ESSAY:  AUSCHWITZ AND THE WISDOM OF CROWDS

 

AuschwitzOn this the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in Poland, we should perhaps take time to reflect on humanity's potential for inhumanity.

    History testifies time and again to the fact that whilst we, as a race, are capable of reaching the noblest heights, we also have the potential to plumb the lowest depths. We forget this at our peril.

     My own generation, the once ubiquitous baby boomers, have never known war on the scale of the two bloody conflagrations that engulfed much of the globe in the first half of the twentieth century.

     We grew up knowing a different kind of global conflict, a so-called Cold War.

     The very name reflects an underlying sense of tension, an awareness that this insidious ideological quarrel might actually heat up at any time, its latent energy bubbling to the surface, fuelled by uncontained nuclear fission.

Mal FletcherTuesday, 27th January, marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. MAL FLETCHER - writing from London - reflects on lessons learned... |  more... | 



 

NEWS REPORTS...

28th January, 2015

IN THE SHADOW OF THE AFC ASIAN CUP, SYDNEY TEENAGERS GATHERED TO KICK FOR A CAUSE

Tennis and cricket aside, while much of the sporting world's attention locally has been focused on the Australian-hosted AFC Asian Cup (and excitement builds towards the final between the Socceroos and South Korea), another less well- known event has been taking place alongside it.

Scores of children from across Sydney took part last week in the Dream Asia Unity Football Festival held in support of One Goal, an international campaign that uses soccer as a vehicle to help improve the nutritional status of children across Asia and in Australia.

DAVID ADAMS reports... |  more... |

THE DAILY STATISTIC:

28th January, 2015

Number of international tourists in 2014:

1.13 billion

Source: UNTWO

For more of The Statistic... |  more... |

NEWS...

Vietnam: Pastors recovering after attack... |  more... |

CAR: Kidnapped cleric and aid worker released... |  more... |

Sudan: Another South Sudanese pastor arrested... |  more... |

CAR: Christian aid workers kidnapped... |  more... |

Updated UK: Topless image appears on The Sun's page three despite talk the practice would cease... |  more... |

| MORE NEWS...|

 

 

28th January, 2015

WORLDVIEW: REPORTS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM VIOLATIONS IN CUBA INCREASED IN 2014 DESPITE GOVERNMENT CLAIMS, SAYS REPORT

The number of documented violations of religious freedoms in Cuba saw a significant increase in 2014 despite government claims of increased respect, according to a new report from persecuted church advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The organisation recorded 220 separate religious freedom violations in 2014, may of which involved "dozens of victims" - a figure well above the 2013 total of 180, the 2012 total of 120 and the 2011 total of just 40.

The report, Cuba: Freedom of Religion or Belief, said that "religious groups across the spectrum all reported varying degrees of hostility from the government". "Few reported any notable improvement," it said.

The report said government agents "continued to employ more brutal and public tactics" than seen in the previous decade with the organisation seeing regular reports of severe harassment and sporadic reports of "violent beatings" of Protestant pastors and lay leaders while women affiliated with the dissident group, Ladies in White, were dragged violently away from Sunday services "week after week".

DAVID ADAMS reports...  |  more... |

 

SIGHT SOAPBOX: PLEASE PRAY FOR THOSE ON MANUS ISLAND

17th January, 2015

The men that are on hunger strike are not strong. There are young people in these places who had never left home until they were forced to. Young people who call their mums at every opportunity to tell them they love them and to hear their voice.

     The current protest is not made up of robust healthy individuals who are looking for trouble. No! These men are weak and sick - they have been driven to despair after almost two years (in some cases more) in an intensely hot and humid climate where infection and illness abounds.

     What would we do in their situation?

     Their food has been inadequate (sometimes even runs out), water is rationed , in breach of guidelines, sewage problems in some compounds have never been solved and they breathe in the stench every day.

     Would we handle never knowing what our jailers had planned for us?

     Would we cope with indefinite detention without ever knowing when an end would be in sight or what that end might be?

     BEV HOLMES-BROWN issues an urgent call for prayer for a group of male asylum seekers who are staging a hunger strike at an Australian detention centre on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island in protest at their treatment by the Australian Government...  |  more... |

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SUBSCRIBER COMPETITION: WIN ONE OF THREE COPIES OF BEYOND SIGHT: THE DEREK RABELO STORY

 

Sight is giving away three DVD copies of the film Beyond Sight: The Derek Rabelo Story...

Beyond SightAmidst the small beautiful city of Guarapari, Brazil, Derek Rabelo's father prayed that his son would become a famous professional surfer. Unfortunately on May 25th, 1992, his prayer seemed unanswered when Derek was born blind. Seventeen years later Derek decided that despite his blindness he still wanted to surf and that he wanted to surf Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu. Through the encouragement of his parents, best friend, and surf coach, Derek embarked on a three year journey of grueling mental, physical and spiritual training. As Derek perseveres towards his goal of surfing Pipeline, he inspires the best pro-surfers in the world including Kelly Slater, Damien Hobgood, Rob Machado, Lakey Peterson, Taj Burrow, Laird Hamilton and more, who are featured in the film. You will learn from Derek's story that the best journeys in life are walked by faith, and not by sight. To purchase a copy, head to www.beyondsightmovie.com.au.

To enter the Sight competition, simply tell us in 100 words or less why you'd like to win a copy of the DVD, Beyond Sight. We'll pick the three most insightful answers. Send entries to editor@sightmagazine.com.au with 'Beyond Sight Competition' in the subject line. As well as your answer, please include your name and postal address.

Entries close 5pm on 30th January, 2015. Competition open to Australian residents subscribed to Sight's email weekly updates as at 5pm, 30th January, 2015. To subscribe click here. For more details (including terms and conditions), follow this link... |  more... |

 

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!

 

Australian flagsWishing all our readers - whether in Australia or elsewhere around the world - a very happy Australia Day!

Be informed. Be challenged. Be inspired.

Sight Magazine

 

10 MOMENTS THAT DEFINED AUSTRALIA

As Australia pauses to mark Australia Day, DAVID ADAMS takes a look at some defining moments in the country's history. Below are 10 key moments which shaped the nation we live in today - let us know what moments you'd say were among the most important in our history... |  more... |

 

 

INDIA: CHRISTIANS START HOTLINE ON HINDU HARASSMENT

 

Indian Christians from across denominations have formed a legal aid agency, complete with a telephone hotline number, to respond to increasing attacks that have followed the rise of Hindu nationalists to national power.
      The United Christian Forum for Human Rights was formed on 19th January “to coordinate both legal and advocacy assistance to the community, which has been traumatised in recent months by communal violence in several states,” said John Dayal, a prominent Christian activist and spokesperson for the new group, in a statement to World Watch Monitor.

     Harassment of India’s Christians has increased since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, swept parliamentary elections in May 2014.

     The new initiatives have been assembled ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India. Asked whether the flurry of anti-Christian violence would figure on Obama’s agenda, the new forum secretary, Rev Vijayesh Lal, said: “We have to speak up for ourselves.”

    VISHAL ARORA and ANTO AKKARA report for the World Watch Monitor... |  more... |

 

 

ESSAY: IS SOCIETY BECOMING MORE EXTREME?

 

Broken windowIn the face of anti-Islamification rallies in Germany and the gruesome terror attacks in Paris serious question are being raised about social cohesion within European societies.

     Even before the events of this month, questions have emerged about whether, for example, Britain is becoming more anti-semitic.

     More specifically, questions are being asked about whether Western societies are becoming more extremist in general, as opposed to militant, terms.

     Are we beginning to see unusual numbers of people holding trenchant positions at the poles of public opinion, especially on keystone issues? What does this hold for our collective future?

      In sociological terms, of course, some extremes can be important. By their very existence they help to define the middle ground, the mainstream. They mark the boundaries of opinion, providing a gauge for the health of public debate.

Mal FletcherIn light of events in France and elsewhere this month, MAL FLETCHER, writing from London, looks at whether there is evidence society is generally becoming more extreme... |  more... |

 

 

NIGER: REPORTS OF MORE THAN 70 CHURCHES BURNED AND CHRISTIANS ATTACKED FOLLOWING ANTI-CHARLIE HEBDO DEMONSTRATIONS

 

Updated 21st January, 2015

Niger churchMore than 70 churches have reportedly been destroyed in Niger after violent anti-Charlie Hebdo protests swept across the country last week.

     Ten people have reportedly died in the violence and initial reports suggested numerous churches had been destroyed in the former French colony following violent protests following the publication of the latest edition of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

     But the World Watch Monitor is now reporting that more than 70 churches have been destroyed, along with "numerous" Christian schools and organisations, including an orphanage, The Good Samaritan, run by the Assembly of God Church. The 40 orphans are now apparently in the care of the police. The organisation also reports Christian homes have been looted and burnt down and in the city of Zinder, in the country's south, some 300 Christians had to seek shelter in an army barracks.

      The protests - which came after Charlie Hebdo, where 12 died following an attack by Islamic extremists earlier this month, published an edition in the wake of the violence depicting the Prophet Muhammad weeping while holding a sign which reads "I am Charlie" - reportedly started in the city of Zinder in the country's south last week and spread to surrounding areas as well as to the capital Niamey.

    DAVID ADAMS reports (with the World Watch Monitor)... |  more... |

FOR PREVIOUS:

ESSAY:  NEW FASCISM REVEALED IN PARIS SHOOTINGS

Writing from London, MAL FLETCHER reflects on this week's attack on a Paris-based magazine which left 12 people dead, numerous others injured and a nation - and world - reeling once again in shock... |  more... |

 

 

LIBYA: ISIS-RELATED GROUP CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR KIDNAPPED EGYPTIANS

 

Contrary to published reports, 13 Egyptian Christians kidnapped in Libya by Islamic terrorists have not been freed, relatives said.
      A Libyan group affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) (or IS) claimed responsibility for the 3rd January kidnapping of the 13 Copts from a housing complex in Sirte, Libya, as well as the abduction of seven others. The group, which calls itself the Islamic State of Tripoli, posted photos of the 20 Christians on a jihadi website, and the families of the kidnapping victims have identified all of the men.
     “All we can do is just continue praying for their safe return,” said Nassem Ghaly Kamel, a relative of several of the kidnapped Copts.
      The photographs were posted on “The International Jihad Network,” a website used by ISIS and its allies to promote its ideology. The Islamic State of Tripoli claimed it had seized 21 people, though photographs of only 20 Christians appear on the site; it was unclear if a there was an extra kidnapping victim.

    In an update on the kidnapping of a group of Egyptian Christians in Libya, Morning Star News reports that stories saying they have been released are not true... |  more... |

FOR PREVIOUS:

SUSPECTED ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS ABDUCT 13 EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANS

Morning Star News reports... |  more... |

FOR MORE FEATURES... | more...|

 

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REGULAR COLUMNS

 

OPEN BOOK - HUNCHES ABOUT JESUS: THE ULTIMATE CRIME

I AmWhat was going on? For background you might read Daniel 7 again. Jesus was referring to a passage about the Son of Man being given judgment over all the nations of the world. Jesus tells the High Priest that those claiming to serve God must give full respect to God's Messiah. That was the Old Testament promise. The High Priest is not 'God's Special Ruler'.

     Mark tells us the stupendous answer Jesus gave to the High Priest's question: "So are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus answered, "I am!"

     That was too much for the High Priest. He showed the others there his opinion of Jesus. This man had to die for what he said. My hunch is that many there did not understood what was going on, but, like the High Priest, they were scared, deeply afraid of this Man.

     I don't think Mark was there but clearly people who were there told him about it later. That's how he got his story. So, with this in mind, let's go over it again, slowly.

      BRUCE C WEARNE looks at a passage in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus directly challenges the High Priest with His words...  | more... |

 

POSTCARDS: TURKEY PROMISES FIRST NEW CHURCH IN 90 YEARS

TurkeyThe Turkish Government has renewed its promise to allow the construction of a new church in Istanbul, a promise first made by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) six years ago in the run-up to local elections.

     Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu recently announced in a 2nd January meeting with representatives from Turkey's non-Muslim communities that the government would provide land for a church for the Syrian Orthodox community.

     "It is the first time since the creation of the Republic. Churches have been restored and re-opened to the public, but no new church has been built until now," a government official told the AFP.

     The church, if completed, will be the first officially-sanctioned new church building in Turkey since the nation was founded in 1923. Most new places of Christian worship, particularly Protestant ones, do not have official recognition to be zoned as religious buildings.

     But according to a source in the Turkish press, this announcement by the government is only posturing to the international community.

     The Turkish Government has renewed a promise to allow a new church to be built in Istanbul - the first officially sanctioned such building since the country's independence in 1923. But, reports the World Watch Monitor, questions remain about ongoing obstacles to its construction..| more... |

 

LIFESTORY: A TRIBUTE TO ANDRAÉ CROUCH (COMPOSER OF MY TRIBUTE - TO GOD BE THE GLORY)

Andrae CrouchI was shocked when I heard of the home going of my dear friend, Andraé Crouch. You can read many articles on the internet from major newspapers and magazines, and review his amazing life and accomplishments in sacred music, secular music and Gospel ministry.

     Briefly, he was born on 1st July, 1942, along with his twin sister, Sandra, to Benjamin and Catherine Crouch who were in the dry-cleaning business and also served as a lay preachers, operated a street ministry and a prison ministry. He passed away on Thursday, 8th January, 2015 at Northridge Medical Center after being admitted on Saturday after suffering a heart attack. Both Andraé and Sandra were serving as pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, California.

     When Andraé was 11-years-old, his father needed a pianist to help with services where he was preaching. Mom and dad prayed, anointed Andraé's hands with oil and gave him a cardboard picture of a piano keyboard to practice. He played for the church service the next week. He simply said, "God gave him the gift."

      In an article first published by ASSIST News Service, Dr Stephen Boalt writes a tribute to his friend, Andraé Crouch, who died in the US earlier this month... | more... |

 

SIGHT-SEEING: SOME (UNHEALTHY) TRENDS IN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP

ChurchI know of young Australian Christians who enjoyed Mark Driscoll’s preaching. Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church had thousands of worshippers in 14 locations across four states in the US, with annual revenues of more than $US30 million. But in August 2014 Driscoll stepped down from leadership amidst multiple allegations. As of January 2015, Mars Hill was dissolved. Ben Tertin helpfully outlines some of the issues around Driscoll’s leadership and Mars Hill in his article in the Leadership Journal (Christianity Today, December 2014).

     Since I am not an American, I am reluctant to comment on this matter. But the comments made in the article remind me of certain patterns of ministry that I observe in churches and Christian organisations nowadays. Regardless of whether the critique in the article concerning Mars Hill is valid, I think it does highlight some general issues in churches today. Here I would like to mention a few (unhealthy) trends of leadership in recent times.

     Gifts and ability over faithfulness

 Although this is not explicitly stated in the mission statements of Christian organisations or the official documents of the church, increasingly leaders are chosen primarily because of their gifts and abilities. In fact, leaders themselves prefer to work with gifted people who are able to achieve tangible results. At the same time, Christians look to charismatic speakers because of their eloquent speeches and power of persuasion.

     SIU FUNG WU reflects on what he sees as some dangerous trends in current Christian leadership...  | more... |

 

POSTCARDS: BEREAVED ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN PARENTS WORK TOGETHER FOR RECONCILIATION

PCFFAlthough Israeli-Palestinian relations are probably best known for conflict, a group of parents from both sides has spent 20 years working for reconciliation, inspired and united by the common experience of bereavement.

     More than 600 families belong to the Parents’ Circle - Families Forum (PCFF) - brought together by the pain they share through losing a close family member in the ongoing conflict.

     The grassroots group was initiated in 1995 by Yitzhak Frankental, a Jew, whose firstborn son Arik was abducted and murdered by Hamas militants while he was serving in the Israeli army.

     “After Arik was murdered, I understood that I had failed as a father,” he recalled in a newspaper interview. “I had brought a son into the world but he did not live - not because he was sick, but because there was no peace. Because I didn't do anything to promote peace.”

     Mr Frankental said eyebrows were raised over his conciliatory activity in his religious congregation in Jerusalem, but he never wavered in his religious faith. “My approach to religion,” he said, “is that I worship God, not the other way around. Everything that God does is for the good, even if I do not fully grasp it.”

     In an article first published on ASSIST News Service, PAT McCARTHY looks at how the Parents' Circle - Families Forum in israel is helping to bring about reconciliation in Israel... | more... |

FOR THIS AND MORE OF OUR REGULAR COLUMNS, GO TO OUR REGULARS PAGE here

 

IN HIS HANDS...

16th October, 2014
VenezuelaThis is the story of a very ordinary person with no claims to any special attributes or exceptional virtues but who is bursting inside to tell what the Lord has done for her.

I am recounting this with a heart full of deep gratitude. I am humbled by the fact that a spiritual being, maybe a guardian angel or the hands of the almighty God, saved me from serious harm on two occasions. I have remained silent for too long and it would dishonour and diminish the work of our Lord if I did not tell the story.

     I was 12-years-old, living in Caracas in Venezuela, when I joined the girl scouts, and remember vividly my first excursion. Armed with all the required scout “gear” - including a medium size machete - we set out to conquer Mount Avila, a 2,740 metre high mountain. In 1977, when this excursion took place there were no such things as mobile phones or GPS equipment.

     TANIA NEALE tells of two occasions in which she credits God with saving her life... | more...|

FOR MORE OF MYSTORY... | more...|

Looking to encourage or inspire others or simply share how meeting God has changed your life? We're looking for your story - perhaps the inspiring story of how you came to know Jesus or an incident in your life in which you saw God's hand at work. MyStory - an addition to our existing LifeStory column - is a new regular feature where we'll publish your story for the benefit of others. Simply write your story in 200 words or less and email it to editor@sightmagazine.com.au and we'll post it here under our MyStory banner. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

 


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To sign up for our church newsletter service or to find out more information, simply email subscriptions@sightmagazine.com.au.

 

REVIEWS

 

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DAILY AUDIO BIBLE

Daily Audio BibleDelivering a daily helping of Bible readings since 2006, the Daily Audio Bible podcasts are something of a Christian institution on the net, with the site racking up more than a massive 73 million downloads since it began. The format is relatively simple - the site's creator Brian Hardin, who had a fairly amazing CV prior to founding the DAB (take a look at his site - www.brianhardin.com - for more), reads through a series of Scriptures - one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, a psalm and a proverb - followed by some commentary/reflection, prayer, and news on what's going on within the DAB community.

      DAVID ADAMS listens to a daily podcast that's been heard by millions... | more... |

 

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CONNECTING WITH THE UNCHURCHED THROUGH ART

Art and SoulTowards the top of my list of pet peeves are the posters that Christian bookshops sell with beautiful paintings or photos with a Bible verse underneath to explain or somehow justify the art. I am a passionate advocate for celebrating art, and for reflecting on art theologically, and for using art and creativity in ministry and mission. But we need thoughtful Christian artists and artful ministry practitioners to help move us beyond “Bible-verse art”.

     Michelle Sanders is a Melbourne-based painter and pastor, an art therapist and storyteller who beautifully integrates her passion for art and for mission. Her imagination has been captured by missio Dei and incarnational mission – cooperating with what God is doing in people’s lives and taking what is good news about Christianity into the subcultures of our society. When she was converted as a hippy, she packed her Kombi van and joined a commune to share Jesus with her subculture. Now as a church planter and pastor, she is taking what is in her hand – her paintbrush and easel – and connecting with people outside the walls of the church.

     DARREN CRONSHAW finds Michelle Sanders' book Art and Soul a refreshing approach on using art in mission...  | more... |

 

WATCH

ANGELINA JOLIE'S UNBROKEN A POWERFUL TALE BUT ONLY HINTS AT THE GREATER STORY OF LOUIS ZAMPERINI'S LIFE

UnbrokenUnbroken – which tells the powerful story of survival during World War II of US Olympian Louis "Louie" Zamperini – is not an easy film to watch. But it’s certainly worth doing so.

     It’s easy, in that sense, to see why Angelina Jolie fought for the job of director – based on the 2011 book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand, this is a story that had to be told on the big screen (be warned that if you want to go to the film without knowing any more about the plot, stop reading now).
     An Italian-American, Zamperini (played by Jack O'Connell) was a tearaway child until his brother Peter, eager to set him set on the right path, helped encourage his love of running. Fueled by his anger, Louis learnt to push himself beyond his limits and this eventually led him to run in the Berlin Olympics in 1936 where against the odds he beat the US champion Don Lash.

     DAVID ADAMS watches Unbroken...  | more... |

 

LISTEN

RIVERS IN THE WASTELAND A CHANGE OF PACE FOR NEEDTOBREATHE

Rivers In The WastelandNEEDTOBREATHE’s fifth studio album Rivers In The Wasteland is a record that commands your attention! You cannot pass by this record and not take notice. For the Australian readers who have not heard of NEEDTOBREATHE, well...you are about to! Having previously toured in the US with Taylor Swift, they are now set to do eight shows in Australia with Christian heavyweights Third Day and the local (and very talented!) Levi McGrath.

     But if you already do know NEEDTOBREATHE, and their previous albums, then here’s the heads up: Rivers In The Wasteland is different. It is stripped back and what may have been more like anthems in the past are now more like lullabies.

     From the first track it's evident that the commercial sounds of the past have been set aside for a more authentic southern folk-rock sound. Vocally, you will hear similarities with Caleb Followill (Kings of Leon), while the mandolins, banjos and harmonicas bring a rootsy Mumford & Sons 'stomp and clap' feel. There is even a touch of the Beach Boys in the opening of State I’m In.

      About to tour in Australia, ROBBIE TOWNSEND listens to US band NEEDTOBREATHE's latest, Rivers In The Wasteland...  | more... |

Soundbite18th December, 2014

THE TCM UPDATE: THE STORY BEHIND THE FIRST SILENT NIGHT

To hear CAM WANT with this week's edition of The TCM Update, simply click on the link... | more... |

 

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DAILY INSPIRATION, AND DIGGING DEEPER INTO THE BIBLE...

DVODVO (short for 'devo' or devotional) is a Christian daily devotional that provides you with inspiring wallpapers for your device each day. Not only do you receive inspirational wallpapers to share by social media, but they each come with verses and a devotional to reflect on. The devotionals are provided by PKTFUEL which was founded by the husband-and-wife pastor team of the Hope Unlimited Church in Australia.

      ALAN TAYLOR tries out DVO and Bible+... | more... |

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LIFESTYLE

 

TRENDSPOTTER: THE EVOLUTION OF CAR SHARING

CarsThe idea of sharing a ride with someone to cut the costs of travel (not to mention save the environment) has been around for a while. But for the past few years, the idea of not just sharing a ride but sharing a car has fast been gaining momentum. Particularly suited to dense urban areas (especially where parking is an issue and where, thanks to the proximity of amenities, you only need a car every now and again), there's several different models currently at play. One involves a company or organisation parking a car in your local community somewhere that you can access when you need it. Membership fees are usually paid monthly or annually along with an hourly or daily rate when you use the vehicle. Players in the arena include global giant ZipCar (now owned by Avis) and Australian companies GreenShareCar and Flexicar while some of the more traditional car hire companies, like Hertz, have also entered the space.

     DAVID ADAMS looks some new models of car sharing... | more...|

 

KNOW IT ALL: THE CHRISTMAS STORY

ChristmasChristmas is coming and so we thought it was timely to take a look at the Christmas story as it's told in the Bible and separate it from some of the traditions which have grown up around it...

     • Scholars believe Jesus wasn't born in the year zero but probably around 4 or 5BC ("Before Christ") (as a side note, the Gregorian calendar doesn't actually have a year zero but jumps straight from BC to AD). While we celebrate His birth on 25th December, the exact date of His birth remains something of a mystery. But there's plenty of speculation based on things such as the idea that shepherds would only normally be out watching over their flock in warmer months between April and October.

     • Nativity plays often feature an "innkeeper" who informs Joseph upon his and Mary's arrival in Bethlehem that there's "no room at the inn". But Bethlehem was a small village and unlikely to have an inn of its own. It's more likely they were unable to find any space usually set aside for guests in a private house (it was already full) and so had to bed down where animals would normally be housed - although none are mentioned in the Biblical account.

    DAVID ADAMS separates some of the Christmas story traditions from what's recorded in the Bible...  | more...|

 

ORIGINS: DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? FIRST ASKED 30 YEARS AGO

Do They Know It's Christmas?Last month marked 30 years since Band Aid launched their hit song, Do They Know It's Christmas?, in response to the famine crisis in Ethiopia.

     The song, released on 28th November, 1984, became, what was at the time, the best-selling single in British chart history, went to number one on various charts around the world - including in Australia, and led to what's been called the "show that rocked the world", Live Aid.

     Bob Geldof, then-frontman of the Boomtown Rats, was apparently moved to put the song together after seeing horrific images of the famine in Ethiopia on the BBC evening news on 23rd October that year.

     Shaken by the horrors he had seen on the screen, Geldof and his friend Ultravox's Midge Ure not only managed to write the song but bring together about 40 of what were then the biggest names in the British music industry - everyone from Phil Collins and Sting to Bono, Boy George, George Michael and Bananarama - who recorded it in London's Sarm West Studios in late November, just over a month after Geldof had first seen the news report.

    DAVID ADAMS looks back30 years to the making of Do They Know It's Christmas?...  | more...|

 

Silent Night ChapelSEE YOU THERE! SIGHT'S NEW TRAVEL DEALS COLUMN...

Sight is unveiling a new travel deals column for our Australian readers. Every week, we'll try and bring you a new deal that might be of interest.

This week - spend Christmas in Salzburg, Austria, with a side excursion to a memorial service at the Silent Night Chapel on Christmas Eve.

     Follow this link to see this travel deal in full... | more...|

FOR THIS AND MORE, GO TO OUR LIFESTYLE PAGE here

 

20/20

 

WORDPLAY CHALLENGE #5

This wordcloud represents the words contained in a oft-quoted passage from the Bible (with the more frequently used words shown in larger type). The challenge for you is to identify the passage - which book and chapter does it come from... | more... |

 

THE BIG PICTURE: ISAAC NEWTON DISCOVERED GRAVITY. GOD INVENTED IT

January poster
Isaac Newton discovered gravity! Okay. So ‘discovered’ may not be the perfect word. Whoever dropped the first hammer (or rock!) on their toe probably gets that honour.
      But any person living on Planet Earth knows that objects fall to the ground. And ‘discovering’ gravity can be a painful lesson that’s best learnt at an early age and nowhere near a top story window. But just what is gravity? What makes it happen? Great thinkers have tried to understand what laws or principles, if any, lie behind the phenomenon. But in 1686 it was Isaac Newton who rightly explained that all objects, no matter how small or big, have gravitational pull. Because our Earth is so big, Newton argued, its gravitational pull is much stronger making the pull of small objects, like a grain of sand, less obvious.

     To see Outreach Media's January poster and read the full text, follow the link... | more... |

 

THE WEEKLY SNAPSHOT

Fields

    9th December, 2014

    "The fields are white for harvest" by TONY KERRIGAN

In Sight's Weekly Snapshot, we'll endeavour to publish an image from somewhere around the globe every week. To see this image in a larger scale and for details of how you can submit images, follow the link...  | more... |

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ARTS PAGE - 20/20 here


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THE SIGHT DIRECTORY

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RELAUNCHED! SIGHT BOOKSHOP

Bookshelf

We've relaunched the Sight Bookshop - you can also buy our Christmas cards and other items we release there.

The bookshop is now open. Click HERE to go there...

 

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THEY SAID IT

 

 

"Over the last six months, or even going back further to the last Ashes series, there have been too many examples of player behaviour going too far and overstepping the boundaries. The amount of sledging and disrespect shown by players to each other was bad."

- International Cricket Council CEO David Richardson went on to say that in response much work has been done to ensure a "proactive approach" to policing behaviour on the cricket field and taking action against transgressors - an approach which will no different to that taken at the upcoming cricket World Cup (as quoted in The Australian on 22nd January, 2015)

 

"We will never give in to terrorism, and we will actively contribute to the peace and stability of the world together with the international community. We are not wavering at all on this policy."

- Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, speaking on 25th January, 2015, after the apparent beheading of Japanese security contractor Haruna Yukawa by members of the so-called Islamic State (as quoted on The Guardian on 25th January, 2015)

For more of They Said It, follow the link...  more...

 

 

THIS WEEK ON THE WEB

 

 

23rd January, 2015

The Daily Telegraph has published a list of 26 odd things about Australia in the lead-up to the country's celebration of Australia Day. To see the list, head here...


For previous 'This week on the web'... | more... |

Sight now has a Pinterest page where you can see some of our images. To see it, head here...

 

 

MUSINGS   

 

 

FIRST PEOPLES...

22nd January, 2015

PAUL CLARK

Having toured outback Australia, I was confronted with the disadvantage and dysfunction of some of our first peoples. It is an overwhelming problem that governments struggle to know how to tackle.
I believe there is perhaps no other solution than the one I am about to suggest. I hesitate to suggest it because it is no easy answer, it will take courage, support and sacrifice. I suggest it with all seriousness - it is something my family did in my formative years.

Musings is a regularly updated, column featuring short snippets reflecting on daily life from a Christian perspective...  | more... |

 

 

THE WORD EXPLAINED

 

 Wordle

Theosophical

Theosophist

Theosophy


| more... |

 

 

BLOGS

 


SO, A DOG CATCHES THE BUS...; PRINT-A-CAR; AND, "KISS AND RIDE"...

It may sound like an urban myth but a dog in Seattle has apparently taken to riding city buses without its owner. Eclipse, a black Labrador, has reportedly been using a bus to get to a dog park - a ride of about four stops. Transport authorities and bus travellers have confirmed the story with one saying the dog wagged its tail when it reached the stop where the dog park is.

DAVID ADAMS writes about the odder side of life... | more... |


CHRISTIAN GENERAL RECALLED IN JERUSALEM EXHIBITION...
The World War I British officer who gave the order to lay down arms in 1918 is the subject of a year-long exhibition in Jerusalem opening this week.

On the 50th anniversary of his death, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie's life is being celebrated at Christ Church, an Anglican community with strong links to the family and located within the ancient walls of the Old City.

CHARLES GARDNER, of ASSIST News Service, reports...  | more... |


THE MYSTERIES OF KHIRBET EL-MAQATIR
A tiny excavation that started with a handful of people in 1995 has become one of the largest excavations in Israel and may help Bible scholars determine not one but two Biblical locations. The site known as Khirbet el-Maqatir is located about nine miles (14 kilometres) north of Jerusalem.

Bryant Wood, of Associates for Biblical Research, began the excavation to search for evidence to support his belief that Maqatir, and not the nearby site of et-Tell, was the location of Ai, the city conquered by Joshua after the destruction of Jericho.

In an article first published by ASSIST News Service, GORDON GOVIER writes about findings on one of the largest excavation sites in Israel... | more... |


AN END...AND A NEW BEGINNING...

What's on my mind?... Thanks for asking, Facebook.
Time to say goodbye to Just Been Thinking after many years, stops and starts. Thank you for your attention over the years, readers. Thank you for your endless commitment, encouragement and patience, David Adams- editor extraordinaire.
And now...I migrate back across to sightmagazine.com.au to begin a Coach Column, sharing insights in the area of human behaviour and life design.
 The final instalment in ANN WOJCZUK's blog about 'life, the universe and possibly everything'...
  | more... |

FOR SIGHT'S BLOG LINKS, HEAD TO OUR BLOGSPOT PAGE...    

 

 

SIGHT'S FORUMS ARE NOW CLOSED

 



     

    Latest Your Say comments

     

    Comment left by AL
    Thanks Paul for this column, I like to read you...

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    This is a very powerful group, I hope that thos...

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    I pray for the people of Iraq. May Jesus guide ...

    Comment left by AL
    It is always encouraging to think about God's g...

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    Thank you NIls for your reflective thoughts on ...

    Comment left by Jim Reiher
    Good questions Robbie.<br /> <br /> I would a...