Eugenics close to becoming a ‘human right’ in Europe

Downs syndrome childThe Christian Medical Fellowship reports: Eugenics close to becoming a ‘human right’ in Europe. Apparently the European Court of Human Rights

is preparing to issue a ruling on the fundamental right to the prenatal screening and elimination of children with diseases or disabilities. …

A decision in favour would not only increase the stigmatisation of disabled people but would also make the eugenic process (of selecting and eliminating certain people) a human right.

This has worrying overtones of the Nazi policy of eliminating those deemed unfit to live. It is also of course deeply concerning to those of us who believe that unborn children have the right to life.

You may like to join me in signing the Stop Eugenics Now petition, linked to from the CMF post.

The end of Gaddafi, a new start for Libya

Col Gaddafi's bodySo Colonel Gaddafi is no more, reportedly along with two of his sons. The details are unclear, but it looks as if he was caught while trying to escape from his birthplace and final stronghold, Sirt. So, as I predicted, the Syrtis proved to be his undoing. Very few will mourn him.

It is unfortunate that the colonel died after apparently being captured alive. I hope he wasn’t killed deliberately. But it seems quite likely that he died of injuries sustained before he was captured.

It is a relief for the people of Libya, and for the whole world, that they can finally put the Gaddafi era behind them. I hope they are quickly able to rebuild a peace-loving and democratic society.

Steve Jobs did not change the world, Bill Gates might

Bill GatesWell done to Eddie Arthur for putting Steve Jobs’ achievements in their proper perspective with his post Steve Jobs did not Change the World, but Bill Gates Might. Why? Not because of Windows or any other Microsoft software, even if it is still far more used than anything from Apple:

But there is one way in which Gates might truly change the world; he is giving his money away. For years, he was the richest man on the planet, but through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he is donating the vast bulk of his fortune to good causes around the world and encouraging other gazillionaires to do so, too. One thing they are investing in is malaria vaccines. If a cure for malaria can be found, this will change the world in a way which no shiny white telephone could ever do!

Gaddafi's Syrtis: nearing the end

It was more than six months ago that I posted Syrtis = Sirt: Danger on the Coast of Libya, predicting that this city whose sands were once a threat to the Apostle Paul would soon be a threat to Col Gaddafi. Well, things didn’t happen as quickly as I hoped then, as a few days later the advancing attackers were forced to turn back from Sirt. But while that town remained in Gaddafi’s hands, almost all the rest of Libya, including Tripoli, has fallen to those who rose up against him.

Col Muammar GaddafiBut now at last the end seems to be near for Gaddafi’s control of the city of his birth. The BBC reports that the NTC forces have now captured most of Sirt, although they “are meeting stiff resistance”. One of their commanders is quoted as saying

God willing, in two days maximum, all of Sirte will be clean.

May God indeed help to bring this about, and without further civilian casualties. It looks as if Gaddafi’s forces are determined to die fighting rather than surrender. As for the colonel himself, no one seems to know whether or not he is among the defenders of Sirt.

And when Sirt does fall to the NTC, that will be not so much the turning point of this conflict as its final act, with few if any more pockets of resistance remaining. Even if he is not personally captured, this will surely signal the end of any semblance of power for Gaddafi.

Clearly this desirable outcome would not have happened without the UN intervention, in which our own British forces played a major part. Does that end justify the means? In a case like this perhaps it does.

But I also see a huge irony in the way that our British government is continuing to promote, through the recent Defence & Security Equipment International exhibition, the sale of arms to the regimes of 55 nations, many of which are just as undemocratic and potentially oppressive as Gaddafi’s was. This has been defended by our government as hugely profitable. But the weapons sold might be turned against unarmed civilians as they were in Libya. So do the profitability calculations factor in the cost of the weapons that might be needed by UN forces to neutralise the ones sold, not to mention the human cost of any such conflict?

Thomas Hooker and John Eliot's house in England

A few days ago, as part of my temporary work, I found myself making a delivery at a house with a blue plaque on it. I was surprised to read that this old farmhouse was the home, from 1626 to 1631, of Thomas Hooker, described as “The Father of American Democracy”, and of John Eliot, “Apostle to the Indians” (i.e. the Native Americans).

Cuckoos Farm, Little BaddowThe house is now known as Cuckoos Farm, in the village of Little Baddow near Chelmsford – in England, not in Massachusetts. This is officially listed as a 17th century timber-framed and plastered house, although sadly the windows are modern. It is about five miles from my home in Great Baddow.

There is more information about Hooker and Eliot, and their residence on Little Baddow, on the website of the Little Baddow History Centre. I was already aware that Hooker, a Puritan, had been a lecturer at what is now Chelmsford Cathedral, and I had heard of Eliot as a Bible translator. But I did not know that when Hooker was forced to leave Chelmsford he opened a school in Little Baddow, with Eliot as his assistant.

There seems to be some uncertainty about the dates. The school in Little Baddow may not actually have been founded until 1630. By 1633 both Hooker and Eliot had separately emigrated to Massachusetts. But their Puritan heritage lived on in Little Baddow. A Congregational chapel built in 1707 near Cuckoos Farm is still in use, now as a United Reformed Church.

Thomas HookerThomas Hooker was indeed one of the pioneers of American democracy, of which, in John Fiske’s words, he “deserves more than any other man to be called the father”. He is also celebrated as “the Father of Connecticut”, as he was one of the founders of that colony, and a drafter of its Fundamental Orders, a precursor of the Constitution of the USA. It is interesting to see that, although himself a pastor involved in politics, he was also a pioneer in separating church and state: he opposed the practice in Massachusetts of allowing the church to control who was allowed to vote, and this was one of his main motivations for leaving Massachusetts to found a new colony.

John EliotJohn Eliot is in some ways of greater interest to me because he was a pioneer missionary Bible translator. His complete Bible in the language of the Massachusett Indians (Native Americans) was perhaps one of the first ever in the language of a newly evangelised people group. Eliot was also a pastor involved in politics. Indeed, he was the author of “the first book on politics written by an American and also the first book to be banned by an American government”. But his politics were very different from Hooker’s: he proposed a theocracy based on Old Testament models, and might perhaps be considered a forerunner of today’s Christian Reconstructionists or “Dominionists”.

It is fitting that these two pioneers are still remembered in the village where they spent several years. It is sad that their story is not as well known as it might be.

Is there an alternative to Palestinian statehood?

Flag of PalestineToday, as the BBC confirms, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to apply to the United Nations for membership, and the United States is expected to veto this bid. Nevertheless the campaigning organisation Avaaz is continuing to appeal for support for the application. In an e-mail this morning (I can’t find the text on the Avaaz website but there is a copy online here) this is part of the argument they make:

growing numbers of Palestinians are giving up on two states and deciding to embrace a long term struggle — one they liken to South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle — for a single secular democratic state with equal rights for all ethnicities and faiths.

This, Avaaz implies, is a bad thing, a movement which should be undermined by granting to the Palestinian territories immediate statehood and separation from Israel.

But why? Does Avaaz really think that “a single secular democratic state with equal rights for all ethnicities and faiths” is a bad thing? Would it really be better to divide the country permanently on ethnic and religious lines?

Avaaz also notes that this would be “effectively the end of Israel as a Jewish state”. True enough. But it would not be the end of Jewish presence and influence in the land. Currently there are just more Jews (about 5.5 million) than Palestinian Arabs (about 5.3 million) living in Israel and the Palestinian territories taken together. That balance might change if Palestinians “return” from neighbouring countries – but then more Jews might move to a peaceful new nation, and any law of return would have to be even-handed. In practice neither side would be able to dominate the other.

So could this solution work? Of course it would not be easy to resolve decades of conflict and bitterness. But the comparison Avaaz makes with South Africa suggests how this could be done, through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Also a single state is more likely to succeed if it is a federal one, with large degrees of self-government for the continuing Jewish and Arab majority areas.

There are of course many obstacles to be faced before such a solution could be agreed, not least the probable strong opposition of extremists and religious fundamentalists in Israel and among the Palestinians – not to mention in America. However, those of us who are politically moderate and believe in the separation of the state from organised religion should see this as the most desirable long term outcome. But it will be jeopardised by any continuing moves to institutionalise the division of the land.

I support most of Avaaz’s campaigns. But in this case I believe they have got it wrong, and those like President Obama who reject full Palestinian statehood have the best policy.

Syrtis = Sirt: Danger on the Coast of Libya

The shallow waters and sandbanks of the Syrtis, off the coast of today’s Libya, are mentioned in the Bible, in Acts 27:17, as a place of danger for the Apostle Paul, when the ship taking him to Rome was carried away by a storm. The sailors steered the ship away from the Syrtis, and the outcome for Paul was shipwreck and divine deliverance in Malta.

The Syrtis is now known as the Gulf of Sidra, but the old name survives with less change for a city on its shores, Sirt, also known as Surt and Sirte.

This city looks likely to be in the news over the next few days. The BBC reports today that

Libyan rebels have recaptured four more towns and are moving quickly towards Muammar Gaddafi’s heartland of Sirte. …

Sirte is the Libyan leader’s birthplace and stronghold, his heartland. From now on the going will get much tougher for the rebels.

Just over a week ago I was hopeful for Libya. Gaddafi didn’t go as quickly as he promised, with his lies about a ceasefire. But it is good news that now he seems to be on the run. The UN intervention has reportedly been remarkably effective with very little collateral damage – I hope that is the truth, not just propaganda.

The battle for Sirt which is surely coming in the next few days will be dangerous for both sides. Very likely it will be decisive for the future of Libya. How appropriate it is that a biblical place of danger has now become a place of danger for Gaddafi.

Rick Joyner: The Day The World Changed

A few days ago I quoted Rick Joyner about a Japan earthquake prophecy, based on a YouTube video which I also linked to.

I have now discovered some rather similar material from Rick Joyner in text form (so much easier to quote!), in a Special Bulletin The Day The World Changed. Here are some extracts:

It was twenty-two years ago that I first heard Bob Jones talk about a major earthquake that would be coming to Japan. He said that it would set off cataclysmic events. Thousands have heard Bob predict quakes and other natural events with astonishing accuracy. One of the most dramatic was the last San Francisco quake. …

When Bob walked into the service last Sunday after the recent 9.0 quake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, I immediately asked him if this was the one. I’ve never seen such concern in Bob’s face as he answered, “You know what this means.”

What Does It Mean?

It marks a demarcation point after which great change will come to the whole world, including an ultimate meltdown of the economy. It will also be followed by a major quake on the West Coast of the United States. …

This may truly be the greatest opportunity we [Christians] have ever had. …

The coming economic meltdown will be the removal of everything that is not built on the kingdom principles that cannot be shaken. …

Now is the time to do whatever it takes to get in the will of the Lord. There will be an increasingly high price to pay for those who are not. There will be increasing peace and joy for those who are.

There is a lot more of this, and especially about how Christians should respond. Actually, just have some people have suggested that it didn’t need a prophet to predict an earthquake in earthquake-prone Japan, it doesn’t a prophet to predict a coming economic meltdown. So, whatever we think of the status of Jones’ and Joyner’s words as actual predictive prophecy, Joyner’s advice for us as Christians is good and timely.

Mark Stibbe prophesies earthquakes in Britain

Many people have come here to read my posts about David Wilkerson’s and Bob Jones and Rick Joyner’s prophecies of earthquakes in Japan and the USA. See also my more general post about prophecy. But these words from God may have seemed rather remote, especially to my British readers. For one thing, the earthquakes they prophesied are in known earthquake zones, and so sceptics can quite reasonably say that these prophecies were bound to be fulfilled – especially as no dates were given. For another, the prophets are Americans and from Pentecostal and charismatic churches which some might reject as on the lunatic fringe.

So it might come as a shock to see what Mark Stibbe has been prophesying. Rev Dr Stibbe is a Church of England minister and was until recently Vicar of St Andrew’s, Chorleywood, just outside London on the north west. In 2008 he left to start The Father’s House Trust, “a Christian charity … with a dream to bring an end to the global pandemic of fatherlessness.” Just now I came across a post at The Father’s House Blog from January this year, THE TRUTH WILL OUT! A Prophetic Word for 2011. In this Stibbe has an unexpected and shocking message for this country:

We are living in a very critical time in the UK – a time of great unrest and profound anxiety. This seems likely to increase in 2011 as Britain is gripped by storms, floods, water shortages, strikes, power cuts, unemployment and even unusual natural phenomena such as earthquakes.

Christchurch cathedral after the earthquakeEarthquakes in Britain? Surely not! Surely in our tame and civilised country we are immune from natural disasters, beyond the occasional snow or flood! No, God seems to be telling us. This year we have already seen shocking pictures of that most English of cities outside these islands, Christchurch in New Zealand, devastated by an earthquake. It wasn’t even a very powerful quake, only slightly stronger than the 1931 Dogger Bank earthquake in the North Sea. If a similar earthquake strikes a British city, the destruction could be even worse than in Christchurch. So we British certainly shouldn’t be complacent.

Of course Stibbe’s prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, and so his credentials as a prophet are still being tested. But we mustn’t forget that his words about possible earthquakes are only a small part of his overall message. He continues:

As everything is shaken around us, there will be a real longing for anchors that connect people with a deeper and more solid reality. The deepest and most lasting reality of all is the Father’s love and the Bible is our Father’s book; it is the only book that reveals his relentless love.

When natural things are shaken, people do indeed turn towards the “kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28) that we as Christians proclaim. This is a great opportunity for the church, and one which we should not miss.