Friday, 28 July 2017

Dealing Properly With Rogue Police

Sad Case, Right Outcomes

Rogue police.  Usually when this hits the headlines it is referring to some overseas country--often the United States, not infrequently Australia, and sometimes the UK and Europe.  But New Zealand is like any other country: rogue policemen and police women can and do exist.  Only constant vigilance, training, an open culture, and ethical standards set and lived from the top down keep such perversity and systemic damage to the police (and the public) to a minimum.  

In a recent case a rogue policeman has been dealt with before the courts, and it now undergoing an "employment process"--that is, his employer, the NZ Police is now dealing with him via the procedures of employment law.
The stalker who harassed a Dunedin businessman for two-and-a-half years can now be revealed as a police officer.  Constable Jeremy Fraser Buis, 39, was sentenced following a judge-alone trial in March to 200 hours' community work and ordered to pay the victim, Danny Pryde, $15,000 after being found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage.

Southern District commander Superintendent Paul Basham confirmed yesterday that the defendant had been suspended in February 2015 and an employment process was ongoing.  [NZ Herald]
What did this rogue police officer do?

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Very Positive Review of "Dunkirk"

Film Review: Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’

Peter Debruge
Chief Film Critic
Variety Magazine

Dunkirk Review

Christopher Nolan recreates the World War II evacuation from land, sea and air, interweaving events in a bravura virtual-eyewitness account.

Steven Spielberg laid claim to the Normandy beach landing, Clint Eastwood owns Iwo Jima, and now, Christopher Nolan has authored the definitive cinematic version of Dunkirk. Unlike those other battles, however, this last was not a conventional victory, but more of a salvaged retreat, as the German offensive forced a massive evacuation of English troops early in World War II. And unlike those other two directors, Nolan is only nominally interested in the human side of the story as he puts his stamp on the heroic rescue operation, offering a bravura virtual-eyewitness account from multiple perspectives — one that fragments and then craftily interweaves events as seen from land, sea and air.

Take away the film’s prismatic structure and this could be a classic war picture for the likes of Lee Marvin or John Wayne. And yet, there’s no question that the star here is Nolan himself, whose attention-grabbing approach alternates among three strands, chronological but not concurrent, while withholding until quite late the intricate way they all fit together. Though the subject matter is leagues (and decades) removed from the likes of “Inception” and “The Dark Knight,” the result is so clearly “a Christopher Nolan film” — from its immersive, full-body suspense to the sophisticated way he manipulates time and space — that his fans will eagerly follow en masse to witness the achievement. And what an achievement it is!

Daily Meditation

A Little Fearful Flock

A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench. Matthew 12:20

Charles H. Spurgeon


What is weaker than the bruised reed or the smoking flax? A reed that groweth in the fen or marsh, let but the wild duck light upon it, and it snaps; let but the foot of man brush against it, and it is bruised and broken; every wind that flits across the river moves it to and fro. You can conceive of nothing more frail or brittle, or whose existence is more in jeopardy, than a bruised reed.
Then look at the smoking flax--what is it? It has a spark within it, it is true, but it is almost smothered; an infant's breath might blow it out; nothing has a more precarious existence than its flame.

Weak things are here described, yet Jesus says of them, "The smoking flax I will not quench; the bruised reed I will not break." Some of God's children are made strong to do mighty works for him; God has his Samsons here and there who can pull up Gaza's gates, and carry them to the top of the hill; he has a few mighties who are lion-like men, but the majority of his people are a timid, trembling race. They are like starlings, frightened at every passer by; a little fearful flock. If temptation comes, they are taken like birds in a snare; if trial threatens, they are ready to faint; their frail skiff is tossed up and down by every wave, they are drifted along like a sea bird on the crest of the billows--weak things, without strength, without wisdom, without foresight.

Yet, weak as they are, and because they are so weak, they have this promise made specially to them. Herein is grace and graciousness! Herein is love and lovingkindness! How it opens to us the compassion of Jesus--so gentle, tender, considerate! We need never shrink back from his touch. We need never fear a harsh word from him; though he might well chide us for our weakness, he rebuketh not.

Bruised reeds shall have no blows from him, and the smoking flax no damping frowns.

Meteria Turei and the Bible

Unwittingly Turei Confirms the Scriptures and Condemns Us All

We are finding it hard to move on past the mendacity and priggishness of Green leader, Metiria Turei.  Here was a public exposure of universal human depravity--an uncloaking of what lurks and festers inside all of us.

The particular events are now well known. But to recap, the Green Leader has admitted lying for over a period of at least five years in order to maintain her state income support benefit which was means tested.  In order to get the full entitlement, there were limits on how much "other income" Turei was receiving.  In this case she owned or operated successive apartments which she had sub-let to several other flatmates.  She lied to the welfare authorities about the income she was receiving from her cohabitants.  If she had told the truth, of course, like ordinary folk, her state welfare benefit would have been reduced accordingly.

Now, years later, Turei has cast herself as both a victim and a martyr.  She was forced into lying, she says.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Pushback

Trump’s Education Department Takes on the Campus-Rape Lie

Will it have the will to restore due process for the accused?


By David French
National Review Online

Last week, while the most in the media fixed their eyes on Donald Trump Jr., far-left activists geared up for a different kind of assault on the Trump administration: a full-court press to maintain a series of unlawful Obama-era policies that have stripped young men of their constitutional rights, ruined lives, and fostered politically correct (but factually challenged) hysteria on campuses from coast to coast. At issue is the Obama administration’s April 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, a document that skipped the legally mandated regulatory rulemaking process to require colleges to adjudicate campus sexual-assault cases under a “preponderance of the evidence” standard without also securing adequate due-process rights for the accused.

Why do such a thing? Because campus activists (and Obama-administration allies) were convinced that colleges were in the middle of a “rape crisis.” Shoddy studies conducted with expansive definitions of sexual assault convinced the Left that an astounding 20 percent of college women are assaulted during their campus years, rendering the university a virtual war zone for women. It’s a rate that contradicts Bureau of Justice statistics showing that women are safer on campus than off, and that the real rate of sexual violence on campus isn’t one in five but closer to 6.1 per 1,000, a number that had been trending downward for 14 years as of 2013, the last year covered in the BJS report.

But no matter, the fake crisis demanded extreme measures, and the result was a series of federally mandated kangaroo courts. The goal was to create a summary procedure that permitted wronged women to safely and easily report their abusers and remove them from campus. The actual result was that poorly trained campus officials stepped into a miasma of drunken hookups and broken hearts. By 2016, colleges were buffeted from two directions — by an activist Democratic administration that demanded ever-more-decisive actions to address the alleged “crisis” and by mushrooming lawsuits brought by aggrieved male students, young men who were often forced off campus on the flimsiest of charges.

Last week, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos signaled that help — or at least due process — was on the way.

Daily Meditation

On the Lord’s Prayer

C. S. Lewis


We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord’s Prayer; it was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven. No part of His teaching is clearer, and there are no exceptions to it. He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own.

From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in Words to Live By The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses. Copyright © 1949, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1976, revised 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.

Summons to a Higher Court

Arrogance Paternalism and Racism Rife in the UK Foreign Office

State parties all around the world have taken a fancy to claiming authority over the Bible.  For decades this has been happening indirectly.  State schools, for example, teach evolutionism as fact.  Whilst this is not a direct attack upon the Holy Scriptures per se, it indirectly runs a flag up the flagpole: the state and government parties hold the Bible to be a bunch of baloney.  

We Christians have got used to this and end up returning the "compliment": we hold that state parties are riddled with cant, ignorance, and are grossly prejudiced.  We end up handing them over to their fate on Judgement Day.

But things are ratcheting up somewhat.  In the UK a functionary of the Foreign Office has decided that it is time to rein in Christians in the Southern Hemisphere (by which they almost  certainly mean Africa, since the Church has been going from strength to strength in that continent).  The Barnabas Fund has exposed the latest egregious action by an organ of the UK state.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

NZ Government-Clinton Foundation Rort

The Clinton's Grubby Fingers Are Even in the Pockets of New Zealand Taxpayers


This piece is reproduced from the NZ Taxpayers Union newsletter



New Zealand Taxpayers' Union Inc.

Dear Supporter,

Another $2.4 million of our money goes to the Clinton Foundation

Clinton-Foundation-Conflict-of-Interest-cartoon.jpgBack in January, we exposed the $7.7 million NZ Aid had paid to the “Clinton Health Access Initiative” a subsidiary of the controversial Clinton Foundation. We hosted a petition calling for the funding to cease and our staff even took to the streets asking people whether there are better uses for taxpayers' money than a political charity.

After Murry McCully stood down, we wrote to the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gerry Brownlee, asking him to veto further funding.

This morning we revealed that another $2.4 million has been paid this year.  Minister Brownlee says the payments will continue because, he claims, the “Clinton Health Access Initiative” is not a subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation and that it is "independent". You can read the details here.

Gerry BrownleeYour humble Taxpayers’ Union has dug out the public charity filings of the Clinton Health Access Initiative. They show that far from being ‘independent’, the Clinton Foundation actually appoint the board of the Initiative – President Bill Clinton, and daughter Chelsea are even on it.

We have written back to the Minister to point out that the power to appoint the board alone make the Initiative a subsidiary of the Foundation under both New Zealand law and international accounting standards. Either Gerry Brownlee is trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes, or his officials have completely misled him (and $9.1 million of our money has been paid out on false pretences!).

The Australian Government has pulled the plug on funding the Clinton Health Access Initiative.  Apparently, it considers there are higher priorities closer to home.  Hear hear!

You can add your name to our petition calling for the funding to cease here, or perhaps call Minister Brownlee's office on (04) 817 6802 to let his staff know what you think about this use of your taxpayer money. Let us know by return email how you get on.

Daily Meditation

His Timing Is Perfect


Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may find grace for a well-timed help. (Hebrews 4:16)

John Piper


All ministry is in the future — a moment away, or a month, or a year, or a decade. We have ample time to fret about our inadequacy. When this happens, we must turn to prayer.  Prayer is the form of faith that connects us today with the grace that will make us adequate for tomorrow’s ministry. Timing is everything.

What if grace comes too early or comes too late? The traditional translation of Hebrews 4:16 hides from us a very precious promise in this regard. We need a more literal rendering to see it.  The more traditional wording goes like this: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The Greek original behind the phrase “grace to help in time of need” would be translated literally, “grace for a well-timed help.”

The point is that prayer is the way to find future grace for a well-timed help. This grace always arrives from the “throne of grace” on time. The phrase “throne of grace” means that future grace comes from the King of the Universe who sets the times by his own authority (Acts 1:8).

His timing is perfect, but it is rarely ours: “For a thousand years in [his] sight are but as yesterday when it is past” (Psalm 90:4). At the global level, he sets the times for nations to rise and fall (Acts 17:26). And at the personal level, “My times are in [his] hand” (Psalm 31:15).

When we wonder about the timing of future grace, we must think on the “throne of grace.” Nothing can hinder God’s plan to send grace when it will be best for us. Future grace is always well-timed.

Letter From Australia (About Victimhood, Grievance, and Entitlement)

"The Force is Strong in This One"

A politician in Australia has been caught out with her snout in the trough.  But because it's all to do with a PC cause, there is "nothing to see here.  Move along."  Nonetheless, voters have taken umbrage.
Here's a way to test your capacity for self-delusion.  If your child is too ill to go to school today, do you take her on a business trip at the taxpayer’s expense? A moral bind surely, even if it is within the so-called company rules.  But if you’re a warrior for Single Motherhood, that excuses everything.

You can attend, with a sick child in tow, an overnight jaunt to see a few whales and shuck oysters because you are simply doing your job.  In other words, tick, another problem solved in the tyranny of life known as Single Motherhood.  That is, of course, if you’re blindly entitled like the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young.

The Senator has this week been condemned nationwide for using a reported $3874.24 of taxpayers’ money to go whale watching with her daughter Kora last September in the Great Australian Bight.  Hanson-Young says she didn’t have an option and therefore had to take her unwell 11-year-old along on the trip to discuss BP’s plans to drill for oil in the marine reserve.  [Daily Telegraph]
 If anyone dare criticize this snout-in-trough behaviour, the good senator will face them down with masterful guilt manipulation.  How dare anyone persecute a single mother such as her!

Monday, 24 July 2017

"We the People" Are A Vanishing Species

Politicians Are Now Mere Figureheads

When a civil government extends its commands and controls over the realm, one immediate result is the growing size of the bureaucracy.  When governments reach forth their hands to regulate tiddlywinks, we end up with an ever growing cancer of tiddlywink monitors, data gatherers, inspectors, rule creators, and even prosecutors.

Eventually this rotten tree produces a collage of poisonous fruits.  The rules and regulations become self-perpetuating and self-propagating.  What began as an agency of one hundred eventually becomes a behemoth of thousands.  Secondly, the now behemoth agency begins to work more co-operatively and interlaces its functions with other behemoth agencies.  Before long the administrative state becomes both self-propagating and self-perpetuating.  Politicians--that is, those voted in two power--lose power.  They are made impotent, while the vast enterprise rolls on.  At this point the adjective, Byzantine becomes apt.

The end result is a soft, but extremely effective, transfer of political power has occurred.  The mere citizen, growing rhubarb in his hack yard, suddenly discovers that he is subject to fifty-three different, interlacing regulations promulgated by the Federal Vegetable Administration (FVA).  And he also discovers that his political representative (MP, Congressman, Assemblyman--whatever) can do absolutely nothing about it.

Daily Meditation

The Revelations of Affliction

The Lord our God hath shewed us his glory.  Deuteronomy 5:24

Charles H. Spurgeon


God's great design in all his works is the manifestation of his own glory. Any aim less than this were unworthy of himself. But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man's eye is not single, he has ever a side glance towards his own honour, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord.

It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted; and this is the reason why he bringeth his people ofttimes into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when he comes forth to work their deliverance. He whose life is one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God.

They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks, know but little of the God of tempests; but they who "do business in great waters," these see his "wonders in the deep." Among the huge Atlantic-waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man.

Thank God, then, if you have been led by a rough road: it is this which has given you your experience of God's greatness and lovingkindness. Your troubles have enriched you with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means: your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as he did his servant Moses, that you might behold his glory as it passed by.

Praise God that you have not been left to the darkness and ignorance which continued prosperity might have involved, but that in the great fight of affliction, you have been capacitated for the outshinings of his glory in his wonderful dealings with you.

Denying the Means of Grace to Homosexuals

The Church of England Genuflects to Baal

The Barnabas Fund has written:

The Church of England’s General Synod has just passed a motion calling on the UK government to ban what they term “conversion therapy”.

By this, they do not mean the sort of horrific medical treatments such as “chemical castration” that were sometimes forced on gay people half a century ago. Rather, what the General Synod voted to ask the government to ban was “prayer ministry”, i.e. praying for people who experience unwanted same-sex attraction to be set free from that. In other words, what the General Synod asked the government to ban was a particular form of prayer.

It is sad that the Church of England has done this.

The sadness is twofold.  Firstly, the General Synod has called for the State to exercise control over the content of prayers to the Lord Jesus Christ.  In doing so, the Anglican Church has declared its belief that the UK government is a higher authority than King Jesus.  It also exposes the church's disbelief in liberty of conscience and religious faith.  The Anglican Church would rapidly move back to the days of state control of religion--that is, to the same kind of tyranny over conscience that held sway before the Toleration Act of 1689.

The second point of sadness is this: the General Synod, by this benighted action, would remove a means of grace from penitents seeking to overcome the sin of homosexuality.  In this case at least the Anglican Church has become the enemy of converted and repentant homosexuals, showering them with a thousand treacherous kisses.  "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy."  Proverbs 27:6


Saturday, 22 July 2017

Minimum Wage Hikes Reduce the Demand for Labour

Magical Thinking about Minimum Wages

The laws of supply and demand apply to labor, too.


By Kevin D. Williamson
National Review Online

Thanks to a new study from economists at the University of Washington, American progressives have learned that the laws of supply and demand apply to the labor market. Everybody already knew that, except for professional economists.

The study, commissioned by the city government of Seattle and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that Seattle’s law incrementally raising its minimum wage — to $13 an hour last year, en route to $15 — resulted in low-wage workers’ earning less money rather than more. This surprised many in Seattle, who had been assured by all the best economists, including Paul Krugman, that such a thing would not come to pass.

So, what happened?

The short version is: You can pass a law saying you have to pay low-wage workers more, but you cannot pass a law that says you have to hire them in the first place, or that you cannot cut back on hours when the price of hourly labor goes up. As businesses responded to the new higher labor costs by reorganizing their processes in less labor-intensive ways (the classic examples here are the replacement of wait staff with computer screens in restaurants and the replacement of bank clerks with more sophisticated ATMs), the law that was supposed to increase low-wage workers’ incomes actually reduced them — substantially, by an average of $125 a month.

The first lecture in Economics 101 is that supply and demand interact through prices. (And a wage is a price — the price of labor.) Producers will produce more of any given product at a higher price, and consumers will consume less of it at a higher price. At some point, producers’ preferences coincide with those of consumers, and that is the market price that emerges. That’s a rough model, of course, but it describes the basic reality of how commercial transactions actually happen. . . .

Daily Meditation

The Rats Are Always There

C. S. Lewis


We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are.

This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?

If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.

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.

The Force is Strong With This One

The New Model Socialist

Metiria Turei's sense of entitlement is infuriating and nauseating.  "You owe me, bigtime" seems to underlie much of her political persona.  Yet she, courtesy of the taxpayer's dime, is one of the most highly paid people in the country.

She cheated the taxpayer.  She broke the law.  But only because she thought she was entitled to do so. "I deserved to be treated better.  The cruel system was at fault.  More taxpayer's money should have been distributed to me."  It turns out that Turei's lawbreaking was not a "thing of the moment" so much as a deliberate, repeated policy.  As the Herald editorial writer put it:
Spread over three years however, Turei's lie of omission starts to look less like a one-off act of dishonesty and more like a systematic attempt to rort the system. Letter writers and talkback callers have voiced their anger over what they see as her sense of entitlement to public money - not helped by the fact that taxpayers are providing her with a huge salary today. [NZ Herald]
The deep sense of grievance and entitlement now risks her being hoist on her own petard, since she is now one of the rich and wealthy--courtesy of the taxpayer.

Friday, 21 July 2017

State Resistance to Government Theft in the US

Some Progress

The struggle against civil asset forfeiture in the United States is making some progress at a state by state level.
Last Monday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill to curb the state’s civil forfeiture laws. Under the new law, property confiscated via civil forfeiture may be permanently retained only if the property was seized through a lawful search and if the seizure ultimately leads to the suspect’s criminal conviction. Without a guilty verdict, the government must return all property to the rightful owner.

Prior to this new bill, Connecticut’s civil asset forfeiture policy made it legal for an individual’s property or cash to be seized and indefinitely retained by the state even if they have not been convicted or even accused of committing any crime.

According to the Institute for Justice, state civil asset forfeiture cases constituted 77 percent of all Connecticut forfeiture cases between 2009 and 2013. This indicates that that less than one-quarter of Connecticut’s forfeitures did not require proof that the property owner had committed any crime.  “Civil forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on Americans’ private property rights,” said Institute for Justice Senior Legislative Counsel Lee McGrath.  [The Blaze]
Good news.  Roughly half a dozen states have already restricted the practice of civil forfeiture, or outlawed it altogether.

Daily Meditation

Energy for Today’s To-Dos

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12–13)

John Piper


God is the decisive worker here. He wills and he works for his good pleasure. But believing this does not make Christians passive. It makes them hopeful and energetic and courageous.

Each day there is a work to be done in our special ministry. Paul commands us to work at doing it. But he tells us how to do it in the power of future grace: believe the promise that in this day God will be at work in you to will and work for his good pleasure.

It is God himself, graciously arriving each moment, that brings the future into the present. It is not the gratitude for past grace that Paul focuses on when explaining how he “worked harder than any of them.” It is fresh grace for every new conquest in his missionary labor.

The power of future grace is the power of the living Christ — always there to work for us at every future moment that we enter. So when Paul describes the effect of the grace of God that was with him, he says, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience — by word and deed” (Romans 15:18).

Therefore since he would not dare to speak of anything but what Christ accomplished through his ministry, and yet he did, in fact, speak of what grace accomplished through his ministry (1 Corinthians 15:10), this must mean that the power of grace is the power of Christ.

Which means that the power we need for tomorrow’s ministry is the future grace of the omnipotent Christ, who will always be there for us — ready to will and ready to work for his good pleasure.

Ignore the Stumbling Blocks: Paul Did

Preaching By Faith

Preaching a crucified Jesus to be the Lord of glory was indeed a stumbling block.  Paul was right on point when he declared, 
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  [I Corinthians 1: 22-25]
When the Jews demanded signs, they wanted miraculous confirmation that the claimant was indeed the Messiah.  They were given plenty of such confirmations, but chose to  "explain" them away.  For them--when they heard the Gospel preached- by the church-all that was left was the horror and humiliation of a public crucifixion.  It was a stumbling block because they had believed that Messiah would deliver them powerfully from Gentile oppression--even as David had delivered them from the Philistines centuries before.   A crucified Messiah was a mockery, a blasphemy.

For the Gentiles, following a crucified saviour was similarly the acme of foolishness.  Why?  Because the "rite" of crucifixion was the archetype of degradation.  Sarah Ruden carefully re-situates crucifixion in its ancient Greco-Roman setting.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (Abour our Pelagian World)

Straight and Narrow

Douglas Wilson
Blog&Mablog

INTRODUCTION

One of the hidden drivers in our public debates about homosexual lust and practice is that a widespread and presupposed Pelagianism has riddled the church. I am happy to explain myself here, but I would like to ask you to walk with me for a piece.

ABILITY AND OBLIGATION

Pelagianism holds, among other things, that a man cannot be blamed for what cannot be helped. In this system, sin is defined in accordance with our ability to meet the standard. If we cannot meet the standard, then it would obviously be unjust to hold us to the standard. Ability limits obligation. If I have no ability to jump over the ocean to Hawaii, then clearly I can have no moral obligation to do so. Makes sense, right?

Except that this muddles the difference between natural inability and moral inability. Natural inability answers every moral accusation that might be brought against a man. I can have no moral obligation to pick up rocks in my driveway and bounce them off the moon, because I have absolutely no physical ability to do so. This kind of inability really does limit obligation. I do not feel guilty for my inability to fly like a bird, or swim like a dolphin, or burrow like a mole. Neither do I feel guilty over my inability to publish in staid and responsible journals. The metaphorical adjectives have to go somewhere, and I can’t just keep them in my head. They just crowd in. Where was I?

But if my inability is a moral inability, then that inability excuses nothing. In fact, this kind of inability compounds the sin, making it worse. The Lord does not call the Pharisees a nest of vipers, but then go on to make the crucial point that vipers can’t help being what they are, having been “born that way” to viper parents. Not at all. Nor did the Lord hasten to add that we should be building bridges not walls. Little narrow snake bridges. See what I mean?

A man can have the natural ability to do something that he has no moral ability to do. For example, I have the physical ability to walk down to our main city square, and to stand on a bench, and yell slanderous and malicious accusations about my deceased mother. I have the feet, I have the lungs, I know the words, and no one has a gun pointed at me to prevent this from happening. But while I have the natural ability to do it, I do not have the moral capacity to do it. My point is considerably stronger than I would rather not. My point is that I couldn’t. Natural ability to do “this or that” and moral ability to do “this or that” are clearly two different things.

Daily Meditation

The Future of the Old Rattle Trap

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On the resurrection of the body and of all creation; and on the goodness of the bodies we now have.

C. S. Lewis


26 November 1962

My stuff about animals came long ago in The Problem of Pain. I ventured the supposal—it could be nothing more—that as we are raised in Christ, so at least some animals are raised in us. Who knows, indeed, but that a great deal even of the inanimate creation is raised in the redeemed souls who have, during this life, taken its beauty into themselves? That may be the way in which the ‘new heaven and the new earth’30 are formed. Of course we can only guess and wonder.

But these particular guesses arise in me, I trust, from taking seriously the resurrection of the body: a doctrine which now-a- days is very soft pedalled by nearly all the faithful—to our great impoverishment. Not that you and I have now much reason to rejoice in having bodies! Like old automobiles, aren’t they? where all sorts of apparently different things keep going wrong, but what they add up to is the plain fact that the machine is wearing out. Well, it was not meant to last forever.

Still, I have a kindly feeling for the old rattle-trap. Through it God showed me that whole side of His beauty which is embodied in colour, sound, smell and size. No doubt it has often led me astray: but not half so often, I suspect, as my soul has led it astray. For the spiritual evils which we share with the devils (pride, spite) are far worse than what we share with the beasts: and sensuality really arises more from the imagination than from the appetites: which, if left merely to their own animal strength, and not elaborated by our imagination, would be fairly easily managed. But this is turning into a sermon!

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.

Will History Repeat?

"The Old B--- Likes It Narrow"

In 1951 a general election was held in the UK.  The Conservatives won; Winston Churchill was returned to power.  These were the days when large swathes of the working class supported and voted for the Conservatives.  Voting was not strictly along the lines of socio-economic class, despite very strong social class identity at the time.  

It took a long time to count the votes, and the final outcome was not known until the following morning.  In his book, Family Britain 1951-1957, David Kynaston quotes the writer Ronald Duncan's encounter with a train porter at Charing Cross.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About Christian Confusion)

Gayer Than the Kiwi Queen of the Fire Island Fruit Festival

Douglas Wilson
Blog&Mablog

Every once in a while you run across something that is a few parsecs beyond the utter frozen limit. What do you do then? Tim Bayly recently posted a video of an offertory performance done at Redeemer Downtown in Manhattan, along with his comments, and I have reposted the video below. You can watch the whole thing, or if you have a medical condition, you can watch 30 seconds of it and still get the drift. If confusion were beans, this would be a 9-layer dip, suitable for Super Bowl parties.

So here it is. Brace yourself.

Life Together from Redeemer Video on Vimeo.

What is the problem with this? Summed up, it is that this performance is gayer than the kiwi queen at the Fire Island Fruit Festival. This performance is gayer than an HR memo at Google headquarters. How gay was it? It was gayer than an NPR tote bag full of rainbows. It was gayer than a unicorn parade through the Castro District. It was gayer than a lavender sparkly pen.

And to top it all off, we live in an antinomian generation, where the only sins possible are those represented by something like the preceding paragraph. It is not okay to say “gayer than,” but it is beyond okay to be “gayer than.”

It is no sin to watch this video clip and not know what the particular problem is. Human self-deception can occupy the heart like a rabbit warren under a large meadow. The particular problems can be hard to identify and trace. But the general problem is screamingly obvious. If you can look at this clip and not know that there is a grievous problem somewhere, then the self-deception involved is truly profound.

I referred above to the problem of confusion.

Daily Meditation

Becoming Sure of One's Election

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.  1 Thessalonians 1:4

Charles H. Spurgeon


Many persons want to know their election before they look to Christ, but they cannot learn it thus, it is only to be discovered by "looking unto Jesus." If you desire to ascertain your own election;--after the following manner, shall you assure your heart before God. Do you feel yourself to be a lost, guilty sinner? go straightway to the cross of Christ, and tell Jesus so, and tell him that you have read in the Bible, "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Tell him that he has said, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Look to Jesus and believe on him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for so surely as thou believest, thou art elect.

If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust him, then you are one of God's chosen ones; but if you stop and say, "I want to know first whether I am elect," you ask you know not what. Go to Jesus, be you never so guilty, just as you are. Leave all curious inquiry about election alone. Go straight to Christ and hide in his wounds, and you shall know your election. The assurance of the Holy Spirit shall be given to you, so that you shall be able to say, "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him."

Christ was at the everlasting council: he can tell you whether you were chosen or not; but you cannot find it out in any other way. Go and put your trust in him, and his answer will be--"I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." There will be no doubt about his having chosen you, when you have chosen him.

"Sons we are through God's election,
Who in Jesus Christ believe."

Climate Change Update, Part IV

‘Nearly All’ Recent Global Warming Is Fabricated

James Delingpole
BreitbartLondon

[This represents the fourth article in a series exposing the fraudulent re-stating of data in the vain attempt to "prove" global warming and climate change.  This represents the biggest fraud we have seen in our lifetimes.  JT]

Much of recent global warming has been fabricated by climate scientists to make it look more frightening, a study by statisticians has found.

The peer-reviewed study by two scientists and a veteran statistician looked at the global average temperature datasets (GAST) which are used by climate alarmists to argue that recent years have been “the hottest evah” and that the warming of the last 120 years has been dramatic and unprecedented.

What they found is that these readings are “totally inconsistent with published and credible U.S. and other temperature data.”  That is, the adjusted data used by alarmist organizations like NASA, NOAA, and the UK Met Office differs so markedly from the original raw data that it cannot be trusted.

This chart gives you a good idea of the direction of the adjustments.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Climate Change Update, Part III

The Rogue Train of Rising Electricity Prices in Australia

Something “seismic” has happened to our electricity prices.

JoNova

Paul McArdle of WattClarity goes through each state looking at quarterly trends and prices, and remarks that things are going “off the chart”. We had some electricity crises in Australia in the last 12 months, and 2016 was a significantly more expensive than all previous years bar the major drought year of 2007. But ominously, prices haven’t come down in what should be a “normal” quarter. In Tasmania there was a crisis last year when dams ran dry, and the undersea Bass cable broke. But this quarter, prices are only $3.20/MWh lower than the crisis levels of Q2 2016 despite water in dams and a working cable to Victoria. Something has gone seriously wrong with our electrical grid and market. In both Victoria and South Australia prices are higher on average than any previous April-June quarter in the 19 year history of the National Electricity Market. In Queensland and New South Wales, prices are at the “second highest”. {Emphasis, ours.]

McArdle goes to some length to explain that this is not “one factor”, which seems obvious and fair — It's the combination of the closure of Hazelwood and Port Augusta coal generators; the extremely high gas-prices; the lack of wind; the increase of intermittent renewables; and the way electricity generators game the market. But what McArdle doesn’t mention is that these factors are not independent. If there was more coal fired power there wouldn’t be such high gas prices, and if there weren’t intermittent, highly subsidized generators, there wouldn’t be as much room to “game” the market. If there is some ominous leap in electricity prices, we know from years of experience that a grid with a lower renewables input provides cheaper time-weighted average prices even though for some isolated, miraculous moments every day, using a cherry picked description, and ignoring costs of transmission lines and auxiliary services (like “stability”) we could say we are getting “free electricity”.

A grid is a complicated animal, and people studying small separate parts of it can make accurate but totally contradictory statements. What matters is the total cost of electricity over all, after the wash, the games, the crises and the subsidies are played out. The high gas prices have other causes beyond coal and renewables, but there’s no question that Australia had a cheap backup: it could always use coal, which would mean the high gas prices wouldn’t have to hurt so much. The renewables subsidies are pushing the cheapest electricity source out of business. There is an Easy and Obvious way to let the market fix this problem that the government hath engendered, but there is no easy and obvious way to run a grid off wind and solar and no easy way to control our climate in 2100 using electrical power stations in 2017.

Thanks to Paul McArdle for crunching these numbers. Even the ABC is paying attention now, writing both “Power prices are ‘off the chart‘ and there’s no relief in sight” and  “Victorian businesses struggling with power ‘train wreck’ as wholesale prices triple since 2015“. Go to his site for the gory details.

If spot price outcomes through Q2 2016 were “truly remarkable” then price outcomes for Q2 2017 were off the chart"


Paul McArdle,
Wattclarity

In Victoria, we see the average price for the Quarter break $100/MWh (up at $104.92/MWh) – a gut-wrenching level for the vast majority of energy users in what has traditionally been one of the more “boring” quarters.  In Victoria, we see that average Q2 prices have never been higher, across all 19 years of NEM history.

Saving (in this case) the worst for last, we then step over to South Australia where the time-weighted average price for the quarter reached a staggering $115.93/MWh, … it is clearly the highest Q2 average price South Australia has seen over the 19 year history of the NEM.

In the same vein as last year, the most important take-aways from this analysis should be:
1.  That the outcome for Q2 2017 was even more remarkable than Q2 2016; and
2.  That it appears that we’re entering a new environment that’s distinctly different from the years that preceded; and
3.  That this affects everyone, right across the NEM ; and finally that
4.  Those pre-disposed to draw overly simplistic  (“it was due to … [this one factor]”) conclusions are unlikely to be correct, and could be dangerously misleading.

Daily Meditation

If God Is For You . . .

When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. Psalm 56:9

Charles H. Spurgeon


It is impossible for any human speech to express the full meaning of this delightful phrase, "God is for me." He was "for us" before the worlds were made; he was "for us," or he would not have given his well-beloved son; he was "for us" when he smote the Only-begotten, and laid the full weight of his wrath upon him--he was "for us," though he was against him; he was "for us," when we were ruined in the fall--he loved us notwithstanding all; he was "for us," when we were rebels against him, and with a high hand were bidding him defiance; he was "for us," or he would not have brought us humbly to seek his face.

He has been "for us" in many struggles; we have been summoned to encounter hosts of dangers; we have been assailed by temptations from without and within--how could we have remained unharmed to this hour if he had not been "for us"? He is "for us," with all the infinity of his being; with all the omnipotence of his love; with all the infallibility of his wisdom; arrayed in all his divine attributes, he is "for us,"--eternally and immutably "for us"; "for us" when yon blue skies shall be rolled up like a worn out vesture; "for us" throughout eternity.

And because he is "for us," the voice of prayer will always ensure his help. "When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies be turned back." This is no uncertain hope, but a well grounded assurance--"this I know." I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up for the answer, assured that it will come, and that mine enemies shall be defeated, "for God is for me."

O believer, how happy art thou with the King of kings on thy side! How safe with such a Protector! How sure thy cause pleaded by such an Advocate! If God be for thee, who can be against thee?



Lying is the New Greenist Truth

Hypocrisy and Mendacity on Steroids

Green Party Leader, Metiria Turei went all candid over the weekend.  In one of the most egregious appeals to pity yet seen in this radical left-wing party, Turei confessed that while she was attending law school she had been so poor, she lied and broke the law in order to survive.  At least, that's her telling of it.
Green Party Metiria Turei concedes she could still be charged with fraud after she admitted lying to authorities to keep her benefit.  In her biggest speech of the year, Turei made the extraordinary confession while announcing her party's plans to dramatically reform New Zealand's welfare system.

Speaking at the Green Party AGM in Auckland, she said that as a solo mother on a benefit she did not tell Work and Income NZ that she had extra flatmates who were paying rent.  At a press conference afterwards, Turei said she could still face consequences for her illegal behaviour 24 years ago.  [NZ Herald]
Her appeal to pity in a nutshell: "I was impecunious so I lied and broke the law".  But this was not an honest confession.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Baalism Amongst American Churches

Worshiping America

Rod Dreher
The American Conservative

Back home in the US, I finally had the chance to watch the full video of the obsequious paean that Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas gave extolling the virtues of Donald Trump. If you haven’t seen it, well, it’s jaw-dropping:




And:

Dr. Robert Jeffress @robertjeffress
Thank you @POTUS @realDonaldTrump for a powerful message at #CelebrateFreedom tonight! We thank God every day that you are our president!

Jeffress’s remarks came as part of an extraordinarily nationalistic performance by the choir and orchestra from First Dallas. You can watch the whole thing below. Go to around the 34 minute mark to hear them sing a new song, “Make America Great Again,” written by a music minister at the megachurch. It’s now being offered for, no kidding, “worship”. The lyrics include:

Make America great again
Make America great again
Lift the torch of freedom all across the land
Step into the future joining hand in hand
And make America great again
Yes make America great (again)

Watch it for yourself:

Daily Meditation

The Intolerable Compliment

C. S. Lewis


Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.

But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God— though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires.

We are bidden to ‘put on Christ’, to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.

From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by 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.