Friday, 31 August 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Homo Republicanus 

Culture and Politics - Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
Sunday, 26 August 2012

I sometimes think that secularists, including the conservative ones, have never heard of Venn diagrams. The concept of overlapping spheres of thought continues to elude them. The idea of layered hierarchies is floating above their heads, just out of reach. 

If you point out the incoherence of secularism (or say that you do such a thing repeatedly, over the course of years), they will just come back at you with what they think is a deep Jeffersonian retort ("separation of church and state!"), but which is actually just another coup manqué from the historical/political illiterati, which is actually a degree field at Harvard now.

Here is an article, rich with examples of such fruitesqueries.

Anglican Reformation

Christian Marriage Shining Brighter--in Sydney

A little controversy has broken out in Sydney, Australia.  It's about marriage.  Marriage vows, to be precise.

For a long time now the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church has been a hotbed of solid biblical faith.  Strange, but true.  The archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen actually believes the Bible to be the Word of the Living God--not in a Barthian sense, mind, but in the orthodox sense.  A reformation is gradually percolating through the veins of the church that is encouraging to say the least. 

One of the points of reformation has involved marriage vows.  This from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Worshipping At the Feet of God . . .

. . . Not the Government

When Unbelief bears its teeth good things usually happen in the Church.  The rod of discipline is not easy but it provokes the Church to grow, mature, develop--and become more theologically self-conscious.  When that happens the Church becomes more faithful to her Lord. 

In the United States for almost a hundred years fundamentalists and evangelicals preferred to separate from the surrounding culture whilst they pursued a heavenward path.  But as Unbelief has grown stronger it has begun to stretch out its hand against Christians and Christian institutions which until a few years ago would have preferred to live and let live.  No longer.

Here is an interview with a Baptist college president in Louisiana reacting to President Obama's attempt to  force employers to provide health "services" contrary to the college's teaching and practice.  The interview appeared in National Review Online.  Note the epistemological and theological self-consciousness of the college president, Joe Aguillard.  An excerpt: "While you (President Obama) may support abortion, Louisiana College worships at the feet of God, who condemns it. We serve Him, not you and your government.”

Ozymandian Overreach

Folly and Arrogance Lying in the Dust

We expect that the carbon emissions trading scheme will eventually be consigned to history's dustbin amidst much derision.  It was always nothing more than a portentous Canute-like attempt to restrict carbon emissions--that is, of holding back the inevitable.  The brutal truth is that there is only one way for human beings to stop emitting carbon into the atmosphere and that is to regress economic production.  The global recession has done a pretty good job of that.

Consequently the European carbon emissions trading scheme is in trouble.  This from The Telegraph:
The European Commission has moved to fix the EU's sickly carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS), as certificates fail to find buyers due to the recession. "Is it wise to continue to flood an already oversupplied market? Clearly not," said Europe Union energy commissioner Connie Hedegaard on Twitter. "That's why (we) propose to change the auction time profile." Brussels proposes a delay or freeze in auctions of the certificates from 2013 to 2020 to prop up sagging prices.
Here lies one of the great follies of the modern world.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Seeker Sensible Worship

Intelligibility is Not Cozy 

Liturgy and Worship - Liturgical Notes
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 23 August 2012

Yesterday at Knox Presbytery (CREC), we had a good discussion surrounding the issues of "seeker sensitive" worship and "seeker sensible" worship, a discussion that flowed into the evening.

Here are just a couple of quick comments about it. First, my operating assumption is that the worship service on Sunday morning should be structured for believers, and not for unbelievers. The impact of such a service can certainly be evangelistic, but not because that is its primary purpose. There can be evangelistic effects, but this does not shift the purpose of the worship service. But what about . . .?

"But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all,  the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you" (1 Cor. 14:24-25, ESV).

This is a standard text that is appealed to in these discussions

Enslaved to Everything

Under the Ban

We posted yesterday about the PC madness that now swirls around breast feeding.  Nanny-state is rising up in an attempt to control every part of the human anatomy, except (for the moment) the rear end.  Oh, wait.  Given enough time it will even attempt to control human methane emissions--to prevent the earth from destruction, don't you know.

This madness illustrates a corollary of G. K. Chesterton's bon mot: "When people cease to believe in God they do not believe in nothing; they begin to believe in everything."  The corollary is this: when people cease to submit to God they do not remain at liberty; they become enslaved to everything.  Human rules replace God's rules; and human rules crush.

Here is an apt example: playdough.  "What," we hear you ask?  For generations mothers and early childhood educators have baked playdough out of flour to create a wonderfully malleable, colourful substance to entertain and develop young children.  No longer it seems.  Playdough is coming under the ban.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Letter From America

Government Of, By, and For Cronies

For long time passin' Michelle Malkin has been criticising the Obama White House for its practice of Chicago-influence politics.  Now even the New York Times has noticed the smell of corruption floating over the Potomac.  It's got to be pretty bad when the nasally impaired NY Times notices such things.  Still, better late than never.

Long Live the Nanny

 Breast Feeding Pharisaism

When people deny the righteousness of God they don't necessarily descend into rampant licentiousness.  What they more often do is substitute their own rules and regulations and claim divine prerogatives for them.  They want their rules to be elevated to the state of infallibility and inerrancy.  A new Pharisaism emerges.  Welcome to the wonderful world of the nanny state.  

Here is an example of the type.  Breast feeding is morally pure.  Bottle feeding is evil.  According to Stuff one mother, Jess Schulz who had trouble breast feeding and whose baby was losing weight eventually went to bottle feeding. 
While family supported her decision to bottle-feed, some strangers were not so accepting. One woman told her “if you can't feed your child you shouldn't breed”, while another called formula "evil".
Right.  So let's just let this baby starve while we have a tubal ligation to prevent any further moral monstrosities, shall we?

Monday, 27 August 2012

Getting Beyond Slogans

I’m Tired of Hearing “The Gospel” (Warning: Mild Rant)

Thabiti Anyabwile

. . . . It’s Tuesday.  I’m on vacation (which is why I’m ahead on blogging).  And someone has sent me another note chastising me (mildly) for not concluding a post with “the gospel.”

It doesn’t matter what the topic is.  Men and women struggling to get along in their marriages?  ”The gospel.”  Someone struggling to find work in this economy?  ”Believe ‘the gospel’.”  The mechanic just “fixed” your car–again–and charged you–again–for the same problem you noticed last week?  Think of “the gospel.”  The Russian high court sentencing a punk rock band to two years in prison for a flash mob performance in a Russian Orthodox cathedral?  ”They need the gospel.”  Want rock hard abs?  Try “gospel” aerobics.  I smashed my little toe against the dresser?  All together now, “the gospel.”

It’s ubiquitous.  And it’s becoming an inflexible law.  We dare not face any issue without the requisite hat tip to “the gospel.”  If we do, there’s bound to be someone to write us a ticket for our verbal violation, to insist we missed a “gospel” opportunity.

Choosing Whom to Believe

Mutiny Not Just on the Bounty

One of the more pernicious lies abroad is the that there is a demarcation between the secular and the spiritual.  For the Unbeliever, the secular is the real.  The spiritual realm is either an imaginary weird construct or an unassailable realm of private, personal identity.  Either way, it is irrelevant to the real business of life.

Many Christians have either bought the lie or fallen under its sway.  They have come to accept Jurgen Habermas's distinction between the private and the public spheres.  The private sphere is, well, private. Personal.  Soul stuff.  That's where religion is believed and practised.  At most it should influence no more than a family household--and even that is contentious.  Church is where people who have the same private beliefs about God gather and encourage each other in their private religion.  Such religion is tolerable to Habermas.  He cares not whether the religion is true or not, as long as it is kept private--or irrelevant.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Letter From America (About Lance Armstrong)

Drastic Action

The adage "where there is smoke, there's fire" elevates suspicion to certain fact.  When the adage is applied to evidence in a legal dispute there can be problems.  Here is Patterico, whose day job is a District Attorney in LA, writing on the Lance Armstrong case:

Lance Armstrong Stripped of 7 Tour de France Titles 

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am

. . . . Having never followed this story before, I was surprised when I received the news alert last night about it. I was vaguely aware there were allegations, but didn’t know there was any danger of such a drastic sanction.

Faux Outrage

 Stupid Ignorant False Stuff

Regular readers of our blog will know that the New Zealand parliament is going to consider a bill to baptise homosexual relationships as marriage.  Protagonists have lined up on either side and public debate has been joined.  The leader of the Conservative Party, Colin Craig has asserted that homosexuality is a choice--an ethical and lifestyle choice.  Dismissing behaviourism, Mr Craig rejects the "I was born this way, therefore what I desire must be a human right," meme. 

This has outraged proponents of homosexual "marriage".  It is amusing to witness the outpouring of splenetic indignation.  One blogger, David Farrar makes an earnest effort to re-frame Mr Craig's position.  Mr Craig, apparently, is holding a "view"; he is not arguing from "facts".  The flip side is the Mr Farrar and his cohorts purport to be arguing from evidence based, factual reality.  Using assumptive language, they portend that homosexuals are both born and made, and that homosexuals have no choice about what they are.  The upshot is that homosexuals cannot be condemned for their homosexuality any more than a human being can be condemned for sexual desires of the heterosexual sort. 

Here is Mr Farrar in high moral dudgeon:

Friday, 24 August 2012

Teacher Registration

Medieval Guild Socialism

We do not want to diminish the evil of registered teacher, James Robertson Parker who has been arrested on charges of indecent acts committed upon young pupils.  Mr Parker doubtless needs divine help and every true Christian knows, along with King David, that we all are "evil, born in sin" and that "but for the grace of God, there go I".  Every Christian knows that it is only coram Deo that a true remedy will be found.   

The evil acts of Mr Parker were committed by a registered teacher, a deputy principal.  The NZ Herald puts Parker's offending in a wider context:

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Death Panels

Bureaucrats With the Power of Life and Death

Theodore Dalrymple, writing in City Journal, analyzes the UK's National Health Service (NHS).   He discusses the strange phenomenon of the UK public believing that the NHS delivers high quality health care, despite a steadily growing number of horror stories about its practice.  It's almost as if the public is in denial, not daring to face the truth lest their god appear before them naked and puny. 

But eventually truth will out.  Dalrymple describes how the devastating effects of nationalised health in the beginning are often subtle and not obvious.  By the time the cracks start to show up the first response of governments is to throw more money at it, thereby contributing to the general fiscal debt crisis. 

The end game of socialised medicine is bureaucratic rationing of healthcare--which is to say the government and its functionaries decide who will live and who will die.  Not a pleasant thought.  But if you believe the government is a demi-god it's an inevitable outcome.  Soft despotism in the end is just as crushing and destructive as hard despotism. 

Dalrymple summarises the inequities and the iniquities of the system:

Freedom and Eccentricity

Celebrating Difference and the Odd

There is something endearing about a national culture which does not just tolerate, but celebrates eccentricity.  For our money it is one of the attractions of the United Kingdom.  Yes, we acknowledge the UK is in a kind of death spiral; only radical changes in the polity will allow its survival as the UK we have known.

But vestiges of former greatness remain.  Take, for example, the irascible Duke of Edinburgh who, amongst other diverting behaviours, has had the temerity to scorn, mock and deride wind power.  According to His Royal Highness, wind power is a stupid crock.  So much for respecting current PC wisdom.  Not to mention, of course, his son Charles, who reportedly talks to plants.  And then there are delightful characters like Jeremy Clarkson and his colleagues.

Clarkson is a publishing and broadcasting phenomenon.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Neighbor-Love in the Handbasket 

Culture and Politics - Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
Monday, 20 August 2012

Here are a few quick comments about how R2K theology is rapidly running out of options. A few months ago, Michael Horton explained how concervative Christians could (tentatively) support domestic partnerships for homosexual couples. If the culture wars were something that involved four walls and a paint can, this is what painting yourself into a corner looks like.

This goes back to May, but it was only yesterday that I found out about it. In discussing domestic partnerships, Michael Horton allowed the following:

"The challenge there is that two Christians who hold the same beliefs about marriage as Christians may appeal to neighbor-love to support or to oppose legalization of same-sex marriage."

Christians should be really concerned about this, but they should not get whizzed up because Horton is going soft on the sinfulness of homosexuality itself. In the course of the article he says, pretty plainly, that "God’s statement on the matter is pretty clear: he hates homosexuality."

The problem lies elsewhere, but first we must face the problem squarely.

Eruptions and Vented Spleen over Charter Schools

Turning Up the Heat

The brouhaha over charter schools (called Partnership Schools in New Zealand) is merrily spewing forth ash clouds reminiscent of the recent eruption at Mount Tongariro.  We have had one Robin Duff, head of a teachers union protesting the very idea that tax payers' money would be used to fund a school which taught the biblical doctrine of creation.  
The Post Primary Teachers Association has concerns about public money funding religious activities in schools, and president Robin Duff said the types of people who appeared to be interested in charter schools, would not have made it through teacher education. "In the case of the trust, we'd be concerned if an organisation with a ‘statement of faith' that denies evolution and claims creation according to the Bible is a historical event, were to receive state-funding."

"Given the criticism of public schools over the quality of science teaching, you'd think they'd have concerns about taxpayer dollars being used to fund religious indoctrination rather than education, but apparently not."
 This sounds horrendous.  Robby's problem is that creation is "unscientific".  He lambasts those who would teach children fairy stories and myths in place of good old hard science.  And to add insult to injury, the gummint is going to fund it. 

Let's unpack the spleen, bit by bit.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Double Standards

What Would Your Church Do, If . . . ?

The West's coverage of a crude, if not blasphemous display by a female punk band in Russia has been a little off target.  But never let the facts get in the way of a good story, particularly when your lead protagonists are Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney.

Here is a piece by Terry Mattingly which puts the whole thing in its crude accurate perspective.

Universal Acid

Explanations Come to an End--Somewhere

One commentator animadverting upon the post entitled The Unintended Consequences of Homosexual "Marriage" had this to say, after quoting from the post:
"The endgame is that only Christians and the Christian faith have certain and solid foundations for knowing anything. Only Christian epistemology is rational and coherent and true. Everything else is sinking sand."

Thats (sic) a conceit of enormous proportions John. Besides, putting the words "rational" and "coherent" any where (sic) near the bible or the word "faith" is oxymoronic.
Our trusty commentator, xchequer is naturally talking up his own book here.   He alleges that the "Bible" and "faith" represent a contradiction in terms with "rational" and "coherent".  Alleges, mind you.  Not argues.  Nevertheless what he says is a helpful illustration of the all-to-common mindset of Unbelief: shout loudly, slur your opponents, and never go near a rational argument. 

We, for our part, have alleged that all non-Christian epistemologies are sinking sand; only Christian epistemology is rational, coherent, and true.  It's a strong claim.  Nevertheless, it's one we are prepared to argue for.  Rationally.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Turning into a Twat

The Beatification of Julian Assange

Brendan O'Neill argues that poor Julian Assange never had a chance.  He was a creation of the media--the lefty media--who needed a saintly figure they could rally behind.  Assange was a creature of their own self-righteousness, earnestly seeking a platform for their high moral dudgeon.  Beware the person who stupidly begins to believe a fawning press who want to use you for their own agenda.  

Assange was ignorant and gullible enough to believe his own press.

Freedom Rights or Demand Rights

It Makes a World of Difference

Doctrines of human rights are wax noses.  They mean whatever the contextual culture says they should mean.  Firstly, human rights are of little relevance to human beings the state declares non-human.  Unborn babies, for example.  Gypsies and Jews, for another.  Post-aborted, but still living babies, for yet another. 

Moreover, the "right"--whatever it may be--is always defined by the particular dominant culture of the day.  Many have forgotten that a most fulsome declaration of human rights was found in the Soviet Constitution.  The unwritten sub-text was that all these rights derived from the people, which was to say the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which was to say the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet and the President of the Communist Party.  The state defined conscience, religion, media, unions, and all things. Totalitarian human rights was the outcome.  

The more full and comprehensive the list of human rights, the more oppressive and intrusive and dictatorial the state becomes.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Centrality of Worship In the Kingdom

No Retreat, No Compromise

Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 22 March 2012 08:01

"Christian worship is the declaration that God is creating a new humanity in Christ, and wherever that new humanity gathers, a new center is constituted, a new public square is established. We reject the ghetto-izing of the faith, which wants to worship God without actually creating a city . . . we also reject the idea that Christ can be considered 'a player.' He is no player; He is the Lord of heaven and earth" (Heaven Misplaced, p. 118).

Unintended Consequences of Homosexual "Marriage"

Christian Self-Consciousness Rising

A positive, yet unintended consequence of the marriage wars is growing Christian epistemological self-consciousness.  Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know.  The endgame is that only Christians and the Christian faith have certain and solid foundations for knowing anything.  Only Christian epistemology is rational and coherent and true.  Everything else is sinking sand.  As the marriage wars play out in our secular society, Christians see what pagans do and how they actually think.  Pagan epistemology is now about as bankrupt as it can be.  In principle it has always been that way.  But what is different now is pagan epistemologies are now showing true-to-type fruit.

How Nonsense Became Received Wisdom

 The Flat Earth Society Has Nothing on This

When the previous century began, optimism was in the air.  Mankind could finally control its own destiny.  Man could be progressively perfected and Paradise would break forth.  All of his problems could be solved by correcting external influences.  Evil and sin would be progressively removed by enlightened policies of social and human re-tooling. 

The first change agent off the rank was Socialism.  If wealth were redistributed and the poor were given other people's money virtually every social problem would disappear immediately.  The second cab was science.  The more technological advances made, the more disease would be conquered; the more Nature exploited, the more  resources to distribute. 

These hopes proceeded on the belief that the Christian doctrines of Original Sin and human depravity were ignorant superstitions of a dark past.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

With My Customary Mildness 

Culture and Politics - Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Those conservatives who believe that the threat of same-sex marriage is coming solely from places like the gay pride parades of San Francisco aren't paying close enough attention. A lot is going on, in the legal world, in the entertainment industry, in the crazy vanguards, and elsewhere. There is in fact a lot of pressure building up in the Republican Party -- from the secular libertarian right -- to accommodate itself to the new norms of "social tolerance."

Christians who are Christians first, and are only politically engaged as a result of this prior commitment, need to get ready for this. There are certain basic confusions that Christians have to get rid of in order to be prepared for this debate.

Victimhoodery Run Down

A Peculiar Man

The politics of guilt and condescension parades victims everywhere.  "Victims here, victims there and not a tear to drop", wrote Coleridge.  Or he would have if he were living in our age of Victimhoodery. 

Unfortunately every now and then someone comes along who refuses to be a victim, to blame someone or something else for his plight.  When it happens it is like seeing a light in a dark place.  How strange, we muse.  How untypical.  How unlike the spirit of the age.  What school did he go to? 

Take the case of  bus collision victim, Tim Brown.  Poor old Tim walked into a bus in Wellington on Willis Street in Wellington, snapping his foot, ribs, lung, arm and shoulder.  Lawsuits beckon.  Victimhoodery about to explode forth like a Mt Tongariro eruption.

Ah, no.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Euro Break Up Being Priced Already

Watching the Smart Money

One of the issues being discussed at this blog is the survival of the Euro.  It is obvious that financial markets get really jittery when the break-up of the Euro portends.  Equally obvious is the relief rallies in markets when the risk-du-jour fades and the survival of the Euro is assured for another week or so.

What is often missed is that the smart money has already decided the Euro is going to break up.  When we refer to "smart money" we don't mean the billions upon billions traded daily in global stock markets and bond markets.   We mean instead the banks, investors, and companies putting real money (their own capital) at risk in actual trading of goods and services in Europe.  These participants are dealing with reality as best they are able to discern it, not speculation, rumours, or apocalyptic visions.

A recent article in The Blaze by Becket Adams looks at what the "smart money" is doing in Europe.

The Humanist Millennium

Dashed Hopes and Bitterness

God does not exist.  Evil is not intrinsic to the soul of man.  The cosmos is evolving.  Man can take control of his own evolution and perfect himself.  These were the doctrinal foundations upon which the West built its Tower of Babel at the end of the nineteenth century and on into the twentieth.  These same doctrines remain regnant in the West to this day. 

Back in the day combating evil had two main fronts of engagement.  The first focused upon human conditions.  Improve the external conditions and mankind would be made more perfect.  The second front was an overt attempt to alter human beings themselves by means of psychology, eugenics and education.

The campaign to improve the external living conditions in order to perfect mankind had two main lines of attack.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Californication of the US

It's the Debt, Stupid

"a brothel of environmentalists, lawyers, public-sector unions and legislative bums." Wall Street Journal

Sarah Palin congratulates Romney on Ryan

 This from Sarah Palin on the announcement of Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate:

Congratulations to Mitt Romney on his choice of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. 

President Obama has declared that this election is about "two fundamentally different visions" for America. Goodness, he's got that right. Our country cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama's fundamentally flawed vision. We must now look to this new team, the Romney/Ryan ticket, to provide an alternate vision of an America that is fiscally responsible, strong, and prosperous--an America that understands and is proud of her exceptional place in the world and will respect those who fight to secure that exceptionalism, which includes keeping our promises to our veterans.

When I think about the direction our country is rapidly drifting in, I can't help but look at California as a cautionary tale.

Political Perfectionism

Sanctified Pragmatics

We posted yesterday on the tendency of Christians to slide toward zealotry in political affairs.  For many this leaves them in a position of non-engagement.  The binary, all-or-nothing approach means that "nothing" wins every time.  They have a hard time coming to terms with the imperfections of earthly kings and kingdoms. 

Jim Jordan has written a helpful piece in Gary DeMar's blog for those Christians who are saying, because candidate Romney is not a Christian, but a Mormon they cannot in good conscience support him. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Ineffectual Wowsers

. . . The next step, if the Government follows Australia's lead, is to allow cigarettes to be sold only in identical packets - probably a dirty brown, featuring pictorial health warnings even more gruesome that those they already carry. The manufacturer's brand would be permitted only in small type somewhere.

When this rule came into force across the Tasman, a French manufacturer put a line on sale in Europe featuring a kangaroo on the packet and the legend: "Popular in Australia." So much for fun.

John Roughan
NZ Herald

Navigating the Swamp

Of Kings and Christian Perfection

In matters political many of the most fervent Christians find themselves "conflicted"--for understandable, but  not excusable, reasons.

Here are some of the conflicts: God calls us to an absolute, unconditional loyalty to Him, whereas all political or democratic options are full of putrefying compromise.  To support even one of them seems disloyal to God. 

Secondly, God's prophets spoke to power without fear or favour, without compromise or bending.  In our post-Christian world there is no room allowed for such messengers from God.  Christians have been ostracised and exiled.  Therefore, let's not participate--until Jesus returns and makes everything right.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Letter From Australia (About White Conservative Males)

Born, or Made Sceptical?

The Climate of Opinion

by Steven Kates
August 9, 2012

"Robert Manne may well see in James Hansen a reborn St Francis of Assisi but all I see is another Uri Geller. He may see climate scientists as the most noble and selfless conclave since the Knights of the Roundtable but what I see are a bunch of rent seekers looking for the next government grant."

Robert Manne knows no more about climate science than I do. It’s been an issue since the 1970s and I have been following it with the kind of interest anyone following political issues is apt to take. And the more it rose to become one of the centrepieces of the left, the more I kept a watchful eye on how it would develop. Manne has now written an article in The Monthly for August, “A Dark Victory” with its subtitle the actual main point, “How Vested Interests Defeated Climate Science”.

Man the Measure of All Things

Established Religion

In a previous post we made reference to C.E.M. Joad's testimony as to how his generation rejected the doctrine of original sin.  As G. K. Chesterton once famously observed, when people cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing; they begin to believe in everything.  So it proved true in the Twilight Generation in Britain that lived in the first part of the twentieth century.

Writes Joad:
The early years of the twentieth century were years of achievement and of hope of yet greater achievement; indeed, the era which came abruptly to an end in 1914 was one of the most confident and successful in the history of mankind.  [C. E. M. Joad, The Recovery of Belief, (London: Faber and Faber, 1952), p. 47]
What were the dominant beliefs of the time?  What had replaced the belief in Almighty God?  The first was a near universal belief amongst intellectuals and the literati in creative evolution.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The Witness of Les Mis to A Lost Generation

The Implacability of Law, the Wondrous Gift of Grace

Justin Taylor asks an interesting question about the testimony of Les Miserables to our modern culture.  (We recall reading somewhere that Les Mis was the favourite book carried in the saddlebags of officers in the Confederacy.  It remains one of the finest novels in the Western literary corpus.)

We are eagerly anticipating the release of the movie in December (see the trailer below), along with The Hobbit, of course. 

Les Misérables

In recently watching the first few numbers from the 10th anniversary of the musical Les Misérables, I wondered: in contemporary culture is there another example of something so popular where the Christian themes are so numerous and explicit?

See, for example, the number of themes you can identify in these first 10-15 minutes:

More PC Madness

Stupid "Rules"

What a bizarre world we live in.  Do-gooding and the drive to protect people from the consequences of their actions have led to a society where common sense has long since gone awol and acting "correctly" rules.  The idiocy of it all.  The administrative bureaucratic society run wild.

This from Stuff:

Friday, 10 August 2012


Political Psy-Ops

There has been a bit of back and forth over poll numbers in the US for the two respective presidential candidates.  Here is a perspective from Dick Morris:

The Turning of the Tide

 It's Not Pretty

One of the Christian doctrines most offensive to modern Unbelief is the doctrine of sin--and in particular, original sin.  If ever there was a truth which Unbelief rails against, this would be it.  Yet it is a truth which is demonstrated before our eyes and in our experience every single day. 

It is true that Unbelief has had its prophets who have insisted upon the universal depravity of humanity--such as Shakespeare, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Dostoevsky and Conrad.  Whilst these have moved our Unbelieving generation it has not been towards the truth.  Rather these prophets serve to galvanise to a greater effort of insisting upon man's perfectibility.  Evil is external.  It is circumstantial.  Rarely is it acknowledged to be intrinsic to the heart of man. 

C. E. M. Joad, writing in the early 1950's reflects on the antipathy of his generation to the doctrine of human depravity and how it was his generation that saw the turning of the tide into Unbelief.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

No Mandate for Either One 

Culture and Politics - Politics
Written by Douglas Wilson
Monday, 06 August 2012

The presidential election, of course, has the capacity to be a disaster on wheels, either way it goes. But let me sketch a quick scenario in which it could be a good thing -- either way.

One of my assumptions in this thought experiment is that in the gubernatorial races, in the Senate races, and in the House races, it is going to be a bloodbath for the Democrats. There are various good reasons for supposing this but, I hasten to add, we don't know for sure. Sometime soon I will go into my reasons for thinking this likely, but for now my happy thought experiment scenario either way depends upon it.

If this happens, and Obama is re-elected, then it will not at all be like his first two years in office, when he had control of the Congress, and a mandate "to do something." In this scenario, he would be hog-tied.

A Sting in the Tail

What Louisa Wall Does Not Want Us to Know

In a recent post on the oxymoronic "homosexual marriage" we pointed out that the private members bill, currently before the New Zealand Parliament, purports homosexual marriage to be a fundamental human right. 

Of course the assertion that homosexual marriage is a human right received a major setback recently when the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that same sex marriages were not a human right.  Oh dear, never mind.  Better not to let the facts get in the way of a good story. 

A central concern of the Court was that if homosexual "marriage" were ruled to be a human right, Christian churches would necessarily end up being persecuted and prosecuted.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Gadflies Wanted

Climate science needs gadflies

Matt Ridley
Author of The Rational Optimist
(This article was published on Matt Ridley's blog; it was also published in the Wall Street Journal.)

My latest Mind and Matter column in the Wall Street Journal is the third in the series on confirmation bias.
I argued last week that the way to combat confirmation bias-the tendency to behave like a defense attorney rather than a judge when assessing a theory in science-is to avoid monopoly. So long as there are competing scientific centers, some will prick the bubbles of theory reinforcement in which other scientists live.

For constructive critics, this is the problem with modern climate science. They don't think it's a conspiracy theory, but a monopoly that clings to one hypothesis (that carbon dioxide will cause dangerous global warming) and brooks less and less dissent. Again and again, climate skeptics are told they should respect the consensus, an admonition wholly against the tradition of science.

Last month saw two media announcements of preliminary new papers on climate.

Avoiding the Inevitable

Not a Pretty Sight

Only a fool tries to avoid the truly inevitable.  A wise man will face up sharply.  In our days we are governed by men who are fools.  They are trying desperately to avoid the inevitable.  Their one excuse is that the voters want them to.  They know full well that if they faced up to the real economic situation facing New Zealand and the rest of the developed world there would be riots in the streets and they would be voted out at the first opportunity.  

Their approach, therefore, has been to practise the equivalent of palliative care.  Maintain huge deficit spending increases, trim back at the edges, sell a few assets so we can temporarily pay off a bit of debt, make the patient feel as comfortable as possible, and wait.  Hope for a recovery that will allow us to trade our way out of the recession, thereby avoiding a genuine depression.  Kick the toxic can down the road for our children and grandchildren to deal with.

The Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Alan Bollard sounded almost plaintive yesterday as he lamented the parlous state of affairs.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

One of Those Yellow Rattlesnake Flags 

Political Dualism - Mere Christendom
Written by Douglas Wilson
Sunday, 05 August 2012

As we continue our discussion of politics (and economics) in the name of Jesus, I want to pick up on at least a few things that have arisen in the comments.

When it comes to reasoning from Scripture, applying the word of God to our lives, there are two ways of reasoning -- inductive and deductive. Inductive moves from the particular to the general, and even if the particular is in Scripture, it makes sense to see this process as a move away from the authoritive word. This means that the further you get in your applications, the further out on the skinny branches you find yourself.

I think this is still a legitimate way of proceeding, depending on the issue, but taking care should be the name of the game. But what I have been arguing for is a deductive approach.

Sounding More Fair and Smelling More Foul

It's an Orc-ish Thing

Homosexual marriage is the oxymoron of the decade, maybe the century.  Chronicler J R R Tolkien records that in the history of Middle Earth the orcs were created as an attempt by the Dark Lord, Sauron to replicate the elves.  The issue turned out to be a degenerative infamy.  So with homosexual marriage. 

As long as the remnants of the realm of the Dark Lord linger in Middle Earth attempts will be made to replicate the glory and realm of the one true King.  How should servants of the King respond?  In part, with unrestrained derision at the oxymoron.  Those who think they can disregard the divinely created order and succeed deserve to be mocked.  There can be few things more asinine.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Letter from Australia (About Little Green Lies)

Great green lies never die - they merely get recycled  

Miranda Devine 
Sunday, August 5 2012
The Daily Telegraph

YOU would think the last thing we need is another environmental tax but the great green beast is never satisfied.

The latest feel-good eco-furphy to be foisted on us in the cause of saving the planet is a proposed 10-cent slug on all glass and plastic drinks containers, described as a recycling “deposit”.  The Greens have introduced legislation into federal parliament to try to force states to impose the container tax, which the Australian Food and Grocery Council estimates will add $1.8 billion a year to the price of milk, juice, soft drink and beer. It would cost average families an extra $300 a year or $4 more for a case of beer.

At first glance it might seem an attractive proposition, despite the cost.

Israel, Iran and Just War

Augustine Was Right

Regular readers of ContraCelsum will know that we are both strongly anti-war, and strongly war, at the same time.  We believe that to maintain the capability to make war--and under certain conditions actually go to war--is one of the fundamental duties of the state.  A state is denying its responsibilities if it fails to do so.

The Christian faith has long maintained the doctrine of "just war".  Some have objected to the concept being artificial, since to have a "just" war implies that some body actually would sit over the nation-state to determine whether its warring was just or not.  Others, running with the objection, have argued that the doctrine of just war necessitates a global body, like the United Nations, sitting in judgment upon the war-making of nations to assess whether each nation respectively is acting justly.  The International Court of Justice in the Hague has been constituted partly in the attempt to ensure that all wars are justified; where they fail to comply, legal and criminal consequences for national and military leaders can follow. 

When Augustine mooted the doctrine of a "just war", however, he was not so much implying nor requiring some "uber" state to sit in judgement upon nations.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Book of the Month/August 2012 

Engaging the Culture - Book Review
Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 01 August 2012

This month's book selection is part of a larger series, and if this first one that I read is anything to go on, I want to commend the whole series. The series is new from Crossway, edited by David Dockery, and is entitled "Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition." The book I read is by Gene Fant, and is called The Liberal Arts: A Student's Guide. This book has two things going for it. First, it is a very fine introduction, and the second is that it is an introduction to something that really needs to be introduced.

The S-Files

Reverberations From the Kahui Twins' Inquest

ContraCelsum is pleased to announce an S-Award has been given to Coroner Garry Evans.

The citation has been written by Rosemary Mcleod, opinion writer for the Dominion Post:

I do have a hero in the legal system just now, though. It's coroner Garry Evans, who last week presented his findings, after an inquisitorial investigation, into the case of the Kahui twins. He laid the blame for their deaths on their father who, as we all know, was tried and found not guilty of their deaths.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Letter From the UK

Global Warming? Yeah, right 

By James Delingpole
The Telegraph
July 29th, 2012


Have a look at this chart. It tells you pretty much all you need to know about the much-anticipated scoop by Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That?

What it means, in a nutshell, is that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – the US government body in charge of America's temperature record, has systematically exaggerated the extent of late 20th century global warming. In fact, it has doubled it.

Charlie's Law

Sanctimonious Twaddle

One of the most offensive things about the Left to many people is its habitual sanctimonious self-righteousness.  The Left has a "holy people"--poor, working (aka exploited) classes--and it has an evil people--those with assets and money. 

The self-righteousness is so deeply ingrained many on the Left are no longer aware of it.  When it bubbles up yet again, gales of mockery and derisive laughter burst forth from those outside the "true faith".  Here is the latest example of the type.

Charles Chauvel--Labour MP--has proposed "Charlie's Law", as in "he's a right Charlie".  He has suggested that when it comes to disclosure of  lobbying interests, left wing lobbyists should be carved out because they are too holy and righteous to be thus impugned.  We kid you not.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Chick-fil-A and the Attack of the Tyrannatots 

Culture and Politics - The Bible, Culture, and Race
Written by Douglas Wilson
Sunday, 29 July 2012

The outlines of the latest Free Speech Clown Car Review are pretty familiar by now. Dan Cathy, the COO of Chick-fil-A, was asked his opinion on homosexual marriage, and he, being a good Christian man, said he was agin it. This should not have been an astonishment, for it has pretty much been the mainstream position of Western civilization from Moses down to the Obama of about three months ago. But a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, as the fellow said, and so who cares anymore? That man with all the chicken has clearly DEVIATED, and he must be CORRECTED.

Now boycotts are things that folks like to do from time to time, and we do not like to deny them their little amusements. But boycotts are harder to pull off than they look -- conservatives face-planted with their boycott of Disney, and the homobifiers now are unlikely to establish in the minds of the general populace any necessary connection between "gay oppression" and the eating of chicken sandwiches.

This being the case, enter gummint coercion.

Unbelief Under Threat

Shout Loudly

We live in an era when Unbelief is vehemently opposed to the Christian faith.  Yet never have the claims of Unbelief (secularist, rationalist, materialist, evolutionist) been so vacuous, so self-defeating, so stupid.  This is more than a state of being "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."  It is a fury borne out of the frustration of a vacuous soul. 

Modern Unbelief is premised upon an angry prejudice against the Living God.  In the early centuries of the Enlightenment there was a characteristic smugness,  hubris, and disdain of religion in general, but of Christianity in particular.  Christians were nothing more than ignorant, superstitious dolts.  As Unbelief went along its not-so-merry way its foundations began to crumble.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Letter From America

Prisons and Sentencing

It appears that conservatives in the United States are starting to rethink crime and punishment in that country.  Christians are at the forefront, it seems--and not because they are soft on crime.  It's because issues like the appropriateness of the punishment for the crime have come to the fore, as have issues over the ruination that prisons bring to young men incarcerated over small offences.

An historical parallel is not hard to find.  Witness the transportation of convicts to the Antipodes  for offences we now deem minor.  Throwing such people into prison because of a "zero tolerance" to crime has replicated the mistakes and injustices of  British justice in the nineteenth century.

Waking the Dead

I . . . Found Myself a Christian

The name of one Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad (August 12, 1891 – April 9, 1953) lies in obscurity today.  The reasons are not hard to find.  Back in the day--the "day" of the twilight years between World Wars I and II--Joad was active in prosecuting socialist, pacifist, and eugenics causes.  He was a member of the intellectual elite in Britain that took the perfectibility of man seriously.  At the height of his public popularity he was as famous as George Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell.

But, he had one great lacunae--towards the end of his life he became a Christian. To an Unbelieving  generation this was unforgivable.  That one of their heroes, an uberman, should defalcate to the other side was an inexcusable betrayal.  Hence Joad now lies in obscurity.  Who ever now would mention him alongside Shaw or Russell?

Christians, however, should never forget such things.