Archives For America

In August, Iranian refugee and former Muslim, Ramin Parsa was arrested for trespassing {*coughs* for breaking blasphemy laws}, while privately sharing his testimony about becoming a Christian, in a Mall of America, shopping centre in Minnesota.

Tyler O’Neil from PJ media reported that while Ramin, now a Christian Pastor living in Los Angeles, was sharing his testimony,

“Another woman who was not part of the conversation went and complained to the security. The guard came and said, ‘You can’t solicit here.’ He then told them “we were not soliciting”. He just said, ‘Bye,’ and walked away.” After Parsa, the pastor, and his son grabbed some coffee, “three guards were waiting for me and said, ‘You must leave now.’ I asked why. They said, ‘You’re soliciting.’ I said, ‘No, we are not.’ I was explaining to them that I’m from out of state, I’m here as a guest, I’m here to see the mall.”
“That’s when they grabbed my coffee, handcuffed me, and took me to the underground mall gaol,” he recalled. “They patted me down, handcuffed me to a metal chair that was bolted to the ground. They refused to give me water, refused to let me go to the restroom except right before the police came. When I was taken to gaol after 3 hours. I was hungry and thirsty.”

In a video aired on Facebook, Ramin Parsa gave a detailed response about his encounter, talking about the dangers of creeping shari’a law, how Christians should be aware of Shari’a creep and how necessary it is to become pro-active in answering it. Parsa also mentioned his support for Donald Trump’s travel ban on Somalia, saying “Imagine if these people [Somalian Islamists] get into power [in the United States]. They don’t respect the constitution and the bill of rights, and American values. They come here to oppress. So…now I understand why there’s a [travel] ban on Somalia, which is a good thing….I believe that true refugees are Christians and other minorities in Muslim countries living under Islamic Shari’a Law.”

According to Parsa’s website, he was ‘raised in Iran, in a Shiite Muslim family. He lived under Islamic Law and was taught to practice strict religious traditions. After his father died, Parsa began to question Islam and the existence of God.

He heard about the gospel, disagreed with it, but became curious. Parsa gave himself to God, asking to be shown the way forward and came to Jesus Christ as a result. He was later arrested for handing out bibles. Then stabbed, causing him to move from Iran to Turkey.’ He came to America for Bible College and now works as Pastor of Redemptive Love Ministries International.

PJ Media also reported that Ramin Parsa’s pre-trial is for December 11th, where, while hopeful for an acquittal, “if prosecutors don’t drop the charges, his case will go to trial.”


Originally published at www.caldronpool.com 4th December 2018 under the same title.

Wiel 18th October 2018In 1944, C.S Lewis wrote:

‘The demand for equality has two sources; First, the noble: the desire for fair play. Second, the mean-spirited: the hatred of superiority. If you seek to appease envy: 1. you will not succeed. Envy is insatiable. 2. you are trying to introduce equality where equality is fatal.
Political democracy is doomed if it tries to extend its demand for equality into the higher spheres of beauty, virtue and truth. Neither of which are democratic. Ethical, intellectual or aesthetic democracy is death.’
(C.S. Lewis, 1944. Democratic Education) [i]

Lewis’ position can be read as a push back against extreme egalitarianism and the quagmire of sameness. The late American political philosopher, Jean Bethke Elshtain, also brilliantly hummed her own critical tune in relation to this issue.

Writing under the heading, ‘Multiculturalism and Democratic Education’ Elshtain stated:

‘Teacherly malfeasance occurs in instances of unreflective, dogmatic politicisation […] This sort of education fails in its particular and important task of preparing us for a world of ambiguity and variety. It equips us only for resentment or malicious naivete [ii]

Lewis and Elshtain come at this argument from different angles. Both add to an argument for the re-balancing of popular ideologies birthed in the 1960’s, and the new societal norms which come from them.

As Elshtain posits, “I wonder if democracy can survive what it has to, by definition allow? Such as, the desires a mob majority,  which works against the democratic voice of the people. Democratic freedom must have a framework of responsible limitations, for example, a just constitution, in order for democratic freedom to exist.

The area where this applies most is forced compliance with ‘unreflective, dogmatic politicisation’ (Elshtain)(E.g.: forced compliance to the failing and flawed ideology of multiculturalism and new definitions of tolerance).

Instead of preserving the vibrancy of a cohesive multi-ethnic society, under one meta-culture, multiculturalism morphs a once united multi-ethnic society, into a multi-nationalist society. This threatens the national sovereignty and stability of that multi-ethnic society, because it breaks with a shared history, agreed upon ideals, civility and common values. It creates foreign enclaves or beachheads, such as “no go zones“.

This is the direct result of tolerance introducing ‘equality where equality is fatal’ (Lewis). The ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’s’ reign of terror.

Disguised as part of the new educational standard, guided by a good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politicisation’.  The new definition of tolerance and compliance poses as the only academic essential. Acceptance and legitimacy are only validated by an absolute alignment with approved ideologies. In turn, a form of emotional blackmail follows. The academy is paralysed because the academic focus is reduced to how best education can be forced to fit within the new educational standard of the ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’.

Democratic education is reduced to compliance. Academic standards are lowered, while teachers are forced to obsess over appeasing the feelings and fickle sentiments of society.
In not being willing to responsibly discuss differences, for fear of offence or ridicule, democracy wanes.

This narrowing forces everyone into the same box: a secular version of “convert, pay a tax or die.” From here academic indifference and complacency replaces the energy of academic rigour. Genuine progress, and the conservation of hard fought for healthy traditions, are held back by the demand for total compliance to the ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’.

Along with a cohesive multi-ethnic society, democratic debate and its ability to preserve the beauty of unity-in-diversity, dies. Political democracy, as C.S Lewis pointed out, is ‘doomed if it tries to expand its demand for equality into beauty, virtue and truth [none of which are determined by democratic vote].’

Society and politics, placed under this good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’, sets people on a trajectory towards tribalism and slavery. People are then forced to stick to their “own kind”: Whites with whites; men with men; women with women; black with black; indigenous Australian with indigenous Australian; Left with Left, Right with Right.

Differences are considered irreconcilable. People are divorced from one an another. Strangers become enemies, and friends become strangers. Thus we come to the  inevitable rejection of differences and the quagmire of sameness.

As Elshtain predicted, this flags a new segregation:

‘As a form of ideological teaching, multicultural absolutism isolates us in our own skins and equates culture with racial or ethnic identity. [In America], the new multiculturalism promotes commensurability: If I am white and you are black, we cannot, in principle, speak to or understand each other. You just won’t “get it […]. Some critics wonder how long it will take to move from separate approaches for African-American children in the name of Afro-centricity, for example, to a quest for separate schools.[iii]’

Extreme egalitarianism is a quagmire of sameness. We arrive at the quagmire of sameness because of envy and (as C.S. Lewis so brilliantly put it) its hatred of superiority.

The quest for equality ends up creating new forms of inequality. Anyone with opposing views or unique abilities is silenced, condemned and shipped off to camps, under the guise of “re-education” or “resettlement.” This is all done “for the good of the collective”.

This is evident in Australian society. Where very early on children are taught to tow the good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’.

Over achievers are called “try-hards.” They’re deemed a threat to the collective and are consequently castigated for it. Rather than celebrate the competency and talent of a person, the majority maliciously turn against them. “Try hard”, an otherwise encouraging term, is used as a shaming control technique. Uniqueness is squashed into the box of sameness, under the name of equality.

For both Lewis and Elshtain, extreme egalitarianism is a ‘phony equality.[v]’ It perpetuates that which it says it opposes. This phony equality levels whatever it subjectively sees as uneven ground. The same could be said about the new definitions of tolerance.

Those who want to walk away from the ‘unreflective, dogmatic politicisation’ won’t find it easy.

They will face the same hostile reaction, French philosopher, Albert Camus faced, when he ‘was virtually excommunicated from the French Left by Sartre, and his comrades, because he expressed a strong disapproval of the passion for unity that saw any opposition as treason.’[iv]

In not being able to celebrate unity in diversity or find and maintain common ground, democracy fails. The cohesive elements of a vibrant multi-ethnic Western society are then consigned to the prison of a good vibes only, ‘unreflective, dogmatic politick’. If left unanswered, Western society will descend into the terror of fascist rule, the shared poverty of communism or the destructive anarchist vacuum of pagan tribalisation.
________________________________________

References:

[i] Lewis, C. 1944, Democratic Education In Walmsley, L. (Ed.) 2000 C.S Lewis Essay Collection Harper Collins p.190

[ii] Elshtain, J.B. 1995 Democracy on Trial Basic Books, Perseus Books Group p.83

[iii] Ibid, p.79

[iv] Ibid, p.120

[v] Ibid, p.74

Originally published 5th January, 2016 & on The Caldron Pool, 2nd November, 2018 under the headline: ‘Multiculturalism has failed: Identity politics sets people on a trajectory towards tribalism and slavery.’

Photo credit: rawpixel at unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018

 

Kagawa_Columbia Univertisty Library Union Theological SeminarySomething not often heard about is Japanese opposition to war, both during and before World War Two.

I was introduced to Toyohiko Kagawa, a Christian Pastor, poet and theologian, during my study as an undergrad.

Being born in an era still very sensitive to war crimes committed by the Japanese Imperial Forces during the war, it intrigued me enough to learn a little more about him.

Kagawa’s faith and work reached into pacifism, economics and international affairs. He was born in 1888 and became an orphan before he was four. Kagawa was raised a Buddhist, yet gave his life to Jesus Christ at the age of fifteen.

He lived his theology. Becoming known for the ‘conviction that Christian witness must include social service to meet the material needs of people…His desire to express Christ through social concern was first articulated when he moved into Kobe’s Shinkawa slum in 1909 to live among the poor[i]

In ‘Letters from Kagawa to America’ it clearly shows his belief in the compatibility of the Church with fair economic management:

‘As you know I am much interested in the organization of co-operative societies, because I believe that only through them can the necessary economic foundation of world peace be laid. These co-operatives must be imbued with the ideals of Christian love and service.’[ii]

In 1935, after arriving in San Francisco, he was detained for health reasons. He had contracted trachoma whilst working the slums of Japan. President Franklin Roosevelt was made aware of the issue and requested that ‘appropriate steps be taken to reach a final decision concerning admission of the prominent church leader without delay.’[iii]

Roosevelt, after receiving a letter of thanks for Kagawa’s admission into the United States, responded:

‘My dear Mr. Crane : I write to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated January 31, 1936, enclosing a copy of a letter addressed to you by Miss Helen F. Topping, in regard to Mr. Toyohiko Kagawa. I am glad to have the information concerning Mr. Kagawa’s activities, contained in Miss Topping’s letter, and appreciate your courtesy in sending it to me.’[iv]

Kagawa went on to speak in both the United States and Canada.

In the summer of 1941 he visited America again on a peace mission with the Japanese Christian Fellowship Deputation.[v] In June of that year, Kagawa met with Stanley Jones, a senior pastor in the American Methodist Church, discussing their ‘concerns about a possible conflict between Japan and the United States.’[vi]

Attempts made towards the Japanese embassy in America, to mediate peace and avert any potential conflict were rejected, Kagawa returned to Japan and later that year lamented:

‘I went to the {Japanese} parliament and urged them to be peaceful and not go to war. I told them that I had just come from America. I said I knew that the American people wanted peace – and so did the Japanese people. But it did not do any good. On December 7th, 1941 I felt like all the lights had gone out. My heart was broken.’ [vii]

After writing over 150 books, experiencing a life of achievements and setbacks, Kagawa died in 1960.

In January, 1963, Karl Barth, sympathetic to Kagawa, wrote:

 ‘What needs to take place today in the interests of peace is in the first place…a spiritual Reformation and thus a conversion of Christians and of the Christian churches themselves-a conversion to the truth of their own message. Among other things…a good deal of better theology is needed! And so…we come to the contribution which…I have to make to peace among the nations.’[viii]

Barth’s words and the efforts of Kagawa are highly relevant to advent. It is here that the angelic proclamation, “Peace on earth, good to will to men[ix]”  is again heard.  They form into a kind of challenge to seek first the things of God. Such words also remind us that although waves may rise, God remains capable of calming them[x].

It is no small feat that in Jesus Christ, God steps up, speaks and in his free choice claims us as his. If we hear this good news and act on it. Even in limitation, as Mary did, perhaps we too can hear in the words “Do not be afraid”, the response: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” [xi]


Sources:

[i] Ericksen, P.A Kagawa, Toyohiko in Elwell.A.W, (Ed.) 2007 Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Ed. Baker Academic Grand Rapids, pp.648 & 649

[ii] Friends of Jesus Kagawa in Lincoln’s land Sourced 9th December 2014 from: archive.org

[iii] ibid

[iv] ibid

[v] Kagawa, Toyohiko Papers 1929-1968 Sourced 9th December 2014 from: The Burke Library Archives, Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, N.Y

[vi] Source: http://www.sdh-fact.com/CL02_1/56_S4.pdf

[vii] Toyohiko Kagawa working for peace sourced 9th December 2014 from spotlightenglish.com

[viii] Barth, K. 1963 Letters 1961-1968 cited in Gorringe, T.J. 1999 Against Hegemony Oxford University Press pp.217 & 221

[ix]  Luke 2:14

[x] Psalm 89:9

[xi] Luke 1:30-33

Image: Kagawa – Columbia Univertisty Library, Union Theological Seminary.