Tuesday, 28 February 2017

In Memoriam

Norma McCorvey (AkaAboert Jane Roe)

In standing up for unborn children, she stood up also for herself.

By Nicholas Frankovich
National Review Online

Flipping channels in a hotel room in Chicago in June 1995, I stopped at The Late Late Show, where Tom Snyder was interviewing Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade. She spent much of her time reciting sarcastic clichés about pro-lifers, bantering with Snyder and laughing at my expense — and, of course, at that of everyone who shared my conviction, to say nothing of the unborn children whose welfare we were always being told was none of our business.

Flip Benham, an Evangelical minister, had succeeded Randall Terry as director of the pro-life organization Operation Rescue the previous year and moved its national headquarters to a Dallas office complex that included the abortion clinic where McCorvey worked as a marketing director. Later, in her book Won by Love (1998), she described some of her early interactions with Benham. They were tense.

“Are you still killing babies, Miss Norma?” he asked her in the parking lot.

“The Rescue people proved more resilient than cockroaches,” she wrote. “We simply could not scare them off.”

By the time I caught her interview with Snyder, her attitude toward Benham had obviously softened.

Daily Devotional

Approach Him And Be At Peace

"O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy upon Jerusalem? ... And the Lord answered the angel ... with good words and comfortable words."  Zechariah 1:12-13

Charles H. Spurgeon

What a sweet answer to an anxious enquiry! Let us rejoice in it.  O Zion, there are good things in store for thee; thy time of travail shall soon be over; thy children shall be brought forth; thy captivity shall end. Bear patiently the rod for a season, and under the darkness still trust in God, for his love burneth towards thee. God loves the church with a love too deep for human imagination: he loves her with all his infinite heart.

Therefore let her sons be of good courage; she cannot be far from prosperity to whom God speaketh "good words and comfortable words." What these comfortable words are the prophet goes on to tell us: "I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy." The Lord loves his church so much that he cannot bear that she should go astray to others; and when she has done so, he cannot endure that she should suffer too much or too heavily. He will not have his enemies afflict her: he is displeased with them because they increase her misery.

When God seems most to leave his church, his heart is warm towards her. History shows that whenever God uses a rod to chasten his servants, he always breaks it afterwards, as if he loathed the rod which gave his children pain. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." God hath not forgotten us because he smites--his blows are no evidences of want of love.

If this is true of his church collectively, it is of necessity true also of each individual member. You may fear that the Lord has passed you by, but it is not so: he who counts the stars, and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting his own children. He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature he ever made, or the only saint he ever loved. Approach him and be at peace.

Sinking Sands

What's the Beef With Milo?

We made an argument yesterday that once biblical teaching about marriage and family is rejected--as the West has done--all that is left is "everything goes".  We recognize that in making the "anything goes" claim we have jumped over a few valleys here and there.  While the logic of the argument is sound, the sociology of the argument is a bit more complicated. 

Since we do not currently live in a society which tolerates "anything goes", there are a number of sociological or political realities which determine right and wrong, lawfulness and illegality.  But our argument remains valid: if the Bible's definition of marriage and family is rejected, any other definition of marriage will turn upon the particular prevailing "flavour of the month".

With the acceptance of homosexual "marriage" and the rejection of the Bible's authority on the matter who gets married to whom, and on what terms and conditions, becomes a matter of the prevailing political winds at the time.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Caught in the Maw of Judicial Prejudice

Brian Franklin as a young 

Image result for Brian Franklin images

Fighting for the Falsely Accused

A former Texas police officer had his jail sentence dropped but is still fighting to establish his innocence.

By Michelle Malkin
National Review Online

Former Fort Worth, Texas, police officer Brian Franklin is finally free. But he is still fighting to clear his name.

“I’ve been vindicated,” he told me in an interview last week, “but not yet exonerated.” Franklin served 21 years in prison — a harrowing 7,700 days — of a life sentence after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 1995. But he steadfastly maintained his innocence, studied law in the prison library, and won a reversal of his conviction last spring. In December, a jury acquitted him after a second criminal trial.

“It’s been a roller-coaster ride up and down,” Franklin reflected. Hellish doesn’t begin to describe the journey. His accuser had lied that she was a virgin before Franklin allegedly raped her. Prosecutors produced physical exam results of damage to her genitals as proof of his crime. In fact, she had been the victim of molestation by her stepfather for years.

Moreover, the young accuser’s story of when she was allegedly raped changed to fit a timeline developed by prosecutors. That timeline was debunked when Franklin’s employment time records and time-stamped and dated store receipts showed he was nowhere near the alleged rape location — the backyard of her biological father, who was a friend of Franklin’s.

There were no witnesses. There was no DNA. Yet, the cop with “law enforcement in my blood” lost his job, reputation, and freedom.

“It’s the easiest crime to be falsely accused of,” Franklin told me. Prosecutors “used my position as a police officer against me.” His family and church stood by him. But as soon as he was arrested, he had already been branded a “RAPIST” in the court of public opinion. His original jury “prejudged me,” Franklin recalled. Given the reckless witch hunts in cases like his and the Duke lacrosse case, he observed, “I’m surprised anybody gets acquitted these days.”

Daily Meditation

God Opens the Heart

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. (Acts 16:14)

John Piper

Everywhere Paul preached some believed and some did not. How are we to understand why some of those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, 5) believed and some did not?

The answer why some did not believe is that they “thrust it aside” (Acts 13:46) because the message of the gospel was “folly to them, and they [were] not able to understand” (1 Corinthians 2:14). The mind of the flesh “is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7).

Those who hear and reject the gospel “hate the light” and do not come to the light lest their deeds should be exposed (John 3:20). They remain “darkened in their understanding . . . because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18). It is a guilty ignorance. The truth is available. But “by their unrighteousness they suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).

But why then do some believe, since all are in this condition of rebellious hardness of heart, dead in our trespasses? The book of Acts gives the answer in at least three different ways. One is that they are appointed to believe. When Paul preached in Antioch of Pisidia, the Gentiles rejoiced and “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

Another way of answering why some believe is that God granted repentance. When the saints in Jerusalem heard that Gentiles were responding to the gospel and not just Jews, they said, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18).

But the clearest answer in Acts to the question why a person believes the gospel is that God opens the heart. Lydia is the best example. Why did she believe? Acts 16:14 says, “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”

The Apogee of Self-Deceit

Punched Drunk, and Slurred Speech

One of the moral depredations facing the West is self-deceit.  This perverse characteristic is manifest amongst elites, the Chattering Classes, the mass media, the Commentariat, universities and colleges, and so on.  The West is afflicted with a profound intellectual dishonesty.  

The pugilist ring in which this deceit is seen most clearly is the fight over the family.  In the left corner sits the protagonist for homosexual "marriage".  Lean, limbered up, at the peak of condition, and in the best fighting weight for decades, Mr or Mz Homosexual Marriage has defeated opponents in every pugilist ring in the country.  There is a spring of inevitable victory in the Champ's footsteps as s/he steps forth to engage in yet another triumphalist bout.  At last the great victory has been won.  Marriage, that holy institution ordained by Almighty God, is now extended to practitioners of homo-erotic sex.  Mighty Man has given God a lesson, an almighty thrashing, one may say.  

A thousand questions are suddenly begged--and not just begged.  They demand attention and answers.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Jehu Chronicles

Flake News

Douglas Wilson


So let us talk for a moment about the term “fake news.” Why are we talking about this all of a sudden? Why is this a thing now?

During the campaign there were various stories that circulated on the Internet, made up of whole cloth, some of which were not flattering to Hillary. In the aftermath of the election, when her people were flailing around in search of someone or something to blame besides Her Majesty, one of the things they tried out was the idea that it was “fake news” that had hurt her in the final days of the election. Let’s run that one up the flag pole to see if anyone salutes.

Not only did no one salute, but something else entirely happened.


But before proceeding further, let me acknowledge fully and sincerely that there were stories out there about Hillary that, when it came to the falsitudinous quotient, ranked pretty high. I also acknowledge that Nigerian princes who are stranded in Manila with a suitcase full of gold bullion are also not, shall we say, legit. Do not send them your bank account number. And further, I cheerfully note that purveyors of clickbait techniques love to tell us that what Ted Cruz said next went BOOM, and that Kellyanne Conway DESTROYED Anderson Cooper, and that when you see what Bo Derek looks like now it will BLOW YOUR MIND. So Hillary had to deal with that foolishness, as well all the rest of us. Welcome to earth, kid.

And here is another qualification. Donald Trump is a wrecking ball. It is possible to applaud the fact of some of the wreckage without applauding, um, the entire project.

Daily Meditation

The Hour of Unusual Threat

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:14)

John Piper

Many Christians in the world today do not know the life-threatening danger that comes with believing in Christ. We have gotten used to being free from such persecution. It seems like the way things must be.

So our first reaction to the threat that things might be otherwise is often anger. But that anger may be a sign that we have lost our sense of being aliens and exiles (“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles . . .” 1 Peter 2:11).

Perhaps we have settled in too much to this world. We don’t feel as homesick for Christ as Paul did: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).  Many of us need the reminder, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

Have you ever wondered how you will do in the hour of final trial? The gunman has you in his sights and asks, “Are you a Christian?” Here is a strong word to give you hope that you may do better than you think.
“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14). 
This encouragement from Peter says that in the hour of unusual threat (whether insult or death) there will be “a Spirit of glory and of God resting on us.” Doesn't that mean that God gives special help in the hour of crisis to those who suffer because they are Christians?

I don’t mean he is absent from our other sufferings. I just mean that Peter went out of his way to say to those who suffer “for the name of Christ” will experience a special “resting” on them of “the Spirit of glory and of God.”

Mandarins, Oligarchs, and the Deep State

A Few Heads on a Platter Would Do the Trick

Several stories and speculations are starting to surface about "Deep State" forces working to control the new US President.  In general terms, Deep State is a loose term referring to the Federal bureaucracy--or members thereof--who are opposed to the President and are working either to undermine him, neuter him, or control him.  

It remains to be seen how successful Trump will be in doing battle against these forces.  Up front right now are the leaks to the media over confidential, recorded conversations--leading eventually to the resignation of Michael Flynn, a Trump appointee.  Investigations are focusing on the leaks as coming from the US Justice Department.

Now, another alleged Deep State perfidy has come to light.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Letter From America (More About the "Deep State")

The Deep State Targets Trump

Patrick J. Buchanan
The American Conservative

When Gen. Michael Flynn was forced to resign as national-security advisor, Bill Kristol purred his satisfaction, “If it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”  To Kristol, the permanent regime, not the elected president and his government, is the real defender and rightful repository of our liberties.  Yet it was this regime, the deep state, that carried out what Eli Lake of Bloomberg calls “The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn.”

And what were Flynn’s offenses?

In December, when Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats, Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador. He apparently counseled the envoy not to overreact, saying a new team would be in place in a few weeks and would review U.S.-Russian relations.  “That’s neither illegal nor improper,” writes Lake.

Vladimir Putin swiftly declared that there would be no reciprocal expulsions and U.S. diplomats and their families would be welcome at the Kremlin’s Christmas and New Year’s parties.  Diplomatic crisis averted. “Great move … (by V. Putin),” tweeted Trump, “I always knew he was very smart.”

But apparently, this did not sit well with the deep state.

"I See Nothing . . . "

Moscow Sees Its Coldest Christmas in 120 Years

Australia and South America also had cold-weather records. Why is nobody talking about it?

Jon Basil Utley
The American Conservative

Novoandreevsky bridge in the Moscow winter. (Igor Zhilyakov / Shutterstock)
With all the talk about Fake News, little is mentioned about No-News.

Moscow has had a record-busting winter, including the coldest Christmas in 120 years according to Russian reports. Yet there is nothing on CNN. Poland and much of Eastern Europe also are having a record cold winter. It is not reported. Also in the Southern Hemisphere were record cold winters in 2016 and cool following summers in Perth, Australia and New Zealand, which had the coldest winter in a hundred years. Similarly, in 2016 Brazil had the coldest winter in 22 years.

Although everyone can agree that there is “climate change,” the measures most visible for modifying it are all those promoted by the partisans of global warming—namely cutting back carbon dioxide emissions, particularly burning fossil fuels. But should we copy Germany with measures that raised electricity bills to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour, nearly three times what it costs in America?

Daily Meditation

Returning to the Father's House

TO MARY NEYLAN, who had told Lewis she was going to resume the prac- tice of her faith after years of alienation and theological struggle: On acting on the light one has; on the unreliability of religious emotion; on confession of sins to a spiritual director; and on daily spiritual and Bible reading.

C. S. Lewis

4 January 1941

Congratulations . . . on your own decision. I don’t think this decision comes either too late or too soon. One can’t go on thinking it over for ever; and one can begin to try to be a disciple before one is a professed theologian. In fact they tell us, don’t they, that in these matters to act on the light one has is almost the only way to more light. Don’t be worried about feeling that, or about feeling at all. As to what to do, I suppose the normal next step, after self-examination repentance and restitution, is to make your Communion; and then to continue as well as you can, praying as well as you can . . . and fulfilling your daily duties as well as you can. And remember always that religious emotion is only a servant. . . . This, I say, would be the obvious course.

If you want anything more e.g. Confession and Absolution which our church enjoins on no-one but leaves free to all—let me know and I’ll find you a directeur. If you choose this way, remember it’s not the psychoanalyst over again: the confessor is the representative of Our Lord and declares His forgiveness—his advice or ‘understanding’ though of real, is of secondary importance.

For daily reading I suggest (in small doses) Thomas à Kempis’ ‘Imitation of Christ’ and the ‘Theologia Germanica’...and of course the Psalms and New Testament. Don’t worry if your heart won’t respond: do the best you can. You are certainly under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, or you wouldn’t have come where you now are: and the love that matters is His for you—yours for Him may at present exist only in the form of obedience. He will see to the rest.

This has been great news for me I need hardly say. You have all my prayers (not that mine are worth much).

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Yours, Jack The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. 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 Benedict Option, Part II

Avoiding the Hard Thinking Required

Further to yesterday's post on Rod Dreher and the Benedict Option, we reproduce a recent post by Dreher at The American Conservative to give a sample of his advocacy of the Benedict Option.

The Last Evangelical Citadel

Rod Dreher
The American Conservative

To defend the citadel, soldiers need new strategies — ones that are actually quite old (Alexlukin/Shutterstock)
David Goodwin, head of the Association of Classical Christian Schools, writes that Evangelicals (of which he is one) regard the Bible as their “citadel,” but now find themselves struggling to defend it in post-Christianity. The problem, it seems to me, is fideism. Excerpts:

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Damning EU Report

‘Rescuing’ Mediterranean Migrants Encourages Smugglers, Increases Drownings

[Most state actions have the opposite unintended consequences.  Here is yet another example. Ed.]

Jack Montgomery
Breitbart London


Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has admitted that search-and-rescue (SAR) missions in the Mediterranean Sea are strengthening criminal migrant smugglers’ business model and increasing total drowning deaths.

The Frontex Risk Analysis for 2017 admits that:

…Both border surveillance and SAR missions close to, or within, the 12-mile territorial waters of Libya have unintended consequences.

Namely, they influence smugglers’ planning and act as a pull … Dangerous crossings on unseaworthy and overloaded vessels were organised with the main purpose of being detected by EUNAVFOR Med/Frontex and NGO vessels.

Apparently, all parties involved in SAR operations in the Central Mediterranean unintentionally help criminals achieve their objectives at minimum cost, strengthen their business model by increasing the chances of success.

Migrants and refugees – encouraged by the stories of those who had successfully made it in the past – attempt the dangerous crossing since they are aware of and rely on humanitarian assistance to reach the EU.  The end result is that crossings to Italy reached an all-time high of 182,000 in 2016, with an attendant rise in drowning deaths: 5,083, as compared with 3,777 in 2015 and 3,279 in 2014.

Frontex acknowledges “the scope of the problem is alarming”, with SAR missions forming an essential component of the people smugglers’ operations and providing them with a “distinct tactical advantage”.  Even so, the EU agency concludes that “SAR efforts will continue as long as the migratory crisis persists in the Central Mediterranean not only because they relate to international legal obligations, but also because they stem from European values.”

Australia drew the opposite conclusion from its own migrant crisis, which also saw people-smugglers sending unseaworthy vessels towards their destination with inadequate fuel, radioing ahead for them to be picked up and escorted to their target country by the authorities.

These crossings reached a high of 403 boats and 25,173 migrants in 2012-13 before former prime minister Tony Abbott launched Operation Sovereign Borders. This military-led mission sees smuggler boats either turned back to their port of origin or escorted to a third country, with migrants’ asylum applications processed off-shore. Genuine refugees are homed outside Australia at the commonwealth’s expense.

The Australian approach is unlike the European policy in that it is designed to reduce drowning deaths by strongly disincentivising illegal sea-crossings. It appears to have been successful, with the government recently reporting that it has been 900 days since the last smuggler boat reached Australia.  Tony Abbott has advised EU leaders that “If you want to stop the deaths [and] you want to stop the drownings, you have got to stop the boats”.

Speaking in Prague in late 2016, the London-born conservative said “Effective border protection is not for the squeamish, but it is absolutely necessary to save lives and to preserve nations. The truly compassionate thing to do is: stop the boats and stop the deaths.”  Abbott has also warned that “Many of those taking to boats across the Mediterranean or clamouring at Europe’s gates look set to join an angry underclass”, and the migrant crisis could, therefore, represent an “existential threat” to European societies.

“Too many are coming not with gratitude but with grievance, and with the insistence that Europe should make way for them. Some of Turkey’s leaders have even urged Muslims to take back parts of Europe, and among the would-be migrants are soldiers of the caliphate bent on mayhem.”

Daily Devotional

Becoming a Follower of the Crucified

"Take up the cross, and follow me."  Mark 10:21

Charles H. Spurgeon

You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it. This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to his easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; he leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if he carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.

Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will ere you fall asleep this night, that waking with to-morrow's sun, you may go forth to the day's cross with the holy and submissive spirit which becomes a follower of the Crucified.

The Beginning of the End of the House of Lords?

Living in Interesting Times

The following piece appeared in one of our local blogs, Your New Zealand.  It was written by a guest correspondent ("Missey") in the UK.  

Before reading we would "set the stage" as it were by reminding readers that the history of English (and Great Britain's) constitutional development from the time of the Bloodless Revolution of 1688 has had at least two general (albeit related) themes.  The first was the development of the primacy of the Parliament over the Crown.  The second, was the growing primacy of the Commons over the House of Lords.

It has been blithely assumed by all and sundry that this gradual development has ceased.  The constitutional tectonic plates were no longer colliding or shearing off against each other, but had settled into a perpetual somnolent state.

Suddenly a taiaha has been thrown into the ground.  The Commons have overwhelmingly passed the Brexit Bill.  Now the Lords (or at least a goodly number of that chamber) are threatening to pass lots and lots of amendments, the upshot of which will be to stymie Brexit, and keep Britain within the EU.  In reaction, open conversations about removing the House of Lords have broken out--something which has not happened for a long, long time.
Today the House of Lords began their first two days of debate on the Article 50  [Brexit] Bill before it goes to committee stage.

Over the weekend a number of Lords said that it would not get through unscathed, and they were open about wanting to do everything to either water down the legislation, or stop it completely, this has put the Lords on a collision course with both the people and the House of Commons.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Theresa May On Song

Britain Will Not ‘Cherry Pick’ Bits of EU Membership

Nick Hallett
Breitbart London

Britain will leave the European Single Market and will not “cherry pick” parts of European Union membership to keep after Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May has said.  In an article for French newspaper Le Figaro, Mrs. May said it was important to maintain economic links with the EU, including “access” to the single market, but she added Britain cannot accept a continuation of freedom of movement.
“As we leave the EU, we will seek the greatest possible access to the European single market through a new, comprehensive, bold, ambitious free trade agreement,” Mrs. May wrote.  “This cannot, however, mean retaining membership of the single market.  President Hollande [of France] and other European leaders have been very clear that this would mean accepting the ‘four freedoms’ of goods, capital, services, and people and I respect their position.

Britain understands that EU leaders want to continue with the process of integration. We do not, to borrow the phrase, seek to cherry-pick which bits of membership we desire.”

She also warned in the article against giving Britain a bad Brexit deal as the UK is France’s fifth largest export market.  “UK companies are responsible for an estimated 230,000 jobs in France, and French companies for about 370,000 jobs in the UK,” she said, pointing out that the two countries have bilateral trade of €50 billion per year."

The article comes as Mrs. May meets French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve for talks in Downing Street.  Earlier this week, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said Britain should not be “punished” for leaving the EU.

“What is the point in punishing a country?” she said. “It is senseless, unless you think the EU is a prison, and you are condemned if you escape. I want to rebuild our damaged relations with the United Kingdom.  A people decides its own destiny. You cannot force a country to do something that is against its own interests, or against the democratic process,” Ms. Le Pen added.

Daily Devotional

Confessing Sin As a Child

"Father, I have sinned."  Luke 15:18

Charles H. Spurgeon

It is quite certain that those whom Christ has washed in his precious blood need not make a confession of sin, as culprits or criminals, before God the Judge, for Christ has forever taken away all their sins in a legal sense, so that they no longer stand where they can be condemned, but are once for all accepted in the Beloved; but having become children, and offending as children, ought they not every day to go before their heavenly Father and confess their sin, and acknowledge their iniquity in that character?

Nature teaches that it is the duty of erring children to make a confession to their earthly father, and the grace of God in the heart teaches us that we, as Christians, owe the same duty to our heavenly Father. We daily offend, and ought not to rest without daily pardon. For, supposing that my trespasses against my Father are not at once taken to him to be washed away by the cleansing power of the Lord Jesus, what will be the consequence?

If I have not sought forgiveness and been washed from these offences against my Father, I shall feel at a distance from him; I shall doubt his love to me; I shall tremble at him; I shall be afraid to pray to him: I shall grow like the prodigal, who, although still a child, was yet far off from his father. But if, with a child's sorrow at offending so gracious and loving a Parent, I go to him and tell him all, and rest not till I realize that I am forgiven, then I shall feel a holy love to my Father, and shall go through my Christian career, not only as saved, but as one enjoying present peace in God through Jesus Christ my Lord.

There is a wide distinction between confessing sin as a culprit, and confessing sin as a child. The Father's bosom is the place for penitent confessions. We have been cleansed once for all, but our feet still need to be washed from the defilement of our daily walk as children of God.

The Benedict Option, Part I

The Western Church Enters the Long Dark of Moria

Rod Dreher has written a book to prepare Western Christians for the coming Dark Age.  It is entitled The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.  Whilst its particular focus is the United States, it is applicable to the West as a whole.  

A fundamental assertion made by Dreher is that the present post-Christian, pagan world views now gaining not just currency, but regnancy throughout the West, are not a short-term, temporary phenomenon.  Rather, paganism will dominant the West for a thousand years or more.  His concern is to prepare the Western Church for this new, semi-permanent reality

It is refreshing to find someone speaking and thinking in such long time frames.  Most evangelicals in the Western world believe that the Lord is about to return any minute.  Their operating time frame spans little more than a generation in most cases.  Dreher, a professing Roman Catholic--more Catholic than Roman--operates in the biblical time frame, which not infrequently speaks of thousands of generations.

Here is a summary of Dreher's thesis, provided by the publisher, Barnes and Noble:

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The US Version of the Star Chamber

Washington’s Supreme Court Imposes Its Progressive Faith on a Christian Florist

The ruling in Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers should chill First Amendment advocates everywhere.

John French
National Review Online

[A few days ago, we published a piece on how the state in the UK is taking steps in the direction of persecuting those who speak to others about the Christian faith.  Persecution is taking a different form in the United States, but the end result is same.  In the US, some courts are overtly insisting upon submission to the state religion and are beginning to punish non-conformity.  Ed.]  

If you care about the Bill of Rights, the rights of conscience, or even the English language, there’s a chance that this morning you felt a disturbance in the Force — as if the Founders cried out in rage and were suddenly silenced. That disturbance was the Washington Supreme Court’s oppressive ruling in State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers, a case holding that a florist was bound by state law to use her artistic talents to design floral arrangements to celebrate what she viewed as an immoral event: a gay wedding.

The pretext for overriding the florist’s rights to free speech and religious liberty was Washington’s so-called “public accommodations law,” which required the owner, Barronelle Stutzman, to provide goods and services to customers “regardless” of their sexual orientation.

Let’s be clear, according to the plain language of the law and the undisputed facts of the case, Stutzman did nothing illegal. She had always consistently and joyfully served gay clients, including the man who ultimately decided to bring potentially ruinous legal claims against her. On each of those prior occasions, however, she was not using her artistic talents to help her clients celebrate an occasion she considered immoral.

In other words, she was not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

Daily Meditation

On Comfort

C. S. Lewis

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.

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

Fragrant Grease

Far Greater Risks Than "Buyer Beware"

China, over many generations, has believed deeply in the pragmatic virtues of  "fragrant grease".  The bribe facilitates all.

When Taiwanese visit the mainland they often report about the role of the bribe in mainland China.
They noted that mainlanders are not conscientious in their work, that officials live well and demand bribes from the poor, that anything including admission to schools may be had for a bribe, and that "lack of sincerity", cheating, and extortion are prevalent.  They noted that "many long-haired jobless youth loiter about, and some rob people" and that there has been a general decline in traditional Chinese virtues.  It takes no special sophistication for a traveler to see that everything is for sale, from immunity for one's self to the ruin of one's enemies.  [Angelo M. Codevilla, The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997),  p.143.]
Let anyone doing business in China beware.  It's not just that the payment of fragrant grease is expected by local officials in order for them to facilitate and permit one's company to operate.  It's also the reality that one's  "enemies"--commercial competitors--can bribe in the opposite direction, leading not just to one's own commercial loss, but to one's company managers and directors being hauled into prison.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Hot Politics of the Moment

Douglas Wilson

So now would be a good time for all of us to listen to Rand Paul on big data security concerns. And here is why.

Michael Flynn has just stepped down as the president’s National Security Advisor. My concern is not whether he was wise or foolish in his interaction with the Russians, or whether he completely misrepresented himself to the vice-president or not, or whether the president was right to seek his resignation or not. My concern is not with the decisions that have been made, but how it came about that a decision had to be made.

Before he was part of the government, before he was sworn in, his phone conversations with foreigners were recorded. Those conversations were then subsequently leaked and the controversy ensued.

What this means is that someone in the intelligence community, with access to the surveillance data that is routinely collected, released some of that data in the interests of a political agenda. It does not matter for my purposes if that political agenda is wise or foolish. It is simply that this information was released for political purposes, and the person who released it is not in jail. This is all we really need to know.

Daily Meditation

The Kind of Cold That Kills

He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. (Psalm 147:15)

John Piper

Tonight it will be 40 degrees warmer in our kitchen freezer than it is outside here in Minneapolis. The high temperature tomorrow will be five degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). We receive this from the Lord’s hand.
He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
(Psalm 147:15–18)

This is the kind of cold you do not play with. It kills.

Tears Dropping Upon the Bowl of Morning Porridge

It's All Over, Rover

Doomsday has arrived for the Doomsday Clock.  We at Contra Celsum are enjoying hearty chuckles over the dissipation of angst that will now attend the Doom Ticker.

Columnist Bob Brockie described the history of Doomageddon's clock, and how it has morphed into meaninglessness.
The Doomsday Clock is not what it used to be. In its early days, the clock simply measured the threat of nuclear war but this year is quite different. The atomic scientists have widened the range of world threats to include climate change, genetically engineered alien flu strains, transgenic plants that could be malignly used to produce toxic proteins, potential paramilitary robots with a license to kill, hackers crashing the grid, giant asteroids, fake news but, above all, that horseman of the apocalypse, Donald Trump, whose strident nationalism, inflammatory rhetoric and his dismissal of scientific expertise threatens us all.  Scary stuff. No wonder that they've moved the clock 2.5 minutes closer to midnight.  [Stuff]
The multitudinous Apocalypse du Jour crowd have taken over the Doomsday Clock.  It seems that folk cannot live without the chill winds of fear cooling down their morning porridge into a tepid slurry of multi-variate, competing dooms.  The problem with this is twofold.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Douglas Wilson Writes to the Vice-President

An Open Letter to the Vice-President of the United States

Douglas Wilson

Mr. Vice-President,

I am writing you as one who has appreciated your work, and as one who has been most grateful for your presence and influence in the new administration. Your impact has not gone unnoticed, and we thank God for you. I am extraordinarily mindful of what you did in appearing to speak at the pro-life march. I have thanked God for you. We have prayed for you.

At the same time, there has also been obvious influence in the other direction, and so I wanted to take this opportunity address you in my capacity as a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that you are a believer, and that you respect the authority of the holy Scriptures. I am appealing to those Scriptures, and come to you as a fellow servant of those Scriptures. I know, in fact, that we agree on
this common ground.

I saw that you recently defended the president’s approach to LGBTQ issues, in his extension of President Obama’s executive order on LGBT rights. In the past you have said that you are a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third, in that order. In the past you have recognized that “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.” But just recently, in this interview with George Stephanopoulos, you said that you applauded the president’s continued inclusion of the “LGBT community” in this way.  You further said that there is no room in a patriot’s heart for prejudice. This is problematic in many ways, which I would like to take a moment to explain.

In the first place, as you well know, no responsible Christian leader advocates queer-bashing.

Daily Meditation

Christ As Means and End

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20)

John Piper

Why did God create the universe, and why is he governing it the way he is? What is God achieving? Is Jesus Christ a means to this achievement or the end of the achievement?

Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God. He is God in human form. As such, he is the end, not a means.

The manifestation of the glory of God is the meaning of the universe. This is what God is achieving. The heavens and the history of the world are “telling the glory of God.”  But Jesus Christ was sent to accomplish something that needed doing. He came to remedy the fall. He came to rescue sinners from inevitable destruction because of their sin. These rescued ones will see and savor and display the glory of God with everlasting joy.

Others will continue to heap scorn on the glory of God. So Jesus Christ is the means to what God meant to achieve in the manifestation of his glory for the enjoyment of his people.  But in that accomplishment on the cross, as he died for sinners, Christ revealed the love and righteousness of the Father supremely. This was the apex of the revelation of the glory of God — the glory of his grace.

Therefore, in the very moment of his perfect act as the means of God’s purpose, Jesus became the end of that purpose. He became, in his dying in the place of sinners and his resurrection for their life, the central and supreme revelation of the glory of God.

Christ crucified is therefore both the means and the end of God’s purpose in the universe.  Without his work, that end to reveal the fullness of the glory of God for the enjoyment of God’s people would not have happened.

And in that very means-work he became the end — the one who forever and ever will be the focus of our worship as we spend eternity seeing and savoring more and more of what he revealed of God when he became a curse for us.

Jesus is the end for which the universe was made, and the means that makes that end possible to enjoy.

A New Tune, Or An Old Dirge

The Turning of the Tide?

At this year's Waitangi Day, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English gave a couple of speeches which asserted that a quiet revolution is underway in New Zealand.  One person covering the speeches claimed that what English said was "extraordinary".  
English chose not to go to Waitangi, preferring to attend a breakfast hosted by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. When it came his turn to speak during the powhiri, which was held inside the wharenui, he began with a short mihi and then he said, “I want to tell you why I’ve come here, to this marae.”

He said it was because of what had been achieved by Ngāti Whātua and the manner of its achievement. He spoke directly to Joe Hawke, the much-loved Uncle Joe, the man who in 1976-78 led a 506-day protest “occupation” of the very land they were on that day. Hawke sat front and centre across from English, flanked by other kaumātua, many of whom were also protest veterans. He soaked it up.

Hawke is silver haired now, a thin man with the sad eyes of age, but what draws you is the whispery smile that keeps flitting over his face, creasing the skin, puckering the lips, lighting those eyes. He leaves it to others to do the talking, and none of them leaves you in any doubt of their pride at their achievements.  English understood it very well.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Lessons From US Agriculture

 A ‘Farm Bust’ Could Help Renew American Agriculture

Current farming methodologies aren't just bad for land, community, and ecology—they're increasingly bad for business. Something's gotta give.

[This piece profiles the crisis of American agriculture.  The operating paradigm of "bigger is better" is in the process of falling apart.  We suspect that the same realities will be faced eventually in New Zealand because of the large scale industrialization of dairy farming in this country.  Ed.]

Gracy Olmstead
The Federalist

The Wall Street Journal is predicting a farm bust on the horizon, as America’s role in the global grain market shrinks, and the price for corn continues to drop. Reporters Jesse Newman and Patrick McGroarty write
The Farm Belt is hurtling toward a milestone: Soon there will be fewer than two million farms in America for the first time since pioneers moved westward after the Louisiana Purchase.  This number definitely reflects a growing decline in farming. But what the Wall Street Journal doesn’t note is that the nation’s largest farms are only growing more powerful and large. We have fewer farms, yes, but largely because we have a greater share of larger, industrialized farms.
The WSJ interviewed a specific type of farmer for this article: the commodity crop farmer. Yes, they represent the greatest portion of farms in the American heartland. But many are also beginning to realize that government subsidies and cushy crop insurance premiums can’t save them forever: when their supply is abundantly overstepping demand, eventually reality is going to hit. And if this WSJ piece is any indication, reality is indeed about to strike.

Daily Devotional

The Weakest, Smallest Faith

"She was healed immediately."  Luke 8:47

Charles H. Spurgeon

One of the most touching and teaching of the Saviour's miracles is before us. The woman was very ignorant. She imagined that virtue came out of Christ by a law of necessity, without his knowledge or direct will. Moreover, she was a stranger to the generosity of Jesus' character, or she would not have gone behind to steal the cure which he was so ready to bestow. Misery should always place itself right in the face of mercy.

Had she known the love of Jesus' heart, she would have said, "I have but to put myself where he can see me--his omniscience will teach him my case, and his love at once will work my cure." We admire her faith, but we marvel at her ignorance. After she had obtained the cure, she rejoiced with trembling: glad was she that the divine virtue had wrought a marvel in her; but she feared lest Christ should retract the blessing, and put a negative upon the grant of his grace: little did she comprehend the fulness of his love!

We have not so clear a view of him as we could wish; we know not the heights and depths of his love; but we know of a surety that he is too good to withdraw from a trembling soul the gift which it has been able to obtain.

But here is the marvel of it: little as was her knowledge, her faith, because it was real faith, saved her, and saved her at once. There was no tedious delay--faith's miracle was instantaneous. If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, salvation is our present and eternal possession. If in the list of the Lord's children we are written as the feeblest of the family, yet, being heirs through faith, no power, human or devilish, can eject us from salvation. If we dare not lean our heads upon his bosom with John, yet if we can venture in the press behind him, and touch the hem of his garment, we are made whole.

Courage, timid one! thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God."


Liar, Liar Pants on Fire

The old saw asserting there are "lies, damned lies, and statistics" will afflict us until educational and schooling standards rise once more.  For the present we see commentators and reporters and government officials and politicians misusing statistics frequently.  Largely, they get away with it.

To this imbroglio we must add the recent phenomenon of the main stream media being captured by political animus against conservatives in general, and the Trump administration, in particular.  The sobriquet "fake news" has been deployed to characterise how en masse the media are framing everything they can find to ridicule and undermine the new US federal administration.  As Churchill used to say, by the time a lie is corrected, it has gone around the world, before the truth gets out of bed and puts its pants on.  Never was this more the case than in our days, where the animus of the media is so extreme.

Here is one "little exchange" to illustrate the point.  The topic: immigration to the US.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

It's Not OK to Punch Fascists

Even if they deserve the term

Liam Hehir

Not long ago, disreputable Right-winger Richard Spencer was attacked on live television. Spencer is often accused of being a Nazi though he disputes that label.

A man attacks Richard Spencer during the ABC's live interview.
A man attacks Richard Spencer during the ABC's live interview.

He is undoubtedly a purveyor of white identity politics, however, and is notable for coining the term "alt-right". At the time he was attacked he was being interviewed on the street during the Trump presidential inauguration. A man came up, smashed him in the side of the face and ran off.

A punch directly to the head is serious business. A blow to the cranium – even a relatively restrained one – can cause lasting damage. Spencer could have been seriously hurt or even killed.

Nevertheless, for many "liberals" in the United States and elsewhere, the sight of such a villainous personage being clocked caused much glee. The offender was compared to Indiana Jones, Captain America, the Blues Brothers and other pop-culture icons who were famous for their (fictional) assaults on Nazis.  Videos of the incident set to music went viral, with a former Obama administration speechwriter tweeting that, "I don't care how many different songs you set Richard Spencer being punched to, I'll laugh at every one."

Since then, it has become clear that the idea of using violence against alleged fascists has gained some respectability.

Daily Meditation

On Comfort

C. S. Lewis

God is the only comfort. He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies.

Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way. . . .

Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay.

In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.

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.

Desperate Artifices

The Bible is Not a Wax Nose To Be Twisted At Will

When consciences become seared one of the outcomes is folk attempting to "explain away" the Bible's clear teaching.  When the Bible commands, "Thou shalt not . . . " the man with a seared conscience responds with a couple of common subterfuges.

The first (and probably the most intellectually honest, albeit erroneous) is to agree that, yes, the Bible does indeed condemn "x", but the Bible has no standing in human life and society.  The Bible is mistaken, irrelevant, tells lies, etc.  This response does not deny that the Messenger says that "x" is wrong, forbidden, and condemned.  Rather, it attacks the Messenger as having no relevance, authority, or standing in the matter.

The second subterfuge is to agree that yes, the Bible condemns "x" and forbids the practice of "x" but "x" has a narrow or technical meaning.  It does not apply to every instance of "x".  In this way, one can still maintain some vestiges of credibility as a believer, but only by perverting the teaching of the Bible, making it say what it does not.

Thus it has come to pass with respect to the Bible's teaching on homosexuality.  There are plenty of scholars in subterfuge number one.  Such folk are knowledgeable on the widespread practice of homosexuality amongst the Greeks and Romans (that is, in New Testament times).

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America (About Killers)

When Seared Consciences Lust for Power

The president caused a stir the other day when he told Bill O’Reilly that there are lots of killers out there, and that America is “not so innocent.” This was in response to a question about how Trump could work with Putin, in that, as O’Reilly objected, “he’s a killer.” This is quite true. He is a killer, thug, and kleptocrat. Defenders of Putin have a moral compass that, instead of pointing true north, has a needle sticking out the side in order to point to Sheol.

That answer from Trump was taken by some as mightily offensive, as though he were flattening all differences between Russia and the United States, making the two morally equivalent. This is something liberals used to do all the time in the Cold War, where they would say things like “well, sure, the Soviets have the Gulag but we must never forget that the all-you-can-eat buffet at Ruby Tuesday is out of the reach of our working poor.” Stuff like that.

But the offense that was taken to Trump’s remark had a curious religiously indignant feel to it, as though the president had just heaved a dead polecat at the high altar.  How dare he compare us in any way to the lousy Russians?

There are just a couple of points to make here, and it shouldn’t take long.

Daily Meditation

Lincoln’s Providence

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)

John Piper

Abraham Lincoln, who was born on this day in 1809, remained skeptical, and at times even cynical, about religion into his forties. So it is a most striking thing how personal and national suffering drew Lincoln into the reality of God, rather than pushing him away.

In 1862, when Lincoln was 53 years old, his 11-year-old son Willie died. Lincoln’s wife “tried to deal with her grief by searching out New Age mediums.” Lincoln turned to Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.  Several long talks led to what Gurley described as “a conversion to Christ.” Lincoln confided that he was “driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go.”

Similarly, the horrors of the dead and wounded soldiers assaulted him daily. There were fifty hospitals for the wounded in Washington. The rotunda of the Capitol held 2,000 cots for wounded soldiers.  Typically, fifty soldiers a day died in these temporary hospitals. All of this drove Lincoln deeper into the providence of God. “We cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.”

His most famous statement about the providence of God in relation to the Civil War was his Second Inaugural Address, given a month before he was assassinated. It is remarkable for not making God a simple supporter for the Union or Confederate cause. He has his own purposes and does not excuse sin on either side.
Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away . . . .

Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.
I pray for all of you who suffer loss and injury and great sorrow that it will awaken for you, as it did for Lincoln, not an empty nihilism, but a deeper reliance on the infinite wisdom and love of God’s inscrutable providence.

The Winnowing Fork

"Choose You This Day Whom You Will Serve"

It is very sad to see some sections and traditions within the Church going all squishy over homosexuality.  But we must always bear in mind that when the Lord directs such things to confront His Church it is always to winnow and purify His body over the longer run.

The real issue is for us to return once more to the teaching of Scripture and stand upon the Word of God.  Regardless of the spurious doctrines and beliefs peddled by the world of Unbelief, we are called to be faithful to His Word.  By this we affirm our faith and our loyalty, and we confirm that we belong to Christ.  "If you love me, keep my commandments", says the King.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. . . . Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”  [John 14: 15,21]
In this light, we believe the following statement by a contemporary pastor, Kevin De Young on homosexuality and the Scriptures is right on the money:

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Deadly Lies and Deceit

I Used To Work For Planned Parenthood 

Yes, Late-Term Abortions Happened Regularly.

Abby Johnson

Rally Held In Support Of Cutting Planned Parenthood Funding - DC

Ever since the third and final presidential debate last week, many questions have been circulating online about the truth behind late-term abortions (performed in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy). As a former abortion clinic director, I can help answer some of these questions.

Yes, late-term abortions are legal in the U.S. and do take place through the entire 3rd trimester, including through the 9th month of pregnancy. According to the latest Guttmacher data, about 18,000 3rd trimester abortions are performed every year.

These abortions can be performed for the “life or health” of the mother. What this means is that a late-term abortion can be provided for any reason, as long as the abortionist checks a box on her chart stating it was affecting her “life or health.” No documentation of proof is required.

Daily Meditation

To Become a Little Christ

C. S. Lewis

Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has—by what I call ‘good infection’. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.

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.

When Media Twit and Tweet

Self-Destructive Emotional Exhaustion

The Federalist has published a piece on the media's use and abuse of "fake news".  It details 16 fake stories that for some strange reason made it past the editors and sub-editors.  Then, once the headlines trumpeted the falsehood, retractions and corrections were made in fine print at the bottom of page 23, days later, after the damage has been done.

This is happening far too often to be co-incidence.  Not that we are suggesting a formal conspiracy is at work.  But a reckless animadversion, bent against what we might generally call a conservative or classical liberal world-and-life view, is clearly evident.

Here are some examples, cited in the Federalist article:

Monday, 13 February 2017

Fetid Corruption in the Swamp

Draining the Great Grimpen Mire

Scandal Gives Perfect Pretext To Drain The Climate Swamp

James Delingpole
Breitbart London

So NOAA deliberately fiddled the climate data to hide the “pause” in global warming in time for the UN’s COP21 Paris talks.  Really, this whistleblowing revelation couldn’t have come at a better time for Donald Trump.

In the field of energy and climate, President Trump has said that there is a massive swamp that needs draining.  But his efforts are being resisted at every turn by all those lying scientists, bent politicians, rent-seeking businessmen, and Soros-funded activist groups who  insist: “What swamp? What crocodiles? What leeches? Nothing to see here!”

What the whistleblowing NOAA insider John Bates has just done is prove beyond reasonable doubt what some of us have long claimed: that from NASA GISS and NOAA across the pond to the UEA and the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, the world’s leading temperature data sets have been hijacked by climate activists and abused to advance a political agenda.

Here at Breitbart we smelt a rat from the moment NOAA released its dodgy, “Pause-busting” study two years ago.

Daily Meditation

No Temporary Gift

"He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever."  John 14:16

Charles H. Spurgeon

The Great Father revealed himself to believers of old before the coming of his Son, and was known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the God Almighty. Then Jesus came, and the ever-blessed Son in his own proper person, was the delight of his people's eyes. At the time of the Redeemer's ascension, the Holy Spirit became the head of the present dispensation, and his power was gloriously manifested in and after Pentecost.

He remains at this hour the present Immanuel--God with us, dwelling in and with his people, quickening, guiding, and ruling in their midst. Is his presence recognized as it ought to be? We cannot control his working; he is most sovereign in all his operations, but are we sufficiently anxious to obtain his help, or sufficiently watchful lest we provoke him to withdraw his aid? Without him we can do nothing, but by his almighty energy the most extraordinary results can be produced: everything depends upon his manifesting or concealing his power.

Do we always look up to him both for our inner life and our outward service with the respectful dependence which is fitting? Do we not too often run before his call and act independently of his aid? Let us humble ourselves for past neglects, and now entreat the heavenly dew to rest upon us, the sacred oil to anoint us, the celestial flame to burn within us.

The Holy Ghost is no temporary gift, he abides with the saints. We have but to seek him aright, and he will be found of us. He is jealous, but he is pitiful; if he leaves in anger, he returns in mercy. Condescending and tender, he does not weary of us, but awaits to be gracious still.

Sin has been hammering my heart
Unto a hardness, void of love,
Let supplying grace to cross his art
Drop from above.

A Bloody Prelate Makes a Comeback

An Ancient Curse Shows Signs of Life

We have seen a growing number of cases in the United Kingdom where Christians are being silenced for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and His holy Word in public.  We are seeing the first signs of a recrudescence of the Star Chamber.

For those not aware of the Star Chamber, it is clothed with infamy.  An historical summary of that English court is as follows:
The importance of the Star Chamber increased during the reigns of James I (1603–25) and Charles I (1625–49). Under Archbishop William Laud, the court became a tool of royal oppression, seeking out and punishing religious and political dissidents. In the 1630s Laud used the Star Chamber to persecute a group of Puritan leaders, most of whom came from the gentry, subjecting them to the pillory and Corporal Punishment. Though the Star Chamber could not mete out Capital Punishment, it inflicted everything short of death upon those found guilty. During this time the court met in secret, extracting evidence by torturing witnesses and handing out punishments that included mutilation, life imprisonment, and enormous fines. It turned equity's traditionally broad discretion into a complete disregard for the law.  [Legal Dictionary]
Not for a moment do we mean to suggest that the UK has embarked on torturing witnesses and mutilating those judged to be guilty.  Rather, the link back to the Star Chamber comes with the increasing public and official persecution of Christians in the UK.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Keeping Up--With a Little Help, Part III

An Unintended Advocate 

OK, one final post on Neil Gorsuch, Trump's nomination to take the seat of the late Antonin Scalia on the bench of the US Supreme Court.  This quotation and reflection comes from the radical (establishment) Left.  We are referring, of course, to the New York Times--which, along with the Democratic Party it idolizes, has marched majestically off into the loony zone.

The editorialists at the Times have duly considered Neil Gorsuch and decided that he is entirely unfit for the job Supreme Court justice.  He is a radical.  He is an extremist.  He is dangerous.  You know, the usual eructations, when anyone is put forward who is slightly to the right of that forgettable "what's his name" who ran against Hillary in the Democratic primary.

Rod Dreher at The Federalist quotes from a correspondent on the matter:

Deceit And Data Manipulation: Dirty Science

When Numbers Lie

The climate shysters  have no shame.  The data they claim shows that the globe is warming is specious and manufactured.  The egregious mendacity operating amidst their group-think mind has caused much devastation and damage.

Recently, a whistle blower has come forth, revealing that the "temperature data" used to "prove" just before the Paris Conference that the world was indeed warming was a hoax.  It was manufactured deceit.

This, from Dr Thomas Williams, writing in Breitbart:

A high-level whistleblower at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has revealed that the organization published manipulated data in a major 2015 report on climate change in order to maximize impact on world leaders at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.  According to a report in The Mail on Sunday, NOAA scientist Dr. John Bates has produced “irrefutable evidence” that the NOAA study denying the “pause” in global warming in the period since 1998 was based on false and misleading data.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Keeping Up--With a Little Help, Part II

Gorsuch is the Anti-Trump

Rich Lowry
National Review Online

For those worried about executive power run amok under Trump, there could be no better remedy than Judge Gorsuch.

If President Donald Trump is a budding authoritarian, as his critics allege, one of the safeguards is Judge Neil Gorsuch.

For all that Trump has flouted norms and gotten off to an at-times amateurish start in the White House, his pick of Gorsuch was extremely normal and highly professional. The Gorsuch nomination is exactly what everyone should want from a President Trump, especially those who most fear and loathe him. Yet Trump’s fiercest opponents began denouncing Gorsuch immediately.

This is the dilemma for Democrats: Either Trump is a threat to the republic because he doesn’t appreciate the Constitution and is bound to violate it with excessive assertions of executive power, or Gorsuch is a threat to the republic because he has an overly punctilious view of the Constitution that entails, among other things, a dim view of executive overreach. Both can’t be true.

Daily Meditation

Always in Heaven

TO BEDE GRIFFITHS, with whom Lewis shares an insight from The Great Divorce (Chapter 9), which he is writing at the time: On the utter truth of losing one’s life to save it (with another word about Charles Williams).

C. S. Lewis

25 May 1944

Thanks for your letter. I too was delighted with our meeting. About the past, and nothing being lost, the point is that ‘He who loses his life shall save it’ [Matthew 10:39] is totally true, true on every level. Everything we crucify will rise again: nothing we try to hold onto will be left us.

I wrote the other day ‘Good and evil when they attain their full stature are retrospective. That is why, at the end of all things, the damned will say we were always in Hell, and the blessed we have never lived anywhere but in heaven.’ Do you agree?

You’re right about C.W. He has an undisciplined mind and sometimes admits into his theology ideas whose proper place is in his romances. What keeps him right is his love of which (and I have now known him long) he radiates more than any man I know. . . . Continue to pray for me as I do for you.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Yours, Jack The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. 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.

Straight Blows With A Crooked Stick

Take the Good With the Bad

Douglas Wilson has suggested that we regard Donald Trump as a descendant of Jehu.  It is an apt suggestion.  Jehu was an instrument of divine wrath who went through the ruling elites of Israel and Judah like a hot knife through butter.  He was not a godly man, by any means.  But he stopped all the posturing and chatter, slaying dragons to the left and idolaters to the right.  You can read of his exploits in II Kings 9 & 10.  He was an instrument of judgement in the hand of the Lord.  He did many good and needful things.  But he was not a faithful servant of God.  
But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin.  [II Kings 10: 31]
Wilson suggests that we should see Donald Trump as similarly raised up by the Lord.  With great energy and vigour he will do some things which have long needed to be done.  But he will also act shamefully in many ways and do damage.

To add flesh to these bones, Daniel Harsanyi writes in National Review Online that Trump is not an all-or-nothing proposition.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Keeping Up--With a Little Help

Not Henry P. Balrog

Donald Trump is like his spiritual forbear, Jehu: he drives his chariot furiously [II Kings 9: 20].  Every day there is something of significance happening.  It's hard to keep up.  So far we have not had the time, nor energy, to say some words about his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court. So, we will let those more knowledgeable and closer to the action opine on the matter.  

Firstly, Douglas Wilson:
Gorsuch A Time as This


As I have commented already, I am enjoying the early phases of the Trump administration a lot more than I thought I was going to. The most recent manifestation of this was Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for a place on the Supreme Court. And not only did he nominate someone apparently true blue, but he shows every indication that he is going to fight to get that nomination confirmed.

Daily Meditation

Reviled Here, Rewarded There

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

John Piper

How does the promise in Psalm 1:3 point to Christ?  It says, “In all that he does, he prospers.” The righteous prosper in everything they do. Is this naïve or profoundly true?

In this life, the wicked often prosper. “Fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalms 37:7). “Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape” (Malachi 3:15).

And in this life the righteous often suffer and their goodness is rewarded with abuse. “If we had forgotten the name of our God . . . would not God discover this? . . . Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered” (Psalms 44:20–22).

Therefore, when the psalmist says, “He prospers in all that he does,” he is pointing through the ambiguities of this life to life after death where the prosperity of all that we have done will appear.

This is the way Paul thought.

First, he celebrates the victory of Christ over death. “O death, where is your victory? . . . Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55–57).

Then, second, he draws out the implication that because of this triumph, every work that believers have ever done will prosper. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, . . . your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). When something is not in vain, it prospers.

Because Jesus died in our place, he guaranteed that every good deed prospers in the end. “Blessed are you when others revile you. . . . Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11–12). Reviled here. Rewarded there.

What seems naïve in the Old Testament (“he prospers in all that he does”) points profoundly to the work of Christ and the reality of resurrection.

The Homosexual Marriage Mirage

Flying Spaghetti Monsters

Homosexual "marriage" is being weaponised in New Zealand.  The bureaucrat in charge of the register of marriage celebrants, Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Jeff Montgomery claims that he is bound by the NZ Human Rights Act to prevent any discrimination against homosexuals.  Therefore, according to Mr Montgomery's peculiar perspective on things, if someone applies to be a marriage celebrant whose conscience will not permit them to "marry" homosexuals, they cannot be an official marriage celebrant.  

Bob McCoskrie of Family First writes:

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Letter From the UK (About An Open Assault on Free Speech)

Egregious Intolerance From the Secularists

The Barnabas Fund

The freedom to report both incidents of anti-Christian persecution and the ideology motivating such attacks is central to what Barnabas Fund and other organisations have done for many years. Yet those freedoms are now under threat, particularly in the UK, but also in other Western countries. This is a three-pronged attack.

First, although the press has been free from government regulation since 1694, there is now a serious possibility that the government will require all media outlets with multiple writers to sign up to a state sponsored press regulator. If they do not, in the event that they are sued, they will have to pay both their own and the complainant’s legal costs, even if they win. In other words, they could be quickly bankrupted. To make matters worse, several senior figures of this new regulator, including its CEO, are reported to be strong supporters of a campaign to stop major brands advertising with the Daily Express and Daily Mail because of their alleged negative portrayal of religious minorities. In fact, these two newspapers have repeatedly spoken out against Islamism and the persecution of Christians in Islamic countries – it was the Sunday Express front page, closely followed by the Daily Mail, that published the story Barnabas Fund first broke of archbishops from Syria and Iraq being denied UK visit visas to attend the consecration of the UK’s first Syriac Orthodox cathedral.

The second threat (as Barnabas Fund reported last summer) comes from an agreement between the EU and Internet companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter to take down any internet posts within 24 hours if what were termed “civil society” groups claimed they constituted “hate speech”. This effectively allowed lobby groups, including Islamists, to censor opinions they disagreed with by getting their members to mass report them.

Daily Devotional

God Hears You In the Day of Trouble

"Praying always."  Ephesians 6:18

Charles H. Spurgeon

What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when he had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial.

We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock--Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite.

Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, "I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication"? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God's answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat.

Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."