Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Reverse Sarcasm

Media Appeasement

Have you ever had the experience of reading something where you go back and forth wondering whether it is sarcasm or a straight up piece?  If you haven't, the following has had us going back and forth, asking "Is This a Joke, or What?"

It comes from the Associated Press and we think it has to be a Monty-Pythonesque joke.  It reads the tea leaves on Kim Jong Un's recent criticisms of Donald Trump.  It argues that things have changed in US-North Korean relationships.  Trump has crossed a line and it's clear (apparently) that Kim Jong Un has had enough.

The piece takes the mien of a mocking teenager taking the mickey out of a blustering bully, with comments like "Ooooh, we're scared", and "We're shaking ourselves into a fever."  It's clear that the alleged author, AP White House reporter Josh Lederman is having fun at Kim Jong Un's expense.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017


Global Warming: We Were Wrong

James Delingpole

Climate alarmists have finally admitted that they’ve got it wrong on global warming.

This is the inescapable conclusion of a landmark paper, published in Nature Geoscience, which finally admits that the computer models have overstated the impact of carbon dioxide on climate and that the planet is warming more slowly than predicted.
The paper – titled Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C –  concedes that it is now almost impossible that the doomsday predictions made in the last IPCC Assessment Report of 1.5 degrees C warming above pre-industrial levels by 2022 will come true.  In order for that to happen, temperatures would have to rise by a massive 0.5 degrees C in five years.
Since global mean temperatures rarely rise by even as much as 0.25 degrees C in a decade, that would mean the planet would have to do 20 years’ worth of extreme warming in the space of the next five years.
This, the scientists admit, is next to impossible.

Daily Devotional

Hope for the Worst of Sinners

“I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (Exodus 33:19)
John Piper

Moses needed hope that God really could have mercy on a stiff-necked people who had just committed idolatry and scorned the God who brought them out of Egypt.

To give Moses the hope and confidence he needed, God said, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.” In other words, "My choices do not depend on the degree of evil or good in man but solely upon my sovereign will. Therefore no one can say he is too evil to be shown grace."

The doctrine of unconditional election is the great doctrine of hope for the worst of sinners. It means that when it comes to being a candidate for grace, your background has nothing to do with God’s choice.

If you have not been born again and brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ, do not sink into hopelessness thinking that the excessive rottenness or hardness of your past life is an insurmountable obstacle to God’s gracious work in your life. God loves to magnify the freedom of his grace by saving the worst of sinners.

Turn from your sin; call upon the Lord. Even in this devotional he is being gracious to you and giving you strong encouragement to come to him for mercy.

“Come, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Lest We Forget

Man's Inhumanity to Man

It is not for reason of masochism we have been reading recently Anne Applebaum's Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps (London: Penguin Books, 2004).  To say that the work is depressing is an understatement--yet we reckon that most of our readers will have already known that.

Why write such a history, then, let alone read it?  Lest we forget, is one appropriate response.  Removing the Gulag out of its Sitz im Leben--its actual life setting--we can acknowledge its importance in making clear, once again, man's inhumanity to man.  This is an evil which has dogged all men, all civilizations from the Garden onwards.  None is exempt--only the degree of inhumanity varies.  The Gulag, then, is not isolated.  Nor is it distinctly Russian, nor Soviet.

The Gulag--the system of slave labour camps in the Soviet Union--existed from the very beginnings of the Soviet Union right through to the early 1980's.  The most systematic and brutal of Soviet dictators who used the camps both as a means of increasing Russian economic output, and as a means of murdering and purging actual and imagined political opponents was Joseph Stalin.

But Stalin's predecessor (Lenin) and his successors used the labour camps as well-and that takes us well into living memory.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Why C.S. Lewis Would Not Have Liked Me Very Much

Douglas Wilson

Those who have been around here for a while know that I am a C.S. Lewis junkie. I have read and reread him, and have been edified by him in ways beyond reckoning. If I were to calculate the impact that various writers have had on me—and there have been many who have—he would always come in first, and by a large margin.

Even where you find my caveats—as in his early accommodations with evolution, or in the atrocious things he says about some of the psalms—I find myself simultaneously appalled and edified. For example, in Reflections on the Psalms, he says this:

“Still more in the Psalmists’ tendency to chew over and over the cud of some injury, to dwell in a kind of self-torture on every circumstance that aggravates it, most of us can recognise something we have met in ourselves. We are, after all, blood brothers to these ferocious, self-pitying, barbaric men” (Reflections, p. 26).

But still, reading through that book, which I think his worst, I find myself instructed and blessed at every turn. So go figure.

The problem lies with those Christians, like myself, who do not recoil from the imprecatory psalms in the same way that Lewis does.

Daily Meditation

An Acquired Taste

C. S. Lewis

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker’s, and even with laughter.

But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ: if we have repented these early sins we should remember the price of our forgiveness and be humble. As for the fact of a sin, is it probable that anything cancels it? All times are eternally present to God. Is it not at least possible that along some one line of His multi-dimensional eternity He sees you forever in the nursery pulling the wings off a fly, forever toadying, lying, and lusting as a schoolboy, forever in that moment of cowardice or insolence as a subaltern?

It may be that salvation consists not in the cancelling of these eternal moments but in the perfected humanity that bears the shame forever, rejoicing in the occasion which it furnished to God’s compassion and glad that it should be common knowledge to the universe. Perhaps in that eternal moment St Peter—he will forgive me if I am wrong—forever denies his Master. If so, it would indeed be true that the joys of Heaven are for most of us, in our present condition, ‘an acquired taste’—and certain ways of life may render the taste impossible of acquisition.

Perhaps the lost are those who dare not go to such a public place. Of course I do not know that this is true; but I think the possibility is worth keeping in mind.

From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis 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. 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

Free Market Ideology Goes Off the Reservation

An Inadequate Defence of Free Speech

Correct Speech vs Free Speech.  There is a world of difference between these two.  Increasingly our society insists upon Correct Speech--which is also known as Politically Correct Speech, or PC for short.  

Correct Speech represents the ideas, opinions, or preferences which are endorsed by academia, women's journals, the media in general, and politicians on soap boxes.  Correct Speech rarely argues its positions: it pronounces them then moves rapidly to declaim opposing ideas as evil, hateful, disruptive, discriminatory, and so forth.  Argument against the opinions and views of Correct Speech amounts to little more than Correct Speechers shouting down contrary views, making the classic blunder that volume of speech witnesses its truth.

But the Correct Speech brigade has gone one step further.  It insists that the enunciation of contrary views in and of itself represents offensive behaviour.  And Correct Speechers are a thin skinned lot.  They take offence if a feather were to alight upon their little fingers.  How gross!  How Horrible! How Disgusting. How Offensive is that!

Once the "Offensive" button has been pushed, the non-existent "argument" is over.  Something has to be evil, wrong, harmful, and dangerous if it is offensive.  It's the QED moment.

The Correct Speech movement has got so smothering, so controlling that even an academic from Auckland University has ventured out into the public square to defend one of the most fundamental rights protecting human being against tyranny: the right of Free Speech.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Myth of Global Warming

Says It All . . .

Daily Meditation

On Freedom (and Predestination)

C. S. Lewis

Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.

From A Grief Observed
Compiled in Words to Live By A Grief Observed. Copyright © 1961 by N. W. Clerk, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Preface by Douglas H. Gresham copyright © 1994 by Douglas H. Gresham. 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 Myth of the Wars of Religion

Yet Another Cheap Trick

Voltaire once famously said, "History is after all only a pack of tricks we play on the dead".  Voltaire had in view some "dishonest" historians.  Doubtless he was excluding himself and his fellow Philosophes from the sarcasm.  Yet, arguably the Enlightenment intelligentsia was guilty of playing more tricks upon the dead than most.

One of the staunch prejudices of the Philosophes of the Enlightenment was against religion and religious belief.  These were characterised as riddled with myth, superstition, purblind prejudice, and ignorance.  In contrast were the cool headed, evidence based intellectuals of the Age of Reason.  Or so the story ran.

One of the slurs against religious belief was that it was responsible for fomenting war.  People believed in things that were no more than ignorant prejudices.  Ignorance (rather than rational debate, analysis, and discussion) readily led to the use of force.  With no evidence, the only persuader in the face of disagreement was compulsion.  Hence, religion was responsible for much of the violence and bloodshed of the early modern period.  Terms like the Wars of Religion have been coined to characterise Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  These wars, we are told, only came to an end with the emergence of the secular Nation State.  When the map of Europe was redrawn into nation states, wars passed away.  Enlightenment flourished.  Convinced?

Friday, 22 September 2017

Cockroaches Scatter When The Light Is Turned On

The Battle Continues

When we think of the ideological and spiritual conflicts raging throughout the West, there are certain vital fronts of battle where the stakes are high and the conflict is intense.  Abortion is one of these.  

Last year a few heroic warriors went undercover and posed as potential purchasers of aborted baby body-parts.  They visited with the hardened butchers, some senior executives of Planned Parenthood to discuss the possibilities and opportunities of purchasing body parts from the execution chambers of that terrible eugenicist organisation.  They secretly recorded the conversations and negotiations.  Then they released them to the public.

Our parents taught us that sunlight was the best disinfectant.   How the cockroaches rushed for the dark places when the videos were released.  All the obfuscation, misdirection, and false representations shrivelled.  Then began the slow fightback from Planned Parenthood and its palace guard.

David Daleiden was at the forefront of the investigation and exposure of Planned Parenthood's grotesque practices.  He was slapped with so many vexatious lawsuits that it seemed as if he would suffocate under the mountain of turgid legalese-covered writs.  But, bit by bit, it is being rolled back.

Here is the latest report from the front line of this particular theatre of spiritual war.  This from 

Daily Meditaton

The Only True Freedom

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32)

John Piper

What is true freedom? Are you free?

  • If you don't have the desire to do a thing, you are not fully free to do it. Oh, you may muster the will power to do what you don't want to do, but nobody calls that full freedom. It's not the way we want to live. There is a constraint and pressure on us that we don't want.
  • And if you have the desire to do something, but no ability to do it, you are not free to do it.
  • And if you have the desire and the ability to do something, but no opportunity to do it, you are not free to do it.
  • And if you have the desire to do something, and the ability to do it, and the opportunity to do it, but it destroys you in the end, you are not fully free — not free indeed.

To be fully free, we must have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make us happy forever. No regrets. And only Jesus, the Son of God who died and rose for us, can make that possible.

If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.

Cheap Propaganda and Throw-Away Lines

Avoiding the Hard Questions

An interesting piece has been published as a "guest post" at Kiwiblog.  Written by Garth McVicar of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, it responds directly to the plan by Labour's Kelvin Davis to reduce the prison population by 30 percent.  

The Sensible Sentencing Trust which as stood up as a public voice to speak out for the victims of crime and the necessity of just judgement being rendered upon the perpetrators has taken the time and trouble to access and assess Corrections data on sentencing in New Zealand.

The revelations are staggering.  They beggar belief.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Leftist Slogans and Faux Human Rights

Intolerance Disguised as Universal Human Rights

Rebecca Oas
Centre For Family and Human Rights

Universality is the cornerstone of human rights law and a central focus of the United Nations. But when small groups of experts and wealthy countries attempt to redefine international human rights, the entire framework is discredited.

In recent decades, a few countries and have used the UN system to redefine international human rights to include such controversial notions as a right to abortion and “sexual rights.”  While no UN human rights treaty includes such concepts, the expert groups that monitor compliance with these treaties have pressured countries hundreds of times to change their laws and policies to accept and promote them.

Within the UN system, there are different mechanisms to promote human rights.  In the case of treaty monitoring bodies, experts speak to nations. In the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), nations speak to each other, and every country receives recommendations from every other nation once every four years.

A comparison of the latest data on these two mechanisms reveals that the controversial social agenda on abortion and sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) is promoted by a small group of countries—many from the same region and most of them wealthy.

Daily Meditation

Exercising One's Rights

The liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. Galatians 5:1

Charles H. Spurgeon

This "liberty" makes us free to heaven's charter--the Bible. Here is a choice passage, believer, "When thou passest through the rivers, I will be with thee." You are free to that. Here is another: "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee"; you are free to that. You are a welcome guest at the table of the promises.

Scripture is a never-failing treasury filled with boundless stores of grace. It is the bank of heaven; you may draw from it as much as you please, without let or hindrance. Come in faith and you are welcome to all covenant blessings. There is not a promise in the Word which shall be withheld. In the depths of tribulations let this freedom comfort you; amidst waves of distress let it cheer you; when sorrows surround thee let it be thy solace. This is thy Father's love-token; thou art free to it at all times.

Thou art also free to the throne of grace. It is the believer's privilege to have access at all times to his heavenly Father. Whatever our desires, our difficulties, our wants, we are at liberty to spread all before him. It matters not how much we may have sinned, we may ask and expect pardon. It signifies nothing how poor we are, we may plead his promise that he will provide all things needful. We have permission to approach his throne at all times--in midnight's darkest hour, or in noontide's most burning heat.

Exercise thy right, O believer, and live up to thy privilege. Thou art free to all that is treasured up in Christ--wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. It matters not what thy need is, for there is fulness of supply in Christ, and it is there for thee. O what a "freedom" is thine! freedom from condemnation, freedom to the promises, freedom to the throne of grace, and at last freedom to enter heaven!

Politicians, Parties and Sicilians

"Never Go In Against a Politician When Death by Taxation Is On the Line"

We are in the midst of election season in New Zealand--which, as usual, is roughly equivalent to March Madness.  Under our proportional representation election system it is almost inevitable that major parties (National, Labour) will need to form coalitions with minor parties in order to reach a majority in the House.  But these come with variations in cost for every New Zealand household.  Smaller, fringe parties tend to offer huge bribes to the electorate, promising to increase spending on every hand.

When one puts these spending commitments together with notional coalitions one gets an indication of how much additional spending the next New Zealand government will be committed to.  How much is it going eventually to cost each taxpayer?  The summary below is by courtesy of the Taxpayers Union.

Let's remember that the power to tax is the power to enslave and destroy a people more quickly than Iocaine powder--that colorless, odourless, and deadly poison from Australia.

Some may riposte by arguing that minor parties always "promise" the moon because they will never have to deliver on their "promises".  That may be true in some cases.  But recall that post-election coalition horse trading amongst the parties--where one additional parliamentary vote makes all the difference--can be frenetic.  When it comes to being in power and government, or not, minor parties can extract enormous spending commitments from major parties.  Their one or two votes can make the difference between a major party sitting on the Treasury benches or being consigned to the oblivion of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.  In such circumstances, the minor parties can jerk the chain of the major parties very, very hard.

And, remember, the prospect of POWER operates like an aphrodisiac so powerful, no Sicilian can withstand.  We have all been warned, thanks to the Taxpayers Union.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Totalitarianism and Orwellianism in the UK

What’s Changed in Britain Since Same-Sex Marriage? 

David Sergeant
The Spectator, Australia

Four years ago, amid much uncertainty, 400 British members of parliament voted to redefine marriage in the United Kingdom.  Then prime minister David Cameron announced that, despite having made no mention of the issue in his party’s pre-election manifesto, it would be MP’s who decided the fate of marriage.

Now, it’s Australia’s turn to choose. There’s one key difference. Unlike in Britain, it will be the people who decide.  Everyone agrees, whether they admit it or not. This is a decision of enormous significance.  Therefore, it seems sensible to analyse the consequences of the potential change, within nations in which redefinition has previously been carried out.

In the United Kingdom, it has become abundantly clear that redefinition has affected many people, across many spheres. At first glance, these spheres appeared distinct from marriage redefinition. However, subsequent changes, have proved that they are entirely intertwined.


Current Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May, has revealed proposals to abolish the need for any medical consultation before gender reassignment.

Daily Meditation

The Grace of Encouragement

Encourage him.  Deuteronomy 1:38

Charles H. Spurgeon

God employs his people to encourage one another. He did not say to an angel, "Gabriel, my servant Joshua is about to lead my people into Canaan--go, encourage him." God never works needless miracles; if his purposes can be accomplished by ordinary means, he will not use miraculous agency.

Gabriel would not have been half so well fitted for the work as Moses. A brother's sympathy is more precious than an angel's embassy. The angel, swift of wing, had better known the Master's bidding than the people's temper. An angel had never experienced the hardness of the road, nor seen the fiery serpents, nor had he led the stiff-necked multitude in the wilderness as Moses had done.

We should be glad that God usually works for man by man. It forms a bond of brotherhood, and being mutually dependent on one another, we are fused more completely into one family. Brethren, take the text as God's message to you. Labour to help others, and especially strive to encourage them. Talk cheerily to the young and anxious enquirer, lovingly try to remove stumblingblocks out of his way. When you find a spark of grace in the heart, kneel down and blow it into a flame.

Leave the young believer to discover the roughness of the road by degrees, but tell him of the strength which dwells in God, of the sureness of the promise, and of the charms of communion with Christ. Aim to comfort the sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. Speak a word in season to him that is weary, and encourage those who are fearful to go on their way with gladness. God encourages you by his promises; Christ encourages you as he points to the heaven he has won for you, and the spirit encourages you as he works in you to will and to do of his own will and pleasure.

Imitate divine wisdom, and encourage others.

A Self-Made Saint

Doing Good On a Grand Scale

It seems as if the NZ Labour Party is going to go soft on crime.  It's understandable and makes sense if you happen to be one of those folk who believe that all evil is environmental.  It has long been part of the West's "Enlightenment" to believe and teach that all human beings are born innocent, and without sin.  Evil is resident within society.  When evil acts are done by individuals it is due to "society" poisoning the pure hearts of sinless, immaculate people.

Kelvin Davis, possibly New Zealand's next Deputy Prime Minister, is just such a guy.  Whatever the problem, it's society's fault.  If you sit on the Opposition benches of Parliament, when society is at fault, it really is code for placing the blame on the "gummint".  In the world-view of Davis, if the gummint were to sprinkle some more pixie-dust around the place--money extracted from citizens--crime would pretty much cease to exist.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Bigotry in Australia

Politician Suffers Abuse From Homosexualists

Australian politician defending religious freedom says she faces bigotry worse than racism

The Barnabas Fund

An Australian politician who has raised concerns about the impact on freedom of religion of attempts to redefine marriage says she has been subjected to bigotry worse than racism.
Karina Okotel, a Vice President of the Federal Liberal Party and who is of Sri Lankan heritage, says she has occasionally been subjected to racism in Australia. However, the “bigotry”, “discrimination” and “hate” she has experienced recently, due to her having opposed attempts to redefine marriage, have been “far worse.” She says, “I have even been told to go back to my own country, which is difficult given that I was born in Australia.

Daily Meditation

The Soul’s Final Feast

John Piper

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

God is not unresponsive to the contrite longing of the soul. He comes and lifts the load of sin and fills our heart with gladness and gratitude. “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Psalm 30:11–12).

But our joy does not just rise from the backward glance in gratitude. It also rises from the forward glance in hope: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:5–6).

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Psalm 130:5).

In the end, the heart longs not for any of God’s good gifts, but for God himself. To see him and know him and be in his presence is the soul’s final feast. Beyond this there is no quest. Words fail. We call it pleasure, joy, delight. But these are weak pointers to the unspeakable experience:

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

“In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

“Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4).

Landcorp May Shrink in Size

An Excellent Proposal

Every so often we have the pleasure of driving the Rotorua-Taupo road.  We always take great pleasure in the scenery--and in particular, the farms lining both sides of the road in parts of the drive.

The only splotches of rain on that particular parade are the knowledge that the farms are owned by the Landcorp, an organ of the State.  Like all state owned and directly operated businesses they are inevitably subject to the slings and arrows spitting out of the fads and fashions popular with the government of the day.  Not so long ago, when forestry was in the doldrums, large swathes of this state owned land--then a pine forest--had the trees harvested and the land converted to dairying.

These new dairy farms came into production perfectly timed to coincide with a cyclical dairy downturn.  This is normal with government owned enterprises: little--yet self-important--bureaucrats making decisions with our money, without the severe discipline of  market risk.  State farmers are, in the end, cosseted from such things.  Consequently, they end up making commercial decisions in a grandiose, cavalier manner.  Nine times out of ten they destroy value.

Monday, 18 September 2017

China Threatens More Persecution of Christians

China’s Wants to ‘Annihilate’ Underground Christian Communities

Approaches the Status of a Rogue State

Thomas D. Williams
Breitbart News

A report on China’s new regulations regarding religion suggests that the norms are consciously intended to “annihilate underground communities” and “suffocate official communities,” rather than merely organize them.

China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) has published a series of regulations overhauling religious practice in the officially communist country. Despite China’s claims of “religious freedom,” the U.S. State Department as well as numerous watchdog groups consider China to be guilty of systemic religious oppression.

The new rules are slated to come into force on February 1, 2018.

An early draft of the regulations was released a year ago, creating concern among believers and human rights groups, but if anything the updated text is even worse, AsiaNews stated in its report. The few added articles go into greater detail in pondering the many “threats and deviations” that can come from religion.

Daily Meditation

Stand, And Do Your Duty

TO MRS. RAY GARRETT: On the real program of the spiritual life—living in the present moment.

C. S. Lewis

12 September 1960

The whole lesson of my life has been that no ‘methods of stimulation’ are of any lasting use. They are indeed like drugs—a stronger dose is needed each time and soon no possible dose is effective. We must not bother about thrills at all. Do the present duty—bear the present pain—enjoy the present pleasure—and leave emotions and ‘experiences’ to look after themselves.

That’s the programme, isn’t it?

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.

The Reign of Western Idolatry

The Last One Hundred Years

All mankind is incurably religious.  Man is a worshipping creature.  The distinction is not whether mankind, cultures, or nations worship, but whom they worship.  A second proposition is this: either individual human beings will worship the one, true Living God, or they will worship an idol--a god manufactured by men.

Some religions claim to believe in no god.  Buddhism--at least in its Theravada form--is an atheistic religion, for example, believing in no god, but in the eventual annihilation of the human soul.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the West, professing belief in no deity, would end up manufacturing a veritable workshop of idols.

One of these is economics.  Filthy lucre has been cast in the light of a pure god, able to bestow upon mankind a millennium of prosperity.  Now to those who have missed it, these doctrines of the religion of economics have been seriously proposed.  It has not been intended as a metaphor.  Nor is it offered as hyperbole to make a point.  It has been (and continues to be) argued as a literal proposition.  Money is the god of Western man.

William T. Cavanaugh, in The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) cites Robert H. Nelson's 2001 book, entitled Economics as Religion in which the author argues:
. . . the replacement of Christianity and other religions by the religion of economics has ushered in an age of freedom and prosperity.  Nelson shows how market economics exactly parallels the earlier role of Christianity in Western society, with its own providential god (the invisible hand of the market), sacred texts, priesthood, and plan of salvation for the recurrent problems of human history: "The Jewish and Christian bibles foretell one outcome of history.  If economics foresees another, it is in effect offering a competing religious vision." [Op cit., p. 108f.]
Thus, one example of a modern atheistic Western religion is economics.  There are others.  Socialism is another.  Fascism is a third.  All three exalt Man to the status of a god, to the same extent as other religions exalt their deities.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Pattern of "Flakery"

Promoted to Incompetence

Matthew Hooten has rung the changes on Ms Jacinda Ardern, leader of the Labour Party.  He wrote a piece in the National Business Review, which was re-posted by David Farrar at Kiwiblog.

It speaks for itself:
In 2008, Republican Party operatives discovered when preparing vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin for her debate with Democrat Joe Biden that “she doesn’t know anything”. In 2017, New Zealand Labour may have similarly landed itself with a prime ministerial candidate without the basic background knowledge to be a credible candidate for high office.

Ms Ardern’s most obvious weakness is tax policy. …  What has really damaged Ms Ardern is that it has become clear she has never given tax policy any thought even in the broadest brushstrokes.

Daily Meditation

What of Earth?

C. S. Lewis

I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in ‘the High Countries’. In that sense it will be true for those who have completed the journey (and for no others) to say that good is every- thing and Heaven everywhere. But we, at this end of the road, must not try to anticipate that retrospective vision. If we do, we are likely to embrace the false and disastrous converse and fancy that everything is good and everywhere is Heaven.

But what, you ask, of earth? Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.

The Great Divorce. Copyright © 1946, C. S Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed 1973 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 Growing Degradation of the West

Pharaoh Has Lost All Memory of Joseph

We live in a mad, mad world--at least in the West.  Homosexuality and gender-bending is tearing the social fabric apart.  We came across a recent case in the United Kingdom illustrating the madness of our condition.
A ‘transgendered’ convicted double rapist, who is biologically male, has been put in isolation in prison after being moved to an all-female jail, where it is claimed they made advances on female prisoners.  [Liam Deacon, Breitbart London]
Apparently this rapist is a particularly nasty piece of work.
Sarah Callaghan, 44, who fell pregnant with Winfield’s first child when she was just 15 (below the age of consent) and they were in their 20s, branded the sex attacker “a danger to everyone around him”.  She said: “It seems the only person who ever gets any help is Martin – not all the people who have suffered because of him.

Another one of their victims described the fact her attacker was given a free sex change as “diabolical”. She said: “There are not enough words to describe him and the evil he has done.  “It is diabolical they have allowed him to have a sex change and diabolical that he could be freed this year. He may have changed physically but his brain is still the same.” 
Yes, you read that right.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Has Jacinda Been Thinking? It Appears Not.

The Jacinda Tidal Wave Has Gone Out

Richard Prebble
NZ Herald  

This article first appeared in the NZ Herald on the 14th September.  Ironically, later in the day, Jacinda Ardern capitulated, and reverted to Labour's tax position as it was before Ardern took over the leadership of the Labour Party.   
The author's comments below on the command-and-control aspects of Labour's economic policies, and the apparition of Communist economics that they resemble remain an accurate description of Labour's position.  Ed.

What has happened to the Jacinda tidal wave? Jacinda who started the wave is the person who stopped it.

Labour's policy under Andrew Little was to have a tax review. Labour would take any recommendations to the voters at the next election. Kelvin Davies set out the policy on TV only to be publicly slapped down by Jacinda.  In a "captain's call" Jacinda changed the tax policy to say that a Labour victory was a mandate for Labour to introduce any new tax and at any rate that a nameless committee of "tax experts" recommended, just the family home is off limits.

Any tax? What about land tax? Yes. Tax on the family bach and boat? Yes. Water? Petrol? Nothing is off the table. Will the capital gains tax be 33 per cent? Maybe. The petrol tax 10 cents a litre? Probably. Water tax. Guess a figure. "Trust us" says Jacinda.

No party has ever asked for so much power.  It is too much power for any government to have.  What was Jacinda thinking?

Daily Meditation

Riding on the Black Horse

I will sing of mercy and judgment.  Psalm 101:1

Faith triumphs in trial. When reason is thrust into the inner prison, with her feet made fast in the stocks, faith makes the dungeon walls ring with her merry notes as she cries, "I will sing of mercy and of judgment. Unto thee, O Lord, will I sing." Faith pulls the black mask from the face of trouble, and discovers the angel beneath. Faith looks up at the cloud, and sees that

'Tis big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on her head.

There is a subject for song even in the judgments of God towards us. For, first, the trial is not so heavy as it might have been; next, the trouble is not so severe as we deserved to have borne; and our affliction is not so crushing as the burden which others have to carry.

Faith sees that in her worst sorrow there is nothing penal; there is not a drop of God's wrath in it; it is all sent in love. Faith discerns love gleaming like a jewel on the breast of an angry God. Faith says of her grief, "This is a badge of honour, for the child must feel the rod;" and then she sings of the sweet result of her sorrows, because they work her spiritual good. Nay, more, says Faith, "These light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

So Faith rides forth on the black horse, conquering and to conquer, trampling down carnal reason and fleshly sense, and chanting notes of victory amid the thickest of the fray.

All I meet I find assists me
In my path to heavenly joy:
Where, though trials now attend me,
Trials never more annoy.
Blest there with a weight of glory,
Still the path I'll ne'er forget,
But, exulting, cry, it led me
To my blessed Saviour's seat.

Drunk and Drugged--With a Bren Gun

Labour High On Binge Taxing

The NZ Labour Party has dropped off the wagon.  It has always been a political party which reflexively wants to tax everything.  The secret mantra of Labour has always been:
If it moves, tax it.
If it continues moving, tax it more.
If it stops moving, subsidize it.
But this election, it has thrown electoral caution to the winds, and doubled down on pretty much every tax imaginable, as well as inventing half a dozen new ones.  Labour wants Jabba the State to sit as a bloated behemoth atop every citizen and business, squeezing the last corpuscle of blood and gasp of breath from their tortured bodies.  We have not seen in our lifetime such a tsunami of promised taxes.  We suspect that the Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern has been at the Kool Aid.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog has had a go at totalling up the blood that will pour out of taxpayers in the light of Labour's bren gun "tax, tax, tax" ripping into every sign of economic life.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Pronoun Game

No Female Pronouns For My Transgender Brother

The demand that I refer to my sibling using a female pronoun is nothing less than thought policing. It is a demand that I assert what I do not believe.

 Michael Booker
The Federalist

Until I was in college, I went by Mike. When I found myself in a social circle that included two Mikes, I opted for Michael just to minimize confusion. Since then, the only person who still calls me Mike is my mother. (I did have a supervisor back in the ’80s who called me Mark for a year, but she was otherwise quite kind to me, so I took it in stride.)

It’s a simple matter of common courtesy to call someone by whatever name he or she chooses. Transgender activists have tried to latch on to this simple social courtesy to insist on the use of specific preferred pronouns, which they argue is no more than an extension of that common courtesy. The pushback on this has largely been on the profusion of novel potential identifiers: he/his, she/hers, they/theirs, xe/xirs, ze/hirs, ei/eirs…the list is really endless, with individuals generating new pronouns almost daily.

Some English Pronouns Convey Gender

But the complaints about the profusion of pronouns miss a far more important point of language that seems to have slipped under the radar, something that makes this far more than a matter of courtesy. It has to do with the nature of second-person and third-person pronouns in English.

When I talk to you, I can do so without a gendered pronoun. You is the same no matter who, or what, I’m talking to. I can call my misbehaving car “You old pile of garbage” without making my car a he or a she. Likewise, I can speak to a male, female, or non-binary individual with the same second-person pronoun.

It’s the third-person pronoun in English that conveys gender (and here I’m so happy to be able to use the word gender in its appropriately technical and linguistic sense). I can use he,  she, or it as singular pronouns, and each conveys information about the object I’m referring to. There are odd circumstances when I’d use a third-person pronoun in the presence of someone who is in the room with me, but it never feels polite. In the majority of cases, I am taking about a person or thing not present.

This is where preferred pronouns become critically intrusive. A courteous exchange about names might go like this: “Hi, my name is Richard, but I go by Dick.” “Hi, Dick, pleased to meet you.” What transgender activists are demanding manifests as follows: “Hi, I’m Scharr. I identify as gender non-conforming. When you talk about me to someone else, I want you to identify me as Xe, because that will indicate that you accept my identity as a non-binary individual.”

This Is a Demand to Affirm a Falsehood

This isn’t just an abstraction for me. At the age of 50, my brother informed our family that he identified as female. Where previously Glenn, he had his name legally changed to Jennifer. My father doesn’t accept that his son is now his daughter, and still calls him Glenn and "he". My mother tries to be more accommodating, but when we speak together about Glenn, she tries to say Jennifer and she. But she has trouble keeping that language, as it were, straight.

It’s obvious from my use of language that I’m guilty of the two great sins of transphobia and deadnaming (deadnaming is the practice of calling a trans individual by his or her birth name). Or rather, I don’t believe it to be factually correct that my brother is now female, despite his use of artificial hormones and a legal name change. To call my sibling she is to concede a reality that I do not believe to be the case.

I believe that the human animal has only two sexes because it has two kinds of gamete-producers. Give me a third human gamete, and I’ll entertain the possibility of there being a third sex. I understand that there are a variety of rare medical conditions that produce intersex individuals, and that fact has no bearing on the number of actual sexes. I do not believe that drugs or surgery can make a male into a female or a female into a male. Just a few years ago, that would have been simple science. Today it makes me a moral monster.

I do believe it’s common that people feel uncomfortable in their own skins and that phenomenally few biological males adhere 100 percent to all male cultural stereotypes or biological females adhere 100 percent to all female cultural stereotypes. And that’s okay. Back in the 1974 there was a surreal video called “Free to Be…You and Me,” narrated by Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda, which argued the then-enlightened view that men could have traditionally female interests and that women didn’t have to be all girl-girly if they didn’t want to be.

A man who likes to cook is a man who likes to cook, not a woman. A woman who enjoys football is a woman who enjoys football, not a man. Now we’re asking masculine girls and feminine boys if they aren’t really trapped in the wrong bodies. Gender dysphoria has moved from being a mental illness to being a declaration of authenticity.

The demand that I refer to my sibling using a female pronoun is nothing less than thought policing. It is a demand that I assert what I do not believe, or at least a demand that I dare not evidence dissent from a particular pseudo-scientific understanding of human nature. Asking me to be polite is not the same thing as asking me to lie, or worse, to accept a lie as truth.

And that’s no accident. That’s the whole point of the pronoun games.

Michael Booker has a doctorate in philosophy and retired from the Army Reserve at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He has been married for 30 years, has two amazing sons, and is currently a low-level administrator in academia.

Daily Meditation

Reasons Not to Worry

John Piper

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)

In Matthew 6 we have the example of anxiety about food and clothing.

Even in America, with its extensive welfare system, anxiety over finances and housing can be intense. But Jesus says in verse 30 that this stems from inadequate faith in our Father’s promise of future grace: “O men of little faith.” And so this paragraph has at least seven promises designed by Jesus to help us fight the good fight against unbelief and be free from anxiety.

PROMISE #1: For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25).

Since your body and your life are vastly more complex and difficult to provide than food and clothing are, and yet God has, in fact, created and provided you with both, then surely he will be able and willing to provide you with food and clothing.

Moreover, no matter what happens, God will raise your body some day and preserve your life for his eternal fellowship.

PROMISE #2: Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? (Matthew 6:26).

If God is willing and able to feed such insignificant creatures as birds who cannot do anything to bring their food into being — as you can by farming — then he will certainly provide what you need, because you are worth a lot more than birds.

Puppets and Strings

Deceptive and Misleading Teacher Unions 

How can we expect that students and graduates from our self-vaunting government education system will succeed when national teacher unions appear so dumb?  Or self-deceived.  Or both.  For our part we are not fans of New Zealand's monopolistic statist education system.  In the longer term we believe it is doomed to failure.  It is a hangover from the kind of education regimes in the USSR, and the Eastern Bloc.  For some strange reason, New Zealand persists with this model.

One of the major failings of the system is the continuing indirect control of the national education system by the teacher unions.  As with all unions, the fundamental reason for existence is to protect the interests of the union members.  It is a carry over from the more ancient system of guild socialism that was tossed out centuries ago.

When it comes to schools, there are several groups with vested interests.  Firstly, the parents and students.  Then comes the State which has set up a state owned and run monopolistic education system.  The third substantial vested interest are the teacher unions.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Thy Kingdom Come . . .

Risky Road: China's Missionaries Follow Beijing West

BBC News

When so-called Islamic State announced on 8 June that it had killed a Chinese man and woman in their mid-twenties in Pakistan's most volatile province, many would have assumed they were two of the thousands of workers that Beijing has sent to the country in the last few years.

China is investing more than $55bn (£43bn) in Pakistan, a key beneficiary of its grand plan to connect Asia and Europe with a new Silk Road paid for by Beijing.  Such an ambitious project involves risk, and China is building major infrastructure projects in Balochistan, a Pakistani province home to a long-running separatist insurgency and an array of militant and jihadist groups.

Meng Lisi and Li Xinheng

But Meng Lisi and Li Xinheng were not there to work on Chinese-funded projects.  They were in the provincial capital, Quetta, on a clandestine mission: to spread the word of Christianity in the unlikeliest and most dangerous of places in conservative Muslim Pakistan.

Their story draws attention to an unintended and often overlooked by-product of China's aggressive drive to develop new trading routes and carve out influence across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Hundreds and possibly even thousands of the country's growing cadre of Christian missionaries are along for the ride too - even if Beijing doesn't want them there. . . .

Daily Meditation

Grace Must Be Free

We walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

John Piper

Picture salvation as a house that you live in.

It provides you with protection. It is stocked with food and drink that will last forever. It never decays or crumbles. Its windows open onto vistas of glory.

God built it at great cost to himself and to his Son, and he gave it to you.

The “purchase” agreement is called a “new covenant.” The terms read: “This house shall become and remain yours if you will receive it as a gift and take delight in the Father and the Son as they inhabit the house with you. You shall not profane the house of God by sheltering other gods nor turn your heart away after other treasures.”

Would it not be foolish to say yes to this agreement, and then hire a lawyer to draw up an amortization schedule with monthly payments in the hopes of somehow balancing accounts?

You would be treating the house no longer as a gift, but a purchase. God would no longer be the free benefactor. And you would be enslaved to a new set of demands that he never dreamed of putting on you.

If grace is to be free — which is the very meaning of grace — we cannot view it as something to be repaid.

Yet Another Oxymoron: Government Education

Factories of Irrelevance

We are going to see headlines like this more and more:  "Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees".  Eventually we are going to see similar sentiments in New Zealand.
A poll published on Thursday by the Wall Street Journal reveals that Americans are losing faith in college degrees.  According to the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, only 49 percent of Americans now believe that a four-year degree will lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings. An overwhelming 47 percent claimed that they don’t believe a four-year degree will increase job and earnings prospects. 
Americans are increasingly concerned about the rising costs of an education. Student debt totals have reached $1.3 trillion, and millions have fallen behind on student-loan payments.
The findings reflect an increase in public skepticism of higher education from just four years ago and highlight a growing divide in opinion falling along gender, educational, regional and partisan lines. They also carry political implications for universities, already under public pressure to rein in their costs and adjust curricula after decades of sharp tuition increases.  [Breitbart]
 The NZ Labour Party has promised that, upon being elected, it will pay for three years of tertiary fees.  It is a policy which cannot be sustained.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Rogue United Nations

U.S. Blasts UN Support for China’s Birth Control Policy

Susan Yoshihara,

NEW YORK, September 8 (C-Fam) The United States blasted the UN Population Fund on Thursday for supporting China’s four decades-long birth control policy, which has led to human rights abuses such as forced abortions. The censure came as the agency unveiled its new three-year plan which promoted policies on sexuality which UN member States have expressly rejected in negotiations.

“As long as UNFPA supports or participates in any program of coercive birth limitation, the United States will not fund UNFPA,” U.S. deputy ECOSOC ambassador Stephanie Amadeo said.  The United States withdrew $32.5 million in funding from UNFPA earlier this year, but continues to spend about $600 million a year on family planning and remains on the UNFPA’s executive board. Amadeo said the $32 million will be transferred to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s family planning, maternal, and reproductive health activities.

The strategic plan—meant to guide the agency’s spending, programs, partnerships and advocacy in the next three years—calls for giving children as young as ten years of age “comprehensive” and “integrated” access to “youth-friendly” “sexual and reproductive health services,” a term that some UN staff use to include abortion and sex change therapy.

Daily Meditation

Fierce Persecutors Converted

Evening wolves.  Habakkuk 1:8

Charles H. Spurgeon

While preparing the present volume, this particular expression recurred to me so frequently, that in order to be rid of its constant importunity I determined to give a page to it.

The evening wolf, infuriated by a day of hunger, was fiercer and more ravenous than he would have been in the morning. May not the furious creature represent our doubts and fears after a day of distraction of mind, losses in business, and perhaps ungenerous tauntings from our fellow men? How our thoughts howl in our ears, "Where is now thy God?" How voracious and greedy they are, swallowing up all suggestions of comfort, and remaining as hungry as before. Great Shepherd, slay these evening wolves, and bid thy sheep lie down in green pastures, undisturbed by insatiable unbelief.

How like are the fiends of hell to evening wolves, for when the flock of Christ are in a cloudy and dark day, and their sun seems going down, they hasten to tear and to devour. They will scarcely attack the Christian in the daylight of faith, but in the gloom of soul conflict they fall upon him. O thou who hast laid down thy life for the sheep, preserve them from the fangs of the wolf.

False teachers who craftily and industriously hunt for the precious life, devouring men by their false-hoods, are as dangerous and detestable as evening wolves. Darkness is their element, deceit is their character, destruction is their end. We are most in danger from them when they wear the sheep's skin. Blessed is he who is kept from them, for thousands are made the prey of grievous wolves that enter within the fold of the church.

What a wonder of grace it is when fierce persecutors are converted, for then the wolf dwells with the lamb, and men of cruel ungovernable dispositions become gentle and teachable. O Lord, convert many such.

Jabba The State Starving to Death

Rough Justice

The role of the modern State has developed into a wonder to behold.  It has been for some time our Nanny-in-Chief.  The evolution from Nanny into Jabba the State, however, has been relatively rapid.  The further it goes  the more grotesque and ineffective the State becomes.  A curse rests upon all those who are devotees and worshippers of Jabba--and their numbers are legion.

Evil integrates into the void.  It always does.  Not because of some static Natural Law, mind you.  It integrates into the void because evil is destructive, and when it matures it turns upon itself and destroys itself.  This self-immolation occurs because in the final analysis anything which rises up against the Creator of all cannot survive.  It will destroy itself.  It will be cast down.  The most just, fitting way of destroying evil is to ensure it destroys itself.

We see examples of this on every side.  Europe and the former Soviet Union have aborted themselves into a state of such population decline that it cannot now be rectified.  Both Europe and Russia cannot replace their own populations; the decline is irreversible.  The secularist societies they have sought to build are collapsing in upon themselves.  Think of Detroit--empty, vacant, and a shadow of its former self--as a symbol of what Europe and the former Soviet Union are  becoming.  The only way to prevent it is to open up the borders to mass immigration, in the hope that migrants will fill the population gaps.  Hence Chancellor Merkel's unwavering commitment to the course of open borders.  There is no other option available.  Eventually, then, Europe will become Islamic.  It will see this as a way of "salvation".  The very things in which Europe has glorified  have led to its destruction.  Jabba's curse comes to pass.

The curse of integrating into the void happens on a macro-scale.  But it also happens on a micro-scale.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Letter From America (About Obama's Vacuous Cant And Campus Rape)

Betsy DeVos’s Critics Rely on Junk Science and Sheer Malice

David French
National Review Online

Honestly, even for a person who’s been hardened by decades of campus ideological and legal battles, it’s hard to believe how thoroughly unhinged, how intellectually bankrupt is the argument against protecting due process on campus. Yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Trump administration would shortly begin a regulatory rulemaking process designed to protect college students from sexual assault while also protecting the fundamental constitutional rights of the accused.

More precisely, DeVos signaled her intention to withdraw the Obama administration’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that unilaterally and lawlessly required universities to adjudicate sexual-assault claims under a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard (the accused is responsible if there’s a 50.1 percent probability he committed the crime) but without protecting due process. Obama’s policy resulted in a kangaroo-court system where accused students often don’t have access to counsel, the ability to effectively cross-examine their accuser (indeed, the Obama admin specifically urged that accused students not be permitted to cross-examine accusers), or even access to all the evidence in the case.

Judging from the Twitter reaction to DeVos’s remarks, you would have thought that she’d declared open season on young women on campus. Under the hashtag #StopBetsy, ideologues and celebrities declared that DeVos was taking the “next step on our path to authoritarianism.” Or, in the words of the reasonable non-hysterical folks at the Women’s March, she was “making campuses safer for rapists.” The makers of a deeply flawed campus-rape documentary called “The Hunting Ground” slammed DeVos, saying, “Her proposal should scare the hell out of every parent in this country with a college bound child — schools will become much more dangerous places for their children.”

But what is this terrible proposal? While the details are yet to be revealed, from her remarks it’s clear that she wants to protect students from sexual assault and to protect students from kangaroo courts.

Daily Meditation

A Fountain At the Centre of Reality

C. S. Lewis

Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality.

If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in Words to Live By 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. 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.

A Death Rattle

Offensive to God and Man

The nineteen fifties saw the first waves of immigrants from the West Indian colonies to the UK.  Most ended up in London in search of work and a new life.  By 1956, well over 40,000 per year were coming into the UK. 

David Kynaston [Family Britain: 1951-1957 (New York: Walker and Co., 2009), p. 449] records that the new immigrants encountered a "range of reactions".  On the whole, most were broadly accepting, on both sides.

But one stands out as breathtakingly bad:  it involved one 1955 arrival, Carmel Jones--who eventually became a Pentecostal minister.
Biggest shock was, one, the cold, and two, having gone to church for the very first time--so elated, so delighted that I'm coming from an Anglican church back home, I went to join in worship, and so I did--but after the service I was greeted by the vicar, who politely and nicely told me: "Thank you for coming.  But I would be delighted if you didn't come back."  And I said, "Why?"  He said, "My congregation is uncomfortable in the company of black people."

That was my biggest shock.  I was the only black person in that congregation that Sunday morning, and in my disappointment, my despair went with me and I didn't say anything to anyone about it for several months after that.  
If one wants at least one explanation for why the Anglican church in so many parts and places is spiritually dead today, the incident recorded above would go a long way.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Ironies of Free Trade

Free Trade and Intellectual Freedom Don't Mix--Apparently

It seems that for at least some Chinese students studying abroad, a Western education is not all it's cracked up to be.  Chinese students are not used to basic human rights such as freedom of speech, liberty of thought and conscience.  When confronted with views and opinions which are implicitly critical of the Chinese regime or contrary to its propaganda, often Chinese students are alarmed and disturbed by such heretical notions.

Tensions are rising at some Australian universities amid concerns that the Chinese government is infiltrating teaching methods across the faculties, according to a report from
The concerns have arisen after multiple incidents of Chinese students demanding changes to teaching methods, as well as demanding apologies from lecturers about the way they explore certain topics. The trend has led to concern across Australia of the growing threat of the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian ideology infiltrating universities and potentially influencing other students.

Some students have even posted footage online of lecturers going against the Chinese Communist Party’s ideology.  Last week, a student at the Chinese University of Newcastle uploaded footage of him arguing with a lecturer who referred to Hong Kong and Taiwan as independent countries.  “You are making us feel uncomfortable,” the student tells business professor Nimay Khaliani. “You have to consider all the students.”  “Exactly, all the students, not one set of students,” replied Khaliani. [Breitbart]
No doubt the Chinese government will attempt to put pressure on Australian schools and universities via the much vaunted free-trade agreement between Australia and China.  We anticipate the exchange will go something like this.

Daily Meditation

Remove the Legal Fetters

If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.  Galatians 5:18

Charles H. Spurgeon

He who looks at his own character and position from a legal point of view, will not only despair when he comes to the end of his reckoning, but if he be a wise man he will despair at the beginning; for if we are to be judged on the footing of the law, there shall no flesh living be justified. How blessed to know that we dwell in the domains of grace and not of law!

When thinking of my state before God the question is not, "Am I perfect in myself before the law?" but, "Am I perfect in Christ Jesus?" That is a very different matter. We need not enquire, "Am I without sin naturally?" but, "Have I been washed in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness?" It is not "Am I in myself well pleasing to God?" but it is "Am I accepted in the Beloved?"

The Christian views his evidences from the top of Sinai, and grows alarmed concerning his salvation; it were better far if he read his title by the light of Calvary. "Why," saith he, "my faith has unbelief in it, it is not able to save me." Suppose he had considered the object of his faith instead of his faith, then he would have said, "There is no failure in him, and therefore I am safe." He sighs over his hope: "Ah! my hope is marred and dimmed by an anxious carefulness about present things; how can I be accepted?" Had he regarded the ground of his hope, he would have seen that the promise of God standeth sure, and that whatever our doubts may be, the oath and promise never fail.

Ah! believer, it is safer always for you to be led of the Spirit into gospel liberty than to wear legal fetters. Judge yourself at what Christ is rather than at what you are. Satan will try to mar your peace by reminding you of your sinfulness and imperfections: you can only meet his accusations by faithfully adhering to the gospel and refusing to wear the yoke of bondage.

Democracy Cannibalising Itself

The Tyranny of the People

The will and consent of the people is a good and necessary component of godly government.  It is for this reason that historically the West has championed democracy and democratic government.  Both alike indicate rule of the people, by the people, and for the people.  But few are comfortable with pure democracy.

Why?  If there were no checks and balances, democracy can readily and easily become the tyranny of the majority.  This critical flaw in democratic government has long been identified and addressed by philosophers of government from Plato to Montesquieu.  Edmund Burke put it this way:
Of this I am certain, that in a democracy, the majority of citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority, whenever strong divisions prevail in that kind of polity as they often must; and that oppression of the minority will extend to far greater numbers, and will be carried on with much greater fury, than can almost ever be apprehended from the dominion of a single scepter.  In such a popular persecution, individual sufferers are in a much more deplorable condition than in any other.  [Cited by Yuval Levin, The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left  (New York: Basic Books, 2014), p.99f.]
"Pure" democracy can (and inevitably will) turn into a tyranny of the worst kind.

Friday, 8 September 2017

The Common Law and European Law Pass As Ships in the Night

The Common Law and Brexit

Ted Malloch

It is inane to ignore the distinction between common law and civil law or between the English definition of Rule of Law and the European Rechtsstaat. The two are radically different.

This is directly challenged by the Brexit vote, wherein citizens of the UK voted to secede from the European Union for a reason. There should be no turning back.
Under the European Union, life has become increasingly regulated by legislation issued, centralized, and administered by Brussels. The EU is “not merely an economic union” but is intended to “ensure social progress and seek the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples,” thus it has encompassed the continental conception of Rechtsstaat, wherein government is conceived of as an enterprise, as opposed to, a civil associationThis is a world apart.
EU legislation is proposed and drafted by the Commission (consisting of EU officials nominated by the Parliament, who are not elected) and then passed by the EU Council and Parliament. EU legislation comes in two forms:  Directives and Regulations. Directives order a member country or countries to adopt legislation according to certain parameters. Regulations, once passed, are immediately effective without implementing legislation. . . . 

U.S. businessman Ted Malloch, Donald Trump’s potential choice as envoy to the EU, speaks to The Associated Press during an interview in London, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Malloch said the bloc is anti-American and the U.S. will try to build bilateral relationships with European countries instead. Ted Malloch says the U.S. is “critical and suspicious” of the EU project. He says “we would prefer, certainly in the Trump administration, to work with countries bilaterally.” (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
The Brexit vote surprised and astonished people in Europe and around the world who could not – and still cannot – understand why citizens of the United Kingdom would vote to secede from the European Union.

Daily Meditation

The Goal of Christ’s Love

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.” (John 17:24)

John Piper

Believers in Jesus are precious to God (we're his bride!). And he loves us so much that he will not allow our preciousness to become our god.  God does indeed make much of us (adoption!), but he does so in a way that draws us out of ourselves to enjoy his greatness.

Test yourself. If Jesus came to spend the day with you, sat down beside you on the couch, and said, “I really love you,” what would you focus on the rest of the day that you spend together?  It seems to me that too many songs and sermons leave us with the wrong answer. They leave the impression that the heights of our joy would be in the recurrent feeling of being loved. “He loves me!” “He loves me!” This is joy indeed. But not the heights and not the focus.

What are we saying with the words “I am loved”? What do we mean? What is this “being loved”?
Would not the greatest, most Christ-exalting joy be found in watching Jesus all day and bursting with, “You’re amazing!” “You are amazing!”

  • He answers the hardest question, and his wisdom is amazing.
  • He touches a filthy, oozing sore, and his compassion is amazing.
  • He raises a dead lady at the medical examiner’s office, and his power is amazing.
  • He predicts the afternoon’s events, and his foreknowledge is amazing.
  • He sleeps during an earthquake, and his fearlessness is amazing.
  • He says, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” and his words are amazing.
  • We walk around with him utterly amazed at what we are seeing.

Is not his love for us his eagerness to do for us all he must do (including die for us) so that we can marvel at him and not be incinerated by him? Redemption, propitiation, forgiveness, justification, reconciliation — all these have to happen. They are the act of love.

But the goal of love that makes those acts loving is that we be with him and see his jaw-dropping glory and be astounded. In those moments we forget ourselves and see and feel him.

So I am urging pastors and teachers: Push people through the acts of Christ’s love to the goal of his love. If redemption and propitiation and forgiveness and justification and reconciliation are not taking us to the enjoyment of Jesus himself, they are not love.

Press on this. It’s what Jesus prayed for.

"You Considered Yourself Lucky"

Outwardly Wealthy, Desperately Impoverished

Here is a description of what it was like to live in a council house in Britain in the nineteen fifties. Remember that council houses were often found on special housing estates where houses sprung up like mushrooms after the war in an effort to house people--many of whom had lost their houses or accommodation through the Blitz.  In other words, they were relatively modern houses for their day.
The front door opened directly on to the pavement and you walked straight into the front room, which was only used on special occasions.  My mum said it was 'to be kept for best'.  You then passed into the living room, where there was a dining table and chairs and a couple of armchairs around a big black coal-fire stove.  A huge black kettle, full of hot water, would always be resting there.  The living room was also the setting for my Friday night scrub-down in an old tin bath . . . . A door opening on to the stairs took you up to two bedrooms.

There was no bathroom or indoor toilet.  If you were caught short during the night, you used a chamber pot under the bed . . . . . Downstairs, the room at the back of the house had a gas stove and a large sink where clothes were scrubbed clean by hand.  The back yard was shares with three other families and the only toilet was at the end of the yard, with a bolt on the inside of a rickety wooden door.  [Quoted in David Kynaston's Family Britain 1951-1957  (New York: Walker and Co, 2009), p. 165.]
To the superficial modern Western mindset, such living conditions today would be regarded not just as appalling,  but a breach of human rights.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Authorities Finally Moving Against Antifa

Public School Teachers Behind Violent Antifa Group

Peter Hasson
The Daily Caller
Public school teachers are behind a leading far-left militant group that is part of the Antifa network that federal officials say is committing “domestic terrorist violence.”  By Any Means Necessary, [BAMN] which has played a key role in riots in Berkeley, Sacramento and elsewhere, has dozens of public school teachers among its members, including among its most prominent leaders.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security began paying closer attention to Antifa groups in general after BAMN and other extremists started a riot and attacked marchers at a white nationalist rally in Sacramento last July, Politico reported on Friday. The Sacramento violence left at least 10 people hospitalized, several of whom had knife wounds.

One of BAMN’s most prominent organizers is Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle school teacher and pro-violence militant. Felarca currently faces charges of inciting a riot for her role in the Sacramento violence.  After BAMN and other antifa groups staged violent protests in Berkeley to keep right-wing author Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking, Felarca defended her group’s acts of violence. BAMN was able to cancel another event, this time an April speech by pro-Trump author Ann Coulter, by promising a repeat performance of the Milo riots.

The FBI and DHS say Antifa groups like BAMN are engaging in “domestic terrorist violence,” according to the Politico report.

Daily Meditation

No Quarter Given For Retaliation

C. S. Lewis

There are three ways of taking the command to turn the other cheek. One is the Pacifist interpretation; it means what it says and imposes a duty of nonresistance on all men in all circumstances. Another is the minimising interpretation; it does not mean what it says but is merely an orientally hyperbolical way of saying that you should put up with a lot and be placable. Both you and I agree in rejecting this view. The conflict is therefore between the Pacifist interpretation and a third one which I am now going to propound.

I think the text means exactly what it says, but with an understood reservation in favour of those obviously exceptional cases which every hearer would naturally assume to be exceptions without being told. . . . . That is, insofar as the only relevant factors in the case are an injury to me by my neighbour and a desire on my part to retaliate, then I hold that Christianity commands the absolute mortification of that desire. No quarter whatever is given to the voice within us which says, “He’s done it to me, so I’ll do the same to him.”

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