To Protect Migrants From Police, a Dutch Church Service Never Ends

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by Patrick Kingsley

…[A] marathon church service, which started more than six weeks ago, and hasn’t stopped since, can never take a break.

Under an obscure Dutch law, the police may not disrupt a church service to make an arrest. And so for the past six weeks, immigration officials have been unable to enter Bethel Church to seize the five members of the Tamrazyan family, Armenian refugees who fled to the sanctuary to escape a deportation order.

The service, which began in late October as a little-noticed, last-gasp measure by a small group of local ministers, is now a national movement, attracting clergy members and congregants from villages and cities across the Netherlands. More than 550 pastors from about 20 denominations have rotated through Bethel Church, a nonstop service all in the name of protecting one vulnerable family.

Beautiful story of the Dutch church that’s been running a non-stop service (with over 500 pastors from various denominations contributing in shifts) for six weeks and counting in order to protect from deportation a family who’ve been taking refuge inside. The whole piece is well worth your time to read, but aside from the general joy and good feels that fill it, I was also impressed by how widely it’s inspired preachers to try things that are a little different:

Some preachers simply reuse services and sermons they gave at other churches. But others have used the opportunity to try something new, turning the church into a kind of greenhouse for liturgical experiments.

Ms. Israel read from a modern reinterpretation of the biblical story of King David and his wife Bathsheba, told from Bathsheba’s perspective. One minister incorporated meditative song into her service, and another interspersed prayers and hymns with sermons from Martin Luther King Jr. During one all-nighter, Mr. Stegeman even brought along a harpist.

Of course, let’s not forget that this is another one of those happy-news-stories-with-an-underlying-sad-story. Given that the family in question, according to the article, have successfully appealed against their deportation twice, and furthermore the duration of their stay so far should at least grant the children amnesty under Dutch law, it sounds like their deportation shouldn’t really be happening in the first place! It’s great that a community has come together to protect them, but wouldn’t a better happy story be if the country that’s supposed to be protecting them were doing so, instead, so that the community didn’t have to?

Still; a little cheer there, at least.

Manifold Greatness

Earlier this week, I went along one lunchtime to a free exhibition hosted by my new employer, entitled Manifold Greatness, dedicated to the history of the translation of the bible into English.

A Wycliffite Bible on display at the Bodleian Library.

Of particular interest are the (never-before publicly exhibited) translation documents used by the actual translators who wrote the 1611 King James Bible, probably the most influential and significant English-language biblical translation projects ever undertaken. The exhibition includes the only known copy of a Bishops’ Bible (the earlier authorized text of the Church of England) with handwritten notes by the translation committees who were at that time writing what was to become the King James Bible. It’s quite fascinating to see the corrections they chose to make after consulting with earlier Greek texts.

Visitors at the Manifold Greatness exhibition.

They’re also showing off an original copy of the Wicked Bible in remarkably good condition (most were destroyed): this book, probably owing to industrial sabotage at the printers’ works at which it was produced, misses out the word “not” in the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” If you’re going to commit industrial sabotage, it’s nice to do so with a sense of humour.

If you want to go and see the exhibition – and I’d recommend it; and I’m not just saying that because I work here – you’ve got until 4th September.

Christians Should Be Banned From The Internet

[this post was lost during a server failure on Sunday 11th July 2004; it was partially recovered on 21st March 2012]

If you’re going to spend (at an absolute minimum – and probably closer to four times the amount) $350 on a series of banner advertisements promoting your service, to be displayed inside a popular ad-sponsored piece of software, you’ll check your spelling, right? Right? Look at this:

[this image has been lost]

Sometimes I really do feel that Christians should be banned from the internet. They should certainly be disallowed from writing web pages – other than the Christians, I’ve never seen a group of people who have – within their own group – broken every single rule of good web site design. Well… except if you consider GeoCities-users a group of their own.

As if this page, which scrolls on and on, haslarge numbers of images linked from other sites, and using a (badly) tiled background image, isn’t bad enough, I’ve seen:

  • This GeoCities monstrosity, with a stupid amount of animated GIFs, annoying applets, and platform-dependent code (including an embedded… [the rest of this post has been lost]

Avatar Diary

Went to church with Alecia and Richard. There’s a weird experience for me. Tasted the new flavour of Juicefuls from Brewsters while I was in town – Strawberry flavour. They’re just as addictive as all the other flavours. Though I had intended to use the remainder of the day to finish tidying my room (the end of a mammoth task) and doing homework which is due later this week, I was instead distracted and played on Civilization II, watched TV, and other such mind-expanding activities. Went to bed in the wee small hours, after updating the Castle with my latest Åvatar Diary accounts.