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Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: May 20, 2015 2:09 am
by King_Erlian
I just wonder, had, say, a Hindu couple come to these bakers and asked them to bake a cake with "The blessings of Vishnu" (or whoever) "be upon you", would they have refused? After all, idolatry is regarded as the Number One sin in the Bible.

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: May 20, 2015 3:22 pm
by waggawerewolf27
I doubt the situation would ever arise about a cake with Vishnu, or Ganesh depicted on it. Though, even if there was, I'd expect even a religious English baker to be more objective about such a cake, since it is nothing to do with his own personal religious beliefs, and does not specifically involve what he might consider a contradiction, or a mockery of those beliefs, intentional or otherwise. Just as I'd expect a Muslim butcher, who accepted working for our local supermarket, to still serve me with ham, or the bacon I requested for my family dinner, halal or not. On the other hand, I wouldn't front up to a Muslim cake maker or any at all, for that matter, wanting a cake with an image on it that could be construed as offensive to Islam.

I haven't heard that Hindu marriages involve cutting of the wedding cake, since despite the proliferation of Vietnamese bakeries around our way, cake-making does seem to be a particularly Western practice. I've been to a Hindu wedding a decade or so ago. This particular wedding was held in a hired Serbian community hall, not a Hindu temple, though there are a few of them around, one or two not too far away.

The bride wore a red and gold sari with a matching thick veil over her head. She had her hands painted with henna, and was given away by her brother. The wedding ceremony involved processions around a canopy held over the bride and groom, lighting fires, holding ribbons together, or the bride and grooms hands tied together, similar to what sometimes happens in other sorts of wedding ceremonies, even Christian ones. But I don't remember the bride and groom having to cut a cake together.

There were a lot of speeches as usual, in praise of the bride's and groom's family, and ceremonies where the bridal couple vow not to disgrace their parents. A workmate who understood Hindi translated for us. But the food, some of which seemed typical Indian wedding fare, seemed mainly vegetarian, or at least, non-beef, with naan and pappadums accompanying curries and tandooris. The sorts of sweets were the same as the sweets usually made and distributed for the annual Hindu Diwali festival. If the family concerned aren't in a position to make the food themselves, they might find suitable caterers, such as at Indian restaurants, who would be attuned to what are suitable foods for a Hindu wedding. Although I like cloves, for instance, and find them a useful help for toothache, I've heard that the Hindus consider them unlucky, so I wouldn't use them in front of a Hindu.

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: May 22, 2015 5:33 am
by King_Erlian
waggawerewolf27 wrote:I doubt the situation would ever arise about a cake with Vishnu, or Ganesh depicted on it. Though, even if there was, I'd expect even a religious English baker to be more objective about such a cake, since it is nothing to do with his own personal religious beliefs, and does not specifically involve what he might consider a contradiction, or a mockery of those beliefs, intentional or otherwise.

Surely different Christians would have different attitudes to this? I have one friend (who isn't a baker, so wouldn't be baking a cake, but the principle still applies) who is rather fundamentalist in his view and who would indeed consider making something which praised, as he saw it, a false god/idol as the highest form of blasphemy. If he were asked to sign a card saying "Happy Diwali" he would refuse, and be very blunt about it. I have other Christian friends who are perfectly happy to support others in their beliefs, even if they don't agree with them themselves, whether that be worshipping a different deity or same-sex marriage.

My point is that I feel that many Christians can be somewhat hypocritical, picking on certain groups as "un-Christian" and turning a blind eye to others. Suppose a heterosexual couple had come to the bakers, both bride and groom having been married before and divorced - would the bakers have turned them down? Jesus specifically said that if you divorce and re-marry, except because of marital infidelity, you commit adultery.

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: May 22, 2015 6:16 am
by IloveFauns
Another topic: In Australia a kind of debate has started (well the type that starts on a facebook page by ill-informed persons).

So basically many Australian foods have the halal "tick of approval" and these people are saying this is supporting isalmic state. So basically saying that being hala certified leads to threat. Anyway Charlie Pickering is better at explaining the issue than myself, so here is a link to the youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATLHNgC0W1c

@Erlian There are many Christians who cherry pick the bible, they pick what is suited to there life/ what they agree with. I think the main reason for doing this is to move with modern more secular times. I mean if the bakery refused to serve anyone who was homosexual, divorced etc than they would loose a lot of customers (the divorce rate these days is rather large). Though I am not sure of details of such things since I am not christian myself.

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: May 22, 2015 4:28 pm
by waggawerewolf27
King Erlian wrote:If he were asked to sign a card saying "Happy Diwali" he would refuse, and be very blunt about it.


But that is his personal point of view, and his prerogative. Would your friend be just as insulted if he received a "happy holidays" card, or one saying "season's greetings" at Christmas from someone who was an atheist and who didn't believe in Christianity? Or would he just be grateful he got a greeting card at all?

Yes, a "Happy Diwali" card might offend his sensibilities, if he saw it as idolatrous, but the likelihood is that the picture on it wouldn't be anything of the sort. It might just have candles on it, just like a Christmas card, since, Diwali is a festival of lights, which occurs in many faiths, including Christianity. (Well it did cross my mind the candlestick maker would come into it somehow.) I can see what you mean about the graven image on a wedding cake, but there again, a plainer cake without such a picture on it might be negotiated if the baker wanted the custom. Something like flowers etc, which by the way are easier to do. Or another solution is to ask the couple if they know of a speciality Hindu shop which might do a better job of satisfying their requirements.

Should your friend pick a fight over a Hannukah card, for example? I never saw the Jewish faith as idolatrous, since they, too, worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their religious text is the Old Testament or the Torah and Taanach. And Islam, though I disagree with many of their practices and attitudes, has been known to be rather drastic about pictures and graven images. Do you know there is current restoration going on in Hagia Sophia, whose murals in 1453 were whitewashed over? Also at the Chora museum. These beautiful depictions of Jesus on high looking down at the congregation? The then emperor with him? (Justinian and his empress, Theodora) What's left in Hagia Sophia was enough to make me cry at such vandalism. Even though there were many Christians also in the Byzantine Empire who were so iconoclastic as to see these murals as idolatrous.

But if your friend, as, say, a worker in W H Smith or in another newsagency chain, was asked to serve a customer who wanted to buy such a card, he couldn't refuse to serve the customer just because he considered such a card as idolatrous. He could, however, point out that the newsagency doesn't stock such cards, that the customer might be interested in those all purpose "happy holidays" cards. Or, again, he could direct the customer to a Hindu speciality store.

King Erlian wrote:Suppose a heterosexual couple had come to the bakers, both bride and groom having been married before and divorced - would the bakers have turned them down? Jesus specifically said that if you divorce and re-marry, except because of marital infidelity, you commit adultery.


How is anyone to know the couple is divorced and remarrying, unless in the course of arranging the marriage the couple divulge that this is the case to the baker? Ilf is quite right, about a high divorce rate, and maybe this is something that is between the couple concerned and the marriage celebrant, who needs to know, in New South Wales, at any rate, that the couple are both of age to marry, that the marriage is consensual and that no law is broken such as the law on bigamy. This is also the duty of a minister or priest at a Christian marriage, however they regard divorce in a religious context. The same legal requirements apply to Imams, Rabbis and other religious marriage celebrants.

I notice that when the very high-profile Prince of Wales remarried in 2005, that he and Camilla Parker-Bowles had their marriage in Windsor Guildhall, a secular arrangement, from which his mother absented herself. They then went to St George's Chapel in an act of contrition, in front of the Queen, to have their union blessed. I expect there was a traditional wedding cake, but I'm sure it didn't have on it anything on it which belaboured the Queen's religious views, as head of the Anglican church, about remarriage. There are still plenty of people who regard their quite legal marriage invalid despite the Prince of Wales' first wife having died in 1997, a result of a car accident.

You also said: Jesus specifically said that if you divorce and re-marry, except because of marital infidelity, you commit adultery. The relevant passages are in Matthew 19. Some Pharisees asked what causes could wives be put away. And Jesus pointed out that Moses permitted divorce for the hardness of their hearts, but that is not the sort of relationship that God intended from the beginning. He said that except for adultery, that men who put away their wives just to marry others were committing adultery, as were those who married the discarded wives. This was and is a sharp difference from the licence usually given men by most societies to discard women who inconveniently are infertile, grow old, ill or are merely disobliging to their every whim.

Ilf wrote:So basically saying that being hala certified leads to threat


I think it is more a case of who insists on food like Vegemite being certified halal, that is to say, it does not contain pork or any pork products, and that if it contains meat at all, the animals were killed in accordance with Sharia beliefs. I'm sure there is an Islamic association in charge of this licensing agreement to the various companies that arrange our food supply, that money changes hands to see it is done, and that the organisations concerned find it a nice little income earner. The protest might be due to the worry that the charges would be passed on to the customer in the end. I doubt that Christians are the only ones who cherry-pick their scriptures to suit themselves.

I'm more worried that if we fiddle around with our Constitution as it is now, we are going to find ourselves without a leg to stand on if we redefine marriage some other way, and that if we try to get rid of domestic violence, child brides, forced arranged marriages etc., all against the law here, we will find Sharia ideas of marriage being imposed on us, instead. I'm not at all sure that the Koran can't be quoted to support bigamy, child marriage, and much else. The very things we are trying to put a stop to. I've an idea for an Islamic wedding cake. A groom and up to four brides, the maximum the Koran allows them, or so I have heard. Would you consider this wedding cake idea a bit offensive?

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: Jun 13, 2015 11:27 am
by The Old Maid
Today's topic: Bad advice.

{Note: this is not intended as a swipe at any televangelist or believer in particular. I am just using these two examples because they are egregious and fairly recent. Please feel free either to comment on the examples, or to add your own favorites.}

Example One: Recently an elderly couple who can't afford to get their car repaired asked for advice. They paid tithes, but their medical bills were becoming overwhelming. In the most literal sense, their cost of living (the cost of staying alive) is rising too much. She asked, "what could we be doing wrong?"

The reply was to pray for ideas: to sell belongings, to get a job answering phones, and such like.

Assorted internet replies to this reply have tended toward the impolite at worst, and toward the coldly practical at best. Basically, not all household junk is worthy of the Antiques Roadshow, and not all business desire to hire 80-year-old people who 1) lack up-to-date job skills and 2) might have erratic attendance due to doctor/hospital visits. (At least they are not yet too infirm to be banned from driving altogether.)

Example Two: A grieving mother asked why her 3-year-old child had to die. In a reply reminiscent of Godwin's Law, she was told that since God sees all (which is true), perhaps God saw an evil end for this child and so took the child's life.

Theodicy is hard. We know that. We also know that God loves our children even more than we ever could. And yes, we know Isaiah 57:1. But we also know Romans 12:15 and John 11:35.

But a response like the one listed above has provoked remarks that (after I clean up and translate the unprintable parts) compare God and His ways to Goldilocks theology: "two Hitlers is too many; zero, not enough; but one is just right!" There seems to be no shortage of "bad babies" who didn't get whacked as children and grew up to be the tyrants and killers we all know and read about today. This in turns suggests Police theology: "So what if everyone else was speeding? You were the only one I could catch."

What are some examples of Really Bad Advice that believers have given to you?

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: Jun 15, 2015 2:52 am
by King_Erlian
Yes. It's something that's said a lot in evangelical circles and appears to be backed up by a few Scriptures, but I'm now convinced that it's a false interpretation of those passages. It is this: "God has a plan for your life". It sounds attractive - it suggests you're special to God and your life has a purpose. It's easy to say when more things in your life are going right than going wrong; and when you encounter a few minor problems, well of course this is God teaching you some valuable life lesson. But it totally screwed me up, and made me resentful of God, because far more has gone wrong in my life than has gone right. I didn't become stronger through all of it, quite the reverse. Little good and more harm came from these catastrophic life events. If this was God's plan for my life, than God is a vicious bully.

Recently I found myself challenging this long-held belief that this was God's plan for me. Although I'd always known it in theory, I realised at a deeper level that God really does give us free will - otherwise the whole of Christianity becomes meaningless. If God had planned everything that had happened to me so that I had had no choice, then yes, God would be a bully and salvation would be a sick joke. But he didn't. Yes, I know that God knows all of time and space so he knows what will happen, and I can accept that there may be things he might like me to do, but that's not the same thing at all as saying he's planned it all. Some of the bad things that have happened are inevitable and unavoidable, such as bereavement (since we can't live for ever in this world); others, such as career choices, have been my choice; and when I've failed to get my dream job, it may not be because God was deliberately blocking me, it could simply be that there was a better candidate, or that I messed up the interview by saying something I shouldn't have. In other words, God has allowed me control over my life.

I'm aware that some people on this list will disagree with this strongly. God is sovereign, and so everything that happens must be in accordance with his will. But I don't believe, for instance, that a 17-year-old Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up today because that was God's will for him. Not everything that happens in the world is God's will. But that's the price we pay, and God pays, for us having free will - for God allowing us to be real people and not robots. What I do believe is true is that God is with us through all the crap, and that he will make everything right one day.

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: Jun 16, 2015 2:58 pm
by The Old Maid
Originally posted by King Erlian:

"God has a plan for your life"


Yes. God's permissive will and God's ultimate will aren't always the same. Yet there is no shortage of people who believe that God micromanages their lives to the point that a good parking space is perceived as a specific sign of divine favor, as opposed to the general favor of finance to purchase an alarm clock, education to comprehend it, and the free will to choose to arrive on time. A few such souls also seem to give the evil one power to foul up their day -- ("Satan tried to stop me from going to church by taking all the parking spaces!") -- instead of admitting their own agency, choices, and tardiness. How they survive genuine calamity, I do not know. How you survive genuine calamity, they cannot imagine.

Anyhow, the examples above struck me as interesting because of the apparent indifference they embodied. Even the online tithing site disagrees. Really, really disagrees.

The advice also suggests the lack of a pastor or body of believers at the scene. Telling 80-year-olds to get off their arthritic fannies and get a job? Wouldn't most churches (cf. Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27) just help the widow and orphan instead?

Then there's the "God's plan for you life includes deleting your kid." When it comes to kids, these aren't the only comforters-of-Job.

Consider the notion that parents of disabled children should be complimented for being so good that God chose them as the parents. (If it doesn't link, it's from The Ten Commandments of Character by Joseph Telushkin.) However kindly it is meant, it is unkind to tell a parent, "God gave you disabled children because He knew how good you are." Telushkin's response was, "You imply that if only I were less good/nice/holy, I would have had a normal, healthy baby." Also, the speaker would realize how shocking it is if the recipient responded in kind: "You seem like such a nice person that I pray God will reward by causing you to have babies with special needs."

Any other examples?

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: Sep 05, 2016 4:59 pm
by The Rose-Tree Dryad
*sweeps away a year's worth of dust from the thread*

I was thinking earlier about Aslan's providence in The Horse and His Boy, and it reminded me of a video by Bishop Robert Barron that I saw a while ago and liked very much. I'm not a Catholic, but I found the perspective that he offered on the providence of God to be very insightful and moving, and I thought others might like it as well:


Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: Apr 25, 2017 9:51 am
by Reepicheep775
There are some things in the genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew that has bugged me for a while.

I know (or, at least, have heard) that Matthew's genealogy hearkens back to Daniel and the end of Exile. In Daniel 70 years have passed since the beginning of the Exile, which was supposed to last for 70 years. When Daniel asks why the Exile hasn't ended, God replies that the Exile will end in 7 x 70 years. I also know that in Israel every 7 x 7 years there was a jubilee year, where slaves go free and land is returned to its original owners.

In Matthew, the author uses three groups of ancestors leading up to Jesus.

The first goes from Abraham to David:

1. Abraham
2. Isaac
3. Jacob
4. Judah and his brothers
5. Perez and Zerah
6. Hezron
7. Ram
8. Amminadab
9. Nashon
10. Salmon
11. Boaz
12. Obed
13. Jesse
14. David

The second goes from after David to the Exile:

1. Solomon
2. Rehoboam
3. Abijah
4. Asa
5. Jehoshaphat
6. Jehoram
7. Uzziah
8. Jotham
9. Ahaz
10. Hezekiah
11. Manasseh
12. Amon
13. Josiah
14. Jeconiah and his brothers

The third goes from after the Exile to Jesus:

1. Shealtiel
2. Zerubbabel
3. Abiud
4. Eliakim
5. Azor
6. Zadok
7. Akim
8. Eliud
9. Eleazar
10. Matthan
11. Jacob
12. Joseph the husband of Mary
13. Jesus

And Matthew ends the genealogy with:

Matthew 1:17 (NIV) wrote:Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to Christ


14 x 3 is equal to 6 x 7 and Jesus presumably makes the seventh seven, implying that He will set free the slaves (in this case, us, from the slavery of sin and the rule of earthly powers).

I have four questions about all of this.

1. The last group of ancestors only has thirteen generations in it. Am I to assume that this was a scribal error or am I missing something (e.g. is Matthew including Mary)?

2. At first glance adding one to 6 x 7 seems like it would make 7 x 7, but it wouldn't. 6 x 7 = 42 and 7 x 7 = 49. However if you add one to 6 x 7, you don't get 7 x 7, but (6 x 7) + 1 which is equal to 43. Since 43 ≠ 49, I don't get how Jesus makes the seventh seven. Again, I feel like I'm missing something.

3. Even if the genealogy made 7 x 7, I still don't understand how this relates specifically to the 7 x 70 of Daniel.

4. And finally why does this genealogy lead to Joseph and then to Jesus if Joseph wasn't, in a biological sense, the father of Jesus? Wouldn't it make more sense to do what Luke did and trace the genealogy of Jesus through Mary?

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: May 29, 2017 6:48 am
by Stylteralmaldo
The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:*sweeps away a year's worth of dust from the thread*

I was thinking earlier about Aslan's providence in The Horse and His Boy, and it reminded me of a video by Bishop Robert Barron that I saw a while ago and liked very much. I'm not a Catholic, but I found the perspective that he offered on the providence of God to be very insightful and moving, and I thought others might like it as well:



Thanks much for sharing this. I often think of St. Paul's punishments and what he endured for the Gospel which perhaps even he could not envision the fruits of that suffering in the letters we have from him today. The snowball affect from the gift of his suffering and the gift of suffering each generation endures for the sake of the Gospel, down to John Neumann, to JRR Tolkien, to those who endure suffering today...which is a gift of God, not a punishment as the secular world would have you believe.

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: Apr 17, 2018 10:44 pm
by Arwenel
I have really been struggling with the doctrine of original sin lately, and was wondering if anyone around here had any blogs or books that covered the topic well?

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: Apr 18, 2018 7:31 pm
by ValiantArcher
Arwenel, I'm not sure if you're looking for an explanation, evidence, or something else, but I ran across this article on Desiring God discussing Biblical evidence for the doctrine and some common questions. Also, it looks like there are some more articles and sermons on the site that deal with more/other aspects, but I haven't read them. If you're looking for something more in-depth, I can do a little digging and see what else I can find. :)

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: Apr 18, 2018 11:18 pm
by Arwenel
Thanks for the response, Valia. I'll try and be more specific about what i'm looking for.

I know what the doctrine of original sin is, and given a little time could probably support it using Scripture. I consider it very important to Christianity, as i'm not sure there's another viewpoint that doesn't contradict the Bible. What i have issue with is that i cannot reconcile original sin with any sort of divine justice.

If people are condemned to Hell for being sinners, but they had no more control in being a sinner than they did in being born in the first place, how can that possibly be just? God might as well be punishing people for being born with blue eyes. How is it loving to create people who will one day die and suffer through eternity, but never had the ability, let alone the opportunity, to avoid it?

I want to make it clear, i'm not questioning whether God is actually just and loving or not. I know He is. But i just can't find a way to reconcile those qualities with the doctrine of original sin.

For the most part, i've tried to set this aside, figuring it would just be one of those things i won't understand until i get to Heaven. But it won't leave me alone, and nothing i've looked at has come anywhere near helping with my questions.

Re: Christianity, Religion and Philosophy, Episode VII!

PostPosted: Jul 04, 2018 12:44 am
by waggawerewolf27
Yes. God's permissive will and God's ultimate will aren't always the same. Yet there is no shortage of people who believe that God micromanages their lives to the point that a good parking space is perceived as a specific sign of divine favor, as opposed to the general favor of finance to purchase an alarm clock, education to comprehend it, and the free will to choose to arrive on time. A few such souls also seem to give the evil one power to foul up their day -- ("Satan tried to stop me from going to church by taking all the parking spaces!") -- instead of admitting their own agency, choices, and tardiness. How they survive genuine calamity, I do not know. How you survive genuine calamity, they cannot imagine.


I found this section of an old post further up the thread rather more pertinent to what I am about to say, because I could not find a specific 4th July thread here, and my remarking about 4th July would seem a bit cheeky for an Australian, except for the will of God aspect of it. For the Will of God does play a part in the affairs of nations as is clearly demonstrated in the Old Testament, and it doesn't all depend on those horrible Kings of yore, let alone their Presidential replacements. We have been studying 1 and 2 Samuel in the Bible which is quite an eye-opener, not only to the way the prophet Samuel said Kings would act - and yes they do - but also why a King or President is necessary in the first place, however the nation comes by the person, and whether that person is elected, or whether he or she is crowned, anointed, consecrated or inaugurated to do the job.

Famously, 4th July celebrates Independence Day, that is to say, USA or its beginnings, proclaimed themselves a nation independent of Great Britain which at the time administered much of the settled bits of the North American Continent. One of the Colonists' grievances was the threatened imposition of taxes, always a sore point, right back through the ages, right back to 1 and 2 Samuel, when the Israelites started to want a rather more organised sort of governing arrangement than they had at the time, which was often just localised judges who often acted only for their own tribe and if they were lucky, one or two of the others who agreed to help them. Samuel consecrated or anointed firstly Saul and then David, a most beloved Biblical figure, but Saul ended up dead, strung up on a city wall by the Philistines, along with three of his sons, by the end of 1 Samuel. David, whose kingly career involved much more fighting with the Philistines, in 2 Samuel, fought with other people as well, including a civil war against his own son, as well as adherents of a Saul monarchy. Part of these battles were his own fault, as the tale of Bathsheba clearly shows. But for the religious context I could have been reading the latest gossip and fashion magazine recounting the alleged palace rows in the UK Royal family and more.

And then I came across something that King David did right as a King. He had an able administration, which included someone called Sheva who acted as his secretary, Zadok and Abiathar led his priests, and Joab was a particularly gifted and loyal soldier and general under David's leadership. God helped David much, but He also gave David Joab to be his effective lieutenant, even if Joab would probably be seen as a gangster today. And wouldn't you know it? There was someone called Jehoshaphat who did the recording. You can read about it all in 2 Samuel, Ch 20 verse 23, I think it is.

And this particular Jehoshaphat (not to be mistaken for a later king) whose records probably formed the basis of 1 and 2 Samuel even if he did not write those two books of the Bible himself, is why we read about David today. And he is likely how we know, by the way, that the events in those two books included very likely actual historic happenings, not just writings for gossip and fashion magazines.

Today there there are people who actually wonder if either king really existed, much as up to the 20th century it was generally believed that there was no such place as Babylon, or Troy, let alone Mycenae. But the Philistines who fought against David and Saul did not speak the same sorts of languages as many of the other peoples around the Israelites. They were the Sea People of Rameses III, related to the Greeks who besieged Troy and the Myceneans who, having been allowed by the Egyptians to settle there, along the Gaza strip, were trying to expand into the interior of the Israelite lands to take them over.

A week or so ago, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, the grandson of UK's Queen Elizabeth famously visited those areas, prayed at the Wailing Wall, visited where his great grandmother was buried, at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, and also visited the Al Aqsa Mosque along with visiting other important sites. He prayed for peace in the Holy Lands, as well he might, and vowed that would be his life's mission. And he had a chat with each of the relevant Presidents and Prime Ministers, something the rest of us might not be able to do. Public opinion jeered of course. What could he do that hasn't been tried before? said many. "Good luck with that" I thought. But at least he was willing to try.

And what has all this to do with me and 4th July in particular? Why not Canadians as well, since 1st July is Canada day, and Canada is at least as relevant to Le Hamel in France as is both Australia, New Zealand, UK, and the United States. I am a history buff, as everyone here knows. For the past four years there have been a lot of WW1 commemorations. In 2015 my daughter and I visited Gallipoli then went to Villers Bretonneux and Le Hamel where in the open country there is this great monument to the fallen of World War I, where the flags of all the participating nations fly over their soldiers' graves, lest we forget the sacrifices made by those who went before us. You will find Canadians, New Zealanders, South Africans, even, Indians, the British, of course. And the French who welcomed us all as deliverers. And American soldiers, as well as Australians - a lot of Australians. Those who could be identified were listed as Christians, some were Jewish and there were other faiths as well.

Today, 4th July, or what is left of it - it is 6pm here - is the Le Hamel centenary, commemorating a WW1 battle at a small village called Le Hamel, which for the first time included a combined force of all these nations, in particular the new USA forces, as well as Australians, led by Sir John Monash, an Australian general whose battle plan went off perfectly. He used 4th July to stage the battle, specifically to encourage the American troops and to give them something to fight for. And it was a victory that led to other victories the following August. That particular incident was the beginning of the Australian Alliance with USA that continues up to this present day and whose centenary we also should commemorate. Did I mention Joab? I should have, because Sir John Monash, whose face adorns an Australian $100 note, was Jewish by belief. God moves in mysterious ways in the affairs of men and nations.

Oh and that is why of a Sunday we always pray for Queen Elizabeth, her ministers, her officials, her prime ministers, and all who serve her that the government is run wisely. A good thing to do when following the news.

Lastly and not leastly, happy 4th July. :)