Archive for July, 2011

Kosovo: Muslims sue imam for hateful remarks about Mother Teresa

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

It’s always good to cite the positive where possible:

On July 21, the most respected Kosovo daily, Koha Ditore (Daily Times), reported that two lawyers, a writer, and an ordinary citizen of Pristina, capital of the territory, had commenced civil legal measures against Shefqet Krasniqi, imam of the city’s Grand Mosque, for his hateful remarks about Mother Teresa, made in a sermon two years ago. At that time, Krasniqi declared that the deceased founder of the Missionaries of Charity, considered the outstanding Albanian personality in recent history, was in “the middle of hell, deep,” because she was not Muslim. Krasniqi further alleged that notwithstanding her celibacy the Albanian nun “could have all the men she wanted,” among other insults.


The most interesting aspect of the controversy, however, was the identity of the four plaintiffs seeking legal redress against the Muslim cleric: the writer Qerim Ujkani, the lawyer Bajram Krasniqi (no relation to the imam—it’s a common family name in Kosovo), the private citizen Adem Nimani, and the lawyer Zef Prenaj. Judging by their given names, the first three are Muslims by origin and only the last is Catholic. Contrary to foreign expectations, Kosovar Muslims stood up for the sensibilities of their Catholic neighbors.


Quote of the Day

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

On the other hand, the scientific method can’t disprove the “God hypothesis” because many points of Christian faith couldn’t possibly leave scientifically analyzable evidence even if true. For instance, if Jesus Christ truly rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, what kind of material evidence could a scientist reasonably ask for? By definition, there would be no body anyway! Unless and until we can go back in time with a video camera to chronicle the events of 30 AD, Science can neither verify nor falsify the point; it can only shrug and answer honestly, “I don’t know;” to claim “absence of evidence is evidence of absence” is to commit an ad ignorantiam fallacy, since we have no independent, objective grounds for presuming such claims false.


What it’s like to discover Anders Behring Breivik read, referenced, and linked to your blog

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

This is exactly what has happened to Fr. Dwight Longenecker.

Fr. Dwight describes the sensation as, ‘creepy and disturbing’.

Here’s what he says:

To think that this madman read at least one post on my blog was disturbing at first. Naturally I wondered if I had written anything to prompt such hatred and violence.

I don’t think I have. Still, I was creeped out by it. Breivik is clearly both mad and bad, and I guess all we can do in the face of such horror is be silent and pray.

Fr. Dwight runs a fab blog, which is on my exclusive ‘must read’ list and he is in no way extremist, by any stretch of the imagination.

Still, must feel weird and it would certainly give you pause for thought.

Quote of the Day

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Researchers at Warwick University have found that, in a study of 1500 girls who were practicing Christians, some 93% agreed that we must respect all religions, compared to 47% of those who claimed to have no religion. Additionally, those who identified as practicing Christians were rather more likely to be supportive of their Muslim peers and the various issues they face in contemporary society, as compared to those of no religion.


Creating ‘cybrid’ – cytoplasmic animal-human hybrid – is legal in UK but seriously creepy

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

The story involving the creation of animal-human embryos in the UK is cropping up everywhere and although it’s perfectly legal, it’s seriously creepy.

According to some reports I’ve read this procedure currently has no medical value and has been shrouded in secrecy.

An apparently straightforward question to government last week (20 July) generated an apparently straightforward reply. Lord Alton asked how many ‘cybrid’ embryos (cytoplasmic animal-human hybrid) have been generated with eggs from non-human species in total.

The reply was: ‘The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the most recent information it holds shows that 155 embryos, defined as human admixed embryos by Section 4A(6)(a) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, have been created.’

Lord Alton’s reaction was to describe this as ‘dabbling in the grotesque’ and a discredit to our country.  Others questioned why this research has been hidden and secret.  After my own initial concern that such a large number of highly unethical animal-human embryos have been created, for pointless research that will not produce any therapies, I spent some time trying to find out more about the funding, numbers and purpose for this research.

It quickly became clear that such questions are not easily answered by the official statistics, and there seems to be a murky mix of confusion and secrecy from which the true facts and figures are difficult to extract.

Let’s start with some of the genuine facts. First, it is now legal to produce these embryos.  The passing of the highly controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act in 2008 permitted the creation of animal-human cybrids after much debate and hype.

Second, three research scientists were initially licensed to carry out this research. Two abandoned their work after publicly funded research councils refused to back the studies. The third had his licence revoked in 2010.  The reason given was that the project could not continue due to lack of funding (which is entirely unsurprising as there are no commercial benefits to be gained from this unethical and unnecessary research).

Third, the HFEA is responsible for granting (and revoking) licences for this research when it involves embryos. However it does not take the same role regarding eggs, either human or animal, so information on numbers of eggs collected and stored is far more limited and patchy.


What do you think of this type of research? Is it a bridge too far, or a necessary evil?

Prayer Request

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

A highly valued commentator on this blog has just emailed me the following:

I have just discovered that someone I know has a brain tumour and is being treated for it at Christie’s.  He’s a lovely guy and his wife is obviously very upset, as am I.  Please could you remember him in your prayers whenever you can.  His name is Mark.

The best comment so far on the Oslo bombing suspect Anders Behring Breivik

Monday, July 25th, 2011

It is extraordinarily rare for me to publish a blog post based in its entirety on a comment received on this blog.

In this instance, I will do just this.

The comment in question came by way of Peter Denshaw, and contains within it guidance that perhaps we should all heed, especially me:

I posted on this topic yesterday. However, over the course of the day, I read and listened to bits and pieces on the news and the web and came to the conclusion that as is increasingly the case with 24 hours news and the drive to fill the airwaves and bandwidth, that a good deal of this ‘news’ has resulted in mere speculation and hot air. Indeed much of what we consume from the peddlers of ‘news’ can hardly be called ‘news’; it is just sound and vision, light and noise, to fill the screen. I would even go as far saying a sizable portion of what passes for ‘news’ these days is a subtle form of pornography, devised to feed our appetite for emotional masturbation – ‘getting off’ on the triumphs, anger or misery of others. So in the end I took down my post as I had a sneaky feeling that at least part of my own comment and speculation was resting on some very shaky foundations.

I also felt more than a twinge of guilt at that familiar human ability of taking something remote and trying to make it personal by placing it within my own frame reference and using it as cadaver to dissect for my own intellectual interest and preoccupations. Hence I think in the above only Caral nears the mark of what needs to be said at this time. There is something unwholesome in religious circles that mention of this man’s religious beliefs (or lack of same) immediately transforms a tragedy that is incomprehensible in its magnitude and wickedness – where it sounds as if religion was a lesser or insignificant element in the pernicious whole – into something for discussion from a religious perspective. More than 90 people have died – and died in horrific and terrifying circumstances and what has this resulted in for many of us bloggers on the topic of religion… ‘What does this mean for us?’. I don’t think now is the time to have this discussion… I don’t think now is the time for point scoring and boring our fellow parishioners with what we think about something that is beyond comprehension…

Let’s just wait and see what part religion played in these terrible events, but for now, I think it is time to grieve and for the ignorant to be silent – for until more comes to light about these wicked deeds, we are all ignorant.

Quote of the Day

Monday, July 25th, 2011

I’ve pointed out that the argument so many atheists like to attack when they purport to refute the cosmological argument — namely “Everything has a cause; so the universe has a cause; so God exists” or variants thereof — is a straw man, something no prominent advocate of the cosmological argument has ever put forward.  You won’t find it in Aristotle, you won’t find it in Aquinas, you won’t find it in Leibniz, and you won’t find it in the other main proponents of the argument.  Therefore, it is unfair to pretend that refuting this silly argument (e.g. by asking “So what caused God?”) is relevant to determining whether the cosmological argument has any force.


New Zealand bans three sets of parents naming their child Lucifer

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

I’m popping this one on for the sheer freakishness of it.

Although New Zealand’s Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages has clamped down on naming a child ‘Lucifer’ (requested three times), they’ve been more liberal in the past with names including: “Benson and Hedges” (for twins) – “Violence” – “Number 16 Bus Shelter”.

It’s a weird world at times. Read the article here.

As a Christian do you view yourself primarily as a Christian and citizen of the Kingdom of God, or primarily in terms of you nationality?

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

If – like me – you view yourself as a Christian and citizen of the Kingdom of God first and foremost, and then a British citizen, you’d be out of step with the majority of professing Christians in Britain:

Professing Christians in the Western countries were asked whether they first considered themselves as citizens of their nation or as Christians. In Britain 63% of Christians placed their nationality first, exactly three times the proportion which put their Christian identity first. This reflected a shift since 2006, when the figures had been 59% and 24%.


What about you? As a Christian do you view yourself primarily as a Christian and citizen of the Kingdom of God, or primarily in terms of your earthly nationality?

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