Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Grant, we pray, O Lord our God, that we may be sustained by the intercession of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, that, as through them you gave your Church the foundations of her heavenly office, so through them you may help her to eternal salvation. 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 Peter and Saint Paul, pray for us and for the city of Rome.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Feast of Saint Irenaeus

O God, who called the Bishop Saint Irenaeus to confirm true doctrine and the peace of the Church, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, being renewed in faith and charity, we may always be intent on fostering unity and concord. 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 Irenaueus, pray for us, that we may reject all heresies.

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 27th June

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

Catholic Universe: Pro-life campaigners condemn BMA’s vote to decriminalise abortion

Catholic Universe: Pro-life campaigners condemn BMA’s vote to decriminalise abortion

Pro-life groups have condemned the British Medical Association (BMA) after it voted to decriminalise abortion.

Delegates at the BMA’s annual meeting in Bournemouth voted in favour of a motion calling for a change in the law.

This means the BMA will adopt this stance as formal policy and lobby ministers for a change in legislation.

In the run up to the Annual Representative Meeting, 1,500 doctors signed an open letter protesting the motion to decriminalise abortion, fearing the medical profession will be ‘severely damaged’.

A Comres poll in May 2017, the largest survey conducted on attitudes towards abortion in the last decade, found that 99 per cent of people were opposed to raising the abortion time limit, with 70 per cent of women wanting the current 24 week time limit to be reduced.

“This outcome is astonishing and appalling. The BMA have sided with the abortion industry’s dream for abortion on demand for any reason, and now stand opposed to the 70 per cent of women in this country who wish to see the time limit for abortions reduced,” Clara Watson, of Life, told The Universe.

Independent: Theresa May will not last another year as PM, say Citigroup analysts

Independent: Theresa May will not last another year as PM, say Citigroup analysts

Wall Street bank Citigroup has predicted that Theresa May’s Government will not last longer than a few months and that there will likely be another general election within the next year.

In a research note, the lender described Ms May’s role as prime minister as “unsustainable”.

"Our base case remains that we will have a Conservative leadership contest followed by a new general election within the next 12 months," the bank said.

Ms May’s popularity has plummeted in recent weeks and an opinion poll published by the Sunday Times earlier this week found that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is now five points ahead of the Tories at 46 per cent.

Good riddance.

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Feast of Saint Cyril of Aexandria

O God, who made the Bishop Saint Cyril of Alexandria an invincible champion of the divine motherhood of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who believe she is truly the Mother of God, may be saved through the Incarnation of Christ your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, pray for us, for the Christians of Egypt and for all theologians.

National Review: Trump Should Copy Reagan and End Détente — with China

National Review: Trump Should Copy Reagan and End Détente — with China

by Therese Shaheen

"Beijing knows it’s in bad shape, more than the U.S. seems willing to acknowledge. As far back as 2007, Chinese premier Wen Jiaobao articulated what became known as “the four Un’s”: The Chinese economy, he said, was “unbalanced, unstable, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.” Guess what? It’s gotten worse, and more obviously so, in the decade since.

What should the U.S. do? First, acknowledge that modern détente, like its Cold War predecessor, is contributing to belligerence, not cooperation, this time from Beijing. President Trump should adopt Reagan’s stance toward Moscow and discredit Beijing’s system as weak and unsustainable. A frostier, less accommodating U.S. policy toward the PRC, one that draws attention to its weaknesses and inconsistencies, would lead to better outcomes. Particularly in the areas of foreign-policy obstructionism (North Korea) and adventurism (bogus claims to sovereignty in international waters), Beijing cannot long withstand U.S. resolve and confrontation.

That means more than just taking a hard line on China’s interventionist trade policy. Washington should also demonstrate its intent not to let Beijing become a peer naval power in the western Pacific, through increased defense spending and a steady naval presence of our own, and by confronting Beijing’s disregard for maritime laws in its claims to sovereignty over international waters. The U.S. and its allies also should isolate China in its continued support of North Korea, proceeding with an aggressive missile-defense build-up for Japan and South Korea and imposing sanctions, unilateral if necessary, on North Korea and possibly even China."

China is an evil empire and should be treated as such by the USA.

The Greatest Weapon

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Crux: Spiritually speaking, ‘Ordinary Time’ is anything but

Crux: Spiritually speaking, ‘Ordinary Time’ is anything but

by Fr Jeffrey F. Kirby

"In approaching Ordinary Time in this way, some helpful spiritual lessons can be discerned from the season. As the Church slows its pace and returns to the public ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ, Christian believers (and people of good will) can see in this an invitation to slow the pace of their own lives, refocus attention on loved ones, evaluate personal convictions, and assess where their life is going and what changes they’d like to make.

Ordinary Time can serve as a welcome signpost along the path of our discipleship and of our lives. It can be an opportunity for us to put urgent things in check, so that they don’t dominate our existence, and a sacred time for us renew and cherish important things so that our lives can flourish and we can enrich the lives of others."

Christian Deathcore

The genre of deathcore tends to get sniffed at by death metal purists, but there are some great bands doing creative stuff within the field. There are also a few Christian deathcore bands out there.

Faithful and True are on the more melodic side of the deathcore genre, influenced by all those Gothenburg melodeath bands.

Parallax Withering have a darker more brutal deathcore sound.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

American Providence, by Stephen H. Webb

Stephen H. Webb, American Providence: A Nation with a Mission, 2004 Continuum, New York

I love reading Stephen H. Webb's books, but they are really difficult to review. The problem is that every single page contains a fascinating insight or a profound idea. Not only does this make it difficult to keep track of where his chain of thought is going, but it makes it difficult to decide which of these stack of ideas to share in a review.

It does seem that Webb loves to advocate and defend controversial positions. In this book he advocates the unfashionable idea that the United States of America has a providential destiny to be a light and blessing to the rest of the world. You may recall that a while ago, I reviewed Peter Leithart's Between Babel and the Beast, which argues directly against this view. One of his main points is that the critics of the idea of America having a providential destiny have their own ideas about providence and so an interpretation of God's providential dealings with the nations is inescapable. For instance, many of the theological critics of the USA identify her using the Biblical and providential imagery of Babylon, the Great Whore of Revelation. Along the way, Stephen Webb articulates other unfashionable positions, urging the positive benefits of globalization and advocating a neocon approach to foreign policy.

There are a lot of insights to be found in Webb's critique of Liberation Theology, which he sees as a chief rival as a view of providence to the one he articulates. Questioning the emphasis upon Christianity as a movement of the Poor, he points out that Jesus was from a middle class background within the context of his own society and that those who followed Him came from diverse backgrounds. He furthermore questions the idea that a grassroots movement of the poor is effective in achieving the goals of justice sought by Liberationists:

"For Bell, the poor become a sacrament of salvation when they advance the cause of justice. But how do they "build a new community"? Is this process of building a new community spontaneous, or does it take work, money, power and political connections? Is the new community merely spiritual affair, an invisible church, or does it exist within the network of institutions that compose a political economy? Bell admits that there is now a consensus among liberationists that structures of civil society are essential for Latin America to move forward."

Webb criticizes theologians such as Stanley Hauerwas, John Milbank and Rowan Williams for failing to recognize the value of democracy and accuses them of moral relativism in their failure to confront the evil of terrorism. He points out the irony of how both those on the Christian left and the fundamentalist Christian right have aligned in viewing 9/11 as a judgement of God on America.

Webb predicts the continued triumph of democracy and capitalism all over the world, though he sees Islam as an obstacle to this. He believes that Evangelism, as expressed in Pentecostalism is uniquely able to provide a religion suited to this new globalized world. Given the massive expansion of Pentecostal churches across the world, this appears to be correct. I think he could be a little bit more critical about Pentecostalism. A lot of Christians do not realize just how mainstream Prosperity teaching is among Pentecostals, especially in Africa. While Webb is right that this may promote good habits of work and industry, it may also create damaging false expectations and a sense of entitlement. Entitlement is an huge problem in Africa, where many expect to be given things by the West, while doing nothing in return. Those involved in Christian literature missions in Africa often report that they struggle to persuade African Christians to pay even reduced prices for Christian books because of an expectation that they should be given books for free. I worry that Pentecostal Prosperity teachings may encourage that sense of entitlement.

Should a Catholic be concerned about the spread of Pentecostalism converting many Catholics and leading them from the Church? Working in healthcare, I meet many African immigrants. I've met a lot of Africans who have converted from Catholicism to Pentecostalism, but I've met a few Africans who have converted from Pentecostalism to Catholicism. If a western Evangelical like me can cross from Protestantism to the Catholic Church, so can African Evangelicals. One interesting thing I have noticed is that many Africans who go from Catholic to Pentecostal continue Catholic practices like saying the Rosary. They have not imbibed the Protestant hostility to Catholicism that can be found in some sections of Pentecostalism.

I don't care for Webb's handling of the topic of Islam. I don't think he takes sufficient account of tensions and struggles within Islam and the strength of forces of modernization in Muslim communities. He quotes a number of Islamophobic writers. It's worth bearing in mind that many mainstream Islamophobic authors such as Melanie Phillips were quoted by mass murderer Anders Breivik. Maybe Islam is as bad as some people say, but if so, what is achieved by articulating this? Talking about the evils of Islam won't make Muslims disappear and it can only inflame tensions further.

One thing I have noticed is that while Stephen Webb has defended Catholic doctrines in his books, he does not really write as a Catholic, offering a specifically Catholic perspective. This means that we don't quite get an answer as to how a Catholic should regard the idea of the USA having a providential purpose. This is significant, because of the historic Protestant character of the USA. There are some Catholic traditionalists who regard the USA uneasily, often dreaming of replacing the USA with a Catholic monarchy (not a bad thing to want!).

I really appreciate Webb's positive evaluation of Postmillennialism:

"Postmillennialism is out of favour in theological circles today, in part because of overtones of triumphalism. The idea that the reign of Christ will occur before the final judgment can be taken to mean that human effort can bring about the kingdom of God. The logic of Postmillennialism does not, however, entail a view of history that minimizes God's contributions while maximizing human effort. Postmillennialism is certainly optimistic, but it is optimistic about the direction of history as that direction can be ascertained in the present, not about the strength of human nature unaided by grace. Postmillennialism reminds us that the kingdom of God is continuous as well as discontinuous with human history. It thus suggests an ultimate coordination of human politics with the coming kingdom of God. That is, the political sphere can anticipate the greater glory of the heavenly governance of God. This is a historical hope with biblical roots, but it gained credibility with the rise of Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome."

Postmillennialism has seldom been explicitly advocated by Catholic theologians, but it resonates with some aspects of Catholic theology.

Webb discusses the British empire, but like Leithart's Between Babel and the Beast, I would have liked more comparison between the USA and other nations that see themselves as having a providential role, such as France and Russia. Can we agree with Webb that America has a special providential destiny? I would like to think so. However, unlike the Hebrews, we have no infallible prophets to guide us in our understanding of God's providential dealings. Our interpretation of history can only be speculative.

Evening Standard:We should unilaterally allow EU citizens to stay

Evening Standard:We should unilaterally allow EU citizens to stay


"A good rule in international relations is: never issue a threat unless you are prepared to carry it out. For if you do, you only reveal to everyone how weak your negotiating hand actually is. That’s been the problem with Theresa May’s position on European citizens living in Britain ever since she first articulated it as Home Secretary in the days after the Brexit referendum. Last night in Brussels, she again said that they can remain here, but only if the same rights are extended to Britons living in European countries. Once again, this morning, millions of families wake up among us not knowing whether they will be allowed to remain in the country where they have chosen to make their lives. There has to be a very strong reason of national interest even to contemplate causing such upset. There isn’t.

It seems very unlikely Spain would kick out our expats on the Costa del Sol, or that France would depopulate the Dordogne. But even if they did, no one really believes that Britain would deport the three million European citizens who live and work here. Why not? Because it would be a massive act of self-harm. As Mrs May said in February: “EU citizens living in the UK make a vital contribution to our economy and society and without them we would be poorer and our public services weaker.”

Threatening to make yourself poorer and your NHS weaker isn’t very credible. Nor does anyone believe that, even if she wanted to, Mrs May has the numbers to carry out her threat. She has barely persuaded her Conservative colleagues to back her plan. Last June, in the days immediately after the referendum, David Cameron wanted to reassure EU citizens they would be allowed to stay. All his Cabinet agreed with that unilateral offer, except his Home Secretary, Mrs May, who insisted on blocking it. A vote in the Commons earlier this year was only carried with a nod and a wink to Tory MPs behind the scenes that she didn’t really mean it. Since then, the Government has lost its majority and it seems likely that an opposition motion to grant EU citizens the right to remain unilaterally could be carried."

Happy Armed Forces Day!

Independent: Transgender policies in schools 'a waste of time and money', claims leading academic

Independent: Transgender policies in schools 'a waste of time and money', claims leading academic

Introducing transgender policies in schools is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money, and only confuses children further, a leading academic has claimed.

As increasing numbers of children and adults in the UK seek referrals for gender identity clinics, schools are being encouraged to become more inclusive, with many now providing gender neutral toilets, uniforms and language policies.

But putting such policies into practice only encourages more children to question unnecessarily whether they are a boy or a girl, argues Dr Joanna Williams.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Cooperation is the way to Victory

The Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Grant, Lord God, that we, your servants, may rejoice in unfailing health of mind and body, and, through the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever-Virgin, may we be set free from present sorrow and come to enjoy eternal happiness. 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.

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Heavenly beauty and splendor of the Father, You are the most valued Heavenly treasure.
New Eve, immaculate in soul, spirit and body, Created of the godly seed by the Spirit of God, You are the spiritual Mother of mankind.
Pure Virgin, full of grace then and now, Your whole being was raised Heavenly in full glory, To be elevated above all the hosts within the Kingdom of God.
O Heavenly Mother, Queen of Heaven and earth, I recognize the glory of your highest title, The Immaculate Heart of Mary!
Loving Mother, dispenser of endless blessings, You who continuously intercedes on our behalf, Please present my need before your loving Son Jesus.
(In your own words, make your special request here. Speak to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as you would speak to another person, begging your Heavenly Mother to plea to Jesus on your behalf, that you be granted this special request.)
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, I know that you are now presenting my need before Jesus, For you have never turned away those in dire need.
Mother dearest, I await your favorable answer, Submitting myself to the Divine will of the Lord, For all glories are His forever and ever.

Litany of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

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

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

Immaculate Heart of Mary, favorite Daughter of God the Father,
pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of God the Son,
pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit,
pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, redeemed in a sublime
manner by the merits of thy Son, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother and
Model of the Church, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, excellent exemplar
in faith and charity, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, who conceived the Word
of God in Thy heart before thy did in thy womb,
pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, who gave precious Blood
to the Son of God in His human nature, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, conceived free of Original Sin,
pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, who embraced God's saving will
with a full heart, impeded by no sin, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, whose sweet soul a
sword pierced beneath the Cross, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, given to us as Mother
by Jesus as He hung dying on the Cross,
pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, who accepted us
as sons as thou stood beneath the Cross,
pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, all pure and holy,
pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, exalted by Divine grace
above all Angels and men, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mediatrix of grace,
pray for us.

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

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

Let us pray.
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, bearing with love for all thy children upon earth, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Show to Our Heavenly Father the Wound in the Heart of Thy Son and at the same time offer again the sword that pierced thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart as thou suffered by compassion with Thy Divine Son for the redemption of the world. By thy intercession, through the merits of Jesus Christ, bring us to salvation. Amen.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, that we would be truly conformed to Christ.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we, who glory in the Heart of your beloved Son and recall the wonders of his love for us, may be made worthy to receive an overflowing measure of grace from that fount of heavenly gifts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
R. Christ, graciously hear us.
V. 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.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially to the Word of God.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise.
Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts.
Heart of Jesus, in whom art all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father was well pleased.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who call upon Thee.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses.
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches.
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities.
Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints.

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,
R. have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart,
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.

An Appropriate Protestant Hymn

There is no love like the love of Jesus,
Never to fade or fall,
Till into the fold of the peace of God
He has gathered us all.


Jesus’ love! precious love!
Boundless and pure and free!
Oh, turn to that love, weary, wand’ring soul!
Jesus pleadeth for thee.

There is no eye like the eye of Jesus,
Piercing so far away;
Ne’er out of the sight of its tender light
Can the wanderer stray.


There is no voice like the voice of Jesus,
Tender and sweet its chime—
Like musical ring of a flowing spring
In the bright summer time.


There is no heart like the heart of Jesus,
Filled with a tender love;
No throb nor throe that our hearts can know,
But He feels it above.


Oh, let us hark to the voice of Jesus,
Then we shall never roam;
And we shall rest on His loving breast,
In the dear heavenly home.


Theodore E. Perkins (1831-1912)

Sacred Heart of Jesus, may we never stray from thy love.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Eastern Ukraine Stuation Report 21st June

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

Evening Standard: The challenge facing a weak administration

Evening Standard: The challenge facing a weak administration


"In the face of this dawning reality the Prime Minister promises humility. If that had been her approach these past 11 months perhaps she might have avoided this humiliation. But from the first day of her coronation as Tory leader last July, Mrs May behaved as if she had a mandate to undo the work of the previous government that she had been part of. She also interpreted the close result in the EU referendum — 17 million votes for Leave against 16 million for Remain — as an emphatic vote not just for Brexit but for a hard Brexit, leaving all economic and security arrangements with our closest trading partners. Those who questioned this interpretation were dismissed as Quislings.

Now it is her Government that is on the receiving end of the electorate’s will — and the Conservative Party, which looked set for ascendancy 12 months ago, fears for the future. It is caught in the Brexit wringer, losing support among urban voters, working people, students and ethnic minorities. Its strategy appears to be — to borrow an old analogy — a combination of John Travolta and Mr Micawber: staying alive and hoping something will turn up. That is not a plan for success.

It will take a new approach to Brexit, a new effort at co-operation and — before long — new leadership to have a chance of turning things around. That’s the only way to stop Jeremy Corbyn and the hard Left reaching No 10, which would — as is evident from their alarming calls for extra-parliamentary action — make a bad situation much worse."

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

BBC News| Philip Hammond on Brexit: Prioritise jobs and living standards

BBC News| Philip Hammond on Brexit: Prioritise jobs and living standards

Jobs and living standards must come first as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU, Philip Hammond has said.

The chancellor said it would require "every ounce of skill and diplomacy" to get the right deal, warning that people didn't vote for Brexit to be poorer.

Speaking in London, he said changes to customs arrangements should be phased in and there should be transitional measures to protect key industries.

One of the best things about the election results was that they saved Philip Hammond, who was in for being sacked or reshuffled. He seems to have found his mojo and is doing a fantastic job of making a case for a softer Brexit.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Committed to Operation Sophia

The Guardian: After Finsbury Park, Britain must tackle its preachers of anti-Muslim hate

The Guardian: After Finsbury Park, Britain must tackle its preachers of anti-Muslim hate

by Nesrine Malik

"We now live in a world where prejudice and violence against Muslims is firmly established. In a relatively short space of time, we have gone from deliberating whether Islamophobia actually exists to scrambling to deal with its rapidly unfolding consequences. On Sunday night, on the 24th day of Ramadan, an Islamic centre in Finsbury Park was deliberately attacked as worshippers left a nearby mosque.

Hate crimes of any nature do not occur in a vacuum, and there is a particularly urgent need to examine the context in which this attack took place. For innocent people to become targets, two things must happen: first, incitement to hatred, and then normalisation. Incitement happens when anger is stirred up and people are depicted as less than human. Normalisation occurs when the incitement is repeated, when it begins to feel like part of the scenery. After that, acting on that rage can begin to feel like less of a crime. This applies, by the way, whether the attackers are “lone wolves” or part of an organised network. It applies to Muslims fed dehumanising distortions about those who don’t share their religion. And it also applies to non-Muslims fed smears against their Muslim neighbours."

Politico: Lithuanians ‘sleep peacefully’ thanks to German troops

Politico: Lithuanians ‘sleep peacefully’ thanks to German troops

by David Stern

PABRADE, Lithuania — When German forces arrived in Lithuania during World War II as part of Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, many locals greeted them with flowers, hailing what they believed were their liberators from Moscow’s brutal occupation.

Almost eight decades later, the Germans are back — and Lithuanians are again welcoming them with enthusiasm.

This time, some 650 Bundeswehr soldiers are heading up a multinational NATO infantry battalion of around 1,400 troops — part of the alliance’s “enhanced Forward Presence” program.

“They applauded us as we went through one town — that’s never happened to me before,” said Michael, a lance corporal who for security reasons could not provide his last name.

Others say they’ve been told “thank you” and “we’re very glad you’re here.” A recent poll had Germans as Lithuanians’ second favorite nationality — after Latvians.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

5 Rifle Battlegroup in Estonia

Thursday, 15 June 2017

ConservativeHome: Farron’s sideswipe at the ethos of the party he led was truly remarkable

ConservativeHome: Farron’s sideswipe at the ethos of the party he led was truly remarkable

by Paul Goodman

"Be that as it may, his resignation statement was remarkable. “To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.” That sideswipe at his party was extraordinary. It can be read as meaning that orthodox Christian belief and the Liberal Democrat worldview are currently incompatible. Not all Christians will share Farron’s views – or perhaps what were once his views – on abortion and gay sex. Liberal Anglicans, for example, would have no intrinsic problem with the second. But churchgoers and others should ponder what he said.

Farron yesterday put his finger on a problem that this site identified when he was first quizzed about his beliefs. Social conservatism, for want of a better phrase, is not only unfashionable amongst the elites that shape our public culture, but is increasingly treated by them as somehow illegitimate. That the DUP is currently under fire for its stance on abortion and gay sex is a reminder of this (even though the SDLP takes much the same position on the first). That Farron is an evangelical Christian leading a party with a strongly secular ethos was always going to make him a target for media smart alecs and alices. They have pursued him relentlessly."

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Safe Spaces for Women

Liberal Democrat leader felt it impossible to maintain his Faith in the world of Politics

BBC News: Farron quits as Lib Dem leader over clash between faith and politics

In a hastily-arranged statement, and surrounded by his close colleagues, Mr Farron said he had been "proud" to lead the party for two years.

But he said he could no longer reconcile his strong Christian faith with his responsibilities as leader of a liberal party.

"The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader," he said.

"A better, wiser person may have been able to deal with this more successfully, to remain faithful to Christ while leading a political party in the current environment.

"To be a leader, particularly of a progressive liberal party in 2017 and to live as a committed Christian and to hold faithful to the Bible's teaching has felt impossible for me."

This is really sad and tragic. It was always going to be a struggle for an Evangelical Christian to lead a party as politically correct as the Liberal Democrats, but you have to admire him for trying, even if he didn't have the courage to say what he really thought on the old gay sex question that tripped him up.

I feel the same sense of awkwardness. My politics is very much that of a metropolitan liberal, until questions of human sexuality come up.

I fear that many more Christian politicians are going to be hounded out like Farron was.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Providing Security Against Crisis

Tory Workers: Where was the Conservative heart?

Tory Workers: Where was the Conservative heart?

by Nick Denys

"It is not hard to understand why people who instinctively support Labour, in the end when their pen was hovering over the ballot paper, could not bring themselves to mark a cross next to the Conservative candidate. The Conservative General Election campaign was depressing. Our message was that the world is rubbish but please vote for us as we are best at making rubbish decisions. Those who work in the public sector or have not seen a pay-rise in many years were being asked to choose between a Government that would continue to mange the slow decline of their lifestyles or the chaotic unknown. After almost a decade of austerity the chaotic unknown seemed less of a threat than another decade of 1% pay-rises.

The Conservatives did not show their heart. We did not say why we wanted to govern and what we wanted to achieve for people. What is the point of having a strong and stable economy? What will the best Brexit mean for me? The Party missed a golden opportunity to tell those who would not normally ever give us a chance that we care about them. There are large swaths of the population who mistrust our motives and we did not offer them the opportunity to change their minds."

Monday, 12 June 2017

Evening Standard: Austerity and Brexit cost Conservatives their majority, says Theresa May's chief of staff Gavin Barwell

Evening Standard: Austerity and Brexit cost Conservatives their majority, says Theresa May's chief of staff Gavin Barwell

Voters' anger over austerity and Brexit cost the Conservatives their majority at the General Election, the Prime Minister's new chief of staff has said.

Gavin Barwell admitted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had been able to tap into frustrations over public sector pay and concerns among Remain-supporters over the Tory approach to leaving the European Union.

The former housing minister lost his Croydon Central seat in Thursday's vote but made a swift comeback after being brought into Number 10 as her senior aide.

In a sign that he will push for a change in approach on Brexit, he said: "We do need to make sure that people that are Conservative-minded that voted Remain in the referendum are happy to continue supporting our party."

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The Guardian: Theresa May's election victory will prove pyrrhic indeed

The Guardian: Theresa May's election victory will prove pyrrhic indeed

by Larry Elliott

"The pro-EU wing of the Tory party is small but, just like the DUP, has become more influential in a hung parliament.

May’s position is that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, but that is a slogan not a policy. Strong lobbying from the CBI, the City and international investors will discourage Britain from walking away from negotiations. As George Osborne pointed out on the Andrew Marr Show, a “no deal” outcome would not be acceptable to the DUP because it would mean a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP and some Tories would be content with a compromise deal. Many Tories would not be. All the ingredients are there for a Conservative schism not seen since the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s. Then, as now, the Tories were divided, on that occasion between its free trade and protectionist wings. The split damaged the Tory party so badly that it was unable to form a majority government for 28 years. All Labour needs to do is sit back and watch events unfold. As Napoleon once said, never interfere with an enemy that’s in the process of destroying itself."

Anti-Semitism/ Anti-Zionism

Crux: Venezuela cardinal says Socialist regime leaves people ‘cruelly repressed’

Crux: Venezuela cardinal says Socialist regime leaves people ‘cruelly repressed’

ROME - One of Venezuela’s cardinals promised to give Pope Francis “a very direct, crude, realistic view of the situation we are going through” in a meeting with the pontiff today, saying the country’s socialist government has left its people “cruelly repressed.”

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, the country’s capital, spoke to Crux in advance of a special meeting of the leadership of Venezuela’s bishops’ conference with Francis. The Argentine pontiff has been an outspoken supporter of dialogue to end the crisis, and the Vatican’s position on the matter is clear: Elections need to happen.

“The situation is very, very grave,” Urosa told Crux on Tuesday afternoon.

“What we see is a people who are suffering, who are being humiliated, and who are being cruelly repressed,” he said. Some 70 people have been killed since massive protests began last April, and thousands have been wounded.

Sky News| Ruth Davidson: Tories need to listen to other parties on Brexit

Sky News| Ruth Davidson: Tories need to listen to other parties on Brexit

Ruth Davidson has told Sky News the Conservatives need to "listen" to other parties when it comes to Brexit.

The Scottish Tory leader, who many see as wielding considerable influence in her party post-election, did not rule out pursuing a softer exit from the European Union after Theresa May lost her majority in the snap poll.

Critics of the Prime Minister say the result is a rejection of her pursuit of a so-called "hard Brexit", shorthand for the UK leaving the single market, exiting the customs union and ending freedom of movement from Europe.

The Youth Vote

Even a Tory like me loves this.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Joint Liturgical Studies no.83: Liturgical Orientation

Fr Neil Xavie O'Donoghue, Joint Liturgical Studies no.83, Liturgical Orientation: the Position of the President at the Eucharist, 2017 Alcuin Club/ Grow

This short book explores the question of which direction the priest should face during the mass. This is a timely topic given Cardinal Sarah's recent controversial call to return to celebrating ad orientem. It is written by a Catholic priest and focuses on the Roman Catholic tradition, though our author points out that the material is very relevant to other liturgical traditions. Fr O'Donoghue takes the view that the current practice of priests facing the people is not objectionable and should not be abandoned. He provides an history of liturgical orientation from the early church onwards. He suggests that for the early church, the question of the orientation of the president was possibly not a major concern. He acknowledges that the bulk of our tradition favours ad orientem celebration, but he does provide some examples of versus populum prior to Vatican II, such as the views and practice of St. Charles Borromeo.

Our author suggests that calls to return to the practice of ad orientem are misguided. He points out that it is easy to look back at the pre-Vatican II Church with rose-tinted spectacles, imagining it to be a perfect time of purity, while failing to see that it was far from perfect and that it had it's own examples of liturgical banality. While acknowledging that there were liturgical misteps after Vatican II, he argues that the change to versus populum revitalised the Church:

In general most people agreed that, when taken as a whole, the reform of the liturgy was a positive development in the spiritual lives of Catholics. In the wake of Vatican II, a more human form of worship became widespread.

In his view, the practice of versus populum reflects the more visible participatory approach to worship of the Vatican II reforms. He observes that there are some parishes which have seen fruit born by the revival of ad orientem or the complete performance of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, however, he identifies these as intentional communities that are different from your average Saint Bernadette's parish. That the Extraordinary Form works well in some parishes does not mean that it can be easily revived as a norm for all parishes, which have become accustomed to versus populum.

It has to be said that our author makes a much stronger negative case against an ad orientem revival than a positive case for the merits of versus populum. Nevertheless, I found his point of view refreshing having been more exposed to writers and bloggers who advocate the tradition orientation.

I'm a Raging Mad Tory Right Now

Theresa May was supposed to win the election on Thursday. There was a pretty good chance she could have won an hundred seat landslide majority. But she didn't. She actually lost seats and she lost her majority in the House of Commons.

Did she lose against someone credible like Yvette Cooper or Chuka Umuna? Nope. She lost to Jeremy f****** Corbyn. Let that sink in for a minute. The prime minister and the leader of the Conservative Party couldn't win an election against a Marxist IRA sympathizer.

I'm angry about the fact that she lost, after fighting a really lousy, crumby campaign, but it's not just that. It's the way Theresa May behaved after the results had come in. She raced straight to Buckingham Palace to ask the queen to let her start a new government with a bit of help from those lovely people in the DUP. Then she comes back and makes what looks like a victory speech, as though she had won the wretched election. It was only later in the day, presumably after somebody had suggested it to her, that she apologised to all the poor Conservative MPs who had lost their seats and their jobs thanks to her bungling.

Everything Theresa May has done shows her to be an arrogant and shallow woman without a shred of humility or self-awareness. It's probably the wrong time to boot her out, but every single Tory in this country has a right to be absolutely furious with May.

Trump Praises Romania and NATO

The Guardian: Theresa May's 'rude, abusive and childish' advisers face calls to quit

The Guardian: Theresa May's 'rude, abusive and childish' advisers face calls to quit

Theresa May’s chiefs of staff, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, are facing calls to quit, as one former Downing Street aide spoke out about their “rude, abusive and childish” approach to running No 10.

A string of MPs are demanding changes to the way May governs, including the removal of one or both of her powerful advisers after they ran her disastrous general election campaign that resulted in the Conservatives losing their overall majority.

Katie Perrior, the former director of communications at No 10, who left at the election, said she respected May but her office was “pretty dysfunctional”.

Writing in the Times, she said: “What I could never work out was whether Mrs May condoned their behaviour and turned a blind eye or didn’t understand how destructive they both were. For all the love of a hierarchy, the chiefs treated cabinet members exactly the same – rude, abusive, childish behaviour.

Friday, 9 June 2017

The Washington Post: Theresa May and the revenge of the Remainers

The Washington Post: Theresa May and the revenge of the Remainers

by Anne Applebaum

"Theresa May had a plan: Steal the policies of Britain’s “far right” — the U.K. Independence Party — and then steal their voters, too. Since she took office about a year ago, the formerly moderate British prime minister attacked foreigners, jeered at the European Union and held Donald Trump’s hand. In April, she called an early general election, confident that UKIP voters would now endorse her “hard Brexit” and her watered-down English Tory populism.

Never mind that the moderate centrism of her predecessor, David Cameron, won a Conservative Party majority only two years ago. Never mind that she herself has offered few details about Brexit and what it will mean: May called this a “Brexit election,” declared herself the “strong and stable” candidate, promised tough negotiations with Europe and clearly expected to win a larger majority.

Yes, May had a plan — but it was a plan designed for her base. She ignored the 48 percent of the country that did not vote for Brexit, calling them “citizens of nowhere.” She ignored the anxiety that Brexit has created and the economic consequences that are now just beginning to bite. She ignored younger people, who preferred to stay in the E.U. last year and now prefer the Labour Party to the Tories by a huge margin, 63 percent to 27 percent."

Great analysis of what went wrong for our wretched party leader. A core vote strategy does not work with high turnout.

Compassion and Real Help

Evening Standard: Theresa May’s Northern Irish bailout has a cost

Evening Standard: Theresa May’s Northern Irish bailout has a cost


"The 10 DUP MPs hold the balance of power in the Commons. They could offer Mrs May “confidence and supply” to keep her in power.

The “confidence” in her leadership is precisely what the British people failed to give her, and “supply” will mean London taxpayers sending yet more money to Northern Ireland. In this topsy-turvy world, decisions that affect London will be taken in Belfast. That is not a sustainable position; this paper will subject it to close scrutiny. How have we reached this sorry state of affairs?

The election made clear that the voters were not fans of Theresa May. Her authority is non-existent. She herself said: “If I lose just six seats, I will lose this election.” Team May lost twice that. As an unelected premier, she had every right to seek a mandate. But she failed to frame what the election was about. She made much of the fact that she didn’t play the “political games” of others but voters never believed her decision to call a snap election was anything other than a naked attempt to grab a landslide. They called her out."

The Feast of Saint Ephraim the Syrian

O GOD, who hast vouchsafed to enlighten thy Church with the wondrous learning and singular holiness of thy blessed Confessor and Doctor Saint Ephraem: we humbly pray thee; that, thou wouldest with unfailing power defend the same against all the deceits of false doctrine, and all the assaults of iniquity. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

St. Ephraim, pray for us and for peace in Syria.

You can make a Deal with an Ulsterman

So the Conservatives will hold onto power by making a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party.

The liberal left are of course outraged at the prospect of the Tories working with the DUP because they oppose abortion and gay marriage. Unsurprisingly I don't share these concerns. However, a deal with the DUP does worry me. The British government should not be getting mixed up in the murky world of sectarian politics. To favour the Protestant Unionist community in Northern Ireland at the expense of Catholics could have dangerous ramifications for the continued peace of Northern Ireland. Since Brexit, there has been a worrying increase in political tension there, as seen in the failure to form an executive administration. For the national government to pick a side could seriously enflame things and in the long run endanger the union that Conservatives are so keen to preserve.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Exit Poll

So there is a good chance we could end up with an hung parliament. Not a good outcome.

Theresa May has been a rotten leader and has fought a terrible campaign. I rather doubt that any of the likely replacements are better should she be toppled. Boris Johnson? Michael Gove? I'd love Amber Rudd to take over, but there is a slight risk she could lose her seat tonight.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Catholic Herald: The political consensus on sex education flies in the face of the evidence

Catholic Herald: The political consensus on sex education flies in the face of the evidence

by David Paton

"Our politicians should hang their head in shame but, astonishingly, the Government continues to endorse resources like the Brook Traffic Light aimed at helping schools to identify sexual abuse. Brook instructs schools to view sexual activity between minors aged 13 and over as reflecting “safe and healthy” development as long as it is consensual and that such behaviour should be given “positive feedback”. It is as if the abuse scandals in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxfordshire abuse scandals had never happened.

And now this week, research by myself and Liam Wright of Sheffield University has found that areas which have implemented the biggest cuts to teenage pregnancy projects such as new SRE programmes or birth control clinics for teens have actually seen bigger reductions in early pregnancy than areas which have kept these projects going. Perhaps the natural instincts of parents might be correct after all.

Although some people have treated our findings with surprise, there is in fact a wealth of academic evidence that conventional approaches to SRE often have unintended side effects. For example, we know that access to the morning after pill not only does not reduce unwanted pregnancies but, by encouraging teens to take more risks, can increase rates of sexually transmitted infections. In 2009, the BMJ found that teenage participants in one of the most prominent programmes covering sex education and access to contraception were more likely than a control group to get pregnant."