Monday, 27 March 2017

Daily Meditation

Satan’s Candy Store

Since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. (1 Peter 4:1)

John Piper

First it puzzles. Did Christ have to cease from sin? No! “He committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22).   Then it clicks. When we arm ourselves with the thought that Christ suffered for us, we realize that we died with him. “He bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). When we die with him we cease to sin.

It’s just like Romans 6. “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. . . . So consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:6–711).  Peter says, “Arm yourselves with this thought!
Paul says, “Consider yourselves dead!”   The weapon for our vacation is a thought/consideration.

When the temptations of Satan come — to lust, to steal, to lie, to covet, to envy, to retaliate, to put down, to fear — arm yourself with this thought: When my Lord suffered and died to free me from sin, I died to sin!  When Satan says  to you, Why deny yourself the pleasure of lust? Why deal with the mess you could avoid by lying? Why not go ahead and get that harmless luxury you covet? Why not seek justice by returning the same hurt you received?

Answer him: The Son of God suffered (really suffered!) to deliver me from sinning. I cannot believe he suffered to make me miserable. Therefore, what he died to purchase must be more wonderful than the pleasures of sin. Since I trust him, my susceptibility to your allurements has shrivelled up and died.  Satan, be gone! My mouth doesn’t drool any more when I walk by your candy store.

Global Mischief

Truth The First Casualty

Last week we were observing a court case, sitting in the public galleries.  During one of the lengthy breaks, we had the opportunity to speak with one of the reporters covering the trial.  He was a pleasant, earnest sort of chap.  We conversed on a number of topics related to the media.

Towards the end of the conversation he informed me, sotto voce,  that he and his colleagues had been made privy to a Big Scandal.  Apparently, the buzz was that some intrepid reporter in the United States had got a hold of President Trump's tax returns, and the big reveal was about to hit the airwaves.  It was expected to be devastating to Trump.  Indeed, my informant gleefully chuckled, apparently so devastating that it would likely end his presidency.

Upon parting we found ourselves picturing a huge buzzing hive where by some mysterious process information was instantaneously communicated to "those in the know", aka the media, right around the world.  The inside goss, as it were, transmitted secretly and globally with the speed of light.

Driving home from the court that night we were foolish enough to be listening to one of the local radio stations.  The host and his guest were giggling with malicious laughter.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Life in Libertinesville

Trans Conference Celebrates Getting People Fired

You Must Not Kall Men Vomen


“I was scared to go alone to my ultrasound; so I took a friend. Throughout the procedure, the nurse kept referring to me as a ‘she’. Each time, my friend would correct her. After a while, the nurse seemed confused. ‘She’s having a baby,’ she insisted.” ‘No,’ my friend responded, ‘he’s having a baby.’ It was very upsetting. A week later, the nurse called and left a voicemail with the results of my exam. ‘His cervix and bloodwork look healthy,’ she said. I was so happy. The nurse had finally gotten it.”
This is one of the stories I heard at a recent conference on how to create a transgender-inclusive workplace culture. I went because I wanted to learn the perspective from transgender individuals personally. I also realized that if this is the workplace of the future, I would rather be prepared ahead of time than surprised later.

Daily Meditation

. . . Away To Other Subjects

 To MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On disagreeable, nasty people; and on avoiding obsessing about their bullying.

10 March 1954
C.S. Lewis

 I am sorry things are not better. I am very puzzled by people like your Committee Secretary, people who are just nasty. I find it easier to understand the great crimes, for the raw material of them exists in us all; the mere disagreeableness which seems to spring from no recognisable passion is mysterious. (Like the total stranger in a train of whom I once asked ‘Do you know when we get to Liverpool’ and who replied ‘I’m not paid to answer your questions: ask the guard’).

I have found it more among boys than anyone else. That makes me think it really comes from inner insecurity—a dim sense that one is Nobody, a strong determination to be Somebody, and a belief that this can be achieved by arrogance. Probably you, who can’t hit back, come in for a good deal of resentful arrogance aroused by others on whom she doesn’t vent it, because they can. (A bully in an Elizabethan play, having been sat on by a man he dare not fight, says ‘I’ll go home and beat all my servants’).

But I mustn’t encourage you to go on thinking about her: that, after all, is almost the greatest evil nasty people can do us—to become an obsession, to haunt our minds. A brief prayer for them, and then away to other subjects, is the thing, if one can only stick to it. I hope the other job will materialise. . . .

 I too had mumps after I was grown up. I didn’t mind it as long as I had the temperature: but when one came to convalescence and a convalescent appetite and even thinking of food started the salivation and the pain—ugh! I never realised ‘the disobedience in our members’ so clearly before Verily ‘He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it, hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart’ (or in his glands).  I shall wait anxiously for all your news, always praying not only for a happy issue but that you may be supported in all interim anxieties.

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.

Asset Forefeiture

Malleable Justice in An Atheistic World

In the United States civil forfeiture is a great evil.  Police can seize assets from citizens on suspicion of criminal wrong doing.  The assets seized usually go towards funding the police.  Not that one would ever know that's what it was used for.  Need a few more sophisticated equipment in the squad cars?  Just get out into the community and rattle a few branches.  Pick on any likely dumbos.  Seize their vehicles, houses, whatever.  Sell them off, and voila.  Leather seats in the squad cars all around.

In New Zealand, we have our own variant.  In some critical ways it is not quite as bad as the US monstrosity.  In NZ, the police can only seize assets when someone has been prosecuted and convicted of crime.  Theoretically, the only assets seized are to be those which have been garnered through crimes.

Nevertheless, the New Zealand variant of civil forfeiture has noisome aspects.  Recently one of our local rags took up the case of a guy who was convicted of being a fence, a receiver of stolen property--in particular, gold.

Friday, 24 March 2017

"I'm Gonna Cry, Cry, Cry . . . Big River"

No Soul to Damn, and No Butt to Kick

The Attorney-General Tips his Cloth Cap to Animism

Jamie Whyte
NZ Herald

It's pretty, but is it really a person? The Whanganui River. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Whanganui River has all the rights of a person under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement passed into law today.

A neighbour came over for tea last week. She became agitated and I asked what was wrong. She was furious with our lawn. It was uneven and she had almost fallen. I apologised for my poor gardening but she insisted it had nothing to do with me. Her dispute was with the ground, which she regarded as unforgivably derelict.

My neighbour is as mad as Dr Evil's father, who would "accuse chestnuts of being lazy". Thank God she doesn't have an important job, like being an MP.  Or maybe she does. Last week, our MPs unanimously passed a law declaring that the Whanganui River has all "the rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person".

Chris Finlayson, the Attorney-General, acknowledges that "some people will say it's pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality, but it's no stranger than family trusts, or companies, or incorporated societies".

Legal persons are of two kinds: we humans, known in law as "natural persons", and persons that are legal fictions, such as companies and countries. These fictional people solve legal problems that can arise when natural people act in groups.

Daily Meditation

 The Fullness of His Offering

His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."    Luke 22:24

Charles H. Spurgeon

The mental pressure arising from our Lord's struggle with temptation, so forced his frame to an unnatural excitement, that his pores sent forth great drops of blood which fell down to the ground. This proves how tremendous must have been the weight of sin when it was able to crush the Saviour so that he distilled great drops of blood! This demonstrates the mighty power of his love. It is a very pretty observation of old Isaac Ambrose that the gum which exudes from the tree without cutting is always the best. 

This precious camphire-tree yielded most sweet spices when it was wounded under the knotty whips, and when it was pierced by the nails on the cross; but see, it giveth forth its best spice when there is no whip, no nail, no wound. This sets forth the voluntariness of Christ's sufferings, since without a lance the blood flowed freely. No need to put on the leech, or apply the knife; it flows spontaneously. No need for the rulers to cry, "Spring up, O well;" of itself it flows in crimson torrents. If men suffer great pain of mind apparently the blood rushes to the heart. The cheeks are pale; a fainting fit comes on; the blood has gone inward as if to nourish the inner man while passing through its trial. But see our Saviour in his agony; he is so utterly oblivious of self, that instead of his agony driving his blood to the heart to nourish himself, it drives it outward to bedew the earth. The agony of Christ, inasmuch as it pours him out upon the ground, pictures the fulness of the offering which he made for men.

Do we not perceive how intense must have been the wrestling through which he passed, and will we not hear its voice to us? "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." Behold the great Apostle and High Priest of our profession, and sweat even to blood rather than yield to the great tempter of your souls.

It's Hard to Find a Job in New Zealand

Chattering Classes on the Wacky Backy

There is a shortage of employees in some industries in New Zealand.  The Prime Minister, Bill English stated the other day that he has been told repeatedly that one reason employers are short staffed is due to applicants failing drug tests.  The Chattering Classes, the media and left-wing political opponents, all still living in the musty back rooms of Sydney and Beatrice Webb, went all apoplectic.

Where's your evidence?  What surveys was this based upon?  Ignorant prejudice, you stupid man, etc.  The PM was quietly firm: "that's what employers have been telling me".  Once consequence is that employers are ending up giving jobs to immigrants, who, for some inexplicable reason, don't spend their lives smoking weed and P.  They actually want to work.

One media outlet broke away from the pack.  Stuff reported:
A Hamilton-based farm recruitment agency is backing Prime Minister Bill English's claims that Kiwi workers' inability to pass drug tests are why overseas workers are needed.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Darkness of the Soul

Dutch Champion Legal Murder

Thomas Williams
Breitbart London

A Dutch physician who had family members restrain a struggling woman so she could administer a lethal injection has been cleared of wrongdoing by a review board.

Without consulting the patient, the doctor put a sleep-inducing drug into the woman’s coffee in order to give her the injection, but then the woman woke up and reportedly “fought desperately” to free herself. At this point, family members were summoned to hold the woman down so that the procedure could be completed.

The woman, who was in her 80s and suffered from dementia, had signed an advance directive to be killed “at the right time” though she had not ratified the request recently. According to case documents, she occasionally exhibited “fear and anger” and several times had been found wandering around the nursing home where she was living.

Medical records revealed that the patient had said “I don’t want to die” several times in the days leading up to her death, yet the doctor chose not to speak with her about her earlier request to receive euthanasia.

Daily Devotional

When All Things Are Possible

"Strong in faith."  Romans 4:20

Charles H. Spurgeon

Christian, take good care of thy faith; for recollect faith is the only way whereby thou canst obtain blessings. If we want blessings from God, nothing can fetch them down but faith. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God's throne except it be the earnest prayer of the man who believes.

Faith is the angelic messenger between the soul and the Lord Jesus in glory. Let that angel be withdrawn, we can neither send up prayer, nor receive the answers. Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth and heaven--on which God's messages of love fly so fast, that before we call he answers, and while we are yet speaking he hears us.

But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we receive the promise? Am I in trouble?--I can obtain help for trouble by faith. Am I beaten about by the enemy?--my soul on her dear Refuge leans by faith. But take faith away--in vain I call to God. There is no road betwixt my soul and heaven. In the deepest wintertime faith is a road on which the horses of prayer may travel--aye, and all the better for the biting frost; but blockade the road, and how can we communicate with the Great King?

Faith links me with divinity. Faith clothes me with the power of God. Faith engages on my side the omnipotence of Jehovah. Faith ensures every attribute of God in my defence. It helps me to defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march triumphant over the necks of my enemies. But without faith how can I receive anything of the Lord? Let not him that wavereth--who is like a wave of the Sea--expect that he will receive anything of God!

O, then, Christian, watch well thy faith; for with it thou canst win all things, however poor thou art, but without it thou canst obtain nothing. "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

Armchair General

Hager the Horrible Strikes Again . . . 

And Embarrasses Himself

We have this chap in NZ who is a left-wing conspiracy-theorist who sees all kinds of plans and stratagems issuing forth from corrupt plutocrats to hold the world in their thrall.  Nicky Hager is an embarrassment to himself in many ways.  But, then again, there are those who regard him as St Nickolas, convinced that were he to attempt it, he would walk on water, No Worries. Each to his bias, we suppose.

The media love him because they adore headlines and notoriety generates them faster than anything else.  Sensation will trump hard news every time. Here is the first breathless account from a NZ Herald sensationalist, presenting Hager's account of a fight in Afghanistan conduced by the NZ SAS.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Truth Telling

Who Can You Trust on the Persecuted Church?

The Barnabas Fund

Suddenly the world has woken up to the fact that not everything out there on the internet is true. The latest buzz word is “fake news”. Yet the sad truth is that even in the Christian world we frequently see news reports about persecuted Christians that either refer to events long ago as if they have just happened, or are greatly exaggerated, or in some cases simply untrue. There are still urgent prayer request emails circulating about the imminent capture of the Christian town of Qaraqosh in Syria by Islamic State (IS). In fact, Qaraqosh fell to IS in August 2014.  

There are also stories which appear deliberately designed to deceive Christians, such as an email prayer request currently circulating which claims that 20 churches have just been burnt down by Buddhist extremists in the Indian province of Olisabang – there is no such place – and that the extremists intend in the next 24 hours to destroy another 200 churches and to kill 200 missionaries. This story first surfaced early in 2010 and reappeared again (sometimes with a denial) in May 2012, April 2015, and April 2016.  

The impact of these stories reflects the new ability of millions of people to publish their own stories and comments on internet blogs. As a result, anything circulates, from a mischievous “joke” to subtle disinformation planted with the intention of deceiving millions and perhaps affecting national and international actions at the highest level. The impact is also due to a significant change in how Western society views “truth”. Until recently the strong influence of Judaeo-Christian values meant that telling the truth was just that – telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Now, in a post-modern world, truth has changed.

Daily Meditation

Why We Must Hold Fast Our Hope

John Piper

When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:17–18)
God is not inconsistent. He does not exert himself with promises, and oaths, and the blood of his Son simply to anchor down one end of our security while leaving the other to dangle in the air.  The salvation Jesus obtained by his blood was everything it takes to save his people, not just part of it.

So we are prone to ask, Why does the writer encourage us to hold fast to our hope (verse 18)? If our holding fast was obtained and irrevocably secured by the blood of Jesus, then why does God tell us to hold fast?

The answer is this:

  • What Christ bought for us when he died was not the freedom from having to hold fast but the enabling power to hold fast.
  • What he bought was not the nullification of our wills as though we didn't have to hold fast, but the empowering of our wills because we want to hold fast.
  • What he bought was not the canceling of the commandment to hold fast but the fulfillment of the commandment to hold fast.
  • What he bought was not the end of exhortation, but the triumph of exhortation.
  • He died so that you would do exactly what Paul did in Philippians 3:12, “I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” It is not foolishness, it is the gospel, to tell a sinner to do what Christ alone can enable him to do, namely, hope in God.

So I exhort you with all my heart: reach out and take hold of that for which you have been taken hold of by Christ, and hold it fast with all his might.

Politically Correct Treasury Mandarins

A Slur Too Far

Guest Column
Chattering Class Member

Columnist, Rodney Hide has had the gall to criticise one of the great ones amongst us.  The current head of the Treasury (sometimes called a gnome)  Gabriel Makhlouf  has deigned to spend a bit of his precious time and thought to consider the vital welfare of business and commerce in New Zealand.  

Here is an  image of the august personage.  [Please refrain, if possible, from involuntary genuflecting.]

Makhlouf has no such concerns. The government takes his pay and expenses each week out of ours and from all that we spend. Photo / Supplied

Now Mr Hide should know better.  It is a violation of the fundamental order of nature for someone of Mr Hide's stature to criticise a Great One.  But what can you do when our society, for some reason known only to itself, would allow criticism by one so stunted as Mr Hide against a personage so august and gnomish as Mr Makhlouf.
I was not at all astonished to hear Treasury head honcho Gabriel Makhlouf trumpeting diversity.  Diversity has become the new thing among the Wellington and Auckland power elite. It's nice sounding, impossible to be against and demonstrates great virtue. You can be old, white, male, bureaucratic but blowing the diversity trumpet makes you the solution, not the problem.
Diversity!  What could the great one be on about?  And why would plebian Mr Hide dare to raise his critical reedy voice?

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Star Chamber Back in Business

BBC mocks Christian MP for keeping Lent

It would be hard to imagine the BBC mocking a Muslim MP for keeping Ramadan. Yet last week the actions of a Christian MP were questioned and even mocked on television because she came straight to parliament from a Church service marking the start of the Christian fasting period of Lent.

Carol Monaghan the SNP MP for Glasgow North West came straight from an Ash Wednesday service, where traditionally a small ash cross is marked on the forehead, to a parliamentary committee. When a colleague asked what was on her forehead her explanation was met with the protest “but this is going to be broadcast”. As The Spectator put it:  
“To her credit, she kept her ashes intact, explaining: ‘I think they just thought I didn’t want to be embarrassed – but I was not going to rub it off. Many religions have visible symbols and Christians should not feel any embarrassment in either practising their religion or in the public display of religious symbols.’

Had the matter ended there, we might lament the discourtesy shown to the Glasgow MP and move on. Instead, the BBC ran a story about Monaghan’s forehead on its website under the breathless headline: ‘MP Carol Monaghan “not embarrassed” about display of Christian faith’. The BBC Politics Facebook page posted a picture of Monaghan wearing her ashes and asked its followers: ‘Was it appropriate for this MP to go to work with a cross on her forehead?’”

In fact, the BBC article even questioned whether it was legal for Mrs Monaghan to publicly display a cross on her forehead in her workplace i.e. parliament.

Daily Meditation

On Humility

C. S. Lewis

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in Words to Live By 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. 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.

The Rictus Maw of Robespierre's Children

Enslaving Hearts and Minds 

France has a long history of bloody repression when it comes to any and all who resist its dogmas.  Liberty, equality and fraternity belong only to those who salute the government and say, "Yes, sir!"  It is regarded as one of the most illiberal countries in Europe, with only the church standing in its way. 

This official intolerance or jihad against its opponents can be seen in recent moves taken with respect to aborting babies.  Those who do not comply with the state's pogrom against the innocent and insistence that mothers have a human right to kill their unborn, face a proverbial guillotine.

The Crime of Obstructing Abortion
Gregor Puppinck
European Centre For Law and Justice

The Senate has just adopted a bill of law which extends once more the definition of the crime of obstruction to abortion. Despite the fact that it has been amended, is still deeply liberticidal. Indeed, it extends the crime of obstruction to “any means” of communication and to “moral and psychological pressures (…) against people seeking information on a voluntarily termination of pregnancy”.  [Emphasis, ours]

This wording prohibits [any person] making available any information on abortion, even true, as soon as they are likely to exercise a moral and psychological pressure on any person who seeks information on abortion.

Monday, 20 March 2017

An Ecumenism of the Trenches

A Great Development

Rod Dreher describes a bottom-up ecumenicity amongst Christians which has been emerging in the United States.

A generation ago two conservative Christian leaders—Evangelical Chuck Colson and Roman Catholic Richard John Neuhaus—launched an initiative called Evangelicals and Catholics Together. The idea was to foster better relations between Christians in two church traditions that had been mutually suspicious. Colson and Neuhaus realized earlier than many that the post-1960s cultural changes meant that conservative Evangelicals and orthodox Catholics now had more in common with each other than with liberals in their own church traditions. They called their kind of partnership, born in part out of pro-life activism, an “ecumenism of the trenches.”

Times have changed, and so have some of the issues conservative Evangelicals and Catholics face. But the need for an ecumenism of the trenches is stronger than ever.

Daily Meditation

The Triumph Is Sure

Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. (Isaiah 25:3)

John Piper

Isaiah sees the day coming when all the nations — representatives from all the people groups — will no longer be at odds with Yahweh, the God of Israel and his Messiah, whom we know to be Jesus.

They will no longer worship Bel or Nebo or Molech or Allah or Buddha or utopian social programs or capitalistic growth possibilities or ancestors or animistic spirits. Instead they will come in faith to the banquet on God’s mountain.  And they will have the veil of sorrow removed and death shall be swallowed up and the reproach of God's people will be removed and tears shall be gone forever.

That's the setting for understanding the vision of verse 3: “Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.” In other words God is stronger than the “strong people” and he is so powerful and so gracious that in the end he will turn ruthless nations to revere him.

So the picture Isaiah gives us is one of all nations turned to God in worship, a great banquet for all the peoples, the removal of all suffering and grief and reproach from the nations who have become his people, and the final putting away of death forever.

This triumph is sure because God is doing it. Therefore we can be certain of it.

Not one life spent in the cause of world evangelization is spent in vain. Not one prayer or one dollar or one sermon or one letter of encouragement mailed or one little light shining in some dark place — nothing in the cause of the advancing kingdom is in vain.

The triumph is sure.

Miracles in the Amazon

The Deepest Magic of All

It was encouraging to see the BBC giving space to one of the great missionary and martyr stories of the late twentieth century.

Killed for Christ in the Amazon
22 February 2017 Last updated at 01:45 GMT

In January 1956, five American Christian missionaries were brutally killed by members of a remote Amazonian tribe.

The missionaries had made contact with the Auca, or Huaorani tribe a year earlier, in an attempt to convert them to Christianity.  A small nomadic tribe, the Huaorani were notoriously suspicious of outsiders.

Valerie Shepard’s father, Jim Elliot, was one of the five men on the mission into the jungle.  She spoke to Witness about her father’s death and how she learned to forgive his killers.
The video available in the link gives more detail.  This event and the subsequent development of the Waodani people along with their response to the Gospel of God is one of the great missionary stories of the Church.

We read recently a follow up book by Steve Saint, a son of one of the martyrs, entitled The End of the Spear.  It is an enthralling and God-honouring account.  The video below gives startling insight into what has happened to the Waodani over the years.  There is a sense in which these things are not of this world, yet in another sense they are the foundations of the earth which shall not be moved.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About Writing and Writers)

A Duck-billed Platitude

Douglas Wilson

I have often said that I write for the same reason that dogs bark. Ah, someone might reply, but why do you write the way you do? There are two ways to describe this “way” of writing, the first using words like zest, verve, color, and manly courage, and the second being a detailed description of a couple of dogs yapping endlessly at midnight. If I wanted, I could turn this into a Mobius paragraph if I simply moved on to describe those dogs with zest, verve, color, and manly courage. But I forbear.

Like all writers, the voice I now have grew and developed over the years, meaning that it wasn’t here when I started. But that is not the same thing as saying that it wasn’t present in any respect. Long before I knew how to do it, I was profoundly attracted to those writers who did know how to do it. I know that this began at least by my time in high school, and there were probably stirrings of it earlier.

I grew up surrounded by Christian literature. My father ran Christian bookstores. My parents subscribed to Christian magazines. Missionary newsletters were constantly around. And the problem was that one of the presenting characteristics of evangelical writing was that it brought to mind visions of vast acres of vanilla tapioca.

Lewis was the first great writer I was acquainted with, and that started early on.

Daily Meditation

Pride As Competitor

C. S. Lewis

If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?’ The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree.

Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive—is competitive by its very nature— while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.

Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. . . . . Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.

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.

Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos

An Essential Heritage And Sacred Trust

Over recent months we have been gradually working through The English and Their History, by Robert Tombs.  [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.]  It is proving to be an excellent read.

While modern representative government, underpinned by the constitution of Great Britain, has taken centuries to develop, Tombs argues that from very early on the nation of England was synonymous with representative bodies meeting and advising the king.  It turns out that government via representatives of the people is not a novelty at all.

In the two hundred years following Alfred the Great (roughly 900 to 1100AD) a precursor to modern representative government was practised.  According to Tombs,
There was a regular system of participation in government.

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

The Ground is Shifting

Tony Alexander, the Bank of New Zealand's Chief Economist, has written an open letter to "Millennials" who have been complaining that buying a house in New Zealand is now virtually impossible for younger people entering the work force.

It is a tongue-in-cheek piece, but as is often the case, there is an undercurrent of sober truth in it.

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says young people priced out of the market are wrong to point the finger at retirees.  He said there had been a number of structural changes that had altered what New Zealand house prices were worth.

New Zealand was no longer one big farm, he said, and shift of focus to cities had put pressure on their house prices. Another change was the relative return on and cost of property. Interest rates are now much lower than they were up to the 2000s, which affects what people will pay.

"The cost of borrowing to purchase a property has plummeted and because of this structural jump in demand for property, prices have lifted.

Daily Devotional

Like Boldly Taking Money From Our Purse

"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 2:1

Charles H. Spurgeon

Christ has grace without measure in himself, but he hath not retained it for himself. As the reservoir empties itself into the pipes, so hath Christ emptied out his grace for his people. "Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." He seems only to have in order to dispense to us.

He stands like the fountain, always flowing, but only running in order to supply the empty pitchers and the thirsty lips which draw nigh unto it. Like a tree, he bears sweet fruit, not to hang on boughs, but to be gathered by those who need. Grace, whether its work be to pardon, to cleanse, to preserve, to strengthen, to enlighten, to quicken, or to restore, is ever to be had from him freely and without price; nor is there one form of the work of grace which he has not bestowed upon his people.

As the blood of the body, though flowing from the heart, belongs equally to every member, so the influences of grace are the inheritance of every saint united to the Lamb; and herein there is a sweet communion between Christ and his Church, inasmuch as they both receive the same grace. Christ is the head upon which the oil is first poured; but the same oil runs to the very skirts of the garments, so that the meanest saint has an unction of the same costly moisture as that which fell upon the head.

This is true communion when the sap of grace flows from the stem to the branch, and when it is perceived that the stem itself is sustained by the very nourishment which feeds the branch. As we day by day receive grace from Jesus, and more constantly recognize it as coming from him, we shall behold him in communion with us, and enjoy the felicity of communion with him. Let us make daily use of our riches, and ever repair to him as to our own Lord in covenant, taking from him the supply of all we need with as much boldness as men take money from their own purse.

The Children of The Age Rise Up to Kill Themselves

The Dwarves Have Delved Too Greedily

Barbara Ehrenreich has been an advocate for the proposition that the "family is dangerous".   The idea was that the family represents a primitive social arrangement which needs radical rework by the State.

In an article in Time (July 18, 1994) she wrote:
A disturbing subtext runs through our recent media fixations. Parents abuse sons -- allegedly at least, in the Menendez case -- who in turn rise up and kill them. A husband torments a wife, who retaliates with a kitchen knife. Love turns into obsession, between the Simpsons anyway, and then perhaps into murderous rage: the family, in other words, becomes personal hell. . . . We live in a culture that fetishizes the family as the ideal unit of human community. . .
In the same article she asserted:
. . . even the ostensibly 'functional' non-violent family can be a nest of pathology and a cradle of gruesome violence.
She should know, for Ehrenreich publicly confesses to killing two of her children by aborting them.

What concerns us here was the continuing effort by Unbelief from the seventies onwards to persuade people that the family needed to be replaced.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

True Nobility

Greater Love

The account published below was posted in Patterico, by Dana.  She introduced the piece as follows:
I’ll leave you instead with the picture of a real woman whose bravery and toughness rivals that of any man. She is an honorable woman who clearly bears the marks of having known the steadfast love of a good man, has reveled in the gift that is her womb as she provides safe harbor for her baby, and, as a result of a noble sacrifice she is making, will come to know a deeper, richer meaning to life than most of us ever will:
Here is the account of a noble couple.

The other night, before I left for New Orleans, I was watching my beautiful wife sleep peacefully on the couch.

I looked at her laying there, her belly big with our daughter kicking away, a daughter that won’t live more than a few days, and it just overwhelmed me of how incredible this woman is.

Daily Meditation

I Want You to Guess

TO HILA NEWMAN, an eleven-year-old girl who had sent Lewis her drawings and a letter of appreciation for the first three Chronicles of Narnia: On Lewis’s care not to decode the Chronicles of Narnia.

C. S. Lewis

3 June 1953

Thank you so much for your lovely letter and pictures. I realised at once that the coloured one was not a particular scene but a sort of line-up like what you would have at the very end if it was a play instead of stories. The [Voyage of the] DAWN TREADER is not to be the last: There are to be 4 more, 7 in all. Didn’t you notice that Aslan said nothing about Eustace not going back? I thought the best of your pictures was the one of Mr. Tumnus at the bottom of the letter.

As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world? Think it over and let me know your answer!

Reepicheep in your coloured picture has just the right perky, cheeky expression. I love real mice. There are lots in my rooms in College but I have never set a trap. When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, ‘Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
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.

When Scepticism is Healthy

Fraud, Corruption and Business Interests

Adam Smith, the Scottish "free-trader" was deeply sceptical about the ethics of capitalists, or businessmen, or merchants.  Not that Smith fell into the ideological trap into which Marx and Engels and subsequent Marxist ideologues fell headlong.  With herd instinct, the Marxists trumpeted the moral purity of the proletariat, the working class, while they excoriated the capitalist class.  This euphoria over the moral purity of the proletariat lasted until Marxists assumed control of the regime. Then, overnight, the prols became cannon fodder, subject to oppression and torture.

Smith was more influenced by his Christian heritage.  He believed in the ubiquity of sin, greed, and selfishness, throughout all mankind, not just the capitalist or merchant classes.  His "solution" to the greed, which led to lying, deceit, manipulation, and extortion amongst businessmen and people of property, was to recognize that the free market--the free exchange of goods and services--was a wonderful discipline upon capitalists.  The reality is that capitalists hate competition for themselves, but wish it to be the grand reality for everyone else.  Smith said that if you left capitalists alone in a room for twenty minutes they would have come up with all sorts of schemes to reduce competition, control supply, and jack up prices.  In other words, they would quickly come up with schemes to defraud.  If the free market were to work properly, Smith knew that fraud in all its forms must be policed and punished.

His advice was never to trust a man of property further than you could throw him.  Self regulation of capitalist groups would always be a joke.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

UK Persecutes Christians, Part III

In 2017 the UK Resurrected Ancient Blasphemy Laws

Christian street preachers convicted for quoting the King James Bible

Barnabas Fund

Two Christian street preachers have been convicted of religiously aggravated harassment after quoting from the King James Bible when asked questions about Islam and homosexuality by hecklers. The prosecution claimed that in the context of modern society this "must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter".

Originally four men had been accused. However, the Crown prosecution Service (CPS) dropped the charges against one before the trial began and the case against another was dismissed part way through the four-day trial as the court ruled there was no case to answer. However, Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell were convicted. After the trial their solicitor, Michael Phillips said:

"This prosecution is nothing more than a modern-day heresy trial – dressed up under the public order act."

A Barnabas Fund staff member who acted as an expert witness for the defence affirmed that what the men has said was an orthodox biblical understanding of the Christian faith as it has been historically understood.