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.
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org