Monday, 30 November 2015

The Feast of Saint Andrew

We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before 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.

Saint Andrew, pray for us and for Scotland, Greece and Russia.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

LMS Chairman: Prayers for the Jews in the Liturgy of the Hours

LMS Chairman: Prayers for the Jews in the Liturgy of the Hours

'And for Vespers on Wednesday of the second and fourth weeks of Easter we find this prayer: "[O God], who chose your Son's first disciples from among the Jewish people, reveal to the children of Israel the reciprocal promise (repromissio) made to their fathers." (This is a reference to the promise announced to their fellow-Jews by Peter and the other apostles at Pentecost, that they would receive the Holy Spirit and salvation in return for believing in Christ and accepting baptism.)

Very explicit, on the other hand, is the Vespers prayer for Easter Sunday - the most important of all the annual Catholic feasts. It addresses Jesus in these words: "May Israel recognize in you the Christ she is hoping for (Israel in te Christum spei suae agnoscat), and may the whole earth be filled with the knowledge of your glory." This prayer is then repeated on the evenings of the
third and fifth Sundays of the Easter season.'

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Destined for the Throne, by Paul E. Billheimer

'By these means God has exalted redeemed humanity to such a sublime rank that it is impossible for Him to elevate them any further without bringing them into the Godhead itself.'

Destined for the Throne is a book I have read several times. I first read a battered copy of the original edition and then later bought the revised edition that was published after the author's death. This is one of the most encouraging books I have ever read, as it underlines the power of prayer and the glorious future of God's people.

This book has been the target of fundamentalist heresy hunters, which led to the cleaned-up edition that tones down some of the more radical statements in the first edition. In the first edition, Billheimer says something along the lines of believers being destined to become 'little gods,' which is absolutely true, but is a pretty toxic thing to say in Evangelical circles. More problematically, some of his ideas about prayer come close to those of the Word-Faith movement and the "name it, claim it" brigade on TBN. Yet even in my fundamentalist days, I could see that despite a few objectionable notions, Billheimer had caught on to a deeper and richer truth about the church than most Christians seemed to possess.

The late Paul Billheimer argued in this book that the highest destiny awaits redeemed human beings. They are to be exalted above the angels and to be partners with Christ in governing the entire universe. In the revised edition, he avoids calling redeemed human beings 'gods' but had he kept that word, it would have been Scriptural given that the angels are called gods in Psalms and the saints will be glorified above the angels. Billheimer also took an high view of the church. He argued that the formation of the Bride of the Christ as the celestial partner and co-ruler is the goal of all history and the entire purpose of the universe. Billheimer did not indicate that he takes the Scotist view of the incarnation, but he comes close and his ideas fit neatly with the Primacy of the Incarnation.

Moving from this eschatological understanding of the church, Billheimer argued that through prayer, Christians are being prepared for the government of the universe. He explains that it is God's purpose to make believers His partners in ruling and so has deputized to the church the outworking of His power. In other words, God only does what the church asks Him to do. At times, our author uses some awkward language about God being 'helpless' without prayer, but this should not be understood as God lacking the power. Rather, the divine economy makes use of prayer as the means (to use a Calvinistic phrase) of God accomplishing His purposes. I think this idea is not incompatible with an high view of sovereignty, despite the author being a Wesleyan. He got himself into a bit of a theological tangle with his idea that prayer is the determining factor in whether a person becomes a Christian or not (as opposed to both free-will and divine predestination).

Destined for the Throne takes an high view of praise and worship. Billheimer points out the image in the Psalms of the universe as a cosmic choir of praise. He views praise as a way to establish our faith and to identify ourselves with the victory of Christ. This reminded me of the value of our Liturgy of the Hours, which combines the praise of the Psalms with intercessory prayer.

Apart from the role of the church in the consummation, Billheimer does not get into the details of eschatology. I think his views would complement an optimistic Postmillennial eschatology that sees the victory of God's church in history through the power of prayer and intercession.

It would have been nice if Billheimer had been a Catholic and so able to connect his ideas to the heavenly intercession of the saints and the cosmic queenship of Our Lady. In terms of praxis, he recommends congregations to establish a planned program of prayer meetings, as might be expected from a revivalistic evangelical. Catholics have better things with the rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours and above all, the mass. However, it would be nice to see more parishes offering matins and vespers as a means of participation in corporate prayer.

The Telegraph: No, leaving the EU will not solve Britain's immigration worries

The Telegraph: No, leaving the EU will not solve Britain's immigration worries

Article by Will Straw

"If Britain did pull up the drawbridge, it would be harder, not easier, for us to get on top of illegal immigration. We would fall out of the Dublin system, damaging our ability to deport failed asylum-seekers. And as both the French Interior Minister and the Mayor of Calais have warned, the French could insist on moving the UK border back to Dover.

Those of us arguing for Britain to stay in Europe are not uncritical cheerleaders for immigration. I fully understand the reservations many Britons have about the pace and scale of immigration into our country, although I know from countless conversations that most people value the important role of those who come here – particularly to work in our NHS and public transport systems. But it is crucial to recognise that on this issue, as on so many others, Leave campaigners are selling a fantasy.

They say that by leaving we would be more secure against illegal immigration, failing to recognise that dealing with the problem requires co-operation with our European partners. They pretend that we could restrict immigration and retain access to the Single Market at the same time, when no other member state will give us something that they couldn’t have for themselves. And they dismiss the genuine threat of our border moving back to Dover if we left. The truth is that when dealing with the complex issue of immigration, Britain is stronger working with our allies as a part of Europe."

LMS Chairman: Rabbi Neusner on the Prayer for the Jews

LMS Chairman: Rabbi Neusner on the Prayer for the Jews

"This short article was published in response to the publication of the revised Prayer for the Jews, to be used in the Extraordinary Form Good Friday Liturgy, by Pope Benedict XVI, in 2008. The prolific American writer and translator, Rabbi Jacob Neusner, points out that Jews pray every day for the conversion and enlightenment of the gentiles, and have no reason to be offended if their charity is reciprocated."

The Telegraph: The Syrian refugee debate has become a national embarrassment

The Telegraph: The Syrian refugee debate has become a national embarrassment

Article by Charles Krauthammer

Facing a massive failure of seven years of Democratic foreign policy stewardship, the GOP candidates have instead tried to outbid each other in being tough on Syrian refugees. This descent into xenophobia was led, as usual, by Donald Trump. Amid bushels of word salad, he concurred with registering American Muslims, raised alarms about Arab-American treachery ("thousands and thousands" on TV cheering the World Trade Center collapse) and promised not only to deny entry to Syrian refugees, but to send back the ones already here.

Can you see it? Packing them onto his 757, the one with gold-plated seatbelts, then dumping them – orphans, widows, the lot - into a war zone to await the next regime barrel bomb.

The stance of Republican presidential candidates is shameful.

Friday, 27 November 2015

LMS Chairman: Cardinal Kasper on the Prayer for the Jews

LMS Chairman: Cardinal Kasper on the Prayer for the Jews

In case anyone has forgotten, back in 2008 when Pope Benedict's Prayer for the Jews, for use in the Extraordinary Form Good Friday Liturgy, it was explained and defended by Cardinal Kasper, among others.

Cardinal Kasper's is a particular way of understanding the question of the conversion of the Jews. While I appreciate the sensitivies, I would not be comfortable with a blanket condemnation of 'targeted' evangelical outreach to Jews, as for example that taken by the Jewish convert Alphonse Ratisbon in the late 19th century. Cardinal Kasper does not make such a condemnation, but it might seem implicit in what he says. It is important, however, that he makes the point that we don't hide our witness to the Faith from Jews, and that our belief in the universal validity of Christ's redemption, and their rejection of this, has to be the basis of an honest dialogue.

If Cardinal Kasper has no problem with Pope Benedict's Prayer for the Jews, then it seems pretty surprising that anyone in the Church should have a problem with it.

Joseph Shaw manages to find a favourable quotation from Cardinal Walter Kasper.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Feast of Saint Clement of Ohrid

O God, the light of the faithful, and shepherd of souls, who didst set blessed Saint Clement 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 Clement of Ohrid, pray for us and for Bulgaria and Macedonia.

The Feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Almighty ever-living God, who gave Saint Catherine of Alexandria to your people as a Virgin and an invincible Martyr, grant that through her intercession we may be strengthened in faith and constancy and spend ourselves without reserve for the unity of the Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Catherine, pray for us and for the Christians of Egypt.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Dead Saints: Playing Harps on Clouds or Interceding?

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: Dead Saints: Playing Harps on Clouds or Interceding?

'Here the martyrs in heaven are saying what are known as “imprecatory prayers”: pleas for God to rescue and vindicate the righteous. Examples can be found particularly in the Psalms (Psalms 35, 59, 69, 79, 109, 139) and in Jeremiah (11:18 ff., 15:15 ff., 18:19 ff., 20:11 ff.). An angel offers up a very similar prayer in Zechariah 1:12. Jesus mentions a type of this prayer in Matthew 26:53, in which He stated that He could “pray” to the Father and receive legions of angels to prevent His arrest had it been the Father’s will.

Therefore dead saints are praying for Christians on earth. If they can intercede for us, then why shouldn’t we ask for their prayers? Clearly, they’re aware of what is happening on earth. They are more alive, unfathomably more righteous, and obviously closer to God than we are. Omniscience isn’t required for them to hear our prayers, as is often charged. Rather, we have reason to believe that they are out of time, by God’s power, because to be in eternity is to be outside of the realm of time. That allows them to answer many requests for prayer because they have an infinite amount of “time” to do it.'

Monday, 23 November 2015

Intellectual Takeout| Author: Muslim Civilization is Actually in Decline

Intellectual Takeout| Author: Muslim Civilization is Actually in Decline

“Islamic society is even more fragile [than Europe]… Iranian women in their twenties who grew up with five or six siblings will bear only one or two children during their lifetimes. Turkey and Algeria are just behind Iran on the way down, and most of the other Muslim countries are catching up quickly. By the middle of this century, the belt of Muslim countries from Morocco to Iran will become as gray as depopulating Europe. The Islamic world will have the same proportion of dependent elderly as the industrial countries—but one-tenth the productivity. A time bomb that cannot be defused is ticking in the Muslim world.”

We need to drop all the predictions of Islamocalypse.

Demography is Destiny: Will low-birth-rate Turks become a minority in their own country?

Demography is Destiny: Will low-birth-rate Turks become a minority in their own country?

But that is not the end of the story. While Turkey's fertility rate as a whole is falling, the Kurdish minority of Turkey (currently 15 per cent of the population) has such a high birth rate that some (not the least of which is Prime Minister Erdogan) believe that they could become the majority in Turkey within two generations

It has become common to hear conservatives panicking about the idea of Muslims supplanting Christians due to an higher birthrate. Here is an article about fears of one Muslim ethnic group being supplanted by another with an higher birthrate. I suspect that such fears are misplaced and in the long-term, the ethnic Turk and Kurdish birthrates will even out. Yet this does demonstrate that their is no automatic rule that Muslims have lots of children. Their are a whole bunch of economic factors that affect fertility aside from religion.

Exposing BF: The ‘birth rate’ myth

Exposing BF: The ‘birth rate’ myth

"The fertility rate for Muslim families is actually falling rapidly, not just in Western countries but across the world. In 1995 the average was 4.3 children per family. By 2010 that figure had fallen to around 2.9 and it still continues to fall. In Western countries such as the UK the figure is lower still when counted across the entire time of each woman’s reproductive life (the only meaningful way to calculate her fertility over time).

Actually Western nations have seen this before. We saw it in the 1930s and 1940s when the influx of Jewish immigrants and other refugees fleeing from Britain First’s ideological soulmates, the Nazis, also demonstrated temporarily higher birth rates than the indigenous British population. In fact the birth rate among today’s British Muslims is falling considerably faster than it did among Jewish immigrants in the mid twentieth century.

This isn’t about religion – it’s about the dynamics of immigration and the age at which immigrant families tend to ‘up sticks’ and move. Young immigrants often wait until they’re established in their new home before having children. That doesn’t mean they necessarily will have more children than other couples over the course of a lifetime – simply that they have them after they move. First generation immigrants do tend to have more children than the indigenous population but second generation immigrants are much closer to the established norms of their host nation. That’s not really all that surprising since, having been born here, they are themselves part of that indigenous population. This explains the ‘young bulge’ in UK Muslim demographics (88% are aged under 50)."

World Economic Forum: Europe’s misconceptions about its Muslim population

World Economic Forum: Europe’s misconceptions about its Muslim population

The perception that Muslim populations are larger than they really are is widespread in Europe, according to an analysis last year from Ipsos Mori.

The average French citizen thought 31% of France’s population was Muslim against the recorded 8%, Germans thought theirs was 19% against 6%, and in the UK the figures were 21% and 5%.

Misconceptions about minority populations stand in the way of a more informed debate on migration at a volatile time. As Giles Merritt, head of the Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe, writes, “Last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris are likely to compound Europe’s deep divisions over how to respond to its refugee and migrant crisis.”

Arutz Sheva| Statistics: Israeli Muslim Growth Rate Declining

Arutz Sheva| Statistics: Israeli Muslim Growth Rate Declining

The growth rate of the Muslim population is in decline - from 3.8% in 2000 to 2.4% in 2014. Despite this, the Muslim population is still growing faster than any other in Israel - with the Jewish growth rate at 1.9%, Christian at 1.6%, and Druze at 1.5%.

Israel is one of many countries in the world today where the Muslim birthrate is in decline. This is a global trend. It runs completely contrary to the apocalyptic fantasy of Muslims outbreeding every other religion and taking over the whole world.

The Feast of Saint Clement of Rome

Almighty ever-living God, who are wonderful in the virtue of all your Saints, grant us joy in the yearly commemoration of Saint Clement, who, as a Martyr and High Priest of your Son, bore out by his witness what he celebrated in mystery and confirmed by example what he preached with his lips. 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 Clement, pray for us and for Pope Francis.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Excellent Empire, by Jaroslav Pelikan

Jaroslav Pelikan, The Excellent Empire: The Fall of Rome and the Triumph of the Church, 1987 Harper and Row

In his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon described the end of the Roman Empire as the "triumph of barbarism and religion." He blamed Christianity for the decline of the great empire. In this series of lectures, the historian and Orthodox convert, Jaroslav Pelikan responds to this famous assertion. He does so by surveying various perspectives on the Roman Empire among the Church Fathers. Their views range from seeing the downfall of the Empire as an apocalyptic judgement to more positive Christian evaluations of classical civilization.

Pelikan does not quite achieve his purpose. He never really provides an alternative explanation of the fall of the Roman Empire to counter Gibbon's view. However, the book is thoughtful and very well written. This is the work of a man of letters writing about other men of letters for the pleasure of men of letters.

We've a Story to Tell the Nations

1. We've a story to tell to the nations,
that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy,
a story of peace and light,
a story of peace and light.
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
and the dawning to noonday bright;
and Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth,
the kingdom of love and light.

2. We've a song to be sung to the nations,
that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil
and shatter the spear and sword,
and shatter the spear and sword.

3. We've a message to give to the nations,
that the Lord who reigneth above
hath sent us his Son to save us,
and show us that God is love,
and show us that God is love.

4. We've a Savior to show to the nations,
who the path of sorrow hath trod,
that all of the world's great peoples
might come to the truth of God,
might come to the truth of God.

I first encountered this song while on a short-term mission trip to Japan. I learned it from the American Christians I was with. I had never heard this hymn in England before. I suppose it does have a rather AMerican revivalistic flavour. I liked it, but I quickly realised that the lyrics were advocating a Postmillennial eschatology, seeing the establishment of Christ's kingdom in the preaching of the Gospel, rather than the personal second coming of Christ. The Americans I was with also admitted the hymn was out of sync with their own Premillennialism. I decided as a staunch Premillennialist that I could not sing it in good conscience.

I have now come to hold to a Postmillennial eschatology and feel that this hymn reflects my beliefs. As this is the solemnity of Christ the King, this is probably a good hymn to sing. Let us celebrate the proclamation of Christ's Kingdom!

The Solemnity of Christ the King

Almighty ever-living God, whose will is to restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of the universe, grant, we pray, that the whole creation, set free from slavery, may render your majesty service and ceaselessly proclaim your praise. 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 to Christ the King

The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power
and Divinity and wisdom and strength and honor;
To Him be glory and empire forever and ever.
V. He shall rule from sea to sea,
and from the river to the ends of the earth.

R. All kings shall adore Him, all nations shall serve Him.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ the King, hear us.
Christ the King, graciously hear us.

Thou Who didst receive crowns and tribute from the Magi,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who didst rule by love the Holy Family of Nazareth,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who as King, served Thy people in the example of filial obedience,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who drawest to Thy realm the fishermen to be fishers of men,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Whose Kingdom is not of the spirit of this world,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who art King not of the Jews alone but of all creation,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who wast mocked in false purple by the little rulers,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who wast crowned with piercing thorns,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who wast nailed to Thy throne on Golgotha,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who didst ransom Thy people by the royal Sacrifice of Calvary,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who didst purchase Thy Kingdom with the Blood of the Atonement,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who in Thy Resurrection wert the First-born from the dead.
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who in Thy glorified Body art risen triumphant,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Who art enthroned and crowned at the right hand of The Father,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
In Whom are all created things in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Beneath Whom are all thrones and dominations.
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Beneath Whom are all principalities and powers,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
By Whom all things subsist,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
To Whom all the nations of the earth are subject,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.
Through Whom all things are reconciled unto Thy Father,
May all nations serve Thee, O Lord.

V. His power shall be an everlasting power,
R. And His Kingdom a kingdom that shall not be destroyed.

That the peoples of this world may know
themselves subject to Thee,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That they may put off their vainglory,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That they may dispel the evils laicism has brought upon society,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That they may hearken to Thy fiat,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That they may bow their heads before Thee,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That they may know Thy reign is eternal,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That they may submit to Thy just and gentle rule,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That they may recognize Thy Vicar on earth,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That they may freely accept his rule for Thy sake,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That they may know that Thy Church, being Thee
Thyself, cannot die as nations die,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That the Gentiles may be restored to mercy,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That to Christ the King all things may be restored,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That in the Prince of Peace true peace may by all be found,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Christ our King.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Hear us, O Christ our King.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
V. His power shall be an everlasting power,
which shall not be taken away,
R. And His Kingdom shall not decay. Alleluia. Let Us Pray.
Almighty, everlasting God, Who in Thy beloved Son,
King of the whole world, hast willed to restore all things anew,
grant in Thy mercy that all the families of nations,
rent asunder by the wound of sin, may be subjected
to His most gentle rule, Who with Thee liveth and reigneth
in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. R. Amen.

Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, may we see the extension of your Kingdom over all nations and peoples.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Mormon Christianity, by Stephen H. Webb

Stephen H. Webb, Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-Day Saints, 2013 Oxford University Press

"Another reason Mormons are sometimes thought to possess the attributes of a cult is related, I think, to their healthy-mindedness. The young men and women on their missions, for example, are so uniformly and nicely dressed, and they wear name tags no less! They look like young recruits at a Fortune 500 corporation, and they are so inevitably polite and respectful that their old-fashioned virtues can make them appear almost robotic. The Mormons that I know smile a lot and seem very happy, which some people mistake for shallowness or mindless obedience to their church. What is strange is not how well adjusted most Mormons are, but how cynical most Americans can be about them. I have come to realise that the main reason Mormons are suspected of being cultish is that they do not manifest any trace of the religious guilt and self-reproach that are still inculculated in many traditional Christian churches. They seem too happy to be Christian!"

Stephen Webb is becoming one of my favorite writers. He is a Catholic convert who admires Evangelicalism who is willing to explore unconventional ideas. His ideas are bold and exciting, but he does show a lack of willing to set boundaries on just how far the envelope of orthodoxy can be pushed.

In this book, Webb confesses that he has what he calls 'Mormon Envy.' While Mormonism is commonly regarded by Christians as a cult, he admires much in Mormonism; its discipline, its sense of community and its radical approach to metaphysics. He paints a picture of Mormonism as a complex combination of the high church ritualism of Catholicism with the simplicity of conservative Evangelical Protestantism. To an extent I share something of his admiration for Mormonism. I think it is breathtaking that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can field such a sheer number of missionary labourers. There are Mormon missionaries in practically every single town in the UK. Mormons are labouring for converts all over the world. Many Christians attack the Mormon teaching that believers can become gods. Yet this is actually one of their teachings that is true. The Bible truly does promise that we can become divine, heavenly beings. The doctrine of theosis or deification is strongly taught by the Orthodox, acknowledged by Catholics and is recognised by some Protestants too. The highest example of humanity brought into deity is that of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When Protestants accuse us Catholics of worshiping Mary as a goddess, they are half-correct. We adore the union of humanity and divinity that we behold in the glorious Queen of Heaven. The error of Mormonism is not in teaching that human beings can become gods, but in reducing God to the level of human beings. I also love seeing photos of young Mormon missionaries; they seem so delightful in their innocence and purity. I wish I could see the same devotion and commitment to Christ in Catholic young people.

When I was involved, as an Evangelical in street evangelism, I used to have many debates with the Mormon missionaries. We would trade Bible verses back and forth. In the end, these conversation would invariably conclude with the Mormon young men declaring "I believe that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God." They might just as well have been saying "There is no god but Allah and Muhammed is his prophet."

Webb argues that at the core of Mormonism is a radical system of metaphysics that holds that there is no difference between matter and spirit. Spiritual beings are truly physical beings. Our author suggests that there is a lot of merit in this alternative to traditional Christian metaphysics. Oddly, he leaves the meat of his discussion of metaphysics to two appendices. I have no idea why he did not include this discussion about the merits and problems of Mormon physicalism in the main body of the book. There was a time when I might have found this idea appealing. I once held that angels had bodies with similar properties to human beings. Yet I am not at all comfortable with such a radical revision of the Christian view of the cosmos. I believe that classic theism is an essential part of the Christian tradition and to depart from it will lead to theological aberration.

Mormon Christianity attempts to show that Mormonism is a true branch of the Christian faith. Webb makes this claim on the basis of the strong emphasis of Mormons on the person of Jesus Christ. I do not think we can truly accept this. No matter how much Mormons may profess to love Christ, we cannot deny that there ideas about Christ are heretical. If the doctrine of the Trinity is central to the Christian faith, then Mormonism cannot be truly regarded as Christian. Maybe I am simplifying things, but this book did not persuade me to a contrary conclusion. Nevertheless, I found this is an enjoyable and deeply interesting read.

The Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

As we venerate the glorious memory of the most holy Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession, that we, too, may merit to receive from the fullness of your grace. 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 Loreto

V. Lord, have mercy.
R. Christ have mercy.
V. Lord have mercy. Christ hear us.
R. Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, [etc.]
Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good Counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Savior,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
Queen of families,
Queen of peace,

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

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may we be freed from present sorrow, and rejoice in eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Holy Mary, Ark of the Covenant, pray for us and for all Christian children, that they may learn to be devoted to God.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Heavy Anglo Orthodox: Against Islamophobia

The Heavy Anglo Orthodox: Against Islamophobia

"Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I can often come off as a sceptic of Islam, and particularly harsh on political Islam in particular. This isn’t anything new since I chrismated into Orthodoxy, mind you; I’d been just as critical of radical political Islam when I was still Episcopalian. However, I have very, very little patience for those who make their careers as professional and public-intellectual ‘critics of Islam’, and particularly those of the neoconservative, nativist and nouveau-atheist flavours."

Matt the Orthodox metalhead moved his blog a while ago, so I have missed all his recent posts. I am so sorry I missed this one from early October. A lot of Orthodox bloggers seem to spend all their time bashing Muslims. I am delighted to find that Matt resists that tendency.

I tend to disagree with Matt more often than I agree with him, but I feel a certain affinity with his thoughts. Both he and I are conservatives who are at odds with wider conservatism. He is an High Tory who takes a generally left-wing stance on economics, combined with an whole-hearted commitment to opposing racism. I'm probably a bit more mainstream in my neo-liberal neo-conservatism, but I find myself at odds with most conservatives in my pro-immigration, pro-European Union, pro-Human Rights and pro-welfare stances.

I'm glad Matt is still posting and offering his alternative perspectives.

The Telegraph: If David Cameron wants to send troops into Syria, the voters are behind him

The Telegraph: If David Cameron wants to send troops into Syria, the voters are behind him

Article by Tom Mludzinski

"Of course, there is much more to making decisions about going to war than public opinion, but it nevertheless plays an important role in understanding the willingness of a nation to get involved. The scars of the Iraq War are still prominent but the threat of Isil may be overriding other concerns.
New ComRes polling this week reveals that six in ten (60 per cent) Britons now support air strikes on Syria. However, more startling are the levels of support for sending in troops on the ground. While already half (50 per cent) back sending British troops to launch a ground war against ISIS (compared to 31 per cent to oppose it), support rises further if we were to go in alongside US/French allies (59 per cent support) or if the UN were to launch a ground war (68 per cent)."

The Telegraph: France is trying to create a coalition to destroy Isil, but President Obama isn't interested

The Telegraph: France is trying to create a coalition to destroy Isil, but President Obama isn't interested

Article by Charles Krauthammer

"If the other goal of the Paris massacre was to frighten France out of the air campaign in Syria -- the way Spain withdrew from the Iraq War after the terror attack on its trains in 2004 -- they picked the wrong country. France is a serious post-colonial power, as demonstrated in Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic and Mali, which France saved from an Islamist takeover in 2013.

Indeed, socialist President Francois Hollande has responded furiously to his country’s 9/11 with an intensified air campaign, hundreds of raids on suspected domestic terrorists, a state of emergency and proposed changes in the constitution to make France less hospitable to jihad.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama, titular head of the free world, has responded to Paris with weariness and annoyance. His news conference in Turkey was marked by a stunning tone of passivity, detachment and lassitude, compounded by impatience and irritability at the very suggestion that his Syria strategy might be failing."

The Telegraph: How patriotic are British Muslims? Much more than you think, actually

Article by Asa Bennett

"Some Twitter users have tried to extrapolate this to Britain's 2.7 million Muslim population, claiming that it means 810,000 Muslims are "sympathetic to the Hebdo killers". But that looks to be seriously stretching things, as the question merely sheds light on those having "some sympathy for the motives", which is not the same as agreeing with the attacks.
All it shows is that 27 per cent of Muslims surveyed by ComRes feel they understand why Charlie Hebdo was targeted. It does not show that they endorse the attacks, nor does it show they want to do the same.
Further details from the ComRes survey that Mr Farage hails bear this out: 85 per cent of those surveyed say they do not think organisations that publish depictions of the Prophet Mohammed "deserved to be attacked".
Other research gives a clearer idea about how Britain's Muslims feel about their country. A study by Demos - "Place for Pride" - in 2011 found that British Muslims tended to be more patriotic and more optimistic about Britain's future than the average citizen."

4thWaveNow: Introducing a new, global organization for parents skeptical of the “trans kid” trend

4thWaveNow: Introducing a new, global organization for parents skeptical of the “trans kid” trend

"I’m happy to announce the launch of Transgender Trend, an international organization created by and for parents who are questioning the accelerating trend to diagnose children and adolescents as “transgender.”
Transgender Trend, started by parents from the UK, the US, and Canada, aims to be a source of information and support for anyone who wants to challenge the pediatric “transition” narrative that has swept the Western world in the last several years. In addition, the organization intends to issue press releases, and to be a voice for parents, family members, and supportive friends who have been seeking–so far without success–to reach others who share their doubts and concerns.
The website (still in development) features an FAQ, links to and synopses of research studies, quotes from doctors, researchers, and psychologists, and a blog. It’s expected that the site will grow over time. Comments and questions are very welcome, but please note: Transgender Trend is not intended as, nor will it ever be, a place for trans activists to harass and harangue the parents and supportive others who congregate there."

Elle Magazine: 9 Reasons Blocking Syrian Refugees is Appalling, Racist and Wrong

Elle Magazine: 9 Reasons Blocking Syrian Refugees is Appalling, Racist and Wrong

​"I am truly appalled at the tiny-minded, shortsighted, self-interested, pandering, lowest-common-demominator stupidity of the GOP's latest sweep of anti-refugee sentiment. It is ahistorical and hypocritical. It is wrongheaded and it is wrong-hearted. It is selfish. It is cold. It is racist.

And my God it is depressing, because it's not just one lone terrible person like Chris Christie sinking as low as he can sink (getting tough on three-year old orphans!), but now it's the House of Representatives voting 289-137 to block Syrian refugees from entry.

The bill, which adds an additional individual certification process atop the already onerous process for admitting refugees (basically a de facto block), was supported by 100 percent of the voting Republicans and 47 Democrats (who, in doing so, broke with all three of their presidential candidates, and their president).

On the campaign trail, every GOP candidate for president has said no to allowing Syrian refugees into the country in the wake of the Paris attacks.

More magnanimous in real terms but somehow more revolting overall, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz have said, okay, they'd let refugees in—​but only if they are Christian. Media baron Rupert Murdoch, scion of Fox News, also tweeted in support of an exception for "proven Christians."

This wave of intense xenophobia hits home for me, and it's not just because I'm an immigrant Canadian Jew living in the United States. (Hi, Rupert!) It's not even because, as a Jew, I am well aware that if this were the 1940s and I was on a boat fleeing Nazi Europe, I would not be welcome in the U.S. or Canada. Though that doesn't exactly give me the warm fuzzies."

This article is a bit over-emotive and sentimental, but I agree with the main point.

Washington Post: 3 important facts about how the U.S. resettles Syrian refugees

Washington Post: 3 important facts about how the U.S. resettles Syrian refugees

Only two percent of the refugees are single males of combat age.

"The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees refers agencies to most countries, including the United States, the agency’s the biggest donor. One factor for consideration is whether a refugee already has family in the country. The United States has asked the UNHCR to prioritize refugees who are considered vulnerable – women with children, the elderly, people who have been tortured or who may require modern medical treatment they cannot easily get elsewhere. Half the accepted refugees so far have been children. A quarter are adults over 60. They are roughly 50/50 men and women, though there are slightly more men. Because of the criteria, many refugee families have women as the head of household, or live with multiple generations under one roof."

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Refugees, Roanoke, and Captain Sulu

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Refugees, Roanoke, and Captain Sulu

That the world is faced with a catastrophic humanitarian situation is beyond dispute. What is not crystal clear is how the United States should respond. Many of my fellow Christians on the net think otherwise. My FaceBook and Twitter feeds are presently being inundated by simplistic moral pronouncements. Everyone seems to have a hotline to God. “What would Jesus do?” The answer is obvious and beyond debate, right? If only the formation of public policy were so easy, but it just isn’t. Grownups understand this.

At the moment everyone seems to be “thinking” either from a position of fear and anxiety (“keep out the refugees!”) or from prophetic self-righteousness (“God wants us to let them all in!”). Neither is conducive to mature moral reflection or sound public policy.

My Christian faith demands of me—and my country, I believe—a response of generosity, charity, compassion, and hospitality toward all who are now fleeing the brutality and horror of ISIS. But this judgment need not entail unrestricted and indiscriminate admission of refugees. Other considerations, moral and political, are also legitimately in play here. These considerations need to be thoughtfully identified and discussed, without fear of being labeled xenophobic, anti-American, or whatever.

I am tired of twitter-bites masquerading as prophecy and wisdom.

What a relief it was to read such sensible thoughts on the subject. People need to drop the hysteria.

The Feast of Saint Edmund the Martyr

O God of ineffable mercy, who didst give grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saint Edmund, pray for us, for all kings and queens and for East Anglia.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Mr Gog's Mystablog: Not Christ the Caliph

Mr Gog's Mystablog: Not Christ the Caliph

'In my new parish, there's an excellent priest who is known as something of an impassioned leftist. I'm very happy for him to preach the social gospel as long as he doesn't mind hearing me go on about things like the sacral dimension of monarchy from time to time - and surely the feast of Christ the King is one of those times!

Jesus knew about the old Roman Republic and Athenian democracy, and yet he never talked about the "Republic of Heaven." Nor do we talk about "Christ the President," "Christ the P.M.," or "Christ the Dear Leader." Heaven is a kingdom of which Christ is King.

People sometimes disparage monarchy as the last vestige of a deeply unequal and unfair class society, but all the evidence points to the reverse: in independent listings, the most equal societies and the most of the top ten least corrupt countries are ruled by hereditary monarchs. Think Scandiwegia. The most corrupt countries with the most unequal distribution of wealth are people's Republics, whether North or South American or otherwise.'

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

O God, by whose gift Saint Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and revered Christ in the poor, grant, through her intercession, that we may serve with unfailing charity the needy and those afflicted. 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 Elizabeth, pray for us and for Hungary.

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Feast of Saint Margaret of Scotland

O God, who made Saint Margaret of Scotland wonderful in her outstanding charity towards the poor, grant that through her intercession and example we may reflect among all humanity the image of your divine goodness. 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 Margaret, pray for us and for Scotland.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

A New Testament Biblical Theology, by G.K. Beale

G.K. Beale. A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New, 2011 Baker Academic

When I decided I was converting to Catholicism, I realised I would probably have to give up my strongly Premillennial eschatology, I therefore became resolved to read some Amillennial books to persuade myself. AMong those I decided to read was G.K. Beale's New Testmanent theology, which I had some desire to read, even while I was a Premillennialist.

I was very pleased to find that this New Testament theology textbook is thematic in approach. It is wearisome to read so many New Testament theologies that structure themselves book by book, without clearly identifying the key themes of the New Testament as an whole. This is a scholarly book, but it is reasonably accessible to the untrained reader.

Beale establishes the background for the New Testament theology in the Old Testament. He identifies the centrality of the concept of the Last Days in the Old Testament writings. These last days were not necessarily the end of time, but the climax and conclusion of history. He then argues that the New Testament authors do not regard the Last Days as yet to come, but that they begin with the work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection. Thus, the New Testament teaches an inaugurated eschatology; the end times have begun, but will reach their final conclusion in the Second Coming of Christ. Beale brings up the concept he elaborated on in The Temple and the Church's Mission. In that book, he argued that there is a theme of a cosmic temple in the Bible, beginning with Eden as a sanctuary, developing through the Ark of the Covenant through to the end times temple of Ezekiel and the garden city of Revelation 21. He argued that contrary to some Premillennialists, the restoration of the temple is not a physical temple, but the eschatological realisation of God's presence in His people. Likewise, he argues that the land promises to Israel also find a wider and more spiritual fulfillment in the Church, which is eschatological Israel. He is not silent on the subject of ethics, as he sees in Christian living the outworking of the New Creation and the realisation of God's image in humanity.

I found this a very inspiring and thoughtful read. As a Reformed theologian, Beale defends the Protestant doctrine of justification through imputation, but otherwise Catholic readers will find much here to agree with.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Feast of Saint Gregory Palamas

O light of Orthodoxy, pillar and teacher of the Church,
ideal of monastics and invincible champion theologian,
O wonder-working Gregory, boast of Thessalonica and herald of grace,
Forever pray to the Lord that our souls be saved.

Saint Gregory Palamas, pray for us, that we may behold the light of God.

The Feast of Saint Justinian

Almighty God, who willest to be glorified in thy Saints and didst raise up thy servant Saint Jusinian 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 Justinian, pray for us and for all monarchs and rulers.

Evangelical Focus: Are Head Coverings Really for Today?

Evangelical Focus: Are Head Coverings Really for Today?

"One of the most questioned practices in the New Testament in the modern day Western Church is the practice of Head Coverings for women. Yet to get perspective we need to look over the panoply of God’s Church for 2000 years and see that this is not something new but old—and has been practiced diligently over the ages. It is hard to imagine but since the 1960s the Church almost entirely practiced this tradition."

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Feast of Blessed Duns Scotus

O God, who hast enlightened thy Church by the teaching of thy servant Blessed Duns Scotus: Enrich it evermore, we beseech thee, with thy heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses, who by their life and doctrine may set forth to all men the truth of thy salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed Duns Scotus, pray for us, for all theologians and for Scotland.

The Feast of Saint Uriel (Orthodox)

Commanders of the heavenly hosts, / we who are unworthy beseech you, / by your prayers encompass us beneath the wings of your immaterial glory, / and faithfully preserve us who fall down and cry to you: / “Deliver us from all harm, for you are the commanders of the powers on high!”

Commanders of God’s armies and ministers of the divine glory, / princes of the bodiless angels and guides of mankind, / ask for what is good for us, and for great mercy, / supreme commanders of the Bodiless Hosts.

Oh holy St. Uriel, come to our aid with your legion of angels! Intercede for us that our hearts may burn with the fire of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Assist us in co-operating with the graces of our confirmation that the gifts of the Holy Ghost may bear much fruit in our souls. Obtain for us the grace to use the sword of truth to pare away all that is not in conformity to the most adorable Will of God in our lives, that we may fully participate in the army of the Church Militant. Amen

Saint Uriel, pray for us, that we may behold the glorious light of God.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Telegraph: Federalism is the only solution to Britain's constitutional crisis

The Telegraph: Federalism is the only solution to Britain's constitutional crisis

Article by Philip Booth

"The Conservative Party’s preferred solution has become known as "English Votes for English Laws" (EVEL). This will lead to unstable and opaque government and, eventually, to a constitutional crisis. To start with, different MPs will be responsible for different types of legislation. But, also, what would happen if the Labour Party had a majority in the UK and not in England? It would form the government and have Secretaries of State for Health, Education, and so on, but it would not actually be able to pass legislation about such things. The government would be impotent across large areas of policy – but the Conservatives would not be able to govern England either because the government would be determined by which party had a majority in the whole House of Commons.

There is one solution to all these problems. A proper federal structure must be created for the UK. David Cameron should have proposed this when the Scots had their referendum and he would have won hands down."

Very few writers have drawn attention to the consitutional crisis inherent in EVEL. As Philip Booth says, how would the Labour Party be able to govern the UK if it won an election in the whole UK, but was unable to legislate for England?

Criticising the Critics, by Aidan Nichols

Aidan Nichols, Criticising the Critics, 2010 Family Publications

This book, by Dominican theologian Aidan Nichols, addresses the many critics of the Catholic Church. In each chapter, he addresses specific groups of critics, modernists, New Agers, academic exegetes, liberal Protestants, progressive Catholics, feminists and the 'erotically absordbed.' The latter section is particularly important, given how sexuality has become the key battleground of the Church today. The section on Biblical criticism is important too, though I would have preferred a more firm assault on Biblical criticism and a defence of Biblical Inerrancy. He concludes with an essay defending his view that secularisation is a bigger threat to Christianity than Islam, which I tend to agree with.

There is no chapter on objections to the Catholic Church from conservative Protestants, Eastern Orthodox or other religious communities. Perhaps Nichols thought that such objections had been addressed elsewhere, or perhaps his concern was to focus on mainstream secularised religious views. He is likely to see other conservative Christians as more allies than enemies to Catholicism.

This book is clearly aimed at thinking-people. It is a book for deeper reflection, rather than a collection of read-made apologetic arguments. Yet I think readers will find it very insightful and a worthy homage to St. Irenaeus' apologetic work.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Catholic Bibles| A Review: 2 Little Offices of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Catholic Bibles| A Review: 2 Little Offices of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"I have mentioned before on this blog that one of my favorite devotions is The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There are a number of things that have attracted me to this liturgy of the Church over the years. First, the history of this office goes back many centuries, some say even back to the 8th century. Even though the Little Office has certainly changed over the years, I love the fact that there is this connection to the medieval Church. Secondly, it is an office in honor of Our Lady. Devotional to the Blessed Virgin has been an important part of my spiritual life since I started to take my faith seriously. With my wife and I praying a family rosary every Sunday night, I have found that this office is a great aid during the rest of the week. Those who have a strong devotion to Our Lady will find the Little Office to be quite powerful. Third, I love praying the Psalms, in particular the gradual Psalms (or Psalms of Ascent). The daytime Psalms for the Little Office are centered around those Psalms, which I always find a great comfort when I read them in the middle of the day. Fourth, this office is simple and compact. It fits easily in my bag for work or even into my pocket if necessary. Because there isn't much in the way of variation each day, unlike the older full Breviary or even more so in the newer Liturgy of the Hours, many, including myself, enjoy the comfort of hearing the same prayers and Psalms each day. I have prayed both of the full and shorter breviaries in the past, but I find myself attracted to the Little Office. Perhaps that has to do with my state in life, married with two (soon to be three) children, as well as two teaching jobs. Finally, I love having the Latin and the English side by side. It is great to be able to pray in both languages."

The Feast of Saint Zechariah and Saint Elizabeth

May the Church glorify you, O Lord,
in the holy memory of Zechariah and Elizabeth,
parents of the forerunner of your Son.
Through their intercession grant that,
by loving you in everything and above everything,
We may obtain the good promised by you.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord...

Saint Zechariah and Saint Elizabeth, pray for all Christian marriages.

The Economist: The leaders of Taiwan and China have agreed to meet for the first time. It is too early to celebrate

The Economist: The leaders of Taiwan and China have agreed to meet for the first time. It is too early to celebrate

"To his credit, Mr Ma has put a strong message across in the past. He has stipulated, for instance, that for Taiwan to contemplate unification, the mainland must first become democratic. That is because the people of Taiwan, who have enjoyed democracy since the KMT gave up its authoritarian rule in the 1990s, will never trust a deal with a one-party dictatorship. Mr Ma has also asked China to stop threatening Taiwan. He is right on this point, too. Even during his own rule, which has been marked by a rapid increase in cross-strait exchanges, including the first regular direct flights and a boom in visits to the island by Chinese tourists, China has been building up its military deployments on its side of the water. It has hundreds of ballistic missiles pointing at the island."

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Telegraph: Tax credits are far, far better than a living wage

The Telegraph: Tax credits are far, far better than a living wage

Article by Kate Andrews

'In conjunction with the announcement of this year's (voluntary) living wage increases, the Living Wage Foundation has marked out this entire week to raise awareness about the UK’s in-work poverty crisis and to encourage employers to adopt higher wages for their employees. In theory, this campaign could gain the support of socialist and free-marketers alike; higher salaries can create loyalty and satisfaction amongst employees, and there are PR benefits to be incurred when a business implements a living wage.

But naturally, these kinds of campaigns aren’t just preaching to JP Morgan and the like. They put pressure on all businesses, large and very small, to adopt a living wage for their employees.

When they don’t – often because they can’t afford to pay a worker above her productivity level without damaging their business – pressure is then put on politicians to make higher wages mandatory. And this creates terrible consequences for the very people living wage campaigners want to protect.
The Chancellor’s watered-down version of a National Living Wage has been estimated by the Office of Budget Responsibility to put 60,000 people out of work. Over in the United States, we’ve seen Seattle’s living wage experiment go awry, making the job loss for restaurant employees between January and June this year the largest since the Great Recession. The workers losing their jobs are mostly low-skilled, low-educated people, including minorities, who are in most need of a break on the career ladder.'

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Royal World: Poppies

Royal World: Poppies

If I lived in Britain I would wear a poppy when appropriate. However, partly because as a pan-monarchist I am unable to regard 1918 and 1945 (especially 1918) as unqualified "Victories," there is something about the conformism of it all that bothers me, and I think Peter Hitchens puts his finger on it here, while making it clear that he himself is deeply moved by Remembrance Day and what it represents. Given that the two World Wars, for all the undoubted courage of British and Commonwealth soldiers, ended up damaging or destroying virtually everything genuine traditionalists believe in, should there not be room on the Right for tolerance of anti-war perspectives?

I don't always agree with Theodore Harvey, but here he manages to say exactly what I think about this subject, but had never articulated so succinctly.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Telegraph: Scottish Labour's Trident vote does the impossible and makes Jeremy Corbyn's nuclear policy even more absurd

Telegraph: Scottish Labour's Trident vote does the impossible and makes Jeremy Corbyn's nuclear policy even more absurd

Article by James Kirkup

Lots of people try to reduce lots of political questions to binary choices, when of course they’re more complicated than that, shades of grey not black and white. Those are the issues when a bit of internal debate can be a good thing.
But some things are binary. Being a nuclear-armed state is like being pregnant: you either are or you’re not. Either is a perfectly acceptable state to be in, but you need to know which you are and act accordingly. Labour needs a single position on nuclear weapons, soon. Otherwise, it's dead. This really is a black and white issue.

The Labour Party is no longer fit to be a party of government.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Philosophy of Tolkien, by Peter Kreeft

Peter J. Kreeft, The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings, 2005 Ignatius Press, San Francisco

Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft draws attention to the Christian worldview that we encounter in the works of the great scholar and fantasy writer J.R. Tolkien. He demonstrates how Tolkien's writing can aid our understanding of metaphysics, angelogy, cosmology, politics and ethics. The chapter on angelogy was very valuable. I particularly appreciated his drawing attention to the fact that the character Galadriel is inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Galadriel was my favorite character in Lord of the Rings even before I became a Catholic.

Where this book falls down really badly is in the complete absence of any critique of Tolkien's work. Kreeft might have discussed the pessimistic tone of the Middle Earth stories; the lack of any eschatological hope. He might have made some comment on the presence of reincarnation in Tolkien's writing. Maybe that is not a problem in a work of fiction, but he could at least have made mention of it. One difficulty I have with Tolkien as a thinker is that he is fundamentally a dreamy, other-worldly figure. He is someone completely at unease with the modern world, thus raising questions about his relevance. His thoughts on politics were hopelessly romantic, a combination of anarchism and monarchism, with no realistic hope of implementation in the real world. Rather unfortunately, Kreeft speaks positively of the idea of Distributism, an economic theory that makes absolutely no sense in terms of real world economics.

I do like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but I am not sure I like the way Tolkien has become a pin-up boy for Catholics. It might have been worth acknowledging that as imaginative as Tolkien was, he was not a brilliant writer and much of his work is deathly dull to read.