Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Useful Deceits

The Short Answer is No

The "Climate Change" catastrophe has become boring.  It's hard for folk to maintain a sense of deadly danger, as if perpetually perched on the edge of a cliff, adrenaline pumping through twitchy veins, whilst a maw of jagged rocks below awaits our flailing descent.   That kind of fear cannot be sustained.  Exhaustion quickly follows.  

So it has come to pass that the world finds itself exhausted over the "catastrophe" of climate change.  To be sure, the climate isn't helping us.  There's plenty of ice at both polar caps.  Temperatures are all over the place.  Meanwhile life goes on.

We are now entering the theatrical phase of the fight against anthropogenic global warming.  Governments all around the world are reduced to going through the motions of trying to get rid of carbon dioxide.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Appeals to Pity Are Deceptive

Legalise Euthanasia, and Compassionate Society Dies Too

Paul Kelly
The Australian

If you love your parents, respect your children, care for your society and think compassionately about your world then it is time to open your heart and brain to what happens when a jurisdiction legalises killing or, as it is called, euthanasia.

The justification for euthanasia lies in human rights, individual autonomy and relieving pain — all worthy ideas, and that may prompt the question: why then is euthanasia still opposed by most nations, most medical professional bodies around the world and the Australian Medical Association?

The reason is not hard to find. It is because crossing the threshold to euthanasia is the ultimate step in medical, moral and social terms. A polity is never the same afterwards and a society is never the same. It changes forever the doctor-patient bond. It is because, in brutal but honest terms, more people will be put at risk by the legislation than will be granted relief as beneficiaries.

Daily Meditation

The Divine Presence Takes Many Forms

TO GENIA GOELZ: On the reality of our individuality in the body of Christ; and on the five sources of discernment: the scripture, the church, Christian friends, books, and meditation.

C. S. Lewis

20 June 1952

Thanks for yours of the 10th. I would prefer to combat the ‘I’m special’ feeling not by the thought ‘I’m no more special than anyone else’ but by the feeling ‘Everyone is as special as me.’ In one way there is no difference, I grant, for both remove the speciality. But there is a difference in another way. The first might lead you to think, ‘I’m only one of the crowd like anyone else’. But the second leads to the truth that there isn’t any crowd. No one is like anyone else. All are ‘members’ (organs) in the Body of Christ [I Corinthians 12:27]. All different and all necessary to the whole and to one another: each loved by God individually, as if it were the only creature in existence. Otherwise you might get the idea that God is like the government which can only deal with the people as the mass.

About confession, I take it that the view of our Church is that everyone may use it but none is obliged to. I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit guides your decisions from within when you make them with the intention of pleasing God. The error would be to think that He speaks only within whereas, in reality, He speaks also through Scripture, the Church, Christian friends, books et cetera.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Imperial Pretensions Withering On the Vine

Light Up Ahead

Ever since we read Bernard Connolly's The Rotten Heart of Europe: The Dirty War For Europe's Money [London: Faber and Faber, 1995] we have been anticipating the dissolution of the "European Project".  Therefore, when Brexit finally became mandatory by plebiscite, we saw brighter lights ahead.  It is possible that gradually the various Europe will eventually repent of their thraldome to idolatrous humanitarianism and humble themselves before God once more.

In the meantime, Brexit is having immediate consequences in the United Kingdom.  The teeth of the European Court of Human Rights have been summarily pulled out.  The extraction has meant that the growing restrictions upon Christian work and worship in that country are in the process of being removed.  It seems as if no longer will Christians standing on street corners preaching the Gospel be arrested and accused of "hate speech".  Free speech looks like it is making a gradual comeback.

At periods of history when a nation turns away from the Living God, whom it once feared and loved, the road to redemption and restoration can appear overwhelming.  Faithful Christians, sons of the prophets--if you will--can be downcast at the sheer size of the task.  Where to begin?  What to do?  In such times, we have been often reminded of Robert Frost's Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
There appeared no prospect for rest ahead.   Then, when something like the Brexit vote occurs, prospects are immediately brighter and the journey does not appear so long and unending.  That is not to imply that the task of national Reformation is any small matter.  It will take several, if not more, generations of faithful preaching, teaching, and action.

But the challenges and issues are now local.  It was not the gnomes of Zurich but the gargoyles of Brussels and Strasbourg we feared, issuing dicta and promulgating judgements, so far removed, so untouchable, yet so sweeping and destructive.  How could the ordinary citizens of the UK redress and resist such imperial pretensions?  Now, all that has gone--at least in principle.

The ramifications stretch even way down to the Antipodes.  We read recently--with a merry chuckle--of the plans already being made for the UK and New Zealand to enter into a bilateral free trade agreement.
(REUTERS) – Britain and New Zealand agreed on Monday to set up regular trade policy talks to help push for greater global trade liberalisation and reform as Britain leaves the European Union, trade minister Liam Fox said.  Britain, which voted to leave the bloc in June, is keen to court countries outside the EU on trade, but cannot formally agree any deals until it has left the bloc, a process which will take at least two years from when it starts divorce talks.

“In leaving the EU, we have the opportunity to drive even greater openness and put Britain at the forefront of global trade,” Fox said in a statement after meeting New Zealand’s minister of trade, Todd McClay.  “This new trade policy dialogue reflects a strong political commitment from New Zealand and the UK to take the lead in pushing for greater global trade liberalisation and reform and I look forward to working closely with them.” [Breitbart London]
In some ways, a little thing.  In others, a harbinger of the magnum of the Brexit plebiscite.  Maybe, historians will eventually come to cast Brexit as the Second Glorious Revolution.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Jesus and His People Showed Up

I Thought Planned Parenthood Protected Family Values

Rosaria Butterfield
July 21, 2015

I was 11 years old when Roe v. Wade (1973) gave women a constitutional right to abortion. My parents told me a story to help me understand this momentous event.

Here was the content: a member of my family, whom I loved, once used her own knitting needles to abort a baby she knew she couldn’t afford to feed.

Here was the meaning: we were practical, hard-working Italians, and nothing was going to hinder us from achieving the American Dream for each and every family member.

This was a story of heroism. The woman was a matriarch who knew how to take control of her own womb, a loving mother who knew poverty and starvation were far worse than death before birth. This was also a story of a nation. Our country was advancing in its high regard for women, leaving the barbaric days of back-alley abortions and welcoming one where medical care came to the aid of heroic women like my beloved relative.

Grip of Old Family Values 

This was one of the first times I remember history folding into future and holding me solidly in the grip of family values: we were a progressive family, and even our unschooled ancestors showed the grit and goodness of the progressive ideas we knew were best.

My family member was not a feminist. Although long dead, she would not want to be remembered this way. She was a poor woman abused by her husband and trapped by a life with too many children to feed. I was taught that the right to choose came to the aid of all women, but especially poor ones.

For most of my childhood and early adulthood, the name “Planned Parenthood” conjured feelings of safety and security.

Daily Meditation

Always Glorying in Christ
"Babes in Christ." 1 Corinthians 3:1

Charles H. Spurgeon

Are you mourning, believer, because you are so weak in the divine life: because your faith is so little, your love so feeble? Cheer up, for you have cause for gratitude.

Remember that in some things you are equal to the greatest and most full-grown Christian. You are as much bought with blood as he is. You are as much an adopted child of God as any other believer. An infant is as truly a child of its parents as is the full-grown man. You are as completely justified, for your justification is not a thing of degrees: your little faith has made you clean every whit. You have as much right to the precious things of the covenant as the most advanced believers, for your right to covenant mercies lies not in your growth, but in the covenant itself; and your faith in Jesus is not the measure, but the token of your inheritance in him.

You are as rich as the richest, if not in enjoyment, yet in real possession. The smallest star that gleams is set in heaven; the faintest ray of light has affinity with the great orb of day. In the family register of glory the small and the great are written with the same pen. You are as dear to your Father's heart as the greatest in the family. Jesus is very tender over you. You are like the smoking flax; a rougher spirit would say, "put out that smoking flax, it fills the room with an offensive odour!" but the smoking flax he will not quench. You are like a bruised reed; and any less tender hand than that of the Chief Musician would tread upon you or throw you away, but he will never break the bruised reed.

Instead of being downcast by reason of what you are, you should triumph in Christ. Am I but little in Israel? Yet in Christ I am made to sit in heavenly places. Am I poor in faith? Still in Jesus I am heir of all things. Though "less than nothing I can boast, and vanity confess." Yet, if the root of the matter be in me I will rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the God of my salvation.

Amidst a Scientific Wreck

The Lone and Level Sands Stretch Far Away

We have noted before on this blog that evolutionism is in a shambles.  We have now reached the stage where a considerable number of highly respected biologists are quietly distancing themselves from Darwinist theories.  They don't have an alternative.  Only questions.  

This phenomenon is typical when a reigning scientific paradigm is going through the process of being dismantled by evidence (or, in Darwinism's case, the lack of it).  Questions arise out of research that are embarrassing to the scientific establishment because they "don't fit".  Former proponents of the paradigm hunker down, go quiet, get about their work, and say nothing.  They become nominal evolutionists--that is, evolutionists in name only.  Meanwhile the remaining ardent advocates of the paradigm embarrass themselves in the eyes of their colleagues.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Slope Is Slippery Indeed

The Death Cult

Netherlands Wants to Legalise Assisted Suicide for Healthy People who Feel their ‘Life is Complete’

Breitbart London
Nick Hallett

The Dutch government has announced plans to legalise assisted suicide for people who simply feel they have “completed life”, but are not terminally ill.  The country’s health and justice ministers said in a letter to parliament this week that people who “have a well-considered opinion that their life is complete, must, under strict and careful criteria, be allowed to finish that life in a manner dignified for them.”

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise assisted suicide in 2002, but only for people who were diagnosed as terminally ill.  The Mail reports that at the moment, someone wishing to die must submit a request to a doctor who must agree they are either terminally ill, suffering “unbearably” or, more controversially, suffering mentally.  An ethics committee will then make a decision, usually within a week.

Increasing numbers of Dutch people suffering mental illness are asking doctors to help them take their own lives, with assisted suicides now accounting for four per cent of the country’s annual mortality rate.

Daily Meditation


TO Mrs. JESSUP, who seems to have written Lewis about the difficulties of being in a marriage in which one of the spouses is a Christian and one is not: On the slow process of being remade and how difficult we must be to live with after conversion as before; and on not concealing but not flaunting our conversion.

C. S. Lewis

15 October 1951

I agree with everything you say (except that I should publish anything on the subject: a bachelor is not the man to do it—there is such an obvious answer to anything he says!).

Our regeneration is a slow process. As Charles Williams says there are three stages: (1.) The Old Self on the Old Way. (2.) The Old Self on the New Way. (3.) The New Self on the New Way.

After conversion the Old Self can of course be just as arrogant, importunate, and imperialistic about the Faith as it previously was about any other interest. I had almost said ‘Any other Fad’—for just as the loveliest complexion turns green in a green light, so the Faith itself may have at first all the characteristics of a Fad and we may be as ill to live with as if we had taken up Nudism or Psychoanalysis or Pure Wool Clothing. You and I, clearly, both know all about that: one makes blunders.

About obedience, the principle is clear. Obedience to man is limited by obedience to God and, when they really conflict, must go. But of course that gives one very little guidance about particulars. The converted party must pray: I suppose it is not often necessary to pray in the presence of the other! Especially if the converted party is the woman, who usually has the house to herself all day. Of course there must be no concealment, in the sense that if the question comes up one must say frankly that one does pray. But there is a difference between not concealing and flaunting.

For the rest (did I quote this before?) MacDonald says ‘the time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.’ Let you and me pray for each other.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Medicinal Cannabis

Unintended Consequences

Medicinal cannabis is a hot topic.  Some see it as the thin edge of the wedge.  It may or may not be the case.  It all depends upon the compliance regime surrounding it.  After all, opiates have been prescribed by medical practitioners for years--centuries in fact.   "Prescription only" does not mean widespread use of a drug for recreational or non-medicinal usage.

We remain ambivalent about the long term effects of general (non-medical) cannabis use.  Different positions--all claiming to be research based--have been put forward.  The spectrum ranges from allegations of "no harm done" to allegations of significant damage.  But the medicinal applications appear clear cut.

Here is one example:

Friday, 21 October 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Whole Boot

Douglas Wilson

All right, since disclaimers here are most necessary, I will make them. I believe that I have repeatedly made it clear that I am not in Trump’s corner, and am not going to vote for him. If Hillary is elected, America will have successfully avoided stepping in the dog poo. If Trump is elected, America will have successfully avoided stepping in the cow pie. We are merely talking about the about the bottom of the shoe versus the whole boot. Humanly speaking, we don’t have good options, and we should all know it.

But here is the problem. Consider Trump’s ongoing claim that the system is “rigged,” and his failure last night to commit to abide by the election results. That all depends, sez he. The response of the buttoned-up right to this attitude is the spectacle of quite a number of analysts with their dresses over their heads. And this reveals that they still don’t have a clue as to why Trump’s message is resonating with as many people as it has.

Now I am trying to explain something here, which is not the same thing as trying to plump, push, puff, or otherwise promote it.

There are two elements to this.

Daily Devotional

Fear and Hope in God’s Jealousy

The LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14)

John Piper

God is infinitely jealous for the honor of his name, and responds with terrible wrath against those whose hearts should belong to him but go after other things.

For example, in Ezekiel 16:38–40 he says to faithless Israel,
I will judge you as women who break wedlock and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. And I will give you into the hand of your lovers and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber . . . they shall strip you of your clothes and take your fair jewels, and leave you naked and bare. They shall bring up a host against you and cut you to pieces with swords.
I urge you to listen to this warning. The jealousy of God for your undivided love and devotion will always have the last say. Whatever lures your affections away from God with deceptive attraction will come back to strip you bare and cut you in pieces.

It is a horrifying thing to use your God-given life to commit adultery against the Almighty.

But for those of you who have been truly united to Christ and who keep your vows to forsake all others and cleave only to him and live for his honor — for you the jealousy of God is a great comfort and a great hope.

Since God is infinitely jealous for the honor of his name, anything and anybody who threatens the good of his faithful wife will be opposed with divine omnipotence.

God’s jealousy is a great threat to those who play the harlot and sell their heart to the world and make a cuckold out of God. But his jealousy is a great comfort to those who keep their covenant vows and become strangers and exiles in the world.

Demons From An Ancient World

Western Fundamentalism

The noun fundamentalism has become a pejorative term.  In the West it has connotations of ignorant, uneducated, and of ancient and extreme beliefs, along with simplistic, superficial, and thoughtless lifestyles. "Fundamentalism" does not have a direct opposite.  If one were to complete the sentence, "I am not a fundamentalist, I am a(n) xxxxx" no noun springs to mind.  Maybe nouns such as "liberal" or "progressive", or adjectives such as "openminded" or "enlightened" or "sophisticated" or "educated" would go part of the way.  Fundamentalism, for good or ill, has now become inextricably linked to backwardness and primitive ignorance.

In Western Christian circles "fundamentalism" was a term coined by authentic Christians around the nineteen thirties.  It was a movement to identify the fundamental doctrines and teachings of the Bible in the face of widespread and rapid defalcation away from the true faith.   However, because the culture was quickly shape-shifting into Unbelief, the term quickly became one of contempt.  In the wonderfully enlightened scientific age, who would believe in ex-nihilo creation by God any longer, since Science "proved" all reality came into existence by chance.  And so it rolled.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

A Year of Redemption?

The Problem is Spiritual, Not Political

2016 has been a disaster and the future looks bleak. The first thing we must do is repent for our part in getting the country here.

By David French
National Review Online

It’s time for compassion, but it’s also time for hard truth. While there are a number of influential Evangelicals who have tied themselves so closely to Trump that they now feel obliged to publicly excuse the inexcusable, there are millions more who look at the present political situation with abject despair in their hearts. The true limits of Evangelical political power have been revealed, Christians seem to lose another critical political or cultural battle every week, and there is simply no clear political path forward.

Even worse, we have no one truly to blame but ourselves.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Daily Devotional

Not Moving From Where We First Stood

"With thee is the fountain of life."  Psalm 36:9

Charles H. Spurgeon

There are times in our spiritual experience when human counsel or sympathy, or religious ordinances, fail to comfort or help us. Why does our gracious God permit this?

Perhaps it is because we have been living too much without him, and he therefore takes away everything upon which we have been in the habit of depending, that he may drive us to himself. It is a blessed thing to live at the fountain head. While our skin- bottles are full, we are content, like Hagar and Ishmael, to go into the wilderness; but when those are dry, nothing will serve us but "Thou God seest me."

We are like the prodigal, we love the swine-troughs and forget our Father's house. Remember, we can make swine-troughs and husks even out of the forms of religion; they are blessed things, but we may put them in God's place, and then they are of no value. Anything becomes an idol when it keeps us away from God: even the brazen serpent is to be despised as "Nehushtan," if we worship it instead of God.

The prodigal was never safer than when he was driven to his father's bosom, because he could find sustenance nowhere else. Our Lord favours us with a famine in the land that it may make us seek after himself the more. The best position for a Christian is living wholly and directly on God's grace--still abiding where he stood at first--"Having nothing, and yet possessing all things." Let us never for a moment think that our standing is in our sanctification, our mortification, our graces, or our feelings, but know that because Christ offered a full atonement, therefore we are saved; for we are complete in him.

Having nothing of our own to trust to, but resting upon the merits of Jesus--his passion and holy life furnish us with the only sure ground of confidence. Beloved, when we are brought to a thirsting condition, we are sure to turn to the fountain of life with eagerness.

Miles to Go

Secular Winds . . . and Whirlwinds

New Zealand is a proudly secular country.  In this it is not alone: most Western countries either share the vanguard with us, or are fast followers in the drive to work out the secularist mantra: "Man is the master of all things, and nothing human is foreign to me". 

The seedlings of secularism began in the Enlightenment, but have since grown into mighty trees. There are no chainsaws in sight.  The forest is now in full bloom, and the fruits of secularism are ripening.  But some are starting to complain that the taste of the fruit is a bit off.

Once we were able to see the blue sky.  Once we could see the sparkling lights of the Milky Way.  Now there is just the close, fetid air of Fangorn.  The secularist state has become our father, our mother, our nursery, our sustainer and provider, our Great White Hope.  The state has become our grand insurance policy, and, as Neddie Seagoon once observed, insurance is the White Man's Burden.

What does the secularist regime actually look like, metaphors aside?

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Not a Laudable Religion

Greenists Would Have Us Subdued and Enslaved by Nature

The Truth About Polar Bears: They’re a Dangerous, Out of Control Pest…

James Delingpole
Breitbart London

Polar bear populations are getting out of control and posing a threat to human lives. Obviously the greenies don’t want you to know this.

Last month in  Tuktoyaktuk in Canada, on the edge of the East Beaufort Sea, five children were terrified out of their lives by the extremely rare sight of a polar bear roaming through their village. The bear was so close they could hear it breathing.

At first, the other kids didn’t believe their cousin when she said a polar bear was nearby. And then they started running — and so did the “ever big” polar bear.  “That polar bear started running towards them,” said Kikoak. “And one of my twins, she was maybe about six feet away from the stairs [of the house], but she was so in shock to see that polar bear, she was just standing there looking at it. And it didn’t move. It kept on staring at her.”

Daily Devotional

The Master Servant

. . . so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)

John Piper

To me, the Bible’s most astonishing image of Christ’s second coming is in Luke 12:35–37, which pictures the return of a master from a marriage feast:
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.”
To be sure, we are called servants — and that no doubt means we are to do exactly as we are told. But the wonder of this picture is that the “master” insists on “serving” even in the age to come when he appears in all his glory “with his mighty angels in flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:7–8). Why?

Because the very heart of his glory is the fullness of grace that overflows in kindness to needy people. Therefore, he aims “in the coming ages [to] show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

What is the greatness of our God? What is his uniqueness in the world? Isaiah answers: “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4, RSV).

An Idiot In Search of Fame

On A Ship of Fools

We in New Zealand were treated recently to a right, royal display of hypocritical tomfoolery.  One of our political representatives has taken the cake for hypocritical cant.

Said representative, Green MP Marama Davidson has been taken to task in an opinion piece in one of our daily newspapers.  The occasion was Davidson's trotting off to Israel to protest that country's application of international law in patrollingl its seas to protect itself from water borne attacks by Islamist mujaheddin.

Now, it does not need too much intelligence to sense just the slightest whiff of hypocrisy here.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

By Far The Leading Cause of Death

The Biggest Killer Of All

Paul Stark

Abortion ends the life of a human organism—an individual member of the species Homo sapiens. Yet abortions are not classified as deaths in U.S. vital statistics. What would those statistics look like if this omission were corrected?

A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte decided to find out.

“There is no credible scientific opposition to the fact that a new genetically distinct human organism begins with fertilization,” James Studnicki, Sharon J. MacKinnon, and John W. Fisher explain in their paper, published in June 2016 in the Open Journal of Preventive Medicine.  “Yet, despite the universal acknowledgement that the act of abortion results in a death, abortion is not reported as a cause of death in the vital statistics system in the United States. … The exclusion of a major cause of death …, especially one with large racial and ethnic disparities, should be a major concern to the scientific community and society as a whole.”

So the researchers, using data from 2009 (the latest year for which all the relevant information is available), considered abortion among other causes of death. They found that induced abortion was by far the leading cause of death (1.152 million deaths), easily surpassing heart disease (599,413 deaths) and cancer (567,628 deaths) and accounting for 32.1 percent of all deaths that year. Disturbingly, among African Americans, abortions made up 61.1 percent of total deaths; among Hispanics, they accounted for 64 percent.

Daily Devotional

Cavilling Objections

C. S. Lewis

I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His sufferings and death lose all value in their eyes, ‘because it must have been so easy for Him’. Others may (very rightly) rebuke the ingratitude and ungraciousness of this objection; what staggers me is the misunderstanding it betrays. In one sense, of course, those who make it are right. They have even understated their own case. The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God. But surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them?

The teacher is able to form the letters for the child because the teacher is grown-up and knows how to write. That, of course, makes it easier for the teacher; and only because it is easier for him can he help the child. If it rejected him because ‘it’s easy for grown-ups’ and waited to learn writing from another child who could not write itself (and so had no ‘unfair’ advantage), it would not get on very quickly.

If I am drowning in a rapid river, a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life. Ought I to shout back (between my gasps) ‘No, it’s not fair! You have an advantage! You’re keeping one foot on the bank’? That advantage—call it ‘unfair’ if you like—is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Enrolling in the School of the Prophets

The Dervishes of Baal

As we have mentioned before these are great times for satirists to practise their art.  There is so much folly, so much lunacy, so much self-righteous poppy-cock masquerading as wisdom that Elijah would be rolling around on the floor, laughing fit to bust.

It is high time for Elijah to come again.  The Scriptures give some interesting insight into Elijah and his successors.  Elijah, of course, was the Lord's prophet who spent much of his ministry denouncing the established religion of Northern Israel--Baalism--during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel.  A good deal of his work involved excoriating the worship of Baal and the wickedness of King Ahab and his Phoenician queen.  The high point of his ministry was the contest on Mount Carmel and the subsequent defeat and destruction of Baal's prophets--much to Jezebel's fury. [I Kings 18:20ff] Elijah mocked the false prophets mercilessly as they proved to be,  not just impotent and powerless, but also liars and deceivers.

Fast forward to the day of the Lord.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Triumphalism Wearing Thin

Electoral Oblivion Beckons

Further commentary on the growing popular disaffection with Progressivism in the West, from Yahoo News.

Brutal Headwinds Blast Europe's Centre-Left

London (AFP)
James Pheby

Bitter internal strife, plunging support among voters and surging populism: has there ever been a worse time to be a centre-left party in Europe?  A dozen years ago, left-of-centre giants seemed a natural source of government in many European states.  But today the tally of parties that are declining, sidelined or ideologically adrift is long.

The sick list is headed by Britain's Labour Party, where veteran radical Jeremy Corbyn last week easily won a leadership challenge by centrist MPs angry at his part in the shock Brexit vote.  But political analysts say the venerable party -- founded in 1900 -- faces electoral oblivion despite his victory.  Its dismal standing in the opinion polls is mirrored across Europe.

Daily Devotional

The Christian's Path of Sorrow

"Godly sorrow worketh repentance."  2 Corinthians 7:10

Charles H. Spurgeon

Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature's garden. Pearls grow naturally in oysters, but penitence never shows itself in sinners except divine grace works it in them. If thou hast one particle of real hatred for sin, God must have given it thee, for human nature's thorns never produced a single fig. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh."

True repentance has a distinct reference to the Saviour. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon sin and another upon the cross, or it will be better still if we fix both our eyes upon Christ and see our transgressions only, in the light of his love.

True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man may say he hates sin, if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin, not merely as a theory, but experimentally--as a burnt child dreads fire. We shall be as much afraid of it, as a man who has lately been stopped and robbed is afraid of the thief upon the highway; and we shall shun it--shun it in everything--not in great things only, but in little things, as men shun little vipers as well as great snakes. True mourning for sin will make us very jealous over our tongue, lest it should say a wrong word; we shall be very watchful over our daily actions, lest in anything we offend, and each night we shall close the day with painful confessions of shortcoming, and each morning awaken with anxious prayers, that this day God would hold us up that we may not sin against him.

Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. This dropping well is not intermittent. Every other sorrow yields to time, but this dear sorrow grows with our growth, and it is so sweet a bitter, that we thank God we are permitted to enjoy and to suffer it until we enter our eternal rest.

The Mystery of Capital

Of Course!

We have just completed reading Hernando De Soto's The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (New York: Perseus/Basic Books, 2000.)  It is a seminal piece of work and deserves wide readership.

De Soto's thesis can be summarised in a series of seven propositions (which he sets about establishing in the book).

1.  The existence of capital is inextricably related to establishing a system of legal title for property.

2. Once legal title is established, property can be transformed into other forms of wealth.  Land to which one has legal title, for example, can be used as collateral for a bank loan.

3. Long before a system of legal title is established in a country or state, an informal system of ownership usually exists which recognises (amongst the participants) a person's title to property.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Religious Right Is Dead. 

Long Live the Religious Right.

Douglas Wilson

In the ongoing aftermath of the ever-generous fiasco that we call the Trump campaign, Russell Moore wrote that if Donald Trump has accomplished anything of value, it is that he has snuffed out the religious right. The first half of his piece says a lot of things that are pertinent, trenchant, on the mark, and otherwise okay.

I believe, with Moore, that this particular disaster-on-stilts is what we might call a “teachable moment.” It is filled with lessons we must learn if Trump goes down in flames, and with very similar lessons if Hillary does. But it is by no means assured that we have learned, are learning, or will learn those lessons.

My evidence for this is the second half of Moore’s post, and so I propose we take a brief walking tour through his comments.
“There is good news, though, behind all of this, regardless of how this election turns out. The old-school political Religious Right establishment wonders why the evangelical next generation rejects their way. The past year is illustration enough.”
First, it is always dicey to speak for something as ill-defined as the “next generation.” But second, to the extent that we can do so, it by no means clear to me that anybody is “rejecting their way.”

Daily Devotional

Beware of Serving God

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24–25)

John Piper

We do not glorify God by providing his needs, but by praying that he would provide ours — and trusting him to answer.

Here we are at the heart of the good news of Christian Hedonism. God’s insistence that we ask him to give us help so that he gets glory (Psalm 50:15) forces on us the startling fact that we must beware of serving God and take special care to let him serve us, lest we rob him of his glory.

This sounds very strange. Most of us think serving God is a totally positive thing; we have not considered that serving God may be an insult to him. But meditation on the meaning of prayer demands this consideration. Acts 17:24–25 makes this plain.

This is the same reasoning as in Robinson Crusoe’s text on prayer: “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. . . . Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:12, 15).

Evidently, there is a way to serve God that would belittle him as needy of our service. “The Son of Man came not to be served” ((Mark 10:45). He aims to be the servant. He aims to get the glory as Giver.

The Echo Chamber

Utopian Left Wingers

Long May They Ride

We have published several posts on the desuetude of the Left in many Western countries.  We have argued that the maintenance of the "Centre Right" in government--despite all its faults and errors--is better for the Church and Christians because the Centre Right is less likely to persecute Christians.  We are more likely to be permitted to live in peace, able to serve our Lord without punishment.

The Left in New Zealand is approaching the more extreme fringes of the ideological spectrum.  Consequently, its national support has slumped to around 27 percent of the electorate, according to what is now a pretty stable polling trend.  A recent article in The Listener lamented this turn of events, even whilst many Christians are thankful.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

A Fight in the Leper Colony

Douglas Wilson


It is easy to treat the spectacle that is presidential politics in 2016 as though we were dismayed spectators, but we are not spectators at all. We are all participants. We are not watching a movie that contains a food fight in a junior high cafeteria; we are in the cafeteria. And if it is not too jarring to use the phrase casus belli about such a fracas, the causes for all of this lie deep within ourselves.dont-vote

To change my metaphor, this whole thing is a three-layer hypocrite cake.


The bottom layer is the Donald himself, the least hypocritical in this entire business. He has never made much of a secret of the fact that he is a boorish pig, and that he likes being a boorish pig, and so he at least has the virtue of largely being himself, to whatever extent that might be called a virtue. Anybody who was surprised by this recent fiasco is a person who could probably have written Gullible’s Travels in one sitting. There are traces of hypocrisy in his behavior, but for the most part Trump gained the Republican nomination as a known quantity.

This is why the feckless Republican distancing from Trump is so grimly amusing. Republicans who were reluctant to endorse Trump in the first place because of what everybody already knew are now jumping overboard because somebody produced proof of what everybody already knew. “The pope is Catholic? Talk about a bridge too far. I’m outta here.”

Now I don’t mind qualified prophets speaking a word of righteousness to Trump. He needs it, and the religious hacks he has surrounded himself with do not appear to be interested in fulfilling that duty. And the political hacks are not rats deserting a sinking ship. They are rats deserting a ship that some polls indicate might be sinking sometime soon, but there is nothing here that a few polls running the other direction couldn’t fix. If the polls run the other way, so will the rats.

Daily Devotional

On effort

C. S. Lewis

Many things—such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly—are done worst when we try hardest to do them.

From Studies in Medieval Literature
Compiled in Words to Live By Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.