Sunday, April 01, 2012

The sign of the beast, signs of Christian tolerance, signs of statistical accuracy, and all that stuff ...

It being Sunday, it is the duty of the pond to warn Melburnians that they now live under the mark of the beast. Now it is true that Revelations restricts the number:

This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.

But as any true believer knows there are 666 ways to write the number, and clearly 666,000 is one of them, and clearly Melbourne is now home to a giant enclave of Satanists. So there, that's what getting bigger than Sydney has done to you. The header should have read It's my kind of town, say 666,000 new Satanists ...

The pond has long been a lone voice warning against Canberra, and the ABC:

That's a lay down misere mark of the beast, and if you want to learn more about the clear signs, you can wiki away at the Number of the Beast.

And speaking of Canberra demons, just down the road at Goulburn, the pond's relationship to the town has forever changed, once the services club tore out its portrait of demon sheep and their LED eyes, and instead cluttered the space with more poker machines:

Gone forever! How could you, you huns, you visigoths, you ostrogoths, you vandals ... you've been doing this sort of thing ever since the Vandals sacked Rome. Great art ruined and lost, like the Popes hacking away at penises ...

But speaking of Goulburn, a heart-warming ceremony took place there during the week. While the pond doesn't share the Anglican faith, it's always possible to share the humanity, and how pleasing to see a woman, Genieve Blackwell, appointed as assistant bishop for Wagga Wagga and the surrounding region.

But there was of course one un-Christian sour note, emanating as usual from the Sydney Anglicans:

Dr Jensen, as metropolitan of the Anglican province of NSW and the ACT, should by rights be doing the consecration of both. He will not be there because the Sydney diocese opposes the ordination of women because it believes it contradicts the teaching of the Bible on the headship of men.
Dr Jensen said this week: ''I very much admire Genieve Blackwell. However, I regret I am not able to take part in the service for reasons of conscience. I have therefore asked Bishop [Brian] Farran to act in my place.''

Yes it's all there in Jensen begs off as deputy consecrates woman bishop, and the pond wondered what it all meant.

There are, according to the report, now three women Anglican bishops in Australia, and thirty one in the world, and all Peter Jensen can offer is an ungracious, unseemly boycott, while allowing proceedings to take place? Why that's behaviour worthy of those who call for a bowl and some water for the washing of hands ... no care and no responsibility, just pettiness and a slight.

Happily it seems that things are on the move in the Anglican church. Why there was the Anglican Bishop of Gippsland back in February acting in a most Christian manner, as you can read in Bishop defends gay priest appointment.

Just not in the Sydney Anglican division ...

What can you say, when the best way to farewell Dr Rowan Williams was deemed to be quoting raving ratbag fundamentalists from the African continent, well known for their dedication to the demeaning of women and gays:

... Archbishop Nicholas Okoh who leads the Anglican Church of Nigeria, one of the largest provinces in terms of numbers, said that when Archbishop Williams came to office, the Anglican communion was a 'happy family'. As he leaves it, Archbishop Okoh says even if it was not entirely of his own making, Dr Williams "is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world."

Nigeria is of course home to some of the more outrageous displays of homophobia on the continent, legalised and offensive, and nary a bleat about it comes from the Sydney Anglican leadership. (Nigeria passes anti-gay marriage bill, criminalizes same-sex displays of affection).

"For us, the announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement" Archbishop Okoh continued. "It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction. To this end, we commit our Church, the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) to serious fasting and prayers that God will do “a new thing”, in the Communion." the Nigerian Primate said.

No wonder Williams wanted out, and the quiet life, because when it comes to sexuality, there's not that much difference between a Sydney Anglican in a position of authority, and the weirder thoughts of the Wesboro Baptist church, which is perhaps why Reaction to Rowan resigning ended this way:

"What is needed is someone who will hold firm to biblical truth in areas such as human sexuality in order to promote the gospel and unite the church in the face of militant secularism."

Need we add someone who won't go to Goulburn to celebrate a simple ceremony in solidarity and faith!

But enough of the Sydney Anglicans, because we desperately wanted to share this thought by Cardinal George Pell:

None of us can rewrite any history, personal or national. Most of us are aware that there were 1000 convicts - men, women and children - in the First Fleet. Not as many know that they were accompanied by 500 cattle, horses and poultry.

Actually none of us can rewrite history, especially head counts, and by most accounts, the First Fleet carried about 759 convicts, 586 men, 192 women, and a list of their names, and a partial list of their crimes is widely available in many places on the full to overflowing intertubes, as in the wiki List of convicts on the First Fleet. If you add in the 550 or so officers, marines, ships crew and families, you soar well over the thousand mark.

And if you want to get picky, the mention of 500 cattle, horses and poultry is also quite misleading. There were four mares, 2 stallions, four cows, 1 bull, 1 bull calf, 44 sheep, 19 goats, 32 hogs and five rabbits, not to mention the Rev. John's cats (yes there's an exhausting and exhaustive detailed list of the provisions on the First Fleet here).

Not that the cattle did anyone much good, as they "went bush", and it was only seven years later that a herd which had grown to some 61 was found grazing near what became Camden.

All this is is well enough known - at least amongst those who had Australian history bashed into them, or who have learned the simple art of googling while knowing which sources to trust.

Clearly the last source to trust is Cardinal George Pell wittering on about Parramatta Female Factory, and concluding thusly:

This precinct is an important part of our history and gives us many reasons for thought.

The food for thought the pond came away with is to wonder how Pell could be such a dismal historian, who so wilfully ignores simple numbers in such a cavalier way, even if he's only providing fodder for the Sunday Terror and its doting readership. How hard would it have been to type 759 instead of 1,000 (or perhaps 666 if he wanted to mix history and mythology and create a stir)?

And if he's so wayward in relation to a few straightforward statistics involving the First Fleet, what on earth to make of him as a climate scientist?

Go on Jesuits of Eureka Street, give Pell what for, and publish Dr. Tim Stephens stirring reprimand Bad week for Pell and climate change deniers, concluding thusly on his skills as a scientist:

... the discourse of climate change has become so debased and post-modern that any views, however bizarre, can be given an airing. Like homeopathy and astrology, Pell's pseudo-science should be ignored, and the scientific method allowed to continue, however unpalatable the conclusions may be.

It leads us to a corollary in relation to Pell as historian:

... the discourse of First Fleet data has become so debased and post-modern that any views or figures, however bizarre, can be given an airing. Like homeopathy and astrology, Pell's pseudo-data should be ignored, and the historical method allowed to continue, however more accurate than Pell the conclusions may be.

(Below: how much to pay for Pell's thoughts? Tuppence is probably one and a ha'penny too much).

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