This Week's Comment from Network 7 News 

Edition 381 – October 16, 2004.  

 This weeks  was written by AWR's English Language Service Director, Victor Hulbert.  The full programme can be heard in Real Audio on our web-site.

Happy Birthday hope!

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I’m in joyful mood today!  I should be – for in one week’s time, October 23 – there is a major birthday.  Yes indeed!  According to Archbishop Ussher’s chronology of Biblical history, it was on the morning of October 23, 4004BC that the Universe was created.  

Ussher was a pre-eminent 17th century scholar, well respected in his day, and the author of 17 volumes, including his “Annals of the Old and New Testaments”, a work which, based on various genealogies and dates in the Bible, led him to his belief in the age of the earth.  Someone, we don’t know who, incorporated his dating into the margins of the King James Bible where it remained, in many printings, right through into the 20th century.  

Of course, the only thing we can be certain about with his chronology is that it’s incorrect – so sadly we won’t be having a big party next weekend.  However, some other chronologies are not that far off it.  The Jewish calendar makes the earth a bit younger, the Byzantine calendar some one and a half thousand years older.  

I’m not sure it matters too much except to remind us that that the Genesis account of creation gives a purpose and a meaning to life, and is the foundation for the whole record of the Bible story.  A story that really starts to make a lot more sense when we recognize God as our creator, recognize his care for us, and recognize the responsibility he gave us to look after his creation.  

“Looking after” creation is a hot topic at the moment so I was delighted to read that Kenya ’s leading conservationist has become the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel peace prize.  

Wangari Maathai was given the award in recognition of what the Nobel committee called her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. Among other things, in 1977 she founded the Green Belt movement which has spurred people to plant millions of trees in East Africa . It is recognition she well deserves – and I hope the award is a stimulus to others to get involved in doing more to preserve the planet.  

Doing more is becoming a crucial issue, not just in Africa, but across the world, if we are to believe the findings of the Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii .  They report that there have been seriously above average Carbon Dioxide emissions for the last two years and that maybe we need to look at the whole idea of global warming a lot more seriously.  They recognise that there may be other reasons for the above average readings, but point out that if the readings continue in this way in the future that we may be near the brink of runaway global warming.  And that is an issue that affects all of us.  Crop and fishing patterns would change.  Flooding would become more of an issue . . . , “And yes,” you say with a yawn, “we’ve heard it all before.”  

Which of course we have.  I remember my father buying a copy of , I think it was called, “The Doomsday Book” --  back in the 1960’s – foretelling the woe-begotten world we would be living in by now, if earth itself was not wiped out by plague or pestilence.  We are still here.  We still have oil and water, and there would be enough food to go round if we just shared it out a bit better.  

Still, I think I should try and do my part to try and protect this lovely planet, and I applaud the likes of Wangari Maathai.  May there be many more like her.  

And while on an African theme – congratulations this week for another birthday celebration -- South Africa 's most famous township was 100 years old on Tuesday. Soweto became world famous when tens of thousands of black residents of Johannesburg were moved there under the apartheid regime. During the 1970s it became a centre for resistance to the racist government. Both former president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu come from Soweto – and a name that was perhaps infamous in the past is today famous and respected. 

It still has its problems – AIDS and unemployment being the major ones – but there is also a lot of hope there in a vibrant community, as one business man, Dan Moyane states, " Soweto is not a place of doom and gloom - it's a place of hope.  It's a place where some of us come and get inspiration.”

 I like it when somewhere is called a “place of hope”.   I like it when someone like Wangari Maathai is seen as a person of hope.

And, whether God created the world 4000 years ago next Saturday or a few years earlier than that, I rejoice most of all that I see him as a God of Hope – both for my life, my planet and my future.


OUT:  “Hope.” One of the great words of the Christian faith.   Thank you Victor.


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