Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Telegraph: Brexiteers must stop whining and realise David Cameron is playing to win

The Telegraph: Brexiteers must stop whining and realise David Cameron is playing to win

by Rupert Myers

"The people running the Vote Leave campaign are all part of the establishment. Serious money has been piled into the Leave campaign, and there are serious people running it.

The voters will decide on the arguments presented: complaining about the way the contest is being fought won’t sway votes, it’s simply a waste of the opportunity to put forward a credible alternative to the status quo.

“The establishment” Brexiteers complain of is simply the elected government, and Remain, putting their argument as strongly as they can. Nobody could expect them to do less."

InFacts: 7 reasons EU exit negotiations won’t be easy

InFacts: 7 reasons EU exit negotiations won’t be easy

by Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska

"Fourth, Article 50 puts a departing member state at a disadvantage in the negotiations with the rest of the EU. That is not to say that the UK would have absolutely no influence over the withdrawal terms. But according to Article 50.4, Britain would not be in the room when member states agreed on the EU’s negotiating position; once the 27 had agreed, the Commission would then negotiate with the UK on the basis of that position, with any compromises included in the final text subject to member states’ agreement by qualified majority (Britain would not participate in this voting). The agreement would need the consent of the European Parliament. British MEPs would probably participate in the Parliament’s voting but there are only 73 of them; if more federalist MEPs decided that the Commission had conceded too much ground in the negotiations, they could block the conclusion of the treaty with the UK."

Islam: A Short History, by Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History, 2000 Phoenix, London

This book certainly does what it says on the tin; it provides a short history of Islam from the time of Muhammad to the more recent conflict between Islamism and modern western values. Despite its brevity, it will be highly informative for those whose knowledge of Islamic history is limited; which includes nearly everybody in the west.

The author, an ex-nun of generally liberal sentiments, is not a Muslim, but she has a great admiration for the Islamic religion. In the preface, she argues that Islam is a thoroughly this-worldly faith. The goal of Islam is the redemption of history through the establishment of a society built on justice and the equality of all before God. She portrays Muhammad as a very sincere and noble figure, who had a deep respect and admiration for Judaism. Her discussion of the early interactions between Jews and the first Muslims is very interesting. She argues that Islam never had the goal of universal military conquest; the conquest of the Middle East was prompted by wars of self-defense by the Arab Muslims.

Coming to the modern era, she argues that Islamic fundamentalism is not a reversion to a true spirit of Islam, but is an ideology created by Muslims to resist western influences that are seen to be in opposition to Islam. She points out that secularism in Iran and Turkey an aggressive and coercive form. Regarding women's hijab, she points out evidence that many Muslim women who wear it hold quite liberal views about gender. She suggests many use hijab as a way of negotiating modernity, embracing modern life while offering symbolic affirmation of Islamic tradition.

I like the fact that she praises George W Bush's determination after 911 to avoid Muslims being scapegoated. He made efforts to appear with Muslims and visit Mosques. Sadly, this spirit of solidarity with peace-loving Muslims seems to have passed. Republican candidates such as Trump, Cruz and even Rubio have cast suspicion on ordinary Muslims. I would dearly love to see Ted Cruz visiting a mosque and showing that he takes seriously the fears and concerns of Muslim Americans.

One suspects that at times Armstrong glosses over some of the more negative and worrying aspects of Islam. Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend Christians to read this to gain a balanced perspective on Islam. It is very common for Christians to read only books that offer either a polemic against Islam or guidebooks to evangelizing Muslims. Rarely will conservative Christians take the time to read books by Muslims or offering a sympathetic reading of Islam, like this work. Unfortunately there are a lot of Christians who talk like they are experts on the subject of Islam, when in reality they have just spent a lot of time reading websites presenting very selective quotations from the Quran.

InFacts: What “liberation” from precisely which “red tape”?

InFacts: What “liberation” from precisely which “red tape”?

by Michael Emerson

"Chris Grayling MP, a leading Brexiteer from the government, has quite reasonably written that we do not want to go back to a situation when every country would have its own safety regulations for lawnmowers. That is of course a metaphor for many other standards, which can be counted in thousands. So we should keep sensible standards, but otherwise free ourselves from the absurd, unnecessary and over-costly standards.

This is where the difficulties start. Presumably these undesirable standards are not about wearing hard hats on construction sites, or protection from chain saws cutting off your fingers, or from dangerous chemicals like those which caused the Seveso disaster, or food contaminated by mad cow disease, or untested pharmaceutical products like thalidomide that caused phocomelia? Or thousands of others."

Let's Take the Lead in Europe

Friday, 29 April 2016

New Atlanticist| Donald Trump: A ‘Dangerous’ Man

New Atlanticist| Donald Trump: A ‘Dangerous’ Man

Former US diplomat, R. Nicholas Burns, discusses GOP frontrunner’s foreign policy speech

"The Obama administration attempted to reset relations with Russia at a very different time. But here we have a situation in 2016 where [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has invaded and annexed Crimea, invaded and divided the Donbas region in Ukraine, and threatened NATO allies—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. So it is naïve to think that somehow we can have a productive relationship with Russia when Russia is engaging in territorial land grabs over the last two years.

I was struck by the fact that Trump was very soft and accommodating toward Russia in his speech and did not mention Crimea, Ukraine, or the threats to our NATO allies. What kind of Commander in Chief would he be? The first job of an American President is to defend American interests, but you also want to be able to defend our allies and work very closely with them. What we saw in the speech was a denunciation of our allies, but not of our adversaries. That indicates to me that he has a naïve view of his own ability to get along with Putin and is underestimating Putin’s assertiveness and cynicism."

Voting Outcomes

Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Feast of Saint Catherine of Sienna

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

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

Blessed be the name of God!

Litany of Saint Catherine of Sienna

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

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins
of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of
the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins
of the world, have mercy on us.

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

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

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

InFacts: The Commonwealth pawn in the Brexit game

InFacts: The Commonwealth pawn in the Brexit game

by Yojana Sharma

"There’s nothing new about the immigrants-are-taking-our-jobs argument, but Brexit has added a new twist. Because some migrant groups settled in Britain can vote in the referendum, a generalised anti-immigration message is not going to go down well.

Appealing to the interests of ethnic minorities from Commonwealth countries makes sense because Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK have a referendum vote. European citizens, even if resident, don’t (with the exception of citizens of Malta and Cyprus, who are also Commonwealth citizens).

But standing up for Commonwealth interests as a Brexit strategy is nothing but a cynical ploy and a form of nostalgia for the British Empire dressed up to suit the Leave campaign. The argument goes like this: we were fine before we joined the EU because we had the Commonwealth (read: Empire). So we’ll be fine again when we leave. We’ll just do business with Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India and other Commonwealth countries that fought with us during the war and are “more like us”."

United for Working People

The Feast of Saint Louis De Montfort

O God, who willed to direct the steps of the Priest Saint Louis along the way of salvation and of the love of Christ, in the company of the Blessed Virgin, grant us, by his example, that, meditating on the mysteries of your love, we may strive tirelessly for the building up of your Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

The Voice of the Common Man

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

CapX: Vote Leave is the real threat to the NHS

CapX: Vote Leave is the real threat to the NHS

by Philippe Legrain

"Vote Leave is also wrong to claim that curbing EU migration would boost public services. Studies show that EU migrants are net contributors to public finances: they pay more in taxes than they take out in benefits and services. In effect, EU migrants subsidise the public services, welfare benefits and pensions provided to British people. They enable taxes to be lower than otherwise. And they help repay the vast public debt incurred by the existing population.

So if Britain curbs EU migration, there will be less money available for public spending on UK residents, not more. Since many EU migrants work as doctors, nurses and other key workers in the NHS, keeping them out would also harm the delivery of public services. Reciprocal controls would hit Brits living elsewhere in the EU too. If the million or so British pensioners living in Spain benefiting from free healthcare had to come home, that would put even greater pressure on the NHS.

Since existing EU migrants are a boost to public finances, there is every reason to think that future ones would be too. And if and when Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, which are currently candidates for EU membership, eventually join, their impact on Britain will be small. Their combined population of 12.6 million is less than a third of Poland’s and the UK government has pledged to impose transitional restrictions to prevent the citizens of new EU member states coming to work in Britain for years. As for Turkey, its increasingly authoritarian government has no prospect of joining the EU any time soon. Even if it met the entry conditions, France, Cyprus and others have pledged to veto its entry – and Britain could too."

Citiscope: Homelessness is not just about housing — it’s a human rights failure

Citiscope: Homelessness is not just about housing — it’s a human rights failure

by Leilani Farha

Go deeper and we see that, around the world, millions upon millions of people are invisibly homeless. This includes women, children and youths who find refuge with others, doubled or tripled up. This also includes multiple-generation families living in crammed shacks lacking even the most basic services, who at a moment’s notice may be evicted, often for a second or third time.

And then there’s the aspect of homelessness that is rarely mentioned, let alone tackled: criminalization, discrimination and stigmatization. Homeless people are often denied access to basic services such as water or sanitation, and are even fined for engaging in activities necessary for their own survival — for instance, eating and sleeping in public spaces. They are treated like “human waste”, sometimes forced to establish their households on or next to garbage dumps.

Homelessness is not just one of the most extreme forms of physical deprivation; it also defines a group that is subject to extreme forms of discrimination and violence. For homeless people, it’s double jeopardy: Laws and policies create homelessness and then penalize homeless people for being homeless.

I agree, though I think the author focuses too much on the causes of homelessness. That plays into the hands of policymakers who place barriers to the provision of housing as the solution to homelessness.

National Review: Ten Reasons Moderates Should Vote for Ted Cruz

National Review: Ten Reasons Moderates Should Vote for Ted Cruz

by Dan McLaughlin

"As the Republican primary campaign rolls into its final five-week sprint, the effort to stop Donald Trump and save the GOP from disaster will depend heavily on whether moderate voters are willing to pull the lever for Cruz. Especially given the importance of the winner-take-all delegate allocations in Indiana, California, and Washington, moderates will need to abandon John Kasich and unite behind Cruz in order to defeat Trump.

Politics is a team sport, and elections are often about a choice of lesser evils. If Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Lindsey Graham can get behind Cruz, we have reached the point where people are well past demanding their first choice. Even as a conservative, I did not have Cruz as my first choice, nor even my second. But among the choices remaining, allow me to make the case here for why moderates in the remaining primary states should go out and vote for Cruz, both as a matter of electoral calculation and on the merits of who should be president."

National Review: Cruz to Tap Fiorina as Running Mate

National Review: Cruz to Tap Fiorina as Running Mate

Ted Cruz will announce today his selection of Carly Fiorina as his running mate for the presidency, a source familiar with the decision tells National Review.

It could not be confirmed what precise language Cruz will use in making the announcement, but the source says Cruz will be presenting himself and Fiorina as “a ticket.” The Texas senator told reporters Wednesday morning to expect a “major announcement” at his 4 p.m. rally in Indianapolis, setting off speculation that he would name his vice-presidential choice in order to shift the news narrative away from Donald Trump’s sweep of five northeastern primary contests Tuesday night.

BBC News: Should we give every homeless person a home?

BBC News: Should we give every homeless person a home?

The Canadian city of Medicine Hat recently became the first city to end homelessness thanks to a surprisingly simple idea: giving every person living on the streets a home with no strings attached.

Unlike many other homelessness initiatives, the so-called "Housing First" approach doesn't require homeless people to make steps towards solving other issues like alcoholism, mental health problems or drug addiction before they get accommodation.

Four experts talk to the BBC World Service Inquiry programme about how and why the approach works and some of its limitations.

I totally support a Housing First approach to homelessness. I see housing as a basic human right, not as a privilege to be earned.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Crux: Pope shows mercy for ‘hybrid war’ in Ukraine

Crux: Pope shows mercy for ‘hybrid war’ in Ukraine

by Andriy Chirovsky

"In the short period between the Havana Declaration and the Ukrainian bishops’ meeting with the pope, the new papal ambassador to Ukraine, Archbishop Claudio Guggerotti, was savvy enough to visit the front lines in Eastern Ukraine and report back to the pope, together with extensive video footage of the devastation.

This, of course, struck a chord with Pope Francis, who insistently calls the Church to solidarity with the poor and suffering in the world. He listened intently to the reports of the Permanent Synod of the UGCC and informed them that he had watched Guggerotti’s video in preparation for the meeting. He wanted to do something.

Francis is a master of gestures. His oral interventions and even his texts leave many bewildered at times, but his gestures come across clearly.

By now, the war in Ukraine had been forgotten by Europe. The invasion, which was occasioned by the Maidan “Revolution of Dignity” with it’s clear choice of Europe over Russia, had slipped from the headlines. In Ukraine people were dying for their pro-European choice, and Europe seemed unconcerned.

So the bishops of the UGCC under the leadership of their patriarch and Bishop Borys Gudziak, who heads their Department of External Affairs, devised a plan that would not only address the suffering but also bring Ukraine back into the news and into the imaginations of Europeans. Together with Pope Francis they came up with a grand gesture: a collection in all the Catholic Churches of Europe to aid in the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine caused by the ongoing war."


Great country and I hope they get to join the EU one day, but there is a reason why they don't care for staying outside.

Monday, 25 April 2016

InFacts: EU travel visas would stop tourists not terrorists

InFacts: EU travel visas would stop tourists not terrorists

by Luke Lythgoe

"The Leave camp has floated the idea of requiring visas from EU citizens after Brexit as a way of tightening up security. Such a move would hurt our economy and almost certainly lead to visa requirements being imposed on Brits travelling to Europe, while adding little protection against terrorists coming from the EU.

Dominic Raab, the eurosceptic justice minister, told the BBC on Sunday: “We should at least have the power and the control” to look at new visa requirements for EU countries to “make sure we keep Britain safe” (watch from 09:10).

Raab admitted there would be retaliatory restrictions on Brits going to Europe, either visas or “some other kind of checks”. That, on its own, would be a big blow: UK travellers could lose visa-free access to the entire Schengen Area – currently 26 countries, including non-EU countries such as Switzerland and Norway – and maybe to other EU countries too. As well as the extra hassle involved, foreign holidays would become more expensive. Schengen visas normally cost €60."

The Home Secretary Speaks

I have my issues with Theresa May, but I'm delighted she has resisted the temptation to join the Brexit crowd.

Paul Krugman on Brexit

The Feast of Saint Mark

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

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

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Adam Smith Institute: A neoliberal case for a basic income, or something like it

Adam Smith Institute: A neoliberal case for a basic income, or something like it

I’m a capitalist, neoliberal advocate of a basic income, or something like it. I don’t think it’s perfect, I don’t think it will solve every problem. I just think it would be an improvement, for three main reasons:

1. It addresses in-work poverty well.
2. It reduces complexity in the welfare system.
3. It facilitates other reforms that would raise overall living standards.

Being a neoliberal capitalist does not mean you have to be against social security. As the article points out, there are potentially big difficulties with a basic income, but it still has a lot of merit.

The Threat of Brexit to British Agriculture

The Quotable Newman vol.2, by Dave Armstrong

Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong helpfully provided a second volume of quotations from that great Catholic convert, Blessed John Henry Newman. The first volume dealt with the bread and butter of Catholic apologetics, such as the sacraments, the Papacy and Apostolic succession, while this second volume deals with a broader range of topics. There are many excellent devotional insights here.

As somebody who has studied the Oxford Movement at an academic level, I would have liked to have seen some quotes in which Newman wrote about some of his associates in the Oxford Movement, such as Pusey, but I understand that might not have been of much interest to readers who lack the historical background knowledge. This is, however, a very worthy and useful resource, as can be expected from Dave Armstrong.

The Guardian: Hillary Clinton urges Britain to remain in the European Union

The Guardian: Hillary Clinton urges Britain to remain in the European Union

Hillary Clinton has thrown her weight behind the campaign to keep Britain inside the European Union in a major new boost to David Cameron’s hopes of winning a Remain vote on 23 June.

After Barack Obama used his farewell trip to the UK as president to make the economic and security arguments for membership, Clinton, who is the favourite to win the Democratic nomination in July and become the first female US president, makes clear that if she enters the White House she will want the UK to be fully engaged, and leading the debate, within the EU.

In a statement to the Observer, her senior policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, said: “Hillary Clinton believes that transatlantic cooperation is essential, and that cooperation is strongest when Europe is united. She has always valued a strong United Kingdom in a strong EU. And she values a strong British voice in the EU.” Sources close to the former secretary of state’s campaign said she stood fully behind Obama’s opposition to Brexit, which the president said on Friday would not only undermine the international institutions, including the EU, that had bound nations closer together since 1945, but would also mean the UK being at “the back of the queue” when negotiating new trade deals.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Bl. John Henry Newman on the Book of Common Prayer

One cannot hope but that the Anglican Prayer Book with its Psalter and Catholic prayers, even though these, in the translation, have passed through heretical intellects, may retain so much of its old virtue as to co-operate with divine grace in the instruction and salvation of a large remnant.

Indeed. Though the Book of the Common Prayer was the work of Protestants, it contained in the daily offices of morning and evening prayer the old Catholic divine office in their substance.

Daily Office of Our Lady: Syon Breviary

Sister Anne Smyth O.S.s.S., Daily Office of Our Lady: The Syon Breviary, 2015 The Bridgettine Sisters, Plymouth

There are some Evangelicals who are junkies for Bible translations. As soon as a new Bible version hits the shelf, they have to buy. Deep down, they have this notion that if they just get the right Bible translation, it will radically transform their devotional life and they will really, really get into deep Bible study. I have become the same about prayer books. I seem to be on this quest to find the perfect prayer manual and the perfect breviary. I seem to think that somehow if I find the right prayer book, it will revolutionize my prayer life. So when I saw this recently published daily office on Amazon, I had to buy it.

The Syon Abbey in Twickenham was a community of the Bridgenttine order, dedicated to Saint Bridget of Sweden. This community survived the suppression of religious orders during the English Reformation by re-locating to Portugal. Their daily office has traditionally been said in Latin. This volume not only provides a translation of the Bridgenttine office, but revises it in line with the provisions of the Second Vatican Council. I believe some traditionalist bores, with time for such things, have moaned about these revisions. One could argue the revisions were unnecessary, as this breviary is not authorized for public worship in churches or religious orders and may be used only in private.

This breviary contains the hours of lauds, terce, sext, none, vespers and compline and the office of readings for each day of the week. The hour of Lauds uses the same Psalms as Sunday each day. This office feels quite different to the Liturgy of the Hours. Despite the modern language and the emphasis on the Blessed Virgin, the structure reminds me a little of the Book of Common Prayer, with it's multiple collects and prayers. Anglicans will certainly recognize one of the opening prayers for Vespers, which is one of the concluding collects for evensong in the Book of Common Prayer. I suspect this was originally one of the Leonine prayers.

This is a beautifully bound volume. It contains a lot of musical notation, which is rather wasted on a non-musical reader like me. However, I love the emphasis on devotion to the blessed Mother of God.

Friday, 22 April 2016

InFacts: Migrants aren’t drain on NHS

InFacts: Migrants aren’t drain on NHS

by Luke Lythgoe

"Migrants, who are mostly young, use the NHS less than the ageing native population. They also pay into welfare and staff the health service. They are a boon not a burden.

Vote Leave says “uncontrolled EU immigration is putting a huge strain on our public services”. Newspapers such as the Daily Mail and Express are also quick to make the link between NHS woes and a “massive influx of EU migrants”.

But EU migration contributes to the NHS in two main ways. Firstly, EU nationals living and working in the UK pay more into the British welfare system than they take out. According to UCL research, between 2001 and 2011 EU nationals made a net contribution of £22.1 billion. Native Britons were a net drain to the tune of £624.1 billion.

Secondly, new NHS figures show 4.5% of its workforce is from EU countries. The figure is higher for professionally qualified clinical staff, with 6% of nurses and health visitors and nearly 9% of doctors coming from the EU."

The Feast of Saint George

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

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

BBC News: Barack Obama says Brexit would leave UK 'back of the queue' on trade

BBC News: Barack Obama says Brexit would leave UK 'back of the queue' on trade

US President Barack Obama has said Britain would go to the "back of the queue" for trade deals with the US if it votes to leave the European Union.

He said Britain was at its best when "helping to lead" a strong EU and membership made it a "bigger player" on the world stage.

He was speaking at the start of a three day visit to the UK.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Guardian: Despised, but voiceless – what it’s like to be an EU citizen in the UK

The Guardian: Despised, but voiceless – what it’s like to be an EU citizen in the UK

by Jakub Krupa

On the night of the EU referendum, millions of British voters will be waiting for the result that could define the country’s future. Another group of people will be following the vote count closely as well: the voiceless group of EU migrants for whom Brexit would change everything. They will watch the results coming in, their fate decided by other people’s rather uninformed vision of who they are and what they do.

Named and shamed throughout the campaign, the 3 million minority from all over Europe have reason to be worried. Although seen as the most important issue of the referendum campaign, they have been completely excluded from the debate – becoming the subject of the conversation, not participants.

Despite being part of British society, they will now face massive uncertainty: will they be able to stay and work in the UK? Will they need to report their moves to local authorities regularly, as if they were convicts that needed to be monitored for their suspicious activities? What about their families coming over for a few days? Will they need visas?

We are fortunate that Poles in the UK are not a lot angrier. They ought to be, given the contempt with which they are treated by our country.

BBC News: Queen's 90th birthday: Cameron and Corbyn lead tributes

BBC News: Queen's 90th birthday: Cameron and Corbyn lead tributes

David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn have led tributes to the Queen in the House of Commons as MPs marked her 90th birthday.

Opening a special "Humble Address", the PM said she had led a "gentle evolution" of the monarchy during her 64-year reign.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said whatever people's views on the monarchy, the "vast majority" agreed she had served her country.

UK-wide celebrations are taking place.

Crowds lined the streets in Windsor as the monarch took part in a walkabout, after royal gun salutes were fired from each of the UK's capital cities.

Mr Cameron paid tribute to her "extraordinary service", which he said was "a joy for us all to celebrate, to cherish and to honour".

Opportunities for Business

BBC News: Vote Leave's £350m claim potentially misleading, says statistics chief

BBC News: Vote Leave's £350m claim potentially misleading, says statistics chief

Claims that leaving the European Union could save Britain £350m a week are "potentially misleading", the UK Statistics Authority has said.

Leave campaigners have been calling for the £350m to be pumped into the NHS rather than the EU.

But the claim has been attacked by Remain campaigners as "bogus" and a "desperate attempt to mislead people".

Vote Leave stood by the figure and said it will challenge the statistic authority's findings.

The £350m claim was questioned by UK statistics chief Sir Andrew Dilnot, in response to a letter from the Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Feast of Saint Anselm

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

Saint Anselm pray for us, and for England.

Interpreting the Bible the Orthodox Way, by Father John A. Peck

This short book offers a summary of the Eastern Orthodox interpretation of the Bible, beginning with the Bible's fundamental connection to the Church through the canon, then goes on to outline the importance of Scripture as liturgy in the early church. The author rather fails to get my sympathy early on in the book with his misleading statement that the Roman Catholic Church did not have an official canon until the Council of Trent.

Peck explains the classic four senses of Scripture, literal,typological, moral and eschatological. He offers for the moral sense, the classic example of Psalm 137:9 with that disturbing stuff about dashing infants' heads. He tells us the Orthodox reader should interpret this as 'little sins.' The problem is that anybody who has a basic grasp of exegesis ought to see that, time-honoured as this interpretation may be, it has nothing to do with what the original author was trying to say. Should we view this as the inspired meaning of the text? In which case, this opens up a hermeneutical minefield, by removing meaning from authorial intent. Or should we take this meaning as the understanding of the pious, which may supersede the original meaning of the passage?

This book offers a basic summary of the Orthodox approach, but it does not engage with other methods of interpreting Scripture. It will therefore be of little use the Christian coming to it with definite views and knowledge of the field of Biblical interpretation.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

CatholicHerald: Number of Muslim migrants in Austria converting to Christianity on the rise

CatholicHerald: Number of Muslim migrants in Austria converting to Christianity on the rise

An increasing number of Muslim migrants in Austria are converting to Christianity, according to reports.

According to Austrian website Kurier, 83 adults were approved for baptism in Vienna in 2016, with Friederike Dostal of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference estimating that about half of them were Muslims, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iran. This figure is up from one-third in 2015.

There is expected to be a further rise of Muslim converts in 2017 due to the fact that there has been an increase in the number of refugees arriving in Vienna in recent months and because the conversion process, known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, takes up to a year to complete.

The Washington Post: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez makes sharp critique of Trump at RGA donor event

The Washington Post: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez makes sharp critique of Trump at RGA donor event

It was the political question of the moment, posed by a donor to eight Republican governors who had gathered Sunday afternoon in the sumptuous Palm Beach mansion of billionaire David Koch: What did they make of Donald Trump, and what impact would he have on the party if he were nominated?

New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association, did not mince words: She told the crowd of about 60 wealthy GOP backers that, as a Latina, she was offended by Trump’s language about immigrants. Noting her years working as a prosecutor on the Mexico border and now as a border-state governor, Martinez said Trump’s plan to build a wall and force Mexico to pay for it was unrealistic and irresponsible, according to multiple people in attendance.

The comments were a remarkably strong rebuke of the GOP front-runner by Martinez, who has been publicly circumspect about his candidacy since the GOP contest engaged. She spoke out after the other female governor in the room, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, also criticized Trump, expressing concern his rhetoric would taint the Republican brand. Haley said it was imperative that the GOP be inclusive to people from all backgrounds, according to attendees.

The Alternatives

Monday, 18 April 2016

A Clear Message from the Chancellor

How to say No to Extreme Political Views

I understand that extreme political views are pretty appealing when you are a young man aged 20-35, who spends all his spare time on the internet or watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I know that when you live for online forums, Anarcho-Capitalism and Neo-Feudalism have a lot of appeal. We could all believe that absolute monarchy is a viable political system in the Twenty-first century and that the Illuminati are still around rigging every election to their satisfaction. I'm sure in an alternate history discussion thread, Gregor Strasser could have been the greatest political figure of the Twentieth Century.

The problem is that you are immersing yourself in unreality. The people on those discussion forums may sound really clever, but they are people just like you, working on an IT helpdesk during the day and spending the rest of their time on the net and watching My Little Pony. The more you spend indulging these extremist fantasies, the more you will lose touch with the real world. You may ask, 'What's wrong with that?' It is wrong because man is a political animal by nature. We all have a part to play in the politics of our city, of our nation.

I want therefore to suggest some exercises which will help to re-orient you towards real world politics.

1. Buy a newspaper. Read about some policy that is being debated by the government and their opposition. Come to a firm opinion on whether you agree or disagree with that policy.

2. Find out all you can about one mainstream politician such as Angela Merkel or Francois Hollande (Please don't choose Vladimir Putin). Write down three things about that politician which are worthy of admiration.

3. Find out all you can about one international organisation such as NATO or the IMF. Write down three good things which that organisation does.

4. Write a letter to a member of parliament or congress about an issue which is of concern to you. Not an angry, ranting letter, but a polite, respectfully worded letter. Await his or her reply and read it.

5. Now this one is really radical. Join a mainstream political party, like the Republicans or the Labour Party. Attend their meetings. Volunteer to get involved in their campaigns.

Do you think you could try those things?

Dixon: Vote to quit EU could tip UK into recession | Columns | Breakingviews

Dixon: Vote to quit EU could tip UK into recession | Columns | Breakingviews

Proportions in the Parliament

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Keynes Solution, by Paul Davidson

The economic views of John Maynard Keynes have come back into fashion in recent years. My mental image of Keynesianism is of a bunch of 1950s blokes in drab grey suits, with brillcreamed hair, smoking woodbines like chimneys as they plan the course of the national economy. That's the sort of image that would inevitably give Keynesianism credibility with hipsters. Milton Friedman can't compete with that kind of hipster currency.

This book is an apology for Keynesian economics, arguing for its relevance in these recently troubled economic times. The author is a Post-Keynesian, who argues for more than just a stimulus in times of recession, but continued government investment to maintain full employment. He argues that his own views are closer to those of John Maynard Keynes than those of Keynesian economists after the Second World War. Davidson is harsh in his criticism of free-market economists, criticising them not only on economic grounds, but also moral grounds. This made it a difficult read. He makes no effort to engage in dialogue people like me who have tended to be on the free-market side of the fence. I suspect the book is aimed at a more progressive readership.

As an unrepentant capitalist, I have my worries about the idea of full employment and wonder if it is desirable given the implications for wage inflation and increased union power. On the former, our author suggests measures that he believes would prevent wage inflation. I'm a little troubled by the question. Perhaps simply for moral reasons, governments should pursue full employment regardless of the potential economic disadvantages, but this is an idea that worries me enormously and seems to demand a level of state intervention that I am not comfortable with. Right-wing people like me probably need a bit more persuasion than Davidson provides.

I was also uncomfortable on the chapter in international trade. Davidson believes that free trade has been bad for the American economy, a position with which I am very uncomfortable. I am not convinced that his solutions on that issue are practical. He argues that imports should be banned from countries which do not apply the same workplace standards as those in America. It sounds good in principle, but that would require establishing a bureaucracy to enforce those standards on the importing country. The cost of this would end up being born by the customer.

In discussing those things he believes governments should invest in, our author stresses the importance of healthcare. He believes that the American right has failed to see that a healthy capitalist system requires an healthy workforce. This is a good and sound point.

One thing that is definitely lacking in this book is any specific examples of where Keynesian economics ha been successful. That would definitely have made the author's case a bit stronger. I would have also liked some discussion of current politics and the extent to which world leaders are willing to engage with Keynesian policies.

I do find aspects of the Keynesian argument persuasive; I am not at all convinced that markets are always that efficient. Yet I do have some nagging doubts. Obviously, there is the standard monetarist argument that Keynesian policies lead to runaway inflation. More fundamentally, I can't shake off the suspicion that Keynes' ideas are too easy to sell. Keynesianism promises more government spending and more employment, things that are easy to sell to voters. It does make one worry that Keynesians are telling people what they want to hear. Of course, one can turn this around and argue that those who support neo-classical economic theories are also motivated by the wrong reasons; a bias against government intervention, a belief in self-reliance or a misguided commonsense.

I also wonder if it does not help that Keynes appeals to people for the wrong reason. John Maynard Keynes seems to have been a likeable sort of person, especially if you are a middle-class liberal. Keynes was a man of culture, a philosopher who loved art and literature and who was married to a ballet dancer. Inevitably, intellectuals are going to warm to somebody like that.

Nevertheless, I am very interested in Keynesianism. Keynesianism ought to appeal to advocates of Catholic social teaching who emphasise the deficiencies of capitalism. It certainly makes more sense than the vague posturing otherwise known as Distributism.


Otherwise, please begin your re-education with Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

A Time for Unity

ConservativesIN| Mark Field MP: What exactly does ‘leave’ entail?

ConservativesIN| Mark Field MP: What exactly does ‘leave’ entail?

"Ultimately we – states as much as individuals – all respond to incentives. Where precisely would the incentive lie with the remaining EU nations to make life easy for a departing UK? Indeed the existential threat implied by Brexit would arguably lead to a highly restrictive exit deal if only to act as a strong warning for any other prospective leavers. The ‘Swiss’, ‘Norwegian’ and ‘Turkish’ models outlined above are special agreements struck with neighbouring states contemplating future accession or some sort of closer union. As a consequence they may offer considerably better benefits than anything the UK might reasonably anticipate after negotiating a journey in the opposite direction.

Geopolitically, it is difficult to argue that the UK outside the EU would retain its global influence, especially in a world increasingly dominated by continental-sized powers such as the United States of America, China and India. Harping back to a wistful place at the heart of the British Commonwealth is surely little more than that – an unrealistic, naïve reluctance to cast off post-imperialistic pretensions.

That is certainly how such a UK ‘alternative to the EU’ seems to Indian opinion formers. Indeed Prime Minister Modi made it clear in his visit to the UK last November that he fully supports the UK’s continued membership of the EU and regards us as a key gateway for his nation’s exporters to the EU. It is a view shared by each and every other head of government of our key trading counterparts, bar Vladimir Putin of Russia. For Australians (especially since Malcolm Turnbull took the helm as premier) and New Zealanders, meanwhile, the world has moved on. Whilst the love-in with monarchy shows few signs of abating any time soon, these countries increasingly regard themselves as twenty-first century Asian nations. Nor have they forgotten the sense of betrayal when we joined the EEC. As for Canada…well, their pride in the Royal Family owes more to desire to differentiate historically from an internationally unpopular USA, but their economic and strategic interests lie firmly within their own continent. New Premier, Justin Trudeau, is certainly no Anglosphere supporter in the style of his predecessor Stephen Harper."

Catholic Herald: Brexit would create ‘more complex problems’, says Cardinal Nichols

Catholic Herald: Brexit would create ‘more complex problems’, says Cardinal Nichols

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has suggested that if Britain leaves the European Union it would create “complex problems”.

At the spring meeting of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales the Archbishop of Westminster said that the path to division “almost inevitably leads to further division”.

The cardinal said: “There is a long tradition in Christianity and Catholicism in particular of believing in holding things together. So the Catholic stance towards an effort such as the EU is largely supportive.

“If the vote was to leave Europe I think we would face more complex problems and greater difficulty in finding our role in response to it than we would by playing an active and vigorous part with partners within the EU.”

The Good God, by Michael Reeves

Michael Reeves, The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Spirit, 2012 Paternoster

Most Christians acknowledge the doctrine of the Trinity and have some awareness that it is an important teaching, without understanding why. If they were asked to explain the Trinity, they would probably an heterodox definition, something approaching modalism, or perhaps tritheism. The Good God offers an entry-level exploration of the doctrine of the Trinity, explaining why this dogma matters and how to understand it. Along the way, it offers some snapshots of key moments and figures in historical theology.

Reeves demonstrates that knowing God as Trinity is fundamental to understanding that God is love. For Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses, God was alone before the creation. He had nobody to love. Allah could never be a God of love, because his love depends upon creation and is not essential to his existence. However, for the Christian, God the Father loved God the Son before the creation. Love is internal to the Triune God.

This is an enjoyable and easy to read book. My only complaint is that when the author discusses soteriology, he has a very definite pro-Reformation Protestant bias.

Alastair Darling on Brexit

Edward Feser: Craig on divine simplicity and theistic personalism

Edward Feser: Craig on divine simplicity and theistic personalism

"It is also simply false to imply, as Craig does, that Thomists and other critics of theistic personalism regard God as “impersonal.” When classical theists like Davies say that God is not “a person,” they do NOT mean that God is impersonal, an “it” rather than a “he.” On the contrary, most classical theists, including all Thomists, would say that among the divine attributes are intellect, will, omniscience, freedom, and love. Naturally then, they regard God as personal rather than impersonal, since nothing impersonal could intelligibly be said to possess these attributes. As I have said many times, the problem with the thesis that “God is a person” is not the word “person,” but rather the word “a.” And as Davies (and I) have argued many times, there are two key problems with it, a philosophical problem, and a distinctively Christian theological problem.

The philosophical problem is that this language implies that God is a particular instance of the general kind “person,” and anything that is an instance of any kind is composite rather than simple, and thus requires a cause. Thus, nothing that is an instance of a kind could be God, who is of course essentially uncaused. (Obviously these claims need spelling out and defense, but of course I and other Thomists have spelled them out and defended them in detail many times.) The distinctively Christian theological problem is that God is Trinitarian -- three divine Persons in one substance -- and thus cannot be characterized as “a person” on pain of heresy. (As Davies has pointed out, it seems that the first time the English language formula “God is a person” appears in the history of Christian theology is in the 1644 heresy trial, in Gloucester, England, of someone named John Biddle -- where the formula was condemned as implying Unitarianism.)

So, the reason Davies labels the rejection of classical theism “theistic personalism” is not that he thinks God is impersonal. The reason is rather that he takes theistic personalists to start with the idea that God is a particular instance of the general kind “person” and to go from there. And this, he thinks, is what leads them to draw conclusions incompatible with classical theism, such as that God is (like the persons we’re familiar with in everyday experience) changeable, temporal, made up of parts, etc. To reject theistic personalism, then, is not a matter of regarding God as impersonal, but rather a matter of rejecting the idea that God is a particular instance of the kind “person,” or of any other kind for that matter. (For example, though classical theists certainly regard God as the uncaused cause of the world, they do not think that this is correctly to be understood as the claim that God is a particular instance of the general kind “cause.”)"

InFacts| No Health Surplus: Brexit wouldn’t yield billions for NHS

InFacts| No Health Surplus: Brexit wouldn’t yield billions for NHS

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes

"Stuart acknowledged the EU sends money back to the UK, but Vote Leave has repeatedly argued that the EU tells us how to spend that money, which precludes it going on our priorities – things like the NHS.

The problem is that the EU’s priorities also appear to be Vote Leave’s priorities. The EU subsidises farmers and Vote Leave wants to maintain this spending. The EU funds our research and universities. Vote Leave wants to increase funding for science.

That leaves only one other substantial category of EU money to raid: EU funds for UK regions, including funding for poor and disadvantaged regions. Perhaps Vote Leave intend to fund the NHS by diverting funds currently destined for Wales and Northern Ireland."

Friday, 15 April 2016

Don't want to be homeless? Don't live in sin

If you are a young single man in the UK, your prospects will not be great if you become homeless. You will not be deemed by the local authorities to be priority need and therefore they will be under no duty to house you. If you can't get a deposit for a private tenancy, your only recourse will be a homeless shelter, full of alcohol and drug users and the likelihood is that even they will be have no beds left for you.

As a substance misuse worker, I meet a lot of young men in this position. The most common reason why they were homeless was because they had been living with their girlfriends. The relationship had ended messily and they were kicked out with nowhere to go.

Are you considering moving in with your girlfriend? Ask yourself, what is going to happen if the relationship ends? Will you be able to move back in with your parents? Will you have money to privately rent?

My advice, if you want to avoid becoming homeless is to wait until you are ready to get married. Don't move in together on a whim, but prepare yourself to be a husband and father and get married. Make a real family, not a makeshift living arrangement.

CapX: Utopian Brexiteers need to answer some basic questions

CapX: Utopian Brexiteers need to answer some basic questions

by Jonathan Hill

"It’s time for more scepticism in the debate about Europe – scepticism in the original sense: asking hard, practical questions, wanting evidence, not relying on wishful thinking.

Thirty years ago it was the Euro-enthusiasts who were the utopians. When people like me asked what the Euro might mean for Britain’s economy, we were told not to worry and that everything would be fine.

But today the Outers are the utopians. It is Leave campaigners who give sweeping assurances and try to close down the argument about what might happen after June 23rd if Britain votes to leave.

We needed scepticism before and we need it now. It’s always a sign that you need it when the arguments to justify a position keep shifting."

New Atlanticist: How to Solve Ukraine’s Security Dilemma

New Atlanticist: How to Solve Ukraine’s Security Dilemma

by Andreas Umland

"A main reason for the recent escalation of tensions in Eastern Europe is the absence of an effective security structure encompassing such militarily weak countries as Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. While Ukrainian public opinion has recently made a U-turn from a rejection to an embrace of NATO, the Alliance will not be ready to extend its commitments farther east anytime soon. Although future enlargement of the Alliance is possible, Ukraine’s confrontation with Russia as well as Moscow’s anti-Western stance would have to decrease significantly for that to happen. Recently, the opposite tendency was on display: The more aggression the Kremlin has shown, the less likely it is that the North Atlantic Council will open its doors to new members in conflict with Moscow.

Against this background, the best bet for Ukraine (and Georgia and Moldova) might be to work toward the revival of an old Polish plan called “Intermarium”—an alliance of the countries located between the Baltic and Black Seas. After World War I, Poland and other newly independent states found themselves in a fragile situation between the Russian/Soviet empire and Germany. This led to the idea of a coalition of the lands of what is in Germany called Zwischeneuropa (in-between Europe). Never implemented in the twentieth century, an Intermarium today could help embed countries like Ukraine in an international security structure. Such an idea is not only popular in Ukraine but also in Poland, where President Andrzej Duda recently brought it up."

ConservativeHome: Stop moaning, Brexiteers – and get stuck in to working for Britain and making the EU better

ConservativeHome: Stop moaning, Brexiteers – and get stuck in to working for Britain and making the EU better

by Laura Sandys

"I agree with the Brexiteers that there is a need to discover a new sense of our own potential, but we should recognise how well-respected this country is in Europe, in the Commonwealth and in the newly emerging economies. We need to build up our confidence, and further exercise our extraordinary influence and power in all the important organisations of which we are members that impact upon the world in which we live and trade. This requirement is particularly illustrated by the fact that Belgium, a small country, sells more to India than the UK, and Germany trades extensively with countries whose names our Foreign Office would find hard to place on a map – so blaming the EU for holding us back sounds distinctly hollow.

The question posed to us at the referendum is not a zero sum game: it should never be a choice between the US and the Commonwealth or Europe. We are brilliantly placed to have a dynamic role in all three and, indeed, our position in each enhances the others as Churchill’s concentric circles of Europe, the United States and the Commonwealth so brilliantly articulated. Why do we believe that we have to trade in one of these crucial relationships for the others – why are we not ambitious to have it all? Whether we like what the EU is doing or not, it is not going away and our future – whether in or out – will be significantly influenced by what our neighbours do."

Thursday, 14 April 2016

CapX: In Defence of Ted Cruz

CapX: In Defence of Ted Cruz

by Sam Bowman

"Shifting the burden of taxation away from investment income should incentivize investment and, according to the Tax Foundation’s dynamic model, lead to a 13.9 percent higher GDP over the long term and 12.2 percent higher wages. Cutting out practically all deductions and exemptions from the system would remove harmful distortions, too.

Jonathan Chait has objected that this would be regressive, but I’m not so sure. In the UK, VAT is actually a mildly progressive tax, looking at total lifetime consumption. This is partially because of the many exemptions we have for things like food and clothes, but not entirely. All income is eventually spent on consumption, so even if we cut taxes on investment income now, once people consume that income they will be caught by the consumption tax.

But even if we look at a single year, the regressivity point can be addressed by lump-sum cash transfers to poorer people. And, sure enough, Cruz’s plan includes a massive expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, a simple wage subsidy to low earners.

Though tax credits like this are controversial among British free marketeers, they have bi-partisan support in the US, and wonks on both sides of the Atlantic have praised the EITC as an effective way of boosting employment and the wages of the low-paid. Indeed here in Britain both the Institute of Economic Affairs and my own think tank, the Adam Smith Institute, argued against cutting similar tax credits last year."

The Guardian: What do Muslims really think? This skewed poll certainly won’t tell us

The Guardian: What do Muslims really think? This skewed poll certainly won’t tell us

by Miqdaad Versi

"But when there are 13 Muslim MPs, a British Muslim candidate for mayor of London, a Muslim dragon in the Dragons’ Den, and a Muslim winner of the Great British Bake Off, it seems that in reality, Muslims are very much part of British society. There is a fringe minority, as is the case with all communities, but Phillips chooses a distorted interpretation of the UK’s diverse Muslim communities.

For instance, he describes as “alarming” the finding that only 34% of Muslims would report someone to the police who was involved with people who support terrorism in Syria. But for the survey’s “control” group – consisting of randomly selected people from across the country of all or no faiths – the figure is only 30%. And other polls have found that 94% of British Muslims would report someone they knew who was planning an act of violence to the police.

And the suggestion that Muslims are an isolated community, separate to the rest of the country, is in sharp contrast to research from the Economic and Social Research Council, which indicates that the idea of self-segregating black and minority ethnic communities is flawed. So let’s be careful in drawing serious conclusions from a single uncorroborated poll, particularly when it contradicts more serious research."

An Eschatology of Victory, by J. Marcellus Kik

This is a reprint of three works advocating Postmillennialism by Reformed theologian and pastor, J. Marcellus Kik. The first is an history of the Reformed Postmillennial position, arguing that it has been as historically dominant among Calvinists as Amillennialism, if not more so. The second is an exposition of Matthew 24, arguing that our Lord's prophecies in that text were all fulfilled in AD 70. The third work provides exegesis of Revelation chapter 20, arguing that this passage is fulfilled in the Church Age, with the reign of the Gospel and the saints conquering the world.

This is a classic exposition of the Postmillennial view. I think I disagree with the author (and most Postmillennialists) in seeing the reign of the martyrs in Revelation 20 as a reign of living saints on Earth. It seems far more natural to read this as the reign of martyred saints in heaven. It is here that I think a Catholic form of Postmillennialism, should it emerge, would make a distinctive contribution in seeing the intercession of the saints as instrumental to the triumph of God's Kingdom rule.

The Guardian: Should we scrap benefits and pay everyone £100 a week?

The Guardian: Should we scrap benefits and pay everyone £100 a week?

by John Harris

Welcome to the world of a unconditional basic income, or UBI, otherwise known as citizens’ income or social wage. It might look like the stuff of insane utopianism, but the idea is now spreading at speed, from the fringes of the left into mainstream politics – and being tried out around the world. The UK Green party has supported the notion for decades: staunch backing for a version of UBI was one of its key themes at the last election. At its spring conference last month, the Scottish National party passed a motion supporting the idea that “a basic or universal income can potentially provide a foundation to eradicate poverty, make work pay and ensure all our citizens can live in dignity”. A handful of Labour MPs have started to come round to the idea – and serious work is being done among thinktanks and pressure groups, looking at how it might work in the here and now.

Meanwhile, there have been UBI-type policies and experiments in India and Brazil. These have suggested that, contrary to modern stereotypes about “welfare” sapping people’s initiative, a basic income might actually increase people’s appetite for work, by adding to their sense of stability, and making things such as childcare and transport more accessible. A pilot of a UBI-ish policy whereby people on benefits are paid unconditionally is happening in Utrecht, in the Netherlands; other Dutch towns and cities look set to follow its example, and there are plans to pilot a more ambitious kind of basic income in Finland. On 5 June, the Swiss will vote in a referendum on a plan that would see all adults receive about £1,700 a month, with an extra £400 for each child.

I am inclined to be in favour of a universal basic income, though I have some doubts about its affordability.

The Telegraph: Well done Channel 4 - you’ve just made British Muslims feel even more isolated

The Telegraph: Well done Channel 4 - you’ve just made British Muslims feel even more isolated

by Emma Barnett

"I raise it because I am more interested in genuine solutions. People bleating “we must defend Britain’s values” is all well and good, but British Muslims have learned nothing from this programme. Nothing at all, with one exception: that they are totally “other” from the rest of the nation.

You can’t shame people into change. Nowhere in history has this short-sighted approach worked.

If you want, as I do, to change the minds of the four per cent of polled Muslims who have sympathy with suicide bombers, or the large number who don’t think Muslims should do more to tackle the causes of extremism, you don’t do it this way.

It is achieved by the government working effectively with the leaders of communities facing such challenges.

In this case, the often criticised Muslim Council of Britain, is the Government’s partner – as are those leading the schools, mosques and charities working with British Muslims.

As a taxpayer, I want to see politicians getting “muscular” within communities where terrorism is tolerated. Really I do.

But TV programmes like this, pumped full of divisive rhetoric, devoid of solutions or context, will only cause more hatred and isolation. They certainly won’t “start a conversation”."

This article nails exactly what is wrong with anti-Muslim rhetoric- it doesen't achieve anything. Constantly talking about how bad and dangerous Islam is will not persuade any Muslims not to join the ranks of Jihadists.

Jeremy Corbyn says something sensible for once


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

An Introduction to the Celtic Orthodox Church, by Father Leonard Hollands

When I was at college in York, doing my theology degree, my housemate bumped into an ex-heroin user who was on a methadone prescription. Being a passionate Evangelical, my housemate became determined to help this chap. As it happened somebody had beaten him to it. The recovering drug user had been chrismated into the Celtic Orthodox Church, which had a tiny chapel in York. My friend met the priest and visited the church. He was surprised to be asked to remove his shoes when entering it. I never had any contact with the Celtic Orthodox Church, but I listened with interest when my housemate told me about them, as well as doing a bit of internet research about this body. I had a little interest in Orthodoxy at the time, but the idea of a "Celtic Orthodox Church" just sounded phony. Despite his conversion to Celtic Orthodoxy, the recovering drug user was happy to accept my housemate's invitation to attend the Calvary Chapel that we both attended. He used the opportunity to beg for money from the people going there. He even demanded the right to receive communion there, despite this being against the rules of his church. He was a pretty scary chap, having done time in the clink for harassment. I didn't like him at all and never imagined that one day I would be working professionally with people like him. It's funny how things work out.

The Celtic Orthodox Church was formed in 1866, when a Syrian Orthodox bishop consecrated Jules Ferrette as a bishop. It was a rare attempt by Oriental Orthodoxy to create its own Western Rite. In 1994, a large segment of the Celtic Orthodox Church entered the jurisdiction of the Coptic Orthodox Church, under the name of the British Orthodox Church. However, in 2015, the British Orthodox Church broke away from the Coptic Orthodox Church and has ceased to be part of canonical Oriental Orthodoxy.

This book offers a short summary of their basic beliefs. It states that Christ has two natures without going into the details of the Chalcedonian controversy. It also provides some brief reflections on Celtic spirituality and saints. This is a dreadfully short book and I would have liked it to go into more much detail. A bit more information about the liturgy in use in the Celtic Orthodox Church would have been interesting.

The assumption behind the Celtic Orthodox Church that the ancient Celtic Church was opposed to Rome and more closely aligned with the eastern non-Chalcedonian churches is historically dubious. I see little reason to doubt that the Celtic Church was truly part of the undivided Catholic Church. The idea of trying to reconstruct a modern Celtic Church seems a little over-optimistic given the scarce liturgical resources from that era and it smacks of 19th century Romanticism. Still, I do like the fact that the Celtic and British Orthodox churches follow the Coptic and Ethiopian tradition of removing shoes in their churches. It's a very reverent custom and practical too, as it keeps the churches cleaner.

The Guardian: Brexit unlikely to cause significant fall in immigration, says report

The Guardian: Brexit unlikely to cause significant fall in immigration, says report

Immigration would be unlikely to fall significantly if Britain left the European Union, according to a report by the free market thinktank Open Europe.

Clamping down on immigration is one of the central arguments of leave campaigners in the run-up to the 23 June referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU.

But in a report titled “Where next? A liberal, free market guide to Brexit,” Open Europe points out that other large, developed economies with low unemployment tend to attract high levels of immigration, even without espousing the EU principle of free movement.

“We don’t think immigration is likely to be reduced that much outside the EU, despite the political pressure,” said the thinktank’s co-director Stephen Booth. “The UK is not alone in experiencing quite high levels of immigration.”

Between 2000 and 2015, he pointed out, the UK received an average of 3.7 migrants per 1000 of the population each year. The average for members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – in general, the large, industrialised countries – was 3.1.

He added that Canada, Norway and Switzerland, all countries sometimes highlighted by Brexit campaigners as representing a model for a better relationship with the EU, have all experienced higher levels of net immigration.

A very plausible conclusion. The needs of the economy would dictate that we still required high levels of immigration post-Brexit. Some of the Brexitees, such as Douglas Carswell are even openly pro-immigration.

Investment and Collaboration

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: “Why pray to a saint rather than to God?”

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: “Why pray to a saint rather than to God?”

"The Bible emphasizes relationship to God, as sons and daughters to a Father. There is no question about that. But this notion is not the sole domain of Protestants (as they too often seem to think). It is also a “Catholic thing” and strongly part of our spiritual and contemplative tradition (as I noted in one of my papers).

That said, there is also the practice of praying for each other. Protestants do that. So do we. But how do we go about it? Even in the Protestant worldview, there is this notion of “getting a holy man [or the pastor, etc.] to pray for you.” Hence, a person would, e.g., ask Billy Graham to pray for them, because it is thought that somehow his prayer might have more effect."

The Feast of Saint Martin I

Grant, almighty God that we may withstand the trials of this world with invincible firmness of purpose, just as you did not allow your Martyr Pope Saint Martin the First to be daunted by threats or broken by suffering. 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 Martin I, pray for us and for Pope Francis

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Crux: Pope backs conscientious objection rights for Christians

Crux: Pope backs conscientious objection rights for Christians

“There’s a persecution of which not much is being said,” Francis said during his daily morning Mass in Santa Marta, the Vatican residence where he lives. It’s a persecution, he said, “cross-dressed as culture, cross-dressed as modernity, cross-dressed as progress.”

The pope said this “educated” persecution occurs not when a person “confesses the name of Christ, but for wanting to have and to manifest the values of a Son of God.”

“We see every day that the powerful countries create laws that force us to go through this path … a nation that doesn’t follow these modern laws, these cultures, or that at least doesn’t want to have them in its laws, is accused, is politely persecuted,” Francis said.

“It’s a persecution that robs man of his freedom, even from conscientious objection!” he added.

Carly Fiorina: A Full Analysis of Her Insights, by Scott Palmer

Although Jeb Bush was my preferred choice for GOP nominee, I did sort of fall in love with Carly Fiorina. Not difficult, I suppose, when she was the only lady standing. In a nicer world, she would have won the nomination, but in this hard and cruel world, that was never going to be.

This booklet offers a series of lessons about leadership and success drawn from the career of Fiorina. It is all rather vague. The book does not offer much actual biographical detail about Fiorina's life, nor does it tell us anything about her beliefs and values.

One of the lessons did very much bother me:

Insight #7 "If someone believes they are limited by their gender, race or background, they will become more limited."

The problem is that discrimination is a reality in our society. To tell people that it is just a limitation in their head and if they just believe in themselves, they can do anything is a form of victim-blaming. I attended a college course where one of the students, a young black man believed that philosophy that discrimination is just 'in your head.' The other black students on the course quite strongly disagreed with him. An older black man said to him:

"I understand how strongly you believe that, but it's not my experience. There have been a lot of doors slammed in my face because I was black."

We need to deal with the realities of injustice in our society, not pretend they are not there.

The Heavy Anglo-Orthodox: The dangers of a ‘libertarian moment’

The Heavy Anglo-Orthodox: The dangers of a ‘libertarian moment’

Historically, governments were indeed smaller. But that was largely on account of the fact that they could rely on institutions like the Church and the natural family, and on the tightly-interwoven mesh of unwritten privileges and mutual obligations that upheld these institutions, to serve the welfare of the people in society. And it was taken for granted that, as Solovyov would later put it, the purpose of the state in all things was ‘collectively-organised pity’ for the weak and vulnerable. Libertarians appear to think – as a matter of ideological wishful-thinking and in the absence of precedent – that one can have a functional society of the sort people would prefer to live in, without either the cultural safety net of traditional social roles and obligations, or the legal safety net of an economically-interventionist state. I can understand the appeal to such an ideology in a time when the legitimacy of the state itself is being called into question, but libertarianism is still very much a utopian fantasy, and a profoundly dangerous one.

A very thoughtful and insightful post from Matthew Franklin Cooper

Monday, 11 April 2016

Does Prayer Change Things? by RC Sproul

For worldly people, prayer is a completely futile and pointless activity, yet for the Christian it is the most vital and the most powerful thing we can ever do. Therefore any book that encourages us about the importance of prayer is worth reading.

Some people ask the question, if God has ordained all things, as Calvinists say (and historically most Catholic theologians), what is the purpose of prayer? RC Sproul answers firstly by pointing out that God commands us to pray and thus Christians must pray. God is glorified when we pray. Furthermore, prayer is the means by which God executes His will in the Earth. Prayer does not change God, but it does change things.

I liked Sproul's comments on 'Thy Kingdom Come' (much better than those of Aquinas) in the Our Father. He affirms that it is a prayer for the Kingdom of God to be made visible on Earth and for the world to be brought out of rebellion and into submission to God.

I was expecting RC Sproul to criticise Catholic prayer traditions such as the rosary and asking the intercession of saints, yet he mentioned none of these things (perhaps because the book is aimed at Evangelical readers). I was even more surprised to find that our author says some very positive things about the Catholic practice of going to confession. In particular, he praises the classic Act of Contrition that Catholics usually say in confession (I can never remember the words when I go to confession- I'm a newbie!). There is much that a Catholic would want to say about prayer that a Reformed theologian like Sproul will not say, but this is still an excellent little book on the power and value of prayer.

Fr Dwight Longenecker: Cardinal Burke Knocks the Armchair Critics of Amoris Laetitia

Fr Dwight Longenecker: Cardinal Burke Knocks the Armchair Critics of Amoris Laetitia

He says clearly that those who set themselves up as critics of the Holy Father and the exhortation are wrong and are causing scandal. The behavior of the Catholic fundamentalists over the weekend has been scandalous. Some who believe themselves to be such good Catholics have used vile and obscene language about the Pope, trumpeted their prognostications of doom and gloom and in doing so have declared themselves not to be the best Catholics of all, but the worst.

Cardinal Burke is right to say they have caused scandal because their self righteous, ignorant and arrogant writings have caused others to stumble, lose faith in the church and to question the authority of the Holy Father and the church they say they love.

It's wonderful to see Cardinal Burke getting behind the Holy Father's beautiful apostolic exhortation.

The Telegraph: Bash Brussels if you must, but remember those who died under the EU’s flag in Kiev

The Telegraph: Bash Brussels if you must, but remember those who died under the EU’s flag in Kiev

by David Blair

It may sound odd to Western Europeans, complacent in freedom and prosperity, but a blue flag with golden stars flew over the barricades of Kiev during Ukraine’s revolution.

When rooftop snipers fired into the crowds on Feb 20, 2014, murdering scores of demonstrators with clinical shots to the head, the victims died under the flag of the European Union.

Ukraine is fated by geography to understand better than anywhere else the alternative to the liberal order represented by the EU. To the east, Ukrainians see Vladimir Putin’s expansionist kleptocracy, now the invader and occupier of swathes of their country. To the west, for all its faults, they see peace and democracy.

This is such an excellent article. The Ukrainians understand better than any of us in western Europe that the European Union represents freedom, prosperity and peace.

CapX: The Commonwealth is not an alternative to the EU for Britain

CapX: The Commonwealth is not an alternative to the EU for Britain

What of the present? UK-Commonwealth trade continued to decline until 1998, since when it has undergone a slight revival. This has come while the UK and, from 2004, Malta and Cyprus have been within the EU. There remain some cultural and linguistic factors easing trade between Commonwealth members. But, as in Arnold Smith’s time, the 21st-century Commonwealth as an organisation aspires to an economic role which complements the other commitments of its members.

What might all this tell us about Brexit? The experience of the 1930s illustrates that there are limits to supranational economic cooperation without some pooling of sovereignty. And the tough trade bargaining back then certainly gives no reason to think that post-Brexit bilateral trade deals would be easier with Commonwealth members than with anyone else. Many, such as New Zealand, prefer dealing with the larger market of the EU.

In any case, the 1930s Commonwealth transformed in the 1960s to become the loose association that we recognise today. As early as 1966, it was clear to the leading members of the London-based Federation of Commonwealth Chambers of Commerce that “the Commonwealth is not a trading entity”. Whatever the possibilities of bilateral deals, the idea of a Commonwealth alternative to the EU has long been and remains an illusion.

Although many Brexiteers may be sentimental about the Commonwealth (read: dreaming of having our empire back) and it remains a valuable organisation, we cannot suddenly create new export markers simply based on political will.

Why the Single Market Matters

Financial Times: Britain warned not to expect easy Brexit negotiations

Financial Times: Britain warned not to expect easy Brexit negotiations

The report acknowledges the argument which Leave campaigners make that Britain’s trade deficit in goods gives many EU countries some incentive to seek a free-trade agreement with the UK. Other states, “would remain interested in keeping good political relations with a close and important neighbour,” the report says.

But it adds that this incentive to co-operate is likely to be outweighed by other considerations. Listing the “strategic misconceptions” of Britain, it notes, “the UK would rely more on market access to the EU than vice versa” and “political considerations could outweigh economic considerations, as the EU might fear that other [member] countries could follow the UK in exiting the EU”.

“As with Switzerland, the EU’s inclination to co-operate could worsen, if the UK chose to significantly restrict labour migration from the EU,” the report adds.

Moreover, there would be “no free lunch” in terms of reducing the regulatory burden. The more London sought freedom from EU rules, the harder it would be to maintain market access to the union.