Tag Archives: Ghana

BIBLE TRANSLATORS MURDERED

bible

I’ve always had a lot of respect and appreciation for the Wycliffe Bible translators.

We knew a couple of them in Ghana 35 years ago.   They were from England and had devoted their lives to a small corner of Ghana, where they learned the local language, developed a written form of it and then proceeded to translate the scriptures for them.

About ten years ago, while waiting for a return flight home from Accra, the capital of Ghana, I met an American member of the charity.  He had arrived in Ghana the same year we moved there, 1978.  He remained there until after September 11th, 2001.  His wife’s brother had been killed in the World Trade Center and she had returned to the United States to take care of her elderly parents.  They had been translating the Bible into a dialect of the Ewe tongue in the east of the country. Once again, they had to start from scratch, first learning the language, then developing a written form of it, teaching the people and translating the Bible into the new tongue.  He had successfully translated 63 books, but had to return to the US to join his wife.  He hoped to finish his work in America.

I’ve been thinking about this small group of people since Sunday, when I first heard that four Wycliffe Bible translators from the United States had been murdered in an undisclosed Middle Eastern country – murdered by Islamists because they were Christians.

Remember to pray for the Wycliffe Bible translators.   Like John Wycliffe in the 14th century, they are committed to translating the Bible into the vernacular, so that all people have the opportunity to read it.  Without them, churches today would not be able to preach their own interpretation of the scriptures, as there would be no scriptures to preach from!

The man at the airport on his way back to America told me that most languages in the world still do not have a written form.  The Wycliffes still have a lot of work to do.

____________________________________________________________

In the same week that the AfD (Alternative for Germany) party called on the country to close all mosques, it was disclosed that the United States has 2,000 mosques, with one now opening each week.   Many European countries are finding that Muslim young people, educated in the mosques, are learning extremism from local imams.  Many of the religious leaders are sent from Saudi Arabia and are members of the Wahaabi sect of Islam, the most violent form of Sunni Islam.

_______________________________________________________________

Meanwhile, a report on Sydney’s Channel 7 News showed an Islamic meeting taking place in a western suburb of Australia’s biggest city. At the rally, there was a condemnation of Australia’s democratic system and a call to raise a Muslim army to impose sharia law in the country.

———————————————————————–

Further memories of Ghana came back when I heard the news on Sunday evening of what are being called the “Panama Papers.”   Apparently, a law firm in Panama helped hundreds of wealthy people, including prominent politicians, to set up shell (fake) companies that helped them avoid taxes at home.  Two days later, the first victim, the Prime Minister of Iceland, was forced to resign when roughly 10% of the country’s population demonstrated calling for him to go.

On June 4, 1979, a coup in Ghana brought to power a group of idealistic young air force officers.  Within days they had arrested all Ghana’s previous leaders, who were then summarily publically executed on the beach.  They had all been charged with corruption and sentenced to execution.  Similar revolutions followed in other West African countries.  Liberia’s was particularly bloody.

The leader of Iceland will not be the only leader to fall.

ANGLO-SAXON DELUSIONS

UK and eu

According to the British Daily Express on Friday, 92% of the British people are now against remaining in the European Union.

This means that Prime Minister David Cameron’s gamble has not paid off. Mr. Cameron hoped that by gaining some concessions from his EU partners, the British people would vote to remain in the 28-nation bloc.

What’s defeated him is the migrant crisis.

“Shock poll result as asylum claims rocket yet again,” is the remainder of the front-page headline. The British people feel like they are being invaded and that the British way of life is seriously threatened. One of my brothers put it well when he said you don’t hear English spoken any more at the local “precinct” (mall).

This is not a recent phenomenon sparked by the mass exodus of people fleeing Syria. It’s been going on for some time. Migrants take advantage of Britain’s generous welfare system. They will cross a dozen countries in Europe to get to the United Kingdom, when international rules on asylum say you should apply for asylum status at the first country you go to.

The British only have themselves to blame.   Firstly, in joining the EU in the first place; secondly, in having such generous welfare benefits; thirdly, by, unbelievably, distributing leaflets on claiming benefits in British Council offices around the world.   This was the way it was when we lived in Ghana.   The British Council was a British taxpayer funded library and information center in the Ghanaian capital and in the second biggest city of Kumasi.   Leaflets on their information table promoted all the freebies available once an individual arrived in London.   Britons should remember St. Paul’s admonition: “If a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat.” (II Thessalonians 3:10)

Under EU rules, anybody moving from country to country within the EU is entitled to receive benefits from his/her new country upon arrival. All people have to do is get to the EU, from where they can easily move to Britain. This is causing serious financial problems in the UK and is widely resented.

Question:  if Britain leaves the EU, where will she go? What will she do?

The Norwegian Foreign Minister, visiting Britain last week, cautioned the UK on leaving. Norway is NOT a member but often pays a heavy price for not being allowed to make decisions on European trading policies, dictated from Brussels.

Prior to entering the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU, Britain had close trading ties with its former colonies, the four Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.   These countries now have different priorities.

_________________________________________________

The term “dominions” is not used any more, except in Canada, whose official name is “Dominion of Canada.” Australia is the “Commonwealth of Australia.” Collectively, the four nations mentioned were termed the “Dominions.” When I was growing up, the British government had a special minister to handle relations with these nations, they were so important. He was the Secretary for the Dominions. The dominions each had the Westminster system of parliamentary government with the British monarch as Head of State.

“New Brunswick premier Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley suggested the term ‘Dominion,’ inspired by Psalm 72:8 (from the King James Bible): “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” This is also echoed in Canada’s motto:  A Mari Usque Ad Mare (Latin for “from sea to sea”). The term had been used for centuries to refer to the lands held by a monarch, and had previously been adopted as titles for the Dominion of New England and the Dominion and Colony of Virginia. (Wikipedia: “Name of Canada”)”

These dominions, together with Britain itself, were the number one military and economic power in the world prior to the United States.   They were the only nations that fought against fascism in World War II from beginning to end. In World War I, they led the fight against German militarism.

In June 1953, the prime ministers of these countries, who then comprised the British Commonwealth, met in London to discuss security matters. They had been in the capital for the coronation of the queen. Sir Winston Churchill chaired the meeting. Sir Robert Menzies, the Australian prime minister and an ardent monarchist, was also present.

Two of the issues they discussed were the Korean War, in which the Commonwealth played a major role; and the new radical government in Egypt, which had overthrown the Egyptian monarchy. The new nationalist government wanted to seize the Anglo-French Suez Canal, an artery of the British Empire, giving Britain ready access to its territories in the east.

In 1956 the Egyptians seized the canal. The British and French, together with the Israelis, invaded Egypt to take the canal back.   Unexpectedly, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower told them to stop and threatened the UK with severe economic consequences if the country went ahead with its plans.

This spelled the end of the British Empire. It was clear that Britain could no longer continue as a global power.   Britain’s colonies were rapidly given independence, most of them joining the Commonwealth, which became meaningless. Today, 94% of the people in the Commonwealth are Asians or Africans. This has totally transformed the organization from what it was in 1953. Most member nations are republics, though they still recognize the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth.

Now, it’s America’s turn to start pulling back from international commitments.

If Britain pulls out of the EU, it presents Australia with an opportunity. Instead of severing the last tie with Britain, the country could propose a reactivation of the alliance that existed right up until Bob Menzies was PM. The four nations that were founder members of the original Commonwealth (South Africa, Rhodesia and Newfoundland were the other three) could once again be a formidable force, with a global reach. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom could have a major presence in the world again. Queen Elizabeth II is queen of all four countries, in herself a unifying symbol.   This does not mean Britain would be in the lead.   But all four, working together, would be a positive force in the world.   They have a great deal in common, including a commitment to the freedom of the individual and the rule of law. A formal, more meaningful relationship between the four could also bolster the US led western alliance, at a time of growing disillusionment and disinterest in the US.

It’s such a good idea, it’s unlikely to happen. Australia and New Zealand will more likely continue to pursue closer ties with Asia; the UK pursuing a differed European model. Further examples of Anglo-Saxon delusions.

The result is the continuing decline and fragmentation of the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples who, a century ago, dominated the world.

——————————————————-

 

The US Administration is also delusional.

Amidst clear signs that the economy is slowing down, unemployment has dropped to below 5% for the first time in a few years. This is due to the way the unemployment figures are calculated and has little to do with reality.   The figure is based on how many people are receiving unemployment benefits and are actively looking for work. As benefits are for a limited time only, the numbers decline over time. Additionally, millions of people have simply given up looking for work.

Another sign of spreading delusion is the federal deficit. It passed $19 trillion last week and hardly got a mention. Nobody cares anymore. It appears that nobody in Washington has any concept of why the country should live within its means.   Of course, few people, mere mortals included, has any idea how to balance a budget, so it’s not surprising our leaders get away with it. Somebody once described credit cards as “45 days to reality” – it may take longer for the US to reach its “pay by” date, but it will come and when it does economic upheaval will follow.

Further delusion was shown when the President visited a mosque Thursday, as a guest of the Islamic Society of Baltimore.   Stressing how Muslims were involved in America from the beginning, he continued to build on the false idea that this country is based on Judeo-Christian-Islamic principles and that Islam, together with the other two religions, is a religion of peace.

None of this is based on reality. Yes, some Muslims were brought to America as slaves, but they did not retain their religion. The book “Muslims in America” says the first recorded Muslim was an American who converted after his travels in the Middle East. This was after the Civil War. The first mosque was opened in Chicago in 1929. The mosque visited on Thursday is only 47 years old. As for Islam being a “religion of peace,” history shows otherwise.

Perhaps there’s no time to read history when you’re President of the United States!

There’s no time for geography, either, when you are running for president. Marco Rubio has upset both the Swedes and the Norwegians by suggesting that one of his rivals should run for president in one of the two Scandinavian countries. The two nations are quite upset with this suggestion – they have never had a president. Nor do they want one. Can you blame them after being exposed to all the debates on CNN?

Note the following comment from a Swedish magazine:

“The thing with some American politicians, such as Sarah Palin, is – I don’t want to use the word stupid, but I do. They are. They are so ignorant about the rest of the world. They think there are two monarchies in the world. And that’s the UK and Monaco, because of Grace Kelly.”

– Roger Lundgren editor of Sweden’s Kungliga (Royal) magazine

———————————————————

The presidential candidates did not just sleep through history and geography classes, they dozed off during English classes as well. In one of the Republican debates, I was introduced to the following new words:   “vigorousness” (Ted Cruz) and “falseness” (Rand Paul, who has since dropped out, hopefully to take further English classes!)  Donald Trump also expanded my vocabulary.  Thankfully, those words were bleeped out!

The Democrats, meanwhile, argued over the meaning of the word “progressive.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEEK

Donald and Ted

There’s a lot of discussion about whether Senator Ted Cruz can run for president, due to the fact that he was born in Canada.   A few years ago, a similar concern was expressed about Barack Obama, with many convinced he was born in Kenya and therefore unqualified to run for president.

FWIW, when I went to the US Embassy in Ghana to register the births of our three children, all born outside of the United States between 1976 and 1981, I was informed that they had all the rights of any child born on American soil, “up to and including running for President of the United States.”

They were considered “natural born citizens” because their mother is an American citizen.

On this basis, President Obama, Senator Cruz and Senator John McCain all qualify even though they were born overseas, or maybe born overseas in the case of the current president.

——————————————————————————-

“In 2013 alone, 117,423 migrants from Muslim-majority countries were permanently resettled within the United States— having been given lawful permanent resident status.   Additionally in 2013, the United States voluntarily admitted an extra 122,921 temporary migrants from Muslim countries as foreign students and foreign workers as well as 39,932 refugees and asylees from Muslim countries.

————————————————————————————

Thus, twelve years after the September 11th hijackers were invited into the country on temporary visas, the US decided to admit 280,276 migrants from Muslim countries within a single fiscal year.” – Breitbart, Julia Haha, September 15th, 2015.

———————————————————————————-

President Obama took pains in his State of the Union speech Tuesday to warn Americans not to exaggerate the threat from terrorists,” notes a Journal editorial.   But after a spate of attacks from Paris to San Bernardino to Jakarta, what “Americans want from their next President is someone who will give them fewer reasons to fear being murdered while getting coffee.”   (WSJ, Morning Editorial Report, James Freeman, “Hillary and Ted’s Big Problem”)

——————————————————————————–

In Europe, reaction to the massive influx of refugees is increasing as people experience the full significance.   One thousand young men from North Africa and the Middle East congregated in the main public area around Cologne Cathedral on New Years Eve where dozens of German women were groped and sexually assaulted. Chancellor Merkel has condemned what happened and promised those convicted would be sent to their country of origin.   The anti-Muslim PEGIDA movement has been holding rallies and now has a British branch, committed to ending the growing Islamization of the West.

——————————————————————————–

Meanwhile, the 70-year-old ban on Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) has been lifted in Germany and a new annotated version of the book has become available.  Sales have been greater than expected.   The new publication contains the full text of the original, with scholarly notes commenting on what was written.   It is hoped that this will turn people against right-wing ideas, but the law of unintended consequences may lead to a different outcome.

——————————————————————————-

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a European Army, adding his voice in support of a development that is already taking place, with more European countries cooperating on defense.

The issue of Europe is uppermost on the minds of many in Britain at this time, with a referendum on future membership of the EU set for later this year.   Pro-EU politicians are trying to scare people by claiming that the EU has prevented conflict in Europe in recent decades. Fourteen leading British academics and historians have issued a statement saying that it is, in fact, NATO that has prevented major conflict in Europe since World War II.   This debate could intensify.   Many EU members are also members of NATO, which includes the US and Canada. But, if the EU successfully puts together its own powerful military force, the two organizations may go their separate ways.

——————————————————————————–

The British parliament is debating today, Monday, a petition signed by well over half a million people to ban Donald Trump from visiting the United Kingdom following his anti-Islamic comments.   A second pro-Trump petition has been signed by fewer people.   It seems like the Donald is dividing the UK as much as the US.   If the ban is approved by Members of the British Parliament, what will happen to the western alliance should he become president?

More immediately, what will happen to the $1 billion investment he promised Scotland?

Surprisingly, Piers Morgan came out in support of Mr. Trump on a popular British radio program.   The audience did not applaud.

The unanswered question here is why so many people on both sides of the Atlantic are determined to see a lot more Muslim immigrants arriving on their shores.   Their thinking is totally different from that of previous generations.

It’s going to be difficult to overcome political correctness on both sides of the Atlantic!

——————————————————————————-

Talking of the Atlantic, notably absent from the ocean right now are cargo ships – a sure sign the global economy is slowing.   For centuries, there have been ships crossing the ocean every single day. But right now there’s a lull.   Another sure sign of global inactivity is the fall in the oil price.   The price of oil is determined by supply and demand, as is everything else.   There’s more oil available now thanks to fracking and, from today, the lifting of sanctions on Iran. But there’s also less demand, with China’s economy weakening by the day and a deteriorating standard of living faced by most Americans, the world’s biggest consumers.

The head of the Royal Bank of Scotland warned all customers last week to get out of the Stock Market.   His warning sounded extreme, but what if he’s right?   We should know this week!

——————————————————————————-

Just remember, with all the uncertainty in global markets and in the Middle East, that Christians should not worry unduly about what’s going on. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (Matthew 6:34)   The previous verse reminds us of where our primary focus should be at all times: “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PARIS – THE NEW NORMAL

Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris. At least 35 people were killed in shootings and explosions around Paris, many of them in a popular theater where patrons were taken hostage, police and medical officials said Friday. Two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris.  Two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Whether we like to admit it or not, what happened in Paris on Friday could happen in any western city at any time.   In fact, it certainly will.

For once, we’ve been spared statements from the Presidents of France and the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to the effect that “Islam is a religion of peace.”  It’s now too much to expect anybody to believe such an outrageous claim.   Millions of people on social media witnessed Muslims around the globe celebrating the carnage in Paris.  Noticeably absent after yesterday’s attacks was any condemnation from “moderate” Muslim clerics.

129 people were killed and 352 injured, 99 of them critically, meaning they could still die or will be maimed for life.   Not all were French.   This was Paris on a Friday night – a lot of tourists from different countries will be amongst the casualties.   British Prime Minister David Cameron told fellow countrymen they could expect British victims.

One television news commentator observed “they are getting better at this,” listing a number of recent terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIS — Libya, Tunisia, the Russian  plane blown up over Sinai just two weeks ago, Beirut on Thursday and Paris on Friday.  Not just better, more frequent, too. Mr. Cameron called a security meeting Saturday morning – London could easily be next.  President Obama did the same in Washington, faced with the sobering realization that US cities could be the next target.   The attacks on the French capital followed an assurance from the US president that ISIS has been contained.

The reality is that ISIS is spreading, its ability to stage terror attacks now reaching around the world.   Big attacks and small ones, like the “lone wolf” who stabbed four students at a university in San Diego just a few days ago.

Western intelligence services are, understandably, overwhelmed. The French intelligence service did not see Friday’s attacks coming. Six attacks may be thwarted, maybe more, but eventually one will succeed.   Little can be done if western countries are to continue to enjoy the freedoms that have been acquired over hundreds of years.

“Snowden has a lot of this blood on his hands”, said US Ambassador R. James Woolsey on Fox News Saturday.   Ambassador Woolsey is a former Director of the CIA and is now Chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.   He was talking about the damage that Edward Snowden did to western intelligence when he went public with a massive amount of intelligence.  This betrayal could be fatal to western interests at a time when the very survival of the West is at stake.

A friend in another state called me recently.  At some point we got onto the subject of world affairs and Bible prophecy.  He made the comment that “nothing seems to be happening in Europe at this time.”   This comment was made before yesterday’s events.  I expressed the opinion that a great deal was happening in Europe.   The massive influx of refugees and asylum-seekers is radically changing the social fabric of European countries.  Nations are losing their individual unique identity, as hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the Middle East and Africa pour in.

One of these, carrying a Syrian passport, was one of Friday’s attackers.  Other attackers included some who were born and raised in France and went to Syria to train with ISIS, returning to their home country to stage acts of terror.   Their loyalty to their Islamic beliefs trumped everything else.

Expect more of the same.  After forty years of division between East and West, Europe’s brief interlude of peace accompanied by great strides toward “an ever closer union,” has now become the battleground between North and South, between the European Union and Islam, between democracies and failed states.

Not all the refugees who arrive in Europe are Muslims.   The three biggest numbers of people come from Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan, all Muslim countries that are racked with internal sectarian divisions, corruption and despotism.   Others come from democracies like Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, seeking a better life and the welfare benefits European governments will give them.

It’s no wonder that David Cameron wants to end the system, but cannot do so within the strictures of the EU.   A few days ago, he published the four demands he is making of the EU.   If the EU can’t deliver, then he will recommend the United Kingdom leaves the 28-nation grouping.   One of his demands is that the free movement of people within the EU be ended and that no new arrivals in Britain from the EU should be entitled to welfare benefits for the first four years.   They would have to work first before they could receive anything.   British papers are claiming that 43% of new European arrivals are receiving benefits.   This amounts to 350 million pounds per week ($530 million), during a period of austerity imposed on the British people.

In addition, there’s the hundreds of thousands from outside the EU, from the Mideast and Africa.   All these arrivals are supported financially by UK tax-payers.   Inevitably, some will be agents of ISIS.

No western leaders show any sign of doing anything about this massive influx of potential terrorists.

After the January attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s President, marched arm in arm through Paris in defense of western freedoms.   A few months later, Mrs. Merkel led European governments to open their doors to refugees and asylum seekers.   Germany itself is taking in one million people this year.

This can only mean one thing – there will be more terrorist attacks like those yesterday.

As Daniel Pipes observed, each terrorist attack results in the common people moving to the Right politically, while the Establishment moves to the political Left.   (“Why the Paris massacre will have limited impact.” Nationalreview online, November 14th).   Mr. Pipes’ article also pointed out that the number of terrorist attacks by Islamists, since 9/11, is now 27, 269.   The figure was compiled by an organization called “TheReligionofPeace.com.”   Put another way, that’s five attacks per day.

It’s not surprising France’s President Hollande described Friday’s attacks as “an act of war” from ISIS.

All of this does not absolve the West of its responsibility.   “In an official statement claiming responsibility, ISIS carefully listed its targets, couching its choice as one determined by its moral and theocratic superiority.  Paris, it said, was a capital of “abominations and perversion.”   (“Paris attacks:  Bloody atrocity signals shift in ISIS strategy,” Financial Times, November 14th.)   The Christian Holy Book, the Bible, says that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).   In the same book, God warned the ancient Israelites that disobedience to God and His Laws would result in terror coming upon the nation (Deuteronomy 28:66):   “and you shall be in terror day and night and shall be afraid of your life”  (Darby Bible Translation).   Western countries need to examine themselves in the light of these verses – changes can be made that would result in less hostility toward the West.

Paris is the new normal.

POOPY TEA

Assam-Tea

I’ve gone off tea!

As I was drinking my early morning cup of tea a few days ago, I saw a report on BBC World News that made my stomach churn.

The report was from a tea plantation in Assam, India.   It showed the wretched conditions that employees lived in, even though there are laws that require employers on plantations to provide adequate living conditions for all workers.

Their homes had holes in the roof, allowing malaria-carrying mosquitoes inside in massive numbers.   Holes in the sides of the “houses” allowed in the rain.

But, worst of all, there were no toilet facilities whatsoever.   One woman said she had not been able to use a proper toilet for 36 years!  A big hole in the ground was being used by some employees – a hole that was just a few inches away from another hole that was the community’s drinking water.

The next piece of information is what’s making me contemplate drinking nothing but water in the morning!

The program said that most employees, not having access to any toilet facility, simply went into the tea bushes and relieved themselves amongst the bushes.  Yes, puts you right off your morning cuppa.

I had often wondered what gave my tea it’s distinctive tang.   Now I know!

Lest you coffee drinkers think this problem is restricted to tea, don’t be so complacent.  I lived in Africa long enough to know this is a universal problem once you get outside of the West.

It should also be said that tea and coffee are not the only foods affected.  I read some years ago that subsistence farmers south of the US border often use bushes the same way – and the food they produce, notably strawberries, can legally be classified “organic.”   I haven’t eaten an organic strawberry since!

One of the managers in Assam was asked why they haven’t given the workers functioning toilets.   He looked rather bewildered at the question and said that the law allows employers five years to provide them.   Five years???   That’s a long time to go without a bathroom break!

The fact is that, in many countries around the world, they don’t think about toilet facilities.  India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, yet less than 50% of its people have any sanitation in their homes.

When I was overseeing the building of a church in Ghana, I remember looking over the architect’s plans and asking:  “Isn’t something missing?”  Again, there was that look of bewilderment.  I had to be more blunt.  “Where are the toilets?”   He hadn’t thought about toilet facilities in the building.   To be brutally frank, he probably hadn’t thought about them for any building he had designed.   Even the ministers present had not given it any thought. Congregants would be expected to go and use the bushes just like anybody else.

It’s a cultural thing.

It’s been over 400 years since John Harrington invented the first flush toilet in England.   However, it wasn’t until Thomas Crapper came along that flush toilets became the norm.   His factory in London mass produced toilets and sold them everywhere.   His product became ubiquitous, but his name lived on only in it’s shortened form!

Not everybody liked flush toilets.  I remember visiting an old American fort where our tour-guide informed us that soldiers stationed there were afraid of using them when they were installed.   At the same time, it should be said that they didn’t like the army’s rule insisting they take a bath once a month, either!

Toilets were exported to all parts of the world.   But this is where cultures played a part.

I remember talking to an African minister in Ghana about the lack of facilities.   Although, often, the basic flush toilet was present, all too frequently it was in a terrible condition and was not functional.   I asked him when this problem started.   His response was quite telling:  “As soon as Her Majesty’s representative left!”

In other words, at independence.   Freed from British rule, they no longer considered rudimentary hygiene important.

At the same time, skilled plumbers left the country and maintenance became a thing of the past.

In fact, the same man told me that there is no word for “maintenance” in the local language.   It’s just so much easier to go into the bushes!

It’s no good blaming Twining’s or any other western tea distributor – the local culture is the problem.   And that’s not likely to change.

QUEEN ELIZABETH LONGEST REIGNING MONARCH

Westminster Abbey's bells will peal, a flotilla will sail down the River Thames and a gun salute will ring out on Wednesday as Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.
Westminster Abbey’s bells will peal, a flotilla will sail down the River Thames and a gun salute will ring out on Wednesday as Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.

Today at 5.30pm British Summer Time, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history, overtaking the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

She still has some way to go to pass the longest reigning European monarchs,   Austrian Emperor Franz Josef (1848-1916) and France’s Louis XIV (1643-1715).   However, the latter doesn’t really count as he was only five when he became “king,” meaning that his mother and Cardinal Mazarin ruled in his place.

Thailand’s current king was crowned in May 1950 so he’s been around even longer than the British monarch.

A PBS documentary on the queen aired last week.   The one-hour documentary is available on DVD.   It’s part of the “In their own words” occasional series.   There was one mistake in the program when a BBC broadcast announcing that “the king’s life draws peacefully to a close” was applied to her father, King George VI, who died in 1952.   The recording dates to January 1936 when his father, George V, was dying.   The queen’s father was found dead in bed on February 6th, 1952.   He had been out hunting the previous day. Elizabeth and her husband were in Kenya, on a tour of the empire, when he died.

The monarchy goes back over one thousand years.  It has evolved through the centuries into today’s constitutional monarchy.   The system has worked very well, giving Britain and the other Commonwealth realms (which include Canada, Australia and New Zealand) an unparalleled period of political stability, without which economic progress is difficult to achieve.

The very complimentary documentary highlighted Elizabeth’s role as constitutional monarch, using her influence rather than authority in chaperoning the country for over sixty years.   It’s been a time of unprecedented change, as was Victoria’s in the nineteenth century.

The program began with then Princess Elizabeth’s 21st birthday broadcast from Cape Town, South Africa.   In her own words she pledged herself to serve “the great imperial family to which we all belong,” a reference to the Empire and Commonwealth, which included South Africa.

Immediately after these words were shown on the documentary, a royal expert then added a comment about her lifelong service to Britain.

There’s a blind spot here, which obscures Britain’s incredible decline during her reign.   As she is a constitutional monarch, the blame for this decline rests with the politicians, especially the twelve British prime ministers who have served under her.   Her Canadian, Australian and New Zealand prime ministers can also share some of that responsibility.

The fact is that the British Empire has gone and its successor, the Commonwealth (the “British” was dropped 50 years ago) is no more than a shadow of what it was.   It may not even survive the queen’s passing.   The queen remains Head of State of 16 countries and has 138 million subjects.   She is also titular Head of the Commonwealth, an organization of 54 former colonies.   It remains to be seen if Prince Charles will be able to hold it all together after he succeeds his mother.

Sir John Major, her ninth British prime minister, said in the documentary that throughout all the changes of the last six decades, the queen has been the one “constant” in the country, giving a sense of continuity and stability during monumental and significant changes.   This is true, but it hides some painful realities.

The loss of empire saw a rapid decline in global power.   The country’s military capability is about one-twelfth of what it was at the beginning of her reign – and continues to decline even under a Conservative administration.   The queen’s international role remains at the core of British “soft power,” along with the BBC World Service and British aid.   This soft power has replaced the strong military power it used to have.

With the empire gone, Britain entered the European Common Market (now the European Union), which has progressively taken away the UK’s independence.   Under the EU’s freedom of movement rules, millions of people from other European countries have been able to move to Britain, changing the composition of the nation’s population.

Added to this has been mass immigration from Commonwealth countries like India and Pakistan.

The changes are so significant, it’s fair to say that the Great Britain she inherited in 1952 and the Great Britain of today are two very different countries.   It’s amusing to remember that in 1949, when she was Princess Elizabeth, she spoke out against the evils of divorce.   The nation would not take kindly to such comments today and the queen would not be qualified to speak on the subject anyway as her own family has seen a few divorces.

None of this detracts from the great accomplishments of Elizabeth II.   She has set an incredible example of service.   Her sense of duty is unsurpassed by anybody in any field.   In her own personal private life she has set a fine example, never putting a foot wrong.

In many ways, the world was a better place when the Queen ascended the throne on February 6th, 1952 (the Coronation was in June the following year).   At that time, she presided over the greatest empire in history.   As countries were given independence, all too often they were taken over by self-serving bad leaders who destroyed much of what Britain had accomplished, enriching themselves by stealing from their own people.   They were often from the lowest echelons of society, suddenly receiving absolute power, which they abused in every way.

I remember an incident 35 years ago at a time when Ghana, in West Africa, was going through a long period of political instability and economic chaos, I stopped to buy some food at the side of the road. When I opened my wallet, the lady who was selling me the items, saw a British bank note with the portrait of the queen on it.   The lady sighed and said:   “Ah, Queen Elizabeth.   She used to be our queen.   Now we have so many presidents, we cannot count them all. And we are in such a mess.   And England still has the queen.”   Stability is so important.

Two verses in the Book of Ecclesiastes illustrate this so well:

“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time —
For strength and not for drunkenness!”   (Eccl. 10:16-17.)

Britain has been greatly blessed with Elizabeth II as Queen.

As many are saying today:    “Long may she reign!”

HOLLYWOOD AND THE BENGAL LANCERS

IRONY

Robert Osborne knows more about movies than anybody in the United States.   He has been introducing movies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) for over twenty years.   His introductions to old movies are always very welcome and often fascinating.

But he doesn’t know so much about history.

When introducing a 1951 movie titled “Soldiers Three,” a bit of a comedy based on a Rudyard Kipling story, he commented on how, quite often, in Hollywood’s golden period (the thirties and forties) movies were set in India under the British Raj.   He described this as “a time when there were always some Bengal Lancers ready to jump in to help out a noble cause.”   He spoiled this when he added:  “We now know, of course, what really happened in India under the British, that it wasn’t so noble at all . . . ”

This might not have bothered me too much, except that I had just heard something similar from a doctor at the University of Michigan Hospital.   We shared a very amicable conversation about Diego Garcia, of all places.

Diego Garcia is an island in the Indian Ocean that has been turned into a major military base.  The island has been a British possession for two centuries, having been acquired from France following Napoleon’s defeat in the Napoleonic Wars.   According to the doctor, there are only 55 Brits on the island today, while there are over 2,000 Americans.  The Brits have the unenviable task of policing the island, where the only trouble the Americans can get up to involves alcohol!   There really is nothing else to do.   Even swimming is out as the island lies in shark-infested waters.

Towards the end of the conversation, my doctor made a derogatory remark about the colonial period in Africa and how much better off the Africans are now.

I instinctively came to the defense of the colonial period pointing out that this was not the experience my wife and I had – that Ghana and Zimbabwe, the two countries we lived in, were much better off under British colonial rule than they have been since independence.

Which brings me back to Robert Osborne’s comment.   “We now know, of course, what really happened in India under the British, that it wasn’t so noble after all . . . ’’

This is a loaded statement and very misleading, to put it mildly.

There is nothing we know now about colonial India that we did not know under the Raj.  The same can be said about Africa.

What has changed is the attitude toward empire.

The movies Mr. Osborne was referring to, made prior to “Soldiers Three,” a movie frankly not worth watching, were movies like “The Lives of a Bengal Lancer” made in 1935.  They were all pro-British and showed what the British were doing in India, notably policing the North-West Frontier, where hostile tribes were always causing trouble.   This area was arguably the most violent part of the empire during the two centuries of British rule.   Today, it is a stronghold of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and now, of ISIS.   Neither the Pakistani nor the Afghan government has a handle on the situation there.   Looking back, it would have been better to keep it under British control, thereby avoiding 9-11.  Twelve years after independence, the movie “North-West Frontier” (1959) showed the British role in the region in a positive light.

But in the following decades, attitudes changed toward the empire, just as they changed in the United States toward its own history.   Instead of being proud of past accomplishments, in the 1960’s history was taught with a sense of shame.   This self-loathing on both sides of the Atlantic has led to what African-American writer Shelby Steele calls “White Guilt,” the title of his 2006 book.  Whites now feel guilty about everything in their collective past and constantly fork out billions to try to “put things right.”  Those billions have achieved nothing.   Given to Africa and India, the money is siphoned off by the wealthiest people with little benefit to the poor, while in the US, they have produced an underclass perpetually dependent on welfare.

This change in attitude was partly the fault of Hollywood, which started making movies that made Britain and America look bad.

But it can be largely blamed on academia.  Liberal socialist (even communist) intellectuals got control of western universities and started filling the minds of young people with anti-western propaganda.

When asked what Britain had ever done for India, Indian writer Dinesh D’Souza responded with the following words:

‘Apart from roads, railways, ports, schools, a parliamentary system of government, rights, separation of powers, checks and balances, the rule of law, and the English language . . . nothing!’”

The same gifts were bestowed upon the British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.   Sadly, since independence, many of these countries have endured dictatorships and debilitating poverty as the dictator keeps all the wealth for himself.

This is why people are fleeing their home countries in the millions, seeking a better life, ironically in the countries that used to rule them.   What a pity the Bengal Lancers aren’t around today to take on the noble cause of ridding the world of some of these evil despots!

 

 

OUR CONTRIBUTION TO TERRORISM

Bin_Laden_Poster2

Shortly after September 11th, 2001, I was visiting Ghana in West Africa.

I remember being stuck in a traffic jam with a fellow minister, observing all that was going on around us.   The streets in African countries are always full of people.   At the side of the road, there are stalls selling everything you can imagine.

At one stall on this particular visit was a rather large painting of Osama bin Laden. It must have been 4 feet tall. I turned to my friend and asked him why it was for sale.

Ghana’s Muslim population is about 14% of its total. Most Muslims live in the north and we were on the south coast.

He explained to me that people feel America is trying to take over the world and that Osama bin Laden will stop them.   I was rather taken aback by this remark.

I was shocked on future visits to see many pictures of OBL in Christian homes.

He had clearly made a positive impression on many people.   I also remember seeing a popular calendar on peoples’ walls showing people jumping out of the twin towers. Why would anybody want to be reminded? They were, in fact, celebrating a humiliating defeat for the most powerful country in the world.

My friend’s explanation interested me. Why do people think America is trying to take over the world?

The answer lies in America’s cultural pervasiveness, from the style of clothes to the type of movies and television programs we produce, the music, the attitudes and the language.

I also remember an incident on another visit. We had stopped for refreshments halfway from Kumasi to Accra, a five-hour journey. A vehicle pulled up next to us. A number of people got out. They all seemed to be Ghanaians. Then we heard the most awful language. Every sentence included at least one four-letter word. A Ghanaian minister leaned over and said they had all been in America.   Ghanaians frown on the use of the “F” word – any Ghanaian using it is likely to have spent some time in America. That’s the perception, at least, and perception is reality.

In another memorable incident, I was asked why Americans allow their children to talk back to them. I asked the individual what made him think this was the case. He replied that he had seen it many times on American TV shows.

American television shows are shown all over the world. I should elaborate and say that the worst American TV shows are shown everywhere. Jerry Springer fills the airwaves. Violence (“Action!”) is preferred over sex.   And we certainly have a lot of violent shows for export. Is there any wonder that we are seen as a violent country? America’s wars seem like an extension of that violence.

Thinking about the events of the last ten days, the terrorist attacks in Paris and subsequent events, we need to ask ourselves: How much have we in the West contributed to the present situation?   Nothing could possibly condone acts of terrorism but we may be inadvertently contributing to it.

Second generation Muslim immigrants are, in far too many cases, turning to extremism. Could this be their way of dealing with the daily contradiction that is their lives – trying to reconcile a strict religious upbringing with the degeneration they see around them?

President Erdogan of Turkey warned today of a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West.   Many Muslims already see themselves as being in a war against “Christianity,” not realizing how unchristian the West has become.

Islam has very different values to those of the secular West. Muslims are deeply offended by the content of entertainment emanating from the West. Yes, they could turn their television sets off, just as they can refuse to buy copies of Charlie Hebdo with a cartoon of Mohammed on the cover.

But we could also stop producing trash! Sadly, in the world of entertainment, there’s little money to be made by adhering to the words of the Apostle Paul. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Phil 4:8)

There was a time when America was highly respected around the world. At that time, the country was more Christian with a population living more in accordance with the scriptures, though not perfect by any means.   Today, the US flaunts its immorality, especially in its entertainment.

The US and, indeed, the whole western world, would be wise to remember the words found in Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”

POSTSCRIPT

After seeing the endgame from Paris, I braved the snow and went out to the post office.   While on the way, I heard a few minutes of NPR.

An unidentified “expert” was talking about how the French have not done enough when it comes to assimilating Muslim immigrants.

Now, I’ve been an immigrant three times.   In turn I immigrated to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Ghana and the United States.

I always understood that I was the one who had to adapt to my new country.   I did not for one minute expect the people who were born there to adapt to me!

Muslim funny

YET ANOTHER BEHEADING

Peter Kassig

Sadly, ISIS has chosen to behead Peter Kassig, a 26-year-old man from Indianapolis. Peter, who converted to Islam while in captivity and changed his name to Abdul Rahman, was a humanitarian. He went to Syria to help people suffering in the Civil War there and was captured by ISIS.

It seems his captors cannot understand the concept of humanitarianism, even though charity and charitable works is one of the five pillars of Islam.

I am reminded again of our experience in Ghana, where we lived for seven years. Frequently, people would accuse me of working for the CIA, in spite of my protestations to the contrary. At the time, I had never even lived in the United States, let alone worked for the American government. I came to the conclusion that they could not comprehend why any westerner would live in West Africa when they didn’t have to; that trying to serve people was an alien concept to them.

We in the West can be quite naïve when it comes to other cultures. We cannot understand how different the thinking is. Another victim of this failure to understand was a British taxi driver who was beheaded a few weeks ago. Again, like Peter Kassig, he had gone to Syria to help alleviate suffering.

A further example of the incredible gulf between west and east lies in history. In the West most people are not interested in history. This is especially true of the United States.   It comes as quite a shock to find that in the Middle East, history really matters. When Peter Kassig’s executioner referred to Coalition soldiers as “Crusaders,” he was referring to the crusades that began in 1095 and continued for two centuries. Frequent references to the crusades show that, to many in the Middle East, it’s as if they were a recent event. Israel is often referred to as “the Crusader State,” thereby avoiding the use of the word “Israel.” Westerners in the Middle East are seen as the modern equivalent of the Crusaders, out to conquer the region at the earliest opportunity.

The author Salman Rushdie, who came from a Muslim background, explained in a speech some years ago, that when a Muslim from the Middle East comes to Detroit, he is not looking for an opportunity to better himself, to take advantage of the American way of life. Rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard that will spread Islam to the United States. With this intent in mind, perhaps it’s not surprising they cannot understand why Americans go to their part of the world.

A third lesson from this tragic incident is that the West is going through a prolonged period of religious confusion. After decades of anti-Christian propaganda in schools, it’s not surprising that so many of our young people, like Peter Kassig, convert to Islam, which is a simpler religion. Islam is even propagated in schools in an attempt to promote multiculturalism. However, converting to Islam, as some captives have done, does not gain any mercy from ISIS captors.

There will no doubt be more beheadings. American troops are still in the area. If any of them are captured, they can expect the same fate, along with any other aid workers from western countries still hoping to make a difference.