My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 02/2006

« This is the truth, PNG. It hurts & we must not lose sight of it | Main | Evidence contradicts Oz government stance on Manus shooting »

15 May 2017

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Phil,

As the saying goes, sometimes one has to take the rough with the smooth. One has to take the unpleasant parts of a job as well as the pleasant parts. For a long time clergy enjoyed a certain prestige and perhaps protection from suspicion, as you have noted, that time is now over.

I wholly appreciate your point Garry.

There are many wonderful and largely unheralded people working in Papua New Guinea for the good of the people. These include expatriates as well as Papua New Guineans.

Given the obstacles it is amazing how some of them operate, let alone survive.

They should be lauded for their work but what usually happens is that they get tarred with the same broad brush that the organisation they work through does.

Often these organisations, like some churches, have sullied reputations and this rubs off on these good people.

The classic example is the Catholic Church and its involvement in child sexual abuse. How often now do people now look at a priest and wonder whether he is a paedophile? That must be a terrible burden for many good and hardworking priests to bear.

People at the local level who daily interact with these people know all about their goodness but those outside tend to lump them under their organisation and if it has a bad reputation assume those people do too.

It works in politics as well. We all know that within the corrupt and incompetent PNG parliament there are quite a few selfless and dedicated people who put their people first and themselves last.

This is the conundrum. You really have to judge people individually. If they are good people working in a corrupt organisation their job is doubly hard.

I imagine a lot of people think of Garry Roche the good man long before they think of Father Garry Roche the Catholic priest.

‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ 1 Corinthian 1:18

In his well know Commentary Matthew Henry says: ‘Paul had been bred up in Jewish learning; but the plain preaching of a crucified Jesus, was more powerful than all the oratory and philosophy of the heathen world.

This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our hopes, the fountain of all our joys. And by his death we live.

The preaching of salvation for lost sinners by the sufferings and death of the Son of God, if explained and faithfully applied, appears foolishness to those in the way to destruction.

The sensual, the covetous, the proud, and ambitious, alike see that the gospel opposes their favourite pursuits. But those who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, see more of God's wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified, than in all his other works.’

Phil, oft times a doubter too but Matt. Henry says it far better than I could describe Christianity.

I respect Phil Fitzpatrick’s comments questioning why PNG should call itself a Christian country, and his telling of his own experience. Phil acknowledges his Irish ancestry, and being Irish myself I remember an old Irish saying about Ireland “God’s own country, - and the Devil’s own people !”
However, perhaps there is another way of looking at the influence of Christian Churches on PNG life.
I have known many individual missionaries and local church workers who have dedicated themselves in the fields of education and health to bettering the lives of ordinary citizens of PNG without asking those citizens to follow their faith. There are local people who have seen the genuine commitment of many of these church workers and respect them.
I have personally known kiaps like jack Edwards, Ross Allen, Ken Logan, Rod Cantlay, and many more, who in my opinion went beyond their call of duty in serving the local people. Their contribution to PNG life is respected. I do not know and never asked those kiaps what if any was their religious affiliation.
From my experience on some business boards and government boards in more recent years I have met many individuals and PNG public servants who also go beyond the call of duty in their service to the public. These people earned the respect of the people they served.
In recent years the institutional Church has lost much of its prestige and influence. Government institutions in PNG have also come under much criticism in recent years.
There may be an increase in corruption at many levels. It is easy to become cynical about all institutional organizations. Certainly we are not as perfect in a Christ-like way as we would hope to be. Mahatma Gandhi is reported to have said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. You Christians are so unlike your Christ!”

Hopefully we can retain out capacity to being open to seeing the good in individuals regardless of their affiliation to Church or Government Institute. There are still good people working in Church related activities, despite the loss of institutional prestige and influence. There are still good nurses and doctors working in government health services despite loss of institutional prestige.
Look for the good and you will find the good.


It is often an upfront and shock and even confrontational when I say I am a atheist. I use agnostic and atheist in different context based on my security or my level of diplomacy.

What interests me is the antagonism I get on why I have become unPNG. It baffles me when everything I do is about my relationship to where I belong, which is PNG.

I am PNG through and through and yet they question my PNGness when I say I am an atheist or agnostic.

So if PNG is a Christian country, then what are the outward signs of Christianity being expressed in our homes and communities? I have become more and more sceptical on everyone who says they are Christians, even my closest of friends.

My conclusion is PNG is not a Christian country. The idea is a mental and emotional escape from our reality. It is a label that gives an arbitrary comfort/superiority, sense of imaginary morality and a source of courage for the weak. And it is an excuse for ignorance and criminality.

Just a name tag, our actions and attitudes speaks otherwise!

Many of our politicians and bureaucrats usually use the tag Christianity to gain what they desire. A politician will use 1/10 of his budget to allocate to the church.

He or she can use Bible text or quotes to gain people's favour to be elected, but then when be in the power they will then end up in corrupt deal hence, usually did not serve the interests of the needy people.

In the case of bureaucrats they will be God-fearing figures and very committed church goers, their Christian/personal life will interest the public and officials attention.

Hence, public or private office will be given to him or her. And after taking the office. Its a different story altogether.
That is how I see PNG use Christianity as the mechanisms for self gain and humanity destruction.

I have a friend who, like Phil, abandoned her Catholic religion. In the 1960s she had been training to become a nun, but when the nuns started to abandon their traditions she left the convent and has not set a foot inside the Church since.

I have more respect for her ethics and her moral reasoning than I have for those Catholics who have stayed inside the Church but who have conformed to changing fashions by simply rejecting every Church teaching that didn’t suite them.

Philosophers like Alasdair MacIntyre have noted how modernity has revolutionised Christianity from within so that it has become pseudo-Christianity, and our lack of awareness of this fact is part of the problem.

But then in every age how many people are truly committed to their beliefs? The psychiatrist Leo Alexander found that the most common reason that Christians became Nazis, was simply that it had become fashionable. I suspect their shallow faith had been more a matter of habit or culture than of any real conviction!

So it’s illogical and unfair for Phil to blame the churches for complicity in PNG corruption just because most people are nominally Christian. The Sicilian Mafia might have been nominal Catholics who attended the funerals of those they had murdered, but the Church hardly caused or approved of this.

Not that churches are blameless. St. John Chryostom famously said “The road to Hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, and bishops are the signposts.” He thought few bishops would be worthy of an eternal reward.

Phil states, “Papua New Guineans don’t really get much out of being Christians”, and he mentions education and health services, as if this material welfare was the only concern of Christians. He might care to read how one Catholic bishop turned an uneducated generation of violent drunkards and prostitutes into the nation’s finest citizens in one generation, without government assistance, simply by instilling into them Christian virtues.
https://www.city-journal.org/html/how-dagger-john-saved-new-york’s-irish-11934.html

And yes, it is “really cynical” to suggest that Christian missionaries uphold government neglect of health and education in order to keep people subject to their own teaching.

Furthermore, Christianity invented the hospital and the university, not the state. It was Jean-Jacques Rousseau who wanted to replace the existing order with the State taking over all responsibility. His utopian State was not merely authoritarian, it was also totalitarian, and was the forerunner of the totalitarian systems of the 20th century, the most bloody century in history.

What was Rousseau’s motivation for wanting the State to takeover parental and Church responsibilities? Much of his reputation rested on his theories of bringing up children, yet shockingly, he had abandoned all his own 5 children. Historian Paul Johnson writes, “It is unlikely that any of them survived long.” Could it be that this heartless man was seeking justification for his own abominable behaviour?

Could it be that Karl Marx hated capitalism because he himself rarely worked, and he spent his life bludging on his wife’s family and on Frederick Engels?

Phil then suggests that Australian secularism has resulted from dissatisfaction and a realisation of religion’s “true motives”, just as he has, and he can’t understand why Papua New Guineans, who are “rational human beings” like himself, are still religious.

Could that possibly be because they don’t buy your arguments Phil?

One of the characteristics of modern atheists seems to be preening self-righteousness. However most lack the intellectual rigour of the likes of Nietzsche who had the courage to confront the implications of his renunciation of Christianity.

Nietzsche, says philosopher David Bentley Hart who takes on noted atheist Richard Dawkins, makes “the atheist chic of today look fairly craven by comparison.”

Europeans have abandoned Christianity and have few children. In their deluded impotency, they seem unable even to see how they are being replaced by Muslim outsiders. It’s called civilizational collapse.

Most days one can read of free speech and free inquiry being shut down by Leftists on US universities, and students seem completely indoctrinated into a belief that you can be whatever you say you are in terms of gender, race etc.

New York City has already criminalized “Failing to Use an Individual’s Preferred Name or Pronoun” including the made-up transsexual pronouns ‘ze’ and ‘hir’, as a ‘human rights’ violation.

A few months back a reporter visited several US universities and proclaimed that he was a 7 foot tall, black Asian female, even though he was clearly a 6 foot white male. However not a single student interviewed would refute his claims. Most agreed that he was whatever he said he was.

I have pondered at some 6 foot tall, white male entering a Kukukuku village and proclaiming that he was really a 7 foot, black, female local person. I have no doubt he’d quickly learn that the Emperor has no clothes, and that Kukukuku’s don’t take kindly to Orwellian ‘Newspeak’.

So who has the real wisdom?

Ross Howard. hrhoward@optusnet.com.au


By the way, is it not a case of how many buy into the argument?

A nation of christians or a nation of church-goers?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)