Letters to the editor – June 2018

Blood and theft

Israel was born of blood and theft.  That is an incontrovertible fact. But the latest violence Israel has inflicted on unarmed civilians in Gaza is a bloody stain on the world’s humanity, especially on those Western Christian nations who were instrumental in establishing Israel on Palestinian land, thus dispossessing millions of indigenous population.

We all watch on, prepared – again, it seems – to countenance Israel’s disproportionate violence against Gaza’s civilians. Not even children are safe. Gazans are held under siege in the world’s largest open-air prison.  In the current cycle of violence (May 2018), indiscriminate shootings and bombings by the Israeli military have killed more than 100 civilians and wounded thousands.

Is there a collective memory of occupied France? Does anyone recall the French Resistance, the Maquis? Have we all forgotten international conventions that support an occupied people’s right to challenge the occupier? I uphold non-violent protest, it is legitimate under international law; the disproportionate violence that Israel is inflicting is anything but the ‘legitimate defence’ it claims.

It is high time for sanctions to be applied and for Israel’s crimes against humanity to be brought before the International Court of Justice. My underlying fear is that Israel’s excess of violence is calculated to inflame Iran and thus provoke an outbreak of violence throughout the entire Middle East. This would spell catastrophe.

In God’s name what are we all about? Have we lost our moral compass? Do we think criticism of Israeli government actions is anti-Semitic? Come on, Christians, get real! Cry out for justice! Make a noise!

Heather and Bill Mathew
Parkville, VIC


Respect God’s creatures

I was disheartened to read in the May Crosslight about live snakes and a crocodile being used in a workshop about overcoming fear. Research has shown that using animals in such exercises (and similar ones, such as ‘petting zoos’) decreases their life spans – the exception to the rule are dogs working in pet therapy.

Using live animals to decrease human fear shows a lack of respect for God’s creation. Animals pick up our emotions: why should snakes be surrounded by a cloud of negative emotion? Time to move on from Genesis 3. Does this activity really address the fear of change, and remove possible obstacles from within the church?  The way forward is to walk alongside our congregations/agencies, loving and respecting one another is the way forward – and respect of God’s creatures.

Respect can come about by marvelling at their God-given design. For example, snakes don’t have eyelids – a transparent scale protects their eyes. Snakes that are poisonous have diamond-shaped pupils, non-poisonous ones have round pupils. Snakes smell in stereo, with their tongue. Because the end of the tongue is forked, the two tips taste different chemicals. Many snakes are not harmful to humans and help balance the ecosystem.

Because snakes shed their skin, they have been, and can still be seen, in a more positive light as symbols of rebirth, transformation and healing.

The snake as a symbol of transformation is more powerful and beneficial to the church than representing ‘…all kinds of problems and fears and challenges that the church and its agencies face.’  One does not need to handle snakes in order to learn how to decrease fear, and support one another; pastoral care, counselling to address specific phobias, and prayer, should be sufficient.

Rev Barbara Allen
Brighton East VIC


Good doctor

Julie Perrin’s report on Dr Julia Baird’s graduation provides an interesting snapshot into the life of a very visible media “personality” in a world that is constantly changing (“Degree of reckoning”, Crosslight, May). By addressing the issue of domestic violence in faith communities, both Julia Baird and her colleague, Hayley Gleeson, exposed not only that subject, but the increasing tendency for people to rail against others via social media.

Being a Christian in 21st century Australia, especially when you are involved in a very secular profession, calls for patience and trust. Trolls have no place in our society. The good doctor’s courage in religious journalism is to be commended, and whilst the trolls bang their drum, I am reminded of the words from “There’s a light upon the mountain”. I sense the drumbeats of his army are truly the heartbeats of our love.

Allan Gibson OAM
Cherrybrook NSW


Capital offence?

I read with interest Barry Gittins’ article ‘Discipleship and the Cost of Peace’ in the May 18 – Crosslight and wish to comment on his last paragraph in which he states “If the US does move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which looks inevitable, it’s the end of the two-state solution.”

What has puzzled me for many years would be why are foreign countries’ embassies in Tel Aviv? Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The government is based there, including their parliament. Other countries have the foreign embassies based in their capital city and why is there an uproar about the USA wanting to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

With reference to the ‘two-state solution’ man may want to dictate what he wants; however, the one who will have the final say about Jerusalem is God.

D M Stephens,
Boronia, VIC


A debt of gratitude

In 2016 and then aged 85, I was quite conceited about my general health and fitness. Apart from a few minor ‘impedimenta’ of age, requiring bi-focals, hearing aids and a tin hip, I’d had a wonderful run to that point. Still travelling overseas, teaching and preaching around Australia and New Zealand, and publishing a couple of books, can go to one’s head.

Then routine blood test results found me being referred to a haematologist. The diagnosis was myelodysplasia, bone marrow failure.  Eleven cycles of a new treatment yielded ‘underwhelming’ results.  Now it’s only regular blood transfusions – a couple of units fortnightly.  Eventually that will cease to work.

So, here I am being literally kept alive by nameless, faceless blood donors I will never meet – plus my doctors and the impeccable nurses at St Vincent’s Oncology Day Centre. How can I thank those donors?

I became a donor at 20 and gave blood for years and years, but never thought of it as doing something good.  Those donors may not, either. But now, each time I am hooked up, it is like some kind of ‘epiphany’.

Whoever you are, out there, helping to keep me alive, please accept my heartiest thanks, and allow me to give a plug for readers of Crosslight to consider becoming blood donors, and to encourage their progeny to do so if they’re not already.

Rev Dr John Bodycomb
Doncaster, VIC

Trust fund

What a tremendous letter from Jenny Monger in March Crosslight: “Lack of Trust”. When we think of the words of that old hymn: “Simply trusting every day trusting though a stormy way even when our faith is small trusting Jesus that is all”, that sums up very well Jenny’s letter. When one considers the two most powerful competing forces in our world are Love versus Fear we as Christians need to practice what we preach.

Gary Shaw,
Ballan, VIC

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