Why I Am a Christian

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The Panther - and Other Comics You've Never Heard Of

     The reviews of Black Panther have been so good that I shall probably check out the movie when it comes on TV. But I won't be reading the comic. I've now 68, going on 69, and I haven't been "into" superhero comics for decades. Nevertheless, I am reminded of a comic published in Australia during the 1960s ie when I was a teenager, called The Panther. Although the character himself was not black, his costume was, and he was essentially a rip-off of inspired by The Phantom.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Guns in Australia and America

     I'm writing this because I am tired of having to explain the same things over and over again. Whenever there is a mass shooting in the U.S., people over here declare how lucky we are not to have their lax gun laws, while people over there demand that they copy our legislation. Many people over here will tell you that the gun buyback of 1996 and the subsequent tightening of the gun laws has reduced the homicide rate. On the other hand, many Americans imagine that we have outlawed guns and the homicide rate has gone up. Others suggest that Australians would all be safer if we were allowed to carry concealed firearms. All these beliefs are incorrect, as I intend to explain.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Health Insurance in Australia

     I don't know what the fuss is about in America over the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare. This is not an endorsement, merely a genuine statement of ignorance. I do not know enough about its costs and implementation to make an informed judgment. However, since I have a lot more readers in the U.S., and even Russia, than in Australia, perhaps I should explain the Australian system of universal health insurance, which is a composite of public and private insurance. It wasn't planned that way; it simply grew as a result of rival political philosophies pulling in opposite directions, as well as financial restrictions. But it works reasonably well. (Of course, nothing works perfectly.)

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The Australian Voting System

     There are a number of facets of Australian political life which outsiders fail to understand, which I intend to explain in the following articles. The first is the voting system. As a background, understand that we operate under the Westminster system, which means that the executive is not separate from the legislative branch. The Constitution requires a House of Representatives, and a Senate. It makes no mention of voting methods, but over the decades we have developed a system which, in my opinion, is superior to all others. It is compulsory, manually counted, preferential and, in the case of the Senate, both preferential and proportional. Let us see how this works in practice.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Why I Voted for One Nation in Queensland

      She's b-a-a-a-ck! The implosion of Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party in the last years of last century was due to its founder's lack of leadership skills. But it didn't mean its core policies had lost popular support. I voted for One Nation in 1998, not because I saw it as relevant to state politics, but because I recognized that the sole party prepared to stand up against Asian immigration had to develop a political base. This year, 2017 I had an additional reason: the people who were supposed to represent us had betrayed us. The left keeps introducing destructive laws on social engineering, which the conservatives never have the moral courage to repeal. One major party is immoral, and the other suffers from moral cowardice. And since most of my readers will not be old enough to know that what we have today is not the way it has always been, let me provide a brief lesson.

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Hallowe'en Which Changed the World

     Hallowe'en, as everyone ought to know, is All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints' Day, "hallow" being simply an alternative to the word, "holy", which is what the French word "saint" means. The fun and games now celebrated on that day refer back to the Celtic festival of the dead, which the holy day supplanted.
     Five hundred years ago All Saints' Day was a very special day in the German university city of Wittenberg. Its pious ruler, Frederick the Wise had amassed a huge collection of holy relics, including a twig from Moses' burning bush, a piece of bread served at the Last Supper, four hairs of the Virgin Mary, and 19,000 other items of equal undoubted authenticity, each bearing its own indulgence. Indeed, in 1520, three years after the events to be described, when the Pope, in order to gain Frederick's co-operation, increased the indulgences on the collection, anybody who viewed them and made the proper contribution, could gain a reduction from purgatory, for himself or others, of 1,902,202 years and 270 days, assuming the world lasted that long. And the logical day for them to be placed on display would be All Saints' Day.
     But 1517 was different. The day before the display, the University's Master of Sacred Theology, a priest and monk called Martin Luther, sent a letter to his superiors and some friends, which included an invitation to a debate on 95 theses concerning indulgences. (He probably did not nail them to the church door.) All he wanted was a polite debate, but something unexpected happened. Anonymous persons translated the theses into German and started distributing them. Within a month they were all over Germany. The author suddenly found himself thrust to the head of a great movement of spiritual reform which divided Europe and the Church, and for which men would be prepared to die.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A Licence to Steal

     Confession is good for the soul, and the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox requirement of frequent confession, in the right hands, would certainly allow the priest scope to teach moral principals to his congregation. One of these, of course, is restitution. As well as seeking God's forgiveness, it is necessary, as far as possible, to seek pardon from the one you have wronged. At least, you should do your best to make amends. In particular, stolen property must be returned. But what if the rightful owner cannot be found, or identified, or the ill-gotten gains are acquired by devious means - short changing, adulterating the product, etc - such that a large number of victims have been cheated of small, and not easily quantifiable sums? Obviously, there are good ways and bad ways to go about it, but in the past some of the practices of the church have been very dubious, to say the least.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Pook-A-Noo: a Forgotten Childhood Classic

     I was only a few months older than three at the time, so I don't remember a single thing about my Uncle Charles except my aunt standing at the top of the stairs, shouting: "He's dead!" (My parents didn't know I knew. According to my mother, they tried to keep the truth from me by telling me he had gone away. It must have been confusing for a little boy.) By he did leave me one memento, because the previous Christmas he had given me a large format, 106-page book with a hard green cover, and called Pook-A-Noo. Of course, I was far too young to even have it read to me, but within a few years it had become my favourite.

Friday, 8 September 2017

The Book Was Right: Breasts Are Meant to be Sexy.

     If you want to get your books sold, you have to be careful not to raise the ire of the social media mafia. Take poor old Alex Frith, the author of Growing Up for Boys, a guide to puberty. His publisher has just decided to pulp all the remaining copies because a wowser named Simon Ragoonanan raised a Facebook storm over three sentences: "Girls have breasts for two reasons. One is to make milk for babies. The other is to make the girl look grown up and attractive." Shock! Horror! How could he say such a thing? It makes it sound like women are wired for sex appeal. It's a pity they don't show the same outrage towards those sex education books which encourage unchastity.
    Well, as a trained behavioural scientist, I've got news for Mr Ragoonanan. The book is right!

Friday, 11 August 2017

On the Scaffold or Battlefield

[T]here is not one of our simple uncounted rights today for which better men than we are have not died on the scaffold or battlefield. [Winston Churchill]
     I have just returned from a brief trip to England, so I would like to share a couple of memorials I saw there.