Saturday, 30 August 2008

The S-files

Sir Brian Lochore

S-Award given to Brian Lochore, ex-All Black captain and coach

Contra Celsum is pleased to nominate Sir Brian Lochore for an S-Award for speaking out against “political correctness.”


Recently, Brian Lochore spoke to a Parents Incorporate breakfast in which he accused “political correctness” of destroying New Zealand.

He said: “We are living in a PC world which is destroying us, where you actually can't put the hard word on people when they have digressed and committed bad blunders” (NZ Herald, 29 August, 2008) “One of the advantages of being a farmer is that I was able to work with my children. You can take them on the back of your motorbike, which you're not supposed to do any more. You can take them on your horse, which you're not supposed to do any more.

“In the evenings we went to the rugby parties with the kids, who slept in the back of the car. We can't do that any more because we haven't got rid of the perpetrators that actually destroy our society.”

Lochore claimed that children were once raised to have respect for authority. He said: “The one thing I believe is important in life is respect. They respected authority, they respected teachers, I respected the teachers. We lack a great deal of respect for authority nowadays, there's always someone protesting.

"Respect and role models are very important in life. You as a father, with the aid of your partner - I can't say 'wife' these days, PC. You are the one who sets the ground rules. And don't ever tell me that the kids don't want to know where the line is. They do.”

The ideology lying behind “political correctness” deserves serious analysis and criticism—if for no other reason than its enormously destructive influence and effects. It is busily tearing society apart, then down. Behind it lies a world view that is both alien and pagan. We at Contra Celsum will be analysing the ideology of “political correctness” more thoroughly in the near future.

In the meantime it is very helpful to have “ordinary blokes” like Brian Lochore speak out. They are not afraid to confront the monster head on: but they do so in a very effective and damning way. Firstly, from the base of common sense, Lochore shows how asinine and stupid the maxims and diktats of “political correctness” are. Secondly, he reminds us how “political correctness” has worked to undermine responsibility and accountability, leading to a passive enslavement of the population. Thirdly, he underscores how “political correctness” removes freedoms and liberties everywhere—wherever its pernicious doctrines are allowed to intrude.

“Political correctness” has already had a significantly destructive effect upon society. Its influence is now all-pervasive. Its evils appear remorselessly unstoppable. It needs to be confronted head-on. Lochore has made a good start.

Sir Brian Lochore: S-Award, Class I for actions in the course of duty that were Smart, Sound, and Salutary.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Peters is Nothing But a Pawn

The Legacy of Helen Elizabeth Clark

Several months ago, we argued that Winston Peters was a corrosive and corrupting influence on New Zealand national life. He was, and is, necrosis in a flashy suit. Today, it is widely reported that he will be removed as Foreign Minister of the nation. Over recent weeks, his unorchestrated litany of bellicose lies has become nauseous. Peter's mendacity has become automatically reflexive. Exposing each falsehood, painful.

Behind all this, however, is a much deeper and broader issue. Exposed, now, to open shame is one Helen Elizabeth Clark. We have now suffered nine years of Clark's style of government. Our considered view is that she will be judged by history to have been one of our most ignorant, naïve, superficial, and venally self-serving prime minister's of all time.

For most of her tenure, Clark has been a virtual demi-god. She could do no wrong. She was portrayed as larger than life. She was idolized by the media as supremely intelligent. We were repeatedly told she was politically astute and masterful. Media, overwhelming left wing in this country, saw in Clark a mirror of themselves: they consequently lauded and lionized her because she reflected their own self-glory. They saw in Clark a reflection of themselves.

Women have disproportionately supported her because of her reported integrity and honesty. They trusted her. We know that society loves to have heroes—even in our envy ridden, tall-poppy-hating society. When it comes to heroic political leaders they are quickly made out to be demi-gods. By her own testimony, Clark has been a “popular and competent Prime Minister.” The nation applauded her self-assessment.

Unfortunately, the reality is far from the image. Clark has been an archetypical hollow man. For years she has nursed a secret agenda, one born out of sixties and seventies radical left-wing feminism. She has kept it carefully screened from public view, but then, when opportunity presented itself, she struck. A classic example is her volte-face on the ridiculous and failed attempt to stop parents disciplining their children by corrective smacking.

For public consumption she stated her view that any such ban would be against human nature. Then, when Bradford's Bill presented itself, she threw her full weight behind it, but in a deceitful, clandestine fashion. She quietly ordered that for her government the issue would be “whipped”—a rather ironic term in this instance—which meant that although officially it was to be a non-party, free conscience vote—she required that all Labour MP's voted for the Bill, regardless of conscience, beliefs, or representations from the electorate. Thus, Bradford's notorious Bill was shown up to be Clarkian policy all along. Bradford was just the willing tool.

Clark has done more than any previous Prime Minister, Robert bete noir Muldoon notwithstanding, to shred our tenuous, but vitally important, constitutional fabric. She unilaterally abolished the Privy Council as the highest court in the land. She has deliberately politicised the police force, making it an extension of government influence and power. Her sacking of the incumbent Police Commissioner, Peter Doone was achieved by some of the most corrupt and Byzantine behaviour ever seen in this country, requiring a disgusting awful abuse of power. Using a supine media, she clandestinely leaked falsehoods about Doone being guilty of drink-driving—then, when her lies were published, used the “scandal” as a reason to fire him.

She then replaced him with a more compliant Police Commissioner, one Howard Broad, whose puppy-dog pavlovian like response to the Prime Minister and Minister of Police was evidenced no more clearly recently when the Labour Party used him, against constitutional and parliamentary convention, in a vain attempt to manipulate parliament itself.

We have lost count of the number of times prima facie cases of criminal activity on the part of her Labour MP's have not been investigated by police, despite complaints made. Yet, superficial trivial complaints against political opponents have been investigated and prosecuted with alacrity. These are the kind of things which happen routinely in a police state.

The fact that Clark has been prepared to pervert and undermine one of our most vital constitutional bulwarks—the independence of the police from government interference—for her own venal political advantage, without thought to the damage she is doing to the nation, is evidence of just how dangerous and damaging she has been as prime minister.

A second constitutional convention torn to shreds under Clark's watch has been the deliberate politicization of the civil service. She has turned it into another arm of government advocacy, promotion, and political bias. There is a long standing constitutional convention that the civil service is to be a check and balance upon the government of the day, giving advice without fear or favour to ministers. When decisions would then be made contrary to advice this gives the public the opportunity to make a more independent assessment of the particular merits of both policy and advice. This is why the civil service is called the public service, not a government service.

Clark has deliberately subverted this constitutional convention and has filled senior and middle management positions within the civil service with political appointees who will give the “kind” of advice which promotes and advocates policies and programmes which reflect Labour policy. She has deliberately used public departments as organs of government propaganda and self-promotion. The damage has now been done. It will take years, if not decades to repair—and it may be irreparable.

Finally—and this list is representative, not exhaustive—we have seen Clark lacerate the constitutional convention that electoral changes must have broad, bi-partisan support. Her Electoral Finance Act is one of the most draconian restrictions upon free speech ever seen in modern political history in the West. It was pushed through for her own partisan political advantage, with no attempt at consensus or good faith consultation. It was, “my way, or the highway.”

Now, in recent days, we have heard that Clark has known for seven months that her Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, allegedly received a solicited donation from one Owen Glenn. Then she allowed him to grandstand publicly denying that he knew anything about it, or that he had ever received the money. All of this is now publicly revealed to have been lies.

Clark's defence for this defalcation on her part is that it was a “conflict of evidence”, but that she chose to believe her Foreign Minister. Bollocks. She has a duty prescribed in the Cabinet Manual to ensure that all Ministers of the Crown conducts himself/herself with the highest ethical standards, particularly with respect to conflicts of interest (Section 2.58, Cabinet Manual). This is a most vital and important duty, for it is aimed at preventing corruption in government. This sworn duty she casually laid aside—once again, to prosecute her own political advantage.

It will turn out that Helen Elizabeth Clark—far from being the demi-god as portrayed in her press—was a small-minded, nasty, bitterly envious person who would not think twice about weakening the fabric of the nation for her own petty advantage. Truly, a third world tinpot leader.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

A Modern Tawdry Nationalism

Elite Sport and Dirty Money

There are few things more unsavoury than a rapacious government boasting about how, after having pillaged its citizens, it then wasted the “loot”. We have been subjected to this odious spectacle in recent days, with the government bragging about blowing $60 million (that's right, $60 million!) on supporting sports for the Olympic Games.

We were treated to the disgusting spectacle of a Minister of the Crown, Clayton Cosgrove boasting about how New Zealand had won the biggest swag of medals since how long—a demonstration that the government's “investment” in elite sports people was “paying off”. The ethics of this are craven. The ideology which drives it is both morally bankrupt and insidiously wrong.

The ethical monstrosity is made plain by asking a simple question: Why would you tax citizens to fund and promote elite sports people? We can understand taxing citizens to ensure that the nation's courts are effectively protected from being frequented by weapon-carrying thugs. We can approve taxing citizens in order to build and maintain a strong well-equipped, well-trained National Guard for national defence. For these tasks—justice and defence—are part of the proper and very necessary role of government. But taxing already overburdened citizens to fund elite sports people? There is nothing proper about it.

Let's review some of the reasons put forward to justify this criminal waste.

Other nations do it, so we need to do it, if we are going to keep up. In this regard we have probably been more provoked by the Australian example than any other. But it begs an obvious question: why would we try to keep up? If Australia or any other nation wants to burden its people, on the one hand, and squander its resources on the other, wasting them on elite sports facilities, why would we care? If Australia ended up winning every medal on offer in every sport in the Olympic Games, and shouted "Oi, Oi, Oi" all the way to Timbuktoo, why would that concern us? Would it somehow damage our lives? Would it threaten our national sovereignty? Would it improve our education system? Would it make our society less just? Would it properly restitute victims of crime? If Australians are that stupid—let them do it. To imitate idiocy is to maximise stupidity.

We need to win medals to maintain our national pride. As soon as the argument is uttered, its folly is immediately obvious. Misusing and wasting the taxes of citizens to promote elite sports people is not a matter of national pride—but immense folly. It is a reason for shame. We find no pride in medals won off the back of the tax payer. Further, why would a government concern itself with national pride? This is just jingoistic nationalistic imperialistic bombast. In the nineteenth century the European powers of Germany, France, the Netherlands, and England used exactly the same reasoning based substantially on nationalistic pride to engage in a race to conquer imperiously or control vast swathes of the globe. Imperialism was utterly bankrupt then. The modern form of nationalistic pride—winning sports medals—is equally bankrupt now, but to add insult to injury, it is also trivial, yet very, very costly.

Success in sports provides a good role model for our youth. Whoa! Get this. Have you ever seen a longer bow? Children in primary schools are taking P. How are we going to deal with that? Well, we will fund Olympic athletes. That will fix it. How stupid! How asinine! Oh, you think the bow is not that long? That there is a causal connection between the two? Well, here's a cheap alternative: let's put posters of elite sports people up in every class room. Would hardly cost a cent. Let's have Michael Phelps up there. Tiger Woods. After all, one young lad recently won the US Amateur Championship, beating Woods's record of being the youngest. Danny Lee says all his life he has been inspired by Tiger Woods.

One of the things that grates most is that Olympic athletes are elite sports people. If they are successful they are richly rewarded—financially. Good on them. But to use the tax payer to fund them to ensure their success is unjust and immoral. But let us also be mindful that there is an army of advisers, support people, consultants, trainers, dietitians, career sports bureaucrats, and other hangers-on who are also all dependant upon the largesse of the government. They will push and shove and lobby and argue to keep the gravy train rolling. Leeches, all.

To every elite or aspiring sports person we need to give a clear and unequivocal message—the people of New Zealand do not owe you success. They don't owe you anything. If they choose voluntarily to support you, good on them, and you. But to take one cent of tax payer's money is to take dirty money. And if that means we cannot compete successfully in a world arena—so be it. Noting of substance is lost. Principled honour is maintained.

To the government, we say, “Get your thieving fingers out of the pockets of the people.” Get rid of all non-core government duties, your vanities, your fripperies, and reduce taxes—for everyone. If you do that, the poor will get the biggest marginal benefit. Take a principled stand for the poor and disadvantaged, instead of bleeding them every fortnight to pay for your schemes of empty vanity and self-serving hubris.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The S-Files

S-Award given to Rodney Hide, ACT Leader

Contra Celsum is pleased to nominate Rodney Hide for an S-Award for doggedly pursuing allegations of serious corruption within the Parliament.


1. Yesterday, Rodney Hide sought to ask a parliamentary question alleging corruption of the most serious kind against MP Winston Peters.

2. In 2003 and 2004 Mr Peters was involved in a parliamentary committee investigating the fishing industry, in particular the scampi fisheries, reported to be worth over $150 million. Scampi (large prawns) were to be brought into the quota system. Allocations of quota would be based upon the existing catches of existing fishing companies. Simunovich Fisheries, according to Peters, had been involved in illegal activity, engaging in standover tactics against their competitors, trying to drive them out of business, to ensure they ended up with a much larger market share, and would be awarded a larger initial quota. False reporting and record keeping was also alleged.

There were allegations of intimidation, threats, blackmail, as well as crimes on the high seas. However, later in the deliberations of the parliamentary committee, Peters withdrew his allegations of illegality and inappropriate behaviour against Simunovich, stating that there was no substance to them. No-one at the time could explain or understand this volte face.

3. In the House yesterday, Hide, in seeking to ask his question, referred to sworn affidavits recently lodged with the Serious Fraud Office testifying against Winston Peters. These affidavits were signed by people involved at the time. They allege that Peters had gone to Simunovich Fisheries, told them he had the “dirt” on them, but promised them if they “donated” $50,000 to NZ First, he would make sure the dirt never saw the light of day, and that the allegations went away. Money was subsequently paid across in “filtered” cheques of less than $10,000 (thereby falling below the bar required for disclosure of gifts.)

4. Mr Hide was ordered from the Chamber by the Speaker, Margaret Wilson on a technicality, provoked by Peters claiming that all these matters were sub-judicae, and therefore could not be raised in the House. Mr Hide was not able to ask his question.

The allegations assert corruption of the most serious kind of our democracy. If true, we would have witnessed a level of perversion and undermining of government and the rule of law in our country never, ever before seen. It is urgently incumbent upon every member of the House to strive energetically and work diligently to see that these matters are investigated thoroughly, and either proved or disproved.

If proved true, a great cleansing reformation of Parliament and its personnel is required. Mr Peters needs to be sentenced to a long prison term—together with his co-conspirators. If proved incorrect those swearing false allegations need to be brought to account, and Mr Peters needs to be publicly vindicated by the entire house of Parliament, Mr Hide included. This must be done without fear or favour. It must be done without concern or regard for party or political advantage. It must be done to protect and defend lawful government in New Zealand.

We find, however, the opposite—which makes this a day of great national shame. Labour is continuing to protect Mr Peters, running parliamentary interference for him. He is, after all, a coalition partner of the government. National is afraid of offending Mr Peters, lest they need to depend upon him for coalition negotiations after the election. Politics and power are apparently more important than the integrity and sanctity of the highest court in the land. The minor parties, apart from Act, are largely deafeningly silent. All parties, all members, and all leaders—apart from Mr Hide, with some support from Russell Brown (of the Greens) and Gerry Brownlee and Bill English (of National)—are proving daily that they are unworthy of the trust placed in them by New Zealand men and women.

Contempt of court is a crime that strikes at the fundaments of the rule of law. That is why it is dealt with in such a direct and summary manner. When the highest court in the land shows contempt for itself, the people must rise up against it, and cast the offending members out—all of them. Be warned. By your actions over the next few days, you will be known and judged.

Rodney Hide, Leader of the Act Party: S-Award, Class I for actions in the course of duty that have been Smart, Sound, and Salutary. Thank you for your respect for Parliament—and therefore for the people of New Zealand.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

ChnMind 2:11 Welfare is a Dividing Issue

Welfare is One of the Great Divides

New Zealand is a nation which officially represents the Great Lie—that Man is the measure and master of all things. In its national life it is a working example of Athens, the City of Unbelief.

As such it provides an excellent case study with which to compare and contrast with the City of God. As we draw the contrasts and comparisons, certain issues emerge which become deep rift valleys between the City of Man and the City of God. These are the defining, Rubicon-like issues which betray whether we are in the broad, tree lined boulevards of Jerusalem, or the dusty dessicated ditches of Athens.

Welfare is such a defining issue. Welfare is one of the issues that tell us that Jerusalem is Jerusalem, and Athens is Athens and ne'er the twain shall meet. For Athens, welfare is a human right, and is therefore a matter of justice. The government, as the minister of justice, must therefore be involved in ensuring that all its citizens are treated with justice—which means that all its citizens are provided with welfare. In Athens, welfare is an involuntary matter. Wealth and capital must be redistributed to the poor as a matter of justice.

For Jerusalem, however, welfare is a matter of charity—that is, it is a matter of grace, not justice. Grace is always free; it cannot be compelled. In Jerusalem no-one therefore has a title, or a right in law, to welfare. In fact, as we shall see in future posts, Jerusalem's constitution prohibits the state from any involvement in welfare whatsoever. Therefore, welfare in Jerusalem is always the duty and responsibility of the voluntary, non-state sector.

The phrase “duty and responsibility” is deliberately chosen. Jerusalem abhors the “devil take the hindmost” ideology of those humanists who argue that the amassing of wealth does not bring responsibilities to others. The constitutional documents of the City make it very clear that the Lord Himself is the defender of the poor, the defenceless, the orphan and the widow. (Psalm 146:9; Proverbs 15:25; Malachi 3:5) Anyone, therefore, who does not take up his duties and responsibilities to the needy will face the Lord Himself: He provides the sanctions and executes the judgements upon those who harden their heart against the poor.

As we have noted before, the City of Jerusalem is a voluntary City, insofar as its citizens enter its gates freely, out of a free-will love of God. No-one can compel such love; no-one can order the will of another to believe and obey. God alone is the compeller of men's hearts. It is He Who draws men to the love of Himself. He does so by the power of His Spirit, as He opens eyes and grants the gift of faith to His elect. Thus the most important form of government in the City is self-government: the government which arises from men and women obeying God from the heart, having His Law inscribed within by a miraculous work of His Spirit.

In this light, welfare is truly a matter of charity, of voluntary actions which citizens of the City undertake as part of their duty and responsibility to God Himself. The blessings and the benefits of this estate are considerable.

Firstly, welfare is personal. It is heart to heart, person to person. Therefore it is a true expression and outworking of love from one or more people to others.Consequently , charity and welfare is uplifting both to the giver (for the one who gives is more blessed than the one who receives) and the recipient. To the giver, the blessedness of generosity leads to even greater giving. The Scripture says that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. The generous soul, experiencing the love of God, becomes even more generous as the years pass. Generosity multiplies.

To the recipient, experiencing the love and kindness of another human being is immensely encouraging and uplifting (unless the heart has been taken captive by a spirit of pride). It affirms the dignity and worth of the needy. Within Jerusalem, when gifts are given to the poor, it is universally true that the poor represent the Lord Himself. To give to the needy is to give to Christ Himself. Such doctrines mean that the recipient is honoured indeed.

The personalistic nature of welfare in the City means that it is almost always a helping hand upwards. It is restorative and redemptive. It is not demeaning and demoralising. By contrast, welfare in Athens is always impersonal. It is not an expression of love at all. It carries with it the cold, impersonal demeanour of a judge. There used to be an expression “cold as charity,” which captured the demoralising and destructive effect of impersonal charity being dispensed by Unbelievers. Colder still is state welfare. Much colder. It rewards neither the “giver” who has had his property taken under compulsion through taxation and distributed to others, nor the recipient—for there is no love or compassion towards the needy from the giver in state welfare. There is only the impersonal “system.”

State welfare grinds the faces of those who live off it. It destroys them from the inside out. That is why in Athens you find intergenerational welfare slaves—up to four generations of people who have known nothing but living all their lives dependant upon state welfare. They are entrapped. They are the permanent underclass. They are the walking dead. This is the inevitable fruit of impersonal state welfare: it is neither loving nor just. It is one of the great evils of the modern world—despite the fact that it is one of Athens's proudest boasts. In the different estates of welfare, we see displayed the glory of the City of our Lord Jesus, on the one hand, and the shame and degradation of the City of Unbelief, on the other. Welfare truly is one of the great divides.

Secondly, in Jerusalem the estate of welfare emphasizes the duty and responsibility of both giver and recipient. We have spoken of the duty upon everyone to extend love and gifts to others in need. But duty does not stop there. The Scriptures also speak of the duties that are upon those who receive welfare. In Jerusalem, when one receives, one accepts the attendant obligations. The first obligation is thankfulness to God—and only then thankfulness to His servants. We are all commanded to give thanks, in all circumstances, because this is God's directive to us. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

When Paul was raising money amongst the Gentile churches for the poor in the churches of Judea, due to famine in that region, he says, “For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution tot hem and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (II Corinthians 9: 12—15) Both the givers and the recipients are overtaken with thankfulness.

Another responsibility upon the welfare recipients in Jerusalem is to do what they can to strive to cease being needful of support and better themselves so that they can in turn support others. This continues a basic ethic of the City: those who have received must stand ready to give to others. The Apostle lays down the law of the City as follows: “We urge you, brethren, . . . to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your own hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” (I Thessalonians 4: 11) Every citizen has a duty to work so that they may not be in any need—so that they may not rely upon nor require welfare assistance from others. This is the duty of every welfare recipient—to do what they can to get themselves in a position where they are in need no longer.

As we have seen previously, if any welfare recipient disregards this duty, and will not strive and labour to place themselves in a position where they no longer need any help, let them starve. In other words, if any refuse to take up their responsibilities to move off welfare, the constitutional documents of the City require that we cease supporting them. They have become thieves, not truly needy.

The fundamental obligation of all such is that they steal no longer, but that they are to labour, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. (Ephesians 4: 28). Thus, the duty of all recipients of welfare is to get themselves (that is, by their own hand) to the point where they no longer need support, but are able, instead, to support others.

This means that in Jerusalem, when one gives to the needy, the gift will just keep on giving, as that person eventually re-establishes himself and in turn commences giving to others. Once again, charity in Jerusalem is redemptive, uplifting, restorative, and multiplying.

The contrast with how welfare works in Athens could not be more stark. Under “welfare as human right” administered by the state's compulsion there is no obligation or moral imperative whatsoever for the recipient to be thankful. In Athens, the recipient of welfare is owed the money. It is what is due him. That is what is means for welfare to be considered a human right. Moreover, there is no obligation to get off welfare and to get oneself in a position of supporting others.

From time to time, Athens tries to introduce “work for the dole” schemes, or variants thereof. The idea is that a duty or obligation of some sort be placed upon the welfare recipient so that they get themselves off welfare dependance. Such ideas always fail: they are dashed upon the impregnable rocky cliffs of “welfare as a right” ideology. They are a fundamental contradiction in terms with state or governmental welfare, based on purported human rights. For this reason, Athens cannot sustain a doctrine or concept of the undeserving poor, who are really thieves, and from whom all welfare should be withheld. The end result is that a growing swathe of the community in Athens are lifelong thieves, who have stolen all their lives without risk of arrest or prosecution. In fact the rulers of the City has told them incessantly that they are right to be this way.

From time to time the ludicrous folly and intrinsic evil of this ideology frustrates even die-hard Athenians. They turn upon their rulers and find themselves asking a rather trenchant question: “Is it right”, they ask, “for an able bodied person to live his whole life supported by the public welfare system while he has chosen never to work a single day?” The rulers of the City shuffle their feet, stare into the middle distance, and mumble, “Yes.” They always answer, yes. The alternative is that the whole house of cards—which is Athens—will fall.

The estate of welfare and how to take care of the needy is a defining issue. It one of the issues which brings the irreconcilable difference between the Cities of Jerusalem and Athens into sharp focus.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Meditation on the Text of the Week

Seeing the Obvious

And even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
II Corinthians 4: 3,4

In our (temporarily) post-Christian world, the Gospel and believers are mocked on every hand. Some of the most arrogant dismissals of the Lord Jesus Christ come from the “wise of this world”—the intellectuals, the educated, and the intelligensia. Of course, when Unbelief becomes the consensus, to the simple minded it takes on the appearance of absolute certainty. A lie often enough repeated by a sufficient number of respected people seems, in the end, to be self evident and infallible, but nevertheless remains a lie.

But if you ever get to analyse Unbelief, the ground upon which it rests, the presumptions and assumptions, the presuppositions and death-defying leaps of illogic, it is quickly shown up to be extreme foolishness—and we do mean “extreme”. This is not just a little mistake—Unbelief is a massive untruth. So much so, that in order to cling to Unbelief one must believe in Unbelief with not only blind prejudice—but with something more. Coupled with blind prejudice has to be malice.

Our text tells us that the Gospel, which alone provides the possibility of any meaning whatsoever, is hidden to the Unbeliever. Those who are perishing have a veil over their hearts and minds so that they cannot see what is as plain as the nose on face. If we inquire as to why there is a veil hiding the truth from the mind of the Unbeliever, the Bible reveals to us that the god of this world—the Devil—Satan—has blinded the minds of all Unbelievers. Note the active transitive verb: the blinding has come about as a result of a deliberate, specific and willful act performed upon all Unbelievers. This explains the malice or hatred of God intrinsic to every Unbelieving mind. Any god it will tolerate except the God revealed in Scripture. Him, it will hatefully reject.

Once that blinding had occurred, Unbelief became not a matter of truth or verity, but an endless reiteration of prejudice. The constant, endless reiteration of Unbelief simply makes it more binding and certain to the veiled heart, but not more true.

We are all familiar with gestalt pictures—where two or more completely different image are found in the same sketch. Study the picture as hard as you like, but you will only see the one image. Then suddenly, in a flash of inspiration, your eye catches the second image and you wonder why you could not see it before. It had been there all the time, but your eye was so drawn to the first image, you were prevented from seeing the second.

This is an apt analogy of Unbelief. Satan has so successfully blinded the minds of all Unbelievers that they see only one image. The veil over the heart and mind prevents them from seeing anything else or more. But the truth is objectively before them all the time. They just cannot apprehend it. Nor are they able to plumb the foolishness of Unbelief: its contradictions, its inconsistencies, its irrationality, its lies. The eye of Unbelief is so drawn to its own image that prevents itself from seeing the its own foolishness and emptiness.

That is why when people become Christians they are often amazed that they did not see before what they now infallibly know to be true. It was because they had been blinded and the truth had been camouflaged before their eyes. When, however, the Spirit of God drew near to them, when the Lord removed the veil and healed the blindness, suddenly all became blindingly plain and obvious. But if the Lord had not removed the veil, they would have remained inveterate, invincible Unbelievers.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see!

Every Believer—and we do mean every Believer—will tell you that these words accurately reflect their own heart and experience. This is so because in order to become a Believer, our text reveals that a veil of Satanically imposed blindness has first to be removed. Only Christ, the Light of the world, can do this for us, heart by heart, soul by soul, mind by mind.

Will Sideswipe Find This Too Close to Home

Mixed Metaphor Supreme

What on earth was the sub-editor thinking? In today's NZ Herald an article on the US presidential election carried the following headline:

The Race Card Starts to Rear Its Head.

Now there is a colourful mangling of the English language. Send the sub-editor back to school!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Abortion and Violence

Family Violence: Of Course It's OK

A recent Auckland University study, according to a report in the NZ Herald, found that there was a clear link between domestic violence and abortion—at least according to the lead author, Janet Fanslow. Of those women who had suffered domestic violence, twenty-one percent had had an abortion. There also appears to be a higher rate of miscarriages amongst women who have suffered domestic violence. However, domestic violence is also associated with higher rates of drinking, smoking, and unwanted pregnancies.

Now you always have to be very very careful, if not more than a little sceptical, about social surveys that trumpet linkages and causation. The mere appearance of two factors does not establish causality.

Fanslow and others are implying that there their data suggest a causal relationship between domestic violence and abortion—that is, domestic violence causes women to have abortions. Dr Fanslow is quoted as follows: “Women currently experiencing intimate partner violence, or with a history of violent relationships, may feel less prepared (emotionally, socially, or financially) to care for a child. This may contribute to their decision to terminate a pregnancy.”

To her credit, Fanslow puts this forward as a suggestion, not a fact. It is supposition, after all. In the end, who would know why violence and abortion occur in higher frequency together? For starters, it may be that the causality works in reverse: abortions lead to higher family violence. Statistical surveys on their own will never be able to establish causality beyond doubt.

However, philosophically we can explain how family violence and abortion occur together--as well as higher rates of drinking and smoking. Abortion always involves the expression and acting out of moral beliefs. This is inescapable. The following clusters of beliefs, or belief system, always flutter around the act of aborting—which is to say, the act of dismembering—a child:

1. The child is not a human being. The intellectual, moral, and social contortions Unbelievers go through to arrive at this position are legend. The rationalistic categorisations attempting to discriminate between being and non-being are at the same time phantasmagoric and stupid. Unbelievers intone about potentiality versus actuality; dependence versus self-actualisation; clusters of cells versus personhood; trimesters; viability versus non-viability—and on and on it goes. The intent is clear: Unbelievers are seeking for some rationalistic ground to determine when a human being is, or is not, a human being. And the ground keeps changing. The debates keep raging. But one thing is beyond debate in the realms of Unbelief: the unborn child is definitely not a human being; all that is lacking is a credible, authoritative ground upon which to rest the assertion.

2. Man has a right to determine for himself what is human and what is not. All people involved in the abortion trade, and all who have had abortions, have adopted a religion which asserts that Man is the determiner of life and the decider of what constitutes human life.

3. The rights of the individual carry the highest ethical weight and moral suasion. When there is any conflict of rights, it is the individual who is sovereign. So, in the matter of abortion, a woman has a right to her own body. This right is sufficiently sovereign that it justifies the killing of the unborn child. This asserted right over one's own body means that a woman can exercise choice with respect to her children—she can choose to have them terminated or to continue their existence. Her sovereignty over herself is so fundamental that she holds the power of life and death over her unborn child.

The application (or not) of violence is how the choice is expressed. Of course, rights are not restricted to members of the female sex. Men too have rights—and they also are entitled to press for and insist upon an abortion when the unborn child, once born, is going to damage or restrict or displeasure the man. The “rights” doctrine at the very least entitles the man to leave and desert the woman if she wishes the pregnancy to continue and he does not. (While we are not aware of any actual case law, it would seem there is a good case for the father to argue successfully in current Athenian law that they have no subsequent financial obligation to the child if the mother bore the baby against the father's wishes, and that the father insisted upon the aborting of the child, government agencies notwithstanding.)

4. Human rights can be defended and asserted by violent acts.

These four ethical principles underlie all abortions. For many they may not be consciously held; however, they are definitely at play in all abortions. When a woman seeking an abortion looks to the medical establishment and the state to carry out her wishes, all the advice and counseling she receives, all the medical input, will subtly and overtly trade in and propound these three key ethical principles.

The problem lies here: these four ethical principles, intrinsic and essential to every act of abortion, have far wider application and ramifications than abortion only. They are universal principles, with universal application to all human activity. Thus, the act of abortion links together the doctrine of sovereign individual rights, on the one hand, and the defence of those rights by violence, on the other.

The assertion of sovereign individual rights over against another human being, sanctioned by violence and brute force can be equally applicable to all domestic relations—and so it proves to be. If I can kill a child because having it displeases me, I can surely hit, abuse, scorn, or spit at a “partner” or any of my born children when they act in a way that displeases me. I have a sovereign right to treat them as in-human or sub-human, since in the final analysis, I, as the sovereign individual, determine what is, and what is not, human. The ethical continuum with the act of abortion is close, direct, and tight.

Now, we are not arguing infallible causality between the act of having an abortion and the subsequent outworking of family violence—as if the abortion causes all subsequent family violence—although this may indeed true in many cases. What we are arguing instead is that abortion is a particular act of familial violence which draws upon the same four ethical principles as all other incidents of family violence. Moreover, these principles are intrinsic to Unbelief; they are essential to the very constitution of modern Athens.

This explains why Athens's bridling at family violence, the “It's not OK” propaganda campaign, and the increased zealousness of the police against domestic violence lack any moral force or traction whatsoever. It explains why such campaigns and police actions will never work. Everybody in Athens knows that it is just politically correct window dressing, unable to be taken seriously—they are just ashamed to say it out loud. Everybody knows that of course family violence is OK. If killing an unwanted unborn child—the ultimate act of family violence—is not only OK, but morally laudable, in the name of a right to one's own body, then hitting out at disagreeable child or “partner” when one's individual preferences and rights are threatened has to be equally “OK!”. The greater act of violence has to justify the lesser.

Within the grotesque and distorted moral myopia of Athens people are asked to believe that violently killing an unborn child is not only OK, but it is one of the highest standards of human dignity and freedom. At the same time (and almost in the same breath) they are told that bashing a child or a “partner” is not OK. Yeah, right! You have to be kidding. As long as Athens holds to the four core ethical beliefs which are used to justify abortion, any Athenian argument against lesser family violence has no moral or ethical merit whatsoever.

So, to Unbelievers, we say this: every year there are over 18,000 officially sanctioned and encouraged acts of ultimate familial violence of the worse kind in this country. Don't even try for one moment to suggest that you are serious when you propagandize that, with respect to family violence, “It's not OK.” Your actions speak much louder than your words.

Of course it's OK. Stop spouting such hypocritical dishonest priggish cant. Your corrupt morality and your bent ethical principles are writ far too large for you to be taken seriously.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Bubble Trouble

Will Oswald Spengler be Proven Right in the End?

The world is awash with money. Well, maybe a bit less now that we have had a few billion sub-prime mortgages, CDO's, and other exotic debt instruments written off. But endless talk of a credit crunch is just that—talk. It ain't so.

A quick check with the latest edition of The Economist shows that M3—the broadest measure of a nation's money supply (aka, credit, in most of its forms)—shows that it is increasing on an annual basis at a healthy clip in most of the larger economies of the world: United Kingdom (11.2%); Euro-zone (9.5%); Australia (17.9%); Canada (14%). Money supply growth is a bit less in the United States, yet hardly contracting at 6.3% per annum. Couple this with the petro-dollars flowing to oil producers, and one is left with the conviction that a serious global credit crunch is a figment of febrile imaginations.

The credit crunch has not been global at all. It has hit particular sectors—primarily and particularly the housing markets of the US, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand—that is, the West. Residential housing prices had been in speculative territory for four or five years. Everyone knew that the bubble had to burst eventually. It has, particularly in the US and the UK.

The old adage was that if you were investing in the share market, and the shoe shine boy starting giving you stock tips, or telling you how much he made in the market last week, it was time to get out. The bursting of the bubble was nigh. These days, the adage translates perfectly to taxi drivers. When they start regaling you with share market triumphs or insider whispers, pack up your kit bag and quietly head for the hills, rifle in hand and deer in sights.

There is an equivalent in the residential housing market. When you go to Whitcoulls and browse the Finance and Investing section only to find most of the books on offer are promising untold wealth through residential property investment, commence an orderly exit from the market. A bubble is building. Or, when you find numerous home grown television programmes in prime time slots with aging personalities attempting a new career launch through shows promoting wealth through residential property it's time to move on.

When the world is awash with money there will be an repeating cycle of bubbles, booms and busts until the monetary splurge dries up. Under these conditions, when one bubble bursts, another will form. In 2000, we had the tech wreck. This hugely speculative investment bubble in technology companies, which had been building for six or seven years, burst. But the growing surfeit of money simply moved on to the next bubble—residential housing. This bubble took about five or six years to expand and expand, until finally it also burst.

Now, where is the money going? What will be the next bubble? For a while commodities had the nod. But these are underpinned by sustained growth in large emerging economies such as China, India, Russia and Brazil. Demand for commodities will continue to put pressure upon supply. It is less likely that a truly speculative bubble will develop in commodities, although a series of mini-bubbles are on the cards.

The serious bubbles start when the “bigger fool” effect comes in to play. This is easy to understand. Sustainable investment earnings come from the production and profitable sale of goods and services. Speculative investment earnings come from investors thinking that they will be able to on sell their investment to a more desperate buyer in the future. Speculative investment gains rely on a bigger fool coming in after to pay even higher prices for your uneconomic assets. Bubbles emerge when bigger fool speculative gains start occurring. Surfeits of money only make bigger fool conditions more likely.

So, we have a surfeit of money sloshing around the globe. We have a burst housing bubble. These days some analysts are suggesting that the next great bubble might be a green one. Consider the following from The Economist:

Some are calling it a clean energy rush. The value of new investment in sustainable energy reached $148.4 billion in 2007, an increase of 60% from the year before. Investments have grown at around the same rate or higher since 2004, according to a study from the United Nations and New Energy Finance, a research firm. Those sums include investments by private-equity and venture-capital firms, money raised through stock offerings, corporate and government money for research and development, and investments in small-scale projects or companies building new renewable energy capacity. Wind-energy projects proved most popular with new investment of over $50 billion in 2007, followed by solar and biofuel.
When governments get behind something—when it becomes part of an almost universal policy consensus in the West (as indeed has occurred in this case)—a bubble is certain to develop. Couple government support and largesse with easy credit, and with a global economy that has lots of money sloshing around, and a bubble becomes inevitable. Investment mania will follow. A huge bubble will inflate—to be followed eventually by the inevitable crash.

Bear in mind that the clean energy rush is to this point investing in energy sources and technologies that are not economic. They are too costly; they are too energy inefficient. They can only survive with government subsidies or bigger fools. So in fact the clean energy rush is really a way to make money from governments and bigger fools.

Another interesting aspect is that this bubble is likely to be an almost exclusively Western phenomenon. The Euro and Anglo blocs are the ones who will be seriously involved; these are the economies that will face the damage when the bubble bursts—in precisely the same way that these blocs are the ones that have suffered the most damage from the collapse of the housing market. Emerging economies are simply not interested in the global warming, environmental, green mania.

If you want to speculate in this sector, our advice would be “get in quick; get out quick”. Be very aware of the risks you are taking. Make sure that you have a bigger fool lined up. It's not likely to last. It is unsustainable.

The longer term global effect will be a sustained, secular transfer of wealth from the northern to the southern hemispheres. Even as some of the world's largest financial institutions are now significantly owned by middle eastern and southern hemisphere sovereign wealth funds (that is, by politically controlled capital) as a result of the most recent bubble bursting, so when the green bubble bursts, southern hemisphere nations will end up owning more northern hemisphere businesses. The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere is going global. The West is now in a long term (and probably irreversible) decline.

We await a new Oswald Spengler to arise and write The Decline of the West, Part II.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

The Malfeasance of an Estate of Government

The Media is in Contempt of the Highest Court

In our day there is an almost universal disrespect for the media. This is true not just in a competitive medium such as the the blogosphere, but it is found everywhere.

Our population is so small, and our nation so intimate that almost everyone has had personal experience of an event which was subsequently reported or recorded in the media. When reading the media account most people realise that what had been reported was very different from their experience of the event. People express their views to their friends, and the account spreads (usually, we are told, to a circle of around thirty people).

Consequently, there is a general profound distrust—a deep and pervasive cognitive dissonance with respect to the media in this country. The respect in which the media is held is around about the same level as politicians: they are regarded as being unscrupulous, untrustworthy, self-serving, and manipulative.

But is this prevailing pejorative opinion fair? Unfortunately, we believe it is.

The term “fourth estate” was first used by Thomas Carlyle to refer to the press—in our modern world, mutatis mutandis, the media (both print and electronic). The reference in its turn goes back to the time of the French Revolution, where the old regime was seen to consist of three estates: the nobility, the church, and the commoners. These three estates were the groups that made up the government: each had a place, a part, and a role in governing the nation responsibly.

When Carlyle referred to the media as the fourth estate, he was overtly asserting that the media have a critical and important part to play in government—which, of course, carried with it enormous responsibility, and called for significant integrity. Carlyle was arguing that the media was a part of the government, although a separate and independent power (in the same way that the judiciary is independent of parliament). Traditionally, in modern democracies, the press has been regarded as performing the vital function of checking and balancing the other estates of government, of holding them to account before the people—who in a democracy are supposed to be the ultimate rulers and magistrates--the final and highest court of the land.

Just as a jury or a judge cannot make safe and just decisions unless the “whole truth” is placed before them, so the people cannot make the right decisions unless the whole truth on issues in the body politic is available. The media are supposed to be the vital estate of government which works to place the “whole truth” before the court of the public. To the extent that the media malfunction, a general malaise afflicts the body politic.

The theory of democratic government requires some some stretching and demanding presumptions. One of them is that governors will not conspire against the governed, using their power to deceive and manipulate the people. Yet Lord Lytton tells us that power tends to corrupt, so a realistic working presumption is that over time democratic leaders will become corrupt, and will use their influence destructively—for selfish ends, and not for the good of the people or the nation.

It is precisely at this point that the media has a decisive democratic role to play—the role of the fourth estate. It has a duty to hold the government of the day to account, by truthfully exposing what is really going on--good or bad. Unfortunately, original sin does not stop with politicians, it also has infected the media. The more powerful and influential media become, the more likely they are to become corrupted themselves, giving over their public service responsibilities to self-serving promotion of their own businesses.

They say that in war, truth is the first casualty. We would add that in modern democratic politics, truth likewise becomes the first casualty--unless the media perform their true fourth estate function. Unfortunately the media have become complicit in the assault upon truth: the fourth estate has also become corrupted. The media have lost the honour in which they should be held as an estate of government: they have prostituted themselves to the extent that many now hold the media in open contempt.

Can it be recovered? Unlikely. Not in the short term. Once precious unwritten constitutional conventions are trashed, the possibility of recovery becomes remote and exceedingly.

However, as the City of Jerusalem is built and becomes more and more influential, the demand and appetite for change and reformation will increase. We would like to see the following occur:

1. A demand for far more rigorous disclosures of interest. Media are not neutral. They are inevitably biased and prejudiced in their operations and foundations. The infantile world-view of secular materialistic humanism claims that totally objective, detached, “scientific” analysis is alone truthful and authoritative. Consequently, in the modern world, everyone wants to present themselves as being totally objective, detached, neutral. If they don't, they will be pilloried as lacking integrity, credibility and verity.

However, this notion is a childish fantasy. The reverse is actually the case. Neutral, unbiased objectivity is a gigantic myth. To the extent society proceeds as if the fantasy were true, widespread miasma and confusion results. Truth dies.

Fortunately post-modernism has helpfully re-asserted what the Scriptures have always taught: that neutrality is impossible, that cant is inescapable, and that context is highly influential. (To this extent post-modernism is a far more mature philosophical development than puerile pseudo-scientific objectivism.) So, the media must give over the fantasy of absolute objectivity and neutrality. They need to identify and disclose their pre-commitments, their respective biases, and their respective prejudices. (Ironically, and thankfully, when this happens, actual objectivity increases exponentially. When people are epistemologically self-conscious, their reasoning becomes more self-critical and rigorous.)

Media companies need to disclose their ownership and any conflicts that arise out of their ownership with issues of the day. Such constant disclosure would likely be the death of state-owned media—which in our view represents an enormous conflict of interest, and ought not to be allowed continue. Responsible government media is an oxymoron, if one is thinking of the fourth estate. It is doubtful that Radio New Zealand or TVNZ could survive if they were forced to disclose constantly that they were owned and funded by, and responsible to, government ministers. The conflict made overt would strip away any remaining vestige of credibility, likely causing them to implode.

Incidentally, we find the attitude of the left wing towards media ownership to be spectacularly naive. The left wing generally takes the marxist view that private property is corrupting of morality and is exploitative. Therefore, public ownership of media is essential to provide a bulwark against capitalist media companies. For the left, corruption only exists in realms of private capital and ownership. Miraculously, corruption ceases when ownership becomes public or governmental.

Our view is that original sin is not selective: its pernicious influence is everywhere. State owned media outlets are potentially as corrupt as private owned media--probably more so. Given that potential corruption is endemic, the way forward is to require comprehensive disclosure that any corruption can be quickly identified by the public.

Media companies also need to disclose pre-commitments or positions inevitably held toward politicians, governments, policies, and public issues. For example, we have been poorly served in recent years by the overwhelming sensationalist media bias in an alarmist (self-serving) promotion of the theory of global warming. A simple disclosure of the “position” of editorial managements on the issue at the end of each story would go a long way towards cleaning such disservices up. (“Disclosure: editorial management believes that anthropogenic global warming is an established scientific fact. This is likely to affect our reporting on this issue.”) The positive impact upon reporting and editorial rigour would be both salutary and immediate.

One way to deal with this would be a legislatively mandated disclosure regime. Since the media is (or ought to be) a functioning estate of government within a sustainable and healthy democracy, that privileged position must be seen to carry fiduciary responsibilities. If a media company wishes to take up its proper fourth estate duties, mandatory disclosures should be required (in the same way that mandatory disclosures of conflicts of interest are required of directors of companies, or parliamentarians, or ministers of the crown.)

If a media company is unwilling to be classified as an organ of the fourth estate, and submit to the disclosure regime, that too ought to be disclosed: it is likely quickly to be regarded as a sensationalist rag, and not to be taken seriously. It would also likely have implications for admission to the parliamentary press gallery, and other prime news sources.

2. A requirement that media report, not seek to make themselves part of the main event. Over the years we have seen more and more public relations activity on the part of media—shameless self-promotion. “We are the biggest. We are the brightest. We got this exclusive. Our coverage of this event is the best.” Once a particular media company gets on that slippery slope it has lost its integrity; reporting has become a function subordinate to commercial self-promotion. Commercial self-interest is a leading conflict of interest in all modern media, and must be dealt with appropriately.

The attitude towards self-promotion should be a mandatory requirement of disclosure. Formal eschewing of self promotion ought to be part of the standard for being admitted to the fourth estate of government.

We believe there will always be media companies where laziness is the order of the day; where sensation is believed to be more commercially powerful than the truth; where revenue and sales are the ultimate corporate value; and where “being first” is regarded as more valuable than being ethical, truthful, or fair. They are welcome to it. Their lack of transparency will, in fact, be a loud disclosure in and of itself.

A far higher mandatory disclosure regime for the genuine organs of the fourth estate of government will go a long way toward dealing with such second-rate, irresponsible, unscrupulousness. The formal recognition in law of the fourth estate of government, and the consequent creation of mandatory standards of disclosure for fourth estate companies would be a significant step forward.

Where the sun shines, germs die.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Food, Glorious Food

A Cursed Fear of Food

You can tell a great deal about a culture from what it fears. The ancient Greeks feared excelling or achieving things that would attract the envious attention of the gods, who would then strike them down, in order to teach them a “lesson.” When things were going well, they would say, "Watch it, the gods may notice and then hell will break out."

Other cultures have been fearfully racked with various superstitions such as bad luck or evil charms, as when a black cat crosses one's path, or one walks under ladders. Still other cultures have such a defined ethical sense that they fear retribution for every wrong deed. Thus, Job's comforters: they reasoned that since Job had suffered retribution he must have done something wrong.

Generally, a society that lives in cultural fear is one which is far away from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. It should come as no surprise, then, that as modern culture increasingly militates against the Christ, fear would rise.

Fear of what, you ask. Of just about everything. Of course most modern Unbelievers no longer believe in superstitious idols, such as Zeus or Athena. Their unbelief is of an equally superstitious, but secular, materialistic kind: their god is man's autonomous Reason, knowing all, conquering all, determining all. So, guess what—suddenly, man's fear of man burgeons.

We have commented often on the current phobia of man-caused global warming—that is allegedly threatening the very existence of humanity. A short reading of climate blogs serves quickly to demonstrate that many people are experiencing an acute gnawing fear at the prospect of what they believe is a certain calamity to come.

But fear is not restricted to this in modern Athens. The NZ Herald's Canvas magazine recently carried an article on the growing phobia over food. People are afraid of food. Food is the staff of life: but now it is feared and hated. Surely the Scriptures speak truly when they say: “Those who hate Me, love death.” They imagine or conjure up eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia; they are pathologically fearful about what they are eating; they live in the prison of constant dieting; healthy eating has become a monstrous tyrant.

Sarah Lang, in the Canvas article, comments: “Another dietary disturbance, coined 'orthorexia', denotes an unhealthy fixation on 'healthy' eating that can lead to social isolation, malnourishment and extreme weight loss.” A growing number of women describe being so fixated on the fear of food and of having an other-than-acceptable body shape that they confess to being unable to think about anything else except food, their bodies, and their particular eating regimes.

Another manifestation of the same phobic narcissism is food intolerance. People on every hand are now declaring themselves to be intolerant of foods, such as wheat or gluten. Intolerances are a hard thing to “get a handle on”, but internationally, best estimates are that genuine food intolerance affects about 5% of the population—but about 25% of people think they have a particular food intolerance.

Lang writes: “Among our modern-day concern with what we eat, have intolerances become a badge of honour? Nearly 40 per cent of 1500 British people polled in a survey by Yorktest thought it trendy to be (food) intolerant and many blamed celebrities. Of the 12 million who claimed to be intolerant, less than a quarter had had their condition formally diagnosed.” The proverb says, as a man thinks, so he is. Tell yourself (fearfully) that you are intolerant to foods, and you will end up finding that the thing you feared has come upon you.

Contrast this phobia over food in Athens with life under the Covenant. In the Scriptures, food and eating and drinking together repeatedly and constantly symbolised the essence of the Covenant relationship between God and His people. When the Lord established formal public worship amongst His people, it centred around rejoicing in the presence of God through eating together: the Lord rejoicing with us, and we with Him.

The activity to express this deepest of joys was feasting—eating and drinking in abundance. As Israel went up to Jerusalem three times a year during the great central feasts, they were commanded to save up so that they could spend up large at the feast. At the feast they were to “spend the money for whatever your heart desires, for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.” (Deuteronomy 14: 26)

When the Lord redeemed His people out of Egypt the deliverance was unto a land “flowing with milk and honey”—that is, a land abundant in food. The quantity and richness of the food was a proof or evidence of God's salvation, redemption, and love for His people. Not to eat richly and abundantly at the great religious feasts was to imply that God had not blessed and had not provided for His people. It would be an insult of ingratitude to Him.

Similarly, in the New Covenant, despite the fact that Jesus came bearing its curse—and therefore lived a life of deprivation and poverty, poorer than the foxes of the earth and the bird of the air—the Kingdom He established, and over which He now reigns, is one of richness, blessing and feasting. His desire and command is that He come amongst His people and eat with them. (Revelation 3: 20)

As one theologian said, with respect to redemption and the Kingdom: “It's all about food”—sitting down, eating and drinking together, rejoicing together, and enjoying the presence of one another and of our Lord.

Behind all this, of course, is the fact that when a people are in Christ, all nature, all creation, all circumstances of life are a manifestation of God's personal and abiding love to each one of us. Fear has no place in such a world. As it says, God has not given to us a Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7)

Athenian culture is betrayed by what it fears. It increasingly fears the very staff of life itself. Jerusalem's culture is manifested through what it does not fear. Its banquet halls are bright with songs of triumphant joy.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

A Prison Without Bars

Maori and Family Violence

We have become immune to seeing the appalling statistics which shows a massive over-representation of Maori in acts of family violence. Nowadays, because of the dominance of egg-shell like political correctness, the uber-vigilance of the Human Rights Commission, the febrile superficial sensationalism of the media, and the overwhelming predominantly left-wing, statist, socialist orientation of the country's universities, such statistics tend to be reported in small print, and then largely left. No-one wants to engage in commentary, reflection, or public debate. It is sort of like the embarrassing open secret that everybody knows, but nobody talks about.

An example occurred recently when Simon Collins of the NZ Herald was reporting on a recent University of Auckland study on the frequency of abortion broken down by ethnicity. The last line of the article said: “Maori women were much more likely to have suffered violence during pregnancy (22 percent) than Pacific women (7 percent), Europeans (6 percent) or Asians (1 percent).” Thank you, Simon. And now, the sports news.

A plethora of pseudo-explanations for this correlation between Maori and family violence has surfaced over the years, all designed to excuse it in some way or other. None has really captured the field. It would appear, however, that the most acceptable explanation to Maori themselves is “victimology”—that is, the cause of (and therefore the blame for) the grossly disproportionate over-representation of Maori in family violence statistics is that they had their cultural and societal roots stripped away from them by marauding European colonialism. The subsequent loss of cultural identity has meant that their traditional family structures were unable to sustain them: caught between two worlds, Maori have simply fallen apart, socially speaking.

A typical example of this ideology was provided by Tariana Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party, when, during the national furore over child abuse that surrounded the Bradford Bill, Mrs Turia blamed the predominance of Maori violence toward their children upon the missionaries of the nineteenth century. Apparently up until Christianisation, the Maori loved their tamariki and indulged them, not needing to correct them. It was the missionaries who persuaded Maori to use corporal discipline upon their children—thus, starting the descent into violence we see today.

This kind of blame shifting is as old as the Garden of Eden (“it was the woman's fault . . . ; no, it was the serpent's fault . . .”); it is part of the universal human condition of sin, so it should not surprise us to see it recrudescent here. However, such explanations or justifications for evil behaviour are acceptable only to the superficially minded or the guilty looking for excuses. “You have got to be kidding,” is the appropriate response.

So, let's try to be a bit more profound than Mrs Turia, and offer some better analysis.

Firstly, we are convinced the problem is not racial. Race is a huge red-herring. To say that Maori family violence is a produce of race is to say that it is genetically in-bred into Maori. Some geneticists have claimed, in recent years, to have isolated a “violence” gene in Maori, or a genetic configuration that predisposes Maori to violence. Even if that were true such a gene would be ethically neutral; it is how it is channeled or expressed that is at issue here.

We have no doubt that if there is a “violence” gene, of itself it is an excellent thing. We have desperately needed warriors in the past (witness the Maori Battalion) and we will no doubt need them again. There are many historical examples of warlike peoples and warrior cultures—but they were not necessarily known for beating their wives and children. It is all to do with how the aggression is channeled and controlled.

Secondly, we do believe the problem is cultural. Culture is the externalisation of one's world view. What you believe determines is the final determinant of how you live and act. Moreover, cultures are communal, not racial. When people believe together, when they share beliefs, their acting out of those beliefs becomes more overt and prominent because a belief held in common with a community is easier to apply and work out. The community encourages the practices, endorses them, approves them, and assists in them. World-views (and therefore cultures) are combinations of beliefs that are true and false, good and evil, correct and wrong. To the extent that a community “takes on”, then externalises, false, evil and wrong beliefs, its culture will be weak, sinful, and degenerate.

So, what might be some of the wrong, false and evil beliefs held in common amongst Maori communities and consequently externalised in their lives? (We should add that these beliefs are not unique to Maori—but are common to all mankind to one extent or another. Severe problems will only arise when such false beliefs are strongly held or widely shared in particular families, communities, or groups—whether socio-economic, ethnic, or geographic). We believe, in no particular order, the following wrong or false beliefs are reaping a bitter fruit:

1. Bitterness over historical injustices; grievances due to past events. Becoming a victim of injustice or hardship is universal throughout human history; bitterness over it is not. Virtually every people, every culture could find examples in their past when their ancestors were raped, pillaged, hounded off their land, and unjustly persecuted. It has been a universal human condition. But the vast majority of peoples and cultures moved on.

One only has to reflect upon the extreme deprivations and gross injustices inflicted upon the Scottish Highlanders and the Irish peasants during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the British—even to the point where their culture was outlawed—to see that any historical deprivations experienced by Maori in New Zealand were neither unique nor particularly extreme. We mention the Scottish and the Irish deliberately, because within two generations they had scattered over much of the known world, but their subsequent cultural, social, political, and intellectual impact upon the world has been prodigious. (The Scots Highlanders are particularly instructive because of their warlike and violent history.)

These people “moved on”. Yes, what happened to them was grossly unjust. Yes, they lost family members to persecution, disease, starvation. Yes, their culture was oppressed and rent. Yes, they lost their ancestral lands. But they believed the future was more important than the past, and they left their homelands to grasp it--just as many Maori, incidentally, have left to grasp a better future in Australia. (We have not seen any research, but we would expect that were some credible work to be done, we would find that the Ngati-roo are far more future orientated than their families in New Zealand, and far less pre-occuppied with historical grievances).

The Scots and Irish did not believe (probably because they were not told) that they were victims who needed compensation. They did not allow themselves to become bitter. They went on, in their own way, to make a better living for themselves. One of the most debilitating false beliefs a person can ever entertain is that they are damaged goods because of what has happened in the past, and that they will therefore never amount to much, unless they are apologised to and compensated in some way. This false belief makes the past a prison.

2. A tolerance and acceptance of state welfare. Sir Apirana Ngata, during the parliamentary debates on state welfare when it was first introduced to New Zealand by Michael Savage prophesied that it would be the death of his people. He has been proven right. State welfare is a poison pill because it makes one economically, and therefore culturally, dependant. It enslaves. In fact, it is the worst form of slavery imaginable, insofar as the chains become internal not external; and the slavery is of the heart.

Under historical slavery, at least the enslaved could take a modicum of pride in what they did, what they achieved each day. State welfare enslaves without chains. It makes one dependant, and strips away even the self-respect that comes from the achievements of work.

State welfare has other destructive effects. It undermines and rots family structures. When men are on welfare, they become redundant and “past their use-by date” for the family duties and responsibilities. Their wives and their children will be taken care of whether they are there or not, whether they work or not, whether they earn a living or not. Moreover, since welfare is related to children and is child-based, mothers become the primary conduit of income into the family. The prevailing redundancy, irrelevance, and useless of men under state welfare is one of the most destructive influences upon social and family fabric.

To the extent that state welfare is more predominant amongst Maori communities, to that extent Maori families are weakened and torn apart. But, don't blame the state welfare system: the blame needs to fall squarely on the false belief that accepting income from the state is OK. It's not OK! It's deadly.

There are many other wrong or false beliefs which are bearing rotten fruit amongst Maori people—leading to the over-representation in family violence, crime, and other socially destructive behaviour. As we said above, these false beliefs are not unique to Maori, they are not errors or weaknesses of race; they are, however, cultural falsehoods. They have to be addressed: clearly, firmly, unequivocally.

Who might address them? Clearly not the left-wing intelligensia. Clearly not the government and its various departments of state. Clearly not the media. These are all part of the problem. They largely share the same false world-view that is causing the problem. It needs to be addressed by individual Maori leaders who are prepared to stand up and tell the truth to their own.

We await more Maori leaders who will stand up and say, “It's not OK to believe that you are disadvantaged and oppressed. It's a lie.” Or, “It's not OK to live on state welfare. It's slavery. Get off it. Get a job.” Or, “It's not OK to live in envy of successful family members. Imitate their example—sure—but it's not OK to put the hand out to them.”

Those Maori who have stood up and spoken—and there are numerous examples—we believe are the true heroes and heroines of their people. We salute them, and hope that many follow in their train.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Meditation on the Text of the Week

By Their Songs You Shall Know Them

Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones;
Praise is becoming to the upright.
Psalm 33: 1
A culture is manifested by its songs. The things about which men sing are the objects of their desire and worship. A culture can claim to believe this or that, but what it sings about is the real desire, the real belief, the real longing and loyalty of the heart.

In the light of this, what can we say about modern Athenian culture? There have been times when the songs of the day have been patriotic anthems, of longing for one's homeland, of prideful boasting in the glory of one's nation, such as “By the dawn's early light.” Or they have been songs to boost a nation's spirits during a terrible time, like when a nation has been at war—such as “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag.”. Or they have been songs of lamentation and mourning during a time of calamity—such as the Negro spirituals. Or they have been songs tinged with bitterness and sadness during times of social dislocation and poverty—such as the Blues.

By today's standard, all such formerly popular historical music can seem quaint and very strange. None of these things reflects the current Athenian culture's objects of desire and worship. For two generations, now, modern Athens has worshiped at the altar of romantic love and sexuality. Ninety-nine percent of all songs have romantic love and sexuality as their dominant, recurring themes. What you sing about betrays and portrays your god: Athenian gods are on display, and it is not a pretty sight.

Jerusalem is a city of music and song. But its songs are not about men, in the first instance. The recurring theme of its songs is the glory and wonder of the Lord. Consequently, its songs are have cadences of wonder, awe, and praise. They can also be sad and mournful, reflecting sorrow over sin and evil. In the end, however, all the songs of Zion are joyful. So our text commands: “Sing for joy in the Lord.” This is not just because the people of the Lord are irrepressibly happy—although that is most often the case—but more importantly the joy and lightness of heart arises from contemplating the beauty and glory of God Himself.

So, our Psalm commands us to sing for joy in the Lord, and goes on numerate some of His glories--the things which bring us joy: His faithfulness, His love of righteousness, His lovingkindness, His making all things of nothing by the mere speaking of His Word, the fact that His Word and counsel stands forever and that He brings the plans and schemes of the unbelieving nations to nothing. God is wonderful indeed—and therefore, blessing without peer belongs to the people He has chosen as His inheritance.

These wonderful realities mean that that Jerusalem is a city of music and song. The timbre is not lamentation but joy—and the overwhelming subject of our songs is the Lord and His glory. As the Apostle Paul wrote, under the inspiration of the Spirit, many centuries later: “Rejoice in the Lord always—and again, I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

This is not to say that the songs of Zion do not touch upon things in the creation—they clearly do. They do sing about man, about romantic love, about bearing children, about justice, honour, longing and struggle. But these things are sung about always in the light of the pre-interpreting, pre-ordaining Word of God. The songs of Zion speak of all of these aspects of creation being part of a comprehensive orchestra and universal choir joining in the praises and honour of God. Man is the recorder and the conductor of the performance.

Music is universally found in all human cultures. The subject of its songs—those subjects which capture the popular mind and imagination in its singing—they are the heart of a culture on display. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth sings. Popular Athenian culture is fixated on its god of romance and sex. To this god it sings it paeans of praise and longing. But God's people still gather in worship—and when they do, their songs are utterly unlike the songs of the modern dominant culture. They sings the songs of Zion—songs of joy in the glory and greatness of our God.

Never has there been a more striking contrast between the two cities.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

ChnMind 2.10 To the Family Belongs Social Welfare

The Deserving Poor and the Family

In The End of History and the Last Man, (New York: Avon Books, 1992) Francis Fukuyama argues that modern Athenian liberal democracies represent the highest and last stage of history, in the sense that no further progress (at least in terms of the way society is organised and governed) can be achieved. A modern liberal democracy, he opines, is the acme and pinnacle of human existence.

This is an extraordinarily bold claim, attractive for its optimistic outlook, if nothing else.

One of Fukuyama's arguments for modern Athenian liberal democracies being the highest and therefore the last stage of human social development is that they do not appear to have the seeds of their own dissolution and destruction growing within. There is no antithesis developing within liberal democracies that will result in them being torn apart and breaking down.

On this point, Fukuyama is just plain wrong. It turns out that Athenian liberal democracy inevitably contains the seeds of its own destruction and breakdown, insofar as liberal democracies shows themselves to be pathologically anti-family: modern liberal democracies do only weaken the institution of the family, they work actively to tear it apart. In weakening and tearing apart the family, liberal democracies will eventually break down from inside and experience a severe and irreversible decline and fall. Society cannot be built on a stable foundation without strong family life. We believe in the end that liberal Athenian democracies will be “judged by history” to be unsustainable, containing within them the seeds of their own decline and destruction.

The attenuation of the family as a social institution within modern Athens is everywhere apparent. The evisceration of the family has come from two main directions, both religious: the first is the persistent assertion that the rights of individuals are paramount and more fundamentally important than the institution of the family; the second is the progressive removal of family duties and social responsibilities and clustering those duties and responsibilities in society-at-large—which is to say, in the government. These socially negative tendencies are apparent in every modern Athenian liberal democracy. Their universality proves their inevitability. Individual rights are enthroned over marriage vows. Children's rights are raised above parental authority. The State claims prior rights over the children of all families. It increasingly intrudes into family life, ordering how children are to educated, what they are to be taught, how they are to be raised, and what they are to eat. The result is the institution of the family is becoming increasingly redundant in liberal democracies.

These social pathologies are present in every liberal democracy and their destructive influence has grown enormously in the last one hundred years. The social antithesis of family breakdown is an inevitable outcome to the thesis of modern, liberal, rights-based democracies. The outcome will be the collapse of liberal democratic societies in upon themselves. Liberal democratic societies are unsustainable.

Jerusalem, however, truly does represent the highest stage of human social and political development. It is the City of God; its animus is spiritual—which is to say, of and from the Holy Spirit of God Himself—and its existence is entirely dependant upon God's gracious work of pouring forth His Spirit, drawing people to Himself, conquering their sin, transforming them from the inside out, and building them into true human communities. Because the City of God actually deals with the moral and spiritual corruption of the human heart, the City has no internal antitheses to tear it apart. Jerusalem truly does represent the End of History and the Last Man. Its Lord and Life-Giver is the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last Man.

Jerusalem restores the Family to its central and rightful place—a position which is grounded upon the command, the designation and the appointment of the Lord Himself. The Family is able to take up its lawful role and responsibility again within the Covenant community. Intrinsic to the Family's responsibilities is to be at the forefront of extending welfare to its members and to the wider community.

The key scriptural passage is found in I Timothy 5:8. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he had denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” The Bible emphatically declares that it is the duty of everyone to provide for “their own.” Their “own” in this context means those for whom one has a particular responsibility. The first circle of responsibility is one's own household—one must provide for one's own children and those living under one's roof. The second circle is the extended family: we must have concern for those within our covenant blood lines. The third circle is the community of faith—the community of Christians. We must have regard for any one need within the Church family. The fourth circle is the wider community, including those who do not believe.

These duties are made clear when Paul discusses the case of widows. He is addressing the responsibilities of the Church to towards "widows indeed". It turns out that not all widows should be regarded as requiring the help and support of the Church. It should preferably be only those women who had lost their husbands, and were older, and had no means of support from their families.

Widows are particularly singled out throughout the Scripture as people to be especially cherished and looked after. But the first line of provision must come from her own children and grandchildren. The children are to “make a return” to their parents. This is acceptable with God—that is, this is what God looks for and approves amongst His people. We read: “Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family, and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.” (I Timothy 5: 3,4) So, the wider Church community has a duty to provide for widows (and, by extension, orphans, indigents, the sick), but only if their immediate family are not able to take care of all the needs themselves.

If anyone becomes a widow, and is younger, the divine instruction is to seek to be remarried, so that she may be taken care of by her husband and she not become a burden on the wider Church community. (I Timothy 5:14). If a woman has dependant widows, it is her duty to take care of them and support them, so that the Church may not be burdened.

The Church, then, is left to focus on those who are widows indeed. (I Timothy 5:16) This expression is very interesting. The Church community will always have to take care of those who are indeed widows—that is, who have no family support, either because their extended family are unbelievers and have deserted their mothers, or because tragedy has struck the wider household, and it has been decimated. But, once again, the primary responsibility for welfare belongs with the Family. It is to be the first line of defence against poverty.

A further key principle with respect to welfare is that those who do not strive to provide for themselves are to be left to starve. This “tough love” is utterly foreign to modern Athens—an evidence of that city's stupidity and reckless folly. Because of residual sin within Jerusalem from time to time there are likely to be those people who busy themselves in the public affairs or the affairs of others and will not take care of themselves. The constitutional documents of the City leave us in no doubt as to how they are to be dealt with:

Now we command you, brethren, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof (avoid) from every brother who leads an undisciplined life and not according to the tradition you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example; because we did not live in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labour and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have a right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as an example a model for you, that you might follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order; If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.
For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in a quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him that he may be put to shame. And yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

II Thessalonians 3: 6—15
In these simple, direct words the entire edifice of the modern Athenian welfare state is torn down. Paul, as a full-time apostle of the Lord was entitled to be supported by those to whom he was ministering. This is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture. However, in order to teach a more fundamental point, Paul relinquished this right, and insisted upon working with his hands, plying his trade, and supporting himself. He did so in order to be an example to the believers. He commands us all, in the Name of the Lord to follow his example and act likewise.

The basic rule of equity is that if a person chooses not to work, he, by that decision, ought to be allowed to starve. Hunger, in the end, will provide the motivation to productive work.

We have watched the lunacy of Athens as it has sought deliberately to ignore this command, setting itself up as wiser than God. Not only has it undermined and dismissed the family in a thousand different ways, it has also sought to replace it, making the government the Uber-family—the source of provision and welfare. The upshot is that now more than one in two mouths in this country depend upon the government for bread. Many of these dependants are living lives of busybodies. In Jerusalem they would be left to starve.

Thus, the concept of the poor indeed, or the deserving poor is central to Jerusalem's constitution. Secondly, the prime responsibility to provide for the poor falls upon their family members, both immediate children and also relatives. The Church stands as a back up, to act when these first lines of provision are inadequate or have failed.

One of the key reasons why modern Athenian liberal democracies will collapse in upon themselves, rotting from the inside out, is found right here. Because modern man has mocked the Living God, because he has turned a deaf ear to the warnings about, and dangers of, the undeserving poor, because he has substituted his own wisdom, attempting to create a vain utopia through the welfare state, modern Athenian society is doomed.

Jerusalem, for its part, has listened carefully to the commands of her Lord. In her streets, state “welfare” is progressively spurned and rejected. It is replaced by familial welfare. In God's City, the Family is the first and essential institution of welfare. God alone is our Provider, and we seek for His provision in His way, on His terms, with His blessing. Jerusalem rejects the statist idolatry of Athens built upon its edifice of pseudo-rights and humanist pretensions.