Thursday, 30 June 2016

The Hidden Costs of EU Membership

Loathed EU Rules That Influenced Brexit

Chriss W. Street

The media elites are somewhat right that the Brexit victory was about the UK voters’ disdain for globalization, immigration, and lost pride, but the real cause of the British asking for an EU divorce was the $46.6 billion in hard costs for intangible benefits.

Open Europe is a non-partisan think tank with offices in London and Brussels that produces an annual report measuring the cost burden of 40,000 EU-derived legal acts, 15,000 Court verdicts and 62,000 international standards on the United Kingdom.

Their 2015 report for the “Top 100” regulations estimated the financial burden on the UK economy at $46.6 billion. To put that drain on the economy in perspective, the top 100 EU regulations cost more than the $37.8 billion in local property taxes, called “Council Tax,” paid by British citizens to the UK Treasury last year.

The top five costliest EU-derived regulations in force in the UK were:

Daily Devotional

Seeing The Whole Thing

"Get thee up into the high mountain."  Isaiah 40:9

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our knowledge of Christ is somewhat like climbing one of our Welsh mountains. When you are at the base you see but little: the mountain itself appears to be but one-half as high as it really is. Confined in a little valley, you discover scarcely anything but the rippling brooks as they descend into the stream at the foot of the mountain. Climb the first rising knoll, and the valley lengthens and widens beneath your feet. Go higher, and you see the country for four or five miles round, and you are delighted with the widening prospect.

Mount still, and the scene enlarges; till at last, when you are on the summit, and look east, west, north, and south, you see almost all England lying before you. Yonder is a forest in some distant county, perhaps two hundred miles away, and here the sea, and there a shining river and the smoking chimneys of a manufacturing town, or the masts of the ships in a busy port. All these things please and delight you, and you say, "I could not have imagined that so much could be seen at this elevation."

Now, the Christian life is of the same order. When we first believe in Christ we see but little of him. The higher we climb the more we discover of his beauties. But who has ever gained the summit? Who has known all the heights and depths of the love of Christ which passes knowledge? Paul, when grown old, sitting grey-haired, shivering in a dungeon in Rome, could say with greater emphasis than we can, "I know whom I have believed," for each experience had been like the climbing of a hill, each trial had been like ascending another summit, and his death seemed like gaining the top of the mountain, from which he could see the whole of the faithfulness and the love of him to whom he had committed his soul.

Get thee up, dear friend, into the high mountain.

No Firsts Among "Equals"

False Egalitarianism

We were irritated to read recently about an elite special military unit--consisting of both Australians and New Zealanders--whose courage, skills, and exploits have been suppressed for decades.  For no good reason, it would seem.

One can understand suppression of military exploits that might expose those who participated to danger.  Or, if the danger would come to those presently serving, we can understand keeping things locked in a deep, dark dungeon.  All of this would appear very reasonable.  But not this time.
Families of a forgotten World War II crack commando unit are calling on the New Zealand Government to officially recognise their behind-enemy-lines feats more than 70 years on.  There were 22 New Zealanders who signed up to the ultra-secret Z Special Unit which caused mayhem waging a guerrilla war against the Japanese in the Pacific.

But after the war, they were silenced by 30-year secrecy agreements.  Many died before they could tell anyone - even their wives and families - exactly what they did in the war. [NZ Herald]
What state, or military secrets were being protected, one wonders, by the secrecy?  The Aussies have at last seen the light and decided to allow their heroes to come out into the light.  But not NZ.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Love and Liberty

Douglas Wilson

The theme we have been developing is that self-government is the ground of all other government. Men and women who cannot govern themselves will in fact be governed by others. The less government they have at home, in the heart, the more government from the outside will necessarily be imposed.

This liberty we are speaking of—at this individual level—is the liberty to do right, which is not the same thing as the liberty to do as you please. But we must be careful here.

Daily Devotional

The Fear That Draws Us In

“Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20)

John Piper

There is a fear that is slavish and drives us away from God, and there is a fear that is sweet and draws us to God. Moses warned against the one and called for the other in the very same verse, Exodus 20:20: “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.’”

The clearest illustration I have ever seen of this kind of fear was the time one of my sons looked a German shepherd in the eye. We were visiting a family from our church. My son Karsten was about seven years old. They had a huge dog that stood eye to eye with a seven-year-old.

He was friendly and Karsten had no problem making friends. But when we sent Karsten back to the car to get something we had forgotten, he started to run, and the dog galloped up behind him with a low growl. Of course, this frightened Karsten. But the owner said, “Karsten, why don’t you just walk? The dog doesn’t like it when people run away from him.”

If Karsten hugged the dog, he was friendly and would even lick his face. But if he ran from the dog, the dog would growl and fill Karsten with fear.

Now that is a picture of what it means to fear the Lord. God means for his power and holiness to kindle fear in us, not to drive us from him, but to drive us to him.

It's the Real World

What On Earth . . . .?

Quantum physics has captivated not just physicists, but laymen.  Why?  Because it's so weird.  No-one can explain it.  

Playwright Tom Stoppard provides this description of what appears to be happening in the world of electrons and sub-atomic particles.
The particle world is the dream world of the intelligence officer.  An electron can be here or there at the same moment.  You can choose.  It can go from here to there without going in between; it can pass through two doors at the same time, or from one door to another by a path which is there for all to see, until someone looks, and then the act of looking has made it take a different path.

Its movements cannot be anticipated because it has no reasons.  It defeats surveillance because when you know what it is doing you can't be certain where it is, and when you know where it is you can't be certain what it's doing: Heisenberg's uncertainty principle; and this is not because you're not looking carefully enough, it is because there is no such thing as an electron with a definite position and definite momentum; you fix one, you lose the other, and it's all done without tricks, it's the real world, it is awake.  [Cited in Jeremy Bernstein, Quantum Leaps (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 85f.]
Matter appears to have a life of its own--hence Stoppard's description of it being "awake".

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

And Now . . . The Hard Yards

Brooks Was Here . . . 

Shawshank Redemption is a classic movie about prison.  One of the characters, Brooks has been in prison so long that he cannot survive outside when eventually released.  He takes his own life.  Peter Hitchens sees Britain as akin to a lifer within Shawshank.  He doubts it can survive on the "outside".

. . . Our presence in the prison of the EU was voluntary. Nobody made us join and indeed we had the chance to leave within three years of losing our independence, and emphatically scorned it.

But my general point remains the same. We have forgotten how to be independent and forgotten that we were independent. We are more than vaguely aware that the world in which we are now offered independence is fiercer, colder, harsher, more expensive and less friendly towards us than it was in 1972. If we are observant we will also have noticed that the government can’t make ends meet and is groin-deep in debt,

Daily Devotional

Looking Sideways At Other Christians

Screwtape offers more techniques for confusing the Patient:

C. S. Lewis

I have been writing hitherto on the assumption that the people in the next pew afford no rational ground for disappointment. Of course if they do—if the patient knows that the woman with the absurd hat is a fanatical bridge-player or the man with squeaky boots a miser and an extortioner—then your task is so much the easier.

All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question ‘If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?’

You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is! Handle him properly and it simply won’t come into his head. He has not been anything like long enough with the Enemy to have any real humility yet. What he says, even on his knees, about his own sinfulness is all parrot talk.

At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favourable credit-balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these ‘smug’, commonplace neighbours at all. Keep him in that state of mind as long as you can.

The Screwtape Letters. Copyright © 1942, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright 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.

At The Crossroads

Will Britain Seize the Moment Or Lament Brexit?

Brexit came, saw, and conquered.  We believe on balance that this is a very, very good thing.  Here are some reasons why.

The EC is a step towards humanitarianism too far.  It has evolved from a free trade economic union into an uber-state.  Increasingly Brussels and Strasbourg were imposing the latest human rights d'jour upon member states, overriding their own governments.  A clique of oligarchs who were never exposed to the vote or ratification by ordinary citizens ruled with growing powers.  They have never held to account by citizens at the ballot box.  This represented the worst of all worlds: a kind of divine right to rule, coupled with a belief in truths to which every knee must bow.  Britain is far better off out of it.

Secondly, the EU has always been a reluctant free-trader.  It wants controls, not liberty and respect for the property of others.  Rather, it has served to protect member states from competition from other nations. Consequently, European farmers still enjoy significant subsidies from the government.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Peter Hitchens Expresses Scepticism Over Brexit

Peter Hitchens On The EU and Brexit

On March 30th at the Institute of Economic Affairs in Westminster, NewsRedial’s Peter Stephenson sat with author Peter Hitchens of The Mail on Sunday and asked him about the machinations of the Brexit pantomime.

I first asked Mr Hitchens if he thought the ‘out’ camp would win the referendum vote and if so then would the government carry out the will of the people?

Here is a transcript of our discussion:

PETER HITCHENS: First of all I’m against governments calls to plebiscites. I think they are an outrage and I don’t think any parliamentary country should have them. Secondly, I think this one was held solely to save the Conservative party. It was never intended to be held in the first place and I don’t think--there are no clauses in the act that would state what would happen. I very doubt that Parliament dominated by enthusiasts to stay in the European Union is capable of taking us out even if there is a vote to leave.

I think that what is more likely to happen, and no one can say for certain because there (unclear) . . be a vote to stay which will be declared an end to the debate and that we can all go home and forget about it forever and that is why I say that the referendum is a trap rather than an exit.

Daily Devotional

Not Yet Manifest

"Waiting for the adoption."  Romans 8:23

Charles H. Spurgeon

Even in this world saints are God's children, but men cannot discover them to be so, except by certain moral characteristics. The adoption is not manifested, the children are not yet openly declared. Among the Romans a man might adopt a child, and keep it private for a long time: but there was a second adoption in public; when the child was brought before the constituted authorities its former garments were taken off, and the father who took it to be his child gave it raiment suitable to its new condition of life.

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." We are not yet arrayed in the apparel which befits the royal family of heaven; we are wearing in this flesh and blood just what we wore as the sons of Adam; but we know that "when he shall appear" who is the "first-born among many brethren," we shall be like him, we shall see him as he is. Cannot you imagine that a child taken from the lowest ranks of society, and adopted by a Roman senator, would say to himself, "I long for the day when I shall be publicly adopted. Then I shall leave off these plebeian garments, and be robed as becomes my senatorial rank"? Happy in what he has received, for that very reason he groans to get the fulness of what is promised him.

So it is with us today. We are waiting till we shall put on our proper garments, and shall be manifested as the children of God. We are young nobles, and have not yet worn our coronets. We are young brides, and the marriage day is not yet come, and by the love our Spouse bears us, we are led to long and sigh for the bridal morning. Our very happiness makes us groan after more; our joy, like a swollen spring, longs to well up like an Iceland geyser, leaping to the skies, and it heaves and groans within our spirit for want of space and room by which to manifest itself to men.

Market "Carnage"

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

The Sage of Omaha, one Warren Buffett has a useful analogy to describe the antics of sharemarkets.  Mr Market, says Buffett, suffers severely from bi-polar disease.  One day Mr Market will show up radiating ebullient confidence.  He will avidly buy shares at whatever price, because there's endless blue sky ahead.  But the next he might show up thinking Armageddon has definitely come.  

With Britain's vote to exit the European Union, Mr Market entered the gloom of depression.  Stock markets tanked.  Down, down, down.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Grimly Counting the Dead

An Elite Disembodied

One of the most interesting aspects of the Brexit vote was the way the "working stiffs" deserted the Labour Party and voted to leave the EU.  This went against the collective wisdom of the vast majority of Labour politicians.  It turns out that the working classes in the Midlands had some grievances that their political masters were paternalistically ignoring.  Until the Brexit vote.

Here is the view of one Guardian columnist.

They listened to experts tell them that Brexit meant disaster … and their answer was: get stuffed

Matthew D'Ancona
The Guardian

Before analysis, let us admit to awe: the sheer scale of the moment requires it. The word “historic” is deployed too lazily in political discourse. But it is entirely appropriate this morning. This is a hugely significant day in British (and European) history.  When a party loses an election, its soon-to-be-ex-leader rallies the troops and promises a different result next time. But no such option is open to the crushed chieftains of remain today. There is no “next time”.

This was a unique opportunity to seal Britain’s relationship with the European Union, or to end it. And the voters – at a high level of turnout – decided that it was time to go. They heard the warnings, listened to experts of every kind tell them that Brexit meant disaster, watched the prime minister as he urged them not to take a terrible risk. And their answer was: get stuffed.

The ramifications leave one giddy.

Daily Devotional

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.

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.

Collective Responsibility of the Politburo

Keep Them In the Dark

Sometimes the most anti-democratic folk around the bazaars are politicians.  We see this cropping up in lots of different ways.  One example is the abuse of Freedom of Information regimes, which most Western democracies have these days.  Under FOI regimes, ordinary citizens (voters) have a right to request information from governments, which in many cases must be released to the requester.

In daily practice this means media and researchers and interest groups peppering government bodies and administration with FOI requests, which are supposed to be complied with in a certain time frame.  Almost inevitably the process gets clogged, delayed, and obfuscated.  This, of course, is not helped by opposing political parties making innumerable FOI requests just to be a nuisance.  But basically politicians love democracy only when they have to appeal for public support at the polling booth.  Suddenly democracy is wonderful.  But for every other day of the year . . . not so much.

Here is another egregious example of a political body which has completely lost touch with what it means to serve the people.

Friday, 24 June 2016

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.

Mistakes We Christians Have Made

Calling Out the Dumbcluck

In the conflict between Christian faith and dogmatic secularist science, Christians are often at the mercy of their own credulity.  They are far too willing to believe consensus science to be the truth, based on hard, established fact.  Therefore, when science and the Bible appear to be in conflict, the text of scripture must be adjusted to accommodate hard science.

However, the more one becomes aware of the assumptions and presuppositions of science, the more one becomes familiar with scientific internal debates, the less one is impressed by consensus science.  Science is a helpful servant.  It makes an exceedingly poor master.

The Enlightenment rationalist argued as follows: if a religious doctrine cannot be established by Reason and/or Empirical Inquiry (science) then it must be dismissed as myth or baseless speculation.  On this basis Christianity, the Gospel, and the Bible become discredited and were eventually rejected by Western society in general--which is where we are today.

Unfortunately, far too many of us Christians are willing to concede to the authority of science over the Bible.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Double Standards, Blindness, and Rank Hypocrisy

Muslim Privilege Kills In Orlando

Islamophobia kills… non-Muslims.

Daniel Greenfield

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
The deadliest mass shooting in American history happened because of Islamophobia.  Islamophobia killed 49 people in Orlando. It didn’t kill 49 Muslims. Instead it allowed Omar Mateen, a Muslim terrorist, to kill 49 people in the name of his Islamic ideology and the Islamic State.

Omar, like so many other Muslim killers, could have been stopped. He talked about killing people when he worked at G4S Security, a Federal contractor that provided services to the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. But, according to one of the co-workers he stalked, a former police officer, his employers refused to do anything about it because he was a Muslim.

The FBI conducted an investigation of Omar Mateen. They put him on a watch list and sent informants. They interviewed him and concluded that his claims of Al Qaeda ties and terrorist threats were reactions to “being marginalized because of his Muslim faith.”

Daily Devotional

The Sheltered Life of Bad People

C.S Lewis

You may remember I said that the first step towards humility was to realise that one is proud. I want to add now that the next step is to make some serious attempt to practise the Christian virtues. A week is not enough. Things often go swimmingly for the first week. Try six weeks. By that time, having, as far as one can see, fallen back completely or even fallen lower than the point one began from, one will have discovered some truths about oneself. No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.

A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.

We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.

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.

The Little Red Hen and Her "Helpers"

Some Speech Is More Free Than Others

Liberal democratic values apparently have limits.  Only so far, and no further.

An interesting debate has broken out over free speech and diversity and tolerance in New Zealand.  As in so many countries, the provocation is the vexed issues surrounding refugees.  The rub: should we allow people to migrate into our country who hold views "we" find intolerant, and therefore intolerable?

The NZ Herald has devoted an editorial to the question which reeks of self-righteous smuggery.  It suggests that New Zealand's liberal tolerance of ideas reflecting our view of freedom, liberty, and equality do not need promoting to potential refugees, nor do we need be concerned about inculcating these values into hearts and minds of refugees.  Why,
those values do not need promoting. Refugees are well aware of them; those values are the reason they want to come here.
Puleeze.  Has not the editorial writer heard of Maslow's Heirarchy of Human Needs?  To suggest that refugees are fleeing to our country because of our superior values rather than because they face starvation and death is smuggery beyond compare.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Trump Tanking. Where's Plan B?

Reality Begins to Catch Up with Trump

His poll numbers are tanking at precisely the moment when they should be on the rise.

By Andrew Badinelli
National Review Online

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump has bragged about how he is beholden to no one — not interest groups, not donors, not the media. But unfortunately, he is beholden to voters. Just a few days after the terrorist attack in Orlando, and just over a week after his racist comments regarding federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, Trump faces his worst polling numbers since he entered the race.

The newest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Trump with an overall unfavorable rating of 70 percent, including 77 percent among women, 69 percent among independents, and an incredible 88 percent among non-whites. NBC News and Bloomberg Politics have Hillary Clinton leading by seven and twelve points, respectively, with 55 percent of Bloomberg respondents saying they would “never” vote for Donald Trump.

These numbers should come as no surprise.

Daily Devotional

Serve God with Your Thirst

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:9)

John Piper

What if you discovered (like the Pharisees did), that you had devoted your whole life to trying to please God, but all the while had been doing things that in God’s sight were abominations (Luke 16:14–15)?

Someone may say, “I don’t think that’s possible; God wouldn’t reject a person who has been trying to please him.” But do you see what this questioner has done? He has based his conviction about what would please God on his idea of what God is like. That is precisely why we must begin with the character of God.

God is a mountain spring, not a watering trough. A mountain spring is self-replenishing. It constantly overflows and supplies others. But a watering trough needs to be filled with a pump or bucket brigade.

If you want to glorify the worth of a watering trough you work hard to keep it full and useful. But if you want to glorify the worth of a spring you do it by getting down on your hands and knees and drinking to your heart’s satisfaction, until you have the refreshment and strength to go back down in the valley and tell people what you’ve found.

My hope as a desperate sinner hangs on this biblical truth: that God is the kind of God who will be pleased with the one thing I have to offer — my thirst. That is why the sovereign freedom and self-sufficiency of God are so precious to me: they are the foundation of my hope that God is delighted not by the resourcefulness of bucket brigades, but by the bending down of broken sinners to drink at the fountain of grace.

Darwinism on the Ropes

A Lesson In What Not to Do

We have argued that the text of the creation account in Genesis 1-3 is pretty straightforward and clear.  But it suddenly became complex and murky when, in the nineteenth century, Christians tried to reconcile the theorising of evolutionists with the plain text of Scripture.  Darwinists claimed to have hard, solid, irrefutable scientific evidence of the world existing for over 150 million years before man appeared here.  What some Christians then attempted was a reconciliation between the text of Genesis and the "evidence" and conjectures of evolutionists.  

The first great attempt at reconciling the two authorities (science and Scripture) was called the Gap Theory.  It posited a vast gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.  Douglas Kelly summarises the theory:

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Letter From America (Ouch . . . )

The Other Side of the Coin

Blogger Patterico turns the tables on the NY Times over the matter of the Orlando Mass Murderer.

The Corrosive Politics of the New York Times Editorial Board That Led to the Orlando Shooting

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:59 am

The New York Times editorial board is blaming the Orlando shooting on Republicans:
While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.

To the contrary: the precise motivation for the attack is quite clear, actually. John Sexton explains:

Daily Devotional

On God

C.S. Lewis

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

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.

The Layman's Koran, Part II

Easy Recruits to Violence and Murder

The fog of war still swirls around the Orlando shooting, but the murderer of fifty or so people appears to be Islamic, who had attended a homosexual bar, either to "case the joint" or to participate in the bar's social life, or something else.

But once again it begs the question of how Islamic people can so easily be radicalised and commit murder.  What is it about the faith of Islam that makes it the most violent and murderous religion upon the planet by a long, long shot?

Reading the Koran provides some clues.  We offer a possible explanation.  On virtually every page of the Koran the reader is threatened with references to Hell, hellfire, judgment, and curse.  Allah is a minatory deity.  The key reason to persuade people to believe and follow Islam is to avoid the judgement of Allah for their sins.  These precepts are repetitive and pervasive throughout the Koran.  Pick any chapter.  Here is one chosen at random:
Hell will lie in ambush, a home for the transgressors.  There they shall abide long ages; there they shall taste neither refreshment nor any drink, save boiling water and decaying filth: a fitting recompense. [The Tidings]
 But at the same time there are repeated references to Allah being both compassionate and merciful.

Here is the question: to whom is Allah compassionate and merciful?

Monday, 20 June 2016

Idiots Masquerading As Intellectuals

New York Times Profound Ignorance

Religious illiteracy among journalists is reaching crisis levels.

Mollie Hemingway
The Federalist

Journalist Terry Mattingly wrote a great column back in 2006 noting the trouble many journalists have understanding the finer details of religion news. His column, “Reporters, crow’s ears and Karma Light nuns,” begins with an anecdote about how The New York Times covered the funeral of Pope John Paul II the prior year:
“The 84-year-old John Paul was laid out in Clementine Hall, dressed in white and red vestments, his head covered with a white bishop’s miter and propped up on three dark gold pillows,” wrote Ian Fisher of the New York Times. “Tucked under his left arm was the silver staff, called the crow’s ear, that he had carried in public.”

Get the joke? You see, that ornate silver shepherd’s crook is actually called a crosier (or “crozier”), not a “crow’s ear.”

Sometimes I check in on this April 4, 2005 piece to see if the Times has gotten around to correcting it. As of today, they have not! Sometimes I hope they never will.

But crozier mistakes are understandable. Less understandable? Saying Jesus is buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, that Easter marks Jesus’ “resurrection into heaven,” that St. Patrick is known for banishing slaves from Ireland, or that William Butler Yeats is the author of the Book of Hebrews.

Then there’s what New York Times political reporter Jeremy W. Peters wrote for his piece “After Orlando, a Political Divide on Gay Rights Still Stands.” Peters is a reporter who struggles to cover issues fairly. He’s known for helping Nancy Pelosi avoid questioning on her abortion stance and other instances of being almost comically partisan in his reporting.

The article is less reportage than it is fuel for what it purports to describe:
The massacre, with stunning speed, has been transformed into a political wedge, beginning with fierce disagreements over just what the crime should be called. An attack by “radical Islamic terrorists,” as Republicans insisted? A hate crime in a place seen as a safe haven by gays, as many Democrats said?
And then this:
A Republican congressman read his colleagues a Bible verse from Romans that calls for the execution of gays.
Come again? Wait, what? What? What in the world is he talking about?

Daily Devotional

Banish Unbelieving Fears

"And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish."  John 10:28

Charles H. Spurgeon

The Christian should never think or speak lightly of unbelief. For a child of God to mistrust his love, his truth, his faithfulness, must be greatly displeasing to him. How can we ever grieve him by doubting his upholding grace? Christian! it is contrary to every promise of God's precious Word that thou shouldst ever be forgotten or left to perish. If it could be so, how could he be true who has said, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I never forget thee."

What were the value of that promise--"The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." Where were the truth of Christ's words--"I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."

Where were the doctrines of grace? They would be all disproved if one child of God should perish. Where were the veracity of God, his honour, his power, his grace, his covenant, his oath, if any of those for whom Christ has died, and who have put their trust in him, should nevertheless be cast away?

Banish those unbelieving fears which so dishonour God. Arise, shake thyself from the dust, and put on thy beautiful garments. Remember it is sinful to doubt his Word wherein he has promised thee that thou shalt never perish. Let the eternal life within thee express itself in confident rejoicing.

"The gospel bears my spirit up:
A faithful and unchanging God
Lays the foundation for my hope,
In oaths, and promises, and blood."

Singing the Songs of Zion

Many Servants, Manifold Testimony

One of the most encouraging things for Kingdom servants is to realise that the Spirit of God is working His ministries throughout the world in many, many different ways.  These ways are not necessarily our ways.  God's thoughts are not our thoughts.  One thinks of our Lord's encouraging rebuke to Elijah, when he feared he was the last man standing.

We recently came across a vid of an encounter between Bono (of U2 fame) and Eugene Peterson ("The Message").  The conversation had to do with the Psalms.  The discussion covered the nature of the Psalms, the essential importance of metaphor, and the nature of the Psalms as "brutally honest" and "not pretty".  It includes some excellent thoughts about the Imprecatory Psalms, which the Church has pretty much ignored for over three centuries.

Maybe that is one reason why the Church is appears in many places to be so anemic, so confused, and so busy trying to win the approval of the Gentiles.

You can listen to the discussion below:

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Apocryphal Death Bed Conversions

Jake Meador
The Federalist

In a recent essay for the New Yorker, Lawrence Krauss bemoaned the common habit among some conservative Christians of conjuring up fanciful deathbed conversion narratives about prominent non-Christians. He specifically mentions the well-known tale of evangelist Elizabeth Cotton, who made up such a story about Charles Darwin. She claimed that he told her from his deathbed that he wished to “recant the doctrine of evolution in exchange for Christian salvation.”

Krauss’s odd phrasing aside, he points to a problem that really does exist in pockets of conservative Christianity. In addition to the stories of Darwin, other conservative Christians have made up similar tales about other prominent enemies of the faith—Voltaire and Thomas Paine, most notably. Making up a conversion story about a famous person is obviously a horrible thing to do. At its root it is lying about a person’s views of God, which is horrifying enough, but it also implies a certain distressing insecurity in the believer. Krauss is right to condemn this sort of thing.

Daily Devotional

Escaping the Slough of Despond
"The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."  Psalm 126:3

Charles H. Spurgeon

Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any allusion to the mercy and help which God has vouchsafed them.

But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state, will come forward joyously, and say, "I will speak, not about myself, but to the honour of my God. He hath brought me up out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings: and he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. The Lord hath done great things for me, whereof I am glad."

Such an abstract of experience as this is the very best that any child of God can present. It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and mournfully do we know this, but it is quite as true that we have an all-sufficient Saviour, who overcomes these corruptions, and delivers us from their dominion.

In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond, and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has brought us "out into a wealthy place."

The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life's song, "He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."

Post-Colonial Myopia

The Second Hundred Years War

For the past fifty years or so the West has practised the politics of guilt and pity with respect to Islam.  It has done so assiduously.  The guilt is grounded in nasty Western imperialism, which the Chattering Classes long ago rejected as evil.  The navel of Islam--the Middle East--suffered under Western imperialism--hence the guilt.  Backward, impoverished and ignorance are perpetual conditions in the Middle East caused by Western sins.  

The pity is an expression of atonement, a longing to make things right, an expression of restitution and atonement for wrongs committed and sufferings caused.  So, when Islamic heroes commit murder--even mass murder--they are immediately washed with the cleansing flow of Western guilt and pity.  "We can't blame them.  We in the West are to blame".  Mea culpas all around.

Western imperialism notwithstanding, the West has willed itself to ignorance when it comes to Islam and Islamic teaching.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Letter From the UK (About Life on the Hustings)

Asian Brit Slams PM Cameron 

Life in the  ‘No Go Zones’

Breitbart London
Raheem Kassan

The Prime Minister failed to answer a hard-hitting question on “no go zones” in the United Kingdom during his Q&A session with audience members on ITV tonight.  Speaking on the topic of uncontrolled immigration, Asian-background Harry Bhopara slammed the Prime Minister’s broken promises on bringing down net migration.

Mr. Bhopara said he could no longer get appointments with a doctor, nor get on the housing ladder, and harking back to Mr. Cameron’s closing statements from his town hall event last week, he said that Mr. Cameron was rolling the dice on Britain’s future by staying in the EU.

Mr. Bhopara said: “I have no GP, as all of them are full in my area. I can’t get onto the housing ladder and have three kids in one room. My kids’ school is growing in size every year but not in staff. The place where I grew up was a lovely area but is now a no-go zone.  So how is the EU and uncontrolled immigration working for me, a 41-year-old Brit who has been working full-time since I was 16, and my community?”

Mr. Cameron failed to address the question, pivoting immediately to the economy.

Daily Devotional

Coping With Illness

TO MARY VAN DEUSEN: On how one responds to the diagnosis of serious illness and on four strategies for coping.

C S Lewis

10 April 1959

I have just had Sister Hildegarde’s letter. My heart goes out to you. You are now just where I was a little over two years ago—they wrongly diagnosed Joy’s condition as uremia before they discovered cancer of the bone.

I know all the different ways in which it gets one: wild hopes, bitter nostalgia for lost happiness, mere physical terror turning one sick, agonised pity and self-pity. In fact, Gethsemane.

I had one (paradoxical) support which you lack—that of being in severe pain myself. Apart from that what helped Joy and me through it was

1. That she was always told the whole truth about her own state. There was no miserable pretence. That means that both can face it side-by-side, instead of becoming something like adversaries in a battle-of-wits.

2. Take it day by day and hour by hour (as we took the front line). It is quite astonishing how many happy—even gay—moments we had together when there was no hope.

3. Don’t think of it as something sent by God. Death and disease are the work of the Devil. It is permitted by God: i.e., our General has put you in a fort exposed to enemy fire.

4. Remember other sufferers. It’s fatal to start thinking ‘Why should this happen to us when everyone else is so happy.’ You are (I was and may be again) one of a huge company. Of course we shall pray for you all we know how. God bless you both.

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.

Faith, Hope, and Love

And the Greatest of These Is . . . 

Surprises on the "upside" are always welcome.  So, it came to pass, when we read the following piece in the NZ Herald.  It was written in defence of human life and the protection of the most vulnerable of all:

Diagnosed with Down Syndrome before she was born, a US woman's doctor recommended she abort her unborn child.  But Courtney Baker and her husband, despite being told their quality of life would suffer, decided to proceed with the pregnancy and gave birth to little Emersyn Faith, known fondly as Emmy, 15 months ago.

Last month Courtney wrote a letter to the doctor and together with Emmy, mailed to to him.  This is their letter:

Courtney Baker and her daughter, who was born with Down syndrome, Emmy. Photo /
Courtney Baker and her daughter, who was born with Down syndrome, Emmy. Photo / 
"Dear Doctor,

A friend recently told me of when her prenatal specialist would see her child during her sonograms, he would comment, 'He's perfect.' Once her son was born with Down syndrome, she visited that same doctor. He looked at her little boy and said, 'I told you.  He's perfect.'  Her story tore me apart. While I was so grateful for my friend's experience, it filled me with such sorrow because of what I should have had. I wish you would have been that doctor.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

7 Reasons Not To Tattoo You

Douglas Wilson

Let me begin by saying that God takes you from where you are, and not from where you should have been. If anyone is in Christ, there is no condemnation. If anyone is already tatted up, and the thing is done, then thank God that in Christ there is no condemnation.

But the fact that there is no condemnation in Christ does not mean that in Christ there is no such thing as a bad idea.

I know that there are godly individuals who don’t have the same view of tattoos that I do, and I would not apply everything I write below to them. This is not a one-size fits all argument. I know that someone who 2 Cor. 10:17 tattooed on his forearm will not be affected by my #5, for example.

So this is a post meant to exhort those who are contemplating what I would regard as a bad idea. Here are seven reasons for thinking so.

1. Let us begin at the beginning. What does the Bible say?

“You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:28, ESV).

The point here is not to say, “here’s the verse, that settles it.” Rather it is to say, “Here’s the verse. You are 21-years-old and are thinking about getting a barbed wire tattoo around your bicep. How settled and mature is your understanding of the relationship of Old Testament law to the question of Christian ethics? What is the likelihood that you might ever come to change your views on that question? And if you are already inked, does that create any pressure to not be open-minded about this pressing theological question?

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.

The Madness of the Gentiles


We have often pointed out that narcissism attends the Chattering Classes of the West as the limpet clings to the rock.  It is all about Me, Myself, and I.  Since there are no absolutes, no rules, no principles that bind--and above all, no Laws that govern the universe--it's all about Me.

This has got to the point of final idiocy where even one's identity is self-determined.  Genes?  Nothing at all.  Nurture? A wisp of fog.  What I conceive myself to be is the ultimate hard rock, universal value.  Before it all others must bow.

In praise of the new model where narcissism rules, and before which human civilisation must kowtow, comes a new "social relationship".  This, from Bob McCroskrie:

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Rebelling Against The Duty of Work

Living Without Working

Robert Tracinski
The Federalist

Voters in Switzerland just resoundingly defeated a referendum calling for a guaranteed minimum income that would have required the government to send a check to every Swiss citizen every month for as much as 2,500 francs, or a little more than $30,000 per year. That’s a solid lower- to middle-class income — for doing nothing.

There are two ways of looking at this news. We can applaud the Swiss for being sensible enough to reject a load of pernicious nonsense. Or we can be appalled that in a productive and orderly society, nearly a quarter of the population was ready to vote to make itself a ward of the state.

Because that’s the issue here.

The idea of a guaranteed minimum income has been gaining some popularity recently, oddly among libertarians, as a more efficient form of welfare spending.

Daily Devotional

Working Out Our Salvation

"We live unto the Lord."  Romans 14:8

Charles H. Spurgeon

If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he has but just believed in Jesus.

It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, had the Lord so willed it, he might have changed us from imperfection to perfection, and have taken us to heaven at once. Why then are we here? Would God keep his children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle-field when one charge might give them the victory? Why are his children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from his lips would bring them into the centre of their hopes in heaven?

The answer is--they are here that they may "live unto the Lord," and may bring others to know his love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the "salt of the earth," to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for him, and as "workers together with him." Let us see that our life answereth its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to "the praise of the glory of his grace." Meanwhile we long to be with him, and daily sing--

"My heart is with him on his throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
Rise up, and come away.'"

Nature Eats Up Grace

The Ape Versus the Toddler

The unfortunate death of Harambe, the silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo resulted in a public outcry.  It's the kind of outcry we have seen and heard more and more over recent years.  The brouhaha over the death of the gorilla, and the intent to place blame, even criminal blame upon the temporarily neglectful mother, indicates that something deep in the magma is boiling away.  Every so often, it erupts forth.

The case of Harambe is summarised by the following media report:
(CNN)The mother of the 3-year-old boy who fell into a gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo will not face charges, an Ohio prosecutor said Monday.  "By all accounts, this mother did not act in any way where she presented this child to some harm," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said.  "She had three other kids with her and turned her back. ... And if anyone doesn't believe a 3-year-old can scamper off very quickly, they've never had kids."

After the boy slipped into the enclosure May 28, he had a 10-minute encounter with Harambe, a 450-pound gorilla. A witness told CNN the boy's mother was temporarily distracted by other children when the boy fell into the exhibit.  Harambe pulled the boy across a moat and was fatally shot by zoo personnel.  Deters said the zoo lost "a beautiful animal" that was beloved in the community, "but it's still an animal. It does not equate [to] human life."
It's that final statement by the County Prosecutor that roils the magma.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Tactical Victory in Norway--But The War Continues

Norway Reunites Seized Children With Family

International Pressure Bears Fruit

The Bodnariu family’s ordeal ends, but advocates vow to keep fighting for reforms.

By Jayme Metzgar
The Federalist

A child welfare case in Norway that has been grabbing headlines and stirring protests worldwide came to a sudden end late last week.

The story, which I covered in depth for The Federalist in April, centers on Marius and Ruth Bodnariu and their five young children. Marius, a Romanian citizen, and Ruth, a native Norwegian, first ran afoul of Norway’s child protective services (called Barnevernet) in November 2015. After privately interviewing the family’s two oldest daughters at school, Barnevernet abruptly took all five children into emergency custody: first the girls, then the younger boys, and finally the three-month-old baby.

Charges focused on the family’s occasional use of physical discipline (which is banned in Norway), but lawyers pointed to troubling CPS statements about the Bodnarius’ Christian faith, suggesting religious discrimination had also played a role. Despite medical exams and interviews with family members, doctors, and neighbors, Barnevernet was unable to find any evidence of abuse. Still, the children were split up among three foster homes, where they stayed for months with minimal parental contact.

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.

Failing the "Smell" Test

Both Inexplicable and Noisome

A copy of a guest post published at Kiwiblog.

Why were Moko’s killers’ charges reduced to manslaughter?

A guest post by David Garrett:

 Why were Moko’s killers’ charges reduced to manslaughter?

It is now almost a month since it became publicly known that the people who stomped and bashed and strangled little Moko Rangitoheriri to death over a two week period had had their murder charges reduced to manslaughter, to which they no doubt very gratefully pleaded guilty. Despite commendable media scrutiny, the public are still none the wiser as to  how this seemingly inexplicable decision came to be made.

And inexplicable it is, to a number of senior  criminal defence barristers I have consulted. The statement of facts has now been leaked. I am told it is a dreadful tale of lengthy abuse and multiple life threatening injuries, any one of which could have caused Moko’s death.  There is absolutely no doubt that all  of those injuries were inflicted by Tania Shailer and/or her boyfriend David Haerewa. Unlike the Kahui twins’ debacle, no-one else is in the frame.

One early story quoted “a family member” having been told by the Crown Solicitor in charge of the prosecution that because Moko did not die immediately, but later in hospital, a murder charge could not be pursued.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Becoming Separate

The End of Single Sex Schools?

Australian Single-sex Schools in TransitionTransgender Students Gain Acceptance  Henrietta Cook

Jeremy Beach was the only male student at his Catholic girls' school.  He had short spiky hair, hated wearing the school's checked skirt and in Year 12, the Avila College student came out as a transgender male.  "I presented as quite masculine. I didn't fit in. I wasn't going on about boyfriends and about make-up," the 19-year-old said.

"It was inherently a very gendered environment. It made it more difficult."  It's a situation many single-sex schools – whose entire existence has relied on rigid concepts of gender – are grappling with.   For the first time, the region's peak body for girls schools, the Alliance of Girls Schools Australasia, is urging its members to support transgender students.  This includes males who transition to females and want to enrol in girls' schools, and females who transition to males and want to remain in girls' schools.

Earlier this week, the organisation, which predominantly represents private girls' schools, held a conference which focused on gender and transgender issues.  "It's an emerging issue, everyone is still learning what to do and that includes the doctors, the psychologists, the support services," the Alliance's president and Mentone Girls' Grammar principal Fran Reddan said.  "It's critical that we provide a safe environment where all students can express their gender identity."
Behold, yet again, the madness of the Gentiles.  The words of II Corinthians 6 are as apt as ever:
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
    and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
    then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
    and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.” [II Cor. 6: 14--18]

Daily Devotional

No Loitering By the Way

"Be zealous."  Revelation 3:19

Charles H. Spurgeon

If you would see souls converted, if you would hear the cry that "the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord;" if you would place crowns upon the head of the Saviour, and his throne lifted high, then be filled with zeal. For, under God, the way of the world's conversion must be by the zeal of the church.

Every grace shall do exploits, but this shall be first; prudence, knowledge, patience, and courage will follow in their places, but zeal must lead the van. It is not the extent of your knowledge, though that is useful; it is not the extent of your talent, though that is not to be despised; it is your zeal that shall do great exploits. This zeal is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: it draws its vital force from the continued operations of the Holy Ghost in the soul.

If our inner life dwindles, if our heart beats slowly before God, we shall not know zeal; but if all be strong and vigorous within, then we cannot but feel a loving anxiety to see the kingdom of Christ come, and his will done on earth, even as it is in heaven. A deep sense of gratitude will nourish Christian zeal. Looking to the hole of the pit whence we were digged, we find abundant reason why we should spend and be spent for God.

And zeal is also stimulated by the thought of the eternal future. It looks with tearful eyes down to the flames of hell, and it cannot slumber: it looks up with anxious gaze to the glories of heaven, and it cannot but bestir itself. It feels that time is short compared with the work to be done, and therefore it devotes all that it has to the cause of its Lord.

And it is ever strengthened by the remembrance of Christ's example. He was clothed with zeal as with a cloak. How swift the chariot-wheels of duty went with him! He knew no loitering by the way. Let us prove that we are his disciples by manifesting the same spirit of zeal.

The Smallest Is Not the Simplest

More Time, Please

We have made reference to the discombobulation taking place in the Academy over the speculative theories of Evolutionism.  No-one takes Darwinism seriously any more.  OK--that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the greatest advocates for it these days are more likely to be non-scientists, publicists, politicians or media starlets [using the term in a gender neutral sense.]

The Chattering Classes find comfort and solace in continuing to embrace Evolutionism: scientists not so much.  One reason for the scientific discomfort arises out of the labs where electron microscopes are deployed to investigate living cells.  Electron microscopes represent a technological advance, allowing researchers to study heretofore hidden aspects of living cells.  It has produced an entirely new scientific discipline: microbiology.

The Evolutionist paradigm has (allegedly) primitive lifeforms being simple and basic.  As chance does its wondrous work, eventually the primitive life form becomes more and more complex.  Higher life forms self-evolve into being.  Amazing! said the elephant.  This just-so story, repeated endlessly and illustrated with sparkling pictures of amoeba evolving into glorious racing horses, has to be most certainly true, because it looks so marvellous, glorious, and grand.  It turns out it's nothing more than a fairy story.  But in previous generations scientists embraced it with all the fervour of religious devotees.  Besides, it helped them find work.

Now the disciplines and discoveries of micro-biology have exploded the myths.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

In Love With Death

Suicide: The Next Civil Rights Frontier

Only someone tone-deaf to what’s going on in culture will fail to understand how we’re only a few logical steps away from suicide being an act of personal expression.

By Peter Burfeind
The Federalist

One staple of conservative conversation these days is the parlor game of cultural prognostication: What will the lunatics come up with next?

We’ve only tapped the surface of sexual deviancy, so God only knows what’s in store for us there. Diaper-wearing men diagnosed—back when the notion of “disordered behavior” meant something—with paraphilic infantilism? “Dommes” walking their leather-clad coprophiliac slaves on a leash? (I saw an article entitled, “Coprophilia: Symptom, Cause and Treatment” at a website on depression. I thought, “Awww, how cute; so 2012.”)

After last summer’s gay marriage ruling coupled with this year’s transgendered march through the institutions, you can only imagine the flavors of sadomasochistic fetishism lining up to take their turn at the bat. The natural response of “eww” that used to guide social behavior is a microagression, so it’s only a matter of time.

Identity holds a lot of promise for potential wackiness.

Daily Devotional

On Obedience

C.S. Lewis

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

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.

The Layman's Koran

If You Fear Your Wife is Disobedient . . . 

Sura 4 is a long rambling chapter in the Koran, although it bears the title "Women".  At 4.34 we read a "money quotation" which explains so much of Islamic society, social organisation, and jurisprudence.
Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the others, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them.  Good women are obedient.  They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them.  As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.  Then if they obey you, take no further action against them.  Allah is high, supreme.
 The Islamic doctrine of women being inferior to men is grounded in their respective being-in-itself.   Allah made the one superior, the other inferior.  The authority of men over women is grounded in one gender being superior in being than the other.  Then, to this ontological distinction, making males superior to females, is added an additional (economic) justification of male superiority--filthy lucre.  Men spend their wealth maintaining women, so women owe their obedience to men.  Like a slaves.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Daily Devotional

On the Holy Spirit

C. S. Lewis

It is quite right that you should feel that “something terrific” has happened to you (It has) and be “all glowy.” Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean, it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.

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. 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.

Just a Few More Years Needed

Monopoly Busting Is a Great Calling

If New Zealand charter schools are afforded another six years of existence, we predict that the charter school programme in this country will likely never be shut down.  Unfortunately that is what presently hangs over the heads of the fledgling charter schools in this country because of luddite politicians and their political masters.  

The government schools and education system is controlled by teacher unions.  It is not too much an exaggeration to say that before the Minister of Education can be excused to visit the latrine he/she has to seek permission from the unions.  The teacher unions of course are interested in one thing, and one thing only--protection of their monopolistic patch.  Naturally, the union functionaries couch the matter in different terms.  They speak about quality education, and superior and advanced schools--but in the union view, superior schools can only exist and continue if they are union controlled.  There are no other kinds of schools to be permitted.  Every other kind is a threat, and must be stomped on.

The teacher unions have huge influence over the Labour Party.  That party, along with its pet poodle, the Green Party, has declared that when control of Parliament is achieved, all charter schools will be shut down.

But charter schools by and large, few though they be, are doing an excellent job.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Letter From the UK (About Something Smelly)

Jailed... For a Very Odd Non-crime 

Peter Hitchens
The Daily Mail

In the same way that we have to allow free speech to those we despise, we must be most careful to ensure justice for those who are different from us, and with whom we can’t easily sympathise.

So a nasty shiver ran up and down my spine when I saw that Lorna Moore, a convert to Islam who married a Muslim, has been locked up for a very odd offence.  In fact, I know of no other offence like it in English law. This young mother has been imprisoned for not informing on her husband.
Muslim convert Lorna Moore (pictured) has been imprisoned for not informing on her husband

I’ve yet to see any conclusive proof that she actually knew he was planning to join a terror group. Somehow or other, a return ticket to Majorca was taken as evidence that she was planning to run away to Syria with a husband she loathes.

And my English heart revolts at the idea of a wife being forced by law to inform on her husband. This is sinister, totalitarian stuff, alien to everything we stand for.

Those who drafted the 2000 Terrorism Act should be ashamed of enacting it. Can they have meant to lock up this person, so undangerous that she was allowed to be out on bail for three months between conviction and sentence?

Will it be children next, snatched into custody for not sneaking to the police about their parents’ conversations? This reminds me of the nauseating cult of Pavlik Morozov, whom Soviet children were taught to revere because he reported his father to the secret police.

There used to be a statue of this little monster (who was promptly and understandably murdered by his grandfather) in the middle of Moscow.   But while even Vladimir Putin doesn’t encourage such things nowadays, we in Britain are moving towards the all-powerful state, on the excuse of combating terror.

As it happens, Lorna Moore had every reason to do her husband harm if she had wanted to. She went into the witness box (a dangerous thing for a guilty person to do) to say convincingly that she hates her husband, who was given to shoving her head down the lavatory.  To make the matter even more odd, the husband involved hasn’t actually been convicted of doing the thing his wife didn’t tell the police about.

Indeed, he has sent an email to British media saying he isn’t actually in Syria, but in Turkey. Are the rest of us truly free when people can be locked up for such things? I don’t feel so.

Daily Devotional

Faith for the Impossible

He grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:20–21)

John Piper

Paul has in mind a special reason why faith glorifies God’s future grace. Simply put, the reason is that this God-glorifying faith is a future-oriented confidence in God’s integrity and power and wisdom to follow through on all his promises.

Paul illustrates this faith with Abraham’s response to the promise of God: that he would be the father of many nations (Romans 4:18). “In hope he believed against hope,” that is, he had faith in the future grace of God’s promise.

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:19–21)

The faith of Abraham was a faith in the promise of God to make him the father of many nations. This faith glorified God because it called attention to all the resources of God that would be required to fulfill it.

Abraham was too old to have children, and Sarah was barren. Not only that: How do you turn a son or two into “many nations,” which God said Abraham would be the father of? It all seemed totally impossible.

Therefore Abraham’s faith glorified God by being fully assured that he could and would do the impossible.

Tangled Webs

A Kingdom Truly of This World

One of the more interesting questions facing us today is whether the violent struggles between Islamic powers is intrinsic to Islam and Islamic civilisation, or whether it is a recent and temporary phenomenon.  

Efraim Karsh argues that Islam has always had imperial ambitions--right from the very beginning. World-wide empire was its heart and soul.  But, at the same time, it has never been able to escape internecine rivalry and turbulence.  In this light, what we observe today regarding deadly warfare between Shi'ite and Sunni, Alawite and ISIS, is the norm.

He writes:
[Muhammad] tapped into the Middle East's millenarian legacy and ensured its perpetuation for many centuries to come.  From the first Arab-Islamic empire of the mid-seventh century to the Ottomans, the last great Muslim empire, the story of Islam has been the story of the rise and fall of universal empires and, no less important, of never quiescent imperialist dreams.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Hypocritical Soul Searching

Moko's Father Conspicuous By His Absence

Ewen McQueen:
NZ Herald

When young Moko was murdered in all senses of that word, except in NZ law, the country was outraged.  It still is.  Ewen McQueen, however, wonders why there has been no reference to the child's father.

But the question remains - where was Moko's dad? Photo / Supplied

The court has reached its verdict. The marchers have gone home. The politicians and media have done their usual hypocritical hand-wringing. But the question remains - where was Moko's dad?

A father is supposed to be there to protect his children. A father is supposed to be there to help their mother look after the family. A father is supposed to provide for and love his family.

So where was Moko's dad? We have no idea. We have no idea because the question was never asked. It never is. In all the national breast-beating that happens whenever such a tragedy occurs, the real issue is never addressed. Why are so many children left without the care of a natural father? Why have we allowed a relationship culture to become embedded which accepts as normal the regular dropping in and out of relationships and frequent changing of partners? How is this supposed to build strong and loving families?

These are the questions that should be asked. But instead the focus is always on the failure of social agencies, the need for more education or awareness campaigns, tougher sentences or more money to be spent co-ordinating ever more welfare programmes.

Daily Devotional

No Menial Labour

"These were potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work."  1 Chronicles 4:23

Charles H. Spurgeon

Potters were not the very highest grade of workers, but "the king" needed potters, and therefore they were in royal service, although the material upon which they worked was nothing but clay. We, too, may be engaged in the most menial part of the Lord's work, but it is a great privilege to do anything for "the king"; and therefore we will abide in our calling, hoping that, "although we have lien among the pots, yet shall we be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."

The text tells us of those who dwelt among plants and hedges, having rough, rustic, hedging and ditching work to do. They may have desired to live in the city, amid its life, society, and refinement, but they kept their appointed places, for they also were doing the king's work. The place of our habitation is fixed, and we are not to remove from it out of whim and caprice, but seek to serve the Lord in it, by being a blessing to those among whom we reside.

These potters and gardeners had royal company, for they dwelt "with the king" and although among hedges and plants, they dwelt with the king there. No lawful place, or gracious occupation, however mean, can debar us from communion with our divine Lord. In visiting hovels, swarming lodging-houses, workhouses, or jails, we may go with the king. In all works of faith we may count upon Jesus' fellowship. It is when we are in his work that we may reckon upon his smile.

Ye unknown workers who are occupied for your Lord amid the dirt and wretchedness of the lowest of the low, be of good cheer, for jewels have been found upon dunghills ere now, earthen pots have been filled with heavenly treasure, and ill weeds have been transformed into precious flowers. Dwell ye with the King for his work, and when he writes his chronicles your name shall be recorded.