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The Truth About Mary & Jesus (II)

When Jesus was on His earthly mission, and He was on one occasion challenged in the Temple about his origin and accused by the Scribes and Pharisees that He “was a common man and that the Christ would not be like him”,  this is how, according to Valtorta (1, pp 464-466), Jesus reacted…..

 ‘Jesus looks in the direction and says in a loud voice: “So you know Me and you know where I come from? Are you sure? And the little you know, does it not mean anything to you? Does it not confirm the prophecies? But you do not know everything about Me, I solemnly tell you that I did not come by Myself and from where you think that I came. It is the very Truth, Whom you do not know, Who sent Me”

‘A cry of indignation rises from the enemies; Jesus continued: “The very Truth .Whose deeds you do not know. Neither do you know His way, along which I came. Hatred cannot be acquainted with the ways and deeds of Love. Darkness cannot stand the sight of Light. But I know Him Who sent Me because I belong to Him, I am part of Him and one Whole with Him. And He sent Me to fulfil what His Thoughts want”.   Said Jesus further:

‘The angels, spiritual creatures, servants of the Most High and His messengers, were created by God, as man, animal and everything that was created. But they were not begotten by God. Because God can beget only another of Himself, as the Perfect One could but beget another Perfect one, another being like Himself, in order not to lower His perfection by begetting a creature inferior to Himself. Now, if God cannot beget the angels or elevate them to the dignity of Sons of His, what will the Son be to Whom He says:  “You are My Son. I begot You today”? And of what nature he will be, if begetting Him, God says pointing Him out to His angels: “And let all the angels of God adore Him. And what will this Son be like to deserve to hear the Father say to Him, the Father by Whose grace men can mention His name with their hearts humbled in adoration: “Sit at My right hand and I will make your enemies a footstool for You”? That Son can but be God like His Father, with Whom He shares attributes and power, and with Whom He enjoys the Charity which gladdens them in the ineffable and unknowable love of Perfection itself”. “

‘But if God does not find it appropriate to elevate an angel to the rank of Son, or to be the Messiah and Redeemer, can He therefore elect a man? And could the Redeemer be only the Son of the Father without assuming human nature, but with means and power exceeding human limitations? Are you as a human being and your proud thoughts not upset by such questions which rise towards the realm of Truth, closer and closer to it, and find a reply only in a humble heart full of faith?’

‘Who is to be the Christ? An Angel? More than an angel. A man? More than a man. A God? Yes, a God.  But joined to human flesh that it may complete the expiation of the guilty flesh. Everything is to be redeemed through the same matter by which it sinned. So God should have sent an angel to expiate the sins of the fallen angels, to expiate on behalf of Lucifer and his angelic followers. Because as you are aware, Lucifer also sinned. But God did not send an angelic spirit to redeem the angels of darkness.

They did not worship the Son of God, and God does not forgive the sin against His Word begotten of His Love’.  But God loves man  and when man sinned  He sends the Man, the only perfect Man, to redeem man and obtain peace with God. ‘And it is according to justice that only a Man-God may fulfil the redemption of man and appease God’.

 ‘And the Father and the Son loved and understood each other.  And the Father said: “I want”.  And the Son said: I want”.  And the Son said: “Give me”.  And the Father said: “Take”, and this flesh was named Jesus Christ, the Messiah, He Who is to redeem men and lead them to the Kingdom, defeat the demon, crush slavery’.

Jesus loved man so much that he sought and obtained from His Father to sacrifice Himself. He loved man so much that He asked to become Man to save man ,’ to  consume all the Sorrow of the world in order to give man eternal salvation’.

Jesus says further to the crowd in the Temple: ‘’To defeat the demon! An angel could not, cannot accomplish what the Son of Man can do.  That is why God does not call angels but the Man to accomplish the great work. Here is the Man whose origin you doubt, you deny or are worried about. Here is the Man acceptable to God. The Man representing all His brothers. The man like you in appearance, superior to and different from you by origin, begotten not of man but of God and consecrated to His ministry…”

“Now consider this: God does not choose an angel to be the Messiah and Redeemer, if God did not find it appropriate to elevate an angel to the rank of Son could he ever have said of Man what he said of Him (at his baptism)  at the ford of Betharaba two years ago?  You heard Him and trembled … because the voice of God is unmistakable, and without His special grace it crushes those who hear it and shakes their hearts. Who is therefore the Man Jesus? Is He perhaps one born of human seed and by the will of Man like all of you? And could the Most High have placed His Spirit to dwell in a body, devoid of grace, like those of men born of canal will?”  Obviously not!  

It is a common disseminated claim that Mary bore children other than Jesus. To support the claim   Gospel accounts from Mathew, John, Acts and Galatians are cited to attest to the notion that Mary bore other children. The children mentioned are four:  James, Joseph Simon and Judas.  ‘The faithful know through the witness of Scripture and Tradition that Jesus was Mary’s only child’ and that she remained a life- long virgin. 

First, let me declare my belief.  I am a Roman Catholic who believes that the so-called Jesus brothers were Jesus cousins and that Mary remained a perpetual virgin.  I will try to show why.  First if you read the Bible closely, you will note that although the Bible talks about “brothers” of Jesus, the Bible also tells us that Joseph was a Nazarite like Jesus. A Nazarite  is a Hebrew who has taken special vows of abstinence. In other words Joseph was a celibate.  In Volume 1 of Valtorta alluded to above, a whole chapter (Chapter 12   is allotted to the ceremony where Joseph is appointed husband of Mary and another chapter (Chapter 13) to the wedding.

 At that engagement ceremony, after the High Priest announced Joseph as the chosen spouse of Mary, the High Priest told Joseph: ‘Mary wishes to inform you of a vow she made’. When the two were left alone after the betrothal ceremony, Joseph confessed to Mary: “I was not expecting to be the chosen one as I am a Nazarite and I have obeyed because it is an order of the Priest, not that I wish to get married”. 

So runs the episode further: ‘Mary is moved and looks at Joseph with a face that has become more and more confident and bright.   She feels certain of him. . When he says ” I am a Nazarite”, her face becomes bright and She takes courage. She said: “Also, I am all of the Lord, Joseph.  I do not know whether the High priest told you…  Joseph replied:” He ( the High Priest) only told me that you are good and pure, that you wish to inform me of a vow, and that I must be good to you. Speak, Mary. Your Joseph wants you to be happy in all your desires. I do not love you with my body. I love you with my soul, holy girl given to me by God. Please see in me a father and a brother, in addition to a husband. And open your heart to me as to a father and rely on me as a brother…”  

Mary in turn said: “Since my childhood I have consecrated myself to the Lord.  I know this is not the custom in Israel. But I heard a voice requesting my virginity as a sacrifice of love for the coming of the Messiah. Israel has been waiting for Him for such a long time! … It is not too much to forgo the joy of being a mother of that!”

‘Joseph gazes at Mary as if he wanted to read her heart then he takes her tiny hands’… and says “I will join my sacrifice to yours and we shall love the Eternal Father so much with our chastity that He will send His Saviour to the world earlier, and will allow us to see His light shining in the world. Come, Mary, Let us go before His House and take an oath that we shall love each other as the angels do…”   

Then during the wedding proper, Joseph takes Mary to one side, and says to her:” I have pondered a lot on your vows these last days. I told you that I will share it with you. But the more I think of it, the more I realise that a temporary Nazaritism is not sufficient, even if renewed several times.  I have understood you, Mary.  I do not yet deserve the word of Light, but a murmur of it comes to me.  And it causes me to read your secret, at least in its maim lines.  I am a poor ignorant man, Mary. A poor workman. I know nothing of letters and I have no treasures.  But I place at your feet my treasure: my absolute chastity”.

Thus, right from the engagement ceremony and the wedding, Joseph had been made aware of Mary as the chosen one for the coming of Jesus into the world and Joseph had entered into a vow with Mary to be holy like angels to await the coming of the Lord. Joseph had pledged himself to absolute chastity even as a husband of Mary.

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The Taiwan Question: China ramps up military exercises to rebuff US provocations

18th August 2022

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan has violated the One-China policy, and caused the escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Experts and political observers across the spectra agree that Pelosis actions and subsequent pronouncements by US President Joe Biden gave impetus to an already simmering tension in the Taiwan Strait, provoking China to strengthen its legitimate hold on the Taiwan Strait waters, which the US and Taiwan deem as international waters.

Pelosis visit to Chinas Taiwan region has been heavily criticised across the globe, with China arguing that this is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US Joint Communiqus. In response to this reckless move which seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, and interfered in China’s internal affairs, the expectation is for China to give a firm response. Pelosi visit violated the commitments made by the U.S. side, and seriously jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

To give context to Chinas position over Taiwan region, the history behind gives us perspective. It is also important to note that the history between China and Taiwan is well documented and the US has always recognized it.

The Peoples Republic of China recognises Taiwan as its territory. It has always been the case even before the Nationalist Republic of China government fled to the previously Japanese-ruled Island after losing the civil war on the mainland in 1949. According to literature that threat was contained for decades first with a military alliance between the US and the ROC on Taiwan, and after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to the PRC in 1979 by the US One China policy, which acknowledges Beijings position that Taiwan is part of One China. Effectively, Taiwans administration was transferred to the Republic of China from Japan after the Second World War in 1945, along with the split between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) as a consequence of the Chinese Civil War. Disregarding this history, as the US is attempting to do, will surely initiate some defence reaction on the side of China to affirm its sovereignty.

However, this history was undermined since Taiwan claimed to democratise in the 1990s and China has grown ever more belligerent. Furthermore, it is well documented that the Biden administration, following the Trump presidency, has made subtle changes in the way it deals with Taipei, such as loosening restrictions on US officials meeting Taiwanese officials this should make China uneasy. And while the White House continues to say it does not support Taiwanese independence, Bidens words and actions are parallel to this pledge because he has warned China that the US would intervene militarily if China attacked Taiwan another statement that has provoked China.

Pelosi, in her private space, would know that her actions amount to provocation of China. This act of aggression by the USA seriously undermines the virtues of sovereignty and territorial integrity which has a huge potential to destabilize not only the Taiwan Strait but the whole of the Asia- Pacific region. The Americans know very well that their provocative behavior is deliberately invoking the spirit of separatism masqueraded as Taiwan independence. The US is misled to think that by supporting separatism of Taiwan from China that would give them an edge over China in a geopolitics. This is what one Chinese diplomat said this week: The critical point is if every country put their One-China policy into practice with sincerity, with no compromise, is going to guarantee the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, it was in the wake of US House speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan, that China, in a natural response revealed plans for unprecedented military exercises near the island, prompting fears of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The world community must promote and foster peace, this may be achieved when international laws are respected. It may also happen when nations respect the sovereignty of another. China may be in a better space because it is well capacitated to stake its territorial integrity, what about a small nation, if this happens to it?

As to why military exercises by Beijing; it is an expected response because China was provoked by the actions of Pelosi. To fortify this position, Chinese President, Xi signed a legal basis for Chinas Peoples Liberation Army to safeguard Chinas national sovereignty, security and development interests. The legal basis will also allow military missions around disaster relief, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping. In addition the legal changes would allow troops to prevent spillover effects of regional instabilities from affecting China, secure vital transport routes for strategic materials like oil, or safeguard Chinas overseas investments, projects and personnel. It then follows that President Xis administration cannot afford to look weak under a US provocation. President Xi must protector Chinas sovereignty and territorial integrity, of which Taiwan is a central part. Beijing is very clear on One-China Policy, and expects all world players to recognize and respect it.

The Peoples Liberation Army has made it clear that it has firepower that covers all of Taiwan, and it can strike wherever it wants. This sentiments have been attributed to Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Navy Research Institute. Zheng further said, We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces. This is a strong reaction from China to warn the US against provocation and violation of the One-China Policy.

Beijings military exercises will certainly shake Taiwans confidence in the sources of its economic and political survival. The potential for an effective blockade threatens the air and shipping routes that support Taiwans central role in global technology supply chains. Should a humanitarian situation arise in Taiwan, the blame would squarely be on the US.

As Chinas military exercises along the Taiwan Strait progress and grow, it remains that the decision by Nancy Pelosi to visit Chinas Taiwan region gravely undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sent a wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces. This then speaks to international conventions, as the UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres explicitly stressed that the UN remains committed to the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758. The centerpiece is the one-China principle, namely, there is but one China in the world, the government of the Peoples Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is a part of China. It must be noted that the US and the US-led NATO countries have selectively applied international law, this has been going on unabated. There is a plethora of actions that have collapsed several states after they were attacked under the pretext of the so-called possession of weapons of mass destruction illuminating them as threats – and sometimes even without any valid reason. to blatantly launch military strikes and even unleash wars on sovereign countrie

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Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswanas democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogaes assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in theBulela Ditswedispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswewas an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties ruling and opposition have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumers piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswanas, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they dont imagine that their one download will do anything to the production houses pocket or make a dent in the actors net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musicians music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth.

As Botswanas creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africas respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswanas economy are being diverted.

Why cant our local creative industry grow? Why dont we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana? are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswanas local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the countrys economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, its imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economys growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artists music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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