Thursday, 31 January 2013

Letter From America (About Texas)

 Give It Back

The principles of fiscal prudence and responsible government would suggest that whenever a government runs a surplus, raising more in taxes than it spends, it should either pay down debt or reduce taxes or give the money back to the citizens.  Rarely is this ever seen.  The norm in such circumstances is for governments to keep taxes high and dream up new ways to spend taxpayers money, whilst turning a blind eye to government debt.

Rick Perry, Governor of Texas is a rare political leader.  He gets out vote for the most fiscally ethical politician of the year.

Treaty of Waitangi Fables, Part II

Maori "Co-Sovereignty" a Modern Invention

There have been a number of excellent articles appearing about the Treaty of Waitangi and its place in New Zealand.  They have gone a long way towards debunking and rejecting the historical revisionism now abroad amongst many Maori.  These political activists have been trying to deploy the Treaty to justify Maori sovereignty equal to, or over the Crown.

These issues are so important to New Zealand's future--particularly when the country is starting to consider more formally the possible role and function of a constitution--that these articles deserve wide readership.  To that end we have decided to republish them in Contra Celsum as they appear from time to time. 

The next article addresses the mistaken idea of co-sovereignty which is now being asserted by many Maori groups.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Treaty of Waitangi Fables

Propaganda and Myths

Over the past thirty years much ado has been made about the Treaty of Waitangi. Prior to that time--not so much.  Political activists and those pursuing a definite political agenda have begun using the Treaty of Waitangi as a pretext for their particular agendas.

In most cases, those agendas have to do with "more"--by which is meant special interest groups attempting to secure more money and more power and more recognition by successive governments.  The Commentariat, the governmental ministries, and successive politicians have largely gone along with it.  They have been duped, probably wilfully so. 

Dr Paul Moon has written a piece in the NZ Herald on six common myths about the Treaty of Waitangi--the most pernicious being that first promulgated by the Maori Party that the Treaty is New Zealand's founding document.  Moon dismisses that fabrication in four short sentences.  Not that his argumentation will stop that particular canard making the rounds.  Political activists and those seeking special interests are renown for never letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Deathbed Confessions

The Dying of Sir Paul Holmes

God tells us that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their evil ways to Him.  For the past months we in New Zealand have been publicly made aware of the imminent death of Sir Paul Holmes, a broadcaster and interview host.  His deteriorating health, his accomplishments, his family relationships--all have been played out in the public eye.  Deliberately.  Sir Paul, is--and always has been--a showman.

That's all fine.  Today a newspaper published his final thoughts--sort of the modern version of deathbed reflections and confessions of the famous--a well known historical genre.  We read this:

Monday, 28 January 2013

The options in Egypt are fewer and fewer.  The prospects of a military usurpation must be increasing by the day. 

Egypt’s Islamist President Declares State of Emergency as Violence Intensifies: ‘A Complete State of Collapse’

The Blaze

CAIRO (TheBlaze/AP) — Shortly after the second anniversary of the revolution that brought Mohammed Morsi to power, the Islamist Egyptian president has declared a 30-day state of emergency in the three Suez Canal provinces hit hardest by a wave of political violence that has left more than 50 people dead in three days.

Angry and almost screaming, Mohammed Morsi vowed in a televised address that he would not hesitate to take even more action to stem the latest eruption of violence across much of the country.

The Perpetual Ignorance of Pragmatism

The Greatest Confidence Trick of the Age

Pragmatism is one of the great intellectual cons of the modern world.  The fact that it can still fool lots of "educated" people is testament to the paucity of modern education, which pragmatism has largely shaped.  The idea that all dogma and received wisdom can and should be discarded as useless and should be replaced by a study of "what works" might appeal to an engineer in a superficial kind of sense.  If, however, it is to be taken seriously, pragmatism consigns an individual and a culture to perpetual ignorance and the crassly superficial. 

Here is Jonah Goldberg's summation of pragmatism:
Taken on its own terms, pragmatism's folly is that it separates intelligence from wisdom.  Its greatest sins are arrogance and deceit, including self-deceit.  It is arrogant because it assumes the individual--particularly the expert--can know everything he needs to know without reference to received wisdom, historical precedent, tradition, dogma, etc.  The pragmatists particularly loathed history, because it was a storehouse of old thinking with no relevance for the new age of science, slide rules, and data.  Tricked by what they saw out their windows, they assumed that human nature had an expiration date--and that date was yesterday.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Letter From America (About A Woman's "Right" to Murder)

‘So What if Abortion Ends Life?’: Pro-Choice Writer Says Some Babies Are ‘Worth Sacrificing’


Abortion continues to be a highly-contentious issue, even as this week marks the 40th anniversary since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court verdict was handed down. It’s a never-ending battle, typically colored by raw emotion. While one polar side traditionally argues that life begins at the moment of conception, the other tends to shy away from any recognition that the unborn qualify as human lives.

This pro-life versus pro-choice dynamic often leads to intense clashes in the public sphere, with both sides accusing the other of restricting rights and advocating damaging policies. In a new piece that was published this week, Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams, a pro-choice adherent, decides not to steer clear of the “life” issue and asks: “So what if abortion ends life?”

Perpetual War

The Desolations of Smaug

The United States has a fascination with war--of two kinds.  The first is the traditional kind--namely, armed conflict.  There has been scarcely a single year in the last half-century when the US has not been involved in armed conflict somewhere on the globe.  This global warfare is underpinned by the crass and wicked idolatries of notions such as "American exceptionalism", America as the city of light on a hill bring truth, justice and the American way to all peoples on earth, and America as the defender of the oppressed, the weak, and the downtrodden, and so forth. 

The end of the Cold War was supposed to result in a Peace Dividend--which was a coy way of saying that military spending could wane, and tax monies could be put towards social services.  Actually, military spending continued to ratchet up.  Being the world's policeman has perpetual and escalating costs, which currently are being funded by borrowing.  Good luck with that.  Idols of all kinds eventually become a crushing weight upon a people: morally, spiritually, and fiscally.  (During the period of decline of the Roman Empire, for example, about the only sector of commerce that was vibrantly growing was that associated with the various cults of the pantheon of idols.)  If the US military were ever to retrench back to being an ordinary, national defensive enterprise, the negative impact upon US economic growth would be considerable. Idols are expensive to erect, maintain, and worship.  National idols even more so. 

But the second kind of war is also costly and equally vain.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Roe vs Wade: the Fortieth

5 Things You Didn’t Know about “Jane Roe” 

Jan 22 2013
Justin Taylor

Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the controversial Supreme Court ruling that progressives want to enshrine and conservatives want to overturn. Few rulings have been more consequential. According to Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute, 22% of all pregnancies now end in abortion, with 3 in 10 women terminating their pregnancy by the age of 45. There have been approximately 57 million legally induced abortions in the U.S. since 1973—nearly the current population of California and Texas combined.

Yet a recent Pew study found that 4 in 10 “Millennials” don’t even know that Roe v. Wade has to do with abortion. And even fewer today know the true story of the woman who started it all, the pseudonymous plaintiff “Jane Roe.” Here are five things you may not know about her, culled from interviews and profiles along with her sworn congressional testimony and memoirs.

Homosexual "Marriage"

Hypocrisy and Special Pleading

The arguments swirling around the crusade for homosexual "marriage" have been playing out pretty much as expected.  One argument by those opposed has been to employ reductio ad absurdum: if homosexual "marriage" is approved today, tomorrow (or some time in the future) society will be legitimising polygamy, polyandry, incest, and paedophilia.

This argument has been mocked and lampooned by homosexual "marriage" proponents--who have resorted to the most superficial and spurious rebuttal.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Great Recantation

Sounding a Cautionary Note

In idle moments we have sometimes wondered what the "great recantation" would look like.  When the Commentariat comes finally to realize that man-made global warming is a myth, how will the easily duped, the hoodwinked respond?  With anger?  Cynicism?  Disgust?  Will they blame the system?  Will they blame the global warming sceptics for not speaking out more clearly and forcefully? 

This week we have a harbinger of how the great recantation might look.  Boris Johnson, Mayor of London--as venal as any politician courting votes--has been a cheer leader for the great crusade to save the world from mankind's nefarious warming of the planet.  Now he's not so sure.  We may have seen already what shape the great recantation will take.  Let's hope that Boris is not some whacky outlier (which may well turn out to be the case), but the harbinger of a new realism (his genuflections to the sun as his god and creator notwithstanding). 

This is what he wrote in a column in the Daily Telegraph this week:

More "Slip, Slap, Slop" Needed

Double Benefit

Most of us have seen those grotesque twisted CFC light bulbs.  Their twisted rings are an ironic image.  Ugly is not too strong a word.

But they were invented to help us all save the planet.  When the stakes are so high, a little ugliness is tolerable.  They have been a Greenist cause celebre, latched on to by stupid governments.  In many countries the older, much better incandescent light bulbs have been banned.  Fortunately New Zealand just managed to avoid this lunacy.  The Green-Labour coalition was voted out just prior to Prime Minister Helen Clark outlawing the old and mandating the new.

Now it appears that the ugliness of CFC lightbulbs could well go much, much further than their aesthetic appearance.


The Dishonesty of Pragmatism

Whenever a public spokesman or talking head decry ideology in favour of (open-minded) pragmatic solutions, beware.  Lurking behind the statement is always a particular ideology, all the more destructive because hidden.  The appeal to pragmatics over ideology is a subterfuge, a deceit.

The common stereotype is that someone who is ideological in his approach to matter of justice or equity or the role of the state is blinkered, myopic and empty headed.  The pragmatic man, however, comes forth without preconceptions, focusing only upon the facts and realities.  The pragmatic man is subtle, clever, open minded, scientific, rational and so forth.  There is, of course, a natural fit between pragmatism and evolutionism.  Under the latter, things emerge.  New entities come into existence.  Conditions change permanently (or at least for a time).  Ideology tries to prevent all this, locking man into ancient rules and formulae which bear no relationship to the complexities of our modern world. 

Consider how "reasonable" John Kenneth Galbraith sounds to our modern ears:

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Letter From America (About Imbroglios)

The Giglio Imbroglio — The Public Inauguration of a New Moral McCarthyism

A new chapter in America’s moral revolution came today as Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony. In a statement released to the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Giglio said that he withdrew because of the furor that emerged yesterday after a liberal watchdog group revealed that almost twenty years ago he had preached a sermon in which he had stated that homosexuality is a sin and that the “only way out of a homosexual lifestyle … is through the healing power of Jesus.”

In other words, a Christian pastor has been effectively disinvited from delivering an inaugural prayer because he believes and teaches Christian truth.

Progress and Its False Prophets

Moving Backwards

Most people assume that history is moving forward.  The present is better than the past.  The human race is heading to a higher, greater future.   In our secular humanist culture this assumption is undergirded by Darwinian evolutionism.  This has always seemed to us to be a most amusing idea: Darwinian evolutionism claims that development is achieved by the survival of the fittest.  That implies that there must be plenty of casualties along the way. 

Modern Western man never assumes that he (or Western culture) will be one of those casualties.  It's always someone else, some other culture that is less than fit and will be destroyed.  Yet within the Darwinian philosophy, Islam might prove to be the better, more powerful culture that sweeps the West into the sea.  Darwinianism cannot predict such things; it only identifies the more fit ex post facto.  Herein lies one of its idiocies.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sane Advice From the Doctor

Krauthamer Counsels the House Republicans

They say that politics is the art of the possible.  The implication is that in governing a democracy, you rarely get everything you would like.  That's the name of the game.  It's how democracies with two legislative houses and a separated executive and judicial branch have to function most of the time. 

This creates problems for people who are fundamentally sound on issues and who believe so strongly in their ideological principles that they cannot accept anything less than complete consistency and conformity.  Anything less is regarded as hypocritical double-dealing and selling out. 

Charles Krauthammer, writing in National Review Online has some sage counsel for Republicans.  When you control only one branch of government you have to be tactically smart.  You also have to be candid and transparent and appeal constantly to the people explaining what you are doing and why, and keeping the governing (Democratic) party's feet to the fire.

Shepherds, Bears, and Russia

Vlad Impales the Orphans

One of the images used in Scripture for the state is that of a shepherd.  Far from being a shepherd, the modern secular state is like a wolf that preys upon the sheep.  It has determined that some sheep need fleecing and shearing.  Others will be favoured and will receive the proceeds of the fleecing and the shearing.  The modern secular state divides the flock and sets sheep against sheep. 

When the Bible uses the image of a shepherd for the state it has particular reference to the enemies of the flock who would prey upon it.  The good shepherd defends the flock and protects it from those who would tear it to pieces.  Thus David, when contemplating the threat of Goliath to Israel, reflected upon his skill and faithfulness as a shepherd: he killed the lion and the bear that came up to devour the sheep. 

The more a government turns upon its own people, the more odious and disgusting it becomes.  We have recently witnessed one of the more egregious acts against innocent sheep.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Patch Protection

Education Union Parody

The following advertisement/spoof was posted on Kiwiblog.  It aptly parodies some of the criticisms levelled in Contra Censum of the teacher unions.  (The PPTA is the Post Primary Teachers Association--a New Zealand secondary teachers' union.) 

PPTA - Parody


Sclerotic Incompetence

In Memory of Murray Wilkinson

The Justice system in New Zealand has some huge holes in it.  On the eighth of January, NZ police arrested an 18 year old man and charged him with the murder of an expat Kiwi, who had returned for his summer holidays to Waihi, together with his family.  It had all appearances at the time of a random, senseless murder.

For the victim, Murray Wilkinson and his family it still appears that way.  But now it emerges that the accused was, at the time, out on bail.  Once again we see the devastation that can arise when people arrested and bailed for serious criminal are allowed out on the streets, prior to their trials.  Lawyer and former politician, Stephen Franks documents some of the inanities and failings and blameshifting of our judicial system:

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Coming Home

How an Unbelieving Lesbian English Professor Became a Reformed Pastor’s Wife

What a fascinating and instructive and encouraging interview, as Marvin Olasky talks with Rosaria Butterfield about her memoir, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith.

Justin Taylor
Jan 18 2013

A breathtaking moving account of coming out of darkness into light, and the steps, means of grace, and the people God used to bring this wonderful saint home.  This is a lengthy discussion--although we could not stop listening having begun.  Pause and break it up into smaller chunks, if it suits you better.  (One reason we posted this on a Saturday night, is that it makes for good Sabbath Day reflection--when many will have the time to do so.)  To God alone be the glory, in Christ Jesus our Lord.  There is much to learn here.   

It makes the current promulgation of homosexual "marriage" appear what it truly is: a fatuous, superficial irrelevance, thus warning Christians not to get sucked into the propaganda that if we love and respect the humanness of homosexuals, we will be accepting of their homosexuality.  It reminds us that God saves sinners, one at a time--and oftentimes, over a long a period of time.  There are awesome references to the significance of Romans 1: 20ff.

This is the blurb taken from her book:

Special Pleading

Education As A Special Case, With Special Rules

The institutional view of teachers is that they are a breed apart from ordinary mortals.  In most Western countries the profession is controlled by teacher unions who, with one side of their mouth profess undying commitment to the educational welfare of children, whilst with the other they militantly protect selfish interests. 

Very cleverly the union propaganda machine has been able to link both sides of the mouth so that in the common, unthinking mind the two interests are the same: a successful education for their children is inextricably linked to giving in to union demands.  This has made the political traction of teacher unions very powerful, since parents generally want the best possible for their children.  If turkeys never vote for an early Christmas, parents rarely vote against the self-interest of teacher unions, believing that were they to do so they would be harming their children. 

Generally speaking, the teacher unions have made an art form out of the Oliver Twist technique when it comes to failings in the education system.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

With the Smell of Burnt Marshwiggle

Dualism Is Bad JuJu
Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A real reformer is not a member of a faction. Men have always tended to divide into opposing factions, whether it is Crips and Bloods or Guelphs and Ghibellines. But factional differences (while very real) don't go down to the deep foundations. An ancient city is debating whether to defend the city with a powerful navy, or with an entrenched army. The conflict between the factions arguing for both options can be very real, but everyone's goal is to defend the city.

But real reform is not that which argues left at the crossroads instead of right. Reform opposes the revolution, and the revolution is that "faction" (if we must call it that) that is in full-throated opposition to the way God made the world.

Abandoning Reason

We Have But One Choice

Abortion is murder.  It is the most heinous crime of the post-modern, Western world.  More than any other issue, it marks the death and destruction of secular humanism.  It represents the clash between two Lords--one genuinely so, the other a usurping wannabe.  On the one side is the Lord Jesus Christ, sovereign of the whole earth, risen from the dead, ascended to heaven, and enthroned by the Living God as King of the earth.  On the other side is Man, self-appointed, self-enthroned, pathetic in usurpation. 

The time for humanist Man to claim lordship and sovereignty over the earth and all that is in it has long since passed.  Four successive humanist empires in the ancient world came and went: Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman.  In Nebuchadnezzar's dream (in Daniel 2) these four successive empires were represented by one giant statue of Man.  Then, in the time of the fourth empire (the Roman), God cut a stone which smashed the empire of Man into pieces.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Victory for Our Dominant Religion

Minatory Developments

A dominant religion progressively builds the prevailing culture in its own image.  As secularism is the dominant religion in the West, it is building progressively a secularist culture that excludes genuine Christians to an ever greater degree.  Christians and the Christian faith are being ghettoised. 

A salient manifestation of this phenomenon is the increasingly strident demand that one's Christian faith remain a silent and private affair.  Society demands that one must restrict one's faith to the space between one's ears.  As soon as a Christian steps out of bed he is expected to act and think and worship like a secular humanist.  To the extent that he does not, he will be progressively excluded from participation in the community.

Here is an example from the UK and Europe.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

The Cutest Thing You Ever Saw 

Culture and Politics - Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
 Monday, 14 January 2013

The biblical view is that human life begins at conception, and conception begins when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Human life must not be defined environmentally as, for example, when that fertilized egg is implanted in the uterine wall. We shouldn't want the definition of life to be dependent on what other people vote to do about you.

Now this means for us that issues of life and death are razor thin. We are claiming that one cell is a distinct human life, and which, so far as it depends on us, is to be granted all the rights and privileges that come with bearing the image of God. Every fertilized egg will live forever.

For the secularists around us, this is staggering obscurantism.

Secular Rationalizing No Foundation for Rights

The Christian Foundation of Human Rights

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  This is the kind of thinking I would like to recommend.

We don't know the nature of Jefferson's religious beliefs or doubts, or disbeliefs  He seems to have been as original in this respect as in many others. But we do know he had recourse to the language and assumptions of Judeo-Christianity to articulate a vision of human nature.  Each person is divinely created and given rights as a gift from God.  And since these rights are given to him by God, he can never be deprived of them without defying some divine intent. Jefferson has used Scripture to assert a particular form of human exceptionalism, one that anchors our nature, that is to say our dignity, in a reality outside the world of circumstance.  . . .

What would a secular paraphrase of this sentence look like?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck, So To Speak 

Obama Nation Building
Written by Douglas Wilson
Friday, 11 January 2013

The balconies of Heaven are crowded to overflowing as the angels have all gathered to watch the brilliance of Our Serene Leadership on display. You know how it goes -- whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. And the angels pay good money to stare at it, fascinated. That's how I account for all of this.

Lets start with the trillion dollar coin thing. I don't know why nobody has ever thought of this before. Man -- elegant solutions sometimes come to you clean out of nowhere. But we need to make sure that the new Treasury Secretary's signature -- I refer of course to Jacob Lewwwwpy, whose previous job was drizzling icing on Hostess Cupcakes -- is on that coin somewhere.

The Difference Between What and When

Prophets and Crashes

Further to our recent post on the threat to Western economies from debt and the addiction to government spending that will eventually result in spectacular national calamities around the world, you may want to check out the following new book: The Real Crash: America's Coming Bankruptcy---How to Save Yourself and Your Country by Peter Schiff.

The blurb on Amazon reads as follows:

You might be thinking everything’s okay: the stock market is on the rise, jobs are growing, the worst of it is over.

You’d be wrong.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Front Street Abortions

The Dirty Unseen Side . . . 

I M Fletcher, at NZ Conservative,  has posted a pointed piece on the risks of industrial scale, "legal" abortion in the US.  Well worth a read/view.  Also, visit the website SafeandLegal which has been created to publicise this not-untypical case. 

The abortion-promoting organization Planned Parenthood is culpably front and centre in this horrible business.


A Wandering Aramean  Was My Father

Here is an interesting historical curio.  The Guardian is reporting that gypsies arrived in Europe via the Balkans 1500 years ago, from Northern India.  The Roma or Travellers, as they are sometimes known, have maintained a separate identity for centuries (although doubtless assimilation and convergence occurred with many individuals and families over that time.)  In the common mind in Western Europe they have been associated with their separateness, on the one hand, and their being targeted by the Nazis as part of their Ultimate Solution.

This latest analysis has the gypsies arriving in Europe much earlier than previously thought.  It is being claimed that genetic research into their origins and history has scientifically established their provenance and lineage.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Real War on Women

Designer Abortions

Sex selection abortions are common in China and India.  They are increasingly common in the West.  This represent the real war on women, not the metaphorical pseudo-war militant feminists talk about.

The Daily Telegraph tells us that the practice is increasing in the UK.

The abortion of unwanted girls taking place in the UK

Illegal abortion on the grounds of gender may be taking place in Britain within immigrant communities, ministers have admitted for the first time after an official analysis of birth statistics. 

10:00PM GMT 10 Jan 2013

The Government was on Thursday night urged to open an inquiry after officials found signs that birth rates for girls and boys vary noticeably according to where their mothers were born.  A health minister said that these differences in rates of male and female births among mothers of certain nationalities may “fall outside the range considered possible without intervention”. It forms the first official statistical evidence potentially backing up concerns that sex-selection abortions are being carried out in Britain.

True Commitments

Gore's Green Commitments

The hypocrisy of Al "do-as-I say,-not-as-I-do" Gore has been well documented.  The man whose personal global carbon footprint is bigger than Texas long ago lost all credibility--except amongst the credulous.  Amongst such, Al still has a devoted band of acolytes and callow tyros fighting the good fight for the salvation of mankind. 

Recently Al sold one of his unsuccessful businesses--a TV station.  This failed commercially not because of a lack of ardour and passion amongst those involved, but because there were no government subsidies on offer to make it pay.  Al deserves full blame for this lack of commercial success.  He broke his own rule of successful investing, which is: never invest in anything that does not have a taxpayer subsidy.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Letter From the UK

Chilling News

The things that happen gradually are the things least noticed.  The "frog in the pot" syndrome is all too real.  We remain unaware of the dangers and calamities facing Western civilization.  Some people, at least, are starting to feel the chill winds of fear.

This from The Telegraph:

Old Friends

Living With the Dragon

New Zealand's relationship to China provides an interesting case study with lots of fascinating permutations. 

Here are some of the issues and  paradoxes which drive the permutations:

  • China is in our geographical region which means it is a logical trading partner for New Zealand (given our geographical isolation from the rest of the world.  Last time we checked there was not much trade going on with Antarctica.)
  • China is the most populous nation upon the globe, with a rapidly emerging, higher spending middle class which is developing tastes for Western foods and high protein product.  It is also a dirty food producer.  New Zealand's industrial and productive strength is clean food production.  But it will be small and insignificant in the longer time frame, only ever capable of meeting an infinitesimal portion of China's growing food demand.  

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Eleven Theses on Natural Law 

Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
Saturday, 05 January 2013

1. At the foundational level, natural law needs to refer what nature teaches us, and not to what any particular men have said about it. Natural law theorists are commentators on the text, and commentaries on a great text always differ among themselves. We should not make the mistake of rejecting the text because we have rejected any or even most of the commentaries.

2. Accepting the authority of natural law in the sense I am describing does not require a nature/grace dualism. That dualism is found in some of the commentaries, but not in the stars. What is nature but one vast repository of grace? And what is the grace of God but something manifested in all of His works?

Creation's Abundance

Energy and Ignorant Greenists

We are all familiar with the Greenist propaganda concerning "Peak Oil".  It has been thoughtlessly trotted out as a reason to "invest" in alternative forms of energy: wind, solar, and tidal.  The case betrays the Greenists' ignorance of economics, on the one hand, and their relentless penchant for tax and spend fiscal policies, on the other.

A knowledge of  economic history of energy development shows repeatedly that new energy sources replace current sources long before the current energy source runs out.  As Sheik Yamani of OPEC observed in the 1970's, the steam age ended long before wood and coal ran out; likewise the oil age would end, long before oil ran out.  Yamani has been proved correct.  But the difference between a market led change (diminishing oil supply leads to gradually higher prices making alternative energy source development economical over several decades, providing time to develop a replacement infrastructure to deliver a new energy source in an efficient and lower-cost fashion) and government fiat led is that the latter results in huge market and economic dislocations, false starts and blind alleys, exorbitant waste of tax payers' money, and massive economic costs--which we all have to pay for.  Greenist hubris and folly does not come cheap.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Gun Ownership As Civic Virtue 

Culture and Politics - Politics
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 03 January 2013

A few posts ago, I mentioned in passing that gun ownership was not a sin, not a vice, and was in fact a virtue. This generated a few questions, which I thought I ought to address in a separate post. So here goes.
The first issue concerns what is meant by "virtue." Do I mean to say that it is a sin not to own a gun? Well, I certainly do not mean that gun ownership should be added to the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, or fortitude. Neither should it be ranked with the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. By virtue I mean something else.

I want to say that gun ownership is a virtue in the same way that having and keeping a job is.

While We are At It . . .

Ban Soothsaying

Foretelling or fortune telling has always been popular.  We want to know what's coming down the pike.  We also like to worry about the future.  A sense of  fear or dread persuades us that we are not just alive, but that we are responsible, concerned, sober, and serious about life.  Those who worry about the future are the grave and weighty citizens, the leaders. 

The media, consequently, love apocalyptic stories.  Fear sells.  It grabs attention. 

But it would be a worthy public service for media to run "So how did it turn out" stories on a regular basis.  A healthy society needs a decent dose of scepticism when it comes to harbingers of doom.  The NZ Herald has done us a service when over the holiday break it ran a "So how did it turn out" story on bananas.  Yes, you read that right.  Bananas.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Complete Picture

George Marsden, History and the Lord of the Rings 

Justin Taylor
January 3, 2013

George Marsden, in the second edition of his magisterial work on Fundamentalism and American Culture (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 259-260, comments on a Christian view of history:
The awareness that God acts in history in ways that we can only know in the context of our culturally determined experience should be central to a Christian understanding of history. Yet the Christian must not lose sight of the premise that, just as in the Incarnation Christ’s humanity does not compromise his divinity, so the reality of God’s other work in history, going well beyond what we might explain as natural phenomena, is not compromised by the fact that it is culturally defined.

The history of Christianity reveals a perplexing mixture of divine and human factors. As Richard Lovelace has said, this history, when viewed without a proper awareness of the spiritual factors involved, “is as confusing as a football game in which half the players are invisible.”

A Tale of Two Trials

To Compensate or Not to Compensate, That's the Question

Emeritus Professor C K Stead has written an excellent piece reviewing the judicial reviews of the Bain murder case.  Stead stands firmly behind the argument that on the balance of probabilities, David Bain was guilty and, therefore, no compensation is required.

His reasoning and argumentation is well worth the read--even for those who by now have become tired of the whole affair.  (Our concern in the compensation debate has been tangential, but not unimportant.  We believe that the distinction between the higher standard of proof--beyond reasonable doubt--required in criminal trails, versus the standard of "balance of probabilities" that usually applies in a civil case is a very, very critical distinction to maintain.  If that distinction were to be lost the power and facility of the state to imprison on less than adequate grounds would be greatly enhanced--which would be a dangerous deformation.  We therefore believe that the debate is of public importance.  C K Stead's piece is a worthy contribution to an important matter.)

Monday, 7 January 2013

Our Happiness-Is-A-Warm-Gun Celebrities

Culture and Politics - Sex and Culture
Written by Douglas Wilson
Wednesday, 02 January 2013

In a constitutional republic, the normal ways for an arrogant politician to come a cropper would be through personal scandal and resignation, and/or repudiation at the polls. That's the way we do. Very few pols, however much they may deserve it, are struck by lightning bolts or small meteorites.

Not to probe old wounds, there really were sound reasons for thinking Obama was going to be rejected decisively in this last election (as I and a bunch of other wrong people thought). For me one of those reasons was the self-evident nature of the president's high-octane arrogance. Pride really does go before destruction, and a haughty spirit really does go before a fall (Prov. 16:18). But as the results of the election testify, Mencken was right, at least in this instance. He said no one ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Hubris radiates from the president like heat from an oil drum stove, and it is astonishing to me that so many people are blind to it.

The "Invisible Hand" At Work

 Vlad the Impaler Whacks France

Providence has a way of trammelling the avarice and humbling the hubris of  the New Model Man.  Believing he answers to no-one but himself, the Great Humanist Man steps forth to create, as if ex-nihilo, the perfected human society.  His key tool is law--the laws of command and control. 

At that point, all of creation seems to conspire against our pathetic Hero, making nugatory his grand designs and utopian schemes.  We call this the work of Providence--or what Adam Smith termed the Invisible Hand.  Christians know and believe it to be the Hand of the Living God, governing the world to secure His purposes, not those of our pathetic Hero.

Taxing the rich more has become fashionable again in the envy-dripping drawing rooms of our modern Don Quixotes.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Syrian Solution

Showing True Colours

A Saudi Arabian imam, who is a very influential cleric in jihadist circles, has issued a fatwa (religious edict) that essentially allows all jihadists fighting in Syria to rape women.

Muhammed al-Arifi, a Wahhabi religious cleric,  officially calls this act an “intercourse marriage” that can last only a few hours – “in order to give each fighter a turn” -- and restricts the men to Syrian females at least 14 years old, widowed or divorced.

Al-Arifi, expressed his annoyance at the "warriors of Islam" being denied sexual pleasures while fighting in Syria “alongside the armed opposition forces” for the past two years.  He said this fatwa "solves [their] sexual problems" and “boosts the determination of the mujahideen in Syria and is considered a duty to enter paradise for those females who enter such marriages.”

The Arabic language news site reports that critics of Al-Arifi have expressed anger about the fatwa, saying that it permits the exploitation of Syrian women through rape.

No kidding.  

Fiscal Cliff Sideshows

Healing the Land

The so-called fiscal cliff in the United States has been averted.  The march toward the soft-despotic state continues unabated.

The sad reality is that a majority of the population in that country want government to look after them; they, therefore, both demand and require that the government be big; they also insist that someone else pays for it.  Since the US is borrowing 40 cents for every dollar it now spends, the real cost will be born by those not yet alive.  Our parents used to call this having one's cake and eating it too.

The United States is not alone in this, of course.  It is now the ordinary characteristic, the new normal of all countries in the West.  Having rejected God they require an idol to perform the works of a god; that idol is the all beneficent state.  Chuck Colson summarises the chaotic irrationality and madness of the US electorate:

Friday, 4 January 2013

Letter From America (About the UK and Australia and Guns)

Joyce Lee Malcolm: Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control

After a school massacre, the U.K. banned handguns in 1998. A decade later, handgun crime had doubled.

Americans are determined that massacres such as happened in Newtown, Conn., never happen again. But how? Many advocate more effective treatment of mentally-ill people or armed protection in so-called gun-free zones. Many others demand stricter control of firearms.

We aren't alone in facing this problem. Great Britain and Australia, for example, suffered mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when they occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive.

Clash of Light Sabres

Ancient Battle Rejoined

In the Star Wars movies epic fight scenes were conducted with light sabres.  Everyone remembers the clash of the sabres and the sound of electric current arcing through the atmosphere.  In the great contest between Christ and the Devil, between Belief and Unbelief there emerge points of conflict which are so representative of the respective world-views that the clash is like two light sabres meeting in deadly battle. 

The issue of abortion is one such clash of the light sabres.  When Obamacare was legislated in the United States it contained a provision that forced businesses to provide health insurance coverage for their employees.  Wrapped up in that little package was the implicit requirement that employers provide coverage that would fund abortifacient drugs for their employees.  Now the implicit has become explicit.  Businesses that refuse will effectively be driven out of business. 

Hobby Lobby is a US retail business selling supplies for home hobbies.  Its owners are Christians.  They have declared that they cannot comply with the government's strictures.  Ken Klukowski, writing in Breitbart News, describes that is going down.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Letter From Australia (About Liberal "Christianity")

Studied irrelevance

Liberal Christianity is merely unbelief dressed up. 

Peter Barnes

Normally one looks to the New York Times for wisdom in the same way that one might look for gold in a rubbish dump – it may be there, but it will take a lot of digging, and the prospects of success are not great. Yet, on 14 July, 2012 the Times published an article by Ross Douthat on ‘Can Liberal Christianity Be  Saved?’

Douthat referred to John Shelby Spong’s book, Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and noted how the Episcopal Church in the USA had essentially followed Spong’s lead, and transformed itself from being a rather sedate pillar of the WASP establishment to being a selfconsciously progressive body in terms of its beliefs and its ethics. Yet the result has not been life but death.

As Douthat writes, “if conservative Christianity has often been compromised, liberal Christianity has simply collapsed”.

Socialist Theology

Original Sin and Impure Motives

Christian doctrine emphatically states that right motives are critical to right thoughts, words, and deeds.  The overriding motivation must always be love of God and love of one's neighbour.  We are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind; we are to love our neighbours as ourselves.  Without such a motivation, all human actions are sinful to one degree or other. 

The secular socialist also focuses intensively upon motives when judging human action.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

Fools and Blind 

Engaging the Culture - Meaning of Judgment
Written by Douglas Wilson
Saturday, 29 December 2012

In the long aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, one of the things that has become apparent in the midst of all the recriminations is we do not know how divine judgment works. We do not yet know how God operates, and we do not see how diseased our culture has actually become. We are not only visited with horrors like the shooting, but also with the horror of officially sanctioned nonsense circling over the first horror like an opportunistic murder of crows.

To the extent that Christians think about cultural judgments at all (which is not as much as it should be), we tend to think that because we have done this bad thing "over here," then that other bad thing might happen "over there." This might be the case early on, when the judgments are still warning shots, like the collapse of the tower at Siloam.

But what we are dealing with is a judicial stupor across the board, and it is the hand of God upon us.

Secular Achievements

A Better Place in Which to Live

Here is a howler from David Farrar of Kiwiblog--betraying his ignorance of recent history.  He writes:
Countries that don’t separate religion and state almost always are worse places to live  than those countries which do.
So those countries which made a great virtue out of being a-religious such as the Soviet Union, East Germany, the entire Eastern European bloc, and Pol Pot's Cambodia (which modelled its ideology upon the doctrines of leading French Communists) were great places to live.  How anyone could suggest that anyone struggling to survive in the Killing Fields was living in one of the better places in the world beggars belief.  And in the present, those nations which still make a virtue out of secularism such as North Korea, Communist China, Myanmar, and Castro's Cuba remain great places to live?  Try telling that to the thousands in North Korea's concentration camps.  

Whatever planet Mr Farrar lives on, clearly it is not the third rock from the sun. 

To be fair, Mr Farrar was endeavouring to persuade us that the recently adopted Egyptian constitution was a bad deal.  In this we agree.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

A Black Swan Revival 

Culture and Politics - Creative Control of the Reformation
Written by Douglas Wilson
Thursday, 27 December 2012

Nassim Nicholas Taleb popularized the phrase black swan in the title of his fine book The Black Swan. A black swan event is a surprise, it has a major impact, and there will be those (after the fact) who claimed they saw it coming. But in actuality, virtually no one saw it coming because these things are extremely difficult to predict. But after they happen, they seem so obviously inevitable. Take a daily feature of everyone's life now -- the development of the Internet. There it is, a black swan.

In fact, any historical event, once it occurs, however unlikely, can be shown to be inevitable by any competent historian. But reading the clues before it all happens is a different matter.

Christians understand the resurrection of Jesus was the black swan of all history

The Flash Crash

Harbinger of the Future

We have just finished reading Robert Harris's latest novel, entitled The Fear Index.  It is a dystopian work focusing upon the disconnect from reality that is so embedded in global financial markets that no-one knows how to solve. 

Harris describes how he developed the ideas for this new work.  Whilst conducting research in Geneva he saw in real life the theme of his book played out: on the 6th May 2010, he turned on his television to find out
(t)he Dow Jones index in the USA has just lost 700 points in the space of about fifteen minutes.  It became known as "the flash crash": an ominous warning of what can happen when financial markets become overly reliant on computer trading. 

I had been intending to create a fictional financial meltdown, but when I read the subsequent official report on the flash crash I realised that nothing I could invest could possibly do justice to what actually had happened.