Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Seeker Sensitive Approach Taken to Its Logical Conclusion

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted this past year to "normalize" homosexual behaviour as good and lovely. Paul Speckhard, writing in The Lutheran Forum, has offered a modest proposal for the next step in creative, market research based, consumer focused outreach: Temple Prostitution.

Before you dismiss his suggestion out of hand, you might want to consider the possibility that in doing so you might be implicitly criticizing the way your church approaches "outreach." After all, if it can justly be said that homosexuality is "hot" today it remains the case that heterosexual coupling represents a much wider market and is what could be described as a "perennial favorite" form of recreation. So church marketers might want to consider Speckhard's proposal and think, not about the fact that he is wrong, but rather about why he is wrong.

The problem with satire, of course, is that it only works when it goes beyond the bounds of common sense. So liberals probably won't even find this funny. Nevertheless, I find it appropriate to tag it as "Humour."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Truth About the Crusades: A Review of "God's Battalions" by Rodney Stark

Over the past half century, the left wing influence on the academy has led to the development of a new "orthodoxy" regarding Western civilization. In the revisionist, ideologically-inspired view, Western civilization is one long litany of evil exploitation, colonialism, racism etc. One would think that Europeans had a monopoly on these universal human sins. Take slavery for example. Ritual flogging of European participation in the slave trade for a few centuries is intense, widespread and unending. But Muslim participation in the slave trade in black Africa is seldom mentioned in politically correct venues despite that fact that Europe and America abolished slavery 150 years ago while Muslim slave trading continues to this very day!

Rodney Stark's latest book, God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades (HarperOne, 2009), is a helpful corrective to the widespread prejudice against all things Western. It is an objective and balanced treatment of the Crusades which attempts to understand what happened and why from the perspective of the Crusaders themselves. It is not an original work of scholarship, but rather a synthesis and summary of a great deal of recent historical scholarship that provides a more balanced understanding both of the Crusades as an historical event and the importance of the Crusades for contemporary politics.

Stark's thesis is that everything you think you know about the Crusades is likely wrong. He rejects materialist theories of historical explanations for the Crusades and locates the ultimate reasons for why Europeans engaged in crusading in primarily spiritual motivations.

Stark sums up the conventional wisdom of the contemporary world as follows: "during the Crusades, an expansionist, imperialistic Christendom brutalized, looted, and colonized a tolerant and peaceful Islam." (p. 8) Every word of this commonly-accepted, politically correct statement is spectacularly wrong. Stark summarizes:
"the Crusades were precipitated by Islamic provocations: by centuries of bloody attempts to colonize the West and by sudden new attacks on Christian pilgrims and holy places. Although the Crusades were initiated by a plea from the pope, this had nothing to do with hopes of converting Islam. Nor were the Crusades organized and led by surplus sons, but by the heads of great families who were fully aware that the costs of crusading would far exceed the very modest material rewards that could be expected; most went at immense personal cost, some of them knowingly bankrupting themselves to go. Moreover, the crusader kingdoms that they established in the Holy Land, and that stood for nearly two centuries, were not colonies sustained by local extractions; rather, they required immense subsidies from Europe." (p. 8)
Stark also shows that claims that Muslims have been harbouring hatred of the West for centuries over the Crusades for centuries are bogus and that Muslim antagonism concerning the Crusades only appeared around 1900 in response to the decline of the Ottoman Empire and European colonialism in the Middle East. Muslim anti-Crusader feeling has only become intense in response to the founding of the State of Israel.

The point is not that Westerners have been sinless and Stark openly admits the moral failures and shortcomings of the Crusaders where they show up. The point is, rather, to cut through the ideologically-motivated hatred of all things Western to evaluate the Crusades for what they were - an attempt to protect Christian holy places and pilgrims from attack and a response to Muslim aggression. This may not be popular to say today, but Rodney Stark deserves credit for saying it anyway.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The UK's Labour Party Tries to Portray Itself as "Familly-Friendly"

In a move that is as cynical as Adolph Hitler suddenly announcing in early 1945 that "some of my best friends are Jews," the UK's Labour government has attempted to spin on a dime with regard to its policy on marriage and family. The Telegraph's Will Heaven reports:
"Since the launch of Webcameron, when the David Cameron allowed a “homemade” video of himself to be broadcast online, the Conservative leader has made it clear that the Tories are the party for families, and that they back marriage. In a speech in March at the Welsh Conservative Conference, he affirmed this, saying: “We want to see a more responsible society, where people behave in a decent and civilised way, where they understand their obligations to others, to their neighbours, to their country. And above all, to their family. Families are the most important institution in our society. We have to do everything in our power to strengthen them.”

Now Labour, recognising the success of this idea, are to publish a green paper in January supporting wedlock and conceding that children fare better when parents stay together. “In the past I think our family policy was all about children. I think our family policy now is actually about the strength of the adult relationships and that is important for the progress of the children,” Ed Balls told the Sunday Times."

Now I trust that readers of this blog will not be surprised that I refuse to be taken in by such blatant posturing and one can only hope that voters in the UK will realize that a death bed "conversion" based on polling numbers is no substitute for a government that actually will implement policies to enhance the institution of marriage. It doesn't take a political Einstein to know that handing out condoms to 12 year old boys in school are not the kind of policies that strengthen marriages or families.

Even the Times of London exhibits a skeptical tone with regard to what it labels in its headline as "Labour's U-Turn on Love and Marriage Ahead of Election"

"Gordon Brown is preparing to pitch Labour as the party of marriage and the family in an audacious bid for core Tory votes.

In a shift in strategy ahead of the general election, the government is abandoning its long-standing ambivalence towards wedlock, conceding that children fare better if their parents are together. A green paper to be published in January will outline new measures to shore up “stable parental relationships”.

Labour’s 11th-hour acknowledgment of the importance of marriage has been derided by the Conservatives, who accuse the government of ignoring evidence about the benefits for the past decade. The Tories are preparing their own green paper on promoting family units, setting the scene for an election battle for the parental vote.

Since 1997 Labour has directed resources at children rather than their parents, fearing voters would see attempts to shore up the declining traditional family unit as discriminatory or judgmental."

I wouldn't call it so much audacious as laughable. But note the final sentence where Labour's excuse for undermining traditional marriage is said to be that it did not want to appear "discriminatory" or "judgmental." How can you be discriminatory for strengthening the family? Who are you discriminating against? Who is potentially being judged? Adulterers, promiscuous individualists who abandon children, swingers? Why not judge such people? What kind of failure of moral nerve causes a person to be hesitant to say that marriage is good and that children deserve to be raised by their biological parents? Tradition, the accumulated experience of the human race, and social scientific studies agree that children thrive in intact families but suffer in broken families.

If Labour has largely abandoned economic Marxist ideology, it has yet to depart from cultural Marxism and its anti-family bias. This is what drives Labour policy and no green paper produced in a hurry just before the Spring election can paper over the evil, anti-family policies and biases of this government. One hopes that the voters treat this tactical maneuver with the disdain it rightly inspires.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We just got home from the Christmas Eve service at our church. On the way back we looked at the Christmas decorations and, unfortunately did not see a single manger scene or other obviously Christian decoration. Lots of snowmen and Santas and a few stars and bells - but nothing directly referring to Jesus. On the other hand, we drove slowley past the mall, as is our custom, and marveled at the Temple of Mammon being closed for once in the year.

Daughter Number 1 and her hubby have arrived. Steve is already here and Daughter Number 2 plus hubby and Isaac are due to arrive in the morning. Bonnie's parents will be here by Boxing Day for a three-generation, two week celebration. Christmas is wonderful and every year seems to get better. The whole world is different because of what happened 2000 years ago in Bethlehem - and thank God the world will never be the same!

Blessings on you and Christmas greetings!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Emergent Church: An Analysis

I just read the book, Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck published by Moody Press (2008). I think it is one of the very best books on the Emergent Church I have read and I won't hesitate to recommend it to students and anyone interested in this movement.

The biggest thing I took away from a reading of this book is the description of the Emergent Church as essentially modern. In fact, it is an extension of the same kind of cultural accommodation as is the Seeker Sensitive trend and before that the Church Growth Movement. If the more traditional Evangelical movement was tempted to compromise with modernity, the Emergent Church is tempted to compromise with postmodernity. Since I don't see postmodernity as a very sharp break with modernity, I don't see Emergent as all that different from what it is rebelling against. This tendency to compromise with culture is a besetting sin of the Church in every age and our age is no exception.

Another point made well in this book is that what Emergent people reject and criticize as "modern" is often much older than modernity and, in fact, predates the Enlightenment by centuries. For example, the analytical, verse by verse, word study kind of expository preaching often castigated as "modern" is demonstrated by DeYoung to be characteristic of Medieval and Patristic preaching. He gives other examples as well.

Postmodernity in its extreme forms is a rejection of all of Western culture going right to the pre-Socratic roots of the rational search for order that constitutes one of the two roots of Western civilization (with the other being the Bible). So by flirting with postmodernism, Emergent is flirting with a rejection of much more than merely modernity.

Another critique of the Emergent modus operendi is that Emergent writers and speakers hide behind the fact that they are just having a "conversation" and their contention that propositional truth is not possible whenever someone refutes their positive theological claims. But when the Emergent writers move to politics, they suddenly become very propositional and certain in denouncing what they perceive to be injustice. Like the 19-20th century liberal Protestants they tend to be fuzzy on doctrine and laser beam precise on politics. All this reveals their unique contribution to be 1) not new because it has all been said for decades by the liberals and 2) not credible insofar as their criticisms of more orthodox Evangelicals are just a rejection of theology in general rather than new and better theological proposals.

This book is balanced, fair, respectful and devastating. There is a tendency to focus primarily on the writings of Brian McLaren, which is fair enough since he is the most prolific writer in the movement. I don't see how anyone can read this book and come away thinking the Emergent Church has much of value to offer anyone today.

"Get Ready for Persecution" Says UK Cabinet MInister to the Churches

From the Catholic Herald in the UK comes this story about the impact of the Equality Bill, which is currently being pushed forward in the final months of Labor's rule before the next election, which will almost surely result in the defeat of the Blair-Brown monstrosity:
"A government Minister has predicted that the Equality Bill will create a torrent of hostile legal actions against the Church.

Michael Foster, the Minister for Equalities, admitted that the legislation would open the floodgates to a tide of sexual and religious discrimination cases. He advised the Church to start preparing to defend itself in the court from such people as ideological secularists who seek to squeeze religion from the public sphere.

“Both sides [the Church and the secularists] need to be lining up [their lawyers] by now,” he told journalists. “Government is used to the fact that its legislation should be challenged. People feel very strongly about these issues. We can’t do anything about this and we wouldn’t want to.”

. . .

Nor did he deny claims made by the Catholic bishops that the Bill would allow non-Christians who work in church premises to sue for victimisation if they were offended by crucifixes on walls. Instead, he said he thought such a scenario “unlikely”, even though an atheist last month successfully sued the Italian government over its policy of having crucifixes in schools."
The Equality Bill marks the nadir of church-state relations in Britain, as can be seen by the fact that even the Archbishop of Canterbury is criticizing the Labor government he normally supports. With this bill, the focus moves from creating space for non-Christians to be tolerated in the sense of having full civil rights to putting pressure on Christians to conform to the new secular, liberal orthodoxy or face persecution.
"The Bill represents a low point between the churches and the Government and its debate in the Lords came just days after Anglican leader Dr Rowan Williams accused Ministers of treating religion as a “problem”, an eccentricity practised by “oddities, foreigners and minorities”.

Neil Addison, a barrister and expert in religious discrimination law, said it was “completely misleading and untrue” for the Government to claim that the Bill simply consolidates existing law.

“It is not, it is changing it,” he said. “The trouble is that the Government is passing vague legislation and then saying ‘well, the courts will sort it out’,” he added.

“But the law should be as certain as possible. Courts should not become the arena in which these issues are fought out. The Government and Parliament should make policy instead of fudging it, waiting for the courts to make the decision and then saying ‘it has nothing to do with us’, which is what is happening.

“The Equality Bill is a very dangerous piece of legislation because it is unclear.”
Old Christian England is writhing in her death throes and the "Brave New World" that is being born is a post-Christian wasteland of materialism, individualism and hedonism policed by an increasingly aggressive and controlling nanny state.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anglicans Preach Against Yet Another of the 10 Commandments: But This Time it is Not About Sex (Surprise!)

From the land of jolly old England comes this story of an Anglican priest who advocated shoplifting in his sermon last week. Yes, you read that right: shoplifting.

The Times online has the story:

"The Ten Commandments include a fairly straightforward instruction: Thou shalt not steal. Now a Yorkshire vicar has come up with an interesting interpretation, advising the more hard-pressed of his parishioners to shoplift.

They should do it only from big shops, the Rev Tim Jones said, and it would probably be best if they did not take any more than they needed. Inevitably, some less spiritually enlightened individuals, including North Yorkshire Police, have taken his remarks in entirely the wrong way, assuming that by advising people to shoplift he is in some way encouraging shoplifting.

Father Tim’s remarks came in his Sunday sermon at the Church of St Lawrence, York, when he said that stealing from large national chains was sometimes the best option open to vulnerable people. It was far better for people desperate during the recession to shoplift than to turn to prostitution, mugging or burglary, he said.

“My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift"
Well, at least there is a man who takes his religion seriously and acts on it consistently - by which I refer of course to his Marxism.

Just when you think you have heard it all from the Anglicans, they find new ways to plumb the depths of cutting-edge, culturally-relevant, creative ways to relate to the culture.

But Father Tim's creative exegesis was a bit too much even for the Times, so we awoke to find this article in today's edition byJulian Baggini entitled "Sorry, Father, thou shall not steal." Baggini is editor of "The Philosopher's Magazine." It is getting pretty desperate when the philosophers have to start correcting the clergy on basic points of morality. What is next? Prostitutes giving advice on how to build a strong marriage? Peter Singer explaining why humans are special? City of London bankers lecturing us on being risk adverse?

While Father Tim gets points for honesty, I'm afraid his exegesis fails the laugh test.

Update on the Battle Over Kevin Jennings and Public Education

Sorry for the light blogging lately; I just turned in my grades for the semester today at noon and the four week marking marathon is finally over.

Here is an update to my previous post on the Kevin Jennings issue. First, here is the website, set up by the American Principles Project, a new conservative advocacy organization recently founded by Robert P. George. When you visit the "Expel Jenning" site, be sure to click the video at the right for a short introduction to the issue by Robert George himself. It is under two minutes and well worth viewing.

If you think that all this American politics stuff does not affect you as a Canadian, you would do well to rethink that position. I heard from a mother in our church the other day that her son came home from Sr. Kindergarten and said to her: "Did you know that two men can get married sometimes?" The "Queering of Elementary School" is well underway and it is way past time for some push back from parents. For an excellent description of the philosophy of sex education in vogue today among educators and curriculum designers, see You're Teaching My Child What? by the orthodox Jewish psychiatrist Miriam Grossman.

You may be interested in finding out more about Robert George. Here is a flattering profile of him from the New York Times entitled "The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker." George, who is a Catholic professor of legal philosophy at Princeton University, is quickly becoming the main public intellectual voice of the American, conservative, Catholic movement - the successor to Richard Neuhaus. Despite the fact that this is the New York Times, the article is surprisingly fair and balanced.

I highly recommend Robert George, his books and his political project. He is one of the brightest stars in the conservative sky at the moment and a man genuinely liked even by his liberal opponents. Any conservative who can co-teach a course with Cornel West, while being at the same time a trusted adviser to President George Bush, certainly does not fit any of the available stereotypes. If you dislike the populism of Sarah Palin, he is just about as opposite as you can get in style and demeanor. Yet, he is a principled and sincere conservative and a man of deep faith.

Obama Lied on Abortion: the Proof is in the Health Care Bill

As many readers, who have been following this issue over the past few months, know, the US House of Representatives have passed a health care reform bill that contains language that prevents federal subsidies from going to health care plans that subsidize abortion - thus continuing the precedent set by the Hyde Ammendment, which prevents Americans from being forced to pay for abortions that others choose to have. But the Senate bill, which is in the final stages of being approved, does not have that language. After passage of the House bill, the pro-abortion lobby called on the White House (President Obama) to intervene and he duly so and ensured that the Senate bill would be abortion funding friendly. The plan is to strip out the House anti-abortion funding language when the two bills are "reconciled" by House and Senate leaders after Christmas, thus paving the way for the biggest expansion in abortion funding ever and the biggest boost to higher abortion rates since 1973.

According to Catholic On-line the Roman Catholic bishops have issued a statement after Sen. Ben Nelson's capitulation and his vote for cloture:
"Despite last-minute efforts to improve the language on abortion and conscience rights in the Senate's proposed health care reform bill, the U.S. bishops oppose its passage.

This was affirmed in a statement released Saturday by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the conference's Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the bishops' Committee on Migration; and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chair of the Domestic Policy Committee.

The prelates acknowledge the "good faith" efforts of several Senators in proposing changes to the bill, as well as several positive points of the Manager's Amendment that was proposed Saturday.

While praising adoption tax credits and assistance for pregnant women, the letter laments that the current legislation "does not seem to allow purchasers who exercise freedom of choice or of conscience to 'opt out' of abortion coverage in federally subsidized health plans that include such coverage."

"While we appreciate the good-faith efforts made," the letter continues, "our judgment is the same as it was yesterday: This legislation should not move forward in its current form.

"It should be opposed unless and until such serious concerns have been addressed."

In a separate letter issued Friday, Cardinal DiNardo reaffirmed the position of the episcopal conference that "the legislation will be morally unacceptable 'unless and until' it complies with longstanding current laws on abortion funding such as the Hyde amendment."
The Catholic bishops are in favor of the health care bill except for the abortion funding issue, so they are speaking out of a commendable sense of conscience and on a point of principle.

The scene is surveyed by the editors of The National Review online:
"Pregnancy is not a disease. Hence abortion, in the vast majority of cases, is not health care. Contemporary liberalism is ideologically committed to denying this truth. Fifty-one percent of Americans contacted in a recent poll said that private health insurance should not cover abortion. One hundred percent of Senate Democrats just voted for legislation that, in the process of remaking American health care, creates new subsidies for health policies that do cover it.

If this bill passes, abortion will become a cheaper option for millions of women. We know that the demand for it is sensitive to price. Abortion rates will increase. For almost two decades, many Democrats who favor legal abortion, including Presidents Clinton and Obama, have said that they want to see that rate drop. They have a funny way of showing it.

Obama has said for months that he wants a health-care bill that leaves the status quo on abortion law in place. This bill radically revises the status quo in a pro-abortion direction. Under current law, federal dollars very rarely pay for abortion: Federal employees’ health plans do not, for instance, cover it. The Senate bill overturns this principle. It also implicitly authorizes the secretary of health and human services to require that all private health plans cover elective abortions."
Obama campaigned on the platform of finding common ground on abortion and trying to reduce the need for abortion. But since he was elected he has expanded funding for abortion every chance he gets. The much discussed "Freedom of Choice Act," which he said he would make his first priority as President has been on the back burner since the election, without so much as a peep of protest from the pro-abort lobby. The reason why is that they know that the goals of FOCA are being advanced through the health care bill.

Obama campaigned as a moderate; he is governing from the far left on most fiscal and moral issues. He said he wanted to reduce abortion, but he is doing everything he can to increase abortion and nothing to reduce it. The only logical conclusion is that he deliberately deceived the American people by pretending to be a Clinton-style moderate long enough to get elected. Many in the pro-life movement never bought into his slick words and slippery rhetoric and kept their eyes firmly fixed on his record instead. But he managed to confuse just enough voters to nip McCain in a close election that should have been a landslide with all the trouble the incumbent party was in. So America elected its first European-style, liberal-but-leaning-socialist, leftist president.

But because America is still a center right country with a strongly traditional core of conservatives and a large number of moderates who lean conservative, he had to lie his way to power. My bet is that it won't work twice. You read it first here: Obama is going to be the first one-term president since Jimmy Carter. In 2010 he will lose his legislative majority, at least in the House; in 2012 he will lose his fancy address. And the cause of liberalism will suffer a stinging setback. "Yes we can!" is about to turn into "Oh no you don't!"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Will Relativism Cause Modern Civilization to Be Destroyed by Global Warming?

You have to either laugh or cry when observing in the frustration of the ever-so-very-earnest climate alarmists as they emote about how the population just does not believe the scientists and the "experts" who make wild claims about how New York and London will soon be under twenty feet of water and so the Western nations had better fork over hundreds of billions of dollars raised from ordinary, middle-class taxpayers to fund so-called "clean" development in Third World countries.

The idea that the corrupt kleptocrats that run these countries could do anything "clean" is laughable. The money is destined to buy arms (mostly from the West) to fight endless civil wars and to languish in Swiss bank accounts owned by the socialist leaders and their families. Meanwhile, nothing whatsoever will be done actually to help the people of those countries and the effect on global warming will be zero.

So it is very difficult for ordinary people to believe a word coming out of Copenhagen. First they tell us emissions have to be cut by a certain amount to avoid floods, famine and the end of civilization as we know it. Then they tell us that they propose to cut emissions by a quarter of that amount (and just let the disasters roll out?), but we should not worry because a global energy tax is going to fund the handing over of 100 million dollars to Third world governments, many of whom, like Hugo Chavez, hate the West and all it stands for. You can forgive the average person for responding by saying "Huh?" Skepticism about AGW is growing in the US and in many other countries (such as Australia and the UK) as well. From Rasmussen Reports we learn: [my bolding]

"Public skepticism about the officially promoted cause of global warming has reached an all-time high among Americans. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 50% of likely voters now believe that global warming is caused primarily by long-term planetary trends.

Just 34% say climate change is due primarily to human activity, even as President Obama and other world leaders gather at a UN summit to limit the human activity they blame for global warming. Six percent (6%) say there is some other reason for global warming, and 10% are not sure.

Belief that human activity is the primary cause of global warming has declined significantly over the past year. In April 2008, 47% blamed human activity and only 34% named long-term planetary trends as the reason for climate change."

So it is with interest that I read yesterday in the lefty, Toronto Star, this story lamenting the failure of ordinary people to believe in objective, scientific truth: [my bolding]

LONDON–The leader of the Maldives, an Indian Ocean island nation whose existence is threatened by global warming, was emphatic.

"In all political agreements, you have to be prepared to negotiate," he said in Copenhagen this week. "But physics isn't politics." President Mohamed Nasheed is wrong. These days, everything is politics. And now, amplified by the Internet, anyone, knowledgeable or oblivious, can share his or her view with the entire world.

Not so long ago, the planet's prevailing voices were those of experts – people with years of training to back up what they said. Then came the Internet and that all changed.

Consider the global warming debate: scientists insist they have research in their corner. But public debate has shifted from the provable to the spectacle of argument. And in this age of constant, instantaneous comment has come suspicion of the expert.

"What you have is the (presumption) of expertise by ordinary people who feel their opinions are as valuable as anybody else's," says Frank Furedi, a sociologist at the University of Kent and author of Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone? "Society," he says, "has authorized everybody's opinions."

But, one wants to protest, that is the point. Everybody's opinion is as good as everyone else's. That is the whole point of modern relativism. Are we not modernists?

The Star has been leading the charge for decades on the sexual revolution, arguing that everyone gets to make up his or her own morality - even if other people, like the children, or society as a whole get hurt. No one can say for sure that male and female bodies were intentionally designed for each other. No one can say that divorce is bad and to be avoided in every case possible. No one can say that traditional marriage and family structures are actually better than individualism and promiscuity. What is right for you is not necessarily right for me. There is no such thing as "the family" - only "families."

But, you might protest, AGW has science on its side. Everyone should respect science. But traditional sexual morality has science on its side too and a fat lot of good that has done. Study after study shows that children brought up in homes with their own biological parents do better statistically according to dozens of measures from rates of incarceration, to rates of sexual abuse to rates of mental illness to success in school and so on. With biology, medicine, psychology and sociology all confirming the value and rightness of traditional morality, late modern Western society still feels free to throw it in the garbage and embark on wild-eyed experiments in sexuality and family. So why should it be any different with AGW? After all, lowering emissions and avoiding promiscuity have something important in common: both cramp my individualistic, hedonistic, self-centered lifestyle.

Let us suppose that AGW is completely true and that the science is impeccable. That is a disputable proposition, but for the sake of argument let us suppose it turns out to be true - objectively. Suppose half of Florida, New York and London are destroyed in a few years and most of the US turns into desert or whatever. When we look back at the 20th and early 21st century and try to analyze why Westerners did not act when they should have acted and instead allowed their civilization to be destroyed, we will have to ask if the widespread growth of relativism among the population was not the culprit.

At some point in the 20th century, relativism escaped the ivory tower and became a widespread belief in society - even the new socially-endorsed orthodoxy - which led to the sexual revolution and to many other pernicious effects. But the worst effect it may have had is to destroy once and for all the willingness of the average person to believe in absolute truth when it is against his immediate, short-sighted, self interest to do so. Truth, schmooth. Let's get back to our video games and forget about what those dodgy scientists with their doomsday predictions have to say. And pass the Playboy and a beer. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow the planet warms.


UPDATE: See this James Delingpole post. I just read it and it says what I've said here and it has a lot of excellent links as well. It is worth a read.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cultural Relativism as the State Religion: The Case of Quebec

Barbara Kay, in the National Post, has a damning indictment of the new school curriculum on ethics and religion, which has been imposed on every public and private school in Quebec, including home schoolers. The government claims the right to tell parents how their children must be educated in areas of ethics and religion. The government furthermore presumes to impose cultural relativism on every citizen regardless of his or her sincerely-held religious convictions.

This is the "dictatorship of relativism" that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) warned about in his homily at Pope John Paul II's funeral. It is dictatorial because it is imposed from the top down by the State without regard for the natural rights of parents to educate their own children and it is relativism because it teaches that all religions are equally right (and thus necessarily all wrong).

"In September 2008, after years of pre-planning by elites without public consultation, Quebec’s Ministry of Education established a province-wide, compulsory pedagogical program called Éthique et Culture Religieuse (ÉCR).

All Quebec students — public, private, even the homeschooled — must take ÉCR (with the exception of one secondary school year) from age six through high school.

On its sunny face, the ÉCR program introduces students to the rich variety of religious beliefs and rituals in today’s “intercultural” Quebec, where all citizens “live together in the bosom of a Quebec [that is] democratic and open to the world.”

But a newly landed bombshell amongst Quebec’s chattering classes, a study produced by Ethnic Studies Phd candidate Joëlle Quérin for the Institut de Recherche sur le Québec, persuasively argues that the ideology behind the course is anything but benign, reinforcing concerns about this troubling program I expressed in these pages last December.

Following a close analysis of the course’s stated objectives, content, teachers’ roles and suggested activities, Quérin pulls no punches in her conclusion: “I wanted to verify if the course gives knowledge to children or if it indoctrinates them. I observed that it was the second alternative that prevailed.”

This is getting very close to home. The collapse of the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec has created a vacuum into which a naive, Enlightenment faith in reason and tolerance has flowed. The philosophical underpinnings of this new state religion are so self-contradictory, so shallow and so detrimental to civil society and the family that they are inadequate to sustain civic life and freedom. Quebec is on a fast slide into tyranny. And persecution is looming on the horizon.

"Quérin cites, for example, one instance where students were invited to redesign the Quebec flag, replacing the cross with a more “inclusive” symbol, and another, an activity called “Youpi! Ma religion à moi!” (my own religion!) in which religions actually invented by students are accorded the same esteem as real ones. Such subversive pedagogical impulses dismissively mock Quebec’s unique culture, based, like all others, in a shared language, religion and collective values formed over time."

This exercise teaches impressionable young children to mock the religion of their parents and lays the groundwork for propaganda against Christianity, just as we have seen in the USSR, China, Nazi Germany and other totalitarian regiemes. There is push back, but so far it is weak and divided. Anti-clericalism today ought to take the form of anti-statism.
"A May 2009 Léger marketing poll on ÉCR found that 76% of québécois prefer a choice in religious education; they think their elites have shown contempt for the population. Many parents are demanding ÉCR exemptions, if not outright abolition of the program. Grassroots resistance movements — strange bedfellows of anti-clericalists, practicing Catholics and nationalists, each with their own support network — are pushing back through political activism, the media and the courts .

As well they should. ÉCR is a creepy state foray into social engineering. Disguised as multicultural feel-goodism, the program is in reality the utopian Quebec Left’s strategic plan for societal transformation. Their tactics: the appropriation of parents’ natural and rightful authority over their children’s religious upbringing; the willful erosion of children’s pride in their Quebec patrimony; and the slow suffocation of students’ inherent curiosity and intellectual autonomy.

If Quebec does not wish to end up in the sick ward of western cultures, ÉCR must be excised in the operating theatre of popular resistance."

Pray for Quebec.

Why Does Our Society Hate Girls So Much?

My wife and I support our local Pregnancy Help Center with our prayers, our money and our time. Here is a prayer request from a list of requests sent out weekly by our Exec. Director:

"E. is pregnant after a one night encounter. She is alone and struggling with the demands of parenting her two year old son. She has talked with us about finding a church home for herself in her time of crisis."

She has a two year old child and she still, for whatever reason, felt she had to let a stranger into her body in an attempt to conform to the standards society sets for women today and the result is that she is pregnant.

Why do the public schools hate girls so much that they refuse to teach them that they don't have to let men use their bodies and they can reserve sex for marriage?

Why do doctors, nurses and reproductive health clinics reinforce the idea that women have to have casual sex when men demand it so they had better use condoms and chemicals that damage their bodies, their fertility and their souls - just so men don't have to wait?

Why do liberal Protestant churches hate girls so much that they betray them by fighting for free and easy abortion so that men don't have to get married to have sex?

Why do the media hate girls so much that they portray casual sex as "glamorous," "fun," "fulfilling," and "normal"?

Why do so-called Feminists hate girls so much that they refuse to fight pornography, divorce, promiscuity, forced abortion, sex selection abortion and other anti-women injustices?

Why does our government hate girls so much that they let the big-business pornographers, the radical Feminists and the corporations that sell products by exploiting human sexuality tell them what to do?

Pills, abortions and welfare checks - that is all a post-Christian, secular society has to offer girls. But Christians offer love, forgiveness, dignity, hope and practical support. We also help people raise their children with our Christian education programs and programs for women with child care provided.

In the long run, secularism is doomed to fall and Christianity is the way of the future. Why? Because Christians don't hate girls (or anybody else); we love them and their children and stand with them in the midst of a society that regards them as commodities.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Diane Francis Proves Me Right - Unfortunately

In a previous post on Diane Francis' opinion piece in the National Post advocating China's coercive one-child policy for the whole planet, I said that I thought she was serious and that Andrea Mrozek, over at ProWomanProlife, was wrong in thinking that the whole thing was a spoof because she did not think Diane Francis is an idiot. I stuck with the idiot theory.

Well, Andrea admits now that she was wrong and her willingness to think the best of Francis against the evidence was unfortunately misplaced. (Sometimes people prove to be unworthy of the benefit of the doubt.) Andrea points us to this interview of Diane Francis with Laura Ingraham on Fox News in which Francis demonstrates her anti-Catholic views, her simplistic analysis of global poverty (too many people having children they can't afford) and her openness to government population control. But not to worry, she is favor of a non-coercive, coercive policy - whatever that is.

She wants her totalitarian, population control policies discussed at Copenhagen so that AGW can be the justification for them. Isn't AGW fun? You can use if to justify any wacko thing you want.

I've never seen a Laura Ingraham interview before - not having cable TV and not having ever watched Fox news - but I really liked the way she went after this dangerous ideologue and de-normalized her racist, anti-women, anti-freedom views. I especially liked the way she asked "How can you call yourself a feminist when you think the government should be able to tell women whether or not they can have a child?" This is the kind of question the third wave feminists need to be asked more often.

The whole interview has the feeling of a big old rock being turned over and some slimey thing crawling out from underneath and trying to get out of the sunlight.

Rowan Williams Has a Rare Moment of Lucidity!

Some recent remarks by Archbishop Rowan Williams show that even Labour's most fervent, natural supporters among liberal Christians are being forced to admit that the government crusade against Christianity is getting out of hand.
"Dr Rowan Williams said ministers were wrong to think that Christian beliefs were no longer relevant in modern Britain and he criticised Labour for looking at religious faith as a “problem” rather than valuing the contribution it made to society.

The Archbishop also suggested that the “political class” was too remote from the concerns of most people, who still had God in their “bloodstream”. In his only interview in the run-up to Christmas, he called on ministers to be more willing to talk about their own beliefs.

Dr Williams told The Daily Telegraph: “The trouble with a lot of Government initiatives about faith is that they assume it is a problem, it’s an eccentricity, it’s practised by oddities, foreigners and minorities.

“The effect is to de-normalise faith, to intensify the perception that faith is not part of our bloodstream. And, you know, in great swaths of the country that’s how it is.”

His comments risked reigniting the public row between the Church of England and Labour over the state’s treatment of faith groups. A Cabinet member was recently forced to deny there was a “secular conspiracy” to silence them.

The Archbishop’s claims that religion was seen only as something for minorities echoed those of a Church-backed report, which accused the Government of paying “lip service” to Christianity while “focusing intently” on Muslims."

Good analysis comes from Melanie Phillips at Virtue On-line:

"The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, comes in for a lot of stick - not least from columnists like me. But in the past few days, he has said something important. He has criticised Government ministers for thinking that Christian beliefs are no longer relevant in modern Britain, and for looking at religion as a 'problem'.

Many Government faith initiatives, he observed, assumed that religion was an eccentricity practised by oddballs, foreigners and minorities.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has attacked the Government for treating religious believers as 'oddities.' This is not just a seasonal exercise in special pleading by a Church leader. Dr Williams has put his finger on what should be a cause of extreme disquiet - the war of attrition being waged against Christian beliefs.

In recent times, there has been a string of cases in which it is no exaggeration to say that British Christians have been persecuted for expressing their faith.

In July, Duke Amachree, a Christian who for 18 years had been a Homelessness Prevention Officer for Wandsworth Council, encouraged a client with an incurable medical condition to believe in God. As a result, Mr Amachree was marched off the premises, suspended and then dismissed from his job. It was a similar case to the Christian nurse who was suspended after offering to pray for a patient's recovery.

Christians are being removed from adoption panels if they refuse to endorse placing children for adoption with samesex couples.

Similarly, a Christian counsellor was sacked by the national counselling service Relate because he refused to give sex therapy sessions to gays.

What this amounts to is that for Christians, the freedom to live according to their religious beliefs - one of the most fundamental precepts of a liberal society - is fast becoming impossible. Indeed, merely professing traditional Christian beliefs can cause such offence that it is treated as a crime.

Take, for example, the case of Harry Hammond, an elderly and eccentric evangelical who was prosecuted for a public order offence after parading with a placard denouncing immorality and homosexuality - even though he was assaulted by the hostile crowd he was held to have offended.

Or look at the case of the Vogelenzangs, a hotelier couple from Merseyside, who last week were cleared of a 'religiously aggravated' public order offence after being prosecuted for insulting a Muslim guest.

While their behaviour may have been offensive and unwarranted, it is nevertheless a source of wonderment that for the police, 'hate crime' doesn't seem to occur whenever Christianity is pilloried, mocked and insulted - as happens routinely - but only when a minority faith is in the frame.

Indeed, the Archbishop's complaint echoed an earlier Church-backed report that accused the Government of merely paying lip service to Christianity while focusing support on Muslims."
Phillips is right to say that recent trends in religious freedom in the UK are extremely worrisome and Williams is right to call the government on its outrageous behaviour.

There, I said it. Rowan Williams is right. That actually felt pretty good. It would be nice to be able to do it more often. Here's hoping.

Who Stands to Profit from Global Warming Hysteria?

The Daily Telegraph's James Delingpole's has blogged almost non-stop since Climategate broke nearly three weeks ago. It is safe to say he is definitely off the Christmas card list of Michael Mann and Phil Jones; in fact, he is probably up for a "Denier of the Year Award" somewhere or other.

But I don't care if he believes climate change is caused by little green men. His expose on who is promoting the AGW agenda and stands to cash in big time is extremely illuminating. If the allegations in this article prove to be true, it is all over but the crying for the AGW Alarmists, in my opinion.
"After the Climategate scandal erupted, few were quicker to dismiss the significance of the leaked emails than Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)."
OK, so who is this Dr. Rajendra Pachuri? What follows is a long and detailed list of Dr. Pachauri's corporate connections and his centrality in the world of AGW activism. Turns out that Dr. Pachauri's financial interest in downplaying "Climategate" runs into the millions of pounds. And so . . . who better to investigate the whole thing and re-assure an increasingly skeptical public?

Read it all here before you comment. I'd be glad to hear your perspective.

China Teaches Selfishness with Great Success but Finds Unselfishness Harder to Teach

China is famous for it draconian and oppressive one-child policy. The State presumes to tell couples whether or not they can have children and how many they can have. Fines, forced abortions and other outrages have been perpetrated against the people and propaganda has brainwashed two generations into thinking that the one-child policy is a good thing.

But now with a skewed male-female ratio and a plummeting fertility rate, China faces the prospect of becoming as old as Japan while being nowhere near as wealthy. Who will support retirees? Who will keep the economy running? Unlike Western democracies there is no line-up of potential immigrants just waiting to get into China. (Perhaps Diane Francis, who so admires the coercive one-child policy, as discussed a few posts ago, might consider immigrating. We would favor that.)

From a story in The Washington Post:
"More than 30 years after China's one-child policy was introduced, creating two generations of notoriously chubby, spoiled only children affectionately nicknamed "little emperors," a population crisis is looming in the country.

The average birthrate has plummeted to 1.8 children per couple as compared with six when the policy went into effect, according to the U.N. Population Division, while the number of residents 60 and older is predicted to explode from 16.7 percent of the population in 2020 to 31.1 percent by 2050. That is far above the global average of about 20 percent.

The imbalance is worse in wealthy coastal cities with highly educated populations, such as Shanghai. Last year, people 60 and older accounted for almost 22 percent of Shanghai's registered residents, while the birthrate was less than one child per couple.

Xie Lingli, director of the Shanghai Municipal Population and Family Planning Commission, has said that fertile couples need to have babies to "help reduce the proportion of the aging population and alleviate a workforce shortage in the future." Shanghai is about to be "as old -- not as rich, though -- as developed countries such as Japan and Sweden," she said."

Hmm. . . so they managed to educate the population through propaganda to be selfish and only have one child. Well, now that they need to reverse the message and teach the population to be unselfish and have two children, how are they getting on with that?

"Almost overnight, posters directing families to have only one child were replaced by copies of regulations detailing who would be eligible to have a second child and how to apply for a permit. The city government dispatched family planning officials and volunteers to meet with couples in their homes and slip leaflets under doors. It has also pledged to provide emotional and financial counseling to those electing to have more than one child.

The response has been underwhelming, family planning officials say . . .

Chen Zijian, a 42-year-old who owns a translation company, put it more bluntly. For the dual-career, middle-class parents who are bringing the birthrate down, he said, it's about being successful enough to be selfish. Today's 20- and 30-somethings grew up seeing their parents struggle during the early days of China's experiment with capitalism and don't want that kind of life for themselves, he said.

Even one child makes huge demands on parents' time, he said. "A mother has to give up at least two years of her social life." Then there are the space issues -- "You have to remodel your apartment" -- and the strategizing -- "You have to have a résumé ready by the time the child is 9 months old for the best preschools."

Most of his friends are willing to deal with this once, Chen said, but not twice.

"Ours is the first generation with higher living standards," he said. "We do not want to make too many sacrifices."

So let's see if I've got this straight. An anti-capitalist government instilled in the population the idea that more than one child is too expensive, too difficult and too constricting - surely a materialistic, consumerist attitude if there ever was one. This government, not giving a fig for natural law, God or tradition, employed murderous policies to kill unborn children until the population showed signs of decline. Panic then ensued as they realized that their policy was leading to economic catastrophe and the reversal of all the gains made by industrialization (which would cause serious problems for the powers-that-be and their hope of staying in power).

It sure sounds like "You reap what you sow" or "Pride goes before a fall" or maybe "God will not be mocked." Who could have predicted that it would be so much easier to teach people to be selfish than to teach them to be unselfish? (I mean, besides the OT prophets, Jesus, Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, Edwards, etc. . . . not to mention Confucius).

The so-called communist revolution, which is one of the many forms of statist, totalitarianism that dominate the historical landscape, has been a failure and the coming decades will reveal the scope and implications of that disaster.

So now, with the one-child policy discredited and apparently unfixable (if they thought coercive abortion was hard, wait till they try coercive childbearing!), I suppose it is time to cue up the Western liberal chorus of voices crying out for the implementation of the one-child policy here in the West. It is all so depressingly predictable.

Is AGW Being Treated as a Tool for Advancing a Failed Ideological Agenda?

I am having a hard time figuring out what to think about AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming). I have no difficulty believing that the planet is going through a warming phase; after all it is always either warming or cooling because climate is never static. And throughout recorded history, warm periods have always enabled civilization to advance; global warming (eg. the Medieval Warm Period) is always good and ice ages are generally bad - both for humans and for lots of other species that go extinct in ice ages.

The cast of characters fervently advocating global warming alarmism is pretty shady and the implications of the proposed "solutions" are potentially worse that than AGW itself. Charles Krauthammer outlines some of the considerations that give one pause in an op ed piece in the National Post today.

"One of the major goals of the Copenhagen climate summit is another NIEO [New International Economic Order] shakedown: the transfer of hundreds of billions from the industrial West to the Third World to save the planet by, for example, planting green industries in the tristes tropiques.

Politically it’s an idea of genius, engaging at once every left-wing erogenous zone: rich-man’s guilt, post-colonial guilt, environmental guilt. But the idea of shaking down the industrial democracies in the name of the environment thrives not just in the refined internationalist precincts of Copenhagen. It thrives on the national scale too.

On the day Copenhagen opened, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed jurisdiction over the regulation of carbon emissions by declaring them an “endangerment” to human health.

Since the U.S. operates an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy, the EPA will be regulating practically everything. No institution that emits more than 250 tons of CO2 a year will fall outside EPA control. This means over a million building complexes, hospitals, plants, schools, businesses and similar enterprises. Not since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service has a federal agency been given more intrusive power over every aspect of economic life.

This assertion of vast executive power in the name of the environment is the perfect fulfillment of the prediction of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, pictured, that environmentalism is becoming the new socialism — the totemic ideal in the name of which government seizes the commanding heights of the economy and society.

Socialism having failed spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck upon a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralized power given to the best and the brightest, the new class of experts and technocrats. This time, however, the alleged justification is saving the planet."

Jonah Goldberg quotes a couple of fervent AGW promoters who admit openly that AGW is a convenient excuse for doing what they want to do on other grounds anyway:

"Indeed, some of loudest voices have a weird habit of telegraphing their priorities. Tim Wirth, a former senator and now chairman of the United Nations Foundation, once said: “We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” New York Times columnist and prominent warm-monger Thomas Friedman has repeatedly said (most recently this week) that he doesn’t care if global warming is a “hoax” because, even if it is, the fear of it will force us to do what we need to do.

And it just so happens that with the exception of nuclear power — which most greens still won’t support — global warming fuels nearly every progressive ambition. Wealth transfers from rich to poor nations: Check. The rise of “global governance” and the decline of American sovereignty: Check. A secular fatwa not only to erode capitalism but to intrude on every aspect of our lives (Greenpeace offers a guide to carbon-neutral sex): Check. Weaning us off of oil (which, don’t let the Goregonauts fool you, was a priority back when we were still worried about global cooling): Check. The checks go on for as far as the eye can see, and we will be writing them for years to come."
So here are what I consider the main reasons for suspicion of the whole AGW scheme.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

About that Supposedly Mythical "Slippery Slope"

We are frequently told indignantly that slippery slope arguments "don't work," are "invalid" and "don't apply" to euthanasia. I think that is because when you advocate committing certain evil actions that are likely to lead to other evil actions you just want to shut down debate until later. Just delaying gives time to get people used to the first evil, so the next can be introduced without fuss.

This has been the story in the Netherlands over the past few decades with respect to euthanasia. At first it had to be specifically requested by a person with a terminal illness who was mentally competent. See all the safeguards? Take a look at the debate going on now (bearing in mind Hannah Arendt's phrase "the banality of evil"):
"AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, December 7, 2009 ( - A Dutch health researcher has called on the nation's government to allow physicians to euthanize newborns based on foreseen suffering, rather than only actual suffering, reports the Dutch medical journal Zorgkrant.

Hilde Buiting, maintains that such an amendment would only conform the law to the current practice among physicians.

"The current guidelines state that there must be actual grave suffering on the part of the newborn," she said, as quoted in Zorgkrant. "In practice, physicians look not only to the actual suffering of the sick newborn, but also to the grave suffering foreseen in the future. This reality should be included in the considerations in adapting the guidelines."

The Groningen Protocol, approved by the Dutch government in 2006, establishes guidelines within which physicians may kill seriously ill newborns.

The Protocol allows doctors to kill newborns who fit into three separate categories: those who are so ill that they are likely to die very soon; those who could survive after "intensive treatment," but "expectations regarding their future condition are very grim," and; those who can survive without any additional medical treatment whatsoever, but are deemed to be experiencing suffering and "for whom a very poor quality of life, associated with sustained suffering, is predicted."

The Dutch government has established a committee to oversee newborn euthanasia, but they have received very few reports of the practice thus far.

Buiting made her comments in response to a statement made last month by Dutch State Secretary for Health, Welfare, and Sports Jet Bussemaker, who expressed concern about the lack of reporting.

Buiting believes that doctors will be more willing to report newborn euthanasia cases if the guidelines are amended to reflect what she says is the current practice among doctors - of killing newborns based upon likely, and not only actual, suffering.

"Given that we in the Netherlands find it important to exercise social control over the active killing of newborns, the guidelines should therefore be adjusted," she said."

Maybe the next step is say it is ethical for the government to kill you based on the anticipated future suffering it intends to inflict upon you!

Slippery slope? What slippery slope? At least no one in North America is advocating infanticide. Except, of course, for Peter Singer:

"For instance, in a 2006 interview Singer was asked point-blank: "Would you kill a disabled baby?" His response? "Yes, if that was in the best interests of the baby and of the family as a whole."

"Many people find this shocking," he continued, "yet they support a woman's right to have an abortion. One point on which I agree with opponents of abortion is that, from the point of view of ethics rather than the law, there is no sharp distinction between the foetus and the newborn baby."
Of course, Singer is just some gun-toting, right-wing weekend militia member from Wisconsin, right? He isn't? Princeton? Teaches bioethics? A chair? Say it isn't so.

The Netherlands is a barbaric, post-Christian wasteland of violence, evil and statist pretentiousness. Maybe Islam taking it over and putting it under Sharia law is no more than it deserves. See Isaiah 8:6-10. God does this sort of things to nations that defy the natural law in spectacular ways; that is the sort of Righteous Judge of all the earth He is. We might want to take that into consideration while the slide down into the culture of death is being greased by fools who do not believe in God.

Christian Ecumenism and the Future of Religion in Europe

From the indispensible vatican reporter, Sandro Magister, comes another good news story. He writes:
"For the first time, the Russian Orthodox Church publishes a book with texts by a pope. The author is Benedict XVI. The topic is Europe. The objective is a holy alliance in defense of the Christian tradition."
Some have taken to calling Benedict XVI "the pope of Christian unity" and there is no doubt that his overtures to the SSPX, the Anglo-Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox have inspired theologically orthodox believers all over the world from Evangelicals to Russian Orthodox.

The topic of this book is the defense of Christian civilizations against the encroaching darkness of secular atheism and the threat of militant Islam. I believe that Christianity in Europe is not ready quite yet to give up and succumb to the politically correct nihilism of contemporary culture; there will be one major push back before the darkness closes in for the final time. The proposed European constitution that did not so much as mention Christianity once may have been the nadir of European secularism. We don't know; the inscrutability of Providence makes prophecy dangerous. But it looks like both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism are beginning to come to the collective realization that it is time to put aside their differences before faith is swept clean from Europe as it was from North Africa and Asia Minor or placed under servitude as it was in Egypt.

Here is the first few paragraphs of Magister's analysis. A link to the rest and also one to the Introduction to the book itself follows.
""In a terse statement two days ago, Russia and the Church of Rome announced "the establishment of diplomatic relations between them, at the level of apostolic nunciature on the part of the Holy See, and of embassy on the part of the Russian Federation."

Six days earlier, on December 3, Pope Benedict XVI had received in audience Dmitri Medvedev, president of the Russian Federation, to whom he had given a Russian-language copy of the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," and with whom he had discussed "cultural and social topics of common interest, like the value of the family and the contribution of believers to the life of Russia."

But it is not only with the authorities of the Russian state that the Church of Rome now has relations defined by both sides as "friendly."

With the Orthodox Church of Moscow as well, spring appears to have sprung.

One signal of this came at the same time as Medvedev's visit to Italy. A book was presented in Rome on December 2, published by the patriarchate of Moscow and containing the main speeches about Europe made over the past ten years by Joseph Ratzinger, as cardinal and pope.

The entire volume is in two languages, Italian and Russian. The title is taken from an expression that Benedict XVI used in Prague: "Europa, patria spirituale [Europe, spiritual homeland]." And its extensive introduction is signed by the president of the patriarchate's department for external Church relations, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk (in the photo), an authority of the highest order: suffice it to say that the previous occupant of this post, Kirill, is today the patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Moscow "and all Rus."

An extract from the introduction to the book is reproduced further below. And it is of great interest for grasping the perspective from which the patriarchate of Moscow looks at its own role in Europe.

It is a Europe forged by Christianity, but now attacked by a "militant secularism" against which two forces above all are leading the counteroffensive: the Church of Rome in the West, and the Orthodox Church in the East.

Those who expect an Orthodox Church removed from time, made up only of remote traditions and archaic liturgies, will come away shaken from reading the introduction to this book.

The guideline here is being set by a document of great vigor, unprecedented in the entire history of Orthodoxy. Its title is: "The foundations of the social doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church," and was published by the council of Russian bishops in 2000.

The image that emerges from it is that of a Russian Orthodox Church that refuses to let itself be locked up in a ghetto, but on the contrary hurls itself against the secularist onslaught with all the peaceful weapons at its disposal, not excluding civil disobedience against laws "that oblige the commission of a sin in the eyes of God."

It is a text that is also striking for its frank, politically incorrect language, unusual for the pen of a high Church authority."
For the rest go here. The Introduction to the book follows Magister's analysis. I simply must quote one section, which comes near the end after much clear sighted discussion of the situation:
"Finally, I would like to comment on the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights against Italy, meaning the ban on displaying the crucifix in Italian schools. This decision goes against the right of each state to preserve its own traditions and its own identity, that is, it offends the inviolable principle of the authentic pluralism of traditions. It is an unacceptable manifestation of militant secularism. The activity of the European Court must not turn into a cynical farce. The ultraliberal attitude that prevailed in the adoption of that decision must not dominate in Europe. The origins of Europe are Christian. The crucifix is a universal symbol, and it is absolutely inadmissible that, in order to satisfy ultraliberal and atheistic standards, Europe and social institutions should be deprived of the symbols that for so many centuries formed and united people. The crucifix is not a symbol of violence, but of reconciliation. I think that in all of these areas, we can collaborate with the Catholic Church in defending Christian tradition from militant secularism and aggressive liberalism.

In this context, I would like to conclude by asking the following question: are we building a completely atheist and secularist Europe, where God is expelled from society and religion driven into the ghetto of the private, or will the new Europe be a true home for the different religions, thus becoming authentically in a pluralist? I think this is the question the Churches in Europe and the religious communities must ask, a question that the politicians have a duty to answer. It is around this question that the dialogue between European religious communities and political institutions should be centered." [bolding is mine]
This is the right question and the tone of the whole piece suggests that the author is well aware of the fact that secular atheism is on the march and will not tolerate Christianity if it triumphs. He is also aware of the fact that contemporary liberalism is no longer a friend of Christianity.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Miracle: the TTC Stops Short of Promoting Adultery!

According to the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Transit Commission has rejected ads from the sleazy, on-line company that tries to make money out of promoting and facilitating adultery (

The ads were to be plastered on the sides of buses reading: "Life is short. Have an affair."

This anti-social, money-grubbing, women-hating, home-wrecking, anti-children (but for some inexplicable reason still legal) "company" has recently had its ads pulled from the Super Bowl Game and a billboard in New York's Times Square was taken down after a hotelier threatened to burn it down otherwise. If the law won't stop such evil, a public outcry must be raised. If any organization deserved to be driven underground and universally condemned, it is this one.

One of the points to take away from this incident, however, is that the TTC could only do the right thing by being somewhat inconsistent with the working morality of contemporary, Western society. The limp rhetoric of "tolerance" is exposed as inadequate as the moral basis of a civilized society by the reaction of the company's CEO:
"But CEO Noel Biderman says the Toronto-based company, which boasts more than five million members on its site, is just trying to promote its brand.

“I think there's these notions out there that people think of infidelity as quote-unquote ‘wrong,' as quote-unquote ‘immoral,' ” he said. “In this day and age and, in this era, creating those morality judgments is not equivalent to a tolerant society.”

He thinks that if we don't tolerate lying, cheating, adulterous affairs promoted as "fun" by a bunch of immoral money-grubbers, then we are not tolerant. Well, the lesson here is the the Ten Commandments are a solid basis for a free and just society, but the liberal creed of "tolerance" is not.

Is the Tide Turning on Same-Sex "Marriage?"

We learn today that the vote on legalizing same-sex "marriage" in the New Jersey state senate has been canceled because nine Democrats were planning to vote against it, which would have doomed the bill. A bill to legalize same-sex "marriage" in New York recently was defeated and Maine voted solidly against it in a referendum held in early November. This all follows up on the success of Proposition 8 in California. A recent story by Peter J. Smith in Catholic On-line sums up the situation:
"Thirty-two states in the United States have rejected same-sex "marriage" with 30 states banning the practice through constitutional amendment. In three states, same-sex "marriage" was legislated through judicial fiat, and in only two states - Vermont and New Hampshire - is same-sex "marriage" legal through legislative action."
The figure of 32 does not count New Jersey. In 32 democratic votes so far, same-sex "marriage" has lost every time. It has only been implemented in situations where no election was held on the issue. The will of the people is clear, even after so much propaganda and heavily-funded campaigns by powerful forces including government bureaucracies, the teachers unions, unions in general, major corporations, billionares like George Soros, the Democratic Party as a whole and Hollywood. The sexual revolution has rolled on for six decades but it may have finally run into a wall.

So, apart from top-down judicial activism, it appears that same-sex "marriage" has little future in the US. Much is often made of the idea that younger voters generally favor it, but that is true of many liberal issues and when those younger voters get older and wiser they often become more conservative.

So has the tide turned? The tide of same-sex "marriage" has been sweeping the Western world and had engulfed Europe and Canada. But it may have now crested with the US (which after all constitutes the majority of the West in terms of population and power) refusing to embrace it. If this trend continues and the rejection of same-sex "marriage" is a gain which gets consolidated then we might begin to see traditional marriage strengthened instead of weakened by government policy and social attitudes.

We might actually see more children raised by their biological parents and more couples seek counseling instead of divorce. We might see a reversal of the disaster known as "no fault divorce" and government tax policies that favor married couples with children and do not penalize stay-at-home mothers. We might see curbs on public obscenity and the roll back of the pornography industry's exploitative methods. We might even see schools teaching the benefits of pre-marital abstinence instead of "safe-sex." Imagine a world in which children grew up knowing that the adult world favored traditional marriage and commitment over hedonism and self-gratification. It wouldn't be perfect, but it sure would be better than what we have got now.

If this happens in the US, the citizens of Canada, the UK, Australia and Europe are going to become jealous of the common sense and socially-beneficial policies of the US government and are going to start to put the heat on their own political masters and ruling elites to reverse this massive, dangerous, unprecedented social experiment known as the sexual revolution.

The True Agenda of Barack Obama Regarding Education and Homosexuality

Kevin Jennings, Barack Obama's handpicked "Safe Schools Czar," wants to make schools (and society) safe for homosexuals and his method is to "normalize" various perverted sex practices and make them seem commonplace to children. We naturally fear and loathe what is hidden, forbidden and not referred to in public. But we shrug and treat as normal that which is out in the open, all around us and constantly referred to in public. This is the process of desensitizing people to moral evil; the more common and public it is the less we tend to view it as evil.

So the reason for getting students and teachers to read pornographic books is to desensitize them. The reason why TV shows and movies about homosexual themes are so important is so that audiences become desensitized to the practice. GLSEN was founded to promote the desensitization of school children in the hopes that they would grow up to be tolerant of homosexuality and every other sort of deviant sex practice in which anyone in our society chooses to engage.

Here is a short summary of what is known about Kevin Jennings so far from Monte Kuligowski at American Thinker:

"The appointment of Kevin Jennings as Obama’s “Safe School Czar,” was an irony and a huge story from the day Jennings was installed. First, it was reported that Jennings had once counseled a male high school student who was having sex with a man. No, Jennings didn’t report the crime to the authorities; but he made sure the kid knew to use a condom.

Certainly, that wasn’t news. After all, Jennings now says he should have reported the matter.

Then it came out that Jennings was the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a radical homosexual-promoting organization.

Next, we learned that Jennings wrote a forward to a book in 1999 that advocated the “queering of elementary education.” Nothing newsworthy there.

Now we have the Fistgate story. The following is from

In March 2000 the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) organization of Massachusetts held its 10 Year Anniversary GLSEN/Boston conference at Tufts University. This conference was fully supported by the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Safe Schools Program, the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, and some of the presenters even received federal money. During the 2000 conference, workshop leaders led a “youth only, ages 14-21″ session that offered lessons in “fisting” a dangerous sexual practice. During another workshop an activist asked 14 year-old students, “Spit or swallow?… Is it rude?” The unbelievable audio clip is posted here. Barack Obama’s “Safe Schools Czar” Kevin Jennings is the founder of GLSEN. He was paid $273,573.96 as its executive director in 2007. Jennings was the keynote speaker at the 2000 GLSEN conference.

You can read more about Kevin Jennings and the antics of his organization, GLSEN, on Big Government here and here.

Jennings is carrying out Obama's will concerning the promotion of homosexuality and other sexually deviant practices in public education. This agenda involves desensitization of children to that which their religion and their parents regard as morally evil practices and it involves making the sordid underworld of abnormal sex as normal as heterosexual marriage in the minds of impressionable children. This is an aggression against all religions and against the family itself. How any parent can remain indifferent to such an agenda is beyond me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Headline Alone is Enough to Make Liberals' Heads Explode!

From today's Daily Telegraph: "Barack Obama defends war as he receives Nobel Peace Prize"

The story includes such gems as:
"Mr Obama, who was greeted at the Oslo City Hall by a fanfare of trumpets, was acutely aware that many Americans view his acceptance of the award, for which he was nominated just two weeks into his presidency, with amusement and even derision.

A CNN poll found that just 19 per cent of Americans believed he deserved the prize and 43 per cent thought he was unlikely ever to deserve it."

He did clarify one thing, however:
"Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms."
Good to know - a lot of people were wondering if he was sure about that.
"Mr Obama's remarks were only occasionally punctuated by applause, such as when he stressed that the US "must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war" and renewed his promise to close the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba. . . There was silence as he alluded to the blanket anti-war sentiments and anti-Americanism of many in Europe."

Fascinating that he would mention European Anti-Americanism; clearly, he has been reading polls and he obviously said that for the audience back home, not the one in the hall.

If Diane Francis Really Means It . . .

Last post on this for today: I just couldn't resist!
Please, Diane Francis, show us how sincere you are.

Diane Francis Advocates China's Coercive One-Child Policy For the Whole World

The Financial Post today has an article that is so far out that it is almost a parody. Andrea Mrozek thinks it is a spoof because she says, from what she knows of Diane Francis, "she's not an idiot." Me, I'm sticking with the "she's an idiot" theory, although it would be a relief if Andrea turned out to be right.

Here is what Francis has to say:

J. Wesley Smith is all over this story:

"Can you believe it? China–an unmitigated tyranny–has become, among the hysterics like the NYT’s Thomas Friedman and this writer, the country with policies worth emulating! Not one word decrying the terrible human rights violations of imposed abortion, female infanticide, and China’s explicitly eugenics policies.

And yet, we are told the global warming agenda is so progressive, so humane. Anyone who doesn’t see the potential that global warming could become the pretext for destroying human freedom and imposing death culture policies just isn’t paying attention.

Update: Somebody is clearly pushing this meme, because promoting radical population control is also in today’s Telegraph, absent extolling China."