The Devil Devours His Own – Crisis Magazine

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The sordid life of Jeffrey Epstein serves to highlight the decadence of the deplorable epoch in which we find ourselves, as do the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. The web of vice and viciousness that he had spun was widespread, serving to entrap not only underage girls but also the rich and famous who preyed upon them. Using the allure of underage sex to lure his wealthy associates into his web, Epstein secretly filmed them in the act of sexually abusing minors, thereby turning his “associates” into his blackmail victims.

Epstein seems to have believed that the powerful people whom he’d entrapped in his “insurance policy” would have a vested interest in keeping him safe from the law, a strategy which worked for a while. In 2008, Epstein was convicted in Florida of sexually abusing a fourteen-year-old girl, receiving a scandalously light sentence, but due to a plea deal he was not charged with sexually abusing thirty-five other girls whom federal officials identified as having been abused by him.

After a further ten years in which Epstein masterminded the trafficking of young girls to satisfy the pornographic and pedophilic appetites of his powerful network of friends, he was finally charged in July of last year with the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. A month later, he was found dead in his jail cell. Although the medical examiner originally recorded the death as being a case of suicide, there are so many anomalies and mysteries surrounding the circumstances of Epstein’s death that many people agree with Epstein’s lawyers that the death could not have been suicide.

One thing that is certain is that Epstein’s death removed the possibility of pursuing criminal charges. There would be no trial, and therefore Epstein’s powerful associates would not be exposed by their victims in a court of law. Seen in this light, or in the shadow of this possible cover-up, it is tempting to see Epstein’s “insurance policy” as his death warrant. He was too dangerous to be allowed to live when the lives of so many others depended on his timely death. It is no wonder that “Epstein didn’t kill himself” has become a hugely popular meme, nor that HBO, Sony TV, and Lifetime are planning to produce dramatic portrayals of Epstein’s life and death.

One aspect of Epstein’s life which is unlikely to be the focus of any TV drama is his obsession with transhumanism. For those who know little about this relatively recent phenomenon, transhumanism is usually defined as the movement in philosophy which advocates the transformation of humanity through the development of technologies which will re-shape humans intellectually and physiologically so that they transcend or supersede what is now considered “human.” At the prideful heart of this movement is a disdain for all that is authentically human and a sordid desire to replace human frailty with superhuman or transhuman strength.

Transhumanism rides roughshod over the dignity of the human person in its quest for the technologically “created” superman. Its spirit was encapsulated by David Bowie in the lyrics of one of his songs: “Homo sapiens have outgrown their use…. Gotta make way for the Homo superior.”

Most of Epstein’s so-called “philanthropy” was directed to the financing and promotion of transhumanism. The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation pledged $30 million to Harvard University to establish the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. It also bankrolled the OpenCog project, which develops software “designed to give rise to human-equivalent artificial general intelligence.” Apart from his support for the cybernetic approach to transhumanism, Epstein was also fascinated with the possibility of creating the “superman” via the path of eugenics. He hoped to help in a practical way with plans to “seed the human race with his DNA” by impregnating up to twenty women at a time at a proposed “baby ranch” at his compound in New Mexico. He also supported the pseudo-science of cryonics, whereby human corpses and severed heads are frozen in the hope that technological advances will eventually make it possible to resurrect the dead. He had planned to have his own head and genitalia preserved in this way.

In addition to his bizarre association with the wilder fringes of technological atheism, Epstein also co-organized a conference with his friend, the militant atheist Al Seckel, known (among other things) as the creator of the so-called “Darwin Fish”—seen on bumper stickers and elsewhere, it depicts Darwin’s “superior” evolutionary fish eating the ichthys symbol, or “Jesus fish” of Christians. Seckel fled California after his life of deception and fraud began to catch up with him. He was found at the foot of a cliff in France, having apparently fallen to his death. Nobody seems to know whether he slipped, jumped, or was pushed.

Apart from his unhealthy interest in atheistic scientism, Jeffrey Epstein was also a major figure amongst the globalist elite. According to his lawyer, Gerald B. Lefcourt, he was “part of the original group that conceived the Clinton Global Initiative,” which forces underdeveloped countries around the world to conform to the values of the culture of death. Even more ominously, Epstein was a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, two of the key institutions responsible for fostering and engineering the globalist grip on the world’s resources.

As we ponder the sordid and squalid world of Jeffrey Epstein and his “associates,” we can’t help but see his life as a cautionary tale, the moral of which is all too obvious. It shows that pride precedes a fall and that it preys on the weak and the innocent. It shows that those who think they are better than their neighbors become worse than their neighbors. It shows how Nietzsche’s Übermensch morphs into Hitler’s Master Race and thence to the transhuman monster. It shows that those who admire the Superman become subhuman. It also shows that the subhuman is not bestial but demonic. It shows that those who believe that they are beyond good and evil become the evilest monsters of all.

Those of us who have been nurtured on cautionary tales such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength will know that fiction often prefigures reality. We see that the real-life figure of Jeffrey Epstein is a latter-day Viktor Frankenstein, reaping destruction with his contempt for his fellow man and his faith in the power of scientism to deliver immortality to those who serve it. We can also see that the transhumanism which Epstein financed is a mirror image of the demonic scientism of the secretive National Institute of Coordinated Experiments in Lewis’s prophetic novel. We may even be grimly amused by the fact that the “leader” of the demonic scientistic forces in Lewis’s tale is a severed head which has apparently been brought back to life.

There is one final lesson that the pathetic life of Jeffrey Epstein teaches us. It shows us that the adage “the devil looks after his own” is not true. It’s a lie told by the devil himself. The devil hates his disciples as much as he hates the disciples of Christ. Once he has had his way with them, he disposes of them with callous and casual indifference, much as Jeffrey Epstein disposed of his victims.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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Naira Marley soaring amidst controversies

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Naira Marley
Naira Marley

…Why he’s dominating Nigeria’s music scene

By BENJAMIN NJOKU

The Nigerian music scene in recent times has been saturated with lots of talented music stars, who are redefining the space and creating their own buzz. One of such wave-making stars is Azeez Adeshina Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley.

Marley burst onto the country’s music space like ‘a colossus’ and suddenly stole the hearts and minds of many lovers of music in this part of the world. It still seems like the pop sensation dropped out of nowhere unto our collective music ears.

Before last year, not much was heard of the Agege-born rapper. Even after the release of his 2017 hit “Issa Goal”, which featured Olamide and Lil Kesh, Naira Marley was still not a name to be reckoned with in the Nigerian music scene. But it was after releasing his hit song, “Am I a Yahoo Boy” featuring popular musician Zlatan Ibile, where he alleged to have declared public support for internet fraud. Naira Marley became the name on everyone’s lips.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC had arrested him alongside Zlatan and three other persons. They slammed an 11- count charge bordering on credit card fraud, car theft and Cybercrime against Naira Marley. Thus started a legal battle that culminated in his detention for 35 days. Many believe the EFCC arrested him because of his alleged support for internet fraud and his claim that cybercrime is a form of reparation of the wealth stolen from Africa. That was the beginning of his journey to stardom.

While the trial lasted, the controversial singer was busy creating buzz on social media. His fans were not deterred from protesting against his arrest outside the EFCC headquarters in Lagos.

READ ALSO: Davido is the king of African music – Miraboi

Marley was quoted to have said in an interview that their rage was understandable. “Because they know the system. They knew what [the EFCC was] trying to do and they followed what happened. They knew I shouldn’t be getting arrested for what I’m saying. Freedom of speech! I should be allowed to be saying what I’m saying. But the EFCC said I was supporting fraud, because I said I have no problem with these people.”

Today, Marley remains one of the hottest artistes that have dominated the mainstream music chart in Nigeria and diaspora. His fan base has continued to increase on daily basis, just as he’s not free from troubles. Recall that in November, Marley set social media agog when he tweeted that a lady with a big butt was better than one with a Master’s degree. Few days later, the lewd singer alongside his siblings and cousins landed into another trouble after they were accused of stealing a car. But unfortunately, the court early this year dismissed the theft case and the singer walked away a free man.

Marley is a phenomenal singer who has a lot going for him. His journey from prince of Peckham to cult figure in Lagos, represents his evolution into a bonafide intercontinental rock star: selling out shows across Africa, and trailed intently both online and off by his mass of obsessive followers, called the ‘Marlians’.

Named after the Nigerian currency and known for his anti-establishment spirit and viral dance crazes, Marley’s wave connects the West African diaspora to their roots as he delivers his lines in a syrupy mixture of Yoruba and English.

Like Eedris Abdulkareem, Terry G and Bobrisky before him, Marley has been able to traverse between public hatred and adoration. On social media, he’s the most talked about Nigerian singer at the moment. While he’s yet to break into the international scene, Marley is currently enjoying the buzz he’s creating with his music back home. He’s in a lane of his own that politely ignores the commercialism of Afro-pop. To many, Marley is using his music to promote immorality and a generation of valueless youths, while to others, his music is awesome.

RnB singer, Asa described Marley’s music as “awesome.” Just as some twitter users once called out the ‘Puta’ hit maker after he declared that his songs can cure depression. They complained that his songs are noisy and senseless and “the only thing his songs can do is that it can cause depression rather than cure it.”

Since he burst onto the UK music scene in 2014, with Marry Juana, a song he wrote with his friend Ma Twigz, the Agege-born, Marley has been banging out hit after hit. In November 2019, the controversial singer sold out the almost 5000 capacity 02 Arena for Marlian Fest in three minutes. Tickets for the Marlian Fest which held on 30 December 2019 at the Eko Convention Centre, Eko Hotels, Lagos also sold out. There was chaos at the venue as fans tried to gain entrance into the concert.

But believe it or not, Marley is a singer you will hate to love. At present, the rapper is not just the rave of the moment, he is arguably the most popular artiste in Nigeria today. But the negative influence of Marley’s songs on the youths is unimaginable. This Marlian fever, like the era of Makossa has taken over the streets of Lagos and everywhere you go, men, women, the young and the old, the affluent and the poor are quick to claim they are Marlians with glee; and the buzz word “I am a Marlian” hits you like an unforgettable dream.

The lewd singer currently has a huge fan base. They call themselves Marlians. His songs and dance steps are inspiring a new generation of morally debased youths, who follow him around. It seems the youth would be his followers for a long time, except something serious is done. They revel in being “outsiders’, and as a trademark, they are disrespectful of rules and agents of law enforcement.

From the dance step, ‘Soapy,’ that has popularised the habit of masturbation to his off and on life inside prison to his recent dance step called ‘Tesumole,’ Naira Marley has continuously been a source of controversy and confusion in the Nigerian music scene.

It’s not for nothing that a clergyman, Chris Omashola, early this year took to his Twitter page, where he shared a series of prophecies concerning Nigeria. He warned that Marley is a demon and his music is inspired by demons, to destroy the youths in Nigeria.

“In 2020, God told me, Naira Marley is A Demon, He is Satanic and should repent before it’s too late. His songs are demonically inspired to destroy the Destiny of The Youths of this generation, Nigerian youths should desist from calling themselves Marlians. #ACOProphecies2020,” he tweeted.

Marley’s fans have since dismissed the clergyman’s warning, as they sent him threat messages; while he himself reacted by sharing screenshots of the pastor’s leaked sex tapes with an interesting caption. “To all Naira Marley’s fans aka Marlian. Please what’s your final judgment on this #NairaMarley and Apostle Chris Omashola case.” . Then on another occasion he tweeted: “Jesus never went to church.”

That’s not all, a certain mother reportedly cried out on social media after her teenage daughter was suspended from school for being part of a Marlian cult. According to the woman, the school caught over 25 girls who were members of the cult, including her daughter.

The teacher had found underwear in one of the girls’ bags and when she was questioned, she revealed that she was part of a cult whose members do not wear underwear to school on certain days.

It was, however, ascertained that the girls don’t wear pants, while the Marlian boys don’t wear belts.

However, it’s said that being a marlian has its ups and downs, from the rumoured beltless trousers for boys and underwear free girls who all believe in the marlian philosophy. You suddenly behold a boy next door who identifies himself as a Marlian, and ready to dance his Marley’s latest dance steps , ‘ Shaku shaku and Soapy (a demonstration of someone pleasuring him or herself through dance) and you are taken aback.

Despite the legal battle and the backlash against him, Marley’s fan base continues to rise., just as the singer is not relenting on his resolve to rule his world. On December 30, 2019, Marlians thronged the Eko hotel venue of the maiden edition of his headlining show, ‘Marlian Fest’ to keep a date with their music idol. While performing at the show, the singer announced his new record label, Marlian Records and resident presented the four artistes who are signed to his music imprint. He equally won his first major award at the 2020 Soundcity MVP Awards, held at the Eko Convention Center, Lagos Nigeria.

The Marlian President beat Tiwa Savage (49-99), Chinko Ekun (Able God), Prince Kaybee (Banomoya), Shatta Wale (My Level), Burna Boy (On The Low), Rayvanny (Tetema), Zlatan (Zanku – Legwork) to clinch the award for Viewers’ Choice for his viral song Soapy. And it was a major boost to his music career. But one wonders how far Naira Marley can go in this journey?

The post Naira Marley soaring amidst controversies appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Persecution of Muslims in China and India Reveals Important Facts About Religion and Geopolitics

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India, China and Myanmar are three Asian countries currently engrossed in carrying out physical and cultural genocides on their Muslim populations. While the plight of Rohingya Muslims and Uighur Muslims is well known, the recent introduction of a new law expressly aimed at dispossessing Muslims of Indian citizenship has alerted many to the reality that India’s ruling BJP government sees itself as Hindu first and foremost.

Questions such as “Why aren’t the rich Arab countries saying anything?” have come up, with the implicit inference that Muslim-dominated countries are supposed to stick up for Muslims everywhere in the world. Others have pointed out that despite suffering oppression in some parts of the world, Muslims are also responsible for brutal acts of oppression against other minority groups elsewhere, which allegedly negates the sufferings of the prior group.

In this article, I will pick through these questions and viewpoints with a goal of isolating some useful truths about how religion, geopolitics and human nature constantly interplay and produce much of the world around us.

Oppression is a Matter of Perspective

Which religion is the most oppressed? I like to troll my Christian friends with the image below whenever the topic comes up about some religion or the other allegedly imposing its will at their expense.

The truth is however, that this image could apply to just about every religion on earth. As a general rule of thumb, the only limiting factor on whether or not a religion functions as an oppressive tyranny in a particular jurisdiction is the proportion of the population that practises it there. Similarly, the only thing stopping any religion from being an oppressed and downtrodden identity is whether it is a small enough minority for that to be possible.

While Muslims in India, Myanmar and China are going through untold degrees of horror because of their religious identities, Muslims in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Northern Nigeria are simultaneously visiting very similar horrors on Bah’ai, Shia Muslims, Christians, Budhists and other minorities in those areas. It turns out that the mere fact of belonging to a religious identity does not in fact, confer unrestricted global victimhood.

This point is important because it disproves the notion held by every major religion that its adherents follow a single set of standards and do things in the manner of a global “brotherhood.” In reality, Islam according to a Rohingya Muslim hiding from the Burmese military, and the same religion according to an itinerant herder in Kogi State bear almost no similarity to each other save for the most basic tenets. Environmental factors in fact have a bigger influence on how religions are practised than their own holy books. 

The current antics of India’s ruling BJP and its Hindu fundamentalist support base provide an important case in point as to how this works. Looking at the evolution of Hinduism from a passive philosophy into an openly militant ideology gives an important insight into how religion is in fact, a thoroughly contrived and amorphous set of ideas that can be changed, adjusted, aligned and revised at a moment’s notice in justification of anything at all. 

Hinduism traditionally sees itself as a religion of thoughtful, considered spirituality as against the angry dogmas of its Abrahamic neighbours, but something interesting is happening. Some argue that it started in the days of Gandhi, and some ascribe it to current Prime Minister Nanendra Modi, but whoever started it is a side note. The key point to note is that based on political factors, i.e anticolonial senitment against the British and anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by India’s national rivalry with Pakistan, Hinduism has somehow been coopted into the narrative of a jingoistic, monotheistic, mono-ethnic state which is  historical nonsense.

India has always been a pointedly pluralistic society, and in fact the geographical area now known as “India” does not even cover the geographical area of the India of antiquity. That India was a place of Hindus, Budhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and everything in between. Hinduism never saw a problem with pluralism because Hinduism itself is a very plural religion – it has at least 13 major deities. The conversion of the Hindu identity into a political identity movement is a recent and contrived phenomenon first exploited by Gandhi as a means of opposing British colonialism, and now by Modi to oppose the Pakistanis/Muslims – it is a historical falsity.

The creation of Hindu fundamentalist movements like the RSS (which PM Modi belongs to) is something done in response to environmental factors. Spectacles like the RSS march below are evidence of yet another religion undergoing constant and ongoing evolution into whatever suits its purposes.

Something similar happened when medieval Europe turned into colonial Europe and European Christianity transitioned into a peaceful and pacifist ideology after centuries of being a bloodthirsty doctrine. The environmental factors that created the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, book burnings and witch hunts went away with the introduction of an industrial society, and thus the religion too transitioned.

In plain English, what all this means is that nobody actually practises a religion in the pure sense they imagine they do. Everyone who subscribes to a religion merely practises a version of it that is subject to the culture and circumstances of their environment and era. This is directly connected to the next major insight raised by these events.

Geopolitics is all About Self-Interest…Everyone Gets it Except Africa

While anti-Muslim violence has continued apace for years in China, Mynammar and India, the question has often been asked: “Why are the wealthy Arab nations not saying anything?” There is a perception that since the Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of Islam and Arabs – particularly Saudis – are viewed as the global gatekeepers of the faith, they must be at the forefront of promoting the interests of Muslims worldwide.

To many, the fabulous wealth and international influence that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE enjoy, in addition to the presence of two of Islam’s holiest cities – Mecca and Meddinah – in Saudi Arabia, means that they have a responsibility to speak for the global Muslim Ummah and stand up for them when they are unfairly targeted and mistreated. Unfortunately for such people, the wealthy nations of the Arab Gulf region tend to respond to such questions with little more than an irritated silence – and with good reason.

To begin with, these countries are not democracies led by the wishes of their almost uniformly Muslim populations. They are autocracies led by royal families who came to power in the colonially-influenced 20th century scramble for power and influence. Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam’s holiest sites, is named after the House of Saud, its royal family which came into power in its current form at the turn of the 19th century. The priority of the regimes in these countries first and foremost is self-preservation.

Self-preservation means that before throwing their significant diplomatic and economic weight behind any attempt to help out fellow Muslims, the first consideration is how doing so will benefit them. India for example, is a country that has close diplomatic ties with the UAE, and supplies most of their cheap labour for construction and low-skilled functions. India has even coordinated with UAE special forces to repatriate the dissident Princess Latika when she made an audacious escape attempt in 2018.

What does the UAE stand to gain if it napalms its diplomatic relationship with India by criticising Modi’s blatantly anti-Muslim policy direction? It might win a few brownie points with Islamic hardliners and possibly buy some goodwill among poor Muslims in South Asia, but how much is that worth? The regime and nation’s self-interest is best served by looking the other way, so that is exactly what they will do.

The Saudis make a similar calculation. At a time when they are investing heavily in military hardware to keep up with their eternal rivals Turkey and Iran, and simultaneously preparing for the end of oil by liberalising their society and economy, does it pay them to jump into an issue in India that does not particularly affect them? As the status of their diplomatic relationship with the U.S. remains unclear following the Jamal Khasshoggi incident, are they going to risk pissing off the Chinese because of Uighur Muslims?

In fact self-interest like that mentioned here is the basis of the considerations that underpin all international relations. Well I say “all,” but what I really meant to say was “all except African countries.” It is only African countries that take diplomatic decisions based on little more than flimsy emotions and feelings of religious affinity. Gambia for example, has dragged Myanmar before the UN and filed a genocide case against it on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims.

This would be commendable and great were it not that Gambia itself is hardly a human rights luminary, and generally has little business fighting an Asian battle when its own worse African battles lie unfought. The only thing Gambia stands to gain from fighting a diplomatic war that the rest of the world seems unwilling to touch is the temporary goodwill of a few Muslims in Asia and around the world – goodwill that cannot translate into something tangible for it.

To coin an aphorism from social media lingo, you could call it ”diplomatic clout chasing.’

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Our German new worshipping community. – Saint Benet’s Church Kentish Town

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ageFor over a year now, a group of people has met at St Benet’s to celebrate the Mass in German on the first Sunday of the month at 4.00 pm.  This group is soon to be registered as a “New Worshipping Community” of the Diocese of London. This forms part of the Diocese’s vision for evangelism, mission, and church growth laid out in its plan “Capital Vision 2020.”

Where did the idea come from?

The idea came from the fact that a number of people at St Benet’s noticed just how many German-speaking families there were worshipping with us.  Some were bilingual families with one parent from Germany or Austria. Others were German-speaking families who had moved to London, and whose children were, therefore, thoroughly bi-lingual.

Our vicar, Fr Peter Anthony, read German as an undergraduate and had been involved in our Diocesan link with Berlin for several years.  He wondered whether people would welcome a service now and then in German.  After a few initial Masses in German, it became clear there was definite interest, and a small but sustainable number of people willing to support the project. We decided on a trial run of a service on a Sunday afternoon once a month for a year.

Our intention was to see if we could reach out to a new category of people who did not already worship with us, and who might welcome the ability to worship in German. We wanted to help them come to faith, or grow deeper in their relationship with the Lord, especially through sacramental worship.

What happens & when?

AllWe usually have a said Mass at 4.00 pm on the first Sunday of the month with a homily, and the entire service takes place in German.

We have had a range of guest preachers over the past year.  Some have been native German speakers, such as Dr Andrea Werner, a lay reader at St Michael’s Camden Town; or Robert Pfeiffer, an ordinand at S. Michael’s, Highgate; or Fr Andreas Wenzel, the Shrine Priest at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Others have been English people who happen to be good German speakers: Dr Colin Podmore, well known expert in German Church history, for example; or Fr Desmond Bannister, Vicar All Siants’ Hillingdon, who used to teach German.

We have also sought to invite people associated with our Diocesan Partnership with the Church in Berlin-Brandenburg. Fr Brian Leathard and the Fr Luke Miller, the Archdeacon of London, both of whom have responsibility for the diocesan link, have visited to preach, as have august visitors from Berlin such as Pfarrer Holger Schmidt.

The liturgy is always followed by a time for refreshments and chat over that most venerable of German traditions – “Kaffee und Kuchen.”  The conversation is mainly in German, but if people want to talk in English they are also welcome to, and a mixture of conversations in both languages usually emerges.  There is no language police!

Who comes?

Fr Andreas Wenzel, Shrine Priest of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, came as our guest preacher for All Saints’ Day.

A range of people attend this Sunday afternoon service.  Many of the bi-lingual families living in our parish, who have both English and German, are frequently there. Bilingual children are also frequently present.

There have also proven to be a number of English speakers who have German and who want to keep their language up or enjoy worshipping in German (one of whom comes all the way from York for the liturgy!).  Word of mouth has proven to be very important and several new German speakers have started worshipping with us who had never previously worshipped with us on a Sunday morning.

A number of academics in the realm of philosophy who need German for their academic work have also been present on several occasions. German and Austrian students who have come to London universities also frequently form part of the congregation, which has proven to have a pretty young average age over all.

The numbers at the monthly Mass in 2018-19 have ranged between 8 and 21, with an average in the first year of 13, but on big occasions larger congregations have gathered: our first German Advent Carol Service last Sunday, for example, attracted 63 people. We have also celebrated one baptism in German.

Why do Germans want to worship at an Anglican Church?

Fr Peter Anthony, our vicar, and Dr Andrea Werner, lay reader from our neighbouring parish, St Michael’s, Camden Town, photographed after one of Andrea’s excellent homilies.

We have welcomed a wide range of people from a large sweep of theological and liturgical traditions.  One of the characteristics of this worshipping community has been a strong spirit of ecumenical welcome. Our ministry has also been resolutely rooted in the concept that the Church of England’s ministry is available for all living within our parochial boundaries, or who wish to avail themselves of it.

St Benet’s liturgy lies in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England, and we have found many German or bilingual families have been happy to make their spiritual home with us. There may be something going on in terms of the Church of England’s ministry representing a theological middle way between the Lutheran, Calvinist, and Roman traditions. It may also be that the parochial commitment of St Benet’s to the parish in which it is set simply makes it a place where visitors and those moving from abroad find it easy to settle. Many of our German speaking families send their children to our parish school, and so that might also be a connection which makes St Benet’s a place where they feel they want to worship.

Some of our younger German students have been genuinely intrigued and captivated by what they have discovered in the Anglicanism they find at St Benet’s – i.e. a church which they perceived as “protestant” but which turned out to have a rich and quite catholic liturgical and theological tradition.

Where to now?

We have proven over the first year of this project that the core congregation which supports this project is large enough to sustain a monthly Mass into the future.  However, we are keen to explore other ways in which we can grow and expand this ministry.  We recently organised a German Advent Carol Service, and this proved to be popular.

We plan in the next few weeks to register the congregation as a “new worshipping community” with the Diocese of London in order to release extra funds to help us plan slightly larger or more adventurous events.

Social media have been a crucial part of the way in which we have made contact with German speakers, so we want to ensure our social media presence continues to be the best it can be. Word of mouth has also been crucial to making new contacts amongst the German/Austrian ex-pat community, and will be something we intend to build upon.

We ask all our friends to keep praying for us as we explore further where God is calling us to go in this venture, and we thanks the Diocese of London and its bishops for their support and encouragement as we become one of its latest “new worshipping communities.”

Our first German Advent Carol Service: Sunday 1st December 2019.

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DJ Cuppy has stolen my heart — Afrobeat Artiste, Akeju – Vanguard News

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Budding star of Afro-music, a genre previously unknown to music fans in the United States, is a fast-rising Nigerian songwriter, a record producer known as Akeju. Akeju’s name is fast evolving into a household item in New York City, the city that never sleeps. He is so popular and influential, especially on the entertainment scene, that the entire city had to look forward to the unveiling of his latest single, Akeju, that was released earlier this year. The song has been on top charts since its release. A native of Kwara State, Akeju has lived in New York City for over a decade. He is an artist in every sense of the word. Not just a musical artist but an artist because he is all about expression, from his sense of style to his genre of music even down to working succinctly as an actor and movie producer. The artiste, in this interview, revealed his plans to collaborate with more A-list artists in Africa and more surprisingly his favourite woman crush.

Tell us about your background

My name is A. M Akeju, I was born in Ghana to Nigerian parents. My mom is from Ilorin and my dad is from Abeokuta.

Have you always wanted to be a musician?

Yes. I started out writing songs and listening to a variety of aristes as a child; Nate King Cole, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti to mention but a few.

How did you discover your talent in music?

Some people actually go through life trying to figure out which path they want to take but for me, Music has always been a part of me. I remember growing up, I was influenced by popular singers like Fela Kuti, Nate King Cole, Bob Marley among others. I  have always believed that someday I would do music too.

READ ALSO: Let’s see music as a spiritual exercise – Erelu Dosumu Abiola

What inspires your songs?

Many things inspire my songs. Experiences of friends, family, and myself; what is going on at the time in many communities. Many times I want my songs to make people feel good; sometimes people go through so much in their life.

Who are those top artistes you would want to have a collaboration with and why?

There are several, Seal, Youssou Ndour, 2Face Idibia, Nas, Shaggy, Sade, Sting, to name a few. I admire them and I remain true to my philosophy creating a bridge between African culture and other cultures.

Unforgettable performance and why?

My unforgettable performances would be Save Africa Foundation concert with the wonderful Winnie Mandela in the audience and Black Panther under the Stars. I have other unforgettable performances.

Other hobbies aside singing?

Other hobbies are soccer, swimming, and just getting away from time to time. It helps me rejuvenate, get me fired up to record more songs for my fans.

What is the greatest price you have paid for your career?

The greatest price I have paid, I don’t really have one. What I would say is the greatest lesson, having a tight inner circle you trust is important.

What project are you working on at the moment?

I have a few projects, I like to keep those details close and then surprise my fans. My EP “Akeju the EP ft Beenie Man and Lil scrappy (love and hip – hop) ” and also my mixtape with Dj Kaywise was recently released. Outside of music I am in corporate America working on several projects. I am the CEO and President of Aflik TV, an admin for international content at Amazon prime and I also provide content for several platforms, Netflix, Hulu, Best Buy, Walmart, Barnes & Nobles to name a few.

What is your relationship status now?

I am single and available.

You are single and available, so how do you handle your female fans?

I just appreciate them; they are fantastic; you can’t get too caught up. You can’t let it get into your head. You can’t indulge in a lifestyle where you start to slip up because you are single. But I do appreciate them and try to live up to everybody’s expectations.

Who is your female crush and why?

Well to put this straight, every woman out there deserves the best. One woman that has stolen my heart secretly is Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola (Dj Cuppy). I really love what she’s doing and how she has successfully carved a niche for herself in the industry. Hopefully one day we will go out on a date and have more Gelato..

Looking back, any regret so far?

I have no regrets. Before making any decision, I always pray and fast for divine directions. So far, God has really been faithful to me.

Any word for your fans out there?

Be loyal and true to yourself. If you have a dream, stay focused on it. Things don’t happen overnight, remain persistent and keep pushing. Bless up!!!

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How ‘The Good Place’ made the cast, creative team and maybe even the viewers better people

creative team and maybe even the viewers better people - CNN

(CNN)“It felt a little bit like what I imagine sending your kid off to college feels like,” says Kristen Bell about wrapping up “The Good Place,” currently in its fourth and final season on NBC. “It’s a good and bad feeling.”

“I refuse to spend my final moments being allowed to play with these people in misery — I think that would be pitiful,” says Bell. “I didn’t want to let that ruin it, because it is a gift. It really does feel like we did it for a reason, and when you see the ending you’ll know.”
When the finale comes, it will mark the end of a long, always fitfully funny but also moving journey of striving for enlightenment and self-betterment in the afterlife of a group of damned souls — Eleanor (Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Jason (Manny Jacinto), plus the reforming demon Michael (Ted Danson) and the ultimate Siri/celestial automaton Janet (D’Arcy Carden). It’s meaty philosophical, territory peppered with silly swear word substitutes.
    “I definitely felt the anxiety of landing the plane more acutely than in previous years,” the show’s creator and executive producer Michael Schur tells CNN. A veteran of “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” — two series both riotously funny and deeply warm-hearted which also struck pitch-perfect notes as they concluded — Schur admitted his team sweated many details crafting “The Good Place’s” endgame. “We spent a massive amount of time on the ending. Because we really wanted to get it right,”
    “I feel like we had a fairly good handle going into it, where our end point was,” says supervising producer and writer Jen Statsky, who explained that the series’ creative team constantly took a “forward-thinking” approach to the way the story unfolded season by season, neatly set up the story and character arcs to play out in subsequent episodes, which paid off as the final season was conceived. “You want to give the proper ending to these characters.”
    “And to make sure that we had covered all the ground we wanted to, and to be like, ‘Did we explore every facet of these characters and of the world?'” adds co-executive producer and writer Megan Amram, nodding to the rich, comic afterlife mythology the series has constructed. “In some ways we’ve been talking about the ending of the show almost since we started writing the show.”
    Thus the decision to end after four seasons, on their own terms, at a moment in time where broadcast networks tend to mine hit series for as long as they possibility can. When it became apparent that the fourth season would lead to the most organic and satisfying conclusion, NBC deferred to Schur’s creative vision. “We knew why [it was time to end], and it was because of the meaning of the show and it was because we were telling story that deserved its ending,” says Bell.
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    As the cast and crew delved into the many ethically and morally thorny issues the show’s characters would have to contend with, they found themselves in an extended learning curve as they routinely consulted academic experts in fields such philosophy, neuroscience and criminal justice to bring nuance and context to the series. “We’ve learned so much about so much stuff,” says Schur. “It’s been like a rotating course of lectures that we’ve had in our writers room, and it’s been so fun.”
    “We’ve all been very lucky to work with various writers rooms before, but this is the first one that felt like a combination writers room/college course,” agrees Statsky. “And for a true dummy like myself, it’s been very enjoyable to just not only get to be at work, but get to be learning about these topics that I had no previous knowledge of.”
    “This is paying us to go to college,” laughs Amram.
    Bell says that by exploring such heady, meaningful topics, even through a comedic lens, had a profound effect on everyone involved in the show, leaving everyone considering seriously what it meant to make a positive impact, both on those around them and on a global scale.
    “There are these opposing theories in my head about ways to be, to state my opinion fighting for good or do it with my art, and I vacillate between the two,” says the actress. “This was one where I felt like I really did it with my art, where I was a part of saying some things that I wanted to put out in the world, and I was really lucky to be able to be offered a job that was both creatively fulfilling and emotionally fulfilling to my sort of maternal instincts towards the world…I hope to get both again, but this is a pretty lucky experience.”
    The show’s conceit, to strive to be better even in the face of eternal damnation, proved downright infectious.
    “In the fabric of the show we talk about, life is a lot of little choices,” says Amram. “The show helped me realize that going through my day, I am presented with a lot more moral decision-making than I had previously thought. And I try to always make this slightly better choice now. And I think that is what the show is about. It’s like, when presented with two things, think about it, and maybe try to make the slightly better choice.” As a result of her involvement on the show, for example, Amram committed to a vegetarian lifestyle.
    “I don’t think that I totally understood the level of which moral decision making can become a factor in your life, where from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep almost everything you do has a moral component,” says Schur. “It can drive you nuts. I’m not necessarily saying this is a good thing.”
    “We do it when we order lunch and when we have any big decision to make. You can get really paralyzed,” adds Schur, noting that the show used the character of Chidi and his inability to resolve micro-ethical considerations to illustrate the point.
    How 'The Good Place' made the cast
    “If you let the idea of making a moral decision infect your life to that level, you become a nonfunctioning human being,” he adds. “The important thing is that you think about it, and then the next most important thing is that you are okay with the idea that you’re going to blow it sometimes…You need to let yourself off the hook when you do things that aren’t exactly perfect.”
    It’s a quandary that resonates deeply for the actor who brings Chidi’s indecision to life.
    “A lot of that is a very intuitive manifestation of a lot of my own stuff,” says Harper. “Maybe it’s more universal than I thought. Maybe a lot of people feel that way, but I personally get stuck a lot, and I think that just seeing what that paralysis looks like can actually be freeing, because sometimes it’s really useful to see it from the outside, the commitment to an action or inaction, how frustrating that can be. Especially to someone who is like, ‘Any choice you make right now will be better than not making one’… The most salient thing about the show and especially about this character for me is that.”
    Harper says that as a result of being a part of “The Good Place,” on screen and off, he couldn’t resist a powerful impulse for self-improvement.
    “I’ve learned in a very visceral way that people make the world, and the world that we are so privileged to inhabit for these past four seasons is beautiful, and wonderful, and full of good feelings and positivity and kindness,” he says. “And there’s no way to have that environment at work and not feel like, ‘Well, why can’t this be what the rest of my life is like?’ So coming away from the show, I want to make sure that I try to put as much good into the world as I can going forward.”
    Much of that is a result of the people Schur invited in to “The Good Place’s” world, says Stasky.
    “Mike’s an expert picker of people to work on projects. He has a very good radar for good people who want to make good things and treat each other well in the process of making those things. He empowers people to feel like they are a part of the project, and that really I think creates this environment where everyone is just happy, they’re happy to come to work, they feel they have a stake in it, and it’s a fertile ground for relationships to grow.”
    Indeed, as the public face of the show, the cast has demonstrated an emotional investment in both “The Good Place” and one another that’s rare among even the oft-self-proclaimed “families” of other TV series. A recent panel at the Television Critics Association’s press tour found the actors all tearing up as Danson waxed poetic about what a gift the series had been to them. And the show’s fans are likely to have similarly intense feelings about its departure.
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    But will it have a lingering effect on the way its viewers choose to impact the world?
    “I am extremely wary about ascribing success or failure to the show in any goal,” says Schur. “People used to ask if I felt like ‘Parks and Recreation’ had convinced people that government could be good or something.”
    “The only thing you can ever do is you can be very specific about what the show is saying. You can’t force people to hear the message or to react to it in any specific way,” he continues. “I don’t know whether people engage with the show purely comedically, or whether they engage with it spiritually, or academically, or whatever. I don’t think you can ever hope to control that. You can only say, ‘Here’s the thing: now it’s yours. You can react to it however you want.’ And we certainly have hopes that that’s true, but I don’t think there will ever be a meaningful way to gauge that.”
    Harper, however, offers anecdotal evidence to suggest otherwise.
      “I remember this one time there was a woman on a train who recognized me from the show, and we started crying,” he says. “I feel like there’s a real desire for people to see other people being good to each other, especially where we’re at right now in the country where it just doesn’t feel like that’s happening very much.”
      “It gives you hope that this is something that is possible, that there’s someone out here that’s thinking about these things, and putting it on television for people to watch.” Harper adds. “It must be comforting for people to know that people like Mike Schur exist.”

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      Jia Tolentino: I like to write about instincts that are in some way good and in some way dangerous’

      Hailed as the Joan Didion of our times informed, funny and fearless the New Yorkers Jia Tolentino is making sense of the world one essay at a time

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      Until recently, one of New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentinos best-kept secrets was that she spent the summer of her 16th year filming a reality show called Girls v Boys: Puerto Rico. A cheerleader then, she got permission from her school, which was situated in the middle of a Texan megachurch so large they called it the Repentagon, by telling them shed be a light for Jesus, but on television. An essayist who explores what its like to live right now, no now, remains, at 30, rebellious and contradictory in ticklish ways.

      For example, a person of the old world might not expect, when meeting the best young essayist in the world, to find her in denim cut-offs scrolling Instagram behind a Brooklyn caf. They might not expect a woman who grew up an evangelical Christian to write a piece that links the weightless grace of coming up on ecstasy to that of kneeling in church, in words like epiphany and glory. They might not expect a piece about the challenging year she spent in Kyrgyzstan to be headlined: I Joined the Peace Corps to Keep From Becoming an Asshole. She treats all her subjects (recent essays include anti-abortion propaganda and the internet trend of fans begging celebrities to kill them) with equal care and precision, and such academic tenderness that the reader barely notices their mind being changed after reading her interview with a woman whod had a late-term abortion, she received emails from pro-lifers rethinking their stance; hers are essays that talk to young women about old problems and old men about young memes. And they might not expect, in our interview of an hour-and-a-half, for the Joan Didion of our time (New York Magazine) to use the word like 1,035 times.

      She has left her dog at home, which is sad. Luna is the size of eight dogs and appears often in her stories as comic relief. Usually, Tolentino works with Luna at her feet and talks to her as she picks her way through the rubble of an idea. She knows what she wants to write about when, I feel some sort of chemistry with the subject. The bar for me is when its interesting enough that I would talk about it on my own time. One example is womens optimisation, the project of getting better at being a woman which, in her new book Trick Mirror she investigates through chopped salad, her previous job at feminist website Jezebel, very expensive leggings, and Virgils Aeneid.

      To read it as a person like me, brought up on girl power and the slogans of mainstream feminism, is to be stimulated and awakened to the small domestic truths of life. I like to write about modern instincts that are in some way good. And also in some way dangerous. She explores millennial issues with two hands, because, Maybe this things totally ridiculous, but also, secretly important. I enjoy those extremes.

      Its easy to write about things as you wish they were, wrote Zadie Smith of Trick Mirror. Its much harder to think for yourself, with the minimum of self-delusion. Its even harder to achieve at a moment like this, when our thoughts are subject to unprecedented manipulation, monetisation and surveillance. One way Tolentino manages this is by offering one idea, then cracking it open to reveal a series of alternative ideas, Russian doll-like within. Her work, Smith added, filled me with hope.

      Yep. And not just because of the kindness with which she approaches ideas, especially ideas we are used to seeing framed in black and white, but because the subjects she writes about today are the same subjects she once blogged about at Jezebel. What were once niche, womens magazine themes pop stars, beauty products, sex and rage are now, in the New Yorker, mainstream, and recognised as valid topics for study. This is not the old world any more.

      Jia
      Ive had the same personality since I was three years old. Really independent. Really social. But, also, really combative: Jia Tolentino. Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein/The Observer

      A lot of the book is about the thing versus the representation of the thing, she explains. For instance, love versus the representation of it in a wedding. In the essay I Thee Dread, she writes that despite having been invited, with her long-term boyfriend, to 46 weddings in nine years, her apathy towards them has grown. How much harder, she asks, would it be for straight women to accept the reality of marriage if they were not first presented with the fantasy of the wedding?

      She remains fixated on the thing versus its representation, which means promoting (representing) her book (the thing) has become increasingly difficult. A hardback book feels awkward to her she likes to describe herself as just a blogger. Shes been blogging since she was 10 (Im going insane! I literally am addicted to the web! she wrote on her Angelfire site in 1999), but the just is sly her education in journalism at Jezebel was invaluable: a unique chance to learn how to fuck up on the internet. We would see these great waves of disapproval and anger and morality. With an uncommon amount of freedom to negotiate it. She thrives on such tensions.

      It wasnt just to keep from becoming an asshole that she joined the Peace Corps in 2010, it was to test her limits. I wanted to be in the middle of nowhere and go nuts and see what its like. Tolentino arrived inKyrgyzstan just as the government was overthrown. She was evacuated. She got active tuberculosis. Kyrgyzstan is a place where bride kidnapping still happens; she was sexually harassed by her host father she was sexually harassed a lot, in part, she thinks, because with her Filipino parentage she happens to look Kyrgyz. Every day I was seesawing between extremes of transcendent lonely happiness and crushing despair.

      Kyrgyzstan borders China, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. And the feel is very strange. Like, I had no running water in my village, but they sold cookies shaped like iPhones. Nothing made sense, you know? The cookies feel like some kind of metaphor for her work, the meeting of fast and slow, a mind that has been brought up online turning its lens inward, to analyse the internet itself she is particularly fascinating when writing about the online performance of identity, analysing the ways she has benefited from, for instance, the internets sticky focus on opinion. But my brain moves slower and shes already run ahead. I think thats one thing that growing up in the church did to me I love being uncomfortable. It is so… interesting.

      In 2016 she wrote an essay called How Empowerment Became Something for Women to Buy. I hated that word, she shudders, yet at the same time, I knew my entire career was possible because feminism was marketable now.

      How does she feel about becoming part of the feminism industry? I think about it a lot. If something is more fun to represent than to experience, then you should avoid it. Its the same way with the feminism marketplace: if something is more commodified than it is true, you should avoid it. Some amount of bullshit is endemic and inevitable, and I participate in it, and I benefit from it. The way I resolve it is to make myself uncomfortable enough to be aware of what is only bullshit.

      You know what annoys her? Books about badass women in history. She groans very loudly. The whole girlboss realm, actually. Anything that is treating the magnification of a personal brand, or the acquisition of wealth as the ultimate prize, is just fully out the window. The way those books treat little girls as if theyre generic? I get sent so many self-help books that are about like, perfectly imperfect, badass feminists that dont give a fuck, but then the fuck is bleeped out? You know what I mean?

      The thing is, we have more freedom available to us than ever before, and yet theres a cartoon-like image of what that looks like as if all women want to do is to be on stage wearing a bold matching suit and a strong lip shouting AM I RIGHT? She screeches this at a high pitch and a stranger jumps. Shouting: A guy called me baby on the street, but Im not a baby! and everyones like, YASSSS

      What I havent mentioned, among earlier descriptions of Tolentinos essays, is that they are extremely funny, partly because she characterises herself affectionately as a sort of dummy stoner, leading with fizzy enthusiasm, rather than her Yale-earned learnedness. It seems like were shrinking towards a lowest common denominator of what the ideal feminist is. And the things that I like, maybe, are the things that dont have this feeling of sameness and oneness.

      The idea of the problem with oneness is something she elaborates on when discussing #MeToo. The thing that bothered me about it, was how this totally accidental hashtag design has shaped our understanding of an incredibly important moment. The problem with the metoo hashtag was that it said, to express solidarity with someone, you need to meet them at the point of maximum shared vulnerability. The internet flattened it, and erased the important differences in these womens lives. Which seemed to be both well intentioned, and also, a misuse of our new freedoms.

      One of which is the right to be heard. People are like, Womens voices are silenced. Which might be true. And at the same time, is less true. For example, Christine Blasey Ford she was absolutely listened to and still dismissed. I want the discussion to meet the exact situation, which is changing so quickly. Its not simply, Women are silenced it is something possibly much worse. I take a drink of water. We both do.

      The work of explaining complicated problems in a tumultuous time is wearying. Last week, I was really down. I forgot that I get stressed out when I write about sexual assault. She had written about the latest rape accusations against Trump. Its like when you wake up after getting drunk, and youre like, Wow, Im not hungover. And then at 5pm youre like, Im dead. It comes around the back and shakes you. In a recent interview, she was asked, Do you feel defeated? She was shocked. The reporter was like, Well, you dont propose any solutions to things. But I often feel that knowledge is useless. I dont write with the hope of making an impact, because the world is too confusing right now. But that actually makes me feel free in writing you just try your best. And I think that needs to be the philosophy I adopt about life in general. To that reporter she wanted to explain that its possible to write an argument without neatly tying it up with a simple conclusion. She smiles her cheerleader smile again, twinkling with contradiction. I hate the obligatory epilogue.

      Recently, Tolentino watched Girls v Boys: Puerto Rico for the first time. I found it agonising. But also comforting, because I was the same. Having stumbled upon the audition at a local mall, she writes of the chance encounter: I like this story better than the alternative, and equally accurate one, which is that Ive always felt that I was special and acted accordingly. Its true that I ended up on reality TV by chance. Its also true that I signed up enthusiastically, felt almost fated to do it.

      Watching the show, she realised, she tells me, that to be on reality TV, you must have a fixity. Ive had the same personality since I was three. Really independent. Really social. But, also, really combative. Like all iconic reality contestants, shes not here to make friends. When she got back in touch with fellow contestants, one remembers her as contradictory, even under the blaze of the cameras. You were like, he told her, I dont want to get famous for this bullshit. I want to get famous for writing a book.

      Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino (4th Estate, 14.99) is out now. Buy it for 13.19 at guardianbookshop.com

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