Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Converts’ Trial Shows Tensions Before Papal Visit

We don’t use force to tell anyone about Christianity,”

Tastan said.

“But we are Christians, and if the Lord permits, we will continue to proclaim this.”

Describing himself and Topal as “citizens of the Republic of Turkey who love its democratic, secular system,” Tastan stressed they had nothing to hide in defending themselves in court. “We are not ashamed to be Turks. We are not ashamed to be Christians.”

Full report
Why Jesus said this would happen

The Narrow & Broad Road - Youtube Style


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pope To Visit Turkey Nov 28-30

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes by way of "interfaith dialogue" as a result of the papal visit to Turkey next week.

But, I won't be holding my breath. I reckon both sides will be playing it safe and keeping close to protocol and issuing meaningless diplomatic platitudes.

I have to say that even as a Christian I thought the Pope's controversial lecture was philosophically clumsy.

If he wanted to make a thesis about the Hellenization of faith vis-a-vis Islam he would have been better advised to have contrasted Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Al-Ghazali, two Islamic thinkers of the 12th century.

Ibn Rushd was recognised by Christian and Muslim thinkers of his day as one of the greatest authorities on Aristotle. Al-Ghazali saw the influence of Aristotle as harmful to the Islamic faith and wrote against Ibn Rushd. And Islam, I am led to understand, has largely followed Al-Ghazali.

Of course, while the worldview of Aristotle was problematic as history later revealed with the Galileo incident, the methodology of Aristotle's philosophy survives and remains valid. Perhaps this is what the Pope wished to underscore in his reference to the Hellenization of the faith. Or perhaps Gypsy Scholar has captured the essence of the point the Pope was making in that :

"The Pope argued that Christianity itself integrates reason with faith because it trusts in a rational God who acts according to reasonable principles and whose divine rational nature is reflected in both human reason and the order of the universe, whence the Pope's insistence on the "real analogy" between God and human beings."

Aristotle's legacy can be seen in the scholasticism of Aquinas. Scholasticism, moreover, did not remain only with the Church of Rome but survived right into the Protestant reformation. The influence of scholasticism can, for example, be seen in the writings of John Owen and Francis Turretin, who have been among the greatest thinkers and theologians of Protestantism.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Saatchi : In Praise of Ideology

Lord Saatchi has apparently just published a pamphlet analysing the election defeat of the Tories.

I won't be parting with £7.50 to get my own personal copy; but, a BBC interview with Saatchi seems to underscore the common failure of both mainstream political parties in Britain.

Saatchi diagnoses the situation and suggests "four essentials" for a new leader :
  • a noble purpose
  • a sense of direction
  • a fight against injustice
  • a destination.

Neither mainstream party is currently exhibiting these "essentials".

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Mankind is threatened by the decline of morality of persons and states, demonstrated in the disintegration of the fundamental ideals of law and justice, in consumer egotism, the growth of crime, and the new international catastrophe of nationalist and political terrorism." Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989)

Source : TIME, November 13,2006 page 49

Friday, November 17, 2006

"I am fearfully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:14

"The Inner Life of a Cell, an eight-minute animation created in NewTek LightWave 3D and Adobe After Effects for Harvard biology students (...) illustrates unseen molecular mechanisms and the ones they trigger, specifically how white blood cells sense and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli.

(...) “All of those things that you see in the animation are going on in every one of your cells in your body all the time,(...) [I]n the animation there’s a motor protein that’s sort of walking along a line, carrying this round sphere of lipids. When I started working on that section I admit I was kind of surprised to see that it really does look like it’s out for a stroll, like a character in a science fiction film or animation. But based on all the data, it’s a completely accurate rendering.” says XVIVO lead animator John Liebler

To watch the video go HERE.

H/T Telic Thoughts

Intimacy with God (Genesis 18)

"In this parsha, derivations of the word yada, know, are used to indicate intimacy. When G-d decides to tell Avraham of his intentions to destroy Sdom, he says Ki Yedaativ, for I have known him (Genesis 18:19).

The word Yeedativ is used here to mean love, Hashem is saying that he has known Avraham that through his knowledge of him Avraham is beloved to G-d.

When the men of Sdom encircle Lot's house demanding his guests, they also use a derivation of yada (Genesis 19:5). They demand that the guests be brought out to the mob, Veneida Otam. Here the word also involves intimacy but their intention is rape.

In both usages an intimate knowledge is meant but in the first case it involves love for another that comes through knowing another, in the second it involves an assault for personal satisfaction."

Source : Sultan Knish

Thank you JESUS !

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Our New Friends in the Middle East

"Politics makes strange bedfellows"

Political interests can bring together people who otherwise have little in common. This saying is adapted from a line in the play The Tempest, by William Shakespeare: “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” It is spoken by a man who has been shipwrecked and finds himself seeking shelter beside a sleeping monster.
Source : Bartleby.com

Success in Business : A Matter of Priorities

A bit too cruel perhaps ?(views 1,319)

The BNP Is Coming

With both mainstream parties looking a lot alike, it is only Nick Griffin's ineptitude which is keeping the BNP from making serious inroads.

But if things continue as they are with the supposedly "Conservative" Leader making speaches embracing, as it were, homosexual marriages and not making speeches about making government smaller, then parties like the BNP will become the only genuine alternative and therefore much more appealing to the electorate.

Britain Beware ! Remember how Hitler came to power.

It could happen here as well.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Music Video : "La Isla Bonita" by Alizee

Back in the 1980's when she had some good songs and, shall we say, a more positive image I used to be a fan of Madonna; but not anymore.

Actually I came across this clip on a Turkish blog.

As I was watching it I couldn't decide if the singer was Turkish.

I think Alizee's rendition is pretty good. What do you think ?

And apparently she's not Turkish after all but a French singer and dancer.


Movie Review : Ushpizin

It's an Israeli movie about an (ultra?) Orthodox couple in Jerusalem who are about to celebrate Succoth (the Festival of Tabernacles).

I first read rave reviews about it in the Jewish press some time ago.

So when I happened to see it at my friendly neigbourhood Blockbuster last weekend, I thought "Why not?" .

My wife and I watched it and, as a Christian, I recommend it (without giving away the plot) for the following reasons.

This is a film where :

God is real

Prayer is real

Righteousness is real

Life is real and

The people are real

I also loved the relationship between the husband and the wife which is really central to the plot.

Barot - Cultural Learnings of Another Kind

Watch the film HERE

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cry Me A Tigris River (Richard Perle)

The mark of a successful politician is to be able to see which way the wind is blowing and adjust yourself accordingly.

Richard Perle is famously one of the Neocons who duped the eminently dupable GW Bush into Iraq.

Read what Perle now has to say about himself and Bush in the Vanity Fair interview .

Commentary by The Fifth Estate nicely fills in the gaps of Perle's selective memory.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

America Being Compared With Lebanon

HERE is an interesting animation.

As a Turkish-American, I find much anecdotal truth in it.

Golly Gee Ma It Was a Thumpin'

So said the Commander-in-Chief, or something to that effect.

Of course, there is no shortage of various politicos getting behind a microphone declaring : “We will win in Iraq”.

Maybe hearing that over and over again is supposed to work like a soothing balm or an anaesthetic on the American public.

I am sure all these politicians are, in their own way, trying to do is to neutralise the “cut & run” impressions or accusations or fears that have been emanating from various quarters. Maybe, in their own mind, they are carrying out their duty to “protect the troops”.

But, it still only comes across as American politicians sounding stupid.

Stupid because they must think people who hear these words would not for a moment stop and ask themselves the obvious follow up questions like :

• What does winning in Iraq mean ?
• And what is it we are supposed to be winning in Iraq ?

First, let’s start at the beginning.

The U.S. goes in on the basis of a LIE - no WMDs.

So already it’s a mistake, already it’s unjust and if there were real and consistent justice in the world the U.S. is NOT EVEN ENTITLED to win anything in Iraq.

Second, let's explore what "winning" might mean. Might "winning" mean establishing a stable and democratic Iraq? All peoples love democracy, right ? So what happened to the Iraqis ?Maybe they just forgot to send them the apple pie first ‘cause we’re not seeing the long promised democracy.

Instead there has been a civil war probably ever since the roof this mosque was blown off .

Of course, nobody is even admitting this much, yet. According to this blogger, that announcement may just now be around the corner. But, I think it will probably come after Saddam's execution just so it is clear there is no turning back.

Third, you have in Iraq a Muslim society so they don’t have the same values as Americans or Europeans when it comes to democracy plus you have three ethnic and religious groups that hate—hate--- absolutely hate one another.

Have any of these talking political heads figured out how they are going to make these mutually hating factions turn into peace loving altruists living for the greater good of a unified Iraq ?

Winning implies there is something within one’s power to affect some outcome or result.

They were certainly absolutely clueless about this when they completely destabilised the region.

Somehow I think unscrambling eggs usually is harder unless you are able to somehow run the film backward.

Like I said --- just stupid words.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I AM MAN!! (a commercial)

I think they just started showing this ad in the UK.

I saw it for the first time the other day and thought it was hilarious.

Maybe it's because i am old enough to remember the Helen Reddy original("I am woman").

So, if you haven't seen it enjoy; and, have a nice weekend.

If you have, just move on to the next blog; and, have a nice weekend.

The Psychological Contract With The American Soldier

A gaijin blogger makes the following comments from the heart of the Empire of the Rising Sun :

"Should Japan be attacked. No problem. Don't sweat it. We've plenty of American troops to send to their deaths for you. This is basically what Condoleezza Rice told Foreign Minister Aso today. It is important that the US renew and reaffirm its promise (treaty obligations) to defend Japan to America's last drop of blood while asking no commitment from Japan in return. I guess that is what the US government assumes young American men and women are raised for---to be killed fighting another country's war."

The American soldier fights because he "has a job to do". He goes where Uncle Sam (his employer) tells him to go to "get the job done".

That's it.

It's an employment contract.

In exchange, the G.I gets a college education, a steady paycheck, lots of benefits, and a pension after 20 years in service.

Death is just an occupational hazard which his employer undertakes to minimize in the only way he can -- by maintaining overwhelming military superiority.

But, not even the mighty Uncle Sam holds all the cards in his hands, so occupational hazards can sometimes get a bit more annoying and a bit less acceptable.

"We never even got a clear promise this time that Japan would not go nuclear. Uncle Sucker rides again."

Ah, well governments have been known to make secret agreements, you know. They are usually not in the habit of revealing all especially when it comes to foreign relations.

"(...) One can bet that few Japanese think that defending the US would be worth even one Japanese life, but again and again I talk to people (Japanese and American) who believe that America has some moral obligation to send its men and women to die for Japan. That would be interesting to explain to a mother in Iowa why her son died fighting for a country (Japan) in which many don't even believe their own troops should die for.Japan however, is a uniquely peaceful people and country (easy to say since the US has provided a military for Japan for 60 years)."

Well, what other country or fighting man has the same psychological contract ? Perhaps no other except maybe Britain.

Citizens of most nations in this world fight for more abstract concepts like honour .

Or if they are being less high-minded they fight for self-preservation.

Only Americans fight for the sake of "doing a job" like working in a factory or in an office.

And if you're doing a job you do what your employer tells you to do and go where your employer tells you to go - to Japan or Iraq or maybe even Iran.

Oh, and while we're on the subject, click HERE for an eminently balanced and fair review on the Kerry botched joke affair.

GOOG Buys U-Tube & This Is How They Announce It

Yeah, this is pretty old (Oct.9) news.

But, i just could not let it pass without featuring it on my blog for a number of reasons.

First reason and most salient of all is the stark contrast this announcement makes to the the usual and carefully PR massaged corporate announcements of this sort.

It just blows all those stuffed shirts right out of the water ! Over 2 million views of this clip only proves the point.

Second, this is a witness to the day when adhocracry rules over bureaucracy is coming ever closer.

And finally for a more real world business reason.

The entire film industry has in recent years been wringing its hands and groping for new distribution models. It has been asking itself questions like :

  • Does the movie house have a future ?
  • Which way is movie making technology heading ?
  • Will all film eventually be distributed by DVD ? etc. etc. etc.

These are such important questions for the future of the film industry that figures like Steven Spielberg have gotten involved in the discussion.

Well, in my humble opinion, YouTube could be, in the not too distant future, the pipeline of choice for movie distribution -- whether to movie houses or direct to the customer. The Google acquisition just gives the concept that much added horsepower.

So go ahead and watch Chad & Steve (again) making their announcement and watch this space for further inroads into Hollywod by the Google behemoth.

This is one Godzilla feature you will want to put some money on. I have.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

P.W. Botha (1916-2006)

P.W. Botha claimed, in 1998, in a statement to the press after his appearance before a court on charges of ignoring a subpoena to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that these were "attempts to humiliate me and, through me, my people".

P.W. Botha evidently saw himself to be quintessiantially representative of the mainstream white South African.

But who is the white South African ?

The white South African, unlike his Teutonic counterpart from an earlier era in which claims to Master Race status were more easily entertained, is an entirely different kettle of cultural fish.

First of all, white South African society is one which has largely been untouched by the Enlightenment. That may be seen as a good thing in many ways and in many quarters. But, it also means the white South African has been untouched by the reality check features of some Enlightenment concepts like "Utilitarianism".

Second, the white South African appears ('appears' being very much the operative word here) to be the carrier of those traits to which his Teutonic counterparts of an earlier era may justly have laid claim -- of being at the cutting edge of Western or European civilisation.

As is so often the case, the reality can be very different from the perception for the white South African, after a 350 year existence in the Cape, has definitely "gone native".

He has been able to maintain a perception of cultural progressivity, of cutting edge civilisation and of material productivity only through the luxury of having at his own disposal a slave nation of black South Africans 5 times greater than his own population.

The white South African is stubborn.

It took the Berlin Olympic Games and World World II before world public opinion finally denounced eugenics and master race philosophies.

While happily the penny did finally drop, in the case of Mr.P.W. Botha and his apartheid regime, it was not to be for another 60 years and in a very very grudging manner as Mr.Botha's own personal and political record shows.

(Events in this world have a nasty habit of overtaking the dearth of wisdom found in it's rulers).

How do you greet the stubborn, behind-the-times white South African?

Perhaps with some pity and, if able, perhaps with some charity as well for Thabo Mbeki who lost a brother and a son to Botha's secret police said the following of him in a statement soon after Botha's sudden passing :

"It stands to his credit that when he realized the futility of fighting against what was right and inevitable, he, in his own way, realized that South Africans had no alternative but to reach out to one another".

Turkey : Converts charged under Article 301

HERE for the story

Turan Topal and Hakan Tastan