Saturday, 31 May 2014

Good News

Glad Tidings of Great Joy

Sometimes folk debate what love and kindness "looks like".  Here is an example of what love looks like in the spheres of community and family.  There have been at least a couple of reports [TheBlaze and TodayNews] about this incident and its backstory, and we have drawn upon both.

'All I could do was hug him' 

Grad, 18, reunites with firefighter who saved her as a baby

Last Sunday was a landmark occasion for 18-year-old Skyler James, and not just because she celebrated graduating from high school.  For the first time, she also got to meet the firefighter who, on a bitterly cold November morning in 1995, found her — a newborn baby — abandoned beneath a snow-laden pine tree in an Illinois cemetery.  “It’s so amazing to be able to know the person who saved my life,” Skyler told “Without him I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”

Bonnie and Greg James of Charleston, Ill., adopted Skyler five days after firefighter Charlie Heflin discovered her under that tree. The couple told Skyler the story of how she joined their family as soon as she was old enough to understand. When Skyler was 5, Bonnie James began searching for Heflin in the phone books of nearby communities, but without any luck. . . . [TodayNews]

Labour's War of the Worlds

The Martians Are Coming

Spare a thought for the NZ Labour party.  If you do, you will be rewarded with a good laugh--which, as they say, is the best medicine.  Picture a headless chicken erratically racing around, with no sense of direction, flailing without purpose, until expiration mercifully transpires.  Then, there is the Labour Party.

Several commentators have observed that the party is deeply divided ideologically and personally.  And it seems we must grant their observations to be just.  Take the matter of immigration.  Labour has always cast itself as the party of compassion, with an eye to human suffering and deprivation.  Its historical belief in class warfare and the deprivations of capitalist exploitation require such a position.  But not now it seems.  Over recent weeks, Labour has decided that populist sentiment (as discerned through the headlines of our daily newspapers) is running against immigrants.  The dirty devils are coming into our country and buying up all our houses, so our own poor and disadvantaged are suffering.  Our poor are being refused the inalienable right of every New Zealander, not only to own his own home, but take out a prodigious mortgage in the process that won't be paid off in three generations, unless housing prices continue to rise perpetually [which is fine, since everybody knows that is a natural law, a direct inverse to the Law of Gravity]. 

Every Kiwi has a right to perpetual debt servitude, and Labour is going to ensure that they get to exercise that right.  Standing for the common man, with appropriate Coplian fanfare, Labour announced a distinctly anti-immigrant policy.  It would restrict the number of immigrants coming into New Zealand, so ordinary Kiwis could get mortgaged to their eyeballs.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Jabba the Catt

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog 
22 May 2014

In a sinful and fallen world, any blessing can be abused. The temptation to lord it over others is a constant one, and the human heart will use whatever materials are ready to hand — intelligence, looks, education, money, age, strength, and so on.

This means that inequity in the distribution of wealth does present temptations — most certainly, and welcome to earth. But Scripture teaches us to deal with sin where the sin is, which is under our own sternum. The cause of our faults is not to be located elsewhere. Lust is not caused by beautiful women, covetousness is not caused by other people owning things, and dishonoring parents is not caused by them asking you to do something.

If a man has five million dollars and I have five, then he will no doubt be tempted to believe he is better than I am. This is often and easily noted. What is almost never noted is my temptation to believe I am better than he is. If we both succumb to the temptation, we both commit the same sin . . . but at least he has a better argument. I am constantly reminded of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of a Christian — “one who believes the New Testament is a divinely inspired book, admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor.”

Inglorious Ignominy

More Comedy and Farce

Well, the Politicians' Circus has most certainly delivered once again.  Riotous entertainment and belly laughs all around. 

We arose yesterday to read that the Mana Party (which mixes Maori separatist superiority and spurious sovereignty claims with far left-wing radical politics, professing undying loyalty to the poor, the dispossessed, and the oppressed) has married up with the Internet Party--a creation of a convicted criminal who just happens to be a multi-millionaire facing extradition to the US to face charges on racketeering.  It was long foreshadowed, but nevertheless does not cease to tickle the funny bone every time we reflect upon the "truth is stranger than fiction" aspect of the political conniptions of our day.

But it has got even more hilarious.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Voices in the Wilderness

Why Does the World Still Ignore 2.6M Stillborn Children Every Year?

Posted on | May 20, 2014 
By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.

Why are the nearly three million children who die on their birth day every year still ignored? This is the question posed by a report released today in the Lancet. And it’s the question that should be on the table at the World Health Assembly  this week in Geneva. The high number of deaths hasn’t changed over the years, and neither it seems have the reasons for the utter failure of the world’s maternal health policy elite–see my blog of three years ago.

Delegates interested in making a real difference through the nascent Sustainable Development Goals now under negotiation will be keen on the report’s findings that what could save millions of maternal and newborn lives in the coming years is straightforward: more skilled birth attendants and better health facilities.
To put the matter baldly, we suggest the reason why these children continue to die is because the United Nations and its agencies want them to.  The Malthusians, the population controllers, the eugenicists, and the Greenists all advocate a smaller population for the world as a solution to its problems. 

Biblical Beginnings

Personhood At The Genesis of Life

John Frame has been an influential force in the Reformed and Protestant streams of the Church in the United States and Britain over many years, both as a theologian and philosopher.  In the piece below he presents one compelling aspect of the Biblical standards which reject and condemn abortion.

Scripture assumes a significant personal continuity between prenatal and postnatal human life.  In Psalm 139: 13, David sees himself as existing in his mother's womb: "For thou didst form my inward parts: Thou didst cover me in my mother's womb."  In Jeremiah 1:5, similar language is used, this time with God himself as the speaker: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest out of the womb I sanctified thee . . . " [Emphasis author's here and in all scriptural citations].  It was Jeremiah himself in the womb that God was forming; and God was forming him with a view toward the carrying out of his adult respnsibilities.

In the new Testament we learn that John the Baptist, while still in his mother's womb (in the sixth month of her pregnancy or later--c.f. Luke 1: 24, 26) responded to the salutation of Mary in a way befitting the character of his later ministry (Luke 1:41, 44). . . . [I]t presupposes the sort of continuity between prenatal and postnatal life that we have noted above: John in the womb is called brephos, a babe, and is said to have leapt "for joy."  Such is indeed the general pattern of scriptural usage; for those in the womb are commonly referred to in Scripture by the same language used of persons already born (c.f. Genesis 25:22; 38:27ff; Job 1:21; 3:3, 11ff . . . )  At the very least, this continuity indicates that God is not only forming and caring for the unborn child; He is forming him as a specific individual, to fit him specifically for his postnatal calling.

This continuity is a warning against distinguishing with careless sharpness between fetal and infant life.  And the abortion question now becomes:

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Envy Crackles

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
May 21, 2014

I recently raised a question in a Facebook thread that I wanted to expand on here. It has to do with the increasingly common idea that “inequality of income” is inherently a moral problem.

So here’s the question:
If you had a magic button in front of you which, if you pressed it, would result in all the poor people in the world being 5X better off than they are now, in real terms, but the price would be that the top 1% would be 100X times better off, would you press the button? Pressing the button would increase the inequality, but it would decrease everyone’s day-to-day income problems. Is the mere fact of the inequality a moral problem? Is the size of the gulf between rich and poor a moral problem?

Ceaselessly Tossed To and Fro

Seething In Vain

All Christians are utopians insofar as they believe that a day is coming when the Lord of heaven and earth will descend from heaven to dwell here and establish a perfect world, without sin--the unfolded and optimised and glorified Paradise of God's original creation.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."  (Revelation 21: 1-4)
Most human beings--whether Christian or not--are utopians of one stripe or other.  But at the same time, there is a strong streak of dystopianism running through the race.  In the Unbelieving frame, evil threatens to destroy us all; were it to succeed, suffering and devastation would be universal.  The causes vary--global warming, asteroid strike, economic inequality, famine, destructive ideologies, disease--but the general theme remains fairly constant.  So, the human race is bedevilled by a contradictory utopian-dystopian antithesis which gives no peace--social, personal or otherwise.  Sound familiar?  Any regular reader of a daily metropolitan newspaper will confirm it so. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Letter From America (About Government Enforced Diets)

Michelle Obama’s Control-Freak Lunch Program

It can’t make kids actually eat what they’re served. 

By Michelle Malkin

National Review Online

Look out, everyone: The nation’s school-lunch lady, Michelle Obama, is mad. With her federal nutrition program under fire across the country and now on Capitol Hill, Mrs. Obama put out a “forceful” call to arms this week to “health activists,” according to the Washington Post.  She’s cracking the whip. Her orders are clear: There must be no escape. The East Wing and its sycophants zealously oppose any effort to alter, delay, or waive top-down school-meal rules. Big Lunch must be guarded at all costs.

Progressives blame kid-hating Republicans and greedy businesses for the revolt against Mrs. Obama’s failed policies. But the truth is right around the corner in our students’ cafeterias. Districts are losing money.   Discarded food is piling high. Kids are going off-campus to fill their tummies or just going hungry.

According to the School Nutrition Association, almost half of school meal programs reported declines in revenue in the 2012–13 school year, and 90 percent said food costs were up.

Channeling Jimmy Carter

The Peter Principle At Work

Here is a thought experiment--how do we reckon "history" will judge the presidency of Barack Obama?  Ever since Obama was first elected we have had the suspicion that he would turn out to be Jimmy Carter redux.

For those old enough to have lived through the Carter administration you will remember an administration characterised by ineffectualness.  No doubt this was due in part to the moral superiority which Carter appeared to bring to his duties and responsibilities--a superiority which led him, for example, to turn down the thermostats in the White House and dress in a cardigan in the Oval Office in an attempt to set an example for the country in reducing energy consumption.  It was a spectacular fail. 

Jimmy Carter was (and remains) a professing Christian, who, as one commentator noted, appeared conveniently to forget about the Ten Commandments when it came to international relations and sought to apply the personal ethics of the Sermon on the Mount.  Carter apparently overlooked that the God-given duty of every state is to bear the sword.  He thought it was better to beat the sword into a plough and show by example how nations ought to conduct themselves.

In sum, Carter's Christianity was a manifestation of a fad which breezed through the church in the sixties, seventies, and eighties--namely, the call to be a New Testament Christian (as opposed to an Old Testament Christian, or a biblical Christian)--which fad, like the legacy of the Carter administration, soon disappeared like a puff of smoke in a typhoon.

President Obama has been a millenarian of another sort, but a millenarian nonetheless.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Bundle Up, Girls!

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
Monday, May 19, 2014

Last year, when I debated Andrew Sullivan over same sex mirage — he claiming to see it, and me claiming not to, for is it not a mirage? — one of the arguments that I advanced was this one: Given the premises and arguments of same sexery, we have absolutely no reason to limit marriage to two persons only. Andrew wanted to say no, no, no, and that two persons only was traditional and sacrosanct — like anybody cares about that these days. But that was his position anyhow.

In the aftermath of the debate, one of the questions raised to me (from friendly quarters) was whether I was treating same sex mirage as the slippery part of the slope, and polygamy as the bottom of the slope. But Abraham and David were polygamists, and so why would polygamy — a deficient form of marriage, to be sure, but still recognizably marriage — be treated as the reductio ad depravationem of another practice that the Scriptures universally treat as detestable. Is this not backwards somehow?

Point taken, but there are still several ways to defend this argument o’ mine — and it should be defended.

Holding the Centre

Joyful Puritans

There has been much made and unmade about the Protestant work ethic.  However, what is sometimes overlooked is that this social work ethic, together with its economic and industrial impacts, was essentially a Puritan affect.  Historian Christopher Dawson makes this claim in his book about religion and progress.
Historians like Troeltsch and Max Weber have shown how much the industrial movement owes to the moral and social ideals of Puritanism.  The Protestant asceticism of the 17th and 18th centuries did not lead men to fly from the world and to give up all the goods to the poor and the Church, as in the Middle Ages.  It inculcated the duty of unremitting industry and thrift, while at the same time it discouraged rigorously every kind of self-indulgence and extravagance in the expenditure of what had been gained.
The result was extensive capital formation--capital that was not subsequently applied to consumption and gross displays of wealth and flippant expenditure, but to further commerce and industrial and trade activities.
Thus there grew up a new social type, the hard-working, conscientious, abstemious man of business, whose only interests were in his counting-house and in the meeting house of his sect; men who spared themselves no more than their employees, and who looked on their work as a kind of religious vocation.
We believe Dawson overstates the case here.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Letter From the UK (About the Gulag)

First Clarkson; now the FA's Richard Scudamore

The Left's Language Stasi are on the March

17 May 2014
Breitbart London

Here is a viewpoint I think you ought to read. It's by someone to whose politically correct idiocies you ought never, ever to have been exposed in your entire life. But unfortunately - a bit like the cockroaches that inherit the earth when the Apocalypse comes - he is the kind of person who is very much part of your new future. So get used to it, Edward Lord and his ilk are here to stay.

Edward Lord has a job you probably never imagined could possibly exist. He is on the Football Association's Inclusion Advisory Board. And, as you can see from this blogpost, he is currently agitating for the sacking of the FA's chief executive Richard Scudamore.
If Scudamore doesn’t accept the heinous nature of his sexist remarks and the impact they have had, not only on women in the game, but on the perception they create of football’s commitment to equality and inclusion in general, then regrettably I must reach the conclusion that he may be in the wrong job.
Heinous, eh? Let's have a look at these "sexist remarks" more closely, shall we, so that we can judge their awfulness for ourselves.

It's surprisingly hard to find them online. Both Twitter and the various MSM news sites abound with self-righteous harpies and progressive milquetoasts expressing outrage at what Scudamore said. But they seem oddly reluctant to tell us what it was.

Public Spirit Levels

A Good Start

There is a certain cast of person who believes he or she are called to hector everyone else about what is good for them.  They are lifelong professional nannies.  A previous generation would have called them "busybodies".  They operate within the realms of certitude so infallible they do not hesitate to advocate what is good for everyone else.  They harangue legislators, bureaucrats, regulators, the media--anyone that will listen.  Their dedication and passion are compelling.

Some examples spring to mind--drawn from just today's newspapers.  First up is the anti-tobacco crusaders.  Now the "big thing" that would deter everyone from smoking tobacco and which would make New Zealand smoke free by 2025 or whenever was plain packaging of tobacco.  No brand recognition.  No advertising allowed.  Except it appears to makes little impact on actual smoking rates.  And, in any event, smokers--as a class are not that bad.  They actually benefit the public purse.  They are more likely to die from various diseases at earlier ages, thereby reducing their fiscal drain upon government health and welfare spending. So the fiscal gnomes in Treasury are reportedly, oh-so-quietly, advocating increasing smoking rates as a way to reduce government spending increases over the next fifty years. 

So, say the professional nannies, we need to do more to stub our smoking.  What now?  How about a legally enforced change in the colour of ciggies.  Well knock me over with a puff of smoke.  Why didn't we think of that earlier?  If plain packaging won't work, coloured smokes will.  Why?  Well, they can be coloured in unattractive hues.  This, from the NZ Herald:

Friday, 23 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Gaylag Archipelago

Blog and Mablog 
Douglas Wilson

So a marginal football player got drafted into the NFL, kissed his boyfriend smack on the lips, and then another football player tweeted something that expressed the sentiment ick gross, and so the second player was hustled into sensitivity training. Got that?

As the revolution is established, there will be no heckling. Kirsten Powers got it right. I have as much of an expectation of broad-minded tolerance from the left these days as I do of somebody hoisting up a John 3:16 sign at a North Korean missile parade. These people are coercion junkies.

How will they stop the heckling? Vee haff vays. Notice that I did that obliquely because I didn’t want to violate Godwin’s Law — the first person in a debate to invoke Nazi parallels loses. This is because it is a well known principle of political science that political coercion and tyranny was only possible in the 1940s. All claims about oppressive coercion in our day are therefore bogus by definition, and one begins to suspect that the person who won’t stop expressing his views when the establishment wishes for him to express theirs is cruising for a sensitivity seminar. I also brought up Godwin’s Law because Nazi analogies are not the only negative examples that we should take into account.

Look. If you use language in ways they disapprove of, they will show the world what thorough-going malice looks like. That is why I make a point of doing it. They will send you off to the Gaylag Archipelago — there’s an example of what I do — where they will upbraid you for your intolerance until you come to realize that love is the answer. Love is all you need. Love is the best. Love is what Big Br . . . love is a good thing. Who could be against love except for the haters?

Enlightenment's Stepchildren

Hucksters and Tricksters

The Enlightenment was an anti-Christian movement.  It was the parent of modern atheistic, secular humanism, which has become the official established religion of our day.  The transition from Christendom to anti-Christendom took three centuries, but here we are.

The Enlightenment rejected Christianity and the Church.  But it attempted to retain those aspects of Christianity and Christendom it "liked".  To remove the foundation will naturally cause the superstructure to fall to the ground in pieces.  But that emerged only later--in our generation.  It was a gradual, but inevitable outcome.

Christopher Dawson explains how Enlightenment  philosophes rationalised their positions, in a manner akin to modern militant atheists who vehemently reject the Triune eternal God, whilst hypocritically clinging to aspects of Christian morality which their upbringing and past has ingrained into them.  They are dishonest brokers--much like the Enlightenment philosophes turned out to be.
But in spite of its unorthodox and even anti-Christian character, all the positive elements in the new creed were derived from the old religious tradition of Christendom.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Letter From America (About "Same-old, Same-old . . . ")

Faux-Science  Fascistas

Over the years, we have published a plethora of articles on the subject of Global Warming being a faux-science.  But, the claims to be the only true and genuine science of climate continue to be made.  So we will continue to publish pieces that tear that canard into pieces.

To that end, here is an excellent piece from Patterico:

Is Study of So-Called Climate Change Even “Science”?

Burn the heretic:
In early May, Lennart Bengtsson, a Swedish climate scientist and meteorologist, joined the advisory council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a group that questions the reliability of climate change and the costs of policies taken to address it. While Bengtsson maintains he’d always been a skeptic as any scientist ought to be, the foundation and climate-change skeptics proudly announced it as a defection from the scientific consensus.

Just a week later, he says he’s been forced to resign from the group.

Global Consistency

Home Grown Jihadis

We have argued previously that the more seriously a Muslim takes the faith, the more he or she will likely move to force, violence, and authoritarian behaviour.  The more likely jihad will come into play.  The declaration of holy war is both significant and game-changing--for jihad justifies lying, deceit, and false witness, as well as violence.  These things are essential to Islamic fundamentalism (sometimes called, "Islamism" or "Islamic extremism") 

At this point we need to draw a strong contrast between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism.  To be sure, there are superficial similarities--as there are between, say, an ape and a human being, or between a farm tractor and a Rolls Royce.  Both Christian and Islamic fundamentalism are built upon the fundamentals of each respective religion.  Christian fundamentalism (historically considered) identified core biblical doctrines of the faith to be maintained in the face of increasing secularisation and Unbelief--doctrines such as the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, creation ex-nihilo in six days, the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and so forth.  Islamic fundamentalism takes as authoritative for one's communal existence the Koran, the hadith (sayings of Muhammed) and Sharia law.

But there are also radical differences.  These lie in the respective content of the two faiths.  When a Christian takes his faith seriously, he lives a more consistent faithful Christian life, marked by love of God and love of mankind.  The Christian seeks to do good to all men, and especially those of the household of faith.

When a Muslim begins to take his faith seriously his life is marked by submission to Allah and Muhammed, and an insistence upon like submission on the part of all those with whom he interacts.  If not, then they are to suffer curtailment of one kind or another, a diminution of civil rights or even slavery.   And all lands are subject to Islamic conquest--infidels must either convert, subject themselves to Islamic control, or be killed.  This, in a nutshell, is jihad, or holy war. 

In New Zealand we have just witnessed the first public example of Islamic fundamentalism.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Sword

Sudan as Avatar of Islam

There are three foundations to Islam: the Koran, the Hadith (reputed sayings of Muhammad), and the Shariah law code.  All three are equally authoritative.  In those places in the world where Islam is dominant, the essence, character, and attributes of the religion are on public display.  Here is one vignette:

Pregnant 'Muslim' woman sentenced to death

A Muslim-by-birth Sudanese woman who married a Christian man was sentenced to death after she refused to recant her Christian faith, her lawyer said.  Meriam Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but her mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was convicted of "apostasy" on Sunday and given four days to repent and escape death, lawyer Al-Shareef Ali al-Shareef Mohammed said.

Appalling Kipper Opinions

Arrogant Hoi-Polloi Outrage

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that our attitudes towards our modern political parties oscillate between extreme scepticism to involuntary hilarity.  We have a similar range of reactions to the Commentariat--that loose federation of social powers that support modern political parties in the sense that they want to engage with them and influence them--unions, media, schools and universities, bureaucracies, "big" business (that is, businesses of sufficient size to donate to politicians and political parties), and the chardonnay-swilling hoi-polloi, who fastidiously read the dailies in the desperate attempt to see photographs of themselves.

This cluster of the self-adulating has one thing in common: if any nascent plebeian political party--well beyond the pale of respectability--would dare lift its head above the parapet and venture beyond that pale, the vented outrage of the Commentariat and all "respectable" political parties will be heard as far as Timbuktu.  All of which is exceedingly diverting and amusing.

Which brings us to Ukip--the UK Independence Party.  Sean Thomas has written a piece documenting the discombobulation and outrage of the establishment at this horrid little party--which has left us chuckling with great mirth.  We hope you similarly enjoy it. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Blinkered Prophetess

Blog and Mablog

Like many conservatives, I have been able to enjoy the writing of Marilynne Robinson, even though she appears to be quite at home in the liberal mainline tradition. Despite the differences I have had with her outlook on many issues, her novels have been written with depth, nuance, and sensitivity. This is apparently because she writes about the Fifties, back when all those characteristics were still legal.

In Gilead and Home, when Ames and Broughton have their periodic political “fusses,” the first thing you see in and through the portrait is their humanity. You see how the issues are complicated, and how good people get themselves tangled up in complicated things. You can see this in her treatment of the civil rights unrest in Montgomery, and you see it in her treatment of the Civil War — in the flashbacks in Gilead about Ames’ father and grandfather, and in the tensions between radicalism and pacifism. In her novels, some of the characters have demons, but none of them are demons. There are absolutely no cartoons.

The thing that is striking about all this is that it has become plain to me that Robinson would be clearly incapable of writing a first rate novel, of the same kind as these, set in the present time.

Modern Property Rights

Glory and Ignominy

The bloodless revolution--otherwise known as the Glorious Revolution--of 1688 in England has often been celebrated as one which rejected absolute government and replaced it with a government of limited and mutually balanced powers.  But it also represented much more.   Historian, Christopher Dawson has a theory:
It is true that the Revolution of 1688 was apparently a defeat for the principle of Toleration since it was directed against the Declaration of Indulgence, and demanded the reinforcement of the Test Act and the Penal Laws.  Actually, however, it marks the end of the attempt to base society on a religious foundation, and the beginning of the progressive secularization of the English state.

According to John Locke, the philosopher of the Revolutionary Settlement, the prime duty of the Government is not to defend the Christian faith, but to secure the rights of private property, "for the sake of which men enter into society."  Thus, as Lord Acton says, the English Revolution substituted "for the Divine Right of Kings the divine right of Freeholders."  For two centuries and more England was to be the Paradise of the Man of Property. [Christopher Dawson, Progress and Religion: An Historical Enquiry (London: Sheed and Ward, 1945),  p. 188.]
It is arguable that Locke was one of the great apostles of secularism.  However much he and his colleagues spoke about god, in fact his deistic theology meant that the deity he was invoking was nothing more than a warranting concept, a sky-hook from which to hang his notions of freedom and property.  Deism proclaims an "absent God", Deus Abscondis : therefore, Deism is in practice, if not in principle, a thoroughly secular world-view.

But history relentlessly works out the implications of bad philosophies, because human history is a collective expression of the human heart.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Letter From America (About The Dark Ages, Part II)

Kirsten Powers: Liberals' Dark Ages

Each week seems to bring another incident. Who will the thought police come for next?

Welcome to the Dark Ages, Part II. We have slipped into an age of un-enlightenment where you fall in line behind the mob or face the consequences.   How ironic that the persecutors this time around are the so-called intellectuals. They claim to be liberal while behaving as anything but. The touchstone of liberalism is tolerance of differing ideas. Yet this mob exists to enforce conformity of thought and to delegitimize any dissent from its sanctioned worldview. Intolerance is its calling card.
Each week seems to bring another incident. Last week it was David and Jason Benham, whose pending HGTV show was canceled after the mob unearthed old remarks the brothers made about their Christian beliefs on homosexuality. People can't have a house-flipping show unless they believe and say the "right" things in their life off the set? In this world, the conservative Tom Selleck never would have been Magnum, P.I.

This week, a trail-blazing woman was felled in the new tradition of commencement shaming. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde withdrew from delivering the commencement speech at Smith College following protests from students and faculty who hate the IMF. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, this trend is growing. In the 21 years leading up to 2009, there were 21 incidents of an invited guest not speaking because of protests. Yet, in the past five-and-a-half years, there have been 39 cancellations.

The Fundamentals of the Labour Market

Ravening Pity

NZ Initiative has been producing some excellent pieces on the fundamentals of economics, markets, employment, production, consumption--that is, articles about what consumes the majority of the average citizen's time, effort, and attention.  These pieces, therefore, have a good deal to say about life and living. 

The philosophical approach of NZ Initiative draws heavily upon Adam Smith, and can be categorised as representing the classical liberal ideological corner.  This is a strength.  Adam Smith and his intellectual colleague, John Locke have much to teach us.  Moreover, much of what is wrong with the dominant mindset of the day with respect to economics--that is, the majority of peoples' lives and focused attention--is due to them having never learned or having forgotten what the classical liberal scholars have taught.

From the Christian perspective, Smith and Locke have taken some constructs of the Scriptures, but wrenched them out of the biblical narrative, and settled them within a deistic framework.  They made property rights the fundamental construct of a mechanistic world set in place by a god, but left to run as a self-perpetuating machine.  Without a true foundation and a biblical construct, the world-view of Smith and Locke cannot be sustained--which is precisely what has happened with the downstream developments and effects of classical liberalism.  By making property right an absolute, Smith ironically set in place the destruction of property rights by subsequent generations--which is where we are now.

Nevertheless, Smith has much to teach the modern world--with necessary qualifications and reconstruction notwithstanding.  NZ Initiatives piece on "L is for Labour Market" provides a powerful illustration of that.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

With Hair Ablaze

Blog and Mablog

Now I know that I have some Roman Catholics readers of this blog, and I know that when I get on a jag like this you must feel like I do when I read Chesterton writing about Calvinism. That feeling being an approximation of something like epistemic anguish and head-wrenching, I can only assure you all that if I could do anything about it, I would. But here I sit, as Luther might have said, typing with my hair ablaze with the flames of truth. And there is nothing that can be done about that.

What a Lovely World

When Evil Unmasks

One of the most strange, yet wonderful works of God occurs when He brings a culture to epistemological self-consciousness.  Cultures and civilisations develop to the stage where evil is unmasked and their latent demonic inspiration becomes overtly displayed.

Christians, through their knowledge of the Scriptures and the Christian faith, often see these things well in advance.  They know there is a logic in Unbelief.  They know that all Unbelieving cultures have a lust for power.  They know that tyranny lurks just below the surface of all Unbelieving political and social systems.

For a time, a culture can coast along on gratuitous assumptions about being grounded in "common sense" or the "wisdom of the Founding Fathers" or "right reason".  Concepts like justice, rights, morality, the rule of law, and freedom are believed to be self-evident, forever beyond dispute, except to fools and horses.  "Common law" or the "Anglo-Saxon legal tradition" or "Western civilisation" seem like unassailable bulwarks against the void.  Yet these remain nothing more than empty notions without foundation or any grounding in ultimate principles.  Cultures not grounded in the law of God, the Creator of all things, are built upon shifting sand.  When peoples appeal to cultural or historical traditions for what they regard as self-evident it is a sure sign they are not epistemologically self-conscious.  They are sleep-walking.

One of the clearest portents of growing epistemological self-awareness occurs when blatant evil begins to be trumpeted as good.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Letter From the UK (About a Clarion Call)

A Belly Full of Laughs

The New Statesman has published an article by David Selbourne.  It is a warning about the rise of Islam, but also a critique of the effete self-censorship of the Commentariat on Islam.  Some excerpts:

A beheading in Woolwich, a suicide bomb in Beijing, a blown-up marathon in Boston, a shooting in the head of a young Pakistani girl seeking education, a destroyed shopping mall in Nairobi – and so it continues, in the name of Islam, from south London to Timbuktu. It is time to take stock, especially on the left, since these things are part of the world’s daily round. . . .

To the aid of Islam has also come the betrayal by much of today’s left of its notionally humane principles, as Christians are assaulted and murdered (shades of what was done to the Jews in the 1930s) and their churches desecrated and destroyed from Egypt to the Central African Republic, from Iran to Indonesia, and from Pakistan to Nigeria. Islam can kill its own apostates, too; in many Muslim countries denies reciprocity to other faiths in rights of worship; and seeks to prevent reasoned discussion about its beliefs by attempted resort to blasphemy laws.

So where is the old left’s centuries-long espousal of free speech and free thought?

Interested Parties

Training Camps for Political Activists

The mass media has become a mixed bag of goods, but increasingly they appear rotten.  Previously given the sobriquet "Fourth Estate", the press--the serious part of mass media--has been seen as an integral part of keeping government honest and ethical.  Sunshine is the best disinfectant they say, and the press--or more accurately, the mass news media--has a vital role in keeping graft and corruption out of government.

At times the media descend into farce as they strive to expose unethical double-dealing and corruption at every turn.  A politician kissing a baby is quickly scandalised and sensationalised as another case of paedophilia.  A political party which encourages gift and donations from estates, via testamentary wills is portrayed as a grave robber.  But these childish whiny petulances have been reasonably rare, and are best curtailed by the press and the news media being kept fiercely competitive. 

But the steady stream of news media employees resigning to take up jobs promoting politicians and even themselves becoming politicians is troubling.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Letter From the UK (About Kidnapping)

'Climate Change' to Blame for Boko Haram and Nigerian Girls' Kidnapping

B 11 May 2014

Britain's Guardian newspaper has come up with a novel explanation for the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

Conventional analyses have pinned the blame on the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram (which means: "Western education is forbidden"). But according to the Guardian's Nafeez Ahmed, the real culprit is 'climate change.'
Ahmed writes:

Pagan Wolves

 A New-Age Leader of the Pack

We read periodically of the return of the wolf to Europe--once feared extinct, now running hunting packs throughout northern Europe and Spain.  But metaphorical wolves are also returning to re-establish a once long thought extinct pagan culture in Europe and the West. 

The following is a call-to-action from an officer in the Anglican Church of New Zealand. 
The newly appointed vicar of Auckland's Anglican church St Matthew-in-the-City has called on the church to approve same-sex marriages and ordination of gay vicars.  Reverend Dr Helen Jacobi, in her sermon on Sunday, spoke to the church's two-yearly General Synod, being held this week.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Christian Unity

Two Kinds of Unity

In Ephesians 4, Paul teaches us that there are two kinds of unity. The first is the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that we are to labor to preserve (Eph. 4:3). This means that this unity already exists, created by the Spirit, and that our task is to not disrupt it. We would disrupt it by refusing to walk worthily of our calling, by refusing to love, and so on. A few verses down, he describes the unity of the church, and he says that it is a unity that we are not supposed to have yet. It is not yet our possession because the Spirit has not yet given it to us. We are supposed to grow up into the perfect man, into the unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13).

For us to lament the divisions of Christendom because this unity of the faith has not yet occurred is to have an over-realized eschatology. To lament the divisions of Christendom because the session meeting broke up in a shouting match is to lament something that Ephesians 4 tells us to lament. If we did not forbear with one another in love, then we should confess our sin and make it right. That is something we are supposed to have right now, and if we don’t, we should repent of our sin. But there is absolutely no need to repent of not living five thousand years from now, when we will have grown up into the perfect man.

--Douglas Wilson, Blog and Mablog

It's Getting Personal

Calling Across the Storm Tossed Sea

The Christian believes in infinite cosmic personalism.  As the catechism has it, "God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth."  All of existence, all life, all experience, all circumstances are Personally motivated and caused by the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable God.  He is in the details.  All of them.  Behind them, in them, and ahead of them are the thoughts, intentions and plans of God for us. 

The modern Unbeliever, however, believes in cosmic impersonalism.  The universe just is.  Behind it and in it there is no plan, no purpose, no goodness, no justice nor truth.  There is just what is. And what "is" remains ultimately random, without any meaning.  

Now the Unbeliever has a problem.  Cosmic impersonalism is hard to live with, to say the least.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Letter From the UK (About Government Education)

Progressively Worse: Britain's Education Establishment Persists in 'Dumbing Down' for Our Kids

Sometimes the education establishment in Britain appears to be a parody of itself. This morning, it was reported that the OCR exam board, despite clear calls for a return to rigour in our examination system, are developing an English Literature and Language A-Level where students study Caitlin Moran’s Twitter feed, a Newsnight interview with Dizzee Rascal, and Russell Brand’s testimony on drug use to a parliamentary committee.

Aside from the tendentious nature of these choices (would, I wonder, Peter Hitchens’ view on drug use ever make it into an exam?), we have to ask whether studying such texts is a valuable use of pupil time. There is nothing new about such dumbing down. A stroll through the recent years of AQA’s English Language GCSE shows exam papers based on news stories about Tinie Tempah, Johnny Depp, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver.  

"What was Jamie Oliver’s reaction to the research about his school dinners?" reads one question. "List four thing that you learn about Tinie Tempah from the article" reads another.

Generous Condescension

Dhimmi's At Home

Further to our piece on Boko Haram, Andrew Bolt of Australia provides another take--on a Lord Haw Haw-type figure who is one of Australia's foremost apologists for Islamic oppression.  He is a media favourite.

His counsel on Boko Haram?  They are a splintered group, so diverse that they are impossible to identify or discuss. You know, like Al Qaeda.
WALEED Aly is the model moderate Muslim, used by the media to persuade us we have little to fear from Islam but our own bigotry. 
His rewards have been great. Once the spokesman for the Islamic Council of Victoria, he is now an ABC radio host, a Channel 10 co-presenter and an Age columnist.  He is even a politics lecturer at Monash University’s Global Terrorism Research Centre, despite having no doctorate and having qualified in engineering and law.  This week Aly showed the style that’s made him such a pet of the establishment Left but a worry to me.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Nature By Grace

Posted on  
Blog and Mablog

All right. Now it is time to bring a number of threads together.

The great American classicist Basil Gildersleeve once said that the American Civil War was fought over a point of grammar. He said that it was over whether we should say “the United States is” or “the United States are.” Other great and complicated issues can be reduced to a simple question as well. When it comes to culture wars, same sex mirage, natural law, and so on, we are really asking this: “What is the universe actually like?”

There are two basic options confronting us today. Either the cosmos was created, made, fashioned . . . or it was not. Either God spoke everything into existence from nothing, or there is no God. Eternality is an attribute of something — either the living God, or time and chance acting on matter and energy. If the former, we must do what He says. If the latter, we may do what we want.

But as it is, we are a rebellious house, and want to do what we want to do. We are a conclusion in search of a premise, and so it turns out that all respectable science testifies that Genesis is not a textbook of science, anything but that. The materialists say that Genesis is bogus, and the Christian abandoners of Genesis say that the book is crammed full of spiritual truths for your faith to believe, but you have to take care what you believe. You can’t believe everything you read. But the whole thing is a power play, seeking to drive from the field the only real alternative to their hellish vision for mankind.

Consistently Islamic

 What Boko Haram and Aceh Province Have in Common

The Western world has been aghast over the depredations of Boko Haram--an Islamic group active in northern Nigeria.  For months its members have been invading schools to kill and kidnap female pupils.  After a recent abduction of over 200 female students, the leader has boasted in public they will be sold as slaves.  Meanwhile, half a world away, an Indonesian woman has been gang raped in punishment for illicit sexual congress.  The couple also face the cane--as called for by the head of the local Sharia office. 

Culturally, what do Nigeria and the island of Aceh in Indonesia have in common?

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Letter From Australia (About a Ruinous Government)

Cleaning Up The Unlucky Country

In hindsight it will likely be told that Australia, of all the developed countries, handled the Global Financial Crisis (GFC") the worst--and that, dear friends, from a country which went into the crisis positioned far better than most.  What caused the manufacture of such a crisis?
  • A grandiose Prime Minister who cast himself in a Churchillian role
  • An insecure Prime Minister who wanted to be seen as the Barack Obama of the Asia-Pacific Region
  • An economically ignorant Prime Minister who thought that money could be borrowed ad infinitum.

The name of the one who is arguably Australia's worst Prime Minister?  Kevin Rudd.

Paul Sheehan, Sydney Morning Herald correspondent, fills in the details.

A Really Thorough Hanging

Sinister and Stasi-like

Free speech is being attacked everywhere in the West.  The saddest specatcle of all is the crowds packed around the tumbrills cheering and applauding as fresh decapitations roll in.  Unbelief is becoming more and more authoritarian, more and more militant.  It is now blasphemous to speak certain words, or utter certain sentiments. 

Let's recap why free speech is a Christian construct--required by the faith.  Firstly, God alone is judge of the human mind and its ruminations.  He alone is judge of the tongue.  He has not given that authority over to man.  He alone "takes every thought captive" to His Son, the designated and appointed Messiah.  (II Corinthians 10:5-6)  He alone understands, and can weigh the thoughts and intentions of the human heart.  (Psalm 139:1-6)

Secondly, when man arrogates the power and authority to control what people think or say he is necessarily claiming authority over all knowledge, truth, and thought.  This inevitably means the approval of some beliefs and thoughts, and proscription of others.  The forcible imposition of an ideology or religion is the inevitable outcome.  "Official Man", whoever that might be, becomes self-elevated to the status of a deity.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Letter From America (About Black Genocide)

Dr. Alveda King Tells Students of Modern Day Black Genocide

May 1, 2014
The College Fix

It’s the genocide few talk about, but taking a cue from her uncle, Dr. Alveda King is bravely speaking out about it, spreading her message far and wide.  Her warning: black people are murdering themselves.  The shocking statistics surrounding the rate of abortion among African Americans was one of the highlights of a speech King gave earlier this week at the University of Missouri.

Urging everyone to take action to protect life, King frequently reiterated some of those stark figures: more than 16,000,000 African-American children have been aborted since Roe v. Wade. Making matters worse, she pointed out, these abortions have occurred within a minority group that makes up just 13 percent of the American population.

Her speech comes as headlines regarding the abortion rate among blacks have shocked the country: “In Georgia, 53.6 Percent of Babies Aborted Are Black,” “In Mississippi, 72 Percent of the Babies Aborted Are Black,” and “More Black Babies Die in Abortions in New York City Than Given Birth.”

Standing for Nothing; Falling for Everything

Secularist Paper Tigers Confront Islam

The prevailing view of religion in the West can be characterised as one of condescending ignorance.  Religion is something belonging to a primitive past.  It is made up of superstitions, myths, and fanciful errors without any basis in truth or reality.  To extend tolerance and civic freedom to religions is considered an act of indulgence--putting up with childish notions, ideas, and behaviour until those involved in a religion grow up and become true moderns--that is, materialistic, atheistic, and humanistic.

This world-view has two Achilles heels.  The first is the failure to understand that Western secularism is indeed a religion in its own right.  A religious anti-religion.  It is a cosmology, and ultimate belief system, with no authentication outside of itself.  This places Western secularism in a vulnerable position.  It is founded on rationalism, but its rationalism cannot defend or authenticate its own position.  It is ultimately, therefore, an irrational system that is viciously circular.  It can collapse more quickly than Ukrainian Defence Forces in the Donetsk.  Because its protagonists and defenders remain unaware of its vulnerability at this point, it constantly leaves itself open to ridicule and rejection--which, given the vaunting arrogance and pride of the secular humanist religion, hurts.  That's the first Achilles heel.

The second is its befuddled, double-minded attitude towards other religions.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Lord of the Magazine Rack

People tend to think that worldviews are expressed in the various magazines for sale, whether Field & Stream, Good Housekeeping, or Penthouse. But the foundational worldview is actually found in the magazine rack, and the location of the cash register.

If WalMart decided that Monday was Muslim Day, Tuesday Hindu Day, Wednesday Christian Day, and so on, most Christians would be honored by the fact that we got a day. This is the deceitfulness of pluralism. But this would not actually be a case of objective neutrality, because every day is Money Day.

The point of making this point is not to insist that Christians “opt out,” as though that were possible. The apostle Paul had no problem speaking at Mars Hill, even though speakers of other persuasions came before him, and many others came after.

The Poison of Nanny McPhee

 A Disastrous Diet With Deadly Consequences

Never trust "official science"--that is, the science being pushed by government agencies.  If scepticism is the good oil of solid scientific research, once the science becomes "official" in the sense of being accepted by government programmes and enforced by government regulations, healthy scepticism withers on the vine.  At that point, science has become intermingled with, if not captured by, propaganda: the trustworthiness of science diminishes substantially.

To make matters worse, there are lots of vested interests vying for commercial advantage when science becomes "official".  Engineer a government "tick" and millions can be made.  Achieve the promulgation of a government programme, and millions can be parlayed into billions of dollars.  It becomes, in the coarse words of US Vice President, Joe Biden, a "big . . . deal"--that is, a crude joke.

It is now becoming clear that generations of diet advice--official diet prescriptions--backed by scientific research, is wrong.  In fact, it has done enormous damage to human health.  A significant essay recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, by

Rising Authoritarianism

Shut Up, Shut Down, And Shut Out

One of the surest indications that an opponent is either pedalling a shonky argument or he is too incompetent to press his case intelligently is when he attacks the opponent (ad hominem) or attempts to silence him.  What has been dubbed the "new authoritarianism of the Left" has all the hallmarks.

We see it on every hand these days.  We will doubtless continue to see it.  The whole brouhaha resembles a dirty bomb: lots of heat, not much light, but plenty of poison.

The laziness of the Left over climate change is a case in point.  Not willing to face up to the debate, it sought to elude the argument by leap frogging it, declaring "the debate is over; the science is settled".  This casts  opponents as reactionary idiots--a modern type of flat-earthers, or geo-centric astronomers.  But anyone who knew even the barest basics of science, or the elementary principles of logic, or the primary hermeneutics of the scientific method knew instantly this was balderdash.  Feeding hypothetical projections into an electronic calculator to "prove" the reality of global warming has been the biggest instance of question-begging since Adam was a boy.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Letter From the UK (About The Iron Fist)

Doctors who oppose morning-after pill on conscience grounds face qualifications bar

Guidelines confirm that doctors and nurses who oppose controversial emergency contraception on ‘moral or religious’ grounds cannot receive key specialist qualifications 

7:00AM BST 29 Apr 2014

Doctors and nurses who object to providing controversial emergency contraception on moral or religious grounds are being barred from specialist professional qualifications under official guidelines. They class Roman Catholics and others motivated by pro-life beliefs as “ineligible” for important qualifications provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) even if they complete the training programme.

The Pillage of Progressive Government

Evasive Action Increasing

It's a hard lesson to learn, but sooner or later even the antediluvians amongst us will begin to comprehend.  Point #1: Capital and labour are the core components of any commercial enterprise.  Point #2: Capital and labour are mobile.

Now this has not always been the case.  Before the development of technologies that can move people relatively quickly and inexpensively from one side of the globe to the other, labour was relatively immobile.  In a particular area, the number of jobs were necessarily limited; in times of recession, sometimes severely limited.  That meant that employees were effectively reduced to being "price takers".  They had little economic leverage to increase wages.  The number of employment opportunities was small or fixed; there was often surplus labour chasing those jobs.

Now, labour is globally mobile--more so than at any time hitherto in our age.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Just Getting a Drink

Posted on  
Blog and Mablog

A recent jag in the feminist jihad has to do with what they are pleased to call microaggressions — what Jonah Goldberg recently worried might become nanoaggressions. So let’s talk about all that for a microbit.

Conservatives will frequently make merry about this kind of fevered brow behavior, assuming that these women’s-study-center-people have utterly lost it. Those who talk about microaggressions all the time must be doing so because of their microminds. But this goes wide of the mark by a good distance. What these people are doing to us is intelligent, rule-guided behavior. They are doing it because they are getting something important they want from it. Let me tell you a parable:

Once there was a game of pick-up basketball, and there were two teams — red shirts and blue shirts. The red shirts were from red states and the blue shirts were from blue states. With me so far?

Bel Bows Down, Nebo is Stooping

Modern Idolatry

A minor brouhaha has flickered in Gore where a Christian church has honoured the Lord by exercising discipline over an errant, unrepentant member.  The former member has been living with a man not her husband.

In terms of the historical Christian faith there is nothing remarkable in this; it is, after all, what the Scripture commands.  (I Corinthians 5:1-2; I Corinthians 5: 9-13).  Any faithful, believing Christian church would do what the Calvin Community Church at Gore has just done.

What is far more instructive is the reaction of the pagans.  Many blog commentators have railed against the whole notion of judging.  How dare anyone judge another.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Letter From the UK (About Nonsensical Global Warming)

Former NASA Scientist: Global Warming is Stupid

A former NASA scientist has described global warming as "nonsense", dismissing the theory of man-made climate change as "an unsubstantiated hypothesis" and saying that it is "absolutely stupid" to blame the recent UK floods on human activity.

Professor Les Woodcock, who has had a long and distinguished academic career, also said there is "no reproducible evidence" that carbon dioxide levels have increased over the past century, and blamed the green movement for inflicting economic damage on ordinary people.

Professor Woodcock is Emeritus Professor of Chemical Thermodynamics at the University of Manchester and has authored over 70 academic papers for a wide range of scientific journals. He received his PhD from the University of London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a  recipient of a Max Planck Society Visiting Fellowship, and a founding editor the journal Molecular Simulation. (h/t Climate Depot)
Professor Woodcock told the Yorkshire Evening Post:

"The term 'climate change' is meaningless. The Earth's climate has been changing since time immemorial, that is since the Earth was formed 1,000 million years ago.

Trojan Horses

Computers in Class Rooms

Group-think educrats and academic educationalists have got it wrong again.  In govenrment schools computers have become synonymous with progressive, advanced education.  Any school worth its merits has pupils kitted out with laptops or tablets.  More and more courses and lessons are being structured around the electronic idol sitting on the pupils' desks.  Otherwise they will be missing out.  They will not be prepared for life in the real, new, e-world.

Instead of focusing on a content rich curriculum and instructively teaching it, the curriculum is becoming besotted with "teaching" IT techniques.  Schools and teachers who do not have the necessary kit available are told they are disadvantaging their pupils and belong in the dark ages. Teachers are becoming dispirited and de-motivated. Pupils are graduating with vast experience in how to manipulate and use computers, but remain ignorant of the sciences, the arts, and how to think reasonably and accurately.

Au contraire.  Smart schools are now banning computers.  Why?  Because they inhibit learning.
This, from Pacific Standard Magazine:

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Letter From America (About the Decline of the US)

America’s Decline and Fall 

13 quotations from our interview with Mark Steyn


Below are 13 of the most compelling excerpts from our interview with Mr. Steyn, which tell the story of America’s decline and fall, with some room for optimism at the end.

1. History, as reflected in the life of Otto von Habsburg, is cyclical

Otto von Habsburg in 1936. (Image Source: Imagno/Getty Images)
Otto von Habsburg in 1936. (Image Source: Imagno/Getty Images)

“What I like about [Habsburg's plight]…is that it kind of reminds us that in the span of one life, everything can change. You can see the rise and fall of Communism, you can have revolutions, you can have vast convulsions, all within one man’s life. And, if you’re like Otto von Habsburg, your very surname sort of mocks the idea of prosperity – you’re going around like the last sort of souvenir of an enterprise nobody else is interested in. I like things like that, because it’s a reminder that a guy can live three score and 10, maybe he’ll get an extra 10 or 15 years on top of it, but within 80 or 90 years empires rise and fall, all within the span of a single life.”

2. Here’s the evolution of America in five simple stages

Derision of Disappointed Hopes

When Western Women Marry into Islam

For over thirty years Rosemary Sookhdeo has been involved with women--often associated with the Church--who have married Muslim men only to have everything fall apart.  In her book, Why Christian Women Convert to Islam [McLean VA: Isaac Publishing, 2007] she tells the stories of some of these women. 

In all the cases cited, the "after" proved a shocking contrast to the "before".  In some cases, the "before" involved Muslim men wanting to secure some particular selfish advantage, such as a visa, or immigration status.  Once the marriage delivered the immigration-compliance they were seeking, the marriage ceased to function.  In other cases, once married the romance quickly dissipated, to be replaced by the brute reality of reduction to the status of a chattel.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Their Temples of Reason

Blog and Mablog

It is usually no fun when people play the race card, but when evolutionists do it, the results can be highly entertaining, at least after a few million years.

My brother Gordon is Senior Fellow of Natural History at New St. Andrews. He was recently engaged to teach a one-off course in microbiology at the University of Idaho, which drew this protest, and then this one.

There is a kind of evolutionist who insists that his theory can only be falsified with rabbit fossils in the precambrian, and then rests easily in the full assurance that anything with a rabbit fossil in it can’t be precambrian by definition. This method works swell for them, and so they try to use a similar approach to journal articles, terminal degrees, and teaching slots. Creationists are clearly not equipped to be in the proximity of any of those things — for are they not all cornpones? — and so whenever they see a creationist they chase him out promptly, and then use his strange absence as an argument. His absence is an argument, and his presence is an outrage. What my net don’t catch ain’t fish, and if it does catch one on accident, we can always throw it back immediately and pretend it didn’t happen.

The second protest, the one from P.Z. Myers, was the more flamboyant of the two.

Hypocritical Plutocracy

The Buying and Selling of Free Speech

Free speech is usually more of an idea than a civic reality.  H. L. Mencken, writing in the 1920's observed that the Bolsheviks showed the way for the West--which has clung on to the ideal of free speech far longer than most.
The Russian Bolsheviki . . . . once they were in the saddle, they decreed the abolition of the old imperial censorship and announced that speech would be free henceforth--but only so long as it kept within the bounds of the Bolshevist revelation!  In other words, any citizen was free to think and speak whatever he pleased--but only so long as it did not violate certain fundamental ideas.  [H. L. Mencken, "The Genealogy of Etiquette", Prejudices: Volume I, edited by Marion Rogers (New York: The Literary Classics of America, Inc. 2010), p. 99.]
Nowadays we are moving much more into a Bolshevik world where some speech is not deemed equal at all, insofar as it violates some cherished ideas.  Mencken goes on in his essay to argue that the Bolsheviki notion has been precisely the "sort of freedom that has prevailed in the United States since the first days."

We have recently been treated to the debacle over the Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling who has privately expressed sentiments which fall outside of "Bolshevist" revelation.  Sterling provides an excellent touchstone for Mencken's thesis that free speech is a chimera in the West.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Tyrannical Tumours in the Western Body Politic

The Slow Death of Free Speech

How the Left, here and abroad, is trying to shut down debate —  from Islam and Israel to global warming and gay marriage

Mark Steyn

These days, pretty much every story is really the same story:
  • In Galway, at the National University of Ireland, a speaker who attempts to argue against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) programme against Israel is shouted down with cries of ‘Fucking Zionist, fucking pricks… Get the fuck off our campus.’

  • In California, Mozilla’s chief executive is forced to resign because he once made a political donation in support of the pre-revisionist definition of marriage.

  • At Westminster, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee declares that the BBC should seek ‘special clearance’ before it interviews climate sceptics, such as fringe wacko extremists like former Chancellor Nigel Lawson.

  • In Massachusetts, Brandeis University withdraws its offer of an honorary degree to a black feminist atheist human rights campaigner from Somalia.

  • In London, a multitude of liberal journalists and artists responsible for everything from Monty Python to Downton Abbey sign an open letter in favour of the first state restraints on the British press in three and a quarter centuries.

  • And in Canberra the government is planning to repeal Section 18C — whoa, don’t worry, not all of it, just three or four adjectives; or maybe only two, or whatever it’s down to by now, after what Gay Alcorn in the Age described as the ongoing debate about ‘where to strike the balance between free speech in a democracy and protection against racial abuse in a multicultural society’.

I heard a lot of that kind of talk during my battles with the Canadian ‘human rights’ commissions a few years ago: of course, we all believe in free speech, but it’s a question of how you ‘strike the balance’, where you ‘draw the line’… which all sounds terribly reasonable and Canadian, and apparently Australian, too. But in reality the point of free speech is for the stuff that’s over the line, and strikingly unbalanced. If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.

But I don’t really think that many people these days are genuinely interested in ‘striking the balance’; they’ve drawn the line and they’re increasingly unashamed about which side of it they stand. What all the above stories have in common, whether nominally about Israel, gay marriage, climate change, Islam, or even freedom of the press, is that one side has cheerfully swapped that apocryphal Voltaire quote about disagreeing with what you say but defending to the death your right to say it for the pithier Ring Lardner line: ‘“Shut up,” he explained.’

Legends and Myths

The Myth of the Dark Ages

The standard secular humanist perspective on European history was wrapped up and handed to us by Enlightenment philosophes.  The basic thesis was that rational thought and accomplishment ended with the waning of the Roman Empire.  It was succeeded by the Dark Ages--a period of ignorance, disease, poverty and brutality--until Charlemagne (circa 800AD), who represented a flickering, dying ember of former glories.  But human history did not recommence its triumphant upward movement until the Enlightenment, which it began to hymn brazenly, and with just a smidgen of self-serving chutzpah, declaring "We are the Champions of the World". 

Nowadays only the untutored cling to such a deceitful trick, and then only for the purposes of propaganda--which is elegantly appropriate, since this was largely why Gibbon wrote his magisterial Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  The way the story "rolled" was to magnify Rome and its Empire and contrast its glories with the succeeding degradations, then slip in an association of the "decline and fall" with the spread of Christianity (a superstition undermining classical thought), leading to the "inevitable" conclusion that the Christian religion was bad for the general well-being of mankind. 

Here is Gibbon's paean of praise to Roman accomplishment: