Folau fulminating and media mire

Perhaps I didn’t say things very well yesterday in The Israel Folau furore continues – there have been some positive outcomes as various people have spoken up against Folau’s archaic and insulting (but still very common) religious beliefs.

But very few if any people would have been hurt or offended if his small comment on Instagram had been like millions of other online comments every day and had been ignored.

The social media and furore gave the comments publicity they didn’t deserve, and that exposed people to offence and hurt that otherwise wouldn’t have been suffered.

Protesting and publicising the comments exposed millions to possible hurt and offence.

While it is a feature of modern media and social media, why did Folau’s comment get so much attention and opprobrium?

Folau is a rugby player. Until now his public utterances were not seen as important.

In comparison Destiny Church Brian Tamaki says ‘cry baby gays’ will go to hell

Outspoken Destiny Church self-proclaimed pastor Brian Tamaki has come out in support of Israel Folau, hitting out at “cry baby gays” and agreeing the LGBTQ community could go to hell.

“The Bible says hell is a possibility for anyone who doesn’t repent. Jesus didn’t apologise for offending people when speaking God’s word. If the gay community want to be accepted as a part of society then ‘take it on the nose’ like the rest of us.”

He then used a hashtag he made up, “#crybabygays”, to sign off the message.

Tamaki speaks to and tries to influence many people, but apart from a few passing mentions gets nothing like the criticism that Folau got.

However Tamaki is largely ignored as an attention seeking nutter, while the normally private Folau is plastered and blasted.

David Cohen at RNZ – Folau comments: Keeping an eye on the wider picture

It is easy enough to say Israel Folau was wrong to get all religiously high and mighty on social media about homosexual behaviour.

The question also naturally arises of how the mainstream media ought to be dealing with fundamentalist beliefs of any stripe in the first place – not to mention the perils of holding up people who happen to be good at kicking a ball, as also being liberal champions.

It has been said before – by this writer, in fact – that not only sports stars but poets, critics, movie-makers, playwrights and rock performers tend to make for notably unreliable authorities on pretty much all matters outside of their chosen field (if on that).

With only a few notable exceptions, they offer bad ideas on social policy, banal observations about economics and, yes, whoppingly ill-considered religious views, too.

Some mainstream commentators have used the controversy to anguish over the limits of free speech. In the news business, these are sometimes known as whyohwhyofwhyohwhy pieces – commentaries that rather skirt a fundamental issue, in this instance the question of fundamentalism itself.

Folau was, after all, simply giving his own, particularly rigid, Christian stance on homosexual behaviour. He also was expressing a view shared by many who take a severe interpretation of any of the three great monotheistic religions.

Threatening hell for all sorts of behaviours has been common for yonks, as anyone who went to a religion orientated school (or church) in the past can probably attest.

Christianity’s record in this regard is well known, notwithstanding the fact that plenty of thoughtful, devout believers, would argue the toss, or at any rate, question the focus on what consenting adults choose to do among themselves.

But the ultra-Orthodox stream of Judaism isn’t exactly known for sanctioning homosexuality (although Israel – the country, not the player – generally takes justifiable pride in being the most LGBTQ-friendly country in the Middle East).

And the ferociously anti-gay record in parts of the Muslim world, where homosexual acts are sometimes punishable by death, ought to make a western liberal blanch.

As the British diver Tom Daley recently pointed out after winning the synchronised 10m Platform competition at the Gold Coast tournament, no fewer than 37 Commonwealth nations currently have anti-LGBTQ statutes: a rainbow mosaic of bigotry.

But all hell breaks loose when someone known for sporting rather than speaking prowess has a comment dug out of the depths of the Internet and plastered all over the world.

The media can even lead the way. A more constructive approach (other than sporting associations to insist their stars learn a few social manners) might be to pause a while longer before dining out on any such comments made by celebrities in the first place, and try to keep an eye on the wider picture.

Sometimes fixating on just the one chance Instagram comment isn’t just unhelpful. It can even be a bit (sorry) sinful.

Expecting the media to lead the way on sensibly dealing with things like this is probably as futile as hoping to go to heaven when you die.

The Israel Folau furore continues

I have stayed away from the Israel Folau issue until now.

A rugby player saying something silly doesn’t sound very newsworthy to me.

Someone with religious beliefs saying someone else will go to hell if they have different beliefs – or sexuality – is not new or unusual.

Religious people have long claimed that everyone who doesn’t share their beliefs will go to hell – that has been a basic teaching in churches and schools for a very long time. Folau just made a mistake of narrowing down the condemned target to homosexual people.

If he had suggested that the All Blacks, or atheists, or old white men should go to hell few would have cared.

Religiously motivated statements that I think are crap have always been fairly common.

Sure if people don’t like what Folau said they have a free speech right to point out what they think.

Some statements have been passionate and fair criticism.

Many seem too be simply on the bashwagon, trying to shut up anyone they disagree with or don’t like.

Some like Duncan Garner have defended the right of free speech and the right of people to say stupid things – in a free speech world that means people are also free to criticise.

He has been strongly criticised – that’s the right of the indignant, as much as it his Garner’s right to say his bit.

In general I think that ridiculous religious comments are best just ignored, but it’s hard to ignore the frenzy.

The Folau frenzy has seemed to me to be a furore over f all.

But there is a positive – a sort of Streisand effect, where rugby players have started to speak up and defend and support homosexuality and homosexual people. This is long overdue and sounds very Christ like – perhaps Folau was inadvertently doing God’s work in highlighting the right to be different to the majority sexually.

A bit of a southerly or “four days of hell”.

The weather forecast is for a bit of a southerly over the next few days in what is usually about the coldest part of winter. It could end up being a but more sustained and snowy than usual. That happens sometimes.

Not that headline writers from Auckland would understand that. NZ Herald:

Four days of hell: worst storm of year bears down on New Zealand

The country is preparing for its worst winter storm of the year with rain, snow and gales set to batter much of New Zealand.

Snow is expected to fall to very low levels in the south of the country with potentially damaging gales, torrential rain and snow lashing the country from Gisborne south.

The Milford Rd is closing at 5pm with significant snow forecast to about 500m by tomorrow morning.

This morning’s forecast is for snow to 200 metres in the South Island. That’s not a big deal, it’s common and doesn’t mean it will settle at that altitude.

Over the next few days it could snow to sea level and settle for a day or two. Snow tends to be fickle and regional – it sounds like inland South Island and Canterbury may cop the worst but that’s uncertain.

A problem with the “four days of hell” headlines is that most people will dismiss it as Auckland bull and go about their lives as per normal for this time of year.

Last week’s forecast snow didn’t happen in most places. That’s more common than actually getting snow.

It could be a bit cool at home, there is a scheduled power cut today. But I’ll go to work as usual, and will probably get home again tonight. I have never been unable to get home because of snow. If it does settle it is more likely to come in the night, and a day or two every year or two I get to have a late start, usually getting out by mid morning.

Every few years we get a day or two where we get ‘snowed in” for a day – usually not badly but it is simply unwise to travel unless you really need to. Things can go on a hold for a day without much problem.

This winter southerly could be worse, it sounds likely to be in some areas, but Metservice is still only forecasting sleet in Dunedin, which looks nice but doesn’t cause any problems.

Some of the highest hill suburbs may get a dump and higher roads are likely to be affected – media will find a road somewhere with some snow on it.

But we will carry on as usual for winter and see what happens without getting too excited about it.

Isn’t hell supposed to be hot, not cold?

The latest from Metservice doesn’t sound particularly concerning, it’s fairly normal for a winter southerly:



A cold front will sweep northwards across the South Island during Tuesday. In the wake of this front, snow is forecast to fall in the south and east, with further snow overnight Tuesday and on Wednesday as very cold air aloft moves over the South Island.

Snow is likely to fall as low as 200 or 300 metres at times from Tuesday until Thursday, with significant accumulations for higher elevations. 20 to 30cm, possibly even more, could accumulate on Otago and Canterbury high country stations. This will affect many higher roads, and could cause problems for livestock from Southland to Banks Peninsula.

This Watch is for the likelihood of significant snow accumulations below 500 metres in the following areas…

Southland and Fiordland: From early Tuesday morning till Wednesday afternoon.

Otago: For a time Tuesday morning, and again Tuesday night till Wednesday evening.

Canterbury and Marlborough: From Tuesday evening till Thursday morning.

People in these areas are strongly advised to stay up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings, as this event unfolds. Road snowfalls warnings will be in effect and warnings for heavy snow could be issued at a later stage.

This Watch will be reviewed by 10am Tuesday 11 July

Warning to all

Warning to all

This guy’s hell must be very crowded (I presume it’s a guy).

Source: Kissing Fish’s Photos

Marriage leading to hell – apparently there are still ‘Christians’ this extreme

There is a handful of old school Christians who either work in shifts or flock en masse to to Kiwiblog when certain topics come up, especially at the moment anything on marriage equality or homosexuality. Some see the end of the world as nigh if a small minority are given the same right to legally married as most of us.

There are other Christians who don’t push their pulpits, and no doubt more who keep their beliefs to themselves.

Sometimes religious arguments tend towards the extreme, where some from both sides can be rude and display high degrees of intolerance.

One occasional visitor is Scott. Here is some of what he posted yesterday on Craig says he would vote for gay marriage if electorate backs it.

Marriage is a natural pairing of a man and woman that existed before the state. Before government, before even kings there was marriage. First mentioned in the Bible with the pairing of the first two human beings, Adam and Eve.

Gay marriage in contrast is purely a creation of the state. So it represents a relatively small number of gay activists using the power of the state to impose homosexuality as worthy of the status of marriage. So it is an excellent example of the state interfering in people’s lives.

So far a fairly fundamental Christian view.

It will require heaps of legislation changes and will inevitably lead to persecution of conservatives and Christians by the state. But when pastors go to jail and churches are fined out of existence for not allowing gay marriage on their premises no doubt many on this thread will congratulate themselves on how wonderful it is that the state is not intruding in people’s lives.

There are a few who see it as a direct threat to them, sometimes to the extent of paranoia.

My point is that marriage is not an invention of the state and existed before the state. Gay marriage is an invention of the state and would not exist without major government legislation. So the people who are for gay marriage are the ones promoting government interference in people’s lives.

A common (minority) Christian view is that allowing other people to get married is state interference in their own lives. They see it as a threat to their beliefs.

Marriage existed before the State, before there were even kings and queens. When Abraham married Sarah there were no government officials or even nation states. So marriage preceded the state.

Scott thinks that Christianity created marriage and therefore owns marriage.

Others suggested that defacto relationships preceded marriage. Not as far as Scott is concerned.

SPC my dear chap. One is entitled to one’s opinion, one is not entitled to one’s own facts. In the beginning there were de facto relationships and then came marriage is nonsense. Provide lots of evidence please or immediately withdraw your statement.

Without “lots of evidence” you can discount the opposing view.

For your information marriage occurs in the Bible with married couples like Abraham and Sarah who lived around 1800BC.
The ancient Egyptian Pharaohs had wives etc, etc. The evidence for marriage in ancient times and not de facto relationships is so overwhelming that to suggest otherwise is simply not rational.

Claims evidence of marriages and not of de facto relationships.

I suggested there must have been coupling of humans before marriage at some stage back in history, so ‘de facto’ first is really the only practical possibility. “In fact ‘suddenly marriage being created’ before any other type of relationship makes no sense at all.”

Have to agree to disagree Pete my old stick. First two human beings created by God and married by God. I know descending from apes, millions of years, all that sort of thing is fashionable but I just think it’s all bollocks really. The de facto relationships precedes marriage idea is a product of evolutionary speculation and doesn’t have any actual historical data to back it up.

His claims have no historical data to back them up (the Bible isn’t historical data), but no matter. Scott is about to launch THE BIG THREAT.

I just don’t know why people abandon faith in God to embrace evolution and consequently atheism. It’s a terrible world view to live by. No hope, no purpose, no love, just blind pitiless indifference.

By the way Pete, when you die, which way are you going to go? Up or down?

Thunder and brimstone – if you don’t agree, accept, believe, you are the pits will be damned to hell.

Having never believed in hell (but having of hope, purpose and love in my life) I find it hard to understand how people can have such strong views and beliefs, and how they can have such a strong intolerance of their views being challenged.

And Scott wasn’t alone, ‘smallgovernment ‘ added their bit:

Pete, to say we ‘start as atheists’ is idiocy. We start life knowing nothing (although I believe we have a spiritual nature) and are taught – by our parents if they are worth their salt.

SPC, I’d say the onus is on you to make sure that your lack of belief in God is not going to have you end up in hell. You call that a threat (which is ridiculous, because I’m not creating the consequences) – I call it a warning or maybe an excellent reason to seek God to see if there really is something to Christianity.

Many of the atheists here think themselves very clever and look down their noses at Christians.

Ironic saying that many athesists look down their noses at Christians having just intimated that if you “lack of belief in God” you will “end up in hell” is a lot more downward looking than our noses.

Silly academic objections or logical arguments are a poor substitute for seeking an actual experience of God by reading the Bible and praying.

I have no problem with people who get something out of reading the Bible and who pray – it’s their choice what they do and what they believe.

But in the modern world “silly academic objections” and “logical arguments” have superceded many old beliefs. Most Christians understand (I think) that the knowledge of the world now means that they have to modify their beliefs, that ancient writings were not literal and did not always portray a way of life or ways of the world that make any sense with a modern scientific knowledge.

But a few cling to a fervent belief in what many now see as unbelievable.

And those few seem to really fear the threat that modern knowledge is to the very essence of their beliefs.

And sometimes they try to transform their fear  and transfer it to those of us who think and believe differently.

I have been threatened with hell last night and in the past. Yes, it is an attempted threat of consequence of not agreeing, of not believing rthe same. But I have never had any belief in it or fear of ‘hell’. There is absolutely no evidence of it and nothing to suggest it is anything but a priestly construct designed to scare people into complying with their demands.

To hell with hell. It is nothing more than a last resort in an argument, it’s the ultimate threat with no argument.

And utlimately that’s a sign that some with extreme religious views see their views increasingly threatened by modern reality.

They are in a blind, pitiful spiritual trap of their teacher’s making.

God awful arguments

I’ve seen a lot of god-awful arguments (and godless-awful arguments) on blogs. And I’ve never seen anyone converted or  unconverted.

I’ve just seen this on Facebook:

I know some people will nod and smile in approval and understanding, but I think that that sums up a lot of religious argument – a quaint narrow example being used as some sort of proof of everything.

I remember one thing from bible study at school, we had an hour a week when I was in Form 1. The local vicar told a story that I have never heard of since, but our modern day Google God show’s it’s still out there in different variations:

A man died and St. Peter asked him if he would like to go to heaven or hell. The man asked if he could see both before deciding. St. Peter took him to hell first. There the man saw a big hall containing a long table, laden with many kinds of food. He also saw rows of people with pale, sad faces. They looked pale and there was no laughter. And he observed one more thing: Their hands were tied to four-foot forks and knives and they were trying to get the food from the center of the table to put in their mouths. But they couldn’t.

Then, St. Peter took him to see heaven. There he saw a big hall with a long table, and lots of food. He noticed rows of people on both sides of the table with their hands tied to four-foot forks and knives also. But here people were laughing and were well fed and healthy-looking. They were feeding one another across the table.

Four foot knives and forks seemed a really dumb idea – especially in heaven if such a place existed.

I guess it’s just very hard to explain in words what having faith is like – but they need to try some semi-believable stories.