Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Letter From Australia (About Economic Refugees)

Gullibility Without End

There are two kinds of refugees in the world: those fleeing from tyrants and murderers and those looking for a better socio-economic life.  The latter are called "economic refugees".  Whilst their aspirations and ambitions are understandable they give the former kind of refugee a bad name.

Economic refugees all too often attempt to game the system by masquerading as genuine refugees.  Australia, for the last five years, has deliberately refused to distinguish between genuine refugees and economic refugees.  As a consequence it is now regarded as a soft-destination for economic refugees.  The boats keep coming.  Paul Sheeha, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald exposes the defalcation of the Australian government on this matter. Any government which loses control of its borders has ceded sovereignty. Worse, it has meant the government is complicit in self-deceit and in lying to the people. Paul Sheehan believes it is a key reason the Gillard Government is despised by the electorate.

Easy Dupes, Our Bad

Breaking Silence, Part Deux

Macsyna King has been in the news again.  This time the context has altered somewhat.  The coroner investigating the death of her premature twins has placed the blame firmly upon her then derelict "husband", Chris Kahui. It was impossible for Macsyna King to murder the children, the coroner concluded. By process of elimination, Kahui was the only one left to blame.  This must have come as a shock to a more than a few people. 

Here was a woman who was vilified throughout the country as the indisputable murderess, a child killer, a swine, a monster, the lowest of the low, etc.  In fact, when Chris Kahui was charged it took the jury only a minute to declare him not guilty.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Lines of Antithesis

Rebekah's Womb

The lines of antithesis are not like chalk lines left on the sidewalk after a child's game, to use Van Til's illustration. Those lines can be washed away by the next rain. The lines of the antithesis are two lines of generation, two lines of seed -- the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). These two races occupy the same human history, and all is not well between them.

The history of the world is Rebekah's womb, and she picked up on the fundamental problem early on. "But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?”(Gen. 25:22, NKJV). The elder humanity is Esau, but the older will serve the younger -- Jacob -- and the meek will inherit the earth. 
Douglas Wilson.

Institutional Blinkers

Purblind Central Bankers

The causes of the Global Financial Crisis are complex and multi-valent--as expected.  One individual who shares a good deal of the blame, however, is Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve.  Greenspan deliberately kept interest rates low in the US (and thereby in much of the world) during the critical period of 2000 to 2004.  It was during this period that house prices began to inflate rapidly.

In May 2000 the US federal funds rate (set by the Federal Reserve) was 6.5 percent.  Then the dot-com crash happened.  Internet and IT companies had been a hot item on the stock market, trading well above their intrinsic value.  Suddenly, as is often the case, the mood of the market changed:

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Letter From America (About Men)

Heroism in Aurora 

Manliness has been devalued for a half century, but courage isn’t dead.
By Mona Charen
July 27, 2012 12:00 A.M.
National Review Online

If just one man had given his life by throwing himself atop his girlfriend to shield her from bullets in that Aurora theater, it would have been cause for amazement. That three apparently did so is deeply affecting. People earn the Medal of Honor for such courage and self-sacrifice in the military. There is no equivalent in ordinary life — or what should be ordinary life.

Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and Alex Teves all reacted instantaneously when the horror began to unfold at the theater.

Homosexual "Marriage"

A Caricature from Mordor

The New Zealand Parliament will consider a bill legalising homosexual "marriage".  A private member's bill has been drawn in the ballot.  Parliament will now consider the bill and vote it either up or down.  What should be our position and response?

From the foundations of the Christian faith and its Head, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son, our Lord the matter is straightforward.  The institution of marriage is a divine one and binds all human beings.  Marriage  constitutes a man and a woman leaving their respective parents, and cleaving to one another for life, until death parts the couple.  Nothing else is marriage.  Everything else is an aping of marriage, not the real thing.  These things are the teachings of holy Scripture and, therefore, of the Church of our Lord.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

How the Marble Always Rolls 

Political Dualism - Americanitas
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 26 July 2012

Years ago, when I was in college, the prof in some class or other had us watch a documentary film recording somebody's suicide. They didn't show that part on camera, but the whole thing was a "situation ethics" kind of thing, where the person had been diagnosed with a terminal (and painful) disease that he didn't want to endure, and so he decided to check out. The film included the farewell party, bunch of friends over, that sort of thing. The premise of everything was "avoidance of pain," with justification of the suicide built on that assumption.

In the class discussion afterward, I raised the question of presuppositions

The Second Global Financial Crisis, Part III

Nursing our Malice

When the Global Financial Crisis hit many pundits argued that Western capitalism had failed.  They had a point.  Half a point.  Capitalism is essentially the private ( as opposed to government) manufacture and trading of goods and services.  But such a non-government, free trade system cannot survive unless it is built upon a foundation of integrity, honesty, and the prevention and punishment of theft. Capitalism only prospers and benefits the majority if it cares deeply about the sovereignty of other people's property, believing that what God has given, let not man take away.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Society Afraid Of Its Own Shadow

Scorning the Propaganda of Fear 
A review of Pascal Bruckner's  The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse

Emma-Kate Symons
20 Jul 2012 00:03:00
Australian Financial Review

When a celebrated French philosopher from the centre left assails the “despotic” politics of environmental fear he should expect a dressing down from his climate change-conscious comrades.  But Pascal Bruckner has incited such fury with a diatribe against green prophesiers of imminent planetary ruin, the reaction has surprised even this veteran of the trans-Atlantic culture wars.

“The planet is sick. Man is guilty of having destroyed it. He must pay,” is how Bruckner caustically portrays the received wisdom on environmental “sin” and damnation in his latest book Le fanatisme de l’Apocalypse (The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse).  “Consider . . . the famous carbon footprint that we all leave behind us,” he writes in his introduction. “What is it, after all, if not the gaseous equivalent of original sin, of the stain that we inflict on our Mother Gaia by the simple fact of being present and breathing?”

The Second Global Financial Crisis, Part II

Meeting Obligations, Or Not

In a previous post we argued that little of any significance has been accomplished effectively to regulate investment banking.  There is no doubt whatsoever that global investment banking, which had been dominated by US companies, had been responsible for the Global Financial Crisis.  As a result of government actions, risk is now concentrated in that sector more than ever before.  If institutions then were too big to fail, there are bigger now investment banks.  Moreover there are less of them.  Risk is therefore exacerbated and arguably more acute than 2008.

Why do size and number of investment banks matter?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Second Global Financial Crisis, Part I

Defalcation on a Unimaginable Scale 

We are nearly four years on from the Global Financial Crisis.  It has achieved the status of its own acronym (GFC)--a sure sign in modern parlance that it "means something".  Its effects are still with us and some assert they will ripple out for a further decade. Has the problem been solved?  Far from it.

In short the regulatory changes made, particularly in the United States, have been both inadequate and even those passed, ineffectually policed.  The causes of the original crisis were manifold; the solutions, however, appear straightforward.  They have largely been ignored.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Conflicts of Interest

Big Brother Shareholder

Mighty River Power will be a dirty float.  The Prime Minister, John Key has confirmed it.  The dirt in this float usefully illustrates how governments "do" commerce badly. 

Firstly, let's paint the more general picture, before addressing the dirt.  For governments, politics matter: their real constituency is not the owners of a business, but the voters whom they must either impress or placate.  Governments always stand ready and willing to trade off the rights of property owners, making them the fall-guys for the "greater good" which just happens to be the good of the current governing political party.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Some Wars Should Not be Fought

Do-Good Wowsers on the Wane?

A growing number of folk are facing up to the unintended consequences of prohibition.  The consequences include the reckless destruction of lives and subsidizing vast criminal enterprises.   The evils are now much greater than those which attend the drug taking in the first place.  Rich Lowry, writing in the National Review has been looking at the tea leaves and discerns a change in the portents. 

Cannibalism Alive and Well Amongst the Left

Succeeding to Self-Destruction

A few commentators have called attention to the bare-knuckle contest underway in Australia.  Sections of the Labour Party have decided that their coalition partner, the Greens are the enemy. 

Labour has gone into a governing coalition with the Greens.  In order to maintain the coalition, Labour has had to cede policy leadership to the Greens.  Extremist policies have been pushed through that are out of kilter with the wider, broader electorate.  Upshot: Labour has plummeted in the polls.  As things stand it is facing electoral decimation next year. 

There is a reflexive kinship between Labour and Green political parties.  We see the same thing working in New Zealand.  Both Greens and Labour belong to the same ideological world-view.  The Greens just happen to be more consistent.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Letter From the UK (About Syria)

Syrian Tragedy

It does seem as if the days of the Assad Alawite regime in Syria are numbered.  The tide seems to have turned in favour of the rebels.  What the longer term will bring is impossible to predict.  We need to keep in mind that this is a conflict between Islamic sects: Alawite (a Shi'ite sub-sect), Sunni, and Shi'ite itself.

The Guardian explains how the tea-leaves are indicating the end of the Assad regime.

A Man Has to Know His Limitations

Round and Round the Garden Went the Teddy Bear

You just have to love Ludwig Wittgenstein--not that he was a very lovable character.  If Hume was the enfant terrible, the dismantler of the Enlightenment's claim to objective, evidence based, rationalistic "truth", Wittgenstein was his twentieth century step-child.  He was the gladiatorial, scathing, sarcastic progenitor of post-modernism.

Wittgenstein pointed out that in all reasoning and arguments there are sets of pre-interpretative grids at play which lead one to certain inferences and conclusions about the facts and data being discussed.  All knowledge is circular.  All reasoning is circular.  To Enlightenment rationalists and their twentieth century descendants, this is hateful stuff.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Fools and Horses

Self-Inflicted Damage

The climate change gig is a rigged game where the casino always wins.  The casino is government: the casino wins when more and more control is asserted and exerted over the lives and activities of subjects. 

Manufacturing a bogus-crisis is an ideal way for the casino to proceed.  If the existence of the human race is supposedly at stake, governments need to go to an emergency, war-time footing which requires government command-and-control over everything necessary to ensure survival.  That is why climate change has been seized upon with alacrity by western governments.

Desperately Seeking Mana

The Preserve of Fools and Horses

Every society has its idiosyncrasies and fools.  The existence of tomfoolery is unavoidable in a fallen world.  How to deal with it?  Mockery and laughter are sometimes effective tools. 

It's a shame in many ways that Maori--many of whom seek mana above all else--end up the butt of jokes over their particular foolishnesses.  One could argue that the defensive, incessant quest for mana is a cruel idol.  The more mana is adulated and sought after, the more it betrays the seeker as having anything but.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Cooking and Counting 

Goo-Mongers - Postmodernism
Written by Douglas Wilson
Friday, 13 July 2012

One of the charges that is laid at my feet with some regularity is that I am an autodidact, unaccountable to no one, and that this unfortunate fact makes me pop off from time to time, and to do so in ways that are clean contrary to what is taught by the certified experts and gatekeepers.

There is a lot going on here, not the least of which is the confusion of certification with education. But that part of it is another topic for another day. For the present, I would like to present a brief explanation and defense for what I would describe as the biblical approach to being contrarian.

"I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts" (Ps. 119:99-100).

This approach eliminates the cocksure sophomore as well as the argumentative crank.

"Harmful Misinformation" Bites the Dust

Students vote FOR Free Speech

Students at Auckland University yesterday rejected a motion to disaffiliate a student organization advocating against abortion.  Sanity prevails. 

We are glad about the outcome.  However, it is a reminder that free speech rights are coming under increasing attack from the Left which is working more and more to proscribe speech it deems "harmful" or "offensive"--that is, views and actions with which it disagrees.  In this case, the forces of censorship and proscription were defeated. 

This from the NZ Herald:
A move to ban an anti-abortion club from the Auckland University Students' Association has been defeated overwhelmingly after an emotional debate about free speech.  A special general meeting attended by a large and noisy crowd in the university quad voted 227-125 yesterday against a motion to disaffiliate the ProLife Auckland club "for propagating harmful misinformation".

Oxymoronic Government Education

Gullible and Ineffectual

The teacher unions indirectly control the government education system in New Zealand.  Its an inconvenient truth to be sure, but truth it is. 

When the present National led Government introduced national standards testing in government primary schools it was full of sound and fury.  However, the Prime Minister (who had claimed that it was the most important initiative of his tenure) was woefully under-prepared for the fight-back.  He naively assumed that because the initiative had widespread parental support the teacher unions would fold. 

But the unions have run campaigns for years actively protecting their members' interests at the expense of pupils.  They are skilled propagandists.  They are very adept at fighting.  They have a broad range of armaments and tactics at their disposal.  They are veterans.  John Key and education ministers Tolley and Parata have been novices.  They have been outflanked, out-thought, and worked around.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Letter From America (About the UK)

Charter Schools Hit 1776

Like Charter Schools, Britain’s Academies Aim High 

By Michael Barone  
National Review Online
July 16, 2012

We English-speaking peoples have been lagging behind on education.

London — Seventeen seventy-six is a number with great resonance for Americans, but you wouldn’t expect it to be featured on a British-government website.  But there it is, on the home page of the United Kingdom’s Department of Education: “As of 1 April 2012, there are 1776 academies open in England.”

“Academies,” as you might expect, means something different in Britain than in the United States. They are, approximately, what we would call charter schools. And there are 1,776 of them largely because of the energy and determination of British education secretary Michael Gove.

Mysterious Ways

The Church is Always Maturing

Divine providence is a mysterious, yet wonderful business.  As the hymn writer put it, God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.  One of the great benefits of a close scrutiny of the history of the church is, in retrospect, to see God's hand at work. 

In the midst of the tumult or the vicissitudes it is usually very hard to discern what is going on.  Three hundred years later its possible to discern what the Lord was building.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


The Historical Origins of the R-Quotient

In the early 21st Century in the United States a strange phenomenon emerged in public discourse.  Whenever an opponent's argument could not easily be dismissed, the cry "Raaaaacist" and "Raaaaacism" was heard, without rhyme or reason. 

It's purveyors struck a pose roughly resembling donkeys braying at the moon.  So much so, in fact, political scientists at the University of Southern California subsequently invented the R-quotient which has proven to expose relatively reliably a strong (negative) correlation between the bray and vacuously mindless noise, lacking any any rational argument of any kind.  Sort of animal-like. 

An R-quotient of -1 indicates narrative and speech which appears completely unhinged.  An R-quotient of 0 indicates rambling incoherence which make no sense at all.  An R-quotient of 1 indicates speech which never mentions racism and generally resembles an argument which permits rational analysis. 

A public commentator of the time, one Victor Davis Hanson, chronicled the phenomenon as it emerged during the presidential electoral race of 2012.

Stasi-esqueTactics at Auckland University

Freedom of Expression Threatened at Auckland University

Recently ProLife Auckland (an affiliated club for students at Auckland University) distributed a leaflet about informed consent.  The Right to Know leaflet was distributed to students in a non-confrontational and peaceable manner.

Following this, the
Auckland University Students Association (AUSA) said they received a complaint from an anonymous source and met, deciding to call a Special General Meeting at which a vote will be held to disaffiliate the ProLife Auckland student club. 

Monday, 16 July 2012

Godly Divisions

Leaving Egypt

The Blaze recently cross-posted an article on the state of the Episcopal Church in the United States.  It is being crushed under the weight of its own putrescence.  More and more congregations, and now dioceses are breaking away.  They are following in the footsteps of our father, Moses (Hebrews 11: 24--27).  What's left is a ghoulish spectre of a diabolical aping of the Christian faith.  The works of Modor writ large.   

Tarnished Family Silver

Powering Up

In New Zealand we are to be offered an opportunity to buy up to 49 percent in state owned power generating companies.  The first to go on the block will be Mighty River Power.

Now we have all sorts reservations when it comes to public floats.  Normally the goods-on-offer are so dressed up with twinkling trinkets that that it's hard to see the shape of the unclothed beast beneath.  Most public floats are overpriced and over-hyped.  There are now rumours about that the Government will attempt to entice investors by offering some of the companies at a discount.  Maybe.  Caveat emptor.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Jesus and Conservatism 

Theology - N.T. Wrights and Wrongs
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 12 July 2012

Everyone must stand somewhere in order to say anything. And even if what he wants to say is that the previous sentence is not true, he still has to stand somewhere to say it. We can run, but we can't hide.
If one of the things I want to say (or confess) is that Jesus is Lord, I have to stand somewhere to say that, and that somewhere is determined by my testimony. Where was I on the road when the Lord called me? And where does He want me to be on the road right now?

When I describe some of where I am, there is no intimation that anybody else has any obligation to be at that same place -- a Wilson, an American, a male, a blues aficionado and so forth. To accept differences of this sort is to rejoice in a triune God who did not make us all the same. Trying to "fix" the differences of others like this is to fight for a boring world. Celebrate diversity, man.

But there is a difference between honoring the differences that God placed in His world and trying to honor the differences that sin brought in. The former is Trinitarian, and the latter is rebellion.

Powerful Ancient Traditions

Gaining Traction in a Post-Modern World

In a world falling apart, universal, timeless tradition has traction.  In the 1960's the opposite applied.  Western culture was basking in the victory over Germany and the Axis powers; there was a distinct sense that the "good" had triumphed over the "bad" in World War II.  History was on a right course.  The fifties were a decade of the universal and conventional. 

Beneath popular culture, however, scepticism was bubbling away, about to burst forth into the public square.  Post-modernism had taken deep root in the intellectual institutions.  Along came the Beatles with distinctly unconventional haircuts and strange musical idioms.  Almost overnight being "square" did not cut it; change, change, change was the new normal. 

Fifty years later the Western world has been "narrativised" and "perspectivised" to cynical boredom and jaded detachment.  The only "ism" that has traction is the view that nothing has traction.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Nullification or Nutterfication? 

Culture and Politics - Obama Nation Building
Written by Douglas Wilson
Tuesday, 10 July 2012

If your kayak is going over the falls, then the mainstream is the last place you would want to be. I say this because "mainstream" is not automatically a term of praise. At the same time, nobody wants to be a nutter just for grins, and so allow me to lay down some basic principles of Christian resistance to the kind of soft despotism we are up against.

By "soft" despotism, incidentally, I am talking about style, not results. Brave New World was every bit as hard and coercive as 1984, but soma was more fun for the recipient than having a jackboot in your face. Liberty is just as gone in either case. Sometimes hard seems hard, and sometimes it doesn't. But it always is hard.

Blessing or Curse?

Patriotism and Ungodliness

Samuel Johnson once famously proclaimed, "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel".  He had a point.  For the Christian patriotism ought always be written in lower case.  There is a form of patriotism which honours God.  There is also a patriotism which is a cursed idolatry and angers the Almighty.  How can we distinguish? 

Love of one's country always must be a subset of one's love for God, for His creation, and for His providential care and provision of His image bearers and other creatures.  We love our parents because it is commanded by God Himself: they have provided for us, protected us, and taken care of us.  Consequently we return love and affection and care for them, even in difficult times, out of love for God. 

Love of nation is similar.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Jacobin Fervour

Killing The Goose

France is in a bad way.  The election of a strong Socialist government is going to make it a whole lot worse.

Consider the following snippets (from the Financial Times):

A Shot of Faith to the Head

Evidentialism is Quite Dead

We have just picked up a copy of Mitch Stokes's A Shot of Faith {To the Head}(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012) which is a well written, very approachable piece of work on the intellectual battle against the Christian faith being waged at a neighbourhood near you.

The work makes the philosophical contributions of men like Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff accessible and useful to the wider Christian community.  (For their part, Plantinga and Wolterstorff have, in turn, been making Scottish philosopher, Thomas Reid accessible to modern readers.)

Here is an initial excerpt:

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Popular Mistruths About Christ and His People

Cavilling Calumny

As the first Christendom has broken and fallen away, antipathy to Christ and His church has risen in many places in the West. Canadian broadcaster and author, Michael Coren has written a book documenting the ten most oft used attacks against the Lord and His people--all of which are untrue or false. An article in The Blaze summarises the top three.

The French Disease

More Time Please

The problem with socialism is that it eventually runs out of other people's money.  France has spent profligately over the past twenty years.  It has now run out of other people's money.  It's not hard to read the tea-leaves.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has urged the French to rally behind efforts to tackle a "crushing" debt burden after an audit warned of a 43 billion euro ($A53.09 billion) budget hole.

AYRAULT, outlining the new Socialist government's agenda in parliament, also admitted the crisis was "unprecedented" and said debt servicing charges had become untenable.

The Politics of Envy and Hate

Broken Moral Compass

Want to know what's wrong with the West?  Bono, speaking of his native Ireland, puts his finger on the problem.

In Ireland people have an interesting attitude to success; they look down on it. In America, you look up at . . . the mansion on the hill and say, “One day . . . that could be me.” In Ireland, they look up at the mansion on the hill and go, “One day I’m gonna get that bastard.”

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Defining Moments

The Peace of Augsburg and Its Aftermath

The Peace of Augsburg (1555) proved to be an archimedean point in the subsequent development of Western Europe.  It institutionalised the principle of state religious establishment.  The Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, tenuous heir to the empire of  Charlemagne (the First Reich), was trying to exert control over the various principalities and powers in his dominion.  A number of religious wars resulted--ending in the Peace of Augsburg which established in imperial law the principle that the "faith of the prince is the faith of the people". 

So it came about that North-West Europe was divided into either Lutheran or Roman Catholic fiefdoms and principalities.  But the Christian faith cannot prosper in a religious establishment where both Church and personal Christian faith is established by the civil state. Christ alone is Head of the Church and Lord of the conscience.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Letter to Hadrian

The Christians

. . . . The Christians, O King, have found the truth by going and seeking for it. . . . They do not do to others what they would not have done to themselves.  They comfort those who wrong them and make friends of them: they labour to do good to their enemies. . . . He that has gives freely to him who has not.  If they see a stranger, they bring him under their roof and rejoice over him as if over their own brother: they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh but after the Spirit and in God . . . .

Aristides, Apology, 15 (to the Emperor Hadrian, c130AD)

The Decline and Fall . . .

Breaking Apart Nebuchadnezzar's Giant Man

In Daniel 2 we are told the Babylonian emperor, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which he saw a giant statue in the image of a man.  A stone (made without hands) hit the statue and crushed it.  The stone then became a great mountain which filled the whole earth.

Daniel gave the divine interpretation of the dream.  The huge image of a man made of gold, silver, bronze, and iron represented four successive kingdoms (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman).  In the days of the Roman Empire, we are told, "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever."

But the crushing of the Kingdom of Man was not done by force of arms.  It was done by the Gospel transforming lives, and eventually transforming paganism from the inside out.  David Bentley Hart describes the wondrous nature of this work of divine grace--long ago foretold by Daniel.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Letter From Australia

He Deserves It

Gerard Henderson, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, reviews the double standard that many in the media and on the Left have applied in the curious case of one self-absorbed Julian Assange.

Ancient Wisdom

Breaking and Re-Making the World

One of the conundrums surrounding the early Church is how the Gospel spread sufficiently powerfully to where Constantine established Christianity as the Empires official religion in the early 4th century.  Recall how Christianity was a persecuted religion, a radical minority belief during the second century.  Experts estimate that not more than two percent of the population were Christians by the end of the second century.

From the time of the apostles onwards until Constantine there are few records of any missionary activity, or celebrated missionaries.  Yet the Gospel spread and gradually began to make significant progress to where the Roman Empire became officially Christianised.  How did this come about?

Friday, 6 July 2012

Letter From the UK (About Australia)

Lies, Damned Lies and Climate Scientists 

The credibility of Australian climate scientists has just taken another hit.

Lying climate scientists lie again – about death threats, this time

James Delingpole  

The Telegraph

There's a great scoop in The Australian about more lying climate scientists making stuff up.

When Justice Fails

Cynicism and Disquiet

The law courts, where justice is dispensed, are holy places.  On display there are the culture's deepest beliefs about truth, righteousness, sin, evil, guilt, and judgment.  The law courts are our institutional, established religion writ large. 

It is understandable, then, that popular culture, the media, the Commentariat and the chattering classes are fascinated with courts and trials.  Particularly when murder is on the docket.  The national fixation with the recent Scott Guy murder trial is a case in point.  The accused was found not guilty by a jury of his peers.  Most leave profoundly disquieted.  Why?

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Three Coyotes and a Sheep 

Culture and Politics - Obama Nation Building
Written by Douglas Wilson
Tuesday, 03 July 2012

When I say that the Bible requires limited government -- because a claim to unlimited government by mortals is a spurious claim to Deity -- I do not mean that Christians may not find themselves living under despotic regimes from time to time. Our understanding of these things (given by grace) does not automatically transfer to those despots who do not know and understand that God is the only God.

What I do mean to say is that believers and despots are always, necessarily, on a collision course.

Drill Baby, Drill

 Rumours of Peak Oil Greatly Exaggerated

Sheik Yamani, former head of OPEC, once famously opined that the steam age did not end due to any shortage of wood, and the coal age did not end due to a shortage of coal.  Likewise, he reckoned, the oil age would eventually end, but not for any lack of oil.

For forty years now, we have been regaled with horror stories of the consequences of oil running out.  We have been told repeatedly that "peak oil" was just around the corner.  In fact, it should be happening now.  After that, oil prices would rise dramatically, due to international shortages leading to severe economic dislocation.  Apocalypse now!  As a result we have been subjected to endless government and crony capitalist waste, fraud, graft and corruption in a useless effort to develop alternative energy sources (solar, wind, ethanol). 

Now it is all being exposed as rubbish.  Stupid, ignorant rubbish.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

No Fluttering Dove 

Culture and Politics - Obama Nation Building
Written by Douglas Wilson
Monday, 02 July 2012

Governors Jindal and Scott are to be commended for publicly stating that they will not implement Obamacare in Louisiana and Florida respectively. There will doubtless be other statements like this, and they are all to be encouraged. In 2010, the legislative House of my own state of Idaho passed a measure that stated their unwillingness for such a federal law to be imposed in the state of Idaho. There needs to be a lot more of this, and it is now essential that Obamacare fail for that reason.

We are not playing beanbag anymore

Nietzsche Has Triumphed in the West

The Essence of Modernity

To be entirely modern (which very few of us are) is to believe in nothing.

This is not to say it is to have no beliefs: the truly modern person may believe in almost anything, or even perhaps in everything, so long as all these beliefs rest securely upon a more fundamental and radical faith in nothing--or, better, in nothingness as such.

Modernity's highest ideal--its special understanding of personal autonomy--requires us to place our trust in the original absence underlying all of reality, a fertile void in which all things are possible, from which arises no impediment to our wills, and before which we may consequently choose to make of ourselves whatever we choose.  We trust, that is to say, that there is no substantial criterion by which to judge our choices that stands higher than the unquestioned good of free choice itself, and that therefore all judgment, divine no less than human, is in some sense and infringement upon our freedom.

This is our primal ideology.  In the most unadorned terms possible, the ethos of modernity is--to be perfectly precise--nihilism. 
 David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 21

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Letter From America

Intuition Replaces Law

The US Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare--the socialisation of medicine in the United States.  The Chief Justice, Roberts wrote the majority opinion, which can be best described as a piece of fatuous and confused reasoning.  But you get that when you ignore the actual text of legislation.

Here is what Patterico wrote on the matter, arguing that ignoring the text of a law amounts to a rejection of the rule of law, for some other vague, indefinite whimsy.  This was definitely not one of the Court's finest moments. 

Not Interested

We Know What's Good For You

Gina Reinhart is a very wealthy person.  She has made her fortune in mining.  She is "one of them".  Apparently she has views which offend most reasonable, intelligent, and thinking people.  She thinks that the environmentalist ideology of man-caused climate change is a bunch of baloney, for example.  She is obviously ignorant and therefore to be dismissed.  But she is also dangerous, and to be resisted mightily if she comes to close to our patch. 

Except that Reinhart has money.  She has made a sizeable investment in Fairfax Media which owns the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age--venerable left-wing, pro-climate change, communitarian newspapers.  Fairfax, of course, is a declining business.  Its commercial strength has sapped away to where that once proud company now resembles a seven stone, white weakling slinking along Bondi Beach in high summer.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Bad and the Ugly

Failed States

An interesting article in the latest edition of Foreign Policy magazine has been published.  It is entitled Ten Reasons Countries Fall Apart, with the sub-title, "States don't fail overnight. The seeds of of their destruction are sown deep within their political institutions."

The ten reasons (each with a specific example) are:

1. North Korea: Lack of property rights
North Korea's economic institutions make it almost impossible for people to own property; the state owns everything, including nearly all land and capital. Agriculture is organized via collective farms. People work for the ruling Korean Workers' Party, not themselves, which destroys their incentive to succeed. . . .

Not only has North Korea failed to grow economically -- while South Korea has grown rapidly -- but its people have literally failed to flourish. Trapped in this debilitating cycle, North Koreans are not only much poorer than South Koreans but also as much as 3 inches shorter on average than the neighbors from whom they have been cut off for the last six decades.

Real Progress

Tainui Holdings Does It Well

The Maori Waikato tribe, Tainui has been making real financial progress.  This has not always been the case.  For several years, immeidately after its historic Treaty settlement, there were reports of financial mismanagement and spending upon such essential items as brand new BMW's for the inner circle, coupled with political factions and infighting. 

But for the past few years most of these problems have been skewered by the sword.  The capital secured by Tainui through the treaty settlement now appears to be well husbanded and is increasing.  There is a strong commercial focus.  The growing commercial strength and asset productive asset base will ultimately benefit us all--but particularly the Tainui people. 

The NZ Herald provides us a summary of the latest financial results.  The good news is even more encouraging when we remember it has been delivered through a period of a pretty cold economic recession in New Zealand.