August 8th, 2003

Penicillin Out of Mouldy Bread and a Ceiling Fan


" If God can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, He can make something out of you."
(Henny Youngman, to a heckler in the audience.)


Hi folks,

There's a lot of controversy going on currently (whether real or media-manufactured - who can tell anymore?) about the new Mel Gibson film, 'The Passion', basically telling Jesus' story as recounted in The Gospel of John. The few clips I've seen of the film are suggesting a neo-realistic interpretation, in the manner that 'Unforgiven' and 'Lonesome Dove' were neo-Westerns, and 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Thin Red Line' were a neo-WWII films - ( i.e. you-are-there, Jesus leaves a gruesome trail of blood as he stand before Pilate and you can practically feel the spike being driven into his palm.) There are rising allegations of anti-Semitism from some Jewish scholars, who apparently haven't seen the film yet (to be released in 2004) but have had access to the final screenplay. (One resurgent argument is that the entire New Testament could be interpreted to be anti-Semitic. Might as well throw in some anti-Italian while we're at it! )

People may remember the pickets and protests around Scorsese's 'The Last Temptation of Christ.' I had to wade through a wall of Greek orthodox women in black dresses holding up placards saying 'SCORSESE IS THE ANTI-CHRIST' just to get in the Russell St Cinema here in Melbourne. The best thing about Scorsese's film to me was Mary Magdalene's tattoos and Peter Gabriel's music score. Wilhem Dafoe seemed more believable sucking necks as Nosferatu, and behind the porno camera in 'Autofocus' than hanging up there on the Cross.

I'm looking forward to 'The Passion'. I've heard the film is in Aramaic with English subtitles (indicating it is not pandering strictly to commercial guidelines) and Jesus is finally being played by a real Middle Eastern looking Jew, as he was in real life, rather than another English thespian or whitebread Aryan future Republican hopeful. As Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys' famous song long ago foretold, 'They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.'

(I've recommended a book below about Nietzsche's sister, Elisabeth, and her bizarre life, if you want to read a little known but very important story about some really confused anti-Semites.)


I also agree with Bill Hicks' comment that it's a shame that the Crucifix is the prime contemporary symbol of Jesus' message. When I think of what Christ, Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr had in common - what really inspires me - I don't think of the Cross. I think of something more having to do with Hope. Hope when faced with an unbelievably hopeless and despairing situation. The Cross, by itself, is like Part I without Part II. Of course, it's hard to find an image for Hope. We need different senses to access it, other than the Basic Five. (Is Creative Imagination a sense?)


The Dove is a slightly better symbol. Or maybe the Fish. (You get the idea.) Of course, we'd have to change some of the hand movements for the Sign of the Cross. The Sign of the Dove, for instance, would need some flapping arms in there for wings and the Sign of the Fish - maybe casting a net or something.


A lot of US rightwing Christian fundamentalists use one primary phrase, attributed to Christ, to justify warlike thinking -

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword." Matthew 10:34

But if you read on for the context of that sentence:

"For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And man's foes will be those of his own household." Matthew 10:35

Taking a sword to ones mother-in-law ain't such a bad idea, but here the word sword is used simply as a symbol for the person encouraged to think for themselves - to cut themselves free of the constrictions of family pressure to conformity. This phrase was never intended to justify war and killing but was clearly intended to strengthen the spirits of those who were taking difficult positions against the accepted, and in Jesus' view, excessive and corrupt organized religion they found all around him, the moneylenders in the temples - even the spiritual apathy in the home.


Warmongering Christians always miss the point that NOWHERE in any record of Jesus' actions does he himself ever pick up a weapon. (Read that sentence again.)

'Christ gave us the goals and
Gandhi gave us the tactics.'

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The clearest interpretation of the life lessons of Jesus, in text form, is Martin Luther King's 'Strength to Love', and Ghandi's, 'The Message of Jesus Christ', (see my article on this little known booklet here: Here


- but my favourite Gospel, and the one that I believe will endure long after the others have been relegated to myths (in the manner of the Greek and Roman religious myths) is JS Bach's St Matthew Passion. If they want to call George Martin the 'Fifth Beatle' ( I prefer to refer to the Beatles as the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th George Martins) - then Bach's Passion was certainly the Fifth Gospel. He was a profound musical mystic whose soundtrack transcends the libretto while also lifting it into a sublime, more empowering and enduring atmosphere.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a simple gospel song based on what I imagined Jesus' mother, Mary, might have thought when she first saw her son crucified, called 'Lower Jesus.' Lyrics.



And, one of my favourite and weirdest cover versions, of the 35 or so versions I know of, of my song, 'Shaddap You Face', was written by Mrs Liz Luva, for the Clontarf Beach Baptist Church Vacation Bible School. Here are the words, which are sung to the original tune:

Heaven's The Place

"Star Wars is the shout, hey,
Empire striking back,
but without a doubt, hey,
This is what they lack,
Jesus Christ has come, now,
For the human race,
To die in our place.

(ev-a-ry baaaahdy . . . .)
Many years ago, hey,
There in Bethlehem,
Jesus Christ was born, then,
Died and rose again.
If we trust in him, one
Day we'll see his face
And Heaven's The Place.

(One more time for Mama Mary! And make the Sign of the Bacalla)


Thematic Joke

Donald Rumsfeld died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St. Peter, he asked, "What are all those clocks?"

St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move."

"Oh," said Rumsfeld, "Whose clock is that?"

"That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie."

"Incredible," said Rumsfeld. "And whose clock is that one?"

St. Peter responded, "That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life."

Where's Bush's clock?" asked Rumsfeld.

"Bush's clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan."
(Thanks to Mairied Sullivan)

Power of Presidency Resides in Language as Well as Law

George W. Bush is generally regarded as a mangler of the English language.

What is overlooked is his mastery of emotional language -- especially negatively charged emotional language -- as a political tool. Take a closer look at his speeches and public utterances and his political success turns out to be no surprise. It is the predictable result of the intentional use of language to dominate others.

Bush, like many dominant personality types, uses dependency-creating language. He employs language of contempt and intimidation to shame others into submission and desperate admiration.

While we tend to think of the dominator as using physical force, in fact most dominators use verbal abuse to control others. Abusive language has been a major theme of psychological researchers on marital problems, such as John Gottman, and of philosophers and theologians, such as Josef Pieper.

But little has been said about the key role it has come to play in political discourse and in such "hot media" as talk radio and television.

Bush uses several dominating linguistic techniques to induce surrender to his will. The first is empty language. This term refers to broad statements that are so abstract and mean so little that they are virtually impossible to oppose. (More)
(Thanks to Eileen Crean)
Amnesty International Call to Action


This is important.

The Nigerian Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for Amina Lawal, condemned for the crime of adultery on August 19th 2002, to be buried up to her neck and stoned to death. Her death was postponed so that she could continue to nurse her baby. Hearing on her Execution is now set for 27 AUGUST 2003.

Amina confessed to having had a child while divorced. Pregnancy outside of marriage constitutes sufficient evidence for a woman to be convicted of adultery according to the new Shari'ah-based penal code for Muslims, introduced in Katsina state.

If you haven't been following this case, you might like to know that Amina's baby is regarded as the 'evidence' of her adultery. Amina's case is being handled by the Spanish branch of Amnesty International, which is attempting to put together enough signatures to make the Nigerian government rescind the death sentence. A similar campaign saved another Nigerian woman, Safiya, condemned in similar circumstances. By March 4th, the petition had amassed over 2,600,000 signatures. It will only take you a few seconds to sign Amnesty's online petition. Please sign the petition now, then copy this message into a new email and send it to everyone in your address book. Go to the web page: Petition

Thanks for reading this. Please take the time to sign the petition. (Note: I've just done this. It takes about 5 seconds. Joe.)

Heidi Donnelly
Communications Coordinator
(Thanks to Stefan Abeysekera)


Political Animation


Go to the following site and click on the TOP GUN link for an exciting ride through Dubya's military CV: Site
(Thanks to Mairied Sullivan and Joe Simonetta)


C-SPAN is a private, non-profit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service whose mission is to provide public access to the political process.

This is an excellent online archival site for downloading videotaped speeches of Dennis Kucinich and others, including many addresses by authors and novelists. Just type the name of the person you are looking for in the Video Search Box. C-span Site

'Working Families Presidential Forum'

Watch the recent and exciting AFL-CIO Unions forum and debate with all nine of the Democratic candidates:
Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun
Governor Howard Dean
Senator John Edwards
Congressman Dick Gephardt
Senator Bob Graham
Senator John Kerry
Congressman Dennis Kucinich
(Boy, did Dennis the Menace shake them up. What a speaker!)
Senator Joe Lieberman
Reverend Al Sharpton
(I like Al, too! He was late arriving but broke everyone up when took the stage saying: ' I'm late because I had a non-union cabdriver!')

Moderator: Bob Edwards. Five subjects. Questions directed from the workers. 90 second replies. President Bush was invited but declined. Debate

Jerry Springer's Speech

'Jerr-EY Jerr-EY' has declined to run for the US Senate in the upcoming election. ( Aw! Now he would make an interesting President. He could have Press Conferences from his show and have people like Bill Clinton, Hillary and Monica Lewinski on 'live' to sort things out.)



'Forgotten Fatherland - The Search for Elisabeth Nietzsche'
Ben MacIntyre, Macmilian, London 1992.

Around 1886, Elisabeth Nietzsche, the bigoted, imperious sister of the famous philosopher, together with her husband, anti-Semitic agitator, Bernhard Forster, (kicked out of Germany, at that time, can you believe it, for being too anti-Semetic) took a band of 14 fair-skinned fellow German bigots and their families and founded a "racially pure" colony in Paraguay that they christened "Nueva Germania." (This was about the same time that a "New Australia Colony" was also being established in Paraguay by ex-pats from Down Under.)

In 1991, Macintyre, previously a foreign-affairs reporter for Britain's Sunday Correspondent, went to Paraguay. He vividly recounts the sights and sounds of the villages and jungles, and the flora and fauna he encountered tracking down the survivors. He found a strange, tight-lipped people, still interbreeding to the point of genetic deterioration. Their purpose had been to escape a Fatherland they believed to be in serious decline and to live in a place where their beliefs -- anti-Semitism, vegetarianism, nationalism, and Lutheranism -- could flourish. Descendants of the original settlers, many hooked on yerba mate tea, and remnants of Forster's decayed colonial mansion built for Elisabeth Nietzsche, now relegated, appropriately, to the village pig sty, still remain. Paraguayan neighbors still call them 'the lost people.'
Digging into recently opened German archives, Macintyre tells how Elisabeth Nietzsche, returning to Germany in 1893, grafted her anti-Semitic, nationalist ideas onto her brother Friedrich's philosophy, building a mythic cult around him. (Friedrich, by this time, was already long gone in ga-ga land at the local asylum.)
She, later, at 80, became a mentor to Hitler; her stately funeral in 1935 was attended by a tearful Fuhrer. Laced with mordant irony, Macintyre's brilliant piece of investigative journalism adds weight to the view, shared by many scholars, that the Nazis' use of Nietzsche's ideas to justify their evil deeds and doctrines was a perversion of his thought.

Tech Help


Tech Support: Yes Ma'am... how can I help you?
Customer: Well, after much consideration, I've decided to install Love. Can you guide me though the process?

Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?
Customer: Well, I'm not very technical, but I think I'm ready. What do I do first?

Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart ma'am?
Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

Tech Support: What programs are running ma'am?
Customer: Let's see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge, Resentment and Anger running right now.

Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory, but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge, Resentment and Anger. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off ma'am?
Customer: I don't know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge, Resentment and Anger have completely erased.
Customer: Okay, done! Love has started to install itself. Is that normal?

Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.
Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, "Error - program not run on external components." What should I do?

Tech Support: Don't worry ma'am. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.
Customer: So, what should I do?

Tech Support: Can you pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.
Customer: Okay, done.

Tech Support: Now, copy them to the "My Heart" directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Negative Self-Talk and Judging Others from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.
Customer: Got it. Hey!!! My Heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?

Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So now Love is installed and running.. One more thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules and Love Upgrades back to you.
Customer: I promise to do just that. By the way, what's your name?

Tech Support: Just call me the Divine Cardiologist, or just "I AM." Most people feel all they need is an annual checkup to stay heart-healthy; but, the manufacturer (ME) suggests a daily maintenance schedule for maximum Love efficiency.
(Thanks to Rupert Guenther)

Cooking - Party Appetizers

I learned the next two bobby-dazzlers from Nigella Lawson.


Rosemary Spiced Nuts

Simple and ingenious way to prepare nuts.
Take a couple of cups of mixed nuts, roast them in the oven until they start to get brown. Remove from oven, place in a bowl and set aside.
Mix 1/4 cup Muscova sugar, some salt, some cayenne pepper and some very, very finely chopped fresh rosemary in a bowl. Melt some butter in a frying pan, stir the mixed spices until the sugar melts, toss the nuts in with the spices and mix thoroughly. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish.


Halloumi Cheese with Cayenne Pepper

Slice some Halloumi Cheese (traditional cheese of Cyprus) into 1/4 inch slices. Fry the cheese in an oil-less pan until seared on each side. Place on serving dish, sprinkle generously with olive oil and cayenne pepper. Squeeze a half of lemon over the top and serve.
(Note: Nigella marinates some cut red chillies with the olive oil for about an hour - omitting the cayenne pepper.)


'Every problem we have today was a solution to a problem we had yesterday'
The nature of infinite opportunity.