Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Fear of God

Paths to Christian Belief

. . . . Very rarely, no never, does it happen that someone comes to us with the wish to become a Christian who has not be struck by some fear of God.

Augustine, On Catechizing the Uninstructed, 5.9 (400 AD)

In Memory of Edmund Burke

The Soaring Falcon

An excellent essay on Edmund Burke has appeared in The American Scholar.  Written by Brian Doyle (editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland. He is the author most recently of the novel Mink River.)

One of the frustrations surrounding Burke is that so little of his output was on the printed page.  Most consisted of powerful rhetoric in the House of Commons.  So he is hard for modern readers to access.  However, Reflections on the Revolution in France remains a tour de force in Western political philosophy.  It is a work written out of a thoroughly Christian world view.  It can teach the Church a great deal.  Burke was one of the last great political philosophers and politicians of the First Christendom. 

Some choice excerpts from Doyle's essay are reproduced below:

Friday, 29 June 2012

Future Prospects

Inheriting the World

So then let no one boast in men.  For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. 
I Corinthians 3: 21--22

In this remarkable revelation, Paul declares that we, the redeemed in Christ, will inherit all creation.  All things belong to us in principle now; all things will be granted to us in reality as the Kingdom of God comes.

Calvin comments upon the text as follows:

The Religion of Secularism

Circumcision Cut Off

Jurgen Habermas has famously argued for a secular public square, where all religions and irreligions can participate inclusively. The idea is that each religion will check its religious convictions, beliefs, and practices in at the door, and will enter into discussion and debate using reason and argument that is equally valid to all people--that is, they will deploy secular reasoning. Only secular reasoning has validity in the public square.  Religious convictions are private matters--and must be kept private.  They have no currency or place in public issues. 

Habermas at this point is naive.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Waiting for the Inevitable

Another Grandiose Utopian Project To Follow the Dodo

Ho hum.  Another day.  Another crisis meeting in Europe.  We predict after this weekend's meeting communiques will be issued and declarations made to the effect that "important steps" have been taken.  The crisis can now abate.  It will last twenty-four hours, then the crisis will return, with a vengeance.

Euro-politicians are living in denial.  They cannot bring themselves to face the inevitable and brutal truth.  The euro project is finished.  It is over.  It has to be broken apart.  You can do this in a relatively orderly fashion, once the pollies bow to reality, or it can break apart by itself.  Either way it is going.  Jeff Randall, writing in the Financial Times and the Sydney Morning Herald explains why the euro has to fail:

Misdiagnosis of Media Diseases

A Cautionary Tale

We regularly ridicule the media.  Most media functionaries operate within a world-view of secular humanism, unconsciously.  They are dishonest brokers and self-duped.  But occasionally you hear of a cadre of self-conscious storm-troopers who know what they believe, what they stand for, and enforce it within a newspaper or other media outlet with ruthless proficiency.

Amanda Divine, reviewing the shakeup at Fairfax Media, describes one such ideological cadre in The Telegraph:

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Not a 'Well Turned Phrase'

. . . . I do not care whether you expect some well-turned phrases today.  It is my duty to give you due warning by citing the Scriptures.  "Do not be slow to turn to the Lord, nor delay from one day to the next, for His anger shall come when you know not." . . . I cannot be silent: I am forced to preach upon it.  Filled with fear myself, I fill you with fear.

Augustine, Sermon in Miscellanea Agostiniana, 1 (1930) 199.

The Worker Has Rights

Rotting From the Inside

All of life is religious and religions have consequences.  Secular humanism--whilst formally a non-religion--is no exception.  The Christian testimony to all other religions--including secular humanism--is that they are untrue.  All are deceptive and misleading.  All are vanities.

Because each in their own way rebels against the Living God Who made the heavens and the earth out of nothing by the Word of His power they have bad consequences.  The world is "wired" to exist and function as God made and commanded it to be.  Rebellion against God means rebellion against the created order.  The consequences are never good. 

There are a thousand illustrations of the point, but we will focus upon just one here.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Letter From the UK (About the US)

Realpolitik Chicago-Style

After being deliberately ignored for over two years by the media (apart from Fox and ABC), the Fast and Furious uber-scandal has now been put into the spotlight.  Two events have provoked the new public media attention: the Attorney-General Eric Holder being cited in contempt of Congress by the Congressional Oversight Committee, and the President now trying to cloak the imbroglio with Executive privilege. 

The Obama administration is ideologically anti-gun.  Fast and Furious was designed to allow guns to pass over the Mexican border without restriction to "prove" that US gun laws are far too lax and that private ownership of guns and the gun industry result in people being killed.  Mexican civilians were to be expendable collateral damage.  Fast and Furious was to manufacture fodder for the Obama propaganda machine.

Writing in the Telegraph, Dr Tim Stanley explains the folly and cynical amorality of Fast and Furious, together with its consequences.

Another Education Anathema

Educrats Show Their Slips

A fresh brouhaha has broken out over government schools in New Zealand.  The Prime Minister, John Key in his inimitable political style informed the nation in an off the cuff remark that he thought school league tables was not a bad idea.  Government schools would be ranked from best to worst according to how their pupils scored on national standards testing in reading, writing, and maths. 

That casual, informally delivered comment generated a predictable carpet bombing fire-storm from every educational union.  This in itself is a very strange situation.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Walking the Talk

Sitting in the Materialist Chair

The Day Francis Schaeffer’s Plane Almost Crashed in the Middle of the Atlantic Ocean

Francis Schaeffer:
Once I was flying at night over the North Atlantic. It was in 1947, and I was coming back from my first visit to Europe. Our plane, one of those old DC4′s with two engines on each wing, was within two or three minutes of the middle of the Atlantic.
Suddenly two engines on one wing stopped. I had already flown a lot, and so I could feel the engines going wrong. I remember thinking, if I’m going to go down into the ocean, I’d better get my coat. When I did, I said to the hostess, “There’s something wrong with the engines.” She was a bit snappy and said, “You people always think there’s something wrong with the engines.” So I shrugged my shoulders, but I took my coat.
I had no sooner sat down, than the lights came on and a very agitated co-pilot came out. “We’re in trouble,” he said. “Hurry and put on your life jackets.”

A One Way Door

Ceding Power to Leviathan

George Monbiot has been writing advocacy pieces for greenism in the Guardian for a long time now.  He is an educated chap.  He knows how to turn a phrase.  He is passionately committed to the Great Cause of saving the world.  To write such a phrase immediately conjures up comic book heroes of childhood days.  George, regrettably, is apparently still reading comics with all the fascination and credulity of a seven year old.  Worse, he is attempting to live them, earnestly believing the Caped Crusader actually exist, and Gotham City is as perverse as ever. 

In his most recent piece, George mourns the ebbing of global greenism.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Power of God Unto Salvation



Do Preachers Expect a Response to the Preaching of the Gospel?

St Paul expected his hearers to be moved. He so believed in his preaching that he knew that it was “the power of God unto salvation” [Rom. 1:16]. This expectation is a very real part of the presentation of the Gospel. It is a form of faith. A mere preaching which is not accompanied by the expectation of faith, is not a true preaching of the Gospel, because faith is a part of the Gospel. Simply to scatter the seed, with a sort of vague hope that some of it may come up somewhere, is not preaching the gospel. It is indeed a misrepresentation of the gospel. To preach the Gospel requires that the preacher should believe that he is sent to those whom he is addressing at the moment, because God has among them those whom He is at the moment calling: it requires that the speaker should expect a response. —Roland Allen, Missionary Methods—St. Paul’s or Ours? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), p. 74.
Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

Letter From America

Arming Up--Violent Crime Down

It appears that violent crime is down in the US--not what the Commentariat would have us expect.  Its rationale for rising crime has always been bad social or civil conditions, such as poverty, discrimination, and unemployment.  Therefore, if the standard blah is correct, given the numbers of people unemployed and the rising poverty in the United States, we would expect soaring crime rates.

It's not happening.  Why?  Crime rates have complex causes.  There is no one single factor.  Emily Miller, in the article below, makes the case that one reason crime may have been restrained and reduced is rising gun ownership.  That may or may not be the case--since mere co-incidence of two conditions does not prove causality. 

But, it does call into question a causality long championed by the Commentariat: it has been argued repeatedly that high levels of gun ownership cause more violent crimes to occur.

Homosexual Parenting as "Normal"

As "Normal" As Sexual Abuse of Children

The homosexual propaganda machine, along with its cheerleaders in the Commentariat, portray homosexual parenting as normal.  The impact upon children raised in such a home--by either homosexual men or women--is negligible we are repeatedly told.  The framing presents children raised in such homes as being no different in any significant respect from children raised in orthodox families. Ergo, homosexual parenting is normal.

One slight problem with this argument is new empirical data.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Letter From the UK (About Greece)

Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP 

No one wanted this outcome. Greece has repeated itself, only more emphatically, declining to give any party a majority. If no coalition is possible, what then? A third election? A fourth? Or will ND struggle on with a minority administration, unable to make any of the promised budgetary reductions?
Greece is in denial. It rejects austerity, but insists on keeping the euro. All the main parties duly parroted what the voters wanted to hear, making for a fantasy election, a make-believe election, a fingers-in-my-ears-I-can't-hear-you election.

The only list which was honest about the necessary cuts – a coalition of three liberal parties – failed to gain a single seat.

From the Telegraph.

Let Righteous Anger Build

New Zealand Tyranny

It is now official.  The Child Youth and Family service ("CYF") has publicly revealed that any parent who smacks a child will probably have that child removed from the family.  It is government policy not to allow such a parent to have their children. 

The particular case that has brought the awful situation to light has been highlighted in the NZ Herald. It concerns two exemplary parents who have been refused by the state to be allowed to care for their grandchild.  Why?  Because responsible and lawful smacking is part of their excellent parenting care.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Letter From America

Pseudo-Science, Junk-Science, and Lies

One of the most egregious deceits a "scientist" can perpetrate is falsification of data.  It has been going on in climate "science" for a long time now.  But, because the global warming cause appeals to those who want to see ever expanding governmental controls, both nationally and internationally, there is a significant slice of academia, government agencies, and politicians which would support the cause regardless.  This segment of the Commentariat are willingly credulous.  Falsified data continues to serve as a propaganda tool: therefore, it's acceptable. 

To this cluster one can add the ideological bent of greenists, many of whom genuinely appear to live in fear of anthropomorphic world-wide calamity.  But these folk have moved over the decades from one form of man-caused global catastrophe to another: it is the prospective calamity which charges up their isotopes, not its particular form.  But climate change is the apocalypse du jour and it serves its purpose well.  Full steam ahead and damn the false data.

Mormonism in Focus

Romney Presidency?

With Mitt Romney likely to become the next President of the United States more and more attention will be paid to his religion: Mormonism.  To secularists, it will be just another evidence of his sub-par intellect that he has a religious system of belief.  To fellow Mormons, it will seem to present a striking opportunity to advance Momonism into the mainstream of Christian belief--a long pursued goal.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Sacredness of the Ordinary

Hidden Away

In the novel Gilead, the aging minister, John Ames professes how as the years have passed he has more and more come to see the creation as a wonder--an awe inducing realm of which he is a part.  As he has grown older, he has come to love his own body more and more, confessing it to be fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

Such earthiness has always been a hallmark of Christian orthodoxy.  To believe in "God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth" necessarily requires we hold the creation in reverence and respect, delight and awe.

In Denial

Distorted Visions

New Zealand's accident insurance system is a disaster in the way all socialised (state run, state legislated, state funded, monopolistic) systems inevitably turn out.  They inevitably become weighed down with entitlement fiefdoms, self-serving ambition on the part of politicians, board and management, and blighted with gross inefficiencies.  None of these cancers is easily recognised nor "excisioned" when the prevailing zeitgeist is "the state does it better".

But when New Zealand adopted a fully state funded accident insurance scheme we were promised that it would be the best in the world, and would be regarded with envy by all enlightened and developed countries.  It was all part of building the socialist nirvana down under, fast following Sweden and Denmark.  How quaint.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

An Indonesian Book Burning 

Culture and Politics - A Second Battle of Tours
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 14 June 2012

There is currently a ruckus over in Indonesia over a book I wrote, 5 Cities That Ruled the World. The publisher there (Gramedia) has formally apologized for their role in it, and has burned their copies of the book.

The first thing about this that I should note is that people on the other side of the world are in significant trouble because of something I wrote, and I don't want to in any way make their situation any more difficult than it has to be. But this is how hostage taking works, isn't it? Unreasonable and belligerent people are always willing to commandeer a situation, and then blame others for the devastation that follows.

Which City, What Hill?

Liberalism That is Evil and Perverse

A near universal misconception swirls around Western criminal law.  We believe we are enlightened and liberal.  We believe there has been no society upon the earth more liberal, benign and just than our own first-world, Western civilization.  We believe that we are a city set upon a hill: we routinely aver that the world would be a whole lot better place if other nations copied or imitated our example. 

Our view of the past is that societies and civilizations which preceded our own were brutishly cruel and had criminal legal systems which were bloody and harsh.  One of the most ridiculed legal systems in our day is the civil and criminal law of Moses.  We are, however, more tolerant toward the post-Cromwellian English legal system--influenced as it was by Enlightenment principles and the concept of limited government under the gentle aegis of folk like John Locke. 

The truth is somewhat different.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Letter From America

Idiots Aplenty

Science Demands Big Government
A Harvard biologist makes a silly, dangerous comment.
By Dennis Prager
National Review Online 

Harvard professor Daniel E. Lieberman

The quotation of the week goes to Harvard professor Daniel E. Lieberman, for a statement he made in an opinion piece for the New York Times. Mr. Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology, was among those who publicly defended New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to ban the sale of sugared soft drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces. And he did so using, of all things, evolution.

God's Masks and God's Speech

Living Holy Lives

Martin Luther had a profoundly biblical understanding of the creation.  He also had a profound understanding of the immanence of God in all He has made.  God is working in and through all things.  All things.  So declares the Bible (Romans 11:33-36).  So believed Martin Luther. 

One implication was that Luther had a deep respect for one's circumstances in life.  They were a living Bible of natural revelation.  Our circumstances, he said, were comprehensively ordained and ordered by God.  They were God's "masks".  Behind each and every circumstance was the Person of God Himself.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Singing a New Song

King of All Kings 

It's great to see modern hymn-writers celebrating the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This from Sovereign Grace Music:

Public Sector Prejudice

Prisons and Glass Houses

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones--at least that's what we were gravely told whilst  learning social manners.  When we grew up we also learned that conflicts of interest are usually nefarious unless they are disclosed.  Both adages are relevant in the following case.

New Zealand has finally introduced private management contracts for some selected prisons.  The knee jerk reaction from hide bound statists (whose numbers are legion in this country) has been swift, predictable, simplistic and naive.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Christian Charity

Unlike Any Other

This from John Calvin:

The Lord commands us to do "good unto all men," universally, a great part of whom, estimated according to their own merits, are very undeserving; but here the Scripture assists us with an excellent rule, when it inculcates, that we must not regard the intrinsic merit of men, but must consider the image of God in them, to which we owe all possible honour and love; but that this image is most carefully to be observed in them "who are of the household of faith," inasmuch as it is renewed and restored by the spirit of Christ.  Whoever, therefore, is presented to you that needs your kind offices, you have no reason to refuse him your assistance.

Unwelcome Attention

When the Idols Break

The Commentariat is paying more attention to Greece at present than that country has experienced in many years.  The focus, of course, is upon Election II, since Election I failed to produce a government.

Our view is that Greece needs to get out of the Euro so that it can have the depression it really needs to have.  At the moment it is being sustained on life-support by Euro loans, but the death is long, slow, and painful.  Better to get it over quickly: Greece could then at least have an opportunity to begin to rebuild its dysfunctional economy.

The problem, however, is that Greeks have drunk socialist cool-aid for far too long.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Europe in Denial

Not a Pretty Sight

 Leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage explains why he believes the Euro is finished.

Mauian Ethics

Principled or Perversely Nacissistic?

New Zealand's current leading intellectual is one Ali Mau--touted in the media, celebrated in the salons.  She has become the public face promoting homosexual "marriage".  Mau's startlingly profound philosophical defence of homosexual marriage is the sovereignty of her will.  She wants it; therefore she has a right to it.  By this means, the argument elides into one over human rights.  Homosexual "marriage" becomes, consequently, a human right.  Not to grant it in law and protect it becomes "discrimination". 

We are not kidding.  This is the "Mau position".  It is shared and endorsed by every simpering simpleton who finds such inanities to be compelling argument.

OK.  Let's apply the Mau principle to the following case, as reported in the NZ Herald

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Letter from the UK

The Queen's English

Long time forgotten is the impact of Johnson's English Dictionary.  Once words were defined in meaning and in their spelling the ability to communicate could extend out beyond a single generation.  The works and writing (and speech) of former generations could be understood by every new generation.  Until Johnson's Dictionary, historical speech and writing was so unlike contemporary English it was virtually a foreign language. 

But now we are so smart, we want to go back to enforced ignorance.  The Queen's English Society in the UK has self-terminated.  This from Brendan O’Neill: 

Oh, Canada

How Homosexual "Marriage" is Working Out in Canada

Homosexual "marriage" has become Unbelief's new public cause celebre.  Not content with "civil unions" they want the real thing--absolute non-discrimination.  Homosexuality has to be regarded as a human right. Therefore, if non-homosexuals can enter the marriage estate and be recognised accordingly by civil society, so must homosexuals. Or so the propaganda runs.

Listen to one of Unbelief's leading intellectuals argue the case.  Ali Mau, bisexual, currently in a lesbian relationship, insists upon the human right of being able to enter a marriage.  She had been married of course, but chose to desert her husband.  Clearly marriage means a great deal to her.  Bizarre, but true.  This from the NZ Herald:

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Syrian Atrocities

Not So Fast . . . 

Western nations and their media have accepted beyond doubt that all the current atrocities in Libya are being perpetrated by the regime.  But maybe not.  We forget constantly that Sunni Muslims hate Shia Muslims.  Alawite Muslims hate Sunnis--and vice versa.  Moreover, we forget that Arabs are as skilled as anyone on the planet at propaganda and misinformation.

Consider the following, published in National Review Online:

No Idea What Freedom Means

Swaddled in Kindness That Kills

People have a right to go to the grave in their own way.  It's called freedom.  Necessarily contingent to the ethic of freedom is that we have a human right to damage to ourselves, undermine our own health, shorten our lives by stupid habits, and otherwise act to our own destruction. Not before God, mind--but before civic authorities.

The most oft-heart objection to freedom arises out of social welfare: since the cost of paying for damage is collectivised in our kookie world, those who damage themselves--by what they eat, or drink, or ingest, for example--end up costing the collective.  So, they must be made to stop it.


Monday, 11 June 2012

Letter From the UK (About Spain)

The European Disease Virulent in Spain

The systemic corruption now coming to light within the Spanish banking system is breathtaking.  But, as is always the case, such large scale, systemic graft and corruption can only exist and (temporarily) flourish if the state and politicians run interference and cover. 

Doubtless the ignorant critics will decry the evils of capitalism.  They will call for more social controls and political direction, declaiming capitalism (or the economic system based upon the rights of private property) as hopeless flawed due its spawning greed and exploitation.  The reality is that the "capitalism" of Spain (and the West in general these days) is not free market or private property based.  It is crony capitalism, where the political authorities and the government act as patrons of favoured businesses and certain monied barons who pay. 

The Guardian exposes just how corrupt the Spanish banking system has become.

Unfit for Motherhood

A Woman's Right to Choose

The New Zealand government is considering granting the courts power to sentence a serial recidivist child abuser to permanent childlessness.  The proposal is that if such a person were to bear subsequent children they would automatically be removed from the mother at birth.

The Commentariat is affecting outrage over the idea.

Evil and wickedness stalk the heart of every human being.  Human hearts are hearts of darkness.  So believed Dostoevsky, Conrad, and Faulkner.  So declares the Bible itself--the very Word of the Living God.  The heart of man, says the Scripture, is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Up With People With Calculators 

Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 06 June 2012

The vote in Wisconsin the other night was heartening, on a number of levels.

First, I was gratified that the very first thing Scott Walker did was give glory to God for His abundant grace. Cynics can dismiss that sort of thing as campaign boiler plate, but in the Bible, it remains a big deal. It is important to do. He also made a point of mentioning how he and his family were sustained by the prayers of many people.

Second, it happened in Wisconsin, for crying out loud. Wisconsin is not just the dairy state, it is the labor union state. Shoot, the cows are the largest public sector union they have.

Shrinking Violets at Auckland University

Free Speech for Us: Proscription For Everyone Else

In Orwell's satire Animal Farm, "officially" all animal are equal, but some are more equal than others. 

No doubt the Students Association at Auckland university would loudly and proudly proclaim its belief in free speech--which is a form of equality.  In fact there have been recent unruly protests disrupting law abiding activities of other free citizens, leading to arrests of erstwhile Auckland University students.  The shrill cry of protest could be heard all over Albert Park: students have a right to protest and to freedom of speech we were told with megaphonic force. 

However, now it turns out that the Students Association is a living, walking, talking example of what Orwell was pointing out.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Ugly Dies 

Theology - Life in the Regeneration
Written by Douglas Wilson
Tuesday, 05 June 2012

George MacDonald once famously said that obedience is the great opener of eyes. But obedience has to come from an obedient heart, and in order to have obedient hearts, we must have new hearts. This brings us (yet again) to the foundational necessity of the new birth. Without that reality, there is absolutely nothing we can do to make the Christian life work. Whatever we try to make it work, without the new birth, we are like monkeys pushing buttons on a broken cash register. Nothing happens.

Reforming Spirituality

Liberation and Subjection

The Reformation was an attempt to reform Christianity, back to its historical doctrinal positions and to the Scriptures itself.  The Reformers taught that contemporary Christianity as they experienced it in Western Europe had departed significantly from the early Church fathers and the Scriptures. 

An evidence of this is how often the Reformers cite the early Church fathers in their writing.  For example, in The Institutes of the Christian Religion Calvin cites and quotes Augustine most often amongst the fathers, but the work contains wide ranging references to ante-Nicene and post-Nicene theologians and church leaders. 

One of the reformulations of the Reformation had to do with how we understand the spiritual.  For many in pre-modern Europe the notion of spirit and spiritual was more informed by neo-platonic pagan conceptions than the Scriptures.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Satisfied in God

Why Are You Cast Down, Oh My Soul?

There are many Christians who struggle with sadness and depression.  Amidst all the grief of soul, the everlasting arms always remain, always sustain, always hold up.  Below is a rendition of Psalm 42 written by one of the sons of Korah during a time of deep personal distress which affirms this.

The rendition is by by Brian Eichelberger of Mars Hill Church’s Sing Team, who writes:
The song begins by following closely to Psalm 42 singing, “As the deer pants for water so my soul thirsts for you.” The second verse then dives more into my personal response to the Psalm. A lot of times my tendency is to go into a depression looking into myself which only spirals me further down.
The song is meant to preach to myself and call me to remember the times when I experienced the glory and goodness of God which can help bounce me out of that vicious cycle. It’s meant to get my eyes off of me and be satisfied in God alone.

I have lost my appetite
And a flood is welling up behind my eyes
So I eat the tears I cry And if that were not enough
They know just the words to cut and tear and prod
When they ask me “Whereʼs your God?”

Why are you downcast, oh my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
I can remember when you showed your face to me
As a deer pants for water, so my soul thirsts for you
And when I behold Your glory, You so faithfully renew
Like a bed of rest for my fainting flesh

I am satisfied in you. When Iʼm staring at the ground
Itʼs an inbred feedback loop that brings me down
So itʼs time to lift my brow
And remember better days
When I loved to worship you and all your ways
Singing sweetest songs of praise

Why are you downcast, oh my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
I can remember when you showed your grace to me
As a deer pants for water, so my soul thirsts for you
And when I survey your splendour, You so faithfully renew
Like a bed of rest for my fainting flesh
I am satisfied in you.

Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about your faithfulness
Let my pain reveal your glory as my only real rest
Let my losses show me all I truly have is you
Cause all I truly have is you

So when Iʼm drowning out at sea
And your breakers and your waves crash down on me
Iʼll recall your safety scheme
Youʼre the one who made the waves
And your Son went out to suffer in my place
And to tell me that Iʼm safe

So why am I down?
Why so disturbed?
I am satisfied in you I am satisfied in you I am satisfied in you.

You can listen to the whole album here for free or download it for $4.
Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

SS Facebook Floats Then Sinks

Take the Money and Run

Did you get some Facebook shares?  Well, good for you.  You will now be part of the glorious rags to riches story.  But maybe not.

There are some uncomfortable rapids ahead.  Firstly, an old sage once observed that only fools and horses buy initial public offerings (IPO's).  OK, so you are going to miss a bargain occasionally.  But the whole purpose of a public offering in almost every case is to dress the company up for sale, hype it, promote it, tell all the goods news that is to come so as to get the best possible share price. IPO's parade mutton dressed as lamb.

Thus with Facebook. And that leads to our second point: Facebook shares at the IPO were priced at one hundred times current earnings.  That means, if earnings stayed the same as today, you would have to hold the shares one hundred years just to earn back the price you paid--let alone get a return on your investment.  Care to hang around that long?  No, of course not, you say.  Why not?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Antarctic Sea Ice

Nothing to See Here; Move Along

Down in the Antipodes we are assailed (less repetitively than four years ago it is true) with portends of huge disasters coming our way.  More often than not, the threats are supposed to come from Antarctica.  Because the world is warming, don't you know, Antarctic sea ice will soon disappear.  Not only will that inundate small islands in the Pacific and raise sea levels in Australia and New Zealand to the destruction of many coastal houses, it will also threaten shipping lanes in the south.  Modern day Titanic-bane icebergs will disembowel ships at will.  Commerce will be disrupted and many lives tragically lost.  All due to the imminent catastrophe of global warming. 

So, how's that Antarctic sea ice going?

Yup, definitely shrinking away to nothing. Nothing to see here. Move along, please. But it is not true, eminent, enlightened climate "scientist" that over the last 35 years billions and billions of tonnes of "new" carbon dioxide have been released by horrible mankind into the atmosphere, causing irrevocable global warming to the utter destruction of the race? Apparently, someone has forgotten to tell the Antarctic. For goodness sake, get down there and declaim to the ice its resistance to science.

Threaten it with extinction if it doesn't start to co-operate and extinguish itself.

The Fourth Reich

Germany's Euro Feint?

We are agnostic on what the outcome will be from the present European financial crisis.  But watching it unfold is exceedingly diverting.  In broad relief, the options are: either Greece leaves (or is ejected from) the Euro leading to a general break-up of the currency union, or Greece stays and the union is preserved.

If the former, the break-up will cause financial turmoil and banking failures until the respective countries hit bottom and begin to trade their way out of depression.  If the latter, European nations lose national sovereignty to a much more powerful Federal Europe, dominated by Germany. 

The intriguing question is, Who is going to blink first?  German Chancellor Merkel, or the Eurocrats?  And, beneath it all, is the German republic playing a game of poker where it finally sees an opportunity for the end-game it has long sought: a centralised European government, controlled by Germany?  As the incoming Obama administration said, never let a good crisis go to waste.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Buy Three, Read One

Book of the Month/June 2012 

Engaging the Culture - Book Review
Written by Douglas Wilson
Friday, 01 June 2012


In this very fine book, Jonah Goldberg rises to the defense of ideology, and about time somebody did. He acknowledges that there has been a stream of Burkean/Kirkian conservative thought that has been suspicious of ideology, but this has just been the natural prudence that wants to avoid movements in the grip of one idea. Those who have nothing but one hammer will soon see the entire world as a nail.

There is a nobler kind of ideology, what conservative Christians would describe as a biblical worldview. This is the ideology of anyone who has come to a conclusion. Chesterton once said that the purpose of an open mind is the same as that of an open mouth -- it is meant to close on something. This is the kind of ideology that liberals hate -- this is what they are at war with when they eschew "labels" of any kind. Theirs is the kind of hatred of ideological labels that enables them to think of bipartisanship as anything that agrees with them. They don't like labels because the labels describe them accurately (p. 65).

And here is Goldberg's main target

Discretionary Justice

Whimsically  Destroying  Families

In New Zealand it is a criminal offence to smack one's child.  Well maybe.  Our Prime Minister, John Key in one of his most feckless moments once announced that "good parents" who smacked their children would not be prosecuted.  In other words, the police and the courts would, despite the law, show discretion and leniency to good, mainstream, decent Kiwi parents. 

Except that, by definition, any parent who smacked cannot be a good, decent, mainstream Kiwi parent.  They are committing a crime.  Mr Key "promised" that if such good, decent parents ended up being prosecuted, he would change the law.  Again, Mr Key--whilst being no-doubt genuine in his "decent bloke" kind of way--meant well, but was and continues to be remarkably naive. 

He apparently has little comprehension of what pre-dates a criminal conviction:

Monday, 4 June 2012

Ageless Wisdom

God Feeding Babies

Luther's understanding of calling and vocation is startling and radical to modern ears, influenced by secularism.  But it is true to Scripture itself.  Consider the following account from Gustaf Wingren on Luther's understanding of divine providence and the multiple offices of every human in carrying out His providence:
God creates the babes in the mother's body--man being only an instrument in God's hand--and then he sustains them with his gifts, brought to the children through the labors of  father and mother in their parental office.  "Even though a father is an instrument of procreation, God himself is the source and author of life."

God himself will milk the cows through him whose vocation that is.  He who engages in the lowliness of his work performs God's work, be he lad or king.  To give one's office proper care is not selfishness.  Devotion to office is devotion to love, because it is by God's own ordering that the work of the office is always dedicated to the well-being of one's neighbour.  Care for one's office is, in its very frame of reference on earth, participation in God's own care for human beings. [Gustaf Wingren, Luther on Vocation, trans. by Carl C. Rasmussen (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1957), p.9.] 
From this flow some scintillating truths.  Firstly, human work, agency, and labour is not co-labouring with God in the sense that we do something and God does something, each contributing to the whole.  Rather, God is the entire complete and whole actor; we are His servants, God working in and through us.  

Secondly, because when a mother feeds her child, God is feeding the child, and because when the soldier defends his neighbours, God is defending the neighbours, likewise all work, all human agency must be regarded as God providing and God working.  All of life, then, is holy.  All lawful work, and offices, and responsibilities are holy.  The distinction between sacred and secular evaporates. 

Burdens Borne by Some

Private Schools Labour Under Grave Injustice

The teacher unions hate private schools.    Teachers that work in the government school system don't appreciate the existence of schools they do not effectively control.  Private schools represent competition, and government functionaries do not like competition.

One of the arguments repeatedly put forward is that private schools (of which there are precious few in New Zealand) suck money out of the state's education budget.  The state pays a small annual per-pupil grant to private schools that represents a small fraction of the actual cost of educating a pupil.  This, says the state education monopolists, represents funds which should properly go to government schools. 

The counter argument, run by the Treasury, is that if all private schools closed and their pupils transferred to the government education system, the costs to the taxpayer would be substantially higher: thus, private schools actually save taxpayers money. 

Both arguments miss the real injustice and inequity inflicted upon private school parents by the current system.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Women in Islamic Countries

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

An article has recently appeared in Foreign Policy Magazine, entitled Why Do They Hate Us?  Written by Mona Eltahawy, it deals with rampant, universal misogyny in the Middle East. 
Name me an Arab country, and I'll recite a litany of abuses fuelled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt -- including my mother and all but one of her six sisters -- have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating "virginity tests" merely for speaking out, it's no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband "with good intentions" no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are "good intentions"? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is "not severe" or "directed at the face." What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it's not better than you think. It's much, much worse.
This is an issue which the Western Commentariat usually regards as too impolite to talk about.   Decent people, apparently, don't discuss such things.

Condescending and Disrespectful

"Seeker Friendly" Churches

Many Christians take very seriously our Lord's command to preach the Gospel to all the nations.  So seriously they risk making an idol of the responsibility, elevating it above all other duties and responsibilities equally given us by our God.

Reaching people for Christ can become more important than faithfulness to Him in all things.  One manifestation is the attempt to engineer public worship into being "seeker friendly".  The idea is that worship must be so organised and conducted that when a non-Christian enters, he or she immediately feels at home.  As much as possible, everything must be made to be familiar, ordinary, and usual.  The inevitable result is that the Word of God and the Gospel is dumbed down, and worship itself becomes profane--that is, simply a replication of life "outside the temple".

Friday, 1 June 2012

Secret "Kill Lists"

The Great Liberal's Other Side

The New York Times has written an article about President Obama that is both chilling and risible at the same time.  First, the chilling aspect.

Obama and his Justice Department have "discovered" a new federal government power: the right to execute American citizens abroad, without any due process, checks and balances, or judicial review.  Obama reserves the right and power to make every "kill" decision.  He personally reviews all "candidates" and makes a selection.

The Fiscal Benefits of Tobacco

Asinine Zealotry

The zealots amongst us are trying to make New Zealand smoke free by 2025.  Why?  Well, it's good for us.  The state knows best.  The gummint is on a moral crusade--being spearheaded by our current nanny-in-chief, Tariana Turia.  She and her Maori parliamentary cohort are all wound up because they believe smoking is a Maori health issue: tobacco addiction rates are much higher amongst Maori than non-Maori.

Rather than do the hard yards of actually reforming Maori society they have opted to take the "easy" road.  Ban tobacco for everyone in the country.  Hell hath no greater fury than a zealous politician trying to engineer redemption by legislating to make us good. 

We confidently predict that as a consequence tobacco growing will rapidly expand in the benign New Zealand climate.