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Everything posted by PaulS

  1. I agree with you Rom and it would seem to me that many are prepared to call the 'nice bits' in life God, yet somehow the bad stuff that happens is not God. For me, it is yet to be explained adequately how this is justified. The closest I could come to accepting this as 'God' would be if everything was God - the good, the bad and the ugly. If every breath we take, if every cell that gets cancer, if every suffering child, if every blissful marriage was considered God, then fair enough. Yet, I could not equate that God to 'love', more like simply 'existence', warts and all. I do wonder if 'God' could be our entire existence as a whole and all (both the animated and the inanimate) is in fact 'God' experiencing existence. That sort of understanding would satisfy me about pain and suffering as well and love and cuddles - it is just 'God' experiencing existence. Which maybe ties in with Joseph's thinking somewhat - we all just 'are'.
  2. No state church in Australia. The catholic and anglican traditions are the more prominent and a number of politicians may have an affiliation with these, but it's not made much of a deal. That said, clearly this weak use of democracy shows that many pollies do fear for their seats should they openly vote in favour of SSM. I believe SSM is inevitable here, if not this time around then very soon thereafter. Already the opposition party is declaring they will make it law if they are voted in next election (and there is a very good chance of that anyway). Like Finland, gay couples are recognised in every other way to heterosexual couples, so practically speaking there won't be much different if SSM should be introduced, but clearly it would mean an awful lot to gay couples to be allowed to marry their loved partners. To be denied that must feel like the last bastion to them for being treated and feeling like freaks.
  3. I may be forced to eat my words to some degree in the near future, Jack of Spades, but hopefully the compassion of my fellow aussies will shine through instead! Our government has just announced a 'postal plebiscite' where Australians will be able to vote, voluntarily by mail, for or against same sex marriage. On the face of it that may seem like democracy in action but there are a number of problems with this method which can sway the result. But even if the vote was to win in favour of SSM, our politicians are not legally bound to enforce or pass laws in support of the affirmative vote. Perhaps they'd be silly not to, but politicians are politicians and have lobby groups to answer to of course. In any event, it's recognised as a pretty weak way of determining the issue and the concern is that a no vote might see the matter die in the water for some time. I've got my fingers crossed that Australia will see the light and recognise gay people as just as human and entitled to love as heterosexuals.
  4. It's not that the religious conservatives are different in Australia but more that they simply don't have the numbers. Broadly speaking, Australia is a very religiously tolerant country and although it has Christian origins (from when the English invaded the country and displaced the original aboriginal inhabitants), Christianity is on the decline. Last years census identified that just half of the population identified as Christian (100 years ago it was 97%). Not sure of the precise % but the number of actual churchgoing Christians is significantly less. Australian's elected an openly Atheist prime minister in 2010 (essentially our head of state although the British Queen officially is) and rarely is Christianity and God raised to support any political debate. That's not to say some politicians don't play to those conservative Christians - just that they're not a large influence and certainly nothing like we see the US wrapped up in. Our current government is considered conservative but not really in the religious sense. They haven't rolled anything back in support of christian conservatism and indeed are even slowly moving forward with gay marriage (too slowly in my opinion which is a sign of some christian conservatism, but moving toward it nonetheless) and improved recognition of Australia's first peoples. Perhaps the Australian you were talking to may have been referring to the harshness of conservative Christians who might have picked up the worst elements of American political conservatives - this vocal minority has become harder and harsher in its language against gay marriage, transgender people, etc, but they are by far a minority and pretty much considered 'loonies' by the rest of the population. I don't want to paint a picture that Christianity doesn't have any influence in Australia, because it still does. Just not in any sort of ultra conservative way I believe.
  5. I agree with you concerning Russia and the US, but I'm not convinced it's a worldwide phenomenon. I don't see the same conservatism in countries such as Australia, China, South Africa or most of those (if not all) in South America. Admittedly Russia and the US alone have a huge influence, but for the US that influence is waning whereas in Europe I think Russia's influence is a threat. Yet I see China actually as a limiter to any Russian advances outside of its current borders.
  6. I think they are very astute observations, JOS. Without a doubt I think there are many vocal and passionate disenfranchised conservatives in the US who see Trump as this Christian King. Perhaps even a 'divine vessel' if you will. We see the likes of Pat Robertson tel-evangelising for Trump and telling millions and millions of Christian viewers/followers that disagreeing with Trump will invites God's wrath etc. You can see how that pesky ol' democracy habit must get in the way of really acting for God! Without a doubt the US is one step closer to developing a theocracy, but my hope is that there may be enough people to see through such foolishness and who will be prepared to stand up against poor government decisions/actions - particularly autonomous ones that don't have the backing of the Congress and senate.
  7. I still can't get past the fact that the President of the United States just 'Tweets' this out there, without any policy detail or legislation or even a guideline to follow it up. That's the sort of thing I'd expect from a teenager with a Twitter account - all tweets and no accountability. Is Trump deliberately just playing with people's lives to satisfy the Christian lobby or something, or does he actually have a plan with may contain just a hint of compassion for transgender people?
  8. Imagine being one of those people that sees a tweet from your Presudent that you will no longer have your job! Even worse, no follow up with policy or detail - people are just left in limbo. Does the President mean it or is it just a cruel joke? This would affect several thousand individuals. What a disgusting way to treat people and a reckless abuse of power. Seriously, what goes on inside the guy's head? Do many Americans think this is quite an alright way to act as President?
  9. It's a disgusting comment and typical of his small mindedness toward justice. What about all the innocent people who are arrested by police but later released when proper investigations demonstrate their innocence? What, too bad for them, they should just get hurt by the police anyway? Don't be nice to them just because they might not be innocent? Craziness.
  10. Definitely data is manipulated for political purposes by all political interests. We experience the same issues here where different sides of politics are preaching totally opposite 'facts' about the exact same issue. So whether repealing Obamacare does effect 20million or not 10million, or what effect any such repeal would have, may be open to speculation. Previously I had read and heard a number of sources that were almost celebratory in their nature concerning Trump getting the required win to put his bill before the Senate. It seemed to be a lay down misere that Trumps bill to repeal Obamacare would pass. Well, yesterday's Senate rejection of the bill would clearly suggest not. Time will tell. Nonetheless, partisan statements concerning Trumps 'record' performance cannot be supported statistically or by any other measure other than personal opinion. It seems those who favour Trump say he's amazing successful and those that don't support him disagree and only see his shortcomings. From where I sit I strongly see his shortcomings and am concerned where he is taking America and the impact that will have on the rest of the world.
  11. I'm not looking for excuses for Trump, just pointing out that I don't buy the hype that he has outperformed all other Presidents in his first 6 months and that the facts (not opinions) demonstrate he has not outperformed. The US is not alone with fear-mongering politicians demonising the poor and helpless. Unfortunately many Australians have also been sucked into believing all our ills can be blamed on immigrants. I agree that the way they are being treated is abysmal.
  12. I see how politics can be so much like religion where people 'believe' their version of events and adjust accordingly. Trump said he was going to build a physical wall and that Mexico would pay for it. That has not happened. Immigration may well be down (as certainly Trump's rhetoric would have an effect on potential migrants) but he has not built the wall which he promised. But I never expected him to - it was a fear tactic to win votes. Trump doesn't think the number of bills he has passed is a irrelevant statistic as he has quoted it a number of times as demonstration of how much he has achieved as President. As you don't know the number of bills passed then clearly your assessment of the accuracy of my fact doesn't count for much. Not sure what evidence you use that Obamacare is 'failing rapidly' (sounds more like bias to me) but its death knell has been sounded by Trump and Tuesday's vote by the Senate to debate the bill is the beginning of the end. Although if it is not revoked then you have another broken Trump promise. No doubt we are seeing the end of an era with US economic dominance beginning to pale against the rise of China and indeed the Eurozone. However there is much that can be done about it - just not by this President I expect.
  13. Respectfully or not, those are the facts Burl. No wall, because Trump can't get Congress to approve/fund. He successfully revoked 'Obamacare' (not something to be proud of in my book). He's only passed 3 more bills that Obama in his first 6 months. Do you refute any of these facts? As for the 'big issues', Trump's protectionism will only endanger the US further against the economic threats developing in the Eurasian Economic Zone. No country is an island in the world these days and the US will learn this lesson the hard way if it continues down this road of protectionism. It simply isn't viable.
  14. I would suggest he was more than 'overly ambitious' as he knew people would buy his exaggerated promises even though he knew he actually couldn't influence them. The Great Wall of Mexico is an example - no progress made on this big ticket item whatsoever. Why? Because Trump doesn't have the ability to get the law passed through Congress. You may think it was a well intended promise - I think he was cashing in on fear to win votes. His one big ticket item that he was successful in was removing health cover from 20+million Americans who otherwise can't afford it. Give that what credit you will. ISIS are out of Iraq because of the strategy Obama implemented, nothing else. And if you think the US is close to getting out of Syria I'd like to see where you get that supporting evidence from. I think that is wishful thinking. Certainly Trump keeps reiterating the message that he has achieved more than any other president. Not strictly a lie depending on what measure you use. For instance, his government has passed a record number of bills in his first 6 months - 42. Which is 3 more than Obama in the same period although Obama did sign an $800bn stimulus program to help the country out of recession whilst Trump's bills record includes the likes of renaming a building in Nashville and appointing individuals to a museum board. He did withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Deal - again, not one personally I think the US should be proud of, but he's your President. Clearly people have political biases, perhaps even worse than religious ones. So it depends on who you ask as to whether he has achieved much. Personally. to me he is all about division rather than cooperation and bringing together. He's got another 3 1/2 years, I guess we'll just have to wait and see where it goes.
  15. Obviously the Bible is considered Christianity's 'Holy Book' and many Christians believe it is either directly communicated by God to man, or they think it is 'inspired' by God. Most Christians believe the Bible to be, at the very least, a guide book towards what God wants and interpret variously the messages within this library of books as messages from God. Recent comments on another thread about the Bible expressing key elements about God's relationship with man, as though this Book is the only one that speaks for this man/God relationship, reminded me of this pic. To think that of the millions of years that mankind has existed, that one collection of books from a very limited geographical and cultural perspective somehow holds the key to the universe, is hard for me to accept. Every place and culture referred to in the bible fits within this little red circle and was written within a time frame of no more than 1000 years. I can't help but think that if it wasn't for the Romans taking Christianity on and then colonising the world, Christianity may well have died the death of so many other religions from so many of these other countries. In my country, Aboriginal people lived some 50,000 years without any knowledge of the Bible or believing of a God like that in the Hebrew bible. It seems to me that if God really did inspire the Bible, then he left some very big gaps concerning the history and 99% of the population of the world.
  16. I don't intend to argue about the technicalities of whether God incarnating in a human body is the same as God becoming man, but I will again ask the question if you can explain how you think Jesus made a permanent improvement in the relationship between God and aboriginal Australians who didn't know anything about Jesus or the bible until +1700 years after Jesus' death? Do you think that generations and generations of aboriginals between 33CE and 1700CE (and those before that who also had never heard of the Hebrew bible) knew that their relationship with God had improved, or indeed that it was broken in the first place?
  17. Many years ago, a few times I prayed that I would lose my virginity to an attractive woman (not the least selfish of prayers I know) , yet so it played out. I also prayed on two occasions that I would get the jobs which I was seeking at the time. On both occasion I got the jobs,. Did God answer these prayers? Now, to me, it would seem illogical if that was the case, but I guess I'd have an argument for the affirmative. Present day, personally, I can only imagine prayer as a meditative experience rather than an interventionist God actually doing something in response to prayer.
  18. The fact that my idea is speculative demonstrates that I haven't adopted such a belief system. Nonetheless, Christianity is probably one of the most anthropomorphic religions about, so such leanings are understandable when discussing Christian views. God becoming a man is pretty anthropomorphic isn't it? Can you explain how you think Jesus made a permanent improvement in the relationship between God and aboriginal Australians who didn't know anything about Jesus or the bible until +1700 years after Jesus' death? Do you think that generations and generations of aboriginals between 33CE and 1700CE (and those before that who also had never heard of the Hebrew bible) knew that their relationship with God had improved, or indeed that it was broken in the first place?
  19. Rest assured Burl, I haven't adopted any anthropomorphic belief system., whatever that may entail precisely. Whilst evangelization of Christianity is indeed large scale, my point is that it has taken a very long time for it to get to that point. If the Holy Spirit is so interested in the process, then it makes me question why it took so long after the death of Jesus for the word to spread. Clearly, many millions of people on the planet had no idea Jesus even existed for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years after his death. That seems a big hole in any theory about the bible and Jesus' teachings being a necessity in life. If it was such good news, why should those people have missed out? Your example about having a manual only exacerbates my point - if the Christian God that so many Christians espouse really did think the bible was an essential message for mankind, why not ensure that message is spread worldwide instantaneously? Why sell a message that only one particular tribe are 'chosen' by God and not share any of that info with neighbouring countries until long after it was written? Why not share the 10 Commandments with Australian aboriginals when they were communicated by God rather than nearly 3000 years later? Why are all the stories and teachings so unimportant that this God didn't consider it necessary to share them with the aboriginals and other remote tribes in the world until much, much later?
  20. Top right hand corner of your page.
  21. Burl, Interestingly, australian aborginals had no problems with alcohol before white Europeans arrived on their shores! They didn't need saving from themselves back then, but unfortunately for them, the wisdom of the day was that they needed God, so their children were torn from their families and raised in white, Christian missions. A dismal failure by all regards. Writing developed long before the Hebrews, but as you point out, the dominant cultures usually win through and so we saw Christianity spread across the world in the same pattern as anglo saxon spread. My point is much like what Thormas points out - the Bible is a Jewish & Christian understanding of what they believed concerning God. It doesn't address what any other culture believes or practised (apart from the odd references of nearby neighbours who worshipped the wrong Gods apparently). I'm sure you would agree that many Christians take the bible as the definitive communication between God and mankind. I think that view is very narrow considering everything and everyone else in the world during the time the various elements of the bible were written. For instance, if the Gospels really are the 'Good News' doesn't it seem off that the Christian God felt it unnecessary to share such good news with millions and millions of people over the last 2000 years? Why wasn't the good news important enough to share with everybody instantaneously if indeed, it was that good? I'm not saying there isn't any value in many of the teachings and stories associated with Christianity, I'm just questioning it's validity as an accurate record of "God' relationship with mankind" because of its very obvious 'Israelite' focus.
  22. Divine/divinity - I pretty much only use this term in describing something exquisite, like the above-mentioned cheesecake. as opposed to 'The' divine as though an entity Transcendence/transcend/transcendent - to exceed normal expectations Immaterial - something that doesn't matter God - community Holy - treated with reverence Spirit/Spiritual ... OK this has been done before Grace - a character trait that one may demonstrate by letting others be This is what those words mean to me, but naturally I recognise that others use these words differently and I may too in order to communicate with others.
  23. I think loving your kids and letting them know you don't have all the answers, is more than enough! I'm sure your kids will be just fine with a loving mother like you.
  24. Welcome Anthony, I hope you enjoy participating here. Would love to catch up but a bit of a trek from Oz I'm afraid! Cheers Paul
  25. I know the feeling Lani and I felt very much the same when I was going through my period of anxiety and depression (which coincided with my kids being about 2 & 4). My wife was also experiencing post natal depression and we didn't recognize it for that until she sought help. I know there can be a stigma associated with depression/anxiety but I would encourage you to consider talking to a professional if that might be a possibility. There's nothing wrong with that and both my wife and I found such a process exceptionally beneficial. I am not saying that is your predicament, but it could possibly be feeding into your anxiety about your children. I don't know where I read it and I have since had trouble locating it, but I remember reading a a story around that time that I found particularly comforting. It went along the lines of this: A distraught mother had her three young toddlers in a bath, preparing to drown them. She was distraught with the thought that if she didn't raise them properly that they might not 'choose Jesus' and would go to Hell. She thought it better to kill them now as innocents so that they would see heaven, than take the chance of raising them and they possibly end up in Hell. In distress at the thought of killing her kids the woman cried out to Jesus saying "please don't let me do this - take my life instead and spare my children - grant them life with you". To this Jesus replied "Woman, if I loved you so much that I was prepared to die for you, do you really think I could allow you or your children to be separated from me". Now I could have the story wrong (wherever it was written) but that's how I remember it. For me personally, it just made me think that if there is anything 'existential' or 'spiritual' to our existence, whatever it is can only be a good thing in the end rather than a harmful thing. If my kids (or I) get it wrong in our tiny blip of an existence on an eternal timeline, then I'm certain that whatever 'higher power' might possibly exist, it would understand. This in turn has allowed me to better accept the day to day. I ponder spirituality and religion, as I do life in general, however i feel no compulsion to 'get it right' or for my kids to. In the end, they will simply work out for themselves what works for them. Sure, guidance is important in life, and opening up our children's minds to the possibilities of all things (not just the spiritual) is a burden that all parents practice to different degrees, but I rest easy knowing that what works for them, will be what works for them. I hope I make some sort of sense. Cheers Paul