Thursday, 31 August 2017

"Kiss the Son . . . Lest You Perish . . . "

The Doom of the North Korean Regime

North Korea’s underground Christian community is thriving despite followers of Christ suffering horrific torture and brutal deaths at the hands of the communist government, according to Fox News.

According to Open Doors, a Christian persecution watchdog site, North Korea has ranked No. 1 as the deadliest place for Christians for the last 16 years. Yet, North Korea still has an estimated Christian population of around 9 million people, or 36 percent of North Korea’s total population.

Daily Meditation

Tearing Up the "Divine Parachute"

C. S. Lewis

If the first and lowest operation of pain shatters the illusion that all is well, the second shatters the illusion that what we have, whether good or bad in itself, is our own and enough for us. Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us. We ‘have all we want’ is a terrible saying when ‘all’ does not include God. We find God an interruption.

As St Augustine says somewhere, ‘God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.’ Or as a friend of mine said, ‘We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.’ Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as he leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call ‘our own life’ remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him.

What then can God do in our interests but make ‘our own life’ less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness?

From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

A Sad Indictment of Us All

Larceny of Mental Incompetence?

As far as the great affairs of mankind go, this story represents a raging storm in Thumbelina's teacup.  In New Zealand, a  Member of Parliament Winston Peters has excelled at playing the electorate with a tawdry collection of truths, half truth, and full blooded lies.  He has done so for years.  Most now treat him with cynical contempt.

In the midst of the present election in New Zealand, Peters has fallen on unexpected hard times.  He has been caught out by a "leak" which confirms over payment of a state benefit.  Peters insists it was a mistake which he has now corrected, with a full refund to the authorities.  Now his ire has turned upon the mysterious leaker.  It is beyond doubt that someone spoke in a "wink, wink, nod, nod" manner to a journalist.  He is a Deep Throat.  The journalist is guarding his source.

What led the government welfare agency to overpay Mr Peters?  It was incorrect information supplied by Mr Peters to the agency.  He either lied (or made a mistake) so as to get more money.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Letter from America (About Leftist Violence Being Only Loving Correction)

‘No Enemies on the Left’ Is Still the Mantra of  Liberals

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission refuses to condemn antifa violence.

By John Fund
National Review Online

One of the great gifts the British writer George Orwell gave us, in addition to his classics 1984 and Animal Farm, was a clear and uncompromising look at dangerous ideologies. In “Orwell and the British Left,” British writer Ian Williams recalls Orwell’s underlining of “the old, true and unpalatable conclusion that a Communist and a Fascist are somewhat nearer to one another than either is to a democrat.” Orwell’s well-observed conclusion nonetheless scandalized many on the left who rallied behind the Marxist phrase “no enemies on the left.”

Sadly, a quarter century after the fall of Communism, too many leftists are still ignoring Orwell and refusing to acknowledge the reality of left-wing brutality. In the wake of Charlottesville, eyewitnesses and reporters agreed that while the violence was instigated by neo-Nazis and white nationalists, it was countered with bloody counterattacks by left-wingers and black-shirted anarchists wearing masks. There was a clear asymmetric outcome to the violence: A white nationalist mowed down protestors with his car, killing a 32-year-old woman.

But that didn’t mean there were no victims of left-wing violence. Antifa — short for “anti-fascist” — protestors came armed with pepper spray, bricks, and clubs. Antifa members believe that racist speech is violence and that they must counter it physically, not just oppose it with rhetoric or better ideas.

As the New York Daily News reported, among antifa’s victims were journalists:

Daily Meditation

Away With the Lying Traitor

"How long will it be ere they believe me?"  Numbers 14:11

Charles H. Spurgeon

Strive with all diligence to keep out that monster unbelief. It so dishonours Christ, that he will withdraw his visible presence if we insult him by indulging it. It is true it is a weed, the seeds of which we can never entirely extract from the soil, but we must aim at its root with zeal and perseverance. Among hateful things it is the most to be abhorred. Its injurious nature is so venomous that he that exerciseth it and he upon whom it is exercised are both hurt thereby. In thy case, O believer! it is most wicked, for the mercies of thy Lord in the past, increase thy guilt in doubting him now. When thou dost distrust the Lord Jesus, he may well cry out, "Behold I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves." This is crowning his head with thorns of the sharpest kind.

It is very cruel for a well-beloved wife to mistrust a kind and faithful husband. The sin is needless, foolish, and unwarranted. Jesus has never given the slightest ground for suspicion, and it is hard to be doubted by those to whom our conduct is uniformly affectionate and true. Jesus is the Son of the Highest, and has unbounded wealth; it is shameful to doubt Omnipotence and distrust all-sufficiency. The cattle on a thousand hills will suffice for our most hungry feeding, and the granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating. If Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust his fulness, but who can drain a fountain? Myriads of spirits have drawn their supplies from him, and not one of them has murmured at the scantiness of his resources.

Away, then, with this lying traitor unbelief, for his only errand is to cut the bonds of communion and make us mourn an absent Saviour. Bunyan tells us that unbelief has "as many lives as a cat:" if so, let us kill one life now, and continue the work till the whole nine are gone. Down with thee, thou traitor, my heart abhors thee.

The Power of Ancient Doctrines

Islamic Anti-Semitism is "Congenital"

A feature of contemporary Islam is its reflexive hatred of Jews.  Some prominent Islamic political  declare that the Holocaust never happened, or that it did happen and a good thing it was too.  Others get fulfilment by drawing maps of the Middle East, with Israel being emphatically erased off the map.  Still others call for the annihilation of Israel to be a central foreign policy plank and summon the umma to arms to achieve it.

The Left in the West, still addled with long-obsolete notions of Marxist class warfare, find themselves aligned with the Islamic cause because it represents the current "little guy" struggling against "big guy" Western imperialism.  The Left is increasingly showing its solidarity with Islamic ideology.  It increasingly espouses its own form of anti-semitism so as to stand with its Islamic brothers.  Elements in the UK Labour Party provide one example.  President Obama's genuflections and considerateness toward Islam provide another.

And on it goes.  But, why the hatred of Israel and the Jewish people in Islamic doctrine, rhetoric, and eschatology?  According to Efraim Karsh, anti-semitism has deep historical roots, stretching all the way back to Muhammad.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Letter From America (About Enforced Memory Loss)

Our War against Memory

The new abolitio memoriae

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

Back to the Future

Romans emperors were often a bad lot — but usually confirmed as such only in retrospect. Monsters such as Nero, of the first-century A.D. Julio-Claudian dynasty, or the later psychopaths Commodus and Caracalla, were flattered by toadies when alive — only to be despised the moment they dropped.

After unhinged emperors were finally killed off, the sycophantic Senate often proclaimed a damnatio memoriae (a “damnation of memory”). Prior commemoration was wiped away, thereby robbing the posthumous ogre of any legacy and hence any existence for eternity.

In more practical matters, there followed a concurrent abolitio memoriae (an “erasing of memory”). Specifically, moralists either destroyed or rounded up and put away all statuary and inscriptions concerning the bad, dead emperor. In the case of particularly striking or expensive artistic pieces, they erased the emperor’s name (abolitio nominis) or his face and some physical characteristics from the artwork.

Impressive marble torsos were sometimes recut to accommodate a more acceptable (or powerful) successor. (Think of something like the heads only of the generals on Stone Mountain blasted off and replaced by new carved profiles of John Brown and Nat Turner).

A Scary History

Without Leon Trotsky’s organizational and tactical genius, Vladimir Lenin might never have consolidated power among squabbling anti-czarist factions. Yet after the triumph of Stalin, “de-Trotskyization” demanded that every word, every photo, and every memory of an ostracized Trotsky was to be obliterated. That nightmarish process fueled allegorical themes in George Orwell’s fictional Animal Farm and 1984.

Daily Meditation

Shadows and Streams

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. (Psalm 104:31–34)

John Piper

God rejoices in the works of creation because they point us beyond themselves to God himself.

God means for us to be stunned and awed by his work of creation. But not for its own sake. He means for us to look at his creation and say: If the mere work of his fingers (just his fingers! Psalm 8:3) is so full of wisdom and power and grandeur and majesty and beauty, what must this God be like in himself!

These are but the backside of his glory, as it were, darkly seen through a glass. What will it be to see the Creator himself! Not his works! A billion galaxies will not satisfy the human soul. God and God alone is the soul’s end.

Jonathan Edwards expressed it like this:

The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. . . . [These] are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the ocean.

This is why Psalm 104 (verses 31–34) comes to a close like this, with a focus on God himself. In the end it will not be the seas or the mountains or the canyons or the water spiders or the clouds or the great galaxies that fill our hearts to breaking with wonder and fill our mouths with eternal praise. It will be God.

NZ Labour Anti-Export

Paying Off the Boys in Back Rooms

The real price of a Labour government in New Zealand is its cloth cap attitude the trade unions.  When the unions bark, "Jump" all Labour MP's in the caucus intone, "How high?" as they are already off the floor and moving upwards.  Union money means an awful lot to the impecunious, poorly funded party.  

What this means is that Labour can do an awful lot of economic damage to the country as they do the unions' bidding.  It makes it all the more galling when one considers that unions are a pale shell of their former presence.  Here is an example of how it works:
Labour Says its Student Visa Crackdown Will Cost $130 Million

NZ Herald

Labour has admitted that its planned crackdown on student visas will chop $130 million a year off the country's education export income.  Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins disclosed the figure at an international education conference in Auckland today, revealing that the party had done an "economic impact analysis" of its proposals.
That's a serious cost.  In effect the student visa shut down will virtually kill a busy and thriving export industry, since its earnings come from offshore accounts.  So that's bad enough.  But it gets worse.  The Government has had a look at Labour's figures and claims they are woefully shonky.
National's Tertiary Education Minister Paul Goldsmith said his analysis put the cost of Labour's proposals at "closer to $1 billion".

Independent Tertiary Education NZ chair Christine Clark said she agreed with Goldsmith, pointing to a recent Infometrics study estimating that overseas students contributed $1.1 billion to the NZ economy in 2015-16 in private training establishments (PTEs), $511 million in polytechnics and $552 million in English language schools.  "I believe he could quite easily wipe 50 per cent of the PTE benefit to the country with Labour's policy," she said.
Chris Hipkins is not the brightest pin in the cushion, nor does the noun, integrity sit well on his shoulders.  "Political hack", however, does.  Why would a Labour government want to kill off a thriving export industry?  Because in its perverted world-view the state does a better job of training and education than the non-state sector.  And the state education sector is controlled substantially by the education unions.  State unions hate competition.  Socialists hate competition.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Too Good To Be True

Like Lemmings to the Cliff

Your Shiny New SUV is About to Crash the Economy

Peter Hitchens

Just after the last crash, in November 2008, the Queen asked a roomful of academics and economists why they hadn’t seen it coming. She won’t have to do that next time. This week the klaxons started to sound. Another crash is on the way.

And so if you wake up one morning and the cashpoint machines are empty, and there are long, angry queues outside famous high street banks, you, the Queen and the Government will have no excuse for being surprised.  The warning came very clearly from Alex Brazier, a director of the Bank of England, in a speech in Liverpool that ought to have been on every front page and at the top of every broadcast news bulletin.

Great fleets of such cars are pouring out of showrooms thanks to easy-money loans called Personal Contract Purchase (PCP)
Great fleets of such cars are pouring out of showrooms thanks to easy-money loans called Personal Contract Purchase (PCP)

For if he is right, all the controversies, from the EU to Donald Trump, that fill the bulletins will shrivel into nothing pretty soon. Of course he did not put it quite like that. He has to be cautious. He said: ‘Household debt – like most things that are good in moderation – can be dangerous in excess. Dangerous to borrowers, lenders and, most importantly from our perspective, everyone else in the economy.’

Daily Meditation

Increase Faith Daily By Daily Obedience

TO GENIA GOELZ, who had asked Lewis for a prayer in her struggle to believe: Lewis’s prayer for a daily increase in obedience and faith.

C. S. Lewis

18 March 1952

Don’t bother at all about that question of a person being ‘made a Christian’ by baptism. It is only the usual trouble about words being used in more than one sense. Thus we might say a man ‘became a soldier’ the moment that he joined the army. But his instructors might say six months later ‘I think we have made a soldier of him’. Both usages are quite definable, only one wants to know which is being used in a given sentence.

The Bible itself gives us one short prayer which is suitable for all who are struggling with the beliefs and doctrines. It is: ‘Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief.’6 Would something of this sort be any good?: Almighty God, who art the Father of lights and who has promised by thy dear Son that all who do thy will shall know thy doctrine: [John 7:17] give me grace so to live that by daily obedience I daily increase in faith and in the understanding of thy Holy Word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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.

Knowing One's Place

Class Consciousness

The British class system--as it once was--remains an oddity.  In 1950 a South African, Dan Jacobson arrived in Britain from South Africa.  He described the "silent language" by which people measured others and by which they, in turn, were measured.  There were "tells" by which people were measured for their membership of a social class.

Jacobson called it a "kind of detective work"
 . . . that reminded him of 'an insect stroking an object ahead of it with its feelings, or of a cat sniffing a person's shoes'--and that the process reflected a society 'deeply obsessively divided by a host of invidious, criss-crossing "social indicators" that would go a long way towards determining relations between its members'.  [David Kynaston, Family Britain: 1951--1957 (New York: Walker and Co, 2009),  p. 135.]
Kynaston agrees that Britain in the 1950's was most certainly a society of class consciousness.  He adds that in a survey of 11,000 respondents to a 1950-51 questionnaire, 90 percent of people assigned themselves to a social class--and to their class separation from others.   Such a phenomenon or reality is indeed foreign to the colonies: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The ubiquity of class and class consciousness remains hard to credit.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Antifa and the Alt-Right

Growing in Opposition to One Another

There is a cancer in the body politic. We must cut it out, or be destroyed.

By Ben Shapiro
National Review Online

America has cancer.  On Saturday, a crowd of alt-right white supremacists, neo-confederates, and Nazi sympathizers marched in Charlottesville, Va.; they were confronted by a large group of protesters including members of the Marxist Antifa — a group that has time and again plunged volatile situations into violence, from Sacramento to Berkeley. There’s still no certain knowledge of who began the violence, but before long, the sides had broken into the sort of brutal scrum that used to characterize Weimer-era Germany. The two sides then carried the red banner and the swastika; so did the combatants on Saturday.

Then a Nazi-sympathizing alt-right 20-year-old Ohioan plowed his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring 19. The president of the United States promptly failed egregiously to condemn alt-right racism; instead, he opted for a milquetoast statement condemning “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”

The Left leapt into action, declaring Trump’s statement utterly insufficient — which, of course, it was. But they then went further, declaring that Antifa was entirely innocent, despite Antifa’s launching into violence against pro-Trump marchers in Seattle over the weekend, as they have in Sacramento and Berkeley; berating New York Times journalist Sheryl Gay Stolberg for having the temerity to report that “the hard left seemed as hate-filled as the alt-right”; and suggesting that all conservatives were, at root, sympathizers with the Nazi-friendly alt-right.

And so here we stand.

Daily Meditation

Learning To Love Our Neighbour

C. S. Lewis

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.

There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less.

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.

The More Things Change . . .

Are You Ready For a Great Leap Forward?

It's election season in New Zealand.  As to be expected, it's the season when whacky ideas get airtime.

Here is a sample, a guest post, published by a local blogger.
Maybe instead of voting for the red or blue leader once every few years we should work back from what we value. From my experience, here in NZ we value things like preservation of the environment, more time for personal and creative pursuits, more time for family and friends, less time working, and generally improving the well-being of all citizens. In fact, those values may well be universal. . . . 
It seems as though this contributor wants more "leisure" time to do whatever might take his fancy.  He wants an escape from the drudgery of work.
 They’ve now developed technology that could produce a largely automated abundance of resources for everyone, reducing work time and increasing leisure time substantially, with countless other benefits as a by-product. Within an efficiently designed political, social, and economic framework, their technology could support a radical transformation to the way they make decisions, utilise discoveries, interact with one another, preserve their environment, accelerate progress, and live their lives.
The author bemoans the fact that not enough time and attention is being paid to creating this wunnerful world he envisions.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Antipathy Borne out of Ignorance and Prejudice

In Defense Of General Lee

By Edward C. Smith
August 21, 1999

[The "United" States is presently confronted with a wave of iconoclasm.  To preserve its sanctimony it must tear down and rid itself of all memories of the Civil War (1861--65).  Modern political correctness demands it.  It seems that anyone who resists the swamp fever risks being accused of being a fascist.  The article below, which appeared in The Washington Post in 1999,  exposes the present mania.]

In Defense Of Gen. Lee

The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
Subjects: American Civil War; Slavery
Author: Smith, Edward C
Date: Aug 21, 1999

Let me begin on a personal note. I am a 56-year-old, third- generation, African American Washingtonian who is a graduate of the D.C. public schools and who happens also to be a great admirer of Robert E. Lee's.

Today, Lee, who surrendered his troops to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House 134 years ago, is under attack by people -- black and white -- who have incorrectly characterized him as a traitorous, slaveholding racist. He was recently besieged in Richmond by those opposed to having his portrait displayed prominently in a new park.

My first visit to Lee's former home, now Arlington National Cemetery, came when I was 12 years old, and it had a profound and lasting effect on me. Since then I have visited the cemetery hundreds of times searching for grave sites and conducting study tours for the Smithsonian Institution and various other groups interested in learning more about Lee and his family as well as many others buried at Arlington.

Lee's life story is in some ways the story of early America. He was born in 1807 to a loving mother, whom he adored. His relationship with his father, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, (who was George Washington's chief of staff during the Revolutionary War) was strained at best. Thus, as he matured in years, Lee adopted Washington (who had died in 1799) as a father figure and patterned his life after him. Two of Lee's ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, Mary Custis, was George Washington's foster great-granddaughter.

Lee was a top-of-the-class graduate of West Point, a Mexican War hero and superintendent of West Point. I can think of no family for which the Union meant as much as it did for his.

Daily Meditation

What the Resurrection Means

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

John Piper

The meaning of the resurrection is that God is for us. He aims to close ranks with us. He aims to overcome all our sense of abandonment and alienation.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s declaration to Israel and to the world that we cannot work our way to glory but that he intends to do the impossible to get us there.

The resurrection is the promise of God that all who trust Jesus will be the beneficiaries of God’s power to lead us in paths of righteousness and through the valley of death.

Therefore, believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead is much more than accepting a fact. It means being confident that God is for you, that he has closed ranks with you, that he is transforming your life, and that he will save you for eternal joy.

Believing in the resurrection means trusting in all the promises of life and hope and righteousness for which it stands.  It means being so confident of God’s power and love that no fear of worldly loss or greed for worldly gain will lure us to disobey his will.

That’s the difference between Satan and the saints. O, might God circumcise our hearts to love him and to rest in the resurrection of his Son.

Stalinist Warriors and Febrile Iconoclasts

When Will Michelangelo's "David" Be Torn Down?

The past week or so have been "tearing down memorials" season.  We read a piece this week which asks when the establishment is going to get around to the bust of Margaret Sanger in the Smithsonian.  For the record, we are not in favour of destroying historical monuments, but like the Scripture itself, we believe the present is far better served by an abundance of memorials of the past that are accurate: a record of warts and all.  

As an exemplar, take the Apostle Paul--persecutor of Jesus Christ and Christians, complicit murderer of the first Christian martyr, quarreller with Barnabas, John Mark, Peter and Judaizers, at times tetchy and impatient, fiercely intolerant of apostate Judaism.  None of these sins, character lapses and militancy are hidden. Yet, at the same time,  he is arguably the finest exemplar of Christianity after our Lord Himself.  His contribution to the Church is virtually immeasurable.  His influence for divine good is greater than any other, apart from the Lord for whom and to whom he laid down his life.  Paul warrants the odd statue or two.

Or, consider King David.  His sins are painfully and accurately recorded in Holy Scripture.  He committed rape, polygamy, murder; at times he acted with great treachery.  We could go on.  Yet God raised him up to be the honoured forefather of our Lord, so honoured in fact that the King of all kings insisted upon taking the title, Son of David [Matthew 1:1; 12:23, Revelation 22:16]

Our view is that the statues of Lenin and Stalin and Saddam Hussein should stand--and the full truth be told about each of them.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From America

The Jesus Fruit and the Jesus Tree

Douglas Wilson

The central problem with the white supremacists in Charlottesville is not so much that they hate blacks and Jews. Their central problem is that they hate God, and hate Jesus Christ. And the same thing goes for the anitfa agitators on the other side of the street. Scripture tells us what the emotional weather is always like outside of Jesus Christ.

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Tit. 3:3).

There is no way out of this apart from real repentance. God sent His Son into this world, in part, in order to solve the most intractable of problems—that of ethnic animosity. Christ was sent in order to overcome the division between Jew and Gentile, to create one new man out of two (Eph. 2:15), and the chasm between those two groups was a true chasm. But—liberal bromides notwithstanding—we cannot have the Jesus fruit apart from the Jesus tree. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We are commanded to repent, and we are commanded to repent by Jesus. We cannot do anything resembling this if we persist in our refusal to name His name. We must come to hate our sin, which means naming it, and we must come to love Jesus, which means naming Him.But—liberal bromides notwithstanding—we cannot have the Jesus fruit apart from the Jesus tree.

Refuse to do that and the only thing you have to look forward to is an ever-increasing cycle of hatreds, spilling out of hearts and into the streets. These racial animosities are not a sin against America, or democracy, or our social fabric. They are a sin against God.

So every form of race-hustling, independent of which race might be receiving the benefits of that hustle, is detestable to God.

Daily Meditation

Being Tutored in David's School

The sweet psalmist of Israel. 2 Samuel 23:1

Charles H. Spurgeon

Among all the saints whose lives are recorded in Holy Writ, David possesses an experience of the most striking, varied, and instructive character. In his history we meet with trials and temptations not to be discovered, as a whole, in other saints of ancient times, and hence he is all the more suggestive a type of our Lord.

David knew the trials of all ranks and conditions of men. Kings have their troubles, and David wore a crown: the peasant has his cares, and David handled a shepherd's crook: the wanderer has many hardships, and David abode in the caves of Engedi: the captain has his difficulties, and David found the sons of Zeruiah too hard for him. The psalmist was also tried in his friends, his counsellor Ahithophel forsook him, "He that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me." His worst foes were they of his own household: his children were his greatest affliction.

The temptations of poverty and wealth, of honour and reproach, of health and weakness, all tried their power upon him. He had temptations from without to disturb his peace, and from within to mar his joy. David no sooner escaped from one trial than he fell into another; no sooner emerged from one season of despondency and alarm, than he was again brought into the lowest depths, and all God's waves and billows rolled over him.

It is probably from this cause that David's psalms are so universally the delight of experienced Christians. Whatever our frame of mind, whether ecstasy or depression, David has exactly described our emotions. He was an able master of the human heart, because he had been tutored in the best of all schools--the school of heart-felt, personal experience. As we are instructed in the same school, as we grow matured in grace and in years, we increasingly appreciate David's psalms, and find them to be "green pastures." My soul, let David's experience cheer and counsel thee this day.

Stolen Clothes

Answering Unbelief

In public discourse and debate, Christians need to be cautious and careful, on the one hand, and wise and fearless, on the other.  In that regard, the following proverbs are of great help:

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
    lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
    lest he be wise in his own eyes.  [Proverbs 26: 4-5]

At first glance these two proverbs appear contradictory: the fact they are back-to-back, however, tells us that the contradiction is superficial and is, like many proverbs, intended to provoke thought.

The social context of these proverbs is that of a fool (an Unbeliever) uttering something, espousing an idea, policy, or position.  He may or may not be speaking directly; often times he will be speaking indirectly, through some medium such as a book, an article, or a quotation in the media.  But, in any event, some foolishness has come forth.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Advice on Tearing Down White Supremacy

Start With Planned Parenthood

By Daniel Payne
The Federalist

It is a rich if tragic irony that the same progressives denouncing [neo-Nazi] Richard Spencer and demanding that municipal statues be torn down for their alleged white supremacist qualities are themselves closely aligned with a white supremacist-tied group. I am speaking, of course, of Planned Parenthood, which is to the abortion-loving Left what Adolf Hitler’s bunker would have become to fascists had Germany not demolished it in the late 1980s: a sort of holy shrine upon which adulation and adoration can be fixated.

The racist, eugenicist roots of Planned Parenthood are well-documented, as is the paranoid racial and eugenic visions of its founder, Margaret Sanger, who spoke of her desire to create “a new race with a racial soul” in the United States, once cheerfully spoke before a women’s Klan meeting, desired to “keep the doors of Immigration closed” to those “whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race,” and yearned to accentuate “the better racial elements in our society” so as to erase from the population “defective stocks—those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”

But Planned Parenthood’s partisans tend to downplay those unpleasant historical realities, dismissing them as products of the time rather than a guiding principle of the institution as it stands today. Yes and no.

Daily Meditation

Facing Two Competing Enemies

C.S. Lewis

If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred.

For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.

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.

The Self-Made Saint

Hypocrisy Beyond Bounds

Jean-Jacques Rousseau is regarded by many as the patron saint of the French Enlightenment.  To this day he is cited as an authority on human rights, on liberty, on education and schooling, and on justice.  Yet he remains as one of the West's most vainglorious hypocrites.

Rousseau sought all his life to be accepted and honoured by the nobility.  He longed for recognition.  He sought attention constantly.  He was besotted with himself.  Few in the modern world recall, if they ever knew in the first place, that his personal home and family life was appalling.  It was meretricious because of Rousseau himself.

Rousseau never married, but he kept a mistress--or, more accurately, he had a mistress keep him.  Therese was dishonoured by him in public, in front of his guests at dinner, and in his general treatment of a poor and vulnerable woman.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Race in the United States

The Gospel Coalition's Recommended Reading List

Ivan Mesa
The Gospel Coalition

When social media demands immediate reaction, it’s easy in our polarized society to speak past each other, make wrong assumptions, and be misunderstood. And these dangers are nowhere more of reality than when addressing race-related questions in the United States.
In order to gain perspective on an often perplexing set of issues, I recently reached out to several TGC friends and asked for book recommendations—for essential books that illumine the cultural moment we’re in, explain how we got here, and encourage us forward.

Jemar Tisby
President of the Reformed African American Network
Without exception, the first book I always recommend to people seeking to understand the dynamics of race and the church is Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Oxford University Press, 2001). The authors—Michael Emerson and Christian Smith—take a sociological approach to discern exactly why the church in the United States is segregated along racial lines. A central concept of the book is the idea that we’re living in “racialized” society. A racialized society is one “wherein race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships.” Differing economic, educational, political, and social rewards are bestowed to groups based on racial categorizations. The authors’ exhaustive quantitative and qualitative study yields other important conclusions. They find that, despite stated convictions otherwise, white evangelicals may “do more to perpetuate the racial divide than they do to tear it down.”

Daily Meditation

Why You Give in to Sexual Sin

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. . . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:8, 12)

John Piper

Why isn’t he crying out for sexual restraint? Why isn’t he praying for men to hold him accountable? Why isn’t he praying for protected eyes and sex-free thoughts? In this psalm of confession and repentance after essentially raping Bathsheba, you would expect David to ask for something like that.

The reason is that he knows that sexual sin is a symptom, not the disease.

People give way to sexual sin because they don’t have the fullness of joy and gladness in Christ. Their spirits are not steadfast and firm and established. They waver. They are enticed, and they give way because God does not have the place in our feelings and thoughts that he should.

David knew this about himself. It’s true about us too. David is showing us, by the way he prays, what the real need is for those who sin sexually — joy in God.

This is profound wisdom for us.

Since William Booth Was Right, What Now?

The Prescience of William Booth

The name, Salvation Army will be known to most of our readers.  The members of the Army are affectionately known as the Sallies.  They are highly regarded for their works of charity, kindness, and working hard to bring a practical ministry of help to the poor and disadvantaged in society.

Whilst the work of the Sallies will be well known.  Less well known would be the name, William Booth, who was the founder of the Salvation Army.  Booth's brief bio states:
William Booth (10 April 1829 – 20 August 1912) was a British Methodist preacher who founded The Salvation Army and became its first General (1878-1912). The Christian movement, with a quasi-military structure and government - but with no physical weaponry - founded in 1865, has spread from London, England, to many parts of the world  and is known for being one of the largest distributors of humanitarian aid.
Booth once considered what were the greatest dangers facing Christianity at the turn of the nineteenth century to the twentieth.  He wrote:
The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.
Working through Booth's list shows that his warning proved prescient: all of the dangers he enumerated have come to pass.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Antifa Coming Out of the Shadows

The Rise of the Violent Left

Antifa’s activists say they’re battling burgeoning authoritarianism on the American right. Are they fueling it instead?

Peter Beinart
The Atlantic

Since 1907, Portland, Oregon, has hosted an annual Rose Festival. Since 2007, the festival had included a parade down 82nd Avenue. Since 2013, the Republican Party of Multnomah County, which includes Portland, had taken part. This April, all of that changed.

In the days leading up to the planned parade, a group called the Direct Action Alliance declared, “Fascists plan to march through the streets,” and warned, “Nazis will not march through Portland unopposed.” The alliance said it didn’t object to the Multnomah GOP itself, but to “fascists” who planned to infiltrate its ranks. Yet it also denounced marchers with “Trump flags” and “red MAGA hats” who could “normalize support for an orange man who bragged about sexually harassing women and who is waging a war of hate, racism and prejudice.” A second group, Oregon Students Empowered, created a Facebook page called “Shut down fascism! No nazis in Portland!”

Next, the parade’s organizers received an anonymous email warning that if “Trump supporters” and others who promote “hateful rhetoric” marched, “we will have two hundred or more people rush into the parade … and drag and push those people out.” When Portland police said they lacked the resources to provide adequate security, the organizers canceled the parade. It was a sign of things to come.

For progressives, Donald Trump is not just another Republican president. Seventy-six percent of Democrats, according to a Suffolk poll from last September, consider him a racist. Last March, according to a YouGov survey, 71 percent of Democrats agreed that his campaign contained “fascist undertones.”

Daily Meditation

Limited By The Saviour

This sickness is not unto death.  John 11:4

Charles H. Spurgeon

From our Lord's words we learn that there is a limit to sickness. Here is an "unto" within which its ultimate end is restrained, and beyond which it cannot go. Lazarus might pass through death, but death was not to be the ultimatum of his sickness. In all sickness, the Lord saith to the waves of pain, "Hitherto shall ye go, but no further." His fixed purpose is not the destruction, but the instruction of his people. Wisdom hangs up the thermometer at the furnace mouth, and regulates the heat.

1. The limit is encouragingly comprehensive. The God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestinated, each relapse ordained, each depression of spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of him who numbers the hairs of our head.

2. This limit is wisely adjusted to our strength, to the end designed, and to the grace apportioned. Affliction comes not at haphazard--the weight of every stroke of the rod is accurately measured. He who made no mistakes in balancing the clouds and meting out the heavens, commits no errors in measuring out the ingredients which compose the medicine of souls. We cannot suffer too much nor be relieved too late.

3. The limit is tenderly appointed. The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary. "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." A mother's heart cries, "Spare my child;" but no mother is more compassionate than our gracious God. When we consider how hard-mouthed we are, it is a wonder that we are not driven with a sharper bit. The thought is full of consolation, that he who has fixed the bounds of our habitation, has also fixed the bounds of our tribulation.

Going Way, Way Back To The Present

Humanitarianism, Open Borders, And Slavery

In a modern country in 2017, how would you define slavery?  The definition would surely include someone being forced to work against their will--in other words, someone who does not have the option or opportunity to resign or quit and walk away.  It would apply to a person who has no access to the protection of the country's labour laws.  It would include those over whose heads dire consequences hang if they refuse to work or neglect to do what they are told.  It would cover those who are held against their will and forced to work.

Do such things exist in the OECD countries today?  You bet they do.  It's not just that they exist: in truth such things have multiplied to the point where, we are told, they are now endemic.  We have incidents reported occasionally in New Zealand.  People seeking work or student visas pay large sums of money to "agents" who process them through the system.  Then they turn upon their "clients" and demand services and work against their will, until they pay off their debts.  But their "remuneration" is little more than a meagre sum of money to keep them physically moving.

In New Zealand, when such circumstances come to light and are reported to the authorities, interdiction and state vengeance follow, provided the abuse can be proven.  But whilst such things remain underground they continue.  In the UK, we are now told, slavery operates in every large town and city in Britain.  Europe has become one of the fastest growing regions for slavery in the world.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Not the Only Thugs On the Block

The Rise of Antifa

The United States is appalled at the re-appearance of neo-Nazi groups and sentiment in their country.  So they should be.  But they were not the only thugs which came out from under a rock at Charlottesville the other day.  It turns out one group of thugs is fashionable.

The conflict between fascists and anti-fascists has been burbling along in the United States for decades.  We ought never to forget that there were two totalitarian powers engaged in the Second World War--Nazis and Communists.  In the end, they fought to the death.  Below is the first of two pieces reflecting upon the rise of two demons from the pit.  D. C. McAllister traces the rise of neo-Nazis and neo-communists in the United States--and their deadly hatred.

White Supremacists Were Not The Only Thugs Tearing Up Charlottesville

D. C. McAllister
The Federalist

The violence in Charlottesville reveals not who we are as Americans, but who we might become if we allow radicalism and totalitarianism to become normalized. In America today, that possibility is most likely to come, not from the radical Right, but from the Left.

To understand this trajectory, we need to know who the players were in this weekend’s violence. Those behind the protest and the counter-protest were not average Americans, but two extremist groups: anti-fascists (Antifas) on the Left (the counter-protestors) and white supremacist nationalists on the Right (the protesters).

Daily Meditation

God Forgives and Is Still Fair

The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die. (2 Samuel 12:13–14)

John Piper

This is outrageous. Uriah is dead. Bathsheba is raped. The baby will die. And Nathan says, “The Lord has put away your sin.”  Just like that? David committed adultery. He ordered murder. He lied. He “despised the word of the Lord.” He “scorned God.” And the Lord “put away [his] sin.”

What kind of a righteous judge is God? You don’t just pass over rape and murder and lying. Righteous judges don’t do that.

Here is what Paul said in Romans 3:25–26:
God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
In other words, the outrage that we feel when God seems to simply pass over David’s sin would be good outrage if God were simply sweeping David’s sin under the rug. He is not.

God sees from the time of David down the centuries to the death of his Son, Jesus Christ, who would die in David’s place, so that David’s faith in God’s mercy and God’s future redeeming work unites David with Christ. And in God’s all-knowing mind, David’s sins are counted as Christ’s sins and Christ’s righteousness is counted as his righteousness, and God justly passes over David’s sin.

The death of the Son of God is outrageous enough, and the glory of God that it upholds is great enough, that God is vindicated in passing over David’s adultery and murder and lying.  And so God maintains his perfect righteousness and justice while at the same time showing mercy to those who have faith in Jesus, no matter how many or how monstrous their sins.

This is good news.

Some Social History

The Age of the "Rings" and Their Influence

We have been working our way through David Kynaston's magisterial Family Britain, 1951--1957 (New York: Walker and Co, 2009.)  On page 404, dealing with events in the summer of 1954, we came across the following curio:
George Allen & Unwin published The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Naomi Mitchison, along with Tolkien's friend C. S. Lewis, had already contributed praise to the dust jacket, and now they wrote appropriately laudatory reviews.  "Like lighting from a clear sky," declared Lewis in Time & Tide, while Mitchison in the New Statesman called it "a story magnificently told, with every kind of colour and movement and graveness."

Most reviews were positive, though not uncritically so.  "Whimsical drivel with a message?" asked J. "W. Lambert in the Sunday Times.  "No," he answered.  "It sweeps along with a narrative and pictorial force which lifts it above that level."  He did, however, note that it had "no religious spirit of any kind, and to all intents and purposes, no women".  The Daily Telegraph's Peter Green claimed that the prose style "veers from pre-Raphaelite to Boy's Own Paper", albeit conceding that the novel had "an undeniable fascination".  And in Punch, where under Anthony Powell's literary editorship it received the briefest of reviews, Peter Dickinson frankly stated: "I can think of nothing in the book to account for the fact that I find the whole thing absolutely fascinating, despite some of the most infuriating writing."

The most heavyweight critique came from a major literary figure, the Scottish poet and critic Edwin Muir.  "To read it is to be thrown in astonishment," he gladly conceded in the Observer, but insisted that in terms of "human discrimination and depth" there was a fatal shortfall: "Mr Tolkien describes a tremendous conflict between good and evil, on which hangs the future of life upon earth.  But his good people are consistently good, his evil figures immutably evil; and he has no room in his world for a Satan both evil and tragic."

Commercially, the book flourished, being reprinted after six weeks, ahead of the publication in mid-November of The Two Towers, second in the sequence.  It was not yet a cult, though, nor--away from the public prints--was it everyone's cup of tea.  "Don's whimsy" was the private verdict of Angus Wilson, to whom in his own mind the future belonged.  [Op cit, p. 404f.]
It is interesting to look back after over half a century of the trilogy being in print and see the enormous impact it has had on millions of millions of readers (and, latterly, movie goers).

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Fall and Rise of the Liberal Arts College

Out of the Ashes

Anthony Esolen in His Own Words: ‘Why I Left Providence College for Thomas More’

The acclaimed Catholic translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy shares with the National Catholic Register his reasons for leaving a tenured professorship to join the Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts.

Peter Jesserer Smith
NC Register

PROVIDENCE — Professor Anthony Esolen has thought deeply about the connections between excellence in literature and the cultural renewal of America. For a long time, he has fought a battle on the campus of Providence College, where he holds a tenure as an English professor, for a Catholic worldview that values cultural diversity anchored in truth and virtue, against a politically-inspired moral diversity that he believes homogenizes culture by celebrating mediocrity to the exclusion of Christian civilization’s wide patrimony of letters and learning.

In this interview with the National Catholic Register, Esolen explains in his own words why he decided to leave Providence College behind. The esteemed translator of The Divine Comedy, and recent author of Out of the Ashes: Restoring American Culture, will soon commence a new chapter at the Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, where he will have a hand in establishing its new Center for the Restoration of Catholic Culture.

Why are you leaving a tenured position as a literature professor at Providence College for a faculty position at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts?

First, because Thomas More College is a sound and sweet and wise place that deserves the prayers, the attention, and the support, financial and otherwise, of every Catholic who wishes to see culture — the real thing, not its mass-produced counterfeit — restored in America; culture in general, and a vibrant Catholic life in particular. I came home recently from a day at Thomas More College, full of good cheer and energy, and for somebody who isn’t getting younger, those can take you a long way. They can add many years to your life as a teacher, whereas discouragement and disappointment lead to exhaustion.

Second, it is a great opportunity, because of the center for cultural renewal that the college has begun; it is as if they had read my mind, or I had read their minds, when I wrote my book, Out of the Ashes: Restoring American Culture.

Daily Meditation

Sparing An Hour to Walk

Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide.   Genesis 24:63

Charles H. Spurgeon

Very admirable was his occupation. If those who spend so many hours in idle company, light reading, and useless pastimes, could learn wisdom, they would find more profitable society and more interesting engagements in meditation than in the vanities which now have such charms for them. We should all know more, live nearer to God, and grow in grace, if we were more alone. Meditation chews the cud and extracts the real nutriment from the mental food gathered elsewhere. When Jesus is the theme, meditation is sweet indeed. Isaac found Rebecca while engaged in private musings; many others have found their best beloved there.

Very admirable was the choice of place. In the field we have a study hung round with texts for thought. From the cedar to the hyssop, from the soaring eagle down to the chirping grasshopper, from the blue expanse of heaven to a drop of dew, all things are full of teaching, and when the eye is divinely opened, that teaching flashes upon the mind far more vividly than from written books. Our little rooms are neither so healthy, so suggestive, so agreeable, or so inspiring as the fields. Let us count nothing common or unclean, but feel that all created things point to their Maker, and the field will at once be hallowed.

Very admirable was the season. The season of sunset as it draws a veil over the day, befits that repose of the soul when earthborn cares yield to the joys of heavenly communion. The glory of the setting sun excites our wonder, and the solemnity of approaching night awakens our awe. If the business of this day will permit it, it will be well, dear reader, if you can spare an hour to walk in the field at eventide, but if not, the Lord is in the town too, and will meet with thee in thy chamber or in the crowded street. Let thy heart go forth to meet him.

Two Roads

Self-Made Saints

Every society believes in the existence of evil.  Every society has a code of right and wrong, good and evil--however different the codes and lists may be.  Where, then, does evil come from?  What are its origins and causes?

There are only two basic positions given in answer to this question:  the first argues that evil is resident in every human being and that unless it is restrained or checked, it will break forth in word, thought, and action.  The second world-view is that every human being is born morally good and pure: corruption comes from the "outside"--society, others, socio-economic conditions.  We well recall serving on a jury in which a child had given evidence.  Some members of the jury argued vehemently that of course the child told the pure, unvarnished truth because children are pure and uncorrupted and without sin.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was of this persuasion.  He was very sure that, at least as far as he was concerned, his heart was free from any and all evil.  He said he felt that man is naturally good.  But, whatever others may thing or do, he was certain that he was morally and ethically pure.  He felt it was accurate to claim of himself that he was "on the whole the best of men".

Where, then, does evil come from?  It is at this juncture that Rousseau becomes a most notorious false prophet:  evil, he insists, has come into his life from the outside.  It comes from other men.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Lies, Damned Lies, and Climate Change

Climate Change Report The Fakest of Fake News

James Delingpole, via BreitbartLondon

Scientists behind a bombshell new report revealing global warming to be worse than ever are now worried that the Trump administration may try to change or suppress it because it contradicts the president’s denialist agenda.”

Or so the New York Times has claimed. And also, in its wake, papers including the London Evening Standard and the Guardian.
This is worse than mere #fakenews.
This is #fakenews with icing and cherries on top, rings on its fingers, bells on its toes, a specially commissioned foreword by Al Gore and a rave review (“I love these lies. I could not have written better ones myself”) written from hell by the tormented shade of Josef Goebbels.
No, actually, it might even be worse than that.

Daily Meditation

Using Time As a Weapon

Screwtape strategizes with Wormwood On How to Combat Christians Walking In Communion With God

C. S. Lewis

I had noticed, of course, that the humans were having a lull in their European war—what they na├»vely call ‘The War’!—and am not surprised that there is a corresponding lull in the patient’s anxieties. Do we want to encourage this, or to keep him worried? Tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind. Our choice between them raises important questions.

The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them.

He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

From The Screwtape Letters
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters. Copyright © 1942, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Hectoring From a Very High Horse

No Longer a Puff-Piece in a Women's Mag

Oh, my!  That did not take long.  Jacinda Ardern, pop politician, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party for all of twenty one days, and a much salivated-over media creation, just hit the wall.  One gets a sinking feeling.  

She is trying desperately to project maturity, gravitas, decisiveness, and strength.  Sadly, she has come across as school marmish, which is entirely at odds with the persona the media have helped her build and craft over the past three years.  She suddenly has morphed into "Lecturer-at-large".  What happened to the commitment to "relentless positivity"?  It lasted five minutes, then hit the wall.

How on earth did the brand new leader of the Labour Party manage to provoke the Australian Government into scarcely concealed fury?  It all came about because of the idiocy of one of her senior MP's.  Chris Hipkins apparently conspired with the Australian Labour Party in an attempt to bring down the Australian Government.  He used the NZ Parliament to conduct his machinations.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Authorities are Back On the Job

Another UK Rapist Gang Busted

Lliam Deacon
Breitbart London

Seventeen South Asian men and one Caucasian woman have been convicted of involvement in a mostly Muslim sex grooming gang operating in Newcastle, in the largest case of its kind since Rotherham and Rochdale.

The gang was found guilty of nearly 100 offences, including the rape and human trafficking of vulnerable women and girls. They preyed upon teenage girls with drugs and alcohol at sex parties known as “sessions”, Chronicle Live reports. . . .

The victims were aged between 14 and 22 years old. They were passed around by their abusers and were sometimes said to be too intoxicated to even know what was happening to them.  One victim said she had been to 60 such “sessions”, the BBC reports. She spoke of seeing two older men at one of them with a woman who seemed “frightened and scared, like a slave”.  Jim Hope, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “These men systematically groomed and abused vulnerable teenage girls and young women over a number of years for their own sexual gratification.”

The police dubbed the investigation ‘Operation Shelter’, which formed part of the even larger ‘Operation Sanctuary’ into sexual exploitation in the North East.

Daily Meditation

Continuing To Do the Ordinary Things

TO EDWARD LOFSTROM: On what Lewis attempted in the Chronicles of Narnia; on the character of the man Jesus—his tenderness, ferocity, and even humor; and on the need to do one’s duty while having patience with God.


16 January 1959

1. I am afraid I don’t know the answer to your question about books of Christian instruction for children. Most of those I have seen—but I haven’t seen many—seem to me namby-pamby and ‘sissie’ and calculated to nauseate any child worth his salt. Of course I have tried to do what I can for children—in a mythical and fantastic form by my seven ‘Narnian’ fairy tales. They work well with some children but not with others. Sorry this looks like salesmanship: but honestly if I knew anything else I’d mention it.

2. Of course. ‘Gentle Jesus’, my elbow! The most striking thing about Our Lord is the union of great ferocity with extreme tenderness. (Remember Pascal? ‘I do not admire the extreme of one virtue unless you show me at the same time the extreme of the opposite virtue. One shows one’s greatness not by being at an extremity but by being simultaneously at two extremities and filling all the space between.’)

Add to this that He is also a supreme ironist, dialectician, and (occasionally) humourist. So go on! You are on the right track now: getting to the real Man behind all the plaster dolls that have been substituted for Him. This is the appearance in Human form of the God who made the Tiger and the Lamb, the avalanche and the rose. He’ll frighten and puzzle you: but the real Christ can be loved and admired as the doll can’t.

3. ‘For him who is haunted by the smell of invisible roses the cure is work’ (MacDonald). If we feel we have talents that don’t find expression in our ordinary duties and recreations, I think we must just go on doing the ordinary things as well as we can. If God wants to use these suspected talents, He will: in His own time and way. At all costs one must keep clear of all the witchdoctors and their patent cures—as you say yourself.

Long May It Ride

A Hangover from Karl Marx 

The union movement is an antediluvian relic--at least in New Zealand.  The movement was decimated when compulsory membership was removed from the statute books.  The system used to be that if you worked in certain industries, you had to be a union member.  Now the unions had lots of rationalisations for such an undemocratic, oppressive system.  There were mumblings about "equalizing" the disproportionately weak powers of the employee class versus the capitalist class that did the employing.

But all of these arguments amounted to one thing: the unions knew that they did not have sufficient popular support amongst the "working classes", or the proletariat (to use a Marxist term).  To survive, the union leadership knew the proletariat required to be forced to become union members.  When union membership became voluntary in 1991, with the passing of the Employment Contracts Act, union ranks depleted more rapidly than an melting ice-cream at high noon in the summer equinox.

But the unions, whilst greatly diminished, clung on.  They have sought to return to the "old glory days" of compulsion.  They have tried to push their case--not with workers and employees as one would expect--but with the Labour Party.  But even within that relic of a bygone era they could not find sufficient support.  They had to queer the pitch, so to speak.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Biological Determinism, Not A Matter of Choice

Gender Fluidity A False Construct

Why Are Lesbian Teens Having Two To Seven Times As Many Babies As Their Heterosexual Peers?  The surprising statistic suggests that for many, LGBTQ sexual orientation is not a fixed identity, but rather something that fluctuates.

Glenn T. Stanton
The Federalist

One thing you would think lesbians wouldn’t have to deal with is pregnancy. Seems like a solid assumption, right? Not so much.

Remarkably, research shows teen who identify as lesbian have significantly higher pregnancy rates than their heterosexual peers. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s true. It’s also true for teen gay males: they are substantially more likely to impregnate their sexual partners than are heterosexual males. The dramatic disparities are explained in these graphs from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Numerous studies across many nations find that sexual-minority youth aged 14 to 19 have pregnancy rates two to seven times greater than their heterosexual peers. And their pregnancy rates continue to rise at a time when the overall teen pregnancy rate is declining in the United States.

Daily Meditation

The End of the Gospel

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:9-11)

John Piper

What do we need to be saved from? Verse 9 states it clearly: the wrath of God. But is that the highest, best, fullest, most satisfying prize of the gospel?  No. Verse 10 says "much more . . . shall we be saved by his life." Then verse 11 takes it to the end when it says, “more than that, we also rejoice in God.”

That is the final and highest good of the good news. There is not another “more than that” after that. There is only Paul’s saying how we got there, “through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

The end of the gospel is “we rejoice in God.” The highest, fullest, deepest, sweetest good of the gospel is God himself, enjoyed by his redeemed people.  God in Christ became the price (Romans 5:6–8), and God in Christ became the prize (Romans 5:11).  The gospel is the good news that God bought for us the everlasting enjoyment of God.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

Some Progress, Some Major Risks

The NZ National Party has come out with some interesting proposals on tackling teenage crime.  Justice Minister, Amy Adams made some announcements on the subject which will become part of the Government's strategy, if National is able to form a centre-right government post-election.

Due to the breakdown of the family as a cohesive social unit--a phenomenon long in the gestation--we now have marauding gangs of youth systematically working through communities seeking whom or what they can devour.  Most are too young to be convicted of crime and are dealt with by the proverbial wet bus ticket.  This is understandable insofar as what these juvenile offenders need is effective parenting.  And here lies the problem.  The State, irregardless of what many now fervently believe, is persistently incompetent when it comes to parenting.  Being placed in "state care" is an oxymoron.

We are told that there are a hardened group of juvenile defenders who are well known to the authorities.  They are not a large group, but they account for a good deal of the crime in our cities.  The state wants to do more than pulling the wet bus ticket out of its pocket.

Here is what Adams is proposing:

Monday, 14 August 2017

John Milton Spoke True Words

"Usually He'd Receive An Elbow . . . "  But Not Tonight

Anonymous Author
Courtesy of NZ Herald

The wife of an AOS officer involved in a recent call out to an isolated rural house where two women had been brutally murdered has spoken out.  She, of course, in this case is the "other half" .  Her account reminds us of the old adage, penned by John Milton, "They also serve who only stand and wait".

An open letter to the public of New Zealand
The next time you sit behind your keyboards and decide to s*** on our Police Force, spare a thought for who is reading your thoughtless speculation and comments.

Today my husband braved an unpredictable gunman. Along with his colleagues, they were the first responders who ran in to attempt life saving support for two beautiful women, all the while very aware they were being watched and most likely about to be targeted themselves; a situation that would have most people in flight mode. Tragically those ladies never made it home to their loved ones despite EVERY effort and determination on behalf of our emergency services.

Don't be mistaken, they love their job with every fibre of their being and would chose this over and over again. They don't ask for recognition, they certainly don't expect a thank-you, and you can rest assured that if the need arose, they would give their life for yours, every time, just as they swore they would.

What people fail to forget are those men (and women) dressed in black (and blue) from head to toe, are regular people. They have partners sitting at home refreshing every media source possible for updates. Often the first we hear of our men being at a job is via the internet.

Daily Meditation

The Work is All Done: The Application is Sure

The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.  Matthew 9:6

Charles H. Spurgeon

Behold one of the great Physician's mightiest arts: he has power to forgive sin! While here he lived below, before the ransom had been paid, before the blood had been literally sprinkled on the mercy-seat, he had power to forgive sin. Hath he not power to do it now that he hath died? What power must dwell in him who to the utmost farthing has faithfully discharged the debts of his people! He has boundless power now that he has finished transgression and made an end of sin.

If ye doubt it, see him rising from the dead! behold him in ascending splendour raised to the right hand of God! Hear him pleading before the eternal Father, pointing to his wounds, urging the merit of his sacred passion! What power to forgive is here! "He hath ascended on high, and received gifts for men." "He is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins." The most crimson sins are removed by the crimson of his blood.

At this moment, dear reader, whatever thy sinfulness, Christ has power to pardon, power to pardon thee, and millions such as thou art. A word will speak it. He has nothing more to do to win thy pardon; all the atoning work is done. He can, in answer to thy tears, forgive thy sins today, and make thee know it. He can breathe into thy soul at this very moment a peace with God which passeth all understanding, which shall spring from perfect remission of thy manifold iniquities. Dost thou believe that? I trust thou believest it. Mayst thou experience now the power of Jesus to forgive sin!

Waste no time in applying to the Physician of souls, but hasten to him with words like these:--

"Jesus! Master! hear my cry;
Save me, heal me with a word;
Fainting at thy feet I lie,
Thou my whisper'd plaint hast heard."

False Prophets Abound

Squawks of Malarkey

Readers of the Bible are well aware that the history of God's people is cursed at times with false prophets.  These were "gentlemen" who told the king or the political authorities what they wanted to hear.  Therefore, it's not unexpected that in our day false prophets claiming to speak in the name of God would arise, endeavouring to lead the faithful astray.

We are now told that Hillary Clinton wants to become a preacher--according to an article in The Atlantic.
Hillary Clinton wants to preach. That’s what she told Bill Shillady, her longtime pastor, at a recent photo shoot for his new book about the daily devotionals he sent her during the 2016 campaign. Scattered bits of reporting suggest that ministry has always been a secret dream of the two-time presidential candidate: Last fall, the former Newsweek editor Kenneth Woodward revealed that Clinton told him in 1994 that she thought “all the time” about becoming an ordained Methodist minister. She asked him not to write about it, though: “It will make me seem much too pious.” The incident perfectly captures Clinton’s long campaign to modulate—and sometimes obscure—expressions of her faith.
 What are we to make of this?

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Just Warfare?

Don’t Whitewash the Hiroshima Bombing

It reveals a dangerous strain of vengeance in U.S. foreign policy.

Peter Van Buren
The American Conservative

Ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall on August 6, 1945.  Everett Historical / Shutterstock
August 6 usually doesn’t make headlines in America. But mark the day by what absence demonstrates: On the 72nd anniversary of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and some 140,000 non-combatants, there is no call for reflection in the United States.

In an era when pundits routinely worry about America’s loss of moral standing because of an offish, ill-mannered president, the only nation in history to employ a weapon of mass destruction on an epic scale, against an undefended civilian population, otherwise shrugs off the significance of an act of immorality.

But it is August 6, and so let us talk about Hiroshima.

Beyond the destruction lies the myth of the atomic bombings, the post-war creation of a mass memory of things that did not happen. This myth has become the underpinning of American war policy ever since, and carries forward the horrors of Hiroshima as generations of the August 6 anniversary pass.

Daily Meditation

Harvest Time

Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.  Psalm 72:19

Charles H. Spurgeon

This is a large petition. To intercede for a whole city needs a stretch of faith, and there are times when a prayer for one man is enough to stagger us. But how far-reaching was the psalmist's dying intercession! How comprehensive! How sublime! "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory."

It doth not exempt a single country however crushed by the foot of superstition; it doth not exclude a single nation however barbarous. For the cannibal as well as for the civilized, for all climes and races this prayer is uttered: the whole circle of the earth it encompasses, and omits no son of Adam. We must be up and doing for our Master, or we cannot honestly offer such a prayer. The petition is not asked with a sincere heart unless we endeavour, as God shall help us, to extend the kingdom of our Master.

Are there not some who neglect both to plead and to labour? Reader, is it your prayer? Turn your eyes to Calvary. Behold the Lord of Life nailed to a cross, with the thorn-crown about his brow, with bleeding head, and hands, and feet. What! can you look upon this miracle of miracles, the death of the Son of God, without feeling within your bosom a marvellous adoration that language never can express? And when you feel the blood applied to your conscience, and know that he has blotted out your sins, you are not a man unless you start from your knees and cry, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen."

Can you bow before the Crucified in loving homage, and not wish to see your Monarch master of the world? Out on you if you can pretend to love your Prince, and desire not to see him the universal ruler. Your piety is worthless unless it leads you to wish that the same mercy which has been extended to you may bless the whole world. Lord, it is harvest-time: put in thy sickle and reap.