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

LifesiteNews.com| Pope Francis: Pro-Abortion Politicians Ineligible for Communion

LifesiteNews.com| 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.

Readiness

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,
Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.




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.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

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

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


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

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

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

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

by Timon Cline

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

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

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


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


Every Day is in the Lord's Hands

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

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


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

Pope Francis on Spirituality

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Wisdom from Above, by Aidan Nichols, OP



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Thaw 17

The Feast of Saint Joseph



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



Litany of Saint Joseph

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Saturday, 18 March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Christian in Industrial Society, by Sir Fred Catherwood



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Father Ed's Blog: Why the Ordinariate?

Father Ed's Blog: Why the Ordinariate?

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

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

Friday, 17 March 2017

GQ: George Osborne to become Evening Standard editor

GQ: George Osborne to become Evening Standard editor

by Rupert Myers

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

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

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

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

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

by Michelle Jamrisko
and Eric Englert


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

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

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

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

The Feast of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

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


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

Thursday, 16 March 2017

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

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

by Paul Goble

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

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

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

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

The Feast of Saint Patrick



O God, who chose the Bishop Saint Patrick to preach your glory to the peoples of Ireland, grant, through his merits and intercession, that those who glory in the name of Christian may never cease to proclaim your wondrous deeds to all. 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 Patrick, pray for us, and for Ireland.

The Guardian: The hijab ruling is a ban on Muslim women

The Guardian: The hijab ruling is a ban on Muslim women


by Iman Amrani

"This week’s decision by the European court of justice to allow the hijab to be banned in the workplace is yet another sign of the continent’s obsession with how Muslim women dress.

The ruling states that the hijab can be banned only as part of a policy barring all religious and political symbols – and so framed in a way that doesn’t directly target Muslim women. Indeed, the Conference of European Rabbis was outraged, saying that the ruling sent a clear message that Europe’s faith communities were no longer welcome – and a number of religious communities, including Sikhs, will be affected.

However, there’s no doubt that Muslims are the main group in the line of fire. That’s why far-right groups across the continent were so delighted with it. “Of course companies have to be allowed to ban the wearing of headscarves,” said Georg Pazderski, of Germany’s hardline Alternative für Deutschland. “Even the ECJ votes Marine [le Pen],” tweeted the French MP Gilbert Collard, a Front National supporter."

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Forbes: The Leading Power In East Asia Will Be Japan -- Not China

Forbes: The Leading Power In East Asia Will Be Japan -- Not China

by George Friedman


"By 2040, Japan will rise as East Asia’s leading power. This is one of our most controversial forecasts at Geopolitical Futures.

Our readers know that GPF is bearish on China. And while some may disagree on that point, they usually see that the reasoning is sound. China will face serious problems in coming years… problems that will strain the Communist Party’s rule.

Japan, though, seems a bridge too far. Its population is less than a tenth of China’s size (and it’s not just aging… it’s shrinking). Japan also has a debt-to-GDP ratio over 229%.

So, how is it that Japan will emerge in the next 25 years as East Asia’s most powerful country?

A good place to start is a broad comparison of the structure of China and Japan’s economies (the second and third largest economies in the world, respectively).

This analysis will reveal strengths and weaknesses for both and will bring our forecast into sharper relief."

Urban Warfare Training Facility

The Spectator: Beware the cult of Brexit

The Spectator: Beware the cult of Brexit

by Nick Cohen

But there is a limit to how far you can rationalise the irrational. Why is Theresa May rushing ahead with Article 50? Why isn’t she at least trying to keep the country together by seeking a soft Brexit? Why most of all isn’t she preparing the country (what’s left of it) for hard times and hard choices? Rational politicians instinctively lower expectations. Yet there’s no warning of blood, sweat, toil and tears ahead from May. Not even a hint. Her chancellor gives a budget in which he barely mentions Brexit. Her backbenches turn on him over a minor tax rise on the self-employed, as if they think that is the worst that can befall the country. Nowhere are ministers preparing the public for the possibility that we cannot leave a club while retaining the benefits of membership.

It is more convincing to see the Brexiteers as women and men in the grip of a cult, as deep as the Corbyn cult on the left. In cults, said Stephen Pinker ‘fantastical beliefs are flaunted as proof of one’s piety’. Today you have to show that you believe the fantastically optimistic beliefs about Brexit to prove your devotion to the Church of the Latter Day Tories.

Monday, 13 March 2017

ConservativeHome: If Britain reaches no deal with the EU, Parliament must still be able to vote

ConservativeHome: If Britain reaches no deal with the EU, Parliament must still be able to vote

by Nicky Morgan MP


"During the Committee stage of the Bill in the Commons, the Government conceded that Parliament would have “a vote on the final deal in both Houses before it comes into force”. David Jones, Minster at the Department for Exiting the EU, said that: “This will cover both the withdrawal agreement and our future relationship with the European Union. I can confirm that the Government will bring forward a motion on the final agreement, to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before it is concluded. We expect and intend that that will happen before the European Parliament debates and votes on the final agreement. “ In this way, Ministers have given an assurance which deals with paragraphs one to three of the Lords amendment.

In the Commons last month, Jones could offer no certainty about whether Parliament would be able to vote if the Government decided that, in the words of the Prime Minster, “no deal is better than a bad deal.” So it is this point – reflected in paragraph four of the Lords amendment – which Ministers must address in the Commons debate today if they are to gain widespread support in the Conservative Parliamentary Party for both overturning the Lords amendment, and avoiding a prolonged ping-pong between the Commons and Lords this week.

I think that those who say that any such vote amounts to a veto, or is a way to defeat Brexit, or would incentivise the EU to offer us a bad deal are wrong. Many people said that Parliament would stand in the way of the triggering of Article 50 and thwart the ‘will of the people’. But MPs and Peers have shown this fear to be unfounded. And at the end of the negotiations, deal or no deal, Parliament will be very aware just how high the stakes are and of the consequences of a “no” vote.

But it must be the case, particularly for those who argued that leaving the EU was all about taking back control, that this rests with our sovereign Parliament, and that Parliamentary approval is a useful safety valve for any Government. There may be very good reasons for the Government to decide that a deal is impossible to conclude – but Parliament must be involved in that decision, and not sidelined."

"Someone else's babies"

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Crux: Bishops say U.S. must address needs of immigrants, show compassion

Crux: Bishops say U.S. must address needs of immigrants, show compassion


WASHINGTON, D.C. - While one Catholic archbishop was urging a fix to the country’s immigration laws before a Catholic crowd, another was pleading with the government not to separate mothers from their children while in immigration detention, and yet another, a cardinal, was accompanying a grandfather to an appointment that could have resulted in his deportation.

Catholic Church leaders in the U.S. spent the week of March 6-10 trying to allay fears, urging compassion, not just from the government and those who are not seeing “God’s creation” when they malign unauthorized immigrants.

“In the church, we say, ‘¡Somos familia!’ Immigrants are our family. We say, ‘En las buenas y en las malas.’ In the good times and in the bad. We always stay together,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, in a March 8 address to those who attended the Napa Institute’s Washington conference. “That is why the church has always been at the center of our debates about immigration. And we always will be. We cannot leave our family alone, without a voice.”

Marking the Hours, by Eamon Duffy



Eamon Duffy, Marking the Hours: English People and their Prayers, 2006 Yale University Press


The subject of prayer primers or 'Books of Hours' came up quite a bit in Duffy's classic work The Stripping of Altars. This book offers a more sustained look at the history and use of primers. These books, which were first published in the Middle Ages, were prayer manuals for the laity. They varied in their contents, but usually contained the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin and the Office of the Dead, together with various devotional prayers and prayers for specific needs. At times they caused concern to ecclesial authorities because of extravagant prayers that made promises of almost magical efficacy. Originally they were fabulously expensive and a luxury for the wealthy. In the late Middle Ages they became more affordable as mass-produced manuscripts. With the advent of printing, they became something that anyone could afford to own. This large book is heavily illustrated, showing us the rich artwork that decorated the pages of Books of Hours. He also comments on how they were used and what written comments, marks and scribbles on the pages revealed about their owners lives.

The most interesting part of the book for me came towards the end, when our author addresses the impact of the Reformation on the popularity of primers. At the time of Henry VIII, they were at the height of their popularity, with printed copies being imported from France. At first their use continued, with the majority of owners dutifully following the royal command to remove references to the Pope. Indulgences were also crossed out and prayers to Saint Thomas Beckett, who was particularly hated by the king and his government. Their were attempts by Protestants to create modified versions of the Book of Hours which removed objectionable elements. These would culminate in the Edwardine Royal Primer, which was based upon the Book of Common Prayer. During the reign of Mary, the brief Catholic revival resulted in renewed demand for Books of Hours. This was fulfilled by eager publishers, but oddly they followed the Henrican convention of leaving out mention of indulgences. Once Protestantism was permanently established as the national religion, the Catholic Recusants continued to make nostalgic use of the Book of Hours. However, the continental priests who ministered to them did not encourage this, bringing with them the new bi-lingual Tridentine Primer. The pre-Reformation primers were viewed with some suspicion by Roman authorities. Interestingly, Duffy says that the pre-Reformation hierarchy had exercised less control over Books of Hours and were more accepting of extravagant and sensational content than continental bishops.

This is a really fascinating look at the piety and prayer life of our English ancestors.

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 12th March



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

New Statesman: Reforming national insurance might not be popular in Westminster - but it is the right thing to do

New Statesman: Reforming national insurance might not be popular in Westminster - but it is the right thing to do

by Torsten Bell

"Raising taxes is hard for Chancellors to do. That shouldn’t be a surprise; saints aside, most human beings would rather not have less cash in their pocket. But that can’t be the end of any discussion on tax, unless you’d rather not have any schools, roads or the NHS.

That’s why it’s time to put some perspective back into the political hot air that has followed the Chancellor’s decision to raise National Insurance for the self-employed, because this change is fundamentally the right thing to do.

The first part of that perspective is to recognise that this is a tiny tax rise. £200 million a year is a lot to you and me, but is lost in the roundings at the Treasury. For example it pales into insignificance compared to the more than £12 billion worth of benefit cuts being rolled out over the next few years. These mean the incomes of the bottom third of working-age households are expected to fall – a fact which is not exactly filling the front pages of newspapers."

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Mad Monarchist: Contrasting Brazil

The Mad Monarchist: Contrasting Brazil



"The immense success of the Empire of Brazil can also be seen in the growth of its population. Many tend to think only of the United States as the “land of opportunity” where all immigrants flocked, however for a great many people it was Imperial Brazil that seemed to offer the best prospects. From 1872 to 1890 the White population in Brazil rose from 38.1% to 44% of the population. Originally, the White population of Brazil had been entirely Portuguese but the success and the promise recognized in the Empire of Brazil meant that soon there were large numbers of Germans, Spanish, Italians as well as others living in the country. The 1870’s saw a huge surge in immigration to Brazil, including many Eastern Europeans, all because so many so such great possibilities for success in Brazil. Much like the United States at the time, Brazil was a growing country where business was booming and new advancements were being made all the time, Brazil just did it as a Catholic empire rather than a secular republic. In fact, after the horrific civil war in the United States, many southern Americans moved to Brazil, transplanting a little bit of Dixie south of the equator.

It certainly would not do for the political class if the people of Brazil today fully understood the depth of the economic crisis they are in now, compared to the wealth and prosperity that prevailed in the days when Brazil had an emperor. Then again, perhaps something else is at work. Certainly, speaking for myself, it is hard for me to believe that anyone could be satisfied with the current state of most countries in the world if the people truly understood just how great they used to be, usually at a point in the past where traditional authority was firmly in place. I cannot help but think that the public must simply be ignorant of their own history, for if Brazilians today knew how magnificent the Empire of Brazil was, they would want nothing more than to return to that immediately and be done with the current ruling elite, a political class that is obviously hopelessly corrupt and which has stayed in power by manipulation, buying votes and selling people a totally illusory vision of pretended economic progress all the while they were emptying the state coffers and filling their own pockets."

Slate: Is Trump’s Second Immigration Ban Unconstitutional?

Slate: Is Trump’s Second Immigration Ban Unconstitutional?

by Dahlia Lithwick

"In the Thursday filing, Washington state put it this way: “When a court enjoins a defendant from implementing policies, the defendant cannot evade that injunction simply by reissuing the same basic policies in a new form. Courts do not issue injunctive relief in a game of whack-a-mole, forced to start anew at a defendant’s whim.” Washington goes on to argue, “Of course, a defendant need not be bound forever by an injunction, and can request its modification or termination under well-settled rules, but it is the court—not the defendant—that decides whether modification is warranted.”

Washington notes that even though Trump openly sought to reinstate the “same basic policy” the court had already enjoined, the administration didn’t ask for a modification or dissolution of its restraining order but simply filed a notice with the court on Monday asserting that “[t]his Court’s injunctive order does not limit [his] ability to immediately begin enforcing the [Second Executive Order].” As Washington tartly notes, “Saying it does not make it so.”

Throwing shade in expert lawyerly fashion, the pleading then continues: “While this assertion may be in keeping with the President’s position that courts are powerless to review his executive orders related to immigration, it is utterly inconsistent with basic legal principles. It is the judicial branch, not the President, that decides whether actions are lawful, and this Court should confirm that its injunction applies to these reissued provisions. The burden is on Defendants to show that modification or termination of the injunction as to these provisions is warranted, a burden they have not met.”"

Beppe Grillo has something sensible to say



Basic Income is something supported by people across the political spectrum who are prepared to think outside the box.

ConservativeHome: The devastating truth at the heart of the NICs row. We’re palming difficult decisions off on the next generation.

ConservativeHome: The devastating truth at the heart of the NICs row. We’re palming difficult decisions off on the next generation.

by James Cartlidge

"That being so, in my mind we should have focused the whole argument on pensions. Many self-employed will now receive more generous state pension provision because of recent reforms and the money raised will help pay for that extra liability for the state’s coffers. In my view, this is the one justification you need. If people think we should reverse the NICs rise, do they also think we should reverse the better state pension provision for the self-employed?
We should recognise at this point that we have a ‘Pay as You Go’ state pension. None of us, regrettably, have a state pension pot with our name on it accruing gains after much needed investment to spur the UK economy (if only); rather, workers pay their NICs and tax to fund the pensions of today on the expectation (more like hope) of receiving the same when they retire.

In other words, in absolute terms, the new higher NICs are not immediately funding the more generous state pension for self-employed persons affected since they are yet to retire. Rather, without the rise, the self-employed are shouldering an ever smaller share of an ever rising bill for funding today’s pensions and today’s pensioner benefits. That is the true impact of the current imbalance in the context of a ‘Pay as You Go’ system."


Some sense on the budget. Those opposing the chancellor's rise in National Insurance contributions are fiscally irresponsible.

The Guardian: Replacing EU hospitality workers after Brexit 'will take 10 years'

The Guardian: Replacing EU hospitality workers after Brexit 'will take 10 years'

The shortage of British workers in UK hotels and restaurants is so severe that chains such as Pret a Manger will need 10 years to replace EU staff after Brexit, the British Hospitality Association has warned.

Days after Pret’s human resources director told MPs that just one in 50 applicants for jobs at the company were British, the BHA predicted that hotels and restaurants would go bust unless ministers allowed EU migrants to continue to work in low-skilled jobs after the UK leaves the bloc.

“It is going to very, very tough indeed,” says Ufi Ibrahim, the BHA’s chair. “It will be a very long time for businesses like Pret a Manger to replace EU staff because they are largely based in the south-east,” she added. “I think it will take 10 years to build a future talent pipeline.”

Friday, 10 March 2017

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Perplexing Advice from the DWP

BBC News: Most flat shares refuse benefit claimants

Landlords are more likely to accept potential renters who own pets than people claiming benefits, a BBC investigation has found.

Analysis of some 11,000 online listings for spare rooms found all but a few hundred stated benefit claimants were not welcome.

Campaign groups say it is "naked discrimination" and are calling for a change in the law.

A really important issue is brought up here in this story. Obtaining accomodation can be a really struggle for those reliant on benefits.

What struck me, however, was the perplexing comment offered by the Department of Work and Pensions:


The Department for Work and Pensions said under Universal Credit housing costs and support are paid direct to the tenant, not the landlord. That would mean the only way a landlord would be aware a tenant was in receipt of support would be if the claimant themselves told them.

The issue is that properties are listed as 'No DSS claimants.' Is the DWP advising benefits claimants to take up properties that the landlord has said are not to be offered to those on benefits? What if the landlord asks if the would-be tenant is in employment? Is the DWP actually advising them to lie?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Financial Times: Europhile Tories plot rebellion after Heseltine’s sacking

Financial Times: Europhile Tories plot rebellion after Heseltine’s sacking


“How the government handles this in the next few days is quite important,” he said. “It is still open to the government to clarify what they will do in the circumstances of no deal. Colleagues want to know what parliament’s role is in that position.”

Lord Heseltine’s sacking could either embolden or deter other potential rebels, he said. “Goodwill could be eroded quite easily.”

Anna Soubry, a pro-EU MP, has said she will vote against the government next week to try and obtain a “meaningful vote” for parliament before the UK leaves the EU.

The former government minister has also been urging fellow Tories to abstain from the vote as a way to keep the Lords amendment in place without defying their own government.

“If Michael Heseltine is prepared to put himself on the line, if he has the courage, I will be doing the same,” she told the Financial Times.

Number 10 were “scaredy cats” for refusing to give a written promise of a parliamentary vote,” she said. “The only conclusion is that in the event of no deal they will jump off the cliffs towards a hard Brexit. This country did not vote for that.”

Civil Rights?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Feminine Divine, Sophiology and Joseph Shaw

A standard way to write a blog post these days is to post a quotation from another blog, acknowledge that it makes a good point in some ways and then to explain why you disagree with it. Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society did this last week and I am going to offer a similar response to his post.

Joseph Shaw posted a comment from Sam Guzman on Catholic Gentleman:

Women are deserving of special reverence not because of weakness, but because of strength. In women, a man can intuit the presence of something that transcends his comprehension. It is in reality something of the divine, something that is somehow his to cherish, to serve, and to protect. Just what it is, and how best to respond to it, he will need to spend a lifetime trying to discover.


I am not going to get into the question of whether I agree or disagree with Sam Guzman's original point. I have absolutely no interest in debating the merits or faults of old-fashioned chivalry. What I am interested in is Joseph Shaw's theological response to this comment:

It should be obvious that the notion that women are superior to men in some moral or spiritual sense, that they have more of the 'divine' in them, is theologically insane, and finds no place in Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors, or the Magisterium. All these sources, in fact, are refreshingly candid about women's faults, just as they are about men's. Cuddeback's effusion has no connection with the Catholic tradition, but it isn't difficult to identify its source: it is the Romantic movement of the 19th century. It is this movement, reacting against the exaggerated rationalism of the Enlightenment, which created the angelic feminine ideal, against which Feminism reacted in turn.


On the face of it, Joseph Shaw would seem to be correct. Genesis 1:27 indicates that men and women are equally created in the divine image. In fact, Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 7 could be interpreted to imply that women are created in the divine image only in a subordinate sense. However, what I want to argue is that women reflect the divine in a unique and distinctive sense which I think is to some extent captured by Sam Guzman's comment.

I do not know if Joseph Shaw is well acquainted with the Sophiology of Vladimir Soloviev and Sergius Bulgakov in Russian thought, but I would certainly direct him to it as a source of insight into the Feminine Divine. Bulgakov's Sophiology was much more developed theologically than Soloviev's, however, I think we can see in Soloviev a very vivid experience of Sophia as a lived experience. He claimed several encounters with Sophia, Lady Wisdom. In childhood, he was saved from being hit by a train by a woman, who he identified as Sophia. Later in life, he encountered this same woman in the deserts of Egypt, after being robbed and left for dead. It is easy to dismiss such visions as the result of trauma, yet they undoubtedly inspired the direction of his thought. Shaw connects the idea of the feminine divine with the 19th Romantic movement and I am sure he would rightly point out that Soloviev was thoroughly a product of 19th century Romanticism. He certainly was, yet 19th century Romanticism gave us much that is good and worthy. The Oxford Movement and Blessed John Henry Newman were also products of 19th century Romanticism. We can also compare Soloviev's Sophianic vision to Sophianic women figures that predate the 19th century, such as Boethius' Lady Philosophy and Dante's Beatrice. These women reflect a divine wisdom personified in female form. Soloviev and his dreams of a Catholic Russia also undeniably point us in the way of Our Lady of Fatima, who addresses that same theme of Russian conversion. In Our Lady of Fatima we see the true reality of Soloviev's Sophia.




The Biblical foundation of Sophiology is the figure of Lady Wisdom in Proverbs. There is a strong tradition within theology of identifying Wisdom with Christ. This identification is often asserted as a sort of knee-jerk orthodoxy, probably to a large part because Christians otherwise don't know what to do with this strange Wisdom woman. Yet there are other traditions that identify Wisdom with both the Blessed Virgin Mary and with the Holy Spirit. For a number of reasons, I don't think we can interpret Wisdom as exclusively fulfilled in Christ. Firstly, Wisdom appears to be created. Secondly, some of the functions and activity of Wisdom seem closer to those of the Holy Spirit (arguably western theology has always had a difficulty assigning function to the Holy Spirit in distinction to the Word). Thirdly, we cannot treat it as insignificant that Wisdom is portrayed as a female figure. The writer of Proverbs could easily portrayed Wisdom as an angel, a male or neuter figure. What strikes me in Proverbs is that the symbolic figure of Lady Wisdom is paralleled by two more Earthly women; the mother of King Lemuel and the idealized wife and mother in chapter 31. Thus, the divine ideal of Wisdom is actualized in the virtue of real live women.

Less obviously, we can see the Feminine Divine in the activity of the Holy Spirit. While the Paraclete in John's Gospel is masculine in gender, Ruach in the Old Testament is feminine. Some theologians feel comfortable at times to refer to the Holy Spirit at times as 'she,' though I am undecided as to whether this is reverent or appropriate. I find it significant that a paraclete is an helper. Eve was created to be Adam's helper. Both the woman and the Holy Spirit play a supportive role. We also see a maternal side to the Holy Spirit. By the Holy Spirit's power, Mary is able to conceive. It is by the Holy Spirit that life is imparted to the believer, by the Holy Spirit Christ is born in the believer. Saint Maximilian Kolbe was probably unguarded in his language when he used the terminology of incarnation to describe the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit, but he certainly had a point. Leornardo Boff argued that while Mary is not an incarnation of the Holy Spirit, there is a permanent perichoretic union between Mary and the Holy Spirit, such that the fulness of the Holy Spirit is manifested and actualized in the Blessed Virgin.

I don't know exactly what Sam Guzman meant when he said that 'women, a man can intuit the presence of something that transcends his comprehension. It is in reality something of the divine,' but I think what I have outlined above shows how this can be true in an orthodox sense. Every woman potentially displays the divine wisdom that is at the heart of creation. Every woman is potentially a Spirit-bearer and can display the maternal side of God that we see in the Holy Spirit. Every woman can potentially manifest the divinized womanhood of the Blessed Mother of God. Whether that means we need to treat women with old-fashioned chivalry is a rather different question.

The Feast of Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity


O God, at the urging of whose love the Martyrs Saints Perpetua and Felicity defied their persecutors and overcame the torment of earth, grant, we ask, by their prayers, that we may ever grow in your love. 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.


St. Perpetua and Saint Felicity, pray for us, that we may be men and women of faith.

I am very proud that my birthday should fall on the feast day of such blessed martyrs and I regard them as my holy patrons.

Together we achieve more

Monday, 6 March 2017

Public Discourse| Biology Isn't Bigotry: Christians, Lesbians, and Radical Feminists Unite to Fight Gender Ideology

Public Discourse| Biology Isn't Bigotry: Christians, Lesbians, and Radical Feminists Unite to Fight Gender Ideology

by Emily Zinos

"Somehow we’ve come to a place where women who demand their gym shower be female-only are accused of bigotry, radical feminists are threatened with a fiery death for refusing to call men “women,” and lesbians are accused of being transphobes for refusing the sexual advances of trans “women.” The women of the Hands Across the Aisle coalition have had enough of this poisonous ideology. It is our intention to use our collective passion and resources to make space in the public square for all voices that are critical of redefining sex as gender identity. I am honored by this extraordinary opportunity to unite a Christian opposition to the concept of gender identity with that of my radical feminist and lesbian sisters, who have long provided intelligent and insightful criticisms of gender identity as a threat to women in law and culture.

At Hands Across the Aisle, we hope to embolden women to speak up for the hard-earned rights they will lose if gender identity is allowed to eclipse sex. I hope you will join me in refuting gender ideology wherever you see it, but most especially in schools where it strikes at the very heart of what it means to educate."

All Things Made New, by Stratford Caldecott



Stratford Caldecott, All Things Made New: The Mysteries of the World in Christ, 2011 Angelico Press


What I've read of the late Stratford Caldecott, I've very much enjoyed and appreciated. Unsurprisingly, much of the material in this book is really great. However, it does feel somewhat disjointed. The first part of the book provides a topical exploration of some of the theological themes of the book of Revelation, similar to Richard Bauckham's Theology of the Book of Revelation. However, the second part of the book seems to move away from the Apocalypse and examines Catholic spirituality, taking a look at the Rosary, the Our Father and the Stations of the Cross.

Caldecott did not interact with the schools of interpretation of Revelation- preterist, historicist, futurist and symbolic-idealist. His approach to interpreting it seems to be that of Symbolic-Idealism. He offers some insights, but those of us who favour Preterism will feel that he dehistoricizes Revelation by separating it from its original context. Caldecott provided an unfortunate howler when he made referance to JAT Robinson's early date for the Apocalypse. He stated that Robinson thought that it was one of the earliest books of the New Testament to be written. In actual fact, Robinson considered it to be one of the last; he dated the entire New Testament prior to 70 AD. This makes me wonder if Caldecott had an adequate enough grasp of New Testament background to write on exegetical topics. He included an appendix on exegesis. This makes some good points and recognizes the importance of interpreting Scripture in context and in harmony with authorial intent. I think he could have done a good job of explaining how typology works, which he did not do there. He made approving reference to a 1993 document on Biblical interpretation by the Pontifical Biblical Commission. This affirms the value of various critical methods. In my judgement it gave Biblical criticism too easy a pass, as did Caldecott. The problem with critical methods is they make naturalistic assumptions about the Biblical texts, leading too conclusions which on the surface seem unimportant, but which actually destroy Biblical authority. The question of whether Isaiah is written by two authors arises because of a denial of predictive prophecy. Likewise, if the book of Daniel was written in the Hellenistic era, its prophecies were written after the fact. If the Pentateuch is a collection of texts by different authors, then its uniformity is destroyed and its historical claims are jeopardized.

There is another appendix on the work of Methodist Bible scholar, Margaret Barker. She has argued that the New Testament is grounded in a mystical tradition which conflicted with the mainstream of contemporary Judaism. This tradition included a less strict doctrine of monotheism than the Judaism that has survived to today. Caldecott identified much value in her work, while having some concerns. I think he ought to have been a little more troubled by the notion of there being competing traditions in Scripture. I do think that could present problems for the unity of Biblical revelation. I am reading her book The Mother of the Lord, vol.1 at present. If her conclusion that one tradition in Scripture has suppressed and changed an earlier tradition (the reform of Josiah suppressing the Wisdom tradition), then the authority, inerrancy and arguably the inspiration of Scripture is utterly destroyed.

Caldecott's treatment of Revelation is certainly not without insights. I like the way he brought out the eschatolgical aspect of Sophiology, connecting the Bride of Christ, the eschatological Church with Sophia, Divine Wisdom:

"Sophia is thus an image of the final perfection of creation, of holiness and beauty. For wisdom is the beauty of holiness. It is in human holiness that we glimpse the true and final order of the cosmos, and thus the beauty and the purpose of creation. What else of greater value can we seek than this? But important moral implications follow from such an interpretation of the meaning of Sophia. We are speaking of the fiery, transcendental Beauty that is the 'unspotted mirror' of God's majesty and goodness, and into which no defiled thing can ever fall without being consumed. This Beauty is the radiance or self-gift of being."

He went on to identify Sophia with the Kingdom of God, a connection which he might perhaps have said a little more about.

Our author's theological reflections on the mysteries of the Rosary are definitely worth the price of the book. I will have to read them again and again, as I am sure they will inspire my own Rosary meditations. I also liked the defence he offered to the innovation of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, introduced by Pope St. John Paul II. Caldecott appears to take a trichotomist view of human nature; he refers to man as 'body, soul and spirit' on page 158. The problem with this position is that the Scriptures do not consistently distinguish between soul and spirit.

This is not a perfect book, but it offers so many insights. It is also a good deal easier to read than his book The Radiance of Being.




Evening Standard: Theresa May must guarantee rights of EU citizens to remain in UK, MPs say

Evening Standard: Theresa May must guarantee rights of EU citizens to remain in UK, MPs say


Theresa May is facing renewed pressure from MPs to guarantee the rights of more than three million EU citizens to remain in the UK.

A cross-party committee of MPs, including Michael Gove and other Tory Brexit campaigners, have called on the Prime Minister to guarantee the future rights of EU nationals living in Britain.

In a parliamentary report published on Sunday, the committee said that EU citizens should not be used as “bargaining chips” in negotiations over Brexit.

Mr Gove, the co-chairman of the official Vote Leave campaign, is one of several pro-Brexit Conservative MPs on The Commons Exiting the EU Committee behind the report.


If even pro-Brexit MPs such as Michael Gove think that the rights of EU migrants need to be guaranteed, the prime minister really needs to listen.

Joint Czech-Lithuanian Exercise

Royal World: Monarchical Republics?

Royal World: Monarchical Republics?

"A pet peeve of mine is when people say that the United States, France, or Russia (three very different republics but all with a strong presidency) are still in some way "monarchical," because the President, the head of state, has a lot of power. No. No no no no no. Monarchy is not about one man having a lot of power. Monarchy is about so many other things: Tradition, Inheritance (the existence of non-hereditary monarchies does not mean that inheritance should be dismissed as irrelevant: most elective monarchies have had some sort of hereditary component to the process), Sovereignty being nominally vested in a person (whether or not that person actually wields power) who did not seek the office and is separate from the political process, Titles and Terminology, Aesthetics and Philosophy."

Daily News: Undocumented California grandmother, known as ‘backbone’ of veteran’s family, deported to Mexico

Daily News: Undocumented California grandmother, known as ‘backbone’ of veteran’s family, deported to Mexico

An undocumented grandmother known as the “backbone” of one California veteran’s family was deported to Mexico Friday after immigration officials arrested and detained her for more than two weeks, her family said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents picked 43-year-old Clarissa Arredondo, outside her home in an unmarked SUV on Valentine’s Day, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Adriana Aparicio, 27, Arredondo’s daughter, told the newspaper that ICE officials said to her that her mother was a deportation priority because she lied on paperwork to receive welfare and that that offense happened more than a decade ago.

An ICE spokesman told the Daily News Sunday the agency is reviewing Arredondo's immigration case and couldn't comment on the reason for her arrest.


It's always easier to deport harmless women than all the assorted gangsters and pimps. Another number in the target figures.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Fasting is Therapy

Catholic Herald: World meeting of Russian Catholics hailed as ‘last hurrah’ for movement

Catholic Herald: World meeting of Russian Catholics hailed as ‘last hurrah’ for movement


One of the smallest Eastern Catholic churches in the world, the Russian Catholic Church, faces some big issues, including its survival.

That’s the issue that will dominate at a Congress of Russian Catholic delegates from around the world meeting in northern Italy in June. It has been organised by an Australian-based Russian Catholic priest, Fr Lawrence Cross, a retired lecturer in theology at Australian Catholic University.

The congress, the first in Russian Catholic history, follows last year’s historic meeting in Havana between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. It was the first time a pope had met with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Both churches drifted into schism in the two centuries after the so-called Great Schism of 1054.

Fr Cross explained that the tiny Russian Byzantine Catholic Church was formed by Russian Orthodox who saw the pope, the Bishop of Rome, as an essential element for the fullness of orthodoxy.

These Russian Catholics, Fr Cross says, should be the poster-child for ecumenical relations, living proof that reconciliation is possible. Instead, he is worried they are in danger of being lost to history.


I would have liked the article to clarify that Russian Byzantine Catholics are not the same thing as Roman Catholics in Russia. There are still plenty of Latin-rite Catholics in Russia. Their community is small, but is not dying out.