Saturday, 29 April 2017

Self-Centric "Advice" From Medical Know-It-Alls

Mothers of Down Syndrome Children Encouraged to Terminate

Ruby Nyika

The mother of an unborn child with Down Syndrome says she was advised by medical professionals to terminate the pregnancy.  Antenatal screening meant Masterton mother of two Danielle Bolt knew her unborn daughter Noa would have Down Syndrome, but she did not hesitate in giving birth to her now 21-month-old.

Bolt was angry with the advice she was given and said doctors and nurses should change their approach.

Noa, who is 21 months old, with her father Joshua Matthews and mother Danielle Bolt.

Noa, who is 21 months old, with her father Joshua Matthews and mother Danielle Bolt.

"I was told to terminate by the specialist," Bolt said. "They literally said to me Noa will become a burden on society and she's not worth it.  It's so cruel because they don't know her potential."

Bolt, who went for Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) at Wellington Hospital, said she was called by staff, who apologised and told her that her daughter would have Down Syndrome.   Bolt was upset they felt the need to apologise about an otherwise healthy baby girl.

Daily Meditation

It is Good of Him To Force Us

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On the hard task of learning to depend only on God and on nothing and no one else.

6 December 1955

C. S. Lewis

I was most distressed by the news in your letter of Dec. 2nd. . . . And I can’t help you, because under the modern laws I’m not allowed to send money to America. (What a barbarous system we live under. I knew a man who had to risk prison in order to smuggle a little money to his own sister, widowed in the U.S.A.) By the way, we mustn’t be too sure there was any irony about your just having refused that other job. There may have been a snag about it which God knew and you didn’t.

I feel it almost impossible to say anything (in my comfort and security—apparent security, for real security is in Heaven and thus earth affords only imitations) which would not sound horribly false and facile. Also, you know it all better than I do. I should in your place be (I have in similar places been) far more panic-stricken and even perhaps rebellious. For it is a dreadful truth that the state of (as you say) ‘having to depend solely on God’ is what we all dread most. And of course that just shows how very much, how almost exclusively, we have been depending on things.

That trouble goes so far back in our lives and is now so deeply ingrained, we will not turn to Him as long as He leaves us anything else to turn to. I suppose all one can say is that it was bound to come. In the hour of death and the day of judgement, what else shall we have? Perhaps when those moments come, they will feel happiest who have been forced (however unwillingly) to begin practising it here on earth. It is good of Him to force us: but dear me, how hard to feel that it is good at the time....

All’s well—I’m half ashamed it should be—with me. God bless and keep you. You shall be constantly in my prayers by day and night.

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.

Media Effluent

She Was Just a Concerned Random

Some years ago when we were foolish enough to take courses on media at Auckland University we were informed that journalists were generally lazy.  Rather than being both investigators and reporters they tended, as a group, to dress up press releases as if they were the produce of an independent investigation by the media.  Rather cynical, non?  Let's see.

It's school holiday season in New Zealand, so public libraries are full of school aged children.  Apparently one lady believes that's a terrible indictment upon our society.
Libraries are being inundated with unsupervised children during the school holidays.  Clendon woman Therese Luxton said her local library is teeming with unsupervised kids who have been dropped off by parents who can't afford childcare.  She said she met a "very frazzled" librarian who said they were being used as a free babysitting service. Children had come without food and the librarians had not budgeted for food.

"After returning to the library with bags of feijoas I was met at the library door, by an unattended little chap who was all of six," Luxton said.  "He asked for a bag with no hesitation at all and took it by himself with a bag on his back."  Luxton believed this was the consequence of expensive child-minding which resulted in the over-extension of a community facility having to double as a social agency.  [NZ Herald]
So far we have been led to believe that a random person, called Therese Luxton, is making a general complaint that libraries are full of unsupervised children.  This lady believes (apparently) that it is due to parents not being able to afford childcare for their kids during school holidays.  Implication: the gummint is ultimately at fault.

Who is Therese Luxton, we hear you ask?

Friday, 28 April 2017

Drawing Righteous Lines

Christian University Will Sever Ties With Planned Parenthood

Kate Scanlon

Whitworth University, a Christian liberal arts university in Spokane, Wash., will sever its ties to Planned Parenthood, Campus Reform reported Wednesday.

The university’s Students for Life chapter objected last fall to Planned Parenthood’s status as a “community partner” of Whitworth, which has an enrollment of 3,000 and is affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The partnership allowed university students to intern at the organization for school credit.

In an email to students Tuesday, which was obtained by Students for Life, Whitworth President Beck Taylor wrote that he instructed the school “not to renew” its “limited partnership” with Planned Parenthood.

Daily Meditation

Afraid to Stray

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! (Psalm 31:19)

Consider two important truths in Psalm 31:19.

1. The goodness of the Lord

There is a peculiar goodness of God. That is, there is not only God’s general goodness that he shows to all people, making his sun rise on the evil and the good (Matthew 5:45), but also a peculiar goodness for “those who fear him.”

This goodness is abundant beyond measure. It is boundless. It lasts forever. It is all-encompassing. There is only goodness for those who fear him. Everything works together for their good. Even their pains are filled with profit (Romans 5:3–5).

But those who do not fear him receive a temporary goodness — a goodness that does not lead to repentance, but leads to worse destruction (Romans 2:4).

2. The fear of the Lord

The fear of the Lord is the fear of straying from him. Therefore it expresses itself in taking refuge in God. That’s why two conditions are mentioned in Psalm 31:19 — fearing the Lord and taking refuge in him.

They seem to be opposites. Fear seems to drive away and taking refuge seems to draw in. But when we see that this fear is a fear of not being drawn in, then they work together.

There is a real trembling for the saints. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). But it is the trembling one feels in the arms of a Father who has just plucked his child from the undertow of the ocean.

Why the Left Protests and Shouts So Much

Invincible Ignorance and Shouting

The studied ignorance of some folk, whom one would expect to know better, leads to much head shaking at times.  The latest disappointment is Bryan Gould who is a former UK Labour MP and former vice-chancellor of Waikato University.  Sadly, Mr Gould has offered an unintended explanation of why the Left is held in such disrepute these days.  

Mr Gould has ventured into print to expose his ignorance of the banking system and how it works.  For these schoolboy errors he has been taken to task by Dr Don Brash, who has had a long career in the banking system.
But Mr Gould went further . . .  He said banks like to pretend they provide a useful service to the community by channelling resources from those who have no immediate need for them (savers) to those who do need them (borrowers), charging a modest spread for rendering that service.

But, said Mr Gould, this "benign view of [bank] operations is inaccurate and misleading. The banks do not lend you mortgage money deposited with them by someone else. They lend you money they themselves create out of nothing through the stroke of a pen or, today, a computer entry. The banks make their money, in other words, by charging interest on money that they themselves create". [NZ Herald]
One suspects that Mr Gould is reflexively drawing upon old-fashioned Marxist dogmas, commonly believed in the nineteen sixties.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Elephants in the Room

A Big Begged Question

The following piece was recently republished in Patterico.  Whilst Mr Sullivan is not a reliable guide in all things, the following excerpts below are right on point.  

Our old friend Andrew Sullivan seems to be trying on his conservative hat once again. In a column at New York magazine titled “Why Do Democrats Feel Sorry for Hillary Clinton” (a sensible essay, if fairly predictable), he includes an interesting criticism of people who have apparently been trying to spin the whole United Airlines kerfuffle as a battle in the social justice wars:

Do you know the real reason Dr. Dao was so brutally tackled and thrown off that United flight? It was all about white supremacy. I mean, what isn’t these days?

Daily Devotional

None Can Withstand Him

"Who is even at the right hand of God."  Romans 8:34

Charles H. Spurgeon

He who was once despised and rejected of men, now occupies the honourable position of a beloved and honoured Son. The right hand of God is the place of majesty and favour. Our Lord Jesus is his people's representative. When he died for them, they had rest; he rose again for them, they had liberty; when he sat down at his Father's right hand, they had favour, and honour, and dignity. The raising and elevation of Christ is the elevation, the acceptance, and enshrinement, the glorifying of all his people, for he is their head and representative. This sitting at the right hand of God, then, is to be viewed as the acceptance of the person of the Surety, the reception of the Representative, and therefore, the acceptance of our souls. O saint, see in this thy sure freedom from condemnation. "Who is he that condemneth?" Who shall condemn the men who are in Jesus at the right hand of God?

The right hand is the place of power. Christ at the right hand of God hath all power in heaven and in earth. Who shall fight against the people who have such power vested in their Captain? O my soul, what can destroy thee if Omnipotence be thy helper? If the aegis of the Almighty cover thee, what sword can smite thee? Rest thou secure. If Jesus is thine all-prevailing King, and hath trodden thine enemies beneath his feet; if sin, death, and hell are all vanquished by him, and thou art represented in him, by no possibility canst thou be destroyed.

"Jesu's tremendous name
Puts all our foes to flight:
Jesus, the meek, the angry Lamb,
A Lion is in fight.
"By all hell's host withstood;
We all hell's host o'erthrow;
And conquering them, through Jesu's blood
We still to conquer go."

An Offensive Decision

Bent And Twisted Moral Compasses

Every so often decision are made by bureaucrats which defy common sense.  We use that term deliberately.  There are some things which are beyond the comprehension of the ordinary bloke.  And so it has come to pass in New Zealand in a matter of deportation.

An immigration official has made a decision not to deport a twice-convicted sex offender, whose victims have included young girls.  This chap--an immigrant--has been allowed to remain in New Zealand, provided he does not re-offend over the next five years.  Cynics have opened up by asking the question that is begged loudly and insistently: what would it take for an immigrant to be deported?  Let's think.  Mass murder? Spitting on an immigration official? Refusing to vote for the Greens?  Unreasonable and stupid questions, we hear you mutter.  Quite.  Immigration New Zealand appears to be nonsensical, stupid, without rhyme or reason.  Unreasonable and stupid bureaucrats deserve to be mocked in the same vein in which they have assailed and mocked their fellow citizens, whom they ultimately, in this life, serve.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

It's Deja-Vu All Over Again

Arctic Ocean Getting Warm

Seals Vanish, Icebergs Melt

Sourced from:
Anthony Watts
Watts Up With That

The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulate, at Bergen, Norway.

Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone.  Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes.  Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm.

Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared.  Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.  Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.
What is the provenance of this story?  The Washington Post.  Ah, might have known.  But there is a slight problem.

Daily Meditation

Not Far From Home

"That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death."  Hebrews 2:14

Charles H. Spurgeon

O child of God, death hath lost its sting, because the devil's power over it is destroyed. Then cease to fear dying. Ask grace from God the Holy Ghost, that by an intimate knowledge and a firm belief of thy Redeemer's death, thou mayst be strengthened for that dread hour.

Living near the cross of Calvary thou mayst think of death with pleasure, and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. It is sweet to die in the Lord: it is a covenant-blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment, it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell.

The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not so. We are not far from home--a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread; the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will be its voyage? How many wearying winds must beat upon the sail ere it shall be reefed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be tossed upon the waves before it comes to that sea which knows no storm? Listen to the answer, "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." Yon ship has just departed, but it is already at its haven. It did but spread its sail and it was there. Like that ship of old, upon the Lake of Galilee, a storm had tossed it, but Jesus said, "Peace, be still," and immediately it came to land.

Think not that a long period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory. When the eyes close on earth they open in heaven. The horses of fire are not an instant on the road. Then, O child of God, what is there for thee to fear in death, seeing that through the death of thy Lord its curse and sting are destroyed? and now it is but a Jacob's ladder whose foot is in the dark grave, but its top reaches to glory everlasting.

Cleaning Up

The Changing Shape of the Fourth Estate

So, Bill O'Reilly is out at Fox News.  We have appreciated Fox News in general as an antidote to the anodyne Progressive pablum that is found just about everywhere else in the media spectrum in the US.  O'Reilly was part of the Fox lineup.

He was, however, at least to our taste, to be taken in small doses.  We quickly tired of his vainglorious boasting about his own show's attributes.  How "the spin stops here", and "we are always looking out for you".  After a while it was a case of "methinks he doth protest too much".  The Proverb says, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."  [Proverbs 27:2]  The English have a similar proverb, albeit more laconic: "self praise is no recommendation".

There are plenty of Fox News shows and programmes which do not need (apparently) the brazen self-blown trumpet of Mr O'Reilly.  As to the allegations of misconduct, we are not in a position to be judge, jury, nor executioner.   But the old adage of where there is smoke there is fire appears a reasonable position in the circumstances..

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow (About Camp Christianity)

Watermelons and Worldviews

Douglas Wilson

Twenty years ago or thereabouts, Christian worldview seminars for young people were all the thing. The erosion of centuries of cultural consensus had become generally apparent, and so a number of organizations and churches threw themselves into the task of helping young people—who were obviously going to be bringing up their children in bizarroworld—to know how to navigate said world. If you could call it a world.

But as time went by, and as things got weirder, a number of the cool kids began to sneer at the term worldview. As though life consisted of a cluster of conservative propositions! “Here, roll this thought around in your head. It will fix everything.”

And of course, as with all effective lies, there was an element of truth in this, as in, a smidgen of truth. A worldview does consist of more than just thoughts. We must include the way we worship, and the way we actually live, the symbols we use, and the non-Darwinian story we tell of our people and how we got here. In other word, everything we are and do is part of our worldview.

The problem was that those who sneered at the term worldview were not in the process of ascending above the truth of biblical propositions, but rather in the decadent process of sinking below them.

Daily Devotional

A Future for Failures

“Fear not; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; and do not turn aside after vain things which cannot profit or save, for they are vain.” (1 Samuel 12:20–21).

John Piper

When the Israelites have been brought to fear and repent of their sin of demanding Samuel to give them a king, then comes the good news: “Fear not; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; and do not turn aside after vain things which cannot profit or save, for they are vain” (12:20–21).

This is the gospel — even though you have sinned greatly, and terribly dishonored the Lord, even though you now have a king which it was a sin to get, even though there is no undoing that sin or its painful consequences that are yet to come, nevertheless there is a future and a hope.

Fear not! Fear not!

Then comes the great ground of the gospel in verse 22. “For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.”

ANZAC Day Memorial

Oh What a Lovely War--And All That

We are in the midst of the centennial remembrance of World War I.  That war commenced one hundred years ago in 2014 and the centennial remembrance will conclude next year in 2018.  From New Zealand's perspective some of the "stand outs" in terms of our national remembrance have been the respective exhibitions in the Dominion Museum and the national museum, Te Papa, both in Wellington.  

For some reason, World War I has been a war which in the telling of popular history has been vilified repeatedly.  World War II (which was arguably a continuation of World War I) has by contrast been celebrated as a great and glorious triumph.

Why has WWI been so scandalous in popular memory?  And how scandalous has it been?  Historian Robert Tombs has pointed out that antipathy towards the Great War, as it has been named, emerged well after the event.  This probably is an instance of populist history being, once again, a trick that the living are playing upon the dead.  

Tombs surveys the modern canon of poetry to illustrate how sentiment towards WWI has changed from positive to negative in our lifetimes.  He writes:

Monday, 24 April 2017

Islamic Thuggery in Australia

Australian, Wearing Cross, Beaten By Muslim Gang

Jack Montgomery

Christians in Sydney, Australia, are being advised to hide their crosses after an Arabic-speaking gang shouting “F*** Jesus!” attacked a couple on a train while transport officers looked on from a “safe space” and did nothing.

The Sydney-based Daily Telegraph – a News Corp outlet unrelated to the Telegraph Media Group newspaper of the same name – reports the couple were attacked while riding the train through “Muslim enclaves” in south-west Sydney.  Mike, who asked for his surname to be withheld for fear he might be targeted, said that four men of Middle Eastern appearance ripped his cross from his neck, stomped on it, and rained kicks and punches on his face, back, and shoulders. Two women attacked his girlfriend when she tried to protect him.

Five uniformed transport officers watched the attack take place but failed to intervene, Mike claimed, leaving the police to meet the train at a later station.  “I was born in Australia of Greek heritage,” Mike told the Telegraph. “I’ve always worn my cross. For [them] to rip it off and step on it has to be a religious crime … It’s not on to feel unsafe in your own country.”

Daily Meditation

A Rumour Going Round The Shop

C. S. Lewis

What man, in his natural condition, has not got, is Spiritual life—the higher and different sort of life that exists in God. We use the same word life for both: but if you thought that both must therefore be the same sort of thing, that would be like thinking that the ‘greatness’ of space and the ‘greatness’ of God were the same sort of greatness. In reality, the difference between Biological life and Spiritual life is so important that I am going to give them two distinct names. The Biological sort which comes to us through Nature, and which (like everything else in Nature) is always tending to run down and decay so that it can only be kept up by incessant subsidies from Nature in the form of air, water, food, etc., is Bios. The Spiritual life which is in God from all eternity, and which made the whole natural universe, is Zoe. Bios has, to be sure, a certain shadowy or symbolic resemblance to Zoe: but only the sort of resemblance there is between a photo and a place, or a statue and a man. A man who changed from having Bios to having Zoe would have gone through as big a change as a statue which changed from being a carved stone to being a real man.

And that is precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumour going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.

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.

Hindsight and Crystal Balls

 Rethinking The Causes of World War II

As we approach ANZAC remembrance in New Zealand, thoughts will be turning once again to war, and in particular, New Zealand's involvement in World Wars I &II, along with lots of smaller actions since the Korean War to which New Zealand has contributed soldiers.

We have been ruminating once more on whether World War II could have been averted.  Now, a disclaimer is required: hind sight is always 20/20 vision, which means that it is speculative to one extent or another.  But the matter has assumed more relevance, given that Hitler turned out to be the wild-card which led Europe into armed conflict.  In our days, we face similar kinds of threats.  Replace Hitler with Kim Jong-un and we all get the point.

Therefore, re-thinking how Britain failed to avoid the conflagration which exploded when Hitler unleashed his legions, is not as academic today as it was three or four years ago.  Historian Robert Tombs provides a list of some things, which, in hindsight, Britain got wrong during what he calls the "Twenty-Year Truce" between the two world wars.  These become potential lessons for the future.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Narks Are Watching and Listening--At Oxford, No Less

The Thought Police Are Right Behind YOU... 

Don't look now

Peter Hitchens
Daily Mail

I have a brilliant suggestion for a new TV detective drama. Its glamorous but sternly correct heroine is newly in charge of enforcing 'diversity' among the domes and towers of Oxford.  She lingers in its donnish common rooms, listening out for incorrect remarks and swooping righteously on those who 'stereotype minorities'.

As usual there are false leads and picturesque panoramas of Oxford embowered in water meadows. Unlikely suspects are revealed in the final minutes as homophobic reactionaries – or even Christians.
At the end of each episode we see handcuffed offenders being led away to police cars, their heads pushed down by officious constables as they bend to take the seat of shame.

Actually some of this is happening now. The arrests are a little way off still, but the nasty snooping is going on, and careers are in danger. We know this because of what happened to former Lord Chancellor Michael Gove when he recently attended a dinner at an Oxford College.

Daily Meditation

Take Comfort From the Fear of Our Saviour


C. S. Lewis

2 April 1955

In great haste. I hope your next letter will bring me news that the operation has gone swimmingly. Fear is horrid, but there’s no reason to be ashamed of it. Our Lord was afraid (dreadfully so) in Gethsemane. I always cling to that as a very comforting fact. All blessings.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Trump's War Doctrine

Bombast, Money, and Technology

With the advent of Donald Trump "wartalk" has suddenly assumed much greater weight.  Jehu drove his chariot furiously, as does Trump.  This represents a radical change from Barack Obama, who appeared to like the blood and guts, but only cerebrally, you understand.   Obama, we suspect, was the ultimate arm-chair general.  He pondered extensively over the minutia of the matter.  He insisted (we were told) on personally authorizing each drone strike against Islamic mujahideen,  He thought himself into a blue funk over Syria, announcing a "Red Line" which overnight morphed into an "Invisible Line drawn with Fading Ink".

Meanwhile, he struck great blows for human rights within the military.  He recognised homosexuality in the ranks, striking down "don't ask, don't tell"; he strove to achieve gender equality; he wanted the military to resemble a modern liberal arts campus.  Obama was a feckless president.  He was also ideologically blinded.  He refused to see any real threat in Islam, preferring instead to see the whole matter as little more than a Marxist struggle on the part of Islamic nations for self-respect and independence.  His role, as he saw it, was not to make things worse, but to cut the mujahideen lots of slack.  Hence, he forbade calling terrorist attacks upon the US "Islamic"terrorist acts.  He proclaimed that Afghanistan was a war the US had to fight (as opposed to finishing the job in Iraq); within months the Afghan war morphed into "nation building", requiring a time frame of over twenty-five years.

Donald Trump is none of these things.  But this does not make him right.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

The Boutique Option

Douglas Wilson

[This piece is part of a series where Doug Wilson interacts with Rod Dreher's Benedict Option.]

The next chapter in The Benedict Option is well written, and makes many pertinent observations. A lot of true and necessary things are said, largely concerning the need for older doctrine and need for a liturgical worship that shapes cultures. But there is still a problem, and it is largely architectonic. The chapter has a structural problem.

One of the rhetorical virtues of this chapter is the ecumenical tone—while Dreher is Eastern Orthodox, he goes out of his way to be inclusively respectful of other believers in other communions. He promotes and argues for what he believes, albeit respectfully—but he is so respectful that the structural problem with his entire project is laid bare. This structural problem is, again, what is called the retreat to commitment.

In this chapter, Dreher commends, recommends, quotes and praises Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Calvinist Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Mainline Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and Catholics, urging them all to recover their doctrinal roots, and urging them all into a more formal liturgical worship. He wants us to “immerse ourselves in the words and the world of the old saints” (Loc. 1566). Which old saints should we resort to? Well—and this is the problem—whatever works for you.

Daily Meditation

Pray for His Fame

“Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)

John Piper

Dozens of times Scripture says that God does things “for his name’s sake.” But if you ask what is really moving the heart of God in that statement (and many like it), the answer is that God delights in having his name known.

The first and most important prayer that can be prayed is, “Hallowed be thy name.” This is a request to God that he would work to cause people to hallow his name.

God loves to have more and more people “hallow” his name, and so his Son teaches Christians to put their prayers in line with this great passion of the Father.

“Lord, cause more and more people to hallow your name,” that is, esteem, admire, respect, cherish, honor, and praise his name. It is basically a missionary prayer.

Prejudice Against the Burka

Ah, the Idiocy Of It All

We posted yesterday on how the spirit of long dead Tom Paine stalks our cultural ghettos.  People, said Tom, have a right to be whatever they want to be.  It's a "funamenal" human right.  This has led many in the West to swoon in religious ecstasy, falling down before the claims of trans-genderism and trans-sexualism.

Further to this matter, a sensitive and sophisticated Auckland City councillor had laid a complaint against a shop in West Auckland which has allegedly discriminated against women and Muslims--at least in the mind of our precious petal councillor.  The jewellery shop has a sign banning certain items of clothing:

Councillor Casey apparently believes it's ok to ban customers wearing hoodies, sunglasses and helmets, but not burkas.  Consequently, it must be  OK to discriminate against those who wear hoodies, sunglasses, and helmets.  No human rights violated there.   Casey happily endorses discrimination against the desires and wishes and rights of those people.

Nevertheless, she has complained about the burka-ban.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Greenies Don't Do Science

Only Gullible Fools Believe that the Great Barrier Reef Is Dying

James Delingpole

The Great Barrier Reef is dead. It has ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker, kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and gone to join the bleedin’ choir invisible. It is an Ex Great Barrier Reef.  Well, at least it is if you believe the left-wing media such as the Guardian, which claims today that the reef is at “terminal stage” because of damage allegedly caused by “climate change”.

Lots of eco loons have been rending their garments and throwing their (recyclable, organic, gluten-free) toys out of the pram in horror at this hideous disaster.

But it’s OK. As I keep trying to explain here to anyone who’ll listen – and obviously, also, to annoy the greenies – is that the Great Barrier Reef isn’t in the remotest danger.

Daily Meditation

The Great King's Wine

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

John Piper

I have never heard anyone say, “The really deep lessons of my life have come through times of ease and comfort.” But I have heard strong saints say, “Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep with him, has come through suffering.”

This is a sobering biblical truth. For example: “For Christ’s sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Paraphrase: No pain, no gain. Or:  Now let it all be sacrificed, if it will get me more of Christ.

Here’s another example: “Although he was a Son, Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The same book said he never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).

So learning obedience does not mean switching from disobedience to obedience. It means growing deeper and deeper with God in the experience of obedience. It means experiencing depths of yieldedness to God that would not have been otherwise demanded. This is what came through suffering. No pain, no gain.

Samuel Rutherford said that when he was cast into the cellars of affliction, he remembered that the great King always kept his wine there. Charles Spurgeon said, “They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.”

Do you not love your beloved more when you feel some strange pain that makes you think you have cancer? We are strange creatures indeed. If we have health and peace and time to love, it is a thin and hasty thing. But if we are dying, love is a deep, slow river of inexpressible joy, and we can scarcely endure to give it up.

Therefore brothers and sisters, “Count it all joy when you meet various trials” (James 1:2).

How Smart We Are

Beware People in Black Robes

The aged care industry in New Zealand had laboured under government price controls for many years.  Our "socialism without doctrines" has led us down the track of the government funding rest home care for the elderly.  Once upon a time it was incumbent upon each family to ensure reasonable care could be afforded for aging parents and grandparents.  But gradually the state has subsidised and paid more and more of the care of the elderly.  Smug New Zealanders patted themselves on the back and said to one another, "What a wonderful system we have here in 'godz own'."  

Baby boomers are now entering the demographic cohort of the "aged".  Large numbers are needing care.  There is a burgeoning aged care industry, with large corporates building swanky retirement and rest-care facilities.  But the industry has been effectively price controlled.  The presence of a state subsidy for rest home care functions as a price control in the market.  Therefore, the market is inefficient.  Price signals are grossly distorted.

Recently the government was (indirectly) hit with a court case.  A rest-home carer took her employer (and implicitly, the state) to court on the grounds of pay equity.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Irresponsible Parents

Your Kids Aren’t Equipped to be Public School Missionaries

Matt Walsh

A concerned parent sent me this. It’s the school newspaper for Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church, Virginia. Among the other hard hitting pieces of journalism targeted at children, ages 11-13, is an article on “transgender rights.”

The article explains how Obama “improved the lives of transgender people by fighting the discrimination against them,” but all of that is now in jeopardy because of President Trump. The next article delves into the intricacies and wonders of various forms of gender identity, including “transgenderism,” “non-binary,” “bigender,” “agender,” “demigender,” “genderfluid,” and “genderflux.” I’m obviously more innocent and naive than the typical middle schooler these days, so I’d never even heard of some of these. For anyone else who may be curious, here’s how the last three types of genders are explained to an audience of pre-pubscent kids:

Demigender: Demigender refers to people who partially identify as one gender. Demigender people may also identify as partially a different gender. Examples include demigirl, or someone who partially identifies as a girl; demiboy, or someone who partially identifies as a boy; demiagender, meaning someone who identifies as partially agender; and more broadly, deminonbinary, or someone who just partially identifies as nonbinary.

Genderfluid and Genderflux: Genderfluid refers to someone whose gender changes between any of the above categories. For example, someone may feel female one day, male another day, and agender the next day. Similarly, genderflux refers to someone whose gender changes in intensity. This typically means that someone’s gender will fluctuate between agender and a different gender, which could be binary or nonbinary. For example, someone might sometimes feel completely female, sometimes demigender, and sometimes agender.
Did you get all that?

Someone can partially not have a gender, while the other part of them has three genders, and the third part is a futon. These are the notions being implanted in our kids’ heads in their public schools.

Daily Meditation

On Forgiveness

C. S. Lewis

I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology, I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.” But excusing says “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it, you weren’t really to blame.”. . .

Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it.

From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in Words to Live By The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses. Copyright © 1949, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1976, revised 1980 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Our Disinterested Media

Veering Towards Sociopathy

It's a universal truth apparently: everyone believes the media are biased.  Except the media--at least officially and formally.  

The closest we have seen to public acknowledgement of media bias by the media is the Daily Mail.  It kindly gives a listing of columnists and bloggers who are published in that paper.  It has a category called "Rightminds Bloggers".  There is a whole other collection of columnists who are in no special category at all.  By implication, one assumes that all others, not listed in the "Rightminds" category, are "Leftminds".  The Mail, however, apparently believes that these folk are not biased at all.

The media in general has high self-regard and would tell anyone who listens that the media are thorough going professionals without bias of any sort.  Its only bias is to be professionally unbiased.  Now you just know that's codswallop.  Insofar as the belief may be genuinely held, it amounts to self-deceit, or at best a lack of self-awareness that moves towards sociopathy.

Liam Hehir puts it this way:

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

They Do Not Engage in Violence . . . Yet


Niall Ferguson in today's Sunday Times:
From Mick Hartley's blog.

The term “lone wolf” is a misleading one. No one becomes a jihadist all by himself, just by watching beheading videos. As my wife, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, argues in a powerful new report, jihad is always preceded by dawa — the process of non-violent but toxic radicalisation that transforms the petty criminal into a zealot.

The network of dawa takes many different forms. In the UK a key role used to be played by the organisation al-Muhajiroun (the Emigrants), which the jailed Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary led before his arrest. But there are many less visible organisations — Islamic centres with shadowy imams — busily spreading the mind poison.

To see how this poison works, read the recent Policy Exchange study of Britain’s Muslim communities, Unsettled Belonging. At first sight, the news is good. Altogether, 90% of those surveyed condemned terrorism. Most British Muslims, we read, have “fundamentally secular interests and priorities”. Only 7% said they did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.

But read on.

Daily Meditation

A Most Necessary Blessing

"Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins."  Psalm 25:18

Charles H. Spurgeon

It is well for us when prayers about our sorrows are linked with pleas concerning our sins--when, being under God's hand, we are not wholly taken up with our pain, but remember our offences against God. It is well, also, to take both sorrow and sin to the same place. It was to God that David carried his sorrow: it was to God that David confessed his sin. Observe, then, we must take our sorrows to God.

Even your little sorrows you may roll upon God, for he counteth the hairs of your head; and your great sorrows you may commit to him, for he holdeth the ocean in the hollow of his hand. Go to him, whatever your present trouble may be, and you shall find him able and willing to relieve you. But we must take our sins to God too. We must carry them to the cross, that the blood may fall upon them, to purge away their guilt, and to destroy their defiling power.

The special lesson of the text is this:--that we are to go to the Lord with sorrows and with sins in the right spirit. Note that all David asks concerning his sorrow is, "Look upon mine affliction and my pain;" but the next petition is vastly more express, definite, decided, plain--"Forgive all my sins." Many sufferers would have put it, "Remove my affliction and my pain, and look at my sins." But David does not say so; he cries, "Lord, as for my affliction and my pain, I will not dictate to thy wisdom. Lord, look at them, I will leave them to thee, I should be glad to have my pain removed, but do as thou wilt; but as for my sins, Lord, I know what I want with them; I must have them forgiven; I cannot endure to lie under their curse for a moment."

A Christian counts sorrow lighter in the scale than sin; he can bear that his troubles should continue, but he cannot support the burden of his transgressions.

Never Again Must the Church Bear the Sword

The Axe Is Laid to the Root, Therefore . . . 

"May the Force be with you" evokes the legends of Hollywood.  It is a benediction which comes from a powerful work of fiction--and, therefore, an effectual commentary upon life and society.  But whenever the force has been "with us" and used by the Church of the Lord Jesus, disastrous outcomes have poured forth.   To the State--and to the State alone--God has granted the authority to deploy force.  It bears the sword.  The Church does not.

By the same token the State cannot perform the duties or take the prerogatives of the Church.  If the State bears the sword, the Church has been granted the Keys of the eternal Kingdom of God.  In bearing those Keys, the Church can both open the doors to allow penitent believers to enter the Kingdom, and it can shut them against the apostate and the reprobate [Matthew 16:19].  The Church, in bearing the Keys--with all the authority implicit therein--can shut out kings and great men from the Kingdom. The authority and function of the Church is eternal; the authority of earthly rulers and kings and the State is not.

Whenever the respective roles and responsibilities of Church and State have become intermingled and confused, the outcome has been disastrous for both Church and State.

Monday, 17 April 2017

We'll Take the Win, With Thanks to the Living God

Pro-lifers Celebrate Huge Win at UN Commission

By Stefano Gennarini, J.D.

NEW YORK, April 7 (C-Fam) The UN Commission on Population and Development ended Friday afternoon with a frustrated chairman withdrawing her draft of a resolution and the meeting ending without an agreement. The meeting had become bogged down in conflicting views of human sexuality.

The backdrop of the meeting was U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw over $75 million from the UN Population Fund, an action that sent shockwaves through the annual commission. European countries retaliated by loading up a document with controversial sexual rights language that caused member states to reject the resolution for the second time in three years.

While delegations traded blame in their parting statements at the end of the commission, the intransigence of abortion groups and their supporters from Europe and Latin America was plainly in sight.

The controversial issues included a notion called “comprehensive sexuality education” which proposes to teach young children about masturbation, homosexuality, and gender identity.

Daily Devotional

The Dreadful Woe of Our Saviour

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"  Psalm 22:1

Charles H. Spurgeon

We here behold the Saviour in the depth of his sorrows. No other place so well shows the griefs of Christ as Calvary, and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony as that in which his cry rends the air--"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" At this moment physical weakness was united with acute mental torture from the shame and ignominy through which he had to pass; and to make his grief culminate with emphasis, he suffered spiritual agony surpassing all expression, resulting from the departure of his Father's presence.

This was the black midnight of his horror; then it was that he descended the abyss of suffering. No man can enter into the full meaning of these words. Some of us think at times that we could cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" There are seasons when the brightness of our Father's smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness; but let us remember that God never does really forsake us. It is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ's case it was a real forsaking. We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father's love; but the real turning away of God's face from his Son, who shall calculate how deep the agony which it caused him?

In our case, our cry is often dictated by unbelief: in his case, it was the utterance of a dreadful fact, for God had really turned away from him for a season. O thou poor, distressed soul, who once lived in the sunshine of God's face, but art now in darkness, remember that he has not really forsaken thee. God in the clouds is as much our God as when he shines forth in all the lustre of his grace; but since even the thought that he has forsaken us gives us agony, what must the woe of the Saviour have been when he exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

Surge in ‘Honour Crimes’ and Forced Marriages in London

Liam Deacon
Breitbart London

So-called “honour crimes” have risen by 40 per cent in five years in London, with the number of forced marriages doubling in the same period.  According to the figures, obtained by the Evening Standard, some of the children involved in the abuse were younger than ten-years-old.

Since 2012, honour crimes reported to the Metropolitan Police rose to 1,081 and those relating to forced marriages shot up to 367.  Women and girls were the victims in the vast majority of reported incidents, with over half coming from “Asian” backgrounds, the paper reports.  ["Asian" is a code word in the UK for "Pakistani".  Ed.]  Knives and guns were involved in more than 70 incidents, and dozens of rapes and other sexual crimes were reported.

Detective Chief Inspector Sam Faulkner, of the Met’s Community Safety Unit, said the crimes stem from communities using “cultural and/or religious justifications for male violence against women and girls and other people”.  They were often based on traditions whereby “an individual, family and community’s honour is weighted on women and girls”, he said, including refusing to go along with a marriage.  “We see an increase in these types of offences as a positive step, an indication that victims have more confidence to report offences to police and seek the support they need”, he added.

Politicians today called the findings “troubling”, “shocking” and “abhorrent”.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Paris Climate Agreement: Jehu Riding Hard

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Calls for ‘Exit’

Ben Kew

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has called for America to “exit” the Paris Climate Agreement signed by Barack Obama last November.  In an interview with FOX and Friends, Pruitt said that “Paris [agreement] is something that we need to really look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in my opinion. It’s a bad deal for America,” he continued. “It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs.”

Pruitt’s comments increase the likelihood the U.S. will pull out of the agreement, which requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise, as well as regularly report on their progress. Pruitt has previously referred to the agreement as a “bad deal,” but has never openly called for America to quit.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump was a prominent critic of the deal, promising to “cancel” it, and this week he refused to sign a statement endorsing the agreement. Although Trump could not instantly pull America out, he could initiate the process for the country’s exit.

Daily Meditation

On Heaven

C. S. Lewis

But God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.

From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in Words to Live By The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Libertine Twisting Unto Destruction

Have Nothing to Do With the "Komos"

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, they say.  Never has this been more the case than in our day when modern pagans attempt to exegete or explain the teaching of the Holy Bible.  The modern world has form in this regard: its overwhelming predisposition is to see the West and its dominant cultural motifs liberated from the constraints and commands of the Scripture.

One facile trick to carry out this vast libertine exercise is to misinterpret the Bible--carelessly or callously, it matters not.  Consequently, we have learnt over the years, never to take anything said by Unbelievers about the Bible and its teachings without a very big dose of salt.

Not that the Bible is a wax nose to be twisted at will.  The message and teachings of Scripture are pretty plain to any fair minded reader, with only some things hard or difficult to understand.  The Bible itself warns against such twisting:
. . . as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.  [II Peter 3:16]

Friday, 14 April 2017

Hypocrisy--Thou Art a Jewel

For Corporate Social Hypocrisy, See Unilever’s CEO

A multinational boss fancies himself King of the World.

By Deroy Murdock
National Review Online

Polman is CEO of Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer-products multinational. Managing a corporation that operates in 100 countries, markets 400 different brands, employs 169,000 people, and grossed $56 billion in 2016 should be enough to keep Polman at his desk. But this Dutchman has had his mind on far bigger things since he took the helm in 2009.

“I am really more interested in development,” Polman declared in February.

Polman co-authored a 2014 essay in which he announced that capitalism has “proved dysfunctional in important ways. It often encourages shortsightedness, contributes to wide disparities between the rich and the poor, and tolerates the reckless treatment of environmental capital.”

Polman has directed his employees to avoid a singular focus on ROI [Return on Investment] and instead implement USLP: Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan. Its latest annual report trumpets the slogan: “making sustainable living commonplace.”

CEOs need not aspire to be Gordon Gekko. But they need not strive to be Mahatma Gandhi, either. Polman fancies himself as the latter. “As CEO of Unilever, my personal mission is to galvanize the company to be an effective force for good.”  The liberal media love Polman’s shift from generating black ink to pursuing a crunchy, green Weltanschauung.

Daily Meditation

Make Satan Know His Defeat

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

John H. Piper

The more real Satan appears in our day, the more precious the victory of Christ will become to those who believe him.

The New Testament teaches that when Christ died and rose again Satan was defeated. A time of limited freedom is granted to him, but his power against God's people is broken and his destruction is sure.

“The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)
“Christ took on human nature that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14) *“God disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:15)
In other words the decisive blow was struck at Calvary. And one day, when Satan's time of limited freedom is over, Revelation 20:10 says, “The devil . . . [will be] thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone . . . and will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

What does this mean for those of us who follow Jesus Christ?

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
“Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies!” (Romans 8:33)
“Neither angels nor principalities nor powers nor anything else shall separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.” (Romans 8:38)
“He who is in us is stronger than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
“We conquer him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.” (Revelation 12:11)
Therefore, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!” He has been defeated, and we have been given victory. Our task now is to live in that victory and make Satan know his defeat.

Islamic Lying About Islam's Teachings

Turning Away From Islam Requires the Death Penalty--In Australia

One of the complicating issues swirling around Islam is the doctrine of Taqiyya.  In Islamic jurisprudence  this allows Islamic believers to lie, to dissemble, when speaking to unbelievers.  It permits hiding their true intentions (that is, the truth) from the ears of non-Islamic hearers--including non-Islamic authorities and governments.  In Islamic belief, to lie to a non-Islamic person or authority may well be the holy and perfect thing to do.

Consequently, Islamic protagonists often assure Western folk that they are peace-loving, gentle, open-minded, and tolerant. And many may well be.  They may be pluralistic in their world-view, granting the rights of non-Islamic doctrines and practice to exist.  But others may not.

Every so often, however, the truth drips out.  Many would be startled to read the following headline which refers to Islam in Australia.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Doppelganger of Islamic Fundamentalism

"You Will Live, Move, and Have Your Being at Our Pleasure"

No Room for Dissent in Women’s Movement Today

Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents Republican candidates and conservative groups, says the women’s movement has morphed into a giant abortion rights lobby.

By Cleta Mitchell
New York Times

Is there a “women’s movement” in 2017? What is it? Who is it?

I became involved with the women’s movement in the early 1970s, when, as a junior at the University of Oklahoma, I was one of five founders of the Oklahoma Women’s Political Caucus. For over a decade, I traveled the state working for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Later, as an Oklahoma state legislator, I was a champion of women’s rights, including supporting abortion rights within the Roe v. Wade framework.

In the 1970s, we fought for legal equality and eradication of the laws, based on English common law, that put women in the same legal category as children and insane persons. We wanted access to the Ivy League schools, the professions, the clubs — everything. Wherever men could go and become successful, we wanted to be there, too.

And we got it all. Big time. The antiquated statutes were repealed. Women got into the professions and the C-suites and the schools and the TV news anchor desks. We got there. We ARE there.  So why, pray tell, were those women and girls wearing those ridiculous hats at the purposeless “women’s marches” in January? Why do they perpetuate the Freudian question, “What do women want?”

The women’s movement has ebbed because it succeeded. Yet the suffragist Susan B. Anthony’s mantra “Failure is impossible” has been so hijacked by post-millennium feminism that declaring victory is unforgivable.

All that a “movement” could responsibly achieve, has been achieved. My 32-year-old daughter doesn’t know the meaning of “girls not allowed.”

Daily Meditation

On Happiness

C. S. Lewis

What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could “be like gods”—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

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.

1066 And All That

Creatures of the Past, For Good or Ill

Myths and legends shape contemporary cultures.  It seems that it is inevitable.  Most countries and ethnic groups seem to have them.  The most enduring myths have to do with triumphs of right over wrong, good over evil, and order over chaos.  Legends are more or less grounded in historical fact.  Whilst they all need to be taken with a grain of salt, they are not worthless.  On the contrary they can be effective platforms for conveying truth and principle.  They can also (less helpfully) be misused to become slogans to rally the troops or justify ideological war.

In his chapter on the Norman Conquest of England, under William the Conqueror, Robert Tombs gives a brief recitation on enduring myths from the Conquest which have influenced England down through the centuries:

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America (Grading Trump's Syria Bomb Attack)

A Tomahawk Missile Strike Report Card

Douglas Wilson

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Trump,

Thank you for enrolling your son in our program, and we are pleased to present our first quarter foreign policy assessment to you now. Over all, we are pleased with your Donald’s progress although, as you will see, there are some areas of significant concern. We will start with the bad news.


We have been over this a number of times. Congress is the only entity that can declare war (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11). The president is the Commander in Chief once war is declared, but does not have the authority to start the whole shebang all by himself. Calling it something else doesn’t make it something else. Japan did not have the authority to call Pearl Harbor a limited strike, although it was, or to point out that they had put no “boots on the ground,” although that was also true.


China, Russia, the entire Middle East, and North Korea all have this in common—they don’t care about the niceties of the U.S. Constitution. All they care about is what is likely to happen to them and their causes if they do x,y, or z, and how quickly it might happen to them and their causes.

Daily Devotional

Deep Gratitude and Great Sorrow

"And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him." Luke 23:27

Charles H. Spurgeon

Amid the rabble rout which hounded the Redeemer to his doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and lamentations--fit music to accompany that march of woe. When my soul can, in imagination, see the Saviour bearing his cross to Calvary, she joins the godly women and weeps with them; for, indeed, there is true cause for grief--cause lying deeper than those mourning women thought.

They bewailed innocence maltreated, goodness persecuted, love bleeding, meekness about to die; but my heart has a deeper and more bitter cause to mourn. My sins were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned with thorn those bleeding brows: my sins cried "Crucify him! crucify him!" and laid the cross upon his gracious shoulders. His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity: but my having been his murderer, is more, infinitely more, grief than one poor fountain of tears can express.

Why those women loved and wept it were not hard to guess: but they could not have had greater reasons for love and grief than my heart has. Nain's widow saw her son restored--but I myself have been raised to newness of life. Peter's wife's mother was cured of the fever--but I of the greater plague of sin. Out of Magdalene seven devils were cast--but a whole legion out of me. Mary and Martha were favoured with visits--but he dwells with me. His mother bare his body--but he is formed in me the hope of glory. In nothing behind the holy women in debt, let me not be behind them in gratitude or sorrow.

"Love and grief my heart dividing,
With my tears his feet I'll lave--
Constant still in heart abiding,
Weep for him who died to save."

No Thank You

Either An Oxymoron or an Abomination

Every so often we see calls for an Islamic Enlightenment.  This is a strange call.  It is also one which bespeaks ignorance both of the Enlightenment and of Islam.

The Enlightenment was anti-religious, period.  It was the beginning of Western atheism and secularism.  To be sure, its fruits have ripened in the twentieth century and in the present century.  Its fruits have been bloodshedding on a vast scale.  Consider, for example, the number of innocent children slaughtered in the womb daily throughout the West.  This outcome was not hard to predict, given the French Revolution--which was an Enlightenment effort.  That Revolution ended in the Reign of Terror--all in the name of Reason.

An "Islamic Enlightenment" would probably present a "version" of Islam which was atheistic, secular, and not Islam at all.  It would represent the dismantling of Islam as a religion--in precisely the same way that Enlightenment ideology has "transformed" Christianity by driving it out of society. The philosophes are "open" to retaining references to Christianity, even studying it, but only to consign it to the reliquaries of history.  Secularism and Islam do not mix; cannot mix.

On the other hand, this year celebrates the beginning of the Christian Reformation 500 years ago.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Gulling of Donald Trump

Our 'noble' cause? 

Dropping bombs on behalf of Al Qaeda

Peter Hitchens
Daily Mail

Now we have definitely moved from being a post-war world to being a pre-war world. Madness and folly are loose again.

Consider first that early on Friday morning the United States Navy launched 59 cruise missiles on behalf of Al Qaeda.  If this is not bad enough for you, note that the President of the United States did not even bother to pretend that he was seeking United Nations cover for what he did.

Note next that in the same week our Prime Minister, Theresa May, made a duty visit to pay homage to the medieval despots of Saudi Arabia, who kindly buy our warplanes and bombs, and are currently using them to savage effect in Yemen.  And President Trump was playing host at the White House to the head of Egypt’s military junta, General el-Sisi, whose security forces undoubtedly massacred at least 600 protesters (probably many more) in the streets of Cairo in August 2013.

And then mark that the pretext for this bizarre rocket attack was an unproven claim that President Assad of Syria had used poison gas. Yes, unproven.

Daily Meditation

Pressing On

TO MARY MARGARET McCASLIN: On how, after weathering a bereavement, one feels abandoned by God; on how God works on our behalf even when we feel He is inactive; and on the necessity of continuing to use the ordinary means of the spiritual life during times of extraordinary need.

C. S. Lewis

2 August 1954

Thank you for your letter of the July 25th. I will certainly put you in my prayers. I can well believe that you were divinely supported at the time of your terrible calamity. People often are. It is afterwards, when the new and bleaker life is beginning to be a routine, that one often feels one has been left rather unaided. I am sure one is not really so. God’s presence is not the same as the feeling of God’s presence and He may be doing most for us when we think He is doing least.

Loneliness, I am pretty sure, is one of the ways by which we can grow spiritually. Until we are lonely we may easily think we have got further than we really have in Christian love; our (natural and innocent, but merely natural, not heavenly) pleasure in being loved—in being, as you say, an object of interest to someone—can be mistaken for progress in love itself, the outgoing active love which is concerned with giving, not receiving. It is this latter which is the beginning of sanctity.

But of course you know all this: alas, so much easier to know in theory than to submit to day by day in practice! Be very regular in your prayers and communions: and don’t value special ‘guidances’ any more than what comes through ordinary Christian teaching, conscience, and prudence.

I am shocked to hear that your friends think of following me. I wanted them to follow Christ. But they’ll get over this confusion soon, I trust.

Please accept my deepest sympathy.

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.

Hate Speech In the Ear of the Hearer

Taking Offense At Those Who Claim To Be Offended

At times it seems as if we live amidst people who appear profoundly ignorant of our history.  They also apparently have no idea of  historical human rights.  These folk tell us with all seriousness and gravitas that free speech must be curtailed if and when anyone takes offence at what is said.  This is a bizarre notion.  It cannot stand a moment's serious scrutiny.  But nonetheless it is an idea now celebrated by the Chattering Classes, the Commentariat, and many media operatives.  It serves to illustrate that many of our "betters" are woefully ignorant of fundamental human freedoms.

The latest illustration comes from Her Highness, Dame Susan Devoy, who is New Zealand's Human Rights Commissioner.  Now it seems reasonable to expect that a Human Rights Commissioner would have at least some basic understanding of human rights.  But apparently not. The reality that the practice of human rights comes at a cost seems not to have resonated deeply with the present Commissioner.  If the law, and society in general hold to human rights, it necessarily costs everyone.  We have to tolerate others: their opinions, views, and practices, no matter how much we may disagree or reject their thoughts, words, and deeds.

But Devoy thinks we should be not extend freedom of speech to something she called "hate speech".

Monday, 10 April 2017

Career Suicide

Did the Obama White House Collude with a Politically Motivated Scientist?

A former scientist at the NOAA has exposed a shoddy report on global warming. Judicial Watch is suing to learn more.

By Julie Kelly
National Review Online

Following allegations of impropriety over the handling of a controversial climate change report, a government watchdog group now wants to know whether there was any collaboration between the report’s lead author and a key Obama adviser. On March 27, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit seeking “all records of communications between a pair of federal scientists who heavily influenced the Obama administration’s climate change policy and its backing of the Paris Agreement.”

The FOIA specifically requests correspondence between Tom Karl, the former head of the climate-data program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and John Holdren, the director of Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. Holdren is from that species of Baby Boomer global catastrophists who make changing predictions each decade about how we will all die. He also happens to be the science guy who had the president’s ear for eight years.

Holdren’s buddy, Tom Karl, authored a report in 2015 attempting to disprove the hiatus in global warming that had been widely acknowledged by many scientific groups, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The warming pause threatened to undermine the justification for a costly climate-change pact that was being negotiated at the time: How could world leaders commit trillions in tax dollars to stop global warming if it wasn’t actually happening?

Karl’s report came to the rescue just months before the Paris Climate Conference. In announcing his findings, Karl said the “new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets, and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century.” How convenient. His analysis was eagerly accepted by the international science community, but others were leery about its timing; the House Science Committee has been leading an inquiry into the report for nearly two years.

But a retired top official at NOAA has now confirmed suspicions about the veracity of Karl’s research and about whether politics — not science — were at play.

Daily Meditation

The Books at the Judgment

All who dwell on earth will worship [the beast], everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (Revelation 13:8)

John Piper

Salvation is secured for all who are written in the book of life.

The reason that being written in the book of life secures our salvation is that the book is called “the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 13:8). The names in this book are not saved on the basis of their deeds. They are saved on the basis of Christ’s being slain.

So how then does the record of our lives contained in “the books” have a part in our judgment? The answer is that the books contain enough evidence of our belonging to Christ that they function as a public confirmation of our faith and our union with him.

Consider Revelation 21:27: “Nothing unclean will ever enter [the New Jerusalem], nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Here the result of “being written in the book of life” is not only not perishing, but not practicing detestable, sinful behaviors.

For example, consider the thief on the cross. Jesus said that he would enter paradise (Luke 23:43). But what will judgment be like for him when the books are opened? More than 99.9% of his life will be sin. His salvation will be secured by the blood of Christ.

Then God will open the books and will use the record of sin to glorify his Son’s supreme sacrifice, and he use the last page to show the change that was wrought in the thief’s attitudes and words. That last page — the last hours on the cross — will be the public confirmation of the thief’s faith and union with Christ.

Therefore, when I say that what is written in the books is a public confirmation of our faith and of union with Christ, I do not mean that the record will contain more good works than bad works.

I mean that there will be recorded there the kind of change that shows the reality of faith — the reality of regeneration and union with Christ. That is how I enter the day, confident that my condemnation is past (Romans 8:3), and that my name is in the book of life, and that the one who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.

A Step Back Towards the Future

Gorsuch--A Principled Conservative Choice

Two world views, two realities.  Most people acknowledge there is deep division in the United States over ideology.  The existence of such an ideological or philosophical clash is strange to many throughout the West.  For many, there is no clash of civilization.  Countries like Germany and France and Belgium (that is, old Europe) are reflexively held in the grip of just one of the world views.  In other words, there is very little ideological war in such countries.

Consequently, when politicians suddenly emerge from the consensus to express ideas more consistent with Christendom they are immediately branded as extremists, right through to being called neo-Nazis.  But in the United States the conservative position is more widely held.  The ideological struggle is more real, more evenly balanced.

One of the battles has been the nomination (and now confirmation) of Neil M. Gorsuch to a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, left by the untimely death of Antonin Scalia.  The Left hated him--nothing personal, you understand--it's just a clash of views regarding civilisation itself. There have been some very unusual aspects to his nomination.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Folly Of It All

Still against Intervention in Syria 

The U.S. has no vital national interest in joining its civil war.

By Andrew C. McCarthy
National Review Online

When it came to foreign policy, I was worried that the 2016 election would be a case of Clinton delivering the third Obama term. Instead, we have Trump giving us the third Clinton term.

President Donald Trump has now done what candidate Donald Trump committed not to do: He has launched a military strike against a foreign regime — a repulsive one, to be sure — in the absence of any threat, much less any attack, against the United States, in furtherance of no vital American interests.

Trump’s act of war is in violation of the Constitution, which requires congressional authorization for such an offensive use of military force, provoked by no aggression against our nation. Or, as someone once said:
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval. 6:14 AM - 30 Aug 2013 

 Mind you, that’s just one in a series of “Syria is NOT our problem” tweets in which Trump ripped Obama for not recognizing that “the so called ‘rebels’ may be just as bad (or worse)!”

The U.S. attack is an impulsive intervention in a civil war in which both sides — the Damascus/Tehran/Moscow alliance and its Sunni-jihadist/sharia-supremacist opposition — are hostile to the United States. It is a war in which Bashar al-Assad’s continuation in power, dismal as that prospect may be, is in no way the worst conceivable outcome for American national security.

Further, the missile strike offends sound policy:

Daily Meditation

Go to the Strong For Strength
"In the name of the Lord I will destroy them."  Psalm 118:12

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our Lord Jesus, by his death, did not purchase a right to a part of us only, but to the entire man. He contemplated in his passion the sanctification of us wholly, spirit, soul, and body; that in this triple kingdom he himself might reign supreme without a rival. It is the business of the newborn nature which God has given to the regenerate to assert the rights of the Lord Jesus Christ. My soul, so far as thou art a child of God, thou must conquer all the rest of thyself which yet remains unblest; thou must subdue all thy powers and passions to the silver sceptre of Jesus' gracious reign, and thou must never be satisfied till he who is King by purchase becomes also King by gracious coronation, and reigns in thee supreme. Seeing, then, that sin has no right to any part of us, we go about a good and lawful warfare when we seek, in the name of God, to drive it out. O my body, thou art a member of Christ: shall I tolerate thy subjection to the prince of darkness? O my soul, Christ has suffered for thy sins, and redeemed thee with his most precious blood: shall I suffer thy memory to become a storehouse of evil, or thy passions to be firebrands of iniquity? Shall I surrender my judgment to be perverted by error, or my will to be led in fetters of iniquity? No, my soul, thou art Christ's, and sin hath no right to thee.

Be courageous concerning this, O Christian! be not dispirited, as though your spiritual enemies could never be destroyed. You are able to overcome them--not in your own strength--the weakest of them would be too much for you in that; but you can and shall overcome them through the blood of the Lamb. Do not ask, "How shall I dispossess them, for they are greater and mightier than I?" but go to the strong for strength, wait humbly upon God, and the mighty God of Jacob will surely come to the rescue, and you shall sing of victory through his grace.

Making It Up As We Go Along

A New "Red Line"

Ah, a week is an aeon in politics.  All of a sudden we have a Trump doctrine of war.  The US will unleash deadly fire on any nation which breaches international treaties banning certain weapons.  The US will act unilaterally on behalf of the "civilized nations of the world".  

Would it be appropriate to recall Trump's campaign rhetoric where he excoriated Obama's use of military force?  It's all gone up in smoke.  One gets the sinking feeling that the US use of armed force is going to become more and more common as Trump defends "civilization" and attacks things that make him really mad.  It's all personal now.

Will it change the situation in Syria?  Who knows.  Unlikely.  Does the United States and so other "civilized nations" have a coherent plan?  A strategy?  Or will it just be made up as the world goes along.

We take some comfort from the confined and targeted nature of the strike.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Credibility Long Gone

"Scientist" Hides Behind Ad-Hominem Attacks

Michael Mann is a snake-oiler extraordinaire.  He is one of the greater charlatans abroad today.  He stands forth as one of the best in what is a very competitive field.  Mann is a global warming huckster who has engaged in lots of deceptive and misleading behaviour as he has promoted his scams.

He recently appeared before a US congressional committee.  Here is an account of his behaviour, published in National Review Online:

Michael Mann Embarrasses Himself before Congress 

If the climate-change evangelist can’t be bothered to take a House hearing seriously, why should anyone take him seriously?

Julie Kelly

In his testimony to the House Science Committee on Wednesday, Michael Mann, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, told the story of Trofim Lysenko, a plant scientist who worked for Stalinist Russia:

Lysenko was a Russian agronomist and it became Leninist doctrine to impose his views about heredity, which were crackpot theories, completely at odds with the world’s scientists. Under Stalin, scientists were being jailed if they disagreed with his theories about agriculture. And Russian agriculture actually suffered, scientists were jailed, many died in their jail cells and potentially millions of people suffered from the disastrous agriculture policies that followed from that.

The gist of Mann’s anecdote was that scientists who challenge the ruling government’s diktat on any given scientific issue are demonized and punished while innocent bystanders suffer. In the here and now, this would seemingly apply to the minority of scientists brave enough to question the reigning dogma of climate science. After all, these are the folks who have been threatened by top law-enforcement officials, personally and professionally attacked by their peers, and even driven out of their academic positions due to the harassment.

But astonishingly, Mann was not talking about those scientists: He was talking about himself.