Biscuit maker cops racist abuse for halal-certified Anzac biscuits

HERE’S a sign of ignorance at best and racism at worst.

A GOURMET biscuit manufacturer in New South Wales has received significant social media backlash after seeking halal certification for its products.

Byron Bay Cookies, which turns over around $13 million a year, recently received a barrage of angry comments on its Facebook page for producing halal-certified Anzac biscuits.

So on one hand we have racists complaining that Muslims don’t “integrate” into Australian society and yet complain when they try.

One Facebook commentator lashed out at the biscuit business, saying: “What a disgrace. Halal certified Anzac biscuits?!! Seriously how disrespectful!!!” Another person wrote: “Shame on you. Don’t insult our boys by sending Halal certified Anzac biscuits overseas.”

However, other customers defended Byron Bay Cookies, with one person saying they were going to purchase more products in order to show their support for the business.

“I’m going to buy some extra cookies from you today in support of your decision to get Halal certification on your cookies,” one person wrote. “Mostly, I am disgusted by the racists crawling all over your page and trying to intimidate you. Keep up the good work!”

Another person wrote: “I can’t think of anything more ‘Australian’ than Halal Anzac Cookies. What an amazing way to show how respectful, multicultural and tolerant Australia really is.”

It is understood a range of other businesses and products have also come under fire from the anti-halal group, including Cadbury chocolate and Coopers beer.

Why a former atheist professor now believes faith is for smart people

ONCE an atheist English professor at a secular college in California, Holly Ordway admits that she once believed that Christians were a collection of “ignorant, plastic Jesus stereotypes” and “atheists were smarter than Christians.”

“It really was an inexcusable ignorance on my part,” Ordway says. “I bought into the whole ‘we’re more enlightened folks who’ve ‘arrived’ because we don’t believe in God – bad attitude that is often prevalent in colleges.”

She recounts her journey from atheism to Christianity in the recently released Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith.

“It is no light matter to meet God after having denied Him all one’s life,” she writes in the book. “Coming to Him was only the beginning. I can point to a day and time and place of my conversion, and yet since then I have come to understand that He calls me to a fresh conversion every day

She was convinced that faith was by definition irrational.

“I thought I knew exactly what faith was, and so I declined to look further,” she writes. “Or perhaps I was afraid that there was more to it than I was willing to credit – but I didn’t want to deal with that. Easier by far to read only books by atheists that told me what I wanted to hear – that I was much smarter and intellectually honest and morally superior than the poor, deluded Christians.

“I had built myself a fortress of atheism, secure against any attack by irrational faith. And I lived in it, alone.”

Ordway wasn’t looking for God. She didn’t believe He existed. But she began to be drawn to matters of faith.

One reason for her interest, she explains, is that her “naturalistic worldview was inadequate to explain the nature of reality in a coherent way: it could not explain the origin of the universe, nor could it explain morality.”

“On the other hand, the theistic worldview was both consistent and powerfully explanatory: it offered a convincing, rationally consistent, and logical explanation for everything that the naturalistic worldview explained plus all the things that the naturalistic worldview couldn’t.”

“I was startled to find that Christian theism had significantly better explanatory power than atheistic naturalism, in terms of explaining why the world is the way it is, and in accounting for my own experiences within it,” she recounted “Learning more about the Incarnation and about God, the most holy Trinity, has further reinforced my confidence that Christianity really does make sense of the world in a way no other worldview does.”

She found that “St. Paul’s forthright declaration that Christianity is based on the historical, witnessed events of Christ’s death and resurrection,” that “theology and philosophy offered real answers” to her questions and weren’t an appeal to blind faith, and that “the history of the Church did not conform to [her] image of the Christian faith as a self-serving, politically useful fiction.”

Just $3,650 Puts A Person In Top Half of Wealth In The World


The Credit Suisse global wealth report, is out and it has some surprising findings on the world wealth distribution. The report says that the richest 1% of the world’s population is not only getting wealthier but owns more than 48% of global wealth. The bottom half of the world population owns less than one percent of the world’s wealth.

The report also found that a person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens. The amount however goes up dramatically from that point. In order to be considered in the top ten percent, you need more than $77,000 and to be in the top one percent you need $798,000.

The world wealth itself is at an all-time high — twice that of the year 2000, or $263tn.
With 1,783,000 people in the top 1% of global wealth holders, Australia accounts for 3.8% of this wealthy group,
despite having just 0.4% of the world’s adult population.

Only 6% of Australians have net worth below USD 10,000, which can be compared to 29% in the USA and 70% for the world as a whole.

The proportion of those with wealth above USD100,000 is the highest of any country – eight times the world

The China, the communist People’s Paradise, has the fourth largest number of people in the top ten percent. First place is still held by the United States followed by Japan. After China, there is France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The world turns grey when we feel blue

THE world literally fades to grey when we feel blue, scientists discovered.
Depression has an effect on the eyes that makes it harder to detect the black and white contrasts.
Scientists in Germany carried out tests on the retinas of patients which showed the effect – similar to turning down the contrast control on a TV.
It could be one reason why throughout the ages and regardless of culture or language, artists have consistently depicted depression using symbols of darkness or grey uniformity.
The effect was so marked that scientists believe the test could provide an objective way of measuring depression levels.
The study, conducted by Dr Ludger Tebartz van Elst and researchers at the University of Freiburg, is reported in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
The condition is estimated to affect one in five people during their lifetime.
John Krystal, the editor, said: “These data highlight the profound ways that depression alters one’s experience of the world.
“The poet William Cowper said that variety’s the very spice of life, yet when people are depressed, they are less able to perceive contrasts in the visual world. This loss would seem to make the world a less pleasurable place.”

God only knows revisited

The BBC assembled 27 musicians of all styles for a cover of the classic Beach Boys song God Only Knows.

Joining Brian Wilson, the song’s writer, are Sir Elton John, One Direction, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams. Jake Bugg, Lorde, Emeli Sandé, Chris Martin, Kylie Minogue, Paloma Faith, Sam Smith, Florence Welch, Chrissie Hynde, Brian May, Dave Grohl, Alison Balsom, Martin James Bartlett, Danielle de Niese, Nicola Benedetti, Eliza Carthy, Baaba Maal, Jamie Cullum, Jaz Dhami, as well as the BBC’s Zane Lowe, Lauren Laverne, Katie Derham, Gareth Malone and Jools Holland. They are joined by the Tees Valley Youth Choir and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

With leap of faith, restaurant takes prices off menu

BUSINESS was slow at “Just Cooking,” Dana Parris’s restaurant in a suburb of Charlotte. So Parris decided to allow her customers to decide how much to pay for their food, and put the bill “in the hands of her customers and God.” She explained:

“The way I could show I was giving God control was to give him control of the cash register.”

In the first week of decide-your-own-price, revenue at Just Cooking tripled.

How One Australian Church Is Combating Islamophobia

Priest Michael Barnes

Perhaps what the world needs most now is a renewed emphasis on what it means to be a good neighbour.

For Michael Barnes, the minister of Gordon United Church in New South Wales, Australia, being a neighbour entails doing everything in his power to make sure marginalized groups feel welcome in their own homes. That’s why Barnes is sending the powerful message that Muslims are welcome in his church — and he hopes the community at large will follow suit.

“There has been concern bubbling around in Australia for most of this year about discrimination against minorities,” Barnes told HuffPost, citing suggested legislation that would have altered the protections guaranteed in Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act.

“I’ve been aware of this issue for some time; often when I listen to comments of ‘ordinary and good’ people in the local community I am surprised to hear misunderstanding and anxiety expressed about Muslims.”

The rise of the Islamic State has played a major role in stoking these fears, Barnes said, specifically as news of Australian recruits joining the militants’ ranks surfaced. The Australian government has cracked down on suspected home-grown terror plots, with counterterrorism police conducting raids in some Muslim communities.

“Images of arrested Muslims dominated our airwaves for quite a few days,” Barnes said. “I was concerned that this, unwittingly, fed into and exacerbated general fear and anxiety in the community and more importantly that it made Muslims feel unwelcome in their own country.”

The motto of Gordon United Church is “Love wastefully” — a charge to promote inclusivity at all costs. Thus Barnes took the tools at his disposal — in this case the sign outside his church — to promote a different kind of attitude toward Muslims in the community.

“I wanted the church to be seen to offer a different message, to be neighborly and to offer welcome,” Barnes told HuffPost.

Barnes isn’t stopping with the church sign. Throughout October, Gordon United Church is celebrating “Interfaith Month” which will include services on Buddhism and indigenous traditions, in addition to a discussion lead by community member Mehmet Saral on “Why jihadists do not represent Islam.”

What does religion have to do with politics?

MANY politicians would prefer spiritual leaders and spiritual people have nothing to say about economics or politics.

But Indian spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi said those who said religion had nothing to do with politics did not know what religion was.

Gandhi pointed to the direct and deliberate political actions of Buddha, who fearlessly brought down an arrogant priesthood, and to Christ, who drove out the money changers from the temple.

Politics without principles was one of the “seven blunders of the world’’, according to Gandhi. The others were wealth without work, commerce without morality, worship without sacrifice, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character and science without humanity.

He said people should take only what they need. There were enough resources for the world’s need, but not for the world’s greed.

Gandi said Jesus knew the world about him. “He is himself the greatest economist of all time…he was the most active resister known perhaps to history. His was non-violence par excellence.”

Jesus’ name has been linked to many anti-establishment movements. But the original Jesus revolution was something unique. He was a spiritual revolutionary who touched lepers, dined with social outcasts and said the first would be last and the last would be first in God’s kingdom. He respected existing order while preaching a different one.

But he disrupted business at the Jerusalem Temple, insulted the pompous religious leaders of his day and said material riches on earth weren’t worth much compared to riches in heaven.

His revolution was marked by service to others and turning the other cheek, not with swords and bombs and guns. He proved that social change could only occur when hearts were changed.

Jesus would surely have sympathy with the modern-day protestors’ complaint that the poorest on the planet have too little and the richest far too much. He would be dismayed, but not surprised, by corruption and greed.

Blessed harmonies

Watch this video and read the amazing story behind the song

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a Christian hymn originating from India.

The lyrics are based on the last words of a man in Assam, north-east India, who along with his family was converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary. Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” In response to threats to his family, he continued, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing. This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.

The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh. The melody is also Indian, and entitled “Assam” after the region where the text originated

Ultra-orthodox Jews refuse to sit with women on plane, delaying flight


HUNDREDS of ultra-orthodox Jewish men delayed a flight from New York to Tel Aviv last week by refusing to sit next to female passengers.

The plane was filled with both non-orthodox and secular Jews who were traveling to Israel to mark Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.

Ultra-orthodox Jews are forbidden to have physical contact between men and women unless they are family or married.

As passengers boarded the flight, the ultra-orthodox men asked women to change seats so they didn’t have to sit next to them, Ynet reported.

Some men even offered the women money to change seats.

A witness, known only as Galit, said the men stood in the aisles, delaying the fight’s departure for up to 20 minutes.

“I ended up sitting next to a haredi man who jumped out of his seat the moment we had finished taking off and proceeded to stand in the aisle,” she said.

Some of the haredi men spent much of the eleven-hour flight standing and praying in the aisle, which caused general commotion and made it difficult to reach the restroom, Galit said.

“I went to the bathroom and it was mission impossible,” she said.

The plane eventually landed in Israel before dawn on September 24, in time for all the passengers to celebrate the New Year.

Source: Ynet, Huffington Post

Forgiveness does not excuse evil

THE Jewish Talmud says the normal life span of a quarrel is two or three days. If resentment extends into the fourth day, it is because you choose to hold on to it.
The problem is that forgiveness is more than an emotion. It is a decision.

A Hebrew expression sometimes used is “Yemach shemo’’, which means, “May his name be erased’’.

It is used whenever a great enemy of the Jewish nation, past or present, is mentioned and is based on the Talmud’s “obligation to hate’’ the hopelessly wicked.

Yet the Talmud also clearly states that forgiveness is a virtue.

Christians maintain that no human being is unloved by the God whose son died on his or her behalf.

Forgiveness is not the same as excusing evil. It does not mean evildoers are excused from consequences of actions.

In Forgiveness: Breaking The Chain of Hate, author Michael Henderson says forgiveness does not condone evil, and evil, on its part, cannot extinguish the power of forgiveness.

“It is important at the outset to recognise what forgiveness is not,’’ he says. “Forgiveness does not mean being a doormat for other people to walk over. It does not mean that we forget what has been done to us or to our people. It does not mean surrendering the right to justice.

People have to face the consequences of what they have done.

“Forgiveness is an act that joins moral-historical truth, forbearance from revenge, empathy for wrongdoers, and a commitment to repair a fractured human relationship. If we do not learn to forgive, we will never experience what life really has to offer.’’

Forgiving releases us from the punishment of a self-made prison in which we are both the inmate and the jailer.

Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else’s nightmare. It also recognises that the person we forgive is probably also a victim of their own wrongdoing.

But it always starts with a personal decision. No one can force anyone to forgive or apologise.

If you are not agnostic, then you have faith in something

A mate sent me this today. It makes some interesting points.

Without any type of faith everyone would be agnostic. but as we know not everyone is.

Bottom line: if you are not agnostic, then you have faith in something.

We have to be careful about the word proof, it’s usually reserved for mathematics and in that context a proof has the status of being true with no room whatsoever left for doubt. Proof cannot be used in the same way when it comes to thinking about how evidence in the world relates to a truth claim. Instead we then take proof to mean ( from Merriam Webster): The cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact b : the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning.

So do I have firm belief in anything which is inadequately supported by evidence and reason? Not that I know of.

The closest thing I can think of is that I helplessly and habitually assume that the fundamental ‘laws’ with which we try to describe how the universe behaves, will still be relevant tomorrow. For instance, I assume that if I drop a pen it will fall to the floor. But if I’m thinking carefully, I’m aware that this assumption is not grounded in evidence.

To use David Hume’s expression, it seems that the assumption that the universe will remain fundamentally the same from moment to moment is a ‘habit of thought’ (one which is necessary for survival). So although there’s a sense in which I could be said to ‘believe’ in the uniformity of nature, I think it would be misleading to call this a ‘firm belief’.

The more we hear atheists claim that they base their atheism on science the more we are being alerted to the fact that what they are really admitting is that they are purposefully restricting that which they consider acceptable to consider. This is the very opposite of freethought; this is restricted well-within-the-box-group-think adherence.

They are purposefully restricting their vision and then concluding that there is nothing more to see

The love thing

They were all at table with Jesus, and the impending crisis that would take his life loomed ahead of them inescapably. And then came those final, poignant words, “A new commandment I give to you; love one another. As I have loved you, you are to love one another.” This will become your unique signature in the world, the way people will sense your true identity, your essence. This will be your ultimate reason for being

How is it possible to love one another? Only through Christ it seems. The commandment to love one another goes back much further than Jesus himself. It is one of the themes that is cited again and again all through the Old Testament. And Jesus had certainly repeated those words again and again. What made it different was its ending on another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”.

C.S. Lewis in one of his books examined all the Greek words for the concept of love and then concluded that they come down to one seminal distinction: the difference between what he calls “need love” and “gift love.”

Need love, Lewis says, is always born of emptiness. It is basically inquisitive to the core. A need lover sees in every beloved object or person a value that he or she covets to possess. Perhaps it is what some atheists see as purely a chemical reaction. Need love moves out greedily to grasp and to appropriate for itself. If one were to diagram it, need love is always circular, reaching out to the beloved to transfer value back to itself. In a popular image, need love sucks essence out of another and into itself. It does not take exceptional imagination, Lewis contends, to acknowledge that many times when we humans say to another, “I love you,” what we are really meaning is, “I need you, I want you. You have a value that I very much desire to make my own, no matter what the consequence may be to you.”

Lewis contends there is another reality that is utterly different. It is what he calls gift love. Instead of being born of emptiness or lack, this form of loving is born of fullness. The goal of gift love is to enrich and enhance the beloved rather than to extract value. Gift love is like an arc, not a circle. It moves out to bless and to increase rather to acquire or to diminish. Gift love is more like a bountiful, artesian well that continues to overflow than a vacuum or a black hole. Lewis concludes this contrast by saying that the uniqueness of the biblical vision of reality is that God’s love is gift love, not need love. And then he says, “We humans are made in the image of such everlasting and unconditional love.” Lewis’ depiction of gift love really is the foundation stone of the way St. Augustine describes the way Jesus loved. And the great good news for everyone of us to hear today is not only that we are loved by God in this marvellous way, but also that this is our deepest identity

Former President Jimmy Carter On Gay Rights

FORMER President Jimmy Carter has taken a stand for gay rights.

When asked about his views on human rights and the LGBT community, Carter schooled a crowd at Michigan’s Grand Rapids Community College with some of his Christian theology.

“I never knew of any word or action of Jesus Christ that discriminated against anyone,” Carter said, according to a video from MLive.

The 89-year-old then likened discrimination based on sexual orientation to prejudice against a person’s skin color, economic class, and “whether they’re living in a foreign country or our country.”

“I think discrimination against anyone and depriving them of actual equal rights in the United States is a violation of the basic principles of the Constitution that all of us revere in this country,” the president said.

Carter is a devout Christian who still teaches Sunday School at Georgia’s Maranatha Baptist church. He’s been vocal about his views in the past. During a 2012 interview, he told the Huffington Post that he believes “it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.”

However, Carter said that the government shouldn’t force ministers to marry same-sex couples if doing so would violate church doctrine.

A prayer of peace


This timely Prayer of Peace is attributed to Francis of Assisi.

“Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love;for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”

Barbie as the Virgin Mary? Ken as Jesus?


BARBIE has had a number of careers in her 55 years — flight attendant, veterinarian, astronaut, even president. Her latest role, however, is raising eyebrows.

Italy’s Catholic bishops are furious about controversial artistic depictions of the popular Barbie and Ken dolls as the Virgin Mary and a crucified Jesus Christ and other saints.

Two Argentinian artists, Marianela Perelli and Pool Paolini, produced 33 dolls of various religious figures for a show named “Barbie, The Plastic Religion,” which opens in Buenos Aires on Oct. 11.

SIR, an Italian website backed by the Italian bishops conference, denounced the controversial toys in an editorial, which asks: ” What is the difference between provocation and bad taste?”

The artists’ collection featured on their Facebook page includes religious figures from Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Although the artists decided against creating a Ken doll as Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, they do depict Jesus being crucified on the cross.

On their Facebook page the two artists write in Spanish that there was no way they would depict Muhammad out of their great respect for Islam but stressed they did not intend to offend any religion.

The collection also includes versions of Barbie as Joan of Arc, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin of Lourdes.

Muslim Scholars Blast (Un)Islamic State’s Ideology


MORE than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world joined an open letter to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic State, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using the most Islamic of terms.

Relying heavily on the Quran, the 18-page letter picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

A translated 24-point summary of the letter includes the following: “It is forbidden in Islam to torture”; “It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God”; and “It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslims until he (or she) openly declares disbelief.”

The Muslim leaders who endorsed the letter called it an unprecedented refutation of the Islamic State ideology from a collaboration of religious scholars. It is addressed to the group’s self-anointed leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and “the fighters and followers of the self-declared ‘Islamic State.’”

Here is the executive summary of their letter:

1. It is forbidden in Islam to issue fatwas without all the necessary learning requirements. Even then fatwas must follow Islamic legal theory as defined in the Classical texts. It is also forbidden to cite a portion of a verse from the Qur’an—or part of a verse—to derive a ruling without looking at everything that the Qur’an and Hadith teach related to that matter. In other words, there are strict subjective and objective prerequisites for fatwas, and one cannot ‘cherry-pick’ Qur’anic verses for legal arguments without considering the entire Qur’an and Hadith.

2. It is forbidden in Islam to issue legal rulings about anything without mastery of the Arabic language.

3. It is forbidden in Islam to oversimplify Shari’ah matters and ignore established Islamic sciences.

4. It is permissible in Islam [for scholars] to differ on any matter, except those fundamentals of religion that all Muslims must know.

5. It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings.

6. It is forbidden in Islam to kill the innocent.

7. It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers.

8. Jihad in Islam is defensive war. It is not permissible without the right cause, the right purpose and without the right rules of conduct.

9. It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslim unless he (or she) openly declares disbelief.

10. It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat—in any way—Christians or any ‘People of the Scripture’.

11. It is obligatory to consider Yazidis as People of the Scripture.

12. The re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus.

13. It is forbidden in Islam to force people to convert.

14. It is forbidden in Islam to deny women their rights.

15. It is forbidden in Islam to deny children their rights.

16. It is forbidden in Islam to enact legal punishments (hudud) without following the correct
procedures that ensure justice and mercy.

17. It is forbidden in Islam to torture people.

18. It is forbidden in Islam to disfigure the dead.

19. It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God.

20. It is forbidden in Islam to destroy the graves and shrines of Prophets and Companions.

21. Armed insurrection is forbidden in Islam for any reason other than clear disbelief by the ruler and not allowing people to pray.

22. It is forbidden in Islam to declare a caliphate without consensus from all Muslims.

23. Loyalty to one’s nation is permissible in Islam.

24. After the death of the Prophet, Islam does not require anyone to emigrate anywhere.

The Modern Good Samaritan


IN a modern recasting of the Good Samaritan story, a priest walking down the road to Jericho finds a man badly beaten by robbers.

The priest quickly administers the last rites and hurries back to his church to deliver a sermon.

Another pastor walks the Jericho road and is appalled to see the beaten man. So he returns to his church to formulate a course on How Christians Can Help Alleviate Poverty.

A revivalist sees the man being beaten on his TV and gathers thousands in the Jerusalem Bowl to sing songs about moral decay.

A political activist sees the man being beaten and organises a demonstration.

And while the priest, the pastor, the revivalist and the activist are busy, the man on the Jericho road dies.

The tale is an attack on the non-involvement towards people in need.

American pastor Edward F. Markquart, who used the modern version of the Samaritan tale in a sermon, said the Jericho road was always with us.

In the original Good Samaritan parable, told by Jesus, a Jewish traveller on the road is beaten, robbed, and left for dead. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man.

Finally, a Samaritan – one of those despised by the Jews – comes by and helps the man who many would have seen as his enemy.

Martin Luther King visited the road, known in Jesus’s time as the bloody pass, and described a winding, meandering road conducive to ambushing.

King said it was possible the priest and the Levite had thought the man lying by the road was pretending to be injured to lure them to a place where they could be robbed and beaten.

And so the first question that the priest and the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” King said.

But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

The Samaritan betrayed all stereotypes that many people at the time had about his race. His neighbour was not defined by locality – someone next door – but someone in need.

C.S. Lewis once said: “It is easier to be enthusiastic about humanity with a capital H than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.”

We live in a suffering world.

What is sharia law?

SHARIA law has been in the headlines for the past few months, with Islamic State fighters expanding their territory in Syria, anti-terror raids in Sydney and Brisbane, and Jacqui Lambie’s calls for the burka to be banned.

Even the term ‘sharia’ can conjure fear, with many considering it a threat, and others convinced there is a plot to overthrow the Australian constitution to replace it with the Islamic code of law.

Clearly many have a problem with sharia – so what exactly does it involve? What does it really say about crime and punishment? Is it oppressive to women?

Here’s one view.

AND seemingly a misunderstanding of what Sharia law means.

The science of God


Einstein also said Religion without science is blind. Science without religion is lame.
Richard Dawkins believes science has pretty much disproved God. But he concedes that 40 per cent of US working scientists are religious believers. In 1916 a survey asked biologists, physicists and mathematicians whether they believed in a God who actively commicates with humankind and to whom we may pray in expectation receiving an answer. Anout 40 per cent answered yes.
100 years later another survey asking the same question found the affirmative percentage was identical. There are thousands of scientists who believe faith and science can live side by side without conflict.
Einstein said a legitimate conflict between science and religion cannot exist..
Natural science cannot explain why there is something rather than nothing.
Wittgenstein said the big mystery was not how the world is but that it is..
Stephen Hawking said If the density of the universe one second after the big Bang had been greater by one part if a thousand billion, the universe would have recollapsed after ten years.
On the other hand if the density of the universe had been less by the same amount, the universe would have been essentially empty since it was about ten years old.
Why did our universe have this critical density when it was so unlikely by pure chance?

Being religious does not make you better behaved

BEING religious does not make you better behaved, researchers claim.

A new study found ‘no significant difference’ in the number or quality of moral and immoral deeds made by religious and non-religious participants.

The researchers found only one difference – Religious people responded with more pride and gratitude for their moral deeds, and more guilt, embarrassment and disgust for their immoral deeds

Researchers say the find means religious and nonreligious people have more in common than generally thought when it comes to moral experiences in everyday life.

‘To our knowledge, it’s the first study that directly assesses how morality plays out in people’s everyday lived experience,’ says Linda Skitka, a University of Illinois at Chicago psychologist. who co-authored the study, which was published in the journal Science.

The study also found little evidence for a morality divide between political conservatives and liberals.

Read more:

Guess how much the pope’s cap goes for on eBay!


POPE Francis’ white skullcap is selling for close to $130,000 on eBay, and the bidding is still going.

The hat appeared on eBay after an Italian TV show host managed to finagle it out of his holy hands.

The host of the comedy show “La lene” (The Hyenas) got up in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday to stake out a prime, front-row spot in St. Peter’s Square for Francis’ general audience.

As the pontiff passed through his popemobile, the host handed over a white skullcap that matched the one on Francis’ head, the Local reports.

The pope can be seen examining the gift closely before swapping out the old for the new.

Over 120 people have placed bids on eBay for Francis’ cap and, presumably, his spirit.

The hosts say the money raised through the sale will be given to an Italian charity that fights child mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the AFP reports.

The auction closes on Sept. 24.

Another remarkable farewell


Charlotte blogged on The Huffington Post UK since 2013 and sadly passed away on Tuesday 16 September from bowel cancer. She wrote one final post that she wished to share with all of her readers. Please take the tine to read it.

I’ve always been a good planner. I like lists and tick sheets, to-do notes and objectives. I’m very good at starting things, but honestly, I am also easily bored and quickly lose interest once the original excitement passes.

I haven’t had the luxury of being allowed to be bored of having cancer. It isn’t something you can just give up if you don’t fancy doing it that day. There isn’t a switch you can chose to turn off one day from the next. At least not for me. From my first day as a cancer patient, I have attended every test, scan and appointment. I have tried every treatment offered, from the standard medical therapies, to eating oiled cottage cheese, having acupuncture and juicing kale. Cancer has become our life. Holidays, haircuts and helicopter lessons have all been timed around good or bad chemo weekends. Danny and Lu, unwittingly as innocent by-standers have had their childhoods protected but also dictated by my various regimes. This is all they have ever known and, I hope, have still managed to turn out to be pretty good, well-rounded, loved and treasured children.

The innocence that we have protected them from has now had to be revealed. Following my birthday, I started to feel ‘unwell’. We ‘popped’ to hospital where the usual set of tests were carried out. Unfortunately, when combined with a recent scan, the results were nothing short of devastating. We were no longer looking at a month by month action plan with a couple of months buffer at the end. I was given days, perhaps a couple of weeks to live. I wasn’t expected to leave the hospital, but somehow, have managed to pull it out of the bag at the last moment and return home, to spend what little time I have with my darling children and loving husband.

As I write this, I am sat on the sofa, relatively pain-free and busy doing my little projects, sorting out the funeral and selling my car. We wake up every morning, grateful I can have a cuddle and kiss my babies.

As you read this, I will no longer be here. Rich will be trying to put one foot in front of the other, to get by, a day at a time, knowing I will no longer awake next to him. He will see me in the luxury of a dream, but in the harsh morning sun, the bed will be empty. He will get two cups from the cupboard, but realise there is only one coffee to make. Lucy will need someone to reach for her hairband box, but there won’t be anyone to plait her hair. Danny will have lost one of his Lego policeman, but no one will know exactly which one it is or where to look. You will look for the latest update on the blog. There won’t be one, this is the final chapter.

And so I leave a gaping, unjust, cruel and pointless hole, not just in Halliford Road, but in all the homes, thoughts and memories of other loved ones, friends and families. For that I am sorry. I would love to still be with you, laughing, eating my weird and latest miracle food, chatting rubbish ‘Charleyisms’. I have so much life I still want to live, but know I won’t have that. I want to be there for my friends as they move with their lives, see my children grow up and become old and grumpy with Rich. All these things are to be denied of me.

But, they are not to be denied of you. So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life. Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children. You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.

Embrace your loved one and if they cannot embrace you back, find someone who will. Everyone deserves to love and be loved in return. Don’t settle for less. Find a job you enjoy, but don’t become a slave to it. You will not have ‘I wish I’d worked more’ on your headstone. Dance, laugh and eat with your friends. True, honest, strong friendships are an utter blessing and a choice we get to make, rather than have to share a loyalty with because there happens to be link through blood. Choose wisely then treasure them with all the love you can muster. Surround yourself with beautiful things. Life has a lot of grey and sadness – look for that rainbow and frame it. There is beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to see it.

So, that’s it from me. Thank you so much for the love and kindness you’ve shown in your own little ways over the last 36 years. From the mean girls in the playing fields who pushed me into the stinging nettles aged six to the bereaved husbands who in the last week have told me what their wives did to help prepare their young children and everyone in between. They and you have all, in some small way helped me become the person I have been.

Please, now use that love for me and pass it to Rich, my children, family and close friends. And when you close your curtains tonight, look out for a star, it will be me, looking down, sipping a pina colada, enjoying a box of (very expensive) chocolates.

Good night, Good bye and God bless.

Charley xx

Clive James embraces death with a poem

THE terminally ill Australian author, critic and raconteur Clive James has detailed his revelations of life and death in an emotional poem.

Japanese Maple

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.

So slow a fading out brings no real pain.

Breath growing short

Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain

Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see

So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls

On that small tree

And saturates your brick back garden walls,

So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends

This glistening illuminates the air.

It never ends.

Whenever the rain comes it will be there,

Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.

Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.

What I must do

Is live to see that. That will end the game

For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,

A final flood of colors will live on

As my mind dies,

Burned by my vision of a world that shone

So brightly at the last, and then was gone.