at least 25% of the girls are missing - with 5 boys born for every 4 girls.  The same applies in many parts of India. A 2005 study suggested that there were already around 90 million missing females in eight Asian states.   It is estimated that in China and India, by 2020 there will be 60 million surplus young adult males.   This same trend has been observed among some ethnic communities in Western nations.

This is a development which Christians should be speaking up about and opposing.  It is part of our heritage to do so.  In the early centuries of the Christian era one of the things Christians inherited from Judaism was an abhorrence for the wide-spread and entirely legal practice of infanticide, a practice which specifically targeted girls, causing as disastrous a gender imbalance in ancient Rome  as abortion is doing across Asia today.  In our modern era medial science just does it all more efficiently.

Rejection of women is an institutional problem of vast proportions all over the world.  The issue is found everywhere, from the traditional Aussie farming family who would pass on their land to sons but not to daughters, to the oppressive legal discrimination against women in Saudi Arabia.

Indeed as I mention Saudi Arabia, I cannot help but recall the uncanny contrast between Paul’s three-fold dimensions of equality and unity in Christ and Bernard’ Lewis’ observation that, under Islamic law women, slaves and non-Muslims all had an inferior status.  He wrote:
“ According to Islamic law and tradition, there were three groups of people who did not benefit from the general Muslim principle of legal and religious equality: unbelievers, slaves and women.”
  • In Islam women are second class under the law - e.g. their testimony is only worth half that of a man’s. 
  • Islamic law institutionalizes slavery - this was only abolished throughout the middle east under the compulsion of British guns in the 19th century - and in Saudi Arabia as late as the 1960’s -  but it is now returning with a vengeance in some Muslim societies. 
  • And under Islamic law, non-Muslims, including Christians and Jews, are second class citizens.

Bernard Lewis observed (in What Went Wrong) that when Muslims visited Europe in past centuries they were amazed at how respected women were in Christian societies.  A visitor to Vienna was shocked that the Emperor himself would stop and take off his hat to a woman, giving way to her in the street.  He called this an ‘extraordinary spectacle.’  I’m not saying that the Christian West has not been patriarchal and oppressive towards women: of course it has!  But the Islamic sharia is many degrees worse, without the tempering influence of the gospel, and in past centuries Muslim visitors were astounded at the difference.

I have dwelt on the status of women, but slavery also is also a major issue in the world today. 

By the way, St Catharine’s church has an interesting connection with the movement for the abolition of slavery.  Christians in the 19th century fought to eradicate slave trade and slavery itself.  A leader in this movement was Sir George Stephen, William Wilberforce’s nephew.   Sir George was the first person knighted by the young Queen Victoria, for leading the political campaign against slavery.  Later, Sir George emigrated to Caulfield with his family, and donated the first piece of land and the church building to St Mary’s.  His residence, over the road, was Helenslea, where Shelford Girl's Grammar School is now housed.  And out of St Mary’s, St Catharine’s was planted.

Great battles against slavery were won in the past, at great cost of treasure and blood.  But despite the huge effort of 19th century Europeans to eradicate slavery - and later Americans through the agony of its civil war - the rattling din of slavery’s shackles is rising once again.

Millions of people are trafficked across the world and the numbers are growing all the time.  Right here in Melbourne people are trafficked for the sex industry.   This is OUR problem, right on OUR doorstep.

But back to Galatians.

What does it mean that these barriers have been removed, and we are all ONE in Christ?  How do we live as Christians as a result?

Paul’s statement meant first of all that in the church, in our spiritual identity, we are all one.  There is no hierarchy which makes some a better Christian than another by virtue of social position, gender, race or ethnicity.  In the early church a worshipping slave was not ‘below’ the free Christians.  They were all brothers and sisters.  The gospel was and should be a great leveler.  We are indeed all “One in Christ”.

But I think Paul means more than spiritual identity.  He meant there were implications for how we live in the world, just as the abolition of the difference between Jew and Gentile made a huge difference for how the earlier Christ-followers lived.

In this I agree with Catherine Booth, co-founder of the Salvation Army when she said:
“If this passage [Galatians 3:28] does not teach that in the privileges, duties, and responsibilities of Christ’s Kingdom, all differences of nation, caste, and sex are abolished, we should like to know what it does teach, and wherefore it was written.”
Galatians 3:28 is a statement about what the Kingdom of God looks like - and should look like.  It is about what the new creation, the new order of life which Christ has brought about really means. 

Recall that in Genesis, God made male and female in his image.  But after the fall various curses come in to play, including that man would rule over woman (Genesis 3:16).  As this dominance is one of the curses of the fall, this means that the dominance of men over women is a bad and evil thing - like death itself, which is another curse of the fall.  But in Christ, the curses of the fall are meant to be removed.  What Adam - and Eve - lost is being restored in Christ. Our shared identity in Christ must mean that in God’s new creation one gender should no longer dominate another.

Although the world will go it’s own way, in Christ everything is different.  Or it should be.  In our lives together in the community of Jesus, we should aspire to the life in Christ.  Nothing else will do.  We should set our heart and vision on the equal identity which Paul speaks about - that we are all one in Christ. 

There was obviously a gap between this teaching, and the standards of the surrounding society in Paul’s day.  Slave trading was carried on for centuries. Patiarchy endured the Christianization of Europe, dominating women and treating them as second class.  Christian people even quoted the Bible to justify it - and they did the same for slavery too. But this was the social order in the world, which sometimes has had far too great an influence on the church.  The church should aspire to be different from the world:  salt and light as Jesus said.  

In some respects the Christian community did live out its mandate. There were examples of slaves who became bishops in the early Church, and eventually due to Christian influence, some changes were made in society.  It became illegal to expose unwanted female infants.  But the world is resistant to change, and too often the church has failed its mission to witness to the values of the Kingdom of God in the world.  Too often its theologies

We can read that St Paul did not call for believers of his time to overthrow the institution of slavery.  His brief was not politics, or societal transformation, but life in Christ.  Instead, Paul counseled slaves on how to act in a good way within their social status.  But it seem clear that Paul rejected the slave trade as an unmitigated evil: in 1 Timothy 1:10 he states that  slave traders have by definition rejected sound Christian teaching. 

When he wrote to specific church contexts, Paul did give differentiated instructions to men and women.  But I regard these as concessions to the social order in which the church was constituted, even when formulated in spiritual terms. These regulations should be read in the light of Galatians 3:28, which lays out the basic principle of equality.  We find that in other places in hi letters Paul affirms the ministry of women: women are among those who laboured ‘side by side’ with him; there are women he calls ‘apostles’; and he recognizes the right of women to prophesy and pray in church meetings.

All this was remarkable for Paul,  who was trained as a religious, pious Jew of the school of the Pharisees.  To this day, if you worship in an orthodox synagogue you will find that men occupy the central area, while the women will sit separated off away from the centre of the action.  Men are at the centre, women around the periphery.

There is here a more general principle than gender, race, or social status - as profound as these are - and this is the honouring and respecting of others.  No one person is more important, greater or more deserving of honour and dignity that any other in Christ.  The dignity of being a son or daughter of God in Christ transcends disability, gender, ethnicity, wealth or status.  The Kingdom of God is greater than all such differences.  This is NOT just about rights - as important as they are.  It is about fundamental identity.  It is about belonging to God.  It is about being a member of the new community of grace being formed in Christ.

And this is what makes all the difference.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Defining Marriage

I was interested to watch ACL's webcast of a panel on 'Defining Marriage' (view here).  The issue of same sex 'marriage' has been much on my mind in recent months.

What do most Australians think about redefining the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act?  At present the Marriage Act states:  "marriage" means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

What would the implication be of changing the definition to remove 'a man and a woman' and replace it with 'two persons'.

The Marriage Act definition has five key components:
  • union - the two people become 'one'
  • a man and a woman - a heterosexual relationship
  • to the exclusion of all others - others beside the two should not be 'in' the marriage
  • voluntarily entered into - not out of compulsion
  • for life - the participants should be sincerely commit to a life-long union which will, be default, continue until one of them dies.
Before one changes this definition it is worth asking a question about ALL these components: why these particular definitional elements, put together?  Why 'for life'?  Why only two people?  Why a man and a woman?  Why voluntarily? Why are others to be excluded from this (apparently loving) relationship? 

Clearly the IDEA of marriage in this form has been around for a very long time.  It exists for a reason.   The reason is not what Germaine Greer saw in marriage in the Female Eunuch, namely that it is 'legalised slavery' for women.  If marriage was designed to be slavery, it would not be defined be a union but as a transfer of ownership, and use made by one of the other; it would also not be exclusive; nor voluntary; nor for life, because slaves are bought and sold as their master pleases, singly or in larger numbers.

The social reason for marriage, which is a public, not a private institution, is this:  it is to provide a stable public basis for the formation of families.  At its core the family is all about a man and a woman bringing up their own biological children as one of their main life tasks, and later in their turn being cared by by these children when they as aging parents are in need of protection and support.

The family, built upon the foundation of marriage, provides the most fundamental public institution for the flourishing of human society.  Countless studies show that children do best in families when they are brought up by their biological married parents.  This is not rocket science.  It is what marriage is for.

Marriage is a union, because a family is based on unity of purpose and identity, and shared ownership of core property assets (like the family home).  It is a desire for unity which causes most couples, even in post-feminist contemporary Australia, to adopt a shared family name after marriage.

It is about a man and a woman because this is what it takes to bring children into the world and to raise them in optimal conditions.

It is to the exclusion of all others because jealousy and relational insecurity damages parents and the children who are raised by them.

It is voluntary because only by choice can a person undertake such a difficult and sacrificial task as committing to another for life for the purpose of raising a family.

It is for life because that's how long the family project lasts, as generation passes to generation.  Raising a family requires a unique kind of stability which the Marriage Act's definition is designed to give.

This is the ideal, and the law enshrines it.  Marriage is honored and respected, held in high esteem - despite all the knocks it has taken - precisely because it embodies this ideal, precisely because people respect and honor what it means to be part of a healthy stable family.  Of course many families are broken, damaging and even toxic.  But that doesn't disprove the validity of the core ideal.  A race horse may break down, but that doesn't prove it wasn't bred for speed.

Many commentators, like Germaine Greer, have despised marriage.  The denigration of marriage is a common theme of the past 40 years in the West.  Yet the institution remains perennially popular; and prestigious, despite all the blemishes, and multiple forms of legal and socially undermining which Western nations have been foisting upon the institution.

I suspect it is this prestige that some same-sex attracted people are attracted to.  Some may ask: "Why should someone be excluded from this admired status, just because of their sexual preference?" Yet the institution is not a private one. It is a public construct.  Its purpose is not to promote the self-esteem or respect of married individuals.  Marriage is not a 'right' or a product to be consumed for the pleasure of the individual.

One of my concerns about those who are leveling their jousting lance at marriage by seeking to redefine its fundamentals is that their arguments offer no ideal which could possibly perpetuate the strengths of the institution they covet, in a way which will protect and preserve its benefits.  For example, if marriage is just about honoring people's love for each other, what possible objection can be made against multiple relationships voluntarily entered into?  I'm not using a slippery slope argument here, but seeking an explanation why arguments for same-sex marriage are not equally compelling in supports of polyamory.  If marriage laws should not 'discriminate' against gays, why should they 'discriminate' against polys, who by conscience and/or desire are committed to a multiplicity of relationships?  The traditional nexus between family well-being and heterosexual marriage provides a rationale against the poly agenda, but same-sex marriage rhetoric severs that nexus and will render marriage ideologically defenseless against polyamory. 

And why 'for life'.  If the justification for marriage is love and individual rights, then surely a shorter term relationship can be just as dignified and worthy of respect as a life-long one?

And why 'exclusive'?  Why should love be exclusive?  If, as many have argued, exclusive relationships are exceptional for homosexual men, why should their normative non-exclusivity be punished by retaining 'exclusively entered into' in the definition of marriage?

The thing is, once you abandon this core element of marriage as a union of a man and a woman — which is protected and privileged precisely because this is the foundation of biological families, with all their benefits for society — what principled basis can there be for not removing most of the other elements in the definition of marriage as well?  This is not about some kind of phobia about the 'slippery slope'. Nor is it a rhetorically lazy appeal to fear.  At issue is a fundamental lack of principle and confusion about purpose from the camp of those who desire to mutate the definition of 'marriage'.

The other thing that concerns me about same-sex 'marriage' is this.  Again and again we have been seeing around the world that where this public institution of marriage is restructured, the state inevitably intervenes into education, the workplace and right down into family life to persecute those who hold to a traditional understanding of marriage.  When the fairy tale about the prince and the princess must be transformed into a tale about the prince and the prince - because the law makes no distinction -  so many other things must change as well.  Sex education in schools will have to explicitly affirm the dignity of same sex genital practices.  Relationship counsellors shall be forced to honor same sex relationships.  Same sex couples will be given the same adoption 'rights' as heterosexual couples, trampling a child's right to having a father and a mother.  In some jurisdictions Christian agencies have been driven out of adoption services altogether for this very reason. 

There are a plethora of cases in overseas jurisdictions where people of conscience who uphold the traditional definition of marriage – which has applied for millennia – have lost jobs, careers, reputations,  livelihoods and even children because of states' intrusive insistence on compelling respect for same-sex relationships.  This is a case of the once-marginalized becoming the new persecutors, with a vengeance.  Melanie Phillips recently wrote of the outpouring of hatred she was subjected to when she dared to criticize the injection of homosexual materials into all subjects in the British school curriculum:  “... the total inability of those who subjected me to such abuse to realise that they are, in fact, spewing out the very hatred, intolerance and incitement to violence of which they are accusing others would be hilarious were it not so terrifying.”  Same-sex marriage laws empower collective societal acts of retribution against people who disagree with the redefinition agenda.

Redefining marriage can only give greater momentum to this totalitarian tendency, which I do not so much fear as acknowledge as a cold fact of life in the 21st century.

If Australians allow their marriage Act to mutate into something quite different, they will only have themselves to blame.  I do hope that the current discussion broadens and deepens, setting aside all forms of invective and fear-driven rhetoric.   I also hope that ordinary people, instead of just ticking the option marked 'tolerance' on their mental questionnaires about same-sex marriage, would do some deep thinking about what a marriage really is and whether it is worth fighting for.  As for me, I have decided it is.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Political Might is not (the same thing as being) Right

My mind has been turning in recent weeks to the situation in Europe, where democratically elected governments are being charged by their constituencies to spend more money, increasing the drain on the public purse in a climate of contraction and economic decline.  And to Egypt, where the people have been voting for more sharia, and more radical Islam.  There poverty and starvation will be the result; and in Europe there will be societal breakdown and growing civil conflict as people struggle to survive with inflated expectations in failing economies. 

Is democracy always a Good Thing?  Governments are as ‘good’ as the people who elect them. If a nation chooses to put their heads in the sand, they will elect politicians without vision.

I have also been reflecting that a generation raised with a belief in their entitlement to prosperity and progress —as is the case in much of the West—will not do failure, restraint, lack and poverty well.  Their demise could be ugly as they give way to those who are leaner, hungrier, and therefore more reality-based.

Also, if a nation has taught itself that the will of the people must always be right, both morally and prudentially, and that the ‘might’ of the ballot box provides a moral mandate, as well as a political one, then such a nation is at risk of losing their spiritual and moral compass: “We voted for it, so it must be good”.  Hitler’s democratic election to power and mass popular appeal did not make his vision righteous.  If it is true that thousands of individuals in western societies find cannibalism somehow appealing (see here), this does not make their preference a “minority right”.

The fact that freedom to choose things for oneself is a human right does not guarantee that when people make choices they will be morally “right”,  even when exercised in vast numbers through the ballot box. 

Political success is not a mark of being in the right.  Part of the Christian calling is to speak truth to power—including the power of the ballot box.   We must be courageous to speak out on the issues facing our nation, even if what we have to say runs against the tide of popular opinion.

There are dark and challenging days ahead for the nations, with storm clouds of rolling economic collapses and moral disorientation gathering overhead.  This is not an easy era to be born into.

All the more reason to be clear and bold about what we believe in, and what Christ has called us to stand for, lest by failing to stand, we fall.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dr Richard Scott

I was interested to read of the case of UK GP Richard Scott,  from Margate, Kent, with 28 years experience as a doctor, who has been issued with an official warning and is currently under investigation by the General Medical Council following a complaint that he shared his faith with a patient during a consultation.

Friday, March 2, 2012

"After-Birth Abortion"

Today the Age newspaper reported on an article published by two Melbourne academics on the ethics of killing new born babies.  The article,  in the Journal of Medical Ethics, was entitled "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?"

What a perfect example of Orwellian language corrupting thought: killing new born babies is not 'infanticide' but 'after-birth abortion'. 

However it does seem that the entirely serious academics made a rational, reasonable  point:   a foetus in the womb is 'morally equivalent' to a new-born.  One might have thought they were pro-lifers.  But no, their position is reportedly built on the acceptability of late-term abortion: if you accept the premise that abortion is ethical, and there is moral equivalence between a newborn and a foetus, then the family's interests should override those of the newborn, and under the appropriate circumstances, a newborn baby should be killed too.  No doubt for psychosocial reasons, as can happen with the unborn in Victoria up to 40 weeks.

Let the adult collective decide who among the little people should be considered an 'unperson'.

I found the Age's spin in reporting this story to be macabre.  What they considered newsworthy was not that academics were promoting the (idea of) killing of newborn children for psychosocial reasons, but the death threats the academics reported.  Hence the Age's headline "Abortion paper lead to death threats'.   According to the Age, the academic paper was not about infanticide, but 'abortion'.  Because killing babies after they are born is not murder, but abortion.  Not killing, but just another form of termination.

A very different title for the article could have been:  "Infanticide paper says killing newborns OK".  However the Age decided not to present this to the public as a story about sober proposals by academics employed from the public purse to kill children, but about threats to academics.  Babies to be killed at the convenience of those older than them?  Not half so newsworthy as threats to the life of adult academics.

The academics found the threats offensive and called the police.  Quite understandable.  No-one likes death threats.  But if babies could call the police, would they not be asking for the academics to be arrested for threatening their lives in their publication? 

This raises an interesting question: from the worldview of the Age newspaper, for which class(es) of human persons, whether they exist inside or outside the womb, should it be lawful, rational and reasonable for academics, writing in the sober prose of prestigious journals, to argue for their termination?   

What a morally wobbly world.  Will not our  successors in future generations contemplate all we have achieved in the way of progress, and, reflecting among other things upon our abuse of language, weep bitterly over our moral state?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Wholly Innocent, by Bruce Dawes

I never walked abroad in air
I never saw the sky
Nor knew the sovereign touch of care
Nor looked into an eye.

I never chose, nor gave consent
Nor voted on my fate
Unseen, I came, unseen I went
Too early and too late

This was my life-line trust
As absolute as blood
Now down in the bucket thrust
Anonymous as mud

Oh you within whose God-like power
Lies to so decide
Remember me when, some late hour
Talks turn to genocide

For I was part of that doomed race
Whose death-cell was the womb
But who can clear a bloody space
And call it living room

I never had a name or cried
That central cry "I am"
But in a world-wide shambles died
Defenceless as a lamb

Remember me next time you
Rejoice at sun or star
I would have loved to see them too
I never got that far.