Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Telegraph: Donald Trump's campaign is based on fear of anyone who looks different

The Telegraph: Donald Trump's campaign is based on fear of anyone who looks different

Article by J. Singh-Sohal

'At a rally in Muscatine, Iowa, a Sikh protester in a turban was escorted out for unfurling a large “stop hate” banner. “He wasn’t wearing one of those hats, was he?” jibed the billionaire, in reference to the Trump baseball cap worn by supporters. "And he never will!" Mr Trump had been speaking about President Obama’s anti-terrorism policies at the time.

News outlets and social media activists have been quick to accuse Mr Trump of mocking the Sikh. That’s because not only are race relations highly politicised in the US (especially so during an election year) but because the perceived ignorance about the appearance of religious Sikhs only heightens tensions further. Such comments are dangerous because of the sheer amount of hate violence Sikhs experience in modern America.'

Unveiling the Apocalypse, by Emmett O'Regan



Emmett O'Regan, Unveiling the Apocalypse: Prophecy in the Catholic Tradition, 2011 Seraphim Press, Belfast


There are not many readily available Catholic books on eschatology or Bible prophecy, so in a sense this Catholic treatment of the field is rather welcome. However, it is unfortunately a rather awful book.

The author recognizes the value of Preterist interpretation of such things as the Abomination of Desolation and the identity of Antichrist, yet he sees a double layering of prophecy in Scripture. Thus even where a satisfactory preterist interpretation can be found, he then switches to historicist or futurist interpretation to provide a double fulfillment. There is a great danger of subjectivism in this approach and I think it is hermeneutically unsound. The book of Revelation is a letter written to seven first century churches. It was addressing their concerns. Why would the author of the apocalypse brought up topics of future history that had no relevance to the original readers?

O'Regan criticises Dispensational Premillennialism. Unfortunately, he advocates sensational and speculative interpretations that make the more sensible Dispensationalists at Dallas Theological Seminary look very balanced and intellectually respectable. The most bizarre of these is his conclusion that internet phones are the mark of the beast. This seems a radical conclusion. If this is so, are we to think that everyone who owns such a phone is damned, as the Revelation seems to imply the damnation of those who receive the mark of the beast? He has his reasons for arguing this conclusion, but could one not make a case just as easily, with equal technophobia, that wrist watches are the mark of the beast? After all people wear them on their hands, and they control and guide the actions of the wearer.

Aside from his criticism of Dispensationalists in the introduction, O'Regan does not interact very much with writers who interpret prophecy in a different fashion. There is also little historiography here. It would have been helpful for our author to put his interpretations into a bit more context by offering more of an overview of historical Catholic approaches to Bible prophecy.

O'Regan's message is one of doom and gloom, that we should be expecting the antichrist and the increasing power of Satan and evil in the world. Is this what a Christian should expect? If Christ has ascended on to His throne of glory and all authority and power is His, I would suggest that we should expect the triumph of the Kingdom of God in the world and the conversion of all peoples to Christ. The cosmic victory of Christ over the powers of evil must have some impact on history.

It is important to understand that the Bible does not view the last days as a short period of years before Christ returns. The Bible teaches us that the last days began with the coming of Christ. It does not give us any indication that this period can be subdivided into periods during which Christ or Satan has dominance, as O'Regan seems to think. We should instead see the steady victory of Christ and His Church unfold into history.

A great danger of the kind of Apocalypticism that O'Regan advocates is that it can lead to a distrust of the magisterium of the Church. If we are awaiting the antichrist, then any wobbly statement from the Pope or councils can be taken as a sign that the Catholic Church is being overcome by antichrist. This could lead to great confusion. In fairness to O'Regan, he shows the utmost loyalty to the magisterium of the Church, yet some readers could easily fall into the trap of reading prophetic events into the contemporary circumstances of the Catholic Church.

One difficulty in evaluating this book is the heavy use of private revelations. It's difficult to know what to do with these non-authoritative revelations. I do think some of the Fatima prophecies support an optimistic Postmillennial view. Are we going to see the conversion of Russia and an age of peace? Will Our Lady's Immaculate Heart triumph? Those thinks sound very optimistic.

I fear that a lot of Catholics who read this book will be unfamiliar with the field of Bible prophecy and are likely to be carried away by the alarmist apocalyptic speculations of the author. I would recommend readers to have a look at Protestant writers such as Kenneth Gentry, Keith Mathison and Douglas Wilson who take a Preterist and Postmillennial approach to eschatology. We cannot always agree with them on every point, but I think their approach is sensible and reflects the hope and optimism that should fill the hearts of Christians.

The Feast of King Charles the Martyr



Blessed Lord, in whose sight the death of thy saints is precious; we magnify the Name for that abundant grace bestowed on our late Martyred Sovereign; by which he was enabled so cheerfully to follow the steps of his blessed Master and Saviour, in a constant meek bearing of all barbarous indignities, and at last resisting unto blood; and even then, according to the same pattern, praying for his murderers. Let his memory, O Lord, be ever blessed among us, that we may follow the example of his patience, and charity; And grant, that this our Land may be freed from the vengence of his blood, and Thy mercy glorified in the forgiveness of our sins; and all for Jesus Christ His sake. Amen.


King Charles the Martyr, pray for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and for all kings and queens.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Tampa Bay Times| Editorial: Jeb Bush is best choice for Republican nomination

Tampa Bay Times| Editorial: Jeb Bush is best choice for Republican nomination

"Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is the most polished orator in the Republican field, and he has a compelling personal story. But there is nothing in his record to indicate he is prepared to be president. He was an undistinguished state legislator who rose to Florida House speaker on his charm and surfed the 2010 tea party wave into the U.S. Senate. He quickly grew uninterested in that office, and when the political winds shifted he abandoned his biggest legislative priority, comprehensive immigration reform. Rubio is a likeable opportunist with a persuasive sales pitch but a thin record of accomplishment.

Bush badly miscalculated that he could become the presumptive Republican nominee by raising so much money last year, and his campaign skills were rusty. But Trump's snide attacks about Bush's lack of energy were never accurate. It has been Bush who has best challenged Trump for his ridiculous talk of banning Muslims from entering this country and for suggesting a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods that would ignite a trade war.

This is a pivotal moment for the Republican Party, which has to broaden its message and its appeal to women and minorities to ensure its long-term future. Bush has the best potential to connect with the voters in a general election and take the nation forward rather than backward. For the Republican nomination for president, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Jeb Bush."

The Sun| BoJo EU-turn: Double blow to Brexit fight as Johnson and Gove opt to stay

The Sun| BoJo EU-turn: Double blow to Brexit fight as Johnson and Gove opt to stay


DAVID Cameron believes he has won over two of the Tories’ biggest beasts - Boris Johnson and Michael Gove - to campaign with him to stay in the EU, The Sun can reveal.

The two key men’s support will be a major coup for the PM, with both having flirted strongly with a Leave vote in the past.

And it leaves Home Secretary Theresa May alone as the last undecided senior Conservative party figure who is able to lead a Brexit campaign.

The revelation is a double blow to the anti-EU movement.



Good news if this is true. If Boris decided to back Brexit, I would never back him for Conservative leadership.

The Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas



O God, who made Saint Thomas Aquinas outstanding in his zeal for holiness and his study of sacred doctrine, grant us, we pray, that we may understand what he taught and imitate what he accomplished. 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 Thomas Aquinas


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. 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 Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
Pray for us.
Glorious Mother of the King of kings,
Pray for us.
Saint Thomas of Aquinas, etc.
Worthy child of the Queen of virgins,
St. Thomas most chaste,
St. Thomas most patient,
Prodigy of science,
Silently eloquent,
Reproach of the ambitious,
Lover of that life which is hidden with Christ,
Fragrant flower in the garden of Saint Dominic,
Glory of the Friars Preachers,
Illumined from on high ,
Angel of the Schools,
Oracle of the Church,
Incomparable scribe of the Man-God,
Satiated with the odor of
His perfumes,
Perfect in the school ofHis Cross,
Intoxicated with the strong wine
of His charity,
Glittering gem in the cabinet
of the Lord,
Model of perfect obedience,
Endowed with the true spirit of holy poverty,

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

Oh, how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory,
For the memory thereof is immortal.
Because it is known with God and man,
And it triumpheth crowned forever.

V. What have I in Heaven, or what do I desire on earth!
R. Thou art the God of my heart, and my portion forever.

Let Us Pray.

O God, Who hast ordained that blessed Thomas should enlighten Thy Church, grant that through his prayers we may practice what he taught, through Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.



Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us, that we may truly understand sacred doctrine.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Telegraph: If leaving the EU is so important, why do the Right have so little to say about it?

The Telegraph: If leaving the EU is so important, why do the Right have so little to say about it?

Article by Dan Hodges

"For my entire adult life members of the British Right – supported by the odd maverick on the British Left – have been banging on about Europe. In fact, they’ve been bludgeoning on about Europe. They’ve bludgeoned the EU and its hapless officials. They've bludgeoned successive British governments and its own hapless officials. When they got bored with that, they started bludgeoning each other.

Economic policy. Foreign policy. Defence policy. Home affairs policy. Had you asked a member of the Tory Right about any of these subjects at any point over the past 40 years you would have received the same response: “it’s all about Europe”. Had you asked them if they wanted a cup of tea, or what they thought of the weather, the response would have been the same. “Europe”.

So finally, they were given what they wanted. Those who told us this was the most important issue any of us would faced with in our lifetimes. An issue that went to the heart of whether or not we would even continue to exist as a free people. They were granted their precious referendum.

And then nothing. Silence."

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

National Review: Ted Cruz’s Risky Bet on the Conservative Base

National Review: Ted Cruz’s Risky Bet on the Conservative Base

Article by Eliana Johnson

But Sides is less sanguine than Cruz about the GOP’s chances in 2016. “I couldn’t yet say with any confidence whether the fundamentals favor the Republicans,” he tells me. “I’d say the jury’s out.” His bet: The president’s popularity remains a neutral factor, neither helping nor hurting the Democratic nominee. And he says it’s too early to tell which party the economy will favor.

Like Campbell, Sides offers a word of caution about deeply ideological candidates. “There is some research that shows that candidates who are strongly ideological do suffer a penalty at the ballot box,” he says, pointing to the performance of Republican Barry Goldwater, who lost a landslide to Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and Democrat George McGovern, who was clobbered by Richard Nixon in 1972.


In my opinion, running a core vote strategy is almost always a bad idea. A conservative party can rely on its base to turn out; it's undecided voters they need to win.

My conviction on this has been shaped by my formative political experiences- campaigning for the Conservative Party while we languished under the right-wing leaders William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. We needed David Cameron to teach us to use a different language to win a different kind of voter.

The Feast of Saint Timothy and Saint Titus

O God, who adorned Saints Timothy and Titus with apostolic virtues, grant through the intercession of them both, that, living justly and devoutly in this present age, we may merit to reach our heavenly homeland. 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 Timothy and Saint Titus, pray for us, that we may increase in our knowledge of Scripture.

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul




O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world. 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.



The Litany of Saint Paul


Antiphon: Thou hast proved me and known me: Thou hast known my sitting down and my rising up.

V. The great Saint Paul, the vessel of election, is indeed worthy to be glorified: R. For he also deserved to possess the twelfth throne.

Lord have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us.
Queen conceived without original sin, Pray for us.
Saint Paul, Pray for us.
Apostle of the Gentiles, Pray for us.
Vessel of Election, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who wast rapt to the third heaven, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who heard things not given to man to utter, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who knew nothing but Christ, and Him crucified, Pray for us.
St. Paul, whose love for Christ was stronger than death, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who wished to be dissolved and be with Christ, Pray for us.
St. Paul, whose zeal knew no bounds, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who made thyself all to all, to gain all to Christ, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who called thyself prisoner of Christ for us, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who wast jealous of us, with the jealousy of God, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who glories only in the Cross of Christ, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who bore in thy body the mortification of Christ, Pray for us.
St. Paul, who exclaimed: With Christ I am nailed to the cross! Pray for us.
St. Paul, that we may awake and sin no more, Pray for us.
That we may not receive the grace of God in vain, Pray for us.
That we may walk in newness of life, Pray for us.
That we may work out our salvation with fear and trembling, Pray for us.
That we may put on the armor of God, Pray for us.
That we may stand against the deceits of the wicked one, Pray for us.
That we may stand fast to the last, Pray for us.
That we may press forward to the mark, Pray for us.
That we may win the crown, Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us.

Let us pray. O God, Who hast taught the whole world by the preaching of blessed Paul the Apostle: grant that we, who celebrate his memory, may by following his example be drawn unto Thee. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who with Thee livest and reignest in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. R. Amen.


Saint Paul, pray for us and for the conversion of Jewish men and women to Christ.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Our Lady and the New Evangelisation, by Donal Anthony Foley



Donal Anthony Foley, Our Lady and the New Evangelisation, 2015 Catholic Truth Society


This is one of the best booklets I have read from the Catholic Truth Society. It outlines the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the evangelisation of the world.

The author begins with a little history, explaining the emergence of Marian devotion in the early church, before pointing out the importance of Marian devotion in the conversion of Europe after the fall of the western Roman Empire. In particular, he cites St. Bernard of Clairvaux as a pioneer of Marian devotion. This Medieval Marian veneration became particularly important in England which regarded herself as the 'dowry' of Mary.

Foley goes on to talk about the major apparitions of Mary, such as Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima, showing how they all have had an evangelistic role in calling people to Christ, as well as fostering devotions such as the Rosary.

The author also talks about how recent Popes have encouraged interest in Fatima and other apparitions and have seen the Blessed Virgin as central to the project of the New Evangelisation. He acknowledges a perceived 'Marian crisis' after Vatican II, yet argues that the decision to treat Mary as a side-topic of the Church rather than as a separate topic demonstrates that Mariology is not an optional extra. He also explains how Mariology can contribute to ecumenical dialogue. Our author concludes by encouraging readers to make devotion to Mary a part of their lives. A selection of short Marian prayers are included at the back of the booklet.

The Theology of Revelation, by Richard Bauckham



There are many commentaries on the Apocalypse, perhaps too many. This book, however, is not a commentary on the Revelation, but a thematic exploration of the theology of the Apocalypse. It does not simply look at the eschatology of Revelation, but considers what it has to say about Christology and the Holy Spirit.

On the debate about whether Revelation is a prophecy or an apocalypse, Bauckham argues that the two categories cannot be rigidly distinguished. He accepts the value of preterist interpretation, arguing that it is vital to understand the book in the light of its first-century context. An approach that tries to use Revelation as predicting future history, whether historicist or futurist will fail to grasp that context. However, to a large extent, our author moves beyond a preterist interpretation and seems to advocate something of a Symbolist-Idealist approach.

I don't think Richard Bauckham is a Postmillennialist, but he offers room for optimism. He sees the conversion of the nations in the vision and also the triumph of the Kingdom of God as a present reality. However, there is something of a tension in his thought here, as he sees the cosmic struggle in Revelation as an ongoing conflict through the ages. Thus, Christians throughout history will be threatened by the evil powers of this world. Yet if the triumph of the Kingdom of God is a present reality, should we not see a progressive defeat of the powers of evil in the world and increasing Christianization of the world? I would question the usefulness of his universalizing of the narrative of Revelation.

I think this is a very useful and insightful book that takes a somewhat different approach to the study of the Apocalypse.

The Guardian: The truth about Muhammad and Aisha

The Guardian: The truth about Muhammad and Aisha

Article by Myriam Francois-Cerrah


"Critics allege that Aisha was just six years old when she was betrothed to Muhammad, himself in his 50s, and only nine when the marriage was consummated. They base this on a saying attributed to Aisha herself (Sahih Bukhari volume 5, book 58, number 234), and the debate on this issue is further complicated by the fact that some Muslims believe this to be a historically accurate account. Although most Muslims would not consider marrying off their nine-year-old daughters, those who accept this saying argue that since the Qur'an states that marriage is void unless entered into by consenting adults, Aisha must have entered puberty early.

They point out that, in seventh-century Arabia, adulthood was defined as the onset of puberty. (This much is true, and was also the case in Europe: five centuries after Muhammad's marriage to Aisha, 33-year-old King John of England married 12-year-old Isabella of Angoulême.) Interestingly, of the many criticisms of Muhammad made at the time by his opponents, none focused on Aisha's age at marriage.

According to this perspective, Aisha may have been young, but she was not younger than was the norm at the time. Other Muslims doubt the very idea that Aisha was six at the time of marriage, referring to historians who have questioned the reliability of Aisha's age as given in the saying. In a society without a birth registry and where people did not celebrate birthdays, most people estimated their own age and that of others. Aisha would have been no different. What's more, Aisha had already been engaged to someone else before she married Muhammad, suggesting she had already been mature enough by the standards of her society to consider marriage for a while. It seems difficult to reconcile this with her being six.

In addition, some modern Muslim scholars have more recently cast doubt on the veracity of the saying, or hadith, used to assert Aisha's young age. In Islam, the hadith literature (sayings of the prophet) is considered secondary to the Qur'an. While the Qur'an is considered to be the verbatim word of God, the hadiths were transmitted over time through a rigorous but not infallible methodology. Taking all known accounts and records of Aisha's age at marriage, estimates of her age range from nine to 19."


I believe Islam is a false religion and there are plenty of things to dislike about Islam. However, rolling out the stock Islamophobic claims is not very helpful.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

A Primer on the Absolute Primacy of Christ, by Fr. Maximilian Mary Dean, FI



Fr Maximilian Mary Dean, FI, A Primer on the Absolute Primacy of Christ: Blessed Duns Scotus and the Franciscan Thesis, 2006 Academy of the Immaculate


This is a quite beautiful little book. It defends the view of Blessed Duns Scotus, against St. Thomas Aquinas, that the incarnation of Christ had primacy in the plan of God and would have taken place even if Adam had not sinned and brought about the Fall. The author seeks to make this rather speculative, but deeply significant thesis accessible to the ordinary Catholic reader. He also offers a little background information about Blessed Duns Scotus. He points out that among Catholic theologians, he was particularly reviled after the Reformation, hence the term 'dunce.'

Father Dean affirms that Christ came into the world to save sinners. However, he points out that the Scriptures do not say this was the sole reason for Christ coming. He argues that as the Scriptures were written after the fact of sin, inevitably their focus is on the redemptive aspect of the incarnation. He identifies several weaknesses of the Thomist position (that the incarnation was occasioned by sin). Firstly, it would mean that the creation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary would be continent upon sin. Secondly, all the graces that flow from redemption, the divinization of the redeemed and their adoption as sons of God would be contingent upon sin. Most importantly, the supremacy of Christ as head of the Church and the centre of creation would be contingent upon the Fall, making Christ's primacy a relative primacy. He thus argues that the absolute primacy of Christ depends upon the incarnation being the foremost stage in the plan of God.



Central to the Scotist thesis is the predestination of Christ and through Him the elect. Readers who are allergic to Augustinian predestinarianism will thus find it an uncomfortable read. What is particularly fascinating is that Scotus seems to have held that election as well as the incarnation in the plan of God was Supralapsarian. That Scotus was a Supralapsarian makes him more rigid in his predestinarianism than most Calvinists. To support the Scotist thesis, Fr Dean takes a look at two key Scriptural passages. These are Ephesians 1:3-10 and Romans 8:29. These texts are central to understanding the relationship between creation, the incarnation and predestination.

The establishment of the primacy of Christ provides basis for understanding the mediation of both our Lord and His Blessed Mother Mary. Christ was predestined before the creation of the world and is thus the source of all the graces received by creation. By taking on human nature, Christ is able to elevate the creature to be a partaker of the divine nature. The predestination of Christ as the mediator of grace to nature entails the predestination of Mary, His Mother. This establishes her place as the mediator of grace. This mariological emphasis gives the Scotist an huge advantage in defending the doctrines of Mariology over the Thomist.

This is an extremely valuable book. I particularly like the fact that the author has worked hard to make this deep theology very accessible to the average reader. A lot of Catholic theological works tend to aim either too high and confuse the reader, or dumb down too much and patronize lay readers.

Book Reviews: Just wondering...

Has anybody ever bought a book that I have reviewed on this blog?

Friday, 22 January 2016

The Telegraph: David Cameron's Davos appeal to pro-EU business leaders is a smart move

The Telegraph: David Cameron's Davos appeal to pro-EU business leaders is a smart move

Article by Asa Bennett

"Major businesses are already stepping into the fray, with Goldman Sachs donating a "six-figure" sum to the In campaign. JP Morgan is soon to follow. Eurosceptics may baulk at Mr Cameron's Davos plea, with Fraser Nelson expressing unease in today's paper about the Prime Minister "cosying up" to big business, but the polls show that voters will listen to what business leaders – particuarly those who represent recognisable names – think about EU membership as they make up their minds. This is why the In campaign is so proud of figures like Richard Branson, while Out campaigners try to court vacuum cleaner mogul James Dyson, whose products have made him a household name.

YouGov explored this last November when they asked voters how the business community could sway their voting intention. Their sample of 4317 British adults was evenly split on Europe, with both Leave and Remain attracting 41 per cent support. But when asked to imagine how they would vote if "many senior British business figures came out against Britain leaving, warning it would cost jobs and damage the economy", Remain shot up and gained an eight point lead."


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Art and Prayer, by Sr Mary Charles-Murray



Sr Mary Chares-Murray, Art and Prayer: Perspectives on the Christian Life, 2010 Catholic Truth Society


A booklet published by the Catholic Truth Society which explores how art reflects the human condition before God, particularly in prayer.

I was going to give this booklet a reasonably positive review. However, I became outraged by it towards the end when the author brought up the subject of the mass-produced 'holy cards' that were introduced among the laity in the 19th century. She describes the typical artwork of these cards as a form of 'kitsch.' She argues that such artwork is sentimental and undemanding; it generates no deeper reflection. It is unacceptable as it is 'Beauty without truth.' I found the author's comments deeply hurtful, as I love holy cards.



There is something troubling about dismissing images of our Lord and His blessed Mother as 'kitsch,' even though they are adored by countless faithful Catholics. If Sister Mary Charles-Murray despises the picture in the holy card, it is tempting to wonder if she also despises the prayer on the back of the card too. There is an horrible elitist tendency in some modern Catholic literature which despises the piety and devotional practices of faithful lay people. It's that same tendency that came in after Vatican II (not that I have any problem with the Vatican II documents themselves) which wanted to hide away all the rosaries and statues of saints.

I do not at all accept the idea that traditional Catholic iconography is 'beauty without truth.' The images are of true things, for we believe in the Lord Jesus and Mary and all the saints. The images are not necessarily realistic depictions, for they use the pictorial grammar of symbols. I am sure our author knows this. It's hard too see how he criticisms might not be applied to any of the great works of Catholic art from the past, such as those of Perugino and Raphael, traditions that the mass-produced holy cards draw upon.

This idea that art must always be challenging is an abominable one, for it leads to the repudiation of beauty in art and the dominance of works of ugliness. In the Church, we see this in some of the architectural monstrosities that have been forced upon Catholics to serve as churches. Why is it wrong to just love nice pictures? Can we not celebrate an artist like Bouguereau who just liked drawing pretty things and did that with inimitable brilliance?

Sister Charles-Murray does say some good and insightful things in this booklet, but I really can't get past her awful comments on holy cards. I suspect some of the editors in the Catholic Truth Society take a similar view of Catholic art. One thing I have noticed is that nearly every image of Mary on the covers of CTS publications is an Eastern Orthodox icon. Eastern icons seem to be more acceptable to the elitist sensibilities than traditional western images.

CatholicHerald: Britain should stay inside the EU, says top Vatican official

CatholicHerald: Britain should stay inside the EU, says top Vatican official

Asked what the Holy See’s view on the upcoming Brexit referendum, Archbishop Gallagher said: “We respect the ultimate decision of the British people, that’s for the British electorate to decide. We would see it as not something that would make a stronger Europe. Better in than out.”

He also criticised what Donald Trump said about a moratorium on Muslim immigration: “I found it very shocking that he would say that… We’re not in favour of walls.”


Postmillennialism Today: Postmillennial Beginnings

Postmillennialism Today: Postmillennial Beginnings

"This is my second installment on the question about the origins of postmillennialism. Many dispensationalists dismiss postmillennialism as a modern novelty. In my last article I pointed out that all eschatological development is only gradually understood over time. In this article I will show the seed beginnings of postmillennialism in antiquity.

As far as our preserved writings go, premillennialism finds slightly earlier development (especially in Irenaeus, A.D. 130-202). Yet theologian Donald G. Bloesch notes that “postmillennialism was already anticipated in the church father Eusebius of Caesarea” (A.D. 260-340) (Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology [San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1979], 2:192). Renowned historian Philip Schaff traces it back even farther, observing that Origen (A.D. 185-254) “expected that Christianity, by continual growth, would gain the dominion over the world.” (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 5th ed. [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, rep. 1910], 2:591, cp. 122. )"

The Feast of Saint Agnes



Almighty ever-living God, who choose what is weak in the world to confound the strong, mercifully grant, that we, who celebrate the heavenly birthday of your Martyr Saint Agnes, may follow her constancy in the faith. 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.



Let us gain courage for our own battle by honoring the martyrdom of the glorious virgin Agnes. St. Agnes, vessel of honor, flower of unfading fragrance, beloved of the choirs of Angels, you are an example to the worth of virtue and chastity. O you who wear a Martyr's palm and a virgin's wreath, pray for us that, though unworthy of a special crown, we may have our names written in the list of Saints.


St. Agnes, pray for us, that we may be faithful unto death.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Royal World: Germany in 1900

Royal World: Germany in 1900

It has long struck me as one of the greatest injustices of modern history that, whatever one thinks of the causes of World War I, surely the interior German monarchies cannot be blamed at all, yet they were all dragged down in the apocalypse of November 1918. May they never be forgotten, and somehow one day restored to their charming and occasionally eccentric glory.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Gender Hurts, by Sheila Jeffreys




Gender Hurts builds on the work of Janice Raymond in The Transsexual Empire and offers a more up to date critique of Transgenderism from a Radical Feminist perspective. Since Raymond's book, a powerful movement of Transgender activists have emerged which has attempted to silence any criticism of their practices and has made increasingly vocal demands to be granted privileges. Those who oppose such privileges are invariably accused of being 'transphobic.' She also brings in discussion of the emergence of the strange phenomena of Transableism, by which able-bodied persons identify themselves as disabled and seek surgery such as amputation of limbs to realise this identification.

Jeffreys echoes the claim of other feminists that gender is not an absolute concept, but is simply another word for the sex-role stereotypes that enforce inequalities between men and women. In claiming identities based on gender, Transgenderism is in the author's view a reactionary force that will undermine gains by the Womens' Movement. She sees the political movement of Lesbian Feminism subsumed by the more individualistic LGBT movement, which sees sexuality as an apolitical matter of personal expression.

Literature on Transgenderism tends to celebrate the individuals who transition, treating them either as heroic survivors. However, it is the goal of our author to demonstrate that there are many harms caused by transgenderism which have not received much discussion. The first of these harms that she discusses are the detrimental effects of medical interventions used to enable sex transition, such as surgery and the use of hormones. While it is argued that the drastic medical interventions involved improve the quality if life of transgenders, Jeffreys points out evidence that after reassignment surgery, transgenders were at no less risk of psychiatric morbidity, such as suicidal behaviour. There is a strong co-relation between transgenderism and mental health problems. However, there is an unwillingness, according to our author, of medical professionals to identify the desire to transition as a symptom of mental illness. The associated mental healthy symptoms, such as self-harm, are explained away as 'Minority Stress' and blamed in persecution within society. This approach shuts down any debate as to the origin and nature of the transgender condition. The rise of hormone treatment among male-bodied transgenders is related, Jeffreys claims to the pharmaceutical industry's surplus of hormones following the discrediting of Hormone-Replacement Therapy. The selling of hormones to transgenders is enormously profitable to the industry, as the customers will need to remain on them for life in order to maintain the appearance of being female. She points out that it remains uncertain what side-effects this long-term use may involve, but what is available suggests that they are detrimental. Jeffrey's descriptions of some of the unpleasant aspects of reassignment surgery is very uncomfortable reading.

It is not unknown for those who have transitioned to regret the irreversible surgical procedures they have undergone. These incidents of regret are ignored by the medical profession, as they would undermine the credibility of their practice. Jeffreys points out that they have been ignored by lawmakers too, as the provision of gender recognition certificates is premised on the assumption that transgenders will not change their minds. Jeffreys describes the emergence of a survivor's movement of former transgenders who have regrets about their transition. Some of these individuals have received abuse an threats from transgender activists.

The second harm she discusses is the harm to the female partners of men who transition. Jeffreys argues that the wives, partners and mothers of male-bodied transgenders frequently suffer a sense of grief, loss and social exclusion and provides detailed evidence of how these harms manifest. While their partners are regarded by others as being on an heroic quest, they are expected to give them unqualified support. Their needs are seen by the medical profession and by the transgender movement as being of little concern. She argues that they are often the victim of the self-centredness of the quest which puts the transition above a else. She describes the shock they often suffer when their husbands unexpectedly dressed up in their clothes. Many felt a betrayal that they had married somebody who had never disclosed his cross-dressing. Often they were victims of psychological violence and bullying. Often they were expected to take on the role of counselor and mentor in teaching their husbands how to put on make-up and act feminine. Wives were also often expected to contribute financially to the cost of their husbands' hormones and surgery. If their relationship with the husband broke down, it tended to be the transgender husband who received the support and sympathy of friends, with resulting social exclusion and isolation for the wife. The transgender person was always the one who was regarded as the victim. In general, Jeffreys finds that the wives of transgenders seldom accepted that a real change of sex had taken place. She finds that a resistance movement is emerging of wives and partners who do not want to be guilt-tripped by cross-dressing and transgender husbands. Our author also looks at the hurt of mothers whose sons transition, finding they suffer considerable sense of loss and bereavement.

In a separate, but similar themed chapter, Jeffreys examines women who transition to male and their female partners. She looks at their issues separately, as female-bodied transgenderism seems to be a somewhat different phenomena to male-bodied transgenderism. She points out that while male-bodied transgenders are mostly heterosexuals, female-bodied transgenders are almost universally lesbians. This female transgenderism seems to be related to the Butch-Femme scene in lesbianism that was opposed by the androgynous feminist lesbianism of the Seventies. Jeffreys says that while the masculinity of Butch's is celebrated in lesbianism, the Femmes are often accorded a lower status and are often not seen as 'proper lesbians.' She argues that similarly to the wives of male-bodied transgenders, the female partners of female-bodied transgenders are expected to subordinate their own needs and desires to those of their transitioning partner. They are often subjected to emotional blackmail and sometimes physical violence.

In the next chapter, Jeffreys looks at the worrying practice of diagnosing children as transgender and the use of medical interventions to delay puberty in preparation for their receiving surgery as adults. She makes a fascinating comparison between this phenomena and eugenics, which like transgenderism today, was supported by progressive forces such as feminists and socialists.

Next she brings up the inevitable clashes of rights raised by transgender issues. This manifests itself most clearly in the demand by male-bodied transgenders that they be able to access spaces set aside for women. This is most troubling, because not all transgenders have received surgery and may be capable of raping and impregnating women. Toilets are one safe space in question. Our author points out the importance that female toilets played in enabling women to participate in public spaces. She explains how the entrance of men into female toilets puts women at risk. The prison system is an even more troubling area of contention. It is not unusual for men with a history of sexual violence against women to identify as transgender. The entry of male-bodied transgenders into women's prison puts female inmates at considerable risk.

Jeffreys goes on to talk about those safe spaces that have been created by the women's movement- female festivals and support groups, as well as vital services like rape crisis centres, domestic abuse counselling and women's refuges. The existence of these sources of support for women are threatened when they can be accessed by biological males. She finds that literature advocating and advising on the inclusion of male-bodied transgenders in these services are grossly insensitive to the needs of women who may not want to be counselled by a biological male or share a room with a transgender who has a penis.

Jeffreys concludes that gender identity really does hurt. It hurts women in general by reinforcing sex roles. It hurts in the physical suffering of transgenders who receive mutilating and painful surgeries. It hurts the lives of partners of transgenders. It hurts society by raising insurmountable problems to women's safe spaces and services.

This is a fascinating book that provides avenues of argument that have not been sufficiently debated in the public discussion of Trans-rights.

The Feast of Saint Theodosius the Great, Roman Emperor



O Almighty God, who willest to be glorified in thy Saints and didst raise up thy servant Saint Theodosius to shine as a light in the world: Shine, we pray thee, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may shew forth thy praises, who hast called us out of darkness into thy marvellous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Theodosius, pray for us and for all Christian politicians and leaders.

The Feast of Saint Anthony of Egypt




O God, who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his intercession, that, denying ourselves, we may always love you above all things. 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 Anthony, pray for us, for the Christians of Egypt and for all monks.

Guardian: Britain’s future must lie within a reformed Europe

Guardian: Britain’s future must lie within a reformed Europe

Article by Nicky Morgan MP, Education Secretary

"This goes to the heart of the negotiations the prime minister is leading in Europe, negotiations that won’t just define our future role in Europe, but the kind of Britain our children will grow up in. I think all of us agree what we don’t want that Britain to be: anti-competitive with more laws made overseas and with people travelling here for the benefits on offer rather than to pay their way. But we also don’t want our children to inherit a Britain cut off from the world, where their prospects are limited and their opportunities end. That’s why this renegotiation matters, something it’s easy to forget in the humdrum of offers and counter proposals. It matters because we’ll be deciding how and where our country stands in the world.

In my other role as minister for women, I’m sometimes asked what the referendum means for “women’s issues”. I don’t think many women would disagree that it’s a good thing that under EU law a British woman who becomes pregnant while working in Europe can’t be discriminated against. Nor can I think of any woman who wouldn’t welcome the fact that the EU is at the forefront of the battle to eradicate FGM, honour crimes and forced marriage."

Saturday, 16 January 2016

A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture, by Keith Mathison



Some Christians believe that the Bible very clearly teaches that the universe was made in six days and is less than ten thousand years old. They therefore argue that as science is fallible and the Bible is infallible, one should reject the conclusions of science in favour of Young Earth Creationism. In this book, Reformed scholar Keith Mathison argues that this approach is misguided.

Mathison argues, making heavy use of quotations of RC Sproul, that God's natural revelation in creation is just as infallible as His special revelation in Scripture. That does not mean that science, our interpretation of this revelation is infallible, but neither is our interpretation of Scripture infallible. Therefore, if the weight of scientific evidence contradicts our interpretation of Scripture, we may need to reconsider whether we have correctly interpreted the Bible.

This is a short book, but it seems to spend a long time labouring over quite a simple point. Catholics who are used to accepting the claims of science will probably find this book a little pedestrian in its accommodation of scientific theories. However, this reflects the high view of Scripture taken by Reformed Christians. While Catholic magisterial documents take an high view of Scripture, this is not always demonstrated in the writings of Catholic scholars.

I was disappointed that when it comes to the question of whether the Earth is millions of years old, the book quotes RC Sproul who says he does not know. Is that the best we can do? Is the age of the Earth really a fit topic to be agnostic about? I would say the evidence that the Earth is ancient is overwhelming and has been established by more than one scientific field. The antiquity of the Earth is not some far out radical theory that may change in ten years time, it is an area of solid consensus.

The book does not discuss the theory of evolution or specific ways of interpreting Genesis chapter one.

BBC News: Tsai Ing-wen elected Taiwan's first female president

BBC News: Tsai Ing-wen elected Taiwan's first female president

Ms Tsai, 59, represents Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which leads the camp that wants independence from China.

Although she has not made her stance clear, opponents say Taiwan's relations with China will deteriorate as she does not recognise the "one China" policy.

China sees the island as a breakaway province - which it has threatened to take back by force if necessary.

She had a commanding lead in the vote count when Eric Chu of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) admitted defeat.

Mr Chu congratulated Tsai Ing-wen and announced he was quitting as KMT head.


I pray for a strong and prosperous Taiwan, which is free to determine her own future.

Helm's Deep: Getting into hot water

Helm's Deep: Getting into hot water

I see that the oft-rehearsed question of whether Christians and Moslems worship the same God has surfaced again. Quite a few years ago I got into hot water by saying things about Islam that implied that a Moslem could be said, on a certain occasion, to worship the same God as us Christians.

****


It is possible to approach this problem of worshipping the same God from another angle, from needs that men and women may have which only God can meet; supremely the need for mercy and forgiveness. It was in recommending such a course that I got into hot water.

Some years ago, before many of you were born, I was at a conference in Canada on missions. I cannot now remember whether it was in the paper I gave, or in discussion later, that I ventured the view that if, in Auschwitz, say, a Jew sincerely prayed ‘Lord have mercy upon me’, that prayer would be heard. And similarly if a Muslim prayed, Most merciful Allah, have mercy on me, then similarly. Why may we not believe that a cry for mercy may find its way through the fog of error and misapprehension to the one and only merciful God? Do we have an interest in narrowing the wideness of God’s mercy? Are we entitled to take this line?



It is interesting to see a Calvinist as conservative as Paul Helm taking the view that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Nobody is going to be able to accuse Helm of being liberal. I like the approach that Helm is taking here.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Bible on Receiving One Species in Communion

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Bible on Receiving One Species in Communion


Catholics have the option to often partake of the cup, but it is not always offered and not required (my own parish rarely offers it, if at all). The reason is that God (being God) cannot ever be divided. The “division” is only symbolic or conceptual (with the cup representing blood). The reality of transubstantiation, however, is that God is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in both what was formerly bread and formerly wine.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Headcovering Movement: Why Headcovering is not about Modesty

The Headcovering Movement: Why Headcovering is not about Modesty

1 Corinthians 11 is the only chapter in the Bible that explains the practice of Christian head covering. Paul appeals in this chapter to the creation order, nature’s witness and angels as reasons to wear one. He tells us that this is a part of official apostolic teaching (v. 2) and is the practice of all churches, everywhere. In these 15 verses on head covering, modesty is never mentioned once. Nothing in this passage even hints at that. Rather Paul teaches that this is a symbol which reflects the created differences between men and women.

The Heavy Anglo-Orthodox: On the Shia-Christian Alliance

The Heavy Anglo-Orthodox: On the Shia-Christian

The unjust shedding of the blood of the righteous ayatollah has led to something of a chill in Saudi-Iranian relations, naturally. But what is truly interesting about al-Nimr’s case is how it has highlighted the common plight of Christians and Shi’ite Muslims in the Middle East, particularly in areas and under regimes where the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam holds its strongest sway. It is this shared plight that has brought together Shia and Christian first in Iraq, then in Lebanon, then in Syria. But is this shared plight merely the basis of an alliance of convenience, as Rony Khoury claims? Or is there some deeper and theological reason that Shia Muslims and Christians are making common cause throughout the Levant and the Fertile Crescent, and look set to do so even in repressive Saudi Arabia?

Interesting thoughts from Matt. Just don't go into possible foreign policy implications...

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Married priests?

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Married priests?


"The Universal Church, Eastern and Western, discerns a particularly close linkage between celibacy and sacerdotium. That is why Bishops, in whom resides the plenitudo Sacerdotii, are everywhere celibate.

But the same does not apply with as much force to presbyters. If in the earliest centuries presbyters were required to be celibate, then we must remember that the Church develops her practice and her doctrine and that, therefore, the existence of a largely married presbyterate in the Oriental sui iuris Churches must be deemed to have developed non sine nutu Sancti Spiritus.

And the subject I am thinking about is the ordination of married men. It most certainly is not the idea of allowing priests to marry. Here, again, the consensus of East and West and of the millennia would be strongly against it. An 'amnesty' for those who "left the priesthood to get married" ought never to be on the cards. Them, least of all!"

The Feast of Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we may rightly understand and truthfully profess the divinity of your Son, which the Bishop Saint Hilary taught with such constancy. 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 Hilary, pray for us, for all theologians and for those who deny the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Licity Talks Politics: 30 Reasons Why Jeb Bush is a Better Pick than Donald Trump

Licity Talks Politics: 30 Reasons Why Jeb Bush is a Better Pick than Donald Trump

"There comes a time when enough is enough. And one cannot listen to any more people explain why the Donald is just so great. Or look at one more poll with Trump in the lead. Because are Americans really this blind? Even I, a highschool student, can see why this is a very, very, very bad idea. Being president of the United States of America is a big deal. YUGE. And choosing the right person to assume that role is one of the most important duties an American citizen has.

Donald Trump is the worst possible pick to be president. And Jeb Bush is the best one. Here are 30 reasons why Jeb would be so much better than the Donald."

If I could vote for Bush, I would.

Response to Theodore Harvey on Ukraine




Theodore Harvey is an Anglican monarchist blogger from Texas whose Royal World I regularly read. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don't. I share his monarchism, but his politics are not mine. If he was British, he would no doubt be a Little Englander, supporting UKIP or at least a Tory who complains about Cameron. I was moved to write this by his recent post, A Monarchist Vision of Europe. It seems to be a pattern of monarchist bloggers that they love to write these pipe-dream posts where they fantasize about how they would like the world to be. I am a political realist and a pragmatist. I'd rather take the world as it comes.

I was particularly bothered by his comments about Ukraine. In his vision, Theodore Harvey would carve up Ukraine, giving the western corner to a revived Habsburg Empire and the rest to Russia. If he had left it at that, I could have left him to his daydream of being Catherine the Great carving up an European nation, but he made a potentially quite offensive remark about Ukraine, describing her as a fake nation.

How long does a people have to be a people to be allowed to be a proper nation? I could easily call the USA a fake nation, after all, they are just an English colony with a few extra territories bolted on and a few million immigrants from various other countries. Then again, as a monarchist and Anglophile, perhaps Harvey does think the USA is a fake nation. How about Belgium? Belgium is arguably a quite artificial territory.

I don't think it can be denied that the majority of people in Ukraine see themselves as a nation. In 1991, 90% of Ukrainians voted for independence. Perhaps the outpourings of national sentiment at Maidan are not shared by every Ukrainian. Many Ukrainians are uncomfortable with the nationalist movement and don't see their future in the EU. Many Ukrainians would prefer closer ties with Russia. Yet wanting a closer relationship with Russia is not the same as rejecting Ukrainian national identity. Perhaps the strongest evidence for the reality of Ukrainian nationhood is that the country was governed by the Pro-Russian Party of the Regions. Despite being Pro-Russian, that party did not push for the re-unification with Russia that Harvey deems appropriate for her. Ukraine has kept her sense of identity whether leaning toward the West or to Russia.

Harvey points out that there are people in Ukraine who identify as Russian. This is the evil of nation-states, that the world cannot be neatly divided into nations, each with one language and culture. Most countries have minorities who do not necessarily feel at ease with the nation in which they live. As Harvey says, you cannot please everyone. Yet we cannot pretend that nations are unreal concepts, as the advocates of one-world government would have us do. I am an Europhile and believe that the European Union offers many benefits in unity. Yet the EU will always be a union of nations and not a single European country. As somebody who is sceptical of the EU, I would have expected Theodore Harvey to appreciate this.

You cannot please everyone, but carving Ukraine up as Poland was carved up is not going to please anyone in Ukraine. Once a people achieve nationhood, it is not something that can be taken away from them. We see it in Taiwan. Taiwan is not officially a nation, yet her people have learned to live as their own nation free from China. The younger generation of Taiwan see themselves as Taiwanese and not Chinese. This is something the Chinese government will never be able to take away from them.

Harvey says that Crimea is Russian. It was part of Russia, but now it is part of Ukraine, just as Texas was part of the Spanish Empire and parts of the USA were French. If the people of Crimea want to be Russian, then they should be allowed to be Russian. The problem is that Crimea has been seized and occupied by Russia. Let the Russians withdraw and then there can be a free and fair referendum for Crimea on where their future lies.

There is a great naivety to Harvey's claim that Kiev is part of Russian history, presumably because of the Kievan Rus. It is like claiming that Normandy should be a part of England because the Norman kings of England came from Normandy. Yes, Kiev was the cradle of Russian civilization, but Russia did not exist as a nation at the time of the Kievan Rus. One cannot jump from the Kievan Rus to the Russian Empire and ignore everything that happened in between those times.

Ukraine's history is connected to Russian history, but it has had a distinct history of its own. Kiev was separated from Russia by the Mongol invasion. Most of European Russia came under the rule of the Golden Horde, while Kiev and its surrounding territory came under the rule of Lithuania and Poland. Polish culture has had an huge impact on the culture of Ukraine. Harvey wants to give most of Ukraine back to Russia. One could just as easily conclude it should go back to Poland. In the 17th century, we have the beginnings of Ukrainian nationhood in the Hetmanate of the Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Host. After incorporation into the Russian Empire in the 18th century, the first stirrings of Ukrainian nationalism emerged in the 19th, followed by failed attempts to create a Ukrainian state in the 20th century. The Ukrainians have as much of their own history as the people of Serbia, the people of Lithuania or the people of New Zealand.

I like Theodore Harvey's blog, but his crass comments on Ukraine show the worst side of Monarchist blogging. Monarchist bloggers have a tendency to glorify the old Europe while ignoring its injustices. They idolize the past while having nothing meaningful to say about present political realities. They fantasize about re-drawaing maps as if peoples can be used as counters in a game of Risk.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Birthday of Saint Philomena




The Litany of Saint Philomena

Lord,have mercy on us.
Lord,have mercy on us.
Lord,have mercy on us. 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, Queen of Virgins
pray for us.
Saint Philomena,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, filled with abundant graces from your birth,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, faithful imitator of Mary,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, model of virginity,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, temple of perfect humility,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, inflamed with zeal for the glory of God,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, victim of love for Jesus,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, example of strength and perseverance,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, invincible champion of chastity,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, mirror of most heroic virtue,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, firm and intrepid in the face of torments,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, scourged like your Divine Spouse,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pierced by a rain of arrows,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, consoled in chains by the Mother of God,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, miraculously healed in prison,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, comforted by the Angels in your torments,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who preferred torments
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who converted witnesses by your martyrdom,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who wore out the fury of your tormentors,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, protectress of the innocent,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, patroness of youth,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, refuge of the unfortunate,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, health of the sick and infirmed,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, new light of the Church Militant,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who confounds the impiety of the world,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who rejuvenates the faith and courage of the faithful,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, whose name is glorious in Heaven and feared in Hell,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, made illustrious by the most splendid miracles,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, powerful with God,
pray for us.
Saint Philomena, who reigns in glory,
pray for us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world;
spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world;
graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world;
have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O Worker of Wonders, Saint Philomena,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O Lord, through the intercession of Saint Philomena, Virgin and Martyr, whose eminent purity and practice of every virtue was most pleasing to you, pardon our sins and grant us the grace of_______________



Saint Philomena, pray for us and for all Catholic young people, that they would hold fast to the faith.

Inspiration and Interpretation, by Dean John William Burgon




Dean John William Burgon (1813-1888) was a Bible scholar of High Anglican persuasion. He is best known for his defense of the traditional Byzantine text of the New Testament and his criticisms of the Revised Version of the Bible. His books on textual criticism are popular among fundamentalist Protestants who defend the King James Bible and reject modern translations. There is an American fundamentalist organisation called the Dean Burgon Society which promotes the Textus Receptus and the King James Bible. The question has been raised as to whether Dean Burgon would have been allowed to join the Dean Burgon Society, as he did not hold to the infallibility of the Received Text, but only those parts of it which were supported by the majority of Greek manuscripts. Likewise his High Anglicanism would hardly have made him popular among fundamentalist Baptists.

This comprises seven sermons defending the Verbal Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture and traditional interpretation over against liberalism. These are preceded by a series of essays critiquing Essays and Reviews (1860) a liberal Anglican publication which caused considerable controversy. It expressed the modernist ideas of higher criticism from German universities, which had not before been popularised in Britain.

Burgon's defense of the Verbal Inspiration and Inerrancy was sound, but on the subject of Bible interpretation he was somewhat narrow in his views. He was unaware of the implications of genre or the Ancient Near East context of the Old Testament. He was not, however, a Young Earth Creationist. He accepts the conclusions of geology regarding the age of the Earth and harmonizes them with Genesis using the Gap theory. Yet he also accepts Ussher's dating and holds that humanity began six thousand years ago. I don't think many conservative Bible scholars today would accept Ussher's dating and would see gaps in the geneologies of Scripture.

I had thought that Burgon would have been one of the High Church critics of the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement. However, this book seems to indicate that he was sympathetic towards the Oxford Movement. He makes the occasional harsh comment about Papism, as might be expected.

The Church of England needs more men like Burgon, who hold fast to the authority of the Word of God. The Catholic Church could do with a few as well.



Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Myth of the Muslim Tide, by Doug Sanders



Doug Sanders, The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West? 2012 Vintage Books


This is such an excellent book. I have grown so tired over the years of the hysterical anti-Muslin rhetoric I hear on the internet. Some of this nonsense, such as the claim of a Muslim 'demographic timebomb' I have often tried to counter myself. Doug Sanders addresses various myths about Islam in the west, showing that Islamophobic claims are simply not supported by the facts. He is not uncritical of Islam and acknowledges that the presence of Muslims in the west does raise difficult issues, but these issues must be addressed with a cool head and without alarmism.

Before tackling the various myths about Islam, Sanders gives an account of Anders Breivik's atrocity. He brings this up because prior to carrying out his massacre, Breivik wrote a manifesto which used the standard Islamaphobic arguments that can be found in mainstream writers like Mark Steyn and Melanie Phillips. Obviously, Sanders is not accusing the critics of Islam of the monstrous evil of Breivik, but he points out that he was inspired by common claims of the critics of Islam. Breivik was not a Nazi or a Fascist. He held some bizarre ideas, but many of the ideas in his manifesto are things that would be claimed by supporters of UKIP, or presidential candidates like Trump, Cruz or Carson. What I take from this is that when writers continually rehash arguments and claims that are built on fear and anger, this can only lead to violence.

The first issue our author tackles is that of demographics. The Islamophobes claim that Muslims have higher birthrates than Europeans and so will become the majority population in Europe. I was well aware that this was nonsense before reading this book, but Sanders does a great job of marshaling the relevant facts. He points out that there is nothing that requires Muslims to have lots of children, as the Catholic religion does. Many Muslim countries such as Iran and Turkey have low birthrates. The global trend is towards a decline in the Muslim birthrate. The Muslim countries with the highest birthrates are those in Africa, which have less immigration to Europe. When Muslim immigrants come to Europe, they tend to have more children than their neighbours, but this fits the pattern of immigrants having children once they have settled in the host countries. All the evidence suggests that Muslim immigrants are following the pattern of lower birthrates in their host countries. After all, the same economic pressures that lead Europeans to have less children affect Muslims in Europe. The birthrate of Muslims in Europe is falling.

This book is unfortunately written before the recent migrant crisis in Syria. While it is nevertheless very relevant with the heavy internet discussion of Muslim immigration and Trump's ridiculous proposal of a Muslim ban, the author is not able to take the refugee crisis into equation. Does the refugee crisis mean that Sanders arguments are invalidated. I do not think so. While the Syrian crisis will increase the Muslim population in Europe, the refugees are coming from one country and are going to many different destination countries.

One very interesting point that Sanders makes, which is not central to the main arguments, but ought to be of interest to Catholics. It is commonly claimed by conservatives that the decline in European fertility is a result of the decline in religion. However, Sanders points out the uncomfortable truth that the countries in Europe with the highest church attendance, Slovakia and Poland have the lowest birthrates. While France and Sweden, with low church attendance have the highest birthrates. This is very interesting. Perhaps it is somehow a result of Communism, as Ireland bucks this trend, having an high rate of church attendance and an higher birthrate. Incidentally, Bosnia, a Muslim majority country in Europe has a very low birthrate.

Sanders then moves on to questions of culture and assimilation. He assembles polling data to show that Muslims in Europe do identify with the values of their host countries. British Muslims are somewhat less integrated than their co-religionists and identify less with the UK, yet on the whole British Muslims do show a fair degree of patriotism. Contrary to the claim that Muslims never integrate, Sanders points out that a quarter of Muslim women in France are married to a non-Muslim. It is also claimed that Muslims in Europe form isolated communities and no-go areas. Sanders argues that where this is the case, it is down to economic exclusion and not religion. Sanders points out that despite such problems, a lot of young Muslim people are succeeding academically in schools and colleges. Yet many other Muslim children far poorly in European schools. He argues that two factors are at work; an immigrant drive to succeed and an education system and labour market that throws up many obstacles to success.

It is claimed that Muslims in the west support terror attacks. Sander assembles polling date that contradicts this. The subject of Sharia law comes up a lot on Twitter, usually raised by people who know almost nothing about the subject. Sanders points out that the establishment of Sharia courts in the west is not about Muslims wanting to impose their laws but is about private arbitration within the Muslims community. Catholics and Jews also have their own religious tribunals. He expresses concern about the implications of women being disadvantaged by such private justice. He explains that western societies can decide either to prevent such arbitration, or else to regulate it. He denies that Muslims want Sharia to be imposed in the west. This is simply not what polls show.

Regarding the claim that terrorism is a natural outgrowth of Islam, Sanders looks at the results of counter-terrorism research. The evidence of this research is that while the profile of Jihadist terrorists vary, they tend to be well educated and well assimilated Muslims. They are seldom from segregated communities, but are immersed in western culture, often with good jobs. They tend not to be devout or very religious Muslims, but those who have experimented with sex, drugs and other decadent aspects of western lifestyles. They are rarely recruited within Mosques, but are drawn into close circles of friends. While radical Islamists are associated with terrorism, Sanders argues that Islamic radicals and Jihadists are actually two distinct and rival agendas. He suggests the controversial strategy of co-operation between the authorities and radical Islamists as a way of preventing recruitment to terrorism. That Jihadism has nothing to do with ultraconservative Islam suggests that the British government is very misguided in its policy of addressing 'non-violent extremism' and urging integration as the solution to Islamic terrorism. Segregated communities and ultraconservatism may be problems, but if Sanders is right and everything I have read confirms he is, addressing them will not prevent Jihadist recruitment and might actually increase it.

In the third section of the book, entitled "We've Been Here Before," our author looks back in history at previous waves of migration. He demonstrates that the same fears of Muslim immigration were directed at Jewish and Catholic immigrants. Previous generations of Americans believed that Jewish and Catholic immigrants could never assimilate to the American way of life and that their beliefs were antithetically opposed to the American constitution. Sometimes when this comparison is made, it is objected that those prejudices were irrational and that Protestant Americans in the 19th and 20th century did not have the reasons to fear Jews and Catholics, as we do Muslims. However, Sanders points out that there were many Jews in the Communist movement. It was easy to suspect that Jewish immigrants might be a Trojan horse of Communist infiltrators. As for Catholics, Ireland had a terrorist problem and the Catholic countries of Europe were falling for Fascism. The fact that Catholics were once the victims of anti-immigrant prejudice makes me feel ashamed to see so many Catholics today promoting fear and distrust toward Muslim immigrants.

As I said, Sanders does have concerns about problems posed by Islamic immigration. He cites the problem of an increasing tendency to adopt a generic transnational Islamic identity. Previous generations had a combined identity of their home country and their adopted country. An Indian Muslim would identify more closely with Indian Hindus than with Muslim immigrants from other countries, but this has increasingly changed as a younger generation finds itself identifying with a new sense of Islam as a people. Related to this, Sanders is deeply concerned about some of the failures of Muslim communities to integrate. He also talks about the privatization of religion and how this is a cause of fundamentalism, as well as a product of secularization.

I would have liked to have seen Sanders say a little bit about Taqiyya (dissimulation), which is usually brought up by Islamophobes whenever Muslims say things that contradict their jaundiced view of Islam. As I said, it is frustrating that this book was written before the present migrant crisis, so we are not able to get Sanders take on the issues posed by Syrian refugees, along with the horrible incident that took place in Cologne. I suspect Sanders will probably write a revised edition of this book soon given its relevance.

The Feast of the Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot

O God, who didst endue thy holy Virgin Paulin-Marie Jaricot with grace to witness a good confession: Grant that we, after her example, may be found ready when the Bridegroom cometh, and enter with him to the marriage feast; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Novenna

Lord, Jesus Christ, You came into the world that we may have life and have it to the full.

Pauline-Marie Jaricot devoted herself to sharing in your work, Establishing the Propagation of the Faith for all who do not know of this Life, and the Living Rosary for those who desire it more abundantly.

Venerable Pauline Jaricot, you who consecrated your life to spreading the kingdom of heaven by serving God and people, intercede for us that God may (insert your intention).

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ who is Lord for ever and ever.

Our Father Hail Mary Glory be

Venerable Pauline Jaricot, pray for us Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.



Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, pray for us and for the Universal Living Rosary Association

The Telegraph: Amber Rudd calls for lower household bills as she warns against Brexit

The Telegraph: Amber Rudd calls for lower household bills as she warns against Brexit


Leaving the European Union would have “unknown” consequences for Britain’s energy security and could harm the interests for UK households, Amber Rudd warns today.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Energy Secretary says that Britain would lose its influence on European energy markets if it leaves the bloc in the upcoming referendum, with potentially dire consequences.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

God's Plan for Victory, by Rousas Rushdoony



Postmillennialism is the view that the thousand year reign of Christ in Revelation 20 is fulfilled before Christ's Second Coming. It sees a progressive establishment of the Kingdom of God over the world through the spread of the Gospel and the growth of the Church. Rushdoony advocates the Theonomic form of Postmillennialism, which adds to this Gospel optimist a belief that Biblical law is the blueprint for the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the world.

This is one of a number of Postmillennial books that I have been reading lately. I am attracted to Postmillennialism because of it's optimism. I am weary of the pessismistic tone of so many Christian bloggers who predict either World War Three, secular totalitarianism or the conquest of Europe by Islam. I see little faith in the power of the Gospel to win souls in the Christian blogsphere, particularly the High Church (Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican) blogsphere.

Postmilliennialism is a Protestant theory, but I don't think it is contrary to Catholic teaching. One can find Postmillennial tendencies in Catholicism, such as predictions of an 'age of peace' following the conversion of Russia, according to Our Lady of Fatima and the concept of Christ's Social Kingship. Some Catholics dismiss Postmillennialism as a form of 'Millennarianism,' but it must be remembered that Augustinian Amillennialism is itself a form of Amillennialism. Most Postmillennialists agree with Amillennialists that the Kingdom of God came and began with the work and exaltation of Christ. Where they differ is in seeing a more concrete manifestation of that Kingdom on Earth prior to the Second Coming. I think a Catholic Postmillennialism would have a slightly different flavour to Protestant Postmillennialism. It would place a big emphasis on the Social Kingship of Christ, the heavenly rule and intercession of the saints and the role of Blessed Mary as Queen of the Universe.


Rushdoony's book is very short. It is not a theological treatise on Postmillennialism, but a sort of manifesto. It does not provide Scriptural argumentation for this position, but explains the implications of this theory for the Christian life and the role of Christians in society. It should be read alongside a more exegetical book on this subject, such as Keith Mathison's Postmillennialism.

National Review: The Rise of the Doomsday Conservatives

National Review: The Rise of the Doomsday Conservatives

Article by Jim Geraghty

"But if you think a strong national defense, strong family values, free-market economics, and respect for the rule of law only benefit white America, and can only be preserved by them, you’re out of your mind. Try telling the 233,000 African-American members of the military that they’re incapable of keeping Americans safe. Tell the 42 percent of Asian-Americans who profess faith in Christ that their lives don’t preserve and promote Judeo-Christian values. Tell the 55,000 Hispanic police officers that they’re culturally incapable of upholding the rule of law. Tell the immigrants starting 520 new businesses per month that they can’t strengthen American capitalism. According to apocalyptic conservatism, Clarence Thomas, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Thomas Sowell are part of the problem, not the solution.

The Doomsday Conservatives contend we’re living in a genuine dark age of oppression of speech, at a time when Alex Jones is on 160 stations, Glenn Beck has his own television network, and Mark Levin’s books repeatedly top the New York Times bestseller lists. West concludes that the crisis she sees took hold when the American People “lost our nerve to even talk about immigration or Islam.” Look around you. Do you see a country that is afraid to discuss immigration or Islam?

It’s a bit like when Leftists insist “it’s time for a real national dialogue on race” or “it’s time for a serious national conversation on guns,” when in reality these dialogues have been ongoing for decades, in the halls of Congress and on cable-news shows and at dinner tables across the country. Trump-aligned anti-immigration zealots insist the conversation is nonexistent or suppressed so as to avoid the truth: They aren’t winning the argument."




Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Adam Smith Institute: Seven reasons not to care about high pay

Adam Smith Institute: Seven reasons not to care about high pay

When bad CEOs are sacked or new CEOs who are expected to be good are hired, the firm they work for can become a lot more valuable. Apple lost 5% of its value after Steve Jobs died, about $17.5bn. Microsoft became 8% more valuable after Steve Balmer resigned in 2013 – he represented more than $20bn worth of losses to Microsoft. Angela Arendt’s departure from Burberry in 2013 wiped £536m off the firm’s value; Tesco became £220m more valuable when its CEO merely announced that he would take an active role in managing the firm. Why? Because CEOs make really important decisions that can make or break the firm.

It does get tedious reading complaints about the high salaries of chief executives. Chief executives don't earn this money just because shareholders are feeling generous...

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Transsexual Empire, by Janice Raymond



Janice G. Raymond, The Transsexual Empire, 1979, Beacon Press, Boston

It does feel like the Radical Feminists are the only people to raise their voices against the narcissism of the Transgender movement. These brave women have paid the price. Germaine Greer and Julie Bindle have both been banned from speaking and Germaine Greer has been glitter-bombed for her objectionable views on the topic of transgender.

The main issue that Radical Feminists have to transgenderism is that they hold that gender is an ideology, a definition of female sex roles that have been created by patriarchy to control women. The Transgenderists, on the other hand, want to absolutize these sex roles and use them to define a person as essentially female. Thus, Transgenderism upholds the sexual stereotypes that feminists oppose and is therefore utterly destructive to their cause.

The Transsexual Empire, written in the late Seventies was the first full-length feminist critique of Transgenderism. When it was written, the word transgender had not yet been introduced and the word used was transsexual. The empire in the title refers to the industrial complex of doctors, surgeons and counsellors who control the project of sex changing and act as gatekeepers of the constructed female identity. Our author accuses this medical industry of usurping control over what it means to be female and reinforcing a stereotyped view of womanhood.

Raymond sees the transgenderism primarily as an attempt by men to steal women's creative energy for themselves. It is also an attempt by the male-dominated medical-industrial complex, the Transsexual Empire of the title, to become a kind of male motherhood without any need for female. Thus men are able give birth artificially to women without any need for a truly female mother. Male-to-female Transgenderism is also, in Raymond's view a kind of minstrel show, in which the oppressed group is mocked through imitation. Thus, the exaggerated feminine personas adopted by many transsexuals. Yet despite their femenine mannerisms, she points out that male-to-female transsexuals actually behave in a very masculine way in demanding attention and privileges. What of female-to-male transgender? Raymond points out that this is far less common than female-to-male, but she argues that female-male transsexualism is a kind of tokenism, whereby small numbers of an oppressed group are admitted to the dominant group as an illusion of equity.

This is an old book, but with the increased prominence of the Transgender movement and the complex issues it raises, it is an highly relevant one.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

The Feast of St. Basil the Great and Saint Gregory Nazianzen

O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by the example and teaching of the Bishops Saints Basil and Gregory, grant, we pray, that in humility we may learn your truth and practice it faithfully in charity. 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 Basil and Saint Gregory, pray for us, the churches of the east, and for all bishops and theologians.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Christianity and Capitalism, by Rousas Rushdoony



This is rather more of a pamphlet than a book. It extols the virtues of capitalism, explaining that this economic system is compatible within a Biblical worldview.

Rushdoony identifies in capitalism the virtues of work and thrift, which is rooted in character, the willing to forego pleasure for the improvement of the future. They used to talk a lot about character at the Evangelical Christian school to which I was sent. Our author argues that socialism is a definite threat to this virtue and can only lead to ruin. He demonstrates that Jesus' teaching is in no way an endorsement of socialism.

This is a good book, though with its short length, it does not go into any great depth. I think there is some historical anachronism in Rushdoony connecting capitalism with the Puritans, who were possibly more medieval in their economic views.

The Feast of Mary the Mother of God




O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation, grant, we pray, that we may experience the intercession of her, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life, 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. -


The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
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 Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins,
pray for us.
Mother of Christ,
pray for us.
Mother of divine grace,
pray for us.
Mother most pure,
pray for us.
Mother most chaste,
pray for us.
Mother inviolate,
pray for us.
Mother undefiled,
pray for us.
Mother most amiable,
pray for us.
Mother most admirable,
pray for us.
Mother of good counsel,
pray for us.
Mother of our Creator,
pray for us.
Mother of our Savior,
pray for us.
Virgin most prudent,
pray for us.
Virgin most venerable,
pray for us.
Virgin most renowned,
pray for us.
Virgin most powerful,
pray for us.
Virgin most merciful,
pray for us.
Virgin most faithful,
pray for us.
Mirror of justice,
pray for us.
Seat of wisdom,
pray for us.
Cause of our joy,
pray for us.
Spiritual vessel,
pray for us.
Vessel of honor,
pray for us.
Singular vessel of devotion,
pray for us.
Mystical rose,
pray for us.
Tower of David,
pray for us.
Tower of ivory,
pray for us.
House of gold,
pray for us.
Ark of the Covenant,
pray for us.
Gate of Heaven,
pray for us.
Morning star,
pray for us.
Health of the sick,
pray for us.
Refuge of sinners,
pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted,
pray for us.
Help of Christians,
pray for us.
Queen of angels,
pray for us.
Queen of patriarchs,
pray for us.
Queen of prophets,
pray for us.
Queen of apostles,
pray for us.
Queen of martyrs,
pray for us.
Queen of confessors,
pray for us.
Queen of virgins,
pray for us.
Queen of all saints,
pray for us.
Queen conceived without Original Sin,
pray for us.
Queen assumed into Heaven,
pray for us.
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
pray for us.
Queen of peace,
pray for us.

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

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we Thy Servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal happiness. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.



Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray that our deification in Christ may be completed.