Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Fallout

Grey skies to greet grey stories fallen from the headlines on a wet Monday morning.

Stolen Innocence: Tragic story of South African Girls as young as 11 being abducted by relatives and condemned to lives little better than sex slaves, in a tribal custom known as "ukuthwalwa" (translated as "to be carried"). One rescued young lady talks about her ordeal, began when an aunt and her own brother arranged for her to be traded to a 42-year old man for some cows:
Nangamso Gezana, 15, says she was abducted in May in Lusikisiki and taken to Rustenburg, where she and her new husband lived in a shack for one month.
"I don't know how many times I thought of killing myself," she says.
"I was like a slave, cooking and cleaning for a man I did not even want. A man who did bad things to me and would not stop even when I cried.
"I think that men are evil."
Ms Sinama says she knew she had to leave when she learned that her husband was suffering from HIV.
"I saw his medical certificate in the house, it was written HIV positive. I knew that if I stayed I would get sick and die," she says.
From Morocco's "Little Maid" custom in North Africa, to this tribal custom in South Africa, the scourge of slavery is alive and well across the African continent. And the rest of the world, even the US. One estimate puts the number of slaves in our "enlightened" modern era at 27 million trapped souls. One of the militant atheists' criticisms of the Bible that I can't resolve is why there is so little to say in there about ending the evil of slavery; it's as if the Lord presumes we are such a wicked species that we will never do what it takes to fully stop the vile practice anyway..? Murder and theft are condemned so specifically, but not a crime that murders faith and robs humans so deeply of their humanity? At best the only explanation I can arrive at is that slavery survives as a reminder of our fallability, a reminder that the practice of serving man as god leads only to slavery, whereas it is man serving God that leads to liberty.

Meanwhile, slavery persists, rising in civilization's shadows century after century in direct proportion to the illusion we amuse ourselves with, that we've finally put an end to it. Shame on us all.

The Art Of Biography: UK Telegraph columnist Simon Heffer reports on biographer Richard Thorpe's suggestion that biography itself, as a literary subject, may be about to exhaust itself:
Mr Thorpe talked in his lecture about biography as we know it being a 20th-century phenomenon. Before that there was the "stained glass window", or reverentially monumental, approach of the Victorians; though when J A Froude tried to be monumental and reverential to Carlyle he found himself savaged by Carlyle's family and friends for having dared to cast aspersions on the relationship between the Sage and his wife, Jane.

That all changed with Lytton Strachey, and Eminent Victorians in 1918, where warts-and-all really came into its own. Now, a biography without a decent measure of salaciousness is hardly wanted on the voyage. No secret is too dark to expose; no biography can be considered serious, indeed, unless it is exposed. We have certainly had a golden age of the genre; but how long it will continue is anyone's guess. Books on themes, phenomena, abstracts are all the rage now.

The trouble for those who do persist with biography is this: that the detailed dismemberment of a person and his or her reputation that is now expected by the reading public can make the very task of biography
unpalatable for the writer.
It is very, very hard to write a life even of someone one admires. To write one about someone one loathes must be appalling. When Philip Ziegler wrote his superb life of Mountbatten he had to put a notice on his writing-desk that read: "Remember, when all is said and done, he was a great man".
Intolerant Pakistan: Shabaz Bhatti, Pakistan's first Christian Minorities Minister, delivered a candid address last week to the annual conference of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a UK-based charity that supports the persecuted church worldwide and has long campaigned for Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to be repealed. He pledges an attempt to curtail Pakistan's notorious anti-Christian violence and persecution against minorities in general:
Shabaz Bhatti told hundreds of Christians in London on Saturday that the Pakistani government was ready to review the notorious blasphemy law that is routinely misused by Islamic extremists to attack and imprison Christians.
He acknowledged that Christians were being attacked, imprisoned and killed under the pretext of committing blasphemy and that the blasphemy charges being brought against Christians were false.
The blasphemy laws, he continued, had created intolerance, disharmony and a “sense of insecurity” among minorities.
“The blasphemy laws have remained a tool in the hands of extremists to victimise minorities and innocent Muslims in Pakistan,” said Mr Bhatti... In the wake of the recent attacks in Gojra and Korian, which left eight Christians dead, he said the government was determined not to allow any more innocent Christians to be victimised.
Mr Bhatti: “In many cases of violence, it is not only the law which is creating disharmony. It is the mindset of the people who take advantage of the law and the situation and they instigate and incite the people to kill the Christians, the minorities and the innocent people so we need to work to change the mindset of the people and through these intiatives and others we can bring a change in their mindset.”

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