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SMH: Pope drives across the water, sails over land ...

According to the Sydney Morning Herald's handy illustration on road closures for today, the Papal flotilla will sail across the Opera House forecourt, and then the motorcade will drive down the centre of the bay into Circular Quay, where the general public are encouraged to stand on the water just off the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Should be worth watching them try ... 


Pope Movements

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reductio ad absurdum and the art of bicycle maintenance

David Eastwood: "Misogyny, racial discrimination and homophobia to name three are all belief systems that have lasted far longer than Christianity thus far."

And they are as likely to be found in a cyclist as a Catholic I suspect.

The point is, however, you can use such tendencies to slander the Catholic Church in ways that are shown to be patently absurd when you direct them against the International Cycling Union on the basis of similar evidence.

That some people cannot tell the difference between a logical conclusion and reductio ad absurdum is in itself revealing, though.

I agree...

Eliot, I agree entirely that to reach a conclusion that the Christian belief system is somehow validated simply because it has endured 2000 years is indeed absurd. 

Kevin made a meal of it

I assume others saw, as I did, Kevin Rudd's amazing performance as he milked the audience with his "talking in tongues" welcoming messages to the Pilgrims.

Hark back to our Roman Catholic former PM Paul Keating who kissed the ground when the last pontiff visited but his performance was nothing on Rudd's.

I see a new side to Rudd all the time – I reckon this guy has got a clever mind that can milk an opportunity whilst appearing to be still just a bespectacled slightly mild mannered PM.

If the Catholic population of Australia is around 35%, has Kevin secured their votes plus a whole lot more from other Christians ?.

I can't wait to actually view the PM in person and gauge his "charisma" factor which certainly doesn't come across in the media, but humbleness can be deceiving. I well remember the times I encountered Howard at some charity function or so – he really had so little presence – especially noticeable when he and Bob Hawke walked into a room together. Bob used to positively glow (perhaps it was something to do with that hair !) by comparison.

And the main thing that struck me was that both were actually the same height while Hawke had successfully portrayed Howard as "Little Johnnie".

It's no guide to the inner person of course but certainly an asset in these days of media driven election campaigns – as Peter Costello would find if the latest rumours were true.

A fool's errand

Kathy, you're on a fool's errand to seek to engage with aggressive, socialist atheists. You're on a hiding to nothing. You'll be confronted with ridicule, bigotry, intolerance and mindnumbing ignorance.

In such circles it's not fashionable to be so grotesquely insulting to Muslims but as you'd surely be aware by now, it is entirely acceptable be to that way toward Christians and in particular the Catholic variety. It's a sot of pig-ignorant pick and choose affair based upon a shallow, bone-lazy view of the world. In one breath of course they'd maintain they embrace diversity but in the next breath, they'd dismiss the faith of hundreds of millions not in a nonchalant way but in an agressive, disparaging way.

They wouldn't do it toward Jews or Muslims and it's worth considering why. It gets back to that intellectually lazy, pull-string doll approach to life. Pull string, mention United States, get canned disparaging response. Pull string, mention Catholic Church get canned disparaging response.

Pull the string on Jews or Muslims and you'll get a more measured response from such types. It is also lazy, hackneyed and canned but it's ever so cautious and of course utterly fake and inconsistent.

Forget it, Kathy. There's no logic to it. There's no consistency. They just know what they hate. Let them hate it. It belittles you and it certainly belittles me to even engage with them. Surely you can see it is a waste of time.

This is aggressive bigotry and the bigot is like the hungry bear. Feed it and it just gets stronger. There is no respect for diversity. No tolerance. Simply bigotry and ridicule. The best thing to do is disengage. With minds that closed, any dialogue at all can only be a waste of time.

Involving the big cheese

Marilyn Shepherd: "The cycling club, however, is still responsible for the cyclists and coaches."

It's been referred to His Most Holiness Lance Armstrong. May the pedal be with you.

Anyone named Adolf

Yep, there are still people named Jesus but you'll be hard pressed finding anyone named Adolf these days. The youngest Adolf I could Google was Adolf Ogi born in 1942. Fancy that: Hitler pretty well killed off a name.

One rule for cyclists, another for Catholics

Dylan Kissane: "Can you explain why you think an international organisation should apologise to a girl who alleges an incident took place between her and a cycling coach? "

What if the coach was also her teacher or a priest? You know, like at a Catholic school? Would that make a difference?

I mean, the Pope had to apologise for the actions of some obscure priest in Melbourne before Benedict was even Pope.

here we go again...

Michael and Malcolm … I keep pointing towards Dr Jim Hopper’s site as a point of departure for informed discussion.  Here is more information about Dr Jim Hopper:

... a researcher and therapist with a doctorate (Ph.D.) in clinical psychology, and an Instructor in Psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He has studied rates of child abuse and its potential long-term effects – initially psychological and behavioral effects in men, more recently effects on biology and regulation of emotions – as well as treatments to help people recover from child abuse. His research colleagues include Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and Dr. Roger Pitman, leaders in the field of psychological trauma; he is  a licensed clinical psychologist, and for for over 15 years he has been a therapist to men and women abused in childhood, providing individual and group treatment.

Coming from different angles

I haven't yet read the Harvard report, Anthony Nolan, but I will.

The images I see in the media of Ferguson are of a man being driven potty by constant attention. As he has served his sentence, I don't know how anyone can call for his permanent incarceration. If we start locking people up for what they may do in the future, it's a very sticky road to go down.

Ferguson is not the first to have received this almost unsolvable problem. There are four case I can think of in the past few years where the media have done their damage and, having milked the final drop out of the case, lay off (until perhaps a few years down the track when there is a quiet news day and they can seek out the offender and begin all over again).

Bear in mind, though, that the judge who dismissed the case also stated that, as Ferguson had been in jail on remand, any sentence he received would probably have already been served.

If you think the Queensland laws need changing that is your right, but you need to lobby politicians.

As for the Fosters, I don't know them so I can only imagine what they are going through. There are some facts, though – they did not accept the compensation offered (as others have) – they chose to sue for a much larger sum which they got. I don't necessarily accept that was for purely mercenary reasons – perhaps a continuing fight is a sort of cathartic therapy for them.

But I can't see the purpose of the Pope doing anything other than a symbolic apology to all victims of the church collectively. He was not Pope when the abuse happened, he isn't responsible for it, and the Catholic Church is now addressing the problem correctly and in the only way it can despite its past transgressions.

You also seem to be accepting the premise that all accusations are truthful and that there are not a lot of very nasty people out there – some who abuse children – and others who will claim they were abused in order to claim compensation.

We haven't yet gone as far as the UK but we could. You should then read this by Richard Webster: The Secret of Bryn Estyn, his truthful and accurate account of how dozens of child care workers were caught up in abuse allegations in a Welsh children's home. Some committed suicide, some were wrongfully convicted and later released on appeal (but their lives destroyed anyway) and, even worse, the British police engaged in a new tactic called "trawling" – identifying a person and then seeking out whether they may have committed a crime or inviting people (such as former home inhabitants) to report on that person.

And that's exactly what happened, with one of the BBC's most respected programs producing six or seven men who all claimed they had been abused by suspects who were subsequently charged. But allegations began to unravel as it was proved time and time again the accusers were never at the homes when they claimed – either arriving years after a suspect had left or before he or she began working there.

Even after being found innocent, those accused had their lives destroyed by the allegations. And those making the false allegations walked away scot free. And this is just one of many similar cases in the UK – and always the media is on hand to do its destructive best.

Now I don't believe Australia is in that position – yet – but given that we have a media so similar in its tendency to make exaggerated and sensational claims without fear of the consequences, it could happen.

However, we are lucky as we seem to have generally police forces that are more sensitive about child abuse. Most States do not want offenders’ locations identified (although NSW is a worry under John Hatzistergos who bizarrely claims that his strict bail conditions means crime has decreased – strange when those on remand are yet to face trial) as it either drives them underground or makes their monitoring process far more difficult and costly – as in the Queensland case.

We don't yet have programs like the US’s To Catch a Predator with a profit-driven private company inducing men online to attempt to commit a crime. That is, however, beginning to unravel with the TV company facing a multimillion dollar lawsuit from the sister of one of those caught in the "sting" (after he committed suicide) and several local sheriffs now being dismissed for co-operating in a vigilante style operation.

To me, that is where the hysteria leads to, and unfortunately I believe the Fosters are just a very small cog in that process.

I agree with Malcolm Duncan (and Claude) that this is a very real problem, but it needs trained police co-operating with specialist psychiatrists. I think the police would prefer that – we would be better off as a society and perhaps the thousands of reported cases that go unattended because staff are over-stretched will have the funds and time to do their job – and save a few more kids.

oh yeah?

A point by point response for Michael:

You say..."the extraordinary hysteria that surrounds the subject ... precludes any sensible discussion" ... but media responses are not where one expects to find reasonable discussion. Webdiary is, among others, where one expects that.

Sensible discussion commences with informed opinion which is why I posted the link to a website about child sex abuse run by a Harvard Uni. academic on the subject. It presents data about prevalence, sophisticated analysis of the nature and reliability of the data and considerable evidence about the serious psychological consequences of child sex abuse. See the Perverts thread.

On Dennis Ferguson: he is so severely damaged that my view is that he ought to be in custody forever. If you read about his history of assaults on children it is clear that he is dangerously deranged, unpredictable and, in my view, beyond the possibility of rehabilitation. Clearly the parole and release process in Queensland is deeply flawed and the current situation is unacceptable. His case exemplifies the inadequacy of the entire judicial-legal process around child sex abuse matters.

You write that: "I'd also say that the opposite now happens - rather than claims being "denied", each and every claim is accepted as proven with the accused being forced from day one to prove their innocence."

This statement is not evidence-based. The process of bringing a charge is so difficult that the overwhelming majority of potential charges never see the light of day.

You cannot grasp the logic of expecting the Pope to meet with and apologise to either the victims or their families. This is a failure of imagination on your part. Humble contemplation is the answer.

You accuse the Fosters of "an amazing arrogance" in expecting some particular recognition of their suffering. I see a man who is in an agony of masculine failure over his inability to protect his children from a predatory priest; I see deep suffering and feel profound compassion for that man and his wife. More, it seems, than the officials of the Catholic Church or you are able to muster.

So where is the spirit of Christ today?

Anyone called Jesus

Malcolm B Duncan: "…there is absolutely no contemporary evidence for the existence of anyone called Jesus…"

Trying to put that silly cat of yours among the pigeons, eh, Duncan?

In fact we have thousands of contemporary Jesuses among us. Go to Latin America and you will meet one almost every day.

And as to historical evidence of the historical Jesus, evidence abounds. For instance, I'm guessing that even you must have heard mention of the apostle Paul. He was one of Jesus' contemporaries. A well-educated one — like you, a lawyer. And a Roman citizen. He wrote a good deal about Jesus. Admittedly the two never met; but neither have many of those who today write and speak about Dennis Ferguson ever met the fellow. We still believe he exists, though. Unless you want to persuade us that he, too, is mere ephemera?

Anthony Nolan, you say that sensible discussion commences with informed opinion. I suppose Michael de Angelos would question just how informed is our collective opinion. Not very, it would seem to me. Informed opinion does not commence with being on some particular bandwagon.

You qualify a lot of what you say with the words "In [your] view." But based on what evidence? The evidence of newspaper reports, it looks like. They are biased in favour of sensationalism to the point that we believe Ferguson to be an abductor and serial rapist of children. According to my understanding, the offence for which he was sentence to 14 years in prison involved children left in his care, not abducted by him. And the actual sex offence was encouraging the children to engage in sex play with each other while he watched, not rape or sodomy at all. Here, I stand to be corrected. I am depending on memory of reports I read closer to the time it actually happened. One would need access to the court transcripts to be sure. Members of the media no doubt have archived material on which to draw, but they seem to favour sensationalism over fact.

Ferguson's second jailing was in response to his engaging in employment which might bring him in contact with children, in contravention of his parole conditions. He was selling cleaning aids to schools.

His third "offence" was found to be based on unreliable evidence. The witness, a five year old, was confused as to whether Ferguson or another man in the house at the time was the one who molested her. This, as much as the finding that he was unlikely to be fairly tried because of the publicity surrounding him, was the reason the case was stayed.

Ferguson certainly appears to be deranged, from what we have seen of his reaction to media personnel on TV. He comes across as quite crazy. He is vilified, among other things, for his steadfast refusal to admit that he is guilty of the crime for which he was originally convicted, and his refusal to engage in rehabilitative programs designed to help pedophiles overcome their perverted predilections. Now, supposing for a moment that his protestations of innocence could be genuine, would this not go some way to explaining his deranged state of mind? Just a thought.

I am not supposing that Ferguson is innocent, and I don't really care what happens to him, but innocent people have been convicted before. Child abuse cases generally centre around the testimony of impressionable children. I have as an impression of my own that the children concerned have, before they go to court, been harangued and coached by teams of well-meaning zealots intent on gaining a conviction at any cost.

You say that the process of bringing a charge is so difficult that the overwhelming majority of potential charges never see the light of day. This sounds to me like something said by one of those zealots. You and they present no evidence in support of that contention. Nor do they present anything to support the notion, to be found all over the place in the literature they produce, that one in four people have been molested at some time during their childhood. To anyone with any sense, this is patent nonsense.

The whole thing sounds a bit too reminiscent of witch-hunting to me.

Almost beneath contempt

Bill Avent selectively quotes my use of "contemporary". In the context of my post, it clearly referred to the complete absence of any contemporary evidence of the "Biblical Jesus" in or about 33 CE. There is none. Zip. Nada. Nothing. The most even the apologists can do is either Josephus or the gospel of Luke best dated at about 60 CE.

The whole thing is a massive hoax, son.

It then became a massive orthodoxicon and was followed rapidly by a Saxon. And a lot of people have made a huge quid out of it.

Look at it from the point of a Jew. If you had a god that was such a demonstrable bastard, why would you ever want to join him? Look then at it from the point of view of a "saved" "christian" (the separation of the concepts is deliberate). Why wouldn't you want to go and join him immediately? I have long regarded christianity as a suicide cult waiting to happen. Perhaps the Mozzies have it right (but could they leave the rest of us out of it?).

There was no Jesus Christ, there was no virgin birth, there was no resurrection, there was no act for apostles to witness. It is just a faerytale. Sad that we have so many faerys propagating it and preying on innocents in the titular name of auctoritas.

Oh ye of little faith

Hmm, now let's see, there are probably over two billion Christians in the world (the largest religion). Don't forget Muslims; they too believe in Jesus. There'd probably be about one and a half billion followers.

Sheesh, that's an awful lot of dumb people in the world, Malcolm. God! I wish I were as clever as your good self. Perhaps if I pray harder, I will see the light, eh?

On the numbers...

Kathy, I guess your calcs suggest about 3 billion people in the world don't believe in Jesus. They win on numbers, especially when you accept that the muslims and the christians disagree fundamentally on Jesus.

As my dad once said in a sage moment about believers when his boy asked him why he didn't believe in God, "Son, they all reckon they know the complete truth, and they all reckon the other religions are wrong. So, they can't all be right, by definition. They could, however, all be wrong."

Living in their own private Idaho

David Eastwood, the existence or non-existence of the historical figure Jesus of Nazareth what is under discussion here. Not what some people believe or don't believe about His relationship with God.

Kathy reckons on over two billion Christians, and one and a half billion Muslims. To them you can add the Jews, who also believe in the existence of Jesus. Like the Muslims, they just don't accept that He was God made flesh. And you could probably add most of the Hindus and the Buddhists. They feel no need to deny the existence of a man called Jesus, prophet of a religion other than their own. In fact it is only the atheists who believe they know the whole truth. Your dad got it around the wrong way. Not as sage as you thought he was.

But even without believers in other religions, the books of the 2 billion Christians and the 1.5 billion Muslims refer specifically to the Nazarene called Jesus. And according to the figures being used here, they comprise some 3.5 billion people.

Now you reckon there are 3 billion people in the world who don't believe in Jesus. And you seem to believe that 3 billion is more than 2 plus 1.5. And you believe this without believing in God, who alone knows how 3 is more than 3.5.

In order to disbelieve in something not to his liking, Malcolm doesn't believe in historical records. And you don't believe in arithmetic. Belief in religion looks more and more sensible, the more we hear about the atheists' beliefs.

Belief in Jesus

"especially when you accept that the muslims and the christians disagree fundamentally on Jesus."

Ah, David Eastwood, but they all still believe in Jesus.

And of course, if you are talking about God there are many others who are not Christians who believe in God. Ya know, Jehovah's Witness, Buddhist (pantheistic, though), Christadelphian, the list goes on.

By the way, what do you get when you cross a Jehovah's Witness with an atheist?

Someone who knocks on your door about nothing.

Well ... I thought it was funny!

Oh ye of little evidence

Just satisfactory rational proof would do not belief.  Here, I do not mean belief in lunatic ideas like a god -  just some physical evidence of the birth of a particular human being at a time of the most bureaucratic empire pre-dating the Germans in a climate where there was a comprehensive census in the area where the sprog was supposed to have been delivered.

Believing, sad to say, does not make it so. 

Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.

Perhaps these billions of believers are suffering from mass psychosis Malcolm? Strange how this psychosis has persisted for more than two thousand years.

Whaddya reckon, Malcolm?

Black mass

Kathy Farrelly: "Perhaps these billion of believers are suffering from mass psychosis, Malcolm."

Sort of like the Third Reich, do you mean Kathy?

Nah, Paul.

Nothing like the Third Reich, Paul, my dear.

That was over in a few years. Christianity is ever enduring. It shows no signs of waning.. Not like many another novelty and new toy.

With David Eastwood's Dad really

Kathy Farrelly, I say again, thinking does not make it so.  Leaving aside your "billions" how many "believers" have there been?  Of those, how many were even nominal Christians?

Some years ago, Birch sent one of his students to me.  The lad had an almost incomprehensible PhD thesis compartmentalised into his [unique and stunningly good] translation of the Crito - worth the PhD in itself - and his theory that Socrates was a Christian. He wanted me to turn it into English for him.  Difficult really.  Socrates; Christianity - bit of a time warp - and the writing - still shudder.  He has the PhD (I'm rather good both at English and philosophy), but he's now in a Greek Orthodox monastery.

Ah, what the hell?  Time and tide wait for no man, even one, an old soldier, who doesn't wash much, only has one cloak, chats a lot to young men and has a scald to Xanthippe him. Drink the drink.

Gott im Himmel

Malcolm B Duncan, July 22, 2008 - 5:03pm:

Look then at it from the point of view of a "saved" "christian" (the separation of the concepts is deliberate). Why wouldn't you want to go and join him immediately? I have long regarded christianity as a suicide cult waiting to happen. Perhaps the Mozzies have it right (but could they leave the rest of us out of it?).

Me: WOT?

July 22, 2008 - 10:34pm.

(I'm rather good both at English and philosophy)

Me: Thanks, Duncan. You've made it easier for me to believe in fairy stories.

Thinking has nothing to do with.

Come on Malcolm me old china, seriously, if christianity is such a crock of shite, how could it possibly have endured for two thousand years?  And, why leave aside the billions? These are the people who identify with christianity.

There is no obligation to tick the believers box.

Surely if there were no substance, this "christianity" thing would have disappeared without a trace long ago?

Take a stab. I dare ya!


Misogyny, racial discrimination and homophobia to name three are all belief systems that have lasted far longer than Christianity thus far.


Misogyny, racial discrimination and homophobia, David Eastwood, are not systems of belief. They are systems of disbelief. Like atheism.

Gone but not, unfortunately, disappeared

It [the crock of shite]  if it ever existed, went with the Council of Trent.

There are still people who want to believe in woodsprites, watch Harry Potter (even eccentrics who read the stuff - and jolly good literature it is too, to the credit of JK Rowling, and that is my opinion as a qualified literary critic), and believe in economics.

Belief and delusion are not one hair's breadth apart.

Go.  And delude yourself.  And do this for me and in my name.

Horus, Zeus, Yaweh.  One god; one true religion - how would that work then, Kathy Farrelly?  I salute my Queen to whom my allegiance is still affirmed.  Still want me to deliver the killer blow?

Ducking and Weaving.

Brilliant side step. Malcolm.  Am however a tad disappointed, though. One or two woodsprites doth not equal billions of people who believe in Jesus.

As for the killer blow?

Forget it.

You never even landed a punch.

2000 Years?

Well, try this then Kathy Farrelly.  "Christianity" has not as you assert lasted over two thousand years nor have billions of people believed in "Jesus".  Roman Catholics believe in the Roman Catholic Church.  The Orthodox believe in the Orthodox Church.  Protestants believe in all sorts of things: the literal truth of the Bible as the revealed word of god in some cases, an evangelical gospel revealed through four books of the New Testament in others.  The belief in "Jesus" is one of the most adaptable myths around.  It has embraced and subsumed Druidism, adapted itself to middle eastern Mithraism, and seems quite adaptable to ancestor worship.  Still, however, it has not managed to conquer the world, despite the attempts of its many and varied adherents from time to time.

Even the Roman Catholic Church can't decide what it believes.  Papal infallibility is the perfect example of a moveable feast.

Now, if you want to believe that there is a god, a personification of it and some ghost all wrapped up into one, that's fine – just don't bother the rest of us with it because, unless you're going to start re-reading Heinlein, we really don't need to consider the conundrum of one part of the Trinity begatting another part of it on a virgin (some interesting biochemistry there but not really worth more than the mere observation to identify the sheer lunacy of the concept). 

Never been keen on virgins myself but I suppose they have to start somewhere.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

The early followers of Christ were the first CHRIST-ians, Malcolm.

Malcolm: "nor have billions of people believed in "Jesus"..." etc. There may be different branches of Christianity. However, they all share a belief in Jesus Christ and his teaching. The definition of Christian is, one who professes a belief in Christ and who follows his teaching.

Perhaps you meant the other "Christian" Malcolm? You know, the hero from Pilgrims Progress.

Why you bring in " Papal infallibility" and the "Trinity" does beat the hell outta me though (diversionary tactics perhaps?).

In any event, no need to become apoplectic over the fact that the God Botherers of the world far outnumber the atheists now, is it?

Now, if you don't want to believe in God old bean, that's swell by me. I will, however, be praying for your conversion. It is, of course, the Christian thing to do, is it not?

After all, you really don't seem to be such a bad sort.

For a lawyer, I mean.

Gloria in extremis more like

Well, Kathy Farrelly, Dr Reynolds and I were talking about this earlier today.  I do not accept that there ever was a "Jesus".  The New Testament (quite clearly not the revealed word of god otherwise we wouldn't have an Apocrypha) has always struck me as a Pauline hijack.  I think David Roffey makes a valid point about the similarities between the Gospels being fairly slight.  For a lawyer, that suggests (particularly since we know they were originally written a very long time after the alleged events) they are mere recitals of a story.  Now the sermon on the mount is a bit of a warm, cuddly-feely, story but when you graft onto it Saul of Tarsus' rather pathenogenic ideas, then couple that with Revelation, then find that it was decided some hundreds of years later what's in and what's out, I don't think you have the core of a religion or a belief at all:  I think you end up with a marketing bureaucracy.  Now, in cultural terms it is a very important one because it underpins much Western thought and almost all Western literature but that's about as far as it goes.

I feel sorry for Roman Catholics because they are unable to understand much of that literary heritage.  The Vulgate version of the Bible is nowhere near as rich as the King James Version.  Worse still the poor creatures who have been brought up on Good News for Modern Man and the revision of the Book of Common Prayer.  Forgive them Dad, they just keep sinning.

Oh, and I'm not a bad sort really – you've seen the photos – quite cute when I was little in a wistful sort of way.  Thank goodness I've changed my barber though.

One has no need to prove one's faith

Fine, you do not accept that there was a Jesus, Malcolm, whilst I do. All rather simple really.

By the way, I have not read the bible in years.There are only so many times that you can read a book, you know.

And, I'll still be saying a few prayers for you old friend.

Kath - forgive them for they know not what they say

Kathy, when I get over the current bug I will read all this but see you plugging away pretty well in support of faith. But it looks like the usual stuff.

You've no hope of convincing the good barrister and our moderator general down there in Bleak of the wilfulness of their ways. They are true disciples of Dr Dawkins, I suspect - along with half the platoon here.

But I will agree with that cute little cat lover that the King James Version of the Bible is the best. But it does not pay to ask the small fry to read from it for any family funerals. Ecclesiastes Ch 3, v 1-11 dear - check it out before you go up to the microphone. Yeah yeah. But no, hence the congregation gets to wait till the preacher finally steps over to show the way. Now I think there has been some comment from Father Park about Latin numerals of late. I wish they would teach these young fellows. Don't know about anyone else but I find them very useful. When you exhaust 1-10 you then have a-z (or z-a for me), then you can start with i-ix - infinite possibilities for good public servants in my day.

Now David Roffey, I see, finds true Christians a bit thin on the ground. Must be the company these non-believers keep, coz the people I know who follow the true path are pretty common - not to say, of course, that there are not those who are good people and non believers - they just arrive at their goodness another way. But there is something really special about the believers in my life - really special - they kinda stand out in terms of the extent of their compassion and goodness, their gentleness and their lack of intemperate language and so on.

Now for me all I say is that if one's life is better for one's faith than without it, then why throw it away simply because one cannot prove anything. Anyway, full marks to you my dear for hanging in there - must read all the comments - won't get involved myself too much - been there done that here many times in defence of faith.

I think the WYD was a good thing if it means all those young people are more committed in their faith and really want to use it for good in the world.

Cheers. Back to bed for this faithful servant.

Fiona: Get better quickly, Jenny.

Following the teachings of Christ

Sorry, have been staying out of this one, but ...

Given that the only teachings of Christ that all the gospels agree on is the Sermon on the Mount, a Christian would:

  • be a gentle, merciful, peacemaker
  • agree with an adversary quickly
  • never look on a woman with lust, or swear
  • turn the other cheek
  • love their enemies, do good to those that hate them
  • keep their good deeds secret
  • forgive men their trespasses
  • not serve God and mammon

He explicitly said that just professing belief in him and not doing everything on that list wasn't good enough. So on that basis, I have to say that there are not billions of real Christians out there, but very few of them. And not many leaders of so-called Christian churches qualify. The very few of those that do qualify that I have met have been wonderful, exceptional people: but rare.

Still billions of Christians

David: "He explicitly said that just professing belief in him and not doing everything on that list wasn't good enough. So on that basis, I have to say that there are not billions of real Christians out there, but very few of them."

Yes, David I have heard it all before. The argument here was how many billions of people identify as Christians, not whether they are worthy to be  called such. (Only God can judge  what is in one's heart.)  That is another argument.

Oh dear me, an unorthodoxicologist

I've given you irrefutable proof, Malcolm. I could give you dozens of other examples, but I can see you'd much rather live in your own little fairyland than recognise reality.

No respite

Anthony Nolan, while your reaction to paedophiles is understandable it boils down to a question of how one deals with them.  I think Dr Reynolds and I are the only ones around here who have qualifications in both psychology and law although neither of us has any qualifications as a clinical psychologist (and I haven't discussed this with her specifically), but I am inclined to the view that certain forms of criminal behaviour (premeditated murder not for profit, sexual abuse, torture, for example) are aberrant behaviour.  As such, they should be dealt with not by the criminal justice system but by the mental health system.  Not guilty by reason of insanity has a long and convoluted history but, essentially, it means that if a tribunal of fact is satisfied that someone is either not fit to plead or is mentally disturbed to the point that he or she did not appreciate the "nature and quality" of his act by reason of a "disease of the brain" or diminished responsibility as the modern doctrine has it, he should be dealt with at the pleasure of the Crown.  That is, that he should be locked up and given treatment until he satisfies objective professionals that he should be let out rather than just completing a determinate sentence.

This is an extremely complex issue because it has the potential to incarcerate people for the term of their natural lives.  Not a thing most of us would want.  It also assumes there is some humane mental health system which can care for, and with any luck, rehabilitate, social pariahs.

Unlike psychologists, lawyers have always had a bias against anything other than a determinate sentence: do the crime; do the time – and that's it.  Not if you are crazy (by society's standards – separate argument) it's not.

The spirit of Christ today is where it has always been.  Given that there is absolutely no contemporary evidence for the existence of anyone called Jesus, it is as ephemeral as ever.  That should get you going.

You are mistaken, Anthony

I've never said or claimed " all claims of abuse cannot be taken seriously ".

I've questioned the extraordinary hysteria that surrounds the subject that precludes any sensible discussion and that's pretty well demonstrated with the mad case in Queensland whereby a convicted pedophile is being hounded from home to home with politicians claiming that all neighbours should be informed where he is living which means the process will be repeated ad infinitum.

And as he is now a free man that isn't acceptable no matter what you or anyone else thinks.

I'd also say that the opposite now happens - rather than claims being "denied", each and every claim is accepted as proven with the accused being forced from day one to prove their innocence.

Throw in the media and a few polticians and you get what you have today - hysteria which solves nought and that includes the bizarre claims that Pope Benedict must apologise to every victim, their family members and probably their children's children, and the amazing matter of one couple demanding they be personally met when there are obviously thousands out there who the Pope could not possibly meet nor should he. 

I don't deny that the particular couple may feel pretty awful but there is an amazing arrogance that they should be singled out and have a personal meeting (and what in the Hell is that meeting going to achieve?) when there are possibly victims in South America who will never get near the Pope, let alone fly from one side of the world to the other demanding a meeting.

Michael ...there is still something wrong...

I posted the following on the 'Perverts' thread some time ago only to find that you again appear to be running the same line here re abuse within the Church.  Your claims that all claims of abuse cannot be taken seriously are highly reminiscent of the sort of denial that meets original disclosures of abuse!  What is going on, mate?

Eliot wasn't joking

Eliot brings everything down to this level "just because x did it y is just as bad if he did it too".

The cycling club, however, is still responsible for the cyclists and coaches.

I agree

The more I investigate Pope Benedict's past the more I like him, Kathy Farrelly. And I was a pretty fierce critic before without really knowing much about him.

As for the rules – no condoms, anti gay etc – I know just too many practising Catholics who ignore these rules to take them that seriously.

I believe there are far more positive things about this church than not – far more people amongst them who do good as opposed to those who don't.

Offending priests tend to dominate the news and everyone forgets the ones who do the really hard work, like the priest with a handful of nuns in the Philippines bush who look after dispossessed women and who found Vivian Alvarez Solon when she was misplaced by her own government.

As for not meeting the Fosters, I believe this was the correct decision. They had flown into town and were determined to get as much publicity as possible. For what reason I don't know. If the Pope were to meet with every family member of every abused person, where would it end? And for what reason? It appeared they were using emotional blackmail.

Of course this couple must feel terrible (although I don't accept the tenuous excuse that a person becomes a junkie or drunk or even suicides because of past abuse. Some may and many don’t. Unless we know the full psychiatric history of their life it's impossible to prove).

One aspect of past abuse disturbs me – the compensation angle. The Catholic Church offers (apart from financial compensation) unlimited funds without time limit for counselling. It's said that under 5% take up the offer of counselling but all pocket the cash.

In fact, the whole compensation matter is disturbing, and not just within the church. Compensation for sexual abuse is easily accessed (and in some cases doesn't even need to be proved as in the late MP Bob Collins case). In the past three years in the UK we have seen several cases of proven false allegations made against men with dire consequences for their lives.

And as in the late John Marsden case, we saw his accusers get off completely scot free while lying in court and accepting large sums of money from a TV station.

Myself, I know one person who I have known most of my life and discussed every angle of his and my lives, no matter how great or sordid and who I know with 99% surety that he has never been abused. He has just recently claimed a long-dead priest abused him (now at age 55 and broke) and is well on the road to receiving a payout.

He didn't meet the Fosters

He met four people hand picked by the PR mob who all felt they had been treated well by the church.

What a hoax.

And Eliot, I agree about the cycling club.


Marilyn: "And Eliot, I agree about the cycling club."

Can you explain why you think an international organisation should apologise to a girl who alleges an incident took place between her and a cycling coach?

To help you out, here's the link between the coach and the UCI:

  • Rick Lee runs a coaching company...
  • His company offers independent coaching to some Midland Cycling Club riders...
  • Midland Cycling Club riders are licensed to compete by the West Australian Cycling Federation...
  • The WACF is a member of Cycling Australia, the national body...
  • Cycling Australia is a member of the UCI.

Seems pretty silly to ask the UCI to apologise for what Rick Lee is alleged to have done. I thought Eliot was having a laugh - and I could be wrong, of course - but it would be great to hear how you would justify an international orgnisation far removed from the individual coach apologising for what was alleged to have happened to this girl.

Victims of sexual abuse by Australian cyclists.

Kathy Farrelly: "Pope Benedict meets abuse victims before flying out."

By contrast...

"Leading WA cycling coach Rick Lee wore a condom while raping a 15-year-old girl in the US, the girl has alleged."

I demand that the head of the International Cycling Union in France apologise personally to the victims of sexual abuse by Australian cyclists.

Je suis désolé, monsieur

Eliot: "I demand that the head of the International Cycling Union in France apologise personally to the victims of sexual abuse by Australian cyclists."

The UCI is based in Switzerland, not France.

By the way, I hope everyone managed to catch Aussie Simon Gerrans' Tour de France stage win in the Italian Alps yesterday. The cheer squad here in Villeurbanne was going crazy for him! From his blog:

You spend so much time dreaming about winning a Tour de France stage as a professional bike racer that when the moment comes you are not ready for it. I can vouch for that after the most amazing ride of my life - even as I write these words I am still coming down from my win today in the first Alpine stage of this year's Tour...

A great ride and well worth staying up to watch.

It's over

It was in the end a fairly painless few days.

 Although I can't agree with some of the Catholic Church's more conservative policies - no condoms, anti-gay etc, I found Pope Benedict to be a warm and friendly bloke. The more I read and see of him, I think his heart is the right place.

So he DID meet with the Foster family, did he?

And here was me thinking, Kathy, what ice cold callous curmudgeons the pope, Pell and that other Opus Dei style pratt whose name escapes me who organised the thing,  Pearson and so forth all were.

Will look forward to seeing how the pope and Fosters get on on TV news tonite  and if Foster and his wife's grief  over their tragic kids has been ameliorated in any way through this meaningful if belated attempt. You see, it was such a simple thing to do - just invite them over and comfort them.

At least the gesture was there.

The Pope has many enemies

I managed to locate an article that I read some years ago about the (then) newly elected ppointed Pope Benedict. It was written by Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal:

"The choosing of Benedict XVI, a man who is serious, deep and brave, is a gift. He has many enemies. They imagine themselves courageous and oppressed. What they are is agitated, aggressive, and well-connected.

They want to make sure his papacy begins with a battle. They want to make sure no one gets a chance to love him. Which is too bad because even his foes admit he is thoughtful, eager for dialogue, sensitive, honest.

They want to make sure that when he speaks and writes, the people of the world won't come running.

What to do to help? See his enemies for what they are, and see him for what he is. Read him--he is a writer, a natural communicator of and thinker upon challenging ideas. Listen to him. Consult your internal compass as you listen, and see if it isn't pointing true north.

Look at what he said at the beginning of the papal conclave: It is our special responsibility at this time to be mature, to believe as adults believe. "Being an 'adult' means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties." Being an adult is loving what is true and standing with it.

This isn't radical, or archconservative. And the speaker isn't an enforcer, a cop or a rottweiler. He's a Catholic. Which one would think is a good thing to have as leader of the Catholic Church."

Nothing has changed, the Pope still has many enemies. There will always be critics and cynics. It will be ever thus.

That  thousands of  people of all ages flocked to see and hear him here in Australia says much. I have been following the coverage, particularly in the Australian, and it seems that the Pope touched many hearts. 

I for one, am now going to take up Peggy Noonans suggestion, and "Read him". 

Before World Yuth Day, I must admit that I had not much interest in this Pope. However, just seeing the  positive impact that he has had here in Australia has kindled my interest.

I'd like to find out for myself.


No Fiona, this is an emoticom free zone!

spaghetti diagrams

BTW, why does the diagram remind so much of the reproductive diagrams we used to get in school biology textbooks? Or is it just me and my mind...

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