Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block - R.L. Sharp

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings
and clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And common folk like you and me
Are builders for eternity.

To each is given a book of rules
A block of stone and a bag of tools
For each must shape ere time has flown
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.

Women's power to hurt the male ego

( -- Here's a closely guarded secret: Women have more influence over men than they think. Psychologist Jay Carter talks to Michelle Burford about male self-esteem, the criticism that could demolish a man and what male intimacy is really about.

Twenty-six years of counseling men and couples have given Jay Carter an unusually clear window into men's hearts and minds. Carter's observations are so eye-opening that we asked him about everything from finding the key to a man's inner life to the best way to chew him out when you're mad:

Michelle Burford: You've written that most women have no idea of their power to wound men. Where does this power originate?

Jay Carter: During a boy's most important developmental period -- his first five years -- he usually gets his self-esteem from his mother. I think some of Freud's theories are hogwash, but I believe he was right about at least one: Whereas a girl might choose to grow up to become like her mother in certain ways, a boy tries to be becomingto his mother -- to make her proud.

Years later, when he meets someone he wants to spend his life with, he unconsciously gives her what I call his "jujube doll" -- a kind of voodoo-like name I have for the part of a man's self-esteem that's vulnerable to a woman's opinion of him. If she sticks a pin in his doll, he recoils. Most women I talk with don't realize what kind of influence they have over men.

Burford: Doesn't a woman likewise hand over part of her power to the most significant man in her life?

Carter: Yes, but she does it by sharing her most private feelings. The seat of a woman's soul is her emotions. A woman usually believes you know her when you know what she feels. But the seat of a man's soul is his intent or purpose.

That's why when a woman bares her soul by disclosing her feelings, a man often doesn't recognize that as significant. He's been socialized to discount feelings.
For him, baring the soul means sharing his hopes and dreams. He may say things that seem boring, silly or outlandish: "You know what I'd do if I had $20,000? I'd invest it in lotto." But if a woman really listens, he'll share more.

After a failure, a man might express his intentions by saying, "I know I've messed up, but here's what I wanted for our family." When a woman understands this, she can begin to share her own intentions as a way of drawing him closer. Men respect hopes and dreams. That's a language they speak.

Burford: In your book "Nasty Women," you state that men are more word-oriented. But aren't women considered more verbal?

Carter: Yes, but research on gender differences has proven that men tend to take words more literally and to hear them in more sweeping terms.

Let's say a woman asks her husband to pick up a half-gallon of orange juice after work. When he arrives home empty-handed, she's irritated.

She might offhandedly say, "You are so irresponsible." All he hears is the word irresponsible. He believes she's saying he's irresponsible in general. He thinks, "What about all the months I paid the mortgage? Does one slipup erase all my effort? And why is she overreacting?"

With his self-esteem wounded, he may launch into a defense about what it means to be responsible. She gets frustrated because he's so caught up in words that he doesn't acknowledge her feelings -- and that's usually because he doesn't remember how important feelings are to her.

Burford: What if the man really is irresponsible? How do you communicate that without inciting a gender missile crisis?

Carter: If you decide you want to keep the man around, don't use the word irresponsible. You can call him a jerk or even an ass and it won't devastate him, because what is a jerk? That's not concretely definable. But what a man feels when you call him irresponsible is what a woman feels when you call her a bitch. It's the ultimate insult. So if you're angry at a man, just call him a bitch.

Burford: Suppose a woman tunes in to her partner's intentions but he doesn't reciprocate by hearing her needs. How can she convey her frustration without becoming a nag or know-it-all?

Carter: She can get his attention through action. If a man leaves his pajamas on the floor, a woman might get so upset that she'll accuse him of disregarding her feelings. Then for two days, he'll pick up the PJs to avoid an emotional outburst.

But if two men were living together, one would simply say to the other, "Do you think you could put away your smelly pajamas before my girlfriend gets here?" The other agrees -- but still leaves his PJs out. So his roommate finally says with a grin, "The next time you leave your pajamas out, I'm gonna burn 'em in the backyard." He does. When the other guy looks for his PJs, he finds a smoldering pile of cloth.

That's how men operate. They don't call each other irresponsible or accuse each other of not caring about feelings; they simply burn the damn pajamas. For a woman to get a man's attention without bruising his jujube doll, she has to show rather than tell.

Burford: You've written that when a woman begins to care deeply for a man, he becomes her home-improvement project. Why?

Carter: A woman often marries a man for his potential. If women married men for who they actually were, there would be far fewer marriages. When a woman loves a man, she says to herself, 'I could improve him. Once we're together, things will be different.'

Since I began my practice in 1977, I've heard this refrain hundreds of times. I try to get it across to the woman that what she sees is what she gets. This is him. If he's drinking every Friday and Saturday night, look forward to a lifetime of weekend alcoholism. He may cut out Friday, but he'll still be a drinker.

Men tend to resist change. In fact, one of the most prized characteristics of a man's friendship with other men is total acceptance. When a woman begins to encourage a man to live up to his potential, he misunderstands that as her overall dissatisfaction with him. What he feels is tantamount to what women feel when men don't hear and respond to what they say they need.

Burford: How might the relationship unravel when she expresses her disappointment?

Carter:The man may initially improve according to her recommendations -- remember, he has a lot invested in what she thinks of him. But over time, he becomes slower to respond. The there's the day when she inadvertently steps on his jujube doll with a spiked heel, and it's so painful that he snatches his self-esteem back.

That's the day she loses significant influence. He tries to make himself not care what she thinks, which is why she begins to feel he's emotionally distant. He stops connecting. He doesn't look her in the eyes unless he's angry. When the marriage is on the brink of breakup, the woman drags him into my office. That's when I hear what almost any therapist can tell you is the most repeated phrase among men: "No matter what I do, I can never please this woman."

While she's been genuinely trying to improve him with the best of intentions, he's been feeling her efforts as a shot to his self-esteem. After all the work she has put into him -- he finally eats with his mouth closed, he doesn't say ignorant things -- he may run off with another woman.

That's often because he's looking for someone who will think the world of him -- someone who will see him as he thinks his wife once did. What he doesn't know is that he's bound to repeat the cycle because he hasn't done the work of understanding himself, the woman in his life, and the differences in how they communicate. He thinks his new woman is looking enraptured because he's the greatest, but what she's actually thinking is, "Wow -- what potential."

Burford: Once a man has snatched away his "jujube doll," can a woman ever get it back?

Carter: Yes. She can sit down with him and say something like 'It wasn't my intention to hurt you, but I have. I really do think you're a wonderful man.' He may never admit that there are heel marks all over his doll, but if she approaches him this way, he'll slowly open up again.

Burford: How can a woman encourage her partner to reach his full potential without hurting his self-esteem?

A: By stroking the jujube doll before bringing the hammer down. Let's say a man leaves his McDonald's wrappers all over the car. The woman is angry that he's inconsiderate of her desire to drive without bits of cheese, pickles, and dried ketchup stuck to the steering wheel. What should she say?

"I see how organized you are by the way you keep your desk, which is why I'm a bit surprised about the wreck our car is." Because she has first acknowledged the big picture -- "I know you're a neat guy" -- the criticism doesn't sting. And if she keeps the whole thing light, she'll get a laugh out of him before he heads out to clean the car.

I'm not suggesting that women spend their lives enabling and patronizing. This is not about telling a man he has the brightest gold chain or the biggest penis. Emphasizing a man's positive qualities is acknowledging the complete picture of who he is and what he has already done right.

Burford: After nearly three decades of counseling men, do you think most really want to please women?

Carter: Oh, yes! And I believe that a man will feel even more motivated to please a woman he loves if he knows that, in general, she already thinks the world of him. Once a woman tells a man how responsible and caring he is, he'll usually do all he can to live up to that image. Just to make her proud, he'll rise up and move mountains.


Dr. Phil's "Man-ual"

Dr. Phil's "Man-ual" | From the June 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
Dr. Phillip C. McGraw on men

You probably have one of these at home, or you're considering acquiring one—an adult human male. Here, Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D., provides a consumer guide to your model's inner workings. Don't start him up until you've read these instructions fully.

Women, how many times have you looked at the man in your life, shook your head, and wondered, Can he really be that stupid/insensitive/tuned out/selfish/clueless? The answer is, "No, he's probably not that bad." But he is, shall we say, different. And some of the things that cause you to question his mental or emotional acumen are pretty easy to explain. I'm going to give you the inside scoop that will help you get more of what you want and less of what you don't from your Y-chromosomed partner.

Before you judge the man in your life, figure him out. Anyone knows that if you're going to train bears, you need to understand bears. If you're going to train penguins, you need to understand penguins. So let's take a peek behind the curtain of maledom. Let's look at what makes these boys tick, what makes them do what they do, and not do what they don't.

Your Personal Man-ual
If you're looking for a "sensical" explanation for what seems like nonsensical male behavior, you'll find some important clues here:

• What Currency Do Men Value?
• How Do Men Operate in Relationships?
• Do Men Live Male Stereotypes?
• Competition? What Competition?
• How is Your Man a Hunter?

What Women Can Do

What do men want from us? How can we fulfill their most intimate desires—and also get what we want and need? Dr. Phil's got some ideas:

• What Men Want from Women
• What Never to Do
• How to Find the Good Ones

Men Express Their Feelings Through the Currency They Value.

Currency is what matters to people. It's the reward that motivates people to act in particular ways—to engage in certain behaviors and to avoid others. If you want to influence a man, you need to know what he treasures. Maybe it's money, time, his car. Maybe it's his daughter from a previous marriage. Maybe it's some secret or fear he has guarded closely all his life. If you want to know how a man really feels, pay attention to how he treats what he values. Whatever it is, if he gives you what is precious to him (whether you value it or not), he has performed an act of love that may mean much more to him than any words he might say.

How This Affects You
When people expect A but get B, they're upset. When they expect B and in fact get B, they're not upset. Exactly the same outcome, yet two very different reactions. So many women are upset about what their men do or don't do—not because what they do or don't do is wrong, but because it is different from what the women expected. Women express emotion verbally, and men express it by using their currency. The result is the same; the reaction is different.

What You Can Do About It
Start by answering this question: Do you want your man to really love you, or do you want him to love you the way you would love you? If it's the latter, you need to recognize that in many ways, you're dealing with an alien life form. If you insist on measuring him with your yardstick, he hasn't got a chance. Now ask yourself:

• Am I wanting and expecting the wrong thing?
• Am I failing to recognize that he is giving me what I want?
• Am I asking this man to give me something he just doesn't have?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, part of your solution may be very much under your own control, if you'll just recognize it.

The lesson here is twofold: Identify what he values, and determine whether he is sharing that with you. Watch what he does with his "personal accounts." If his currency is his time, is he sharing it with you? If it's his car, does he let you drive it, or are you instructed to stand ten feet away? If his currency is his daughter from his previous marriage, does he encourage you to interact with her—or are you excluded from any kind of relationship with her? Either way, you can be certain that he is communicating his feelings by deeds rather than words. You need to hear what isn't being said.

Men Make Choices in Relationships Based on Fear.
Men invariably protect themselves. If they believe that they are in some way inferior, inadequate or undesirable, they will do anything to avoid having that deficiency highlighted.

How This Affects You
Men adopt a "get them before they get you" mentality. They definitely believe in the old saying from sports that the best defense is a good offense. Result: If they suspect that for some reason they're not your Prince Charming, they will actively seek to alienate you so they can say it was their choice and not your rejection that created distance in the relationship. Bottom line: It stands to (his) reason that if he doesn't put himself—his feelings, his ego, his desires—on the line, then he can't get hurt.

What You Can Do About It
The best strategy you can undertake to deal with a partner who is motivated by fear and self-protection is to talk about this fear openly. Be warned: Men will jump through fire to avoid this conversation, because their egos won't stand for them to admit that they fear something. What you can do is deal directly with their fear of rejection.

To prepare for this conversation, you need to ask yourself some important questions:

• Are you in fact rejecting him?
• Are you sending him messages that say "You are inferior and undesirable"?
• Are you making him so low on your priority list that he has no choice but to conclude that he is undesirable and has been rejected?

Please understand, I'm not recommending that you just admire your partner unequivocally or encourage behavior that isn't worthy of admiration. I'm saying that you must consider whether or not you are playing into his worst fears. His worst fear is that he's not good enough for you, and that you are going to dump him.

Reassure him that while there may be issues that need to be discussed, you're not putting the relationship on the line over those problems. If you let him know that you have no intention of withholding your love, affection, attention or sexual interaction in a punitive way, you can reduce his fear of rejection.

Men Have Been Raised to Live Out a Male Stereotype

A lot of the disconnect between men and women has to do with the fact that men have been socialized in a way that runs counter to the way women do things. This "masculine code" is something that women simply have to be aware of to interact effectively with men. Think of these beliefs as deeply rooted rules of behavior, part and parcel of what it means to be a man:

Big boys don't cry: We hear it at football practice—"Get up and shake it off; that's not a bone sticking out, so get going." It takes some men a lifetime to learn that maybe big boys don't cry, but grown men do. It's an incredibly difficult lesson for us to learn.

Linear thinking is all: Most men tend to insist on a rigid chain of logic from A to B, B to C, C to D and so on. By contrast, most women are more intuitive. They're more likely to say, "Something ain't right here," even though they may not be able to identify specific, logical steps that point to that conclusion.

It can always be fixed: The male's reaction to conflict is usually something like "You got a problem? Here's how you fix it," whereas the woman involved may not care anything about the fix. For her, knowing that the problem has been recognized and that her emotional circumstances have been acknowledged may be all the fix she desires.

Power + Control = Success: Men are socialized to measure their own value in terms of how much power and control they have—not how sensitive they can be or how deeply they can connect with another person.

How This Affects You
Every single way in which the world makes a man is at odds with most women's definition of intimacy. Relationships in general, and intimacy in particular, are all about taking down your defenses. Intimacy means trusting people enough to give them the power to hurt you. And that is absolutely contrary to a man's nature.

What You Can Do About It
To help a man overcome his fear of vulnerability and intimacy, you have to demystify the whole area for him. He knows that his emotional self contains information that could potentially be used against him, so you have to convince him that he can trust you with it. Teach him that when he allows himself to be vulnerable with you, he can be assured of a good outcome.

Also, you tend to get what you give. If you're open and honest, and you reveal true things about your intimate self, you're much more likely to have that behavior reciprocated than if you simply demand that he do so.

Men Tend to be Highly Competitive.
I've heard so many men talk about this lately, true to that masculine code that we talked about earlier: They need to feel that they're in control. It's as if men have never stopped wanting to be the knight in shining armor who saves the damsel in distress.

How This Affects You
A lot of men will tell you candidly that they are indeed threatened by women's competency. An ambitious, bright young male in corporate America will be identified as a go-getter; he's labeled as a young lion on the move. A woman who demonstrates exactly the same degree of ambition will be labeled as a hostile, aggressive bitch.

What You Can Do About It
You can let your man know that just because you are a successful, independent, financially self-sufficient woman, you haven't stopped being vulnerable. A woman has to be willing to show her needs and not be afraid of them. If his attitude is 'I've got nothing to offer you,' let him know that he does. You need him to be a partner and a soft place for you to fall.

Men Are Hunters.
As a result of the substantial differences between men and women when it comes to sex—differences that are psychosocial, biochemical and neurological—trying to get a man to function according to female standards is like trying to get a pig to fly. It's just not going to happen. That old but often accurate notion that men are hunters seems especially applicable here.

How This Affects You
Men have less of certain hormones and more of others than women do, and that fuels us to respond in different ways. For most women, sex is primarily an emotional thing; for most men, it's primarily physical.

A man often fails to see how sex and other aspects of the relationship are intertwined. I have always counseled women that there are times you make love, and there are times when it's purely recreational: Wham, bam, thank you ma'am—just a complete physical release, and cover me up when you're done. Men and women both need to recognize that there's a range of feeling when it comes to sex. If you don't acknowledge that range, the two of you are going to have a problem.

There is definitely a double standard with men when it comes to fidelity. If they are having an extramarital affair or an extra-relational affair, they'll probably look at it as if they are going and taking something from a woman, not giving something of themselves away. There's no emotional investment there.

Men are visually stimulated, which means if they are in a target-rich environment, they may well become aroused. This is not just a maturity issue; their brains are actually wired that way, which is very different from your own wiring. But this is not some involuntary reflex action over which he has no control. It is a choice. Men can be amazingly shortsighted on these issues, often failing to project ahead to the consequences of their actions on their wife or children.

What You Can Do About It
Discussing the matter of fidelity, before a crisis occurs, is crucial. Couples need to talk about what fidelity means to each of them so there's no confusion. Understanding that men fear rejection and therefore thrive on acceptance and are easily visually stimulated, you can program out a considerable risk of unfaithfulness by investing energy in what may seem superficial: your appearance and the level of sexual activity in your relationship. Please don't write to me objecting! I'm not saying this is fair, only that it is effective. Let the training begin.

What Men Want from Women: Validation
Men are definitely the weaker sex; your admiration is a huge deal for them. They need external validation, and validation from the woman they love is the kind they value most.

A man needs to know that his partner is proud of him and of what he does. He knows he's not the President of the United States, he knows he's not saving the world every day, he knows that he is probably just a cog in the machinery.

He can bluster all day long, he can brag 'til the cows come home, but make no mistake, when you look him in the eye or put your arms around his neck and say, "Have I told you today how proud I am of how you did such and such?" it will be worth its weight in gold to him.

What Never to Do: Judge
The biggest mistake you can make in a relationship is to be entrusted with potentially hurtful information and to use it as leverage in an argument. If your partner opens up to you about his fears, needs, desires and other secrets, and you turn that on him, you've gone to a place from which there is likely no recovery. You must be a good steward of his private revelations.

If you take a judgmental attitude and are always ready to condemn a man's every move, you may be right, but you'll also be lonely. Decide right now that your goal is to be successful rather than to prove yourself right and men wrong. Focus on understanding how men think, rather than why they do, and I promise you'll get a lot more of what you want.

How to Find the Good Ones: Take a Good Look
I hear both men and women say, "There aren't any good ones left!" Since both sides say it, it can't be true.

First ask yourself, "How are my recognition skills?" Do the qualities that initially attract you to a man make him a good long-term partner? If your answer is no, then change your selection criteria. They say that nice guys finish last. It may be that the ol' boy who's hustling you may not be the person you want raising your children or being there for you when you're sick.

If you just get up, go to work, go home, go to bed, then start the whole thing over the next morning, a guy would have to throw himself on the hood of your car to meet you. Lift up your head, broaden the criteria, and don't be too quick to eliminate candidates.

Printed from on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 © 2012 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Leftovers are such humble things,
We would not serve to a guest,
And yet we serve them to our Lord
Who deserve the very best.

We give to Him leftover time,
Stray minutes here and there.
Leftover cash we give to Him,
Such few coins as we can spare.

We give our youth unto the world,
To hatred, lust and strife;
Then in declining years we give
To him the remnant of our life.

- Source unknown

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Coffee Obession

By Tony Ilbery

TO SOME COFFEE IS simply part of their morning ritual, to others it's more like a cult religion. Wherever you are positioned on the coffee lover's scale, one thing is the same for everyone - bad coffee is a darn crime.

On the global ranking of good and bad coffee, Australia proudly sits on the medal podium. Which colour medal would be up for hot debate, though we love the colour gold.

Ask anyone in Sydney 'who makes the best coffee?' and everyone has an animated opinion. Locals are so passionate about the highest quality coffee, their favourite barista and local coffee shops, it verges on obsession.

The Australian coffee culture grew from our Italian and Greek immigrants after World War II, so it's all spawned from the humble European 'espresso'. We do not have the North American filtered coffee pots, which was evident in 2000 when Starbucks opened 82 stores in Australia, only to close 61 stores eight years later because they failed to deliver equal quality.

For many travellers, trying to order a coffee in Sydney seems tricky, so here is a simple explanation of Sydney coffees:

Espresso: A single shot of coffee, 30m I with the all-important 'crema' on top, (the aromatic red-brown froth that is naturally formed when air bubbles combine with fine-ground coffee oils) also called short black in Australia.

Macchiato: 30m I espresso shot, 5ml milk and dollop of milk froth, also known as a Mac. The double Mac is the same, but with two espresso shots.

Long Black: 30ml single espresso shot and 60ml hot water. Also called an Americano, as it's the closest to their 'cup of coffee'.

Flat White: 30ml single espresso shot and 160ml hot milk with 5mm of foam.

Cappuccino: 30ml single espresso shot, 150ml hot milk with 15mm of foam and a dusting of chocolate powder on top.

Cafe Latte: Flat White: 30m I single espresso shot with 150ml hot milk and 10mm of foam.

Mocha: 1 teaspoon of chocolate power on the bottom, then add 30m single espresso shot with 150ml hot milk with 15mm of foam and a dusting of chocolate powder on top.

If you are walking around town and looking for a great coffee, simply look for the crowds - a great coffee shop or coffee cart has people standing on the street waiting to order and savoring the dark brown nectar of the gods they just bought.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And Can It Be That I Should Gain

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Though troubles assail

Though troubles assail,
And dangers affright;
Though friends should all fail,
And foes all unite,
Yet one thing secures us,
Whatever betide:
The Scripture assures us,
“The Lord will provide.”

The birds, without barn
Or storehouse, are fed;
From them let us learn
To trust for our bread;
His saints what is fitting
Shall ne’er be denied,
So long as ’tis written,
“The Lord will provide.”

His call we obey,
Like Abram of old,
Not knowing our way,
But faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers,
We have a good Guide;
And trust in all dangers:
“The Lord will provide.”

When Satan appears
To stop up our path,
And fills us with fears,
We triumph by faith;
He cannot take from us,
Though oft he has tried,
The heart-cheering promise,
“The Lord will provide.”

He tells us we’re weak,
Our hope is in vain;
The good that we seek
We ne’er shall obtain;
But when such suggestions
Our faith thus have tried,
This answers all questions,
“The Lord will provide.”

No strength of our own,
Nor goodness we claim;
Our trust is all thrown
On Jesus’ dear name.
In this our strong tower
For safety we hide;
The Lord is our power,
“The Lord will provide.”

When life sinks apace,
And death is in view,
The word of His grace
Shall comfort us through;
Not fearing or doubting,
With Christ on our side,
We hope to die shouting,
“The Lord will provide.”

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Elvis Presley

In a sermon “Interpreting Failures, Conserving Victories” , Ravi Zacharias quoted from a Albert Goldman article in Life Magazine about Elvis Presley.

Our society’s heroes tell us more about the society than it does about the heroes.

Presley’s daily regimen went this way. He had 3 or 4 attacks caused of drugs. At 4am, he would asked for an envelope from one of his aids and that envelope would consist of 11 different pills and 3 shots of Demerol, mainly downers and a lot of barbiturates. All of them were habit forming, increasing tolerance but not increasing the volume needed for a fatal dose. Says Goldman he risked his life everyday. That was at 4am. At 4.30am, just before it would take its effects, he will order his one main meal for the day which consists of three huge cheese burgers or six and seven banana splits.

The man’s life had become so erratic and so out of control. That was at 4.30. At 8.30am, in four hours, all those drugs would have stop taking their total effect because the tolerance was increasing. At 8.30, he would begin to stir his 250 pounds frame and then he would call for the second attack, administered by an aid. And then one and half hours at 10am , a third attack. By mid-afternoon he would be groggy and it would be time for him to wake up to get ready for some of his performances, an aid would come with cotton swaps , soaked it into liquid cocaine and plunge it into his nostrils and a handful of Desbutal to jumpstart his heart.

He needed drugs to wake him up, drugs to knock him out.

Finally, one of his friends look at him and said “Elvis, what are you doing to yourself?”

And he said this “I rather be unconscious than miserable.”

One pathologist described him as a pharmaceutical freak. In last two and a half years, he said he had 19,000 narcotics, stimulants and sedatives.

Dr Norman, the chief pathologist to compile the toxicology report said he had never seen so many drugs in one body.

When Goldman finished the article, what is a complete mystery to me is why a man whose life become so bizarre and out of control has still been such an idol to millions of people and synonymous with the urethra of the fifties and sixties as the idol winning the accolades of the millions. He said “So indestructible is Elvis that even a suicide and the details of his life are not able to destroy him,” and the article ends by saying “Even Elvis could not destroy Elvis.”

What I say to you is this: look at the heroes that we have today. Turn on your television screen and see the heroes. People in the entertainment media or leadership media whose lives in private betray standards that ought to be abort by civilisations. But somehow politicians go into great bastion of power and believe their private lives has nothing to do with their public lives.

Ladies and gentleman, how you and I live in private has everything to do with what we present ourselves in public. If it does not, it ought to. And the reason for that is there is unifying threat in reality and God say it’s spirituality. Have you ever realised that the very word universe is looking for unity, the very word university is looking for unity in diversity. And God say the unity for all diversity is spiritual strength that a person has.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Justices Show Reluctance for Broad Marriage Ruling

U.S. | MAR 28, 2013, 09:33 AM GMT+08:00
Justices Show Reluctance for Broad Marriage Ruling
By Jess Bravin

WASHINGTON—Two days of arguments on same-sex marriage revealed a Supreme Court uneasy about making sweeping moves on gay rights and holding doubts about whether the cases belonged before the justices at all.

The arguments also brought to life more familiar fissures between the court's liberal and conservative wings. On Wednesday, liberal justices suggested that a 1996 federal law denying benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples was motivated by animus against gays, while Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, challenged assertions that gays and lesbians need judicial protection from repressive majorities.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, seen as a pivotal vote, gave gay-marriage proponents some hope by suggesting the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act might infringe on states' rights to make their own marriage rules. That suggested at least five justices—Justice Kennedy plus the court's four liberals—might be ready to strike down the law.

But questions about whether the court could properly hear the case made it hard to predict any outcome.

Decisions are expected by late June on the Defense of Marriage Act case as well as the case the court heard Tuesday on California's 2008 voter initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage.

The arguments highlighted a point in common between the two cases. Normally, federal courts require two adverse parties before they can decide a case. Strikingly, however, both the federal and state governments agree with the plaintiffs that the challenged laws are unconstitutional, and have declined to defend them on appeal.

Other groups have stepped in to defend the laws banning gay marriage—the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives for the Defense of Marriage Act and the private citizens who officially sponsored Proposition 8.

But justices of different ideological stripes were wary of litigants without clear legal standing, even though advocates on both sides were eager for vindication in a roiling culture war.

"I can't think of another instance where that's happened," said Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal, referring to the House's intervention in the federal marriage law case. "I'm afraid of opening that door."

The Obama administration calls the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, agreeing with the ruling of lower federal courts.

Nonetheless, it asked the Supreme Court to approve those rulings, an additional level of review Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan said reflected the administration's "respect" for the judiciary's role.

Chief Justice Roberts called that stance "totally unprecedented," in one of several remarks criticizing the Obama administration.

If the justices decide that neither the Obama administration nor the House had reason to bring the federal marriage case before the high court, that would keep in place two lower-court rulings nullifying the law.

Although it would create no precedent on sexual-orientation discrimination, such an outcome likely would lead the Obama administration to cease enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act, effectively extending federal marriage benefits to same-sex spouses in states that recognize such status, currently nine plus the District of Columbia, as well as for spouses of federal employees.

Moreover, more than 1,000 federal laws in some way affect people based on marital status.

A similar outcome in the Proposition 8 case, finding that the initiative's sponsors lack standing to appeal a federal district court ruling, would nullify California's gay marriage ban without providing the U.S. Supreme Court's guidance on the core constitutional issues.

Should the justices take that path, they will defer their own entry into the culture wars over marriage, perhaps for years. And when the next same-sex marriage case arrives, a national consensus on the issue could be clearer. To be sure, the justices could end up brushing aside the concerns about legal standing and end up ruling on the merits of the case. Even then, the court seemed to lean toward cautious language rather than a ringing declaration about the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection as applied to gays and lesbians. Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, argued that gays were the type of long-oppressed minority group that the court has traditionally acted to protect. "No other group in recent history has been subjected to popular referenda to take away rights that have already been given or exclude those rights, the way gay people have," Ms. Kaplan said. "Until 1990, gay people were not allowed to enter this country."

But Chief Justice Roberts didn't accept that assertion.

"You don't doubt that the lobby supporting the enactment of same sex-marriage laws in different states is politically powerful, do you?" he told Ms. Kaplan. "As far as I can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case."

Justice Elena Kagan quoted from a House report from 1996 when Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act. The report said the law was intended "to express moral disapproval of homosexuality," she said, eliciting a gasp from the spectators' gallery.

"If that's enough to invalidate the statute, then you should invalidate the statute," replied lawyer Paul Clement, who was defending the law. But the motivations of lawmakers shouldn't matter, he continued, if the measure was justifiable for other reasons, such as establishing a uniform definition of marriage for federal benefit purposes.

When Justice Kennedy expressed concerns about the Defense of Marriage Act, he did so on grounds of states' rights, not equal protection. The law poses a "real risk of running in conflict with what has always been thought to be the essence of the state police power, which is to regulate marriage, divorce, custody," Justice Kennedy told Mr. Clement.

Mr. Clement disagreed, saying that the law simply clarified the meaning of marriage for federal purposes, without supplanting separate state law.

And on this point, Mr. Clement's principal adversary, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, agreed. Typically for government lawyers, Mr. Verrilli resisted conceding that the federal government categorically lacked authority to legislate in a particular field.

Mr. Verrilli repeatedly tried to lead the discussion into the Constitution's equal-protection principles, only to be drawn back by justices who were seeking other grounds to evaluate the law.

Write to Jess Bravin at

Corrections & Amplifications The 'Shifting Support' chart had incorrect figures with an earlier version of this article. It incorrectly said 32 current members of Congress voted against the bill (31 Democrats, one independent) and 99 for it (40 Democrats, 59 Republicans), with 32 of those now supporting same-sex marriage. The correct figures are 29 voted against (28 Democrat, one independent) and 87 for (36 Democrats, 51 Republicans), with 29 of those now supporting same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Point Of View: The Trouble With Freedom

BBC News
24 August 2012 Last updated at 17:15 GMT

A Point Of View: The trouble with freedom

We've come to believe that freedom is the natural human condition, which only tyrants prevent everyone from enjoying - but when a tyrant is toppled, we can't know what will come next, says John Gray.

In February 1917, a young boy was reading a Russian translation of one of the books of Jules Verne in a street in St Petersburg (at the time called Petrograd) where a bookseller had laid out his stock in the snow.

The boy heard a commotion and, looking up from the book, saw a terrified man being frog-marched down the street. The ashen-faced figure was one of the city's policemen, who were among the last functionaries of the Tsarist regime to remain loyal.

Discovered hiding on the roof of a building, he had been brought down to be taken to what he evidently feared would be his end. What happened to the man cannot be known, but his deathly white face as he was marched away made an enduring impression on the boy who witnessed the scene.

Aged seven at the time, the young boy went on to be the philosopher and historian of ideas Isaiah Berlin, who spoke of the episode repeatedly in conversations I had with him towards the end of his life. He often contrasted the mood of optimism that accompanied the February revolution with the darker atmosphere that followed the Bolshevik coup in October of the same year.

Yet the incident occurred during the first of these upheavals, and it was clear that the impact it had on him had nothing to do with any differences between the two revolutions. As noted by his biographer, the episode left Berlin with a dread of violence that stayed with him after he left Russia in 1921 with his mother and father for a life in England and right up to his death in Oxford in November 1997. But I believe there may have been a subtler effect on Berlin's thinking, which has something important to say to us today.

Not long after the start of the 21st Century, we like to tell ourselves an uplifting story in which freedom expands whenever tyranny is overthrown. We believe that freedom and democracy are inseparable, so that when a dictator is toppled the result is not only a more accountable type of government but also greater liberty throughout society.

This belief forms the justification of the repeated attempts by Western governments to export their own political model to countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In this simple and seemingly compelling story, freedom and democracy are a package that can be delivered anywhere in the world. An older generation of thinkers recognised that freedom and democracy don't always go hand in hand. The 19th Century liberal John Stuart Mill was a life-long campaigner for greater democracy, but he also worried that personal liberty would shrink once governments could claim to express the will of the majority.

Born in 1872 and dying in 1970 at the age of 98, Mill's godson Bertrand Russell agreed and shocked many people when he observed that while Britain after World War II was a more democratic society than the one he'd grown up in, it was also in some ways less free. For Russell, as for Mill, liberty was one thing, democracy another. It's a deeply unfashionable view, but I think essentially correct.

Where this older generation differed from many today is that they thought of freedom as a lack of restriction on how we can act. Being free meant simply the absence of obstacles to living as we choose. While it's a view that's been criticised because it seems to see individuals as being separate from society, it seems to me to capture better than any other what freedom means and why it's important for every human being.

We need freedom because our goals and values are highly diverse and often quite different from those of the people around us. Having a voice in collective decisions - the basis of democracy - is a fine thing, but it won't protect your freedom if the majority is hostile to the way you choose to live.

Many will tell you that this danger can be dealt with by bills of rights that put some freedoms beyond the range of political interference. But politics has a habit of finding ways around the law, and when the state is weak declarations of rights tend to be unenforceable.

Once you think of freedom as living as you choose, you'll see that it's not just tyrants that stand in its way. The world is full of failed and enfeebled states in which the main threats to freedom come from organised crime, ethnic conflict and militant sectarian groups.

If you live in some provinces of Mexico, you're likely to be more afraid of ruthless drug cartels than of corrupt and ineffectual governments. In parts of the Balkans in the 1990s, you'd be afraid of lawless militias, operating on ethnic lines but often intertwined with organised crime. In these cases, it's a condition of near-anarchy rather than tyranny that threatens freedom.

In other cases, it's the power of fundamentalism that can most threaten your freedom.

Think of Iraq. You only have to consider what happened to the Marsh Arabs, whose ancient way of life was destroyed by draining the marshlands and blowing up villages, or the use of chemical weapons against Kurds, to recall how severe Saddam's repression could be. Yet freedom wasn't enhanced for everyone once the dictator had been removed.

Today, if you're an Iraqi woman and opt for a lifestyle that fails to square with a narrow interpretation of religion, you're at risk of violent attack from fundamentalist groups. If you're known to be gay, you risk being hunted down and killed.

If you belong to a religious minority such as Christians or Mandeans (a branch of Gnosticism that was practised in the region for about 2,000 years), you face persecution and the risk of extinction. The country has a type of democratic government, but the state is too weak and fractured and politics too dominated by sectarianism to prevent these assaults on freedom. Syria is different from Iraq in many ways, but it's hard to avoid fearing that a similar pattern may be emerging there.

In the reassuring story we like to repeat to ourselves, the emergence of these new threats is just a phase - in time these countries will achieve the type of freedom-loving democracy that we believe we enjoy. But we can say this only because we've forgotten our own history and neglect the dangers we currently face.

The democratic nation-states that exist in Europe today came into being in a process - extending from the French revolution through the collapse of the Habsburg empire after WWI to the break-up of former Yugoslavia - that included repressing the freedom of minorities, and the process hasn't ended with democracy and freedom co-existing in harmony as we like to think.

The far right is on the march in many European countries, using its rights to attack minorities. The dictatorships of the 1930s are unlikely to return, but toxic democracies based on nationalism and xenophobia could emerge in a number of countries and be in power for long periods.

Coming from Russia, where the despotism of the Tsars was replaced by a far more repressive system of government, Isaiah Berlin didn't need English liberal thinkers to teach him that the overthrow of tyranny doesn't by itself expand liberty. Where he was at one with them was in understanding that liberty is a fragile achievement that can be undermined in many different ways.

We've come to believe a story in which freedom is the natural human condition, which only tyrants prevent everyone from enjoying. The reality is that when a tyrant is toppled we can't know what will come next.

When we tell our tale of freedom spreading across the world, we might pause to think for a moment of the young boy who looked up from his book to see a terrified policeman being dragged off to an unknown fate.

Here is a selection of your comments.

Mankind seems to have made less progress in taming the inate savagery potentially in all of us and concentrated more on systems to codify how society operates. How little encouragement there is for ethics, standards and compassion, the true values.
Peter Mounsey, Harlow, Essex

I would propose another principle: that freedoms flourish in social environments where power is spread most widely and equally. I have met a former German concentration camp prisoner, a refugee from Georgia in the Breznef era, a Kurd from eastern Turkey in a time of military dictatorship and a Ugandan who fled his homeland because of repression by Idi Amin. Also one of my former colleagues lost some friends in Tianamen Square. These were victims of "strong government". We should oppose the concentration of power wherever it occurs. Power brings responsibilities to the governed, unbridled power brings evil.
John Price, Bath

There are many countries better of with a dictator than without such as Iraq, Libya,... and yes, dictators will abuse power and target certain groups of people but at least they in general control the majority of people from targeting others that are not like minded. This is what happened in DR Congo and it's neighbours after Mobutu was gone, all these different tribes try to eradicate each other over thousand year old feuds and in the process slaughter each other in the most cruel ways. Sometimes you just need one man to stop the masses from taking others peoples freedom.
Manu Henrotte, Bali

The democracy here in Australia functions almost exclusively on economic rational; putting matters of finance above the matters of individuals. The competition for work is so intense that people quickly fall into any position available and often one far below that which their qualifications truly merit. The majority of us end up working in positions (through the necessity to provide for ourselves and our families) that actively support the very causes we are stand against. We are only as free as Weber's cage allows us.
Chris Tope, Sydney

Democracy has been hijacked by so called freedom. Freedom has come to mean the freedom to exploit. Individual freedoms such as religious, sexual are just a pretence at freedom. Institutions have the freedom to exploit in a democracy as is evidenced by these pay day loans at exorbitant interest rates that can only be described as usury. In other cultures they may have more repressive regimes in terms of religious or sexual freedom but sharia law protects people from the worst excesses of usury. What you win on the swings you lose on the roundabouts.If we could just combine the best of both then we might have freedom with responsibility.
Jane Jackson, Ireland

I returned to New Zealand about 7 years ago after 25 years overseas, having lived and worked in a number of places across Europe and Asia. Rather than feeling freer than for a very long time (there's only 4m of us in a very large, mostly empty country), I feel more restricted than at any time in my life. I may be in a country that runs a proportional representation system, but unless I subscribe wholeheartedly to one party's particular point of view (and most have a relatively narrow political agenda), I have no voice. All of our parties are remarkably conservative and not one, indeed not even a single politician, can be singled out as a champion of individual freedoms or liberal ideas. Layer onto that an extensive and all-encompassing bureaucracy, and to a truly amazing extent so much of our everyday living is dictated by "others". The final straw for me living in Christchurch has been the absolute powers assumed by Authority following the Christchurch earthquake which have seen (and continue to see 18 months after the last sizeable 'quake) individual rights and freedoms trampled over with no avenue for appeal whatsoever. Much as I love my my friends and my corner of NZ, the overriding power of "Democratic" government and the absence of respect for individual freedoms will take me and my family away forever as soon as we are reasonably able.
Brian Anderson, Christchurch

There is no such thing as Freedom, unless you are marooned, alone, on a desert island. To live with another individual you have to subjugate some of your or their desires and wishes. In large Societies, the freedom of the individual very much depends on the beliefs, values and capabilities of the ruling elite. In a democracy, this tends to be a reflection of the beliefs, values and capabilities of the voting majority. Thus, in a democracy, the majority get the government they deserve.
Steph, Pershore

Democracy is certainly not synonymous with freedom. For the most part, democracies are controlled by those people with the financial means to run for office or by those people who are backed by some external power. While we would like to believe that our votes count and that our voice is heard, for the most part, people find themselves increasingly told what to believe by those who have the money or power to have their message heard. If the people who represent us in the government are nothing like us, how can they represent us. They can't. However laws have been passed to make it difficult for anyone without the necessary capital or connections to run for any office for the most part. When the majority of us are slowly regressing towards poverty and the rich have absolute power and influence through both the people who represent us and through the power of lobbies then it is time to examine our options. We are essentially not free. We have been brainwashed into believing we are through the illusion of a vote and an elected government.
Jimmy Arthur, Jakarta

I see the definition of freedom as simply an absence of restrictions as an essentially immature or 'teenage' view of freedom. A more mature view view of freedom accepts a trade-off, in some ways a form of delayed gratification: in return for payments of various taxes we loose the freedom to spend all our money as we like, but gain health care and retirement benefits, etc. If we accept driving rules, we enjoy greater 'freedom' to travel further than if there were no rules at all. Some may also argue that if we voluntarily accept some restrictions on sexual behaviour, we may enjoy deeper and more fulfilling relationships.
Paul Saunderson, Aalesund

Democracy is the rule of the mob. When the mob votes to spend money they don't have, on fripperies they don't need, this is legalised theft. In spite of all my "freedom" I can't travel abroad without government-approved identification, own a firearm without approval, set up a business without interference, or live in a caravan on privately owned land. My earnings are taxed at source while corporations and individuals end up with 0% and even negative tax rates. It is true that our freedom is an illusion. We have two dozen coffee shops, a dozen bakeries, seven or eight religions, hundreds of TV channels, but only two political parties. How is that freedom of choice?
Colin C, Barnsley

What we have to thank the wretched barons of 1215, or the slave-holder/founding fathers of the US, for is not "democracy" but the fact that the power of the state can be limited. Guarantees for the weak were a while coming, admittedly.
Karen Ray, Colerain, US

I am often surprised how 'The West' thinks the process of liberalisation can be short-cut simply by installing democracy, and assuming everything else will fall into place. I am not at all sure such a quick process has any precedent anywhere in history. As the author mentions, the formation of the liberal democracies in the west took time "extending from the French revolution...". In the case of England, I would go even further back. One could use Magna Carta as a convenient start point (issued in 1215, limiting the interference of the state in the affairs of the individual), and the process continued at varying rates over the next 800 years. England did not emerge suddenly from "the horrors of tyranny" in 1928 with the advent of universal suffrage. As for the future of this "democratisation". Even the UK may not be immune to the ill effects of the assumption that "greater democracy leads to greater freedom". The recent moves towards a fully elected House of Lords seem a case in point. There are obvious problems of two houses being selected in the same democratic way, and then being expected to act differently. However, due to a belief in maximal democracy being a good thing, most politicians appear to support such a change nonetheless.
Ian, Manchester

BBCBBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,

Chorus: Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I'd be nearer, my God, to Thee,


There let the way appear steps unto heav'n;
All that Thou sendest me in mercy giv'n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee,


Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,


Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,

A sixth verse was later added to the hymn by Ed­ward H. Bick­er­steth, Jr. as follows:[2]

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.

I Will Sing of My Redeemer

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.

I will tell the wondrous story,
How my lost estate to save,
In His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.

I will praise my dear Redeemer,
His triumphant power I’ll tell,
How the victory He giveth
Over sin, and death, and hell.

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His heav’nly love to me;
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Through All The Changing Scenes Of Life

Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ.

Of His deliverance I will boast,
Till all that are distressed
From my example courage take
And soothe their griefs to rest.

O magnify the Lord with me,
With me exalt His Name;
When in distress to Him I called,
He to my rescue came.

Their drooping hearts were soon refreshed,
Who looked to Him for aid;
Desired success in every face,
A cheerful air displayed.

“Behold,” they say, “Behold the man
Whom providence relieved;
The man so dangerously beset,
So wondrously retrieved!”

The hosts of God encamp around
The dwellings of the just;
Deliverance He affords to all
Who on His succor trust.

O make but trial of His love;
Experience will decide
How blest are they, and only they,
Who in His truth confide.

Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make you His service your delight;
Your wants shall be His care.

While hungry lions lack their prey,
The Lord will food provide
For such as put their trust in Him,
And see their needs supplied.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Love Of God by Frederick M. Lehman

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Verse 3 was penciled on the wall of a narrow room in an insane asylum by a man said to have been demented. The profound lines were discovered when they laid him in his coffin.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Now fewer than six in 10 say they are Christians as religion goes into decline

Proportion of Christians in England and Wales down to 59.3 per cent
Quarter of people say they do not follow any religion following rise of aggressive atheism
Number of Muslims up to 2.7million, 4.8 per cent of the population

PUBLISHED: 14:51 GMT, 11 December 2012 | UPDATED: 09:26 GMT, 12 December 2012

Christianity has declined sharply over the past decade, according to the census returns. Numbers who choose to call themselves Christians fell by more than four million.

The collapse in belief in the religion which has been central to the history of the country for 1,500 years means that fewer than six out of ten, or 59 per cent, now describe themselves as Christian. A decade ago nearly three quarters, 72 per cent, did so.

The diminishing number of Christians is mirrored by a rapid growth in those who profess no religious affiliation. A quarter of the population, 14.1million, now say they have no religion, nearly double the 7.7million who said the same thing in the 2001 census.

The growth religion in England and Wales is Islam, the census returns showed. Over a decade, numbers of Muslims have gone up from around 1.5million to 2.7million, and almost one in 20 of the population is now a Muslim.

The lowest level of Christian belief is in London, where fewer than half the population, 48 per cent, now say they are Christian.

'British whites' are the minority in London for the first time as census shows number of UK immigrants has jumped by 3 million in 10 years

Returns showed the most Christian district is Knowsley on Merseyside, where more than four out of ten are Christian. More than a third of people in the London borough of Tower Hamlets are Muslim. Norwich is the most Godless place in Britain with 42.5 per cent of its population professing no religion.

The Church of England said it was pleased a majority of the population remain Christian. Spokesman the Rev Arun Arora said: ‘These results confirm that we remain a faithful nation.

‘England remains a country where the majority of the nation actively identifies the role that faith plays in their life. When all faiths are taken together, people of faith account for two-thirds of the nation – two in every three people identify themselves as having a faith. ‘The fall in those choosing to identify themselves as Christians is a challenge. One of the reasons may well be fewer people identifying as “cultural Christians” – those who have no active involvement with churches and who may previously have identified as Christian for cultural or historical reasons.’

Andrew Copson of the British Humanist Association said: ‘In spite of a biased question that positively encourages religious responses, to see such an increase in the non-religious and such a decrease in those reporting themselves as Christian is astounding.

‘Of course these figures still exaggerate the number of Christians overall – the number of believing, practising Christians is much lower than this and the number of those leading their lives with no reference to religion much higher.’

Around 177,000 people claim to be Jedi – the ‘faith’ made famous in the Star Wars films – though this number is down on the 2001 figure by more than a half.

And 6,242 people subscribe to the Heavy Metal religion, set up in 2010 by the Rock music magazine, Metal Hammer. Other alternative religions included 56,620 Paganists, 39,061 Spiritualists and 2,418 Scientologists.

Read more:

There's a Discipleship Crisis in the Church Today

There's a Discipleship Crisis in the Church Today
by Jonathan Dodson,
May 4th 2011 8:06 PM

In the US, this year 3,500 churches will close, this month 1500 pastors will leave the ministry, and today approximately 7,575 people will move on from church. Of those who move on, some never affiliate with a religion again saying they just “gradually drifted away from the religion.” America is experiencing, not only economic decline, but also church decay. Why?

Although there is no single reason for the collapse of the church, one has to wonder what would have happened if the pastors were not responsible for most of the ministry in these churches? What if the people who left, moved on equipped and committed to discipling others in the faith? What if these churches acted more like a community of disciples and less like consumers of spiritual goods and services? Wouldn’t the outcome be different? Churches would be more resilient and people would be less prone to drift. The church collapse is, in part, the result of a discipleship crisis.

The Discipleship Crisis

To rebuild the church, everyday people, leaders, and pastors must be taught and equipped to re-think and re-live Christianity. A “Christian” needs to be re-conceived as a person who shares their life and the gospel with others. The meaning of “church” has to be restored as the people of God on the mission of Christ—a people who posses an obligation of love to one another instead of a duty to a religious service. The role of “leader” needs to be reconfigured around discipling people not exerting influence. “Pastor” needs to be rebooted around the identity of disciple not the role of preacher. Christians, leaders, and pastors need to recover their fundamental identity as disciples of Jesus in order to renew their churches.

Rebuilding the church will require repentance on all levels. We need to turn away from finding our worth in our (important) roles and return to our (eternal) identity as disciples of Jesus. We desperately need to come back to being and making disciples of Jesus.

Without the driving force of the gospel, discipleship devolves into self-help religiosity motivated by conservative pietism.

Why Discipleship Isn’t the Answer

Yet, contrary to what some might think, discipleship is not the engine of the church. The gospel is. Without the gospel, both discipleship and church fail. Without the driving force of the gospel, discipleship devolves into self-help religiosity motivated by conservative pietism. The church is reduced to a glorified non-profit in which people lose interest. But the gospel reactivates both church and discipleship!

The good news that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil through his own death and resurrection and is making all things new, even us, changes everything! In the gospel, God in Christ welcomes sinners and sends out disciples. The gospel, not discipleship, is central to the church. If we make discipleship the engine of the church, we’ll run quickly out of gas. But when the gospel is central, the church gets traction and disciples get depth.

Gospel-Centered Discipleship

While all disciples of Jesus believe the gospel is central to Christianity, we often live differently. A gospel-centered disciple returns to the gospel over and over again though, to receive, apply, and spread God’s grace and wisdom into every aspect of life. One of my goals is to help make, mature, and multiply disciples of Jesus by restoring the gospel to the center of discipleship, and one of the ways I'm striving to do this is through

We're writing articles to help disciples return to the gospel again and again by providing practitioner-tested, gospel-centered, community-shaped, and mission-focused articles, eBooks, and curriculum (coming soon). Topics range from “How to Disciple a Transsexual” to “Why Make Disciples.”

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Food Taboos: It's All a Matter Of Taste
National Geographic Channel
April 19, 2004

On TV: Taboo: Delicacies airs Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT in the United States and is available only on the National Geographic Channel.

Fancy a dish of poisonous fugu fish? How about rams' testicle pâté? Sheeps' heads and rotting shark are a particular treat. Or if it's an aphrodisiac one seeks—why not try a carefully prepared bull penis?

All of these foods are delicacies on menus around the world.

Food taboos and delicacies often arise from cultural and religious beliefs; one person's meat is another's poison. The humble hamburger, a mainstay of U.S. cuisine, is a forbidden food for Hindus. Pork is off the menu for many Jews and Muslims. More than 1,400 species of protein-packed insects are part of African, Asian, Australian, and Latin American cuisine, but one would be hard pressed to find these creepy crawlies at a U.S. restaurant (at least intentionally).

Two documentaries airing on the National Geographic Channel this week examine delicacies and taboo foods around the globe, revealing that what's good or bad is all a matter of taste.

"Food is often the subject of taboo or disgust because it is internalized. Any revulsion we have for the food is magnified by the thought it will become part of us," said Carole Counihan, an ethnographer at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. Counihan studies the relationship between food, culture, and gender and is author of Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family, and Gender in Twentieth Century Florence.

In New York rats are considered filthy creatures that consume human garbage, carry disease, and live in the sewers with human waste—eating one would be unthinkable. But in the West African nation of Togo, rats live a more wholesome existence in the forests and are sold in the village markets.

"[West African] rats are more like squirrels or something. They're not in an environment that's sort of filled with human filth," said Paul Rozin, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Sheep's Head and Rotting Shark

Food symbolizes many aspects of everyday culture and is a vehicle for social relations.

In February the people of Iceland celebrate an old tradition called Thorrablot—a festival of feasts. The feast is comprised of some unusual delicacies: rams' testicles, sheep's heads, and rotting shark. Although these dishes strike most outsiders as vile, for Icelanders the feasts are potent ways to preserve their Viking heritage.

"The purpose of continuing to eat these foods makes the rituals real and distinguishes the festival culture from everyday life—it reinforces history," said Nan Rothschild, an archaeologist at Barnard College in New York.

It also provides a bonding experience for Icelanders. "By eating these foods—which can be hard to eat—you prove your tie to the community," Rothschild said.

Medicinal Foods

Many foods are considered delicacies, not for their taste, but for their medicinal effects. In East Asian markets not only can just about every creature be found—domestic, wild, and endangered—but almost every body part also makes it to the supermarket shelf.

According to numerous legends, organs have special properties that can be transferred if eaten. Supposedly, the penises of many animals endow the consumers with healthy sex lives, rooster testicles help women stay young, and monkey brains cure neurological ailments.

In China the penis of a bull is considered a potent aphrodisiac—the natural version of Viagra.

"There is a symbolic link between the sexual potency of something like a bull penis and eating it," Counihan said. "It makes sense that people thought that if they eat some part of the animal, they will gain the attributes of that organ."

For foreigners these overlapping functions are a source of disgust. "Food is food and sex is sex—for many it is unthinkable to consume body parts used for sex," Counihan said.

Many older people, from both industrialized and developing nations, remember eating the testicles, cheeks, lungs, kidneys, hearts, and livers of animals. The broad repertoire of edible animal parts emerged from a subsistence culture in which nothing was wasted. This still applies to many countries around the world where people struggle to get enough to eat.

Americans have become distant from the source of their food. Animals are rarely served whole, and innards are not considered worth marketing and have faded from the inventory of edible foods.

Adults, Babies, and Fetuses

Not all delicacies have deep cultural roots. Some have emerged relatively recently as cultures have merged and hybridized.

In India the children of European and Indian unions were rejected by both parent cultures and formed their own Anglo-Indian community with unique customs and distinctive culinary traditions. One dish that reflects this departure from both parent cultures is kutti pi—an animal fetus.

Kutti pi, reviled by most Indians and Europeans, is considered a delicacy both because it is rare—it is only available if a pregnant animal happens to be killed that day—and because of its medicinal properties. Many Anglo-Indians believe it is healthful for pregnant women and also beneficial for people with tuberculosis or back pain.

Eating a fetus, however, triggers a note of discord for many people. "It's taboo, it violates our sense of order and propriety. Most people eat animals that have been born. Veal horrifies many people because it is eating a baby animal—eating a fetus goes beyond," Counihan said.

The concept of delicacy is very often related to how hard it is to get certain foods and how much they cost. To find truffles requires the cooperation of trained pigs. A nest of the swiftlet bird is an essential ingredient in "bird-nest soup"—getting to these nesting sites is quite an ordeal.

Food is a window into culture, and in many ways our comments on what other people eat says more about us than them, Counihan said.

On TV: Taboo: Delicacies airs on the National Geographic Channel Thursday, April 22, at 10 p.m. ET/PT in the United States.

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Voodoo Blood Rite: Reporter on African Ritual
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Voodoo a Legitimate Religion, Anthropologist Says
Tattoos—From Taboo to Mainstream

Related Web Sites
National Geographic Channel
Video Preview of Taboo
Taboo: Program Schedule
Culture Shock Week
Taboo Photo Gallery
Third Sex Photo Gallery

© 1996-2008 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Once to every man and nation

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His

James R. Low­ell

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rejoice, the Lord Is King

Rejoice, the Lord is King!
Your Lord and King adore;
mortals, give thanks and sing,
and triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart,
lift up your voice; rejoice;
again I say, rejoice.

Jesus the Savior reigns,
the God of truth and love;
when he had purged our stains,
he took his seat above.
Lift up your heart,
lift up your voice; rejoice,
again I say, rejoice.

His kingdom cannot fail;
he rules o'er earth and heaven;
the keys of earth and hell
are to our Jesus given.
Lift up your heart,
again I say, rejoice.

Rejoice in glorious hope!
Jesus the Judge shall come,
and take his servants up
to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear
th'archangel's voice; the trump of God
shall sound, rejoice!

O God, Our Help in Ages Past

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne,
still may we dwell secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting, thou art God,
to endless years the same.

A thousand ages, in thy sight,
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night,
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
bears all who breathe away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come;
be thou our guide while life shall last,
and our eternal home.

Day by Day

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,“
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand.

Marcell Sturnberger

The story is told of a man named Marcell Sturnberger who used to get into a train every day at 9:09 on the Long Island railroad. He would go to work every weekday, get into that train, and then later get into a subway train and continue on the way to work. One day he was in the middle of the first train ride when he thought of a friend of his who was rather ill, and he thought he should really not go to work that day and instead visit his sick friend. So he got off at another station, took another train and headed in the direction of his sick friend’s home. But as he entered that subway train, it was very crowded. He knew he wasn’t going to get a seat until a man suddenly realized that he had just missed his station and got up from his seat and Marcell Sturnberger made a beeline and sat down in that seat even though there was very little space.

The man next to him opened a Hungarian newspaper and started to read it, and Marcell Sturnberger could read Hungarian. So he looked at the man and said, “Are you looking for a job sir? Is that why you’re reading this newspaper?” And he said, “no. He said, “The truth of the matter is that I am looking for my wife.” He said, “You’re looking for your wife?” “Can you explain to me what you mean?” He said, “Yes sir, but you’re not going to believe why I still think there is a possibility that I might find her.” He said, “My hometown is in Debrecen in Hungary. And he said, “During the war I was taken away by the Russians to the Ukraine to bury the German dead. But while I was gone the Nazis invaded our town and when I returned, they told me my wife along with many others were taken to the concentration camps and probably to Auschwitz. But there is a small thread of hope in my heart that the Americans who came in may have rescued her. And if she was indeed rescued, my hope is that she came to the United States. So every day I’m looking in the newspapers to see if there may be an announcement of my wife wondering if I am still alive too.

All of a sudden Marcell Sturnberger’s heart began to beat faster. It beat very hard because he remembered that he’d been at a gathering some months ago where a woman sitting next to him said her name was Maria Paschan. She said she came from Debrecen and that her husband had been taken away to the Ukraine by the Russians to bury the German dead and that she’d been taken into Auschwitz and had been rescued by the American soldiers. And as he began to listen he began to wonder if there was a distinct possibility that they were talking about her. He put his hand into his wallet and took out the name because he had kept her name, planning to get together in the same gathering of people. And Marcell Sturnberger took out that card and saw the name Maria Paschan with the telephone number and put it back rather covertly and he looked at the man and said, “Sir, what is your name? He said, “My name is Bella Paschan.” He said, “What is your wife’s name?” He said, “My wife’s name is Maria Paschan.” He said, “Mr. Paschan, I do not know whether I should tell you any more than this, but I’d like you to get off at the next station with me, I think I may have some help for you.

They got off at the next station and Marcell Sturnberger began to dial the number while Bella Paschan stood outside. After several rings a voice responded and he said, “Is this Maria Paschan?” and she said, “Yes.” “Maria,” he said, “this is Marcell Sturnberger.” “Do you remember me?” She said, “Yes I do.” He said, “Maria, can you tell me the name of your husband?” She said, “My husband’s name is Bella Paschan.” He said, “Maria, just a moment.” He took the phone and gave it to Bella Paschan and said, “Sir, you are about to witness one of the greatest miracles of your life.” And he took that telephone and said, “Hello.” And it was not more than thirty seconds until he sobbed and sobbed uncontrollably. And all he could say was, “Maria, Maria, Maria, I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it.”

The article ends with these words by Maria: “Even now it is difficult to believe that it happened. We have both suffered so much. I have almost lost the capacity to be not afraid. Each time my husband goes from our house I say to myself,’Will anything happen to him before he comes home again?”‘ Skeptical persons may doubt the events of that memorable afternoon and attribute it to mere chance. But was it chance that made Marcell Sturnberger suddenly decide to visit his sick friend and hence take a subway line that he had never been on before? Was it chance that caused the man sitting by the door to rush out just as Sturnberger came in? Was it chance that caused Bella Paschan to be sitting by Sturnberger reading a Hungarian newspaper? Was it chance, or did God ride the Brooklyn subway that afternoon?

Legends and Lyrics: Second Series (1861) by Adelaide Anne Procter

I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.

I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.
Seated one day at the organ,
I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly
Over the noisy keys.
I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then;
But I struck one chord of music,
Like the sound of a great Amen.

It quieted pain and sorrow,
Like love overcoming strife;
It seemed the harmonious echo
From our discordant life.
I have sought, but I seek it vainly,
That one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the Organ,
And entered into mine.
It may be that Death's bright angel
Will speak in that chord again,
It may be that only in Heaven
I shall hear that grand Amen.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Charge to Keep I Have

A charge to keep I have,
a God to glorify,
a never-dying soul to save,
and fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
my calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage
to do my Master's will!

Arm me with jealous care,
as in thy sight to live,
and oh, thy servant, Lord,
prepare a strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray,
and on thyself rely,
assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall forever die.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

O Thou Who Camest From Above

O Thou Who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
Upon the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for Thy glory burn
With inextinguishable blaze,
[or, Unquenched, undimmed, in darkest days,]
And trembling to its source return,
In humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
To work and speak and think for Thee;
Still let me guard the holy fire,
And still stir up Thy gift in me.

Ready for all Thy perfect will,
My acts of faith and love repeat,
Till death Thy endless mercies seal,
And make my sacrifice complete.

A World Split Apart

Text of Address by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

at Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises,

Thursday, June 8, 1978

I am sincerely happy to be here with you on this occasion and to become personally acquainted with this old and most prestigious University. My congratulations and very best wishes to all of today's graduates.

Harvard's motto is "Veritas." Many of you have already found out and others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us if we do not concentrate with total attention on its pursuit. And even while it eludes us, the illusion still lingers of knowing it and leads to many misunderstandings. Also, truth is seldom pleasant; it is almost invariably bitter. There is some bitterness in my speech today, too. But I want to stress that it comes not from an adversary but from a friend.

Three years ago in the United States I said certain things which at that time appeared unacceptable. Today, however, many people agree with what I then said...

A World Split Apart

by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The split in today's world is perceptible even to a hasty glance. Any of our contemporaries readily identifies two world powers, each of them already capable of entirely destroying the other. However, understanding of the split often is limited to this political conception, to the illusion that danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces. The truth is that the split is a much profounder and a more alienating one, that the rifts are more than one can see at first glance. This deep manifold split bears the danger of manifold disaster for all of us, in accordance with the ancient truth that a Kingdom -- in this case, our Earth -- divided against itself cannot stand.

Contemporary Worlds

There is the concept of the Third World: thus, we already have three worlds. Undoubtedly, however, the number is even greater; we are just too far away to see. Any ancient deeply rooted autonomous culture, especially if it is spread on a wide part of the earth's surface, constitutes an autonomous world, full of riddles and surprises to Western thinking. As a minimum, we must include in this category China, India, the Muslim world and Africa, if indeed we accept the approximation of viewing the latter two as compact units. For one thousand years Russia has belonged to such a category, although Western thinking systematically committed the mistake of denying its autonomous character and therefore never understood it, just as today the West does not understand Russia in communist captivity. It may be that in the past years Japan has increasingly become a distant part of the West, I am no judge here; but as to Israel, for instance, it seems to me that it stands apart from the Western world in that its state system is fundamentally linked to religion.

How short a time ago, relatively, the small new European world was easily seizing colonies everywhere, not only without anticipating any real resistance, but also usually despising any possible values in the conquered peoples' approach to life. On the face of it, it was an overwhelming success, there were no geographic frontiers to it. Western society expanded in a triumph of human independence and power. And all of a sudden in the twentieth century came the discovery of its fragility and friability. We now see that the conquests proved to be short lived and precarious, and this in turn points to defects in the Western view of the world which led to these conquests. Relations with the former colonial world now have turned into their opposite and the Western world often goes to extremes of obsequiousness, but it is difficult yet to estimate the total size of the bill which former colonial countries will present to the West, and it is difficult to predict whether the surrender not only of its last colonies, but of everything it owns will be sufficient for the West to foot the bill.


But the blindness of superiority continues in spite of all and upholds the belief that vast regions everywhere on our planet should develop and mature to the level of present day Western systems which in theory are the best and in practice the most attractive. There is this belief that all those other worlds are only being temporarily prevented by wicked governments or by heavy crises or by their own barbarity or incomprehension from taking the way of Western pluralistic democracy and from adopting the Western way of life. Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in this direction. However, it is a conception which developed out of Western incomprehension of the essence of other worlds, out of the mistake of measuring them all with a Western yardstick. The real picture of our planet's development is quite different.

Anguish about our divided world gave birth to the theory of convergence between leading Western countries and the Soviet Union. It is a soothing theory which overlooks the fact that these worlds are not at all developing into similarity; neither one can be transformed into the other without the use of violence. Besides, convergence inevitably means acceptance of the other side's defects, too, and this is hardly desirable.

If I were today addressing an audience in my country, examining the overall pattern of the world's rifts I would have concentrated on the East's calamities. But since my forced exile in the West has now lasted four years and since my audience is a Western one, I think it may be of greater interest to concentrate on certain aspects of the West in our days, such as I see them.

A Decline in Courage [. . .]

may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life. Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?


When the modern Western States were created, the following principle was proclaimed: governments are meant to serve man, and man lives to be free to pursue happiness. (See, for example, the American Declaration). Now at last during past decades technical and social progress has permitted the realization of such aspirations: the welfare state. Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and of such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness, in the morally inferior sense which has come into being during those same decades. In the process, however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to obtain them imprints many Western faces with worry and even depression, though it is customary to conceal such feelings. Active and tense competition permeates all human thoughts without opening a way to free spiritual development. The individual's independence from many types of state pressure has been guaranteed; the majority of people have been granted well-being to an extent their fathers and grandfathers could not even dream about; it has become possible to raise young people according to these ideals, leading them to physical splendor, happiness, possession of material goods, money and leisure, to an almost unlimited freedom of enjoyment. So who should now renounce all this, why and for what should one risk one's precious life in defense of common values, and particularly in such nebulous cases when the security of one's nation must be defended in a distant country?

Even biology knows that habitual extreme safety and well-being are not advantageous for a living organism. Today, well-being in the life of Western society has begun to reveal its pernicious mask.

Legalistic Life

Western society has given itself the organization best suited to its purposes, based, I would say, on the letter of the law. The limits of human rights and righteousness are determined by a system of laws; such limits are very broad. People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk: it would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. An oil company is legally blameless when it purchases an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to buy it.

I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man's noblest impulses.

And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.

The Direction of Freedom

In today's Western society, the inequality has been revealed of freedom for good deeds and freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something important and highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; there are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him, parliament and the press keep rebuffing him. As he moves ahead, he has to prove that every single step of his is well-founded and absolutely flawless. Actually an outstanding and particularly gifted person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind hardly gets a chance to assert himself; from the very beginning, dozens of traps will be set out for him. Thus mediocrity triumphs with the excuse of restrictions imposed by democracy.

It is feasible and easy everywhere to undermine administrative power and, in fact, it has been drastically weakened in all Western countries. The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals. It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

And what shall we say about the dark realm of criminality as such? Legal frames (especially in the United States) are broad enough to encourage not only individual freedom but also certain individual crimes. The culprit can go unpunished or obtain undeserved leniency with the support of thousands of public defenders. When a government starts an earnest fight against terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorists' civil rights. There are many such cases.

Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected. Strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still is criminality and there even is considerably more of it than in the pauper and lawless Soviet society. (There is a huge number of prisoners in our camps which are termed criminals, but most of them never committed any crime; they merely tried to defend themselves against a lawless state resorting to means outside of a legal framework).

The Direction of the Press

The press too, of course, enjoys the widest freedom. (I shall be using the word press to include all media). But what sort of use does it make of this freedom?

Here again, the main concern is not to infringe the letter of the law. There is no moral responsibility for deformation or disproportion. What sort of responsibility does a journalist have to his readers, or to history? If they have misled public opinion or the government by inaccurate information or wrong conclusions, do we know of any cases of public recognition and rectification of such mistakes by the same journalist or the same newspaper? No, it does not happen, because it would damage sales. A nation may be the victim of such a mistake, but the journalist always gets away with it. One may safely assume that he will start writing the opposite with renewed self-assurance.

Because instant and credible information has to be given, it becomes necessary to resort to guesswork, rumors and suppositions to fill in the voids, and none of them will ever be rectified, they will stay on in the readers' memory. How many hasty, immature, superficial and misleading judgments are expressed every day, confusing readers, without any verification. The press can both simulate public opinion and miseducate it. Thus we may see terrorists heroized, or secret matters, pertaining to one's nation's defense, publicly revealed, or we may witness shameless intrusion on the privacy of well-known people under the slogan: "everyone is entitled to know everything." But this is a false slogan, characteristic of a false era: people also have the right not to know, and it is a much more valuable one. The right not to have their divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk. A person who works and leads a meaningful life does not need this excessive burdening flow of information.

Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic disease of the 20th century and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press. In-depth analysis of a problem is anathema to the press. It stops at sensational formulas.

Such as it is, however, the press has become the greatest power within the Western countries, more powerful than the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. One would then like to ask: by what law has it been elected and to whom is it responsible? In the communist East a journalist is frankly appointed as a state official. But who has granted Western journalists their power, for how long a time and with what prerogatives?

There is yet another surprise for someone coming from the East where the press is rigorously unified: one gradually discovers a common trend of preferences within the Western press as a whole. It is a fashion; there are generally accepted patterns of judgment and there may be common corporate interests, the sum effect being not competition but unification. Enormous freedom exists for the press, but not for the readership because newspapers mostly give enough stress and emphasis to those opinions which do not too openly contradict their own and the general trend.

A Fashion in Thinking

Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day. There is no open violence such as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to match mass standards frequently prevent independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life. There is a dangerous tendency to form a herd, shutting off successful development. I have received letters in America from highly intelligent persons, maybe a teacher in a faraway small college who could do much for the renewal and salvation of his country, but his country cannot hear him because the media are not interested in him. This gives birth to strong mass prejudices, blindness, which is most dangerous in our dynamic era. There is, for instance, a self-deluding interpretation of the contemporary world situation. It works as a sort of petrified armor around people's minds. Human voices from 17 countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it. It will only be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events.

I have mentioned a few trends of Western life which surprise and shock a new arrival to this world. The purpose and scope of this speech will not allow me to continue such a review, to look into the influence of these Western characteristics on important aspects on [the] nation's life, such as elementary education, advanced education in [?...]


It is almost universally recognized that the West shows all the world a way to successful economic development, even though in the past years it has been strongly disturbed by chaotic inflation. However, many people living in the West are dissatisfied with their own society. They despise it or accuse it of not being up to the level of maturity attained by mankind. A number of such critics turn to socialism, which is a false and dangerous current.

I hope that no one present will suspect me of offering my personal criticism of the Western system to present socialism as an alternative. Having experienced applied socialism in a country where the alternative has been realized, I certainly will not speak for it. The well-known Soviet mathematician Shafarevich, a member of the Soviet Academy of Science, has written a brilliant book under the title Socialism; it is a profound analysis showing that socialism of any type and shade leads to a total destruction of the human spirit and to a leveling of mankind into death. Shafarevich's book was published in France almost two years ago and so far no one has been found to refute it. It will shortly be published in English in the United States.

Not a Model

But should someone ask me whether I would indicate the West such as it is today as a model to my country, frankly I would have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society in its present state as an ideal for the transformation of ours. Through intense suffering our country has now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive. Even those characteristics of your life which I have just mentioned are extremely saddening.

A fact which cannot be disputed is the weakening of human beings in the West while in the East they are becoming firmer and stronger. Six decades for our people and three decades for the people of Eastern Europe; during that time we have been through a spiritual training far in advance of Western experience. Life's complexity and mortal weight have produced stronger, deeper and more interesting characters than those produced by standardized Western well-being. Therefore if our society were to be transformed into yours, it would mean an improvement in certain aspects, but also a change for the worse on some particularly significant scores. It is true, no doubt, that a society cannot remain in an abyss of lawlessness, as is the case in our country. But it is also demeaning for it to elect such mechanical legalistic smoothness as you have. After the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor and by intolerable music.

All this is visible to observers from all the worlds of our planet. The Western way of life is less and less likely to become the leading model.

There are meaningful warnings that history gives a threatened or perishing society. Such are, for instance, the decadence of art, or a lack of great statesmen. There are open and evident warnings, too. The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours only, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc. The smooth surface film must be very thin, then, the social system quite unstable and unhealthy. But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have begun their decisive offensive, you can feel their pressure, and yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about?


Very well known representatives of your society, such as George Kennan, say: we cannot apply moral criteria to politics. Thus we mix good and evil, right and wrong and make space for the absolute triumph of absolute Evil in the world. On the contrary, only moral criteria can help the West against communism's well planned world strategy. There are no other criteria. Practical or occasional considerations of any kind will inevitably be swept away by strategy. After a certain level of the problem has been reached, legalistic thinking induces paralysis; it prevents one from seeing the size and meaning of events.

In spite of the abundance of information, or maybe because of it, the West has difficulties in understanding reality such as it is. There have been naive predictions by some American experts who believed that Angola would become the Soviet Union's Vietnam or that Cuban expeditions in Africa would best be stopped by special U.S. courtesy to Cuba. Kennan's advice to his own country -- to begin unilateral disarmament -- belongs to the same category. If you only knew how the youngest of the Moscow Old Square [1] officials laugh at your political wizards! As to Fidel Castro, he frankly scorns the United States, sending his troops to distant adventures from his country right next to yours.

However, the most cruel mistake occurred with the failure to understand the Vietnam war. Some people sincerely wanted all wars to stop just as soon as possible; others believed that there should be room for national, or communist, self-determination in Vietnam, or in Cambodia, as we see today with particular clarity. But members of the U.S. anti-war movement wound up being involved in the betrayal of Far Eastern nations, in a genocide and in the suffering today imposed on 30 million people there. Do those convinced pacifists hear the moans coming from there? Do they understand their responsibility today? Or do they prefer not to hear? The American Intelligentsia lost its [nerve] and as a consequence thereof danger has come much closer to the United States. But there is no awareness of this. Your shortsighted politicians who signed the hasty Vietnam capitulation seemingly gave America a carefree breathing pause; however, a hundredfold Vietnam now looms over you. That small Vietnam had been a warning and an occasion to mobilize the nation's courage. But if a full-fledged America suffered a real defeat from a small communist half-country, how can the West hope to stand firm in the future?

I have had occasion already to say that in the 20th century democracy has not won any major war without help and protection from a powerful continental ally whose philosophy and ideology it did not question. In World War II against Hitler, instead of winning that war with its own forces, which would certainly have been sufficient, Western democracy grew and cultivated another enemy who would prove worse and more powerful yet, as Hitler never had so many resources and so many people, nor did he offer any attractive ideas, or have such a large number of supporters in the West -- a potential fifth column -- as the Soviet Union. At present, some Western voices already have spoken of obtaining protection from a third power against aggression in the next world conflict, if there is one; in this case the shield would be China. But I would not wish such an outcome to any country in the world. First of all, it is again a doomed alliance with Evil; also, it would grant the United States a respite, but when at a later date China with its billion people would turn around armed with American weapons, America itself would fall prey to a genocide similar to the one perpetrated in Cambodia in our days.

Loss of Willpower

And yet -- no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal. Thus at the shameful Belgrade conference free Western diplomats in their weakness surrendered the line where enslaved members of Helsinki Watchgroups are sacrificing their lives.

Western thinking has become conservative: the world situation should stay as it is at any cost, there should be no changes. This debilitating dream of a status quo is the symptom of a society which has come to the end of its development. But one must be blind in order not to see that oceans no longer belong to the West, while land under its domination keeps shrinking. The two so-called world wars (they were by far not on a world scale, not yet) have meant internal self-destruction of the small, progressive West which has thus prepared its own end. The next war (which does not have to be an atomic one and I do not believe it will) may well bury Western civilization forever.

Facing such a danger, with such historical values in your past, at such a high level of realization of freedom and apparently of devotion to freedom, how is it possible to lose to such an extent the will to defend oneself?

Humanism and Its Consequences

How has this unfavorable relation of forces come about? How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present sickness? Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development? It does not seem so. The West kept advancing socially in accordance with its proclaimed intentions, with the help of brilliant technological progress. And all of a sudden it found itself in its present state of weakness.

This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.

The turn introduced by the Renaissance evidently was inevitable historically. The Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, becoming an intolerable despotic repression of man's physical nature in favor of the spiritual one. Then, however, we turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal. This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense. That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow. Merely freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones.

However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man's sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the Twentieth century's moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the Nineteenth Century.

An Unexpected Kinship

As humanism in its development became more and more materialistic, it made itself increasingly accessible to speculation and manipulation at first by socialism and then by communism. So that Karl Marx was able to say in 1844 that "communism is naturalized humanism."

This statement turned out not to be entirely senseless. One does see the same stones in the foundations of a despiritualized humanism and of any type of socialism: endless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility, which under communist regimes reach the stage of anti-religious dictatorship; concentration on social structures with a seemingly scientific approach. (This is typical of the Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century and of Marxism). Not by coincidence all of communism's meaningless pledges and oaths are about Man, with a capital M, and his earthly happiness. At first glance it seems an ugly parallel: common traits in the thinking and way of life of today's West and today's East? But such is the logic of materialistic development.

The interrelationship is such, too, that the current of materialism which is most to the left always ends up by being stronger, more attractive and victorious, because it is more consistent. Humanism without its Christian heritage cannot resist such competition. We watch this process in the past centuries and especially in the past decades, on a world scale as the situation becomes increasingly dramatic. Liberalism was inevitably displaced by radicalism, radicalism had to surrender to socialism and socialism could never resist communism. The communist regime in the East could stand and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who felt a kinship and refused to see communism's crimes. When they no longer could do so, they tried to justify them. In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. But Western intellectuals still look at it with interest and with empathy, and this is precisely what makes it so immensely difficult for the West to withstand the East.

Before the Turn

I am not examining here the case of a world war disaster and the changes which it would produce in society. As long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we have to lead an everyday life. There is a disaster, however, which has already been under way for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness.

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging and evaluating everything on earth. Imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests tend to suffocate it. This is the real crisis. The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of the disease plaguing its main sections.

If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one's life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President's performance be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.

It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times.

Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction. We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man's life and society's activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?

If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.

This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropologic stage. No one on earth has any other way left but -- upward.


[1] The Old Square in Moscow (Staraya Ploshchad') is the place where the [headquarters] of the Central Committee of the CPSU are located; it is the real name of what in the West is conventionally referred to as "the Kremlin."

Source: Texts of Famous Speeches at Harvard

Re-formatted in HTML by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, 1997