Sunday, June 22, 2014



On the 15th April, 1995, the Rev. Jan Croucher (my wife) and I 'celebrated' the marriage of our daughter Amanda, to John Southwell. The beautiful service at the Heathmont Baptist Church in Melbourne, Victoria, began with Amanda's four cousins - sisters who are all brilliant musicians - playing Bach's Air on the G String. After the vows, a homily. Here's what I said:


It is a privilege and joy to summarize the 'wisdom of the ages' (and of 35* years of marriage) about 'how to be happy though married'. Last year I spent three months writing a book about marriage and family, and read all the 'experts'...

I've delivered many of these homilies before, but only once at the wedding of one of my children... John and Amanda, these thoughts are a gift to you as you set out on one of life's greatest (and riskiest) adventures.

Actually, they're thoughts put together by both of us, your parents, on a romantic outing to and from the opera Turandot last Wednesday evening...

Marriage, according to the experts, is about eight things:


However, if you marry to find happiness you're marrying for the wrong reason. Happiness is where you find it, not where you seek it.

Happiness is serendipitous - a by-product of doing other worthwhile things. As you set some big goals for your life together, you'll look back from time to time and say of this occasion or that, 'Wasn't it great?'

And by the way, your partner can't 'make you happy': that's a decision you make for yourself. Indeed no other person on earth can satisfy all your needs... Ultimately, as the Psalms and Proverbs reiterate everywhere, 'Happy are those who fear the Lord.'


This is the basic idea in the Christian concept of 'grace'. I am loved by God before I change, before I 'deserve' to be loved. This love-before-worth is to characterize our relationships as well. Indeed, people grow and change more profoundly once they are accepted as they are.

So in marriage, don't impose a program of change on the other: accept him or her as they are, and they'll be more likely to change anyway. Every culture has a proverb which says something to the effect that 'the sun does not command the bud to become a flower, but simply provides a climate of warmth so that the flower can become the beautiful creature it was meant to be.'
The Bible text for us here is Romans 15:7: 'Accept one another for the glory of God, as Christ has accepted you.'


In our culture we 'fall in love' then marry. Romance, says Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled) is a genetic trick that nature plays on us to hook us into marriage. Romance is to marriage as the colour of a car is to the car: beautiful, but not necessarily functional to any significant degree. True 'love' is a matter of the will: I _choose_ to love my partner. Romance is emotional and sexual.

Now romance is important: every couple ought to do romantic things together. Last Wednesday night Jan and I walked and talked along the South Bank of the Yarra: it was a magical evening: the city lights and the moon reflected on the water; the temperature was mild; we weren't in a hurry to be anywhere else. Last week a woman said to me, 'He buys me flowers and chocolates. I like that. But I'd rather do interesting or romantic things with him...' The Song of Solomon is a celebration of romantic/sexual love...


In the words of Genesis and Jesus, we leave father and mother and cling to our married partner. In the vows you composed you said you are dedicating your life to the well-being of your mate. Later, you will have some difficult priorities to sort out. Like, 'Who comes first - my partner or my children?' The classical Christian approach to this 'hierarchy of loving' is: God first, spouse second, children third, everything else
(church, job, others) follows. However, in a well-integrated life, these loves do not compete: they enrich each other, and are inter-related.


In the New Testament James invites us to ask for wisdom, and God will give it to us. John, Amanda, you'll need lots of this substance to survive a marriage. Males and females are not the same. Their bodies, minds, emotions and logics are different! Gender-wise, and sexually, they are different. Generally (but not invariably) women tend to have a more finely-developed intuition; men tend to be linear-thinkers. Both are OK, and complement one another: one is good for reading feelings, the other for solving problems. Men need to work harder on figuring out the agendas-behind-words. And I would encourage women to work harder at setting goals...


Should you 'tell everything' to your partner? My answer is 'Almost everything'. You may decide that something is hurtful and will not be received or understood: sometimes you will choose not to 'link your mouth with your mind': some things are best left unsaid.


You are allowed to enjoy your life: you will never come out of it alive! Plan a day off together each week (the coming of children will complicate those plans, however). Look forward to enjoyable and interesting pursuits you both enjoy. But don't live for 'pleasure'. 'Play' is for 're-creation' - to strengthen you to go back into life to work. But you do not live to work: you work to live. Many men, and some women, are bigamous -
married to their jobs as well as their partners. Then, in mid-life, they have a 'crisis' - moving from significance to security, whereas the other might be moving the other way. That's a time for seeking the help of a counselor.


The early Christian leader Paul had a brilliant insight into husband/wife relationships when he exhorted husbands to love their wives, and wives to respect their husbands. The worst fate for a woman is to be raped and killed: self-respecting women feel aweful when treated as objects.

The worst fate for a man is to be shamed before significant others: men sometimes commit suicide if their shame is too great. John and Amanda, if you give gifts of love and respect to each other, you're in for a special marriage.

Two final words: the opera Turandot is about love and death (the words in Italian are similar). All true loving is a kind of dying: 'dying to self' as the Scripture puts it, so that one can please the other.

And a thought from Richard Rohr, whose tapes you'll be hearing on your honeymoon. (He's probably the best popularizer of classical Christian spirituality in the English-speaking world: you'll enjoy him). He quotes Meister Eckhart to the effect that all true spirituality is about subtraction whereas our culture says your significance is measured by all the stuff - money, material objects, degrees, status, power etc. - you add to your life. Don't buy into this heresy.

Marriage is all about being two good forgivers. And that's hard work. Notice the acronym we made from the initial letters of these key words?

The Lord bless you each-and-both, and keep you in his eternal love. Amen.

Rowland Croucher


1. What is happiness? Why is it serendipitous?

2. Why is 'acceptance-before-worth' so difficult? Someone prayed 'Lord, thank you that you love us before we change, as we change, after we change, and whether we change or not' - and it was an 'aha' experience for many at the Prayer Service. Why would that be?

3. Do you agree with Scott Peck's somewhat dismissive idea about romance? What are the relative advantages of the Western approach - falling in love then marrying - versus the traditional way: marrying the person arranged by parents and tribe, then 'falling in love'? What are the real differences between romantic love and realistic love? Share some ideas about romantic things married couples can enjoy...

4. Talk about 'leaving and cleaving'. How can young marrieds be better prepared for the exclusive, life-long commitment which a good marriage requires? How can we learn to 'leave' the habits and bad modeling about a marriage relationship many of us received during our childhood? (For example: he comes from a family where mother rules, father is weak. He therefore has serious trouble relating to the assertiveness of his wife, and her expectations of him as a 'leader' in the marriage).

5. Are males and females different - in the way they think, solve problems etc.? As the title of a book by Allan and Barbara Peace puts it: Why won't men listen and why can't women read maps?

6. About half the Christian writers of books-about-marriage say there should be no secrets at all between married partners. The other half believe that occasionally something might more appropriately be kept from the other for various reasons...  What do you think?

7. Try this generalization: 'Males often seek significance through their work, as they try to out-perform their peers. Women mostly seek security rather than significance - and primarily through relationships, and mothering. Then the mid-life crisis, when the situation is often reversed. He comes to the point of asking "Is that all there is?" and wants a relationship with his mate. But she has now made a life of her own and seeks significance in other contexts.'

8. Why do men need the gift of respect so badly? And why are women so fearful of being 'used'? How can 'the dance of marriage' resolve these needs?

P.S. Did you find the acronym?

* Now (2014) 54 years of very happy marriage!

Rowland Croucher, 

Revised June 2014.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014



(Sermon preached at Blackburn Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia, by Rev. Tom Keyte, sometime in the late 1970s).

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1: 15 ff.

Hugh Redwood was a well-known newspaper man. He was the first appointed religious editor of any major religious paper. At a Salvation Army meeting, when the appeal was made, to his great astonishment, he found himself kneeling at the penitent form. The Salvation Army treated him poorly - exhibited him as a real live star reporter - that didn't happen every day. It all went to his head, and there were troubles, especially when a new captain came to lead the Corps. And Hugh Redwood left in high dudgeon.

Many years passed and he rose to the top of his profession. Going home from the office one Sunday night, he went into his study and started to tinker with the crystal set that he'd made - it was the early days of radio. The only thing he could pick up was someone talking about religion - and he usually avoided this subject like the plague. It was Canon Elliot of St Pauls, and something in the speaker's voice captured him. He was talking about prayer, and our duty to pray for our friends - very down-to- earth and practical. You can't remember them all, he said, so start a card index and pray for them. You'll never know what might happen if you pray for someone this night. And in that moment, there came to Hugh Redwood the overwhelming feeling that he was being prayed for. He got down on his knees and gave his
life back to God.

Which brings us to our topic - Do our prayers really affect other people? Prof Tyndal back in the 19th century was sceptical about this, and proposed a test. He divided the patients in a hospital ward into two groups. One group was prayed for and the other not - just to prove if prayer did anything. Of course that's an impossible test. No one can say whether people are not prayed for. How do you know? You can't say people are prayed for because not all who say they pray do in fact pray. And you can't get a situation in which all factors are removed except prayer.

Well it's possible to explain it other ways, but I have no doubt the correct answer is the one the Psalmist gave - 'This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.'

Do our prayers affect others? Yes, of course they do, but how? Being prayed for is a tremendously rich experience. There are people here who pray for me and I want them to know I'm deeply grateful. I couldn't do my work without it.

It's an essential part of prayer. The Bible is full of it. Jesus prayed for his friends, and his enemies. And in the letter to the Hebrews we read that he lives to make intercession for us now. Jesus is praying for you now!

Paul in most of his letters refers to his habit of praying for his friends.

What it must have meant for Peter to hear Jesus say 'Peter: Satan has made a bid to have you, but I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail.’

And in the Lord's Prayer it's all bound up with others - our Father, our daily bread, our sins. In intercession - God and I and others are bound up in a loving circle. So much comes to us through human channels and we can't avoid that.

Now what happens? Do we tell God something God doesn't know? Obviously not. And yet sometimes I hear a great deal of information given to the Lord in prayer as if God didn't know. In a Baptist Church in Victoria, I heard an old deacon say in his prayer: 'Lord, you've simply got no idea of what goes on around here on Saturday nights!' Now I think God does!

Do we remind God of something He's forgotten? Or are we urging God to do something He is reluctant to do? Obviously, no, and no.

An invaluable clue is in the story of the paralyzed man and his four friends, who broke apart the roof and let him down to the feet of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralyzed man 'Son, your sins are forgiven!' And later 'Get up and walk'. Their faith created a certain situation in which the power of God could be liberated.

Think of a vacuum chamber with an electric bell inside it. The air has all been pumped out of it and you can see the hammer striking the bell - but you hear no sound because there's no sound in a vacuum. Then gradually the valve is turned and air is let back into the chamber, and the ringing of the bell becomes audible. Prayer somehow lets air into the situation. - creates the conditions in which something can happen. But it's frightening to think that power like this can be put into our hands.

Remember what James said (in J B  Phillips' translation): 'Tremendous power is made available through a good person's earnest prayer.' Nobody knows what might happen if you pray for a friend today. This is one of our primary responsibilities, that we pray for others.

One of the obstacles in our thinking about these things is the idea that we're separated from each other, as the planets are separated from the sun and each other. But there are some new insights from the social sciences about all this. As John Donne put it 'No one is an island.' You can only understand an individual in the context of his or her relationships. As you can only understand the meaning of a word in its context on the page or screen. If you see the word 'fast' what does it mean? Speedy? Immovable? Flighty? Someone's going without food? You only discover the meaning of that word in the context of the sentences in which it appears. And people are like that - all bound up together in the bundle of life. How each individual fares is everybody else's business - not just your own. Scientists tell us that when a boy throws a stone at a tin on a post he's affecting the balance of the whole universe!

What we do affects all other people. Unseen filaments running somehow from mind to mind connect us together in countless ways. Now I'm not suggesting that our prayer for others is explicable in terms of ESP or telepathy or something like that. We do not need to create the channels between opurselves and others: we need to understand and hallow the channels already there. Leslie Weatherhead writes: imagine several Indian farmers digging wells on their neighbouring properties down to a common underground lake. If one farmer was foolish enough to poison his well he'd affect all the other wells in the neighbourhood. But if one were to put into his well some life-giving salt or chemical of some kind it would enrich the whole reservoir of the rest. And at the very least our prayers help to increase the reservoir of love and goodwill and healing in the world, and offset the forces of evil in the world.

I would like to see from our gathering together this morning that every one should compile a prayer-list and use it systematically. There's not a person who can't do that.  And if you're too busy to do it you're too busy. This is a priority. You never know what you may be doing if you pray for others this day. And we all have the right to expect that from each other. - it's the true ‘priesthood of believers’. Your friends and loved ones; people you don't like - they need it more than those you love; also  those who've injured or hurt you in some way. Jesus said pray for those who persecute you. And pray for the church and its total ministry across the world.

I love the story of the missionary coming to the end of his career. He served on a lonely station in Africa where he was the only white person. And when we was at home in his hut in the evening, and train the light of his torch around the photographs of his friends on the walls, and while he held them in the light he would pray for them. Not a bad kind of description: we hold our friends in the light, and pray for them.

Healing will be a part of it. This has been so neglected for so long  in the church but is now coming back into recognition. Of course this aspect bristles with questions and needs treatment on its own. But it is part of intercession: 'The prayer of faith will save the sick', says James. 'When he saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, "your sins are forgiven you!" ' Our prayer sometimes seems to fulfil the function of oxygen in an oxygen tent, with a patient in a bad way. The oxygen comes in and revives him - and gives the healing forces in his body a chance to take over. Those healing forces come from God.

Three kinds of results will follow this ministry:

1. Changes in the person we've prayed for - strength and comfort and healing and conversion and reconciliation. And if here this morning we could see all the changes which have taken place in people's lives because of all the prayers that you have offered this week, we would experience a result which is stunning.

2. Changes in the person who prays. There are many stories of people who've been healed themselves in the course of their praying for others. And how many grudges and resentments have died when we have prayed for those who've offended us. You can't continue to regard as an enemy someone for whom you sincerely pray. There's a lovely thing in the book of Job. His 'friends' were very self-righteous and cruel to poor Job. But in the old version this lovely touch occurs: 'And the Lord turned again the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends.' That's worth thinking about.

3.  An ever-deepening of the awareness of people and their needs, and of God and his resources. And this growing awareness is where real intercession takes place.

Some rules about praying for others. We don't know all the positive and negative factors governing all this, but people who have practised it have brought some of this to light. And they're all inter-related, and in a sense all variants of the first:

[1] THE LORD LOVES. Leslie Weatherhead, out of a very long experience of this sort of thing, could say that it is demonstrated that more healings take place when the person who is prayed for is loved. They're more loved; prayer is more effective when we share in some way the pain and struggle of others. Elizabeth Barrett Browning said to her husband, 'And when I sue God for myself, he hears that name of thine and sees within my eyes the tears of two.' That's intercessory praying.

[2] Then, the law of faith: what I have been saying can even be dangerous unless it's supplemented by faith. We can be sucked into a whirlpool of pain and despair, unless we hold confidently to the belief that God wills that all should be free, and whole. The more sensitive one is to evil, and its power in a world like this, the more we must come with an ever-deepening certainty, the saving power of Christ.

[3] And then there's a law of persistence: we give up too often, too soon, because the answer is slow in coming. And often because the answer has apparently come. Sometimes I think we've been guilty of losing the battle for someone's welfare because we haven't kept on praying after the first signs of change have appeared, forgetting that there are such things as relapses.

[4] Another 'law of effective praying': the law of praying for the whole person - not only for some annoying or disabling symptom.

There was a woman of whom I read who had a neighbour deeply troubled about the drinking habits of her husband. And the two of them contracted to pray together about it. They concentrated in meditation picturing the man cured of his desire for drink. A week or two later he said 'Something strange has happened to me: I don't want to drink any more'. And this went on for some months. But then they had a flaming row and she said 'I suppose you're going to get drunk again!' And he did. You see these people had been praying concerning the symptom, rather than the underlying marriage relationship from which the drinking came. Pray for the whole person. And allied to this  is praying positively rather than negatively.

One greatly skilled group was concerned at the lack of results concerning someone who was quite desperately ill, and a wise person said: 'You've been seeing her sick; you must see her well.'

[5] Then there's the law of praying dangerously. Intercession isn't simply handing someone over to God and washing our hands of that one. There's no real intercession unless we too are involved. Let me quote James again; he has a very pungent comment here: 'Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes, and haven't enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, "God bless you: stay warm and eat well", if you do nothing about it.' Praying for other people can be costly: and not only in that sense. Praying for other people can make us vulnerable, deeply vulnerable. It may even involve going down with somebody else into their own private hell, and being the instrument of God's healing there. And that may be the result of our praying.

As I close I come to the deepest thing I want to say - that the real bond between us is the Holy Spirit himself, and he is the real inspiration for it all. He is the sphere, if you like, in which prayer operates.

In J V Taylor's book on the Holy Spirit - the best I've ever read – The Go-Between God - he describes a West Indian woman in London, who in her flat had just received the news that her husband had been killed in a street accident. She sat in the corner of the sofa paralysed, immovable. Nobody could get near to her - it was almost as if she were in a trance. And then the teacher of one of her children came, and saw the situation in a moment and sat down beside her, and put her arm across her shoulders and held her tightly. The white face was pressed to the brown one. And as the intolerable pain of this seeped through to the visitor, her tears began to fall, on to their hands clasped in the woman's lap. This went on until the grieving woman herself began to weep, and their tears were mingled, and their healing began.

Now I'd like to read you Taylor's comment on that. 'That is the embrace of God. That is his kiss of life. That is the embrace of his mission with our intercession. And the Holy Spirit is the force in the straining muscles of an arm, the Holy Spirit is in the thin film of perspiration between a white cheek and a brown one. The Holy Spirit is in those mingled tears falling on to those clasped hands. He is as close and as unobtrusive as that, and as irresistibly strong. Nobody knows what you may be doing if you pray for a friend this day.

Before we sing our hymn I'm going to ask you to do something. First of all, bow your heads and your hearts in prayer; remembering that you are in the presence of God, who knows every thought and intention of the heart. First of all, pray for someone you love, who has a need...   Now think of someone
you don't like, someone who irritates you and gets on your nerves, and you find it hard to tolerate them. Pray for that person. And pray not merely for the removal of the things that irritate you so that the person will be more acceptable to you, but pray for his or her welfare in the sight of God.

And now think of someone who's deeply hurt you, who's injured you in some way, so that you find it hard not to think of them without deep resentment. Someone you even hate if you let yourself do it. Now pray for that one, with a request for forgiveness, and being willing to forgive. Pray for that person's true welfare. Lord, hear our prayer and answer us for Jesus' sake.


(These notes of Tom Keyte's sermon were transcribed from an audio-tape by
Rowland Croucher. April 2002).


Begin with a few short summaries of the stories of biblical intercessors - for example, Abraham (Genesis 18:16-33), Moses (Exodus 32:11-14), Nehemiah (1:4-11), Habakkuk (1:1 - 2:20), Jesus (John 17), Stephen (Acts 7:60), Paul (Colossians 1:9-12).

My (Rowland Croucher's) mother prayed for me more than I pray for myself. Anyone else in that fortunate situation?

Jacques Ellul (Prayer and Modern Man) says there's only one reason to pray: We are commanded to pray. What other reasons have influenced us?

Have you ever been so concerned about someone that you felt driven to pray for them?

Hugh Redwood, the well-known London journalist, tells how at the time of disastrous floods in London, he found his way to a true faith.  He saw the evidence of the reality of God at work in the lives of the Salvation Army officers who were working hard to bring relief to those in need.  He recounted one experience when they were trying to help a family who had lost everything.  The Salvation Army had been able to re-equip them as far as clothing was concerned with everything except shoes: there were no shoes left.  However the workers were not worried for all they did was soaked in prayer.  Four pairs were needed and they were sure that they would be provided.  Just at that very moment a parcel was handed in.  They opened it and inside were four pairs of shoes, all of the correct sizes. The Salvation Army officers took it as a matter of course; they were so used to God answering their prayers. Hugh Redwood's comment was significant:  "You might call that coincidence" he said, "but if so, it is the first and only time I have seen four coincidences wrapped up in one brown paper parcel!!" Discuss the issue of prayer and coincidence!

Maybe throw this one into the discussion: 'When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don't pray, they don't.' -- Arichbishop William Temple

When Princess Diana and Prince Charles got divorced, Queen Elizabeth saw to it that Diana's name was removed from the list of beneficiaries of the public prayer. Want to comment on that?

Rollo May, the therapist, used to teach his counselor-students (see his The Art of Counseling) not to think negatively or critically about your clients. They'll pick it up, even if unspoken. What do you make of that? And the great modern teacher on intercessory prayer, Frank Laubach believed your thoughts affect others - for good or ill - and this natural process of 'thought transference' is what God, who created us with this facility, uses to answer our prayers. Do you agree?

I received an email that said:  'Why would you want to pray for the world, when the Scriptures tell us not to.' Do they? (See, e.g. " I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone" 1 Timothy 2:1)

Talk about these: "He prayed for his enemies, and you do not even pray for your friends." Johann Arndt, True Christianity.  "When you pray for your friends, be ready to lend a hand. Lip service does nothing for God."  Dennis Kean

What are the advantages of praying for others in a group, as well as individually?

Is there anything else in Tom Keyte's sermon you'd like to discuss? There are some big questions he did not address (like 'unanswered' prayer, how to pray for another's healing etc.) you might like to discuss.

Rowland Croucher, 13th April 2002
Revised June 2014


ISRAEL: Whose Promised Land?

The violent Al-Aqsa Intifada began on September 29th, 2000. That's the day after
Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, went to the Haram Al-Sharif, the Temple
Mount, with about a thousand soldiers. That passed more or less without
incident, surprisingly. But the next day, which was Friday, there was a huge
army presence as people left the mosque after prayers; there was some stone
throwing and immediate shooting by the Israeli army and Border Patrol, which
left about a half a dozen Palestinians dead and over a hundred wounded.
That's September 29th. On October 1st, Israeli military helicopters,
actually US military helicopters with Israeli pilots, sharply escalated the
violence, killing two Palestinians in Gaza. On October 2nd, military
helicopters killed 10 people in Gaza, wounded 35. On October 3rd,
helicopters were attacking apartment complexes and other civilian targets.
And so it continued. By early November, the helicopters were being used for
targeted political assassinations...


For an excellent brief history of the region please see:

Views Of The Future

A Jewish peace activist (name unknown) writes: 'The first challenge, then, is to extract
acknowledgement from Israel for what it did to the Palestinian people. The
root cause of the Palestine-Israel conflict is clear. During the 1948 war,
750,000 Palestinians fled in terror or were expelled from their
ancestral homeland and turned into refugees. The state of Israel then
refused to allow them to return and either destroyed their villages entirely
or expropriated their land, orchards, houses, businesses and personal
possessions for the use of the Jewish population. This was the birth of the
state of Israel. We know it is hard to accept emotionally, but in this case
the Jewish people are in the wrong. We took most of Palestine by force from
the Arabs and blamed the victims for resisting their dispossession. The
Israeli government could solve the Palestine/Israel crisis tomorrow. It
actually would be in the best interests of its citizens to do so because
random acts of terrorism against Israelis would cease if Palestinian demands
for a viable, independent state were accepted and compensation for Arab
losses made.'


Christians and Jews range right across the left-right spectrum in terms of
their understanding of the Israel/Paelstine problem. Broadly:


Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview on CNN and was asked about Israel's
occupation of Arab lands. His response was 'It's our land.'

The following is a summary of the Jewish and Christian evangelical/fundamentalist perspective:

1. Nationhood and Jerusalem. Israel became a nation in 1312 B.C.E., two thousand years before the rise of Islam.

2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 B.C.E., the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.

4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 C.E. lasted no more than 22 years.

5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.

6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.

7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.

8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem.

9. Arab and Jewish Refugees: In 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.

10. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.

11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.

12. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own peoples'
lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the U. S. state of New Jersey.

13. The Arab - Israeli Conflict: The Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.

14. The P.L.O.'s Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, and autonomy under the Palestinian Authority. However, see : the Hamas victory in Gaza ( ) in 2006 has made the issue more complex. The evolution of the 2014 Hamas/Fatah pact is yet to be discerned ( )

15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.

16. The U.N. Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.

17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.

18. The U.N was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.

19. The U.N. was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

20. The U.N. was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

Yasser Arafat regarded Zionism as a way of making Palestinians pay for the Holocaust. The 'leader of the Palestinian people' stated the purpose of his life, just a decade after he established Al Fatah, the predecessor of the PLO (and incidentally, this was many years before Israel conquered Arab
lands): 'The end of Israel is the goal of our struggle, and it allows for neither compromise nor mediation,' he explained to the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci in 1972. 'We don't want peace. We want war, victory. Peace for us means the destruction of Israel and nothing else.'


One of the problems in this debate is that most Jews and right-wing Christians are not listening to the Palestinians - particularly Palestinian Christians. I would strongly recommend Elias Chacour's book Blood Brothers for a Christian Palestinian perspective on all this...

Here's a representative perspective of the 'Christian left', from Desmond Tutu:

'In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were Jewish people. They almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust centre in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.

'What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem. I could hear
tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and homes?

'I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what were their homes, now occupied by Jewish Israelis. I was walking with Canon Naim Ateek (the head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Centre) in Jerusalem. He pointed and said: "Our home was over there. We were driven out of our home; it is now occupied by
Israeli Jews."

'My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short? Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden? Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured. The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will
not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred.

'Israel has three options: revert to the previous stalemated situation; exterminate all Palestinians; or - I hope - to strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the
establishment of a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by side with Israel, both with secure borders.

'We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition. If our madness could end as it did, it must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land?

'My brother Naim Ateek has said what we used to say: "I am not pro- this people or that. I am pro-justice, pro-freedom. I am anti- injustice, anti-oppression."

'But you know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticise it is to be immediately dubbed anti-semitic, as if the Palestinians were not semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group... People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful - very powerful.

'Well, so what? For goodness’ sake, this is God's world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust. Injustice and oppression
will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: what is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment. We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible. We will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God's dream, and you will be able to live
amicably together as sisters and brothers.'

Desmond Tutu is the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

Many Jews resonate with this approach as well. As I write this a news item says more than 320 members of the Israeli Defense Forces have signed a pledge refusing 'to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people' through 'missions of occupation and oppression' against Palestinians. Though these 'refuseniks' consider the military defense of the State of Israel to be legitimate, the signers have denounced 'commands and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our country, and that had the sole purpose of perpetuating our control over the Palestinian people.' Yesh Gvul, a support organization for refuseniks, says these soldiers accept the legal consequences of their action as part of a history of effective resistance. Yesh Gvul credits the imprisonment of 168 soldiers during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and 200 jailed for refusing to combat the 1987 intifada with helping to curtail those military campaigns.



The persecution of the Jews for centuries in Europe was the worst of many stains on the European record, and the Zionists' desire for a place of sanctuary is certainly understandable

HARDLINERS - the religious and political right - tend to emphasize the promises of Yahweh to Israel and 'realpolitik'.

Their text: Deuteronomy 11: 23-24: 'The Lord will drive out all these nations before you... Your territory shall extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon, and from the river Euphrates, to the Western Sea.'

Their philosophy: The only way to root out terrorism is by force, not love and gentle persuasion.

Their attitude: demonize the Palestinians.

'Who won the wars?' they ask. The average Israeli on the street would say: 'It's not our fault, they started the war, they haven't recognised our right to exist, they don't want to live in peace with us anyway - so I would be crazy to invite somebody who might join Hamas to come and live down the road
from me. What's more, they started the war, we won it, and that's that.'

Israel is strong - it is the fifth largest military power in the world, is economically dominant, deep in leadership cadres, healthy in civil society  and culture. But the Israelis don't seem to know they're strong. They still believe they are victims. As long as you believe you're a victim, you are not accountable. As victims, Israelis believe they must defend themselves whatever the cost, whatever the consequences.

Back to right-wing Christians. One Middle Eastern Christian leader wrote: 'Most visitors who come to the Holy Land for the primary reason of "walking where Jesus walked" have never been victims of torture, oppression, unjust imprisonment, or physical deprivation. From their more comfortable lives,
they may not be as sensitive to Jesus' marching orders in Luke 4 to "preach good news to the poor...and release to the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." This is a vacation, after all, not a "mission trip." Many who come believe in a near-heretical apocalyptic theology nurtured by the "late great" prophetic literature that declares that the secular state of Israel is the long awaited pre-messianic event. The vast majority of those who come are traveling with tour agencies or guides trained and
supervised by the Israeli government. As a result Arab Muslims and Christians alike are often denigrated as violent, dirty, and criminally inclined people whose neighborhoods should be avoided. And many visitors come with fully arranged schedules and are afraid to reach out to local believers, to worship with them, or to see their reality-especially since many congregations are in the "dangerous" West Bank and Gaza Strip.'

The truth is, these visits are rarely dangerous physically, but they can cause troubling spiritual challenges to misperceptions and prejudices. When visitors observe injustice and align themselves with the poor and
oppressed - when the scales come off the eyes of pilgrims - the result can be painful internal and doctrinal adjustments, but also a deepened spiritual sensitivity. As one of our pilgrim friends, Rev. Katherine Kallis from Boston, said, "The experience with Palestinians sandpapered my heart. I will never be the same."

SOFTLINERS (is that a word?)  - the religious and political left – say violence usually breeds more violence. Negotiation is the only way to solve conflicts. Martyrs only produce more martyrs.

Gandhi (yes, Gandhi!) offered some wisdom for us here when he said 'If a lunatic is loose in the village and threatening people, you first deal with the lunatic, and then the lunacy.'

Peace is preferable to war. But it's not an absolute value. And so we must always ask, "What kind of peace?" If Hitler had conquered the world there would be peace but not the kind we would like to see.

Most observers agree that the role of the U.S. and the U.N. crucial if the Palestinian/Israeli impasse is to be resolved. The Gulf region has the major energy resources in the world: whoever controls that region not only has access to enormous wealth; the control of energy resources is an extremely powerful lever in
world affairs. But Palestinians have no wealth or power.

Someone has said: if the secretary-general of the UN or the president of the US lived in a back alley of Gaza for a month the whole problem would have been solved a few decades ago...

Here are some of the essential components of a viable peace for Israel/Palestine:

1. Justice. 'No peace without justice; no justice without truth'.  'The first challenge, then, is to extract acknowledgement from Israel for what it did to us... But then, I believe, we must also hold out the possibility of some form of coexistence in which a new and better life, free of ethnocentrism and religious intolerance, could be available...If we present our claims about the past as ushering in a form of mutuality and coexistence in the future, a long-term positive echo on the Israeli and Western side will reverberate.' (Edward Said in "The Progressive", March 1998).

Here's something from Jews for Justice: 'The root cause of the Palestine-Israel conflict is clear. During the 1948 war, 750,000 Palestinians fled in terror or were actively expelled from their ancestral homeland and turned into refugees. The state of Israel then refused to allow them to return and either destroyed their villages entirely or expropriated their land, orchards, houses, businesses and personal possessions for the use of the Jewish population. This was the birth of the state of Israel. We know it is hard to accept emotionally, but in this case the Jewish people are in the wrong. We took most of Palestine by force from the Arabs and blamed the victims for resisting their dispossession.’

The matter of justice raises another issue. A people can only cope with so much humiliation, until they say, 'This far and no further'. Jim Wallis: The Israeli policy is called closure. Everything gets closed down in the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinians are not allowed to move freely-to go to school, to work, or even to visit family. All Palestinians are required to have permits and pass through interminable checkpoints. Our group was stopped at every checkpoint, even though we were an international delegation in large buses. We had some clout and were no threat to the Israelis, and they still held us up for hours. If you are a Palestinian, you wait. And you wait. I heard many stories - for example, of a woman in labor, stopped at a checkpoint on the way to the hospital. She was forced to deliver her baby in
the back seat of her car, waiting at the checkpoint. The soldiers ordered her outside the car, where she collapsed on the ground in utter exhaustion, with the umbilical cord still attaching her to her baby, while Israeli soldiers laughed. In July, another baby born at an Israeli checkpoint died before reaching the hospital. These women experienced the extreme of the type of indignities visited on Palestinians every day... There is no "symmetry" in the violence of the Middle East today. Israeli violence is enormously disproportionate to Palestinian violence. That includes the violence of the settlements and closure policies themselves and the Israeli military practices, especially in their retaliation against Palestinian attacks. Despite this lack of proportionality, there is no moral or strategic justification for the Palestinian violence in response to Israeli domination, especially when it targets civilians. No argument, even lack of symmetry, will suffice.

2. Love of Enemies. This is not a very Jewish, (or Arab) virtue.  See Leviticus 19:17, 18: 'You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin... You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself.' Deuteronomy 10: 18,19: 'The Lord executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the stranger, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.' Leviticus 19: 33,34: 'When an alien
resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.' So love in the Jewish Scriptures is limited to one's kin and the 'agreeable alien'.

3. Forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a traditional value in world affairs. The concept is foreign to most secular political philosophies and peripheral at best to Christian theories of the common good and a just war. Among 20th-century philosophers, the German-Jewish refugee Hanna Arendt stood out. Writing after the Holocaust, she saw forgiveness as one of two human capacities that make it possible to alter the political future. The other is the ability to enter into covenants. Forgiveness surfaced after the grisly
nightmare of apartheid in South Africa, when then-president Nelson Mandela awakened many to a reality expressed later in the title of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's 1999 book, No Future Without Forgiveness. In Northern Ireland, many Catholics and Protestants have been able to imagine a
different future through public acts of mutual repentance and forgiveness. In Cambodia, Buddhist primate Moha Ghosananda has struggled to release people from a paralyzing past by envisioning a future of forgiveness. He calls for selectively forgiving Khmer Rouge leaders who have repented and
renounced violence after perpetrating that nation's unspeakable genocide. In his unequaled work, An Ethic for Enemies, Donald W. Shriver defines forgiveness as an "act that joins moral truth, forbearance, empathy and commitment to repair a fractured human relation."

4. Compassion. Something akin to the Marshall Plan would have to be mobilized if the Palestinians are to enjoy a viable homeland and lifestyle.

5. The cycle of violence must be stopped - from both sides.

6. The Right to Exist. Both sides have a responsibility here. The Palestinians and the Arab states must affirm the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders (UN 242). And the Palestinian people
need a sovereign, uncontested, independent state of their own. This is a matter of justice and practicality. They also demand territorial integrity and contiguity... Any further dissection of Palestinian territory would make it politically and economically impossible to maintain a state...There can be no civilian pockets under Israeli rule on Palestinian land...  The Palestinians want a sovereign capital in Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is Palestine's historical, spiritual and commercial heart.

7. Occupation. The Palestinians are suspicious of any attempts to maintain an Israeli presence in territories occupied in 1967. The territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority is dispersed and
intersected by 144 Israeli civilian and military installations, diminishing the viability of that administration's control. The settlements are seen as an instrument of the ongoing occupation, the aim of which is to divide any future Palestinian state into noncontiguous portions.

8. International Help. The establishment of an international peacekeeping force, agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, would be needed to oversee the Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and maintain order until a peace agreement can be fully implemented.

9. Israeli Settlements. Part of any agreement would need to include the cessation of the building of new Israeli settlements and of the expansion of existing settlements in the West Bank and Gaza; abandonment, dismantling, or other disposition of settlements that negate the geographic integrity of a
viable Palestinian state.

10. The Right of Return. This is a crucial matter of justice and fairness for refugees... As a matter of principle, the Palestinians want all the refugees to be granted the right of return to the land they or their
families left behind during the war which accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948, and the Six Day war in 1967. They have several UN resolutions – and plenty of powerful media images of miserable conditions in some of the refugee camps - on their side.  The Israelis will find this hard. The
Israeli right and left disagree about most of the key issues in the peace process, but there's one thing they're united on: allowing three million Palestinian refugees to move into the suburbs of Tel Aviv or the port of Haifa would be tantamount to national suicide. The future of the Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, as well as the West Bank and Gaza, is one of the biggest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli academics argue that just as many Jews were thrown out of Arab countries in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and these people aren't demanding compensation. And: tens of millions of people have been displaced throughout history, but no other country has ever been forced to take such a large number back. As one writer reminds the Americans: 'American Indians continue to live in squalid camps on the occupied West Bank of the Mississippi.'  One and a half million refugees live in Jordan, where they
have been granted citizenship and have become well-integrated - even the Prime Minister is technically a Palestinian refugee. Another 1.3 million live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, mostly now under Palestinian control. The real problem is the 300,000 in Syria and 350,000 in Lebanon who have lived in camps for decades and have neither citizenship nor the right to work.

11. Jerusalem. In principle Jerusalem has to be shared by two peoples and three faiths. How this is to be done in practice, is perhaps the most complex issue of all.

12. Water. Futurologists tell us that wars in the next couple of centuries will not be fought over land or oil but water. This is a very complex issue as well. Palestinian farmers accuse the Israelis of discriminating against them in terms of their access to water.

13. Nuclear weapons. Some sort of U.N. supervision of Israel's nuclear stockpile would be desirable.


  • Re Gandhi's quote about lunacy: What if the lunatic is a country's ruler? What should we have done with Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Papa Doc Duvalier, Milosevic - not to mention Hitler and Stalin before them? Many Christian leaders during World War II - like Dietrich Bonhoeffer - tried the soft line with Hitler and reluctantly came to the conclusion that Hitler had to be killed to prevent millions more dying...

  • Then discuss French theologian Jacques Ellul's decision to support the resistance movement against Nazism by appealing to the "necessity of violence" but didn't call such recourse "Christian." Gandhi said that nonviolent resistance is the best thing, but that violent resistance to evil is better than no resistance at all.

  • 'We must hold out the possibility of some form of coexistence in which a new and better life, free of ethnocentrism and religious intolerance, could be available... If we present our claims about the past as ushering in a form of mutuality and coexistence in the future, a long-term positive echo on the Israeli and Western side will reverberate.' (Edward Said). Too idealistic?

  • 'Love in the Jewish Scriptures is limited to one's kin and the “agreeable alien”.' How does this compare with Jesus' attitude towards loving enemies?

  • Why do some of the earth's peoples find it so hard to forget history and forgive?

  • Suggest that one of your group read Elias Chacour's book 'Blood Brothers' and present a synopsis of it to the group. Plenty to discuss there!

  • Another suggestion: get someone to Google Sojourners magazine; put 'Israel' into the Sojourners search, and print out some of the articles there.



The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, The Right Rev. Riah Abu El-Assal, in a message to international friends

Bill Clinton, BBC, Sir Richard Dimbleby Lecture, November 2001

Forgiveness in Conflict Resolution:

B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied

The Jerusalem Center for Women

Jews for peace: Not In My Name, at,
Gush Shalom:

Gary Katz, Quest for Peace, CBS Online:

Jihad in Islam: Is Islam Peaceful or Militant?

Joint statements and actions from the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem:  

The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights:

Rabbis for Human Rights:

Christian Peacemaker Teams:

Dheisheh Refugee Camp:

Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition:

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center:

Rowland Croucher, May 2002
Revised June 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014


God Behaving Badly, by David T. Lamb (IVP, 2011) 

The biggest conundrum for thoughtful ‘people of the book’ (Muslims, Christians, Jews) – and for their critics – is how to make sense of a God who issues hundreds of sometimes strange edicts, many of which carry ‘smitable’ penalties or even a death sentence... A God who seems to be highly selective about which people/s are worth protecting or wiped out... 

A God who comes across as sexist, racist and, once or twice, homophobic – but who is described as merciful and gracious, slow to anger, a God of ‘steadfast love’ etc.

David Lamb has an Oxford  DPhil, and has worked as an IVF staffworker then College professor with young people who ask these questions and demand coherent answers. In this book he does a pretty good job of explaining that Old Testament laws and stories have to be understood within their Ancient Near Eastern contexts. We post-Enlightenment Westerners therefore come with some handicaps to this enterprise.

His basic thesis: The God of the Old Testament and the God Jesus talked about is the same God: both are characterized by love, and are ‘slow to anger’. If you really want to know what God is like look at Jesus: he and Yahweh ‘are essentially one’ (though Jesus never smites anyone, but both are highly affirming of women). It’s just that punishments meted out to individuals and nations in the Old Testament emanate from God’s compassion and justice. 

Lamb’s favourite story is about Uzzah, who is smitten with death for trying to steady the ark of the covenant. Look it up, and see what you make of that strange episode. Clue: God the lawgiver ‘gets mad... when his people don’t follow his instructions’. Another: the ‘Golden calf’ episode where ‘he was mad because they committed adultery on the honeymoon’ (42). And another: ‘Yahweh protected Elisha [not from cheekiness by small boys but] from a teenage gang so the prophet could go on to bless the lives of thousands of others’ (99).   

David Lamb has been immersed in the cultures of the young people he’s trying to win over – so we have ‘with-it’ language (like Lot’s wife ‘rubber-necking’; or ‘Jebusites, Hivites and all those other people-ites’) and dozens of comments and illustrations from Google searches, contemporary sitcoms, movies and literature (including quotes from the two loudest contemporary atheists Dawkins and Hitchens). Like these: 
  • ‘In an episode from the first season of The Simpsons Bart’s Sunday School teacher concludes the lesson   with “and that’s why God causes train wrecks” (13) 
  • ‘The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction... [But] Jesus is a huge improvement over the cruel ogre of the Old Testament’ (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. (13, 15) 
He’s also done his homework in terms of research:
  • ‘As William Webb argues, laws in the Old Testament concerning women consistently move in a redemptive direction in comparison to parallel laws from its ancient Near Eastern context’ (63). While most progressive democracies in the world today have never been ruled by a woman, Yahweh selected a female ‘president’ (Deborah, Judges 4). Similarly with slavery (75). 
Some key Lamb assertions: Today’s churches are ‘perceived in popular culture as contributing to the problem and not as part of the solution’ (23). ‘Compared to other ancient Near Eastern literature, the Old Testament is shockingly progressive in its portrayals of divine love, acceptance of foreigners and affirmation of women (23). And how about this: ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat / and if he is thirsy, give him water to drink’ (Proverbs 25:21).

I have just two hesitations in recommending this book: whilst it’s an excellent introduction to the subject for undergrads, those with a more advanced education in biblical studies will be frustrated (as I was sometimes) with Lamb’s too-easy conservative throwaway solutions. Like this one: ‘Old Testament scholar Eric Seibert [Disturbing Divine Behavior: Troubling Old Testament Images of God, 2009] argues that Old Testament passages that describe a violent God can be rejected because that behavior is inconsistent with the character of God revealed by Jesus in the Gospels’ (102). I’d have liked Lamb to develop that point, perhaps citing better-known scholars like Marcus Borg [1] and Rene Girard [2].

My second disappointment is in the area of homophobia – the religious world’s #1 battleground these days. Lamb (maybe at the insistence of his conservative publisher?) doesn’t grapple with this issue except vaguely. He should have had a whole chapter on it. [3] 

David has a lively blog -
And if you want to see what he looks like (quite a handsome guy!) – see his first YouTube effort here - 

Rowland Croucher
March 2012