Month: May 2011

ABC now thinks you don’t need a job

The media today was awash with post-Budget analysis, not the least the ABC. I turned into The World Today, ABC Radio’s midday current affairs show, to hear their economic editor, Stephen Long, drop a real clanger.

Eleanor Hall, the host of The World Today, asked him about whether Labor’s moves to get those on parenting payments and disability support pensions will work. Stephen started off making a good point, that long term unemployed people need help to get back into work as they can be unready.

But then he said something that I think reveals a real ideological bias, one that even Labor has nothing to do with any more. Let’s turn to the transcript:

But the other side is there is an assumption in all the discussion around this from the Government and just about everybody that somehow this is a universally good thing, that any job is better than no job and we will be giving these people the dignity of work, the dignity of labour.

Now there is a whole body of medical research and other research that actually says that pushing people into low wage, insecure jobs that can often be quite oppressive and give people little control can actually undermine their health and well being.

So in other words, if your crappy job (of which I hold two of at the moment) is getting you down, quit because Centrelink has got your back. Stephen Long thinks that the dignity of unemployment and being on the dole is greater than the dignity of putting in a hard day’s labour, even if is a real s**t kicking job.

I’m sure this logic is exactly why isolated Indigenous communities, where intergenerational welfare dependency is entrenched and prospects of finding a job are very low, are happy, fun places filled with rainbows and sunshine and smiling children. Just ask Noel Pearson.

So to all you dole bludgers, don’t stress. The ABC says you guys are all fine. And if someone should know what it’s like to sponge off the taxpayer, it would be the ABC.

Advertisements

How I had a change of heart on R18+ video games

I have a confession to make for, which won’t be a surprise for those who know me well: I am a colossal nerd. My nerdery began in the realm of video games. When I was a little tacker, I was amazed by the Atari 2600 game console my mate around the corner had. We spend hours playing monster truck and Star Wars games on that machine.

(more…)

Who needs a state anyway?

Hi, my name is Neville Sadvocate and I am the newest contributor to the Stranger in a Strange World blog.

Many thanks to Lee for extending this invitation to write on his blog. I hope everyone will see my contribution as worthwhile.

——————————————————————————-

I want to begin with something that has always got on my goat. Who needs a state anyway? Australia has been built on the hard work of business owners and workers and yet we are being choked to death by the yoke of government. Government has been a self-sustaining, all-consuming scourge on Western society, managing to wrangle its way into every aspect of our lives. It is a self-serving institution, devoid of principles, and a burden to average Aussies.

Who needs these clowns anyway?

Harvest Terrace is a appropriate address for those blood-suckers in West Perth (and would be an appropriate street name for their partners-in-crime in Canberra), as they harvest the results of the hard work of individuals, draining the life out of the dreams and hopes of all of us. No matter what their stripe, politicians are (in my view) a unneccesary blight on Australia, with the extreme amounts of regulation and taxation they impose on us.

What a better way to celebrate our freedom than abolishing the state altogether? What do they honestly offer us that we cannot provide for ourselves? What mystical powers does the state have that individuals in a free market cannot utilise? The reality is that they don’t! (more…)

A new contributor

My valued readers,

I have been corresponding with a gent since starting this august organ, Neville Sadvocate, and intrigued by his vociferous style, I have asked him to write for the blog. I’m very curious to know how this will turn out because through my correspondence, I have found him to be a real fire brand. I’m not sure I’ll always agree with him but I know it will always be interesting. Neville will be posting about once a week.

A measured response to Christian responses

Something quite prevalent in our media landscape and within the church is the ‘Christian Response’. As issues crop up, the media and the church will go looking for a ‘Christian Response’ on that issue.

 

But how reliable is a ‘Christian response’ to an issue? How much will that response represent the views of Christians everywhere?

 

The first thing we need to look at is the diversity of the Christian community and the role of ideology. The Christian church, God’s universal people, are not some monolithic group of clones, each parroting each other perfectly. There are some core issues that are cut and dried for most of the Church. For example, the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity was a hotly contested issue from the 2nd to the 8th century but in genuine Christian circles (i.e. not Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons or liberals), it is relatively uncontroversial and the historic formulations are widely accepted. Some times orthodox positions of theology can creep back into the contested field and unfortunately be denied by leaders in the Church(Rob Bell, I’m looking at you!). However, by and large, there are a core of issues where the theology is settled.

Outside of that small handful of issues, there aren’t many issues that a wide variety of opinions can be sourced from Christians. There can be wide diversity within a single Christian church, let alone across the umpteen billions of Christians in the world, and so a singular position on political issues in particular is unlikely.

Some times there is consensus on an idea but not on its application, especially on issues where the Bible has much more to say. Divorce is something the Bible strongly condemns as contrary to God’s design for marriage. However, as Jesus points out, there is a provision for divorce in the Law of Moses because of those with hard hearts. There is quite a specific framework for understanding marriage and divorce in the Bible. Consequently, divorce is seen as a bad thing almost universally by Christians but the appropriate policy approach to divorce wouldn’t be as guaranteed.

Should we ban divorce because it is counter to God’s view on marriage? Should we go back to a policy of ‘at fault’ divorce, where parties must establish there is someone in particular that has caused the divorce, in the hope it discourages divorce? Should we retain the ‘no fault’ divorce policy because of a recognition that in a fallen world divorce will happen and drawing it out serves no one’s interest? Getting all Christians to agree on one position would be folly.

Still further from that is where there is only a general Biblical framework to go by. For example, a tax on carbon dioxide isn’t mentioned or eluded to in the Bible and although there is a concept of stewardship of creation that can be drawn from Genesis 1&2, it isn’t elaborated to much in the rest of the Bible. Is there a Christian response to it?

Well yes and no. It is here where ideology comes into the picture in a big way. No person is without ideology for as soon as one idea is connected to another, you have an ideology and humans constantly draw from a deep well of ideas and concepts. For Christians, a position on something like a taxes on greenhouse gases is going to be a mix of secular ideology and theology, with your ideology impacting your understanding of the Bible and vice versa.

If your view of the environment is that nature is to be preserved, even at the expense of economic growth, and that humans have already started to exceed the sustainable use of natural resources available to us, then you’re going to be very sympathetic to the message of many scientists that humans are fuelling dangerous climate change through carbon dioxide emissions and therefore on government action by taxing CO2. When it comes to your thinking on the Bible, you’ll emphasise that we have a responsibility to look after what God has put us over the rule.

If you’re more of a small government, pro-free market type (like myself) and therefore resist any government’s attempt to expand its reach and to raid your pay packet, a carbox tax is going to be thoroughly unappealing. You’ll be more inclined to see economic development and prosperity in the Third World and the sort of natural adaptation that humans regularly engage in as the solution to any potential climate change. When you look at the Bible, the pervasive nature of human sin and selfishness will stand tall when thinking of new bureaucracies and the expanded taxation powers of government.

So no, there is no universal Christian response to anything but at the same time, we are blessed to have a plurality of views which Christians can in good faith debate and discuss and disagree on. The kind of unity that forces everyone to hold the same view on everything is a false unity, not even backed by the New Testament. Christians, with a conscious understanding of their own biases and ideology, should be keenly involved in the debates that surround the policies of government, with no forced compulsion to hold the ‘company line’.

Christian teenagers and dating: a youth pastor’s dilemma pt 2 – Marriage

Here is the much belated second part of my article on Christian teens and dating. Part 1 can be found here. In part 1, I laid out what dating is and why I think it is so prevalent. In part 2, I go through the Bible’s view of marriage and its importance.

————————————————————————————————–

Marriage in the Bible

 

When it comes to men and women, the ultimate relationship in the Bible is marriage. From the very beginning, we see that God designed men and women to be married and share an exclusive relationship with each other. Genesis 2:24 says:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

The relationship we see develop between the man and woman in Genesis 2 is a pattern for all men and women. They are to join together in a permanent, life-long union and become one flesh, united in a bond shared with no other. This is the pinnacle of God’s design for relationship between men and women.

Throughout the Bible we see God affirming the institution of marriage, be it in the 10 Commandments (“You shall not commit adultery;… you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife” Exodus 20:14,17); Proverbs (“Drink water from your own cistern, … let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers… and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Proverbs 5:15-18); the Prophets (“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect.” Malachi 2:16); and in the New Testament (“Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” Matthew 19:8). The Bible is clear and consistent: marriage is God’s plan for exclusive relationships between men and women. Because marriage is the aim, it shapes how we relate to each other before marriage.

Christian marriage

 

The Bible, along with its emphasis of life-long, monogamous marriage, promotes a model for relationships that stands in stark contrast to our modern, secular society. The ultimate expression of marriage in the Bible, and the spiritual reality that marriage points to, is the bond between Christ and the Church, God’s universal people.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32)

Marriage reveals the relationship not just between men and women but also between Christ and the church. Christian marriage should mimic the relationship between Jesus and his people. It is an extension of our wider Christian lives, that stem from the work of Christ on the cross and drive us towards service of others. Earlier in Ephesians 5, Paul explains how this all plays out:

 

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:22-27)

If Genesis shows us the design of marriage, then the New Testament shows us the manner in which God’s design for marriage should work out. Christian marriage is essentially an exercise of self-sacrifice for the sake of the other, modelled on Jesus and the church.

When we get married, the husband is not to live for himself but to give himself up for his bride, sacrificing everything of himself, to present her spotless and without blemish before God. Marriage isn’t for his indulgence but for his service of his wife, dying to himself just like Christ died on the cross for us. The wife, similarly, isn’t to live for her own desires but to live in submission to her husband, as the church has submitted to Jesus.

Through mutual service of each other, both husband and wife is loved and cared for. Rather being torn apart by our individual desires, the marriage is build up cooperatively, with both husband and wife filling important roles within the marriage. Christian marriage brings about the full expression of the ‘one flesh-ness’ design of Genesis, bringing two people together in an intimate and loving relationship.