Friday, 28 April 2017

The Feast of Saint Catherine of Sienna

O God, who set Saint Catherine of Siena on fire with divine love in her contemplation of the Lord's Passion and her service or your Church, grant, through her intercession, that your people, participating in the mystery of Christ, may ever exult in the revelation of his glory. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever.

O great St. Catherine of Siena, glory of the Dominican Order, who served the sick and suffering in time of plague and brought back the exiled popes from Avignon to Rome, pray for us that we may have some measure of your courage and self sacrifice. Amen

Blessed be the name of God!

Litany of Saint Catherine of Sienna

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, our mother,
pray for us.
St. Dominic, glorious Patriarch, etc.
St. Catherine of Siena,
St. Catherine benevolent mother of the poor,
St. Catherine, kind mother of the suffering,
St. Catherine, merciful mother of the sick,
St. Catherine, refuge of the sorrowful,
St. Catherine, intercessor for sinners,
St. Catherine, rose pf patience,
St. Catherine, model of humility,
St. Catherine, lily of chastity,
St. Catherine, vessel of graces,
St. Catherine, zealous promoter of the honor of God,
St. Catherine, luster of holiness,
St. Catherine, example of mildness,
St. Catherine, glory of the Order of Preachers,
St. Catherine, fruitful mother of spiritual children,
St. Catherine, promoter of peace,
St. Catherine, terror of the evil spirits,
St. Catherine, follower of Jesus,
St. Catherine, who didst give the blossoms of thy innocent youth
to the service of thy Heavenly Spouse,
St. Catherine, who didst lead an angelic life in human flesh,
St. Catherine, who didst tear thy virginal flesh with scourges,
St. Catherine, whom Jesus, Himself, did feed with His Body and Blood,
St. Catherine, who didst exchange thy heart with the Heart of Jesus,
St. Catherine, who was blest with His Holy Wounds,
St. Catherine, who was taken to Heaven to the celestial nuptials,
St. Catherine, who didst receive a hundredfold, reward for all thy labors and merits,

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.

Pray for us, O glorious Virgin, St. Catherine
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray.
O God, who didst enable Blessed Catherine, graced with the special privilege of virginity,
and patience, to overcome the assault of evil spirits, and to stand unshaken in the love of
Thy Name, grant we beseech Thee, that after her example treading under foot the wickedness
of the world, and overcoming the wiles of all enemies, we may safely pass onward to Thy glory.
Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Saint Catherine of Sienna, pray for us, for Italy, for all Dominicans and for Pope Francis.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Feast of Saint Louis De Montfort

O God, who willed to direct the steps of the Priest Saint Louis along the way of salvation and of the love of Christ, in the company of the Blessed Virgin, grant us, by his example, that, meditating on the mysteries of your love, we may strive tirelessly for the building up of your Church. 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.

A Litany to St. Louis De Montfort

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.

Hail Mary
pray for us!
Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort
pray for us!
Ardent disciple of Jesus Christ the Incarnate Wisdom,
pray for us!
Eloquent preacher of the Cross,
pray for us!
Singer of the praises of the Sacred Heart,
pray for us!
Loving slave of Jesus in Mary,
pray for us!
Faithful son of the handmaid of the Lord,
pray for us!
Apostle of the Most Holy Rosary,
pray for us!
Preacher of the Mother of the Redeemer,
pray for us!
Servant of the poor and the afflicted,
pray for us!
Man of solitude and prayer,
pray for us!
Wonder of mortification,
pray for us!
Model of priests and missionaries,
pray for us!
Fervent minister of the Holy Eucharist,
pray for us!
Fearless champion of truth,
pray for us!
Restorer of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament,
pray for us!
Marvel of poverty and abandonment to Divine Providence,
pray for us!
Teacher of the people of God,
pray for us!
Founder of Religious congregations,
pray for us!
Apostle of the end times,
pray for us!
Obedient collaborator with the Pope and Bishops,
pray for us!

Thou seest the Face of God:
obtain for us perseverance in the faith.
Thou shinest within Infinite Charity:
obtain for us the gift of pure love.
Thou livest in the New Jerusalem:
obtain for us the spirit of prayer.
Thou standst before the throne of the Lamb:
obtain for us the wisdom of the Cross.
Thou contemplate the Mother of the Lord:
obtain for us true devotion to Mary.
Thou dwellst with the Apostles of Christ:
obtain for us missionary zeal.
Thou sharest in the communion of Saints:
obtain for us love for the Church.
Thou art seated at the Table of the Kingdom:
obtain for us the crown of glory.
Thou art a powerful intercessor before the Throne of God:
hear our prayers.

(Here make your intentions in silence).

Let us pray.

O God, Who in the power of the Holy Spirit hast made Saint Louis-Marie an ardent apostle of Christ Crucified and a faithful son of the Virgin Mary; Grant that through his example and intercession we may be renewed in the spirit of our baptism and be always faithful to Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit. One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Saint Louis De Montfort, pray for us, that we may be more devoted to the Blessed Virgin.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Summer Shield

Father Ed's Blog: Christians need not apply

Father Ed's Blog: Christians need not apply

"This week the ugly face of modern British bigotry was exposed. And again the intolerance came, not from Christian quarters as we are led to believe, but was aimed squarely at them. How the media gunned for Tim Farron over his personal views on sex. He was hounded aggressively until cornered then given a clear ultimatum: publicly endorse the moral values of the sexual revolution/gay lobby or face the consequences and be damned.

The witch hunt was the more alarming given that Farron’s voting record proves he is no threat to LGBT causes. This was not about his being problematic but a test of his orthodoxy; when push came to shove would he side with the teaching of the faith, that sex has a procreative purpose and belongs in marriage, or concede to the secular consensus that sex is for gratification with no questions asked? The message is crystal clear; a luke warm faith that bends to secular will is, just about, acceptable but a strong Christian faith is now anathema and will not be tolerated."

It's a bit surreal that it's the leader of the Liberal Democrats who has been the victim of a LGBT witch hunt. What saddens me is that many Tories have joined with the LGBT thought police in using the issue to attack Farron. Conservatives ought to be respectful of religious convictions.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

CapX: Don’t bet on a Tory landslide quite yet

CapX: Don’t bet on a Tory landslide quite yet

by George Trefgarne

"There are, in my view, five reasons to be cautious about a total rout.

The first is the localised nature of our Parliamentary system. It is all very well citing the Tories’ 25 per cent poll lead, but the ultimate result will depend on where those votes are. Many of them will be piled up, somewhat uselessly, in existing Tory safe seats or in ultra-safe Labour or SNP ones.

By contrast, there are many seats, especially in the West country, in university and spa towns, which were held by the Lib Dems only two years ago and might not be so safe. The polls suggest that a Lib Dem recovery is underway, membership is rocketing, and a leaked memo from the Tory guru Lynton Crosby only three weeks ago suggested the Lib Dems could take 27 seats from the Conservatives.

In addition to which, the use of new technology, such as social media, hyper-localised digital advertising, targeted polling and individually customised mail shots actually mean local factors are more important in General Elections than they used to be. Just look at the rise and fall of figures such as Zac Goldsmith and Douglas Carswell, both of whom relied heavily on social media in their campaigns."

The Secret Barrister: UKIP’s “Integration Agenda” is a masterclass in legal ignorance and shameless racism

The Secret Barrister: UKIP’s “Integration Agenda” is a masterclass in legal ignorance and shameless racism

"By “face covering”, UKIP plainly intends to target the “niqab” (or, as Kippers inaccurately often refer to it, the burkha), in an emulation of the ban enacted in France in 2010. The problem with such laws, as France has discovered, is that in order to maintain the façade that this is not an attack on a particular group of people, rather a general principle, you have to ban all face coverings. Which means prima facie outlawing balaclavas, motorcycle helmets, Halloween masks, gimp suits, zentais (those all-in-one spandex body suits beloved of stag parties abroad) and football mascots, and then working backwards to create exemptions to avoid the law being utterly unworkable. UKIP has today spent significant effort responding to questions as to whether large, face-obscuring hats as worn on Ladies Day will be criminalised, and whether the ban would include beekeepers. Whatever your position on the liberal principles at play, the practical flaws with such laws are obvious."

New Atlanticist: Making the Case for Multilateralism

New Atlanticist: Making the Case for Multilateralism

World leaders must reaffirm the importance of a cooperative international system and the tangible benefits to all stakeholders, Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank (EIB), said at the Atlantic Council on April 21.

While the surge of populism throughout Europe—in response to terrorism and economic stagnation—means that “renationalization is visible,” particularly in France during an election year, Hoyer insisted that when “the cooperative approach and the multilateral approach is being put into question in an irresponsible way… it is important to explain again the values of international cooperation.”

The Guardian| The doom-mongers got it wrong: the centre is holding in Europe

The Guardian| The doom-mongers got it wrong: the centre is holding in Europe

by Joris Luyendijk

"How many more European elections before Brits and Americans stop projecting Brexit and Trump on to Europe? Ever since British voters stunned the country, the world and – probably – themselves by voting to leave the EU, the British press has all but reduced politics in Europe to the “who’s next?” question. After Donald Trump’s election those parts of the American media still interested in the EU joined the fray: surely if America and Britain can bring populists to power, this must now be a trend that the rest of the west will follow?

But then Europeans started to vote. First Austria chose a Green president over a nationalist one. Then the populist PVV party of Geert Wilders received a paltry 15% of the vote in the Dutch general elections. And now the unapologetically Europhile Emmanuel Macron has come out on top in the first round of the French elections, setting him on course for victory against Marine Le Pen next month. The next European elections are in Germany, where all traditional parties are solidly pro-EU. The new Eurosceptic party Alternative für Deutschland is mired in divisions, infighting and confusion."

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Feast of Saint Mark

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast instructed thy holy Church with the heavenly
doctrine of thy Evangelist Saint Mark; Give us grace that. being not like
children carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we may be established
in the truth of thy holy Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Mark, pray for us, for the city of Venice and for the Christians of Egypt.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Feast of Saint George

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr George with the virtue of constancy in faith and truth: Grant us in like manner for love of thee to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint George, pray for us, for England, for Georgia and for all soldiers.

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 23rd September

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

National Review: Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Policy Is Dangerous Nonsense

National Review: Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Policy Is Dangerous Nonsense

by David Harsanyi

"Moreover, it seems telling that many of those who are concerned about illegal immigration also seem intent on lowering numbers of legal and potentially high-achieving immigrants from entering the country. The underlying message is that there is a cultural problem, not merely an economic one. “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think . . . ,” White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said not long ago in a jumbled explanation of economic nationalism, “a country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”

The second part of the order cuts down on waivers and exemptions to President Herbert Hoover’s Buy American law. It instructs agencies to use American-made goods and services rather than saving taxpayer dollars or searching out the best deals they can. This is how we incentivize rent-seeking and cronyism. Until a couple of months ago, this is what Republicans used to call “picking winners and losers.” If you thought General Motors shouldn’t be bailed out because it couldn’t compete in a global marketplace, why would you support a state-impelled “Buy American, Hire American” when it comes to steel, for example?"

Campaigning in Stevenage Town Centre

Yours truly in the middle wearing a bomber jacket.

I was campaigning yesterday with Stevenage Conservatives and Stephen McPartland MP. I've criticised Theresa May and Brexit an awful lot, but I'm too dyed in the wool Tory not to campaign. Strangely, I become a really enthusiastic Tory as soon as I get out and start campaigning.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Baltic Fire Support

Returning to Reality, by Paul Tyson

Paul Tyson, Returning to Reality: Christian Platonism for our Times, 2015 The Lutterworth Press, Cambridge

Paul Tyson makes a case for a revival of Christian Platonism. I think I agree with Tyson that a Christianized form of Platonism is a good thing, though in a number of ways, I found this a frustrating book. I think it would have been helpful for readers for Tyson to have made some more direct comparison between Christian Platonism and other forms of Christian metaphysics, such as Thomism. Tyson spends a good deal of the book critiquing modernity. That is a worthy task, but well read Christians are likely to have read a number of books attacking both modernity and postmodernity, so it felt somewhat tedious.

Tyson makes reference a view times to John Milbank, but otherwise he does not make any mention of Radical Orthodoxy. This is somewhat disingenuous, as it is very clear that Tyson has been influenced by the Radical Orthodoxy school of theology. This is seen most clearly in his identification of Blessed Duns Scotus as the originator of modern thought with his advocacy of the univocity of being. Personally, I am not convinced of the univocity of being, but I am very uncomfortable with the way Radical Orthodoxy has turned Blesed Duns Scotus into a theological Darth Vader. Scotus made many wonderful contributions to theology. Might one not alternatively blame St. Thomas Aquinas' empiricism (and Tyson does hint at this as a root cause later in the book). Tyson does acknowledge that some scholars have questioned the approach he takes to Scotus, but it might have been better if he had avoided that whole avenue of controversial historiography.

What was most frustrating was the way our author connects adopting Christian Platonism with a left-wing anti-capitalist stance. I find it puzzling that he makes the connection between Christian Platonism and radical politics, as the Patristic Fathers did not share his politicized approach to the faith. Many of the anti-Nicene Fathers were positive in their views of the Roman empire and had no interest in political change. The post-Nicene Fathers were even more accepting of the Christianized empire.

I think Tyson is mostly on the right lines, but this book could have been better.

Ukraine Crisis: More than 90% of citizens consider themselves ethnic Ukrainians – survey results

Ukraine Crisis: More than 90% of citizens consider themselves ethnic Ukrainians – survey results

92% of citizens of Ukraine consider themselves ethnic Ukrainians, according to the Razumkov Center survey. 6% of the respondents consider themselves ethnic Russians, 1.5% account for other ethnic groups. It has been the highest recorded rate concerning Ukrainian self-determination since Ukraine gained independence. Russian annexation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas accelerated the self- identification process, say sociologists.

According to 2001 census, 78.8% citizens called themselves Ukrainian, in 2015 (according to Razumkov Center) it was 86%, and today it is 92%. According to the survey, the percentage of those who consider themselves Ukrainian is higher among the youngest audience – from 18 to 22 years old (96.2%). Among those over 60 it is less than 90%.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Feast of Saint Anselm

O GOD, who hast enlightened thy Church by the teaching of thy servant Anselm: Enrich us evermore, we beseech thee, with thy heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses who by their life and doctrine will set forth the truth of thy salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Anselm pray for us, and for England.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Bloomberg: May's Latest Brexit Gambit Is Clever But Not Smart

Bloomberg: May's Latest Brexit Gambit Is Clever But Not Smart

by Therese Raphael

"Third, there is something troubling about the way May framed her decision in a Tuesday speech -- something that sounds too close to an attempt to stifle debate.

In defending her decision, the prime minister pointed a finger at the opposition parties (and by extension, those in her own party who are dragging their feet on Brexit). She said division jeopardized the chances of getting a good Brexit deal and accused her detractors, as she has in the past, of playing political games.

In fact, the entire case for new elections was couched in terms reminiscent of the way Winston Churchill rallied the country for a war of survival.

"There should be unity here in Westminster," May said. "Instead there is division. The country should be coming together, but Westminster is not." The upshot: Those who aren't with me are against me, and those who are against me are against the country.

Brexit is historic and complicated and consequential. But it isn't an existential battle against an external foe. It isn't disloyal to question the government's strategy or oppose it. The furniture in the House of Commons is arranged in two facing rows precisely because debate and challenge are central to democracy."

I'm really conflicted by this election. If I'm asked to help campaign with the local Conservatives I will, but it will be with a sense of weariness.

Helicopter Exercises

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Daily Signal: Dignity and Fairness Matter for Every Child in the Locker Room

The Daily Signal: Dignity and Fairness Matter for Every Child in the Locker Room

by Kelly Fiedorek

"But substantially missing from this national conversation are the indispensable voices of the vast majority of children, and particularly girls. Ignoring their voices results in a failure to advance true equality and justice and violates children’s fundamental rights. Indeed, not one child’s privacy should be compromised.

And yet, young girls across the country—including in Illinois and Ohio, as just two examples—have been subjected to anxiety and humiliation when their school administrators secretly decided to open the schools’ locker rooms, restrooms, or showers to the opposite sex.

In Texas, 10-year-old Shiloh Satterfield recently described to the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee how uncomfortable and anxious she feels now that her school has changed its policies to let boys into the school’s intimate facilities."

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Blaze: Christian parents, your kids aren’t equipped to be public school missionaries

The Blaze: Christian parents, your kids aren’t equipped to be public school missionaries

by Matt Walsh

Fifth, related to the last point, your child is not ready to be a missionary. He cannot be a “witness” to others until he himself has been properly formed in the faith. It’s no surprise that most of the young “missionaries” we commission and send forth to minister to the lost souls in public schools quickly become one of the lost souls. We don’t need to sit around theorizing about whether the missionary approach to education is wise or effective. We already know that it isn’t. The vast majority of the parents who think their kids are being “salt and light” to their peers in school are simply oblivious to the fact that their little Bible warriors have long since defected and joined the heathens. You can hardly blame the kids for this. They’re just kids, after all. They aren’t warriors. Warriors are trained and disciplined. Children are neither of those things. I imagine this is why St. Paul didn’t travel to Athens and Corinth recruiting toddlers to help him carry the Gospel into pagan lands.

Education is supposed to prepare a child to carry the torch of truth. That is, he’s supposed to be ready to carry it once his education has been completed. This should not be a “throw them into the deep end to see if they can swim” strategy. They can’t swim. You and I can barely swim, morally and spiritually speaking, and we’re adults. Do you expect your child to be more spiritually mature and morally courageous than you?

I have always said the same thing. The idea that Christian children can evangelize their peers in secular schools is one of the worst myths in Evangelicalism. I am so glad my parents sent me to an independent Evangelical school which grounded me in the absolute truth of the Bible.

Secular education poisons children.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the Cosmic Christ, by Alex Terego

This book offers a useful biographical sketch on the life of Pierre Teilard de Chardin, followed by a summary of his key theological ideas. There is something of an overemphasis on the conflict between Teilard de Chardin and the Church authorities. It seems to see his challenge to contemporary Church teaching as being a virtue in itself. No sympathy is shown to the legitimate concerns of the Church in preventing heresy.

No mention is made in this book of Teilhard de Chardin's support for eugenics. It's funny how books celebrating Teilhard de Chardin seem to avoid engaging with the darker side of his work. I think he had some great things to say, but at times, with his rather authoritarian ideas about human progress, comes across a bit like the NICE men in CS Lewis' That Hideous Strength.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Judaism is not Jewish, by Baruch Maoz

Baruch Maoz, Judaism is not Jewish: A Friendly Critique of the Messianic Movement, 2003 Christian Focus

That really is a poor choice of title. Questioning the identity of an oppressed people is crassly insensitive. This is not at all what Maoz is trying to do, but the title of the book implies it. I suspect this provocative (and tasteless) title was chosen by the publisher rather than Maoz. Title aside, this book provides what the author, Jewish Christian Baruch Maoz describes as a 'friendly critique' of the Messianic Jewish movement. I would suggest this is actually a harsh criticism, rather than a friendly critique. Maoz believes that the Messianic Jewish movement has fallen short in it's obsession with maintaining a Jewish identity and has lost sight of its Christian identity. He believes that the emphasis of the Messianic movement on the Torah, the law of the Old Testament has led to a return of the Galatian error. He does clarify at the beginning that his critique does not apply to most Messianic congregations in Israel (where the author has ministered). This is unsurprising as being in a thoroughly Jewish culture, Messianic Jews in Israel have no insecurity about their Jewishness. However, he warns that the aberrations of American Messianic Judaism are being imported to Israel.

As well as critiquing the theology of the Messianic movement, our author also makes some practical observations about the reality of its congregations. He points out that they are overwhelmingly attended by Gentile Christians. The Messianic movement, he says, has been hugely unsuccessful at evangelizing Jews and most Jewish converts to Christianity have nothing to do with it. He suggests this is in large part down to Messianic congregations offering a bizarre, mutilated and inauthentic for of Jewish worship. He observes that the dancing and flag waving in Messianic assemblies would be unheard of in a Jewish synagogue. He makes the interesting observation that Messianic Judaism often attracts Gentiles with a tenuous claim to Jewish ancestry. I met somebody like that once. He claimed that his family were descended from Jews in Scotland who had converted to Christianity. He thus began calling himself a Messianic Jew. Later he renounced Jesus Christ and decided he wanted to convert to Orthodox Judaism.

Baruch Maoz's writing style is rather irritating. He tends to repeat himself a lot and labour each point with as many words as possible. In general he writes as though he were preaching a sermon, which is probably not the right tone for such a book as this. I think he makes many good points. Much of the Messianic Jewish movement is very problematic in it's emphasis on the Torah and it's emphasis on Jewishness at the expense of a trans-cultural Christian identity. Yet his critique is very much grounded in the traditional Reformed reading of Paul. This interpretation reads Paul and Judaism in the light of the Augustinian-Pelagian controversy. Maoz makes no reference to alternative readings of Paul or Judaism, such as NT Wright's 'New Perspective' and EP Sanders work on Palestianian Judaism. While those ideas have their only problems, treating Paul and ancient Judaism as if their message is uncontested is somewhat disingenuous. It is interesting to consider whether Messianic Judaism and it's use of the Torah might be seen differently in the light of contemporary readings of Paul.

Baruch Maoz says at one point that the Gospel will be victorious and triumphant. While he does not state his eschatological views, his optimism suggests that he is Postmillennial. That is a viewpoint I would very much commend.

I must admit, thinking about the rather naive, romantic Judeophilia and Pro-Israelism of the Messianic Movement rather makes me feel a bit nostalgic for upbringing in the Charismatic movement which tended to like all that stuff.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Spirit of Teamwork

Euromaidan Press| Making Ukraine mono-ethnic – Putin’s greatest achievement and most fateful failure

Euromaidan Press| Making Ukraine mono-ethnic – Putin’s greatest achievement and most fateful failure

"Ninety-two percent of Ukrainian citizens now consider themselves ethnic Ukrainians, an unprecedented figure that is the product of Vladimir Putin’s aggression against their country and one that highlights the fundamental weakness of ethnic Russian national identities not only there but elsewhere — including in the Russian Federation.

According to a new poll by Kyiv’s Razumkov Center, 92 percent of Ukrainian citizens now consider themselves ethnic Ukrainians, six percent say they are ethnic Russians, and 1.5 percent identify as members of other ethnic groups.

Among young people in Ukraine, the share identifying as ethnic Ukrainians approaches 100 percent, the pollsters said, while among those over the age of 60, the figure was less than 90 percent but still far higher than at any point in the past."

Friday, 14 April 2017

ConservativeHome: The triumph of the Cross

ConservativeHome: The triumph of the Cross

by Andrew Gimson

"In Europe, numbers of Christians are falling. In many other places, they are growing. Between 1960 and 2000, evangelical Protestantism grew at three times the world’s population rate, and twice as fast as Islam.

Pew expects Muslims to catch up with Christians in total numbers in the coming decades. But fertility rates between the two religions are converging.

China, which before 1949 had four million Christians, in 2010 had 67 million, a number which is growing at seven per cent a year. Africa, which had 8.7 million Christians in 1900, now has 390 million, a number which is expected to grow to 633 million in 2025.

South Korea, which was two per cent Christian in 1945, is now 29.3 per cent Christian.

And sizeable numbers of conversions from Islam to Christianity have taken place in many countries, including Morocco, Nigeria and Indonesia.

The story is one of vitality, not of enfeeblement and petering out. Nigeria contains perhaps 19 million Roman Catholics and 18 million Anglicans. In Iran, there are now between 100,000 and 500,000 Christians, most of whom are evangelical Protestants."

Christ defeated the power of Satan on the cross and is ascended to His Father's throne. He is the Lord of History and we can expect the Christian faith to grown and conquer everywhere.

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 14th April

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

Nick Tyrone: I’m not a huge fan of Boris, but the latest criticism of him is just weird

Nick Tyrone: I’m not a huge fan of Boris, but the latest criticism of him is just weird

"Tim Farron came out in suppport of the US airstrikes inn Syria. Yet when Boris, the UK foreign secretary lest we forget, backed this up by walking away from talks with Lavrov, Farron said that Boris had made a mistake; even been played for a fool. I don’t understand this position at all."

It's all about scoring points without thinking hard about foreign policy questions.

Third Collect for Good Friday

O Merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live: Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word: and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer 1662

Postmillennialism Today: EASTER AND VICTORY

Postmillennialism Today: EASTER AND VICTORY

"A mighty transformation takes place in Christ’s ministry as a direct result of his resurrection. The outpouring of the Spirit (Ac 2:34–36) powerfully exhibits his regal authority. This celebrates his coronation by distributing gifts to his subjects, in the manner of a warrior-king returning triumphantly to his capital city upon his victory over the enemy (Ac 2:33; Eph 4:7–12; Cf. Ge 14; 1Sa 30:26–31; Jdg 5:30. See: Isa 53:12). It promises his royal assistance to his people (Ro 8:34).

Since his ascension Christ’s enthronement is an accomplished fact. The New Testament is replete with the confident refrain of his coronation and enthronement. We are not awaiting his future kingship: He is now already enthroned. Indeed, in the New Testament the most quoted or alluded to Old Testament passage is Psalm 110. That passage records God the Father’s word to Christ the Son: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” In various forms it appears sixteen times in the New Testament (Mt 22:44; 26:64; Mk 12:36; 14:62; 16:19; Lk 20:42–43; 22:69; Ac 2:34–35; Ro 8:34; 1Co 15:25; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12)."

The Litany of the Passion

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.

Jesus, brought before Annas and Caiphas,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, struck in the face by a servant,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, accused by false witnesses,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, declared guilty of death,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, spat upon,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, blindfolded,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, smitten on the cheek,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, thrice denied by Peter,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, delivered up to Pilate,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, despised and mocked by Herod,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, clothed in a white garment,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, rejected for Barabbas,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, torn with scourges,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, bruised for our sin,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, esteemed a leper,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, covered with a purple robe,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, crowned with thorns,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, struck with a reed upon the head,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, demanded for crucifixion by the Jews,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, condemned to an ignominious death,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, given up to the will of Thine enemies,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, loaded with the heavy weight of the Cross,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, led like a sheep to the slaughter,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, stripped of Thy garments,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, fastened with nails to the cross,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, reviled by the malefactors,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, promising Paradise to the penitent thief,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, commending St. John to Thy Mother as her son,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, declaring Thyself forsaken by Thy Father,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, in Thy thirst given gall and vinegar to drink,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, testifying that all things written concerning
Thee were accomplished,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, commending Thy Spirit into the hand of Thy Father,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, obedient even to the death of the Cross,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, pierced with a lance,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, made a propitiation for us,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, taken down from the Cross,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, laid in the sepulcher,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, rising gloriously from the dead,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, ascending into Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, our advocate with the Father, Have mercy on us.
Jesus, sending down on Thy disciples the Holy Ghost,
the Paraclete, Have mercy on us.
Jesus, exalting Thy Mother above the choirs of Angels,
Have mercy on us.
Jesus, Who shalt come to judge the living and the dead,
Have mercy on us.
Be merciful, Spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful, Graciously hear us, O Lord.

From all evil, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
From all sin, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
From anger, hatred, and every evil will, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
From war, famine, and pestilence, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
From all dangers of mind and body, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
From everlasting death, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy most pure Conception, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy miraculous Nativity, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy humble Circumcision, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy Baptism and holy fasting, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy labors and watchings, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy cruel scourging and crowning, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy thirst, and tears, and nakedness, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy precious death and Cross, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension,Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
Through Thy sending forth the Holy Ghost,
the Paraclete, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
In the day of judgment, Lord Jesus,
Deliver us.
We sinners beseech Thee, hear us.

That Thou would spare us,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would pardon us,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would vouchsafe to bring us to true penance,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would vouchsafe mercifully to pour
into our hearts the grace of the Holy Spirit,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would vouchsafe to defend and propagate Thy holy Church,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would vouchsafe to preserve and increase
all societies assembled in Thy Holy Name,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would vouchsafe to bestow upon us true peace,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would vouchsafe to give us perseverance
in grace and in Thy holy service,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would vouchsafe to deliver us from unclean thoughts,
the temptations of the devil, and everlasting damnation,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would vouchsafe to unite us to the company of Thy Saints,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou would vouchsafe graciously to hear us,

Lamb of God, Who takest 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, O Lord.
Christ, hear us; Christ, graciously hear us.

V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and praise Thee:
R . Because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

Let Us Pray.

Almighty and eternal God, Who hast appointed Thine only-begotten
Son the Savior of the world, and hast willed to be appeased with
His blood, grant that we may so venerate this price of our salvation,
and by its might be so defended upon earth from the evils of this
present life, that in Heaven we may rejoice in its everlasting fruit.
Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Tell me the Old, Old Story

Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.


Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,
That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.


Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, if you would really be,
In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.


Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”


A. Katharine Hankey

I first encountered this hymn at a small Reformed Baptist church that I used to attend when I was at college. When I sign it, I always feel nostalgic for a good old Evangelical Gospel proclamation.

The Invaluable Blessings of Liberty: In Transgender Politics, Women are the Real Losers

The Invaluable Blessings of Liberty: In Transgender Politics, Women are the Real Losers

"Unfortunately, bathrooms are not the only area in which the transgender political agenda and the rights of women are in direct conflict. This also occurs in the area of sports. I am 47. I have seen the rise of women’s sports in my own lifetime. Title IX opened the door to women's sports programs in 1972 and required gender equality by the 1978-79 school year. I was in 4th grade that year. I have never been an athlete, but I understand and appreciate the hard fought ground that was gained by female athletes in the 70s and 80s. Fast forward to just a few short years ago. The London Olympics in 2012 were the very first Olympic games in which every participating country had female athletes and the first Olympics in which female athletes competed in every available Olympic sport. Let that sink in for a moment. 2012. Women have had to fight hard to have some semblance of respect and equality in athletics. Yet now in 2017, that ground is being chipped away.

This is where the difference in sex and gender must be recognized as a reality that cannot be denied or assuaged. Gender is a social construct, not a scientific or biological one. The construct of gender is the prescribed behavior within any given culture, be it dress, mannerisms, or other actions that are gender specific. Sex is the biological genetic material that defines and separates the physiology of male and female beyond genitalia. It is scientific and ultimately unchangeable.

Yet, biologically male athletes are now competing against biologically female athletes in women’s sports. Whether it is Fallon Fox shattering eye sockets in the MMA, or the more recent news of Laurel Hubbard shattering national women’s weightlifting records in New Zealand, the stories abound. With everything in me, I do not understand why this is allowed. When a person is born male, he is male at a genetic level. No amount of surgery or artificial hormone usage can change that. Men and women have different bone and muscle masses, different lung capacities, different heart sizes and different amounts of blood circulating through their bodies. During organ transplant surgery of hearts and livers, there is a greater risk of rejection with "cross gender" transplantation. Our bodies naturally recognize the fundamental differences between male and female. Those things are not altered during sex reassignment. So, how are girls supposed to fairly compete for titles and scholarships in high school against genetically male students? How are women’s sports records supposed to be taken seriously if they are set by athletes who are genetically and biologically male? How are female athletes supposed to compete against biologically male athletes without risking serious injury?"

Monday, 10 April 2017

Exercise Ridge Runner 2017

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Vladimir Soloviev: A Russian Newman, by Michel D'Herbigny

This is the classic biography on Vladimir Soloviev, at least from a Catholic perspective. D'Herbigny was the first to make the comparison between the great Russian convert to Catholicism and the famous convert from Anglicanism. Our author acknowledges that there are significant differences between Soloviev and Newman, most especially in that Newman was a clergyman, while Soloviev was a layman. However, they were akin in their deep attachment to the traditions from which they had come. It may also be said that they are alike in the influence they have had on their respective traditions; Newman greatly influenced Anglicanism, while Soloviev had his influence on Orthodoxy, especially in the theology of Sergius Bulgakov.

This book provides some useful background to Russian thought in the 19th century and explains how Soloviev engaged with contemporary debates between Westernizers and Slavophiles, as well as Tolstoy and Soloviev's views on his ideas. It provides a good sketch of Soloviev's intellectual career, looking at his philosophy and ethical views, before dealing with his theology over the course of three chapters. The last of these theological chapters deals with his master work, Russia and the Universal Church, which should be on the reading list of every Catholic. The book ends with a chapter about the ascetic character and personal qualities of the man.

My only significant complaint about this is that it never brings up Soloviev's Sophiology, his ideas about divine wisdom. Nor does it mention his strange mystical encounters with 'Lady Wisdom,' both as a child and as an adult. Sophiology was a key part of his thought and proved to be one of his main influences.

The Palm Sunday Problem: Liturgy vs Theology

One aspect of the western liturgy that I find problematic as theologian is the heavy emphasis on Palm Sunday on the Passion of Christ at the expense of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. If a solemn procession takes place at the beginning of the mass, there are plenty of appropriate Biblical texts used. However, in many churches, there will be just a simple procession, with the waving of palm crosses and that is about it. The rest of the mass switches focus to the arrest, trial and crucifixion of our Lord. The Liturgy of the Hours is better, with morning prayer placing an heavy emphasis on the triumphal entry. However, daytime prayer and evening prayer are Passion-centred. The Anglican liturgy is even worse, with texts in both the Book of Common Prayer and Common Worship focusing on the Passion.

Theologians and Biblical exegetes will inevitably see the significance of the triumphal entry, seeing in it the setting up of the cross as the enthronement of Christ in glory. Christ demonstrates His kingship by coming in humility and accepting suffering and death, finding victory in weakness. By placing so little emphasis on the triumphal entry, the western liturgy risks divorcing the cross from the Kingdom of God. A potential danger of the liturgical emphasis is to make the triumphal entry look like a cruel joke, focusing on the irony of the fickle crowds switching from adoration to calling for Christ's execution.

I completely understand why the Palm Sunday liturgy is the way it is. It makes perfect liturgical sense to focus on the Passion on the Sunday before Easter. Otherwise, no Sunday in Lent would cover the theme of the cross in Lent. To go from the triumphal entry to the resurrection would be awkward if one were to skip the Good Friday liturgy. This is thus a case of liturgy coming into conflict with theology. An important theological theme is played down for liturgical convenience. I can't see an easy way to revise the texts to avoid this dilemma.

Independent: Theresa May's comments on EU migration have freed her from the Eurosceptic right wing of her party

Independent: Theresa May's comments on EU migration have freed her from the Eurosceptic right wing of her party

"It is often argued that Theresa May, whatever her personal beliefs, is the prisoner of the Conservative Party’s right-wing Brexiteers. For Jeremy Corbyn, the aim of the opposition is to fight a “Tory Brexit” in the name of a softer, gentler version, while for Tony Blair the “hard-Brexit Conservative Party” is the reason for trying to stop Britain leaving the EU altogether.

But this week something important didn’t happen. This week the Prime Minister, in comments to journalists on her trip to the Middle East and in talks with Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, hinted that free movement of people between Britain and the EU could continue for a transitional period after Britain leaves in 2019. And what you’d expect to happen – that the Eurosceptic faction of Tory MPs would go bananas – never did."

Arabs and Slavs

CNN| Haley: No political solution in Syria with Assad in power

CNN| Haley: No political solution in Syria with Assad in power

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in an interview airing Sunday on CNN that until Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is out of power, she doesn't see a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
"There's not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime," Haley told "State of the Union" anchor Jake Tapper. "It just -- if you look at his actions, if you look at the situation, it's going to be hard to see a government that's peaceful and stable with Assad."

Haley's remarks come just a day after she warned that the United States was prepared to take further actions in Syria during a special session at the UN following a US military strike against a Syrian air base.

It's excellent to see the US government taking a firm stand against Assad's tyranny and seeking an end to the Syrian civil war.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report April 8th

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

Liberation Theology after the End of History, by Daniel Bell

Daniel M. Bell, Liberation Theology after the End of History: The refusal to cease suffering, 2001 Routledge

I don't care for Radical Orthodoxy. They mostly seem to combine a rather fey Anglo-Catholicism with a romantic Champagne drinking socialism and tend to write with a rather arrogant tone. They are also very nostalgic and I hate nostalgia almost as much as I hate socialism. Nevertheless, they sometimes have interesting things to say, so I read this Radical Orthodox critique of Liberation Theology. Given that I substantially disagree with both the author and the theologians he critiques, it felt rather like watching a Jehovah's Witness debate a Mormon.

Bell starts from a position of hostility to capitalism. In this he is at one with his Liberation Theology opponents. However, he argues that the Liberation Theology movement has some significant flaws. He argues that it falls short in seeing politics as 'statecraft,' thus leaving the political sphere as a religious neutral zone, to which the Church does not participate. He believes that a truly Christian politics should be instantiated in the Church. In Liberation Theology, the Church is left as a sort of supportive cheerleader for liberation, leaving actual political change to secular movements. Our author traces back this shortcoming to the ideas of 'New Christendom' in social Catholic thought in the early Twentieth century. He goes on to look at Liberationist thinking on the concept of justice and finds them problematic. Finally, he argues that Liberation Theology has a problem in the area of forgiveness and the concept of suffering with Christ. Perhaps the discussion on the subject of forgiveness might have benefited from considering the more straightforward question of whether one is bound to forgive an unrepentant person, which seems rather pertinent to the question of forgiving oppressors.

Bell's nostalgia for Medieval Christendom might suggest he is advocating some sort of ecclesiastical theocracy, but it seems more like he is in favour of something like Rod Dreher's 'Benedict Option.' However, rather than St. Benedict, he looks to the St. Bernard and the Cistercians for a model. I'm a bit sceptical for how useful this is. The Cistercians were people comitted to the strictures of a religious life. Can Christian lay people use such a lifestyle as a model for their communities? What is more, the Cistercians co-existed with the Medieval lay rulers of their day. Bell provides no clues as to how the Church can engage with the machinery of the state.

Our author views capitalism as an abominable evil akin to Sauron the Dark Lord. He does not engage with literature which offers a more positive evaluation of capitalism. He references Novak's critique of Liberation Theology, but does not offer any engagement with Novak's Christian defence of capitalism in The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. Bell wants to destroy capitalism, but he offers us no clues as to what economic arrangement would replace it. Thus, he wants to see society torn apart and re-shaped without any kind of plan or vision. This is a kind of nihilism and suggests a somewhat juvenile mindset. He has no liking for 'welfare-state capitalism' and he suggests that Liberation Theologians are rather too willing to accept such a compromise. If so, I am closer in my views to the Liberationists, which is a little scary.

Most of this book seems utterly irrelevant to real world politics. The author is clearly a creature of academia. I always feel frustrated by theologians talking about politics. They have big ideas, but they show little understanding of economics, they have no experience of the world of business and commerce and they have seldom been involved in campaigning for a political party and canvassing ordinary voters.

The Mad Monarchist: The Strong Man or the Monarch?

The Mad Monarchist: The Strong Man or the Monarch?

"It was recently asked of me what I thought of the “strong men” of the right who rose up in the last century, several of which were named, and I thought it worth answering in some detail and adding some names to the list I was given to hopefully present a better picture of my thoughts on the subject. These are those who have come to power in a country with no traditional monarch but who nonetheless remain admired by many on the right end of the political spectrum. As a proponent of “traditional authority”, which is very much out of fashion these days, it can be necessary to support someone who is less than ideal in order to move the needle in a more favorable direction. Some may be good, some may be unsavory but necessary and others may represent no more than a movement of that needle. Sometimes the best that can be said is that they are preferable to the most likely alternative. Of course, it should be obvious to all but I shall say at the outset nonetheless that my first preference is always for the legitimate monarch and nothing or no one can ever justly take their place."

An interesting post from the Mad Monarchist on leaders who today are generally considered unsavoury. I think he is a little bit hard on Horthy. Horthy didn't restore the Hungarian monarchy, but Franco didn't restore the monarchy until after his death either.

I think these dictators were necessary in the days of Bolshevism, before liberal capitalism had got it's act together to mobilize against Communism. I don't think I'd like to see such strong men coming to power today.

I tend to disagree with the Mad Monarchist on most political subjects, but I'm glad he retains his critical stance towards Putin. Too many monarchists fall into the temptation of becoming Putin apologists.

God is a Warrior, by Tremper Longman and Daniel Reid

Tremper Longman III and Daniel G. Reid, Studies in Old Testament Theology: God is a Warrior, 1995 Paternoster Press

This book introduces the reader to the theme of divine warfare in Scripture. In the first chapters, Longman and Reid look at the holy wars fought by Israel in the Old Testament. They do not offer any comment on the ethical implications of the genocidal passages, though Longman dealt with these in the 'four views' book Show No Mercy. They then go on to talk about the tables being turned and God fighting against Israel through her hostile neighbours as an act of judgment. They then look at the use of the imagery of cosmic warfare in Scripture, with Yahweh battling hostile floodwaters and sea monsters. I was very familiar with such imagery, having read Greg Boyd's God at War, which uses such themes to argue for Open Theism, though in a novel manner, combining them with the Gap Theory of creation, which is more associated with Dispensationalist fundamentalism. Unlike Boyd, Longman and Reid do not draw any definite theological implications from those texts.

In the New Testament, our authors look at our Lord's conflict with Satan through both demonic warfare and through His triumph through His death and resurrection. They go on to look at Saint Paul's epistles and how he uses the themes of conflict with cosmic powers and the victory of the believer in Christ. The book concludes with a look at the Apocalypse. The authors do not advocate any one school of interpretation (I think Longman is a Preterist), but they explore the themes of battle and victory in the book.

A lot of readers may feel frustrated that Longman and Reid never actually spell out what theological and pastoral conclusions can be drawn from the texts they study. I understand this is a work of biblical theology and not systematic theology. However, many readers may feel that without being put into some sort of contemporary context, the book is a bit irrelevant to their lives. They could have given us some hints. At times, I couldn't help feeling like Longman and Reid were telling me a lot of Bible stories I had learned at Sunday school!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Backbench: In defence of George Osborne

Backbench: In defence of George Osborne

by Megan McGowan

"George Osborne has never been the nation's sweetheart. For many, he is the ruthless budget-cutter of the Cameron years, a man entirely without empathy who delighted in harping on about his beloved ‘long-term economic plan’.

For liberal Conservatives such as myself, however, he is a bearer of hope.

The news that Osborne is to become Editor of the London Evening Standard inspired shock in both Westminster and beyond, but I find myself comparatively cheerful. The compassionate Conservative agenda came under threat the moment David Cameron resigned in July last year. By taking up the editor’s chair, Osborne now has a platform big enough and influential enough to lead the fight against an obviously imperfect government confused over Brexit and increasingly in thrall to its right-wing."

Great article on the importance of George Osborne providing a voice for moderate compassionate Conservatism.

Friday, 31 March 2017

UBI Empowers the Poor

ConservativeHQ: The Conservative Case for a Minimum Income

ConservativeHQ: The Conservative Case for a Minimum Income

by Ben Hart

So this is certainly a conservative, pro-freedom idea . . . and does not lead to socialism.

In fact, socialism is far more likely to come if there is no social safety net. When people are desperate, they take desperate measures. They end up following Pied Pipers like Hitler, Mao, Lenin, Pol Pot.

Do you want to see Fergusons happening everywhere — open warfare on the streets?

The social safety net is a key pillar of a prosperous civil humane society.

It helps keep the peace.

There is nothing the least bit contradictory about being both in favor of a social safety net that works (not the dysfunctional one we have now) while also being a pedal-to-the-metal, full-throated, unapologetic capitalist.

The Universal Basic Income idea has support on the right as well as the left.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Early Morning Drive

New Atlanticist: US Engagement in the Balkans Seen as Vital

New Atlanticist: US Engagement in the Balkans Seen as Vital

by Ashish Kumar Sen

It is critical for the United States to deepen its engagement in the Balkans—a region that faces threats from terrorists as well as Russia, Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said in Washington on March 21.

In February, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama warned that the Balkan peninsula is in danger of slipping under the influence of Russia if it is ignored by the new administration of US President Donald Trump.

Bushati conceded in an interview with the New Atlanticist that the region faces “some security challenges.” Russia, for example, is trying hard to prevent Balkan states from joining the European Union (EU) and NATO, he said. “When we speak of the Euroatlantic path and the EU accession process, we should take into account the reform process,” he added.

Monday, 27 March 2017| Pope Francis: Pro-Abortion Politicians Ineligible for Communion| Pope Francis: Pro-Abortion Politicians Ineligible for Communion

A letter Pope Francis sent to the bishops of Argentina in late March is getting note from a pro-life Catholic group that says it is encouraging for pro-life advocates because it says pro-abortion politicians should not be eligible for communion in the Catholic Church.

In the letter, Pope Francis directed the Argentinean bishops to govern the Church there following the Aparecida Document.

The text states, in part, “[people] cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals.”

“These are the guidelines we need for this time in history,” the pope wrote to the bishops.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Manual of Marian Devotion

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Manual of Marian Devotion, 2016 TAN Books

One of the things I love about Catholicism is the diversity within it. While the Catholic Church places oligations upon us and requires us to believe specific dogmas, she leaves Catholics at liberty to express their faith in different ways and to adopt various spiritual and devotional practices. Some Catholics frequently make prayerful and meditative use of Scripture through the Lectio Divina, while other Catholics have a spirituality centered on Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. Still other Catholics seek the mystical insights of contemplative prayer. My own spirituality is very much focused on devotion to Mary. That is why I was keen to buy this book. It is part of a series, with the companion volumes a Manual of Spiritual Warfare and a Manual of Eucharistic Devotion.

This attractively leather-bound book is very much in two parts. The first part provides an introduction to the Marian doctrines and the development of Mariology through the saints and Doctors of the Church, as well as details of some Marian apparitions. The second part is a collection of resources, comprising Marian prayers, hymns and a compendium of Marian texts in the liturgy. The selection of hymns was very nice, but it was very short. It would have been nice if it had included Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above. The prayers are all in modern language, including the Hail Mary, which contrasts with some of the other prayer books published by TAN. I am a little bothered by the assertion that the Church does not accept that the contents of the Proto-Gospel of James are historical. The Church celebrates the parents of Mary, St. Joachim and St. Anne, so she clearly accepts there are some historical elements in the Proto-Gospel.

This is a great resource to develop and enrich one's devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

TheWitnesscloud: The Psalms at the heart of prayer and worship

TheWitnesscloud: The Psalms at the heart of prayer and worship

"Praying the offices daily, whether it’s BCP or BAS or Common Worship or Celebrating Daily Prayer or the Roman Breviary or the Benedictine office or the offices of the eastern churches, you will find yourself praying through the book of Psalms in a regular cycle, whether that cycle is weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or maybe bi-monthly. Or, if not the entire book, you will still pray one or two Psalms at each office every day.

The Psalms have been called God’s Prayer Book and God’s Hymn Book. They are the source of much rich depth and beauty in the entire history of prayer and worship, and the office is one means of making them our own. They express the full range of human emotion in interactions with God, and they help us find an approach to God we might otherwise avoid if left to our own devices."

Discovering the Psalms anew was one of the best things I discovered when I began praying the Divine Office every day.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Eve of Destruction

The eastern world it is explodin',
violence flarin', bullets loadin',
you're old enough to kill but not for votin',
you don't believe in war, what's that gun you're totin',
and even the Jordan river has bodies floatin',
but you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Don't you understand, what I'm trying to say?
Can't you see the fear that I'm feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there's no running away,
There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
take a look around you, boy, it's bound to scare you, boy,
but you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin',
I'm sittin' here, just contemplatin',
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
handful of Senators don't pass legislation,
and marches alone can't bring integration,
when human respect is disintegratin',
this whole crazy world is just too frustratin',
and you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
but when your return, it's the same old place,
the poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
you can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace,
hate your next-door-neighbour, but don't forget to say grace,
and you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

I was listening to this song the evening of last Wednesday after having been in London on the day of the terrorist attack. This song felt so appropriate, after hearing of the hatred that motivated a man to kill innocent men and women and then watching the backlash from racist and anti-immigrant voices seeking to impose their hateful agendas onto the tragedy.

I don't particularly sympathize with the Sixties peace movement, but this song has always inspired me. It's the way Barry McGuire captures the sense of the awfulness and terror that sinful humanity presents. I don't agree with unilateral disarmament, but I am sure all Christians would recognize the horror in the potential of nuclear warfare. The construction of nuclear weapons arises from the fears and aggressions brought in by mankind's depravity. As the Epistle of James tells us, wars arise because of our sinful desires (James 4:1). McGuire captures the sense of the futility of human endevour in a wicked world with the line about leaving for 'four days in space.' There were great technological achievements in the Sixties, but this did not change the hearts of men and women.

I like the way that McGuire challenges both east and west. He points out all the hatred in Communist China, then compares it to the racial hatred in America. Despite the victories of the civil rights movement, racism is alive and well in America and in many other parts of the western world. The events of this week also remind us of the horrifying destructive hatred unleashed through Islamic terrorism. This has also generated a backlash that can be seen in the populist nationalist politicians that have gained much influence in Europe.

Barry McGuire became an Evangelical Christian through the Jesus Movement of the hippie era. He discovered a hope beyond the terror he sang about in this song. Many Christians have used this kind of apocalyptic theme in eschatological material, pointing to an apocalyptic destruction of this world. That is not my eschatology. I believe that Jesus Christ achieved a real victory over Satan on the cross and His heavenly enthronement entails the ultimate submission of all things to Him. Through the Church we can experience the fullness of His reconciling life now and this Church preaches a message of peace and hope to the world. I believe that ultimately the Gospel has the power to overcome the fear and the hatred of this world and to make it Christ's Kingdom.

The Guardian: Woman photographed in hijab on Westminster Bridge responds to online abuse

The Guardian: Woman photographed in hijab on Westminster Bridge responds to online abuse

The image that went viral.

A second photo gives a better picture of the woman's mood.

A woman whose image became an Islamophobic meme after the Westminster terror attack has told of her horror and distress at the incident and the abuse she suffered afterwards.

The picture shows the woman wearing a hijab and looking at her phone on Westminster Bridge as people gathered around an injured person nearby. It was circulated on Twitter and by anti-Islam blogs as supposed evidence of her lack of concern. One social media user posted it alongside a photo of the Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood performing CPR on a victim with the caption “the main difference between Muslims and Christians”.

Another picture in the sequence made clear that she was distressed when it was taken. Now the woman has approached Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, and asked them to circulate a statement on her behalf in response.

“I’m shocked and totally dismayed at how a picture of me is being circulated on social media,” she said. “To those individuals who have interpreted and commented on what my thoughts were in that horrific and distressful moment, I would like to say not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I’ve also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia.”

The use of that photograph to promote prejudice towards Muslims was really vile. It can be shocking to see just how bigoted some people can be.

Reuters: Hawaii lawmaker resigns from Republican Party to join Democrats

Reuters: Hawaii lawmaker resigns from Republican Party to join Democrats

Fukumoto, 33, the youngest Hawaii legislator to serve as House minority leader, said divisive campaign rhetoric during the 2016 elections convinced her the Republican Party no longer reflected her political values or the interests of her state's diverse population.

"This election, I saw members of my party marginalizing and condemning minorities, ethnic or otherwise, and making demeaning comments towards women," she said in an open letter of resignation to the Republican Party.

Fukumoto, who is of mixed Japanese and Irish ancestry, said she found Trump's comments about banning Muslim immigrants and the possibility of establishing a registry of Muslim-Americans to be especially troubling.

"I wanted very badly to see the Republican Party denounce his comments, and that didn't happen," she told Reuters, saying a Muslim registry struck her as "one step away" from internment camps.

"That for me was the issue that really changed how I felt."

I don't think I would want to join the Democrats, but good on her for taking a stand against Trump's ignorance, bigotry and Islamophobia.

Royalist Gift

As I am a monarchist, my sister gave me this fancy tin of teabags for my birthday. It's very handsome.


ConservativeHome: Preventing terrorism is your responsibility

ConservativeHome: Preventing terrorism is your responsibility

by Mohammed Amin

The responsibilities of both Muslims and non-Muslims

"What each of us can do varies, depending on available time and personal background. For example, I regularly do talks at schools for the charity Speakers for Schools. Yesterday morning I spoke in Oldham to a heavily Bangladeshi origin audience. Earlier this month in Halewood my audience was overwhelmingly white British.

My main speaking goal is advising pupils about how to make their future lives successful. However, a key side benefit is demonstrating by personal example to Muslims that they can succeed in Britain, and to non-Muslims that Muslims can be driven by a commitment to social duty.

Think about what you, personally, can do today to counter the extremist scourge."

The Inerrancy of the Bible, by Johnson Philip and Saneesh Cherian

This is one of those self-published books you can read for free on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. It presents an apologetic case for the doctrine of the Inerrancy of Scripture, which is a worthy goal.

The bulk of the book is taken up with an history of views of the authority of Scripture. It is at times something of a 'straw man' history, not necessarily always offering a fair presentation of the issues. In particular, Karl Barth and Neo-Orthodoxy is treated as a poisonous heresy that corresponds to Eastern mysticism. I disagree with much that Karl Barth and other Neo-Orthodox theologians taught, but I don't think their views are accurately characterised in this book. It also attacks the Gap Theory, Old Earth Creationism and Theistic Evolution as erroneous. Amusingly, the book also praises the Fundamentals, a series of Evangelical publications from the early Twentieth Century (from which we get the word fundamentalist), which was authored by men who mostly advocated some form of Old Earth creation. The author fails to acknowledge that C.H. Spurgeon held to the Gap Theory, Charles Hodges was an Old Earth Creationist and Benjamin Warfield was a Theistic Evolutionist. Nor do the authors make any attempt to explain how they would make a case for a Young Earth Creation in the light of the scientific evidence for the antiquity of the Earth. There is a little anti-Catholicism in one or too places.

On the positive side, the book does make some good points. It explains that the Bible is a revelation and not a witness to revelation (as Karl Barth and the Neo-Orthodox theologians claimed). It defends the fitness of human language to communicate divine revelation. It also explains the concept of progressive revelation and acknowledges that the Bible may at times be flexible in how it reports statements of speech and at times uses round numbers. Most importantly, it maintains that Inerrancy of Scripture is a doctrine that really does matter.

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Feast of the Annunciation

O God, who willed that your Word should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man, may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Litany of Saint Gabriel

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 Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary , Queen of Angels, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel, glorious Archangel, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, strength of God, etc.
St. Gabriel, who stands before the throne of God,
St. Gabriel, model of prayer,
St. Gabriel, herald of the Incarnation,
St. Gabriel, who revealed the glories of Mary,
St. Gabriel, Prince of Heaven,
St. Gabriel, ambassador of the Most High,
St. Gabriel, guardian of the Immaculate Virgin,
St. Gabriel, who foretold the greatness of Jesus,
St. Gabriel, peace and light of souls,
St. Gabriel, scourge of unbelievers,
St. Gabriel, admirable teacher,
St. Gabriel, strength of the just,
St. Gabriel, protector of the faithful,
St. Gabriel, first adorer of the Divine Word,
St. Gabriel, defender of the Faith,
St. Gabriel, zealous for the honor of Jesus Christ,
St. Gabriel, whom the Scriptures praise as the Angel sent by God to Mary, the Virgin,

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.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Pray for us, blessed Archangel Gabriel,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let Us Pray .
O blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, intercede for us at the throne of Divine Mercy in our present necessities, that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, so through thy prayers and patronage in Heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living. R. Amen.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, that we may always seek to do the will of God.

Saint Gabriel, pray for us, that we may be joyful bearers of the good news of Christ Jesus.

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.