Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Guardian: The far right wants to exploit the Westminster attack. London won’t let it

The Guardian: The far right wants to exploit the Westminster attack. London won’t let it

by Nesrine Malik

"This time, the right wing was waiting in the wings, almost grateful that the imaginary fears it had been trying to provoke had become real ones. There was no respect for the dead, dying and grieving, there was just an opportunity.

In a way, you can roughly trace the growth of the hate industry along the lines of the reaction to the three Islamic terror attacks in London since 2005. I remember after 7/7, van drivers hurling abuse at random people on Edgware Road, London’s main Arab street, but not seeing or hearing that hatred promoted by politicians or the media. By the time the soldier Lee Rigby was murdered in 2013, things were already changing, as a cohort of professional terror-response agitators hesitantly ventured on to the scene. Yesterday, they were fully arrived. The so-called Overton window – the mainstream range of ideas considered politically or socially acceptable – has shifted so much to the right that we are now subjected to the disgraced Tommy Robinson’s views on the attack in mainstream news organisations.

This industry is burgeoning not because our awareness or possession of the facts has improved when it comes to such attacks, or our knowledge as to what motivates them or how they can be prevented, if anything we are more ignorant than ever. It is because over the past few years an infrastructure of hate promotion has been established and incorporated within the mainstream. Radio shows on national stations, columns in popular newspapers, networks and relationships in the media that can get you on TV from your living room within minutes. As politicians who had been crawling on the floors of Westminster and witnessed a police officer who protected them perish appealed for calm, an entire industry was ramping up to take over the airwaves and foment the opposite."

Eastern Ukrain Situation Report 23rd March

This is war. This is Europe. This is happening today.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

New Atlanticist: Tillerson Urges Senate Ratification of Montenegro's NATO Membership

New Atlanticist: Tillerson Urges Senate Ratification of Montenegro's NATO Membership

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has written to the leaders of the U.S. Senate urging the ratification of Montenegro as the newest member of the NATO alliance , saying it is "strongly in the interests of the United States."

In a letter dated March 7 and seen by Reuters on Tuesday, Tillerson argued that Montenegro's membership in the alliance would support greater integration, democratic reform, trade, security and stability among its neighbors.

National Review: Why Baptists Should Support Muslims’ Right to Build Mosques

National Review: Why Baptists Should Support Muslims’ Right to Build Mosques

by Timon Cline

"Moore received mixed responses last summer when he agreed with the ERLC’s position and publicly defended the religious rights of Muslims to construct mosques in the United States. Some at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) called for the firing of any SBC official who supported the rights of Muslims to build mosques, and they recommended the removal of the ERLC’s name from the amicus brief. Some even went so far as to posit that Muslims do not deserve the same religious freedoms as Christians. Even though the U.S. district court of New Jersey has since ruled in favor of the mosque’s construction in Bernards Township, some corners of the SBC have continued to criticize Moore and the ERLC. Those Baptists continuing to oppose Moore should take time to consider the history of their spiritual forefathers.

While today we tend to think of America as the world’s beacon for religious liberty, a city on a hill, 17th- and 18th-century Baptists would have begged to differ. In the colonies, Baptist rejection of infant baptism was considered abhorrent by the established churches. To Anglicans, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians, this deviation from tradition was demonic and divisive.

Accordingly, Baptists endured harassment, including, fines, prohibition against their services, flogging, and even jail time. Massachusetts outlawed Baptists altogether in 1645, calling them “the troublers of churches in all places.” As a result of the government’s response, much of the populace developed a distinct hostility toward the Baptists."

It's encouraging to see a writer in the National Review opposing discrimination towards Muslims. Roman Catholics have also had the same history of persecution in America.

Every Day is in the Lord's Hands

I happened to have training in London today. As I sat through the training course, a terrorist was trying to kill people not far away. It's not a little scary to think about.

I'm glad I prayed for safe travel before I left home this morning.

Holy Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for all those affected by the terrorist attack today.

Pope Francis on Spirituality

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Wisdom from Above, by Aidan Nichols, OP

Aidan Nichols, OP, Wisdom from Above: A Primer in the Theology of Father Sergei Bulgakov, 2005 Gracewing, Herefordshire

Another great book from Fr Aidan Nichols! Wisdom from Above provides a systematic, informative and readable introduction to the theology of Sergius Bulgakov, one of the more radical Eastern Orthodox theologians. A key aspect of Bulgakov's theology is his Sophiology, his doctrine of interplay between divine wisdom and created beings. Nichols shows how the concept of Sophia comes into every area of doctrine that Bulgakov touched upon.

The book is structured nicely; the bulk of it corresponds to Bulgakov's to sets of trilogies; the 'great trilogy' which covered the Son of God, the Holy Spirit and the Church and the 'lesser trilogy' which covered Our Lady, St. John the Baptist and the angels. The last chapter on Icons forms a sort of unofficial appendix.

Nichols' Catholic perspective as a Dominican theologian puts him in a good place to offer an objective analysis of Bulgakov. In general, he is restrained in his critical comments, tending to explain rather than critique Bulgakov. On occasions he offers a note of concern when Bulgakov offers some of his wilder conclusions, for instance Bulgakov's suggestion that Saint John the Baptist is literally an angel in human form. He offers some general thoughts in his brief conclusion to the book. He points out that Catholic objections to Bulgakov's theology do not concern his Sophiology, but classic points of disagreement with Eastern Orthodox theology, such as the Immaculate Conception. He also points out Bulgakov's cautious support for universal salvation as a potential area of disagreement with Catholics. Nichols compares Bulgakov to the Catholic theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar, observing common themes in their work and he points out that both theologians have toyed with Universalism. He also notes that there are Orthodox who would like Bulgakov to be recognized as a saint and there are Catholics who see Balthasar as a Doctor of the Church, yet both men have offered controversial views that would count against them gaining recognition as saints. In Light from the East, Nichols also compared Bulgakov to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I would have liked him to have said more on this in this book.

It is nice to know that Bulgakov took the Scotist view of the incarnation, that the world was made so that God could become incarnate, a view that has important implications for how we view divine-human relations. Bulgakov argued that in the creed the phrase 'for us men and for our salvation' can be divided into too, so that coming 'for us men' was a distinct goal behind the incarnation, separate from the purpose of saving sinners. It has been suggested that the Scotist view of the incarnation has almost become the mainstream view in contemporary theology, following Lubac and Balthasar. Nichols suggests that St. Thomas Aquinas was more sympathetic to the Scotist view than is generally realized. Some of Bulgakov's comments on the incarnation are problematic, particularly in relation to the Passion, where he seems to risk compromising the doctrine of divine impassibility.

Nichols seems a little uncomfortable with aspects of Bulgakov's ecclesiology, in particular his somewhat low view of the role of the Church hierarchy and minimal interest in the doctrine of sacraments. Moving towards eschatology, Bulgakov's image of the Holy Grail to represent the transfiguration of the cosmos seems insightful and does make the link to the sacraments. I was surprised to find that Bulgakov advocated something close to Premillennialism, which would make him a sort of Orthodox equivalent of Jurgen Moltmann. I like the fact that Bulgakov sees the eschatological heavenly city as a living continuation of human existence and not static enjoyment of the beatific vision, as Catholic eschatology has tended to see it. I am much less convinced by Bulgakov's attempt to argue for the possibility of universal salvation. He suggested that just as all people can be both sinful and saintly, it is possible that in the eschaton, one might experience both bliss and torment, that the states of salvation and damnation are not necessarily mutually exclusive. But is this really what the authors of Scripture intended to communicate? Why use the language of finality in judgement if this was not what they intended to convey? Advocates of Universalism often seem to treat Scripture as a sort of code that only they can decipher.

This book should be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about a key Eastern Orthodox theologian.

Real Thaw 17

The Feast of Saint Joseph

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by Saint Joseph's intercession your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation, whose beginnings you entrusted to his faithful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Litany of Saint Joseph

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us (after each line)
Saint Joseph,
Renowned offspring of David,
Light of Patriarchs,
Spouse of the Mother of God,
Chaste guardian of the Virgin,
Foster-father of the Son of God,
Diligent protector of Christ,
Head of the Holy Family,
Joseph most just,
Joseph most chaste,
Joseph most prudent,
Joseph most strong,
Joseph most obedient,
Joseph most faithful,
Mirror of patience,
Lover of poverty,
Model of artisans,
Glory of home life,
Guardian of virgins,
Pillar of families,
Solace of the wretched, Hope of the sick,
Patron of the dying,
Terror of demons,
Protector of Holy Church,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. He made him the lord of His house:
R. And ruler of all His substance.

Let us pray.
O God, who in Thine unspeakable providence didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thine own most holy Mother: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may deserve to have him for our intercessor in heaven, whom we reverence as our defender on earth: who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Saint Joseph, pray for us, for all fathers and for the Jewish people.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Intellinews: McCain accuses fellow US senator of working for Putin after Montenegro vote blocked

Intellinews: McCain accuses fellow US senator of working for Putin after Montenegro vote blocked

Former US presidential candidate John McCain accused fellow Republican senator Rand Paul of working for Russian President Vladimir Putin after Paul blocked a new attempt to discuss the protocol on Montenegro’s accession to Nato on March 15.

Montenegro’s Nato accession is becoming a test case for the new geopolitics following the election of US President Donald Trump. US Democrats have previously claimed that some Republican senators are trying to prevent Montenegro being let into the military alliance, amid suspicions of Russian influence over US policymaking. Moscow is staunchly against the accession of Montenegro, a former Balkan ally, becoming a Nato member.

Although Montenegro was invited to join Nato in December 2015, the country’s full accession has been delayed by the US Senate, which still has to vote on a resolution on Montenegro’s Nato accession.

John McCain reportedly asked the Senate to finally schedule a debate on the protocol, but was blocked by his colleague. It is not clear when the Senate will put this issue in its agenda. “The senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin,” McCain accused in strongly worded statement to the Senate.

“Halting Montenegro’s membership would be a significant turn in American foreign policy and would show a conciliation with the rising influence of Russia on the Balkans, which would affect negatively our common safety interests in the region.”

The Christian in Industrial Society, by Sir Fred Catherwood

Sir Fred Catherwood, The Christian in Industrial Society, 1980 Inter-Varsity Press

The late Sir Fred Catherwood, one time president of the British Evangelical Alliance is somebody I would inevitably admire. A Christian Conservative MEP who defended both capitalism and the European Union. He was also very much involved in the world of business. In our age of populism, such a patrician would probably get dismissed as an 'establishment figure.'

This is a slightly odd book in that it is based on the conclusions of a group of Christians in business, finance and the trade union movement. Other than Catherwood, the only member of this panel named is George Woodcock, who was a General Secretary of the TUC. The anonymity of this discussion group is a little puzzling.

The book explores various issues in industrial society from an Evangelical perspective; the relationship between employers and employees, the social responsibility of business, the place of trade unionism, taxation and the stock exchange. The book feels very dated in its portrayal of powerful and regimented trade unions, which does not reflect industrial relations today. Readers today might be surprised that two significant issues are never brought up in this book, racial discrimination in the workplace and women in the workplace. Nor is there any discussion of immigration.

The conclusions of the book are conservative, supporting capitalism, yet they are also very positive about the role of the Trade Union movement, which contrasts with the Tory hostility to unions that came in with Thatcher. These days, many in the Conservative Party are working to build a new relationship with trade unions. There is a good deal of no-nonsense commonsense morality in the book. Reading it, I found myself reminded of my father, an Evangelical Christian who worked as a director in industry for many years and who always strived to manifest Christian virtues in the workplace.

The book very much identifies with the idea of the Protestant Work Ethic and sees this a positive byproduct of the Reformation, even including an appendix discussing the Weber's theory. When it mentions Catholicism, it seems to show a certain level of misunderstanding, particularly regarding the Catholic idea of vocation. In reality, many Catholics have as strong a work ethic as any Calvinist (which the appendix does acknowledge).

This is perhaps a dated book, nevertheless, it's uncomplicated sense of virtue makes it an edifying read.

Father Ed's Blog: Why the Ordinariate?

Father Ed's Blog: Why the Ordinariate?

"But where the Ordinariate has been enabled results have been amazing. Look around you. Before the Ordinariate arrived in Pembury this was a dual use hall only reflecting a spirit of the 1960’s. But since we arrived so has an intended beautification to shift to incorporate the wisdom not only of 1960 but also 1060 and 1860! The birth of Catholic England and the revival of Anglo-Catholicism under Newman.In this little place we have seen a vision bearing fruit. And let me stress that our emphasis on the English way hasn’t compromised, in any way, our being a universal church. Our congregation comprises Indians, Poles, Maltese, Irish, Scottish and more besides. And all seem to have rejoiced in the changes.

To conclude: in the Ordinariate we have a fragile shoot growing, against all odds and with the help of the Holy Spirit. I believe it has enormous potential. But for this to be achieved it needs people to believe in it, support it and sustain it. We provide, not protestant treasures- that would be madness- but lost Catholic treasures. The singing of the Angelus at Mass. The Divine Worship liturgy whose soul was forged in the Sarum Rite and so on. So please help in the task of bringing it to life in this area of Kent. Please commit fully. For the harvest is rich but the labourers few. We have been given such a tremendous opportunity- pray God that people will see this and come together to make it happen."

Friday, 17 March 2017

GQ: George Osborne to become Evening Standard editor

GQ: George Osborne to become Evening Standard editor

by Rupert Myers

"Theresa May has a slim majority, and has already had to make an embarrassing u-turn on National Insurance contributions from the self-employed in her Chancellor’s budget. While she struggles with Scotland’s push for a referendum, the narrow ruling majority in the commons, and the fearsome task of Brexit ahead, George Osborne is positioning himself as someone ready to stand up for the economic interests of both the city and ordinary people. The Evening Standard is a perfect fit: a Conservative-leaning paper that backed Zac Goldsmith, it speaks to the centrist, metropolitan concerns of a capital terrified by the economic consequences of Brexit.

Osborne’s new media role allows him to shape the debate, and will see him appearing on television and on the radio, championing whichever causes he chooses.

Brexit stole from Osborne the likely chance to succeed his friend in the job of Prime Minister. As editor of the Evening Standard, Osborne will do everything he can to look like he backs Theresa May, while making the case for his own leadership. Osborne has always been a master tactician with his eye on the next move, but more than that he can be exceptionally funny and charismatic in person. The public saw George Osborne the austerity chancellor, but now they will be given the chance to see Osborne in a new light, as a champion for people’s ordinary concerns, as a witty and urbane editor on panel discussions, as a rehabilitated figure trying to show that yesterday’s man might just also be tomorrow’s."

Bloomberg: Trump May Not Want Refugees, but Rust Belt Mayors Do

Bloomberg: Trump May Not Want Refugees, but Rust Belt Mayors Do

by Michelle Jamrisko
and Eric Englert

"In the suburbs and countryside of Rust Belt swing states, President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant message may have carried the day, but in St. Louis and the rest of the region’s dilapidated, post-industrial cities, it’s anathema. Immigrants represent rebirth: They’ve stabilized neighborhoods, cushioned city coffers and, in the process, supported credit ratings and bond sales. Mayors from Detroit to Cleveland -- as well as northeastern cities like Albany, New York, and Lowell, Massachusetts -- see financial salvation in these newest Americans and are dismayed by Trump’s drive to tighten the borders.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay raves about the booming Bosnian immigrant community in his city.

“We were losing population and people more than almost any city in America before the Bosnians came,” said Slay, a Democrat. “They’ve helped us revitalize this city.”

Much of the Rust Belt’s pain comes from the excruciating transition it’s making to a service-sector economy from one predicated on manufacturing. In its cities, the share of the nation’s employment dropped to 27 percent in 2000 from 43 percent in 1950, according to one study. Sustaining population has been a struggle: More than half of 23 municipalities, including Detroit, Syracuse, and Toledo, saw losses from 2000 to 2014, according to census data."

The Feast of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

O God, who through the Bishop Saint Cyril of Jerusalem led your Church in a wonderful way to a deeper sense of the mysteries of salvation, grant us, through his intercession, that we may so acknowledge your Son as to have life ever more abundantly. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Cyril, pray for us, that our knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures may increase.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

UpNorth: Four Thousand Ethnic Russians in Estonia Now Consider Estonian Their Native Language

UpNorth: Four Thousand Ethnic Russians in Estonia Now Consider Estonian Their Native Language

by Paul Goble

"Four thousand ethnic Russians and more than 2,000 ethnic Finns who live in Estonia tell officials that they consider Estonian to be their native language while 24,000 ethnic Estonians say they don’t speak Estonian – and the state statistics department says that most of those speak Russian.

In addition, Tallinn officials say more than 220,000 ethnic Russians say they now speak Estonian, and more than 8,000 people from all nationalities who are not citizens say that they consider Estonian their native language.

For Estonia as a whole, the figures released in advance of the Day of Native Language show, 68 percent of the total population identify Estonian as their native language, roughly the same share as of those who identify as Estonian by nationality, and a significant fraction of the remainder speak Estonian as a second language.

On the one hand, these figures reflect the success of Estonia in integrating non-Estonians, including ethnic Russians, few of whom spoke Estonian at the end of Soviet times, and the willingness of these people to identify not only with the country as a political entity but with the Estonian language community."