Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Ukraine #4

Douglas Wilson
March 18, 2015

Please allow me just one more set of background observations before I say what I think ought to be done in Ukraine.

When we teach math to kids, we are not training future mathematicians, although some will wind up there. We are training future grocers, carpenters, housewives, etc. We want what they learn about math to be consistent with what the future mathematicians will eventually learn, but it need not be anything like so complicated.

When we teach history to kids, we are not training up future historians. We are educating Christian kids to be faithful citizens in the country where God has placed them. God wants them here, and God wants them to honor their father and mother. As a third grader honors his fathers and mothers, there is no way to keep this from being “simplified” and coming across to academic historians as yet another instance of “monocausality.”
Fine, but monocausality shows up in biblical histories. Why did Herod get eaten by worms?

And at the same time, there are standard monocausal explanations that are simply anachronistic or wrong.

Daily Devotional

Prayer in Gethsemane

"And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed."
Matthew 26:39

Charles H. Spurgeon

There are several instructive features in our Saviour's prayer in his hour of trial. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from his three favoured disciples. Believer, be much in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial. Family prayer, social prayer, prayer in the Church, will not suffice, these are very precious, but the best beaten spice will smoke in your censer in your private devotions, where no ear hears but God's.

It was humble prayer. Luke says he knelt, but another evangelist says he "fell on his face." Where, then, must be thy place, thou humble servant of the great Master? What dust and ashes should cover thy head! Humility gives us good foot-hold in prayer. There is no hope of prevalence with God unless we abase ourselves that he may exalt us in due time.

It was filial prayer. "Abba, Father." You will find it a stronghold in the day of trial to plead your adoption. You have no rights as a subject, you have forfeited them by your treason; but nothing can forfeit a child's right to a father's protection. Be not afraid to say, "My Father, hear my cry."

Observe that it was persevering prayer. He prayed three times. Cease not until you prevail. Be as the importunate widow, whose continual coming earned what her first supplication could not win. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.

Lastly, it was the prayer of resignation. "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." Yield, and God yields. Let it be as God wills, and God will determine for the best. Be thou content to leave thy prayer in his hands, who knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold. So pleading, earnestly, importunately, yet with humility and resignation, thou shalt surely prevail.

NZ: Increasingly A Closed, Controlled Economy

The Objection Industry

The benighted Resource Management Act ("RMA") was sold to the electorate as a way to achieve economic growth in a manner consistent with responsible resource management.  It has proved to be nothing of the kind.  As so many legislative overreaches demonstrate, the RMA does the exact opposite to its stated intent.  It has been used to stop development in its tracks while a very expensive, litigious court process inches forward, adding costs by the day.

At root, the RMA undermines property rights.  What is mine is no longer mine; it is owned substantially not by the legal owner, but the "community".  Others now have a property right that warrants them (via the courts) deciding when and how one's property may be deployed, exploited, and used. 

Duncan Garner, writing in Stuff, excoriates the RMA, writing up just one case.  It involves an RMA-meddling local council.  The council is unnamed.  That's deliberately done (see below).  One presumes the reporting is accurate.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Letter From America (Tracing Immanuel's Footsteps)

An Arrested Abortion

Billy Hallowell
March 18, 2015

A woman who was featured tenderly serenading her baby girl in a now-viral YouTube video posted a very personal Facebook message on Sunday, revealing that she almost had an abortion two years ago — until a popular Bible verse stopped her in her tracks.

Kimberly Henderson, a 26-year-old aspiring singer who was rejected three times by “American Idol,” published her testimony on the social media platform, noting that March 15 was the two-year anniversary of her visit to the clinic, where she prepared to end her pregnancy.

“People remember dates for birthdays, and anniversaries. Well this date is forever burned in my brain. It’s a day that I will remember and I remember every single detail of that day,” Henderson wrote. “I think that is [sic] Gods way of showing me that HIS plan is and will always be greater and bigger than anything and everything I’ve ever known.”

Daily Devotional

Interim Anxieties

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On disagreeable, nasty people; and on avoiding obsessing about their bullying.
10 March 1954

C. S Lewis

I am sorry things are not better. I am very puzzled by people like your Committee Secretary, people who are just nasty. I find it easier to understand the great crimes, for the raw material of them exists in us all; the mere disagreeableness which seems to spring from no recognisable passion is mysterious. (Like the total stranger in a train of whom I once asked ‘Do you know when we get to Liverpool’ and who replied ‘I’m not paid to answer your questions: ask the guard’).

I have found it more among boys than anyone else. That makes me think it really comes from inner insecurity—a dim sense that one is Nobody, a strong determination to be Somebody, and a belief that this can be achieved by arrogance. Probably you, who can’t hit back, come in for a good deal of resentful arrogance aroused by others on whom she doesn’t vent it, because they can. (A bully in an Elizabethan play, having been sat on by a man he dare not fight, says ‘I’ll go home and beat all my servants’). But I mustn’t encourage you to go on thinking about her: that, after all, is almost the greatest evil nasty people can do us—to become an obsession, to haunt our minds. A brief prayer for them, and then away to other subjects, is the thing, if one can only stick to it. I hope the other job will materialise. . . .

I too had mumps after I was grown up. I didn’t mind it as long as I had the temperature: but when one came to convalescence and a convalescent appetite and even thinking of food started the salivation and the pain—ugh! I never realised ‘the disobedience in our members’ so clearly before [Romans 7:23]. Verily ‘He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it, hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart’ (or in his glands) [Matthew 5:28].

I shall wait anxiously for all your news, always praying not only for a happy issue but that you may be supported in all interim anxieties.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.  Sourced from BibleGateway.

Iterative Tyranny

The Evil Empire

When President Nixon notoriously intoned "we are all Keynsians now" he was right, although it still grates to admit the truth of his statement.  We can add another "we are all . . . now" statement, equally offensive, but just as true.  We are all socialists now.  The Fabian socialists have carried the day.  Fabianism--the doctrine of socialism not via revolution (a la Lenin) but by gradual iteration--has won out.

Every Western nation today is fundamentally socialist in their orientation and bent.  All agree that the government must redistribute the wealth, income, and capital of everyone to the benefit of some, which in turn is forged upon the anvil of the state being the ultimate owner of all property.  Doubtless this is unsurprising.  Materialism, the belief that only matter exists, leads to atheism, which leads to statism because there is no higher power than the state anywhere in the universe.  Ultimately the state is right because might makes right.

Advocates of Fabianism will insist that this is an unfair characterisation of their position.  They have long believed in democracy, not brute totalitarian power.  They have advocated for persuasion and the ballot box.  But for many Fabians this is merely a means to an end.  Right from the very beginning the Fabians secretly admired the absolute ruthlessness of Lenin and Soviet Communism.  They would have loved to have such power, such totalitarian control.  Given the opportunity, the Fabians would have opted for totalitarian control in a heart beat.  They were gradualists, not by choice, but by necessity.  Gradualism was a tactic, not an ethic.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Religious Oppression in the UK

“Christ” and “Jesus” Considered Abusive by Marks & Spencer

March 2015: A pastor’s wife order for bouquet of spring flowers was blocked when she had tried to use words: "Thank you for your care and practical help for Margaret in her last days . . . With love from her church family, Christ Church Teddington". She was confronted with an on-screen warning: “Sorry there’s something in your message we can’t write.”
Marks & Spencer had listed words like “Christ” and “Jesus Christ” on a list of banned abusive and offensive terms. As a result, online customers who tried to include those words in their greeting cards, were prevented from completing their orders. M&S withdrew this policy after it was made public.

Intolerance Against Christians

Daily Devotional

Satan’s Candy Store

Since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. (1 Peter 4:1)

John Piper

First it puzzles. Did Christ have to cease from sin? No! “He committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22).

Then it clicks. When we arm ourselves with the thought that Christ suffered for us, we realize that we died with him. “He bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). When we die with him we cease to sin.

It’s just like Romans 6. “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. . . . So consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:6–7, 11).

Peter says, “Arm yourselves with this thought!”  Paul says, “Consider yourselves dead!”  The weapon for our vacation is a thought/consideration.

When the temptations of Satan come — to lust, to steal, to lie, to covet, to envy, to retaliate, to put down, to fear — arm yourself with this thought:

Mounting Evidence For Charter Schools

Bleak Future in New Zealand

Teacher unions hate charter schools with a passion.  They see them as undermining the state education system which is effectively controlled by the teacher unions.  This position is a bit ironic, since charter schools are merely another kind of state school.

What teacher unions really hate about charter schools is the relative freedom (we use the term advisedly) charter schools have in operating.  We are somewhat cautious here because the NZ version of charter schools has lots and lots of state control embedded.  Every charter school in New Zealand (there are only five) is under a more rigorous and more frequent reporting regime to the Ministry of Education than an  ordinary state school.  But internationally this is not the case.  Charter schools have far fewer restrictions in places like the US and the UK. 

We can understand the caution of the New Zealand government.  If the nascent charter schools were to fail it would be the end of the experiment for all time.  This is why the teacher unions have tried every trick to ensure that failure is the outcome of charter schools in New Zealand.  But this uber-caution by the government has introduced another serious jeopardy.  So few charter schools have been funded and got off the ground--and the selection criteria have been so narrow and doctrinaire--that it is unlikely the charter school experiment will succeed in this country.  Sooner or later a Left-wing Labour administration will return to power in this country.  Closing down five charter schools will be relatively easy.  Closing down one hundred would have been politically much more difficult.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Hear No Evil, See No Evil

Turning the Blind Eye

Inmate Was ‘Overwhelmed and Nervous’ His First Night in Prison, So He Asked a Guard for a Bible. Here’s What He Was Offered Instead

Billy Hallowell
Mar. 18, 2015

A report released on Tuesday by a U.K. prison reform charity revealed former inmates’ claims about the sexual exploits that go on in British prison cells, including the presence of pornography, rape and sexual relationships that violate prison regulations.

One former inmate told a commission assembled by the Howard League for Penal Reform that he felt “overwhelmed and nervous during his first night in prison, so he requested a Bible, but the guards didn’t have one readily available.

“After some time, an officer returned and apologetically explained that he could not find a Bible but he could lend instead a selection of pornographic magazines ‘to help you get to sleep,’” reads a press release explaining the report.

Daily Devotional

Becoming a True Servant

TO MARY VAN DEUSEN: On God wanting us and not what we can do for God; and on our job to become more and more God’s.

C. S. Lewis

25 March 1954
I must be short for I have had a run of absolutely full days and there are endless things waiting to be done. You ask ‘for what’ God wants you. Isn’t the primary answer that He wants you. We’re not told that the lost sheep was sought out for anything except itself [Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:3-7]. Of course, He may have a special job for you: and the certain job is that of becoming more and more His. Yes, isn’t [William] Law good?

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.  Sourced from BibleGateway.

Easier to Make Vague Noises

Conservatism Without Doctrines

We were intrigued recently to read this description of the Conservative Party in the UK.
Most Conservative politicians have little grasp of policy or its importance, but are captivated by the prospect of office.  It is also because most political Conservatives are rich enough to be immune from the rougher parts of the state school system, and from any regular contact with the officious insolence of local authorities and other government agencies.  A large income can and does buy exemption from many of the worst aspects of the New Britain.  So most Tories have no real idea of what it is like, and no burning desire to reform it.

They camouflage this lack of political understanding by pretending to be Edwardian country squires and roaring with fake masculinity about how Toryism is a "disposition and not a dogma".  This may have been true, when Tories truly were rubicund, weather-beaten, port-soaked countrymen but it is not true of their pasty, suburban successors.  [Peter Hitchens, The Broken Compass: How Left and Right Lost Their Meaning  (London: Continuum UK, 2009), p. xv.)
The UK elites long ago lost their faith.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The UK's Persecution of Christians

Hearing Confirms Christian Educator "Rightly" Dismissed for Faith

March 2015: Christian nursery educator, Sarah Mbuyi, was dismissed from her job after "gross misconduct" for saying that marriage is an institution between one man and one woman in conversation with a colleague.

Sarah Mbuyi struggles now before an employment tribunal against the "unfair dismissal", according to the The Times. Sara Mbuyi worked in a day care center in London's Shepherd's Bush. It states that a conversation with a lesbian colleague was decisive for their dismissal. She was asked what the Bible teaches about homosexuality because their church would not let her marry her partner. Then, the colleague reported the incident to her supervisor. After a disciplinary interview the director, Mbuyi was dismissed for "gross misconduct" and violation of the Anti-Discrimination Act. 

Gross misconduct is the most serious penalty normally reserved for theft and fighting at work. One witness claimed that Miss Mbuyi was not able to meet contractual obligations because of her belief, saying: “She was not able to do her job, to represent the diversity of the nursery. This indicated other beliefs that would make her unable to fulfil her duties.” Sarah Mbuyi said: “You know persecution [for your faith] is coming, but it feels really surreal when you realise it’s happening to you.”

Intolerance Against Christians

Daily Devotional

God's Best Promise

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

John Piper

The most far-reaching promise of God’s future grace is found in Romans 8:32. This is the most precious verse in the Bible to me. Part of the reason is that the promise in it is so all-encompassing that it stands ready to help me at virtually every turn in my life and ministry. There never has been, and never will be, a circumstance in my life where this promise is irrelevant.

By itself that all-encompassing promise would probably not make the verse most precious. There are other such sweeping promises such as Psalm 84:11: “No good thing does [God] withhold from those who walk uprightly.” And 1 Corinthians 3:21–23: “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” It is difficult to overstate the spectacular sweep and scope of these promises.

But what puts Romans 8:32 in a class by itself is the logic that gives rise to the promise and makes it as solid and unshakable as God’s love for his infinitely admirable Son.

Romans 8:32 contains a foundation and guarantee that is so strong and so solid and so secure that there is absolutely no possibility that the promise could ever be broken. This is what makes it an ever-present strength in times of great turmoil. Whatever else gives way, whatever else disappoints, whatever else fails, this all-encompassing promise of future grace can never fail.

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all . . .” If this is true, says the logic of heaven, then God will most surely give all things to those for whom he gave his Son!

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.

The Wretched of the Earth

A US Politician Speaks Against Domestic Tyranny

Rand Paul is one of the more interesting politicians in the US Senate today.  He is not a group think pollie.  He is not tribal Republican.  He is certainly not a RINO (Republican In Name Only).  In matters judicial he is speaking out about systemic inequities and injustices regnant in that country which make many Christians burn with anger.  In matters economic he is taking the message of how free markets benefit the poor to audiences which are traditionally tribal Left.

Here is a report on a speech he delivered recently to a predominantly secular liberal black university audience, which was substantially welcomed and acclaimed. Firstly, how the Bill of Rights is set to defend the poor and the fringes and the disinherited.  His focus began by addressing grave inequities in the US criminal justice system.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Daily Devotional


"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Matthew 5:9

Charles H. Spurgeon

This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker.

There is a significance also in the position of the text. The verse which precedes it speaks of the blessedness of "the pure in heart: for they shall see God." It is well to understand that we are to be "first pure, then peaceable." Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or toleration of evil. We must set our faces like flints against everything which is contrary to God and his holiness: purity being in our souls a settled matter, we can go on to peaceableness.

Not less does the verse that follows seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood: and no marvel, for even the Prince of Peace, by his very peacefulness, brought fire upon the earth. He himself, though he loved mankind, and did no ill, was "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, it is added in the following verse, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Thus, the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, but they are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude!

Purify our minds that we may be "first pure, then peaceable," and fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may not lead us into cowardice and despair, when for thy sake we are persecuted.

The Growing Love of Death

The Satan's Final Work

We were struck recently by the declaration attributed to British author, Terry Pratchett in one of the many tributes after his death.  Pratchett had been suffering from early onset Alzheimers.
He also explored the case for assisted suicide in an acclaimed TV documentary. "Either we have control of our lives, or we do not," he said. [NZ Herald]
Herein lies the philosophical and ethical rationale for suicide.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Letter From America (About France)

France Down-in-the-Dumps

Daily Devotional

The Triumph Is Sure

Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. (Isaiah 25:3)

John Piper

Isaiah sees the day coming when all the nations — representatives from all the people groups — will no longer be at odds with Yahweh, the God of Israel and his Messiah, whom we know to be Jesus.  They will no longer worship Bel or Nebo or Molech or Allah or Buddha or utopian social programs or capitalistic growth possibilities or ancestors or animistic spirits. Instead they will come in faith to the banquet on God’s mountain. 

And they will have the veil of sorrow removed and death shall be swallowed up and the reproach of God's people will be removed and tears shall be gone forever.  That's the setting for understanding the vision of verse 3: “Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.” In other words God is stronger than the “strong people” and he is so powerful and so gracious that in the end he will turn ruthless nations to revere him.

So the picture Isaiah gives us is one of all nations turned to God in worship, a great banquet for all the peoples, the removal of all suffering and grief and reproach from the nations who have become his people, and the final putting away of death forever.

This triumph is sure because God is doing it. Therefore we can be certain of it.

Not one life spent in the cause of world evangelization is spent in vain. Not one prayer or one dollar or one sermon or one letter of encouragement mailed or one little light shining in some dark place — nothing in the cause of the advancing kingdom is in vain.

The triumph is sure.

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.

Earwigs Scurrying For Cover

Politically Correcting the Corrections Department

The probation industry is fraught with tragic mistakes, errors, and pain.  It makes victim's pain more or less perpetual as successive probation hearings need to be testified at.  The anguish and pain to be re-dredged, re-remembered, and refreshed.  At times the Parole Board makes serious mistakes.  A paroled criminal re-offends and more victims suffer.

Now something even more serious has come to light.  The Probation Service and the Department of Corrections are bureaucracies (no surprises there).  Probation officers on the "front line" write reports about prisoners coming up for parole hearings.  Middle level bureaucrats in the Service and the Department of Corrections then edit the reports.  Clearly they want reports to have correct grammar and syntax.  If only.  In fact there is evidence that middle management wants probation reports to be politically correct.  They call it a "quality assurance check".  Now this may be entirely innocent.  Or not.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Letter From New Zealand (About a Christian Dentist Who Escaped ISIS)

The Dentist Who Escaped Isis

Rachel Smalley
NZ Herald
March 14, 2015

One day, he was a prosperous dental surgeon. The next, he was taken from his car at gunpoint and thrown in a bloodstained cell, where he watched as the other prisoners were taken out, one by one, to be shot. Ashour tells Rachel Smalley how he survived.

"Do you want the whole story?" he asks.  "Yes, if you can," I say. "I hear it's quite a story."

His name is Ashour (surname withheld for his protection) and he will soon turn 30. He is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon from Mosul but for the past six months he has lived in a crowded church in Kurdistan, Iraq. He has a bag of clothes, some blankets and a pillow, but little else.  "It's not so bad," Ashour says. "I am displaced but I still have my life."

Ashour is one of two million Iraqis displaced after fleeing Isis and its jihadist agenda of torture, indiscriminate killing and religious persecution.  Almost one million have sought refuge in Kurdistan, the small, semi-autonomous region in the north of the country, sheltering in schools, informal tent settlements, churches, and the bare, concrete skeletons of unfinished buildings that pepper the Middle East's landscape.

I meet Ashour in Duhok, a city encircled by mountains in the rich, fertile basin of the Tigris River.

Daily Devotional

No Exceptions

"We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
Acts 14:22

Charles H. Spurgeon

God's people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when he chose his people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, he included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs.

Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ's last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: he has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them.

Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the "Father of the faithful." Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King's vessels of honour are distinguished.

But although tribulation is thus the path of God's children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have his presence and sympathy to cheer them, his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach "the kingdom," it will more than make amends for the "much tribulation" through which they passed to enter it.

Long Term Thinking

Inter-Generational Inequity

Here is something you don't see every day.  A local Maori tribe has bought up some state houses in the area of its traditional tribal lands.  It plans to lease them out to tribal members.  Nothing unusual there.  But it is the terms of the lease which are startling.
"Buying land close to Orakei is important to Ngati Whatua Orakei. Our focus is securing land within the tribal boundaries and then using it in the best way to ensure sustainable benefit for the hapu," he said.  The iwi would convert three freehold titles at 38 Takitimu St, 29 Te Arawa St and 11 Ngaio St into leasehold titles and advertise them for sale. 

Leases of 125 years, 150 years or 175 years could be bought, he said.  But ground rent review issues would be avoided because purchases of the leasehold interests in those three properties would be sold with prepaid ground rents. 

Mr Hutchison said such arrangements were relatively rare on suburban residential properties but common overseas.  "There will be no rent reviews throughout the term and the ground leases are prepaid, which we believe removes uncertainly and will make budgeting easier. After 175 years the land can come back to Ngati Whatua Orakei." [NZ Herald]
The first thing that is unusual is the long term view which the tribe is taking of land ownership.  It genuinely believes its newly acquired land is to be held in perpetuity for its descendants.  Ancestral or family land is largely a thing of the past in modern Western economies.  Ngati Whatua is to be commended by thinking in a manner consistent with its tribal ideology.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Making John Knox’s Bones Twitch

Douglas Wilson
March 12, 2015

Rachel Marie Stone wrote an article for Christianity Today urging us to “reconsider” Margaret Sanger. The point was that while Sanger was emphatic about the personal and social good that comes from freely available contraception — contraception that was under the control of women — she was also opposed to abortion.

I learned about this article through a lot of good Christians what-the-helling on Twitter and so on, and so I thought I should go take a look. Having done so, let me acknowledge an important point made by a number of respondents thus far. Sanger was a white supremacist, and she was promoting her methods as a way of keeping the human weeds under control. Her outlook was perfectly appalling, and this illustrates yet again that we shouldn’t really care how good Mussolini was with train schedules, or how disciplined and coordinated the North Korean flag-waving drill team is.

The prefix eu in eugenics was a thin code for those white folks who have now dropped the word eugenics like a hot rock, but who still continue to disproportionately target black boys and girls — with the connivance of black quislings — and it should be pointed out by somebody that they have a kill rate much higher than that of the Ferguson Police Department.

Daily Devotional

I Love Real Mice

C. S. Lewis

TO HILA NEWMAN, an eleven-year-old girl who had sent Lewis her drawings and a letter of appreciation for the first three Chronicles of Narnia: On Lewis’s care not to decode the Chronicles of Narnia.

3 June 1953
Thank you so much for your lovely letter and pictures. I realised at once that the coloured one was not a particular scene but a sort of line-up like what you would have at the very end if it was a play instead of stories. The [Voyage of the] DAWN TREADER is not to be the last: There are to be 4 more, 7 in all. Didn’t you notice that Aslan said nothing about Eustace not going back? I thought the best of your pictures was the one of Mr. Tumnus at the bottom of the letter.

As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world? Think it over and let me know your answer!

Reepicheep in your coloured picture has just the right perky, cheeky expression. I love real mice. There are lots in my rooms in College but I have never set a trap. When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, ‘Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.’

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Sourced from BibleGateway.

Policing in the UK

Systemic Failures

It would seem that policing in the UK is a dog's breakfast, and even that's putting it kindly.  We have been shocked by revelations of British police systematically ignoring horrendous crimes and criminal gangs out of political correctness and the values of multi-culturalism.  Apparently the grooming and systematic rape of young girls is a traditional cultural practice in Pakistan, so British police have turned a blind eye to its manifestation in the UK.

But the problems are far deeper and more systemic than we might realise.  The first problem is the prejudice against preventive policing in favour of "fire-brigade policing" (by which we mean attending actual crimes in progress).  Preventative policing now has enormous bureaucratic hurdles.  Take, for example, the bureaucratic morass that clings to the simplest prevention policing action--the issuing of a caution to a petty offender.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Ukraine #3

Douglas Wilson
March 10, 2015

We have already noted how complicated things in Ukraine are, and I trust I have cast suspicion on any approach that wants to reduce everything to clear and simple (and therefore ideological) talking points.
To the extent we are involved in this kind of thing at all, our chief job is to stay out of the current pending disaster, and possibly the one right after that. Our first task is not to set up shop to redress grievances going back to the 1300’s. We are not competent to untangle that skein of yarn, and this is why we need a Day of Judgment, with a more competent Judge than anything the Security Council could ever have.

Our task is more simple, which is to keep things from spiraling out of control now. In the medieval period, the Church attempted to restrain the constant violence by means of the Pax Dei and Treuga Dei (the peace of God and the truce of God respectively). The former attempted to establish a permanent set of “off limits” regulations, while the latter restrictions were more temporary in nature. For example, the Pax Dei prohibited making war on women and children. The Treuga Dei did things like attempting to keep the nobles from fighting on Thursdays. Not very effective, but better than nothing.

Daily Devotional

Open the Windows of Your Heart
I have put my Spirit upon him . . . a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. (Isaiah 42:1–3)

John Piper

Probably the most encouraging words I have heard in weeks came from a prophecy in Isaiah 42:1–3 about how Jesus will use his spiritual power.

Do you feel like a “bruised reed” — like one of those big top-heavy Easter lilies whose stem has been squashed so that the flower slops to the ground and gets no juice? Do you ever feel like your faith is just a little spark instead of a flame — like that little red dot on the wick after you blow out the birthday candle?
Take heart! The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of encouragement: he will not snap off your flower; he will not snuff out your spark.

“The Spirit is upon me to preach good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18). “The Sun of righteousness is rising with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2). “He is meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). “Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

It may be a grief to us that we are only a spark instead of a flaming fire. But listen! And be encouraged: yes, there is a big difference between a spark and a fire. But there is an infinite difference between a spark and no spark! A mustard seed (of faith) is infinitely closer to being a mountain than it is to being no seed.

Open the window of God's promises and let the Spirit blow into every room of your heart. The Holy Wind of God will not break or quench. He will lift up your head and fan your spark into a flame. He is the Spirit of encouragement.

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.

The Most Selfish of Self-Interests

Politicians Know Best

One of the great advances in governance in New Zealand has been the Reserve Bank Act (1989).  Prior to that time the Reserve Bank operated as a personal fiefdom of the Prime Minister.  Consequently monetary policy before 1989 was under the influence, if not outright control, of the most powerful politician in the land. 

The Reserve Bank Act made the Governor of the RB, appointed by the government of the day, independent of any political masters.  He (and the Bank) were responsible to the law--to carry out the Reserve Bank Act.  One of the key advances of that Act was to make controlling inflation the number one duty of the Bank when it came to monetary policy settings.  In effect, this created a check and balance upon the venality of politicians.  Virtually every Prime Minister (and Minister of Finance) since the passing of the Act has complained about the settings of monetary policy and has lectured and hectored the incumbent Reserve Bank governor.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Islamic Millenarians Clean the Slate

The Islamic State's Shocking Assault on History

by Alexander H. Joffe
The National Interest
March 11, 2015
(Originally published under the title, "ISIS' Shocking Assault on History.")

Members of ISIS use sledgehammers to destroy a statue at Mosul Museum in an undated video made public by the group last month.

The terrible spectacle of Islamic State (ISIS) members destroying ancient Mesopotamian statuary in the Mosul Museum and at the Assyrian site of Nimrud has shocked the world, as intended. These actions were met with swift condemnation from the world's scholars and cultural authorities, as well as its political authorities. To Western eyes, the perpetrators' self-evident glee was especially bizarre. From childhood, we are taught to tread carefully in museums lest we damage artifacts. So what comes next for archeological treasures in the Middle East?

The problem is that in its accompanying statements, the Islamic State made it perfectly clear its motivations derived from Islam. A spokesman for the group, speaking at the scene of destruction, said:

Daily Devotional

Keeping Near

"Abide in me."
John 15:4

Charles H. Spurgeon

Communion with Christ is a certain cure for every ill. Whether it be the wormwood of woe, or the cloying surfeit of earthly delight, close fellowship with the Lord Jesus will take bitterness from the one, and satiety from the other.

Live near to Jesus, Christian, and it is a matter of secondary importance whether thou livest on the mountain of honour or in the valley of humiliation. Living near to Jesus, thou art covered with the wings of God, and underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Let nothing keep thee from that hallowed intercourse, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to the well-beloved.

Be not content with an interview now and then, but seek always to retain his company, for only in his presence hast thou either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be unto us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with whom we walk evermore. Thou hast a difficult road before thee: see, O traveller to heaven, that thou go not without thy guide. Thou hast to pass through the fiery furnace; enter it not unless, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, thou hast the Son of God to be thy companion. Thou hast to storm the Jericho of thine own corruptions: attempt not the warfare until, like Joshua, thou hast seen the Captain of the Lord's host, with his sword drawn in his hand. Thou art to meet the Esau of thy many temptations: meet him not until at Jabbok's brook thou hast laid hold upon the angel, and prevailed.

In every case, in every condition, thou wilt need Jesus; but most of all, when the iron gates of death shall open to thee. Keep thou close to thy soul's Husband, lean thy head upon his bosom, ask to be refreshed with the spiced wine of his pomegranate, and thou shalt be found of him at the last, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Seeing thou hast lived with him, and lived in him here, thou shalt abide with him forever.

Decay and Rot Is A Perpetual Norm

A Perpetual Fifth Column

It has been said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.  Why?  The presumption behind the adage is that men are not just corruptible, which alone would be sufficient reason for eternal vigilance, but that men are prone to corruption.  Given half a chance the ever nascent spectre of the Lord of the Flies emerges from a putrescent carcass.  We must needs be vigilant precisely because the risk of tyranny is real. 

Not that this should surprise us.  All Nature is in decay in one way or the other.  Steel rusts.  Foundations rot.  Rivers flood.  Species die out.  It's no surprise, therefore, that the human species would be prone to decay and retrogression.  It's what made the Cold War a very real threat.

G. K Chesterton takes this a stage further.  He suggests that the threat to human liberty is that liberty itself allows--even promotes--decay and rot from within.  A previous generation's glory becomes the downfall of the next.  Our glory becomes our next curse.  It is for this reason that eternal vigilance is required.  He cites some historical examples of liberties producing tyrannies in fast order:

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Prophet Sober and the Culture Drunk

Douglas Wilson
March 9, 2015

Well, it is Monday morning, so let me write something outrageous. We can sweep up the pieces later. But also keep in mind the fact that just because something is outrageous, it does not follow that it is untrue or unnecessary. In fact, now that the cultural headquarters of our republic has been transferred to the National Zoo’s central monkey house, every day that goes by makes normality more and more outrageous. So there’s that.

Worldview thinkers know that everything is connected. The world is all of a piece, and in the final analysis, the long war between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is an interpretive war over the whole. The seed of the woman seek to understand the world as the Creator of it understands it, and the seed of the serpent seek to understand it in evolutionary terms, which is to say, on its own terms.

The cosmos is here because God put it here. Or, taking the other route, the cosmos — in some form — was always here. Either God is eternal, or matter/energy are. In the former scenario, there was nothing material and then bam, there was everything that is. In the latter, you have constant, everlasting, unrelenting change. No hope, but lots of change.

Daily Devotional

Love Versus Unselfishness

C.S. Lewis 

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love.

You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point.

I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self- denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses. Copyright © 1949, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1976, revised 1980 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Sourced from BibleGateway.

Neo-Nazi Revival

Anti-Semitism Rising in Britain

Hatred of the Jewish people is on the rise in the UK (and in some European countries).  In a recent research experiment, a reporter put on a yarmulke (a traditional Jewish skull cap) and walked down streets in Manchester and Bradford.  Within minutes he was being publicly insulted and event spat at. 

The headlines which of the Daily Mail report read:

EXCLUSIVE: 'Fight the Jewish scum!' Shocking anti-Semitism on streets of BRITAIN as Jewish journalist is spat at, abused and even stalked... and the same happens in Copenhagen

  • Journalist donned traditional Jewish head covering 'kippah' to test reaction
  • It took one minute for first abuse to be hurled on Britain's streets 
  • Spat at in Manchester and boy walking with father called out 'Jew'
  • 'Stalked' by a man in Bradford for five minutes as he took photos
  • Prime Minister David Cameron told MailOnline: 'There are no excuses for the shocking anti-Semitism revealed in this report'
  • Same test in Copenhagen saw a similar taunts to 'Jewish man'
  • But Stockholm and Berlin walkabouts went without any incident  
We believe that what is transpiring before our eyes is an unholy alliance.  On the one side are mainly Pakistani immigrants to the UK settling in ghettoes in cities like Manchester and Bradford whilst continuing to live within the traditional doctrines and dictats of Islam.  On the other side--far removed from the ghettoes--is the Leftist (now UK mainstream) ideology which frames Israel (and, therefore, the world-wide global conspiracy of Zionism) as being the relentless oppressor of Palestinians, in particular, and Middle Eastern peoples in general.  (Yes, we know it's a troglodyte's position, owned by the impeccably ignorant, but there you go.)

In Britain, Leftist ideology also frames the Islamic ghettoes as being populated by victims, the have-nots, the disenfranchised, the exploited and the oppressed.  The Left must stand with them and help facilitate the struggle against oppression within Britain itself.  Both groups, now joined at the hip in group-think, hate the Jewish people and Israel as the unjust monster with its foot on the neck of deprived and exploited peoples.

The Left has made anti-semitism and hatred of the Jewish people fashionable and respectable once again in the UK. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Behold the Madness of Unbelief

Unleashed Demons

Whenever a culture rejects the Lord Jesus Christ, it begins a relentless integration into the void.  One thing leads to another, as they say.  Liberties become an occasion for license; license generates libertinism.  It may take a few generations, but the void beckons and comes more and more close. 

Unbelief becomes so perverse that its stupidity and foolishness becomes unconscious to a perverse culture.  Here is but one example: a gym in a small town in Michigan adopts a gender policy entirely consistent with materialist secularism.  A male was found in female changing rooms.  Gym management said he had an absolute right to be there.  The woman who complained was barred from the gym.  How did this come about?  Duh.  The gym had a non-discrimination policy (of course). 
“Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity,” the statement said. “The manner in which this member expressed her concerns about the policy exhibited behavior that management at the Midland club deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement and as a result her membership was cancelled.” [The Blaze]
So, the bloke was perfectly entitled to use the female changing rooms because he identified himself as a female. He had a "sincere self-reported gender identity."  Glad we got that clear.  Failure to respect that sincere self-identification process meant the presence of a deeper evil--DISCRIMINATION.

Daily Devotional

Look to Jesus for Your Joy

“They do all their deeds to be seen by others . . . and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.” (Matthew 23:5–7)

John Piper

The itch of self-regard craves the scratch of self-approval. That is, if we are getting our pleasure from feeling self-sufficient, we will not be satisfied without others seeing and applauding our self-sufficiency.
Hence Jesus’s description of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:5–7.

This is ironic. Self-sufficiency should free the proud person from the need to be made much of by others. That’s what “sufficient” means. But evidently there is a void in this so-called self-sufficiency.
The self was never designed to satisfy itself or rely upon itself. It never can be sufficient. We are but in the image of God, not God himself. We are shadows and echoes. So there will always be an emptiness in the soul that struggles to be satisfied with the resources of self.

This empty craving for the praise of others signals the failure of pride and the absence of faith in God’s ongoing grace. Jesus saw the terrible effect of this itch for human glory. He named it in John 5:44, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” The answer is, you can’t. Itching for glory from other people makes faith impossible. Why?
Because faith is being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus. And if you are bent on getting the satisfaction of your itch from the scratch of others’ acclaim, you will turn away from Jesus.

But if you would turn from self as the source of satisfaction (repentance), and come to Jesus for the enjoyment of all that God is for us in him (faith), then the itch would be replaced by a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14).

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.

Privy Council Wake

A Closed Shop in a Small Village

On October 14, 2003 the New Zealand Parliament voted by a very narrow majority to abolish appeals to the Privy Council.  A significant constitutional change was effected by the smallest of parliamentary majorities.  Then Attorney General, Margaret Wilson's motivation was not justice, nor the law.  It was purely political.
The Campaign for the Privy Council was established in 2003 to oppose the abolition of appeals from New Zealand to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.  The then Attorney-General Margaret Wilson proposed the abolition of appeals, primarily for political rather than legal or constitutional reasons.  The majority of the legal fraternity, business leaders, and the general public opposed the abolition of appeals. A large majority supported proposals for a referendum.

Although the Campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, it did give Margaret Wilson reason to pause. She later admitted that the degree of opposition to her plans almost led her to abandon the proposal.  Nevertheless the third reading of the Supreme Court Bill occurred on Tuesday 14 October 2003. Parliament passed by a narrow majority the bill to end future appeals from New Zealand to the Privy Council, and to establish a new Supreme Court.
The new law allowed convictions and court verdicts entered before 2003 to be appealed to the UK Privy Council--a genuinely august court, consisting of some of the finest legal minds in the world.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Nothing New Here . . .

Unintended Irony

ISIS has attracted much loathing over recent days.  Its wanton destruction of historical artefacts has outraged many.  The heading in The Telegraph said it all:

Islamic State's thugs are trying to wipe an entire civilisation from the face of the earth

Just as the Nazis destroyed synagogues as well as those who worshipped in them, so Isil aspires to erase all traces of those it condemns as kuffar

Columnist Tom Holland went on to write:
Last week, a video was released showing the destruction of antiquities in Mosul’s museums. Since the antiquities themselves were probably smashed months ago, the dust in the display-rooms will long since have settled. Meanwhile, in the world beyond, the brutal and deliberate attack on treasures spanning millennia is already yesterday’s news.

The Islamic State, whose goons perpetrated the vandalism, appreciate more cynically than anyone that the world’s media feeds on a rapid turnover of atrocities. One succeeds another in a murderous churn. Why, then, should the destruction of statues matter more than the loss of human life? It is a question that troubles me: for I must acknowledge, if I am honest, that no images from the hell that is the Islamic State have upset me more than those which showed a winged bull more than two-and-a-half thousand years old being deliberately and methodically power-drilled.
His conclusion:

Daily Devotional


"Ye must be born again."
John 3:7

Charles H. Spurgeon

Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are "born again," for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it.

Being "born again," is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man.

Soft-Despotism vs The Rule of Law

The Law Under The Tender Caresses of Despots

In a Christian commonwealth the rule of law is a fundamental bulwark against absolutist, tyrannical government.  Slogans like, "we are a nation ruled by law, not by men" are meaningful and significant, insofar as no one man or no one authority owns and controls the law.

Laws, historically considered (as least within the Anglo-Saxon tradition), are written and promulgated and enforced by a diversity of powers: popular assemblies, titular assemblies, the courts of justice, and the crown.  Once laws are promulgated, the power of everyone, including all authorities and kings, is limited insofar as all kings and authorities are under the law thus made.  Their authority and power are necessarily limited thereby.

Now, of course, human laws are not divine.  There are just and unjust laws.  Laws at times need to be repealed, amended, and replaced.  The rule of law on its own is, therefore, no guarantee in and of itself of a just society.  Rather, the rule of law helps institutionalise the separation of powers and impedes the development of tyranny.  But, when tyrants control the law making and law enforcement processes the law becomes no friend to liberty.  The USSR--one of the most egregious dictatorships and tyrannies in recent history--could claim that it was a nation ruled by laws.  It's just that the dictators totally controlled the law-making processes.

In the soft-despotic state, such as found now throughout the West, a great deal of time is spent on promulgating, approving, and enforcing laws.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Ukraine #2

Douglas Wilson
March 4, 2015

Back in the old days, when Americanism was more robust than it is now, it used to be said that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” What this was supposed to mean is that our domestic disagreements paled in comparison to whatever it was the Nazis were doing. Now there was a time when this was at least plausible, whether or not it was correct. When there was, or seemed to be, a more cohesive cultural unity tying us all together domestically, it was easier to present a united front to the world, and it was easier to get Americans to all pull together in order to do so.

But at home that cohesive cultural unity is now long gone, and it is taking conservative Christians some time to recognize that it is long gone overseas as well. In short, if Obama is creating so much wreckage here at home, as we all recognize, then why should we believe that he is somehow spreading sweetness and light abroad? If Hillary is as corrupt elsewhere as she is here, then we have every reason to believe her flights around the world were simply an International Shakedown Tour. Why should I unite behind that?

We need to get loose of the simple binary formula that has America in the automatic white hat, with the baddies being anyone we identify as such. However, some critics of American foreign policy don’t want to let go of the standard binary system — they have kept the system but simply switched their default sympathies. But America shouldn’t get the automatic black hat either. It ain’t that simple.

Daily Devotional

Endure the Inexplicable

All the promises of God find their Yes in him. (2 Corinthians 1:20)

John Piper

When Christ died he purchased for you the “Yes” to all God’s promises (2 Corinthians 1:20), and that includes the promise to use his sovereign power to govern all the inexplicable, maddening detours and delays of your life for wise and loving purposes. He is doing a thousand things for you and for his glory in your disappointed plans.

Richard Wurmbrand tells a story that illustrates the necessity of believing God for good, unseen purposes, when all we can see is evil and frustration:
A legend says that Moses once sat near a well in meditation. A wayfarer stopped to drink from the well, and when he did so his purse fell from his girdle into the sand. The man departed. Shortly afterwards another man passed near the well, saw the purse and picked it up.
Later a third man stopped to assuage his thirst and went to sleep in the shadow of the well. Meanwhile, the first man had discovered that his purse was missing, and, assuming that he must have lost it at the well, returned, awoke the sleeper (who of course knew nothing) and demanded his money back. An argument followed, and irate, the first man slew the latter.

Whereupon Moses said to God, “You see, therefore men do not believe you. There is too much evil and injustice in the world. Why should the first man have lost his purse and then become a murderer? Why should the second have gotten a purse full of gold without having worked for it? The third was completely innocent. Why was he slain?”

God answered, “For once and only once, I will give you an explanation. I cannot do it at every step. The first man was a thief’s son. The purse contained money stolen by his father from the father of the second man, who finding the purse only found what was due him. The third was a murderer whose crime had never been revealed and who received from the first the punishment he deserved. In the future, believe that there is sense and righteousness in what transpires even when you do not understand." (100 Prison Meditations, pages 6–7)
For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.

Not a Peace-Train, But a Gravy-Train

Fitting Up the Nation

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside the carriages of the Treaty of Waitangi gravy train?  One Maori, David Rankin, a direct descendant of Hone Heke, speaks out.  Encouragingly, he tells us that a growing number of Maori are deeply disquieted with what is more and more becoming evident to be a rort.

It may surprise many New Zealanders, but a growing number of Maori are fed up with the Waitangi Tribunal, and the entire Treaty gravy train.  There is a stereotype of Maori collecting millions of dollars in settlement money and living the easy life.  The reality is very different.

Here are a few facts:

Friday, 13 March 2015

Atheism and the Moralisms of the Wax-Nose, Part II

Atheist Evangelicals

John Gray
The Guardian
March 3, 2015

In itself, atheism is an entirely negative position. In pagan Rome, “atheist” (from the Greek atheos) meant anyone who refused to worship the established pantheon of deities. The term was applied to Christians, who not only refused to worship the gods of the pantheon but demanded exclusive worship of their own god. Many non-western religions contain no conception of a creator-god – Buddhism and Taoism, in some of their forms, are atheist religions of this kind – and many religions have had no interest in proselytising. In modern western contexts, however, atheism and rejection of monotheism are practically interchangeable.

Roughly speaking, an atheist is anyone who has no use for the concept of God – the idea of a divine mind, which has created humankind and embodies in a perfect form the values that human beings cherish and strive to realise. Many who are atheists in this sense (including myself) regard the evangelical atheism that has emerged over the past few decades with bemusement. Why make a fuss over an idea that has no sense for you? There are untold multitudes who have no interest in waging war on beliefs that mean nothing to them. Throughout history, many have been happy to live their lives without bothering about ultimate questions. This sort of atheism is one of the perennial responses to the experience of being human.

As an organised movement, atheism is never non-committal in this way. It always goes with an alternative belief-system – typically, a set of ideas that serves to show the modern west is the high point of human development. In Europe from the late 19th century until the second world war, this was a version of evolutionary theory that marked out western peoples as being the most highly evolved. Around the time Haeckel was promoting his racial theories, a different theory of western superiority was developed by Marx. While condemning liberal societies and prophesying their doom, Marx viewed them as the high point of human development to date. (This is why he praised British colonialism in India as an essentially progressive development.) If Marx had serious reservations about Darwinism – and he did – it was because Darwin’s theory did not frame evolution as a progressive process.

Daily Devotional

Life without Him

"He is precious."
1 Peter 2:7

Charles H. Spurgeon

As all the rivers run into the sea, so all delights centre in our Beloved. The glances of his eyes outshine the sun: the beauties of his face are fairer than the choicest flowers: no fragrance is like the breath of his mouth. Gems of the mine, and pearls from the sea, are worthless things when measured by his preciousness. Peter tells us that Jesus is precious, but he did not and could not tell us how precious, nor could any of us compute the value of God's unspeakable gift.

Words cannot set forth the preciousness of the Lord Jesus to his people, nor fully tell how essential he is to their satisfaction and happiness. Believer, have you not found in the midst of plenty a sore famine if your Lord has been absent? The sun was shining, but Christ had hidden himself, and all the world was black to you; or it was night, and since the bright and morning star was gone, no other star could yield you so much as a ray of light. What a howling wilderness is this world without our Lord! If once he hideth himself from us, withered are the flowers of our garden; our pleasant fruits decay; the birds suspend their songs, and a tempest overturns our hopes.

All earth's candles cannot make daylight if the Sun of Righteousness be eclipsed. He is the soul of our soul, the light of our light, the life of our life. Dear reader, what wouldst thou do in the world without him, when thou wakest up and lookest forward to the day's battle? What wouldst thou do at night, when thou comest home jaded and weary, if there were no door of fellowship between thee and Christ? Blessed be his name, he will not suffer us to try our lot without him, for Jesus never forsakes his own. Yet, let the thought of what life would be without him enhance his preciousness.

Timidity, Reactionaries, and Reform

A Retired Tennis Player Leads By Example

A couple of years ago the NZ government launched a pilot programme of charter schools.  It was bold stuff.  A large number of charter schools easily counted on the fingers of one hand were run down the slipway into Lake Education. The education establishment erupted--in horror.  Its world was coming to an end.

The loudest accusation was that charter schools were far, far more expensive than state schools both to establish and run.  Wrong in both cases, but never let the facts get in the way of a good story, particular amidst a splenetic eruption.  (Incidentally, that particular canard has looked decidedly shonky in recent days when the latest government budgets costing for a new government school is over $20m--more than the entire budget for establishing a handful of charter schools.) 

The fact is the educational establishment is a reactionary beast.  There are only two planks which it does not oppose reflexively: anything that gives more money for teachers, on the one hand, and any policy which reduces teacher and school accountability, on the other.  Anything else is eeeeeevil.

The NZ government's foray into charter schools has been both timid and statist.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Atheism and the Moralisms of the Wax-Nose, Part I

What Scares the New Atheists

John Gray
March 3, 2015
The Guardian

[In this extended essay published in The Guardian John Gray focuses upon the inevitable amorality of atheism.  Since atheism has no foundation for any morality, what moral precepts its does advocate have no defendable foundation.  Atheist moral precepts are wishful thinking. This has led atheists down through the years to adhere to a bunch of conflicting moralisms, moral positions, and moralities.  We have broken the essay down into shorter segments and will publish over consecutive days.  Ed.]

In 1929, the Thinker’s Library, a series established by the Rationalist Press Association to advance secular thinking and counter the influence of religion in Britain, published an English translation of the German biologist Ernst Haeckel’s 1899 book The Riddle of the Universe. Celebrated as “the German Darwin”, Haeckel was one of the most influential public intellectuals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; The Riddle of the Universe sold half a million copies in Germany alone, and was translated into dozens of other languages. Hostile to Jewish and Christian traditions, Haeckel devised his own “religion of science” called Monism, which incorporated an anthropology that divided the human species into a hierarchy of racial groups. Though he died in 1919, before the Nazi Party had been founded, his ideas, and widespread influence in Germany, unquestionably helped to create an intellectual climate in which policies of racial slavery and genocide were able to claim a basis in science.

The Thinker’s Library also featured works by Julian Huxley, grandson of TH Huxley, the Victorian biologist who was known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his fierce defence of evolutionary theory. A proponent of “evolutionary humanism”, which he described as “religion without revelation”, Julian Huxley shared some of Haeckel’s views, including advocacy of eugenics. In 1931, Huxley wrote that there was “a certain amount of evidence that the negro is an earlier product of human evolution than the Mongolian or the European, and as such might be expected to have advanced less, both in body and mind”. Statements of this kind were then commonplace: there were many in the secular intelligentsia – including HG Wells, also a contributor to the Thinker’s Library – who looked forward to a time when “backward” peoples would be remade in a western mould or else vanish from the world.

But by the late 1930s, these views were becoming suspect: already in 1935, Huxley admitted that the concept of race was “hardly definable in scientific terms”. While he never renounced eugenics, little was heard from him on the subject after the second world war. The science that pronounced western people superior was bogus – but what shifted Huxley’s views wasn’t any scientific revelation: it was the rise of Nazism, which revealed what had been done under the aegis of Haeckel-style racism.

It has often been observed that Christianity follows changing moral fashions, all the while believing that it stands apart from the world. The same might be said, with more justice, of the prevalent version of atheism. If an earlier generation of unbelievers shared the racial prejudices of their time and elevated them to the status of scientific truths, evangelical atheists do the same with the liberal values to which western societies subscribe today – while looking with contempt upon “backward” cultures that have not abandoned religion.

The racial theories promoted by atheists in the past have been consigned to the memory hole – and today’s most influential atheists would no more endorse racist biology than they would be seen following the guidance of an astrologer. But they have not renounced the conviction that human values must be based in science; now it is liberal values which receive that accolade. There are disputes, sometimes bitter, over how to define and interpret those values, but their supremacy is hardly ever questioned. For 21st century atheist missionaries, being liberal and scientific in outlook are one and the same.

It’s a reassuringly simple equation. In fact there are no reliable connections – whether in logic or history – between atheism, science and liberal values. When organised as a movement and backed by the power of the state, atheist ideologies have been an integral part of despotic regimes that also claimed to be based in science, such as the former Soviet Union. Many rival moralities and political systems – most of them, to date, illiberal – have attempted to assert a basis in science. All have been fraudulent and ephemeral. Yet the attempt continues in atheist movements today, which claim that liberal values can be scientifically validated and are therefore humanly universal.

Fortunately, this type of atheism isn’t the only one that has ever existed. There have been many modern atheisms, some of them more cogent and more intellectually liberating than the type that makes so much noise today. Campaigning atheism is a missionary enterprise, aiming to convert humankind to a particular version of unbelief; but not all atheists have been interested in propagating a new gospel, and some have been friendly to traditional faiths.

Evangelical atheists today view liberal values as part of an emerging global civilisation; but not all atheists, even when they have been committed liberals, have shared this comforting conviction. Atheism comes in many irreducibly different forms, among which the variety being promoted at the present time looks strikingly banal and parochial.