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One of the most painful things when recalling July 2005 is the quick halt the bombings on July 7 put to the joy of winning the 2012 Olympic Games.

On July 6, I’d read the news that we’d won the bid. I was so happy and particularly pleased that the result was a figurative poke at Jacques Chirac, then French president, who said that English food was [censored] — his word.

Another person who was elated was Martine Wright, aged 32 at the time. Ms Wright and her work colleagues heard the news and popped open the champagne.

This year she told the Radio Times (August 25-31, 2012 issue, p. 8):

I wondered how I could get tickets. The following morning I was reading all about it on the Tube and then the bomb went off.

Yes, the bomb on July 7. Before I had a chance to email my friends overseas about the Olympics, I had several messages in my inbox — along with a frantic phone call from my mother — to find out if SpouseMouse and I were all right. Fortunately, I was between jobs and not travelling into London at the time. SpouseMouse was elsewhere in the country on business.

That day is a source of great disappointment for me in many ways. I don’t like to blog about it because it stirs up strong feelings. No doubt it was a coincidence that the bombers chose that particular day. It seems unlikely that they could have planned everything within 24 hours of the Olympics announcement.

I’d had a small celebratory lunch at my favourite curry house on July 6. Twenty-four hours later, I no longer had such a taste for curry. Since then, I have not eaten in one nor ordered a takeaway from one.

This nation has been very good to the Muslim population. Yet, all we heard on July 7 from ‘community leaders’ was how much the British were to blame for what had happened. It seems, along with America and 9/11, that we ended up making many more faith-based concessions as a result. Someone explain why there will be a mosque on Ground Zero? Why aren’t more Americans worrying about that than the ‘conspiracy’ behind the Twin Towers destruction?

Anyway, I visited a neighbouring suburb a day or two after 7/7. Not everyone had been accounted for at the time. I remember seeing A4 photos of commuters to London who never made it home that day. Friends and family put up homemade posters: ‘If anyone has seen ———-, please call this number.’ I remember a photo of one young man who worked in London who, sadly, died that day. The story appeared in the local newspaper soon after.

The following week, I went to London to run an errand and visited the temporary Kings Cross memorial. That was one of the most poignant places I have ever seen. Flowers, messages, photographs remembering the dead along with a lot of ‘Missing’ posters. The sorrow and anxiety were palpable. I’ll never forget it.

Now back to Martine Wright’s story of July 7:

I lost both my legs and spent eight months learning to walk again. And soon realised all my priorities had changed. I went back to my high-flying job but it didn’t seem right.

Then:

I had my son, Oscar, in 2009 and knew I wanted to do something that would replace that drive and ambition I had in the workplace.

That same year she attended a special event for amputees — a Paralympic Potential Day. Wright tried sitting volleyball and loved it:

We’re all out of our chairs, which is so liberating, and the competition is fierce. It’s a great event.

I give this woman much credit for overcoming the loss of both her legs — right up to the thigh — and not losing hope.

Now aged 39, she says of the 2012 London Paralympics — in which she is participating as a sitting volleyball player:

The Games are going to be emotional. To be doing this in my city is so strange. I think maybe fate got me on that Tube and that maybe I was always supposed to go on this journey that finds me now as a proud Paralympian.

Wow. What an extraordinary statement.

Best wishes to Martine Wright and the rest of Team GB during the Games.

If, like me, you’re living in the UK or Ireland and suffering Olympics withdrawal, then do tune in to Channel 4 for their London 2012 Paralympics coverage.

I’ve had a great first day in front of the telly watching the world’s best disabled athletes compete for medals in swimming, judo and cycling. Athletics begin on Friday, August 31.

The Paralympics provide all the excitement of the Olympics. There are no slow moments. Coverage is matter-of-fact and positive. This is no pity party.

Born in Stoke Mandeville

It has been said that the Paralympics have come home this year. They made their debut in London in 1948, the second time our capital hosted the Olympics.

Known then as the International Wheelchair Games, they were the brainchild of Dr (later Sir) Ludwig Guttmann, a refugee from Nazi Germany who was a physician at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Oxfordshire. He helped Second World War veterans with spinal injuries by getting them involved in sport, with the first organised competition held at the hospital.  Their games opened the same day as the Olympics in London.

This type of rehabilitation helped the veterans regain confidence and purpose as they saw that their physical abilities were different post-injury yet still manifest. In 1952, Stoke Mandeville hosted another competition for the veterans, this time with similarly disabled Dutch athletes.

The Games were known by various names, including World Wheelchair and Amputee Games, the Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games, the Stoke Mandeville Games, the World Wheelchair Games and Wheelchair Olympics. Contrary to what certain Christian conspiracy sites say, the 2012 Olympics mascot Mandeville derives its name from the eponymous hospital, not a satanic numeric formulation.

Ultimately, Guttmann wanted to include other disabled athletes, including civilians. This happened at the 1960 Games in Rome, which followed the Olympics that year.

In 1976, the competition opened up to disabled people who were not wheelchair users. In 1988, in Seoul, the athletes began using the same facilities as their Olympics counterparts, an arrangement which continues today. It was at these games when the term ‘Paralympics’ was officially used, thought to have been a cross between ‘paraplegic’ or ‘parallel’ and ‘Olympics’.

Meanwhile, the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games (or IWAS World Games) continued separately until they merged with the International Sports Organization for the Disabled (ISOD) in 2004.

Expect to be amazed and humbled

So, what can one expect from the Paralympics? Some fast-paced action. Have you ever seen a one-legged cyclist in position for Gold? Well, I did this afternoon. The Chinese athlete had no prosthesis; he was cycling with one leg. So did another, a German, who had lost one of his legs at the age of 10 in a farming accident involving a combine harvester. He said it completely ruined his young life (understandably), although now he doesn’t miss it a bit.

Other athletes have been born without hands or arms, have impaired vision or are mentally incapacitated. Still others, as with the original Stoke Mandeville teams, have served their countries in the military and were wounded in battle.

I have seen a number of derogatory online comments from able-bodied Britons this week. They think they’re clever in referring to these Games as the Cripplympics. Very funny. I’d like to see these guys do even a quarter of what these men and women accomplish in the Paralympics. Some of them are no doubt in pain much of the time. Yet, they soldier on, determined to be the best in their field. There is a lot of talent here.

To anyone able-bodied who feels sorry for himself or herself, there is no better illustration of the power of overcoming than the Paralympics.

And to anyone else looking for a week and a half of sporting contest and endurance, I guarantee you’ll find the Paralympics every bit as gripping as the Olympics — as will your children. These fine athletes are a testament to human endeavour in the face of adversity.

For more information about Channel 4 coverage, see their Paralympics home page, schedule, profiles of Team GB and viewer guide.

For more on the Paralympics, see 2012 Summer Paralympics, Paralympic Games and IWAS World Games.

July 7, 2005 happened over seven years ago.

Since then, millions of people have travelled by train all over our sceptred isle. Our Olympics also passed without incident, thankfully.

So, what does the Government conclude from this? We should have airport-style security for trains (H/T: Snowolf).

This is one of the most harebrained ideas yet. Nor do I care if they have such a system in Spain, implemented after their own terrorist bombing several years ago.  The spirit of Franco lives. Is it worth giving up freedom for safety (which cannot be guaranteed)?

SkyNews reports:

The Government wants to security scan at least a quarter of all train passengers for explosives, knives and guns to protect railways and the London Underground from terrorists.

The Home Office has published details of what it wants the scanners to detect and how they should work, and is asking for advice on the technology available.

“The main focus is on the detection of explosives and weapons on people and in bags,” the research brief states, suggesting that technologies including X-ray, magnetometry, vapour and trace methods, electromagnetic radiation and ultrasound could be used.

The researchers also want to know whether wheelchairs, false limbs, crutches, pushchairs, and bikes could be scanned and whether so-called dirty bombs could be spotted.

Crucially, the document insists the scanning must be done without holding anyone up.

As anyone who commutes by train knows, there is generally a last-minute run for the train. People not only carry rucksacks or briefcases but also bags with a breakfast pastry or cups of coffee.

Yep, that would work out really well. (Not.)

Especially since we seem to have travelled safely by train for most of our history of public transport.

How is it that we could defy the IRA yet Muslim terrorists leave us defeated? Seriously, if something is going to happen, it will happen. We won’t see it coming.

This is not to downplay 7/7 in the slightest, but there is no guarantee against terrorism. The best way to cope with so-called terrorist threats is to go about one’s business as usual.

Possible outcomes from more security theatre measures:

1/ People get hacked off.

2/ Searches or arrests are made for angry looks, terse responses and so forth.

Then:

1/ People stop taking the train.

2/ Train fares increase exhorbitantly because of the dramatic drop in passengers.

So the government and corporations gain more control over the people with these results:

1/ Britons stay closer to home.

2/ Public transport and air travel once again become something only for the rich.

Well, that’s one way of reducing the carbon footprint of the great unwashed. We are not worthy.

As Snowolf says:

you will be herded, treated with suspicion, delayed, inconvenienced, humiliated and be not one bit safer. Why? Because if you want to kill … loads of people on a train, all you do is drive to some remote rural spot and put a bloody great big bomb on the track. And you will pay through the nose for this.

If you allow me to put my tin foil hat on for a moment, I might forecast a country where you will not be able to board a train or a plane without being … naked and sitting silently with your hands open and in clear view on your knees at all times, your car will be tracked. Until cars are abolished and you can only hire them like a Boris bike. And they’ll be electric with a 15 mile range, to stop you going too far, and you’ll be tracked every inch of the way.

They’ll probably outlaw shoes so you can’t walk anywhere.

I’ll make another forecast. We’ll swallow it, every last drop. Because we always do. Except you and me. And we’re the nutters.

Yes, anyone who opposes this measure will no doubt be considered a threat to civil society.

Freedom is a dangerous thing.

And, no, apparently, we cannot be trusted with it.

The speculation below regarding smart meter marketing in Britain is mine, except for one item.

It seems to be a happy accident that 51% of British energy bill payers have never heard of smart meters. That means they have no negative preconceptions. Therefore, this makes it easier to introduce a positive outlook on smart meters, which could prove to be yet another bone of contention in our society.

Below are three possibilities — probabilities? — for their introduction to the UK:

1/ Adverts about saving money whilst helping the environment: Many Britons are divided on the Church of Gaia premise of ‘saving’ the environment. My neighbours’ commitment to Gaia is varied. Yes, we all recycle, but one man brings home the weekly shop in carrier bags whilst his wife uses bags for life or cardboard boxes. Our clergy seem particularly committed to bags for life. Other residents prefer using carrier bags for their purchases because they can reuse them for other purposes.

So, energy companies — namely British Gas — need to ‘sell’ the smart meter idea to the 51%. We do not, as yet, know how many of them are adherents of Gaia. Therefore, it is impossible to assess the difficulty of the learning curve involved.

As most of us are fairly materialist, mainly because of the dismal economy, we’re continually assessing the value of money spent. Much of this centres on tax — who is worthy of receiving unemployment benefit or health services, to cite two examples. However, another element is how much we pay for goods and services, and here a magnificent marketing coup can take place nudging consumers towards smart meters.

Imagine adverts with interviews of energy company customers discussing how much they save now that they have smart meters installed. Useful talking heads for these adverts would be a middle class elderly couple and a low-income single mother with children around her. ‘I never thought it was possible to save on electricity — until now. My smart meter has given me more money for holiday and treats for the kids.’

2/ Politicians talking up smart meters in media appearances. All this involves is slipping smart meters into as many discourses on the environment and carbon footprint as possible. ‘And, of course, we now have smart meters which will actually measure how and when we use a precious commodity like electricity. They’re perfectly safe and easy for homeowners to have installed. Many of our European neighbours have found that they can now reduce their energy consumption, thanks to smart meters.’

Expect propaganda and obfuscation on safety and savings, a bit like the MMR debate of the Blair years which centred on vaccine safety and children’s health. We never did find out if Leo Blair had the MMR or separate vaccines. We don’t really care, either, but it is the principle of the thing, especially when British parents are unable to obtain separate vaccinations for their own children.  Therefore, not installing a smart meter might prove difficult.  As my post yesterday explained, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric forces customers without smart meters to pay annual and monthly penalty charges for that privilege.

3/ Schoolchildren receiving temporary smart meters to take home. This has already begun happening in some schools. Last Spring some primary schools were given smart meters to hand out to pupils to test energy output for 24 hours. They went home with the meter and a short user guide on how to work with their parents to measure electricity output, the results of which they later discussed in class.  Apparently, the kettle uses up the most energy. Yet, in most households it is on only a very limited time per day.

In the sinister 20th century propaganda tradition of using children to influence parents, schools present a great marketing opportunity for smart meters through pester power. In the school ‘test meter’ situation that I know of, the children were quite insistent that smart meters were a good thing, should they become available. In one household, the parents were unsure until they did their own online research. They decided that issues of privacy and control outweighed any possible savings. As a parent explained to me after having the test meter plugged in for 24 hours, one knows what appliances use the most electricity and can reduce usage accordingly.

It will be interesting to see how smart meters are positioned here in the UK. I’ll keep tabs on France as well. To date, I have not heard or read any discussions about them.

More on the subject later.

In the meantime, any readers from California who have any anecdotes or experiences they would like to share should feel free to leave a comment.

British readers can consult Stop Smart Meters (UK) (see my UK blogroll at the bottom left hand corner), which gives more information about them, including the risks to personal privacy.

As Stop Smart Meters notes:

In the UK, ‘Smart’ Meters are NOT compulsory and you have the lawful right to refuse one.

Another factor which might slow their take-up is our deregulated energy market. A new regulatory framework would need to be devised for smart meters, which, all being well, would take some time.

This is a quick post to alert my fellow Britons and other EU readers that electricity ‘smart meters’ are coming our way.

You might have noticed earlier this month on commercial television that British Gas made a rather happy advert announcing that smart meters were on their way to our homes.

California customers of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) have had these meters for the past few years. Some claim they cause adverse health affects. Possibly. More importantly, your electricity supplier will know your daily movements: when you turn the lights on, when your computer or washing machine goes on and so forth.

Take this a step further. What is the probability of someone hacking into your smart meter to find out if you are at home or away? All it takes is one unscrupulous employee.

It also begs the question whether corporate, or — by extension — government bodies, should have the ability to know your daily goings-on.  As Britain’s Captain Ranty says:

I have enough of Big Brother on the streets without inviting him in. The smart meters are operated remotely and switch off your stuff if they feel it shouldn’t be switched on.

It is unclear whether these meters will be mandatory within the EU, however, California residents must pay for the right of refusal. As I mentioned in this post a few weeks ago, PG&E require an annual penalty payment for opting out of smart meters:

In PG&E’s plan, “PG&E customers who want to opt-out of smart meters will be required to pay a one-time $75 fee and a monthly charge of $10. Low-income customers will pay an initial fee of $10 and a monthly charge of $5,” reports the San Jose Mercury News.

On top of that, your prices might increase regardless.

We do not know exactly how this will work out for European customers and might differ on a country-by-country basis.

Fortunately, even British analysts wonder whether the rollout will be successful. Captain Ranty directed his readers to this article from Euractiv.com:

Over 51% of the 2,396 energy bill-payers interviewed by the Ipsos Mori research team in Britain said they had never heard of smart meters. Only one in four said they knew at least a fair amount about the meters, 24% had heard of them but knew nothing about them, while just 2% claimed to know “a great deal”. 

The study comes amid plans to roll-out smart meters in all of Britain’s 30 million households from 2014 to 2019.

But even figures in the smart metering industry say this objective might be difficult to attain.

Mark England, chief executive of Sentec, a supplier of smart grid and metering technology said in March 2012 that smart meter deployment in 65% of UK homes by 2015 was not possible.

“The deregulated structure of the UK market is uniquely challenging for rapid and co-ordinated action in a large scale initiative like this,” England said in a statement. “There is a great deal of work still to do to finalise the technical and regulatory framework for smart metering.”

The EU’s 27 member states are expected to present their national cost-benefit analyses on the deployment of smart meters to the European Commission before 3 September. These are expected to result in 80% of European consumers being equipped with intelligent metering systems by 2020.

The roll-out of smart meters could potentially transform the way energy markets operate in the EU, with customers expected to become more actively engaged in controlling their energy consumption, with the help of demand-response systems.

In addition to the aforementioned concerns, your utility company might sell on your personal details to companies selling more energy-efficient refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and other white goods. They will already know what you are using when they market new merchandise to you.

My readers in the UK might be interested in reading Stop Smart Meters (UK) (see my UK blogroll at the bottom left hand corner), which gives more information about them, including the risks to personal privacy.

As Stop Smart Meters notes:

In the UK, ‘Smart’ Meters are NOT compulsory and you have the lawful right to refuse one.

One hopes that those who refuse will not be charged annual and monthly penalties for doing so.

Not all of California’s PG&E customers are happy about smart meters. YouTube has a series of videos about people who have confronted installers and voiced their objections.

In 2010, this California man refused a smart meter installation:

This video from 2011 shows a number of disgruntled Californians attempting to return their smart meters:

Protect your privacy and your property rights by simply saying no.

Smart meters are just a step away from the film Brazil with its sinister Central Services.

Princeton’s Professor of Bioethics Peter Singer doesn’t believe that being alive makes you a human being.

You must meet certain criteria.

LifeSiteNews says (emphases mine):

To justify this, Singer has developed the idea that only those with a certain level of cognitive function can be considered “persons,” which idea he expanded to propose that any creature with higher presumptive cognitive functions than the bare minimum were also persons, including great apes, dogs, and dolphins

The one group that does not qualify for personhood in Singer’s world are newborn humans and brain damaged people of any age. These, he says, ought to have “personhood” legally bestowed upon them only after the approval of their parents or caregivers. Parents, he believes, should be given a month or so to decide if they want to keep their child, and only then should it have the protection of the law.

We have no obligation to allow every being with the potential to become a rational being to realize that potential,” he argued …

If it comes to a clash between the supposed interests of potentially rational but not yet conscious beings and the vital interests of actually rational women, we should give preference to the women every time,” he wrote.

So, it seems men do not count.

Interesting that Singer is alive. What if his parents had thought like that?

Singer’s Wikipedia profile includes a bit on his family history:

Singer’s parents were Viennese Jews who emigrated to Australia from Vienna in 1938, after Austria’s annexation by Nazi Germany.[3] They settled in Melbourne, where Singer was born. His grandparents were less fortunate: his paternal grandparents were taken by the Nazis to Łódź, and were never heard from again; his maternal grandfather died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.[4] He has a sister, Joan (now Joan Dwyer). Singer’s father imported tea and coffee, while his mother practiced medicine.

It’s odd that Singer took no moral lessons from his grandparents’ deaths. Hitler and the Nazis decided they weren’t qualified to live, either.

Singer’s mother has Alzheimer’s. Lucky for her that her daughter is caring for her rather than her son.

In Singer’s mind, one has to be worth it in order to be allowed to live:

… living beings’ interests should be weighed. His principle of equal consideration of interests does not dictate equal treatment of all those with interests, since different interests warrant different treatment. All have an interest in avoiding pain, for instance, but relatively few have an interest in cultivating their abilities

He favors a ‘journey’ model of life, which measures the wrongness of taking a life by the degree to which doing so frustrates a life journey’s goals. The journey model is tolerant of some frustrated desire and explains why persons who have embarked on their journeys are not replaceable. Only a personal interest in continuing to live brings the journey model into play. This model also explains the priority that Singer attaches to interests over trivial desires and pleasures.

From this, a government could easily develop a policy to murder toddlers if they came from disadvantaged homes or have behavioural problems. Remember various Western governments — including Britain’s — urging nursery schools to compile a dossier on every child? It would be easy to say that a child’s anti-social behaviour, even if temporary, qualified him for extermination. For the greater good of society, of course. After all, a three-year old has no conscious or elevated interest other than eating, playing and having dry underwear.

Singer famously said:

If the fetus does not have the same claim to life as a person, it appears that the newborn baby does not either, and the life of the newborn baby is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee.

There is no reason not to envisage ‘newborn baby’ as pre-schooler.

Singer has a communitarian attitude to life, a mindset which lends itself to bans, eugenics and death:

Ethical conduct is justifiable by reasons that go beyond prudence to “something bigger than the individual,” addressing a larger audience. Singer thinks this going-beyond identifies moral reasons as “somehow universal”, specifically in the injunction to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’, interpreted by him as demanding that one give the same weight to the interests of others as one gives to one’s own interests.

Singer is semi-vegan:

Singer called Western-style meat production cruel, unhealthy and damaging to the ecosystem.[35] He rejected the idea that the method was necessary to meet the population’s increasing demand, explaining that animals in factory farms have to eat food grown explicitly for them, and they burn up most of the food’s energy just to breathe and keep their bodies warm. Singer calls himself a vegetarian and a “flexible vegan”.

Hmm. Imagine eating to stay alive. Who knew?

He also advocates zoophilia — human-animal liaisons:

Singer argues that sexual activities between humans and animals that result in harm to the animal should remain illegal, but that “sex with animals does not always involve cruelty” and that “mutually satisfying activities” of a sexual nature may sometimes occur between humans and animals

Singer believes that although sex between species is not normal or natural,[45] it does not constitute a transgression of our status as human beings, because human beings are animals or, more specifically, “we are great apes”.

And:

mainstream Christianity is a problem for the animal movement.

Amazingly, earlier this year, Singer became a Companion of the Order of Australia

for “eminent service to philosophy and bioethics as a leader of public debate and communicator of ideas in the areas of global poverty, animal welfare and the human condition.”

You couldn’t make it up.

LifeSiteNews warns:

Philosophy and culture are inextricably connected, but it is usually only when a man like Peter Singer writes his ideas out loud in a daily newspaper [the Scotsman] that the general public starts to become aware of the origins of our current cultural sickness. But these new ideas have slowly grown their poisoned tendrils into every corner of human endeavor and strangled the basic notions upon which our civilization was built.

A lot of pro-life people got involved because of a single legal change, something that shocked and horrified them, the legalization of abortion or euthanasia. But it is crucial for pro-life people to understand the bigger picture, that the thing we are fighting is bigger than a single incident, or a single issue.

It is not about overturning Roe v. Wade or the Abortion Act 1967. It is about defeating an entire new philosophical culture, a system of thought governing all human action. This new set of ideas has created the abortionist and pansexualist regime we are fighting in the pro-life movement. The sexual revolution did not spring out of nothing in 1965.

Does this mean that philosophy is bad? No. Does it mean that adhering to some sort of hominid-to-human timeline is bad? Not necessarily.

It’s what you do with these ideas and theories that matters.

Today’s post continues with the story of Jairus’s daughter in the Gospel of St Mark. Last week’s entry can be found here.

As this passage has been excluded from the Lectionary for public worship, it forms part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to our understanding of Scripture.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Mark 5:35-43

35While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39And when he had entered, he said to them,  “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

—————————————————————

Last week’s post related how Jairus asked Jesus to accompany him to his home, where his daughter lay dying. Along the way, Jesus encountered the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. She reached out to touch the hem of His garment and was healed.

John MacArthur reminds us that what we read in the New Testament took longer to transpire than the short accounts given. Recall that the woman told Jesus her story, which MacArthur surmises took a couple of hours.

Imagine Jairus’s anxiety in the meantime. What thoughts must have been running through his mind whilst he attempted to be gracious and patient, yet fearing the worst.  Yet, by God’s grace, he approached Jesus through faith.

The fear of death grips us all. Some fear for their own lives. Others fear for the deaths of their loved ones. MacArthur says (emphases mine):

The Bible accurately says that all the human race is in slavery to the fear of death, Hebrews 2:15. Romans 6 says that the whole human race is in slavery to sin and the consequence of being a slave to sin is being a slave to the fear of death. Death, of course, is the ultimate fear that impregnates all other fears with its threatening and final reality. That is why Job 18:14 calls death the kind of terrors.

In Psalm 55 verses 4 and 5 we read, “My heart is in anguish within me. Horror has overwhelmed me. Fear and trembling come upon me.” Why? “The terrors of death have fallen upon me.” Everybody in the human race understands the fear, the terror of death. Which raises the question of all questions, “Can anyone…has anyone conquered death and can I enter in to that experience of triumph?” That is the compelling question. Has anyone conquered death and in so doing have they made it possible for me to triumph over death?

Many years ago there was a Canadian scientist by the name of G.B. Hardy who in his search for the true religion said, “I only have two questions. Has death been conquered? And has it been conquered for me?” And in his search, he ended up the only place anybody in that search will end up and that is with Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and by His resurrection provides resurrection for all who put their trust in Him. He said that is the only question that anyone should ask with regard to the selection of a religion. Has anyone conquered death? And can that triumph be applied to me? He checked and he said, “All religious leaders in the world have occupied tombs. Only Jesus’ tomb is empty.”

Certainly in the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus claimed to have power over death. The gospel of John … begins by telling us that everything that was made was made by Him. That is to say He created everything that lives. It also says, “In Him was life.” He Himself said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He said, “I am come to give life and to give it more abundantly.” He said, “Whoever believes in Me shall never die.” He said, “Because I live, you shall live also.” And in that one statement in John 14:19 He answered the two questions, “I live and you can live as well.” Conquering death is the great question.

This is where we are as today’s passage begins.

However, before delving further, let’s look at the other two Synoptic Gospels — Matthew and Luke — for their treatment of this story. All three Synoptic Gospels tie together the main events of Jesus’s life and ministry.

Highlighted below are the differences in the accounts.

Here is Matthew 9:23-26:

23And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26And the report of this went through all that district.

Note the differences between Mark’s and Matthew’s Gospels in Jairus’s appeal to Jesus (Mark 5:23, Matthew 9:18). Mark’s account says Jairus tells Him that his daughter is ‘at the point of death’ whereas Matthew’s quote says that she has just died.

Here is Luke 8:49-56:

49While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” 50But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 51And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” 53And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” 55And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. 56And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.

Note that Mark and Luke report that Jesus instructed the parents not to talk of the healing, for possible reasons discussed below. Matthew said that everyone in Jairus’s vicinity heard about the healing.  Matthew leaves out that Jesus told the parents to give the girl something to eat. Luke adds to the words ‘only believe’ the promise ‘and she will be well’.

Back to Mark 5:35, where one of Jairus’s people came to announce the girl’s death. Therefore, there was no reason to disturb Jesus any further. The word the person from Jairus’s household uses in referring to Jesus is ‘Teacher’. He was known primarily as such, not as a healer or miracle worker.

In verse 36, Jesus overhears this and tells Jairus to not be afraid but instead have faith — ‘only believe’.  Jesus then tells the crowd, His disciples and most of his Apostles to remain behind (verse 37). He asks Peter and the two brothers John and James — the Boanerges — to accompany Him to Jairus’s house.

They are the three Apostles whom Jesus has selected as confidants.  They, in turn, will tell the other nine what they have learned during these private sorties. MacArthur explains:

Obviously He couldn’t take the crowd. He couldn’t even take the Twelve into the house, that would be too much … This is the first time in the ministry of our Lord that He isolates these three, this is the first time. And get used to it, right? The inner circle, Peter, James and John, they were three of the first four Apostles that He called. James and John were brothers and Peter and Andrew were brothers. Peter becomes the leader. James and John, the other two intimates, and Andrew is a sometime inclusion in the inner circle. This is the first occasion where He separates them out.

Eventually, they arrive at Jairus’s house, where a Jewish funeral of the day for the 12-year old girl was taking place (verse 38). Some of these traditions are still in place: wailing and rending of garments, although, from what I understand, today’s wailing is more subdued. The Jews at that time also played mournful music on their most common instrument, the flute. Imagine several amateur flautists getting together and playing simultaneously. Some might have been neighbours or friends. They probably weren’t playing in tune or in tempo. Oh dear, what a cacophony.

Jesus asks about the ‘commotion’ (verse 39), saying that the young girl is only ‘sleeping’. This is no doubt one reason for saying that the dead are asleep. Unfortunately, the mourners laugh at Him (verse 40). Imagine mourning one minute and mocking someone the next. How valid is their sorrow? It seems quite shallow and quite typical of the opposition with which our Lord and Saviour met in his public ministry.

Jesus dismisses all except for the girl’s parents and His three Apostles. The six were alone with the cherished daughter assumed to have left this mortal coil. As He did with the woman who had hemorrhaged for 12 years, he treats this 12-year old gently and mercifully. He takes her hand and instructs her in near familial terms — talitha cumi (verse 41).

MacArthur unpacks Jesus’s actions for us indirectly comparing our temporal life to our eternal life:

In that moment, Jesus redefined death as a temporary condition. That’s why He uses the metaphor or the analogy of sleep. Sleep is a temporary disconnect, isn’t it? You’re insensitive to the environment around you when you’re asleep, you don’t hear the conversations, you don’t participate socially. You’re asleep. But it’s a temporary situation. And Jesus is saying for this girl, this is just asleep, it’s temporary. This is not permanent ...

This concept of death as sleep is picked up by the Apostles, isn’t it?, in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul loves to refer to believers dying as being asleep, like he refers in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 … God will raise us, we who know the Lord Jesus Christ when we die, the body sleeps. The soul, immediately in the presence of the Lord. “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” “Far better to depart and be with Christ.” That’s the…that’s the soul. But the body sleeps until the glorious resurrection at the return of Christ. And so you can refer to the death of a Christian as a release of the soul into the presence of the Lord, but the body sleeps until the day of resurrection. And so death, in a sense for a Christian, becomes described as sleep because it’s temporary…

Hence the expression ‘asleep in Christ’.

Now to the expression talitha cumi. Matthew Henry says:

Talitha, cumi; Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise. Dr. Lightfoot saith, It was customary with the Jews, when they gave physic to one that was sick, to say, Arise from thy disease; meaning, We wish thou mayest arise: but to one that was dead, Christ said, Arise from the dead; meaning, I command that thou arise; nay, there is more in it-the dead have not power to arise, therefore power goes along with this word, to make it effectual.

MacArthur adds a softer interpretation:

Here again this very personal touch, this very tender sensitivity. “And He said to her,” and by the way, only Mark gives us the original Aramaic. Jesus’ daily language was Aramaic, that was the language they spoke in Israel, the New Testament being written in Greek, the other writers give us the Greek translation. “Little girl, arise.” Mark gives us the very words of Jesus in Aramaic, “Talitha kum,” which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you get up.”

Talitha means a youth or a lamb. It’s as if He said, “Little lamb.” We use those kind of endearing terms, don’t we? We say to a little baby, “You little lamb you,” when we dote over them, don’t we? We don’t say that after they’re about three or so. We use other animals to describe them. But when they’re little, “Little Lamb” works really well … this one was still a lamb in the eyes of Jesus and she was twelve … And she was a lamb to that family. That was … a term of endearment. “Kum, get up, little lamb I say to you, get up.”

Instantly — ‘immediately’ — the girl gets up and begins walking (verse 42). She amazes her parents and the Apostles. Jesus had restored this girl to life.

The healing — restoration to life — concludes with Jesus instructing her parents to give her something to eat (verse 43). This signifies that she has no recuperation time; she is well and she is hungry. We know that a healthy appetite is a sign that all is well with us and our loved ones. And so it was when Jesus healed Jairus’s daughter. What a happy day that must have been.

However, Jesus stipulates that no one should reveal the healing. Well, one can imagine that they were all too eager to tell their neighbours and townspeople, as Matthew records.

You might wonder why Jesus said such a thing. MacArthur explains:

when He healed somebody it was immediate and it was permanent. And immediately there was complete astonishment on the part of the parents and everybody else who was in the room, including the three Apostles, Peter, James and John. The verb existemi literally means to stand outside oneself or to be beside one’s self with bewilderment. In other words, you have no logical explanation for what you have just seen. The same word is used in chapter 3 verse 21, and translated, “out of his senses.” It’s also used in 2 Corinthians 5:13, beside ourselves. I mean, this is just inexplicable. This just doesn’t happen. Common response, by the way, to the demonstration of divine power by our Lord.

The strength of the faith of Peter, James and John was certainly increased, wouldn’t you think? And so if it strengthened their faith, why not spread it around? Our Lord gives this explicit statement, “Do not do that.” But He doesn’t tell us why. In fact, as many times as it’s recorded that He said that in the gospels, we’re never told why He said that…never.

But let me make some suggestions to you. Number one, He could have said it to avoid a stampede on the house, to give the family time to feed the girl and to celebrate and rejoice and give Him more time to instruct and teach. If they went right out of the house, as you might be prone to do, and spread this everywhere, there would be a kind of a sensational response and curiosity would drive the crowd to the house and debilitate Jesus from doing what He wanted to do and rob away that precious time for the family and that reunion. Is that possibly behind the statement that you need to get her something to eat? That’s the first thing you need to do is take care of her before you draw a crowd? Was that in His mind?

It is also possible that Jesus said this because He knew the crowds had these messianic expectations, right? Now the Jews were looking for a Messiah, they wanted the Messiah who would come just to demonstrate massive divine power and use that power to overthrow Rome and use that power to provide everything they needed and everything that had been promised to them in the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. Jesus was believed to be that Messiah and if it ran rampant and it got carried away, the crowds could get very aggressive and try to force Him into a role that was never His intended role. Read John 6:15 where it says, “After He fed them all, they tried to force Him to be a king.” Was He trying to keep the flame of messianic expectation low and not throw gas on it by a report of a resurrection?

Or thirdly, was it perhaps that He was motivated not to escalate the fear and the hatred of the scribes and Pharisees who were His enemies. If the crowd got excited, then Jesus becomes a bigger threat than they escalate their animosity and they have to do something to stop that threat and in premature action against Him, they might come after Him to kill Him. That had already been tried, right? Up in Nazareth in His own hometown they tried to throw Him off a cliff.

So Jesus had His reasons for keeping such dramatic healings — resurrections, if you will — quiet.

Henry’s observations help tie the various elements of this story together:

1. That the child was extremely well beloved, for the relations and neighbours wept and wailed greatly. It is very afflictive when that which is come forth like a flower is so soon cut down, and withereth before it is grown up; when that grieves us, of which we said, This same shall comfort us.

2. That it was evident beyond dispute, that the child was really and truly dead.

3. That Christ put those out as unworthy to be witnesses of the miracle, who were noisy in their sorrow, and were so ignorant in the things of God, as not to understand him when he spoke of death as a sleep, or so scornful, as to ridicule him for it.

4. That he took the parents of the child to be witnesses of the miracle, because in it he had an eye to their faith, and designed it for their comfort, who were the true, for they were the silent mourners.

5. That Christ raised the child to life by a word of power, which is recorded here, and recorded in Syriac [a dialect of Middle Aramaic], the language in which Christ spoke, for the greater certainty of the thing; Talitha, cumi; Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise.

6. That the damsel, as soon as life returned, arose, and walked, v. 42. Spiritual life will appear by our rising from the bed of sloth and carelessness, and our walking in a religious conversation, our walking up and down in Christ’s name and strength; even from those that are of the age of twelve years, it may be expected that they should walk as those whom Christ has raised to life, otherwise than in the native vanity of their minds.

7. That all who saw it, and heard of it, admired the miracle, and him that wrought it

8. That Christ endeavoured to conceal it; He charged them straitly, that no man should know it. It was sufficiently known to a competent number, but he would not have it as yet proclaimed any further; because his own resurrection was to be the great instance of his power over death, and therefore the divulging of other instances must be reserved till that great proof was given: let one part of the evidence be kept private, till the other part, on which the main stress lies, be made ready.

9. That Christ took care something should be given her to eat. By this it appeared that she was raised not only to life, but to a good state of health, that she had an appetite to her meat; even the new-born babes in Christ’s house desire the sincere milk, 1 Pt. 2:1, 2. And it is observable, that, as Christ, when at first he had made man, presently provided food for him, and food out of the earth of which he was made (Gen. 1:29), so now when he had given a new life, he took care that something should be given to eat; for is he has given life, he may be trusted to give livelihood, because the life is more than meat, Mt. 6:25. Where Christ hath given spiritual life, he will provide food for the support and nourishment of it unto life eternal, for he will never forsake, or be wanting to, the work of his own hands.

The raising of Jairus’s daughter is one of Christ’s great creative miracles. It holds lessons for us today in terms of our unwavering faith and His infinite mercy.

Next time: Mark 6:14-20

French diet guru Dr Pierre Dukan says he has never met an obese person who is psychologically healthy.

He says:

It’s a mental problem. I’ve never seen an obese person who has said, ‘I am well in the mind’.

One can also say the same for many thin people.

One wonders if they are suddenly cured once they lose weight. Whatever problem caused them to overeat is probably still lurking.

I have read about people putting their original weight back on post-Dukan. However, this happens with every diet. It shows that the root problem has not been tackled.

Is food a means of self-medication? For some — as with tobacco and drink — it is. Does that mean that everyone with an oral fixation is mentally ill? No, but they are probably anxious over something.

Experts such as Dukan have a nerve. He makes his money off the obese then castigates them as being mentally ill.

Is Dukan a friend of the obese? I think not.

Do our experts and politicians want us to live longer or not?

It stands to reason that the cancer ‘epidemic’ has occurred because of our long life expectancy. As the body deteriorates through ageing, the likelihood of cancer increases.

People have been alarmed about cancer for 40 years. Nurses have helped to spread the alarm in their conversations with friends and family; I’ve heard them myself.

Before that, it was heart disease and stroke, which seem to be making a sorry comeback this decade among notionally healthy middle-aged men. Heart disease is not called the silent killer for nothing.

At the weekend, this item appeared:

In three decades’ time, 4.1 million over-65s will be living with the disease, compared with 1.3 million in 2010, the study finds.

Nearly one in four older people will receive a cancer diagnosis in 2040, almost double the proportion in 2010, the Macmillan Cancer Support-funded study suggests.

The sharp rise in the number of cases could be attributable to a number of causes such as an ageing population, increased incidence of cancer and increasing cancer survival rates, said the researchers at King’s College London.

Who knew?

Newsflash: sadly, we’re all going to die. So why do experts and the government not allow us to be happy in this life?

I attribute this fear of disease to unbelief.  The well-known American evangelical pastor John MacArthur noted the universal fear of death in one of his sermons:

The Bible accurately says that all the human race is in slavery to the fear of death, Hebrews 2:15. Romans 6 says that the whole human race is in slavery to sin and the consequence of being a slave to sin is being a slave to the fear of death. Death, of course, is the ultimate fear that impregnates all other fears with its threatening and final reality. That is why Job 18:14 calls death the kind of terrors.

Disease may lead to death. Then again, death may occur naturally or through a fatal accident.

It seems that an unnatural fear — the kind which accompanies sin and unbelief — has gripped our experts and politicians. To allay this fear, they seem to think that if they control everyone, they can, by extension, control our life expectancy. Somewhat paradoxically, they then sound the alarm that we’re all living too long — in other words, costing too much.

It seems to boil down to their fear of death versus their fear of how much we cost to maintain in our dotage. This inevitably leads to ethical debates, some of which have already started (e.g. euthanasia). More on this next week.

The debate over proposed minimum alcohol pricing rages on.

‘Something must be done’.

Yes, so why not implement government price controls on drinks?

It is unbelivable that at a time when alcohol consumption in Britain has been decreasing over the past several years, our experts and politicians want to impose a minimum price per unit.

Yes, there will always be a handful of people who get out of control when they drink. However, most Britons consume alcohol sensibly.

This is more social engineering. Create a ‘problem’ then ‘solve’ it with tax.

It is certainly social engineering when anti-smoker Sir Ian Gilmore gets involved. Having dealt with tobacco, he has moved on to alcohol. Something must be done!

The Telegraph reports:

Senior doctors, including Sir Ian Gilmore of the Royal College of Physicians [RCP], have also said that the plan could save 10,000 lives a year by making alcohol more expensive for heavy drinkers. The changes will mean that a bottle of wine cannot be sold for less than £3.60, a can of lager will cost at least 80p, and a bottle of spirits between £10.40 and £11.20.

‘10,000 lives a year’ saved. Another spurious figure which requires backup. The RCP probably came up with that over dinner with wine. But, after all, they are physicians, and, by definition, drink responsibly, unlike we serfs who pay their salaries.

The Office of Fair Trading — in the same article — says the plan, already implemented in Scotland, will backfire:

In evidence to MPs, the watchdog said supermarkets and the drinks industry would gain “additional profit for every unit of low-cost alcohol that they sell”.

The OFT is also worried that the Government’s interference in prices will set a dangerous precedent, undermining the free market. It found similar price controls in France and Ireland meant households had a higher cost of living.

Precisely. And while the supermarkets and drinks industry would make more money, so would the government. No wonder that Terry Leahy, former head of Tesco, was in favour. It’s a win-win.

The OFT also warned of the potential for scope creep:

By legitimising intervention to control prices in a competitive market, it will be harder for the Government to resist calls for similar measures in other parts of the retail sector in future.

Just so. It’s not inconceivable that the government could control all prices. If you find that far-fetched, think of the taxes and bans we have in place at present. Why not add a few more?

Feature a steady diet of scaremongering and people will agree and clamour for a solution. ‘Something must be done!’

And this is exactly what is happening in our society, a mass panic about alcohol — just as there was with smoking and obesity.

Read the comments following the Telegraph article.

The gold medal has to go to Cransley, the policeman who said something must be done about public drunkenness:

As a  middle-ranking police officer, who manages the policing for one quarter of a county in the heart of England, can I make an observation:

There needs to be, in my humble opinion, a proper, adult, debate in this country about drugs and alcohol. The fact is that if you read the newspapers you will think that Ecstasy, for example, is a terrible drug. Billions of tablets have been consumed in the last 25 years and it has resulted in the deaths of around 400 people.

400 deaths in 25 years is very bad.

But, alcohol kills over 8,000 people EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

So which is the problem drug?

If you walk into my local Accident and Emergency department on a Saturday night, and ask yourself the question “what substance is causing all of these issues”, the answer you come up with won’t be cocaine, it won’t be heroin, it won’t be cannabis, it will be alcohol.

Now we all know that prohibition doesn’t work (and I’m glad about that, given that to me, a day without wine is like a day without sunshine), but there should be some control on the amount people consume and in particular there should be:

A public intoxication limit.

(With instant, penal, fixed penalty notices for breaches)

There is a limit for drinking and driving. There should be a limit (3 times the drink drive limit?) for intoxication in a public place.

Every citizen should have a responsibility whilst in a public place, to maintain a certain degree of sobriety so that they are not completely legless. Yes! enjoy yourselves, have a good evening out.

But you should not be allowed to get drunk to the point of losing your ability to look after yourself, make reasoned decisions, walk-without-falling-over and all the other symptoms my officers see week in and week out where people get larey, aggressive and completely unable to function in a reasonable and responsible manner.

If alcohol were invented, as a drug, today, it would be banned because of the health and behavioural issues it causes. There should be much tighter controls around drunkenness in order to allevaite the massive costs it causes to the emergency services, NHS and society in general.

There are already laws and penalties for public drunkenness. Why don’t Cransley and his constables take action? Most documentaries on binge drinking show groups of constables standing by watching the drunk and disorderly instead of arresting or fining them.

Between the police, politicians and physicians like Ian Gilmore, we’re in a sorry state — as well as being trapped by tax. Minimum pricing will surely result in more tax.

This manufactured mass panic over drink will go a long way to denormalising it — as with tobacco — unless we keep pointing out the reality of the situation.

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