Essay: Islam, Politics and why it matters.

Islam, Politics and why it matters for us.

Reverend Felicity O’Brien November 2013

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Supplementary Power Point

Introduction

This talk is about the religion that is called Islam. First we look at its beginnings with a brief historical overview, noting the great divide between two parts of Islam, Sunni and Shi’a, and some of the consequences of that split. We will explore briefly the spread of Islam and Muslim peoples throughout the world, both in ancient and modern times. We will look more closely at some of the groups in both Sunni and Shi’a, and how this plays out both religiously and politically, especially the more radical sector. Then we will explore the interaction of other countries with Islamic nations, the geopolitical scene, where differences between Islamic factions have been exploited by outsiders, in particular the U.S.

Finally, we will consider why this matters to us in New Zealand, especially to Christians, and I apologise to members of the audience who are not included in this group, but that is where my perspective comes from, as a minister in the Anglican Church.[1]

 Part 1: History of Islam

Fourteen hundred years ago, in a mountain cave, an Arab businessman was praying, worried about how his society was deteriorating. Money-making was becoming all-important, and the poor were getting poorer. People were restless, and knew that other surrounding countries practised more sophisticated religions than the Arab paganism. Some believed that their own highest God, Al-Lah (which means ‘God’) was the same deity as that worshipped by the Jews and Christians. But there had as yet been no prophet and no revelation to the Arabs in their own language. The man in the cave, Muhammad ibn Abdallah, woke one night overpowered by a mighty presence of the Angel Gabriel, and then he heard words of poetry pouring from his mouth. Tradition has it that he was illiterate, so therefore the elegant words must have come supernaturally.[2] Continue reading

Child poverty? Debt Menace?

Loan Shark Flyer

Loan Shark Flyer (Contact details hidden.)

There has been a lot of hand-wringing recently here in New Zealand about child poverty, citing the numbers of kids who go to school hungry, or with no lunch. The Opposition and the Church have joined an internationally driven campaign for higher wages, a ‘living wage’. But this campaign has some serious flaws in its New Zealand setting. Kev has already commented on this.

Children in themselves have no power to earn, so child poverty always should point to the adults who have left the child in this position. As local Mayor Michael Laws calls it, ‘piss-poor parenting’. Here I agree with him whole-heartedly. People who call themselves parents should have the brains and the drive, as well as the sense of responsibiity for their offspring to feed them properly, and provide the bare necessities at least. No, it’s not a matter of too little money on the benefit. We are on National Superannuation with little extra, and we manage to feed and clothe everyone adequately.

But this is because we do not waste our resources.

I believe that much of the ‘child poverty’ in New Zealand is because of terrible choices made by parents – choices that involve spending scarce money on cigarettes, alcohol and gambling. This country has a really bad record for the normalisation of gambling, even in the kindergartens where the fund-raising raffle is an annual fixture.

But there is another menace in the neighbourhood, that even further preys on poor families, this time targetting the Polynesian community in particular. There was a flyer put in our letter box yesterday, advertising loans –  $1000, to be repaid at $50 per week, for 8 months. Continue reading

Viscount Monckton: The triumph of the individual over the hive mind

Viscount Monckton was in Australia and New Zealand recently.  This address given in Melbourne is re-published from Quadrant Online.       Printable version.

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The triumph of the individual over the hive mind

by Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, April 3, 2013


Drab, pietistic uniformity is the curse of the collectivist age. Today, with a fearful and unanimously acquiescent docility, the hive mind tediously hums the Party Line, now rebranded “consensus”. Imagination, initiative, inquiry, inspiration, intuition and invention are not merely discouraged but hated. Individuality in any form is not merely loathed but punished.


It is the solecism of modern government imprudently, expensively and too often cruelly to emphasize the collective at the expense of the individual. Yet, as John Stuart Mill wrote,

“The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it. A State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be mere docile instruments in its hands, even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.”

Man is at once an island and a universe, an anchorite and a socialite, a lone wolf and a member of the pack. The strength of the West lies in encouraging what Santayana called the “eccentricities, hobbies and humours” of each, not in hindering or punishing individual achievement in the name of all.

In feudal times, the State was everything. The individual, if noticed at all, was recognized solely by his status in the ordained pecking order.

“God blessed the squire and his relations,
And kept us in our proper stations.”

It was only when free-market contract replaced feudal status that the individual, be he never so humble, acquired the right freely to negotiate with his neighbours and, by so doing, to earn advancement by achievement. Social mobility is a feature not of collectivism but of contract and of the cheerful chaos of the free market that it enables. Continue reading