Eddie McGuire, Living in a Gold Fish Bowl

images-3Recently during an ABC interview Australian of the Year and former Army chief David Morrison suggested Australians should stop using the word ‘guys’ in the workplace. He was concerned ‘guys’ was not inclusive of women.

“Exclusive language, gender-based language or inappropriate language, has as much a deleterious or disadvantaged effect as something where you’re saying something blatantly inappropriate to another human being,” General Morrison told ABC News Breakfast.

So what of the emotionally charged response to what is now labeled the Caroline Wilson-Eddie McGuire Saga? The Collingwood AFL president trash-talked sports journalist Caroline Wilson on his Triple M radio show. Furor followed. While discussing a charity event, which raised $4 million dollars for motor neurone disease Eddie suggested a one person slide for Wilson. He then offered $50,000 for her head to be held underwater.

Among the concerned were Holden the multi-million dollars a year sponsor of the Collingwood magpies. They were reported to be ‘hugely unhappy.’ After all, a major reason behind their sponsorship is to sell cars to women and the McGuire gaffe was far from helpful.

images-2Social networks went crazy. For and against raged, a stark reminder we now live in a new age of accountability. I recall my years on radio and TV as ‘living in a goldfish bowl.’ When I was first introduced to a radio microphone a valued mentor told me to visualize my audience as a family, mum, dad and the children, small children. I was told not to say anything that would be offensive to any one of them.

Locker Room

Sadly when broadcasters are together in a group, it is easy to bring the locker room to the studio. Comments that made everyone laugh and backslap in the dressing room becomes much more destructive when publicly aired.

Journalist Kate Tozer (ABC Drum) tweeted “McGuire’s comments reek of the AFL boys club of old.” In her column she wrote: “The comments were degrading and brushed off as a joke. He missed the point.” That is the truth. What makes someone laugh may just as easily wound or grieve another.

The whole situation gathered gathered more momentum when AFL Footy Show commentator Sam Newman and co-host Rebecca Maddern added more fuel to the fire. At least in Melbourne, just about everyone has an opinion and it is not all positive.

Humour is a ‘double-edged sword’ according to university psychologist Rod Martin. It can help forge better relationships, it can also be corrosive, eating away at self esteem and antagonizing others. “We use bonding humor to enhance our social connections, but we also may wield it as a way of excluding or rejecting an outsider,” Martin said. (What’s You Humor Style, Louise Dobson, psychologytoday.com)

The article by Dobson investigates ‘put-down humour’ and suggests when it is challenged the basic defence is ‘just kidding.’

It is hard for Australian men to dump on Eddie. I understand that. Most of us have made the same kind of jokes in what is called ‘boys-will-be-boys moments.

Masculine

What I am about to share has no connection with Eddie McGuire or anyone in this scenario. I have never met the Eddie. But for me as a general observation these words by Gary J. Oliver, PhD. may resonate: “Our society puts a lot of pressure on men to be ‘masculine’ but men aren’t always clear what that means. That was true when we were kids and its even more true today. Psychiatrist and family therapist Frank Pittman writes: As a guy develops and practices his masculinity he is accompanied and critiqued by an invisible male chorus of all the other guys who hiss or cheer as he attempts to approximate the masculine ideal, who push him to sacrifice more and more of his humanity for the sake of his masculinity, and who ridicule him when he holds back. The chorus is made up of all the guy’s comrades and rivals, all his buddies and bosses, his male ancestors and his male cultural heroes, his models of masculinity.” (Real Men Have Feelings Too, Gary J. Oliver PhD)

In my own life I know much of my humour and my interests came from my dad. I did all I could to impress him and in this way, with these many influences, we respond.

The Bible says ‘let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.’ (John chapter 8, verse 7) Jesus said this to a group of men who sought to charge a woman with the crime of adultery. In the face of His challenge, they walked away. (More likely, they slinked?)

Power of the Tongue

I believe women have the right to demand better, from all of us blokes. It is part of our makeup to lose good manners and common sense when with the mates. In the public place we need to show much more respect, particularly if you seek to attract sponsors and support.

Israelmore Ayivor is an inspirational Christian writer. He said, “Your skull encloses your brains. But never forget that anytime you open your mouth to talk, you have opened your mind for the entire world to see what is hidden in there!”

In the Bible the Book of Proverbs warns ‘death and life are in the power of the tongue.’ (Proverbs 18, verse 21)

What was said on Triple M has been broadcast. It has been ‘aired.’ We can be thankful those involved have made things right personally. Sadly public opinion never forgets.

 

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

 

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A Flood of Refugees, The Mind of Christ.

imagesThe German publication Der Spiegel runs regular stories describing the escalating refugee crisis in what they call Fortress Europe. In a recent report they said, “Desperate scenes played out here, reminiscent of those witnessed in Hungary back in September.” They described, a group of young men who used a steal beam as a battering ram. “Men could be seen running and children screaming,’ they said.

These scenes are becoming more evident and Christians must be a radiant light in the darkness. The world is in crisis. Living by faith, as a Christian, will mean reaching the lost with the love of God, not in some wishy-washy way but with practical solutions.

As we ponder the facts, it is essential we know God is great. He promises we can do all things, through Him. There have been great champions of the faith and they stood up when the days and times were dark. We now have that opportunity. Read this carefully. Forty per cent of the world’s population will be homeless by 2030. UN Habitat estimate three billion people will need housing in less than fifteen years. 1.6 billion people in our world today live in inadequate shelter. More than 100 million people worldwide are homeless.

In 1985 the UN General Assembly declared the first Monday in October to be World Habitat Day. By UN Habitat calculations 96,150 new affordable housing units are needed every day to meet the need, that is, 4000 every hour. Forty percent means four in ten will have no place to call home in just a few years. I have grandchildren who will be in their teens in 2030.

boy-1226964__180Charles Dickens helped me embrace the situation. “Bleak, dark, and piercing cold, it was a night for the well-housed and fed to draw round the bright fire, and thank God they were at home; and for the homeless starving wretch to lay him down and die.” (Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist) It is a stark, challenging description.

 Australia

While the crisis in Europe may seem far removed from us, Homelessness Australia reports one in 200 people are homeless “on any given night.” According to their statistics, an estimated seventeen percent of homeless people in Australia, are under 12, eighteen percent are aged 25-34.

Of ‘people who sleep rough each night’ 67.6 percent are male, 32.4 percent female. One of the major causes of this distress is domestic violence. Our fellow man and woman, boy and girl, are in dire need of love, comfort and support.

The Salvation Army says ‘over 100,000 Australians will be homeless tonight.’ It is serious. “I think homelessness is an absolute tragedy. To know that you don’t belong anywhere, that you have no home to shelter in, and no one to support you. It is one of the most distressing experiences a person can have …The consequence is the quality of life for the whole community is diminished. People will do whatever it takes to survive, including turning to crime if they have to. ”

” As a community, we need to be responsive to people who are homeless, not just for moral and social reasons, but also for the sake of the stability of the entire community,” Major David Eldridge, Salvation Army said.

Love

images-2Reading through these statistics is overwhelming but the numbers represent people who need love and support. We are called to have the mind of Christ. Frankly I was overwhelmed by the details. I turned to a book ‘That Incredible Christian’ by A. W. Tozer: “The Spirit-filled, prayerful Christian actually possesses the mind of Christ, so that his reactions to the external world are the same as Christ’s. He thinks about people and things just as He does.” In the same chapter he wrote: “We must think of the surrounding world of people and things against the background of our thoughts of God.”

Joseph Reuben, singer-songwriter, on his blogsite said: “If it was not for Christian organizations like the Open Door Mission, the Salvation Army, and many others, the homeless would be getting a lot less help than they are. I appreciated every meal and every volunteer that made my life a bit more tolerable when I lived on the streets.

During that time God taught me a lot about myself. One important lesson I learned was that while I was spending a lot of my time complaining about how others were judging me for being homeless, I was judging them for not being homeless. Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is to show grace to those who judge us.” (word-from-the-street.com)

As we assess the simple mathematics of the refugee and the homeless, surely we are challenged. How will our borders remain secure? How will our culture be affected by the surging tide of humanity seeking a safe-place? How many will seek our harm?

“Christian love draws no distinction between one enemy and another, except that the more bitter our enemy’s hatred, the greater his need of love. Be his enmity political or religious, he has nothing to expect from a follower of Jesus but unqualified love. In such love there is not inner discord between the private person and official capacity. In both we are disciples of Christ, or we are not Christians at all,” wrote World War II hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (The Cost of Discipleship)

God has not been caught unawares in this crisis. The Bible tells us Jesus Christ had no place to lay His head (Luke chapter 9, verse 58). He was a refugee. He relates to homelessness.

Billy Graham reminds us: “The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”

 

 

 

 

The Christian Godfather of the Israeli Army

Unknown-2Sadly only a few know the heroic story of Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson. Jerry Klinger, the President of the Jewish-American Society for Historic Preservation (www.JASHP.org) has authored a detailed account of this extraordinary man.

At a tribute in Patterson’s honor Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “There is no exaggeration; Patterson was the commander of the first Jewish fighting force in nearly two millennia. And as such, he can be called the godfather of the Israeli army.”

At that event Klinger was seated in the front row with the guest of honour. Of the comment by the Prime Minister, Klinger wrote: “It was a curious statement to those who knew nothing about Colonel Patterson. Patterson was a Christian. A Christian was the Godfather of the modern Israel Defense Forces, not a Jew.”

The connection becomes even more intimate when we learn Patterson was the sandak (godfather) of Yonnie (Jonathan) Netanyahu, elder brother of the Prime Minister. Yonni born in 1946 was named for Patterson and for Jonathan’s grandfather. Yonni like his godfather rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was killed in the 1976 Entebbe raid.

Bridge Builder

images-1Patterson led an adventurous life. Historians list him as an Anglo-Irish soldier, hunter, author and Zionist. He wrote ‘The Man-eaters of Tsavo (1907) which detailed his bridge building assignment and a battle with hungry, man-eating lions. He was commissioned by the British to build a railway bridge over the Tsavo River (Kenya) 1988-89. The work was hindered when frequent lion attacks depleted the work crew and demoralized those who remained.

Patterson learned tiger hunting skills serving with the Brits in India. More than a hundred of his bridge-builders were killed by giant-sized lions and Patterson resolved to eliminate the problem. After a difficult campaign Patterson killed two gigantic lions.

Klinger reports: “They were incredibly huge beasts measuring over nine feet in length from their noses to the tips of their tails. The lion corpses were brought into camp for the men to see. It took eight men to carry each one.”

Patterson wrote a book ‘The Man-eaters of Tsavo.” It was a best-seller and enjoyed numerous printings. There were three movies made from the book. The most recent, “The Ghost and the Darkness” in 1996 starred Val Klimer.

Patterson was appointed Game Warden of a reserve in East Africa in 1908. A couple on safari, Audley and Ethel Blyth were mysteriously shot. Although Patterson was investigated for the crime, no evidence led to him, nevertheless tongues wagged. He was shunned by the powers-that-be and resigned from the army in 1911. World War 1 broke out three years later.

Patterson returned to uniform and was sent to Flanders. The Turks feared the Jews would side with Britain and expelled them out of what was then Palestine. The desperate Jews fled to Egypt.

Gallipoli

The Jewish refugees, Patterson and a Russian activist Vladimir Jabotinsky would soon connect alongside a one-armed Russian Joseph Trumpeldor. Jabotinsky and Trumpeldor were avid Zionists and Patterson already a Jewish sympathizer soon embraced the cause.

The Jews wanted to fight with the Brits for ‘Palestine.’ They were offered a support and supply role as mule drivers. Jabotinsky offended by the offer, refused. His passionate friend Trumpeldor accepted but a problem remained. Who would lead this unusual unit? Enter Patterson, a non-Jew and a very experienced fighter. Patterson wrote about that moment in his book, “With the Zionists in Gallipoli.”

Unknown-3“It was strange, therefore that I, so imbued with the Jewish traditions should have arrived in Egypt at the psychological moment when General Sir John Maxwell, the C-in-C in Egypt, was looking for a suitable officer to recruit a Jewish unit. A Jewish unit had been unknown for 2,000 years, since the day of the Maccabees, those heroic sons of Israel who fought so valiantly, and for a time so successfully, to wrest Jerusalem from the Roman Legions…. It is curious that General Maxwell should have chosen me (to command a Jewish unit), because he knew nothing of my knowledge of Jewish history and my sympathy for the Jewish race. When as a boy I eagerly devoured the records of the glorious deeds of the Jewish military captains, such as Joshua, Joab, Gideon, Judas Maccabee, I never dreamed that I in a small way would become a captain of a host of the Children of Israel.”

Klinger wrote: “The Zion Mule Corp was organized, six hundred and fifty men strong. With the blessing of the chief Rabbi of Alexandria, they sailed for Gallipoli. They sailed with and as part of the British army opening the first step in the creation of the later Israel Defense Forces.

The tragedy and inspiration of Gallipoli followed. The Zion Mule Corp came through a wicked war with ‘courage, purpose and steadfastness.’

After the torrid campaign Patterson was hospitalized. Jabotinsky who watched events closely was distraught when the British disbanded the Zion Mule Corps, ignoring promises of legitimacy, made to the Jewish refugees when they signed on.

The Jewish Legion

Furious Jabotinsky spearheaded a campaign to begin a Jewish legion but the British leadership wanted none of it. Lord Kitchener openly opposed the Jewish unit and thwarted the plan .Then on June 5, 1916 Kitchener sailed for a high level meeting with the Russians.. His ship hit a mine and Kitchener was never found.

He was replaced by Captain Amery who had served with Patterson in the Boer War and at Gallipoli. Meetings began with Jabotinsky, Patterson and Amery. It turned out Amery was keen for Jews to help Britain win control of Palestine from the Turks. The Jewish legion was approved.

When the formation of the Jewish Legion commenced the leadership was an important consideration. When the debate commenced, Jabotinsky declared: “There is only one nominee ….even though he is not a Jew, he must be our colonel; and I hope that one day he will be our general: Patterson!”

The appointment was officially confirmed July 27, 1917. “Never in Jewish history has there been in our midst a Christian friend of his penetration and devotion.” Vladimir Jabotinsky said. 67 years after his death, the ashes of Lt Col John Henry Patterson were transferred for burial in Israel.

 

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ron@ronross.org)

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth, our Servant Queen.

images-2The former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey (1991-2002) was a strong advocate for Queen Elizabeth II. “Her faith, strong on conviction, but also generous and hospitable, is an example to us all in a time of radicalism and extremism. She reflects the best and most noble values of what it is to be British,” he wrote. “To be honest, she has often been more effective at communicating the timeless truths of the gospel to the nation than the many bishops and Archbishops she has seen come and go during her reign,” he added.

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York was born in Mayfair, London April 21, 1926. She was the first child of the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later called the Queen Mother. Princess Elizabeth became heir-apparent after King Edward VIII abdicated and her father King George VI ascended to the throne.

imagesAt the age of 14 Elizabeth made her first public speech on the BBC Children’s Hour to reassure children who had been separated from their parents during the Blitz. In 1945 she served Britain, during World War II, in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. The future queen trained as a mechanic and a military truck driver. She is the only female member of the royal family to serve in the armed forces.

Strong

She married Prince Philip Mountbatten of Greece and Denmark at Westminster Abbey November 20, 1947. Not many know she saved ration coupons to buy the material for her wedding dress.

Queen Elizabeth relied heavily on her faith when the royal family suffered very public setbacks. Most royal observers admired her strength as she negotiated times of mounting public concern, particularly in the nineties.

Maybe those years inspired the Queen to say: “To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.” (Christmas message, 2000)

Her strong Christian faith was known long before she became ‘the defender of the faith.’ On the occasion of her 21st birthday in 1947 she made a radio broadcast in which she said:   ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

‘But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do. I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.’

 Servant

images-1In an article ‘Defender of the faith’ Gillan Scott wrote: “Jesus is the Servant King, but Elizabeth perhaps should be known as the servant queen. For not only has she sought to serve us as her people, but she has also chosen to place herself under authority, serving Jesus as her own Lord and Master and seeking to follow in his footsteps.”

There is little argument the Queen has lived to serve. She has not inundated with flamboyant, long-winded speeches. Instead her words have been disciplined but appropriate. In short succinct messages the Queen communicates memorably and effectively.

‘The Servant Queen and the King She Serves’ was published by the Bible Society, HOPE and LICC this year, to mark her 90th birthday. In the foreword the Queen wrote: “I have been – and remain – very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for his steadfast love. I have indeed seen his faithfulness.”

She referred to terrorism and the refugee crisis by saying, “It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’… Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another.” (Christmas message, 2015)

Behind Palace walls apparently the Queen likes to sing and dance. The Queen’s cousin Lady Elizabeth Anson said: “We did a lot of singing at Kensington Palace. Nobody thought it was odd after dinner if we put on a record and all sang The Lambeth Walk. The Queen is a fantastic dancer. She’s got great rhythm.”

Her music taste includes the loveable larrikin George Formby and ‘Oklahoma’ sung by Howard Keel. Her top ten includes Vera Lynn ‘The White Cliffs of Dover” and the hymns “Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven” and “The Lord is My Shepherd.”

Prayer

A few years ago in her Christmas message the Queen inspired: “Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive… It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.” (Christmas message, 2011)

Last June, the world officially acknowledged the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. “Long live the Queen!” has worked, and we pray it continues.

 

AI, The Rise of Machines!

imagesStephen Hawking has warned Artificial Intelligence (AI) ‘could spell the end of the human race.’ Microsoft genius Bill Gates (pictured) said he could not understand why people are not concerned about AI. American Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon said: “It is not my aim to surprise or shock you—but the simplest way I can summarize is to say that there are now in the world machines that can think, that can learn and that can create. Moreover, their ability to do these things is going to increase rapidly until – in a visible future – the range of problems they can handle will be coextensive with the range to which the human mind has been applied.” He famously said, “A proper study of mankind is the science of design.”

Albert Einstein said it best: “The mathematical precision of the universe reveals the mathematical mind of God.”

Fast forward to May 2016. Elon Musk is the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. He met with the US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. The Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said the meeting was ‘to find out what is going on in the world of innovation.’ Musk is a South African born American, who is listed as 38 in the world’s most powerful people. He has a personal fortune of more than $13 billion. His company Tesla is pioneering the world of fully-electric cars and at SpaceX he is pioneering space technology.

At a meeting of technical entrepreneurs Musk declared artificial intelligence is on the verge of changing our lives. Musk said we will need to have ‘neural laces’ implanted in the brain to keep up with the sophisticated computer data world. Neural laces were first mentioned in the Cultural novels by Iain M. Banks. Annalee Newitz, a prolific science and culture writer-editor wrote about ‘neural laces’ as ‘ A mesh that grows with your brain, it’s essentially a wireless brain-computer interface. But it’s also a way to program your neurons to release certain chemicals with a thought. And now, there’s a neural lace prototype in real life.” (Scientists Just Invented Neural Lace, Newitz, gizmodo.com)

Primates

images-1Brain implants have been tested on primates for the last five years. Their decision-making ability was improved by implanting an electrode array into their cerebral cortex. George Dvorsky, a Canadian specialist wrote: “Looking ahead to the future, and assuming safety and ongoing efficacy, it may even be possible to apply a similar intervention to healthy humans.”

Already a large workforce in Japan has been replaced by robots to interact with humans. A hotel in north Japan is totally run by robots.

I watched a YouTube presentation hosted by Mark Dice. In it he showed the most advanced artificial intelligence robot offering to destroy humans. That glitch was laughed off but it may provide a grim warning. Apparently Elon Musk posted that Killer Robots would be functioning by 2019 but that remark was quickly deleted. We do know some nations are considering replacing human soldiers with robots, a fact nearing reality. Stephen Wozniak, cofounder of Apple said, “if a computer is 100 times better than our brain, will it make the world perfect? Probably not, it will probably end up just like us, fighting.”

Human robots are a reality today. Sex robots are predicted to be in demand and available soon.

In a Reality Club Discussion Elon Musk wrote: “The pace of progress in artificial intelligence is incredibly fast. Unless you have direct exposure to groups like Deepmind, you have no idea how fast – it is growing at a pace close to exponential. The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year time frame.”

For years Hollywood has been killing humans with robots. The movie Terminator 3 was called ‘the Rise of the Machines.’

“Artificial intelligence will make religion obsolete within our lifetime” is an article by Dylan Love and published by The Daily Dot. I read it and after some consideration asked myself who is the better creator God or man? Let see, God created the universe, a spectacular demonstration.

Man can created brilliantly mainly because we are created in His image. We have gifts and talents capable of great things and we have proven that through the centuries.

Consider this quote from ‘Christianity for Skeptics’ by Steve Kumar and John Heininger: “According to most Christian philosophers, the greatest proof for the existence of God is the cosmic evidence. One of the most profound philosophical questions that has caused many debates and much discussion among philosophers through the centuries is, ‘Why is there something, rather than nothing?’ There is hardly a philosopher worth a grain of salt who has not struggled over this question. Everyone faces it, some ignore it, others deny it, but few answer it. Philosopher John Hicks writes, ‘For when we try to think about this infinitely fascinating universe in which we live we find that we are faced in the end with sheer mystery – the mystery of existence, of why there is a universe at all.’”

When I lived in Jerusalem I watched the people of Israel rely on the Word of God. Specifically they believe His assurances. “Do not fear, for I am with you,’ from Isaiah chapter 41, verse 10.

I read Matthew chapter 10, verse 31 which says, ‘don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” (I guess that means robots too!)

Tattoos! Think Before You Ink.

imagesWhat do David Beckham, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp have in common? Tattoos! (At the last count David Beckham has 34!)

Megan Fox, Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, Mike Tyson and Drew Barrymore are also in the tattoo team.

“So why do ‘normal’ people get tattoos?” the BBC asked. “Would-be prime ministers’ wives have them. Lawyers have them. Doctors have them.” Tattoos are well and truly out of the closet!

Tattoo talk on Twitter is high on the tweeter-meter. “Juicy: Arguing with my mom about me getting blasted with tattoos in the future!” Lando: “My granpa and Uncle arguing about tattoos is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard!” Mary Ann: “They have so many face tattoos I can’t see them!” Aims: “Arguing with my Grandpa over tattoos, lol, I’m still getting one.”Riz: “Awkward silence in the car after arguing with my mom about tattoos.” We could go on but the point is clear, tattoos are very topical, reactionary and growing in demand.

A 2010 Pew Research study said nearly 40 percent of people between 18 and 29 have tattoos ‘and of those, half have two to five tattoos.’

They are not new. “The Greeks used tattoos primarily as a punishment for slaves and criminals, a custom they apparently learned from the Persians and hence it was a mark of disgrace.” – (World Bible Commentary)

The Old Testament specifically refers to tattoos. “And you shall not make a slash in your body for a dead person, nor shall you make on yourselves a tattoo’s mark; I am Yahweh.”(Leviticus 19:28) This instruction was specifically directed to the Israelites who were warned not to emulate practices considered pagan.

“One of the physical characteristics of the pagan communities around Israel was that they marked themselves with tattoos and engaged in physical, religiously-motivated superstitious practices that included the disfigurement of their bodies. In forbidding tattoos, God was telling Israel He did not want them to possess any physical marks or characteristics that externally resembled pagan nations.” (The Confident Christian, Robin Schumacher)

Makes me wonder how easily we pick up marks of the world and its influences? I have family members who proudly display tattoos. I notice I do not assess their ink, but rather the heart and their character is my measuring stick. I remember when rock and roll was said to be ‘of the Devil.’ Christian rocker Larry Norman defied that argument with “Why Should the devil have all the good music?” Of course others followed.

When Marlon Brando starred in ‘The Wild One” many Christians declared motorbikes were the devil’s transport. John Smith and the God Squad fixed that!

Bacon Banned!

fried-337526__180Read through Deuteronomy chapter 14, verses 8 to 10. The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses. Of all the creatures living in the water, you may eat any that has fins and scales. But anything that does not have fins and scales you may not eat; for you it is unclean.” (Deuteronomy chapter 14, verses 8-10) These verses ban bacon, pork, shrimp, crab, lobster, clams and mussels. Jesus came to set us free from such restrictions and I am thankful.

Dr Reef Karim is the UCLA Assistant Clinical Professor, a Psychiatrist. He wrote: “People get tattoos for many reasons: for attention, self-expression, artistic freedom, rebellion, a visual display of a personal narrative, reminder of spiritual/cultural traditions, sexual motivation, addiction, identification with a group, or even drunken impulsiveness.”

Motivation for a tattoo might be a call for help or it may have personal significance. ‘My body is my journal and my tattoos are my story,” Johnny Depp said.

Tattoo regret is a trend. A clinic near Sydney, NSW, says women aged 20-25 are paying to have tattoos removed. What was a buzz as a teenager may become an issue for a young woman. Any number of reasons could make a past tattoo an embarrassment. A love-heart for an old flame might be a problem for a prospective husband!

This is great advice: “Permanent tattoos are forever. So ‘think before you ink.’ Real tattoos do not come off with soap and water or rubbing alcohol like temporary tattoos. There are a couple of methods that remove permanent tattoos but they are costly and painful.” – The Centre for Young Woman’s Health.)

The Cross

UnknownThe Coptic Christian minority in Egypt have embraced a tattoo of the cross as their mark of faith. At the Cave Church formerly known as St. Simon the Tanner, high in the Mokattam hills, you will worship with the garbage people, the Zabbalean. Around 50-70,000 of them spend their week collecting trash. On the wrist they display a small cross. Some say the tradition dates to the 8th century, when monks wore the cross on their arms.

“Tattoos aren’t just a fashion statement for Egypt’s Copts’ is an article written by Ines San Martin published by cruxnow.com. She wrote: Andraous Oweida, a 44 year old Copt construction worker and father of two, survived a notorious 2011 assault by military police on a Coptic demonstration known as the ‘Maspero Massacre.’

“Yet he told Crux that he never considered hiding his tattoo with a shirtsleeve if he fears he’s about to run into trouble.’

“When you’re in the streets, you can’t always say who’s a fundamentalist or not,’ Oweida said, “Anyway, I can’t deny Jesus!”

The Copts today are the largest Christian group in the Middle East. “Coptic scholar Theodore Patrick asserts that while Arabic prevailed and Islam expanded, it was predominantly Coptic laypeople practicing their traditional faith who kept Egyptian Christianity alive: It was largely their sense of being different that saved the Copts as a group from the various pressures of the majority.” (Tattoos of the Cross, Jennifer A. Johnson, Christianity Today)

Their difference was proudly proclaimed with the tattoo of the cross and that testimony continues. Their display is a show of humility and dedication shown to the One who, on His body, bore the scars of mercy, grace and truth.