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Posts Tagged 'Isis'

Catch 22 and the war on terrorism

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Some days ago I wrote a post in the form of a short story. In the story a young man walks into a New Zealand Army recruiting office. He’s 23 and his resume makes it clear that he’s the sort of candidate the Army would welcome with open arms. The recruiting officer can’t believe his luck. This kid is officer material for sure. He tells him as much. But the ideal candidate expresses a reservation about signing up. He wants an assurance that he will never be placed in harm’s way, that he will never be asked to go to war. The recruiting officer is astonished. With as much patience as he can muster, he points out that it’s the New Zealand ARMY the young man wants to join – a fighting force. Armies go to war. Soldiers are trained to fight. Though he might never be required to risk his life, the assurance he seeks clearly cannot be given.

“I know all that, of course,” the young man says, “I thought there might be exceptions. Thank you for your patience.”

Two weeks later a hooded gunman mows down 15 people at a Westfield mall. CCTV footage will  show him  hacking off the head of a late-middle-aged man with a serrated knife before running from the complex. In less than 12 hours Isis has claimed responsibility for the slaughter.

Within 24 hours the young man reappears at the door of the Army recruiting office. The recruiting officer looks up from the papers on his desk. “You’re back!” he says, “What changed your mind?”

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An atheist reflects on God, religious belief and Isis [Updated]

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I was 18 or 19 when I told the local Church of Ireland minister in Dunmurry, Canon Robert C Ellis, that I was an atheist and could no longer sing in the church choir or superintend the Sunday School classes on the council housing estate in nearby Seymour Hill where I lived with my aging mother. [Note the background similarity with John Key, though it stops there!)

Canon Ellis, whose initials ‘RC’ were a cross he had to bear, was  a liberal on most things, including sex, but his liberalism did not extend to the Roman Catholic faith which he could not stomach. He was a gentler man than Ian Paisley, though cut from the same cloth in matters sectarian.

My declaration that I no longer believed in God did not faze the Canon one bit. His brilliant son Stuart had, like me, found and then lost religion. The university did that to impressionable young minds.

“You can,” RC said, “continue to attend church, sing in the choir and teach Sunday School. Just don’t say The Lord’s Prayer or take communion and confine your teaching to the historical account of Jesus’ life.”

I spent a day or two considering this solution before deciding that it really wasn’t feasible for the person of conscience I considered myself to be.   Read the rest of this entry »

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