Thursday, 31 May 2012

Basic Truths

Socialism Versus the Redemer

The Acton Institute is an ecumenical organization devoted to the study of the religion and liberty.  One of its principal scholars is Rev Robert Sirico, who has authored a recently released book entitled, Defending the Free Market: the Moral Case for Capitalism.  You can order it from Amazon, here.

Here is Robert Sirico being interviewed by Stuart Varney of Fox Business.  Definitely worth a look.
Hat Tip: Maria at NZ Conservative.

Lachrymose and Absurd

Head Shaking, Side Splitting Stuff

The Guardian newspaper has long been an ardent cheerleader of the global warming cause. 

How apt, then, for the Guardian to raise a lament over the latest UN boondogglish talkfest on combating the greatest threat to sentient life ever faced on this planet.  Now, it is worth keeping in mind that the following piece is written in all seriousness.  One cannot suppress belly laughs at the tragi-comic opera, on the one hand, and that the author of this Guardian piece does not get the joke, on the other.

Bonn climate talks end in discord and disappointment

The latest round of international climate change talks finished on Friday in discord and disappointment, with some participants concerned that important progress made last year was being unpicked.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Silver on Top, and Black on the Bottom 

Theology - Life in the Regeneration
Written by Douglas Wilson
Sunday, 27 May 2012

It is bad when a blogger gets in over his head, or when a theologian does, or when a pamphlateer does, or when a connector-of-the-dots does. But, with all necessary qualifications made, it not bad when a preacher does. It is a preacher's calling to get in over his head (2 Cor. 2:16). But he needs to be careful to do it the right way -- there is a way to be in over your head in the pulpit which is just ordinary confusion, and there is a way that is the work of the Spirit of God.

I wrote earlier about the reunion of Christendom, and how it was going to be glorious. But precisely because it is going to be glorious, it will not the result of careful negotiations hammered out by the canon lawyers. As Lloyd-Jones once memorably put it, getting all the ecclesiastical corpses into one graveyard will not bring about a resurrection.

Climate "Science"

Cherry Picking and Obfuscation

Climategate is now old news.  But still, the hits keep coming.  In the original scandal, the leading boffins at the Climatic Research Institute at the University of East Anglia were found to have engaged in a conspiracy to pervert the course of scientific inquiry.  They had "cooked the books".  Instead of working with recorded data, they massaged and manufactured it to make it appear as if global temperatures had risen substantially toward the end of last century.

A couple of inquiries were held, which are almost universally agreed to have been whitewashes.  After all, the UK government, together with the Commentariat at large, had decided that global warming was real.  But, it appears that the corruption of scientific process has been systemic, not isolated.  Andrew Montford and Harold Ambler, writing in National Review Online, review the latest scandal.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Letter From America

Not Offending the World 

The Bible is pretty clear. It is our duty to be as inoffensive as possible. As far as it is possible, we are to live in peace with all men.

But--and it is a big but--the Bible is also clear that in this life we will likely suffer at the hands of Unbelieving men. It is de rigueur for the Christian life. The Gospel has its own offense, and in that offense we are to glory, not be ashamed.

When Paul and his colleagues went preaching the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles, the offense of the message transferred to umbrage against and rejection of the messengers. We are to glory in that transference: it means we are being honoured by God, allowed to follow in the footsteps of the Saviour of the world. David French writes an open letter about how he has came to realise this.

An Open Letter to Young, “Post-Partisan” Evangelicals

May 23, 2012 By David French

Dear fed-up idealists, I used to be you.

A Knife in the Dark

Europe Faces the Cutting Blade

Recent and forthcoming events in Europe represent a watershed one way or the other.  At the moment, things are on a knife-edge.  Will Greece stay (in the Euro) or go?  What will be the outcome of either scenario?

One the one side are the eurocrats, the endless ranks of  European bureaucrats and functionaries who not only sit in seried rows in Brussels, but who have been insinuated into every European nation, government, bureaucracy.  They are the political elite of Europe.  The privileged class whose entire existence depends upon the continuation of the grand experiment that is European monetary union.  To them the continuation of the Euro-zone represents all their hopes and dreams.  They are certain that should the Euro unravel, life as humanity now knows it will end.  Their watchtower warnings are heard on every hand.

Back to Winter

Dud Egyptian Liberals

Francis Fukuyama is sceptical of the much touted Arab Spring.  Looking at Egypt he concludes that nothing much will change as a result of the election.  Fukuyama's "Last Man" apparently has not yet been found in Egypt.  The joyous annunciations of emerging Western secular democracies throughout the Arab world appear to be a bit premature.  A bit hyperbolic. A bit naive.

Here is Fukuyama's survey of the candidates and parties currently heading the pack in Egypt.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Obama as Greek Bank 

Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 23 May 2012

At least inside my own head, whenever I do forecaster punditry, I feel like I always qualify what I say. Our lives are a mist, we know not what cometh, I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, etc. But then some years down the road somebody chortles at me in the comments, saying, "Yeah? well, you said . . ." or something along those lines. And yeah, I said that, but I thought I qualified it, and I am not motivated enough to go hunting in the archives to see if I qualified it adequately, and what's the use anymore, I think to myself.

But then my inner dogmatism bubbles to the surface once more, and I find it is time to pop off again. But not without qualifications.

War Games

Stupid Idiots

Shortly after 9/11 New Zealand passed its own anti-terrorism law, the Terrorism Suppression Act.  Its focus and intent was upon the threat of Islamic terrorists infiltrating into New Zealand and committing murder.  The passing of the law was a panic-stricken, rushed affair.  As is almost always the case, laws passed in haste produce decades of pain due to unforeseen adverse consequences.  NZ's anti-terror act is a dog's breakfast we are told. Even MP's are now publicly repenting of their sins in acting in such ill advised haste.

What the panic-stricken parliamentarians never considered in drafting the law was home-grown terrorists.  But that is what we got.  A raggle-taggle bunch of deluded utopians, filled with their own sense of moment and self-importance.  Military-style training camps for armed assaults and revolution in the remote Te Uruwera forest were conducted.  A network of left-wing radicals and anarchists was developed, with links throughout the country.

The police were on to it.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Letter From the UK (about Spain)

A Cautionary Tale

Debt Fuelled Boom Ends in Spectacular Bust

The abridged article below illustrates why some large Spanish banks are under such stress.

Spanish property: Polaris golf resort homes crash to a third of original price

The Guardian

They were once Europe's most ambitious holiday homes projects, vast developments financed by supersized loans from Spain's cajas and banks. The properties were widely advertised on television in the UK to entice investors chasing the good life in the sun and hoping to profit from the property boom.

But five years on, the Polaris World holiday dream of sun-drenched apartments overlooking golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus has turned sour. Apartments that once sold for €200,000 (£160,000) are struggling to fetch €60,000. The last resorts built are now ghost villages.

Welcome to Murcia, the very heart of Spain's property boom and bust, where repossessions are sweeping the region and where losses are straining balance sheets of almost every Spanish bank.

The Games They Play

Political Polls and Wax Noses

The old saw has it that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.  These days we might be justified in a bit of tweaking.  There are lies, damned lies, and opinion polls (which, after all, are a particular application of statistical maths). 

Many of our readers are likely too young to remember the election of Ronald Reagan, back in 1980.  Reagan, the arch-conservative Republican was running against the arch-liberal Democrat, Jimmy Carter.  Reagan won in a landslide--receiving (according to Wikipedia) the highest number of electoral votes ever won by a non-incumbent presidential candidate.  The odd thing about this, though, was that right up until the actual election, opinion polls were saying the race was neck and neck.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Behold Our Future

Rampant Infanticide in China

The following piece has been posted on The Blaze:

Accuracy in Media‘s investigative video team put together a fascinating video discussion with Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers (WRWF). The non-partisan, international coalition works to prevent forced abortion and human trafficking in China.

During her sit-down interview, Littlejohn discussed China’s infamous one-child policy, sterilizations, forced abortion and infanticide. While these elements are troubling, they are a part of daily life for Chinese men and women forced to live under sometimes brutal circumstances. . . .
Read the complete article, here.

When human beings turn away from the Living God, ceasing to believe He is the author and sustainer of every human life, and that He has created every human being in His image, belief in something fills the vacuum.  Nine times out to ten that "something" is the state.  See where it has led in China--to brutish, ignorant, barbaric tyranny.  Remember, however, the West is separated from China by degree, not kind.

Getting Off Scot-Free

Sick at Heart

Justice in this world of Unbelief is a pretty thing to behold.  The courts are beautiful in elevation; the joy of the nation.  They are both divertingly entertaining and instructive.

Recently in New Zealand we have been given an object lesson in avoiding the courts--for the most violent and evil acts.  You see, the context in which our Unbelieving system of justice works is like this:  evil is believed to be extrinsic to the human heart.  Evil acts, therefore, are the product of conditioning--whether biological, chemical, or social.  Evil is not truly evil, just different.  Morality amounts to nothing more than a general social convention.  Justice represents tricks the majority plays on other people and their actions it doesn't like.  There is no such thing as genuine evil or wickedness. 

A subtle implication of this is that the more extreme and barbaric one's crimes, the more likely it is that you will be treated as sick and needing help.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Letter From Australia

The Destruction Wrought by Environmentalism

Walter Starck, writing in Quadrant, indicts Environmentalism as a pathology upon society. 

. . . .A major contributor to our current societal malaise has been a tendency to moral crusades which have only exacerbated the problems they were intended to fix while generating an ongoing residue of collateral damage, unintended consequences, bureaucracy and repression. Over the past century major initiatives of this nature have included prohibition, the war on drugs, the war on terror and repeated efforts to impose or repress various political ideologies.

Although all these efforts have inflicted great suffering and socio-economic damage, probably none have resulted in such ongoing, widespread and ever increasing detriment as has environmentalism. While the benefits of cleaner air and water have been apparent and undeniable, the damage inflicted by misguided environmentalism has been largely unrecognised even though massively extensive and deleterious to human wellbeing.

Reading List for Even Older Kids

Mining Hidden Treasures

Justin Taylor has been reproducing a reading list collated by Calvary Classical School.  He has kindly imbedded links to Amazon for all the recommended titles.   The list overall naturally contains a bias towards US history; however, for other countries this can be appropriately substituted by books dealing with one's own national history.  In New Zealand, for example, William Williams Christianity Among the New Zealanders would be appropriate for Year Eight.)

There is an additional benefit from studying a list such as this.  It provides a comparative measure for reading levels and standards in our own Christian schools.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

That Seamy Chain of Syllogisms 

Political Dualism - Mere Christendom
Written by Douglas Wilson
 Thursday, 17 May 2012

Marriage is a political act, and not an individual choice. How you marry is a way of testifying to what city you belong to. Who defines marriage? The difficulty we are having in our generation in answering this question shows how theology shapes and drives everything.

If God created the world, and put one man and one woman in it, married them to each other, and established that as a pattern for the rest of human history, then marriage should be defined in accordance with that reality. If He did nothing of the kind, and we actually evolved out of the primordial goo, then we get to shape and define it however we would like it to go.

One other item of Christian theology has to be taken into account, and that is the reality of the fall into sin.

The Omniscient Bureaucratic Plan

Government As Papa

We are all familiar with the inevitable stupidity, wastefulness, inanity and bizarre outcomes when life is ordered by government bureaus, laying down regulation upon regulation.

God's created world is fearfully and wonderfully complex.  Nuclear physicists are only now beginning to realise just how complex.  Human beings, unique as the image bearers of God Himself upon the planet, are likewise subtle, complex, variegated, diverse, and complex.  Consequently, a bureaucratic plan setting out to order human actions is doomed before it starts.  Its outcomes and results are inevitably bizarre and would be laughable if they were not also sinister.

Here is just one example:

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Scientific Breeding

Taking Control of Evolution

"Eugenics" is currently a dirty word, a blasphemy.  However, we have conveniently overlooked that a mere seventy years ago it was perfectly respectable in both Britain and the United States.  The intellectual elite generally believed selective breeding was a key to overcome the dark past of the human race and facilitate a new dawn of civilisation. 

Then along came Adolf and the Nazis who not only took the idea seriously, but actively institutionalised it, making it official policy within the Reich.  For this scientific advance, the Nazis were accorded a good deal of respect before the war amongst the intelligentsia, on both sides of the Atlantic.  With the demise of Nazi Germany, however, and the horror of the "Ultimate Solution" exposed, the attraction of eugenics in the West suffered collateral damage. It was no longer fashionable in the salons.

Nevertheless, eugenics are still being promoted within academia in the West--tellingly without scandal or notoriety.

Greedy Capitalists, Venal Politicians, and Voters

 Have Some More Money

J P Morgan, the biggest bank in the US, has lost a couple of billion dollars on a bad trade.  What's the odd billion amongst friends, eh?  Oh, no.  Gasp!  Horror.  Something must be wrong within the innards of what President Obama has described as "one of our better run banks". 

A phalanx of police and federal officials has descended upon the once-shining-knight, now tarnished JP Morgan to investigate what happened.  No doubt it will add to the swelling chorus for more regulation, controls, rules, and compliance that failed the last time in 2008 and have failed in their object ever since. 

The truth appears much, much more simple, yet sinister.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Letter From America (About Geert Wilders)

The Spirit of Geert Wilders 

A foreword to Wilders’ Marked for Death.

". . . In 21st-century Amsterdam, you’re free to smoke marijuana and pick out a half-naked sex partner from the front window of her shop. But you can be put on trial for holding the wrong opinion about a bloke who died in the seventh century."

By Mark Steyn
May 14, 2012
National Review Online

When I was asked to write a foreword to Geert Wilders’ new book, my first reaction, to be honest, was to pass. Mr. Wilders lives under 24/7 armed guard because significant numbers of motivated people wish to kill him, and it seemed to me, as someone who’s attracted more than enough homicidal attention over the years, that sharing space in these pages was likely to lead to an uptick in my own death threats. Who needs it? Why not just plead too crowded a schedule and suggest the author try elsewhere? I would imagine Geert Wilders gets quite a lot of this.

And then I took a stroll in the woods, and felt vaguely ashamed at the ease with which I was willing to hand a small victory to his enemies

Reading List for Older Kids

Things That Make a Difference, Part II

We published a reading list recently for children in the first three years of schooling.  It was cribbed from Calvary Classical School, courtesy of Justin Taylor.

Now, a second instalment--this time for Years Four & Five.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Homosexual "Marriage" and the Gospel

Mohler on Homosexual "Marriage"

An excellent discussion, following up our recent posts on homosexual "marriage" (here).

Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

Chomsky on President Obama

There's Nothing There

It gets really bad in politics when even your ideological friends admit your opponents were right--about you.

Noam Chomsky has long been a radical to the Left of the ideological spectrum.  One would have thought that he would be consistently supportive of President Obama--the Chicago community organizer who was elected as the first black president of the United States.  After all, Obama's left wing radicalism and activism on the streets of Chicago were well documented.  (Not so well documented, of course, were his ties to the systemic corruption of Chicago Democratic politics.)

Chomsky has now admitted that Sarah Palin has been right all along about Obama.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Letter From Oslo About Censorship

Censoring Naomi Riley 

She was fired for having the courage to state the obvious.
By John Fund
May 12, 2012
National Review Online

Oslo— The Oslo Freedom Forum is an annual event sponsored by the New York–based Human Rights Foundation, which brings together dissidents and journalists from all over the world to show that people of good will can promote basic freedoms without an overlay of ideology.

Censorship, both official and self-imposed, is an important theme here. We have heard stories from brave journalists such as Ecuador’s Nicolas Perez and Kosovo’s Jeta Xharra of efforts to silence them for expressing views unpopular with officials or special interests. So it was strange to be here and read that one of my friends and former journalistic colleagues back home in the U.S. has been fired merely for speaking her mind.

The Ground of Battle

Recapturing Marriage for the Kingdom

The civil state in the West gave up on marriage long ago.  When it accepted officially people "living together", invented rights for de facto's, and introduced "no fault" divorce the West was putting its paganism on display for all to see.  Homosexual "marriage" is just one more chapter in the tawdry saga. 

How ought Christians to react and respond?  As with most issues, our response needs to be multivalent.  One response is to believe that this is a battle the Kingdom of God will eventually win.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

The Emperor's Whitey Tighties 

Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 10 May 2012

Yesterday our president hurled himself into a frothing maelstrom of flattery and praise by taking the astonishingly courageous step of endorsing gay marriage. Whoa. There have been other thoughtful interactions with this decision, as, for example, here, here, and here, but I have not asked for a moment of your time in order to thoughtfully interact with this little slab of damnation. I have asked for this moment in order to fisk it.

It would be paltering with the truth to pretend that this move is any kind of honest. It was about as honest as a Cook County election between two cousins with tight connections to the mob.

Reading Lists for Kids

Things That Make a Difference

Arguably the most potent contribution parents can make to the education of their younger children is to read to them.  For the first eight years of schooling, reading to children every day is far, far more important than homework.  But what to read?

There are myriads of children's books and literature.  Some classic.  Some excellent.  Some inconsequential.  Reading lists to sort the wheat from the chaff can be very useful.  (Such lists are, of course, never final or definitive.)

Here is one such list, produced by a classical Christian School--courtesy of Justin Taylor:

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bad Faith Arguments

Defiled Beds

Homosexual "marriage".  It's got the Commentariat chattering like a Spanish castanet.  It is a classic illustration of how Unbelief operates in its own vortex.  This latest cause celebre is being touted as a human and/or civil right.  Want to buy?  Apparently millions do. 

Two homosexuals want to live together in the bonds of holy matrimony.  Because they want to, and because they are human by definition it has to be regarded as a human right.  Not to accede to their desires is, therefore, an act of discrimination against them; it is to deny them civil rights (since marriage is a civil right).  Ah, but the question is begged: is homosexuality a moral or immoral state?  The entire issue turns upon that one troubling, little, begged question.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Diverting Political Debates

Tragedies We Inflict Upon Ourselves

Political ideology is a diverting area of study--particularly when politics are operating in a secularist cocoon.  Of course, politics and government in the West are overwhelmingly secular in our generation.  (The United States is the final bastion of anti-secularism but its decline and fall are now well down the track.)

Political ideologies of both Left and Right all agree on one critical maxim: there ain't no God.  Whether in Cameron's Whitehall, Hollande's Elysee Palace, or Obama's White House the conviction is shared.  It is certain because shared.  Everyone agrees.  When it comes to politics and government, we are all atheists now.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Letter From Australia (About Afghanistan)

It's OK, We're Winning

Candidate Obama infamously declared that "Afghanistan is the war we have to fight".  Ever since it has been dubbed 'Obama's war'.  All the carefully orchestrated and choreographed reports from the war theatre tell us how well the war is going.  Eerie shades of Orwell's 1984.

The reality?  Much different.  Here is one reality check--published in Australia, via the Sydney Morning Herald.

Full of High Sentence

Obama the Magnificent

In the good old days, monarchs were given names and titles to characterise their reign.  So, Charles the Hammer, so named because of the way he thrashed the Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732.  Or, Charles the Bald--the sobriquet needs no further explanation.  Or, Suleiman the Magnificent--no doubt a reference to his prodigious turban, which made him big-headed.  And so on.

So what of the Wonderful Magical Masterful Mr Obama.  What sobriquet would be an apt characterisation?  Should we use some lines from Prufrock:

Friday, 11 May 2012

Top Ten Most Read Books in the World

The graphic below summarises the most-read books in the world over the past fifty years.

The graphic is even more startling if one considers that Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings are both exemplars of Christian literature.

Hat Tip: Justin Taylor; First Things

Progressive Enlightenment

Faux Pragmatism

This snippet from Karl, writing at Patterico's blog:

As Jonah Goldberg points out in The Tyranny of Cliches, one of the fundamental cliches of the progressive left is pragmatism, i.e., that they are simply doing “what works.”  It is also one of the progressive left’s fundamental falsehoods.

The past century has been one in which progressives have put forth the idea that Soviet communism is what works,

On Holy Ground

Sacred World; Sacred History

Materialists like to portray Christians as living in an unreal, make believe world.  It's a small step from there to paint Christians as ignorant simpletons.  Uneducated rubes. 

Another (related) slur is that Christians are anti-science because they do not value the world of matter.  They are so "heavenly minded" they are of no worldly good. 

Of course these slurs are just that.  They betray a profound ignorance of that which materialists presume to criticise.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mass Liquidation Project

Facing the Facts

We posted recently on Malthusian Cassandras who are predicting the end of civilization and humanity as we know them. The only solution (we are told) is twofold: reduce population growth and globally redistribute property.

Now The Onion has got in on the act, "reporting" on a recent scientific convention in the US.  Here are some excerpts.  (Warning: contains advocacy of extreme justifiable violence.)

Dumb and Dumber

Promiscuity in New Zealand

A brouhaha has broken out amongst the Commentariat over promiscuity amongst the young in New Zealand.  The Prime Minister has gravely informed us there is no evidence that New Zealand women are more promiscuous than women in the rest of the world.  Other politicians have jumped all over Colin Craig (leader of the Conservative Party) when he claimed that Kiwi women were the most promiscuous in the world and should not benefit from state funded contraception.  This from the NZ Herald:

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

The Problem With Their Syncretisms 

Culture and Politics - Politics
Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 02 May 2012

Suppose a measure is before your state legislature to build a bridge over a river in your town. There are ardent Christians in your town who think this is a good idea, and ardent Christians who want to leave well enough alone. Surrounding these pro and con Christians are the unbelievers who also, not surprisingly, divide up into for and against camps.

Some of the "in favor" secularists want to build the bridge because they want to make money, money, money, while the hipster antis do not want to disturb the river god any further than we already have. The Christians who are for and against divide up into another two groups (we have now cut that pie into four quarters). Some of the pro Christians fall into the money, money, money school of thought, and some of the anti Christians wish that Jesus were a little more green friendly, like the river god is.

But there are other Christians, both for and against the project, who came to their conclusions in a conscientious biblical manner.

Austerity is Dead, Long Live Austerity

The Toys Are Flying Out of the Cot

The latest chapter in the European melodrama represents a somnambulistic pageturner.  We are watching the animated gyrations of the living dead.  Let's see if we can make some sense of the slow moving tragedy.

The first evident lesson is that voters are like capitalists--indeed like all human beings.  They are acutely self-interested.  Voters in both Greece and France have caught the rest of the world napping.  Who would have thought that they would vote to reject government-inflicted hardship.  Qu'elle surprise.   Ah, yes but the problem lies here: self-interest may lead one to submit to an operation, acutely painful in the immediate, but lifesaving in the longer term.  Or not.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Charity Begins At Home

China's War Against Families

China's One Child policy has been hailed by an effete liberal West as an intelligent and progressive response to population control.  In reality it represents a brutal destruction of individual and family life.  It also is beginning to tear the fabric of Chinese society apart.  Genuine Chinese patriots understand that an ancient demon that has been loosed upon the Middle Kingdom. 

One such patriot, Jing Zhang comments upon the case of blind Chen Guangcheng, who has been actively protesting the One Child regime, and upon the tyrannical policy in general.

A Revolution By Other Means

Violent, sudden and calamitous revolutions are the ones that accomplish the least.  While they may succeed at radically reordering societies, the usually cannot transform cultures.  They may excel at destroying the past, but they are generally impotent to create a future.  The revolutions that genuinely alter human reality at the deepest levels--the only real revolutions, that is to say--are those that first convert minds and wills, that reshape the imagination and reorient desire, that overthrow the tyrannies within the soul.

Christianity, in its first three centuries, was a revolution of the latter sort: gradual, subtle, exceedingly small and somewhat inchoate at first, slowly introducing its vision of divine, cosmic, and human reality into the culture around it, often by deeds rather than words, and simply enduring from one century to the next. 
[David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: the Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), p.183.]

The Christian Revolution

Turning the World Upside Down

When all is said and done, the pagan critics of the early church were right to see the new faith as an essentially subversive movement.  In fact, they may have been somewhat more perspicacious in this regard than the Christians themselves.  Christianity may never have been a revolution in a political sense: it was no a convulsive, ciolent, or intentionally provocative faction that had some "other vision" of political power to recommend; but neither, for that reason, was the change it brought about something merely local, transient, and finite. 

The Christian vision of reality was nothing less--to use the words of Nietzsche--a "transvaluation of all values," a complete revision on the moral and conceptual categories by which human beings were to understand themselves and one another and their places within the world.  It was--again to us Nietzsche's words, but without his sneer--a "slave revolt "from above," if such a thing could be imagined; fir it had been accomplished by a savior who had, as Paul said in his Epistle to the Philippians, willingly exchanged the "form of God" for the "form of a slave," and had thereby overthrown the powers that reigned on high. 
[David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: the Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 171.]

A Connecticut Victorian in Trans-Pacific Partnership

"Free" Trade is What I Say It Is

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that they are at a strongly free-trade site.  Our position rests on three main arguments.  The first is principial.  State barriers to free trade (tariffs, quotas, subsidies) represent an indirect assault upon the property of others.  They are theft by other means.  They are a form of soft-redistribution of wealth from many to the favoured some. 

The second is more pragmatic.  State trade barriers distort price signals making the market inefficient--and, therefore, wasteful. 

The third argument is political.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Our Doctrinal and Liturgical Bramble Bushes 

Theology - Life in the Regeneration
Written by Douglas Wilson
Monday, 30 April 2012

I am fond of saying that grace has a backbone, but I think it is time to explain what I mean by that. The context of these remarks is the general and current ongoing discussion about the worrisome trajectories of all those incipient legalists and antinomians out there. The incipient legalists are the ones the incipient antinominans are worried about, and vice versa.

Of course, as things stand right now in the Reformed world things are generally copacetic, at least as far as this topic goes. If we lived in a truly confessional age, with great preaching, theological geniuses writing their tomes, and so on, then we would have to worry about the naked Quakers running through Safeway again, and legalistic Anglican bishops cutting off people's thumbs for having broken some stupid rule. But as it is, we are too anemic to get into serious trouble with legalism or antinomianism. We are the bland leading the bland,

New Communism on the Trail

The Comeback Kid

Communism is making a comeback.  The windshift has fired up the radicals of yesteryear and got them out on the barricades again "occupying" things.

Where is the new wind coming from?  A cluster of intellectuals who have "had it" with capitalism.  Strangely they are being listened to.  Apparently desperate times call for desperate measures.  Irony lurks here because the European Union of Socialist Republics has told itself for generations that if the states of Europe did not agree to subsidize and fund everyone using other people's money the resulting social dislocation would lead to a recrudescence of National Socialism.  Apparently the diagnosis and prognosis was right yet quite wrong.  The hardships of fiscal austerity are causing a resurgence of interest in Communism amongst the intellectual elites, not Nazism (which so far remains the preserve of the uneducated disaffected).

Alan Johnson, writing in World Affairs, documents the new Communism.  Funnily enough it looks woolly, vacuous, and wishfully utopian--remarkably like the Occupy Wall Street people.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

A Whipped Up Tolerance Mob

Culture and Politics - Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 25 April 2012

We live in a highly politicized (and therefore dishonest) culture, and this means that before you decide whether you are for or against any proposed measure, law, or pr campaign, you have to look past the language. "Hate crimes" is code. "Anti-bullying" is code. Invariably it turns out to be code for some aspect of the radical egalitarian agenda for human sexuality.

Things are so bad that the Left has lost almost all sense of irony or self-awareness.

Cosmic Warfare, Part II

The Exhilaration and the Scandal

The early Christians understood they were involved in a cosmic battle between the forces of evil--forces which were personal, albeit finite, yet much more powerful than they--and the newly enthroned King of all kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.  They understood that when they were converted to Christ out of paganism both they and their households were delivered from captivity to Satan to a captivity to Christ.  But captivity to Christ meant untrammelled goodness and blessing; it meant abundant, eternal life. 

Modern Christians, deeply influenced by the prevailing secular materialism of the West, tend to gloss over expressions in Scripture which teach just such a cosmology of redemption.  David Bentley Hart summarises the biblical perspective of the cosmological battle:

Friday, 4 May 2012

Just-So Stories About the Early Church

 Passing On the Apostolic Faith

One of the myths perpetrated by modern Unbelieving New Testament scholars is that orthodoxy in the early church is a myth.  The thesis is that there was no orthodoxy--only a plethora of different, competing, and contradictory theologies.  "Orthodoxy" only came about with certain factions subsequently winning control of the Church, which then proscribed and repressed competing (earlier) theologies. 

This thesis is yet another case of a good story unsupported by the facts.  The data shows that right from the beginning, the Church operated with a Rule of Faith--which was a summary of the teachings of Scripture.  Andreas J. Kostenberger puts the record straight:

Cosmic Warfare, Part I

Spitting at the Devil, Swearing Allegiance to Christ

The cosmic implications of baptism have been sadly occluded in our modern times.  This is a grave weakness in our contemporary understanding of the Christian faith.  Secularism has demoted and devalued the cosmic invisible realities in the mind of many Christians.  Even as the Bible speaks of the "powers of the air" and traces their demonic connections, we are more comfortable with material causes and effects. 

David Bentley Hart describes the ritual of baptism in the early Church--how it enacted the real cosmic battle and drama.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Getting Our Sensate Groove Back 

Culture and Politics - Creative Control of the Reformation
 Written by Douglas Wilson
Monday, 23 April 2012

I recently caused a small stir on Facebook by saying this:

"One of the greatest aesthetic and arististic gifts the world ever received was the casting down of images in the Protestant Reformation."

I thought it might be good for me to explain what was behind that comment, at least a little bit. . . .

I have no problem with evangelicals receiving criticism for producing schlock. That is what criticism (rightly conceived) is for. What I cannot abide is schlock criticism -- memes that make no sense getting endlessly repeated as though they were some kind of wisdom. One of those memes is that evangelicals are unique in their ability to produce this stuff. Anybody who says this cannot have been in a video rental store recently. Evangelicals make bad movies because making good movies is hard, which turns out to be the same reason why people generally make bad movies. Evangelicals make bad movies for the same reason evangelicals have ten toes -- they are people and people tend to generate lots of crapola.

ERO Is Coming to A School Near You

Pomo Maori Education--Another Trick by Whitey

What is Maori?  Who knows?  But apparently it's now really important for government schools to be able to answer that question. 

Recently, we came across a directive from the Education Review Office ("ERO") which audits all schools in New Zealand and rates them accordingly.  We quote:
ERO considers educational success for Maori, as Maori as (sic) a key indicator of school performance.  We are interested in:
  • The context of the school in relation to Maori in the school and the local community.  [A prize is offered for the bright spark who can exegete the meaning of that sentence.]
  • The conditions and environment that support educational success for Maori, as Maori.
  • How schools know they are being successful in improving educational outcomes for Maori, as Maori.
The phrase "Maori, as Maori" is plastered all over the document which lays out how ERO will now be evaluating all schools.  The focus upon "Maori, as Maori" is to be a key indicator of whether or not a school is performing.  The question is begged, What does "Maori, as Maori" mean?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Grand Utopian Projects

 Human Progress and Its Fruit

The quotation below is from David Bentley Hart: it is a brief de-construction of the pathogens in modern Unbelief.  Bowing to the freedom of autonomous human will has resulted in barbaric cruelty and crushing tyranny.  When the human will is regarded as sacrosanct, the State's fangs grow long and sharp.

Idealism becomes ruthless.  The concept of freedom becomes savage.  The autonomous utopias of Man devolve into bloody dystopias. 

Christopher Hitchen's Legacy

Futile in Their Speculations . . . 

Christopher Hitchens is well on his way to canonisation amongst the high priests of Unbelief. That's expected. There is nothing untoward in honouring those who have gone before, particularly those one regards as exemplars of one's faith. 

He will no doubt enter the secular atheist pantheon as one who kept the faith, stayed true to the end, and who proved up his beliefs with a holy life.  (We use "holy" in the root sense of the word--set apart as a servant to one's truth.)  He died a particularly difficult and painful death.  We honour him for his courage.  But not his stubborn foolishness.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Something Rotten in Denmark

The Boon of a Disinterested Free Press

A free, active, disinterested press has sometimes been called the Fourth Estate of government.  When it does its job properly the benefits of its constraint upon abuse of power are significant.  The corollary is also true: when the press abuses its position and tolerates conflicts between its own, commercial interests and the impartial truth it can do great damage to the body politic.  Regrettably, we have seen far too much of the latter: a self-interested Press sensationalising stories to generate headlines, gain attention, and increase subscriptions.  When this happens, truth is the first casualty.  Civic freedom is the next. 

Here is a prima facie example of the salutary power of the Fourth Estate--a free press--properly used.

Malthusian Cassandras

Purblind Arrogance and Invincible Ignorance

Malthusian despair grips the Western world in a vicious vice.  It is a puzzling phenomenon if one considers that the economic theories of Thomas Malthus were discredited centuries ago.  But the puzzlement exists only if one also believes in a false, objective rationalism, ignoring the blind foolishness attenuating the human heart.  Did not the prophet say, "the heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately sick; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)

We are sonorously told by modern sages that over-population threatens the continued existence of the planet.  Assuming that the world is one vast fixed, zero-sum game, our oh-so-wise cassandras insist that more mouths to feed means less food for everyone.  If one eats more, everyone else is condemned to eat less.  If a country expends more energy, there is less energy for every other nation. 

The latest voice is the respected and revered Royal Society.  Its purblind stupidity belies its reputation.