Friday, 30 October 2015

Mere Orthodoxy| What Narrative Can’t Say: The Limits of Narrative Theology

Mere Orthodoxy| What Narrative Can’t Say: The Limits of Narrative Theology

'Yet narrative has its limitations. For one, narrative can only capture historically contingent facts. Reading Jenson and Rahner, one would get the impression that narrative is capable of supplying us with knowledge of who God essentially is. But this is to stretch narrative beyond its natural limitations. Indeed, Jenson sees the sweep of drama as more successful in communicating realities than the discrete enumerations of God’s person and character through exposition, and Rahner’s trinitarian activity is seen as sufficient to tell us of God’s inner being.

But who God is — a question about essential characteristics — is not exhausted by what God has done — which has to do with contingent history. It’s true that through story we learn that God created the world, that he rescued Israel out of bondage, that he came to earth to save it, that he guides believers into truth. Yet we can note two ways in which these fall short of specifying God’s essential attributes. First, apart from exposition — either from a divinely inspired author (i.e. Paul in Romans) or from a theologian systematizing the various biblical narratives into a coherent conception of God (i.e. Calvin in his Institutes) — we have what we might call, contra Jenson, “dramatic imprecision.” Jenson is surely right that drama can unify disparate accounts, but at the same time drama’s forte isn’t being propositionally precise. For a model or conception of who God is, exposition, which prominently features explanation and specification, works best.

The other way that drama falls short of specifying God’s essential attributes is more subtle, though also important. Though God is the creator of the world, he is not the creator of the world essentially. This doesn’t mean that something or someone else is the creator of the world, but rather that it is not a part of God’s essential nature that he create the world. If God is something essentially, then he is that thing necessarily. Yet if God is the creator of the world essentially, he couldn’t have done otherwise than create. Indeed, both Jenson and Rahner stress God’s ultimate freedom — he could have created or not created — yet this is complicated by the epistemic role they grant to narrative. It’s not that narrative gives us a false picture of God; rather, through the project of natural theology — a project not divorced from but supplementary to divine revelation — we establish certain truths about God. Though Paul’s letters aren’t natural theology — since they’re inspired, they’re supernatural theology — they show that God found it necessary to instruct his Church through expository and not just narrative means.'

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Professor Germaine Greer

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Professor Germaine Greer

'Political Correctness in this country is particularly preoccupied at the moment with 'Transgender People' ... and all that. I know this because I read the Undergraduate freebie newspapers which circulate in this University! And Dr Greer has maintained the simple and obvious position that a man, rendered incomplete and filled with female hormones, is not a woman. Greer is willing to use female pronouns for such an individual out of courtesy; she does not desire to prevent them from having the thing done to them; but she doesn't see why she should be forced to say that Black is White. She campaigned against the election of a 'transwoman' to be a Fellow of her College in Cambridge on the grounds that the Statutes prescribe that Fellows must be women ... and that the fellowship candidate wasn't. Total universal uproar. From being a Feminist Icon, transformation into Major Hate Figure.'

The Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude

O God, who by the blessed Apostles have brought us to acknowledge your name, graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The Litany of Saint Jude

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. (repeat after each line) God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, One God,
St. Jude, relative of Jesus and Mary,
Pray for us. (repeat after each line)
St. Jude, while on earth deemed worthy to see Jesus and Mary, and to enjoy their company,
St. Jude, raised to the dignity of an Apostle,
St. Jude, who had the honor of beholding thy Divine Master humble Himself to wash thy feet,
St. Jude, who at the Last Supper didst receive the Holy Eucharist from the hands of Jesus,
St. Jude, who after the profound grief which the death of thy beloved Master caused thee, had the consolation of beholding Him risen from the dead, and of assisting at His glorious Ascension,
St. Jude, who was filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost,
St. Jude, who didst preach the Gospel in Persia,
St. Jude, who didst convert many people to the Faith,
St. Jude, who didst perform wonderful miracles in the power of the Holy Ghost,
St. Jude, who restored an idolatrous king to health of both soul and body,
St. Jude, who didst impose silence on demons, and didst confound their oracles,
St. Jude, who foretold to a weak prince an honorable peace with his powerful enemy,
St. Jude, who didst take from deadly serpents the power of injuring man,
St. Jude, who, disregarding the threats of the impious, didst courageously preach the doctrine of Christ,
St. Jude, who gloriously suffered martyrdom for the love of thy Divine Master,
Blessed Apostle, With confidence we invoke thee! (say 3 times)
St. Jude, help of the hopeless, Aid me in my distress! (say 3 times)
That by thine intercession, both priests and people of the Church may obtain an ardent zeal for the Faith of Jesus Christ,
We beseech thee, hear us. (repeat after each line)
That thou wouldst defend our Sovereign Pontiff and obtain peace and unity for Holy Church,
That all heathens and unbelievers may be converted to the True Faith,
That faith, hope and charity may increase in our hearts,
That we may be delivered from all evil thoughts and from all the snares of the devil,
That thou wouldst vouchsafe to aid and protect all those who honor thee,
That thou wouldst preserve us from all sin and from all occasions of sin,
That thou wouldst defend us at the hour of death, against the fury of the devil and of his evil spirits,
Pray for us, that before death we may expiate all our sins by sincere repentance and the worthy reception of the holy sacraments,
Pray for us, that we may appease the Divine justice, and obtain a favorable judgment,
Pray for us, that we may be admitted into the company of the blessed, to rejoice in the presence of our God forever,
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.
V. St. Jude, pray for us,
R. And for all who invoke thy aid.

Let us pray. O God, Who through Thy blessed Apostle Jude Thaddeus hast brought us unto the knowledge of Thy Name, grant us both to celebrate his eternal glory by making progress in virtue, and by celebrating his glory advance in virtue. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost art one God, now and forever. R. Amen.

Saint Jude and Saint Simon, pray for us, for all missionaries and for Iran.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Feast of Saint Kaleb of Axum

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

Saint Kaleb, pray for us and for Ethiopia.

The Feast of Saint Frumentius

O God, the light of the faithful, and shepherd of souls, who didst set blessed Saint Frumentius to be a Bishop in the Church, that he might feed thy sheep by his word and guide them by his example: Grant us, we pray thee, to keep the faith which he taught, and to follow in his footsteps; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Frumentius, pray for us, for Lebanon and for Ethiopia.

Monday, 26 October 2015

The Feast of Saint Alfred the Great

O GOD, who didst call thy servant Alfred to an earthly-throne that he might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst endue him with zeal for thy Church and charity towards thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate his example may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Saint Alfred the Great, pray for us, and for England.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Legends of Mary the Perpetual Virgin and Her Mother Hanna, by E.W. Budge

Legends Of Our Lady Mary The Perpetual Virgin & Her Mother Hanna: Translated From The Ethiopic Manuscripts Collected By King Theodore At Makdala & Now In The British Museum, translated by E.W. Budge

This book is a collection of Ethiopian apocryphal legends about the Blessed Virgin Mary. These include stories about her birth to Saint Anne (called Hanna here) by Saint Joachim and her childhood in the temple, as recounted in the proto-gospel of James. We also get re-tellings of the Annunciation and Nativity. It also has an account of her Dormition and Assumption, along with an apocalyptic vision of heaven and hell. The translator provides an introduction, detailing how central to devotion to Mary is to Coptic and Ethiopian Christians. He also provides an essay comparing these legends of Mary to the Egyptian legend of Isis, recognising their similarities, but also pointing out important contrasts.

This is such a delightful book. This material is apocryphal and not inspired. We cannot know how much of these stories are true, yet they are pious and venerable traditions compiled by people devoted to Our Lady. Some parts of it are intended for liturgical reading and so are introduced by outpourings of praise and prayer to Mary. This book filled my heart with such love and adoration for our Blessed Mother. It was so inspiring. These stories are also full of references to Scripture. The reader will find in here just how important the Bible is within the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition.

Some Protestants accuse Catholics and Orthodox of worshiping Mary as though she were a goddess. Yet if who would not want to adore such a goddess, if we called her that? The reason we seem so close to treating Mary as a goddess is because we Catholics and Orthodox see in Mary the first step in the divinization of humanity, the union of God and Man.

There is No Rose, by Aidan Nichols, OP

Aidan Nichols, OP, There is No Rose: The Mariology of the Catholic Church, 2015 Fortress Press

In recent years a number of popular level books have been published on the subject of Mariology, but I think there was a definite need for this new academic level treatment of the field of Mariology by Dominican theologian, Aidan Nichols.

Nichols sets the book in the context of debates between the Neo-Scholastic advocates of an high Mariology and post-Vatican II modernizers who seek to emphasise the Scriptural data on Mary, treating her primarily as an exemplary woman of faith. Nichols attempts to navigate a middle course inspired by the theology of ressourcement, acknowledging both the dogmatic developments of Mariology, while looking back to the Scriptural and Patristic sources.

As a Dominican theologian, Nichols is ideally placed to explain some of the Dominican reservations about the Immaculate Conception and he demonstrates how those objections were resolved. Moving on to Mary as Co-redemptrix, he sees two notions of co-redemption. There is an objective co-redemption, which is the part Mary played in the incarnation. This is basically a minimalist positon. However, other Catholics see a subjective co-redemption, which is the application of the work of salvation through the intercession of Mary. This is a more maximalist position. He also identifies another side to co-redemption, which is Mary's sacrificing of her son to the cross. This idea of Mary as Sorrowful Mother emerged in the Middle Ages and is very important in western liturgy and devotion, though it is largely absent from the Byzantine tradition. Nichols opts to call Mary the Mediatrix of Graces, rather than the 'Mediatrix of all Grace,' as he feels this better reflects Mary's position in the economy of salvation. Dealing with the Assumption of Our Lady, he looks at the issue of methodology, expressing dissatisfaction with the way the Neo-Scholastic advocates of the Assumption argued from logical necessity rather than through patristic sources. He also looks at the apparent confluct between church-type and Christ-type models of Mariology, concluding that neither model needs to be dominant.

This is a very insightful and inspiring short survey of the field of Mariology, though I would have liked Nichols to have set something about the Protoevangelium of James and the infancy traditions of Mary.

The Guardian: Austerity was a political choice. Now it’s starting to look like a bad one

The Guardian: Austerity was a political choice. Now it’s starting to look like a bad one

Article by Heather Stewart

'And that’s why even rightwing thinktanks the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute for Economic Affairs, hardly the skivers’ friends, criticised the policy last week: it will undermine work incentives. Sam Bowman of the ASI said: “The government has long claimed to want to make work pay for everyone, but cutting tax credits would disincentivise work and hurt those at the bottom of society.”

Tax credits cuts may yet be the policy that sees Osborne’s carefully constructed political edifice start to crumble. He chose austerity over investment, cutting back the state over taxing the rich, rewarding the comfortable over protecting the needy. And as Heidi Allen’s powerful maiden speech showed last week, those “judgment calls” may finally have caught up with him, by leading to policies even his own backbenchers are struggling to defend.'

Royal World: Monarchy and the Unity Paradox

Royal World: Monarchy and the Unity Paradox

'I've been longing for and advocating the restoration of fallen monarchies, especially in Europe, for nearly 25 years, more than any other political cause, and I'm only 37. I'll never give up. It's part of who I am to believe in the Return of the Kings. As my friend Charles Coulombe once said, the last monarchist will die when the last human being does. But I find it's getting harder to have much confidence that I will see Restoration actually happen anywhere. And a depressing thought that occurred to me recently is that even if by some miracle (and it does often seem like it would take a miracle) we monarchists were able to convince a majority of the population of a formerly monarchical country to back the restoration of the monarchy, we wouldn't convince everyone, and in all probability, since society would still be influenced by currents of modern thought derived from the French and Russian Revolutions, the opposition from those who are implacably hostile in principle to any hereditary public office would be so furious that it would be difficult or impossible for the newly restored Crown to fulfill one of its key functions, as a focus for national unity.'

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Conservative Home: There is no reason in principle not to have a sugar tax

Conservative Home: There is no reason in principle not to have a sugar tax

Article by Paul Goodman

Alcohol can brighten up a man’s evening but it can also destroy his life, sometimes literally, and devastate the life of his family. Hence beer duty and cider duty and wine duty and spirit duty, all set to strength. So it is that beer with a strength between 1.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent is taxed at 8.1p per litre and that with a strength of 7.5 per cent is taxed at more than 23.8p per litre – and so on. Taxation is the nudge principle made flesh, or can be.

That setting a tax too high can encourage a black market – see cigarette duties – or that government has other instruments to hand than taxation, such as advertising or regulation, is beside the point: namely, that this is a sensible way to use the tax system, which is required to raise the revenues to fund the public services which all of us other than those lost in the libertarian void acknowledge we need.

It follows that there is no reason in principle not to target the consumption of sugar with a specific tax – since sugar, like alcohol, can be bad for your health.

The author goes on to express some reservations about such a tax. Personally, I am in favour of a sugar tax. I find it appalling that it is cheaper to buy a can of sugary soda than to buy a bottle of water. The massive public health costs of sugar needs to be addressed.

Guardian: Petition urges Cardiff University to cancel Germaine Greer lecture

Guardian: Petition urges Cardiff University to cancel Germaine Greer lecture

An online petition has been launched seeking to prevent Germaine Greer from giving a lecture at Cardiff University, claiming her views are “problematic” for transgender people.

The petition on was started by Rachael Melhuish, women’s officer at the university’s students’ union, and alleges that Greer has “demonstrated misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether”.

The Australian writer is due to speak on 18 November in a lecture called Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century.

Asked about the petition, Greer told the Guardian: “I don’t really know what I think of it. It strikes me as a bit of a put-up job really because I am not even going to talk about the issue that they are on about.

“What they are saying is that because I don’t think surgery will turn a man into a woman I should not be allowed to speak anywhere.”

Greer said that she did not understand the mindset of those who had signed the petition, adding: “I do not know why universities cannot hear unpopular views and think about what they mean.”

The author compared the recent growth of campaigns against speakers as a result of their views on transgender issues to the Fathers 4 Justice movement, which ran a high-profile campaign for improved rights for men denied access to their children.

Feminists like Germaine Greer are the new victims of Gender Ideology.

The Feast of Saint Raphael the Archangel (Anglican)

O God, Who didst give Blessed Raphael the archangel to thy servant Tobias as a companion on his journey, grant to us, thy servants, that we may always be protected by his care and strengthened by his help; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost; ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Saint Raphael, pray for us and all couples who are getting married.

Feminist Current: The no platforming of radical feminists: A talk by Julie Bindel

Feminist Current: The no platforming of radical feminists: A talk by Julie Bindel

So the pile-on began and it has never ended — it never will end. So that’s just something that I accept. But what happened after that was kind of a beginning of a response to feminist politics, with me as a conduit. So everywhere I went to speak about sexual violence there was a crowd outside screaming and shouting “she’s a transphobe.” And very, very quickly it started to be combined with the pro-sex work lobby.

Almost immediately transwomen (never transmen) would turn up screaming “transphobe,” but also “whorephobe.”

There were two issues there — one is that some transwomen said that because they had been involved in survival sex work, I was being doubly oppressive to them by saying prostitution is an abusive, oppressive industry. But there were also pro-sex workers’ rights activists who saw an opportunity to give me a good kick in the gut and turned up in order to shout alongside them.

And these two issues became completely indivisible. So if I was put up for an award (which I never asked to be) they would bully and email the sponsors, trying to get the venue to shut it down. This was as early as 2006.

I would turn up at conferences outside of the UK and this very small lobby of transpeople who, as far as I’m concerned, do not represent transpeople at all, would organize the picket and would organize the screaming and shouting and banging on the windows. And this was when my colleagues and I were trying to discuss how to reduce sexual violence towards women and children, not because I was speaking about this issue.

I have spoken about transgenderism when I have been invited, and there’s always been transgender people with me on the panel and it’s often been at the invitation of transpeople, but others will try and get that debate shut down and the transpeople who wish to have that discussion and debate with me are screamed at and called “transphobe” themselves.

Julie Bindel is one of a number of Feminists who have been vilified and 'no-platformed' because of their refusal to accept the demands of Transgender activists. It is fascinating the way that Feminists have been forced to take an almost conservative stance against the shrill cries of postmodern identity politics.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Holy Cards, by Barbara Calamari and Sandra Didasqua

Barbara Calamari and Sandra Didasqua, Holy Cards, 2004 Abrams, New York

Holy cards are one of those great Catholic traditions, one of the ways in which Catholicism gives us a means to foster constant devotion. A reproduction of a religious painting, plus a short prayer on a card that can easily be carried in a wallet. The Protestants have nothing on this. I have my own small collection of holy cards and I try to say two of the prayers daily. I particularly like my St. Helena card, partly because I bought it at Westminster Cathedral on a special occasion.

This book offers readers and art lovers a chance to appreciate the wonder of these mass-produced masterpieces. It provides printed reproductions of a range of holy cards. They are divided into various categories of saints, such as missionaries and martyrs, with each one given a brief account of who the saint was.

The emphasis here is on the range of different saints. There are only a handful of cards which feature the Lord Jesus or His Blessed Mother. I think the book ought to have included a chapter on cards featuring the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she has been depicted in so many different and beautiful ways under different titles.

There are other things that are not included in this book. No details are given about the date and country of origin of he cards, which rather limits historical appreciation. There is also nothing about the prayers in the cards. I understand that most readers will be more interested in the artwork, but is not the prayer a fundamentally important part of the holy card? Some examples of the major novenas and prayers ought to have been reproduced. Nevertheless, this is a book of truly wonderful art pieces. It will demonstrate how things that are mass-produced can still be beautiful and holy.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Naturalis Historia- Diatoms: Tiny Organisms Highlight Big Inconsistencies in Young Earth Flood Geology Models

Naturalis Historia- Diatoms: Tiny Organisms Highlight Big Inconsistencies in Young Earth Flood Geology Models

The second problem here is not as obvious but just as big of a problem for the flood geology model. Dr. Snelling is not the only one to appeal to massive floating forests on the worlds oceans in the pre-Flood ecosystem. Many other YECs have appealed to huge floating forests covering much of the pre-flood oceans. There is no biblical evidence of such a forest and there is not direct observation of these forests so why the assumption and even insistence that this was part of that antedeluvian world? Because of the massive deposits of coal in the geological column. YECs accept, based on the evidence from historical science I might add, that coal really is the remains of plants and because there are trillions of tons of coal all that coal must represent plants that were alive at the time of the initiation of a global flood and then buried during that year. It doesn’t take much more than elementary school math to figure out that all that trillions of tons of coal represents an awful lot of trees. So many in fact, that the antedeluvial Earth must have been nearly covered in forest. Thus, the young earth model must find a place to put those trees. They couldn’t all have grown on land so YECs propose huge floating mats of vegetation covering large portions of the less-salty pre-Flood oceans.

What’s the problem here? Well there are many but sticking to the diatom story, diatoms are photosynthetic organisms. This means they require sunlight in order to produce their own sugars for food. Today diatoms produce as much as 25% of all the global oxygen produced by photosynthesis. How could the oceans be “teeming with diatoms and other photosynthetic organisms” if much of the ocean was covered by a floating forest blocking the sunlight necessary for diatoms survival? Both can’t be true to any meaningful extent because one would have excluded the other.

This article reveals the complex web of absurdities involved in Creationist Flood Geology. I had not even realised that some Creation Scientists advocate the idea that before the Flood, there were vast floating forests on the seas!

The Feast of Saint John Paul II

O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the blessed Saint John Paul the Second should preside as Pope over your universal Church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint John Paul II, pray for us, for Pope Francis and for Poland.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Jeb Bush on Donald Trump

National Review: A Clear Choice on National Security

Article by Jeb Bush

'That Trump echoes the attacks of Michael Moore and the fringe Left against my brother is yet another example of his dangerous views on national-security issues.

This is a man who has previously stated he would prefer Hillary Clinton had led negotiations on the nuclear agreement with Iran. He has expressed a willingness to allow Vladimir Putin to dominate the Middle East by aligning with Iran and propping up the ruthless Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad — an action that would only worsen the existing refugee crisis and endanger our national-security interests and those of Israel. And he has been ignorant and dismissive of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, saying that we shouldn’t have gone into Afghanistan to hunt al-Qaeda and end the safe haven for terror provided by the Taliban, only to retreat from that stance this week.

Let’s be clear: Donald Trump simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And his bluster overcompensates for a shocking lack of knowledge on the complex national-security challenges that will confront the next president of the United States.'

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

BBC News: MP Heidi Allen warns tax credit cuts 'betray' Tory values

BBC News: MP Heidi Allen warns tax credit cuts 'betray' Tory values

A Tory MP has said her party risks betraying its values as she voiced her opposition to tax credit cuts.

Heidi Allen suggested ministers were losing sight of the difficulties of working people in their "single-minded determination to achieve a surplus".
Urging help for affected families, she said "true Conservatives had compassion running through their veins".
The government is standing by the changes, saying these and other reforms will save taxpayers £15bn a year.

Why are the Conservatives doing this when everything is otherwise going so well for us? Why drive working people back into the arms of Labour?

Adam Smith Institute attacks Tax Credit cuts

Press Release: Reverse proposed tax credit cuts now, says Adam Smith Institute

Working tax credits are the best form of welfare we have, and cutting them would be a huge mistake. The government has long claimed to want to make work pay for everyone, but cutting tax credits would disincentivise work and hurt those at the bottom of society.

Contrary to the government’s claims, the National Living Wage will do little to help those affected by these cuts and, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, it risks adding insult to injury by pricing tens of thousands of workers out of the labour market altogether.

There is little evidence that tax credits ‘subsidise’ employers, except to the extent that they make more people willing to work in the first place, creating a larger pool of workers. The politics of this looks dangerous, too: when it’s working families at the bottom of the income distribution that are being hit hardest, it’s hard to say that we are ‘all in this together’. We urge the Chancellor to rethink these cuts and find savings elsewhere instead.

It's fantastic to see the advocates of free-market capitalism defending the worthier aspects of the welfare state. A competitive economy should work hand in hand with a strong social safety net.

International Business Times: George Osborne's national living wage is 'magic money tree' thinking

International Business Times: George Osborne's national living wage is 'magic money tree' thinking

The chancellor's logic is this: working tax credits "subsidise" firms by allowing them to pay their workers less. Reduce the subsidy, and raise the minimum wage, and firms will be forced to pay their workers more. The government spends less and firms spend more, and workers don't feel the difference.

Virtually none of this is true. Tax credits do not subsidise firms, raising the minimum wage does not magic more money from firms to workers and even if it did it would hardly offset the tax credit cuts at all. Osborne is cutting one of the best kinds of welfare we have, and adding insult to injury with a minimum wage hike that may do more harm than good.

In-work poverty is a significant and probably growing problem for developed countries. Although globalisation and automation raise living standards overall, unskilled workers in developed countries, who could previously rely on industrial jobs to provide a decent wage, are now finding these jobs going overseas. At least for the time being the jobs they are finding instead are not as good.

That means that the old welfare state, designed to act as a temporary safety net to support people in between jobs, is outdated. We now have a large and growing number of people who are not economically productive enough to earn the wages that most people think are necessary to have a decent life even though they are in full-time work.

Tax credits, which are really a form of direct cash transfer to low earners, are designed to remedy this problem. The principle here is that is that a job may not be enough, and giving poor people money to top up their incomes is the best way to improve their standard of living.

I hate to criticise Conservative policy, but George Osborne's economics seems really flawed.

I have a suspicion that George Osborne is actually Machiavellian enough to realize that the 'Living Wage' will result in increased unemployment. Perhaps he believes that the employment rate is too high and a smaller workforce would be more competitive and productive. Could it be?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Economist: The reluctant European

The Economist: The reluctant European

Moreover, if Britain wanted full access to the European single market, it would have to observe almost all the EU’s rules. That is the case in Norway and Switzerland, non-members that both also pay into the EU budget (in Norway’s case, roughly 90% of Britain’s net contribution per head). Eurosceptics who dream of reclaiming lost sovereignty need to explain how they advance their aims by advocating an alternative that would require Britain to apply rules it has no say in making—and to pay for the privilege.

If, instead, Britain wishes to escape the EU’s rules, it will lose full access to the single market. The argument that, because Britain imports more from the EU than the other way round, it is in a strong bargaining position is unconvincing: the EU takes almost half of British exports, whereas Britain takes less than 10% of the EU’s. A free-trade deal in goods might be negotiable, but it would not cover services (including financial services), which make up a rising share of British exports. And one thing is sure: if Britain establishes a precedent by leaving, the rest of the EU will not rush to reward it.

Excellent article. It counters the key arguments of the Brexit crowd.

Atonement, by Thomas Torrance

Thomas F. Torrance, Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, edited by Robert T. Walker, 2009 Paternoster

When I was an Evangelical Protestant, I went through a phase of feeling uncomfortable with the idea of penal substitutionary atonement. These days I think the essence of that doctrine is correct, but Evangelicals often proclaim it in a really crass way. I have heard sermons where the pastor says something along the lines of "Who killed Jesus? God killed Jesus!" It was therefore a great delight to read Torrance's lectures on the atonement, which gives the Protestant idea of atonement a much needed theological depth.

How does one review a book like this? This is a truly magisterial work. It is not a systematic theology, but deals with some of the major themes of Christian theology, moving from Christology and soteriology into the Pneumatology, ecclesiology and eschatology. Robert Walker provides a lengthy, but very useful introduction to this series of lectures, forming a synopsis of its themes.

This is theology grounded in exegesis. Torrance spends time surveying both the Old Testament background and New Testament material relating to the idea of atonement. He identifies three elements of atonement- Justification, Reconciliation and Redemption. Of that last vital element, he distinguishes three aspects, the Cultic-Forensic, the Dramatic and the Ontological. The Cultic-Forensic concerns legal and moral justification, the Dramatic concerns deliverance from the powers of sin, death and evil. The Ontological concerns mystical participation in Christ. He argues that the different Christian traditions have emphasised these too varying degrees. The Reformed and Catholic traditions have both emphasised a combination of Cultic-Forensic and Ontological (interestingly, both the same emphasis, despite reaching different conclusions). The Orthodox view is a combination of the Dramatic and the Ontological. The Lutherans have focused on a combination of the Dramatic with the Cultic-Forensic.

Torrance makes a strong connection of the atonement to the incarnation. He argues that the Calvinistic doctrine of Limited Atonement is incorrect because it fails to see that Christ took on human nature in His incarnation and took that nature to the cross. All of humanity therefore participates in the atonement. Not only this, but the atonement involves the entire cosmos and makes reconciliation for the whole of creation.

Torrance goes beyond simply talking about the Cross, he makes a vital connection between the death of Christ on the cross and the Resurrection as the completion of the atoning event. He also provides a penetrating look at the Ascension. He sees in the ascension event the bringing of humanity into the life of God.

This is Protestant theology at its best. Reading it has greatly enhanced my rosary meditations.

Father Ed's Blog: Truth is being spoken to power

Father Ed's Blog: Truth is being spoken to power

The Synod on the family is bringing clarity to the church. Three things seem obvious. First there exists deep division between those who uphold the faith of the ages and those who have conformed to the spirit of the world. Second the gravest danger posed by the modernists does not centre on any one particular issue but in a scheme to devolve power away from Rome to national churches. Thirdly that things are not going smoothly for them, hence the need to rig things, and some brave souls are standing up to the assault on the faith and calling the church to sanity.

One such person is Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea, a Romanian. She made the following presentation to Pope Francis and the Synod bishops on Friday. It is the best analysis I have seen of what is really going on within Christianity in the 21st Century. And her words only gain gravitas when one considers the author’s own experience of living out the faith against the backdrop of a communist tyranny.

The Feast of Saint Luke

ALMIGHTY God, who didst inspire thy servant Saint Luke the Physician, to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son; Manifest in thy Church the like power and love, to the healing of our bodies and our souls; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Luke, pray for us, that we would forever proclaim the blessedness of the Virgin Mary.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Mr Gog's Mystablog: Monarchy: servant leadership

Mr Gog's Mystablog: Monarchy: servant leadership

'The avowedly apolitical nature of the modern constitutional monarch certainly has something to do with it. It is harder to buy the favours of someone who is not competing for office. There is also the implicit lack of ambition involved: not having to campaign for their post, monarchs can afford humility. Further, it is safer to have one's police, judiciary and Armed Forces swearing loyalty to a suprapolitical institution rather than to a partisan individual.

These are all arguments that a secular apologist for the monarchy might employ. But as a Christian, and especially as an Anglican, I think there is something more to it than that. There is also the sacral dimension. The monarch is crowned and anointed by the Church, not by the people, albeit with the assumption of their assent. She is crowned not to her own glory or a personal fiefdom, but into the self-sacrificial kingship of Christ himself, and is therefore bound to his model of service. Nor is this merely a voluntary and dissoluble bond, but arguably a sacramental one. The oaths a monarch makes to the nation have the same gravity as marriage vows, and as with marriage, those vows are sealed by nothing less than God the Holy Spirit. So do we trust God to fulfill his half of the promise?'

Conservative Home: It’s time to get on with Heathrow expansion

Conservative Home: It’s time to get on with Heathrow expansion

Article by Heathrow Airport

With Heathrow full, Britain is slipping behind international competitors. At the start of this year, Heathrow was the best connected airport in the world and the busiest for international passengers. In Q1, Dubai overtook Heathrow for the first time on international passengers. In Q2, Paris overtook Heathrow for the number of long haul destinations served. There are four cities in China where Heathrow connects to but there are eight others that are connected to our European competitors. That means Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam are all better connected than London.

Britain is already feeling the consequences: France has 1,200,000 Chinese tourists arriving by air. The UK has 200,000 – the same as the Dutch, a country a third of its size. Heathrow is the UK’s biggest port by value yet Frankfurt exports six times as much by air to China.

Britain cannot defy economic gravity: fewer connections mean fewer exports and less inward investment. And as long as Britain has fewer flights to China than its European neighbours, the country will continue to fall behind.

Indeed. The government needs to get on with supporting an expanded Heathrow, though this is a little awkward with the selection of Zac Goldsmith as candidate for London mayor.

The Feast of Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Almighty ever-living God, who adorn the sacred body of your Church with the confessions of holy Martyrs, grant, we pray, that, just as the glorious passion of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, which we celebrate today, brought him eternal splendor, so it may be for us unending protection. 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 Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us that we may have true faith in the reality of the Blessed Sacrament.

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Feast of Saint Hedwig

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that the revered intercession of Saint Hedwig may bring us heavenly aid, just as her wonderful life is an example of humility for 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.

St. Hedwig, pray for us, that we may do works of mercy.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

National Review: Take Another Look at Latin America

National Review: Take Another Look at Latin America

Article by Conrad Black

'All of this raises some interesting perspectives on the Latin American policy of Pope Francis, the first pope from that region. Francis badly disappointed his co-religionists by his failure, in his recent visit to Cuba, to insist on meeting the Ladies in White or to give any other solace to the democratic opposition to the Stalinist Castro dictatorship of nearly 57 years. His almost indiscriminate railings against capitalism when he is in Latin America, dipping to scatology in reflections about “the devil’s dung,” are irritating and bad public policy, since economic growth is the only way to eradicate poverty. But a heavy application of Christian generosity can perhaps excuse his more provocative reflections because of his discomfort in navigating between the atheist Left in Latin America and the loss in membership his Church has suffered from the evangelical Christians, who are unencumbered by the baggage of complicity in the atrocities of the Spanish and Portuguese colonists and the cynical corruption of the post-Bolívar juntas right up to recent times. But the pope’s apparent indifference to the virtues of human rights in Cuba, while visiting a decrepit and almost Struldbrug despotism, one that needs him far more than he needs it, is a serious embarrassment to the Roman Catholic Church and a disappointment to all who wish success for this often inspiring pope. The defeat of the far Left in Latin America can be reasonably assumed, as it has never succeeded anywhere and is anathema in what remains, Catholic and Protestant, a very Christian civilization.

The collapse of the medium-hard Left seems likely to come in a democratic thunderclap in Brazil, and it is difficult to see where a far-Left regime has much likelihood of surviving in Latin America in five years, apart, perhaps, from Bolivia and one or two little countries in Central America. Opposite the evangelicals, Francis has made his apologies for his Church’s complicity in odious regimes of the past, and Rome enjoys all the intellectual, material, organizational, and legitimist advantages it has generally deployed against schismatic Christian groups from the Counter-Reformation onward.'

Catholic Herald: Where Amnesty went wrong

Catholic Herald: Where Amnesty went wrong

Article by Dennis Sewell

The following year Amnesty produced a 1,000-page legal brief aimed at persuading the authorities in Canada to arrest the former US president George W Bush, who happened to be on a short visit, for alleged war crimes in Iraq. Once again they had turned full circle. The organisation founded to get people out of jail was now trying to get someone locked up.

And releasing prisoners seems no longer such a big priority anyway. Take a quick peek at Amnesty’s websites today and you will find that prisoners of conscience are sidelined by big campaigns not just on issues you might expect such as torture or the death penalty but on arms control; the Middle East; LGBT rights; gender issues; migrant rights; surveillance; policing in Ferguson, Missouri; and access to emergency contraception and abortion services.

The Catholic Church had seen this latter one coming as early as 2006, and the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales tried to head it off at the pass. But Amnesty refused to back down and in 2007 the late Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia, who had been an Amnesty member for 31 years, led a long procession of Catholics out the door. In the following months Amnesty branches in Catholic parishes were closed down after a nudge from the hierarchy.

The Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila

O God, who through your Spirit raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus to show the Church the way to seek perfection, grant that we may always be nourished by the food of her heavenly teaching and fired with longing for true holiness. 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 Teresa

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us.
Holy Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel,
pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, whose heart was transverberated by the love of God,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, most humble servant of God,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, most zealous for the glory of God,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, woman truly strong in mind,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, truly detached from all created objects,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, great light of the Catholic Church,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, reformer and glory of the Carmelite Order,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, queen of mystical theology,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, lustrous name of Avila and Spain,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, who didst forever glorify the name of Teresa,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, wishing to suffer or to die,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, exclaiming,
"O Lord, how sweet and pleasing are Thy ways!"
pray for us.
St. Teresa, desiring so much the salvation of souls,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, tasting and seeing how sweet is the Lord,
even in this vale of miseries,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, exclaiming,
"O death, who can fear thee who art the way to true life!"
pray for us.
St. Teresa, true lover of the Cross of Christ,
pray for us.
St. Teresa, who didst live to love,
who died to love, and who wilt love eternally,
pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Saint Teresa,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray
O God, Who didst replenish the heart of
Thy blessed servant St. Teresa
with the treasures of Thy divine love,
grant that, like her,
we may love Thee
and suffer all things for Thee
and in union with Thee,
that we may gain souls for Thee,
and that we may secure the salvation of our own soul.
This we beg through the merits of our Saviour
and the intercession of Thy glorious virgin Teresa.

Saint Teresa, pray for us, and for Spain.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Feast of Saint Edward the Confessor

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

Most glorious St. Edward, you showed your devotion to God with patience, gentleness and generosity. Like you, may I serve to strengthen the Kingdom of God through patient prayer and charity. Amen.

Saint Edward, pray for us and for England.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, by Daria Sockey

Daria Sockey, The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, 2013 Servant Books

I find the Liturgy of the Hours inspiring. When we pray the Divine Office, we are joining a cosmic choir, a choir of all the Catholic Church bringing together prayer and praise to heaven at every time of the day. Daria Sockey also finds this inspiring and so has written a very helpful handbook for saying the Liturgy of the Hours.

She begins with a short introduction to the breviary, explaining a little bit about its historical background. She then goes on to explain why Catholics should say the Divine Office, arguing that after the mass, the Office is the second most important liturgy of the Church. She points out that when we say the Liturgy, we are joining with millions of Christians around the world, making real that proposition in the creed about the 'communion of saints.' The Divine Office demonstrates the priestly capacity of the entire people of God in the Church. The Liturgy of the Hours also enables us to pray with the words of Scripture, bringing the Bible into our devotions. It also has us praying as Christ prayed, that is with the Psalms.

She reviews the various printed editions of the Divine Office, both US and UK, along with digital breviaries. She suggests that a printed breviary can function as a sacramental, having a permanence that digital editions do not share. She discourages readers from using daily offices that are not approved by the Catholic Church, as they do not provide the full benefits of participating in the Liturgy of the Hours. I am conscious that when I say the Anglican Book of Common Prayer I am not joining in with the Catholic Church's chorus of global praise. Yet I am joining in with our Anglican brethren and also with our Ordinariate Catheolics, who use the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham as an office. I think there is something very special about using the official Divine Office, but I still use the BCP on some weeks, because I love the prayer book language. I also say the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary on some weeks. I would have liked Sockey to have said a bit more about the Little Office, as some Catholics use it as an alternative to the Liturgy of the Hours.

The author goes through each of the hours and their components offering practical advice as to how to say them with devotion. She also explains how to use the propers, keeping the liturgical calendar of the Church. She states that when using the Divine Office alone, one should feel free to leave out the hymn, which is certainly what I do. I like her description of the Marian antiphon as 'asking the Mother of God to tuck us into bed,' probably the most memorable statement in this book.

We also get a chapter on the Psalms, which addresses complaints such as the violent nature of some Psalms and that they are a bit depressing. She suggests it is a very positive thing that the Office has us say specific psalms regardless of how we feel. It is good to say joyful psalms when we feel down and good to say sorrowful psalms when we feel happy. This is one of the things that I came to love about Catholicism, having come from an easy-going Charismatic Evangelical background. The Catholic Church gives us duties and requirements to do regardless of how we feel. I am a little unhappy with the author's recommendation of C.S. Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms. CS Lewis wrote many good books, but Reflections on the Psalms is unfortunately not one of them. It shows his Achille's Heel, a weak and liberal view of the inspiration of Scripture.

I would say this is an excellent and valuable guide to using the Liturgy of the Hours.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

LMS Chairman: Mantilla featured in Diocesan magazine

LMS Chairman: Mantilla featured in Diocesan magazine

'The new edition of the Portsmouth diocesan periodical, the Portsmouth People, has a lady in a mantilla on its front cover. On examinining the photo credits, it appears that she is attending Mass in Erbil, Iraq. It is linked to a story about refugees.

The Catholics of the Middle East have been more faithful to their traditions that the Catholics in the comfortable West. But those attached to the Traditional Mass are doing their best.'

Stevenage Conservatives' Annual Dinner

Yesterday evening, I attended the Stevenage Conservative Association annual dinner, held at the Novotel. Having seen Stephen McPartland, our MP re-elected in May, everybody was in good spirits.

Our guest of honour was the Rt Hon. Ann Widdecombe DSG. Ann Widdecombe was member of parliament for Maidstone and at one time, a serving cabinet member. She made the transition from politician to television celebrity, mainly through her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing and she is loved across the country because of her straight-talking, no-nonsense attitude. She is also a fellow convert to Catholicism.

She briefly visited the table at which I was sat, encouraging us to be optimistic about Conservative prospects. She asked each of us how we would vote in the referendum on Britain's EU membership. Everybody on my table said they would vote for 'Out' except for myself and a lady who said it would depend on Cameron's re-negotiations for reform. I find it disconcerting that I am one of the few Europhiles in the association.

In her speech, Ann Widdecombe talked about the resurgence of plain bad old socialism with the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. She pointed out his unelectability and argued that once the Labour Party realised this, he would be out of the job. She predicted that Labour would have a new leader in two years time and so there was no place for complacency. The Conservative Party had to avoid in-fighting and to show that it has the best policies.

Ann also raise the subject of immigration in her speech. She stated that there were three strands to the issue of immigration. Work permits were absolutely fine, as these enabled the country to meet the skills it needed. I agree with her that work permits are a good thing, but it is not always easy to identify what skills are needed. For instance, there is an impending shortage of nurses due to nursing not being identified as an area of need. There is also talk of Indian restaurants closing, because Indian chefs cannot get work permits. The second strand identified by Ann was immigration from Eastern Europe under the principal of free movement in the EU. She argued that while this had its benefits, it had caused a massive problem of infrastructure. I don't disagree that this has put pressure on local government in some areas, but I think the economic benefits of Eastern European workers have compensated for this quite adequately. She said that there is no prospect of ending free movement of labour, but there was a need to restrict the availability of benefits for European immigrants. The problem with this is that there is an inherent unfairness in workers paying taxes for benefits that they do not receive. There is a limit to how far we can fairly restrict the access of benefits to migrants.

The third strand of immigration she talked about was asylum seekers. She argued that the majority of asylum seekers are able-bodied young men. She asked why those from Syria were not fighting against ISIS. She believes that the majority of these asylum seekers are economic migrants. She advocated the arbitrary detention of all asylum seekers. A harsh measure, but I'm sure it would solve the migrant crisis. On the other hand, I'm not sure it is feasible. Aside practical issues and humanitarian objections, I suspect there is probably some piece of European or international legislation that tells us we can't do that.

When she opened the floor to questions, she was asked by an association member about immigration. Somebody suggested the danger that Britain could be taken over by Muslim extremists given that many Muslims have more children than typical British families. Ann replied that children of Muslim immigrants have solidly British values. We should therefore avoid a xenophobic attitude that distrusts immigrants because they have lots of children. I found that comment very refreshing.

Ann was also asked about the subject of national ID cards, a topic that I have not heard anything on for years. Remarkably, Ann turned out to be in favour of introducing compulsory national ID cards. Not very many people in the Conservative Party would share Ann's view and I can't say I like that idea myself. However, it is refreshing to hear Ann Widdecombe's distinctive brand of authoritarian Conservatism, that stands in contrast to the libertarian trend in modern Toryism.

She was also asked whether she would vote to leave the European Union in the coming referendum. Ann replied that she would very much like to see Britain leave the EU, but if there was a vote on the question tomorrow, she would vote to stay in the EU. She said that those advocating 'Brexit' needed to explain exactly what arrangements they wanted for a future post-EU Britain. She raised several economic objections to leaving the EU. I was gladdened to hear this, though I think she ruffled quite a few feathers in the association!

I asked Ann Widdecombe what she hoped to see from the Synod on the Family. She replied by talking about the imporance of upholding the unchanging teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage. She suggested that Anglicans needed to take lessons from the doctrinal rigidity of Catholicism.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Feast of St. Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ you Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

O Queen of the most holy Rosary, in these times of brazen impiety, show again thy power, with the signs which accompanied thy victories of old, and from the throne where thou art seated, dispensing pardon and grace, in pity watch over the Church of thy Son, His Vicar, and every order of the clergy and laity, suffering in grievous warfare. Hasten, O most powerful destroyer of heresy, hasten the hour of mercy seeing that the hour of judgment is daily challenged by innumberable offences. Obtain for me, the lowest of men, kneeling suppliant in thy presence, the grace which may enable me to live a just life on earth, and reign with the just in Heaven, whilst with the faithful throughout the world, O Queen of the most holy Rosary, I salute thee and cry out: Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us! Amen.

Saint Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us and for the victory of the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Telegraph: Theresa May's immigration speech is dangerous and factually wrong

The Telegraph: Theresa May's immigration speech is dangerous and factually wrong

Article by James Kirkup

'And as ministers rightly tell us, the economy is indeed strong right now. In other words, the government's own assessment is that immigrants are not forcing people out of jobs as Mrs May says.

The government's own assessments in other documents say other things too. The Treasury, for instance, says immigration means annual GDP growth is .25 percentage points higher. The OBR, meanwhile, says immigration means the deficit is smaller because of the taxes immigrants pay. And then there are studies from the OECD and the rest showing immigration makes Britain richer and British public services more sustainable.'

The facts are plain that immigration is good for Britain.

The Spectator: Theresa May’s immigration speech was as tawdry as it was contemptible

The Spectator: Theresa May’s immigration speech was as tawdry as it was contemptible

Article by Alex Massie

"I suggest that there is a certain tension between bemoaning ‘runaway’ immigration and saluting the great, equally ‘runaway’, success of London. You cannot have it both ways. London, in particular, is great because, not despite, its diversity. The problem of London exceptionalism is that the rest of the country is not more like London.

Unless, of course, you’re a Home Secretary pandering to the basest elements of the Tory party. A Home Secretary basing her pitch to lead her party on a stale and noxious concoction of tawdry nativism. In that case, in those circumstances, you are licensed to present a picture of Britain as a country on the brink of an abyss, in which hordes – or swarms – of migrants are undermining the British way of life, threatening social cohesion and tearing up whatever remains of whatever you mean by our ‘social fabric’. A country that is failing, in other words."

Please don't let Theresa May become leader of the Conservative Party. That would be awful.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Christian Institute: Govt backtracks on ‘sinister’ faith leaders watchlist

The Christian Institute: Govt backtracks on ‘sinister’ faith leaders watchlist

A Home Office minister has signalled that the Government now has “no plans” to introduce a ‘watchlist’ for faith leaders, in a move welcomed by The Christian Institute.

Responding to letters from Christian Institute supporters, Mike Penning MP, along with other Conservative MPs, said that the Government is not planning to introduce such a measure.

A leaked draft of the Government’s counter-extremism strategy, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, indicated that ministers, rabbis and imams could be monitored and forced to undergo Government approved training.

Good news, though the fact that they came up with such an idea is a bit worrying.

Faith Magazine: The Primacy of Christ in John Duns Scotus: An Assessment

Faith Magazine: The Primacy of Christ in John Duns Scotus: An Assessment

'Aquinas emphasised the material and formal causes in creation, but Scotus placed his emphasis on the final cause as determining the work of the artist. In other words it is the purpose of creation that determines its form. Since creation is created to love, it is ordered to allow it to fulfil the role for which it was created. So we find ourselves in a universe united around its purpose – which is to reflect in love the loving God who created it.

The highest expression of this purpose is the one who loves most perfectly, Christ who is the goal of creation and to whom all of creation tends. For Christ is the meaning and model of all that is created and every creature is made in the image of Christ. Every leaf, stone, fruit, animal and person is an expression of the Word of God, spoken in love. Christ’s entry into creation is not then an entry into an alien environment, but the culmination of all that creation is and means. The Incarnation completes creation rather than supplementing it, as the anthropocentric view of creation would have us believe. Scotus’ theology is an expression of the insight that St. Francis of Assisi expressed in his poem the “Canticle of the Creatures”: God is praised through creatures, precisely because allcreatures have life through Christ, in Christ and with Christ. For Christ is the Word through whom all things were made.

This Christoform theology of creation presents Christ as the blueprint for creation. In Christ the divine-human communion reaches its culmination and so in Christ the meaning and purpose of creation reaches its highest point. In Christ, what all of creation is ordered towards, that is the praise and glory of God in a communion of love, finds its centre and its highest meaning. With the Incarnation at its centre, creation becomes a cosmic hymn to the Trinity, in which the universe, bound together in and through the cosmic Christ, offers praise and glory to God.'

The implications of Scotus' doctrine of the Primacy of Christ are massive, yet it truly is a doctrine to warm the heart.

Why Mary Matters, by Kristofer Carlson

Kristofer Carlson, Why Mary Matters: Protestants and the Virgin Mary, 2014 Dormition Press, Virginia

This is written by a convert to Orthodoxy. Having come from a fundamentalist Protestant background, Carlson struggled with the whole subject of mariology. He argues that for many Protestants, fear of Catholicism is a stumbling block for accepting Orthodox teaching about the blessed Theotokos. Nevertheless, he attempts to show in this book the Biblical foundations of Orthodox mariology. He spends much time on the subject of typology, showing, for instance, why Orthodox Christians compare Mary to the burning bush of Exodus.

One of the things I appreciated about this book is that it avoids taking the harsh anti-Catholic stance that some Orthodox publications take. While the author expresses disagreement with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, he otherwise shows respect towards Catholicism.

This is a very fine work of Orthodox apologetics, though Catholic readers will also find it useful and edifying. One issue I would have liked the author to touch on would have been the apocryphal Gospel of James. While Orthodox Christians do not regard the Protoevangelium of James as Scripture, they do seem to make use of it in their mariology. I would have liked Carlson to make some comments as to the exact value and status of that book.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Bring Everything to the Lord in Prayer

The Lord answered a fairly trivial prayer of mine today. Earlier this week I placed a bid on ebay for a book. I then purchased what I thought was a different book on Amazon, but which turned out to be the same book I bid for on ebay. You can't cancel a bid, so I was at risk of buying the same item twice. I prayed to God and I prayed to several blessed saints that I would be outbid by another customer. The Lord answered and I was outbid.

Some people think that it is impious to pray for trivial, personal things. I completely disagree. Small personal things are on our minds and will distract us if we do not commit them to the Lord. We need to pray about them, not worry about them. By taking such worries and concerns into our prayers, we learn utter and complete dependence on God. What is more, praying about small things gets us into the habit of prayer, it motivates us to pray. We can never spend too much time praying.

This is not to say that I do not pray about big things. Over the last week, I have made the Synod on the Family my intention every time I say the rosary. Yet how can we have confidence that God will answer our prayers about the great issues of the day, if we have no faith that He will answer us over the small details of our lives? When we experience answers from God over small things, we rejoice in our little victories and have confidence that God will do much mightier things in answer to our prayers.

Telegraph: A Blairite's advice to the Conservative party: move Left, and keep moving

Telegraph: A Blairite's advice to the Conservative party: move Left, and keep moving

Article by John McTernan

However, the Tories should study him and ruthlessly copy his strategy as Prime Minister. Occupy the centre ground. Own it. This is good politics because it is where the voters are. But it is great strategy because it sends the other side demented. In the grief of election loss, parties all too often blame the voters. This is psychologically understandable, but politically stupid. The truth is that the voters are never wrong, and even when they are, they're still not wrong. Remember how the Tories reacted to the Labour government? Seeking definition with clear blue water. Conceding, in effect, that to be moderate was to be Labour and vice versa.

BBC News: Zac Goldsmith chosen as Conservative London mayoral candidate

BBC News: Zac Goldsmith chosen as Conservative London mayoral candidate

I'm not sure about this. I think Zac Goldsmith is somebody who could win the election, but Heathrow expansion is going to be a real problem. Heathrow really does need a new runway, bu Zac will oppose it tooth and nail.

Telegraph: David Cameron is actually really good at politics

Telegraph: David Cameron is actually really good at politics

Article by Tim Stanley

If it all sounds like a muddle, a mush and a squidgy compromise then that’s because it is – and always was on the British Right before Margaret Thatcher handbagged us with ideology. Cameron hails from an older Tory tradition that saw ideology as fantasy. It put its faith in ancient institutions and used the government to iron out problems that threatened to divide society. This “steady as you go” attitude drives Left-wing pundits absolutely mad but it’s much closer to the view of voters who don’t want to hear from government unless they absolutely need it. Labour promises that “another world is possible” and doesn't understand that most folks don’t want to live in another world. They just want this one. With a few tweaks.

Absolutely right. Traditional Toryism was always about pragmatism. True Tories don't do ideology.

I have my issues with David Cameron, but I prefer him to his critics and he is truly, along with Angela Merkel in Germany, one of the greatest politicians of our age.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

One of my favorite hymns. I tend to sing this whenever the Lord answers my prayers.

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Feast of the Guardian Angels

O God, who in your unfathomable providence are pleased to send your holy Angels to guard us, hear our supplication as we cry to you, that we may always be defended by their protection and rejoice eternally in their company. 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.

Guardian Angels, pray for us, that we may turn from every evil work.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Feminisation

Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment: Feminisation

"My comments can only be anecdotal and your mere assertion might be enough to falsify them. But my instinct is that the style of liturgical life spreading in the Church of England bears a general relationship to the rapid spread of 'ordained' women. And that it is a style which goes easy on the doctrinal and the objective and puts its money on on the folksy and the feely and the personal.

In a generation they will have transformed the Church of England as surely as the Victorian ritualists, in their very different way, transformed it once before. Thank goodness there is no risk of the same thing happening in the Catholic Church ..."

Royal World: Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (1939-2015)

Royal World: Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (1939-2015)

'RIP Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, who died yesterday at 76 after a long illness. The eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II's grandson Prince Louis Ferdinand (1907-1994) and Grand Duchess Kira of Russia (1909-1967), he would have succeeded him as head of the House of Hohenzollern had he not married a commoner. (Deposed royal families are often stricter about their marriage laws than reigning ones, since they have no way to change the rules that were in place during the monarchy. Had the German/Prussian monarchy endured, it's likely that the marriage requirements would have been weakened eventually.) A historian who specialized in his own family including Frederick the Great, he is survived by four children including Philipp, a Lutheran pastor, who has advocated the restoration of monarchy in Germany.'

National Review: Jeb Would Limit the Federal Government to Its Proper Constitutional Role

National Review: Jeb Would Limit the Federal Government to Its Proper Constitutional Role

'What we need is a candidate committed to a structural reset of Washington that puts the federal government in its place and restores the proper balance of power between it and the states. That candidate, in my view, is Governor Jeb Bush. We need a president willing to embrace the idea that Washington is not the answer to all, or even most, of our problems. Jeb’s tenure as governor of Florida gives him a unique appreciation of the power of keeping government local and close to the people. Nothing is more indicative of this than a letter he sent to President George W. Bush just two years into his first term as governor. It’s a heartfelt and personal plea from brother to brother, asking President Bush to not let the fog of Washington obscure his view of the proper role of the states.'

The Feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux

O God, who open your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The Litany of Saint Therese of Lisieux

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,
God, the Holy Ghost,
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. (Repeat after each line)
Our Lady of Victory,
Our Lady of Mount Carmel,
St. Therese of the Child Jesus,
St. Therese of the Holy Face,
St. Therese, child of Mary,
St. Therese, devoted to St. Joseph,
St. Therese, angel of innocence,
St. Therese, model child,
St. Therese, pattern of religious,
St. Therese, flower of Carmel,
St. Therese, converter of hardened hearts,
St. Therese, healer of the diseased,
St. Therese, filled with love for the Blessed Sacrament,
St. Therese, filled with angelic fervor,
St. Therese, filled with an apostle's zeal,
St. Therese, filled with loyalty to the Holy Father,
St. Therese, filled with a tender love for the Church,
St. Therese, filled with extraordinary love for God and neighbor,
St. Therese, wounded with a heavenly flame,
St. Therese, victim of divine love,
St. Therese, patient in sufferings,
St. Therese, eager for humiliations,
St. Therese, consumed with love,
St. Therese, rapt in ecstasy,
Who desired always to be as a little child,
Who taught the way of spiritual childhood,
Who gave perfect example of trust in God,
Whom Jesus filled with a desire for suffering,
Who found perfection in little things,
Who refused God nothing,
Who sought bitterness in this life,
Who told us to call you little Therese,
Who offered her life to God for priests and missionaries,
Who gained countless souls for Christ,
Who promised, after her death, a shower of roses,
Who foretold: "I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth,"
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.
V. Pray for us, St. Therese.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray
O Lord, who hast said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven; grant us, we beseech Thee, so to follow in humility and simplicity of heart, the footsteps of St. Therese, the virgin, that we may obtain everlasting rewards. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.

Saint Therese, pray for us and for France