Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Heads in Sand

In the last week of May, the Qatar-based Arabic news network Al-Jazeera polled its Arabic-language audience on the question: "Do you support the victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in your region?"

The results were shocking. Of the 56,881 Arabic-speaking respondents, a whopping 81% voted yes. The results of this online survey may not be scientific. But they do provide anecdotal evidence of what many see as a rise in the support of Islamism in the Arab Middle East, among Muslims in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, and in the diaspora in Britain and France.

On Monday, a 17-year-old Briton became that country's youngest suicide bomber after he blew up a brand new SUV packed with explosives in the northern Iraqi town of Baiji. Talha Asmal had Arabized his name to Abu Yusuf al-Britani and is the latest young person used by jihadi Islamists as cannon fodder in their quest to establish an Islamic caliphate. This is laid out in sharia law, as a precursor to the Islamic Armageddon enshrined in Hadith literature, based on Prophet Mohammed's prophesy.

Daily Devotional

The Death Trap Called Covetousness

Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (1 Timothy 6:9)

John Piper

Covetousness can destroy the soul in hell.

The reason I am sure that this destruction is not some temporary financial fiasco, but final destruction in hell, is what Paul says in verse 12. He says that covetousness is to be resisted with the fight of faith; then adds, “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession.” What’s at stake in fleeing covetousness and fighting for contentment in future grace is eternal life.

So when Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:9 that the desire to be rich plunges people into ruin, he isn’t saying that greed can mess up your marriage or your business (which it certainly can!). He is saying that covetousness can mess up your eternity. Or, as verse 10 says at the end, “It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (literally: “impaled themselves with many pains”).

God has gone the extra mile in the Bible to warn us mercifully that the idolatry of covetousness is a no-win situation. It’s a dead-end street in the worst sense of the word. It’s a trick and a trap.

So my word to you is the word of 1 Timothy 6:11: “Flee these things.” When you see it coming (in a television ad or a Christmas catalog or an Internet pop-up or a neighbor’s purchase), run from it the way you would run from a roaring, starving lion escaped from the zoo.

Secular Statists Wasting No Time

Ahab and Jezebel Redivivus

Imagine a world where the government of the day declared that opposition to abortion must end in the name of a tolerant society.  Those groups and individuals who opposed abortion must be restrained, restricted, and punished by law.  No medical professionals were to be permitted on the grounds of conscience to remove themselves from murderous termination procedures.  No doctor would be permitted not to consent and facilitate all abortions sought by patients.  Any doctor who refused to arrange abortions for clients of his or her respective practices would be fined, and even stripped of their practising certificates.

There are plenty of Unbelievers who would rejoice at this and see it as a great leap forward.  They would regard it as enlightened public policy and judicial interdiction.  They would fulsomely support such appropriate punishments.

We are now entering precisely that world in the West.  The present front line, however, is not over abortion; it is homosexual marriage.  Governments currently feel themselves somewhat constrained in the matter of abortion because it does not enjoy strong public support.  In fact due to the sterling work by many Christians and churches, support for abortion is waning.  But homosexual "marriage" is a different case.  And if a pagan, secularist state can, it will.  Before you can say, "I told you so".

Thus Scotland is proposing draconian controls to enforce not just society's acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual "marriage" but to punish those who refuse to support and celebrate it.  This, from The Telegraph:

Monday, 29 June 2015

Letter From the Netherlands (About Aborting Down Syndrome Children)

Down Syndrome Screening Could Eliminate an Entire Group of People

Upon delivering my first child 11 years ago, I heard the words "Down syndrome", and my world collapsed. Visions of children sitting passively in a corner watching life go by, not participating, kept me awake those first nights as a mum.  It didn't take me long, though, to figure out that my ideas were based on negative, outdated information that had nothing to do with the reality of life with Down syndrome today.

My daughter April is an active, outgoing girl. She's my nature child, wildly passionate about anything with four legs. Although April uses few words, she's a master communicator. Through her, I've learned that Down syndrome is not the scary, terrible condition it's made out to be.  But while governments (rightly) ban gender selection, selective abortion continues to be encouraged for children with Down syndrome. In the United States and abroad, screenings are a routine part of healthcare programmes, and the result is the near-elimination of these children.

When pregnant with my daughter Hazel, tests showed she, too, would be born with Down syndrome. I was shocked when an acquaintance asked me why I did not choose abortion – as if she were a mistake that could be easily erased.

Daily Devotional

Keep Swimming

TO EDWARD LOFSTROM: On his need to think less and to fulfill his daily duties with charity and justice.
8 March 1959

C. S. Lewis

I very much doubt if any book, least of all a book by me, would much help anyone in the condition you describe. For a book can offer only thoughts and thoughts are not what such a person, perhaps, needs most. One can argue against egoism, but then egoism is not his trouble. If he were a real egoist he would be either bliss- fully unconscious of the fact or else fully convinced that egoism was the rational attitude. You, on the other hand, suffer from a more than ordinary horror of egoism which you share with us all. And therefore, as you will see, the thing you need is not to think more or better about it but to think less: to act unselfishly—that is, charitably and justly—and leave the state of your feelings for God to deal with in His own way and His own time. And this of course you know better than I do.

But how to do it? For the very effort to forget something is itself a remembering of that something! I think, if I were in your shoes I should try to regard this sense of self-imprisonment not at all as a sin but as a mere tribulation, like rheumatism, to be endured in the same way. It has no doubt its medical side: diet, exercise, and recreations might all be considered. And, though this is a hard saying, your early upbringing may have something to do with it. Great piety in the parents can produce in the child a mistaken sense of guilt: may lead him to regard as sin what is really not sin at all but merely the fact that he is a boy and not a mature Christian.

At any rate, remember: ‘I cannot turn one hair black or white: but I can brush my hair daily and go to the barber at regular intervals.’ In other words we must divert our efforts from our general condition or frame of mind (which we can’t alter by direct action of the will) to what is in our power—our words and acts. Try to remember that the ‘bottomless sea’ can’t hurt us as long as we keep on swimming. You will be in my prayers.

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.

White Collar Crime

 Justice Rolls Down Like a Mighty Trickle

In our humble opinion, "white collar" crime is seriously under-punished.  We suspect it's a class thing.  When people like "us" (that is, members of the Chattering Classes or the Commentariat) commit fraud or steal, somehow the spine of the Body Politic turns to jelly.

Auckland City has seen just such a case.  One of the glitterati, Alex Swney stole more than $4m over a long period of time.  In other words, the theft was planned, calculated, and carefully perpetrated.  It was also the work of a narcissist who felt his "employer" was not properly valuing his gargantuan talents, and he deserved more money.  So he was going to get it by hook or by crook, but mainly by crook.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Enforced Paganism

The Established Religion of the United States

The Supreme Court Ratifies a New Civic Religion That Is Incompatible with Christianity

By David French

Daily Devotional

Without Holiness, Without Faith

"Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
2 Peter 1:4

C.H. Spurgeon

Vanish forever all thought of indulging the flesh if you would live in the power of your risen Lord. It were ill that a man who is alive in Christ should dwell in the corruption of sin. "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" said the angel to Magdalene.

Should the living dwell in the sepulchre? Should divine life be immured in the charnel house of fleshly lust? How can we partake of the cup of the Lord and yet drink the cup of Belial? Surely, believer, from open lusts and sins you are delivered: have you also escaped from the more secret and delusive lime-twigs of the Satanic fowler? Have you come forth from the lust of pride? Have you escaped from slothfulness? Have you clean escaped from carnal security? Are you seeking day by day to live above worldliness, the pride of life, and the ensnaring vice of avarice? Remember, it is for this that you have been enriched with the treasures of God.

If you be indeed the chosen of God, and beloved by him, do not suffer all the lavish treasure of grace to be wasted upon you. Follow after holiness; it is the Christian's crown and glory. An unholy church! it is useless to the world, and of no esteem among men. It is an abomination, hell's laughter, heaven's abhorrence. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church.

O Christian, the vows of God are upon you. You are God's priest: act as such. You are God's king: reign over your lusts. You are God's chosen: do not associate with Belial. Heaven is your portion: live like a heavenly spirit, so shall you prove that you have true faith in Jesus, for there cannot be faith in the heart unless there be holiness in the life.
"Lord, I desire to live as one
Who bears a blood-bought name,
As one who fears but grieving thee,
And knows no other shame."

Scientists, Demagogues, and Lysenkoism, Part III

Far Worse Than the Dark Ages

Science used to be respected as a discipline which, although restricted to empirical reality, could be relied upon to discover truth with a high degree of truthfulness and reliability.  Then, as materialism took hold and the West came to believe that the only reality was brute matter, science necessarily had to expand.  It became an authority literally upon everything, since matter alone existed.

At this point, the integrity of science began to decline rapidly.  Science was made a serving girl to realms and issues way outside its competence or ability.  The inevitable consequences were the rapid rise of junk-science and its capture by powers and authorities to serve their venal ends.  It is rapidly getting to the point where to claim science as an authority on any question is to invite sniggers from not just the back seats, but even in the reserved section. 

Our third example of faux-science comes courtesy of Quadrant Magazine.  Whilst this is a fairly lengthy article, every paragraph is of importance.  It demonstrates that Lysenkoism is rampant in our academies, schools, and laboratories--let alone in our media, Cabinet rooms, and halls of bureaucracy.  Science has become thoroughly politicised.  It risks a rapid loss any final shreds of credibility.  Would the last scientist in the room, please turn out the lights. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Letter From The UK (About Systemic Evil on an Industrial Scale)

300 Suspects Identified In ‘Horrendous’ Rotherham Child Sex Abuse Scandal

By Nick Hallett

Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has said it has identified about 300 possible suspects in an investigation into child sex abuse in the town of Rotherham.

Steve Baldwin, senior investigating officer at the NCA, said the 1,400 victims in the town identified by Professor Alexis Jay in her damning report last year was “a very good estimate”.  The Daily Mail also reports that two current or former town councillors are under investigation over allegations they were involved in the abuse.

The investigation – named Operation Stovewood – began in December following the publication of the Jay Report, which described how hundreds of children in Rotherham had been groomed, trafficked and raped by gangs of mainly Pakistani men between 1997 and 2013.  The report was also severely critical of the police and the local council and led to a number of high profile resignations.

Daily Devotional

Warning to the Undead

On self

C. S. Lewis

A rejection, or in Scripture’s strong language, a crucifixion of the natural self is the passport to everlasting life. Nothing that has not died will be resurrected.
From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in Words to Live By
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. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Scientists, Demagogues, and Lysenkoism, Part II

Fool's Gold

When scientific endeavour becomes the tool of a social or ideological crusade, the "science" rapidly descends into faux-science.  Science, having become the means to an ideological end, must needs conform to the interests to which it is now enslaved.

The most common device employed along this road to perdition is selective data picking.  "Science" can "prove" anything if it is allowed to cherry pick data.  Here is our second example of bogus science suborned to a political cause.  In this case the cause is egalitarianism.

Back in 2010 much was made of the hypothesis put forward by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett which purported to show that all kinds of social evils resulted when wealth and property were unevenly owned.  The Left and other egalitarians seized on the book and raved over its devastating arguments and conclusion.  Here was hard evidence that a large gap between rich and poor actually did serious harm to human beings.  Suddenly a vacuous ideology was baptized into reality by a full immersion into data, facts, and scientific analysis.

Except that the data turned out to be cherry picked, selectively chosen to manufacture certain pre-ordained conclusions.  Here is Christopher Snowden, writing for the Institute of Economic Affairs:

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Old Glory and Abortion


In the aftermath of the horrific shooting in South Carolina, a cry has arisen calling for the Confederate flag that flies on the capitol grounds in South Carolina to be taken down. Russell Moore has joined in the call, and I have been called out on Twitter to do the same. Let me explain my reasons for declining to do so — I am declining to say anything about it, one way or the other. There are three reasons.

First, as I explained in another post after another shooting, it is unseemly to politicize these horrors when the families are still weeping. Whether the issue is gun control or something else, whenever a hard sell comes in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, the only thing it makes me want to do is wonder at how boorish some people can be. If this the case when the political issue is arguably connected, as with gun control, how much more is it the case when it is so obliquely related? Did the alleged shooter even know about the flag? Boorish behavior can be exhibited by either side. If one man starts a roaring debate in favor of gun control the same day of the shooting, the situation is not improved if an advocate of open carry does the same thing the next day. The families involved, who include godly Christian people calling for repentance and a turn to Christ, ought not to be distracted by apparatchiks trying to make some political hay out of their grief.

Daily Devotional

Faith Honors Him Whom It Trusts

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God. (Romans 4:20)

John Piper

I long for God to be glorified in our pursuit of holiness and love. But God is not glorified unless our pursuit is empowered by faith in his promises.

And the God who revealed himself most fully in Jesus Christ, who was crucified for our sins and raised for our justification (Romans 4:25), is most glorified when we embrace his promises with joyful firmness because they are bought by the blood of his Son.

God is honored when we are humbled for our feebleness and failure, and when he is trusted for future grace (Romans 4:20). So unless we learn how to live by faith in future grace, we may perform remarkable religious rigors, but not for God’s glory.  He is glorified when the power to be holy comes from humble faith in future grace.

Martin Luther said, “[Faith] honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard, since it considers him truthful and trustworthy.” The trusted Giver gets the glory.

My great desire is that we learn how to live for God’s honor. And that means living by faith in future grace, which, in turn, means battling unbelief in all the ways it rears its head.

Scientists, Demagogues, and Lysenkoism, Part I

Not Well Suited to the Task

If we were scientists we would be hanging our heads in collective shame.  These days whenever an utterance commences with the words, "Scientists say . . . " it seems a collective groan arises from the bowels of the body politic.  Not again!  The fruit loops have been scattered from the packet again.

Now this is not to be construed as a verbal barrage against the empirical scientific method.  Not at all.  Empirical research and investigation has been a great boon to the race.  It's just that in our generation, science has all too frequently become the preserve of demagogues and charlatans.  For the most part these folk are exposed, contradicted, and refuted--by other scientists.  However, it is becoming more and more the case that politics and power overtake the issues and science and scientists become the hand maiden of the demagogues.  Think Al Gore.  Barack Obama.  And even, most recently, the Pope--who should know a great deal better.

We have three examples of how science has been degraded to the status of a useful tool for demagogues.  We will deal with the first example in this piece.  Two additional examples will follow respectively.

The first is the Pope's woeful ignorance of the alleged most dismal of sciences--economics.  The editors of the National Review, an excellent rag, representing some of the best Christian social analysis and thought emanating from mainly Roman Catholic convictions, have taken the Pope to task for promoting the faux cause of global warming.  His ideology has trumped reasoned common sense and led him to embrace pseudo-science.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Faux Free Trade Agreements

Betting the House

We at Contra Celsum are free-traders.  We believe in free trade because it is an application of property rights.  If one owns one's property, one has a right to sell one's property, or buy property from others freely--without government authorities interdicting private trading decisions and choices.

But we do not live in a free-trading world.  We live in a world where governments and their authorities attempt to regulate and control trade.  These days, because there is widespread evidence that free trade actually generates huge benefits over time, there is a well spring of popular support.  So governments have started using the cloak of free trade and free trade agreements to increase surreptitiously government controls and regulations over commerce.  Thus, in our days, free trade agreements risk being anything but.  Rather they are are morphing into agreements to do the exact opposite--to regulate trade and restrict free commerce.

US Senator Jeff Sessions explains what he believes to be really at stake in the Trans Pacific Partnership "free trade" agreement, now being pushed by the United States, and long sought for by New Zealand.  Sessions argues that TPP, while cloaked as a free trade agreement, will result in a quantum increase of  government and bureaucratic control over trade and commerce.  The following piece was published in Breitbart News:

Daily Devotional


TO EDWARD LOFSTROM: A letter of great encouragement for someone who had been struggling with excessive self-awareness.

C. S. Lewis

10 June 1962

You are of course perfectly right in defining your problem (which is also mine and everyone’s) as ‘excessive selfness’. But per- haps you don’t fully realise how far you have got by so defining it. All have this disease; fortunate are the minority who know they have it. To know that one is dreaming is to be already nearly awake, even if, for the present, one can’t wake up fully. And you have actually got further than that. You have got beyond the illusion (very common) that to recognise a chasm is the same thing as building a bridge over it.

Your danger now is that of being hypnotised by the mere sight of the charm, of constantly looking at this excessive selfness. The important thing now is to go steadily on acting, so far as you can—and you certainly can to some extent, however small—as if it wasn’t there. You can, and I expect you daily do—behave with some degree of unselfishness. You can and do make some attempt at prayer. The continual voice which tells you that your best actions are secretly filled with subtle self-regards, and your best prayers still wholly egocentric—must for the most part be simply disregarded—as one disregards the impulse to keep on looking under the bandage to see whether the cut is healing. If you are always fidgeting with the bandage, it never will.

Discomfort In the Hive

Love the Cold

The coldest temperature ever recorded in New Zealand was one which transpired in 1905.  In Ranfurly the temperature dropped to -25.6 degrees Celsius in 1903.  Now, that's not to claim that the temperature had never been as cold or substantially colder in the centuries before 1905.  It's just that, as far as we know, there was no-one around to measure such things.

But since that time way back in 1903 we have had regular records (albeit adjusted in recent years by meteorologists with axes to grind).  Moreover, we have had an alleged century of global warming.  All that carbon dioxide spilling out into the atmosphere, warming up the planet.

Consequently, it came as some surprise to read that yesterday we came mighty close to that record low of 1905.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Southern Boys

Facing Up to Good and Bad

David French has written an excellent piece on flying the Confederate Battle flag.

Don’t Tear Down the Confederate Battle Flag

By David French — June 19, 2015
National Review Online

Daily Devotional

Temple Building

"He shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory."
Zechariah 6:13

Charles H. Spurgeon

Christ himself is the builder of his spiritual temple, and he has built it on the mountains of his unchangeable affection, his omnipotent grace, and his infallible truthfulness. But as it was in Solomon's temple, so in this; the materials need making ready. There are the "Cedars of Lebanon," but they are not framed for the building; they are not cut down, and shaped, and made into those planks of cedar, whose odoriferous beauty shall make glad the courts of the Lord's house in Paradise. There are also the rough stones still in the quarry, they must be hewn thence, and squared. All this is Christ's own work. Each individual believer is being prepared, and polished, and made ready for his place in the temple; but Christ's own hand performs the preparation-work.  Afflictions cannot sanctify, excepting as they are used by him to this end. Our prayers and efforts cannot make us ready for heaven, apart from the hand of Jesus, who fashioneth our hearts aright.

As in the building of Solomon's temple, "there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house," because all was brought perfectly ready for the exact spot it was to occupy--so is it with the temple which Jesus builds; the making ready is all done on earth. When we reach heaven, there will be no sanctifying us there, no squaring us with affliction, no planing us with suffering. No, we must be made meet here--all that Christ will do beforehand; and when he has done it, we shall be ferried by a loving hand across the stream of death, and brought to the heavenly Jerusalem, to abide as eternal pillars in the temple of our Lord.

"Beneath his eye and care,
The edifice shall rise,
Majestic, strong, and fair,
And shine above the skies."

Two of NZ's Finest

Drowning in a Puddle

In New Zealand--as is the case in most Western countries--we are "blessed" to have the services of opinionistas whose learning and perspectives reflects  all the depth and perspicacity common to secularist cultures.   Being secularists, these folk can have recourse only to the ethics of pragmatism when it comes to wrestling with the great issues of the day.  "What works, baby.  That's all that matters."

One of these chaps is self-styled economist, Gareth Morgan.  He is a public provocateur, a member of the nouveau-riche, who has come to believe that his solutions to a wide swathe of social and economic problems actually matter.  In his world view the only thing which carries the day is results.  Economic efficiency is both his moral foundation and beacon.

Recently, this worthy proposed his simple and direct solution to a genuine problem.  New Zealand has raised four generations on social welfare.  This has given a pervasive sense of entitlement to virtually everyone in the country.  The government (that is, other people) owe me something.  In New Zealand this ethic runs deeper than the Mariana Trench and broader than the mighty Pacific .

Monday, 22 June 2015

Unbelieving Biblical "Scholarship" Takes Yet Another Blow

Rare King David-Era Inscription Discovered in Biblical City

by Jeanna Bryner,
Live Science Managing Editor

A 3,000-year-old ceramic jar discovered in pieces in Israel has been restored to reveal a rare inscription of the name of a biblical figure and ruler whose reign coincided with that of King David, archaeologists announced today (June 16).  The pottery was found in an ancient city overlooking the Valley of Elah, where, as described in the Bible, the legendary David defeated Goliath.

The inscription, the researchers found, read: Eshba'al Ben Bada', who the archaeologists say was likely an important person since his name was inscribed on a jar. (Eshba'al Ben Shaul ruled over Israel at the same time as King David during the first half of the 10th century B.C.) This newly deciphered inscription, along with three others from the same time period, suggest writing was more widespread in the Kingdom of Judah than previously thought, the archaeologists noted. [See Photos of the Biblical Inscription & Ancient City]

Israel archaeology

In 2012, researchers led by archaeologists Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor were carrying out excavations at the biblical site Khirbet Qeiyafa— about 19 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Jerusalem —when they found the jar, broken into hundreds of shards. The researchers' interest was piqued when they noticed letters written in ancient Canaanite on several of the pottery pieces.

Daily Devotional

How to Plead for Unbelievers

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)

John Piper

Paul prays that God would convert Israel. He prays for her salvation! He does not pray for ineffectual influences, but for effectual influences. And that is how we should pray too.

We should take the new covenant promises of God and plead with God to bring them to pass in our children and our neighbors and on all the mission fields of the world.
God, take out of their flesh the heart of stone and give them a new heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Circumcise their heart so that they love you (Deuteronomy 30:6)! Father, put your Spirit within them and cause them to walk in your statutes (Ezekiel 36:27). Grant them repentance and a knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:25–26). Open their hearts so that they believe the gospel (Acts 16:14)!
When we believe in the sovereignty of God — in the right and power of God to elect and then bring hardened sinners to faith and salvation — then we will be able to pray with no inconsistency, and with great biblical promises for the conversion of the lost.

Thus God has pleasure in this kind of praying because it ascribes to him the right and honor to be the free and sovereign God that he is in election and salvation.

Dutch Multi-Culturalism

No Centre: Just a Utopian Vacuum

We have read recently Ian Buruma's Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (New York: Penguin Books, 2006).  Holland has styled itself as the most tolerant of all nations--a kind of oasis of sanity in a crazy world.  Now, however, its smugness has been severely dented.  It has been, as the saying goes, "cruisin' for a bruisin' ".

Buruma writes:
Heinrich Heine did not mean it as a compliment when he said that he would head for Holland when the end of the world was in sight, since everything in that country happened fifty years later.  Like most quips of this sort, it was unfair, yet not totally untrue, especially in the nineteenth century.  By the middle of the twentieth century, however, the Netherlands has pretty much caught up with the world, and since then things often happened earlier than elsewhere: tolerance of recreational drugs and pornography; acceptance of gay rights, multiculturalism, euthanasia, and so on.  This, too, led to an air of satisfaction, even smugness, a self-congratulatory notion of living in the finest, freest, most progressive, most decent, most perfectly evolved playground of multicultural utopianism.  [Ibid., p.11.]
Now most of that self-congratulation has been rattled.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Elizabeth Elliot Passes

Through Gates of Splendor

Books by widow of martyred Jim Elliot were staples in many evangelical homes.
Kate Shellnutt
Missionary Pioneer Elisabeth Elliot Passes Through Gates of Splendorwww.elisabethelliot.org
One of the most influential Christian women of the 20th century, Elisabeth Elliot, has died.  

Elliot, the Christian author and speaker whose husband, Jim, was killed during their short-lived but legendary missionary work among unreached tribes in eastern Ecuador in the 1950s, passed away Monday at 88, according to reports. She had been suffering from dementia.

Image: Billy Graham Center Archives / Wheaton College
She wrote two books about her husband’s martyrdom and the years she and her newborn daughter spent living among the Aucas, the tribe that killed him. Her Through Gates of Splendor ranked No. 9 on CT's list of the Top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals. The book became a bestseller, as did Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testimony of Jim Elliot.
“Those became the definitive inspirational mission stories for the second half of the 20th century,” said Kathryn Long, professor of history at Wheaton College. “She really had a sense of her audience as evangelicals, and she could tell this story in a way that keyed into [their] values.”

Long said that Elliot’s later books on missions, No Graven Image and The Savage My Kingsman, raised important questions about mission work. Her legacy, Long said, reflects her complexity as both “a gifted, inspiring writer, and one who’s extraordinarily perceptive.”

Daily Devotional

Our Happiness Is Not the Point

C. S. Lewis

The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. ‘Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created’ [Revelation 4:11]. We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased’.

To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled, by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable.

An Assault Upon God

 A Battle of Cosmic Proportions

"The Christian views abortion as an expression of human wickedness and an act of rebellion against God.  Not only does it transgress God's law ("Thou shalt not murder"); abortion is an act designed to assault God by destroying the pinnacle of His creation, the creation made in His image--man.

"Any attack against human life is an attack against the One who is the Author of Life.  The Christian views the present abortion craze not as an isolated event in the horror of human history, but as another expression of man's continuing rebellion against the Lord.  This rebellion not only spans the entire age of human existence, but it encompasses realms beyond man's existence.  In combating abortion one is engaging in a battle of cosmic proportions against an evil of incomprehensible dimensions.  We are not merely struggling against the wickedness of the the human heart, but "against the rulers, against the powers, against the forces of the darkness of this world, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)

[Richard L. Ganz, "Psychology and Abortion: The Deception Exposed," Thou Shalt Not Kill: The Christian Case Against Abortion (New Rochelle: Arlington House Publishers, 1978), p. 39.]

Friday, 19 June 2015

Letter From the UK (About Invincible Ignorance)

‘We’ll All Be Dead Before Climate Change Orgs Admit They’re Wrong’ Says MP

A group of university students and envir

by Oliver Lane

Member of Parliament David Davies has warned of the stubborn nature of organisations like Britain’s Royal Society – the oldest grouping of eminent scientists in the world – who have admitted that they will not accept any other thinking on global warming for at least “fifty years”, even if the data shows otherwise.

Attending a speech on climate change in the House of Lords, the Welsh Tory MP spoke about on his surreal experience meeting two men from the Royal Society whom he said had been sent to persuade him and fellow climate realists Peter Lilley MP and John Redwood MP to embrace the idea of man-made climate change. He said that representatives from the Society – often lauded as the most eminent grouping of scientists, founded in the 1600s – told him that they would not change their mind for at least fifty years, regardless of the evidence.

Daily Devotional

What Kind of Prayer Pleases God?

“This is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

John Piper

The first mark of the upright heart is that it trembles at the Word of the Lord.

Isaiah 66 deals with the problem of some who worship in a way that pleases God and some who worship in a way that doesn’t. Verse 3 describes the wicked who bring their sacrifices: “He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man; and he who sacrifices a lamb, like him who breaks a dog’s neck.” Their sacrifices are an abomination to God — on a par with murder. Why?

In verse 4 God explains: “When I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen.” Their sacrifices were abominations to God because the people were deaf to his voice. But what about those whose prayers God heard? God says in verse 2, “This is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

I conclude from this that the first mark of the upright, whose prayers are a delight to God, is that they tremble at God’s Word. These are the people to whom the Lord will look.  So the prayer of the upright that delights God comes from a heart that at first feels precarious in the presence of God. It trembles at the hearing of God’s Word, because it feels so far from God’s ideal and so vulnerable to his judgment and so helpless and so sorry for its failings.

This is just what David said in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” The first thing that makes a prayer acceptable to God is the brokenness and humility of the one who prays.

The Peculiar Case of The Hermeneutics of Unbelief

Coming to a Classroom Near You

The Washington Post has published a piece about a teacher who is refusing to teach Shakespeare.  The reason: Shakespeare is a "dead, white guy".  It turns out that many of the students enjoying the scintillating pedagogy of this particular teacher are non-white.  Education needs to be relevant, don't you know.

What this particular piece of nonsense reflects is the oh-so-influential philosophy post-modernism applied to education theory and curriculum.  Everyone's perspective is unique at worst, or atomised into fractured identity groups at best.  The most ready-to-hand identity grouping is race.  The Daily Caller reviews the Post's article:

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Woe Betide That Guy

Douglas Wilson

So let us talk about the care and feeding of the abnormal, and begin with some poetry. Yeats gave us some of the best lines composed in the 20th century.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The problem is not that we have seen various individuals who needed to be constrained by societal norms — for we have always had people like that — but rather that our entire society needs to be constrained by societal norms. Now what? This is what it looks like when a center cannot hold, and is in the process of ceasing to be a center. We have always had individual norms that collided with societal norms, but usually societal norms were present in order to take the collision.

Daily Devotional

The Joys of Belief

"Delight thyself also in the Lord."
Psalm 37:4

Charles H. Spurgeon

The teaching of these words must seem very surprising to those who are strangers to vital godliness, but to the sincere believer it is only the inculcation of a recognized truth. The life of the believer is here described as a delight in God, and we are thus certified of the great fact that true religion overflows with happiness and joy.

Ungodly persons and mere professors never look upon religion as a joyful thing; to them it is service, duty, or necessity, but never pleasure or delight. If they attend to religion at all, it is either that they may gain thereby, or else because they dare not do otherwise. The thought of delight in religion is so strange to most men, that no two words in their language stand further apart than "holiness" and "delight." But believers who know Christ, understand that delight and faith are so blessedly united, that the gates of hell cannot prevail to separate them.

They who love God with all their hearts, find that his ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his paths are peace. Such joys, such brimful delights, such overflowing blessednesses, do the saints discover in their Lord, that so far from serving him from custom, they would follow him though all the world cast out his name as evil. We fear not God because of any compulsion; our faith is no fetter, our profession is no bondage, we are not dragged to holiness, nor driven to duty. No, our piety is our pleasure, our hope is our happiness, our duty is our delight.

Delight and true religion are as allied as root and flower; as indivisible as truth and certainty; they are, in fact, two precious jewels glittering side by side in a setting of gold.
"'Tis when we taste thy love,
Our joys divinely grow,
Unspeakable like those above,
And heaven begins below."

Deluded Hopes

The Centre Cannot Hold

The NZ Taxpayers Union has published the following Quote of the Week:

“Here is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it.”
– Winston Churchill
Over 450 years ago, the Scottish divine, Samuel Rutherford published Lex Rex, a treatise arguing that the King was to be subject to the law.  Churchill was walking in Rutherford's footsteps, whether he was aware of it or not.  We are certain that the NZ Taxpayers Union is not aware of it. 

Without a conviction--individual and societal--of God's existence and eternal, absolute governance, there is no case that can be sustained for a supreme law above human institutions.  The respect in which men have held Magna Carta would thus prove to be ungrounded and delusional.  Without the eternal judgment and vengeance of God upon evil and evildoers there are no limits to evil laws and evil lawmaking.  Without God, the law is a wax nose to be shaped inevitably by tyrants--whether it be the tyranny of the mob, of fashion, or of the fifty-one percent, or of latter day elites. 

Without the Living God the centre cannot hold.  The West is recklessly proving the point.  

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Letter From America (About Transracialism)

Everything You Need to Know About Transracial Hero Rachel Dolezal

Ben Shapiro
Breitbart News

Rachel Dolezal

On Friday, after a long news week, the story of Rachel Dolezal hit the press, proving once again that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Just last week the President of the United States congratulated Bruce Jenner on his courageous decision to pretend to be a woman, and the entire left bursting into spasms of ecstasy over a collectively insane decision to ratify the notion that men can magically become women. Today, the entire left is struggling to explain how a white woman who identifies herself as black is not, in fact, black.

Here’s the basic story: Rachel Dolezal is president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. For years, she has passed herself off as black. Now her parents have told the press that she is their “birth daughter and we’re both of European descent… we’re puzzled and it’s very sad.” Her ethnic heritage: German, Swedish, Czech. She is less black than Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is Native American. Rachel stopped corresponding with her parents because she was afraid, according to them, that they would expose her ruse. Now, some additional facts on the greatest story in human history:

Daily Devotional

On immortality

C. S. Lewis

I think that Resurrection (what ever it exactly means) is so much profounder an idea than mere immortality. I am sure we don’t just “go on.” We really die and are really built up again.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Words to Live By
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Season of Madness Is Upon Us Again

Grounded in Unreality

Hah.  You can always tell when the Game of Junk Science is going to make another appearance across our media.  It has been deemed necessary to the survival of the human species to have an annual global conference on the greatest known threat facing the human race--global warming.  About two months before, the frothing and hyperventilating begins.  Climate change is real.  Climate change is evil.  Climate change requires vast expansions of state powers to ensure that it does not happen.  The survival of the human race is at stake, etc.

Yet virtually everywhere public opinion surveys are showing that global warming is regarded as the least of our problems.  The issue has been thoroughly lost on ordinary people.  The reason is that it is a manufactured crisis. It's a made-up bogey man.  It is bereft of any foundation in science. Yes, we make that claim deliberately.

After all, the essence of science is to have recourse to a certain rigorous, empirical heuristic method.  That method demands that propositions be verified empirically, which is to say--at once--that all scientific hypotheses, propositions, and conclusions must be subject to empirical falsification.  If a proposition cannot be subject to empirical falsification, it simply cannot be part of a scientific exercise.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Almost Everyone is a Progressive Now

Unholy Trade-Offs

An insightful piece from Patterico, explaining why conservatives and classical liberals end up being cheer-leaders for "progressive" (i.e. statist) solutions to social issues.

How does the Leviathan of the federal government grow in size and power every year? One reason is that, when government “solutions” are offered to a problem, it apparently becomes impossible for most people (including conservatives) even to imagine addressing the problem in a different way.

Take health care for poor people. We used to have a well-developed system of charity care, premised on the principle that doctors were expected to do a certain amount of work without compensation, simply because it was needed and the patient could not afford it. LBJ came along with Medicaid and largely destroyed this centuries-long tradition.

Now, it is taken for granted, even by “conservatives,” that if we were to restrict or eliminate Medicaid, we would not be advocating a market solution (i.e. a better, more efficient, higher quality solution) to the problem of health care for the poor. No, we would simply be against health care for the poor. Period.

Daily Devotional

Who Killed Jesus?

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)
One of my friends who used to be a pastor in Illinois was preaching to a group of prisoners in a state prison during Holy Week several years ago. At one point in his message, he paused and asked the men if they knew who killed Jesus.

Some said the soldiers did. Some said the Jews did. Some said Pilate. After there was silence, my friend said simply, “His Father killed him.”

That’s what the first half of Romans 8:32 says: God did not spare his own Son but handed him over — to death. “This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Isaiah 53 puts it even more bluntly, “We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he (his Father!) has put him to grief” (Isaiah 53:4, 10).

Or as Romans 3:25 says, “God put [him] forward as a propitiation by his blood.” Just as Abraham lifted the knife over the chest of his son Isaac, but then spared his son because there was a ram in the thicket, so God the Father lifted the knife over the chest of his own Son, Jesus — but did not spare him, because he was the ram; he was the substitute.

God did not spare his own Son, because it was the only way he could spare us. The guilt of our transgressions, the punishment of our iniquities, the curse of our sin would have brought us inescapably to the destruction of hell. But God did not spare his own Son; he gave him up to be pierced for our transgressions, and crushed for our iniquities, and crucified for our sin.

This verse is the most precious verse in the Bible to me because the foundation of the all-encompassing promise of God’s future grace is that the Son of God bore in his body all my punishment and all my guilt and all my condemnation and all my blame and all my fault and all my corruption, so that I might stand before a great and holy God, forgiven, reconciled, justified, accepted, and the beneficiary of unspeakable promises of pleasure forever and ever at his right hand.


Preventing Great Evil

We published a piece by a non-Christian arguing the case against abortion.  One reader, Dominic took the time to make a few critical points on the piece. 
Is it lack of logic, or lack of ability to count?

there were 506,790 recorded deaths in England and Wales in 2013 ...

There is no need to go any further. Abortions are not recorded as deaths because they are not deaths.

You may as well add in the approximately 250,000 miscarriages as add in the number of abortions, but that still doesn't change the total recorded deaths.

What diseases could have been cured by a doctor who will now never live to see the light of Harvard Med? can easily be rebutted with What lives have been saved, what destruction avoided, because another psychopathic dictator will not be born?

Neither claim is provable.
 We append some thoughts on Dominic's response.

Abortions are not recorded as deaths because they are not deaths.
Dominic's definition of the nature of the unborn child excludes abortions as deaths.  That definition in turn relies on suppressed premises--all to the effect that an unborn child is not a human being, and therefore cannot be said to die.  A rock does not die.  It can be smashed and thereby cease to exist as a rock, but dying it cannot, for it is not alive.  If aborted children are not, by definition, deaths the suppressed premise is that they are not living creatures of any sort, let alone human beings.

That position reflects a religious commitment, whether Dominic is aware of it or not.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Letter From the UK (About Chained Trade)

TTIP is About Giant Corporates Dominating Our Economies

By Nigel Farage MEP 
1 Jun 2015

In over 16 years as an MEP, I’ve never seen such a vast amount of emails, correspondence, even members of the public phoning my office in Strasbourg as I have recently over the issue of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Partly this is because e-mail wasn’t anywhere near as popular 16 years ago, but the reality is that this is the first big crack in the European Union’s corporatist agenda.  It marks really the first time that I have seen large numbers of people questioning the EU’s mantra that big is good and that business, jobs and prosperity flow from all the actions of the Union.

For years I’ve wondered: just how can the Left support all of this corporatist stuff? Why are trades unions and the TUC saying nothing?  Well actually, full congratulations to campaigning group 38 Degrees, who have really highlighted the fact that TTIP is potentially very significant. I even received a nice letter from Francis O’Grady, the TUC’s General Secretary, regarding TTIP’s dispute mechanism. . . . 

I’ve always been in favour of free trade, free markets and a form of competitive capitalism. But I find myself deeply alarmed by TTIP.

Daily Devotional

Judge Yourself

"Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting."
Daniel 5:27

Charles H. Spurgeon

It is well frequently to weigh ourselves in the scale of God's Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, "Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God's mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?"

Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to his likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which he constantly inculcated and displayed. Take, then, the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did--"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"?

If we thus read God's Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, "Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be found wanting,' when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment." "Judge yourselves that ye be not judged."

A Worthy Private Initiative

Bad Smells

A private foundation is being set up to investigate and review criminal convictions which are "unsafe"--that is, potentially unsound.  Usually, such convictions have been upheld in successive courts of appeal or higher courts.  But the smell remains.  Something is not right.

Unfortunately these things happen.  We believe, however, that in the NZ justice system there could well be an institutional bias towards upholding convictions.  The NZ legal fraternity is small.  The possibilities of "group think" in New Zealand where most of the participants all went to the same few schools are high. Magistrates and justices often know each other; they have often served  as colleagues in one capacity or another.  To overturn the decisions of one court may mean that tomorrow the same judge or judges will be sitting in judgement upon moi.  To overtune a case with consequent embarrassment to a judge or magistrate may have consequences for one's career advancement.  After all, promotion depends upon the approbation of colleagues.  Easier to go along with the status quo.

The system's status-quo has resolutely refused a review system which is reasonably independent and beyond the courts or the Ministry of Justice--despite high profile precedents in the UK, the US and other countries.  Now, the New Zealand Public Interest Project has been set up.  We believe this is a sound move.  Jarrod Gilbert explains the background.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Letter From the UK (From an Anti-Abortion Non-Christian)

I Wish We Had a Religious Right to Talk Sense on Abortion

In Britain, no one tells the truth about really serious stuff. It’s not in the national character. So reporters had to do some maths this week to work out that, according to official statistics, 27 per cent of all deaths in England and Wales are abortions.

While you let that sink in, here’s the maths, as originally reported by Breitbart on Saturday:
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 506,790 recorded deaths in England and Wales in 2013 – the most recent year for which figures are available. These, however, do not include abortions.  Separate figures, also compiled by the ONS, reveal that a total of 185,331 abortions took place in England and Wales in the same year.

Adding the total number of unborn babies who died as a result of abortion in 2013 to the total number of recorded deaths in England and Wales brings the overall death total to 692,121. This means that 26.78 per cent of the deaths were caused by abortion.

The figure has remained relatively stable for the past few years, with abortions accounting for 27.76 per cent of deaths in 2010, 28.17 per cent in 2011 and 27.05 per cent in 2012.
The current consensus, which appears to be that a woman’s body is hers to do with as she pleases until the little brat pops out, strikes me as utterly sociopathic and wrong. When two lives are at stake, surely a mother has a moral duty to consider the well-being of her unborn baby just as carefully as she considers her own.
I’m not laying out a complete or coherent position here, because frankly I don’t precisely know where I stand, except that, unpopular as this may be, I instinctively recoil from abortion as one of the great horrors of civilisation, and don’t believe it should be offered except in the most extreme cases of deformity, disease or disability.

Daily Devotional

When Reason Serves Rebellion

The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13)

John Piper

This is not what I expected the proverb to say. I would have expected it to say “The coward says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!’” But it says, “sluggard,” not “coward.” So the controlling emotion here is laziness, not fear.

But what does laziness have to do with the danger of a lion in the street? We don't say, “This man is too lazy to go do his work because there is a lion outside.”  The point is that the sluggard creates imaginary circumstances to justify not doing his work, and thus shifts the focus from the vice of his laziness to the danger of lions. No one will approve his staying in the house all day just because he is lazy.

One profound biblical insight we need to know is that our heart exploits our mind to justify what the heart wants. That is, our deepest desires precede the rational functioning of our minds and incline the mind to perceive and think in a way that will make the desires look right.  This is what the sluggard is doing. He deeply desires to stay at home and not work. There is no good reason to stay at home. So what does he do? Does he overcome his bad desire? No, he uses his mind to create unreal circumstances to justify his desire.

Doing the evil we love makes us hostile to the light of truth. In this condition the mind becomes a factory of half-truths, equivocations, sophistries, evasions and lies — anything to protect the evil desires of the heart from exposure and destruction.

Consider and be wise.

Master and Commander of My Soul

Defiant Narcissism 

A member in high standing within the Commentariat has written the following:

If you believe life is sacred as long as you have breath in your body, I accept that. But as far as I'm concerned, my life is over when I no longer have the ability to appreciate life around me.  Once I've lost joy and wonder in the world, then I want to be able to quit my place and make room for someone else. And surely that's my right to decide. [NZ Herald]
Kerre McIvor bats for Unbelief.  Her statement above effectively uncloaks what Unbelief is all about.  It is about Me.  "As far as I'm concerned . . . "; "Once I've lost joy . . . then I want to be able to quit my place . . . "

Remember the lines of Invictus:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

This poem represents the nearest our modern apostasy will get to a confession of faith.  Kerre McIvor is a true believer in Unbelief.  Its essence is to hold the ultimate decisions in one's hands, for Oneself, and Oneself alone.

There is nothing remarkable in this.  It is the new normal.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Potemkin Villages and a Gulled Prime Minister

Cameron’s ‘Greenest Government Ever’ is Dragging Britain Back to the Pre-Industrial Age

James Delingpole
Breitbart London

Here are two stories which show how badly we are losing the war against green fundamentalism:

The first, courtesy of Christopher Booker, concerns the British government’s attempts to rush through a truly insane plan for a £1 billion tidal lagoon project in Swansea.

Why the unseemly haste? Because, as Booker explains, the scheme is so utterly barmy and wrongheaded that the last thing the government wants is for it to be subjected to serious scrutiny.
On the developer’s figures, the 16 tidal-powered giant turbines, built into a six-mile long breakwater round Swansea Bay, will intermittently generate only a pitiful amount of the most expensive and heavily subsidised electricity in the world. They will require constant back-up from fossil-fuel power stations for all the many hours when they are producing little or no power. In return for the developers receiving a mind-boggling £168 per megawatt hour for electricity, including a subsidy of 240 per cent, even more than that for offshore wind, we shall on average get just a derisory 57 megawatts. Yet the £1 billion gas-fired power station recently built down the coast at Pembroke can produce 35 times as much electricity, whenever needed, without a penny of subsidy.
And the second, from that other scourge of green lunacy David Rose, concerns Drax – formerly Britain’s largest coal-fired power station but now apparently more interested in burning taxpayer-subsidised biomass imported from US forests.

Daily Devotional

We Live by Faith

The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

John Piper

Faith is a perfect fit with God’s future grace. It corresponds to the freedom and all-sufficiency of grace. And it calls attention to the glorious trustworthiness of God.

One of the important implications of this conclusion is that the faith that justifies and the faith that sanctifies are not two different kinds of faith. “Sanctify” simply means to make holy or to transform into Christlikeness. It is all by grace.  Therefore, it must also be through faith. For faith is the act of the soul that connects with grace, and receives it, and channels it as the power of obedience, and guards it from being nullified through human boasting.

Paul makes this connection between faith and sanctification explicit in Galatians 2:20 (“I live by faith”). Sanctification is by the Spirit and by faith. Which is another way of saying that it is by grace and by faith. The Spirit is “the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29). God’s making us holy is the work of his Spirit; but the Spirit works through faith in the gospel.

The simple reason why the faith that justifies is also the faith that sanctifies is that both justification and sanctification are the work of sovereign grace. They are not the same kind of work, but they are both works of grace. Sanctification and justification are “grace upon grace.”

The corollary of free grace is faith. If both justification and sanctification are works of grace, it is natural that they would both be by faith.

Falling Out of Love

Bright Green Mould

The NZ Greenists have elected a new co-leader of their party.  Free market secularist, Rodney Hide explains how it took him but a few hours to fall out of love.

I can't help falling out of love again

Rodney Hide

I've fallen out of love with Green co-leader Jamie Shaw. It didn't take long. Our political honeymoon lasted less than a day.  He declared "free market capitalism dead". I get that he doesn't like free markets. He's a Green. He's a politician. He wants to boss us around. People being free to choose is anathema to him.

But to declare the free market dead? What is he saying? That no one now supports free markets? That's not true. There's me.  Or is he saying that there are no free markets? Has he never been on TradeMe, shopped in a supermarket or been to a food hall?

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Political Correctness Takes a Hit

At Last Some Tolerance in the UK

Christian nursery worker sacked over anti-gay views wins tribunal case

Employment tribunal rules that Sarah Mbuyi was discriminated against because of her belief that homosexual practice is contrary to the Bible
A Christian nursery worker who was sacked after airing her views on homosexuality and marriage has won a discrimination claim against her former employer, her legal representatives have said.  Sarah Mbuyi, 31, was dismissed by Newpark Childcare in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, for gross misconduct after telling a lesbian colleague her gay lifestyle was a sin. She claimed the sacking breached European law on religious freedom. 
an employment tribunal at Watford had found she was directly discriminated against because of her belief that homosexual practice is contrary to the Bible.

The Belgian national, from Tottenham, north London, who had been working for a year with children aged under one, denied harassment and maintained that her colleague approached her asking about religion and same-sex marriage and was angry she had been barred from marrying her partner in a church.  The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which supported Mbuyi, said an employment tribunal at Watford had found she was directly discriminated against because of her belief that homosexual practice is contrary to the Bible.  The tribunal recognised that while the employer was “not anti-Christian” Mbuyi had not been treated fairly and that the decision to sack her may have been made on “stereotypical assumptions about her and her beliefs”.

Daily Devotional

On obedience

In obeying, a rational creature consciously enacts its creaturely role, reverses the act by which we fell, treads Adam’s dance backward and returns.

From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in Words to Live By
The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.  Sourced from BibleGateway.

Postmodern Pretensions to Deity

Godlike Claims to Divine Insight

A corollary of postmodernism, which is the most rigorous philosophical expression of absolute relativism ever put forward in the modern world, is tolerance.  This has now become an absolute cultural value.  It underpins the swirling mess of pottage we call "political correctness"--that is, officially demanded tolerance.  But it pays to keep in mind the philosophical foundation of militant tolerance and political correctness is post-modernism.

We have seen this noxious plant flower everywhere in the West.  One fruit has been the turning of a blind eye by officials, bureaucrats and police to gangs of Pakistani immigrant men serially raping young girls in the UK.  The officials "heard no evil, saw no evil, and spoke no evil" because they did not want to be charged with racism or cultural intolerance towards Islamic, Pakistani men.  In US campuses one form it has taken is to raise the siren cry to "check one's privilege" by which is meant the privileged position of being white is a de facto assault upon accepting (tolerating)  non-white cultures and backgrounds. Being white is to be guilty of suppressing other, equally valid cultures, practices and beliefs.  Back down.  Back off.  Shut up.  Let others assume their honoured, rightful place.  And so on . . . 

One common feature of the postmodern "form" of tolerance is that it ends up endorsing and tolerating particular forms of oppression and intolerance.