Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Letter From America (About Education and Schools)

Betsy DeVos, the Right Choice for Education Secretary

The Editors
National Review Online

Donald Trump has chosen conservative reformer Betsy DeVos to be his education secretary. A better choice would be hard to find.

First under George W. Bush and the No Child Left Behind Act, then under Barack Obama and a long list of intrusive initiatives, the federal government’s role in education has metastasized, growing more and more aggressively in recent years. The Department of Education has bribed states with “Race to the Top” funds to adopt its standards, established prohibitive teacher-licensing requirements that keep competent teachers out of the classroom, and even inserted itself into the prosecution of on-campus sex crimes. And what is there to show for it? In October 2015, the semi-annual National Assessment of Educational Progress, the “nation’s report card,” showed no student progress in mathematics for the first time in 20 years and reading scores dropping for the first time in a decade.

Betsy DeVos will be a desperately needed shock to this inept system.

Daily Devotional

Bow Before the Throne of Absolution

"The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."  Ephesians 1:7

Charles H. Spurgeon

Could there be a sweeter word in any language than that word "forgiveness," when it sounds in a guilty sinner's ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite? Blessed, forever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair!

Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, forgiven altogether, and forever? Hell is my portion as a sinner--there is no possibility of my escaping from it while sin remains upon me--can the load of guilt be uplifted, the crimson stain removed? Can the adamantine stones of my prison-house ever be loosed from their mortices, or the doors be lifted from their hinges?

Jesus tells me that I may yet be clear. Forever blessed be the revelation of atoning love which not only tells me that pardon is possible, but that it is secured to all who rest in Jesus. I have believed in the appointed propitiation, even Jesus crucified, and therefore my sins are at this moment, and forever, forgiven by virtue of his substitutionary pains and death. What joy is this! What bliss to be a perfectly pardoned soul!

My soul dedicates all her powers to him who of his own unpurchased love became my surety, and wrought out for me redemption through his blood. What riches of grace does free forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to forgive forever! Here is a constellation of wonders; and when I think of how great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from them, and how gracious was the method by which pardon was sealed home to me, I am in a maze of wondering worshipping affection.

I bow before the throne which absolves me, I clasp the cross which delivers me, I serve henceforth all my days the Incarnate God, through whom I am this night a pardoned soul.

A Demon Went Into the Dock

Fidel Castro Is Dead

Rod Dreher
The American Conservative

[With the passing of Fidel Castro we have seen the secular leftist progressive hagiographers extol him to the skies.  Even in places as far away as New Zealand, lefty politicians have celebrated the man, his regime, and his achievements.  Rod Dreher eviscerates the panegyrics of the eulogists. Ed.]
Death is the one tyrant who subdues but cannot be subdued. Let this speech by the Cuban dissident poet Armando Valladares stand as the tyrant Fidel Castro’s memorial.  Excerpts:
When I was 23 years old I refused to do something that at the time seemed at the time very small. I refused to say a few words, “I’m with Fidel.” First I refused the sign on my desk at the postal office that said that, and after years of torture and watching many fellow fighters die, either in body or in spirit, I still refused to say those words.

If I just said those three words, I would have been released from prison.

My story is proof that a small act of defiance can mean everything for the friends of liberty. They did not keep me in jail for 22 years because my refusal to say three words meant nothing. In reality those three words meant everything.
For me to say those words would constituted a type of spiritual suicide. Even though my body was in prison and being tortured, my soul was free and it flourished. My jailers took everything away from me, but they could not take away my conscience or my faith.

Even when we have nothing, each person and only that person possesses the key to his or her own conscience, his or her own sacred castle. In that respect, each of us, though we may not have an earthly castle or even a house, each of us is richer than a king or queen.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

On Kicking the Can’t Down the Road

Douglas Wilson

I was not surprised at the election of Donald Trump. I was actually expecting that. Neither was I surprised at the decisiveness of his win in Electoral College terms. I was expecting that also. And neither was I surprised that my preferences remained in place—I knew that I would much rather have Trump in the White House than Hillary there. All these things I have addressed in this space already in various ways. But I will tell you what did surprise me, something that I was not expecting at all. I was surprised at the depth of my joy over what happened to the Clinton hubris. I thought I was going to be pleased with the results in Clintonville, but my internal relief thus far has been positively undignified. I am not hugging strangers on the street yet though.

As I have been warning, the danger with backgrounding your principles for the sake of a particular election is that if you win (which the Trump evangelicals did), is that you then find yourself wanting to background them for a longer period, backgrounding them “until a more propitious time.” Your particular issues are not important to the people you helped elect, and so you start kicking the can’t down the road. You start thinking about getting this or that through, you start mulling on the possibility of a second term, and all that stuff, and so you put some important issues down at the bottom of the “old business” part your agenda. If enough time passes, this process is tantamount to forgetting your principles.

One of the places where Trump is positively bad is on the LGBTQ NATO foolishness.

Daily Meditation

Unity Via Increased Charity

TO FATHER PETER MILWARD, sj: On the evil of Christian disunity; and on prayer and cooperation in works of charity as the means of reunion.

6 May 1963

Dear Padre,

You ask me in effect why I am not a Roman Catholic. If it comes to that, why am I not—and why are you not—a Presbyterian, a Quaker, a Mohammedan, a Hindu, or a Confucianist? After how prolonged and sympathetic study and on what grounds have we rejected these religions? I think those who press a man to desert the religion in which he has been bred and in which he believes he has found the means of Grace ought to produce positive reasons for the change—not demand from him reasons against all other religions. It would have to be all, wouldn’t it?

Our Lord prayed that we all might be one ‘as He and His Father are one’ [John 17:21]. But He and His Father are not one in virtue of both accepting a (third) monarchical sovereign.

That unity of rule, or even of credenda [things to be believed], does not necessarily produce unity of charity is apparent from the history of every Church, every religious order, and every parish.

Schism is a very great evil. But if reunion is ever to come, it will in my opinion come from increasing charity. And this, under pressure from the increasing strength and hostility of unbelief, is perhaps beginning: we no longer, thank God, speak of one another as we did over 100 years ago. A single act of even such limited co-operation as is now possible does more towards ultimate reunion than any amount of discussion.

The historical causes of the ‘Reformation’ that actually occurred were (1.) The cruelties and commercialism of the Papacy (2.) The lust and greed of Henry VIII. (3.) The exploitation of both by politicians. (4.) The fatal insouciance of the mere rabble on both sides. The spiritual drive behind the Reformation that ought to have occurred was a deep re-experience of the Pauline experience.

Memo: a great many of my closest friends are your co- religionists, some of them priests. If I am to embark on a disputation—which could not be a short one, I would much sooner do it with them than by correspondence.

We can do much more to heal the schism by our prayers than by a controversy. It is a daily subject of mine.

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.

A Dying Culture

Perish The Thought

We have come across a piece published in Scientific American.  The thesis was clear and unambigious: religious people are outbreeding irreligious.  The title of the piece was: "God's little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide".  Get the point.

The author, one Jesse Bering, is pursuing the occupation of Evolutionary Psychology.  Being a professional evolutionist, Bering is interested in the survival of the human race.  Being a homosexual there is little that he can personally do about it.  His is a sterile line.  He gets the point:
People really do need to reproduce, either directly or indirectly, for nature to continue operating on their genes. This is not the "reason" or "purpose" we’re here, as that would insinuate some form of intelligent design for human existence, rather it’s just a mechanical fact.
But, we wonder, on what basis apart from superficial sentimentality can Mr Bering maintain the argument that "people really do need to reproduce".

Monday, 28 November 2016

Letter From the UK (About French Bubbles)

Constituency Protection

Smiling Down Syndrome Kids Banned from French TV in Case they Offend Post-Abortive Women

Thomas Williams

France’s Conseil d’État (State Council) has confirmed its ban of the award-winning “Dear Future Mom” video from French television, declaring that the “inappropriate” images of happy Down syndrome children might bother women who had chosen to abort their babies.
The Council stated that the video in question could not be shown since it was “likely to trouble the conscience of women who had made different personal life choices in compliance with the law.”

According to studies, in France more than 80 per cent of all mothers pregnant with babies diagnosed with Down syndrome end up aborting their children.

“The law stipulates that only advertising messages or ‘messages of general interest’ be shown during commercial breaks. The Council determined that this film does not constitute a ‘message of general interest’,” the governing body said in a statement on its website.

Rather, it is “likely to disturb women who have had recourse to a medical termination of pregnancy and thus is inappropriate for airing during commercial breaks,” the statement added.

The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, a pioneer in scientific research on Down syndrome and one of the financiers of the production, had filed a petition requesting that the ban be lifted.

Daily Devotional

We Have Only the Present

"Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man."  Proverbs 24:33-34

Charles H. Spurgeon

The worst of sluggards only ask for a little slumber; they would be indignant if they were accused of thorough idleness. A little folding of the hands to sleep is all they crave, and they have a crowd of reasons to show that this indulgence is a very proper one. Yet by these littles the day ebbs out, and the time for labour is all gone, and the field is grown over with thorns.

It is by little procrastinations that men ruin their souls. They have no intention to delay for years--a few months will bring the more convenient season--to-morrow if you will, they will attend to serious things; but the present hour is so occupied and altogether so unsuitable, that they beg to be excused. Like sands from an hour-glass, time passes, life is wasted by driblets, and seasons of grace lost by little slumbers. Oh, to be wise, to catch the flying hour, to use the moments on the wing!

May the Lord teach us this sacred wisdom, for otherwise a poverty of the worst sort awaits us, eternal poverty which shall want even a drop of water, and beg for it in vain. Like a traveller steadily pursuing his journey, poverty overtakes the slothful, and ruin overthrows the undecided: each hour brings the dreaded pursuer nearer; he pauses not by the way, for he is on his master's business and must not tarry. As an armed man enters with authority and power, so shall want come to the idle, and death to the impenitent, and there will be no escape.

O that men were wise be-times, and would seek diligently unto the Lord Jesus, or ere the solemn day shall dawn when it will be too late to plough and to sow, too late to repent and believe. In harvest, it is vain to lament that the seed time was neglected. As yet, faith and holy decision are timely. May we obtain them this night.

The New Soviet Man . . . And Woman

A Barren Land

The Soviet Union produced a perpetually blighted land.  The aching hurt of that once proud people remains stronger than ever.  The nefarious fruit of totalitarian Marxism continues to poison that nation. 

One of the main targets of the Communist regime was the family.  That is one particular devastation that lingers on to this day.  One of the most succinct accounts of Soviet family breakdown has been written by Angelo Codevilla.
By the 1930's the Soviet's desire to break down the family quickly gave way to more pressing ones, like industrialization.  The Party went all-out (almost) to increase births.  Like other Soviet producers mothers were awarded medals designating ever-higher ranking, depending on the numbers of children they turned out.  And parents who produced children got preferential treatment for new apartments.  But the regime did not in the least relax the  pressure on mothers to work, nor did it let fathers exercise any authority over their families.  It was Stalin, after all, who built the cult of the boy who had reported on his parents to the secret police.  The Soviet state might encourage men and women to copulate.  But men and women would prosper or hang separately according to the whims of the Party.  Men and women together might produce children  But children would belong to the state.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Totalitolerance and the Tactics of Trigglypuff

Douglas Wilson


If you assume that secular society is an actual possibility, which is a big suppose, one of the first things you have to do is ignore the outliers. In other words, diversity is great, and will continue to be great, just so long as nobody leans too far to the right or left in our wobbly societal canoe. In other words, secular diversity works great so long as we manage to keep the diversity to a minimum.

This is just another way of saying that any culture, in order to be a functional culture at all, has to operate around shared values. If the values are not shared, if people cannot quietly assume them in their disputes with members of a rival party within that culture, with the rival party assuming the same values, then we do not have a culture at all. What we have is a cultural civil war.

And that is what we currently have.


In order to work out the ramifications of this, let me point to a current manifestation of what is being touted as simple liberal hypocrisy. But it is not so much hypocrisy—although there is a hypocritical element—as it is an example of the limitations of stage four secularism. The current secular ruling elites are incapable of handling the hardline outliers, and their canoe is going over.

Daily Devotional

Hold Fast to Your Hope

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:17-18)

John Piper

Why does the writer encourage us to hold fast to our hope? If our holding fast was obtained and irrevocably secured by the blood of Jesus, then why does God tell us to hold fast?

The answer is this:
What Christ bought for us when he died was not the freedom from having to hold fast but the enabling power to hold fast.

What he bought was not the nullification of our wills as though we didn’t have to hold fast, but the empowering of our wills because we want to hold fast.

What he bought was not the canceling of the commandment to hold fast but the fulfillment of the commandment to hold fast.

What he bought was not the end of exhortation, but the triumph of exhortation.
He died so that you would do exactly what Paul did in Philippians 3:12, “I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” It is not foolishness, it is the gospel, to tell a sinner to do what Christ alone can enable him to do, namely, hope in God.

So I exhort you with all my heart: reach out and take hold of that for which you have been taken hold of by Christ, and hold it fast with all his might.

Charges of Hate-Speech Are Pathological

The Long Lingering Death of Free Speech

It seems that folk chatter more about "hate speech" than they do about free speech these days which implies that one of the most fundamental of all human rights--free speech--is under serious threat.  The threat appears to be coming mainly from the Left.

In New Zealand we have had two recent incidents.  The first is a pastor of a local church who had the temerity to proclaim that the recent earthquake in Kaikoura, following the 2011 quake in Christchurch, are acts of God's judgment upon New Zealand.  Public outrage spewed forth as the pastor was accused of hate speech.  Not one response--at least as far as we have been able to find--actually attempted to confront the pastor's arguments per se.  Instead, the barrage of outrage was more along the lines of "Shut the fellow up" and a general declamation of "hate speech" which must be rejected at all costs.

For folk raised in the Christian traditions, the pastor's assertion was hardly remarkable.  Inept, one might argue.  Hardly consistent with the Scriptures in specific detail, one might point out.  But the general concept was hardly unorthodox: God's judgement has fallen upon the human race in many times and in divers places.  After all, Noah and his family were not out for a weekend jaunt on their yacht.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Liberal Cant

Refusing To Serve Customers You Don’t Agree With Is Suddenly Cool Again

The Federalist
Mary Katharine Ham

Remember how it was the height of bigotry for religious objectors to decline to participate in a gay wedding? But now it's brave to decline to sell Melania Trump a dress.

To the many things the Trump administration in waiting has made cool again, add private businesses refusing service to customers based on moral objections.

Friday, fashion designer Sophie Theallet, who has dressed the current first lady Michelle Obama, offered a preemptive refusal to hypothetically dress the next first lady, Melania Trump, should she ask for some of her clothes— presumably not the ones available at The Gap. In her unsolicited letter, Theallet informed the world that a person who did not ask for any of her clothes would not be getting them.
“As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady,” the letter reads. “The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by.  I encourage my fellow designers to do the same,” it goes on.
In refusing service to Trump, Theallet appealed to “individual freedom” and the idea of her art as an expression of the company’s “artistic and philosophical ideals.” Her announcement was called “noble,” “patriotic,” and “admirable integrity.”

Daily Meditation

The Church-Taster

Screwtape expands on developing church participation for evil ends:

C. S. Lewis

Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.

The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organisation should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction.

In the second place, the search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil. What He wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise—does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going. (You see how grovelling, how unspiritual, how irredeemably vulgar He is!)

This attitude, especially during sermons, creates the condition (most hostile to our whole policy) in which platitudes can become really audible to a human soul. There is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if it is received in this temper.

From The Screwtape Letters
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis 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.

Citizens Are Not to Be Trusted

We Are the Government.  We Know Best

The (radical) Left tell us that all property is theft.  So, the most perfect and just regime is one which owns all property, so that none may be guilty of theft.

It's true that left leaning political parties aren't prepared to go that far.  However, they will insist that when the state strips property from citizens it always leads to better, more just social outcomes.  Expropriating property from citizens via taxation and using or distributing it as the regime sees fit leads to far better results--or so we are told.  The State is neutral and disinterested; the individual or private property owner looks only to his own interests.

Take education and schooling, for example.  It is an almost universal maxim in the West these days that the regime will develop and run education systems superior to citizen efforts.  The Left gets all misty eyed and fervid over education being so important that it cannot be left to private citizens to invest in and produce a superior education service.  Education, we are told, is so important that self-interested citizens ought not to be allowed anywhere near it.

This grand idea starts to break down as soon as one remembers that the regime is not a machine.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Pro-Life Cause . . . and Trump

Pro-lifers Discuss Trump’s Plans on Abortion

Kate Scanlon

In the wake of Donald Trump’s upset victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, pro-life lawmakers and leaders expressed optimism about what the president-elect’s administration will mean for their cause.

Trump, who has described himself as pro-life since launching his presidential bid, made a series of conflicting statements on abortion during his campaign and expressed support for abortion prior to his candidacy. He struggled to win over some pro-life activists who questioned the sincerity of his conversion on the issue.

As a candidate, Trump once defended Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, as an organization that does “good work” for women. He later pledged to nominate pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and to sign the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act into law.

But will President Trump follow through on his pro-life policy commitments? Two Republican lawmakers said they believe he will.

Daily Meditation

On Humility

C. S. Lewis

For each of us the Baptist’s words are true: “He must increase and I decrease.” He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only in so far as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls.

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.

My Way or the Highway

Beneath the Surface of Secular Humanism

We  once heard of a Professor of Systematic Theology who frequently employed the epithet, "Ah, Consistency, thou art a jewel."  Consistency is a fundamental characteristic of the Christian world-view.  Since God is God, His Law-Word governs all.  What is holy and ethical on Mars is indeed what holds equally true for Venus.  The whole universe is commanded to love the Lord its God with heart, soul, strength, and mind.

Thus, in the Christian world-view, whilst consistency is a jewel, inconsistency is hypocrisy.  In the post-modern world (the crowning glory of secular humanism) there is no such thing as hypocrisy.  Not really.  There are only perspectives, and all perspectives are implicitly equally valid, or ethical, or true.  The only sin, it is alleged, is to deny that truth is perspectival, subjective, and relative.  Oxymoronic, don't you think.

It is not surprising that the cutting edge of secularist thought and action is riddled with petty hypocrisies.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Shining Sunlight Found in Dark Places

'That Poor Life Inside Me . . . 

that poor life inside my sick body'

By Debbie Schipp
NZ Herald

It was May, and Elle Halliwell, thoughts dulled by a haze of shock that Xanax could not silence, was reeling.  Two days after being told she had leukaemia, she had found out she was pregnant.  And doctors had given her a seemingly impossible choice: abort the baby and start treatment, or risk her life. . . .

Looking back on that mind-numbingly dreadful May, Elle tells of struggle to make sense of being told you have a death sentence, as well as the baby you have dreamt of.  "I just instantly thought this will kill me.  Knowing that it had invaded every kind of area of your body, a blood cancer, felt so fatal.  I just thought, that poor life inside me living in this sick body. I thought it had no hope anyway." . . .

Elle has ridden a wave of emotion since being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia - a disease most commonly found in men in their 60s.  It's considered one of the more devastating forms of blood cancer.  Doctors warned Elle and her husband, Nick Biasotto, their advice was to abort so she could begin treatment immediately on a new form of chemotherapy with a high survival rate.

Abort the baby, freeze some eggs and perhaps, after five years, if the caner treatment went well, they could try again. . . .  Instead they started researching, got a second opinion, found a specialist, and found there was a possibility taking older drugs might see them through the pregnancy. Other women had managed it. But it was a choice fraught with danger.  "He gave us so much confidence ... to go along with the pregnancy," Elle says.

But new drug advancements mean many sufferers live long lives - it's just that Elle can't start taking those drugs until her baby is born.  Now, as the birth looms, Elle's health is by no means in the clear, but the couple is filled with optimism. . . . And then, Elle can begin to treat her cancer aggressively.

Daily Devotional

The Gravity of Gratitude

In the last days there will come times of stress. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful . . . (2 Timothy 3:1–2)

John Piper

Notice how ingratitude goes with pride, abuse and insubordination.

In another place Paul says, “Let there be no obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking . . . but rather thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4). So it seems that gratitude is the opposite of ugliness and violence.

The reason this is so is that the feeling of gratitude is a humble feeling not a proud one. It is other-exalting, not self-exalting. And it is glad-hearted not angry or bitter.

The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry.

So I conclude that the rise of violence and sacrilege and ugliness and insubordination in the last times is a God-issue. The basic issue is a failure to feel gratitude at the upper levels of our dependence.

When the high spring of gratitude to God fails at the top of the mountain, soon all the pools of thankfulness begin to dry up further down the mountain. And when gratitude goes, the sovereignty of the self condones more and more corruption for its pleasure.

Pray for a great awakening of humble gratitude.

Social Media and Self-Righteous Anger

Inside the Echo Chamber

We recently profiled one of our local media persons acknowledging how an elitist world-view common amongst media people helped Clinton lose the US presidential election.  The elitism of the media and the Chattering Classes arguably produced a huge back lash amongst many voters.  Heather Du Plessis-Allan acknowledged her own complicity in allowing herself to be captured by the Left's echo chamber.

In a supplementary piece, Du Plessis-Allan has written about the destructive effect of social media.  She argues that it has the unintended consequence of creating an echo chamber where one's opinions are constantly reinforced.  Worse, not only do one's views thus become more self-evident to the social media user but the intensity with which they are held rises.  Communication quickly becomes rabid.  She described how, via social media, "conversations" quickly devolve into "national shout downs".
You can measure this growing moral outrage in the frequency of the word "disgust".  In the single minute before I searched "disgusting" on Twitter, 16 people had used the word on their tweets.  Apparently men are disgusting, Washington's political establishment is disgusting, the online right wingers who call themselves the Alt-Right are disgusting pigs, and there's consensus Donald Trump and his staff are disgusting.  In New Zealand, Brian Tamaki is disgusting, Aaron Smith was disgusting and, depending on the latest headline, John Key, Nick Smith and Paula Bennett take turns being disgusting.
Years ago we came across a Holocaust Denial "group".

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Natural Marriage and the Obergefall

Douglas Wilson


I confess myself a bit surprised at the reaction I have gotten from my recent interaction with Russell Moore’s apparent position on the aftermath of Obergefell. But what that reaction confirms to me is that the Christian opposition to secularism really needs to work through some of the foundational issues of political theology. Those foundational issues would have to include basic things like what is law? and what is marriage? And how do we know?

One person on The Twitters denounced me as one who is trying to recycle the discredited nostrums of 80’s Reconstructionism. On that charge I will only say that a central point of the recons—which was that we cannot settle these issues without an appeal to the expressed will of the living God—has hardly been discredited by subsequent events.

That point was made and reinforced when the same gent went on to say this:
“Repeal gay marriage? Might as well go for criminal penalties for adultery. Maybe Prohibition again. Nuts.”
Notice where we now are. The obvious folly of Prohibition, which was a stupid insult delivered at the will of God by the will of impudent man, is now being appealed to as the ground and basis for delivering another stupid insult to the will of God by the will of man. God gave wine to gladden the heart of man (Ps. 104:15). He did not give grape juice to gladden the heart of the wowsers. And the same God who gave us lively spirits to demonstrate His goodness also gave us the gift of being male and female so that we could manifest His image (Gen. 1:27). Setting aside the Word of God for the sake of your traditions is always a misguided attempt to make the pigs fly (Mark 7:8).

Daily Devotional

"Open My Heart"

"Grieve not the Holy Spirit."  Ephesians 4:30

Charles H. Spurgeon

All that the believer has must come from Christ, but it comes solely through the channel of the Spirit of grace. Moreover, as all blessings thus flow to you through the Holy Spirit, so also no good thing can come out of you in holy thought, devout worship, or gracious act, apart from the sanctifying operation of the same Spirit. Even if the good seed be sown in you, yet it lies dormant except he worketh in you to will and to do of his own good pleasure.

Do you desire to speak for Jesus--how can you unless the Holy Ghost touch your tongue? Do you desire to pray? Alas! what dull work it is unless the Spirit maketh intercession for you! Do you desire to subdue sin? Would you be holy? Would you imitate your Master? Do you desire to rise to superlative heights of spirituality? Are you wanting to be made like the angels of God, full of zeal and ardour for the Master's cause? You cannot without the Spirit--"Without me ye can do nothing."

O branch of the vine, thou canst have no fruit without the sap! O child of God, thou hast no life within thee apart from the life which God gives thee through his Spirit! Then let us not grieve him or provoke him to anger by our sin. Let us not quench him in one of his faintest motions in our soul; let us foster every suggestion, and be ready to obey every prompting. If the Holy Spirit be indeed so mighty, let us attempt nothing without him; let us begin no project, and carry on no enterprise, and conclude no transaction, without imploring his blessing.

Let us do him the due homage of feeling our entire weakness apart from him, and then depending alone upon him, having this for our prayer, "Open thou my heart and my whole being to thine incoming, and uphold me with thy free Spirit when I shall have received that Spirit in my inward parts.

From Russia, Without Love

Much of a Muchness

All totalitarian regimes can best be characterized as being in a state of war against their own people.  To be sure, totalitarian regimes do not always begin that way.  They commence with a great hope, or a grand principle only to find that governing is complex, and the more intrusive rules, regulations, laws, and edicts become, the more complex it turns out to be.  

In this regard we often think of Tolkien's conception of the Ruling Ring--
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and the darkness bind them
We reflect further on how Frodo offered the Ring to Galadriel, saying, "You are wise and fearless and fair, Lady Galadriel.  I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it.  It is too great a matter for me."  Galadriel admitted that she had long yearned to have such power.
And now at last it comes.  You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen.  And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night!  Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain!  Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning!  Stronger than the foundations of the earth.  All shall love me and despair!
When Hugo Chavez took control (was set up as a kind of king--the caudillo) over Venezuela.  He was widely loved.  Within half a generation that country is now reduced to despair.  The pattern always plays out.  A false saviour, set to put things right, morphs into a tyrant crushing the lifeblood out of subjects.  The regime ends up being at war against its people.

Angelo Codevilla provides the following description of the Soviet Union--which was not aberrant, but typical of all such.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Letter From NZ (About the American Media)

American Press Went Out on a Limb 

Now Suffering From Exposure

Liam Hehir

 Do you know why people sometimes call the independent media the Fourth Estate? The phrase takes it's meaning from the way European societies were organised in the Middle Ages.  Far from being an anachronism, however, the designation seems entirely appropriate when considering the jaw-dropping election of Donald Trump.

The various realms of Europe were traditionally divided into distinct "estates" under the Sovereign. The clergy were the First Estate, the nobility formed the Second and the commoners were lumped together as the Third.  These divisions formed the basis for Government today, with the representative bodies for each estate coalescing into parliaments or government assemblies.

Unsurprisingly, the least powerful of these was the Third Estate.  The press was christened the Fourth Estate in response to the French Revolution, during which the Third Estate effectively overthrew the other two. This could never have happened were it not for an explosion in newspaper and pamphlet publishing that excited debate and increased popular awareness of the affairs of state.

Given that we are still experiencing the repercussions of this event, the subsequent designation of the news media as a vital force in public affairs has always been taken for granted.

Not so much any more, perhaps.

Daily Meditation

The Duty to Use What Sense We Have

C. S. Lewis

Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the ‘virtues’. In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are ‘good’, it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of ‘prudence’ about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves’, but also ‘as wise as serpents’.

He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. The fact that you are giving money to a charity does not mean that you need not try to find out whether that charity is a fraud or not. The fact that what you are thinking about is God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any the less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have.

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.

We Know What's Best For You

The Trump Card

Our position with respect to the election of Donald Trump as  President of the United States is one of agnosticism.  It is possible that the US system of checks and balances will restrain the worst of Trump's instincts, while jostling and steering him into better paths.  We will see.  The jury is out.  

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst is sage counsel in such days as these.  For the moment we continue to be entertained by the breakers and roiling undertow that is shaking up the Left.  Its "born to rule" arrogance has been noisome, to say the least.  In New Zealand, the Left is in dire straits, and has been so now for a decade.  Few signs are there that this will change quickly.  We suspect that a similar "velvet revolution" is underway in the UK.

Meanwhile, this bon mot caused some breakfast chuckles:

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Record Non Sequitur

Record Global Cooling Over The Last Eight Months

November 13, 2016
Tony Heller

Over the last eight months, global temperatures over land have cooled a record 1.2 C. November is seeing record cold in Russia and South Australia, so we should see the record cooling trend continue.

As temperatures cool at a record pace, experts say global warming is now unstoppable.

It is a vision of a future so apocalyptic that it is hard to even imagine.  But, if leading scientists writing in one of the most respected academic journals are right, planet Earth could be on course for global warming of more than seven degrees Celsius within a lifetime.  [Independent]
Note the most egregious non sequitur of our time:

Global cooling, means climate change, which means global warming.

Daily Devotional

Change Is Possible

Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)

John Piper

Christianity means change is possible. Deep, fundamental change. It is possible to become tenderhearted when once you were callous and insensitive. It is possible to stop being dominated by bitterness and anger. It is possible to become a loving person no matter what your background has been.

The Bible assumes that God is the decisive factor in making us what we should be. With wonderful bluntness, the Bible says, “Put away malice and be tenderhearted.” It does not say, “If you can…” Or: “If your parents were tender-hearted to you…” Or: “If you weren’t terribly wronged…” It says, “Be tender-hearted.”

This is wonderfully freeing. It frees us from the terrible fatalism that says change is impossible for me. It frees me from mechanistic views that make my background my destiny.

And God’s commands always come with freeing, life-changing truth to believe. For example,

  1. God adopted us as his children. We have a new Father and a new family. This breaks the fatalistic forces of our “family-of-origin.” “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for one is your Father, He who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9).

  2. God loves us as his children. We are “loved children.” The command to imitate the love of God does not hang in the air, it comes with power: “Be imitators of God as loved children .” “Love!” is the command and being loved is the power.

  3. God has forgiven us in Christ. Be tender-hearted and forgiving just as God in Christ forgave you. What God did is power to change. The command to be tender-hearted has more to do with what God did for you than what your mother did to you. This kind of command means you can change.

  4. Christ loved you and gave himself up for you. “Walk in love just as Christ loved you.” The command comes with life-changing truth. “Christ loved you.” At the moment when there is a chance to love and some voice says, “You are not a loving person,” you can say, “Christ’s love for me makes me a new kind of person. His command to love is just as surely possible for me as his promise of love is true for me.

In God's World What Goes Around Comes Around

Hung Out to Dry

We have spoken from time to time of the persecution of Christians in the West.  Aaron and Melissa Klein of Oregon in the United States served as a notorious example.  Remember, this was the faithful Christian couple who refused to bake a celebratory cake for homosexual "nuptials".  One Brad Avakian, a petty potentate, lowered the boom upon the couple and forced them out of business.
Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Brad Avakian gained infamy when he fined a Christian bakery with $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The owners of the bakery, Aaron and Melissa Klein, turned down baking a cake to a lesbian couple as it would violate their Christian beliefs. Avakian claimed that the Klein’s refusal to bake the cake were not protected under the 1st Amendment, and labeled it illegal discrimination.

The Klein’s were forced to shut down their bakery, and now operate solely online. Melissa Klein has stated that she would like to reopen an actual store one day, but that doing so in Oregon would be next to impossible.  [The Blaze]
Petty potentate Avakian is an ambitious chappie.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Doing Evil That Good May Result is Evil Nonetheless

Remember the Huge Embryonic Stem Cell Research Debate? 

The Pro-Life Side Was Right

John Stonestreet

The biggest ethical and scientific debate of the early 2000s has all but disappeared. And we need to tell people why.

Some issues in presidential politics have staying power. Twelve years ago, everyone was talking about immigration, abortion, and terrorism. Today, everyone is still talking about immigration, abortion, and terrorism.

But another issue that gripped the public and had candidates shouting from the debate stages then has been all but forgotten today: embryonic stem cell research.

Here’s a quick refresher: Stem cells exist in every multicellular organism and have the ability to differentiate into different types of tissue, whether it be heart, brain, lung, liver or other kinds of human tissue. The stem cells everyone is interested in—called “pluripotent” stem cells—have the ability to become any type of tissue, anywhere in the body.

Scientists have long seen these cells as a potential cure or therapy for degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as paralysis, heart disease, and a host of others. A decade ago, the only way to derive “pluripotent” stem cells was to conceive a human embryo in a test tube, and then kill it.

Daily Devotional

Honour Him In All Things

"To whom be glory forever. Amen"  Romans 11:36

Charles H. Spurgeon

"To whom be glory forever." This should be the single desire of the Christian. All other wishes must be subservient and tributary to this one. The Christian may wish for prosperity in his business, but only so far as it may help him to promote this--"To him be glory forever." He may desire to attain more gifts and more graces, but it should only be that "To him may be glory forever." You are not acting as you ought to do when you are moved by any other motive than a single eye to your Lord's glory. As a Christian, you are "of God, and through God," then live "to God." Let nothing ever set your heart beating so mightily as love to him. Let this ambition fire your soul; be this the foundation of every enterprise upon which you enter, and this your sustaining motive whenever your zeal would grow chill; make God your only object. Depend upon it, where self begins sorrow begins; but if God be my supreme delight and only object,

"To me 'tis equal whether love ordain
My life or death--appoint me ease or pain."

Let your desire for God's glory be a growing desire. You blessed him in your youth, do not be content with such praises as you gave him then. Has God prospered you in business? Give him more as he has given you more. Has God given you experience? Praise him by stronger faith than you exercised at first. Does your knowledge grow? Then sing more sweetly. Do you enjoy happier times than you once had? Have you been restored from sickness, and has your sorrow been turned into peace and joy? Then give him more music; put more coals and more sweet frankincense into the censer of your praise. Practically in your life give him honour, putting the "Amen" to this doxology to your great and gracious Lord, by your own individual service and increasing holiness.

Self-Willed Ignorance

Behold the Wonders of a Closed Mind

People often get confused about closed mindedness.  They think it means one must not reject anything, but be open to everything.  One comes into every dispute or discussion in a neutral frame of mind.  Open-mindedness, for such folk, is a code phrase for radical relativism.  

"The proposition of the house today is that we shoot all blacks?"  Mmmm.  Let's think about this.  There will be pro arguments and con arguments.  Open mindedness requires we approach such a question with a willingness to bat for either team, depending on how the argument runs.  Clearly a person who thinks in this way has already closed his mind to a vast swathe of truth.  Everything such a mind may consider will be approached from a position of radical relativism.

Genuine open mindedness is a willingness to change one's mind when argument and evidence shows that one is inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs each of us inevitably hold.  At this blog, we are Christians.  We are not going to spend lots of time agonising over whether covetousness is evil.  We reject it from the get-go--and always will--as part of our fundamental belief system.  Open-mindedness, however, in our case means that we are willing to consider, and even reconsider, whether or not certain kinds of ambition, for example, are actually covetousness dressed up as candy.

It's the only way open-mindedness can have any meaning or impact whatsoever.  The alternative begins and ends in meaninglessness.

To be sure, Christians are regularly criticised for not being open-minded, but only by those who are truly closed minded to any possibility of certain and infallible truth.  Yet, ironically, even such as those so radically "open-minded" are actually closed-minded to anything being certain, except the certainty that nothing is certain.

But a new kind of closed-mindedness is emerging in universities and colleges in the United States.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Letter From the UK (About a Royal Society Lecture)

The Royal Society Lecture the Greenies Tried to Deep Six

So Much For "Science"

James Delingpole
Breitbart London

Matt Ridley’s annual Global Warming Policy Foundation lecture at the Royal Society in London last night was great – and I do recommend you read the text in full, now that it’s available on the GWPF website.
I’ll just pick a few highlights, one of which was the moment at the end where he described “the maddest thing of all” about the climate change industry.
Essentially, everything it does is a total waste of money.

And here is the maddest thing of all. Current policy is not even achieving decarbonisation. Whatever your views on the urgency of reducing emissions, the policy of subsidizing renewable energy is not achieving it.

Switching to biodiesel or ethanol actually increases emissions. So does burning wood in power stations. So does solar power in cloudy Germany. So do wind farms because they prevent the replacement of coal by gas or nuclear.

In 2012 Bjorn Lomborg calculated that 20 years of climate policy had reduced global emissions by less than 1 percent. During that time the world had spent more than a trillion dollars to subsidise wind and solar power, yet between them they had still not achieved 1% of world energy provision. In this country, they have just passed 2%.

In Germany, a 20% increase in renewables between 1999 and 2014 has resulted in no change in emissions at all.

Testifying to Congress in 2014, Professor Judith Curry, chair of Earth Sciences at Georgia Tech University said:  “Motivated by the precautionary principle to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate change, attempts to modify the climate through reducing CO2 emissions may turn out to be futile.”
Savour that one, greentards.

Daily Devotional

The Marvel of Creation

God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. (1 Corinthians 15:38)

John Piper

I have been picking up little things in Scripture that show God’s intimate involvement in creation.

For example, in 1 Corinthians 15:38, Paul is comparing how a seed is planted in one form and comes forth in another form with a “body” different from all other bodies. He says, “God gives it a body just as he wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.”

This is a remarkable statement of God’s involvement in the way God designed each seed to bring forth its own unique plant (not just species but each individual seed!).

Paul is not teaching about evolution here, but he is showing how he takes God’s intimate involvement with creation for granted. He cannot imagine, evidently, that any natural process should be conceived without God’s doing it.

Again in Psalm 94:9, it says, “He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?” The psalmist assumes that God was the designer of the eye and that he designed the way the ear is planted in the head to do its hearing work.

So when we marvel at the wonders of the human eye and the remarkable structure of the ear, we are not to marvel at the processes of chance but at the mind and the creativity of God.

Similarly in Psalm 95:5, “The sea is his for he made it; and his hands formed the dry land.” The involvement of God in making land and sea is such that the present sea is his.

It is not as though he in some impersonal way set it all in motion a billion years ago. Rather he is the one who owns it because he made it. It is today his handiwork and bears the marks of his creator claim on it, like a piece of artwork belongs to the one who painted it until he sells it or gives it away.

I point out these things not to solve all the problems surrounding the issues of origins, but to call you to be God-centered in your admiration of the wonders of the world.

Neo-Marxists Misuse of the Crusades

Just So Stories

Neo-Marxism has sought to make a big deal about the Crusades.  They (the Crusades) have been colourfully adjusted in the telling to "frame" the West as exploiters and oppressors and the Arabs and associated people as the exploited.  As Voltaire once put it, history is a trick the living play upon the dead.  The Neo-Marxist propagandists and pseudo-scholars of the late twentieth century told a tricky tale more fanciful and exotic than Scheherazade.

It was well done, insofar as it made an entire Western generation--at least those in the ruling Commentariat--deeply guilty in there own eyes, which, of course, was the entire point.  Rulers who feel guilt are likely to want to make atonement and restitution for the evil of forbears, which, according to the frame of Marxism is a jolly good thing.

Over this narrative, the present generation of Neo-Marxists have added another development.  The Crusades exploited the Arabs.  But the Arabs and Islamic nations roughly correspond.  Therefore, the present struggles between Israel and its Arab nations represents a modern manifestation of an evil westernised Crusader nation versus the exploited Arab nations.  Western Neo-Marxists rush to stand in solidarity with the exploited freedom fighters of the PLO and Hamas.

Both the narrative and the frame are so far removed from historical reality that they can be justly characterised as cheap propaganda.  A slick trick upon the dead.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Letter From the UK (About Sinister Currents)

Thoughts on Mr Trump's New Dawn 

Adrift on a Sinister Current

Peter Hitchens
Daily Mail Australia

Today , for the second time in five months, a left-wing elite paid the price of ignoring, for many years, the warnings of civilised and tolerant conservatives. I cannot tell you how frustrating it has been, when trying to debate politics with readers of the Guardian and the New York Times.

To suggest to them that mass immigration is risky and destabilising; to urge that the married family needs to be supported, not dissolved; to say that education needs more rigour, discipline and selection; to advocate the deterrent punishment of crime rather than its indulgence; to suggest that pornography and swearing may damage civility; to object to attempts to abolish national borders and sovereignty;  to say that violent liberal intervention in foreign countries is dangerous and wrong… any or all of these things has earned me a patronising sneer, a lofty glance, a dismissal as if I am some sort of troglodyte who has got into the room by mistake.

I said (as I recorded here a few weeks ago) to such people that they should listen to me while they could. I was content if they would only listen to me and moderate their policies. I did not even seek to wrest power from them, if they would only moderate their dogmatic revolutionary drive.  I believed (and still believe) that they had made a mistake even on their own terms, that they could not possibly want the consequences of what they were doing.  In the end, this was the Weimar Republic and they were courting a grave risk that they would eventually drive people too far. The response was sometimes personal abuse, sometimes total, frozen indifference, very, very occasionally a brief, fairly uncomprehending attempt to see my point which came to nothing.

Well, now we have what I warned of.

Daily Meditation

Suppose It Was a Draught of Wind

TO VERA GEBBERT, who had told Lewis of her pregnancy and of her having read Isaiah 66:9 from the Bible she kept open on her dining table: On not wishing to be pregnant.

C. S. Lewis

23 March 1953

Your first story (about mistaking [your pregnancy] for seasickness) is one of the funniest I ever heard. In our country there are usually alterations of shape which would throw grave doubts on the sea-sick hypothesis!...but no doubt you manage things better in America. Any way, congratulations and encouragements. As to wishing it had not happened, one can’t help momentary wishes: guilt begins only when one embraces them. You can’t help their knocking at the door, but one mustn’t ask them in to lunch. And no doubt you have many feelings on the other side. I am sure you felt as I did when I heard my first bullet, ‘This is War: this is what Homer wrote about.’ For, all said and done, a woman who has never had a baby and a man who has never been either in a battle or a storm at sea, are, in a sense, rather outside—haven’t really ‘seen life’—haven’t served. We will indeed have you in our prayers.

Now as to your other story, about Isaiah 66? It doesn’t really matter whether the Bible was open at that page thru’ a miracle or through some (unobserved) natural cause. We think it matters because we tend to call the second alternative ‘chance.’ But when you come to think of it, there can be no such thing as chance from God’s point of view. Since He is omniscient His acts have no consequences which He has not foreseen and taken into account and intended. Suppose it was the draught from the window that blew your Bible open at Isaiah 66. Well, that current of air was linked up with the whole history of weather from the beginning of the world and you may be quite sure that the result it had for you at that moment (like all its other results) was intended and allowed for in the act of creation. ‘Not one sparrow,’ you know the rest [Matthew 10:29]. So of course the message was addressed to you. To suggest that your eye fell on it without this intention, is to suggest that you could take Him by surprise. Fiddle-de-dee! This is not Predestination: your will is perfectly free: but all physical events are adapted to fit in as God sees best with the free actions He knows we are going to do. There’s something about this in Screwtape.

Meanwhile, courage! Your moments of nervousness are not your real self, only medical phenomena. All blessings.

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.

Honesty and Confessions

Refreshing Candour

Heather Du Plessis is a main-stream media star in New Zealand.  On virtually any and every social and political issue one can pretty much predict what she would advocate: more state control, more rules, more regulations, more public spending, blah, blah, blah.  Nothing new here--and perfectly understandable when one's god is Man and his avatar is the State.

But every so often Du Plessis surprises.  And so it was recently.  She is the only reporter and mainstream media star in New Zealand to have come forth and put the "blame" for the US election outcome firmly upon the shoulders of the Chattering Classes, the chardonnay set, and the Commentariat--of which she is a card-carrying member.

She has recognized the elitism implicit in so much of the Chattering Classes' rejection of Donald Trump.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Roiling Bowels in the Body Politic

The Dissections and Diagnoses Begin

A number of articles are appearing in the United States where some of the Establishment "losers" are starting to reflect on Hillary Clinton's loss.  Some of those articles are remarkably candid and self-critical.

Whilst it is unlikely that such self-critical analysis will carry much weight in the days and decades ahead, it is interesting to note that some in the Hive are expressing opinions and views which actually mirror the criticisms levelled by conservatives against the Left and the Establishment.  (Not that it is expected to bring about serious change and adjustment, mind.)

Here is one, penned by someone who manages CBS digital news.

The Unbearable Smugness of the Press
By Will Rahn CBS NEWS
The mood in the Washington press corps is bleak, and deservedly so.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, with a few exceptions, we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to a certain anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory. More than that and more importantly, we also missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.

This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness. Had Hillary Clinton won, there’d be a winking “we did it” feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic.   So much for that. The audience for our glib analysis and contempt for much of the electorate, it turned out, was rather limited. This was particularly true when it came to voters, the ones who turned out by the millions to deliver not only a rebuke to the political system but also the people who cover it. Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time.

And can you blame them? Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid.

It’s a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing.

Daily Devotional

Double Dealing

Charles H. Spurgeon

"I will cut off them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham."  Zephaniah 1:5

Such persons thought themselves safe because they were with both parties: they went with the followers of Jehovah, and bowed at the same time to Malcham. But duplicity is abominable with God, and hypocrisy his soul hateth. The idolater who distinctly gives himself to his false god, has one sin less than he who brings his polluted and detestable sacrifice unto the temple of the Lord, while his heart is with the world and the sins thereof.

To hold with the hare and run with the hounds, is a dastard's policy. In the common matters of daily life, a double- minded man is despised, but in religion he is loathsome to the last degree. The penalty pronounced in the verse before us is terrible, but it is well deserved; for how should divine justice spare the sinner, who knows the right, approves it, and professes to follow it, and all the while loves the evil, and gives it dominion in his heart?

My soul, search thyself this morning, and see whether thou art guilty of double-dealing. Thou professest to be a follower of Jesus--dost thou truly love him? Is thy heart right with God? Art thou of the family of old Father Honest, or art thou a relative of Mr. By-ends? A name to live is of little value if I be indeed dead in trespasses and sins. To have one foot on the land of truth, and another on the sea of falsehood, will involve a terrible fall and a total ruin. Christ will be all or nothing. God fills the whole universe, and hence there is no room for another god; if, then, he reigns in my heart, there will be no space for another reigning power.

Do I rest alone on Jesus crucified, and live alone for him? Is it my desire to do so? Is my heart set upon so doing? If so, blessed be the mighty grace which has led me to salvation; and if not so, O Lord, pardon my sad offence, and unite my heart to fear thy name.

Most Amusing

Modern Cathedrals

Book's like David Berlinski's The Devil's Delusion are a joy to read.  In this particular case, it is also most amusing.  We would recommend it to anyone wishing to make some sense of the sociological structures and forces (the "cathedral", as Berlinski would put it) surrounding evolutionism.

Berlinski's position is that when it comes to particle physics, science has reached its limits.  It is impossible for it to progress further without falling into an abyss of a thousand contradictions, antinomies, and non-sequiturs.  The science of "everything" has thus reached the point where it spends most of its time enforcing itself upon others.  Don't question.  Don't debate.  Just believe.  In Berlinski's metaphor, cosmology has become a cathedral, a monument to something ineffable, unknowable, and mysterious.

All Christians would recognise this position.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Transgender Warriors

Father Brands Transgender Charity ‘Meddlers’ 

Supporting Mother who Dresses Son as Girl

Breitbart London
Nick Hallett

A father has attacked a transgender charity for “meddling” in a dispute between him and his ex-wife over whether their five-year-old son should dress as a girl.  The two parents are currently locked in a bitter dispute over whether the child identifies as female, with the mother claiming he is transgender.

Her claim is being backed up by the controversial charity Mermaids, who allegedly told school staff they would break equality laws if they did not let the boy wear a girl’s uniform. The father accuses the group of “bullying” the school into submission.  He told the Daily Mail: “The school, at the beginning, were quite firm [with his ex-wife]. But then she started getting Mermaids involved. The school backed down completely.”

Daily Devotional

Wipe Your Fears Away

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. (Psalm 56:3)

John Piper

One possible response to the truth that our anxiety is rooted in unbelief goes like this: “I have to deal with feelings of anxiety almost every day; and so I feel like my faith in God’s grace must be totally inadequate. So I wonder if I can have any assurance of being saved at all.”

My response to this concern is: Suppose you are in a car race and your enemy, who doesn’t want you to finish the race, throws mud on your windshield. The fact that you temporarily lose sight of your goal and start to swerve does not mean that you are going to quit the race.

And it certainly doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong racetrack. Otherwise, the enemy wouldn’t bother you at all. What it means is that you should turn on your windshield wipers.

When anxiety strikes and blurs our vision of God’s glory and the greatness of the future that he plans for us, this does not mean that we are faithless, or that we will not make it to heaven. It means our faith is being attacked.

At first blow, our belief in God’s promises may sputter and swerve. But whether we stay on track and make it to the finish line depends on whether, by grace, we set in motion a process of resistance — whether we fight back against the unbelief of anxiety. Will we turn on the windshield wipers?

Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Notice: it does not say, “I never struggle with fear.” Fear strikes, and the battle begins. So the Bible does not assume that true believers will have no anxieties. Instead, the Bible tells us how to fight when they strike.

No Thanks

Bigoted Scientists We Can Do Without

Anything that gets one chuckling over the cornflakes in the morning is a welcome tonic.  On Saturday morning last we moved beyond chuckling to belly laughter.  Richard Dawkins, has put forth a call to the New Zealand government to allow elite scientists in the Anglo world to migrate to New Zealand.  The recent election of Trump has been a step too far.

He wrote in Scientific American:

Dear New Zealand,

The two largest nations in the English-speaking world have just suffered catastrophes at the hands of voters—in both cases the uneducated, anti-intellectual portion of voters. Science in both countries will be hit extremely hard: In the one case, by the xenophobically inspired severing of painstakingly built-up relationships with European partners; in the other case by the election of an unqualified, narcissistic, misogynistic sick joke as president. In neither case is the disaster going to be short-lived: in America because of the nonretirement rule of the Supreme Court; in Britain because Brexit is irreversible.

There are top scientists in America and Britain—talented, creative people, desperate to escape the redneck bigotry of their home countries. Dear New Zealand, you are a deeply civilized small nation, with a low population in a pair of beautiful, spacious islands. You care about climate change, the future of the planet and other scientifically important issues. Why not write to all the Nobel Prize winners in Britain and America, write to the Fields medalists, Kyoto and Crafoord Prize and International Cosmos Prize winners, the Fellows of the Royal Society, the elite scientists in the National Academy of Sciences, the Fellows of the British Academy and similar bodies in America. Offer them citizenship. The contribution that creative intellectuals can make to the prosperity and cultural life of a nation is out of all proportion to their numbers. You could make New Zealand the Athens of the modern world.

Yes, dear New Zealand, I know it’s an unrealistic, surreal pipe dream. But on the day after U.S. election day, in the year of Brexit, the distinction between the surreal and the awfulness of the real seems to merge in a bad trip from which a pipe dream is the only refuge.

Richard Dawkins, founder and board chairman, Richard Dawkins Foundation
Mmmm.  Catastrophes at the hands of voters, eh?  One gets the distinct impression that Richard Dawkins is a secret Platonist, believing that society should be governed by the intelligent and enlightened philosopher-kings--that is, folk like himself.   Where to begin?

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Trumpsit. Golly.

Douglas Wilson


So a number of officio-pundits are gobsmacked, flummoxed, pole-axed, and otherwise discomfited. Brexit. The Cubs. And now this. What a year. My initial reactions run along the lines of jumping Jehoshaphat, land of Goshen, and oh, my stars and garters.

But let me make a number of other snapshot observations, perhaps a tad more salient.electoral-map

Alas For The Pollsters

The polls were way off. In the aftermath of that, we are now enduring the spectacle of interviewed experts explaining how it was that the experts had it all wrong. They are experts on that too, apparently. The problem with polling is that even in the best of situations you are talking to 2,000 people in order to find out what 100 million will do. And when you are trying to predict an election, if you do it in any kind of disciplined manner, you will want to poll the “likely voters.” But likely voters are determined by looking at what has happened in past elections, and all the past elections were normal elections. But this was in no way a normal election. How was the most experienced pollster in the world to know how to identify the right people to ask their questions?

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Evangelicals went for Trump in numbers markedly higher than their support for previous Republican candidates. But this was, in my view, a function of detestation, not a function of enthusiasm. Evangelicals clearly have a much higher gakkk! level with regard to Hillary than other groups did.


Going into the night I was braced for a Trump victory, and looking forward to a Hillary loss. I was vindicated in the former, and absolutely delighted by the latter.

Daily Devotional

House Rules

C. S. Lewis

I hope no reader will suppose that ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions. . . . . It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted.

But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.

When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house.

And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and panelling. In plain language, the question should never be: ‘Do I like that kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?’

When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.

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.

Letter From America (About a Sea of Media Deceit)

Not a Bad Summary 

 Bill O'Reilly--one of the talking heads at Fox--had this summary and reflection on the Clinton defeat. Not a bad summary.


Friday, 11 November 2016

Letter From America (On the "Wow" Victory)

Wow. Just Wow. 

The Day After, What it All Means, and Where We Go from Here

David Bahnsen
The Bahnsen Viewpoint

My commitment as long as I have been writing on this 2016 Presidential election was that I was going to celebrate whoever lost on election night, and mourn whoever won, pretty much in that order, and then that my real primary care and concern was the preservation of the GOP Senate majority.  I stayed up basically all night and brought in the wee hours of the morning elated, and I mean elated, that the Republican Party and some of its very best conservatives won their Senate seats last night, that the United States Congress in both chambers is red, and that Hillary Clinton is not going to be the President of the United States.

I am utterly shocked that Trump has won, as is every honest person in the country, and I will share more below about my posture towards this shocking and historical Trump victory.

I am not celebrating the Trump victory, because I have huge concerns about what his election will mean for the country and the conservative movement at large.  But before I go deeper there, let’s be very honest about what happened last night.  The Democrats nominated a God-awful candidate, with abysmal baggage, non-existent trustworthiness, and someone who represented everything this election turned out to be against – cronyism, insiderism, establishmentism, and whatever else you want to call it.

The left faces an internal crisis in the years ahead that I think will be brutal.

Daily Devotional

Constrained By Love to Work
"The eternal God is thy refuge." Deuteronomy 33:27

Charles H. Spurgeon

The word refuge may be translated "mansion," or "abiding- place," which gives the thought that God is our abode, our home. There is a fulness and sweetness in the metaphor, for dear to our hearts is our home, although it be the humblest cottage, or the scantiest garret; and dearer far is our blessed God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being.

It is at home that we feel safe: we shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. So when we are with our God we "fear no evil." He is our shelter and retreat, our abiding refuge. At home, we take our rest; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. And so our hearts find rest in God, when, wearied with life's conflict, we turn to him, and our soul dwells at ease. At home, also, we let our hearts loose; we are not afraid of being misunderstood, nor of our words being misconstrued. So when we are with God we can commune freely with him, laying open all our hidden desires; for if the "secret of the Lord is with them that fear him," the secrets of them that fear him ought to be, and must be, with their Lord.

Home, too, is the place of our truest and purest happiness: and it is in God that our hearts find their deepest delight. We have joy in him which far surpasses all other joy. It is also for home that we work and labour. The thought of it gives strength to bear the daily burden, and quickens the fingers to perform the task; and in this sense we may also say that God is our home. Love to him strengthens us.

We think of him in the person of his dear Son; and a glimpse of the suffering face of the Redeemer constrains us to labour in his cause. We feel that we must work, for we have brethren yet to be saved, and we have our Father's heart to make glad by bringing home his wandering sons; we would fill with holy mirth the sacred family among whom we dwell. Happy are those who have thus the God of Jacob for their refuge!

Youth Euthanasia

Sauce For Goose and Gander

New Zealand has a real problem with young people committing suicide.  Generally, no-one thinks it's a good idea.  You know, a sixteen year old hanging himself, or deliberately stepping out in front of a train--that sort of thing.

Those folk who oppose such actions--and these folk represent the vast majority, if not every adult in the country--are little more than bleeding heart fraudsters and dupes.  What on earth is wrong with a teenager taking his or her own life?  Seriously.

Long ago--well, a few decades ago--suicide used to be categorised as a sin, an ultimate act of rebellion against God.  But then God was "kicked for touch" so to speak, and the culture was suddenly awash with formal and informal fallacies, which is a polite was of saying that no-one could think straight any more.  Pretty much every social issue became filtered through emotive arguments.  In this case, when it comes to youth suicide emotion takes the form of the Appeal to Pity.  But not just the death of youth.  Assisted dying for the aged is also seen through the filter of Appeals to Pity.  This poor old person is ill, dispirited, discouraged.  If we really had pity upon him, we would help him on his way.  We would facilitate a painless, peaceful death for him.  Pity justifies such an act as morally good.

But some have sought to go beyond emotive arguments to justify helping the aged end their lives.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Interview That Ended Poorly

Douglas Wilson

Our attention has been increasingly drawn to the growth of classical Christian schools, and so we sent a reporter with National Proletariat Radio to interview Douglas Wilson in Moscow, Idaho to get some background on this important movement.

NPR: Thank you so much for granting this
DW: Glad to do it. Thanks for the opportunity.

NPR: I was surprised to read that you, as a religious conservative, are opposed to prayer in the public schools. Could you tell us a bit more about that?

DW: Well, of course I support prayer in schools as a general rule, and so my opposition to prayer in the government schools has to be taken in a more nuanced way. I am opposed to prayer in the government schools for the same reason that I am opposed to lockers in the public schools, drinking fountains in the public schools, classrooms in the public schools, teachers in the public schools, and pupils in the public schools. If I don’t want an institution to exist in the first place, then of course I wouldn’t want it to be sanctified with prayer.

NPR: Isn’t that position somewhat . . . extreme?