Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

Rakel Dink : Letter to my Beloved

This eulogy was delivered by Rakel Dink in front of the huge crowd gathered around Hrant Dink's coffin on 23 January 2007, in Osmanbey, Istanbul. It was translated by Fatma Müge Göçek.

"I was chosen to be the spouse of my chutak. I am here today full of immense grief and dignity. My children, my family, you and I are in mourning. This silent love bestows upon us some fortitude. It enables us to experience within us a sorrowful calm.

In the Bible, the gospel of John 15:13, it is stated that there is no greater love than for a person to give up his life for the sake of his friends.

My dear friends, today we send off half of my soul, my beloved, the father of my children and your brother. We are going to conduct a march without any slogans and without showing any disrespect to those around us. Today we are going to generate immense sound through our silence.

Today begins the moment when the darkness of the valleys rises towards brightness.

Whoever the assassin may be, whether he was 17 or 27 years old, I know that he was once a baby. My brothers and sisters, one cannot accomplish anything without first questioning the darkness that creates an assassin from such a baby...

My brothers and sisters,

It was Hrant's love for honesty, for transparency, for his friends that brought him here. His love that challenged fear made him great. They say: "He was a great man." I ask you: "Was he born great?" No! He too was born just like us. He did not come from the heavens; he too was created from earth. But what made him great was his living spirit; his deeds, his style, and the love in his eyes and his heart. It was what he did, the style he chose, the love in his heart that made him great.

A person does not become great naturally; it is through his deeds that he becomes great... Yes, he became great because he thought great things and pronounced great words. You too all thought great things by coming here. You talked greatly through your silence; you too are great.

But do not let this suffice; do not be content with this alone.

Hrant marked the birth of a new era in Turkey and you have all been his seal. With him changed the headlines, dialogues, and bans. For him, there were no taboos or forbidden topics. As it is stated in the scriptures, it all sprang from his heart. He paid a great price. Futures for which great prices are paid can only be accomplished through such love and belief; not with hatred, insults, by holding one blood superior to another. This rise is only possible if one sees and respects the other as oneself, if one assumes oneself to be the other.

They separated him from the heaven of his home he had created with the help of Jesus. They made him spread his wings to the eternal celestial heavens - before his eyes tired out, before his body had the chance to age, before he could become sick, before he could spend enough time with his loved ones.

We too shall come, my beloved. We too shall come to that matchless heaven. Love and love alone enters there. Love and love alone that is superior to the speech of humans and angels, to prophecy, to mastery of all the mysteries, to faith that moves mountains, to sharing all one possesses, even to giving up one's body up to flames.

Only that love will enter heaven. There we shall live together forever in true love. A love that is not jealous of anyone, a love that does not covet the property of anyone else, a love that does not murder anyone, a love that does not belittle anyone, a love that holds one's brother and sister more dear than oneself, a love that abandons one's own allocation, a love that demands the rights of one's brother and sister. A love that is found in the Messiah. And a love that has been poured into us.

Who could forget what you have done, what you have said, my beloved? Which darkness could erase them? Could fear? Could life? Could injustice? Could the temptations of the world? Or could death have them forgotten, my beloved? No, no darkness is capable of having them forgotten, my beloved.

I too wrote you a love letter, my beloved. Its cost was dear to me too, my beloved. I owe it to Jesus that I was capable of penning this, my beloved. Let us give his due to Him, my beloved. Let us give back everyone their due, my beloved.

You departed from those you loved; you departed from your children, your grandchildren. You departed from those here who came to send you off. You departed from my embrace. You did not depart from your country, my beloved."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hrant Dink is murdered : Who is responsible ?

And they have caught the 16 year old who pulled the trigger. But the real story now has to be the evil man Kemal Kerinçsiz.

He is the lawyer who has used the infamous "insulting turkishness" law (article 301) to bring Dink to trial at least three times thus turning him into a target for extremists.

His other targets have been Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and also Christians.

In other countries, actions of this sort would be considered incitement to hatred and murder and those engaging in them would be prosecuted not given the freedom to operate as self-styled prosecutors harassing innocent people.

The shameless Kerinçsiz even called a television station while it was covering the Hrant murder.

The two young newscasters who took Kerinçsiz's call did an excellent job of pointing out to Kerinçsiz his very own real responsibility in the death of this man.

Clips of the exchange (in Turkish) with each presenter can be viewed HERE and HERE. A transcript of the exchange (also in Turkish) can be found HERE .

Kerinçsiz was agitated while the presenters were calm giving exceptional and reasoned responses and rebuttals to each and every futile attempt by Kerinçsiz to explain himself.

Kerinçsiz was finally reduced to the point where all he could do was meekly put down the phone.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

America's Rose Bowl Parade Economy

I was intrigued by the Rose Bowl Parade being broadcast live from Pasadena, California on New Year's day.

We were watching it on HGTV where there were no commercials. And, believe me when it comes to American TV "no commercials" is a real blessing !

You can watch just over 7 minutes of the Rose Bowl Parade HERE to give you an idea of what this is if you've never heard of it before.

For a few seconds on camera (anywhere from 15 seconds to 3 minutes) an army of mostly volunteers have spent some 12-14 months designing, fund raising and building these elaborate floats.

I could not help thinking of the vast amount of resources which were being diverted to such an ephemeral enterprise.

And to what end ?

As far as I can tell, after getting paraded through, these floats have fulfilled their purpose and so have no other fate than being discarded.

What vanity ! What waste !

How much vanity ? How much waste ?

Well. let's see if we can put some numbers together :

" (...)Flowers begin arriving at the Pasadena float barns the week of Christmas via refrigerated semi trucks. They are stowed in temperature-controlled tents each the size of half a football field. Each float-building company maintains one or two of these flower tents. The flowers sit in buckets, racks, stacks and cases grouped according to the float for which they’re destined. When it’s time to decorate the floats, volunteer decorators move the flowers from these flower-prep areas to the float-building barns. ... it takes 60 volunteers working 10 hours a day for 10 days to decorate a single float (@$17/ hour =$6,000) ."

"The Tournament of Roses has become such a large event that it requires 65,000 hours of combined manpower each year (@$17/hr=$1,050,000)"

"Phoenix Decorating Co. is building 21 floats for the upcoming parade - and the following is just a partial list of materials Phoenix alone is using ... :

Steel 300 tons. (@$700/ton=$210,000) used to create the chassis, basic structure and sculpted figures on each float.

Plywood 70,000 square feet. (@$12/ft2=$840,000) used to form some elements of the base upon which flowers and dry elements are pasted.

Chicken Wire 225,000 square feet. (@$0.30/square foot=$67,500) used to form large areas for floral decoration.

Aluminum Screen 350,000 square feet. (@$0.35/square foot=$122,500) utilized to cover detailed areas of sculpted figures and serve as the base for pasted flowers and dry decoration..

(...).Flowers 20 million, including 400,000 roses (@$0.67 each=$268,000) and 550,000 carnations (@$0.10 each=$55,000).

With these numbers and assuming about 60 floats in each year's parade, I cost these floats at around $6 million per annum.

And that is a conservative estimate which does not take into account all of the flowers that get used nor the storage of the flowers in refrigerated tents nor their transport to the parade grounds on the day of the parade.

Put that in contrast with the $50 million per year David Beckham is reportedly being offered to play soccer (football) with the LA Galaxy.

Which is more wasteful ?

Before you answer, remember that Mr. Beckham has to perform in his job 365 days of the year and may possibly raise the profile of the sport in America getting many new youngster to play soccer etc.

The Rose Bowl parade, on the other hand, is a 6 million dollar sinkhole for a ONE DAY EVENT with no wider impact on society for the remaing 364 days of the year.

What gives ?

Is it just that Californians have more money than sense ?

Sorry, I don't see any other explanation.

Footnotes :

1 Average Hourly Wage

2 Number of floats in the parade

3 Price of chicken wire

4 Price of carnations

5 Price of roses

copyright 2007 Celal Birader

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My No.1 Absolute Favourite Pop Song

I recently decided that the song

Ventura Highway

was, is and
probably will remain my number 1 favourite pop song of all time.

Do you have an absolute favourite pop song of all time ?

If so, I’d like to know what it is.

Please use the comments feature to this post to let me (and the world) know what it is.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

S.T.O.P. not S.L.O.W. is key to ending AIDS

"Only the church has the authority to completely eradicate AIDS," said Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church. (...) Recapping the four most popular methods to combating AIDS using the acrostic “SLOW,” Warren said the S stands for supply condoms.(...)[t]he L in SLOW stands for limiting the number of partners,(...) [t]he O in SLOW is offer needle exchange,(...) [and t]he W in SLOW is wait [i.e. delay] for the first onset of sex, Warren noted.“Those are the four most popular methods to AIDS prevention, and they will work to a degree,” he said.

“But if you want to stop it, now you have to bring in the church.”Warren proposed a new acrostic in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Using the word “STOP,” : (...) “S is save sex for marriage,(...) “T is teach men to respect women and children.

The O in STOP is to offer treatment through churches, Warren said. Calling on his experiences in setting up AIDS ministries in Rwanda, he said there are only three hospitals(...) two of which are church-based. Out of the 16 clinics in Rwanda, only two of them are government-based. Yet, the country has 836 churches.“So even in the hospitals, the churches were doing most of the work,” Warren said. “Which is the most likely –- if you have to get your refills, wouldn’t you like to get them at the closest church rather than a two-days’ walk? There are millions of villages where all they have in it is a church. And so we would have to offer treatment through churches.”

The P in STOP is pledge yourself to one partner for life, Warren said. (...) "

To Be Rich Is Not a Sin . . .

. . . but

"to die rich is to die disgraced"

Monday, January 08, 2007

Verse for 2007 : John 1:16

Well, it's that time of the year again.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about then read what I wrote last year HERE . The Lord Jesus Christ who is the Living Word continued to use our text for 2006 to prepare me for what could have been the shock of redundancy which came knocking last October.

The thing about trials is that unpleasant as they are, they ALL come from a God who is sovereign - which means He is in control over everything that happens and nothing happens anywhere at any time without His knowledge, permission and timing.

And He is also a God who is loving. This is not just a theoretical idea but proven in the fact that God became man to die on a cross to suffer the punishment for the sins of those who will receive Him (see John 1:12 and Romans 8:32)

So now a few words about this year's verse :

"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." (John 1:16, NIV)

If you compare the translation of this verse with others you will soon realise that it is not a strictly literal rendering of the original Greek. When I notice that I get extremely sceptical. Why ? Because it means that the translator or the translating committee is making an interpretation in the very act of translation. It nearly always strikes me something like eating pre-digested food.

Since we use the NIV in our church, I was simultaneously quite sceptical but also listening quite intently when our Pastor was preaching on this passage last Sunday (and can be listened again HERE ).

I have to report that while the passage is a paraphrase, in my opinion it does help better understand the text which is quite densely packed and requires a lot of unpacking in its literal state.

For example, John 1:16 reads as follows in the ESV (English Standard Version) which is a literal translation :

"And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace."

We must first ask ourselves what "fullness" is being spoken of here before we can ever hope to understand what we are dealing with. Since context is nearly always decisive in answering questions such as this we find the answer in verse 14 where it says that Jesus was "full of grace and truth".

And "grace upon grace" means the same thing as "blessing after blessing". The Pastor's sermon has an excellent illustration which explains this quite vividly and helpfully. (UPDATE: In addition to our Pastor's excellent illustration I give you the following elaboration of the expression " grace upon grace" :

" Those who are Christ's receive of His fulness. This fulness comes to expression in the lives of believers in terms of “grace upon grace” (1:16, Greek: charin anti charitos) Literally, this means “grace in the place of grace” — like one wave rolling in after another endlessly on the shore.

John then immediately reflects upon what characterized the past age, and what now characterizes the new age. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (1:17). A reign of condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:9) has been succeeded by a reign of grace. This does not mean that there was no “grace” under Moses, and no “law” in Christ. But it does mean that the coming of Christ ushered in grace in such a decisive way that it is as though grace is only now in the fulness of time bursting into human history (just as Paul marks the appearance of “law” with the time of Moses, Romans 5:13-14).

Can you now better understand what Paul means when he states that
Christians are “not under law, but under grace” (6:14)? In the new age, “grace”is now our teacher (Titus 2 11-14)."

Haleluia ! Thank you, Jesus. Bless you Name. It is fitting to praise You always.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The power of BECAUSE

"(...) The power of 'because' has actually been documented by social psychologist Ellen Langer. Langer performed an experiment where she asked to cut in line to use a copy machine. She tested three different ways of asking, and recorded the results(...)"

(Read more)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Gerald R. Ford Jr. (1913-2006)

I was well into my teenage years when Mr. Ford became the 38th president of the United States.

I can say he made little if any impression upon me at that time.

How time can change things !

Because he has now passed on, reviews of his own life and the impact he has had within what is for me living memory has really touched me.

The following is from Newsweek magazine.

What I have highlighted from that piece demonstrates to me the man's integrity in that even as he faced deep personal hurt his private and public personas seem to fit together without guile into a single high-minded unit.

All of which, it turns out was for the good of the country even though many if not most people held to the opposite view at the time.

"( . . . ) Gerald R. Ford Jr. was born Leslie Lynch King Jr. His real father was a handsome, wealthy, blond-haired wife-beater who first struck his bride on the first night of their honeymoon for smiling at a stranger in the elevator.

Later, Leslie King Sr. held a knife over his wife as she lay in bed with her newborn baby; she then fled to Grand Rapids, Mich., and married a paint salesman named Gerald Ford, who gave her baby boy his name.

At 16, young Jerry, by then a high-school football hero, was tending a lunch counter when Leslie King Sr. sauntered in. "I'm your father," he announced. "I'd like to take you to lunch." King was passing through town on his way to pick up an expensive new car, a Lincoln. King asked Ford if he would like to move back to live with his true father in Wyoming.

"It was a hell of a shock," Ford later recalled. He went to lunch, but was shaking with resentment. "Nothing could erase the image I gained of my real father that day—a carefree, well-to-do man who really didn't give a damn about the hopes and dreams of his son." In bed that night, Ford wept "tears of anger."

He tried to remember verses from Proverbs his mother had taught him: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

...[H]is personal history contains, at the very least, a foreshadowing of his decision to end what he called "the long national nightmare" of Watergate with a presidential pardon.

In 1937, when Ford was at Yale, his delinquent father turned up again—this time with a quid pro quo. For years, Leslie King had been embroiled with Ford's mother regarding unpaid alimony and child-support payments. Now King was offering Ford a deal: if he would get his mother to back off her legal claims, King would make sure his son was not forgotten in his will.

Ford was cool to his father's approach, but ultimately worked out a settlement that won his mother $4,000. She sent her son a check for more than $2,000, which he promptly returned to her. "I was simply acting as a peacemaker," Ford testified in a 1939 court proceeding.

Duke history professor Peter Wood has speculated that when Ford pardoned Nixon, he was re-enacting the drama of trying to bring peace between his mother and father. This interpretation may be stretching the bounds of psychohistory.

Still, Ford's language, when he announced the pardon that September Sunday in 1974, does suggest that he was obeying what Wood calls "a submerged but controlling personal logic."

Ford told the nation: "My conscience tells me clearly and certainly that I cannot continue to prolong the bad dreams that continue to reopen a chapter that is closed ... My conscience tells me it is my duty to not merely proclaim domestic tranquillity but to use every means that I have to ensure it."

Source : The 38th President: More Than Met the Eye by Evan Thomas