Saturday, 29 November 2008

ChnMind 2:18 Households in Covenant

Jerusalem Signified By Households-in-Covenant

The institution of the family has been under sustained attack throughout most of Church history. Prior to the Enlightenment, many of the influences which undermined the family came from within the Christian Church itself. After the Enlightenment, as the West began its long march into its post-Christian utopia, the attacks upon the family came increasingly from the institutions of society at large: the legal codes, the courts, the schools, and the increasingly influential rights-based secular philosophies.

As God's Kingdom comes progressively upon the earth, the Spirit will restore the Family to its pivotal role within Jerusalem. Christian parents and households will once again take up place, assuming responsibilities and duties long since occluded and neglected.

Central here will be a recovery of the biblical and redemptive reality that the most basic and fundamental entity in God's Kingdom upon earth is not the individual human heart or soul. Rather, the most fundamental “building block” is the “householded” human soul. God does not establish His covenant of redemption with isolated, atomistic, individuals—but with individuals and their households. In this regard, Abraham is very significant. God made a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12: 1—3), but that covenant was not with Abraham as an isolated individual soul: the covenant embraced Abraham and his entire household (wife, servants, and eventually Isaac). And so it has ever been.

God's grace and mercy flows within household walls and along household lines. As His mercy flows, the Family institution will again take up its true household responsibilities. Amongst these is the primary duty of nurturing children so that they grow in favour with God and man. It is primarily within the household-under-covenant that the faith is transmitted to the next generation and that children grow up having been disciplined in faith and obedience to our Lord.

One sign of the recovery of the Family to be what it is meant to be—one sign of the increasing presence of God's Kingdom upon earth—is when we hear young adults say that they have always believed in Christ, and that they can never remember a time when they did not call upon Him in faith and repentance. Such Family power and experience tells us that the Kingdom is present indeed.

A second aspect of the recovery of the importance and role of the Family is when it becomes normal for parents to view their role as including a responsibility to train their children for useful service in God's Kingdom. Nurturing requires education of the mind. For far too long Christian households have assumed they can safely leave the education of their children to the State. Of course Athens insists on its prior right and authority to educate all children in the land. But this is a gross violation of God's proscriptions and prescriptions for the State, as we shall see in due time. It is an assault upon the Family's integrity within the Kingdom.

Christian households, covenanted to God, must never cede their duties to educate their children to the State—or to the Church, for that matter. The Family, of course, will ordinarily employ specialist teachers or utilise schools to help them fulfill their responsibilities. But the responsibility to see that one's children are educated appropriately and properly, and the duty to ensure that one's children are trained for appropriate service in God's Kingdom, cannot be delegated or denied. God has entrusted our children to us, and will require an accounting from us—not from the Education Department.

Moreover, the kind of education given by Jerusalem's households is, in principle, radically different from the kind of education a non-Christian household, or the State, will provide. The Christian household is to teach and train its children coram Deo—before the Face of God—so that they learn of the world as it truly is. Every particle of being exists for God and is under His command. So the Word of God, the constitutional document of the Kingdom, is to be brought to bear upon all of life and all knowledge—in fact, upon the entire culture of the household. All knowing, all learning is through the prism of Scripture. God alone provides the foundation of truth and knowledge. As Augustine put it, one believes, in order to understand.

This has always been the case—and it has always been opposed and denied by Athens and all Unbelievers, who would see all knowledge and all learning through the prism of the autonomy of Man as the foundation and measure of all things. We have genuinely Christian households when the following die is being pressed upon the family:
Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is One! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6: 4—9
Thirdly, we will see the Kingdom of God coming amongst us as Christian families once again take up their responsibilities for welfare and the care of their immediate and extended households.

The Christian household-in-covenant is to impart faith, it is to teach and train, and it is to provide and protect. Jerusalem is ever marked out from Athens by its families: their dignity, their authority, and their power. Godly families are central and essential to the success and spiritual power of Jerusalem in the earth.

We will now turn, in forthcoming posts, to the role and responsibility of the state within Jerusalem.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Blog Round Up

A survey of recent blog posts provides some interesting reading.

First off is an excellent piece from Matt of MandM ruminating on the Pavlovian dog-like response by Athenian zealots against citizens of Jerusalem who are faithful to Scripture's declarations on such things as abortion and homosexuality. You know the drill--like the the mindless ad hominem attacks alleging Christians to be bigots.
Matt's conclusion:
I think there is a kind of irony here; often when someone accuses Theologians of bigotry they themselves are simply obstinately assuming that their position is true and their assumption leads them to castigate and refuse to tolerate the opinions or person who expresses dissent to the secular liberal orthodoxy. Here, as elsewhere, the accusation of bigotry is a form of Orwellian double-speak.
The whole post is worth careful reflection.

Next, a couple of pieces on the underlying causes of the horrendous murder of Nia Glassie. Garth George opines on the causal societal linkage between the murder of children in our society and its toleration and propagation of abortion. Garth cites Mother Theresa:
(Abortion)has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts - a child - as a competitor, an intrusion and an inconvenience. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want ... It is a very great poverty to decide that a child must die that you might live as you wish.
How apt. It is one of the great hypocrisies of wretched and bankrupt Athens that it refuses to allow any certain and unqualified physical, metaphysical, ethical, moral, conceptual or any other connection between the child in the womb and the child out of the womb. An example of such posturing inanity is provided by David Farrar who gravely informs us that the practice of abortion is not a cause of infanticide in New Zealand, but the lack of it. If only we had more abortions, reasons Farrar, Nia would not have died.

OK, so here's Farrar's position: It is morally and ethically appropriate to terminate Nia's life while she was still in Lisa Kuka's womb for the good of Nia in-utero, and for the good of infants and society in general, but it is murder if one kills Nia outside of her mother's womb. Go figure! Actually, within the warped and bankrupt ethics of Athens we believe there is more consistency and less humbug shown by Nia's killers. They at least could argue that with twenty thousand unwanted in-utero infants being murdered in New Zealand every year, what's wrong with one more who just happens to be outside the womb? In Athenian terms--nothing--nothing at all. Why is everyone so upset? It was only a matter of timing. After all, rugby games have been lost that way. And they don't send the All Blacks to prison because they got the timing wrong. Get over it.

Yes, wethinks the killers of Nia Glassie are simply being more consistent with the established religion of Athens than some of its more educated and intellectual devotees, such as David Farrar. We challenge any Athenian to come up with any coherent principle of morals, ethics, or law which justifies the killing of Nia in-utero, but condemns it ex-utero. (Matt of MandM in a separate post dissects Farrar's particular formal attempt to do so and demonstrates how it rests fundamentally on a non-sequitur. This is but one example, but it is typical of the incoherence of all Athenian arguments seeking to establish some arbitrary temporal point of personhood.)

And still on the tragedy of Nia, society continues to wring its hands searching for a reason for such horror. A modern Athenian prophet has not held back from sheeting home the truth to us all. John Minto, in a breathtaking execution of the fallacy of false cause, gravely advances a most intellectually sophisticated argument: Nia was killed because there were not enough jobs. We quote:
The links between economic policies on the one hand and social degradation, alienation and abuse in all forms on the other is crystal clear.

Those who demand vengeance for Nia Glassie’s death would be better to first set up a gallows outside Parliament and the Business Roundtable offices before they focus on the miserable men guilty of her murder.

The most important solution to ending child abuse is to make full employment the number one economic priority. Forty hours work on decent pay by which a breadwinner can support a family in dignity and respect must be at the heart of social and economic policy. Not surprisingly it was dropped as Labour Party policy back in the 1980s by the likes of Roger Douglas, Helen Clark and Phil Goff while it’s never been National Party policy.

Anything less than this is to cry crocodile tears for Nia Glassie and condemn more children to her fate.

There you have it folks. Jobs--or the lack of them. That's what is to blame. Actually, Minto has confirmed the status of Contra Celsum as a "prophet": we argued several days ago, here, that society would want to blame itself for Nia's tragic death, as part of its refusal to acknowledge the depravity of the heart. Nah, being proven a prophet is no big deal. Some things are as predictable and obvious as the sun rising tomorrow. Athens cannot help itself; it must and will remain true to its established religion. In Athens there is no such thing as true moral guilt or sin. There are only circumstantial gaps and shortfalls.

Now, on a different subject, Half Done goes all feral on us, and blogs on the danger of entering "gun free" zones in the United States. What a hilarious example of the law of unintended consequences: the risk of being shot in the United States increases appreciably if you enter a "gun free" zone.

Actually, the point is serious. The sociopaths who take their guns into public places and shoot unarmed innocent people usually have the goal of murdering as many people as possible in the shortest space of time, then they kill themselves. Quite understandably and rationally they deliberately target public areas where they know there will be no people with guns to terminate their murderous sprees quickly. Thus, the statistics show they prefer gun free shopping malls, gun free college campuses and so forth.

The conclusions of the debrief on the Virginia Tech shooting turned out to be a bit disconcerting--at least to the gun-ban ideologues: if you want to stop people being killed in such incidents, the nearest officer or person with a gun should move on the gunman as aggressively as possible, as soon as possible. It will save lives. Oh, but hold on, we forgot. We have overlooked Minto's higher way. It would be far better to make sure everyone had jobs--then such things would not happen in the first place.

And now a real hoot. The climate changers are getting desperate. Things are so bad that the destruction of the planet as we know it is inevitable--unless "we all" take radical action. How radical? We now need, wait for it, "total decarbonisation" according to Monbiot who are contends that things are now so hopelessly bad we have only one last chance to save the planet.

Yes, one shot--and it is the only shot now that will work. It is this or nothing. Only total decarbonisation now will save the planet. Have we any hope left? It turns out that the only time any economy has partially "decarbonised" was during times of economic and social upheaval--aka recession. For example, when the Soviet Union disintegrated, carbon output in that country fell by 5 percent a year. People starved in their unheated apartments, froze to death, died with illnesses untreated, and drunk themselves into an early grave during those years--but, hey, carbon went down--but only by 5 percent per annum. Now things are so bad we will need to remove all carbon output if we are to have a chance.

What can we do? wails Monbiot. He knows that the required programme will cause "a deeper depression than the modern world has ever experienced. No political system - even an absolute monarchy - could survive an economic collapse on this scale."

What can we do? Monbiot again:
Can we do it? Search me. Reviewing the new evidence, I have to admit that we might have left it too late. But there is another question I can answer more easily. Can we afford not to try? No we can’t.
Chill out matey. You are an absolute dreamer if you think you can save the planet. You and your ilk are just not that important. Have another drink--but make sure its not carbonated, now. But let us give you some helpful advice. If thousands died in the disintegrating Soviet Union, which achieved only a 5% per annum decrease in carbon output for a short time, we must be talking millions of deaths if we are to achieve total decarbonisation. You see, its not just achieving complete decarbonisation, we would have to keep it there, right?

Now, really, how on earth will you and your comrades persuade the world to accept willingly such degradation and suffering? You are no longer on planet earth. It's over. Give up. But, on the other hand, we can offer one suggestion. In Jerusalem we have a saying: the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. We think about the only shot you have of getting at least some attention from the world is for you to accept the calling of martyrdom. It's time to conduct a holy jihad of self-immolation against the infidels who continue to carbonate the atmosphere.

Take your stand with the suffering matyrs in post-Soviet Russia who paid the price for carbon reduction. Lie down in the snow in solidarity with them this winter and gently freeze to death. They say it's the best way to go. You could plan to say something really dramatic to enhance the nobility of your self-sacrifice for the rest of the world. Something like, "Goodbye my friends. I am going outside now. I think I shall be gone for some time." The world will hail the self-sacrifice of Monbiot, one of its great eco-martrys. Who knows thousands and possibly millions may follow your example--and that will kick start carbon reduction for sure. We had better ban cremation before you go, however. Only deep, deep burial of bodies now. It's the new hip form of carbon sequestration.

And, good news. It looks as though there is going to be plenty of snow in your part of the world soon.
Apparently, the forecasters are saying that things are going to be unusually cold this winter in the Northern Hemisphere. But you get that when there's too much carbon around. So finding snow in which to expose yourself should be conveniently easy .

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Don't Confuse Us With Facts, Part #3

The European Heart of Darkness

We have been addressing the myth-making revisionism about Maori that is pervasive throughout the liberal-academic complex. There has been a deliberate attempt to recast pre-European Maori as noble savage rather than degenerate primitive. Many in the liberal-academic complex have “gone along for the ride.” They have just accepted the mythology and perpetuated it when opportunity arose.

Cultures are never totally static. They are often very dynamic—none more so when people are uprooted from their ancestral homes or the “places” of their forefathers. We do not know whether the ancestors of Maori were advanced, both technically and ethically. It may well be that they were. Earlier Maori clearly had sophisticated ocean-going navigational skills. However, it is not uncommon for a culture to decline rapidly, once isolated from ancestral connections. We suspect that this indeed did occur in the case of the Maori invaders. Whether they brought practices like slavery, cannibalism, and farming humans for food to New Zealand is not clear. What is clear, however, is that these degenerate practices were pervasive throughout New Zealand by the time Europeans arrived.

What is also very clear is that many Europeans rapidly degenerated when they came into contact with Maori and lived among them. The pakeha-maori—that is, those Europeans who lived amongst Maori as maori, were predominantly male; they were also predominantly seamen and/or escaped or released convicts. They were thus isolated males, not part of family groupings. They were removed from their ancestral and their cultural traditions. In many cases rapid cultural degeneration followed.

One example is the quick adoption of polygamy by some pakeha-maori. In the decades of the 1820's and 30's, with the escalation of inter-tribal wars, Maori chiefs came to place a high value on having resident pakeha in the tribe. Such pakeha-maori were used as a conduit for European trade goods into the tribe, particularly muskets. Having a trader-pakeha under one's protection came to be regarded as a status symbol. One way to recruit pakeha-maori men was to give them a wife as soon as possible. In some cases, this soon led to multiple wives.

Trevor Bentley records:
. . . several pakeha-maori chose a life of polygamy. The tattooed pakeha-maori seen by George Angas on the Mokau River in 1834 had “at least six wives.” Jacky Marmon claimed to have had four wives at the Hokianga after 1924 and five wives from his previous residency in the Bay of Islands after 1817. . . .

Elsewhere, pakeha-maori replaced their wives as they improved their status or shifted their residence. The Spanish pakeha-maori Jose Manual had five wives at Poverty Bay during the 1830's, each of whom bore him one child. The descendants of these marriages are know today as the Paniora (Spaniards) of Ngati Porou and number several thousand. In the same district the trader-whaler Thomas Halbert, known as Tame Poto (Tommy Short) secured his commercial enterprises through successive alliances with six Maori women from three East Coast tribes. Halbert's six marriages made him famous locally and he was nicknamed Henry VII by the resident Europeans. Eleven of Halbert's children survived and founded families well known in Poverty Bay today.
Bentley, p. 199,200
For many pakeha-maori, their marriages to Maori women turned out to be little more than dalliances. Bentley again:
As the political and economic influence of the pakeha-maori declined after 1840, their Maori wives and mistresses did not fare well. At harbours, river mouths and in the interior, pakeha-maori dissolved their unions and rejoined European society. . . . Women with half-caste children accompanied their lords; childless women returned to their own race.
Bentley, p.204

Another example of rapid degeneration by many pakeha-maori was their becoming cannibals. This fact has also suffered from revisionism, this time from the European record-keepers of the day, who found great difficulty acknowledging the truth. Most pakeha cannibalism took place not in isolation, but as part of participating in intertribal battles.

Bentley writes:
Any study of the fighting pakeha-maori is limited by the reluctance of contemporary and late nineteenth century New Zealand writers to accept that civilised Europeans would deliberately choose to live as Maori and be equally savage, or more so. Regarded by missionaries and early settlers as the worst type of cultural renegade, Pakeha toa (warriors) are acknowledged reluctantly in the literature, and as we will see in at least one case, their stories were deliberately expunged from the historical record. The difficulties in researching this group have been compounded by fugitive pakeha-maori who deliberately distorted their personal histories. Others, re-entering the European world, denied combatant roles in intertribal battles where victories were invariably followed by the massacre of civilian populations and cannibal feasts.
Bentley, p.77

The reality is that many pakeha-maori participated in tribal warfare. This participation in most cases was pretty much complete: they not only engaged in the fighting, but shared in the eating of “farmed” slaves on the longer expeditions, partook in the slaughter of defeated non-combatants, the rape, and the cannibal feasting upon the vanquished—usually committed to the oven when dead, but not always so. Most became tattooed; many with the distinctive patterns indicating they were "veterans" of rape and other atrocities.

The notorious Jacky Marmon, who became both rangatira and tohunga, was first seen by Captain Herd's settlers at the Hokianga in 1826 travelling along the beach with a war party and a full kit of human flesh upon his back (ibid., p. 66). Another Hokianga settler, John Webster described how during a feast, Marmon brought in a basket of human flesh which had been cooked in a hangi and offered it around. When it was refused, Marmon told them they had no idea how good it tasted (ibid., p. 176).

New Zealand needs to take a good long honest look at its past. It is clear that Maori culture manifested extreme elements of human depravity. It is also clear that many of those Europeans who became long term, assimilated pakeha-maori adopted the same practices and performed the same evil deeds.

This is important for it underscores how depravity is not a function of race, but is a condition common to the human heart. Culture is but a corporate expression of common beliefs: where a people are separated from their culture and its intrinsic restraints, degeneracy into evil can follow quickly. Civilization is skin deep. Underneath lurks Conrad's heart of darkness.

Without the gracious restraining hand of the Living God, the veneer of civilization is quickly peeled away. What lurks beneath in the darker caverns of the human heart is a Balrog indeed, which emerges rapidly—far more quickly than our smug moderns would ever care to admit.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Don't Confuse Us With Facts, Part #2

Maori as Ignoble and Depraved Savage

We have argued in a previous post, that Maori history has become the victim of historical revisionism. The truth about Maori life and culture has been suborned to a revisionist recasting of Maori representing a noble warrior culture, subsequently destroyed by the coming of the European, to the damage and cultural dis-empowerment of Maori today. This is the widely accepted consensus view of the liberal-academic complex.

Recently, however, a number of historians have published works which are far more concerned with original sources than modern myth-making. The original sources and the actual record, not surprisingly, is at odds with the myths of the liberal-academic complex. One of these works is Trevor Bentley's Pakeha Maori.

The book, Pakeha Maori provides access to a significant historical record on a number of counts. Firstly, it gives a first hand insight into Maori culture and practice by Europeans “from the inside”--from Europeans who lived as, and became, Maori. Historian Trevor Bentley has researched and presented the accounts and activities of key figures who actually lived with Maori over the period 1790 to 1840, and who recorded or recounted their experience. Secondly, it provides a perspective upon European activities and attitudes in their interaction with Maori. Thirdly, it provides a classical illustration of the oft-neglected truth that human actions are far more shaped by cultural influences than race. (By “cultural” here, we mean the world-and-life zeitgeist accepted and operating amongst Maori at the time.)

Bentley writes:
During the early decades of the nineteenth century, the Maori tribes of New Zealand wre transformed by an unprecedented period of inter-cultural mixing. Several thousand foreign seamen and a number of convicts from New South Wales and Norfolk Island settled among the coastal and interior tribes as permanent and semi-permanent residents. . . .

Pakeha Maori were the foreigners who became part of the tribe and were treated by Maori as Maori. Some were kept as exotic curiosities or trading intermediaries. Others were designated traditional roles as slaves, artisans and fighting men. A handful became white chiefs and priests. . .
[We should note that Bentley excludes from his research]all consideration of Maori travelers and European missionaries, beachcombers and sawyers as mediators of meaning betweent the cultures. What differentiated the Pakeha Maori from other resident groups of Europeans was the extent to which they integrated with and depended upon Maori for their livelihoods. Like the squaw men of North America, the integration of Pakeha Maori with their host society went far beyond the norm.

Trevor Bentley, Pakeha Maori: The Extraordinary Story of the Europeans Who Lived as Maori in Early New Zealand (Auckland: Penguin Books, 1999), p. 9,10.
Pakeha Maori reveals that there were distinct aspects of pagan Maori culture that modern revisionism has preferred to ignore or sweep under the carpet in its relentless pursuit of the myth of Maori as noble savage. The first of these is a regimen murderous and bloody internecine warfare, provoked by an endless cycle of utu or revenge, and worsened by the indiscriminate lawless “retaliations” based upon recovery of mana (as compared to the Asian “face.”) If one had been beaten or had endured a loss of mana, it could be regained by achieving dominance or victory over anyone—not necessarily the original offender.

Second is the widespread institution of slavery amongst Maori. Slaves were usually prisoners of war or captives, whose life was therefore considered void. They could be killed at any time, for no reason. They were kept alive for pecuniary or pragmatic reasons, such as their utility in gathering or producing food. A large number of pakeha-maori were made slaves. Amongst them was John Rutherford, who lived for many years amongst Nga Puhi; whilst he eventually was tattooed and became a minor chief, he always considered that he was owned by the high chief Pomare to whom he was enslaved. Bentley records,
In his reminiscences he recalled the need for constant alertness and accepted that his life had been “forfeited” at the time of his capture and that his chief retained the right to take his life for a “sudden or slight . . . accident” or on a whim.
Bentley, p. 67.
As such, slaves themselves were “farmed” for food. This was not uncommon—and since their lives were forfeit on any account, it was accepted as “normal.” One pakeha-maori, James Heberly, a ship's pilot, became a fighting warrior with Te Rauparaha.

He provides the only eye witness account of the return of Te Rauparaha's great expedition after their successful siege of Ngai Tahu at Kaiapoi Pa, near modern Christchurch, in 1831:
The party numbered about 2000 all told including women and children and they had some 500 prisoners with them. Altogether there must have been sixty or seventy canoes, the bows of each which was decorated with dead men's hands and heads. . . . Te Rauparaha would send a party of salves, or prisoners to the bush to cut firewood and make a kapa-Maori—a hole in the earth in which stones were heated. When everything was ready the chief dispatched with his tomahawk, the salves who had fetched the wood and prepared the over, and the remainder of the slaves were required to cook the bodies of their friends and serve up the joints in baskets.
Bentley, p.86.
Third, the records and accounts of pakeha-maori show that cannibalism was both widespread and an accepted norm within Maori culture. There was the “normal” eating of one's slain enemies. But there was also the use of human slaves as a food source upon the long campaign marches. Bentley writes from the pakeha-maori records:
Without a permanent commissariat the great musket taua on their long-distance campaigns were dependent on the bodies of their enemy to sustain them on remote battlefields and at the conclusion of prolonged sieges.
Bentley, p. 176.
Slaves were also eaten at special tribal ritual occasions. When a taua was about to depart on a military campaign, slaves would be killed and eaten as part of a pre-campaign feast.

Fourth, pakeha-maori record the widespread practice of polygamy, often taking several wives themselves as part of their assimilation into Maori culture. Women, not taken to “the blanket” in a publicly sanctioned marriage were “fair game”. It was not uncommon for chiefs to welcome European ships by providing them with large numbers of women for sexual exchange. Indeed, it is apparent from the records that the opportunity for sexual license was one of the biggest attractions for pakeha to aspire to live amongst Maori.

Bentley recites the account of the French Naval Officer Premivere Lesson when the ship La Coquille arrived at the Bay of Islands in 1824:
Canoes arrived crammed (the word is not too strong) full of women and our bridge was overrun with swarms of girls; for the seventy-man crew, more than a hundred and fifty samples of this unorthodox merchandise cam like a flock of ewes in search of buyers. The captain tried to get rid of this lascivious livestock, but to no avail—for every ten females who left from one side the the ship twenty more clambered up the other; we were obliged to give up trying to enforce a measure that so many people were concerned to infringe. Poets represent the divine Venus on a chariot carved from sea-shell; our Coquille, throughout our stay at the Bay of Islands, became her temple, and her altars were raised on our orlop. The [Maori] men quite artlessly and without any sense of shame held out their hands to receive the profits, and took from the girls everything their lovers had given them.
Bentley, p.193.
Pakeha-maori reported that it was customary for chiefs to offer the sexual services of women to visitors though there was no expectation of payment. (Bentley, p. 194). It seems that the practice of pimping their women was widespread. It explains why such a large number of Maori prostitutes appeared so quickly in places like Kororareka.

A chilling insight into Maori domestic culture, as well as of the depravity of many pakeha-maori is provided by Jacky Marmon, possibly the most notorious pakeha-maori of all—who eventually rose to the rank of tohunga in the North.

Marmon took numerous wives, one of whom proved unfaithful. He recounts:
One of them had cherished a fondness for a young chief called Kakanui, before her marriage, and after it kept the tender regard up, so that I occupied but a second place in her affections. This might have been overlooked, but when I was convinced that the matter went further and that her character was not spotless, it was time for man's self regard to take arms and reassert itself. What did you do? I hear the gentle reader ask; give her a writing of divorcement, or send her back, in disgrace, to her friends? No such thing. I simply provided myself with a musket, summoned her, told her of her fault, and quietly blew her brains out. I never found my wives unfaithful again, and it raised my mana (reputation) vastly in the tribe. I was regarded as a man who would stand no humbug and who must be implicitly obeyed.
Bentley, p.200.
Finally, a further insight into Maori domestic life is provided by one Captain Harris, a pakeha-maori dwelling in the Poverty Bay region. This incident is particularly significant because revisionists want to ascribe the present breakdown in family life amongst modern Maori—the over representation in national statistics for violence, crime, drug dependence, etc—as being the fault of the European. For example, during the recent national debate over Bradford's anti-smacking Bill, the co-leader of the Maori Party, Tariana Turia argued that domestic violence against children was unknown amongst Maori prior to the coming of the European. (Read an account of Turia's assertion here, and a critical refutation, here.) Maori had learnt to practise violence upon their children from the missionaries. This is a view also propagated by Bradford herself, one of the great revisionists of our times:
"I think that the concept of parents' right and duty to bring up their children with violence was a belief system brought to Aotearoa by our Pakeha missionary and settler ancestors, and is part of the legacy of European colonialism with which we are still wrestling".

Turia spoke of the tremendous indulgence afforded tamariki by Maori. She argued that this indicated just how precious children were to Maori. Yes. So precious, so indulged apparently that it was accepted that male children, particularly of chiefly families, could beat their mothers violently when it pleased them. This violence was sanctioned by the laws of mana and tapu. Harris recounts how he saw the son of a chief, about eight years old, one day beating his mother with a great stick. Harris sought to protect the mother and gave the boy a slight blow to make him desist.

This created an enormous clamour. The pakeha-maori had struck a chief's son—an unpardonable offence. The boys mother also joined in the upbraiding of the pakeha. His life was spared by the chief himself, who judged, “What else could you expect from an ignorant pakeha?” (Bentley, p.151). No doubt the life of Harris was spared for the mana of having a “tame” pakeha, was greater than the insult arising from one's son being struck.

Noble savage Maori was most certainly not. Savage he most certainly was. The savagery of his fallen nature had become culturally institutionalised into a wretched and degraded existence. But, as we have argued in a prior post, this was not something isolated to Maori. This leads us to the other great contribution made by Bentley. His work on pakeha-maori demonstrates once again that the veneer of civilisation is but skin deep and that degeneracy and savagery is present in every human heart ever since the Fall.

The course of pakeha-maori in eighteenth century New Zealand shows the accuracy and reality of William Golding's Lord of the Flies. It turns out that many pakeha-maori readily adopted the most vicious and evil practices of Maori culture as they participated in Maori life and lived as Maori.

It is to the degeneracy of the pakeha-maori that we will turn next.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Socialism is Immoral and Evil

Running the Devil Out of Town

Socialism tries to do good things. It tries to help people who have needs. This makes socialism acceptable to many people. The righteous end justifies the means. Even dyed-in-the-wool right wingers are more than willing to justify limited socialism. They are prepared to speak of "safety nets" and a "hand up, not a hand out."

Now, we are all in favour of gradualism--the practice of getting rid of social evils in a staged and gradual manner. Gradualism means that you have to put up with a good deal of rubbish being around while you are cleaning up the local refuse heap. Gradualism means that you end up using picks and shovels, not back-hoes, flame throwers and explosives.

Our pervasively socialist culture means that getting rid of it requires a willingness to put up with a lot of residual socialism for a long time as it is progressively wound back and wound up. It is something that will take more than one generation. But as it is being weeded out, the final goal must be clear to all: socialism is morally evil, and it will be brought to an end.

The work will not even commence, however, until society is thoroughly convinced that socialism is immoral and evil. Only then will society be prepared to commence and maintain the weaning process. Walter Williams, an economist in the United States, helpfully cuts through the veneer of righteousness that so often accompanies socialistic policies, and exposes the unethical and immoral core. Socialism is a form of legal slavery, says Williams.
Evil acts can be given an aura of moral legitimacy by noble-sounding socialistic expressions such as spreading the wealth, income redistribution or caring for the less fortunate. Let's think about socialism.

Imagine there's an elderly widow down the street from you. She has neither the strength to mow her lawn nor enough money to hire someone to do it. Here's my question to you that I'm almost afraid for the answer: Would you support a government mandate that forces one of your neighbors to mow the lady's lawn each week? If he failed to follow the government orders, would you approve of some kind of punishment ranging from house arrest and fines to imprisonment? I'm hoping that the average American would condemn such a government mandate because it would be a form of slavery, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another.

Would there be the same condemnation if instead of the government forcing your neighbor to physically mow the widow's lawn, the government forced him to give the lady $40 of his weekly earnings? That way the widow could hire someone to mow her lawn. I'd say that there is little difference between the mandates. While the mandate's mechanism differs, it is nonetheless the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another.

Probably most Americans would have a clearer conscience if all the neighbors were forced to put money in a government pot and a government agency would send the widow a weekly sum of $40 to hire someone to mow her lawn. This mechanism makes the particular victim invisible but it still boils down to one person being forcibly used to serve the purposes of another. Putting the money into a government pot makes palatable acts that would otherwise be deemed morally offensive.

This is why socialism is evil. It employs evil means, coercion or taking the property of one person, to accomplish good ends, helping one's fellow man. Helping one's fellow man in need, by reaching into one's own pockets, is a laudable and praiseworthy goal. Doing the same through coercion and reaching into another's pockets has no redeeming features and is worthy of condemnation.

Some people might contend that we are a democracy where the majority agrees to the forcible use of one person for the good of another. But does a majority consensus confer morality to an act that would otherwise be deemed as immoral? In other words, if a majority of the widow's neighbors voted to force one neighbor to mow her law, would that make it moral?

I don't believe any moral case can be made for the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another. But that conclusion is not nearly as important as the fact that so many of my fellow Americans give wide support to using people. I would like to think it is because they haven't considered that more than $2 trillion of the over $3 trillion federal budget represents Americans using one another. Of course, they might consider it compensatory justice. For example, one American might think, "Farmers get Congress to use me to serve the needs of some farmers. I'm going to get Congress to use someone else to serve my needs by subsidizing my child's college education."

The bottom line is that we've become a nation of thieves, a value rejected by our founders. James Madison, the father of our Constitution, was horrified when Congress appropriated $15,000 to help French refugees. He said, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." Tragically, today's Americans would run Madison out of town on a rail.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Meditation on the Text of the Week

Can God be Bought?

With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams; in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my first-born for my rebellious acts; the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6: 6—8
Ever since the Fall, God has remained on the fringes of human consciousness. He has not gone away. But He has become intimidating and threatening. Adam and Eve, you recall, hid from God after the Fall. They did not want to face Him. In that one act of hiding, our first parents constructed the paradigm of all human history and consciousness, apart from the inbreaking of the life-giving, healing Spirit.

Human history, apart from the redeemed people of God, can be characterised as life and culture lived so as to hide from God. Part of the hiding charade is a life lived to “buy God off.” When an enemy confronts, it is often politic to buy him off in some way. Gifts open the way to the king. Bribes can get things done.

So, we have done a few things wrong. Or, we have a few challenges and needs. Let's do a few religious works. Maybe a sacrifice or two. A kind deed. Maybe if things are really stretched, I would be prepared to impress God by offering up my first born. Let's get a bit of insurance in the bank. Manipulate God. Buy Him off. Bargain with Him. That is sinful religion in a nutshell.

All men practise this kind of religion, apart from those whose hearts have been transformed by God's Spirit. But the Lord hates it. How can the Lord, Who created all things of nothing, and to Whom belongs all things, be bought off? How can He be bargained with? Imagine the consequences of appearing before a High King to plead for clemency, offering up a gift which consisted of goods stolen the day before from that same king. What dishonour. What an insult to the king. It is to act as if the king were just as much a cheat, just as much on the lam, as the briber. It is to imply that the king were stupid, blind, and obtuse.

How much more with respect to the Living God. Anything we might do, anything we would bring to Him, belongs to Him already. He cannot be bought off. To attempt to do so, to think for one moment that He can be so manipulated, is to offer deadly insult to Him.

For those whose eyes have been opened the truth is almost self-evident. God cannot be manipulated. If there is to be atonement, it can only be one which He provides. The only appropriate response—the non-manipulating response—is to humble oneself before Him, gratefully accepting His decree and counsel and provision. There can be no buying off, only faith and trust. This humble acceptance of God leads us to strive to do whatever He commands. It leads us to act according to the standards of His justice—as summarized in the Ten Commandments. It leads us to live in loyalty and lovingkindness toward God and His people.

That is what the Lord requires of us. Not bargaining. Not actions attempting to buy God off. Not manipulation. What the Lord requires is a reverent submission to His rule, His provision, His command. This is what the Bible, in other places, calls faith. Without this faith it is impossible to please Him.

Of course faith, like any other duty or obligation, can also be distorted and perverted into an attempt to buy God off. And many have made it so. But the instant it is so perverted it ceases to be a humble walk before God. It has become instead a negotiating tool, a bargaining chip. The Lord abhors and hates such things.

Genuine faith, however, submits humbly to God, and gratefully accepts His covenant, in which, through His beloved Son, atonement comes to us. No longer do we need to attempt to hide from God, or assuage His anger. We can walk and live as His beloved sons and daughters, able to love and serve Him freely from the heart. Every obedience is no longer a crass or crude attempt to manipulate the Lord, but a blessed act of thankfulness.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Don't Confuse Us With Facts, Part# 1

Maori as Noble Savage

Historical revisionism has been a feature of the modern world. It came prominently to the fore during the Enlightenment. The idea was that one rewrote the past in order to augment and support one's views of the present. Thus, there is a great deal of truth in Voltaire's bon mot that history is “only a pack of tricks we play on the dead.”

The philosophers and historians of the Enlightenment (and there were many) wrote histories to illustrate the great themes of secular humanism: the triumph of reason, the ignorance of superstition, the glories of the pre-Christian world, and so forth. History was viewed as a “book of selective illustrations” to reinforce currently held views of man and his place in the world. Ever since the Enlightenment, history has been subject to constant revisionism: rewriting so as to reinforce one's “hold” on the present.

A common Enlightenment theme was Rousseau's idea of the “noble savage”. Primitive man was enlightened man insofar as economic and technological development served to obscure or block off the essence of human felicity, which was to live in simple, uncluttered harmony with the world of Nature. According to Rousseau, the “noble savage” was made happy by “experiencing the sentiment of his own existence, of being a natural man in a natural world. He did not seek to use his reason to master nature; there was no need, for nature was essentially beneficent, nor was reason natural to him as a solitary individual.” (Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, [New York, Avon Books, 1992] p. 85).

In the past thirty years in New Zealand we have been subjected to a comprehensive revision of Maori and European history. Maori culture and history, in particular, has been rewritten in an effort to buttress an ideology of Maori nobility.

Central to this effort has been an attempt to represent Maori as an exemplar of Rousseau's noble savage. Maori culture is seen as being sufficient, complete, self-sustaining, and in an enviable harmony with the natural environment. There has consequently been an attempt to forge strong alliances with greenist ideology. Maoridom sees itself, and projects itself, as the inheritor and guardian of the land and the sea. The coming of the Pakeha destroyed the pristine environmental balance maintained by Maori as guardians.

These conceptions, however, represent nothing other than revisionist myths. Prior to the arrival of the Pakeha, the land and ecology was ravaged by Maori seeking to avoid starvation. The hunting to extinction of moa is the most well-known example. But Michael King writes:
So moa were a significant source of protein, of bones for ornament and fishhook manufacture, and possibly, of feathers for use in cloaks. But other large birds were slaughtered—the flightless goose, an enormous rail now known as the adzebill, swans and pelicans, all of them, like the moa, exploited to the point of extinction after little more than 100 years.
Michael King, The Penguin History of New Zealand [Auckland: Penguin Books, 2003] p.63.

But what of Maori society itself? In recent years a number of scholarly books have begun to appear which are far less interested in ideology and revisionism, and far more focused upon letting the actual historical data speak. The latest to achieve notoriety due to its undermining of the revisionist myths is Paul Moon's, This Horrid Practice: the Myth and Reality of Traditional Maori Cannibalism [Auckland: Penguin Books, 2008]. Moon, who is a professional historian and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, has been attacked overtly and clandestinely since his book was published.

Firstly, the blurb for the book:
This Horrid Practice uncovers an unexplored taboo of New Zealand history - the widespread practice of cannibalism in pre-European Maori society. Until now, many historians have tried to avoid it and many Maori have considered it a subject best kept quiet about in public. Paul Moon brings together an impressive array of sources from a variety of disciplines to produce this frequently contentious but always stimulating exploration of how and why Maori ate other human beings, and why the practice shuddered to a halt just a few decades after the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand. The book includes a comprehensive survey of cannibalism practices among traditional Maori, carefully assessing the evidence and concluding it was widespread. Other chapters look at how explorers and missionaries saw the practice; the role of missionaries and Christianity in its end; and, in the final chapter, why there has been so much denial on the subject and why some academics still deny that it ever happened. This Horrid Practice promises to be one of the leading works of New Zealand history published in 2008. It is a highly original work that every New Zealand history enthusiast will want to own and read.

About the Author

Paul Moon lectures in New Zealand history at the Auckland University of Technology and has a growing reputation as an original and well-informed historian. He is the author of a number of books on New Zealand history, specialising in Treaty issues and the early years of European settlement - his most recent work is The Newest Country in the World: A History of New Zealand in the Decade of the Treaty.
An immediate reaction to the book upon publication in the press can be found here. Moon's commentary and response to the reaction can be found here.

Describing the reaction, Moon writes:

The physical destruction of books now seems to belong to another, much less enlightened age, but not so the censorial urges that led to the practice. I have experienced this first-hand in the past few weeks since the release of my book This Horrid Practice, which explores traditional Maori cannibalism.

I recall a fellow academic approaching me when I started writing the book and warning me that I was putting my career in jeopardy by tackling this subject. At first, I dismissed the caution, but when others began making similar comments, I came around to the view that I would be risking my integrity as a historian by being bullied into silence.

Then the attacks came, and in several forms. I am sure many of the people who have complained about the book have yet to read it, but this has not stopped them rushing to judgment and making all sorts of shrill accusations about its contents.
The Human Rights Commission raised its head:

Then the Human Rights Commission dipped its toe into this acrid pool and considered the merits of a letter of complaint made about the book. The commission's response was to suggest I enter into mediation. Like Kafka's Josef K, I found myself being considered increasingly guilty, even though I do not know what I am meant to be guilty of. I politely refused the offer.

And here is where the book-burners come in. While the methods are far more subtle, their aim in this case to bar the sale and distribution of my book amounts to exactly the same thing: censorship based on ideology.

There is no doubt whatsoever that cannibalism was both persistent and widespread—and is was nurtured in a particular world-and-life view. Cannibalism was a practice consistent with that view. It was not an aberration. It was not an extreme. It was normality within Maori culture. Noble savages indeed.

Another fascinating book to appear a few years ago was Trevor Bentley's Pakeha Maori: The Extraordinary Story of the Europeans Who Lived as Maori in Early New Zealand [Auckland: Penguin Books, 1999]. This details the lives and records of hundreds of pakeha who not only lived amongst Maori during the first half of the nineteenth century, but also how many of them actually became Maori—that is, fully immersed themselves in, and adopted Maori culture and practices, including cannibalism.

Bentley's book serves as a window into Maori culture. But more than that, it proves beyond doubt that a particular culture is not a function of race. It is a function of world-view.

We will post on Bentley's book and the lessons which arise in more detail in the next few days.

Both these works serve to revise the prevailing revisionist histories and as a helpful reality check to the dominant ideological historical revisionist orthodoxy.

Friday, 21 November 2008

ChnMind 2:17 Wealth and Stewardship

The Dangers and Temptations of Wealth

In this series of posts on the Constitution of the Kingdom of God we have been concerned with how the Kingdom of God on earth is actually constituted. This subject has been long neglected by the Church generally, but must be addressed. We have been taught by our Lord to pray, “Thy Kingdom come” but we have given little thought to what it is we are praying for. The parallelism, “Thy will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven,” tells us that God's Kingdom on earth consists of a comprehensive and universal obedience to the will and commands of God. But what does that actually mean? How can we tell whether a community is more under the aegis of the Kingdom of God. What would the community “look like”? How would it be organised and structured? How would it function? What instruction and pattern is laid down in the Scriptures, which are the constitutional documents of God's Kingdom upon earth? What is the will of God upon earth?

Historically, when Jerusalem has thought in these terms—and has sought to operate within a paradigm of Christendom—it has fallen into the trap of making simplistic assumptions. A traditional, but spurious, version is that the coming of the Kingdom of God upon earth will be characterised by a state where the Church has dominion and control over all of life. A second spurious version is that the coming of the Kingdom will be reflected in a withering away of the Church and the State. Heaven on earth will be characterised by unstructured, decentralised communal living. A third spurious alternative is that the Kingdom will be constituted around a supreme Christian monarch, or governor who will ultimately direct affairs in Church, Family, and Individual.

All of these variants suffer from the same error—that of taking a component or aspect of the Kingdom and elevating it into a central organising principle over the Kingdom as a whole. So, we have had proposed historically that the Kingdom will be marked by caesaro-papism (state controlling the church), or papo-caesarism (church controlling the state), or anabaptist communalism (state and institutional church ceasing to exist). All of these are equally wrong and contrary to the teaching and directives of the constitutional documents. All of these reflect pagan themes, not Christian concepts.

In fact, the Kingdom is unlike anything seen or found upon earth. There have been glimpses of it to be sure. There have been aspects manifested. But human history has not yet seen a state or culture where all of life, all culture, all institutions, all schooling and so forth has been organised and structured around the constitutional documents of the Kingdom. We can put this another way: imagine a society where over eighty percent of the population of a particular society are genuinely professing Christians. Now, how would such a society be organised? How would it work? What institutions would it have? How would it operate?

Human history has not yet seen such a society. But as the Kingdom of God comes, we believe it will be progressively manifested within human history. All enemies are to be placed under His feet, before the last enemy (death) is abolished.

One of the outstanding characteristics of the Kingdom when it dominates a culture is that no one person, no one institution can represent or hold the Kingdom. Christ alone is King. He will not share His glory with another. His rule is universal. Therefore, the Kingdom of God upon earth as far as we creatures are concerned is a radically decentralised Kingdom. No one institution is dominant. Christ rules over individuals, families, church, and state in a totalitarian fashion, such that neither individuals, families, churches or civil government can usurp control nor laud it over the other. The constitution of the Kingdom forbids it.

Each institution, each aspect of the Kingdom has its own legitimacy because each has its calling to obey and serve the King as He commands. And Christ commands submission and service of each institution to the others. So the state must serve church and families; the church must serve state and families, and so forth. Christ Himself establishes true unity, and at the same time, establishes, protects and preserves diversity. In the Kingdom, the one and the many are equally ultimate—even as it is within the Trinity.

Fallen man, as exemplified in the Tower of Babel, is always seeking to unify everything under one central controlling principle or institution. It is an inevitable outcome or result of desiring to be god in place of the Living God. In recent modern history, the false central unifying principle has been the State. Increasingly, all of life revolves around the government and its powers.

As the Kingdom comes it breaks down statism—the belief and practice of the state being the ultimate reality upon earth. This breaking down occurs as other, equally legitimate institutions within God's Kingdom re-establish their assigned place, position, function, and authority.

In this regard we have been focusing upon the reformation of families and households, and emphasised the need for households to re-establish their front line responsibility for care, nurture, and welfare, first of all to family members, then extended family, and then to those who are genuinely in need. In order to do this, households and families must progressively recapture and reform our stewardship over property and wealth. Households can only take care of others if they have the means with which to do it; otherwise they themselves will need to be taken care of.

But the Bible has sober warnings about wealth. A love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Those who aspire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which lead to destruction. The longing for money can lead men to fall away from the faith. The man of God is to flee such things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, and so on. (I Timothy 6: 6—11) We are admonished to be content with what we have, and that if we have food, clothing, and shelter it is enough.

How, then, can these two apparently contradictory teachings be reconciled? Very simply. It is the Bible's teaching that with respect to wealth and capital, in God's Kingdom, we are never owners. We are only, ever stewards. The Greek word “steward” (oikonomias) means a manager or a trustee. A manager and a trustee deal with the property of another; they must deal with it in a trustworthy manner; it does not really belong to them at all, and they must never act or think as if it did. As soon as they do, they become unfaithful stewards.

God alone is the original and final owner of all things. To Him belongs the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 24:1; Psalm 89:11; Psalm 50: 10). We instinctively understand this concept. Take our children. Do parents own their children? To whom do they belong? Clearly we all understand that we do not own our children; they belong to God. He gives them to us. He entrusts their care and nurture to us. He will require an accounting from us for our service to our children in His behalf. The ownership of wealth and capital is exactly the same. It is not really ours at all. It belongs to Him. He gives it to us for a time. He will require an accounting from us for how we have acted as trustees of His wealth.

Thus, a faithful Christian lives as possessing all things, yet as though he had nothing. Such a man can control a fortune, but riches will have no control over him. The more Christians adopt this basic Christian duty, with all its accompanying necessary attitudes, the more capital and wealth the Lord will entrust. Such a servant does not love money; He loves the Lord, and uses the Lord's wealth as the Lord requires.

John Wesley had it right. He captured this essence of stewardship in a nutshell. He said a Christian steward (that is, every Christian) has three responsibilities:
Earn all you can.
Save all you can
Give all you can.
This threefold injunction captures the heart and essence of what it means to be a steward in God's Kingdom.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

An Avatar of the Hand of God

The Significance of Nia Glassie

We live in a Fallen world. Sin and evil are resident in every human heart, ordinarily restrained by the wise hand of the Living God, but resident nonetheless. No-one, however, is without sin.

As a culture turns away from God, the restraint of the Lord upon sin in the heart is deliberately lessened. This is an act of Divine judgment. The usual transmission mechanism which indicates the restraining hand of God is being removed from human hearts is the wider society and its institutions of government and education. When a culture turns not to God to deal with its sin, but to its own devices, it ends up creating an enormous edifice to attempt to remove the influence of sin. Poverty, injustice, theft, oppression, envy, hate—all these are real enough. To remove them requires a herculean effort to build a fabric of laws, governments, schools, bureaucracies, rules, regulations, conditioning institutions—and so on.

But a terrible irony emerges. As society makes its rebellion against God institutional, replacing God with Man-as-saviour, restraints upon evil within individuals melt away. The more man tries to redeem and perfect, the more evil grows in strength within the human heart. Because man has no power to deal with the sin and evil resident in the human heart, the removal of the fear and dread of God, and replacing it with Man-as-saviour simply pours petrol on the flickering flames of wickedness in every human heart. The strength of evil grows, and people do evil more naturally. Acts of evil become normal and ordinary.

At first the culture rejoices in its emerging freedom. Energised by the opportunity to shuffle off the shackles of former generations, a new era beckons—one of self-determination, sophistication, freedom, and autonomy. But within a generation a different picture begins to emerge: minatory, intimidating, and dreadful. As society's constraints crumble the superman of Nietzsche emerges, thrusting forth his chest, asserting his self-will and autonomy. “I will do what pleases me. No-one will tell me what to do. I am responsible to me alone.” The emphatic rejection of God by our leaders and governments has inevitably morphed into an emphatic rejection of men by man. The modern Nietzschean slogan “Fuck you! And fuck off!” is now so deeply ingrained, so institutionalised, so much part of everyday human existence, so typical of human relationships in so many houses and streets, that evil is rapidly becoming regnant. Society is tearing itself apart from the inside out. People turn upon others with a brutish insensitivity that at first glance appears to be beyond human. But it is not. It is what a human being actually is, without the restraining and redeeming hand of God.

The country has been shocked by the murder of Nia Glassie. How could five adults in modern New Zealand effectively torture a three year old child, for whom they were responsible, to death? This question has two dimensions. The first dimension is to focus upon the guilty. Brute evil is never attractive. It is horrific. The community is shocked, horrified, and angered that four people could be so callous, so brutish, and so wicked. The inhumanness of the act appalls.

Yet there is something disturbingly familiar about these young people. They look normal! They are. They look like everyone of us! Correct. They look like they could be our young people! Right again! We desperately want to demonise them, but we struggle because they are so ordinary and every day. They are so human! So people throw up their hands in despair and ask, “What on earth is going on?” Our answer is clear: it is a sign of God's wrath upon our culture. Evil, gross evil, is being allowed to become normal. Ordinary people are doing grotesque and depraved things. We are being given an initial glimpse of Hell upon earth, an initial glimpse of what awaits us.

The second dimension to the question of how such things could happen, is to deflect attention away from the guilty to societal causes. Here we are on much more familiar and comfortable ground. Firstly, society takes a deep measure of guilt upon itself (it is sort of like sharing the horror around, thereby lessening it). “If only we (that is society, aka the government, aka CYFS) had done a better job this would never have happened.” This has to be the perpetual response in a world which arrogates to itself the role of being saviour and redeemer. Secondly, true moral guilt is diverted from the guilty. Yes, they are going to be incarcerated, but deep down society believes it is not really their fault. The responsibility for this outrage really belongs to the society as a whole in which these young criminals were raised. We, that is, collective Man has failed to redeem and save.

Thirdly, atonement and an opportunity for penance is at hand. Society must firstly confess its sins—we have collectively sinned in that we have created a society in which such horrors can transpire—and then we must atone by redoubling our efforts to ensure that we change the social environment so that such things do not happen any more. The transmission of the atonement mechanism is being willing to be taxed more so that the redeemer-government to spend more money on the health, educational, and welfare agencies to ensure that such things do not happen again.

Society feels much more comfortable with the second dimension. It is our stock in trade. It is utterly consistent with our rejection of God. Like all confessions and atonements, it has the facility of appearing not to cover over sin, yet it provides a measure of redemption and hope—of a way forward, so to speak. So within a short time, Nia will fade from memory, the horror will pass, and life will go on. Until the next time. But next time, we will have grown a little more accepting, a little more used to such things happening. The outrage will be less. The collective shoulder shrug will be a bit more noticeable. Evil will become just that little bit more ordinary and normal.

Where will it all end? A student sensitive to Divine providence and the patterns of Divine judgment knows that it will not end any time soon. It is not that there is no hope. Rather, it is that society is a long, long way away from taking hold of the hope that is there. The hand of Christ is stretched out to a disobedient and rebellious people. But it remains ignored. The back is turned. The hands are firmly pressed to the ears. The cacophony of the stamped chant drowns out the divine call. “We will not have you King over us,” is the cry. “We will not! We will not! We will not!”

“As you sow, so shall you reap” is a Divine principle of government. Since we find God's yoke too harsh, He will condemn us to live under our own. The cruelty, the horror, the harshness, and the devastation is just beginning. The “Nia incident” is but a sign and a harbinger.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Can Education Be Saved, Part II

Intractable Problems

In the previous post, we argued that there is a cluster of serious issues facing schools in the current state education system which can be fixed. They are problems which are remedial.

But underlying the modern Athenian state education system is a religious ideology which reflects the very essence of Athens itself. These things Athens cannot change without denying its very existence. These things make the decline and ossification of the modern state compulsory secular education appear inevitable in the longer run.

There are at least four malignant cancer tumours within the system.

1. Egalitarianism. The Athenian ideology of rights based equality is so deeply held and believed that it is inconceivable that it will ever be changed without the dismantling of Athens itself. In education, rights based equality insists that everyone not only has a right to the process of education, but also that graduates have a right to achievement. Everyone must be a winner; everyone must achieve; everyone must be affirmed.

The idea that failure is absolutely necessary to sustainable education is a concept so foreign to the ethos of Athens that it is now almost blasphemous even to contemplate. Nevertheless, it remains true. If you do not have failure within the school system, you do not have educational standards, which is to say you do not have a recognised body of knowledge into which pupils are to be educated. Failure to learn and grasp the required corpus must result in failure. Without such failure you cannot sustain an education system, because in the end there is no defined corpus of knowledge, information, or truth in which to be educated.

When it comes to educating a child there are two basic limitations. One is the child's intellectual or academic ability. The second is the child's attitudes and character. On the assumption that some children are more intellectually able than others, and that some (for whatever reason) are less committed to education than others, failure to achieve a set standard by some is inevitable. It is also necessary if standards are to be maintained.

Modern Athens, however, sees such failure as a violation of egalitarian non-discrimination rights. The only way it can respond is to lower or adapt or inflate, or broaden achievement standards so that everyone can be affirmed an achiever.

2. Anti-family ideology and practice; the crumbling of the family unit. There are attitudes and disciplines, outlooks and mentalities which are learned by pupils long before they ever go to school. These attitudes and mores arise out of the family circumstances of each child. These conditioning factors will determine not only how the child will respond to schooling, but also will eventually dictate to Athenian schools how and what pupils are to be taught. Absolutely central is the view of the future.

The essence of the process of education is a willingness and commitment to sacrifice in the present in order to achieve an advantage in the future. Without that, education quickly deteriorates into gratuitous entertainment in a vain attempt to keep a child engaged. The attitudes to the future, time frame horizons, sacrifice in the present for longer term advantage—or their opposites, are not in the first place taught by parents to infants—they are caught. These values and attitudes are communicated inarticulately to pre-school children in a thousand different ways, so that by the time the child attends school, it is too late. The attitudes are largely set.

As families in Athens crumble; as families become more mixed, or solo, or confused; as attitudes and actions arising from broken families get repeated and exacerbated down through generations, the situation worsens. Increasingly, children of such families are found to be unable to be educated--and their numbers are rising rapidly. But Athens cannot avoid policies and laws, actions and dictates which assail the family and break it down. Rights based egalitarianism makes the nuclear family no worse or better than a family consisting of two lesbians and a budgie.

The temporary and transient nature of family and living "arrangements" that is a direct consequence of Athenian rights-based equality increasingly consigns children to a life of brutish, uneducable ignorance.

3. Crumbling of epistemology and resulting curriculum detritus. Athens is caught in the vortex of a deep uncertainty over the truth itself. It is increasingly suffering a crisis over what should be taught. Is literature to be found in Shakespeare or Facebook? Fundamentally, Athens cannot answer that question in any authoritative way.

Athens is a religious society built upon the “principle” of radical universal metaphysical chaos. The only reason man exists is because of brute chance. Moreover, all that exists must, by definition, exclude the Living God who created all things out of nothing. Therefore, everything is radically contingent, uncertain, and without any absolute significance or meaning.

In a world which cannot have absolutes (and any world turning upon man cannot) nothing is certain. All that we have, at the end of the day, as Wittgenstein so profoundly and acutely realised, is conundrums and linguistic puzzles. There can be no sustainable impartation of truth and knowledge from teacher to pupil, master to apprentice. The teacher can never rise above being a mere facilitator to “self-based-discovery”—and a rather mediocre facitator at that

As to whether literature is represented in Hamlet or the phenomenon of Facebook, Athenian education will always favour Facebook in the end—for the simple reason that that is where its erstwhile students are currently engaged. If the pre-engagement of one's students determines the curriculum and its content, education is not sustainable.

But Athens cannot change this fundamentally flawed approach, without throwing out its world view of man and his mind being the measure of all things. But it cannot, without denying itself and ceasing to exist. So it will not. The disease is terminal indeed.

4. Education as false redeemer. Education in Athens has been loaded with weight that it cannot bear. It will inevitably break under the strain. But this is something which Athens cannot avoid doing.

Athens does not believe in sin. It will not accept for one moment that the world is Fallen. Therefore sin of any sort, from moral imperfection to crime to malfunctioning of a roading system is intolerable insofar as it is imperfect and incomplete. For Athenians this reflects badly upon man as man. Failure is not an option within Athens at the end of the day. Something which man controls must be lacking. Man, the Great Redeemer, can and must perfect the imperfect.

But how? The only answer is education. Athens believes it can only permanently remove imperfections if it changes man himself. Within modern secular humanistic Athens only education can change the nature and limitations of man. There can be no other gods to which appeal can be made. Athens has no other redeemer. Humanism will not allow any other redeemer.

The false redemptive expectations of education, the imperative that it be the universal long term solution to all imperfections and problems, means that the education system will inevitably crumble into incompetence. It is simply an idol which will be crushed under the weight of false expectation. But modern Athens will not be able to lessen its demands or lower its expectations. It has no other god, no other redeemer.

When a patient is dying, there are always some palliative, shorter term things which can be done to make things easier for a while. This is certainly true of the modern secular state education system.

But the appearance of recovery is only that—an appearance. Treating symptoms works only so long. In the end, the terminal disease wins. Death is inevitable. The bottom line is that modern Athens cannot sustain an education system. In the end, it will devolve and disintegrate into inter-generational,
institutionalized ignorance.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Can Education be Saved, Part I

Changes Necessary But Not Sufficient

The patient is terminal. The Athenian state education system in New Zealand is dying. All care now can only be palliative.

This may be hyperbole. We say “may be” because a weighty case can be made that the State education system is “all over, Rover.” It is only a matter of time—say another generation or so.

On the other hand, in diagnosing the diseases of the modern education system there are issues which are definitely treatable and able to be fixed. But there are others which are more deeply rooted, invasive, and are unlikely ever to be corrected.

This post will deal with the superficial problems which are treatable, and, if treated, will make a salutary difference for a time.

The serious, but treatable diseases include:

1. The disenfranchisement of parents from the education of their children. The current state model of education within Athens proceeds on the basis of parental incompetence, irresponsibility, and ignorance. It presents itself as a “we are the professionals, we know best.” The corollary, of course is, “you (parents) are the amateurs; you are incompetent in the matter of education.”

This leads to a circumstance of widespread apathy on the part of parents, a disdain of their duties and responsibilities, and a general disenfranchising of parents so that they disengage from the duty and responsibility to ensure that their children are well educated.

Consequently parents, as the consumers of the service of education are not sufficiently demanding of schools--nor does the system encourage them to be demanding.

The underlying debate here is the same as the argument over tax cuts versus government spending. Those who argue for tax cuts justify them on a fundamental principle of the income earner being more competent to spend their own money in a manner that is appropriate to their needs, than a government can be spending their income upon their behalf.

The current education system asserts that the state is more competent than parents to educate the latter's children. The state knows how to spend money on their children's education more effectively than the parents could spend it.

There is a simple solution to hand: provide parents with an annual voucher for the education of their children, to be redeemed at the school of their choice. This would result in a radical and salutary empowerment of parents in the education system.

2. The smothering power and influence of teacher unions. The centralised state model leads to more and more centralised control. The profession remains one of the most union controlled in the entire country. This has led to the situation where the education system is fundamentally designed and controlled to preserve and serve the interests of the union members, rather than the children.

Hence, the teachers unions vociferously oppose bulk funding, a modern remuneration structure based on performance, objective national testing of educational achievements, removing all protective barriers to entry of the profession, and so forth.

Once again the solutions are relatively simple: empower school managements to hire and fire as they see fit; re-establish bulk funding; and authorise school managements to override or ignore the teacher registration boards if they wish in hiring suitable staff. In other words, make schools accountable and responsible for educational outcomes and achievements, thereby disestablishing teacher unions as the arbiters and definers of professionalism and educational standards.

3. The over-preponderance of females within schools. The teaching profession labours under a growing gender gap. Men are no longer equally represented in the nation's classrooms. This encourages the disengagement of young men from the education process.

A simple solution is to require gender balance within a school's classroom staff within a certain time frame. Re-establishing bulk funding will significantly empower schools to enable them to achieve a standard of gender balance within a defined time frame. Schools will be free to go out and recruit male teachers--even paying them more, if need be, for a time to recruit them to the profession.

4. The ever growing list of social ills being placed at the doorsteps of schools. Schools are rightfully complaining that their burdens and responsibilities grow every year. Now they are responsible to ensure children's diets are up to scratch. Before that it was a responsibility to reduce teenage drink driving statistics. "Sex education" is required at earlier and earlier ages. The ever increasing responsibilities upon schools to achieve social engineering goals has led to the increasing diversity of subjects and activities, which in turn crowds out those core subjects which are crucial to learning all other subjects and disciplines.

Coupled with this is the rapidly increasing bureaucratic intrusion into schools. Social engineering idolatry has teamed up with nanny-state ideology to "ensure" that schools are safe environments (however "safe" may be defined.) To ensure this, schools and teachers spend an increasing amount of time filling in forms and satisfying the insatiable demands of the state for more and more reporting and information.

A commonly heard complaint amongst teachers is, "I have not got enough time to teach the really important subjects."

The solution is to identify not more than five core subjects, which every student must be taught for the first ten years of formal schooling. These subjects need to be mandatory; all other subjects and activities must be ancillary and voluntary.

Secondly, under a universal voucher system, the proof of the school being a safe environment needs to be provided to parents, not central educational bureaucrats. This will remove from schools a significant overhead of bureaucratic form filling. If parents like what they see they will redeem educational vouchers at the school. If they don't, they won't. Large numbers of educational bureaucrats and supervisors would be made redundant; funds would be released for front-line teaching.

5. A lack of objective testing and standards. This in concept is easily fixed, although we suspect in actuality it may prove quite difficult. Setting national achievement standards in core subjects will not be satisfactorily done while the current crop of educational ideologues remains in place to set the standards.

In order to make this work, the solution would be to adopt international standards for annual testing of literacy and numeracy. This would have a major effect upon the current school system.

These are all serious, but
treatable problems . It is conceivable that the current state education system, with sufficient political determination, could make all these changes within five years. They would make a great deal of difference, for a time. Palliative care is important--and we believe that these changes should be made, and should be made with courage and strong resolve.

But, we believe, in the end the modern Athenian system, as an education system, will still die.

Part II will explain why this will be the case.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Meditation on the Text of the Week

If God Speaks, Those Who Hear Will Live Forever

But know this, first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
I Peter 1: 20, 21

At no time in the entirety of human history was man ever able to exist or to function apart from God. For all that is not God lives and moves and has its being in God. Human autonomy is, therefore, the most grotesque and asinine of myths.

Before the Fall, Adam and Eve had their existence structured not only by the laws, patterns, and institutions of creation itself, but by the Words of God. Perfect, sinless man could neither exist nor function apart from the Living God speaking to him. Thus, God's revealing Himself to man via human language is intrinsic to human existence itself. This will continue to be true for all eternity.

After Adam's sin, God spoke to man again. The very fact of God speaking again to our first parents after their sin in itself brings hope that salvation may actually yet come to the human race. Utter devastation as the due punishment for sin—death—was all that was now “owed” Adam and Eve as a result of their high handed rebellion against their Creator. If God continued to speak to man after the Fall it gives reason to hope that somehow man's sin was not to be the end of mankind. It leads us to believe that God is not finished with us.

God's speaking to mankind via human language (that is, so we, the finite can know truthfully and meaningfully something of God) after the Fall implies that man's career is not over, since from the very beginning of his existence that same word was given to Adam to structure, shape, and make his existence meaningful.

If God continues to speak, salvation and redemption is necessarily implied. If God does not speak, but remains silent, death and damnation is certain and irrevocable.

Thus, if any human being, regardless of class, creed, race, or people-group, is to have any hope of salvation, of deliverance from the guilt of sin, God must speak to him—in human language. Now this does not mean that God must speak to each individual individualistically—that is, with a message in human language that is individual and distinct to each person. Such an idea would make a nonsense of the unity of the human race. But it does mean that God must speak, and that man must hear. Without this, there is no hope of salvation or redemption of anyone.

God has spoken. He spoke to Adam and Eve after their sin—and therefore also to all people who are descended from them. He also spoke to Israel, and therefore also to all people, since Israel was a kingdom of priests—representing all mankind before God. Lastly, and finally, and completely He spoke in and through and by the Lord Jesus Christ.

And then He finished speaking—for nothing more needed to be said. Nothing more could be said, for the works of salvation and redemption were completed in Christ and finished by Christ.

Our text tells us how—the medium—by which God has spoken to us. He spoke to us via the “forthtellings” or prophecies of Scripture. For Scripture, while human, is not man speaking to man—but none other than God Himself speaking to man. That is what our text asserts. Peter says that no prophecy (including his own) ever came by means of human design, invention, will, or act. While it uses human language embedded into human history and culture it is not itself human, but divine—just as when God spoke to Adam in the Garden, the words were human words, human syntax, human language so that humans could understand, but the words were God's, the content and meaning of the words were divine. It was indeed God speaking to man.

And that is precisely what Peter tells us about the Scripture. Men and their language were agents, but they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, such that when they spoke, the source and content of their declarations was not them, but the Holy Spirit, so that their words were the words of God Himself.

But that is just part of the “equation.” If man is to be redeemed, God must first of all speak to him. And He has. God has spoken. His words and acts are now indelibly part of human history and of humanity. His revelation can never be taken away, removed, or eradicated—just as Messiah's work of atonement for the sins of His people cannot be undone, removed, or reversed. But to be redeemed, not only must God speak, but man—each individual—must hear what God has spoken. Only if man hears can he then believe in God and in His Christ, and in believing have eternal life.

Man can only hear when God's Spirit unblocks his ears, so that when he hears and reads the words of Scripture he knows for certain that he is hearing and reading the very words of the Living God. That is why one person will read a passage and it will remain dark and vain to him; while another will read exactly the same passage, and he will believe for the first time, and unto death, that he has read the very words of God Himself. It is God who converts the soul, making wise the simple. It is the Spirit who comes out of nowhere regenerating the deadened heart and mind so that he hears God speaking in the Scripture.

Without God speaking to us, we perish. If God were to speak, and we were to hear and believe, we would live forever. God has spoken, and by His grace, His elect are made to hear and believe. To Him alone be all glory, praise and honour.

Trotter, Shakespeare and Zen

Not Prince Hamlet

If you thought that tag team wrestling was crude boorish theatre, think again.

William Shakespeare and Zen Tiger have teamed up to tag wrestle Chris Trotter (Click link to read and enjoy in full). By rights, this should be the end of Trotter's career. How many slam dunks, choke holds, and sleepers can a self-respecting left wing apologist endure.

But like Prufrock, he will doubtless stumble on, muttering "I grow old. I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."

Ah, yes, Chris. We find your scroll thus written:
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Support More Febrile and Shrill

Will Science Regain Respect?

The Global Warming spin machine has been aided and abetted by disreputable and unprofessional behaviour on the part of many scientists. They have tarred all scientists with a dirty, unsavoury brush. The entire episode has demonstrated powerfully that relative objectivity and research integrity can no longer be expected in scientific disciplines.

Two important pieces have been published recently which deserve attention. The first was a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald by Michael Duffy publicly exposing the charlatan-like behaviour of the Chairman of the UN IPCC when recently in Sydney.

We reproduce the article in full below:

Truly inconvenient truths about climate change being ignored

Michael Duffy
November 8, 2008

Last month I witnessed something shocking. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was giving a talk at the University of NSW. The talk was accompanied by a slide presentation, and the most important graph showed average global temperatures. For the past decade it represented temperatures climbing sharply.

As this was shown on the screen, Pachauri told his large audience: "We're at a stage where warming is taking place at a much faster rate [than before]".

Now, this is completely wrong. For most of the past seven years, those temperatures have actually been on a plateau. For the past year, there's been a sharp cooling. These are facts, not opinion: the major sources of these figures, such as the Hadley Centre in Britain, agree on what has happened, and you can check for yourself by going to their websites. Sure, interpretations of the significance of this halt in global warming vary greatly, but the facts are clear.

So it's disturbing that Rajendra Pachauri's presentation was so erroneous, and would have misled everyone in the audience unaware of the real situation. This was particularly so because he was giving the talk on the occasion of receiving an honorary science degree from the university.

Later that night, on ABC TV's Lateline program, Pachauri claimed that those who disagree with his own views on global warming are "flat-earthers" who deny "the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence". But what evidence could be more important than the temperature record, which Pachauri himself had fudged only a few hours earlier?

In his talk, Pachauri said the number of global warming sceptics is shrinking, a curious claim he was unable to substantiate when questioned about it on Lateline. Still, there's no doubt a majority of climate scientists agree with the view of the IPCC.

Today I want to look at why this might be so: after all, such a state of affairs presents a challenge to sceptics such as me. If we're right, then an awful lot of scientists are wrong. How could this be?

This question was addressed in September in a paper by Professor Richard Lindzen, of the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lindzen, probably the most qualified prominent global-warming sceptic, suggested that a number of changes in the way science is conducted have contributed to the rise of climate alarmism among American scientists.

Central to this is the importance of government funding to science. Much of that funding since World War II has occurred because scientists build up public fears (examples include fear of the USSR's superiority in weapons or space travel, of health problems, of environmental degradation) and offer themselves as the solution to those fears. The administrators who work with the scientists join in with enthusiasm: much of their own funding is attached to the scientific grants. Lindzen says this state of affairs favours science involving fear, and also science that involves expensive activities such as computer modelling. He notes we have seen "the de-emphasis of theory because of its difficulty and small scale, the encouragement of simulation instead (with its call for large capital investment in computation), and the encouragement of large programs unconstrained by specific goals.

"In brief, we have the new paradigm where simulation and [computer] programs have replaced theory and observation, where government largely determines the nature of scientific activity, and where the primary role of professional societies is the lobbying of the government for special advantage."

Lindzen believes another problem with climate science is that in America and Europe it is heavily colonised by environmental activists.

Here are just two examples that indicate the scale of the problem: the spokesman for the American Meteorological Society is a former staffer for Al Gore, and, probably the world's most authoritative alarmist web site, was started by a public relations firm serving environmental causes.

None of this is necessarily sinister, but the next time you hear a scientist or scientific organisation warning of climate doom, you might want to follow the money trail. Sceptics are not the only ones who have received funding from sources sympathetic to their viewpoint. (And yes, Lindzen did once receive some money from energy companies.)

Lindzen claims that scientific journals play an important role in promoting global warming alarmism, and gives a number of examples.

Someone else who's looked closely at scientific journals (although not specifically those dealing with climate science) is epidemiologist John Ioannidis of the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. He reached the surprising conclusion that most published research findings are proved false within five years of their publication. (Lest he be dismissed as some eccentric, I note that the Economist recently said Ioannidis has made his case "quite convincingly".)

Why might this be so? Later work by Ioannidis and colleagues suggests that these days journal editors are more likely to publish research that will make a splash than that which will not. They do this to sell more copies of their publications and of reprints of papers in it. Ioannidis believes these publication practices might be distorting science.

It's possible the forces described by Lindzen and Ioannidis have imbued climate science with a preference for results that involve (or seem to involve) disastrous change rather than stability. Rajenda Pachauri's recent Sydney lecture suggests that in this relatively new field, inconvenient truths to the contrary are not welcome.

"Objective scientific inquiry" is becoming more and more an oxymoron, to the point where one wonders whether it will ever recover.

The second piece is much longer, and we will not re-publish in full. However, it is definitely worth serious reflection. The article appears in Quadrant Magazine and its full text can be found here.

The article is written by Robert Carter, and is entitled "The Futile Quest for Climate Control."

We reproduce excerpts below:

Climate change knows three realities: science reality, which is what working scientists deal with every day; virtual reality, which is the wholly imaginary world inside computer climate models; and public reality, which is the socio-political system within which politicians, business people and the general citizenry work.

The science reality is that climate is a complex, dynamic, natural system that no one wholly comprehends, though many scientists understand different small parts. So far, science provides no unambiguous evidence that dangerous or even measurable human-caused global warming is occurring.

The virtual reality is that computer models predict future climate according to the assumptions that are programmed into them. . . .

The public reality in 2008 is that, driven by strong environmental lobby groups and evangelistic scientists and journalists, there is a widespread but erroneous belief in our society that dangerous global warming is occurring and that it has human causation. . . .

Science reality.

My reference files categorise climate change into more than 100 sub-discipline areas of relevant knowledge. Like most other climate scientists, I possess deep expertise in at most two or three of these sub-disciplines. As Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick (in Taken by Storm) have observed:

“Global warming is a topic that sprawls in a thousand directions. There is no such thing as an ‘expert’ on global warming, because no one can master all the relevant subjects. On the subject of climate change everyone is an amateur on many if not most of the relevant topics.”

It is therefore a brave scientist who essays an expert public opinion on the global warming issue, that bravery being always but one step from foolhardiness. As for the many public dignitaries and celebrities whose global warming preachings fill our daily news bulletins, their enthusiasm for a perceived worthy cause greatly exceeds their clarity of thought about climate change science, regarding which they are palpably innocent of knowledge.

In these difficult circumstances of complex science and public ignorance, how is science reality to be judged? This question was first carefully thought through in the late 1980s by the senior bureaucrats and scientists who were involved in the creation of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). . . The declared intention of the IPCC was to provide disinterested summaries of the state of climate science as judged from the published, refereed scientific literature. Henceforward, in the public and political eye, science reality was to be decided by the authority of the IPCC. Accordingly, in four successive Assessment Reports in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007, the IPCC has tried to imprint its belief in dangerous human-caused warming on politicians and the public alike, steamrolling relentlessly over the more balanced, non-alarmist views held by thousands of other qualified scientists. Inevitably, and despite the initial good intentions, what started in 1988 as a noble cause had by the time of the fourth Assessment Report (2007) degenerated into a politically-driven science and media circus.

As Essex and McKitrick have accurately written:

“We do not need to guess what is the world view of the IPCC leaders. They do not attempt to hide it. They are committed, heart and soul, to the Doctrine [of human-caused global warming]. They believe it and they are advocates on its behalf. They have assembled a body of evidence that they feel supports it and they travel the world promoting it.

“There would be nothing wrong with this if it were only one half of a larger exercise in adjudication. But governments around the world have made the staggering error of treating the IPCC as if it is the only side we should listen to in the adjudication process. What is worse, when on a regular basis other scientists and scholars stand up and publicly disagree with the IPCC, governments panic because they are afraid the issue will get complicated, and undermine the sense of certainty that justifies their policy choices. So they label alternative views ‘marginal’ and those who hold them ‘dissidents’. . . .

The hypothesis of the IPCC was, and remains, that human greenhouse gas emissions (especially of carbon dioxide) are causing dangerous global warming. The IPCC concentrates its analyses of climate change on only the last few hundred years, and has repeatedly failed to give proper weight to the geological context of the 150-year-long instrumental record. When viewed in historical context, and assessed against empirical data, the greenhouse hypothesis fails. There is no evidence that late-twentieth-century rates of temperature increase were unusually rapid or reached an unnaturally high peak; no human-caused greenhouse signal has been measured or identified despite the expenditure since 1990 of many billions of dollars searching for it; and global temperature, which peaked within the current natural cycle in 1998, has been declining since 2002 despite continuing increases in carbon dioxide emission.

Therefore, science reality in 2008 is that the IPCC’s hypothesis of dangerous, human-caused global warming has been repeatedly tested and failed. In contrast, the proper null hypothesis that the global climatic changes that we observe today are natural in origin has yet to be disproven. The only argument that remains to the IPCC—and it is solely a theoretical argument, not evidence of any kind—is that their unvalidated computer models project that carbon-dioxide-driven dangerous warming will occur in the future: just you wait and see! It is therefore to these models that we now turn.

Virtual reality.

The general circulation computer climate models (GCMs) used by the IPCC are deterministic, which is to say that they specify the climate system from the first principles of physics. For many parts of the climate system, such as the behaviour of turbulent fluids or the processes that occur within clouds, our incomplete knowledge of the physics requires the extensive use of parameterisation (that is, “educated guesses”) in the models, especially for the many climate processes that occur at a scale below the 100 to 200 square kilometre size of the typical modelling grid.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the GCMs used by the IPCC have not been able to make successful climate predictions, nor to match the observed pattern of global temperature change over the late twentieth century. Regarding the first point, none of the models was able to forecast the path of the global average temperature statistic as it elapsed between 1990 and 2006. Regarding the second, GCMs persistently predict that greenhouse warming trends should increase with altitude, especially in the tropics, with most warming at around ten kilometres altitude; in contrast, actual observations show the opposite, with either flat or decreasing warming trends with increasing height in the troposphere. . . .

It is clear from all of this that climate GCMs do not produce predictive outputs that are suitable for direct application in policy making; it is therefore inappropriate to use IPCC model projections for planning, or even precautionary, purposes, as if they were real forecasts of future climate. . . .

Public reality.

Opinion polls show that most of the rest of us have become severely alarmed about the threat of human-caused climate change. Therefore, public reality, as perceived by the Rudd government at least, is that the Australian electorate now expects the government to “do something” about global warming—that is, to introduce a carbon dioxide taxation system. This means that there exists a strong disjunction between climate alarm as perceived by the public and the science justification for that alarm. How come? . . . .

. . . (P)robably the strongest alarmist influence of all on the climate policy debate is the rather more subtle phenomenon of noble cause corruption.

In his book Science and Public Policy, Professor Aynsley Kellow explores the problem of noble cause corruption in public life in some depth. Such corruption arises from the belief of a vested interest, or powerful person or group, in the moral righteousness of their cause. For example, a police officer may apprehend a person committing a crime and, stuck with a lack of incriminating evidence, proceed to manufacture it. For many social mores, of which “stopping global warming” and “saving the Great Barrier Reef” are two iconic Australian examples, it has become a common practice for evidence to be manipulated in dishonest ways, under the justification of helping to achieve a worthy end. After all, who wouldn’t want to help to “save the Great Barrier Reef”? . . . .

Driven by their addiction to alarmism, and a false belief that the causes of climate change are understood, environmentalists worldwide urge the adoption of the precautionary principle to solve the “global warming problem”. The reality that you can’t take precautions against a future that is unknown (and may encompass either warming or cooling, or both) is ignored in favour of irrational feel-goodery, the aim being to move the world to a “post-carbon” economy by drastic curtailment of the carbon dioxide emissions that are alleged to be causing warming.

Environmental campaigners for the reduction of human greenhouse emissions remain blind to inconvenient facts such as: that no amount of precaution is going stop natural climate change; that there is a 100 per cent risk of damage from natural climate events, which happen every day; that we cannot measure, much less isolate, any presumed human climate signal globally; that extra atmospheric carbon dioxide causes mild warming at best, and overall is at least as likely to be beneficial as harmful; and that the causes of climate change are many, various and very incompletely understood. . . .

The Role of the Media in Fostering Climate Alarmism

It is a rare day now that any metropolitan newspaper fails to carry one or more alarmist stories on climate change, not least because media proprietors learned long ago that sensational or alarmist news sells best. As one of Australia’s most experienced science journalists, Julian Cribb, has remarked:

“The publication of ‘bad news’ is not a journalistic vice. It’s a clear instruction from the market. It’s what consumers, on average, demand … As a newspaper editor I knew, as most editors know, that if you print a lot of good news, people stop buying your paper. Conversely, if you publish the correct mix of doom, gloom and disaster, your circulation swells. I have done the experiment.”

Thus climate change hysteria in the media has a life of its own. Ask a web search engine to supply you with references to “global warming” and it will provide a daily haul of ten to twenty alarmist newspaper articles from throughout the world. Many of these stories have as their basis real scientific results from real scientists, but by the time the results been processed through public relations staff and compliant media commentators, the result is group-think, political correctness and frisbee-science of a high order. . . .

The British commentator Melanie Phillips summarised it well:

“The way global warming is being reported by the science press is a scandal. In selecting only those claims that support a prejudice and disregarding evidence that these claims are false, it is betraying the basic principles of scientific inquiry and has become instead an arm of ideological propaganda.”

Finally, for all the problems listed above, and much to the outrage of warming alarmists, it should be acknowledged that a handful of quality newspapers do provide a more balanced public discussion of global warming issues. Such papers include the Wall Street Journal, the London Telegraph stable, the Canadian National Post, the Melbourne Business Age and the Australian. These publications, and a few others, are playing a vital role in keeping the public informed of both sides of the climate change issue. Tellingly, however, no Australian television station comes even close to providing equivalently balanced commentary; and neither does that paragon of broadcasting virtue, the British Broadcasting Corporation. . . .


In 1990 the IPCC’s first Assessment Report concluded that no human influence on climate was discernible. Despite the huge expenditure of research effort and money since that time, the boundary arguments to the debate have scarcely moved. We now have copiously more data and more powerful computers, have spent upwards of $50 billion on climate research, and are the beneficiaries of twenty years of hard thinking by some of the world’s most accomplished scientists. Yet the protagonists in the debate remain in the same bunkers they occupied in the early 1990s, and a clear human-caused climate signal continues to elude us.

Two years ago, I wrote:

“It remains a matter of faith whether reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, should they occur, will have any measurable influence on climate. My conclusion is that—irrespective of McCarthyist bludgeoning, press bias, policy-advice corruption or propaganda frenzy—it is highly unlikely that the public is going to agree to a costly restructuring of the world economy simply on the basis of speculative computer models of climate in 100 years time. Attempting to ‘stop climate change’ is an extravagant and costly exercise of utter futility. Rational climate policies must be based on adaptation to climate change as it occurs, irrespective of its causation.” . . . .

The IPCC experiment has failed, in large part because of the priority that has been given to policy advocacy over the accurate reporting of empirical science. Attempting to prevent (“mitigate”, in the lingo) climate change is an expensive exercise in futility. Planning for inevitable future climate change, both natural and possibly human-caused, will best be undertaken in the same way as we plan for other natural disasters such as bushfires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami and cyclones. Policies are needed which identify when a dangerous climatic event is about to occur, or has occurred; which then initiate any available, cost-effective mitigation measures; and which, finally, provide appropriate assistance to those individuals or communities affected by the change through no fault of their own. . . .

Natural climate change being an important human hazard, research funding for climate change issues should be maintained at a healthy level. But the focus of the spending needs to be shifted from its present overemphasis on “greenhouse” alarmism and computer modelling research to a balance of: (i) documentation and analysis of modern weather patterns (earth observing systems), and patterns of past climate change (stratigraphic study); and (ii) deepening our understanding of all mechanisms of climate change, not just radiation theory. . . .

Professor Bob Carter is a former Chair of the Australian Research Council’s Panel on Engineering, Applied and Earth Sciences, and a former Director of the Australian Secretariat of the international Ocean Drilling Program. He has a website at