Showing posts from July, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik: Some Thoughts

My first response to the massacre in Norway is grief and sorrow. My heart goes out to the survivors, to the families of those killed, and to the nation. I have no comprehension of what it must be like to be one of those people and to have lived through this. I pray that somehow those deeply wounded by this can find it in their hearts to forgive and go on, I'm not sure I could.
It seems that Anders Breivik, baptised at 15, claims to be a Christian of sorts, and whether he is one or not (it is disputed), as a Christian myself, I want to disassociate myself from everything he stands for. What he has done is repugnant and a complete reversal and corruption what Jesus came to do on planet earth. Jesus came in non-violence to bring peace, to show that the path of God's Kingdom is non-violence, urging his followers to turn the other cheek. Sadly, too many of his followers have not heard this and since the adoption of Christianity as the 'state-religion' of the Roman Empire in …

Jesus the Cold Case: A Response

This morning I watched 'Jesus the Cold Case' which aired on TV One last night. The program involved Bryan Bruce exploring the question of who killed Jesus and why? The agenda was to challenge the idea that the Jews were behind the killing of Jesus as this has led to blaming Jews for his death, to anti-Semitism and to horrors such as the Holocaust. Here are some thoughts in response.

Positively, the program did unmask a whole range of Christian traditions that have accumulated over time such as Jesus looking like a western man with long hair, when in fact he was a short man, with rounded face, cropped hair and tanned skin. It showed how many of the supposed sites in Israel where Jesus supposedly did this and that and upon which churches are now found are likely bogus. I like some of the drawing out of the political implications of Jesus, with Jerusalem a tinder box and Jesus killed by the Romans in the end for being a political danger. I like the recognition that his actions in…

The Burqa: Should NZ Ban It?

This is a longer version of a column published in the Challenge Weekly July 2011
The Burqa has been in the news since two women were banned from Auckland buses recently. As most readers will know, burqa is the black outer garment worn by women of some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies in public. It includes the head-covering (hijab) and face veil (niqab). It is likely that such clothing was worn by Arab and Persian women even at the time of Christ and before, as indicated by the Greek historian Strabo (64 BC – AD 24). The early Christian leader Tertullian (c. AD 200) praised the modesty of the 'pagan women of Arabia.' Islam itself is divided on the necessity of wearing the burqa with some believing such modesty in public is obligatory in the Qur'an, and others. For those who consider it necessary, the face is considered the most tempting part of the body; hence, the veil.
Many westerners believe that the burqa should be banned. The usual reasons are security concern…

First All Black Squad, thoughts

The All Blacks squad is pretty predictable in most ways. The fullbacks are what one would expect, Mils M, Israel D, Isaia T. There are really only two wings. I am disappointed Maitland missed out, and surprised Sivivatu is excluded. Only two specialist wings is a surprise. The midfield is entirely as expected, Fruean has not done enough despite his power. Only Slade has the full set of skills for the first five back up, despite the improvements in Cruden. The half backs were as expected.
In the forwards Read was a certainty as was McCaw, Kaino and Thomson. I really think they need another genuine open side flanker. That being said, it is clear that they are going for a more power-based side, and are not going to play the speed-go wide all the time game. That is the Aussie approach. As I see the team, there is actually no genuine open sider, McCaw plays like a number 6 now.
The locks are as one might expect, with Hoeata forcing his way in. I think our lineout is vulnerable without real t…

The Scourge of Gambling Grows

I have just read an article in the Sunday Star Times suggesting that soon Lotto players will be able to buy their instant scratchies online, to increase the size of Big Wednesday prizes, to decrease the size of counters so smaller shops can sell tickets, and that lotto tickets can be sold at the supermarket checkout (

As McEnroe might say, 'you can't be serious!'

Aside from the inconvenience of waiting minutes longer at already understaffed supermarkets' checkouts while the checkout operators have to process this nonsense, this is not good for NZ in any way whatsoever (IMHO).

The explicit goal of the new policy is, to quote the article, 'to get casual customers to gamble more often.' What the! This is from the NZ Lotteries 'Statement of Intent' for the next two years, the work of their CEO, a certain Todd McLeay. He openly states that his goal is to 'encourage the 86% of N…

Why Australia Are Now Favourites to Win the World Cup

In the wake of the Crusaders losing to the Reds, things from a NZ perspective smell a bit like 1990-1991 again. In 1987-1990 the All Blacks were brilliant. They won the World Cup, and swept all before them, until the Sydney test of 1990, where they were thrashed by the Wallabies. They then won the return test against the Wallabies 6-3 at Eden Park, but the truth was there, they were on the decline and the Wallabies were on the rise. This was followed by the Wallabies thrashing the All Blacks in the semi-final of the cup in Britain, inspired by the dynamic David Campese. The Wallabies then had a good pack, and some of the greatest backs to play the game including Farr-Jones, Lynagh, Horan, Little, and the mercurial Campese. These guys were game breakers. Our backs looked pedestrian in comparison. While our forwards may have had the edge, they tore us apart.
Are we seeing the same thing emerging. For a few years we have smashed the Wallabies, their forwards simply not up to it. Now howe…

Let’s Get Real About Obesity: The Problem is Gluttony, Greed and Laziness

I see in the Sunday Star Times yet another article stating that obesity is on the rise (
Well, we all know this. There are a plethora of shows on TV about the obese (I love Biggest Loser, but am sick of them generally), and you only have to walk the Mall to see it to be true.
Otago University Prof Jim Mann has noted the huge increase in the fatness rate, especially among the young. It is suggested that 15 years ago 3200 kiwis die a year through obesity – still only about 20% of the number of babies aborted but 10x the road toll – so it is pretty bad. Now, according to BMI, 1 out of 5 kids are overweight, and 1 out of 12 obese.
According to the article, half of the adult population is overweight or obese. Even with knowing that the BMI is not that great a measure, especially for guys who are heavily muscled (at one stage I had 8% body fat and was overweight), it is bad. As a result, a heap of Kiwis hav…

A Reflection on Being Fifty – Old Man Saggy Fat Face

This was a song I wrote in 2002 which went down very well among the boys of St Kents when I was doing a short fill-in stint as a chaplain. It reflects on the absolute truth of what happens to men as they get old. Look into the face of an older man, you will understand. It sums up what it means to be fifty.
Old Man Saggy Fat Face (1)
Copyright: Mark Keown, 2002
Verse One
I want a nice six-pack, yeah washboard abs
But all I've got, are squashboard flabs
I want a small prostate, so I can pee like Niagara
But it's all gone bung, thank God for Viagara

I've got…
Old man saggy fat face
The curse of the male race
I've got…
Old man saggy fat face
I'm drooping all over the place (2x)

Verse Two
I want a full head of hair, full of body and sway
But my toupees slipped back, and it's all going grey
I want rippling muscles, bulging mounds of steel
But it's turning to mush, I can't even turn the wheel

I've got…
Old man saggy fat face
The curse of the male race
I've got…

The Greg Laurie Event: Some Thoughts

It is popular in today's NZ Christian context to hear people demean mass-evangelism. It is not uncommon to critique this approach as flawed, an anachronism, as not appropriate as a means of sharing the gospel in these times. I have to say that I have had my own questions over these sorts of things. The last one I attended was Luis Palau late last century.
Well, as I see it, the recent Greg Laurie event should lead us first to rejoice rather than critique. Yes, we should always assess, critique and evaluate, but first let's rejoice, and keep on rejoicing even as we ponder how to do things better on behalf of our Saviour.
In the NT, aside from general appeals to rejoice always and continually (e.g. Phil 4:5; 1 Thess 5:16), there are two particular times where there is mention of partying and celebrating. The first is the glorious eschatological feast where the people of God gather together, evil defeated, suffering ended, corruption righted, and we party. We party like its 1999! …

A Bizarre Encounter with BBC World: Alisdair Thompson

I was quite stunned last night to receive a phone call at around 9.45pm from, of all people, the BBC. It was a producer on the BBC World Service asking if I would join a discussion concerning Alisdair Thompson's recent radio interview and his sacking. Apparently, they had read my blog on the issue and wanted me to make a contribution. That is all good, and I entered the conversation, said a few sound bites amidst others, and that was that. Not sure I did very well, such situations are nerve-wracking and you second guess what you say.
My interest in the event is not that it happened, but how it happened. I got into blogging a year or three ago and thought nothing much of it. Blogging is really an extension of me working out what I think about stuff. I find blogging one way of doing it. If I had time, I would do it a lot more, even if no one was listening – I don't usually have time. Truth is, I think I enjoy just putting my thoughts down. I have never really cared much if any…