Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Ol' Jerry Corbyn Knows His Oats

We Kid You Not  . . 

Corbyn’s "Tragic Rough Sleeper" Was Twice-Deported Migrant Paedophile from Angola

Jack Montgomery
Breitbart London

A rough sleeper turned into a cause célèbre by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after he was found dead in a London underpass near Parliament turns out to have been an illegal migrant paedophile who had been deported twice.

Marcos Amaral Gourgel was a dual Angolan-Portuguese national first deported from Britain in 2014 after serving time for child sex offences, reports the Daily Mail, which cited Portuguese daily Correio da Manha.  “In 2014 he was deported to Portugal by the British authorities and assisted on his return,” the Ministry of Portuguese Communities Abroad confirmed to the Expresso newspaper.  “In 2016 we were made aware he had been deported again from the UK for being in the country illegally.”

It is not clear how the child molester was able to return to Britain and set up camp in a London underpass yards from the Houses of Parliament, through which MPs and staff pass every day — but he may have been assisted by the EU Single Market’s freedom of movement regime, which makes it very difficult for British authorities to effectively vet EU passport-holders.

I've just been told about the death of a rough sleeper right by the entrance to Parliament. The powerful can't carry on walking by on the other side while people don't have a home to call their own. It's time all MPs took up this moral challenge and properly housed everyone.

Jeremy Corbyn, whose team claimed to know Gourgel, used his death to attack “the powerful”, declaring it was time “all MPs took up this moral challenge and properly housed everyone.”
Whether or not Mr Corbyn’s definition of “everyone” was intended to include illegal migrants and child molesters is unclear, although he has issued no statements condemning the obvious failures in Britain’s border and immigration controls which allowed such a dangerous individual to infiltrate the country.

Daily Meditation

Our Servant Jesus

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

John Piper

Not only was he the servant of his people while he lived on earth, but he will also be our servant when he comes again. “Truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:37).

Not only that, he is our servant now. “‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’ Hence we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?”

Does this belittle the risen Christ — to say that he was and is and will ever be the servant of his people? It would, if “servant” meant “one who takes orders,” or if we thought we were his masters. Yes, that would dishonor him. But it does not dishonor him to say that we are weak and needy.

It does not dishonor him to say that he is the only one who can service us with what we need most.

It does not dishonor him to say that he is an inexhaustible spring of love, and that the more he helps us and the more we depend on his service the more amazing his resources appear. Therefore, we can confidently say, “Jesus Christ is alive to serve!”

He is alive to save. He is alive to give. And he is thrilled to be this way.

He is not burdened down with your cares. He thrives on burden-bearing. He loves to “work for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4). He “takes pleasure in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 147:11). His “eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show his might on behalf of those whose heart is whole toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Jesus Christ is exuberant with omnipotent service for the sake of all who trust him.

The Fatal Contradiction of Darwinism

Running With Hares and Hunting With Hounds

The English proverb, "You can't have your cake and eat it too" refers to someone who chooses to hold two contradictory or opposing positions.  Someone who lives and embraces a contradiction tries to eat his cake, yet still hold it in his hands.  Someone "dumb and dumber", in other words, or someone fundamentally dishonest.   

Yet our world is awash with such destructive contradictions.  Take the following, for example:  if we were to ask, Is there such a "thing" as a universal human being--that is, a distinct creature found in the world that is distinct from and superior to all other life forms--the resounding answer would be in the affirmative.  The notion of universal human rights asserts it to  be the case.  The science of genetics insists upon it. 

But, on the other hand, it is also widely believed and taught that human beings came into existence by means of an evolutionary process--which necessarily implies that some human beings are more advanced in being than others.  That further implies that some humans are more human than others.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Hapless Hipkins at his Worst

NZ Herald Editorial Dices Hipkins Cloth Cap Socialism

Hipkins Offers no Good Reasons For Abolishing Charter Schools 

NZ Herald

Charter schools do not seem to be a problem. We have not heard or read complaints from parents whose children attend them, or from those who inspect them, teach in them or have anything to do with them. They were not an issue in an election campaign. So why has Education Minister Chris Hipkins moved so quickly to abolish them?

He calls them "ideological" but his stated reason sounds more ideological. "The Government's strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system," he said.

Why? They do not interfere with state schools, they get public money that would have to be spent to educate the pupils anyway. They provide the national curriculum but do in slightly different ways that, they say, help some children who were not succeeding in conventional schools.

Daily Meditation

Profound Bible Knowledge

He hath said . . .  Hebrews 13:5

Charles H. Spurgeon

If we can only grasp these words by faith, we have an all-conquering weapon in our hand. What doubt will not be slain by this two-edged sword? What fear is there which shall not fall smitten with a deadly wound before this arrow from the bow of God's covenant?

Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death; will not the corruptions within, and the snares without; will not the trials from above, and the temptations from beneath, all seem but light afflictions, when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of "He hath said"? Yes; whether for delight in our quietude, or for strength in our conflict, "He hath said" must be our daily resort.

And this may teach us the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore you miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it, you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is so near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopoeia of Scripture, and you may yet continue sick unless you will examine and search the Scriptures to discover what "He hath said."

Should you not, besides reading the Bible, store your memories richly with the promises of God? You can recollect the sayings of great men; you treasure up the verses of renowned poets; ought you not to be profound in your knowledge of the words of God, so that you may be able to quote them readily when you would solve a difficulty, or overthrow a doubt? Since "He hath said" is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort, let it dwell in you richly, as "A well of water, springing up unto everlasting life." So shall you grow healthy, strong, and happy in the divine life.
Not Bad  . . . .

Hat Tip:  Adolf Fiinkensein

Truth and Hypocrisy in Victorian England

The Lord Christ Vs Bentham and Darwin

There are few things more distasteful than the pseudo-Christianity which predominated amongst the Victorian elites.  Many practised the appearance of faith, whilst privately despising it.  This was not always the case: the Great Awakening took hold amongst the gentry and elites and many were truly converted.  They devoted themselves to working for the poor and the downtrodden.  

Anthony Ashley-Cooper was the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury.  He remains a wonderful exemplar of an aristocrat committed to Christ.  He spent his adult life seeking to bring the Christian faith to the most needy.  He was a staunch campaigner against slavery.  He started an organization called Ragged Schools.  According to historian, A.N. Wilson
Ashley's entire motive for establishing Ragged Schools, rescuing women and children from their servitude in mines and factories, was based on the premise that God Himself had chosen to come to Earth as a poor person of no reputation, thereby not merely redeeming the human race from sin, but teaching it that every child born into the world is made in God's image and likeness, every child has dignity and worth, and rights.  Remove the truth of Christianity and, for a Christian of Ashley's generation, you have destroyed the very reason for believing in virtue itself.  The Benthamite jungle has triumphed.  [A. N. Wilson, The Victorians (London: Arrow/Random House, 2002),    p.167f]
But so many of the English aristocracy regarded themselves as "smarter than the average bear."  Unbelief was the preserve of sophisticated, educated, and superior people.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow, Idaho

Resentment of the World That Is

Douglas Wilson

God created the world. He spoke the heavens and the earth into existence, and this should be the starting point of all our reasoning. As a practical matter, it needs to be our starting point, for had we not been created . . . we couldn’t start.

As the capstone of His creative work, God placed our first parents in a position of authority, establishing them as vicegerents in this world. From that position, when Eve offered the fruit to Adam, he took it and in his rebellion plunged the world into futility and bondage to decay.

So on this side of the Jordan, we must reckon with two fixed realities that are fundamentally characteristic of our world. Those realities are the fact that the world is created, and the fact that it is fallen. Considered from another angle, there are things basically right with the world and there are things basically wrong with the world.

At the same time, as a result of God’s redemptive purposes, there are now two humanities living here.

Daily Meditation

On Conversion

C. S. Lewis

Before I became a Christian I do not think I fully realized that one’s life, after conversion, would inevitably consist in doing most of the same things one had been doing before, one hopes, in a new spirit, but still the same things.

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.

Imperial Legacy

Forgotten Glories

These days the Imperial British Empire is largely regarded with vituperative scorn amongst many historians.  Others express embarrassment.  What is left of the old imperial "structure" is now reflected in the Commonwealth of Nations.  This has been eagerly and persistently maintained by Elizabeth II as representing the best of the humanitarian ideals underlying the old Empire.  

In many ways it is a "force" to behold.  We suspect that as time passes, the better fruits of Imperial Britain will come more into focus and attention.  But for the present the injustices, the use of force, the disregard for local populations, and the atrocities of the Empire predominate.  More time is needed for a balanced appraisal to emerge.  As one historian put it
The British Empire is too recent to be regarded by most commentators with the detachment that can be applied to older empires such as the Ottoman or the Mughal.  When the latter used violence against their subject peoples, they can be said to have carried out "stabilizing operations"; but when the British did so, they committed "war crimes," even "genocide."   [Robert Tombs, The English and Their History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), p. 785.]
The inability of the present generation of historians to deal objectively with the matter is patently obvious.  This is particularly the case when regimes which replaced the administration of the Empire turned out to be more oppressive and incompetent than the British administration they replaced.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Chicken Littles All

British Factories Post Best Year Since 2014

Hours After MSM Claim UK In Worse Shape Than Greece

Jack Montgomery

Bloomberg has had to report that British factories are putting in their best showing in five years — hours after claiming Brexit Britain had fallen behind Greece to become the “Sick Man of Europe”.
The initial report, which claimed Greece is “growing faster than Britain and is outperforming it in financial markets”, was embraced by the usual suspects in the so-called ‘Remain Resistance’, who have been eager to highlight any negative coverage of the post-referendum economy in order to claw back some of the credibility they lost after the “immediate and profound shock” they predicted before the Leave vote failed to materialise.

The outlandish claims may have been a bridge too far, however, with even neutral commentators being prompted to come out and rubbish them.  “The comparison [between Greece and Britain] is irrelevant bordering on the absurd but, for the record, on the official figures published to date, Greece is not growing faster than [the] UK,” remarked BBC interrogator-in-chief Andrew Neil.  “It might in 2018/19. But then it has a lot of ground to make up, having lost almost 30% of its GDP.” . . . .

Daily Meditation

On Church

C. S. Lewis

No Christian and, indeed, no historian could accept the epigram which defines religion as “what a man does with his solitude.” It was one of the Wesleys, I think, who said that the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion. We are forbidden to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. Christianity is already institutional in the earliest of its documents. The Church is the Bride of Christ. We are members of one another.

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.

When God Dies . . .

Integration Into the Void

One of the heralding cries of our age is, "Go East, young man."  There is a sub-set of Western culture which, either consciously or unconsciously moves towards Eastern mysticism.  The theme has been running for several decades now.  

What is the appeal?

In 1919, W. B. Yeats wrote The Second Coming as a reflection upon the meaningless devastation of World War I.  What would flow from it?  How would Western civilization dance now, and to what tune?

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Yeats had no hope--and for good reason.  When the falcon can no longer hear the falconer, things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.  Why was (and is) the West falling apart?  This is not a hard question.  It's blindingly obvious.

Friday, 23 February 2018


The Myth of the Great Barrier Reef's Parlous State

James Delingpole
Breitbart News

An Australian Professor of Physics is suing his university, which is trying to gag him from telling the truth about the “dying” Great Barrier Reef.

The truth, of course, is that the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) isn’t dying at all. (As we’ve written here and here)  In fact it’s doing just fine and the gagged professor – Peter Ridd of James Cook University – has plenty of solid scientific evidence to prove it.

Ridd has been studying the GBR for 30 years and believes that the oft-heard claims that it is seriously threatened by climate change or pollution are just environmentalist scaremongering. He is also highly critical of those supposedly reputable institutions which have been promoting this alarmist myth, among them the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

But when Ridd pointed this out in a published essay and a radio interview last year his university accused him of serious misconduct.

Daily Meditation


Father, I have sinned.  Luke 15:18

Charles H. Spurgeon

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

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

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

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

Escaping a Deadly World-View

The Irish and the Spud

What happened in Ireland during the potato famine is reasonably well known.  Why it happened in the first place is more of a mystery.  Historians can point to many causes.  But it is the broad brush question that puzzles: why did famine overtake the island? 

Historian A N. Wilson puts the issue this way:
The population of Ireland by 1845 had probably reached some 8.3 million.  True, it had increased dramatically over the years, as had the populations of other European countries, but apart from isolated cases of hunger in times of bad harvest, cases which could be (and usually had been dealt with by the charity of landlords or others in the locality, there was no obvious sense in which this was an island incapable of feeding itself.  'There was no evidence that pre-famine Ireland was overpopulated in any useful sense of that word.'  [A. N. Wilson, The Victorians (London: Arrow Books/Random House, 2003), p.77.]
Historical causation is a minefield.  More often than not causation is a complex, multivalent hydra.  Doubtless this is true with respect to the terrible Irish famine and the consequent horrendous loss of life.  The superficial (and immediate) cause, however, was the widespread dependence upon potatoes. 

When the potato blight hit, and successive plantings and crops of the legume failed (1845-50), the landowning aristocracy and those farmers working more than twenty acres of land, were able to survive in the main.  Infrastructure, however, was pathetically backwards in many cases.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

An Unholy Mess

Too Big to Fail

Oxfam, which depends upon UK Government largesse, regularly hectors and lectures the world (especially the West) on its moral obligations to humanity.  It regularly takes up Left-wing causes into its megaphone and trumpets them forth, doing its best to make other human beings feel guilty (and so give Oxfam more money).  

Now it appears the organization is an unholy mess.  This, from the Daily Telegraph:
Oxfam refused to ban staff from using prostitutes saying it would "infringe their civil liberties", a training manual has revealed.   The guidance, still available on the charity's website, says that they "strongly discourage" their workers from paying for sex but a total ban would be "impractical".

The same manual reveals that Oxfam has "dismissed staff for exploiting or abusing beneficiaries or members of the local community in virtually every recent humanitarian response".

The document has emerged as the charity faces a growing scandal over its handling of use of prostitutes by its staff in Haiti, where sex work is illegal and some of whom were alleged to be underage.  The charity has since faced revelations of sex for aid and abuse of teenagers in British charity shops
Oxfam receives 32 million pounds of taxpayers' money annually.

Daily Meditation

When You’re Immortal

When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. (Acts 23:12)

John Piper

What about those hungry fellows who promised not to eat till they ambushed Paul?

We read about them in Acts 23:12, “When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.” It didn’t work. Why? Because a string of unlikely events happened.

  • A boy overheard the plot.
  • The boy was the son of Paul’s sister.
  • The boy had the courage to go to the Roman centurion guarding Paul.
  • The centurion took him seriously and brought him to the Tribune.
  • The Tribune believed him and prepared “two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen” to take Paul to safety.

Highly unlikely. Strange. But that’s what happened.

What had the hungry men lying in ambush missed? They failed to reckon with what happened to Paul just before they made their plot. The Lord appeared to Paul in prison and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome” (Acts 23:11).

Christ said Paul was going to Rome. And that was that. No ambush can stand against the promise of Christ. Until he got to Rome, Paul was immortal. There was a final testimony to be given. And Christ would see to it that Paul would give it.

You too have final testimony to give. And you are immortal until you give it.

Government School Mandarins Hate Competition

Nipped In the Bud

If there is one thing the lock-step collective Mind hates it is someone thinking and acting outside its little box--at least when it comes to the education of the nation's children.  For the socialists, compulsory Government Schooling is essential if one is to develop the kind of enlightened mind that all Socialists are deemed to have.

Social psychologists call this collective mind "Groupthink".  Others, not so kind, call it the Hive, created and controlled by the Borg.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the recently elected, minority Labour Government is moving at rapid pace to dismember and dismantle the half-a-dozen charter schools started by the previous government.

Charter schools in New Zealand represented a tepid, toe-in-the-water attempt to provide alternative education, particularly to students otherwise failing at the Groupthink schools.  But the former government was extremely cautious.  Getting approval to start and operate a charter school was like having to run a 100 kilometer race in the Arizona desert.  Nevertheless, all of the dozen or so charter schools (apart from one) have succeeded beyond expectations, some spectacularly so.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Authorities Assault A Child--Statism At Work


Homeschooled Boy Kidnapped by Police in Norway

By Home School Legal Defense Association

What should have been a happy homecoming to Norway for Leif and Terese Kristiansen turned into a parent’s worst nightmare when the Barnevernet (Norway’s child welfare agency) brutally removed their son, Kai, after they started homeschooling.

The family had been living in Canada, where Terese and Kai are citizens. They returned recently to Norway in search of new opportunities. But at the local public school, 12-year-old Kai became the victim of merciless bullying. School officials did not resolve the situation.

To protect Kai from further trauma, his parents did the responsible and loving thing: they removed him from the public school and immediately began to homeschool him. By choosing to homeschool their son, the Kristiansens did what the state or public school would not do . . . keep Kai safe and provide him with a healthy learning environment.

Daily Meditation

A Diligent Pupil Of Contentment

I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.  Philippians 4:11

Charles H. Spurgeon

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. "Ill weeds grow apace." Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.  But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener's care.

Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, "I have learned ... to be content;" as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth.

No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content," he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave--a poor prisoner shut up in Nero's dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to endure Paul's infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his good degree.

Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented without learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content.

What is Money For?

The Beat of A Very Different Drummer

Given the relative wealth that washes around in New Zealand, and in the West generally, a question is begged that is seldom addressed.  What on earth is money for? 

The answer our pagan culture most often advances is that wealth is for self: self satisfaction, pleasure, self-aggrandizement, self-indulgence, living "the good life", and so forth.  The Puritans had a different answer: they believed, taught, and lived the doctrine that money is a social good, not a private possession. 

It is granted immediately that the doctrine of money being a social good is also widely believed in secular society today.  Money is to be taxed--as highly as the electorate will permit--to be dispersed by the State for whatever good the State determines.  Those who espouse this doctrine of money, however, tend to cover over its implications.  These include a belief that the real owner of all property is the State; that the role of citizens is to produce money, wealth and property to fuel the State's demands; and that the function of private citizens and corporations is akin to serfs or slaves. 

It is at this point we are confronted with the great divide between modern secular culture, on the one hand, and Puritan (or Christian) culture, on the other.  The Puritan ethic called for believing men and women to work hard, live modestly, and use their excess earnings for their neighbours' good and the good of society as a whole.  The present secular ethic is a perversion of this doctrine.  Modern secular society is confronted by the State's overtaking personal and private stewardship with taxes, imposts, rules, and regulations. 

The flip-side of this Statist aggression is for the citizen to avoid paying taxes whenever and wherever possible and use the squirrelled funds to spend upon themselves and their appetites.  After all, why should citizens be concerned about the welfare of their neighbours and community, when the State has taken over that responsibility?  At this point the modern State and the citizens resemble more the kleptocracy of the Roman Empire than the ethics and practices of the Christian faith.

William Perkins was one of the greatest Puritan theologians.  Here is his summary of how Christians ought to use their property, wealth, and income:
We must so use and possess the goods we have, that the use and possession of them may tend to God's glory, and the salvation of our souls. . . . Our riches must be employed to necessary uses. These are first, the maintenance of our own good estate and condition.  Secondly, the good of others, specially those that are of our family or kindred. . . . Thirdly, the relief of the poor. . . . Fourthly, the maintenance of the Church of God and true religion. . . . Fifth, the maintenance of the Commonwealth.  [Cited by Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (Zondervan/Academie Books, 1986),  p.67.]
This sort of thinking came straight out of the Continental Reformation.  Calvin wrote fifty years earlier:
If we acquire possessions in gold and silver, it is our duty . . . to do good to our neighbours.   
And elsewhere:
All the rich, when they have property with which they can be of service to others, are here . . . to assist their neighbors. . . .  Those to whom God has given much grain and wine are to offer part of these goods to those who are in need of the same.  [Ryken, ibid.]
The money-ethic of so many in our materialist society has been summarized by a cynic:  money is a race and competition to:
Get all you can;
Can all you get; and,
Poison the rest.
This is the natural default position of the average secularist living in a society where the acquisitive State extracts citizens' wealth by force in an attempt to achieve social and economic "justice", or, more accurately, egalitarianism.  If the State is "taking care" of the poor and needy, why should we, the citizens, take any responsibility?

But Christians march to the beat of a different Drummer.  They know that they must give an account to God for all that God has given them.  They rejoice in that duty and responsibility. It is an honour.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Letter From America (About "Christian" Capitulation)

How Religious Liberty Dies

David French
National Review Online

So, this is what passes for national news:

First-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi lost her job at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School a day after she returned from her Florida Keys wedding.

A female teacher at a Catholic school married a woman and got fired. Why should anyone be surprised that a Catholic school follows Catholic teachings?

The answer’s obvious, of course. National news organizations are populated with people who loathe orthodox Christian teaching on sexual orientation and identity, and stories like this are simply advocacy disguised as reporting. They know news articles ratchet up pressure. They know members of the community respond to negative coverage.

And, sure enough, in the middle of the AP article linked above is this depressing detail:
Several parents say they were surprised and upset at Morffi’s firing, which they learned of in a letter from the school Thursday evening. About 20 parents went to the school Friday morning to demand an explanation.
Over the long term, this is the real threat to religious freedom.

Daily Meditation

Stories Make the Real More So

C. S. Lewis

The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by “the veil of familiarity”. The child enjoys his gold meat (otherwise dull to him) by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story; you might say that only then is it the real meat. If you are tired of the real landscape, look at it in a mirror. By putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves.

From On Stories On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature. Copyright © 1982, 1966 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Thatcher's "Place" in English History

An Early Assessment

We well remember the outpouring of disgust and incandescent hatred, yet also sadness, respect, and public honour that accompanied the death of Margaret Thatcher.  It seemed that her passing was significant to so many for the exact opposite reasons.

We recall that a local radio station played Maggie, the lament by Foster and Allen, to mark her death.

But what was her significance, really?  It's probably still too early for historians to write a balanced perspective that captures the genuinely historic aspects of her Prime Ministership.  Robert Tombs, at the end of his magisterial volume, The English and Their History makes an attempt.

We think our readers will appreciate his "take" on a most remarkable leader, seen in the light of England's longer, wider, deeper past.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Hard to Believe

Rotting Corruption In the Body Politic

It turns out that President Obama was probably far more dangerous as President of the United States than we have hitherto thought.  It would seem that he and his immediate coterie actually believed that President Elect Trump was a Russian mole who had been working for Putin for years.  

It is one thing for corrupt politicians to start a smear campaign against an opponent built upon lies.  We may regard such troglodyte behaviour with scorn.  We may think that in the long run it damages the body politic.  We may wish to expose all such lying deceitfulness for the destructive, self-serving cant that it is.  But when we are confronted with someone who has held one of the highest offices in the land actually believing the smear to be true, all sorts of questions are begged about the intelligence, integrity, and maturity of that person.  We are left nodding once again to the biblical assertion: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"  [Jeremiah 17:9]

Obama Viewed Trump ‘as a Traitor and a Russian Spy

Jeff Poor  of Breitbart News  provides a partial transcript of Tucker Carlson speaking during his Fox News opinion programme.

Tonight, we have more on the ongoing saga of the Trump dossier.

Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham have launched a probe into former National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

Daily Meditation

When Obedience Feels Impossible

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. (Hebrews 11:17)

John Piper

For many of you right now — and for others of you the time is coming — obedience feels like the end of a dream. You feel that if you do what the word of God or the Spirit of God is calling you to do, it will make you miserable and that there is no way that God could turn it all for good.

Perhaps the command or call of God you hear just now is to stay married or stay single, to stay in that job or leave that job, to get baptized, to speak up at work about Christ, to refuse to compromise your standards of honesty, to confront a person in sin, to venture a new vocation, to be a missionary. And as you see it in your limited mind, the prospect of doing this is terrible — it's like the loss of Isaac.

You have considered every human angle, and it is impossible that it could turn out well.

Now you know what it was like for Abraham. This story is in the Bible for you.

Do you desire God and his way and his promises more than anything; and do you believe that he can and will honor your faith and obedience by being unashamed to call himself your God, and to use all his wisdom and power and love to turn the path of obedience into the path of life and joy?

That is the crisis you face now: Do you desire him? Will you trust him? The word of God to you is: God is worthy and God is able.

Muhammad's Hypocrisy

Revelations of Convenience 

According to revelations Muhammad claimed to receive, a Muslim was "entitled" to four wives at a time, and no more.  Except Muhammad, of course, who had special dispensation from Allah to have as many as thirteen.  
To prevent jealousy (in his harem) he spent one night with each of them in turn.  One day it was his wife Hafsa's turn.  She was away visiting her father but then returned unexpectedly.  She was furious to find the Prophet in bed with Mary, the Coptic maid and concubine.  Hafsa reproached him bitterly, threatening to tell the other wives.  Muhammad promised to stay away from the hated Mary if she would keep quiet.  Hafsa, however, confided in Aisha, who also hated Mary.  [Vishal Mangalwadi, The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2011), p. 282.]
The scandal spread through the whole harem and Muhammad found himself ostracized.  But not to worry.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Will Maori Save Charter Schools in New Zealand?

Probably Not, But Resistance is Stirring

Ugly battle looms for Ardern over charter schools

Thomas Coughlan

Jacinda Ardern hopes a compromise will resolve a potentially nasty clash with Labour's Māori MPs and iwi leaders over the future of charter schools. Thomas Coughlan reports the two sides remain far apart.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised last week at Waitangi to listen to Māori, but her Government's first action after five days of talks with iwi leaders was to abolish schools iwi say are helping to resolve the state's failure to educate Māori youth.

Iwi leaders and Ardern's Government's Māori MPs want to keep the schools open, but a battle is brewing that could damage Labour's relationship with Māori just at a time when it seemed to be improving. If the Government cannot mesh the schools into the state system in a way that satisfies iwi leaders, Ardern faces an internal revolt from Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis (who threatened before the election to resign if Labour forced the schools to close), along with fellow school supporters such as Māori Caucus co-chair Willie Jackson and Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare. She also risks worsening tensions between Labour and iwi that go all the way back to the foreshore and seabed clash that led to the creation of the Māori Party.

Two days after Ardern's well-received speech about listening to Māori concerns, Education Minister Chris Hipkins fired the starting gun on Labour's long-standing policy to abolish charter schools - a policy called for by teacher unions.

Daily Meditation

Christ As Means and End

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

John Piper

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

Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God. He is God in human form. As such, he is the end, not a means.  The manifestation of the glory of God is the meaning of the universe. This is what God is achieving. The heavens and the history of the world are “telling the glory of God.”

But Jesus Christ was sent to accomplish something that needed doing. He came to remedy the fall. He came to rescue sinners from inevitable destruction because of their sin. These rescued ones will see and savor and display the glory of God with everlasting joy.

Others will continue to heap scorn on the glory of God. So Jesus Christ is the means to what God meant to achieve in the manifestation of his glory for the enjoyment of his people.

But in that accomplishment on the cross, as he died for sinners, Christ revealed the love and righteousness of the Father supremely. This was the apex of the revelation of the glory of God — the glory of his grace.  Therefore, in the very moment of his perfect act as the means of God’s purpose, Jesus became the end of that purpose. He became, in his dying in the place of sinners and his resurrection for their life, the central and supreme revelation of the glory of God.

Christ crucified is therefore both the means and the end of God’s purpose in the universe.

Without his work, that end to reveal the fullness of the glory of God for the enjoyment of God’s people would not have happened.

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

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

The Gummint Education System

Holy and Sacrosanct

In New Zealand, educating the young has morphed into a false-religion.  It is holy.  It is sacrosanct.  It is put in a "special category". 

If you were a hotel chain and one of your hotels was so little used that its booking fell away to nothing you would rationally consider the future prospects for customers.  If there were no prospects of covering operating costs, let alone making a profit, you would move to shut down the hotel as quickly as possible, sell the assets, and reinvest.

Not so the Government Education System.  It is holy.  Schools can wither away to having no pupils and no enrolments in sight, but the Government Education System will keep right on going.

Friday, 16 February 2018

New Wave of Chinese Persecution of Christians

Chinese Communist Government As Repressive As Ever

Chinese Pastors Ordered to Post Signs on Churches Forbidding Entry to Minors

Thomas Williams

As part of its most recent clampdown on Christian churches, Chinese authorities have instructed priests and pastors to post signs on churches barring entry to minors.  The instruction is part of a new set of communist party-controlled regulations on religious activities that went into effect on February 1 and is aimed at preventing children and young people from getting religious instruction or taking an active part in Christian worship.

According to a report Thursday from ucanews, the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia, authorities have begun enforcing the government ban on minors in church in several regions, while forcing a number of Protestant house churches in Henan province to close.

The new regulations are an expansion of bans already tried out in certain regions. As Breitbart News reported last August, communist officials had already issued “notices” to over a hundred churches in Wenzhou, within the largely Christian Zhejiang province, informing Christians that children are no longer permitted to enter any church. The notices stated that minors attempting to enter a church would be turned away at the door, even if accompanied by their parents.

Chinese authorities stated that church attendance and religious instruction keep young persons from developing “a correct worldview and set of values.

Daily Meditation

Your Faith Has Saved You . . . Go In Peace

She was healed immediately.  Luke 8:47

Charles H. Spurgeon

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

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

We have not so clear a view of him as we could wish; we know not the heights and depths of his love; but we know of a surety that he is too good to withdraw from a trembling soul the gift which it has been able to obtain. But here is the marvel of it: little as was her knowledge, her faith, because it was real faith, saved her, and saved her at once. There was no tedious delay--faith's miracle was instantaneous. If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, salvation is our present and eternal possession.

If in the list of the Lord's children we are written as the feeblest of the family, yet, being heirs through faith, no power, human or devilish, can eject us from salvation. If we dare not lean our heads upon his bosom with John, yet if we can venture in the press behind him, and touch the hem of his garment, we are made whole. Courage, timid one! thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God."

Here's Hoping

A Great Proposal--If Reified 

One of the commitments made by the new Labour Government has our strong support.  It has made a commitment to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission.  Now, ordinarily the prospect of the State establishing yet another commission, committee, review panel, or plaintive Greek chorus would fill us with mirthful Monty-Pythonesque sarcasm.  But not in this case.  

What is in view?  It has been the disturbing reality that far too many people have been convicted by courts, only to have their convictions be subsequently judged as "unsafe".  New Zealand is a small place, only slightly larger than your average village.  The judicial fraternity is even more tightly knit and matey.  A truly independent review of convictions is hard to come by.

Dr Jarrod Gilbert has done us all a service in his recent article in the NZ Herald.  He has reminded us of an unjustly convicted man named Peter Ellis.  Here is a summary of the affair:

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Turn Off the Money Spigot


‘Sinking’ Pacific Island Actually Getting Bigger

James Delingpole
Breitbart Big Government

Tuvalu – the Pacific island group often cited by climate alarmists as the nation most immediately at risk from rising sea levels caused by ‘global warming’ – is not sinking after all.  In fact it’s getting bigger, scientists now admit.

A University of Auckland study examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery.  It found eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, lifting Tuvalu’s total land area by 2.9 percent, even though sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average.

 Co-author Paul Kench said the research, published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, challenged the assumption that low-lying island nations would be swamped as the sea rose.  “We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise, but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing,” he said.

“The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion.”

If only they’d done their study a bit earlier they could have saved a lot of alarmists a lot of worry.

Daily Meditation

On Comfort

C. S. Lewis

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

Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way. . . Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay

I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in Words to Live By Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Seventy-Five Years On

The War in England

We have been taking the opportunity recently to post pieces about World War II--most of them about the struggle as faced and experienced by the United Kingdom.  These events took place 75 years ago: the next general remembrance and anniversary will doubtless be in twenty-five years time.

Here are a few more observations, gleaned from historian, Robert Tombs.

Firstly, the rapid socialisation and centralization of the UK economy.  The free market could not sustain the war.
Millions of acres of grassland, heath and fen went under the plough, some for the first time since the Black Death.  Golf courses and ancient lawns and meadows were sacrificed.  Windsor Great Park became the largest cornfield in England.  The number of allotments nearly doubled as people "dug for victory."  Clubs were set up to keep pigs.  Diets had to change, requiring control of food supplies.  Inflation had to be checked. . . .

Many older people, including at least a million women, volunteered for a range of tasks.  Nearly three-quarters of teenagers between fourteen and seventeen were engaged in some kind of war work.  This was a great social and psychological upheaval--there were 60 million changes of address during the war.  But at the time the disturbances were seen as temporary.  [Robert Tombs, The English and Their History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), p.716f.]

Secondly, the critical contribution of Ernest Bevin.  Here is someone whose name is rarely mentioned. yet in terms of the war effort, Bevin was the glue which kept the nation together.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow, Idaho

The Fragility of Civil Order

Douglas Wilson

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:1–2).

Whenever men have enjoyed any privilege for any length of time, it becomes part of the framework of their minds. They take it for granted, and assume that this particular privilege, whatever it is, will rise in the east tomorrow, right after the sun does. That privilege might be clean water, which you can get by turning a tap, or it might be a comfortable standard of living, which is evidenced by the fact that you are reading this on your phone, or it might be the peaceful transfer of political power. It might be the fact that when you go to the polling places to cast your vote, you do not have to walk past riot police.

Some of you might recall that after the last presidential election, I registered my opposition to the criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton for anything.

Daily Meditation

Be Godlike

And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13

Charles H. Spurgeon

A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ.

You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, but the best life of Christ is his living biography, written out in the words and actions of his people. If we were what we profess to be, and what we should be, we should be pictures of Christ; yea, such striking likenesses of him, that the world would not have to hold us up by the hour together, and say, "Well, it seems somewhat of a likeness;" but they would, when they once beheld us, exclaim, "He has been with Jesus; he has been taught of him; he is like him; he has caught the very idea of the holy Man of Nazareth, and he works it out in his life and every-day actions."

A Christian should be like Christ in his boldness. Never blush to own your religion; your profession will never disgrace you: take care you never disgrace that. Be like Jesus, very valiant for your God. Imitate him in your loving spirit; think kindly, speak kindly, and do kindly, that men may say of you, "He has been with Jesus."

Imitate Jesus in his holiness. Was he zealous for his Master? So be you; ever go about doing good. Let not time be wasted: it is too precious. Was he self-denying, never looking to his own interest? Be the same. Was he devout? Be you fervent in your prayers. Had he deference to his Father's will? So submit yourselves to him. Was he patient? So learn to endure.

And best of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, try to forgive your enemies, as he did; and let those sublime words of your Master, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," always ring in your ears. Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven. Heap coals of fire on the head of your foe by your kindness to him. Good for evil, recollect, is godlike.

Be godlike, then; and in all ways and by all means, so live that all may say of you, "He has been with Jesus."

When "Narratives" Become Official "Truth"

Chutzpah and Hypocrisy on Steroids

One of the most egregious cons of the present time in the United States is the con Democrats are trying to foist on the historical record.  The proposition being pushed is that President Trump and his administration have been all cosied up to the Russians.  This is bad, bad, bad.

Ah, but the truth can be a stubborn and difficult opponent when you are trying to weave a web of deceit.  It turns out that the Obama regime, controlled by ideologies of globalism and internationalism, cosied up to the Russians frequently.  Now, in a move which shows just how far deceit, lies, and falsehoods control Barack Obama and his Democrat Party, Trump is now accused of that self-same cosying up to Russia, whilst they soundly and roundly condemn him for it.

Rebecca Heinrichs, writing at The Federalist, gives five instances of Obama trying to embrace Putin and Russia in his globalist dreams.  Now, with chutzpah which is hard to credit, Obama and the Democrats are publicly accusing Trump and his administration (falsely, it would seem) for doing what they consistently worked at for eight years--cosying up to Russia. Fortunately, the Potemkin plot alleging Trump's collusion with Russia is becoming more ephemeral with each passing day.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Bon Mot

A Little Mistake

For two hundred years we had sawed and sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on.  And in the end, much more suddenly than anyone had foreseen, our efforts were rewarded, and down we came.  But unfortunately there had been a little mistake: The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all; it was a cesspool full of barbed wire . . . It appears that amputation of the soul isn't just a simple surgical job, like having your appendix out.  The wound has a tendency to go septic. 

George Orwell
Notes on the Way, 1940.

Daily Meditation

The Best Form of Slavery

He who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. (1 Corinthians 7:22)

John Piper

I would have expected Paul to switch the places of “Lord” and “Christ.”

He correlates our liberation with Jesus being our Master (“a freedman of the Lord”). And he correlates our new slavery with Jesus being our Messiah (“a slave of Christ”). But in fact the Messiah came to liberate his people from their captors; and masters take control of people’s lives.

Why does he say it this way? Suggestion: The switch has two effects on our new liberty and two effects on our new slavery.

In calling us “the liberated of the Lord,” he secures and limits our new liberty:

  1. His lordship is over all other lords; so our liberation is uncontested — secure.
  2. But, free from all other lords, we are not free from him. Our freedom is mercifully limited.

In calling us the “slaves of Christ,” he looses and sweetens our slavery:

  1. The Messiah lays claim on his own to bring them from the confines of captivity into the open spaces of peace. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).
  2. And he makes them his own to give them the sweetest joy. “With honey from the rock I would satisfy you” (Psalm 81:16). And that Rock is Christ.

Out of Body, Out of Mind

Locked In An Empty Room

World views matter.  Ultimately, when world views become shared and part of the common culture, they shape society powerfully.  The consequences eventually reflect the fundamental principles and application of the dominant world view to life itself: its mores, its laws, its practices, and its produce.

The Christian world view, grounded upon the Living God and His Son, shaped Western civilisation for over a thousand years.  It produced many benefits and fruits which are taken for granted in the West.  Now, however, the West has been moving deliberately to cut the birth cord.  It wants to retain the fruits of Western civilization, without its Christian foundation.  However, without the Christian centre, the periphery cannot hold.

Vishal Mangalwadi has written a book on how the Bible created the soul and body of Western civilization.  In it he argues that the dominant world view of his home country, India is largely responsible for the historical backwardness of India.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Judicial Pushback

Christian Club Reinstated

Had Been Banned for Refusing to Elect LGBT Activist

Fr Mark Hodges

IOWA CITY, January 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Christian group has prevailed in court and will be reinstated as a campus organization after being stripped of club status for disqualifying an active homosexual from running for its leadership position.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie Rose granted a temporary injunction blocking the University of Iowa’s (UI) ban against the campus Christian group Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC).  Tuesday’s decision allowed BLinC to recruit at a fair in the student union on Wednesday.

“The University has to stop discriminating against BLinC because of its religious beliefs,” Becket Fund attorney Eric Baxter stated in a press release. “Every other group on campus gets to select leaders who embrace their mission. Religious groups don’t get second-class treatment.”

Gay activist Marcus Miller applied for BLinC leadership, but refused to agree to BLinC’s Statement of Faith, which includes sexual chastity outside heterosexual marriage.  “He expressly stated that he rejected BLinC’s religious beliefs and would not follow them,” the group explained.  Miller then filed a complaint with the university, claiming he was rejected because he is gay. UI in turn yanked BLinC’s status as a registered student group, effectively halting their activities on campus.

Daily Meditation

In Praise of the Body

C. S. Lewis

When one prays in strange places and at strange times, one can’t kneel, to be sure. I won’t say this doesn’t matter. The body ought to pray as well as the soul. Body and soul are both better for it. Bless the body. Mine has led me into many scrapes, but I’ve led it into far more. If the imagination were obedient the appetites would give us very little trouble. And from how much it has saved me! And but for our body one whole realm of God’s glory—all that we receive through the senses—would go unpraised.

From Letters to Malcolm Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer. Copyright © 1964, 1963 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1992, 1991 by Arthur Owen Barfield. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

NZ's War on Poverty Worse Failure Than LBJ's

What Have You Done?

Last week we marked the utter failure of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.  Nearly fifty years on  poverty is worse in the United States than when the "war" began.  

Lest some get the impression that this blogsite is anti-American, and since the War on Poverty is on our minds, it's worthwhile reflecting on how New Zealand's own little War on Poverty has been going.  It's been as ineffectual, wasteful, and useless--if not worse--than LBJ's now infamous War.

Bob McCroskrie has kindly filled in the New Zealand scorecard:
The current focus by the Prime Minister and other politicians and lobby groups on tackling child “poverty” is warranted, but “focus” and “targets” will simply be hot air and rhetoric until the elephant in the room is acknowledged – that is, the role of family structure.

Family malformation and breakdown is contributing significantly to increasing income inequality and child poverty, and must be confronted before we will see any significant improvements.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Echoes of Atlantis

Homer, Virgil, Bunyan and Pilgrim

Here is an "in-memoriam" piece on John Bunyan and Pilgrim's Progress.  It is from the pen of Vishal Mangalwadi, of Allahabad, India.

This idea of the heavenly Jerusalem inspired great literary works such as Pilgrim's Progress (1687) by John Bunyan (1628-88), which drove biblical spirituality deep into the soul of Western civilization.  Unlike Homer's hero [Odysseus] Bunyan's pilgrim is not returning home.  Bunyan wrote, "I saw a man . . . with his face [turned away] from His own House, a Book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back."  Nor did Pilgrim follow Virgil's hero [Aeneas] to found another imperial city.  Pilgrim set his face on a journey to the celestial city, the City of God.  His weapon was not a sword, but a book--the Bible.  His goal was not to battle the proud and impose his law upon the conquered.  His first goal was deliverance from his own burden of sin and overcoming overpowering temptations.

Bunyan's hero is poles apart from Homer's heroes, Achilles and Odysseus.  Achilles is huge, swift, immortally beautiful, and the "most terrifying of all men".  Odysseus is a trickster, a master of disguises and artful deceptions, who is able to endure countless hardships to cleaver to his one virtuous purpose--to return home to his family.  But in England, Bunyan's vision of the hero as a pilgrim won out.  For four centuries following Bunyan, English speaking Christians have sung of the heroism of pilgrimage into the subconscious of their culture:
Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither, One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather,
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avow'd intent
To be a pilgrim.
Bunyan was thrown in prison for three months for refusing to follow an Elizabethan Act against religious freedom.  He ended up spending a total of twelve years in prison on different counts and occasions, giving him time to write sixty books.  Pilgrim's Progress was translated into Dutch, French, and Welsh within his lifetime.  Since then it has been translated into more than two hundred languages.  After the Bible, it is the second most translated and published book.  It was through this book that Puritanism entered the mainstream of English religious life.

Bunyan's pilgrims succeeded where Homer's and Virgil's heroes could not, as Bunyan's pilgrims built cities and nations that were clean outside because they emphasized cleanliness inside--in the inner life of the spirit.   [Vishal Mangalwadi, The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2011), p.187f.]

Daily Meditation

The Main Purpose of Ministry

We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:39)

John Piper

Don’t look at the temporary cost of love and shrink back from confidence in God’s infinitely superior promises. Not only will you lose out on the promises; you will be destroyed.

Hell is at stake here, not just the loss of a few extra rewards. Verse 39 says, “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed.” That is eternal judgment.

So we warn each other: Don’t drift away. Don’t love the world. Don’t start thinking nothing huge is at stake. Fear the terrible prospect of not cherishing the promises of God above the promises of sin.

But mainly we must focus on the preciousness of the promises and help each other value above all things how great the reward is that Christ has purchased for us. We must say to each other what verse 35 says: “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” And then we must help each other see the greatness of the reward.

I believe that is the main task of preaching and the main purpose of small groups and all the ministries of the church — helping people see the greatness of what Christ has purchased for all who will value it above the world. Helping people see it and savor it, so that God’s superior worth shines in their satisfaction, and the sacrifices that come from it.

To Persist Indicates Insanity

Lyndon Johnson's Failed War

Historians have a nasty habit of analyzing pundits and politicians in the light of the outcomes and results cascading down from their policies, bills, laws, and prognostications.  It's quite unfair, we know, but who claimed the world to be perfect?

The Heritage Foundation in the United States has had the rudeness and temerity to adjudge President Lyndon Baines Johnson as a failure because he lost the war.  It was his war.  He was the first to declare the US at war--on poverty.  Long and resolute have been the serried ranks marching off to kill poverty in the United States stone dead.  Not only does this war show no sign of ending, but the casualties along the way have been almost beyond number.

In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” In the 50 years since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.  [The Heritage Foundation.  Emphasis, ours.]
Those nit-picky historians.   Always complaining about someone or something.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Pulp Fiction

Chatterley on Trial

Peter Hitchens has written a latter-day review of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.  He reflects upon the literary worthlessness of the book and considers it in the post-modern context of amorality in which we now live. 

It turns out that Chatterley has not improved over time.  In fact, it has made the contribution to Western Civilization that Lawrence probably intended--that is, the dismantling of the Judeo-Christian ethic in the West.  But it has not been successful in building a Brave New World. 

Readers can access the full review and attendant social commentary upon the court case that failed to ban Chatterley at First Things.  The piece is entitled "Chatterley on Trial". 

Hitchens's concluding paragraph may serve to whet your appetite:
The liberation of pornography from dingy shops in seedy quarters has not led to the death of repression or an outbreak of sexual health, but to even more pornography, to the commodification of flesh, and to a society deader in the loins and in the head than anything Lawrence knew. This is what the Chatterley trial was about. Some of those who championed the book must have known what they were doing. But their campaign succeeded because so many people did not take words and language as seriously as they should have. They thought they could take a brief, sunlit Mediterranean holiday from morals and restraint, and then return comfortably to the old, secure ways. In fact, they said goodbye to them forever. It takes centuries to create a taboo, and an afternoon to destroy it.

Daily Meditation

The Father and The Saviour Are As One

The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.  1 John 4:14

Charles H. Spurgeon

It is a sweet thought that Jesus Christ did not come forth without his Father's permission, authority, consent, and assistance. He was sent of the Father, that he might be the Saviour of men. We are too apt to forget that, while there are distinctions as to the persons in the Trinity, there are no distinctions of honour.

We too frequently ascribe the honour of our salvation, or at least the depths of its benevolence, more to Jesus Christ than we do the Father. This is a very great mistake. What if Jesus came? Did not his Father send him? If he spake wondrously, did not his Father pour grace into his lips, that he might be an able minister of the new covenant? He who knoweth the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost as he should know them, never setteth one before another in his love; he sees them at Bethlehem, at Gethsemane, and on Calvary, all equally engaged in the work of salvation. O Christian, hast thou put thy confidence in the Man Christ Jesus? Hast thou placed thy reliance solely on him? And art thou united with him? Then believe that thou art united unto the God of heaven.

Since to the Man Christ Jesus thou art brother, and holdest closest fellowship, thou art linked thereby with God the Eternal, and "the Ancient of days" is thy Father and thy friend. Didst thou ever consider the depth of love in the heart of Jehovah, when God the Father equipped his Son for the great enterprise of mercy? If not, be this thy day's meditation. The Father sent him! Contemplate that subject.

Think how Jesus works what the Father wills. In the wounds of the dying Saviour see the love of the great I AM. Let every thought of Jesus be also connected with the Eternal, ever-blessed God, for "It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief."

One of the Great Mistakes of the Age

Atomising God's Kingdom

The word and concept of covenant has virtually disappeared from the Anglo-saxon nations.  It remains a living and powerful concept amongst orthodox Presbyterians and, to a lesser extent, evangelical Anglicans, but these strands of the Kingdom of God have lost prominence over the past 150 years.

Yet, it is inevitable that generations will eventually arise which will rediscover this fundamentally biblical construct.  One cannot approach what the Church calls the Old Testament and the New Testament without being confronted directly with the concept and significance of covenant.  "Testament" is one translation of the Greek and Hebrew words for covenant, diatheke and berith.  And the more one reads and studies the Scriptures, the more it becomes evident that the construction and significance of the Covenant and of covenants is everywhere in Scripture.

Christians in our day lament how divided and isolated God's people are amidst modern secularism.  And they are right.  But amidst the lamentation there is little to no understanding of the cause of our isolation and the reasons for the weakness of Christian social institutions, such as family, or school, or welfare agencies.  We believe there is a direct causal connection between the ebbing of covenantal faith, on the one hand, and Christian institutions, on the other.

Leland Ryken, in his book on the Puritans, explains why this may have come about.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Seeking The Real Deal

U.S. Christianity Is Not Shrinking, But Growing Stronger

Is churchgoing and religious adherence really in ‘widespread decline’ so much so that conservative believers should suffer ‘growing anxiety’? Absolutely not.

Glenn T Stanton
The Federalist

“Meanwhile, a widespread decline in churchgoing and religious affiliation had contributed to a growing anxiety among conservative believers.” Statements like this are uttered with such confidence and frequency that most Americans accept them as uncontested truisms. This one emerged just this month in an exceedingly silly article in The Atlantic on Vice President Mike Pence.

Religious faith in America is going the way of the Yellow Pages and travel maps, we keep hearing. It’s just a matter of time until Christianity’s total and happy extinction, chortle our cultural elites. Is this true? Is churchgoing and religious adherence really in “widespread decline” so much so that conservative believers should suffer “growing anxiety”?

Two words: Absolutely not.

Daily Meditation

We Have Always Been In Heaven

C. S. Lewis

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

25 May 1944

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

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

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

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Yours, Jack The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 2008 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.