Thursday, October 26, 2006

Women, veils, and slabs of meat

An Australian Cleric is in trouble for saying that women who fail to cover their faces are like slabs of open meat on a table, just inviting attack.

Fortunately for the Christian church in Australia, this intemperate remark was made not by some batty Anglican bishop, but by a cleric of the Muslim persuasion.

I know, I know -- you're shocked.

The fact is, this comment says more about the self-identity of Muslim males, as potential sexual predators stopped only by the complete covering of women's bodies, than it does about Australian women.

It also contrasts the difference between Islam, which emphasizes outward appearance and self-effort, vs. Christianity, which offers inward regeneration and empowerment through faith in Christ. Anyone who suggests that Islam and Christianity are compatible or even comparable faiths doesn't understand the profound differences between the two.

During the reign of Golda Meir a parliamentarian suggested a ban on women being out on the streets during the evening, as a means of cutting down on sexual attacks that were taking place. As Golda perhaps dryly but no doubt correctly observed, since it was the men doing the offending, it was they, and not the women, who should be banned from the streets.

Having said all this, women should dress modestly, but there's a difference between dressing like a you-know-what and being draped from head to toe.

Meanwhile, if a ban on Muslim males on Australian streets, or, perhaps, eye-blinkers, is what it takes to keep the women safe, so be it.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I'm married to my dog

The Bishop-elect of the American Episcopal church is at it again. In a recent speech she used the fact that Scripture uses marriage as a metaphor for the relationship between God and His people as a launching point for the redefining of marriage.

Listen to her logic:

"Most often marriage is a metaphor for the relationship between God and the human soul."

[Actually not true. In Scripture it represents the unique, exclusive relationship that God has towards his covenant people (as opposed to people outside his covenant), and the exclusive faithfulness they are expected to have towards Him.]

"And if each one of us is made in the image of God, then it is also an image for all human relationships, not just those that fit our understanding of marriage."

[Not true. We may be made in the image of God, but we are not God. She makes a leap that is unsupported in Scripture or logic. Notice the effect: marriage is now no longer a concrete "fact" used to describe the intimate union of a man and a woman, but a word used to represent "all human relationships". Liberals resort to this kind of logical sleight-of-hand because the plain meaning of Scripture is repugnant to them. Unfortunately, for the ignorant and gullible, such twisting of words and meaning passes for great spiritual insight.]

"What about the relationship between parent and child, among friends, or the relationship between human beings and the rest of creation?"

[According to her view, parents can be "married" to their children, and I can be married to the cow I had for dinner, or, more likely, my dog, Robbie.]

"One of the great insights of the monastic tradition is the vow of stability. The monk promises to stay with these brothers (or sisters) until death comes, for the very reason that Jesus is pointing to in saying, “what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

[Complete and utter rubbish. Jesus' quote of Scripture represents the correct and valid use of Scripture, in which the institution of marriage by God is affirmed; hers represents the wild leap of a liberal desperate to escape Scriptures' plain meaning and majestic force. Jesus confirmed and validated marriage; she empties it of meaning. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), this is a point that critics of same-sex marriage have been making: that the real goal of radical homosexualists is to destroy the institution of marriage.]

Marriage, the fundamental institution of human society that predates nation-states and governments, is under attack; from both those in and outside of the Church. It is at times like this that one wonders if the conditions are not being put in place for the glorious return of Christ (physical, literal, actual), who will destroy his enemies and establish his kingdom -- concepts that liberals find, like the rest of Scripture, preposterous and repugnant.

Jesus said, "heaven and earth shall pass away; my words shall never pass away". I believe Him. We can put more trust in the words of Jesus than the very ground beneath our feet or the sky above our heads.

The battle rages, but, at the end of the day, the words of Jesus, in their plain and normal sense, will prevail.

And then where will liberals be?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The terrorists win!

I'm back in Canada. At YVR (Vancouver), waiting for my connecting flight to YYZ (Toronto).

The check-in process was not as efficient as one would hope -- some security lines were clogged, while others were empty, because there was a bottleneck when you entered the area, and it wasn't clear that there was more than one security line open. I hate to say this, but this is typical for Vancouver.

The security line I went through had a senior guy manning the X-ray machine. He asked to check my bag. I thought he had detected the pocket knife that I had inadvertently left in the bag -- one of those Swiss Army deals, a gift, inscribed with my name, with all kinds of dangerous pull-outs, knives, corkscrews, etc. I wasn't looking forward to giving it up.

But that's not what he was after. Apparently Canadian air terminals are still on a no-liquids diet. He confiscated my unopened souvenir Coke can from Korea, and also.... my Meswak toothpaste with 70 proven ancient herbal remedies!

Bin Laden wins!

But the last laugh is on him. I've got an extra tube in the checked luggage!

And that's the way the jet-lagged Ball bounces.

Sunday, October 15, 2006



Imagine something that's a rare combination of ancient wisdom and modern science. Imagine something containing a natural herbal ingredient recommended in renowned ancient scriptures, and providing SEVENTY (70!) different health benefits for the ENTIRE BODY!

Imagine something that is scientifically proven to help strengthen gums, prevent tooth decay, eliminate bad breath, and ensure strong teeth ALL AT ONCE!

Now imagine that this costs less than four dollars!

There's only one such item, and I AM HOLDING IT IN MY HAND!

I have, in my hand, a tube of toothpaste with the pure extract of Meswak plant. I bought it down in Little India, here in Singapore for $4 SIN ($3 CAD).

And, let me tell you this toothpaste really works. I haven't used it yet, but, I already feel better! Ancient herbal properties at work!

* * *

OK, I've tried it now. It even tastes pretty good!

I'm already feeling better-looking, and I'm pretty sure that the tightness in my scalp is the sudden surge of growing hair!

I see myself opening an import-export business, and importing this wonderful product to Canada and the USA.

If you want a tube, let me know and I'll pick you up one. That's right, using this product has made me completely altruistic!

And that's the way the Ball bounces!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Genesis and the National Academy of Sciences

I attended a lecture Friday night in Singapore by a young-earth creationist from Australia.

Anyone listening to his talk would realize that darwinian evolution and the Big Bang both have serious problems, not the least of which is that they -- especially darwinian evolution -- are incompatible with what the Bible teaches about creation, the entrance of sin due to disobedience, and the subsequent effects of death and the fall.

I googled creation and evolution and came to the National Academy of Sciences website. Clearly, they view themselves as battling against anyone who dares suppose that God might have had anything to do with this present universe.

Here's what they say about origins (in a book brazenly titled Genesis):

"Life on Earth arose nearly 4 billion years ago, bursting forth from air, water, and rock. Though the process obeyed all the rules of chemistry and physics, the details of that original event pose as deep a mystery as any facing science. How did non-living chemicals become alive? While the question is (deceivingly) simple, the answers are unquestionably complex. Genesis tells the tale of transforming scientific advances in our quest for life's origins. Written with grace, beauty, and authority, it goes directly to the heart of who we are and why we are here. Published by Joseph Henry Press, an imprint of the National Academies Press. The views expressed in this book are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academies. [read FREE online]"

My question to them would be this: since you do not know, and cannot know, how life "burst forth", how can you possibly state that it "obeyed all the rules of chemistry and physics?

They can't. But they do. because to admit otherwise would be to admit to the possiblity of God. As it is, they are "in charge". The way they state it, they almost make it sound that the universe is subject to THEM, obeying the "rules" -- their rules -- of chemistry and physics.

In general it is true that Christian societies have promoted science as a legitimate enterprise of seeking to understand God's world through objective experiments. True science has thrived in Christian cultures.

But what passes for scientific objectivity today is really the philosophy of materialism -- that the material world is all there is -- dressed up in scientific garb.

And that's a shame.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ball at the Great Wall

I was down at the Business Centre at the Holiday Inn Beijing Central Plaza promptly at 8am. to book my Great Wall tour, only to find out that it had to be booked the day before.


(Are Christians allowed to say this?)

I was told that a private tour could be arranged with Gray Line for the sum of 980 Chinese Yuan. At first I declined, reasoning that this was twice as much as a coach tour. Then I relented. For about $130 Canadian I would have a car, a driver, and a personal guide who speaks English for an eight hour period.

Deal, or No Deal? Deal, Howie! (frappeur -- this is an allusion to a current American game show hosted by Howie Mandel.)

I could tell that the young woman in the Business Centre was very uneasy about this. I could tell that, for her, 980 Yuan was a princely sum, and far too much to spend on oneself for a day, or even for a week or a month. I could tell that, for her, it was unimaginably expensive. But, I reasoned that all-in-all this was not a bad deal, and, with my back hurting, a driver and a custom trip could not be a bad thing.

And it wasn't.

It was a great day.

We drove through Beijing. Took about an hour to get outside the city. Lots of signs of getting ready for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They are going to install something like 150 new, additional subway stops between now and then. Can you believe it?

First stop -- the Ming Tombs. Very impressive. Lots of Feng Shui talk from the driver. In Chinese thought, the wind is bad, water is good. So you build your tombs in an area surrounded by mountains, to block the wind, but where there is water.

I took the chance to explain that, in Christianity, both the wind and the water are considered good, and that they are both used as symbols of the Holy Spirit. I spoke of Jesus being resurrected and returned to heaven, from whence he poured out the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and how the Spirit came like a "rushing, mighty wind". Also how the ruach or wind or Spirit of God moved upon the waters during creation. Also how Jesus said that for those who believe on him, out of their bellies would flow rivers of living water.

He also talked about the chi -- the Chinese idea of a life-force. I explained that Jesus brought a new kind of chi, that he said that the words he spoke were Spirit and Life, or chi.

The guide explained that he thought that religion was good. Nobody believe in communism anymore -- not even the communists! And the university students who have been taught not to believe in religion, and who no longer believe in communism, basically believe in nothing. A lot of them commit suicide, he said.

The last Beijing guide I had, about 10 years ago, was much more into the soft communist propaganda, and religion wasn't even on the radar of Chinese thought. In fact I believe I recall her saying that nobody believed in God anymore, and seemed rather astonished when I assured her that I and many others still do!

Second stop -- the Jade Factory. Somehow, I got the impression that they wanted me to buy some jade!

Third stop -- lunch! Lunch in the cavernous Friendship Store, run by the government. I did buy one small item. A nice aspect of this was there were no taxes. No provincial tax. No federal tax. I guess there is an advantage to the government running something, after all -- when it's taking in all the money, and setting the price, there's no need to slap taxes on top!

For lunch I had, wait for this... chinese food! A spicy chicken dish, along with soup and rice and veggies.

Fourth stop -- the Great Wall of China. What a magnificent sight! So very impressive. And, of course, what we were seeing was just one small bit of it -- it stretches for thousands of miles. I was especially interested in seeing the watchtowers, as I am working on a song right now about standing on a watchtower. Actually seeing watchtowers helped make the biblical metaphor of a watchtower that much more real.

Bible trivia time: which OT prophet talks about standing on his watchtower?

After the Wall, we headed back into Beijing, with a side-trip to "old Beijing", where they have low-lying housing and narrow streets. This part of town was originally inhabited by Mongolians. Turns out our driver lives there.

Then, back to the Beijing Holiday Inn Central Plaza. "Central Plaza" sounds so central, and, well, plaza-like. Yet it appears to be neither -- mainly a lovely new hotel at a great price in the midst of a drab complex of apartment buildings that stretch as far as the eye can see -- in all directions. I ask my guide why it is called Central Plaza. To the best of his knowledge, it is because 900 years ago, this area was in fact the centre of Beijing.

Nine hundred years ago.

And that's the way the Ball bounces.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Greetings from Beijing, China

I'm in Beijing, China.

Hoping to head out to the Great Wall today.

Will keep you posted!

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"