Friday, 30 November 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Serious Scholars Clown Car Review

Theology - N.T. Wrights and Wrongs
Written by Douglas Wilson
Monday, 26 November 2012

In the previous post, I took N.T. Wright to task for trifling with the text of 1 Tim. 2:12, and for insulting our intelligence. A discussion broke out in the comments about whether I had been too cavalier and dismissive of Wright. So here's a little something about all that.

In the first place, I did not refer to him as Entie Wright. I think that should count for something. In the second place, as one commenter pointed out, I have on numerous occasions been appreciative of Wright's contributions and scholarship. I have read a number of his books, and have learned a bunch. I am not walking any of that back. I just yesterday after church recommended one of his books (Surprised by Hope) to a parishioner. But third, and this is the main point now (a point which every successful Bible teacher ought to take to heart), he is a bibilical expositor, not a rock star, and not a celebrity.

Every expositor is capable of error, obviously, but sometimes the error is of a kind that is followed immediately with a clap of thunder.

Stalin and His Chinese Disciple

Rivers of Blood

The twentieth century delivered five case studies in the politics of militant atheism: the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites, Communist China, Cuba, North Korea, and Cambodia.  All were remarkably similar in their totalitarian attempts to stamp out the Christian faith.

Stalin's record of what happens when militant atheism gains control is notorious and well-known.  These days Communist China and the tyranny of Mao Tse Tung is generally given a free pass.  Yet the evidential record shows that Mao was every bit as vicious and hateful to Christians and the Christian Church as Stalin.

A recent biography has traced Mao through the eyes of Stalin and the Soviet Union.  Documentary materials of the Soviet state are now accessible to scholars in Russia.  The truths can be unveiled.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Letter From America (About the UK)

‘I Genuinely Believe This Is a Marxist Revolution’ 

British Lawmakers Revolt Against E.U.

Erica Ritz Posted on November 26, 2012
The Blaze

The Los Angeles Times published an article Sunday exploring Britain’s shifting place within the European Union.  While the subject is noteworthy in its own right, intentionally or not, the article highlights a number of striking parallels between the United Kingdom and the United States.

It has been said that as goes California, so goes America.  It is a harbinger of things to come.  The United Kingdom is a similar marker, but much further down the road of big government and rule by unelected bureaucrats.  And Britons are starting to object.

The L.A. Times relates:

Words Marked For Judgment Day

Celebrities Lead Their Adoring Public in Worship

Now we know.  There are some "celebrities" in the United States who profess Obama to be their god, their lord, and their saviour, even as they mock Christians and the people who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jamie Foxx and his conspirators will surely die.  Along with all of us.  Then they will face the Judgement.  They will be arraigned before Him Who alone is God.  Their idol god, Obama, will be standing in the dock alongside them, at the same seat of Judgement, before the same Judge. We confidently predict--with complete certainty--that on that day, Mr Foxx will bitterly rue these stupid, foolish words. 
Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.  (Acts 17: 30,31)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America (About the Anglican Church)

Squeezing Harder Than That 

Theology - N.T. Wrights and Wrongs
Written by Douglas Wilson
Friday, 23 November 2012

The Church of England just recently said no to women bishops. There were howls of outrage from all the predictable quarters, for whom such a troglodyte move is just smack-the-forehead baffling.

Now I can understand a vote against women bishops as a preliminary move to try to undo the ordination of women priests. And I can understand a vote for women bishops as the next logical step after having established the practice of ordaining women priests. What I don't get is the affirming the ordination of women priests and opposing them as bishops. The pig, once swallowed by the python, has to move on down the line.

Also what I don't get is the attempt by men like N.T. Wright to pretend that women's ordination is a matter of biblical obedience, as opposed to floating down the Whig view of history on an inner tube, right over the falls of progress. He attempts to do that here -- read the whole thing.

Wright tries to be the crusty conservative,

Neanderthal Neo-Marxists . . .

Hidebound Government Educrats

Most Commentariat members have been consciously or unconsciously influenced by Marxist ideas.  One is the hidebound idea that capitalists (business owners) exploit their employees.  They allegedly keep them in a state of perpetual dependence and servitude whilst they enjoy a passive income off the fruit of their labours.  The Marxist argument is that were profits eliminated, more money could be paid out to workers which would obliterate forever the exploitation of labour--or so the ideology and propaganda run.

When the government proposed to introduce privately run prisons in New Zealand, variants on this Marxist argument erupted from the bowels of the Commentariat.  Profits would drive down quality was the argument, because private providers would have to be paid a dividend, which would mean less money actually spent on prisons and prisoners.  The Marxist sub-text was that private prison guards would be exploited and should be paid more.

By and large Marxists have no idea about humanity and how human beings actually work.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Those Horrible Conservative Anglicans

 Entertaining Apoplexy

We have been largely amused at the intemperate venting of spleen over the Anglican Church's decision not to ordain women as bishops.  For some it is a sign of the end of the world.  For others it is a deadly insult to modern educated progressive Man, er--Person.  Still others see it as an embarrassing anachronism. 

Granted the Anglican Church is in all sorts of strife and bother over this--largely because of inconsistency.  It has recognised female bishops in countries such as New Zealand and the United States.  It has ordained women as priests, curates, ministers, archdeacons--whatever they might be called.  So why does the "office" of bishop represent the Rubicon beyond which "you shall not pass"?  Granted episcopally governed churches are hierarchical and bishops represent the locus of church authority and power.  But how compelling is this case when the Bible's teachings on the matter of men exclusively holding office have been re-interpreted or ignored or glossed to mean something else for all other ordained offices in the Anglican Church.  If those arguments are compelling for vicars, they must be equally compelling for bishops--surely.

These peccadilloes notwithstanding the outrage has been diverting.  Here is a sample from a correspondent for The Guardian:

Long Live the Revolution

 Egyptian Progress

The hot air expended by President Obama's to express thanks and congratulations to President Morsi of Egypt for his stirling work at achieving a cease fire in Gaza had barely dissipated when the same said Egyptian president awarded himself dictatorial powers.  Nice one, Mohammed.

There are two ways the West will respond to this inevitable lurch toward totalitarianism in Egypt.  The first will be to "Mubarakise" Morsi.  The West has had common cause with tyrants and authoritarian dictators in the Middle East for well nigh a hundred years.  It has "overlooked" one or two lapses of niceties in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt so long as these dictators helped advance the global aspirations of Western ideological zealots in their vain attempt to lead the world to salvation.  Consequently, we expect Western nations to agree that President Morsi is a helpful and constructive leader who can be an ally in bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.

The second response will be to see betrayal in Morsi's abrupt termination of Egypt's move towards democracy.

Monday, 26 November 2012

We Have Seen the Enemy, And . . .

The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism

“More than a half century ago, famed writer C.S. Lewis warned about how science (a good thing) could be twisted in order to attack religion, undermine ethics, and limit human freedom. In this [half-hour] documentary “The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism,” leading scholars explore Lewis’s prophetic warnings about the abuse of science and how Lewis’s concerns are increasingly relevant for us today.”

HT: Keith Plummer (@XianMind)

Douglas Wilson's Thanksgiving Letter

Thanksgiving 2012 

Liturgy and Worship - Church Year
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 22 November 2012

I have been thinking about this for some years now, but for certain reasons rhyming with prudence have been putting it off. It has been my practice to publicly register my itemized thanksgiving to God on Thanksgiving Day, and I certainly have had no shortage of material. God is greatly to be praised -- "Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits" (Ps. 68:19). My dear mother once said that she sometimes felt like "God's pet" -- and this from a woman whose life was filled with many trials and challenges. At the same time, she knew something about how much gratitude we all owe to God for all His blessings. Even the trials are presents -- sometimes the wrapping is harder to get off, but at the center of everything is gift.

What I have been putting off is expressing my gratitude for my kids and their spouses.

Blinkered and Myopic

Law is What I Say It Is

It seems that support is growing for a "carve out" clause in the homosexual marriage law presently before a parliamentary select committee in New Zealand. 

One "expert" advocating such a conscience clause to recognise the conscientious objection and non-participation of churches in solemnising, participating in, solemnising, or recognizing homosexual "marriage" is Victoria University Faculty of Law professor Bill Atkin.  Here is the good professor's argument, as summarized in the NZ Herald:

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Define Terrorism 

Culture and Politics - A Second Battle of Tours
Written by Douglas Wilson
Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Having commented on things Middle Eastern a few times in the last few days, I have had occasion to examine the quality of what passes for "oh, yeah?" these days.

One of the things we need to learn is that terrorism is a tactic. It is an evil tactic, but it is a tactic, and the success of the tactic depends upon it being out there in the open. Thus, to do something evil in secret, or to conduct a "false flag" operation, can be every bit as evil as terrorism, but it does not qualify as terrorism. That secret operation may or may not have happened, and if it did, it was evil. But an "out in the open" operation did happen, and we know because we all saw it, and this means that we know that those who claim to have done such things are in fact evil.

A "surprise attack" is also a tactic, and if the attack is not a surprise, then it was not a surprise attack. Shall I go over this again?

Politicians and the Gods

Frenetic Carmelite Dervishes

The limitations of political parties and politicians is both diverting and entertaining, if you are one who find such things amusing. 

We never fail to be cynically amused by politicians who testify that their god is government every time they bless us with public utterance.  It conjures up the image of the priests of Baal dancing around the altar on Mount Carmel, hissing, shouting, cutting themselves and wailing in frenzied despair.  "Hurry up and do something, Baal," is the general sentiment. 

The god of such simpletons is a weak, over-extended, incompetent, bumbling, greasy Jabba the Hutt.  Those politicians constantly invoking their god, who call out to Jabba for help are like the idol they worship--weak, over-extended, out of their depth, incompetent, and no doubt greasy. 

Here is a classic in the genre of Mount Carmel dervishes:

Friday, 23 November 2012

Useful Idiots

Credulity and Incompetence

Secular democratic nations always struggle to deal with states controlled by an ideology which has a long term perspective. Democratic nations generally cannot think beyond the next poll and the tactics and the respective positions taken by political parties. They make the perilous mistake of thinking that all other nations are in their image.

When faced with an international protagonist which has violent world-domination in mind, and a long term timeframe to accomplish it, modern secular democracies tend to flounder. The remarks by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama congratulating and celebrating the alleged role of the Egyptian President in negotiating a cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel are a classic illustration of the idiocy to which most western democratic leaders are prone. But their long term opponents are willing to concede that such idiots have their use for a time.

Consider, for example, the worlds of Mohammed Badi, the head of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to which the Egyptian president, Morsi owes his allegiance.  This from The Blaze:

Strange Bedfellows

The Metamorphosis of Marx

They say that politics make strange bedfellows.  Never is this more evident in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  There is a strong current of support for Palestinians and Islamic causes generally in the West.  Often-times the support comes from "progressive" components of the political spectrum.  But echoes can also be found in residual anti-semitic groups, the main stream media, and the universities. 

Strangely, what is being defended and implicitly promoted is a cause which has overtly fostered and promoted the killing of innocents to make a political point and to terrorise others.  It is a cause notorious for its authoritarianism, its subjugation of women, its maltreatment of homosexuals, and its authoritarian subjugation of all under its sway.  How come?  How does it come about that Western feminists, homosexuals, libertines, and the licentious apparently are relaxed and comfortable supporting and advocating for those who would snap their necks in a second if they had the chance? 

One possible cause is ignorance and condescension.  Often times progressives in the West are so ideologically hidebound they remain remarkably ignorant of actual humanity and reality.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

A Brief for Israel 

Culture and Politics - A Second Battle of Tours
Written by Douglas Wilson
Monday, 19 November 2012

Yesterday I tweeted this . . .
"If you read the escalating fighting in Israel with anything other than sympathy for Israel, then you need to turn the book right side up."
. . . and the responses I got indicated I needed to say something more. So here it is. A few qualifications first.

First, it is easy for folks to guess where a sentiment like this might be coming from, and unfortunately, to guess wrong. I am no kind of Zionist, and the motive force behind all dispensational support for Israel has been left entirely out of my intellectual and theological framework.

If you want to know the theological term for what I believe, I am a supercessionist -- the Church is Israel now, and is the lawful recipient of all God's promises to Abraham.

Ultimate Freedom

Compelled to Attack Christians

The Scriptures make very clear that Christians will suffer for their faith.  Suffering is the new normal.  Whilst it is true that persecution is neither constant nor ubiquitous, it can be expected at any time.  Jesus warned the apostles they would face severe persecution in Israel (in Matthew 10) but we have no doubt that what He warns of in their generation applies pretty constantly throughout history. 

We are told that every year thousands upon thousands of Christians are martyred around the world.  What gives His people courage and resolution in the face of such suffering?  There are doubtless many truths, many comforts from Scripture that encourage the martyr.  One of the most trenchant is found in the Matthew 10 discourse to the apostles on the suffering they were about to experience: "do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."  (Matthew 10: 28)

It is this truth--that God is able to destroy both body and soul in hell, whilst man can only kill the body--that enables Christians to withstand the ultimate threat from tyrants.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Myths and Refutations

Dead Wife

Several months ago, the media was breathing heavily over an alleged "Gospel of Jesus Wife".  Within a few days, evangelical scholars were eviscerating the fragment and the credibility of the text.

This from Justin Taylor:

Jesus’ Wife Is Now Dead: The Role of Evangelical Scholars

An interesting point from Peter Williams, warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge, England, reflecting on the increasing expertise and scholarship of evangelicals related to the technical analysis of ancient texts, with the Jesus Wife fragment-forgery as a test case:

Monkey Wrenches

 The Law Society on the Homosexual "Marriage" Bill

Powerful testimony has been given to the parliamentary select committee considering the homosexual "marriage" bill put forward by lesbian Labour MP, Louisa Wall.  It has come from the NZ Law Society.

Many groups have argued, including on the pages of this website, that making homosexual "marriage" a fundamental human right implies that churches and church ministers who refuse to marry homosexuals, or to allow their church buildings or facilities be hired by homosexuals for marriage celebrations, would be in breach of the Bill of Rights and subject to interdiction by the Human Rights Commission.  Wall and others have argued that this would not the case, because Section 29 of the Marriage Act says a marriage licence authorises but does not oblige a celebrant to solemnise a marriage.

But they have overlooked (wilfully, or ignorantly--we do not know)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Drones and Worker Bees

Education and Civilisation

From time to time I, as a professor in a public university, receive a form from the legislature asking me to make an account of the hours I spend working.  I think someone ought to send a form like that to the legislators.  The comparison might be very interesting.  The faculty in my acquaintance are quite literally devoted to their work, almost obsessive about it.  They go on vacation to do research.  Even when they retire they don't retire.

I have benefited enormously from the generosity of teachers from grade school through graduate school.  They are an invaluable community who contribute as much as legislators do to sustaining civilization, and more than legislators do to equipping the people of this country with the capacity for learning and reflection, and the power that comes with that capacity.

Lately we have been told and told again that our educators are not preparing American youth to be efficient workers.  Workers.  That language is so common among us now that an extraterrestrial might think we had actually lost the Cold War.  [Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child I Read Books (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), p. 24.]

Justice and Its Friends

Disgusted at Defence Lawyers

The jury system is an intrinsic component of the English justice system we have inherited.  Not all Western countries use it, employing instead the bench trial system where a judge or judges make all the court's decisions.  It is an important component of the justice system--part of a rich and blessed heritage derived from the first Christendom.

The decline of the jury system is probably inevitable as our society becomes more pagan, less Christian.  Juries are not experts in law.  They are lay people.  From time to time they may make errors of judgment.  Calls for "professionals"--judges and lawers--to supersede juries arise.   One reason is that, for Unbelievers, justice and judgement in this life is the only justice possible. The idea of the guilty going free and unpunished in this life is hard for Unbelief to bear.  People believe that experts should be relied upon to reach safer decisions in a criminal trial.  But a fundamental flaw in the bench trial system is that the State ultimately controls the judiciary; far too many states are corrupted by power and money and the implication is that this can easily reach into the judiciary.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Unbelief's Finest Century

All in One Little Lifetime: All Gone with the Wind

Justin Taylor

Journalist Malcom Muggeridge, writing in 1980:
We look back upon history and what do we see?
Empires rising and falling, revolutions and counterrevolutions, wealth accumulating and and then disbursed, one nation dominant and then another. Shakespeare speaks of the “rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon.”
In one lifetime I have seen my own  countrymen ruling over a quarter of the world, the great majority of them convinced, in the words of what is still a favorite song, that “God who’s made them mighty would make them mightier yet.”
I’ve heard a crazed, cracked Austrian proclaim to the world the establishment of a German Reich that would last for a thousand years; an Italian clown announce he would restart the calendar to begin with his own assumption of power; a murderous Georgian brigand in the Kremlin acclaimed by the intellectual elite of the western world as wiser than Solomon, more enlightened than Asoka, more humane than Marcus Aurelius.
I’ve seen America wealthier and in terms of military weaponry more powerful than all the rest of the world put together, so that Americans, had they so wished, could have outdone an Alexander or a Julius Caesar in the range and scale of their conquests.
All in one little lifetime. All gone with the wind.
England now part of an island off the coast of Europe and threatened with dismemberment and even bankruptcy.
Hitler and Mussolini dead and remembered only in infamy.
Stalin a forbidden name in the regime he helped to found and dominate for some three decades.
America haunted by fears of running out of the precious fluid that keeps the motorways roaring and the smog settling, with troubled memories of a disastrous campaign in Vietnam and of the great victories of the Don Quixotes of the media when they charged the windmills of Watergate. All in one lifetime, all in one lifetime, all gone. Gone with the wind.
—Malcom Muggeridge, “But Not of Christ,” Seeing Through the Eye: Malcolm Muggeridge on Faith, ed. Cecil Kuhne (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), 29-30.

When Ravi Zacharias quotes a version of these memorable words from Muggeridge, he often adds his own appropriate postscript:
Behind the debris of these solemn supermen, and self-styled imperial diplomatists, there stands the gigantic figure of one, because of whom, by whom, in whom and through whom alone, mankind may still have peace: The person of Jesus Christ. I present him as the way, the truth, and the life.

Mixed Messages

 Inebriation and Rape

The New Zealand police are saying that far too many young women are being raped whilst so intoxicated that they cannot recall who, what, when, or how.  These cases, whilst on the balance of probabilities  genuine, are very difficult to prosecute successfully.  This, from the NZ Herald:
Police are having to shelve sexual assault complaints because witnesses are too drunk to remember the details.  In Waikato alone, up to five complaints of sexual assaults are recorded each week, usually from women aged between 16 and 30, but many can not be acted on because of the high intoxication of people involved.

The problem also exists at another of the country's busiest police stations, Auckland Central.
Police cannot take a case to court without clear evidence.  But some complainants were so drunk that officers' investigations - costly in police time and resources - were left in in limbo.  "Sometimes it is so bad that they can't remember anything, nothing at all about the sexual assault," Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Greene of Hamilton told the Weekend Herald.  "But they know they have been assaulted. It's also rare that someone walks in here and it's not genuine."
What are the lessons?  The first is to recognise the limitations of police, state, and judicial powers.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Letter From America (About the Pencil)

It Takes a Thousand People to Create a Pencil 

Justin Taylor|

Milton Friedman used to give an example of “The Power of the Pencil” as an illustration of the wonder of the free market—namely, that one person alone could not create the pencils we have, but a thousand people labor and cooperate together to produce a pencil that we can purchase for a a trifling sum. The video below tells the story well. For those who have eyes to see, it’s also an amazing testimony, I think, to divine providence and as our work as image bearers in reflecting his creativity (even if unwittingly) and having appropriate dominion over creation.

Atheists and Your Children, Part III

 Propaganda, Child Abuse and the Gun

We have been considering a "reasonable proposition" put forward by distinguished psychologist, Nicholas Humphrey--to the effect that Christian parents who raise their children to know, understand, and believe the Christian faith are committing a form of child abuse.  He puts it in the same category as parents performing clitorectomy upon daughters.

Children have a right not to be taught myths and lies, he averred to his audience at Amnesty International.  The right to the truth overrides all parental and child rights.  It overrides all free speech rights.  He will defend free speech rights strenuously, but not in the home, unless children are being taught his particular world-view--which happens to be the dominant world view of our age.  Children must be taught and trained in the world-view of scientism, which to materialist and atheist Humphrey is the only truth.

We can see how purblind he has become in his own ideology and secular religion in the following quotation:

Friday, 16 November 2012

Atheists and Your Children, Part II

Propaganda Redivivus

In a previous post we spoke of the allegations and indictments being levelled by militant atheists against Christians.  They have repeatedly asserted that parents teaching their children the doctrines and beliefs of the Christian faith is literally a form of child abuse.

Whilst some may assume that this is nothing more than a colourful rhetorical device, the insistence that such propositions and charges be taken literally lead one to think that what is going down here reflects the strategic and tactical position of a propagandist rather than a serious argument.  Propaganda, of course, is not interested in the truth per se, nor in truthful discourse.  It is interested in manipulation and ultimately control of mind.  It appears, then, that atheists want control over the children whose parents are Christians.  They want to control their minds.  They want to interdict any influence their parents might otherwise have and substitute it with their own form of religion.

Is this extreme?  Yes--but openly and seriously advocated nonetheless.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Atheists and Your Children, Part I

No Rhetorical  Devices Here

It is no surprise to learn that militant atheists hate the Christian faith.  And hate is not too strong a word.  What else can be made of the assertions by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens that the act of parents teaching their own children about God and the Christ and the redemption of the world and the judgment to come is an act of child abuse?

Maybe, one wonders, this indictment should be regarded as rhetorical flourish or vivid hyperbole.  Dawkins, however, is firmly insistent that his words on this subject are neither hyperbolic nor a literary device in general.  He means them in a literal sense.  Here is Dawkins's gloss on his indictment of parents who teach their children the Christian faith:

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Kyoto Takes the Shape of the Dodo

Whimpering Into Irrelevance

And now, some good news!  Well, so far, so good, in any event.  The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and its Kyoto commitments are going the way of the dodo: that is, the way of extinction.

Our readers will be aware that we have never suffered the slightest inclination to accept the "science" of global warming or anthropocentric climate change.  For the record, we do accept the reality of climate change.  The Medieval Warm Period was real.  The arctic ice-cap has shrunk almost to non-existence in the past.  But by definition historical warming periods cannot have been caused by global GDP growth and carbon emissions, which back then they were much, much lower than they are now.  Greenland is so named because of the explosion of green grass and farming that occurred there in the Medieval Warm Period of the fifteenth century.  

Moreover anyone with an ounce of critical faculties will remain profoundly sceptical of a "science" consisting of computer models projecting climate conditions hundreds of years into the future based upon hypothetical inputs which have more assumptions baked into them than chocolate chips in the proverbial cookie.

All in all, parking the New Zealand ETS on the side and suspending our involvement in Kyoto II is a good thing.  Here is where New Zealand is now at, as reported in the NZ Herald:

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Wheat and Darnel 

Expository - Parables
Written by Douglas Wilson
Saturday, 20 October 2012

The problem of good and evil inhabiting the same place is a perennial problem. It has been a problem within the church from the very beginning, and Jesus taught in such a way as to prepare us for it. Another parable, that of the dragnet (Matt. 13:47-48), makes the same basic point. Cast a net, and you bring in bicycle tires and beer bottles along with the fish. Why should we be surprised? Unfortunately, one of the evils we must deal with is the fact that we tend to reject His preparatory help.

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way . . .” (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43).

Jesus told His disciples another parable. The kingdom of heaven was like a man sowing good seed in his field (v. 24). But during the night, an enemy of his came and sowed tares (likely darnel) and left (v. 25). When the wheat began to grow, it became apparent that the darnel was growing also (v. 26). The servants saw the problem and came and asked about it (v. 27).

Empty Chair and Tables in the House of the Lord

Baalism, Britain, and the Cult of the Holy Nation

When once-Christian cultures turn away from the God of our fathers usually a substitute deity occupies the vacuum.  This new god is supposed to function as the Living God had in the culture of former generations.  People need to believe in something or someone--particularly when former generations professed a living faith in the true God.

The experience of our ancient fathers has been an apt teacher.  When the northern kingdom split away from Judea at the passing of King Solomon the northern king deliberately sought to set up a false cult to fill the vacuum created, by throwing off loyalty to God.  Baal was the choice.  Baal was an idol of power, ministered and institutionalised and made visible through the State.

Similarly in our post-Christian, post-modern world, amidst all the nihilism and dissolution there is one authority, one locus of unity to which the people have repeatedly and persistently turned
--Baal, the god and religion of the state.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Measuring God by Human Dimensions

4 Lessons from God’s Interrogation of Job

Republished from Justin Taylor's blog
Andy Naselli on Job 38:1—42:6, from his book From Typology to Doxology: Paul’s Use of Isaiah and Job in Romans 11:34-35:

1. God is too small in Job’s eyes.
Prior to God’s interrogation of Job, Job’s perception of God is too soft, too tame, too domesticated. But God’s questions underscore his unshakable trustworthiness as uniquely and infinitely wise, sovereign, just, and good. God is not someone whom Job can drag into court so that he and God can argue their case before an impartial judge. The Almighty God is without peer. He himself is the judge, jury, executioner, and standard of justice.

2. Correspondingly, Job is too large in his own eyes.
God gives Job a theocentric view of the universe because Job cannot help viewing God’s world with himself at its center.

Willingly Blind

The Fruits of Atheism

The huffing, puffing, militant atheists have an argument that runs in the following form.  Evil exists in the world due to the incomplete, imperfect stages of more primitive creatures.  Evil will be progressively eradicated as mankind achieves an ever higher evolutionary state.  Religion and religious belief reflects a more primitive condition of humanity beyond which man is progressively evolving.  Therefore, religion and evil are inextricably bound together.  If you are primitive, you will likely be religious.  If you are religious you will be evil.

We are not concerned so much at this point with the asinine internal contradictions in the ruminations above.  What we wish to focus upon at this point is the implicit proposition that atheism and, therefore, atheist civilizations are at a more advanced stage of evolution than religious ones.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Regime of Small Kindnesses

Sacramental Home Life

Marilynne Robinson reflects upon society, homes and housekeeping:
. . . . I must say too how beautiful human society seems to me, especially in those attenuated forms so characteristic of the West--isolated towns and single houses which sometimes offer only the merest, barest amenities: light, warmth, supper, familiarity.  We have colonized a hostile planet, and we must stanch every opening where cold and dark might pour through and destroy the false climates we make, the tiny simulations of forgotten seasons beside the Euphrates or Eden.

At a certain level housekeeping is a regime of small kindnesses, which taken together, make the world salubrious, savory and warm.  I think of the acts of comfort offered and received within a household as precisely sacramental.  It is the sad tendency of domesticity--as of piety--to contract and of grace to decay into rigor and peace into tedium.  [Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child I Read Books (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2012), p. 93.]

Libertarian Vacuity

Demons Will Return to the Empty House

What are the building blocks of civilisation?  The libertarian answer is straightforward, if simplistic: civilisation will be built upon free contracts entered into by individuals, once the state is dismantled.  Roll the state back to a minimalist entity and you are left with a free people.  These free people, acting out of self interest, will enter into formal and informal contractual arrangements for their own (and mutual) benefit.

But what if the "free" people were universally enslaved to lusts and self-indulgence?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Seven Post Mortem Principles 

Politics Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 07 November 2012

1. The first principle is not just that Jesus is Lord. That wonderful phrase is our foundational confession; it is not simply a sweet sentiment to tide us over until the sweet by and by. Rather we must say that Jesus is the Lord of history, and so He is the one who gave this electoral outcome to us. We don't fully know why He did, but we know that He did.

2. Given the wickedness of key elements in Obama's agenda (abortion, sodomy, thievery through taxation, etc.) we know that whatever the Lord is doing, it is for judgment and not for blessing. And in Scripture, whenever judgment is pending, or has begun, the appropriate response is repentance -- not mobilization or organizing our remaining tatters.

Re-Setting the Chess Board

Truth Will Out, For Good or Ill

The times they are a changin'.  Or, to quote Cornelius Van Til,  both Belief and Unbelief, Christians and their opponents move inevitably over time to greater and greater epistemological self-consciousness.  The core conflict between Belief and Unbelief bubbles to the surface, as each becomes more true to itself and its fundamental axioms and beliefs.  The internal logic of a belief position works itself out.  Inconsistencies, throwbacks, restraints get removed.  Faiths become more faithful; their inevitable consequences increasingly reified and manifest. 

When socialism first became endorsed, then advocated by the Establishment, particularly in the United Kingdom, it had trappings of the Christian faith festooned on its battlements.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Noted in Passing

Compelling Tributes

Tributes have been flowing in posthumously for barrister, Greg King.  Some of them are impressive, given their source.

We did not know Mr King personally at all.  We have only known him through the filtered eye of the media.  By reputation he was one of the leading defence barristers in the country.  Here is a summary of some of the more significant tributes:

Firstly, from the parents of murdered Sophie Elliott.  King defended at trial the subsequently convicted murderer, Clayton Weatherston.

Preening Self-Importance

Judicial Pettifogging

We recently had a judge in this fair country who suspended a court case about very serious criminal offending by a criminal gang.  The pretext: judicial offence.  The judge believed the police had not treated the courts and judges with suitable gravity and respect.  Therefore, like a petulant child, he stayed the prosecution.  How puerile.

Here is columnist John Roughan's take on the matter:

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Letter from the UK (About Education)

'Bog-Standard' Schools are Unacceptable

In New Zealand we are having an on-going debate over the relative value and importance of reading, writing and arithmetic.  There are plenty of professional educational "experts" who argue that while these subject areas are acceptable, there are plenty of other subjects.  Pupils are wired differently.  They ought not to be forced into a one-size-fits-all pedagogical box.

On the other side are plenty of people operating in the "real world" who know that if you cannot read, cannot write, and cannot do arithmetic you cannot function effectively.  These subjects are the foundational sub-stratum of all other learning. 

A similar debate is taking place in the UK.  Graham Archer, writing in The Telegraph tells us his own story of school.

Well Done, Madam Secretary

Spraying Cornflakes

We have been critical of the education establishment in New Zealand.  Unlike every other country in the OECD, our education system is a virtual dominated by government schools.  The education ministry appears excessively influenced by ex-teachers.  The teacher unions are active participants in politics, constantly criticising and dumping on any government initiative which appears to threaten union member privileges, conditions, and income growth.

Above all there is a steady barrage of propaganda to the effect that the New Zealand government eduction system is the best education system in the world.  Any suggestion that it might have some inadequacies or weaknesses is pounced upon with the fury of magpie whose chick is threatened--unless of course the alleged weakness is teacher salaries and working conditions.  This scabrous behaviour is defended by the propagandists oft-intoned assertion that they are only and ever acting in the best interests of pupils and young people

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Final Election Round-Up 

Culture and Politics - Politics
Written by Douglas Wilson
Saturday, 03 November 2012

Here is your final political round-up before the Zombie Apocalypse next Tuesday.
My friend Kevin Swanson makes some important points here, and I will wait for you until you get back. In the midst of that post, he notes the following facts concerning the cancerous growth of the state, under both Republicans and Democrats.

Annualized Growth in Spending:
Reagan -- first term -- 8.7%
Reagan -- second term -- 4.9%
Bush I -- 5.4%
Clinton -- first term -- 3.2%
Clinton -- second term -- 3.9%
Bush 2 -- first term -- 7.3%
Bush 2 -- second term -- 8.1%
Obama -- 1.4%[1]
While I think Kevin makes an important point here, I would like to throw in a significant "yeah, but." When we annualize the growth rates of the federal government, it is important for us to remember who had control of the two chambers of Congress at the time.

Bitterness and Thwarted Hopes

Hell Hath No Fury . . . 

It's official.  Well, it's in the Guardian, so that makes it a grave matter, non?  It was only a few short months ago that Francois Hollande was elected President of France.  He came into the Champs-Elysees riding a big white horse, touting the biggest election victory for socialism in living memory.  He was going to turn Europe around.  He was going to tax the rich (70 percent at the margin).  He was going to stand up to Angela Merkel.  He was going to rein in France's soaring public debt.  He was . . . .  Now, it seems he was going . . .  always going to go down the tubes. 

Here is the Guardian's summary:

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Benghazi Bungles 

Culture and Politics - Politics
Written by Douglas Wilson
 Monday, 29 October 2012

I have followed the Benghazi story generally but have not said much about it to date here in this space. But as more and more information comes out about it, the debacle appears to be either evil and high cyncism that got caught in the act, or it is the result of a staggering incompetence,. And, given the fact that more than a few people had to have been involved in it, it was perhaps both.

There are at least three layers to the story/scandal.


Progressive Groupthink

The New York Times has endorsed Barack Obama for president.  As a child might say, "No surprises there."  But why?  Why was this endorsement entirely predictable?  We could have confidently pronounced four years ago, even eight or twelve years ago that in 2012 the Times would endorse the Democratic candidate for the presidency.  How come? 

Firstly, empirical historical evidence is overwhelming.  The Times has endorsed the Democratic candidate for over fifty years.  In fact, it has even provided an interactive graphic of its record so that there can be no doubt. 

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Letter From America (About the Real Obama)


Noonan: When Americans Saw the Real Obama 

Why the Denver debate changed everything.
Wall Street Journal 

We all say Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. But it's all still Denver, Denver, and the mystery that maybe isn't a mystery at all.  If Cincinnati and Lake County go for Mitt Romney on Nov. 6 it will be because of what happened in Denver on Oct. 3. If Barack Obama barely scrapes through, if there's a bloody and prolonged recount, it too will be because of Denver.

Nothing echoes out like that debate. It was the moment that allowed Mr. Romney to break through, that allowed dismay with the incumbent to coalesce, that allowed voters to consider the alternative. . . .

Maybe the president himself didn't think he could possibly be beaten because he's so beloved. Presidents are always given good news, to keep their spirits up. The poll numbers he'd been seeing, the get-out-the-vote reports, the extraordinary Internet effort to connect with every lonely person in America, which is a lot of persons—maybe everything he was hearing left him thinking his position was impregnable.

But maybe these questions are all off. Maybe what happened isn't a mystery at all.

Oxymorons Aplenty

Private Religion Only Need Apply

One potent component of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is the author's ability to describe and convey the slime, the decay, the degradation of Mordor and its works.  It befouled everything it touched. 

We have seen Mordoresque societies in recent history.  These have not been fictional representations.  They are the real article.  Peter Hitchens reflects upon life in the Soviet Union as he experienced it for years as a foreign correspondent.  Reading these words makes Reagan's "honorific", the Evil Empire appear apt.  But we must bear in mind that the Soviet Union was overtly created to be the first atheist civilization--the first self-conscious civilization of Unbelief.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Leaving Mordor

The Division Bell

Roman Catholic voters in the United States have traditionally backed the Democrats.  The Roman Catholic vote has, until recently, been considered a key segment/demographic by the Democratic Party.  No longer.  As the Democratic party has moved to a position more consistent with its secularist ideology it has become more stridently anti-Christian and anti-God.  The Obama administration has thought nothing of forcing Christians to be complicit in the funding of evil practices such as abortion and abortifacient contraceptives.

The Roman Catholic church is reacting as you would expect Christians everywhere to react.

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Ghoulish Gotcha 

Culture and Politics - Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 25 October 2012

In a panicked attempt to deflect attention away from an increasingly desperate president, the Fourth Estate is trying to interest us in the purported gaffes of two Republican candidates -- first Akin, and now Mourdock -- on the subject of pregnancy that is the result of rape. So let's talk about that for a minute.

From the reports, Akin's response was clumsier than Mourdock's, and yet the same kind of reaction can be seen to both of them. The wimpy Republican establishment dropped Akin like a hot rock -- though it now looks as though he may win anyway -- and the returns are still out on Mourdock.

When a rape results in a pregnancy, this means that we are now dealing with three people instead of two.

Essential Scepticism

Fools Gold

Our father used to tell us that a fool and his money are soon parted.  Every scam that hits the gullible is an old one.  It has been used countless times before.  Everyone who gets caught is either wilfully ignorant or they stupidly believe that this time it will be different. 

Back in the eighties we had in New Zealand a grand scheme of central government's confabulation.  It was decided that economic nirvana would descend upon New Zealand if agricultural production picked up.  It was decided by the wise that what was needed was more bush covered hills being converted into farmland, and we needed more types of cropping and animal husbandry--such as goats and alpacas.  To encourage people to undertake these inevitably risky ventures, the government promised subsidies, cheap credit, minimum prices for agricultural products, tax write-offs and a host of other government supports. 

A speculative agricultural gold rush commenced that rivalled the Kalgoorlie and Otago rushes, mutatis mutandis.  Enterprising individuals began farming government subsidies and hand outs, not agricultural goods.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Letter From America (Predicting the Election)

Sticking The Neck Out

At least one pundit is predicting a Republican landslide next week.  We shall see.

Opinion: Here comes the landslide 
By Dick Morris - 10/30/12  
The Hill

Voters have figured out that President Obama has no message, no agenda and not even much of an explanation for what he has done over the past four years. His campaign is based entirely on persuading people that Mitt Romney is a uniquely bad man, entirely dedicated to the rich, ignorant of the problems of the average person. As long as he could run his negative ads, the campaign at least kept voters away from the Romney bandwagon. But once we all met Mitt Romney for three 90-minute debates, we got to know him — and to like him. He was not the monster Obama depicted, but a reasonable person for whom we could vote.

 As we stripped away Obama’s yearlong campaign of vilification, all the president offered us was more servings of negative ads — ads we had already dismissed as not credible. He kept doing the same thing even as it stopped working.

Words and Human Community

 The Glory of Language

Marilynne Robinson is an accomplished novelist.  She is also a teacher of literature and creative writing.  In her most recent book of essays, When I was a Child I Read Books, she reflects on how her library has become her community--a community which encompasses human beings from ages past. 
I love the writers of my thousand books.  It pleases me to think how astonished old Homer, whoever he was, would be to find his epics on the shelf of such an unimaginable being as myself, in the middle of an unrumored continent.  I love the large minority of writers on my shelves who have struggled with words and thoughts and, by my lights, have lost the struggle.  All together they are my community, the creators of the very idea of books, poetry, and extended narratives, and of the amazing human conversation that has taken place across millennia, through weal and woe, over the heads of interest and utility.  [Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child I Read Books (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), p. 21.]
It is an amazing and humbling matter to be part of a community of ages and be able to interact with, argue, debate, discuss, and think with members of our species who have lived hundreds and thousands of years before us.  They, of course, could scarce conceive of us; we, however, know of them.  They are part of the fabric of our lives.

Here is where the inestimable richness of a liberal arts education begins to appear.