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Coptic Martyr

The Coptic Martyr of Cairo

The latest international thriller from best-selling author Martin Roth

Four Americans in Egypt on an archaeological dig. In the blistering summer heat they are fighting amongst themselves. Then they unearth a body. It is an old priest who has been murdered.

The gruesome discovery sets in train a sequence of events that leads to a deadly Islamist attack on the ancient church where the Americans are working.

The leader of the expedition, Professor Rafa Harel, must decide whether to withdraw his fractious team or continue on a mission to unveil a controversial series of wall paintings, knowing that these images have the power to spark even greater violence.

Meanwhile, watching over all of them is a dreamy young Egyptian Christian named Amir. His only quest in life is to become a martyr...

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Anything But Christianity

On Sunday, the ABC’s “religious” programme Compass devoted itself to “Mysticism and Rationalism”. It described the programme as follows (the ABC website is incorrect in saying that the programme was shown on January 11; it was actually January 18):

Throughout the 20th Century science and religion were seen as opposite ends of the spectrum but as we’ve entered this new century the lines seem to be blurring and some of our past certainty is eroding. Compass has assembled a group of Australian contemporary thinkers to tell us how they make sense of it all.

So which contemporary thinkers did Compass assemble to make sense of this issue?

1. Australia’s leading Christian-basher, Phillip Adams.

2. Another prominent atheist, Peter Slezak.

3. Author Sarah MacDonald, who proclaimed on the programme: “I'm definitely not religious now. And I swing I suppose still a little towards atheism, but much more a spiritual life. So I'm not definite in what I believe in still.”

4. Spirituality writer David Tacey.

Because this is the ABC it was necessary to start with some ritual Bush-bashing. Here’s presenter Geraldine Doogue:

But if Americans value their earthly existence, many firmly say they’re doing God’s will.

In concluding his 2003 State of the Union Address George Bush said: “The Liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”

Many would argue the way religion’s been harnessed to the cause of war makes the idea of abandoning God more and more attractive.

To quote English Biologist Richard Dawkins, one of science’s most outspoken sceptics – “In a world without religion there would have been no Crusades; no Inquisition; no anti-Semitic pogroms… no Northern Ireland” and, by inference, no September 11.

Then onto a long litany of religion-bashing, orchestrated by Phillip Adams:

I would submit that thousands of years of religion have been a catastrophic failure. 160 million people died in the last century in wars and genocides. Religion played a huge part in much of that….But the fact of the matter remains that within the last century religion did not help, and very probably detonated and intensified a great many of those horrendous conflicts….I think that often happens and it is not admitted to. That people who devote their life to faith then have the rug pulled from beneath them and are left much more devastated than someone like myself or you who don't expect it in the first place.

Australia has some excellent thinkers who could speak profoundly on science and religion. None was featured. The programme was a disgrace. Presenter Geraldine Doogue should be feeling ashamed.

January 20th, 2004


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