Wednesday, 27 March 2019

New Heights of Virtue-Signalling

It's A Circus Merry-Go-Round

OK, it's true.  We can't help it.  Once again the office has been echoing with deep, rich belly laughter. 

We suspected that as a result of New Zealand's ban on civilian's possessing certain automatic and semi-automatic rifles some folk would engage in virtue signalling.  Within twenty-four hours up steps a prime candidate--in this case the managing director of a company offering Kiwi Saver schemes.  Here is the screed:
Sam Stubbs, managing director of Simplicity, urged other providers to get rid of all weapons investments quickly.  "The law now bans ownership of semi-automatic guns in NZ, but allows KiwiSaver managers to fund the companies that make them.

"KiwiSaver managers should get rid of their investments in weapons quickly. It's the right thing to do, and easily done."  [NZ Herald]
First up, there are a whole host of firearms which the NZ Government does not see fit to ban.  They remain firmly in the hands of many New Zealanders--and rightly so.  So, if Stubbs really wants to do the right thing--by which he means having an investment policy which is consistent with the government's new gun policy--he will ensure that Simplicity's investments include businesses which manufacture, distribute, and sell non-automatic and some semi-automatic guns.  It's a simple thing to do and easily done, non?

But Mr Stubbs has not thought too far on this issue it would seem.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

More Racial Hatred in New Zealand

Church Vandalised With Racist-Graffiti

Gisborne Catholic Church St Mary's Star of the Sea Abused

Katie Fitzgerald

Staff at a Gisborne church are cleaning up race-based graffiti that was written overnight.

Staff at the church are displeased by the vandalism, after discovering it on a side of the church that faces the road.

"F**k your religion, f**king stupid white ass bitch ass n***as. This is our f**king land, Māori til I die bitch. F**k pakeha," the graffiti said.

A priest Newshub spoke to asked for any publication of the photograph to be heavily censored due to the language.  He said the church had contacted the police about the tagging and it will be gone soon.

Graffiti left outside a Gisborne Catholic Church.
Graffiti left outside a Gisborne Catholic Church. Photo credit: Supplied.

A member of the public Newshub spoke to said they noticed the graffiti while they were dropping children off at school on Thursday morning.  "It just really makes my blood boil and to put that basically at the school, my sons learnt quite a few new words now and I find that disgusting."

Two catholic schools are nearby, St Mary's Catholic Primary School and Campion College.  Police confirmed it was notified of the graffiti at that location on Thursday morning and officers attended the scene just before 9am.

Daily Meditation

Tracing the Development of Sin

You will be like God” (Gen. 3:5). This was the original temptation, the archetypal seduction aimed at our first parents by the Serpent. Created as vice-regents with dominion over the earth, Adam and Eve wanted more. They reached for autonomy, stretching greedy arms toward the throne of God, only to fall headlong into the abyss of evil.
Expulsion from Eden was their fate. They could not go back. Paradise was lost. An angel with a flaming sword stood guard at the gateway to the garden. This is the first reference in Scripture to a weapon of any sort. Before God gave the “power of the sword” to men, He gave it to the angel to patrol and guard the border west of Nod.
With the fall came a rapid expansion of sin. One son of Adam and Eve murdered his brother, introducing fratricide to human history. Then came Lamech, who celebrated warfare in his famous “sword song” (Genesis 4:23-24). Man used his nascent technology to turn the tools of farming into implements of war. The plowshare became a sword, and the call to subdue the earth was distorted into a conspiracy to conquer one’s brother. The means of production became the means of destruction, and human technology and scientific discovery were used not to honor God but to assault Him, by attacking His creation and His image-bearers.
Then God said no to the expansion of corruption and brought the flood, a storm of judgment upon the earth, a deluge to clean the planet.

Coram Deo

How is the first temptation, “You will be like God,” evident in temptations you have faced or are facing? What should be your response?

Passages for Further Study

Silly Bookseller

Pathetic Paternalism

It's a sad day for lovers of free speech.  Whitcoull's, one of the last remaining bookshop chains in New Zealand, has reportedly removed from sale Jordan Peterson's book,  12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.  Apparently, Whitcoull's senior management has decided that it must treat its customers with extreme, stifling protection, lest they be provoked, woke, or otherwise discombobulated by a grown up book. 

Thanks, Whitcoull's for saving our souls.  We needed you to have our corner, our backs, and our minds.  We deeply appreciate your protection and paternalistic oversight.

Now, it is alleged that your motivation for this bizarre decision had something to do with public safety:
"Unfortunately 12 Rules for Life is currently unavailable, which is a decision that Whitcoulls has made in light of some extremely disturbing material being circulated prior, during and after the Christchurch attacks," Whitcoulls says in an email.

"As a business which takes our responsibilities to our communities very seriously, we believe it would be wrong to support the author at this time. Apologies that we're not able to sell it to you, but we appreciate your understanding."  [Newshub]
For our part, we reject your paternalistic "wokedness".   Last time we checked, 12 Rules has not been condemned by the Chief Censor.  That would be bad enough.  But to have you take the role of "mini-censor" over the public's self-responsibility, and self-governance is unconscionable.

As Jane Austen's  Mr. Knightley would have declaimed, "Badly done!"

Monday, 25 March 2019

"Athelas" It Ain't

Cross-Sex Hormones Trigger Major Heart Problems

Transgender activists hurry to deny and hide these crucial scientific findings. Almost makes you think they only care about pushing a political agenda.

Jane Robbins
The Federalist

The Western world is engaged in a massive and almost unregulated experiment on children and young adults. As gender dysphoria—the feeling of being trapped in a body of the opposite sex—takes hold and ramps up, physicians such as the notorious Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy are administering medical treatments that can literally ruin young people’s lives.

These doctors assure desperate patients and families (and a gullible press) that the medical interventions are safe. But the wall of silence about the true consequences is developing cracks.

The transgender activist lobby is ever vigilant to suppress research findings that conflict with their claims, or at least to intimidate dissident researchers into silence. This occurred recently when Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University published a study suggesting a psychological rather than physical basis for Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD)—when a teenager suddenly decides he or she is actually of the opposite sex.

Appropriately cowed, Brown quickly withdrew publicity for the study. But more research on related issues is seeping out, and activists may find themselves in a game of whack-a-mole that greatly compromises their credibility.

One medical intervention provided by physician allies of the transgender lobby is off-label administration of puberty blockers to children so their bodies won’t experience the normal maturation process. But this treatment has already been exposed for its dangerous side effects and irreversibility. Now the other primary non-surgical intervention—administration of cross-sex hormones (estrogen to gender-dysphoric boys, testosterone to gender-dysphoric girls)—is coming under scientific fire.

In January, researchers from the Netherlands published a study finding that therapy with cross-sex hormones can substantially increase the risks of acute cardiovascular events like heart attacks, strokes, and deep vein thrombosis.

Daily Meditation

Setting Your Schedule

Use your leisure time for pursuits that are life-enriching. Reading is a valuable use of time. Augustine once advised believers to learn as many things as possible, since all truth is God’s truth. Other avocations that are enriching are in the area of the arts. I also enjoy working crossword puzzles to warm up the little gray cells and expand my vista of verbal expression.
Find ways to cheat the “sandman.” My habit has been to retire between 8 and 9 p.m. when possible and rise at 4 a.m. This has affected a wonderful revolution for my schedule. The early hours of the day are free from distractions and interruptions, a marvelous time for study, writing, and prayer.
Use driving time for learning. Driving a car is a mechanical function that allows the mind to be alert to more than what is happening on the roadway. The benefits of recordings can be put to great use during these times.
Finally, in most cases, a schedule is more liberating than restricting. Working with a schedule helps enormously to organize our use of time. The schedule should be a friend, not an enemy. It helps us find the rhythm for a God-glorifying, productive life.

Coram Deo

If you do not have a schedule, make one and use it for the rest of the week, then evaluate how it helped you redeem time. If you already have a schedule, take some time to review it and pray about your priorities.

Passages for Further Study

The "White Nationalist" Connections

More on Tarrant's Manifesto

Jane Coaston, writing in Vox, argues that there is a clear connection in the language used on the part of the Christchurch mass murderer, on the one hand, and "white nationalist" writings around the world. 

An argument has been made that because the mass murderer endorsed Communist China, something other than white nationalism must be at play.  Coaston argues that this is not the case, implying that the "shout out" to Communist China in his manifesto is a distraction from his central themes. 

Here is the shortened version of Coaston's piece which takes a wider, contextual view of what Brenton Tarrant has written in his so-called Manifesto:

There is a lot we don’t yet know about what motivated the 28-year-old man charged with murder in a shooting that killed 50 people and injured at least 50 others in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
But his writings suggest that the white nationalist ideas behind violence and attempted violence in the United States and elsewhere influenced him deeply.  The shooter reportedly left behind a 74-page manifesto. It’s the kind of document instigators of mass violence often write to inspire copycat attackers (which is why I chose not to link to it).
Still, the document is worth understanding in context. There are throughlines in the manifesto that are similar to the ideas described by other shooters or those who have attempted shootings in recent cases in the United States and around the world.
In February, a “white nationalist” Coast Guard lieutenant in Maryland was accused of planning attacks on members of the media and left-leaning politicians. (The attacks may have been stymied because of his web searches related to drugs and violent extremist acts.) The Christchurch shooter and the Coast Guard lieutenant used similar language, made similar references, and most disturbingly, revered the same people for their use of horrific violence in the furtherance of white nationalism.

A word on terrorist manifestos

The reason it’s important to both understand the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto and refuse to spread its contents without context is that a manifesto is a published and public declaration of intent or belief — and the critical term to remember is “public.” The Christchurch shooter wrote his manifesto with the clear intention of it being shared widely after he committed an act of mass murder.
That means that historically, terrorist manifestos have never been accurate documentation of either their belief system or the planning that went into their attacks. The main intention of terrorist manifestos is not to help everyday people understand how they became terrorists — it is to create new terrorists.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Persecution of Christians the New Normal

Media Silence Surrounds Muslim Massacre of Christians

Thomas Williams
Breitbart News

Political leaders and public figures were falling over themselves this weekend to condemn the mosque attacks in New Zealand, while dozens of Christians were slaughtered by Muslims in Nigeria to the sound of crickets.

The mosque attacks were indeed a horrific affair and worthy of universal condemnation. Presidents, prime ministers, royalty, and religious leaders rushed to extend their condolences to victims and their families — as well they should — while decrying the hate that purportedly motivated the shootings.
Without exception, the mainstream media gave top billing to the shootings, with newspapers carrying the story on their front pages and television news channels leading off their broadcasts with the story.

The bizarre aspect of the coverage was not, in fact, the attention paid to a heinous crime committed in New Zealand, but the absolute silence surrounding the simultaneous massacre of scores of Christians by Muslim militants in Africa.

As Breitbart News alone reported among major news outlets, Fulani jihadists racked up a death toll of over 120 Christians over the past three weeks in central Nigeria, employing machetes and gunfire to slaughter men, women, and children, burning down over 140 houses, destroying property, and spreading terror.

Daily Meditation

Beating the Clock

I have learned a few tricks to help me beat the clock. They may be helpful to you.
I realize that all my time is God’s time and all my time is my time by His delegation. God owns me and my time. Yet, He has given me a measure of time over which I am a steward. I can commit that time to work for other people, visit other people, etc., but it is time for which I must give an account.
Time can be redeemed by concentration and focus. One of the greatest wastes of time occurs in the human mind. Our hands may be busy but our minds idle. Likewise, our hands may be idle while our minds are busy. Woolgathering, daydreaming, and indulging in frivolous fantasy are ways in which thoughts may be wasted in real time. To focus our minds on the task at hand—with fierce concentration—makes for productive use of time.
The mind can redeem valuable time taken up by ordinary or mechanical functions. For example, the mechanics of taking a shower are not difficult. In this setting, the mind is free for problem solving, creative thinking, or the composition of themes. Many of my messages and lectures are germinated in the shower. When I used to play a lot of golf, I found that the time I had between shots was a great time for composing messages in my mind.

Coram Deo

Be conscious of where you focus your mind today. Try to redeem valuable time consumed by ordinary and mechanical functions by thinking of things of eternal value.

Passages for Further Study

It Could Have Been Us . . .

Standing With Muslims

Much has been made of Brenton Tarrant's hatred of Muslims--a hatred that was so extreme, he just had to murder fifty men, woman and children just to make sure everybody got his depraved point.

But why this hatred of Islamic folk?  Is it because they worship on a Friday--thereby, unsettling Jews and Christians who worship on a different weekly holy day?  Or is it because Muslims prostrate themselves on the floor when worshipping, and Christians do not?  Or is it because they separate men and women in public worship, whereas Christians do not (although orthodox Jews do)? Or is it because Islamic women wear scarves, despite the fact millions of Christian women replicate the practice? 

None of the above.  In his manifesto, we are told, Tarrant hates Muslims because of their fecundity and large families.  It violates, he explains, the fundamental necessity of reducing the human population which threatens the ecosystem.  In order to save the planet Tarrant thinks Muslim families should be attacked and killed because there are just far too many of them with large families.

Friday, 22 March 2019

What Is the Right Narrative When It Comes to Mr Tarrant?

Brenton Tarrant: Eco-Fascist & Climate-Change Warrior?

"The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China."  Brenton Tarrant.

New Zealand shooter appears to have more in common with radical environmentalists than ‘right-wingers’

Steven Mosher

March 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – When a terrorist shouts “Allahu akbar” while running over pedestrians with a truck, it is reasonable to assume that he is engaging in an act of Islamic terrorism.  And when Brenton Tarrant, the man who shot up two mosques in Christchurch, writes of his admiration for Communist China and calls himself an “eco-fascist,” one should take him at his word.

Most of the media isn’t, preferring to label him a “right-wing extremist” or “white nationalist.”

But this characterization bears almost no resemblance to Tarrant’s twisted thoughts, which we know in some detail from his 73-page “manifesto.”  In those pages, written only weeks before his deadly rampage, he summed up his political philosophy by saying:
Conservatism is corporatism in disguise.  I want no part of it. … The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China.
Does that sound like something a “right-wing extremist” would say?

Daily Meditation

Redeeming Your Time

Time is the great leveler. It is the one resource that is allocated in absolute egalitarian terms. Every living person has the same number of hours to use in every day. Busy people are not given a special bonus added on to the hours of the day. The clock plays no favorites.
We all have an equal measure of time in every day. Where we differ from one another is in how we redeem the time allotted. When something is redeemed, it is rescued or purchased from some negative condition. The basic negative condition we are concerned with is the condition of waste. To waste time is to spend it on that which has little or no value.
The late Vince Lombardi introduced the adage, “I never lost a game; I just ran out of time.” This explanation points me to one of the most dramatic elements of sports—the race against the clock. The team that is most productive in the allotted time is the team that wins the game. Of course, in sports, unlike life, there are provisions for calling timeout. The clock in a sports contest can be temporarily halted. But in real life, there are not timeouts.

Coram Deo

Ask God to reveal ways you can redeem time that is being wasted on things of little or no value.

Passages for Further Study

More Questions and Possible Answers

A Further Attempt to Understand The Ideology of Brenton Tarrant

What was the motivating ideology of the Christchurch mass murderer?  It's hard for folk living in NZ to work it out, since Brenton Tarrant's "manifesto" is now under wraps, as they say.  It remains an open question as to how much of Tarrant's ideology will become public through the trial process.  

At this point more information is available to folk overseas.  Robert J. Delahunty is a professor of law at the University of St Thomas in the United States and has taught Constitutional Law there for 15 years.  He rejects the concept "white nationalist" as applied to Tarrant.  Here is his attempt to understand Tarrant's ideology:

Thursday, 21 March 2019

The Next Iteration

Did the New Zealand Shooter Change the Cultural Script?

By David French
National Review Online

In livestreaming the massacre, he may have created the next innovation in the mass-killing contagion.
As the number of massacres mounts, the best explanation for the never-ending stream of copycat killers, both here and abroad, remains the one articulated by Malcolm Gladwell in his seminal article on school shootings, called “Thresholds of Violence.” Essentially, he argues that each mass shooting lowers the “threshold” for the next, and inspiration matters — a lot.

Gladwell’s focus was on school shootings, and he does an effective job of demonstrating the way the Columbine killers laid down a “cultural script” for subsequent school shooters. In fact, subsequent shooters often imitated the Columbine killers so much that their own shootings were essentially “versions” of the Columbine attack.

If you translate this analysis to the horrific New Zealand massacre, you can see similar patterns emerge. The New Zealand suspect allegedly called out previous mass shooters, such as the Charleston church shooter, and even apparently went so far as to pay tribute to mass killers by name on his magazines, including the Quebec mosque killer. Note that two of the individuals he highlighted slaughtered innocent people in houses of worship. To an extent, his crime was a version of theirs.

But here’s the thing that is even more disturbing than the simple, horrifying fact that this depraved man killed 49 people. Here’s the thing that’s more disturbing than his apparent copycat killing: He livestreamed the act, and in so doing he not only made millions of people direct witnesses to the slaughter, he may well have created the next innovation in the mass-killing contagion. He may well have written a new cultural script.

Of course the New Zealand killer is not the first person to film his own horrible crime.

Daily Meditation

Using Your Time Productively

When I was a child in elementary school, people often asked me, “What is your favorite subject?” Invariably my response was one of two things. I either said, “recess” or “gym.” My answer revealed my deepest predilections. I preferred play to work. Indeed, my nascent philosophical musing regarding the cosmic “Why?” questions took place as I made a game of walking to school via tiptoeing along a long path, pretending I was a high-wire walker in a circus.
I asked myself the meaning of life wherein I had to spend five days a week doing what I didn’t want to do just so I could play on the weekends. I was always at the schoolyard a full hour before school began—not out of a zeal for getting a head start on my studies, but so I could “redeem” the daily grind by having an hour’s worth of fun on the playground before the school bell rang. For me, time redemption meant rescuing precious minutes of play from the required hours of work.
I’ve come to realize that when the apostle Paul exhorted his readers to “[redeem] the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16), my practices are not exactly what he had in mind. His was a solemn call to the productive use of one’s time in the labor of Christ’s kingdom. 

Coram Deo

Do you use your time productively for the kingdom of God?

"Pity is Treason"

The Jacobins and Their Influence Upon the West

The term Jacobin refers to an extreme political radical.  The Jacobins were part of a political club in Paris, established in 1789.  They were both ruthless and radical.  They took over the French Revolution and were responsible for the Reign of Terror where hundreds of thousands of people were killed, many via execution.

The Jacobins have been imitated by many  in following centuries.  Philosopher John Gray provides a brief description and summary:
The Jacobins form the clearest link between medieval millenarians and twentieth-century revolutionary movements.  The French reign of terror was more than an 'aristocide' of the privileged classes.  As would be the case later in Bolshevik Russia, the largest numbers of casualties by far were common people. . . . Around a third of the population perished in the region, where the methods of repression used by the revolutionary forces included burning crops, razing villages and mass drowning. 

The human cost of the French Revolution runs into hundreds of thousands of lives.  Producing leaders such as Maximilien Robespierre, who as a member of the Committee for Public Safety orchestrated the execution of around 20,000 enemies of the Revolution in Paris and was himself guillotined in 1794, the Jacobins acted on the maxim--formulated by Robespierre himself in a speech to the National Assembly--"Pity is treason."  [John Gray, Seven Types of Atheism (London: Penguin/Random House UK, 2018),  p.78.]
Alexis de Tocqueville points out that the Jacobins and the French Revolution became a new kind of religion.  Like Islamism, "it inundated the earth with soldiers, apostles and martyrs".  Gray adds that the Jacobins adopted their own secular forms of worship; they offered a glorious future life in an imaginary earthly paradise. 

In the twentieth century they were followed and imitated by Fascism and Communism. 

The modernist world sowed to the wind.  It inherited the whirlwind.  We are still living with the consequences.  It is not too far a stretch to see the Christchurch mass-murderer as a latter day Jacobin in action.  Robespierre's curse is still  bearing its poisoned fruit: "pity is treason". 

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Trans-Gender Ideology Draws on Gnosticism

The Ancient Heresy Driving Modern Identity

Identity is a hot topic.
Since the 1960’s, the western world has been rocked by different movements around identity. Different groups—especially disenfranchised minority groups—have pushed their identity-based agendas. Women have demanded equal pay for equal work. People of colour have fought for equality under the law. And LGBTI people have demanded rights and freedoms they saw as missing.
But over the last decade, ‘identity’ has only become more politicised, and more controversial. Identity politics has moved from the fringes of society to the mainstream. Queer theory and its radical view of gender and sexuality has moved from the ivory tower to the public-school classroom.
And so, it’s not surprising that the New York Times Magazine declared 2015 as ‘The Year We Obsessed Over Identity’. (Although that obsession didn’t end in 2015).
And so, what’s driving many of the modern secular views of identity?
While there are many streams flowing into the river of modern identity, one stream is quite old. Ancient, in fact.
It’s called ‘Gnosticism’ (from the Greek ‘gnosis’, meaning ‘knowledge’). It was common in the ancient Greco-Roman world of the 1st century, but it hasn’t disappeared. It influenced Christianity—especially in the early centuries—and was rightly recognised as a heresy—a distortion of the truth.
Surprisingly, it’s still influencing so many of our modern views of identity. Psychiatrist and Christian author Glynn Harrison writes:
According to theologian N.T. Wright, ancient Gnosticism has surged to become a ‘controlling myth’ of our age…[I]n the Gnostic worldview, the material world is essentially evil…As a result, all the so-called ‘natural’ distinctions in the world—for example the difference between male and female, or the notion of there being a natural order to human sexual relations—are at best illusory and at worst corrupted deceptions. All the belongs to the ‘outer’ world of society and religion, indeed the outer world of your own body. It’s all irrelevant and deceptive.’ [1]
In other words, the external world of physical gender, and a ‘natural order’ to sexual relations—these are all imagined and untrue.
Here are 4 features of Gnosticism, which is influencing modern secular views of identity:

Daily Meditation

Experiencing Transformation

We are all born with the same malady. Love for God and affection for Christ are not natural to us. Before we can love God, something must happen to us. Our hearts of stone must be changed into hearts of flesh, hearts that pulsate with new life and new affection for God. When one speaks of being “born again,”he is speaking of his change of heart.
When God quickens us from spiritual death, when He regenerates us by His Holy Spirit, He does radical surgery on our hearts. He turns the stone into living tissue. To be converted is to gain a new disposition, a new inclination, a new bent to our hearts. Where formerly we were hostile, cold, or indifferent to God, now we are warmly attracted to Him.
To be a Christian is to be a new person. We have undergone a transformation that is rooted in the heart.
The more we know of God, the greater is our capacity to love Him. The more we love Him, the greater is our capacity to obey Him. Our new affection, however, must be made to grow. We are called to love God with our whole hearts. The new heart of flesh must be nurtured. It must be fed by the Word of God. If we neglect our new hearts, they too can undergo a kind of hardening. They will not revert once more to a total heart of stone, but they can get a bit leathery.
The new heart is the creation of the Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit is working within us to yield His fruit. As our hearts are more inclined to God, so the fruit of His Spirit is multiplied in our lives. Unregenerate people can perform external acts of righteousness, but no man with a heart of stone can yield the authentic fruit of the Spirit.
Our sanctification is a matter of the heart. It is a process that flows from intimate fellowship with God. Jesus summarized the matter by showing the link between love and law: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

Coram Deo

The more you know God, the greater is your capacity to love Him. How well do you know Him? Your obedience or lack thereof reflects the answer to this question.

Passages for Further Study