From email conversations, slightly edited for clarity (my contributions only).

Since 1967 the Israelis have occupied Palestinian land and created Palestinian refugees. We have a situation of oppression, and religion feeds this with promises of martyrdom as it does with these dreadful suicide bombers. We also see how religion feeds into states, which in Britain means ceremonial and not quite religious freedoms/ privileges, but feeds oppression in Israel. Since I wrote this service and sermon, the actions of Israel are beginning to smell of Bosnia type actions - bulldozing bodies out of sight, is one report. And all this is fed by hatred and stereotyping on both sides. It almost looks like a nationalist version of child abuse, where the abused, the Jews, with their state (in a Zionist interpretation) becomes the abuser. All countries now should call a halt to this, especially by turning off the military tap to Israel and other financial support. When Britain post-empire had an excursion into Suez the Americans undermined that adventure. The question is how much America is going to follow its words with actions against Israel. It is time to create a Palestinian state, even if there is a Berlin Wall around it as regards Israel, that receives support from the EU and US to make it viable, and from now on to stop regarding Israel as some special case.

Adrian Worsfold


Palestinians have a right to defend themselves against an army which is in occupation and now carrying out what seems to be not selective anti-terrorist actions but against the population, but not by killing civilians certainly. UN resolutions have told Israel for a long time now to get out of Palestinian Arab areas. The latest action of Israel shows that a democratic method of elections (on a restricted population intake) is no guarantor of human rights, as was the case for Britain in Northern Ireland in times past.

Adrian Worsfold


>When one no longer believes in the values or institutions of the US or Israel and feel they are corrupt or no better than any other, then moral clarity and even simple objective analysis goes out the window. An amoral nihilism occurs.<

What utter rubbish, except for the word simple. Israel has occupied Arab land now since 1967, and effectively has designated homelands for Palestinians. Both are entitled to full and sustainable sovereign states.

The United States is no model of democracy when its voting percentages are so low and those who are elected do so on the back of money, when its system is so open to corporate lobbying. Capitalism and liberty are not always the same. The current President was elected via some pretty shifty practices in Florida. Its values of freedom and democracy are now being subverted in terms of FBI action on imprisonments on the pretext of a "war" as is the partial action regarding foreign nationals in Cuba. In other words, interests always supersede principles. We saw this in the UK when for all Tony Blair's assistance and all the United State's exclamations about free trade the United States was quite happy to become protectionist regarding its steel industry. The United States constitution is a fine document - it was always possible to practice slavery at the same time, and now it is returning to a time similar to the 1950's when freedom was put on to the back burner.

Adrian Worsfold


There is something called loyal opposition, something called doubt, and something called exploration...

"Lefties"... are usually very dedicated democrats (meant in the general sense) and passionate about liberty, far removed from the appearance of freedom in a corporate, advertising, marketing led fantasy world where choices are narrowed. People who search in religion, often called "liberals" do so because they are dedicated to it, wishing to find its riches and reject its falsehoods, to see where it expands human experience. People of this kind learn their subjects well too.

Adrian Worsfold


As I understand it, which isn't too well, many who believe this way (that God does things, has an overall hand in history) consider that the present state of Israel is not the Israel of Jewish hope.

I would be very wary about statements like God is behind this state of Israel and maybe about a Palestine, otherwise it becomes necessary to say that God was behind something like the holocaust and let that happen for some years. It becomes morally ridiculous. The events of the creation of Israel after the British and the working out of Palestinian rights through immense suffering are human events. You might look for God in them, but not pulling the strings because of the moral consequence.

I have a similar conversation with some Buddhists about karma - if this is used to demonstrate that someone who is disabled now was a bad person or existence in a previous life then it is morally repugnant. But if as a myth or insight it helps someone now become a better person, then it is clearly a different matter.

Morality comes before religion, myth before absolutes, guidelines not tramlines, to create space for improvement.

Adrian Worsfold


Yes, my message regarding lefties could have used the word leftists. Lefties/leftists are often very dedicated to democracy and liberty that enhances the human personality.

It's difficult to know what Jesus meant, or extract it from the context (well it needs extracting from the context, which is the problem), but that collection of sayings called the Sermon on the Mount seems to me to undermine a right wing agenda. Jesus though is best seen not as some extremist, as there were political and revolutionary teachers of a similar kind, but as one who combined several tendencies in first century Palestine in that period of high expectation. One extraction, of course, is that he spoke to his fellow Jews, and wasn't really interested in Gentiles at all. This is not to say that the messages cannot have wider signficance, and the success of spreading the message was that they did and had cultural flexibility with the Pauline and Gnostic interpretations. The problem is that the flexibility was also extendable to the imperial, that somehow a religion that did relate to oppression and small groups seeking forms of liberation achieved its longevity through attachment to imperial and national powers and fedual systems. This changed the nature of the religion which, to some extent, is only now being recovered for its subversive and moral turn-matters-on-their-head and think again content.

The positive part of both biblical criticism and modern/ Palestine theologies is that they undermine the link with authoritarianism as being displayed on this list and release these subversive messages. Perhaps it is not for nothing that Jesus spoke in stories because it is these stories, rich with meaning, that are now coming through. Doctrine and regulated belief is unimportant in comparison.

Adrian Worsfold