Saturday, 30 January 2016

PC Idealogues Produce Growing State Power

Sunday Schools to be Monitored

UK Government Scrutiny to Prevent Hate Preaching in Sunday Schools

Simon Kent
Breitbart London

Sunday schools, church groups, choirs and Scout troops will all be swept up by broad surveillance proposals designed to confront Islamic radicalism in teaching institutions.  New Ofsted rules designed to monitor any organisation which interacts with a child for more than six hours a week means traditional church gatherings along with community groups are liable for inspection by government authorities.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has said the new rules would cover all activities taking place, meaning every church that offers several activities for youngsters, including Scouts, choirs or youth clubs, would need to be registered with the government and be prepared for their activities to be monitored by the state.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw revealed his inspectors would use powers intended to crack down on Muslim madrassas run by extremists who might be seeking to groom pupils for radical activities to also regulate Christian Sunday schools.

Daily Devotional

To Ruth  Broady

Lewis’s last letter to a child about Narnia.

C. S. Lewis
26 October 1963

Many thanks for your kind letter, and it was very good of you to write and tell me that you like my books; and what a very good letter you write for your age!

If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope you may always do so. I’m so thankful that you realized the ‘hidden story’ in the Narnian books. It is odd, children nearly always do, grown ups hardly ever.

I’m afraid the Narnian series has come to an end, and am sorry to tell you that you can expect no more.

God bless you.

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.

Christian Modernity

The Latest and Best

The old fundamentalist creed runs "We have no creed but Christ, no confession but the Bible".  At first glance this has the appearance of a profound truth.  Upon further reflection, it quickly dissimulates into an empty, self-contradictory slogan.

It is obvious that much of evangelical Christendom remains profoundly ignorant of the teachings of the Bible.  This ignorance is celebrated as a strength, which is somewhat embarrassing.  Let's explore the notion, "no creed but Christ, no confession but the Bible" a bit further.

The first thing which is immediately apparent is that this pithy statement is itself a creedal statement. The Latin "credo" means "I believe".  A creed is nothing other than a concentrated, distilled summary of what one believes.  Therefore creeds are inescapable.  Even anti-creeds such as  "no creed but Christ, no confession but the Bible" are statements of doctrine and what an individual or a particular church believes.

Secondly, the statement  "no creed but Christ, no confession but the Bible" represents a profound stubbornness against the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Letter From America (About Germany on the Brink)

Angela Merkel Must Go

Ross Douthat
New York Times


ON New Year’s Eve, in the shadow of Cologne’s cathedral, crowds of North African and Middle Eastern men accosted women out for the night’s festivities. They surrounded them, groped them, robbed them. Two women were reportedly raped.

Though there were similar incidents from Hamburg to Helsinki, the authorities at first played down the assaults, lest they prove inconvenient for Angela Merkel’s policy of mass asylum for refugees.  That delay has now cost Cologne’s police chief his job. But the German government still seems more concerned about policing restless natives — most recently through a deal with Facebook and Google to restrict anti-immigrant postings — than with policing migration. Just last week Merkel rejected a proposal to cap refugee admissions (which topped one million last year) at 200,000 in 2016.

The underlying controversy here is not a new one. For decades conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have warned that Europe’s generous immigration policies, often pursued in defiance of ordinary Europeans’ wishes, threaten to destabilize the continent.  The conservatives have made important points about the difficulty of assimilation, the threat of radicalization, and the likelihood of Paris-style and Cologne-style violence in European cities.

But they have also trafficked in more apocalyptic predictions — fears of a “Eurabia,” of mass Islamification — that were somewhat harder to credit. Until recently, Europe’s assimilation challenge looked unpleasant but not insurmountable, and the likelihood of Yugoslavian-style balkanization relatively remote.

With the current migration, though, we’re in uncharted territory.

Daily Devotional

Not The Apologist of Sin

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."
Romans 3:31

Charles H. Spurgeon

When the believer is adopted into the Lord's family, his relationship to old Adam and the law ceases at once; but then he is under a new rule, and a new covenant. Believer, you are God's child; it is your first duty to obey your heavenly Father. A servile spirit you have nothing to do with: you are not a slave, but a child; and now, inasmuch as you are a beloved child, you are bound to obey your Father's faintest wish, the least intimation of his will.

Does he bid you fulfil a sacred ordinance? It is at your peril that you neglect it, for you will be disobeying your Father. Does he command you to seek the image of Jesus? Is it not your joy to do so? Does Jesus tell you, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect"? Then not because the law commands, but because your Saviour enjoins, you will labour to be perfect in holiness.

Does he bid his saints love one another? Do it, not because the law says, "Love thy neighbour," but because Jesus says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments;" and this is the commandment that he has given unto you, "that ye love one another." Are you told to distribute to the poor? Do it, not because charity is a burden which you dare not shirk, but because Jesus teaches, "Give to him that asketh of thee."

Does the Word say, "Love God with all your heart"? Look at the commandment and reply, "Ah! commandment, Christ hath fulfilled thee already--I have no need, therefore, to fulfil thee for my salvation, but I rejoice to yield obedience to thee because God is my Father now and he has a claim upon me, which I would not dispute." May the Holy Ghost make your heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ's love, that your prayer may be, "Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight."

Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.

We Get the Politicians We Deserve, They Say

What Have We Done?

Suddenly the NZ Labour Party has discovered the idea of national sovereignty.  It is somewhat of a late conversion.  Faced with the prospect of the present government signing the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP") free trade agreement--a political and policy objective formerly prosecuted and advanced by the Labour Party with great gusto and some notable successes--the Labour leader has now decided that TPP is a bridge too far.  

What is on that bridge? we wonder.  Labour leader, Andrew Little has been very clear in recent days.  The reason he (and his party) now opposes free trade agreements is that they end up diminishing national sovereignty.  They obligate New Zealand not-to-do nasty things with international trade.

This is a right pickle for the Labour Party.  The dizzying intellect of Mr Little has led the Party into a position which rapidly collapses into a quagmire with a scintilla of reflection.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Progress Against Civil Asset Forfeiture, Part II

State By State

Civil Forfeiture Now Requires A Criminal Conviction In Montana And New Mexico

Nick Sibilla

Just in time for the Fourth of July, states are declaring their independence from civil forfeiture.
Enabled by civil forfeiture laws, police can seize and keep property without the government ever filing criminal charges. Innocent Americans actually must prove their own innocence in court if they ever hope to regain their property. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies routinely seize property and pad their budgets with forfeiture revenue. Outlets as diverse as The New Yorker and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver have detailed this travesty of justice.

But thankfully, civil forfeiture’s days may soon be numbered. Starting July 1, two major reforms from Montana and New Mexico will go into effect.

Earlier this year, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed a law that requires the government to first obtain a criminal conviction before taking and keeping someone’s property through civil forfeiture.  This legislation also shifts the burden of proof onto the government—where it belongs—when spouses, neighbors and other innocent owners try to get back property used by a suspect without their knowledge. Montana’s civil forfeiture reforms are vital to restore due process and protect the property rights of the innocent.

The Montana State  Legislature.
The Montana State Legislature.

New Mexico went even further and abolished civil forfeiture outright.

Daily Devotional

The Vital Importance of Creeds and Confessions

C. S. Lewis

I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!’

Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper.

But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together.

In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 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.

Rebellion Gathers Strength and Pace

Do Not Touch The Unclean Thing

Gender bending is the next big stage as the West integrates into its own void.  Many people will doubtless be found amazed at the speed and velocity of this spontaneous movement and how quickly it has insinuated itself into the institutions of government, law, courts, and schools.  

We are not surprised at the velocity of the movement.  These things gather pace as the rebellion against God grows stronger.  Part of the consequence of God giving over a culture to its own destruction is that the resistance to evil attenuates; the lust for evil becomes more intense.  The common thread is the frenetic drive for more human autonomy.

Breitbart News has carried a piece on moves within the UK Conservative Party and the UK government to drive all gender distinctions out of UK society.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About the King of the Whole Earth)

Saviour of the World #2

Douglas Wilson

Far too many Christians take a phrase from Luther without the faith of Luther. They do believe that this world is “with devils filled,” but have no knowledge of the “one little word” which fells the evil one. That one little word is cross. Christ is the Savior of the world—not only because He died for the world and for lost humanity—but because in His death He overthrew the reigning principalities and powers who had previously been in power. Tragically, many Christians believe that spiritual warfare is conducted as though Christ never died, or as though His death is irrelevant to that conflict. But this is not what the Bible teaches.Plant From Bible
The Text:
“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:31-32).

The Old World:
Throughout the Old Testament we see a celestial and angelic government over the nations of men. The gods of the various nations are closely identified with those nations. For example, angelic beings stand behind the nations of Persia (Dan. 10:13) or Tyre (Ez. 28:11-16). General statements are made in which God is contrasted with these beings, and He is in another category entirely. “Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; nor are there any works like Your works” (Ps. 86:8). God was sovereign over such celestials then, but He exercised His sovereignty over and through them. They were, in some significant sense, mediatorial princes. In the Christian aeon, God has established just one Prince… and He is one of us, a man.

The Age to Come:
The period of the New Testament is the time of transition between the reign of the celestial princes, and the dominion of man in Christ. “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him . . . For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:5-9). The author of Hebrews did not yet see the promise made to mankind fulfilled. Nevertheless, he does see the fulfillment as centered in Christ.

Sovereign and Mediator:
Now an important distinction is necessary. God, by definition, has always exercised sovereign control over the world. The hair on every head has always been numbered. But in the accomplished mission of Christ, the cross and resurrection, God established a new mediatorial rule in the world. Christ as the eternal Word of God has always been sovereign. But in the Incarnation, God has established His Son as a new mediatorial Prince, and we are seated and enthroned in the heavenly places in Christ.

We must remember the power of the conquering cross. This is how the New Testament describes it over and over again. If we miss this, we are missing a central part of the impact of the gospel.
Note especially the italics. “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’” (1 Cor. 2:6-7).

What did these rulers not know? They did not know the cross would topple them, and glorify the saints. Jesus said, “… of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:11).
Paul exults in this conquest: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15). A triumph included a public humiliation of the defeated after the battle was over.

What was the point of the cross? “… that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil . . .” (Heb. 2:14)

What Satan offered Christ in the temptation, Christ refused. But Christ refused because He planned to knock him down, and take the kingdoms of men from him. “No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house” (Mark 3:27).

Ruler of the Kings of the Earth:
This is why we worship and serve Jesus Christ. Who is He? “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5).

A Tale of Two Cities

Jerusalem and Athens

Observations from Churchill that make for interesting reading 50 years down the road.

The Greeks rival the Jews in being the most politically-minded race in the world.  No matter how forlorn their circumstances or how grave the peril to their country, they are always divided into many parties, with many leaders who fight among themselves with desperate vigour.  It has been well said that wherever there are three Jews it will be found that there are two Prime Ministers and one leader of the Opposition.

The same is true of this other famous ancient race, whose stormy and endless struggle for life stretches back to the fountain springs of human thought.  No two races have set such a mark upon the world.  Bot have shown a capacity for survival, in spirit of unending perils and sufferings from external oppressors, matched only by their own ceaseless feuds, quarrels, and convulsions. . . .

No two cities have  counted more with mankind than Athens and Jerusalem.  Their messages in religion, philosophy, and art have been the main guiding lights of modern faith and culture.  Centuries of foreign rule and indescribable, endless oppression leave them still living, active communities and forces in the modern world, quarrelling among themselves with insatiable vivacity.  Personally I have always been on the side of both, and believed in their invincible power to survive internal strife and the world tides threatening their extinction.  [Winston Churchill, The Second World War.  (London: The Reprint Society, 1954).  Vol. V:  Closing the Ring, p. 413.] 

Daily Devotional

Served in Serving Others

John Piper

Jesus said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?” (Mark 8:17)

After Jesus had fed both the 5,000 and the 4,000 with only a few loaves and fish, the disciples got in a boat without enough bread for themselves.  When they began to discuss their plight, Jesus said, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand?” (Mark 8:17). What didn’t they understand?

They did not understand the meaning of the leftovers, namely, that Jesus will take care of them when they take care of others. Jesus says,  “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Understand what? The leftovers.  The leftovers were for the servers. In fact, the first time there were twelve servers and twelve basketfuls left over (Mark 6:43). The second time there seven basketfuls left over — the number of abundant completeness.

What didn’t they understand? That Jesus would take care of them. You can’t outgive Jesus. When you spend your life for others, your needs will be met.

Progress Against Civil Asset Forfeiture, Part I

Chopping Away At Leviathan

The practice of civil asset forfeiture in the United States has evolved into an unjust evil. Now, it appears that the consciences of some in authority have woken up.  Slowly the practice is being wound back, state by state.  Civil forfeiture is something Christians need to work against as they have opportunity.

Below is a Fact Sheet summary of the practice of civil forfeiture, as provided by the Heritage Foundation.  Part II, to follow, will describe the progress that is being made in rolling the pernicious practice back.

Civil Asset Forfeiture: 7 Things You Should Know

1. What is civil asset forfeiture?

Civil asset forfeiture is a legal tool that allows law enforcement officials to seize property that they assert has been involved in certain criminal activity. In fact, the owner of the property doesn’t even need to be guilty of a crime: Civil asset forfeiture proceedings charge the property itself with involvement in a crime. This means that police can seize your car, home, money, or valuables without ever having to charge you with a crime. There are many, many stories of innocent people being stripped of their money and property by law enforcement.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Rejecting Nihilism

Revolutionary Transformation

Femen is an "organization" that takes seriously the implicit nihilism in secular feminist ideology.  When its rage is spent, very little is left.  It is a particular political expression of existentialism where one's identity has much to do with wilfulness and its myriad of expressions.  No law, no boundaries, no limitations are recognised.

One of Femen's shock troops, Sara Fernanda Giromin has back-flipped, repenting of her life of destructive nihilism.  This from News.Com:

Daily Devotional

First Things

"Martha was cumbered about much serving."
Luke 10:40

Charles H. Spurgeon

Her fault was not that she served: the condition of a servant well becomes every Christian. "I serve," should be the motto of all the princes of the royal family of heaven. Nor was it her fault that she had "much serving." We cannot do too much. Let us do all that we possibly can; let head, and heart, and hands, be engaged in the Master's service.

It was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master. Happy Martha, to have an opportunity of entertaining so blessed a guest; and happy, too, to have the spirit to throw her whole soul so heartily into the engagement. Her fault was that she grew "cumbered with much serving," so that she forgot him, and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion, and so presented one duty stained with the blood of another. We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: we should do much service, and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune.

Joshua never grew weary in fighting with the Amalekites; but Moses, on the top of the mountain in prayer, needed two helpers to sustain his hands. The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire in it. The choicest fruits are the hardest to rear: the most heavenly graces are the most difficult to cultivate. Beloved, while we do not neglect external things, which are good enough in themselves, we ought also to see to it that we enjoy living, personal fellowship with Jesus. See to it that sitting at the Saviour's feet is not neglected, even though it be under the specious pretext of doing him service. The first thing for our soul's health, the first thing for his glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness, is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus, and to see that the vital spirituality of our religion is maintained over and above everything else in the world.

Barrel Bottom Scrapings

Desperate Stuff

Ad hominem argument always--always--tells you that the critics have nothing substantial to say against an opponent.  Ad hominem is an attack upon the man (who is proffering an opinion or argument) rather than upon his opinion or argument.  "The world is going to end tomorrow," says one.  The critic soundly rejects the proffered notion of a terminal earth by criticizing not the opinion, but the unfashionable hair style of the advocate.

It's the kind of thing North Korea faces all the time when its bouffant-extraordinaire baby leader speechifies to his devotees.  Nobody can give any credence to the opinions of one so sartorially challenged.

Ad hominem argument is cheap, nasty, and dumb.  It is also irrelevant.  It is only the small mind which considers it to be not only relevant, but an effective rebuttal.  Nonetheless it sure makes one feel good, even superior, and riotously clever.  But students of informal fallacies will tell you in a heart beat that ad hominem argument always fails because it has no relevance to the point at issue.

Yesterday, we posted an article Jamie Whyte authored.  It appeared in the NZ Herald, and argued the current measures of child poverty in New Zealand were absurd, even meaningless.   Within a heart beat his critics responded--with a nasty ad hominem attack.

Repeated Folly

Men Rising Above Their God-Ordained Station

Myanmar, or Burma, has drawn the attention of the world's media in recent days with a largely free election and a staggering majority for Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy.  This has occurred under military rule--a rule which has persisted in Myanmar for over fifty years.  It remains to be seen where it will all lead.  We hope it leads to a much greater good for that country.

Burma was a former British colony; its economy was largely shattered as a result of the Japanese invasion in 1943 and the resulting land war throughout the country.  Eventually Japan was defeated and driven out by the Allies.

The leader of the Burmese army at the time, Ne Win seized power from the post-war elected civilian government, and the resulting military regime was welcomed by the populace.  Emma Larkin [Finding George Orwell in Burma (New York: The Penguin Group, 2011)] describes what developed from there:

Monday, 25 January 2016

Axe Grinders

Relative Poverty Measures Are For Propaganda Purposes, Not Truth

Jamie Whyte
NZ Herald

There is no poverty in New Zealand. Misery, depravity, hopelessness, yes; but no poverty.

The poorest in New Zealand are the unemployed. They receive free medical care, free education for their children and enough cash to pay for basic food, clothing and (subsidised) housing. Most have televisions, refrigerators and ovens. Many even own cars. That isn't poverty.

Our threshold for poverty rises with the general level of income. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Our threshold for poverty rises with the general level of income. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Why then do we keep hearing that more than 20 per cent of New Zealand children live in poverty? Those who tell us this do not mean by "poverty" what most people do. They have a statistical definition: you live in poverty if your household's income is less than 50 per cent of the national median (after tax and housing costs, and adjusted for the number of adults and children in the household).

For example, the Herald recently published an article by Susan St John, spokeswoman for the Child Poverty Action Group, that claimed 220,000 children live in poverty because they "fall under the stringent 50 per cent after-housing-costs poverty line".  Alas, the measure is not stringent; it is ridiculous.

Daily Devotional

Not In the Least Offensive

TO MR. YOUNG: Lewis’s last letter of direction—on the virgin birth; on the glorified body of the risen Christ; on atonement theories; and on the wrath of God.

C. S. Lewis

31 October 1963

1. I believe in the Virgin Birth in the fullest and most literal sense: that is, I deny that copulation with a man was the cause of the Virgin’s pregnancy.

2. It is not easy to define what we mean by an ‘essentially human body’. The records show that Our Lord’s Risen Body could pass through closed doors, which human bodies can’t: but also that it could eat. We shall know what a glorified body is when we have one ourselves: till then, I think we must acquiesce in mystery.

3. When Scripture says that Christ died ‘for’ us, I think the word is usually υπερ (on behalf of), not αντι (instead of). I think the ideas of sacrifice, ransom, championship (over death), substitution et cetera are all images to suggest the reality (not otherwise comprehensible to us) of the atonement. To fix on any one of them as if it contained and limited the truth like a scientific definition would in my opinion be a mistake.

4. All associations of human passions to God are analogical. The wrath of God: ‘something in God of which the best image in the created world is righteous indignation’. I think it quite a mistake to try to soften the idea of anger by substituting something like disapproval or regret. Even with men real anger is far more likely than cold disapproval to lead to full reconciliation. Hot love, hot wrath. . . .

Your questions are not in the least offensive.

Yours sincerely

C.S. Lewis

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.

Unintended Witness to the Truth

Patterns of Oppression

Emma Larkin, in her book Finding George Orwell in Burma [New York: Penguin Books, 2011] describes how the regime of state censorship applies in Myanmar.  She records a conversation with a printer and publisher in which he describes how the Press Registration and Security Department ("PRSD") operates.
The PRSD is a veritable army of "scrutinizers" headed by members of the Military Intelligence.  It has the awesome task of searching through every single printed item--whether school textbook, magazine, calendar or song lyrics--for a word, a sentence, a picture which might be considered anti-government.  Ko Ye picked up a copy of a lifestyle magazine that was lying of the desk.  Its rough, grey pages were filled with short stories, articles about moves, and profiles of popular singers.  He flicked through the magazine and showed me where censors had scrawled with a pink highlighter across certain paragraphs or, as was the case on some pages, whole articles.  Scribbled alongside each scrawl was the single word "hpyoke" or "remove".

"Why these particular pages?" I asked.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Letter From America (About the Saudi Death Cult)

Record Number of Saudi Executions Triggers Violent Backlash

John Hayward
Breitbart News

[Editor's Note: Saudi Arabia has defended its processes and the executions.  It has said that its judges are independent; they apply strictly and conscientiously the dictats and precepts of  Sharia Law.  We wonder whether this will lead to the West rethinking its imaginary version of Islam.  Either Sharia is intrinsic to Islam, or Saudi Arabia represents an extremist perversion of the religion.  Our money is on the first option.  To criticise Saudi Arabia's actions is to criticise one of the three supporting buttresses of Islam.]

One particular execution carried out by Saudi Arabia this weekend, that of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr, led to violent protests and the sacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran.  Sheikh Nimr was by no means alone on the chopping block. The Saudis executed a remarkable 47 prisoners on Saturday. Many of the others were members of al-Qaeda, leading Reuters to characterize the Kingdom’s intent as “signalling that it would not tolerate attacks, whether by Sunni jihadists or minority Shi’ites, and stirring sectarian anger across the region.”

Reuters adds that the executions “seemed mostly aimed at discouraging Saudis from jihadism after bombings and shootings by Sunni militants in Saudi Arabia over the past year killed dozens and Islamic State called on followers there to stage attacks.”

Daily Devotional

The Smallest Faith

It depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:16)

John Piper

Let us make crystal clear at the beginning of the year that all we will get from God this year as believers in Jesus is mercy. Whatever pleasures or pains come our way will all be mercy.

This is why Christ came into the world — “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:9). We were born again “according to his great mercy” (1 Peter 1:3). We pray daily “that we may receive mercy” (Hebrews 4:16); and we are now “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 1:21). If any Christian proves trustworthy, it is “by the Lord's mercy [he] is trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 7:25).

In Luke 17:5, the apostles plead with the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And Jesus says, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6). In other words, the issue in your Christian life and ministry is not the strength or quantity of your faith, because that is not what uproots trees. God does. Therefore, the smallest faith that truly connects you with Christ will engage enough of his power for all you need.

But what about your successes? Does your obedience move you out of the category of supplicant of mercy? Jesus gives the answer in the following verses of Luke 17:7–10.

Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, “Come at once and sit down at table”? Will he not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink”? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.”

Therefore, I conclude, the fullest obedience and the smallest faith obtain the same thing from God: mercy. A mere mustard seed of faith taps into the mercy of tree-moving power. And flawless obedience leaves us utterly dependent on mercy.

The point is this: Whatever the timing or form of God’s mercy, we never rise above the status of beneficiaries of mercy. We are always utterly dependent on the undeserved.

Therefore let us humble ourselves and rejoice and “glorify God for his mercy”!

The Tyranny of Man

Assimilating to the Borg

On this blog we frequently decry both the beliefs and the practices of statism.  The threat of the creeping, growing power of the state is not idle.  It is real.  There are many reasons why the power of the state will always tend towards emergent tyranny.  To prevent this happening takes particular actions and structures: the separation of powers, an independent judiciary, a constitution limiting the powers of the state and preserving the liberties of citizens, and so forth.  Above all it takes a deep, abiding belief in liberty throughout society.

The Christian faith provides a strong, principled framework to keep the state and its powers under control.  Firstly, Christ alone is ultimate; therefore the state is a servant--a mere servant, one might say--and its serves its Master, the Lord, to whom it and its agents will answer.  Secondly, our Lord has many other appointed servants beside the state, whose authority and responsibilities are also devolved from the Lord of glory.  These subordinate authorities are spread throughout human society.  His law is the fundamental law for all such authorities.  Limits are set on what is lawful, and what is not.  For example, the dominion and authority of parents over children is comprehensive, but not absolute.  No man or government is permitted to disregard the lawful, Christ appointed authority of parents.

Secular humanism provides no such principled framework to limit the ever-creeping powers of the state.  Rather, secular humanism ends up worshipping power and the state.  Because it does not recognise nor fear God, there is no higher authority than the humanist state which can, therefore, expropriate all property, cast into prison, and even take life. Who or what (in the end) can say to the humanist state, "What doest thou?"

As the West turns away from the Lord and His Christ, the illicit powers and oppression of the state grow by the day.  Below, blogger Patterico illustrates this relentless rapacity with just one prosaic example.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Getting the Point Across

Ted Cruz as Jedi Warrior 

Self-mockery and humour, with a serious message. Not bad.

Clearly Cruz (running for selection as the Republican candidate for President) needs many more sober, storied, salaried, and 'stablishment political consultants to advise him.

Why, appealing to the inner child, whilst reprising a sci-fi movie is hardly professional.  No wonder Cruz is regarded by the Establishment as a rebel without a grave cause.

For some reason, Cruz does not appear in the least concerned.


Daily Devotional

Triumphal Progress

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
Luke 3:4

Charles H. Spurgeon

The voice crying in the wilderness demanded a way for the Lord, a way prepared, and a way prepared in the wilderness. I would be attentive to the Master's proclamation, and give him a road into my heart, cast up by gracious operations, through the desert of my nature. The four directions in the text must have my serious attention.

Every valley must be exalted. Low and grovelling thoughts of God must be given up; doubting and despairing must be removed; and self-seeking and carnal delights must be forsaken. Across these deep valleys a glorious causeway of grace must be raised.

Every mountain and hill shall be laid low. Proud creature-sufficiency, and boastful self-righteousness, must be levelled, to make a highway for the King of kings. Divine fellowship is never vouchsafed to haughty, highminded sinners. The Lord hath respect unto the lowly, and visits the contrite in heart, but the lofty are an abomination unto him. My soul, beseech the Holy Spirit to set thee right in this respect.

The crooked shall be made straight. The wavering heart must have a straight path of decision for God and holiness marked out for it. Double-minded men are strangers to the God of truth. My soul, take heed that thou be in all things honest and true, as in the sight of the heart-searching God.

The rough places shall be made smooth. Stumbling-blocks of sin must be removed, and thorns and briers of rebellion must be uprooted. So great a visitor must not find miry ways and stony places when he comes to honour his favoured ones with his company. Oh that this evening the Lord may find in my heart a highway made ready by his grace, that he may make a triumphal progress through the utmost bounds of my soul, from the beginning of this year even to the end of it.

A Nation Lives By Its Stomach

Do the Hard Yards

Stupid parents load their children up with sugar.  Maybe it's because they don't love them enough to regulate their eating.  Maybe the parents are lazy and too busy with other things.  Maybe they have lost any sense of discipling and ruling the lives of their children and indulgently go with the flow.  Maybe they love sugar themselves and think that to protect their children from it would be hypocritical.  Maybe it is a combination of  "all the above".

The UK (along with most Western nations) is facing a sugar crisis.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Look! Girls!

Douglas Wilson

So let me tell you a little bit about my recent reading, which will then help you understand where the following comes from. I recently listened through all C.S. Lewis’s Essays, and have now listened to most of The Abolition of Man (again). I am currently reading God Is Not a Story by Murphy (which has made me think yet again that perhaps all really smart people ought to be locked up), and now I just read Mark Horne’s short essay on natural law here.

Mark wonders what good natural law offers us if an entire civilization (ours) can miss out on what that law is saying with regard to something as basic as the creational distinction between male and female. In the wake of Obergefell and Jenner messing with his pronouns, Mark finds natural law “much less credible” than it was previously.

A couple of responses to this concern spring to mind, and then I would like to go on to offer something else as food for thought.

First, we ought not measure the efficacy of anything by whether or not unbelievers deny the efficacy of it.

Daily Devotional

The Yearning For Beauty

C. S. Lewis

We want so much more—something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

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.

New Atheism's Pre-occupations


New Age atheists like to champion the Enlightenment.  They want to see it dominant.  Away with all mysticism and superstition and priestcraft.  Let the benefice of pure reason be established on the highest.

Why the hostility towards religion?  Well, there is the old chestnut that it represents superstition on steroids.  After all, you can't put God in a test-tube.  And what you can't put in a test-tube just ain't so.
But there is something else even more weird.  With a kind of Freudian overlay, New Age atheists connect religion with sexual repression.  David Berlinski points out that  Christopher Hitchens has made this extraordinary assertion:
. . . Christopher Hitchens claims that (religion) is dangerous because it is "the cause of dangerous sexual repression."  Short of gender insensitivity, what could be more dangerous than dangerous sexual repression?  [David Berlinski, The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions (New York: Basic Books, 2009), p 18.]
We suppose that Hitchens is making an oblique reference to the fact that Christians believe sex must be exclusively restricted to consenting adults bound in a holy oath of mutually exclusive fidelity.  Yup. That's dangerous sexual repression.  Presumably Hitchens wants us to join him in thinking that sexual libertinism is safe, upbuilding, and mutually supportive, particularly for the children being conceived and, if allowed to live, brought up in its serendipitous embrace.  Not dangerous at all.

In this high faluting sentiment, Hitchens is joined by fellow idealogue, Richard Dawkins.
Among the commandments that Richard Dawkins proposes as replacement for the original ten, the first encourages men and women "to enjoy [their] own sex lives so long as it damages nobody else."  [Ibid.]
Well, silly old Richie Rich.  Of course it is damaging--this libertine sexuality--if it represses people into a binary gender prison of having to be either male or female.  Get with the programme.  Shed that Oxford priggery.

Yup, Christianity and its commandments are positively dangerous for the human race.  You know the chorus: more evil has been done in the name of religion than any other name.  We atheists are the good guys.  We are of the Enlightenment Party--our creed is simple.  Men and women (oops, sorry) ought to be allowed to regulate their own conduct, guided solely by reason and experience.  What a glorious society that would be.

Glorious, it would seem, only if you like seeing blood flow.
Children of the Enlightenment do not, of course, dwell overly on the dreadful acts undertaken in its name when the Enlightenment first became a living historical force in France:

all perished, all--
Friends, enemies, of all parties, ages, ranks,
Head after head, and never heads enough
For those that bade them fall.
[Berlinski, ibid.]

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Ideologically Enforced Blindness

Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture

Tom Tancredo

An epidemic of rape cases across Europe has police in the U.K., Norway, Sweden, Germany and other nations worried. But you won’t hear much about it in the U.S. mainstream media because the epidemic is a byproduct of the influx into Europe of a million, mostly Muslim, migrants.

What has happened to put discussion of Islam’s rape culture out of bounds? Crime statistics in Europe are daily documenting the scope of the problem, but no one in the establishment press is reporting them. Of course, the Fatwa on the proper treatment of “sex slaves” did make news, but only because it was billed as a rebuke to ISIS’s “excesses.” According to the mullahs, it’s quite okay to use captured 12-year-old girls as sex slaves, but you must follow proper Islamic etiquette. For example, you must not have sex with both the mother and daughter at the same time.  But stories about the rape epidemic in Europe are rare.

Consider this recent news item from Germany:

A growing number of women and young girls housed in refugee shelters in Germany are being raped, sexually assaulted and even forced into prostitution by male asylum seekers, according to German social work organisations with first-hand knowledge of the situation.

Bet you didn’t read about that in the NY Times. Or this headline from Sweden:

Daily Devotional

Growing in the Lord

"Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
2 Peter 3:18

Charles H. Spurgeon

"Grow in grace"--not in one grace only, but in all grace.

Grow in that root-grace, faith. Believe the promises more firmly than you have done. Let faith increase in fulness, constancy, simplicity. Grow also in love. Ask that your love may become extended, more intense, more practical, influencing every thought, word, and deed.

Grow likewise in humility. Seek to lie very low, and know more of your own nothingness. As you grow downward in humility, seek also to grow upward--having nearer approaches to God in prayer and more intimate fellowship with Jesus. May God the Holy Spirit enable you to "grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour." He who grows not in the knowledge of Jesus, refuses to be blessed. To know him is "life eternal," and to advance in the knowledge of him is to increase in happiness.

He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of him yet. Whoever hath sipped this wine will thirst for more, for although Christ doth satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction, that the appetite is not cloyed, but whetted. If you know the love of Jesus--as the hart panteth for the water-brooks, so will you pant after deeper draughts of his love. If you do not desire to know him better, then you love him not, for love always cries, "Nearer, nearer." Absence from Christ is hell; but the presence of Jesus is heaven.

Rest not then content without an increasing acquaintance with Jesus. Seek to know more of him in his divine nature, in his human relationship, in his finished work, in his death, in his resurrection, in his present glorious intercession, and in his future royal advent. Abide hard by the Cross, and search the mystery of his wounds. An increase of love to Jesus, and a more perfect apprehension of his love to us is one of the best tests of growth in grace.


Passed Its Use-By Date?

Is this the most racist law still on the statute books of New Zealand?  

Section 30-36 of the Maori Community Development Act 1962:

30  Prevention of riotous behaviour
(1)Any Maori who—

(a)disturbs any congregation assembled for public worship, or any public meeting, or any meeting for any lecture, concert, or entertainment, or any audience at any theatre, whether or not a charge for admission has been made, or interferes with the conduct of any religious service in any church, chapel, burial ground, or other public building or place; or

(b)in or in view of any public place as defined by section 40 of the Police Offences Act 1927, or within the hearing of any person therein, behaves in a riotous, offensive, threatening, insulting, or disorderly manner, or uses any threatening, abusive or insulting words, or strikes or fights with any other person—

commits an offence against this Act.

31  Prevention of drunkenness

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Saviour of the World

Douglas Wilson


Many Christians veer into one of two errors in their view of future history. Either they plunge into a very exciting study of the “end times” and become consumed with the book of Revelation and newspaper reports about the European Union, not to mention the killer bees, trouble in the Middle East, and so forth, or they dismiss the whole thing with a wave of the hand and a joke—and usually the same joke. “I am a pan-millennialist. Everything will pan out in the end.” But much more is involved in this subject than the particular “chronology” we set for the events at the end of the world. Christians must come to understand that our doctrine of the power of the cross will be at the heart of our doctrine of the future history of the human race.

The Text:

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).

Faithful Witness:

The apostle John tells us that he, and others with him, have seen something and they testify to it. Now our duty as Christians is to stand with the apostles, and join our witness to theirs. But how can we, if we do not see what they saw? And how can we testify to something we have not seen?

They saw that the Father sent the Son with a particular purpose in mind—this is the will of the Father to which Christ was submitting in the garden when He prepared to go to the cross. The Father sent the Son as the Savior of the world. The words are very plain, and words very much like them are found throughout all Scripture.

This is the apostolic witness. Is it ours? Have we seen this? If we have not, it is because we are not paying attention.

Daily Devotional

Hope for Imperfect People

John Piper

By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

This verse is full of encouragement for imperfect sinners like us, and full of motivation for holiness.

It means that you can have assurance that you stand perfected and completed in the eyes of your heavenly Father not because you are perfect now, but precisely because you are not perfect now but are “being sanctified,” “being made holy” — that, by faith in God’s promises, you are moving away from your lingering imperfection toward more and more holiness.

Does your faith make you eager to forsake sin and make progress in holiness? That is the kind of faith that in the midst of imperfection can look to Christ and say: “You have already perfected me in your sight.”

This faith says, “Christ, today I have sinned. But I hate my sin. For you have written the law on my heart, and I long to do it. And you are working in me what is pleasing in your sight. And so I hate the sin that I still do, and the sinful thoughts that I contemplate.”

This is the true and realistic faith that saves. It is not the boast of the strong. It is the cry of the weak in need of a Savior.

I invite you and urge you to be weak enough to trust Christ in this way.

Letter From Switzerland

Behind Every Tree . . . 

Now here's something you don't see every day: the Swiss Army Chief has called for citizens to arm themselves, according to a piece in  
Swiss army chief André Blattmann warned, in a Swiss newspaper article on Sunday, the risks of social unrest in Europe are soaring. Recalling the experience of 1939/1945, Blattman fears the increasing aggression in public discourse is an explosively hazardous situation, and advises the Swiss people to arm themselves and warns that the basis for Swiss prosperity is "being called into question." . . . He further recalled the situation around the two world wars in the last century and advised the people of Switzerland to arm themselves. . .
It appears as though his advice is resonating with the Swiss:
Applications for gun permits in Switzerland increased by 20% between 2014 and 2015, according to a survey conducted in 12 cantons by Swiss public television, SRF.  The survey, published on Wednesday, showed that in the 12 (out of 26) cantons surveyed, the Swiss are increasingly interested in purchasing pistols, rifles and other firearms for private use.  The greatest increase – more than 70% – was measured in canton Vaud, with more than 4,200 applications in 2015, compared with 2,427 in 2014. . . .
In Switzerland, with more than 8 million inhabitants, there are about 2.5 million legal weapons, around half of which are used for Swiss military service.
 It has been famously said that the reason Hitler's generals warned him not to invade Switzerland (which he would have liked to do) was that it would have been far too costly.  Behind every tree, they advised him, would be a Swiss marksman.

It would seem that the Swiss army chief sees history might well repeat itself.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Unbelievers Display Their Ignorance of Christian Theology

Dear Media: Stop Trying To Teach Christians Theology

Christianity obviously doesn’t mean what you think it means. So stop making yourself out to be televangelists.

G. Shane Morris

Every journalist in America has been secretly attending seminary, and now understands Christianity better than most Christians do. This is the only conclusion I can draw after months of theology lectures from reporters whose most recent encounter with religious terminology was Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.”

To those of us for whom church isn’t a metaphor for sex, it’s been a frustrating few months. First, the chattering class endlessly assured Christian bakers, restaurant-owners, photographers, and florists that Jesus would be totally down with making same-sex nuptials fabulous (and presumably, with paying the $135,000 fine for those who felt differently).

Then, in the wake of June’s gay “marriage” decision at the Supreme Court, we got an earful about how mean and un-Christian it would be not to attend same-sex “weddings.” (Wouldn’t you know it, we’ve been reading the Bible wrong all these centuries!) Then the Kim-pocalypse struck, and we were treated to smug editorials on how the Kentucky clerk’s faith represents the dark side of Christianity, while those who ignore tertiary topics like—say—God’s design for human sexuality in favor of social justice issues, are the good Christians. (I once was blind, but now I see!) But this month, the media got an opportunity to bestow their theological insights on us like never before. Did they ever.

Daily Devotional

Celestial Fruit on Earthly Ground

"They did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year."
Joshua 5:12

Charles H. Spurgeon

Israel's weary wanderings were all over, and the promised rest was attained. No more moving tents, fiery serpents, fierce Amalekites, and howling wildernesses: they came to the land which flowed with milk and honey, and they ate the old corn of the land. Perhaps this year, beloved Christian reader, this may be thy case or mine. Joyful is the prospect, and if faith be in active exercise, it will yield unalloyed delight. To be with Jesus in the rest which remaineth for the people of God, is a cheering hope indeed, and to expect this glory so soon is a double bliss. Unbelief shudders at the Jordan which still rolls between us and the goodly land, but let us rest assured that we have already experienced more ills than death at its worst can cause us. Let us banish every fearful thought, and rejoice with exceeding great joy, in the prospect that this year we shall begin to be "forever with the Lord."

A part of the host will this year tarry on earth, to do service for their Lord. If this should fall to our lot, there is no reason why the New Year's text should not still be true. "We who have believed do enter into rest." The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance; he gives us "glory begun below." In heaven they are secure, and so are we preserved in Christ Jesus; there they triumph over their enemies, and we have victories too. Celestial spirits enjoy communion with their Lord, and this is not denied to us; they rest in his love, and we have perfect peace in him: they hymn his praise, and it is our privilege to bless him too. We will this year gather celestial fruits on earthly ground, where faith and hope have made the desert like the garden of the Lord. Man did eat angels' food of old, and why not now? O for grace to feed on Jesus, and so to eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan this year!

A Genuine Reformation is Underway

God Himself Is a Society

G. K Chesterton was a very perceptive theologian.  He was not always right by our lights, but time and time again he saw things far more clearly than many others.  That's why we return to him again and again.  

These days the doctrines of Islam have come far more into focus.  The West's response to the theological doctrines attending Islam has been one of condescension and ignorance.  This is not surprising, since the West views all religions--especially the Christian religion--as a hangover from a more ignorant, superstitious age.  Rather, the West--particularly the Commentariat and Western governments--have viewed Islam and Christianity through the prism of Marxist and neo-Marxist doctrines.  It's all to do with capital (property) and who has it and, therefore, who is exploiting whom.

To the Western mind there is little difference between Christianity and Islam, except that Christians don't go around slaughtering others, at least not now.  Once they did, during the time of the Crusades and so forth.

Chesterton perceived, however, that it is Islam's doctrine of its deity, Allah that makes it so antithetical to Christianity and to a free and just society.  In particular it is the Triune nature of God as He has revealed Himself to be. It turns out that the doctrine of the Trinity has vast implications for human society, just as the monist doctrine of Allah has vast implications for Islamic society--differences which we now see starkly illustrated every day.

Chesterton writes:

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Genuine Martyrs

2015: The Year of Anti-Christian Jihad

 ‘Christians Are Allah’s Enemies!’

Thomas D. Williams

YouTube via NBC News

The year 2015 will go down in memory as a period of unprecedented Christian persecution throughout the world, resulting in thousands of deaths along with continuous targeted acts of violence and terror.

In October, a mob of 700, instigated by the Islamic Defenders Front, marched on government offices in Aceh Singkil, Indonesia, and from there went on to torch the Indonesian Christian Church.  The mob later circulated a message that read: “We will not stop hunting Christians and burning churches. Christians are Allah’s enemies!”

This act was just one among many but is emblematic in the clarity of its stated motivation and determination.

Taking only the specifically targeted acts of terrorism on Christians by religious Muslims during 2015, not including the countless acts of war, combat, or insurgency, the numbers are staggering.

Daily Devotional

Horrible Religions and Dirty Lenses

C. S. Lewis

When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others—not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.

You can put this another way by saying that while in other sciences the instruments you use are things external to yourself (things like microscopes and telescopes), the instrument through which you see God is your whole self. And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred—like the Moon seen through a dirty telescope. That is why horrible nations have horrible religions: they have been looking at God through a dirty lens.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 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.

It Does Not Compute

The End of All Statist Ideologies

The Party denied the free will of the individual--and at the same time it exacted his willing self-sacrifice.  It denies his capacity to choose between two alternatives--and at the same time it demanded that he should constantly choose the right one.  It denied his power to distinguish good and evil--and at the same time it spoke pathetically of guilt and treachery.  The individual stood under the sign of economic fatality, a wheel in a clockwork which had been wound up for all eternity and could not be stopped or influenced--and the Party demanded that the wheel should revolt against the clockwork and change its course.

There was somewhere and error in the calculation; the equation did not work.

--Rubahsov, in prison, awaiting execution.  Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon 
(London: Arthur Koestler & Jonathan Cape Ltd,) p.240

Friday, 15 January 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

American Jesus

Douglas Wilson

I have written about American exceptionalism before, and so let me begin with a quick review of my take in the first paragraph. Taken one way, the notion is just ten more pounds of idolatrous silliness. Every great nation at the top of its game — and there have been lots — knows how to bask in Ozymandian conceits, and there is nothing whatever exceptional about that. This is as old as dirt, and twice as dumb.

There was a time, however, early on, when the greatness of the United States was looming large on the horizon, when the Founders established a form of government built on the rock solid constitutional footing of a profound distrust of Americans. This is because Americanism is no different from all the other forms of mendacity, and the Founders knew we were no different. That kind of humility really is exceptional. Checks and balances, separation of powers, a doctrine of enumerated powers, were not established because they were anticipating a Klingon invasion. Above all else, the Founders sought to defend America from Americans. And looking at the band of miscreants running this goon show of ours now — most of whom were born within these borders, and educated far past their intelligence with your tax dollars — one is hard pressed to say the Founders were unduly suspicious.

Daily Devotional

Illuminating the Whole

C. S. Lewis

Let us suppose we possess parts of a novel or a symphony. Someone now brings us a newly discovered piece of manuscript and says, ‘This is the missing part of the work. This is the chapter on which the whole plot of the novel really turned. This is the main theme of the symphony’. Our business would be to see whether the new passage, if admitted to the central place which the discoverer claimed for it, did actually illuminate all the parts we had already seen and ‘pull them together’. Nor should we be likely to go very far wrong.

The new passage, if spurious, however attractive it looked at the first glance, would become harder and harder to reconcile with the rest of the work the longer we considered the matter. But if it were genuine then at every fresh hearing of the music or every fresh reading of the book, we should find it settling down, making itself more at home and eliciting significance from all sorts of details in the whole work which we had hitherto neglected. Even though the new central chapter or main theme contained great difficulties in itself, we should still think it genuine provided that it continually removed difficulties elsewhere.

Something like this we must do with the doctrine of the Incarnation. Here, instead of a symphony or a novel, we have the whole mass of our knowledge. The credibility will depend on the extent to which the doctrine, if accepted, can illuminate and integrate that whole mass. It is much less important that the doctrine itself should be fully comprehensible. We believe that the sun is in the sky at midday in summer not because we can clearly see the sun (in fact, we cannot) but because we can see everything else.

From Miracles
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

Miracles: A Preliminary Study. Copyright 1947 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1947 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Revised 1960, restored 1996 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.

Sweden Dials Back on Refugees

Aren't They Cruel and Heartless

Even Europe’s humanitarian superpower is turning its back on refugees

The Bible urges the wise and prudent to sit down and count the cost, before engaging on a great venture.  So, said Jesus, no rational king goes to war without first working out whether he has the wherewithal and means to wage it.  No builder commences a built without working out whether he can afford it before picking up the shovel.  [Luke 14: 28--33]

Of course, our Lord was making the point with respect to folks clamoring to be His disciples.  Count the cost--for there is one.  Those who do not will end up exposing themselves to mockery and shame.

A similar observation can be made about European nations who have recently acted in pride, vainglory, and with apparently no cost-counting.  They sought to "lead the way" in accepting refugees.  Doubtless they looked down large superior noses at those other European states who considered those to whom they were primarily responsible--their own citizens.

This bespeaks yet another failure for internationalism--the ideology which trumps humanity in the abstract over actual human souls in reality.  Ironically, it is most often the latter which in the long run can do far more for genuine refugees and those in real need.

Humanitarianism Has Limits--Apparently

By Griff Witte and Anthony Faiola
Washington Post

MALMO, Sweden — When the small, crumpled body of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on the Aegean coast Sept. 2, Europe’s humanitarian superpower sprang into action.

Sweden’s prime minister headlined gala fundraisers, Swedish celebrities starred in telethons, and a country that prides itself on doing the right thing seemed to rally as one to embrace refugees fleeing for their lives.

But after taking in more asylum seekers per capita than any other nation in Europe, Sweden’s welcome mat now lies in tatters.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

State of the Union

The State of Christian Faith Among Youth In the US

The Good News Behind Why Teens Don’t Need a Bible for Christmas

Most practicing Protestant youth already own one—and they’re reading it, according to researchers.

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
Christianity Today

Virtually all Americans ages 13 to 17 who identify as Protestant, attend a religious service at least once a month, and say their faith is very And most of them are reading it, according to a new survey from the American Bible Society and Barna Group. Almost three-quarters read their Bible weekly or more: 16 percent read every day, 37 percent read several times a week, and 21 percent read once a week.

Another 13 percent read once a month, 5 percent read three or four times a year, and 8 percent read less than that. When you add in the 91 percent that hear the Bible read aloud at church once a week or more, it adds up to about 95 percent of practicing Protestant teens (79% of whom are non-mainline) hearing or reading the Bible at least weekly.

Daily Devotional

Self Versus Things

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On the need to take care of oneself and not of things.

C. S. Lewis

8 January 1963

I don’t mind betting that the things which ‘had to be done’ in your room didn’t really have to be done at all. Very few things really do. After one bad night with my heart—not so bad as yours, for it was only suffocation, not pain—my doctor strictly rationed me on stairs, and I have obeyed him. Of course it is hideously inconvenient: but that can be put up with and must. What worse than inconvenience would have resulted if you had left those ‘things’ undone? Do take more care of yourself and less of ‘things’!

Still snow-bound.

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.

It's Tolerance, but Not As We Knew It

The Merkelisation of Europe

There is an on-going brouhaha occurring in Europe over the New Year rapes and sexual molestation in Cologne and (if the reports are accurate) other German and European cities as well.  At last count, 561 complaints of sexual assault have been made to German police, which relate to the New Year incidents.

The first response of the authorities was to ignore the lawlessness, then downplay it.  There were various alternatives put forward: it was a series of attacks by organised crime; it was general hooliganism, not related in any particular way to recent German migrants; it was normal New Year festivities that got out of hand due to alcohol--etc.   But as time has passed, the obvious became irrefutable.  It was a co-ordinated, organised assault upon women by (young) Islamic men.  The perpetrators appear to have been a mixture of recent arrivals together with those who have been in Germany for some years.

The left wing amongst the Chattering Classes have been striving might and main to deflect the criticism away from migrants, on the one hand, and Islam, on the other.  James Delingpole provides a summary of the "excuses" being offered to justify the actions or deflect blame. 
For the first week after New Year, liberal progressive types responded to the orgy of rape and sexual molestation by Muslim immigrants in Cologne (and other European cities) by pretending it never happened. Now that the overwhelming weight of evidence has shown it definitely did happen, the bleeding hearts have been forced to change their tune. Here are the best excuses so far.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The End Unjustified by Means

The Fallacy of Utilitarianism

Show us not the aim without the way. 
For ends and means on earth are so entangled 
That changing one, you change the other too; 
Each different path brings other ends in view. 
Ferdinand Lassalle: 
Franz von Sickingen

Daily Devotional

Follow Manfully After the Master

"I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword."
Matthew 10:34

Charles H. Spurgeon

The Christian will be sure to make enemies. It will be one of his objects to make none; but if to do the right, and to believe the true, should cause him to lose every earthly friend, he will count it but a small loss, since his great Friend in heaven will be yet more friendly, and reveal himself to him more graciously than ever.

O ye who have taken up his cross, know ye not what your Master said? "I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Christ is the great Peacemaker; but before peace, he brings war. Where the light cometh, the darkness must retire. Where truth is, the lie must flee; or, if it abideth, there must be a stern conflict, for the truth cannot and will not lower its standard, and the lie must be trodden under foot.

If you follow Christ, you shall have all the dogs of the world yelping at your heels. If you would live so as to stand the test of the last tribunal, depend upon it the world will not speak well of you. He who has the friendship of the world is an enemy to God; but if you are true and faithful to the Most High, men will resent your unflinching fidelity, since it is a testimony against their iniquities. Fearless of all consequences, you must do the right. You will need the courage of a lion unhesitatingly to pursue a course which shall turn your best friend into your fiercest foe; but for the love of Jesus you must thus be courageous.

For the truth's sake to hazard reputation and affection, is such a deed that to do it constantly you will need a degree of moral principle which only the Spirit of God can work in you; yet turn not your back like a coward, but play the man. Follow right manfully in your Master's steps, for he has traversed this rough way before you. Better a brief warfare and eternal rest, than false peace and everlasting torment.

In the Final Analysis . . .

Only Two Ideologies

"I don't approve of mixing ideologies," Ivanov continued.  "There are only two conceptions of human ethics, and they are at opposite poles.  One of them is Christian and humane, declares the individual to be sacrosanct, and asserts that the rules of arithmetic are not to be applied to human units.  The other starts from the basic principle that a collective aim justifies all means, and not only allows, but demands, that the individual should in every way be subordinated and sacrificed to the community--which may dispose of it as an experimentation rabbit or a sacrificial lamb.  The first conception could be called anti-vivisection morality, the second, vivisection morality.

Humbugs and dilettantes has always tried to mix the two conceptions; in practice, it is impossible.  

--Ivanov, Rubashov's interrogator.  Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon--"The Second Hearing"

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About Totalitolerance)

Curling Up Under the Blanket


We live in a generation that is totalitarian in principle, having accepted all the basic totalitarian premises. Denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ drives you to those premises — for if Jesus is not Lord, then there is a vacancy that men will always want to fill. Without an exhaustive rule through the predestinating love of the Father, unbelieving men will always see a job opening. They will want to fill that gap. They mimic the Father’s omnipotence, which is where we get the totalitarian part. They also try to mimic His love, which is how we get the tolerance farce. And so it is that we find ourselves suffocating under this totalitolerance.

Beware Crimethought
Examples pour in daily, but here is a fresh one. Gov. Brown of California has signed a bill requiring private pro-life counseling centers to distribute abortion information. Anyone who can look at the news without seeing how everything is coming to a grotesque and convulsive head is simply not paying attention.

Secularism is simply not capable of sustaining limited government.