Colin Craig…innocent victim or narcissistic manipulator?

So it all came out yesterday that, after several threats of legal action against numerous figures during his short public career, Colin Craig will finally be taking someone to court…or so he says.

Yesterday Mr. Craig released a booklet which claims to expose the ‘dirty politics’ and ‘hidden agenda’ of what appears to be the world against Colin and I, for one, am excited to see this get to a courtroom because it will answer once and for all if Mr. Craig is a innocent victim, or a narcissist of the highest order.

Mr Craig seems utterly sure that this legal action is an open-and-shut case. One thing I can say for sure is that Mr. Craig often claims certainty when speaking publicly but it’s not always the case.

Have a listen to this audio from The Slightly Correct Political Show in 2011 and hear his absolute confidence in how he knows he will win Rodney.

Mr. Craig cites expert advice in the form of polling, and explains that his win is a slam dunk. On election night 2011 Mr Craig lost to Mark Mitchell (National) by more than 12,200 votes. Mr. Craig always claims absolute knowledge of how things are going to turn out…but the truth is often far different. I have to say that it is my honest held belief that the way he is speaking now about this latest legal case sounds eerily similar to how he was speaking about his upcoming win in 2011, and that raises alarm bells for me.

I have knowledge of some of the texts that some are claiming Mr. Craig sent to his former Press Secretary, Rachel MacGregor, and if this goes to trial, then phone records will need to be presented in courts and if the texts are traceable to Mr. Craig (or indeed any of the ‘evidence’ that the accused say they have) it will be the shortest trial in history. The other question is if Mr. Craig has a case and the accusations made against him are malicious and false…then what?

“Defamation in New Zealand is governed by the Defamation Act 1992 and an established body of case law. It is an area of law that is designed to protect a person’s reputation against unjustifiable attack. Providing such protection requires a fine balance between the protection of reputation and the freedom of expression as contained in Section 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.” What that basically means is that is a person’s reputation is damaged by lies, then defamation may well have happened but I guess my question would be what reputation is Colin Craig trying to protect? Is it the reputation for questioning the moon landing? Is it the reputation for stating on Radiolive that the current political figure he most admires is Vladimir Putin? Is it the litigious reputation that Colin Craig has threatened to pull out on more than one occasion? What reputation is he protecting and what reputation has been besmirched should these accusations prove false?

It is my honest held belief that this will not see the inside of the courtroom, it seems unlikely to me, that Mr. Craig will put himself and his marriage through the potential of not getting the win in the courtroom which will justify everything that the three accused have said about him. He has too much to lose should he not get a resounding win. Also Mr. Craig has published an interview with Mr. X in his booklet, if this goes to court Mr. Craig will be forced to reveal who Mr. X is as there as claims in that interview that some of the accused have already called slander and Mr. Craig does not have the same protection in court to keep a source anonymous as a journalist has. No matter if he is innocent of these claims or not, his life will be turned upside down by court proceedings and, although many of us question his decisions sometimes, even he would be smart enough to see that this is a no-win outcome for him.

Labour and their ‘Chinese Surnames’

safe_image

So here we go again, an idea thought up in the upper offices of Labour with merit, executed like those making the decisions are in their first day of politics.

I say ‘merit’ because I think many people are in agreement with the idea of foreign money (from whatever country) flooding into our housing market will indeed put pressure on locals (of any ethnicity)  when it comes to buying houses. A register of international buyers is not an idea that any political party opposes and in fact National will eventually bring in and then take the kudos for doing so.

However good ideas every day, whether their good business ideas, good relationship ideas, good political ideas or any kind of ideas, fall over due to those trying to impose them. Usually with political ideas it’s the execution that fails that party and this is a classic example of that. There is also the consideration of those opposing Labour and their ability to change the narrative of the issue which National has done perfectly, but not without help.

My sources inform me that Labour gave the policy to the New Zealand Herald several days before they released it, embargoed, to fact check and prepare themselves to write about it once Labour made the issue known publicly and I am reliably informed that the Herald then leaked the information to National. What this did is give National the ability to get ahead of what Labour was doing and formulate a strategy to combat what Labour was trying to say. For future reference National poll everything, they research and get public opinion on everything which usually takes two days. If in the future National comes out with a cast iron position on a major Labour or Greens policy that is not yet in the public domain then it’s a pretty safe bet they have been leaked the information and have already tested it.

In saying all of that the way Labour has handled this information is sloppy and amateurish and even though National got ahead of the release, it still only too Lisa Owen on The Nation 8 minutes to accuse Phil Twyford and Labour of playing the race card all without the polling that National did, she came to the same conclusion.

The conversation about international money influencing our housing market is valid…very valid…but what Labour has done is basically give a green light to every red-neck, right wing, talkback calling bigot fodder to continue to treat the Asian community like second class citizens. If you don’t believe me just have a read of, Masterton native, Raybon Kan’s article from Wednesday.

And now we have groups like HouGarden.com, one of NZs biggest websites for Chinese immigrants to find property in NZ, stating that Chinese buying in NZ are looking for better education opportunities for their children, not investments as there are much better investments elsewhere. Their evidence for this is that when people are on their site some of the most searched words were “school zone, double grammar zone, Maclean, Westlake, Rangitoto and Auckland Grammar.” This again is a terrible news item for Labour but not quite as bad as the leaker of the information from Barfoots now losing his job…wonder how that will sit with the core Union member Labour supporter.

Finally, I am also dismayed that no one yet has actually offered a solution to the housing bubble in Auckland. So Labour is promising to ban international speculators, fair enough, but my question, as always, is “then what?” The average house price in Auckland is approaching $800,000 (see why we moved to Dunedin) and if this move ends up ‘correcting the market,  then what about all those people who have bought in this market and just had $200,000** wiped off their equity…what about them? Or if the prices of houses still remain near $800,000 on average how are first time home buyers going to afford that?

An idea with merit that at it’s core most would support, executed poorly: Labour 2015

PS – Got $800,000…come to Dunedin

Better yet…got $400,000ish…come to Dunedin

Or how about, just for fun, $200,000ish

** arbitrary figure

I’m on the bridge – Support for Same-Sex Marriage from within the Church

Turnaround Tuesday as portrayed in the movie Selma

“Turnaround Tuesday” as portrayed in the movie Selma

The post I wrote last week about marriage equality was partly brought about by the movie Selma.  The movie documents the three marches (or part marches) from Montgomery to Selma in 1965. It’s an incredible movie to watch – it brings the civil rights movement to life – and it also impacted me as an example of how intense and dangerous the fight for any civil right can be. As I covered in my previous post, one of the key leaders of the Selma march, John Lewis, has publicly stated that he thinks the resistance to marriage equality for the gay community comes from the same “fear, hatred and intolerance” he himself witnessed in “racism and bigotry” during the civil rights battle in the sixties.

The movie depicts the first march, often referred to as “Bloody Sunday“, which had 525 black protesters who began the 80 kilometre march without Dr. King at the helm. At the outskirts of Selma, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were stopped by Alabama State Troopers who were ordered there by Governor George Wallace. The Troopers turned back the protesters with brutal violence – you can read about it here from a reporter on the scene – it makes for horrific reading.

In complete contrast, the third march was safe and legal with a federal Judge ruling in favour of the protesters saying it was a Constitutional right for them to march and that right could not be quashed by the State of Alabama.  On the third march there were no police roadblocks, no legislative restrictions, no legal way for the march to be stopped. 25,000 people marched to Selma. It was an incredible moment.

But it is the second march, known as “Turnaround Tuesday”, that I think is the pertinent march for the church at this time.

After Bloody Sunday Martin Luther King decided immediately that they would go back to that bridge and finish what they started. He made a public call to Americans to get involved in the fight, “I am appealing to men and women of God and good will everywhere, white, black and otherwise,” he said, “If you believe all are created equal, come to Selma and join us, join our march against injustice and inhumanity. We need you.” This appeal caused thousands of people from all over the country, many white and many ministers, to travel to Montgomery for the second march.

On Turnaround Tuesday again the marchers got to the Pettus Bridge and this time the number of marchers was 2,500 individuals. They made it half way across the bridge and stopped. Dr. King prayed briefly, then turned the marchers around and walked them back to Montgomery. That night three white preachers were attacked by members of the KKK for supporting civil rights. The injuries sustained by Rev. James Reeb led to his death two days later.

The first march was dangerous, but the danger was unknown. The marchers didn’t realise what was going to happen to them on the Pettus Bridge. They were acting in good faith, having no idea what lay ahead. The second march was dangerous, but this time the danger was known. The 2,000 new marchers knew that they may face the tear gas and night sticks again, but they went anyway to support the cause. The second march gave clear evidence of the widespread growing support for black rights amongst white people. And amongst those people, ministers were a significant number.

It’s apparent, as evidenced in the weekend’s US Supreme Court decision, that the world outside the Church is well on its way to the third march. It is now ‘safe’, in most Western nations, to support Marriage Equality. However there is no denying that LGBTI issues and causes within the church are still on the second march. Turnaround Tuesday is not a safe place to be and there may be consequences ahead for the LGBTI community and their allies within the church. But if history teaches us anything it’s that now is the moment to get on the bridge and show our support for the LGBTI community. It’s not completely safe yet, but it is the right thing to do and I believe the Christ-like thing to do.

My willingness to stand on the bridge stems from these firm beliefs:

  • That marriage is a government institution
  • That marriage provides many legal and social benefits, and that it is discriminatory to withhold those benefits from same-sex couples
  • That recent scientific and psychological developments, as well as the personal experience of thousands of gay Christians, show that gay people don’t “choose” to be gay, and that efforts by the church to “cure” gay Christians have failed (see the closure of Exodus International)
  • That as a Christian, Jesus’ call for us to love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40) carries more weight than the passages that have been traditionally viewed as anti-homosexuality in the bible (and there are alternative readings for those passages of which Gushee’s Changing our Mind, and Vines’ God and the Gay Christian are two of many)
  • That the LGBTI community are a minority that are often discriminated against, and in many places persecuted, and that to stand with them in support rather than protest, imitates Christ
  • That Christians should support the LBGTI community even if they believe that gay Christians should be celibate (see Marin’s Love is an Orientation, and the explanation of the “side A and side B” debate on the gay christian network)

If you choose to publicly state you are on the bridge, what you are doing is standing side by side with the LGBTI community and saying ‘Yes’ to Marriage Equality and the full inclusion, as Tony Campolo recently stated, and “full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.” You are positioning yourself as an ally and as a friend to those who have been denied full welcome in the church, who have been rejected and who have borne the brunt of the church’s spite and violence. It’s time for that to change.

onthebridge

I’m on the bridge and my prayer for you today is to join me on that bridge. Stand with me on that bridge, as an ally, side by side with the LGBTI community.

I echo the words of David Gushee who recently wrote in the Washington Post

“I am pro-LGBT in just the same way I hope I would have been pro-Jew in 1943 and pro-African American in 1963. I stand in solidarity with those treated with contempt and discrimination. And I do so because I promised in 1978 to follow Jesus wherever he leads. Even here.”

If you are already on the bridge, or you want to use this as a chance to join us, then please use the hashtag #imonthebridge to let people know where you stand and spread the word.

How the ‘normal’ person reacts to racism

A brilliant social experiment was done in Lithuania where a new migrant to the country has a Facebook post that is ladened with racist themes targeted directly at him.

It is written in Lithuanian so he asks a local to translate it for him into English.

Check it out for yourself

The audio is in English and there are Lithuanian subtitles

It’s fascinating to see how people who are reading someone else’s words are affected by racism and how it says to me that the vast majority of us are not that way inclined, which obviousky is brilliant.

My favourite part of the video is when one gentleman, upon reading the racist post, says “there’s no like useful information here for you”. I don’t think you could define racism better

It’s Time

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona – a cathedral under construction for more than 130 years

A guest post by Idoya Munn

Change. The church has been doing it since she was born. We are a responsive creature. We move, adjust, transition, re-configure, re-imagine, re-group, adapt, alter, and transform. It’s a sign of life.

Here’s a potted history:  Pentecost, Constantine, Polycarp, Clement, Iraneaus, the Council of Nicaea, Arianism, the Council of Ephesus, The Nestorian Schism, the Iconclasts, monastic reform, the Inquisition, the East-West Schism, the Crusades, John Wycliffe, the Protestant Reformation. Each name or event a marker for a moment of tumult.

Some versions of church history will have you believe that it was all plain sailing after the Reformation. But let’s not forget the Catholic Reformation, the conflicts between Lutherans and Calvinists, the Council of Trent, the Puritans of the New World, Wesley, the Great Awakening, Pentecostalism, Mormanism, William Wilberforce, the Missionary movement, Vatican II, and the development of Ecumenism. All moments or inceptions of change.

Now cast your minds back over the vast range of issues that have caused the church to divide and re-make itself in the last two centuries alone; slavery, segregation, mixed-race marriage, the sexual revolution and changing attitudes towards divorce and re-marriage, the role of women, the division (or not) of church and state, the growth of Pentecostalism and the mega-church, the young people leaving the church in droves, and now what seems to be the greatest controversy of all; the emergence of a brand new sexual ethic. That is, we have come to the conclusion that there is a thing, and this thing is called sexual orientation.

Let us not underestimate how new this thing is. We didn’t have the concept sexual orientation until very recently.  Moses didn’t have it when he wrote Leviticus, the Romans didn’t have it while their military leaders enjoyed their male concubines. Paul didn’t have it when he wrote Romans. Even when the word homosexuality came into common useage in the English language in the early 1900’s, we barely had this thing. The words sexual orientation had not even been formed. The Greek poet Sappho, the tragic Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing – the subject of the film The Imitation Game, and even the vociferous Gertrude Stein, all lived before the concept of sexual orientation as we understand it now was put into words.

So how do we read theology then, in the light of this? How do we read the Bible? How do we make up our minds about LGBTI Christians? How do we decide what we think about same-sex marriage? How do churches and denominations make the daunting decisions that face them about the inclusion of gay couples in parish life, and about the legal changes that are transforming society’s understanding and practice of marriage? And most importantly, how will the church respond to the growing appetite from within its ranks for a new understanding of sexuality? One that is inclusive rather than divisive; one that loves rather than judges; one that sees similarities before it sees differences.

When we talk about same-sex marriage and the brand new civil right of marriage equality, a right so brand new that we are not all convinced it is a civil right, we are not speaking in a vacuum. This issue is not a neat and tidy package that can be responded to with simple logic, or brushed under the carpet with a heavily-wielded stack of bible verses.  This is new territory. We haven’t been here before. History and tradition inform us, but they cannot guide us where they have not been. We bring them with us, tucked into our conversations, allowing them to ground us and challenge us and warn us of the dire consequences of getting this wrong. Let’s be clear: there are lives at stake.  And not lives that would be measured by how well they affirm some universally agreed upon definition of what it means to be a Christian, but individual, uniquely created people. People who get up in the morning and go to bed at night, people who laugh and cry and breathe, who have children, jobs, homes, dreams, passions and loves. People who love.

In Africa, in this century, thirty six nations prescribe jail sentences for homosexuality. In three of those sodomy is punishable by death. Other nations convict with flogging, hard labour, or life-time jail sentences. Even in the few African nations where being gay is not illegal, homophobia and transphobia and related hate violence are rife.  In Russia, despite the fact that homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993, Putin’s powerful anti-LGBTI propaganda bill means that anyone convicted of LGBTI “propaganda” to minors can be fined or imprisoned. Activists have been detained for acts as simple as carrying “Gay is Normal” banners. And even in seemingly open and tolerant countries such as New Zealand, suicide rates for LGBTI youth are tragically high.

This is not a theological problem, although theology is a vital part of the conversation. This is not an entirely political problem, although politics are changing and clearly need to change. This is not about the denigration of society, or the destruction of the family, or the manipulation of society’s mores by some vast lobby group with a “gay agenda.” This is a human problem. It is about people. And specifically, as it is becoming more and more apparent, it is about people within our churches, people we sit next to in pews and bake cakes for and pray for. People who from the outside may not look any different. Except for one small difference. We understand that difference better now than we did before. It’s those words; sexual orientation.  It’s time to smarten up and allow those words to inform our conversation about sexuality and marriage. And it’s time to listen to the people to whom the conversation matters most.

Christian voices from within the LGBTI community:

 Justin Lee

Vicky Beeching

Jeff Chu

Matthew Vines

Jennifer Knapp

Christian leaders, authors and academics who have come out in support of marriage equality and LGBTI rights… a few names out of many:

David P Gushee

Rachel Held Evans

Tony Campolo

Steve Chalke

Rob Bell

Brian D McLaren

Organisations committed to the conversation:

A Different Conversation

The Reformation Project

Accepting Evangelicals

The Gay Christian Network

The Marin Foundation

Canyonwalker Connections

Marriage Equality is the New Civil Rights Movement

It’s probably been fairly obvious for a while that I am a supporter of marriage equality.  I have always viewed same-sex marriage as a cut and dry case of civil rights. I believe that marriage is a governmental institution, not one that belongs to the church. Marriage, in its many forms, pre-dates the church. And as discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in New Zealand, it is obvious to me that to deny same-sex couples the right to marry is discriminatory.

I myself got married fourteen years ago, on a bright winter’s day in June. I hardly thought about marriage as a right back then. All I knew was that I was in love with a beautiful girl and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. It was a case of opposites attract, and we had no idea how much work our love was going to take, but here we are all those years later, and the cliché is true. We are more in love than ever before.

For us, marriage was a right of passage, the beginning of a journey that forced us to grow up like nothing else could. Statistically speaking, marriage improves every success marker for the couple and the children that may come from that marriage. Marriage done well makes everything better – and I can vouch for this. Marriage is also the ultimate gift. There is no other commitment quite like it. Marriage is the fullest demonstration of love that can be given from one person to another. It’s an amazing, life-giving transaction and it can only build stronger families and therefore stronger communities. Why would we want to withhold this incredible gift from anyone?

After watching Selma recently I finally came to the conclusion that the current battle for marriage equality is akin to the fight for Civil Rights in the 1960’s. Marriage equality is a civil rights issue. It has similarities with the world-changing battle that Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis and many others fought (and sometimes died) for. Marriage, for the spiritual, emotional, physical and legal benefits it offers, is a civil right.

In New Zealand we have been fortunate enough to have had both civil union and same-sex marriage legalised. But until same-sex marriage was legalised couples who were joined by civil union could not avail themselves of the Matrimonial Property Act, or adopt children. In other countries where same-sex marriage has not been legalised, gay couples are significantly disadvantaged. They are withheld rights to hospital visitations, medical decision making, adoption, parenting rights and automatic inheritance, among other rights.

John Lewia on Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965

John Lewis on Pettus Bridge in 1965

You may not recognise the name John Lewis, but he was with Martin Luther King on the bridge at Selma, and is considered one of the ‘Big Six’ civil rights leaders. He is the only member now still alive. He is a Christian and has been an American Congressman for more than 25 years. If there is anyone who has the right to compare the fight for marriage equality with the civil rights movement it is him. He was there in the thick of it then, and judging by his political and religious positions he is still in the thick of it today. There is literally no one else on the face of the planet who can look at these two issues, compare them, and speak to them with as much authority as John Lewis.

As a response to President Obama’s public support of Same-Sex Marriage Congressman John Lewis said:

Once people begin to see the similarities between themselves and others, instead of focusing on differences, they come to recognize that equality is essentially a matter of human rights and human dignity.

Even as early as nine years prior to President Obama’s public statement, John Lewis was beating the drum for marriage equality. In 2003, the man who was at the front of the march with Martin Luther King wrote an article for the Boston Globe that stated:

“I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”

Sometimes it takes courts to remind us of these basic principles. In 1948, when I was 8 years old, 30 states had bans on interracial marriage, courts had upheld the bans many times, and 90 percent of the public disapproved of those marriages, saying they were against the definition of marriage, against God’s law. But that year, the California Supreme Court became the first court in America to strike down such a ban. Thank goodness some court finally had the courage to say that equal means equal, and others rightly followed, including the US Supreme Court 19 years later.

Some say they are uncomfortable with the thought of gays and lesbians marrying. But our rights as [human beings] do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on us being [human beings].

John Lewis today

John Lewis today

He couldn’t be clearer; the fear and intolerance that leads people to seek to withhold the right for same-sex couples to marry is the same as the “fear, hatred and intolerance” that Lewis and the civil rights movement faced in the 1960’s.

As a follower of Jesus I want to be in the camp that stands up and speaks out for the disenfranchised. I want to speak up for those whose voice is not always welcome, not always heard. You can throw all the bible verses you like at me, and I’ll say simply that Jesus’ commandment to love one another trumps them all.

Some people may be unaware that the work I do for elephantTV is done jointly with my wife Idoya Munn. Although I am the presenter of the episodes, behind the scenes the project is carried 50/50 between us. This is the first post in a series, and we’ve written the next one together.

As I said in my earlier post, genuine comments and healthy, constructive conversation are welcome.

David Grohl breaks leg and finishes concert

So, interesting story. As they were playing Monkey Wrench, Foo Fighter’s lead singer Dave Grohl fell off the stage…and broke his leg

He then announced he would return after going to the hospital, however his band said they’d play a couple of songs “before they left” so it looked like what Grohl meant was that Foo Fighters would return another time to finish the gig except rather than going to hospital he went backstage, got bandaged up, was carried back on stage and finished the gig with a medic at his side the whole time.

And we’re talking a proper, proper break

foo

Legend, beyond legend…perhaps the new ‘greatest story ever told’.

I love Dave Grohl.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,431 other followers

%d bloggers like this: