The opening sentence of Jacques Ellul’s, ‘Islam and Judeo-Christianity: A Critique of their commonality’, reads, ‘For nearly a decade, French intellectuals, generally speaking, have been seized with an excessive affection for Islam.’ (p.3)

What follows is a ninety-four page treatise on the reasons for why this excessive affection is not only dangerous, but misguided. Ellul acknowledges the existence of a disproportionate tolerance of Islam. He then compares that to the disdain of how French intellectuals have been interacting with Judeo-Christianity (Biblical Christianity), since the 1960s’.

The reason for this excessive affection is due to Islam’s[1] proximity to Marxism (“scientific” socialism). Roger Scruton, not a novice on both subjects, states: ‘like the Communist Party in its Leninist construction, Islam aims to control the state without being a subject of the state.’[2] Scruton’s own analysis of Islam, and the West, implies that excessive affection for Islam is connected to how close many academics in the West, are to Marxism.

Commonality between Islamism and Marxism includes the downgrade of Jesus Christ. Under both Marxist and Islamist rule, the Church is eradicated and the State is made god[3].

American (first wave) Feminist and Political scientist, Jean Bethke Elshtain’s work on Just War theory points in the same direction. Elshtain noted that Quranic Islam ‘condemns all who disagree’.  Quranic Islam is also a ‘militant theocracy that insists there can be no distinction between civil law and the strict, fundamentalist Shari’a law, the ancient Islamic holy law.’[4]

In other worse, even with a distinction between the interpretations of Islamic holy law, Shari’a law (infallible and unchangeable) and Fiqh (fallible and changeable), within Islam, there still is no concept of a separation of Mosque and State. Nor is there any concept of Just War – restrained violence – there is only jihad (War against the unbeliever). Quranic Islam and Marxism both look to violence as the necessary means to an end – total conversion and compliance.

Like Marxism, Islam shows no real affection for Classical Liberalism. Nor do Islamists and Marxists show any genuine acknowledgement that the precious freedoms birthed and nurtured in the West, were born from, and under the Light the Church carries. Even if Christians sometimes have carried that Light awkwardly, or have, from time to time, dropped it entirely.

Although Marxists are happy to borrow from the Bible[5], and the Quran speaks about Jesus and Mary, both the Marxist and Islamist deny the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Marxism and Quranic Islam downgrade Christ’s uniqueness to that of a righteous prophet, or a sage, proletarian rebel.

Marxism and Islam also show complete contempt for Christianity. The reasoning for this usually involves citing the Crusades (without reference to Islamist militant expansionism , or Missionaries and Imperialism, (without reference to Missionaries helping the poor, or preserving the language of many tribal groups).

Differences between Islam and Marxism do exist. Such as, the Islamic practice of female genital mutilation, and the oppression of women[6]. These differences, however don’t appear to dissuade academics from their affection for Islam. What unifies them is stronger than what distinguishes them from each other. Contempt for Jews and Christians, unjust restrictive laws[7], cruel punishment of any opposition, jihad (war against the infidel) and oppression, are the primary means of achieving the goal of each respective utopian ideal.

It’s worth noting that the great and fallible, Winston Churchill, noted similarities between Quranic Islam and Socialism. In a passing comment he made known his view that there are certain parallels to the Quran and Mein Kampf. He called Hitler’s book, the ‘new Koran of faith and war; the granite pillars of Hitler’s policy included, use of the sword, the conversion of Germans into soldiers, anti-Semitism, fanaticism and hysterical passion.’[8]

This partially meets with the observation made by Scottish Theologian, T.F. Torrance:

‘I had been in Palestine, as it was then called, in 1936 when the Grand Mufti came back to Jerusalem from visiting Hitler and spread the terrible poison of anti-Semitism all over the Middle East.’[9]

Swiss, anti-Nazi theologian, Karl Barth’s famous refutation of natural theology, unpacked in tedious detail, within his Gifford Lectures in 1937 and 1938, was in large part a refutation of Nazism. His “nein” to natural theology[10] was built on a keen awareness of man and woman’s rebellion against God, when, like Narcissus, man and woman turn to their own image and build religion on the sand of human imagination, ideas and superstition. For Barth, there is no other revelation of God outside where God has already made Himself known. This meant that the führer could never be Our Father. Hitler was not, and could never be, a second revelation of God. The State could never be God. Deus Dixit: in Jesus Christ, God has already spoken!

This is primarily why Barth saw Quranic Islam as idolatry, stating that ‘the God of Mohammed is an idol like all other idols […]’[11]

It’s with this in mind that we see how Quranic Islam and Marxism are more aligned than we are taught to think. For the Marxist and the Islamist, the command of the state is equal to that of the Supreme Being.   There can be no denying that like Islamists, the Bolsheviks, and later the Soviets, converted by the ‘sword of the revolution for arbitrary use at the regime’s demand’[12].

Simone Weil, herself once an ardent Marxist, criticized Marxism for being

‘a badly constructed religion […]   Marx was an idolater; he idolised the Proletariat and considered himself to be their natural leader’ (p.151); Marx made oppression the central notion of his writings, but never attempted to analyse it.’[13]

Furthermore, György Lukács, the father of modern Marxism stated without reservation that “you cannot just sample Marxism […] you must be converted to it.”[14]

What lies at the heart of this excessive affection from academics for Islam is deconstructionism (or revisionism). Like romanticism, revisionism is essentially built on lies. It builds its own facts out of the very thing it just deconstructed. Facts are distorted and sometimes reversed. Revisionism calls that which is good, evil and that which is evil, good.

Deconstructionism inflicts violence on language through redefinition. It ends up policing speech, undermining reason and civil rights. It reduces all discourse to propaganda[15].  For example, the depraved “logic” of deconstructionism reverses a claim like “the Nazis oppressed the Jews,” showing instead that the Jew cooked in a Nazi oven was really the Nazis’ oppressor…”[16]

Jacques Ellul was no debutante to Marxism or Islam. Not a lot unlike Roger Scruton, Jacques Ellul was part of the early Leftist establishment. His critique of the excessive affection from academics for Islam, is in line with Karl Barth’s rejection of Natural theology.

Such excessive affection is tantamount to believing that the best way to overcome sin is to reject the concept of sin; to ignore it, and treat sin as if it never really existed. According to this view, you can’t be a sinner if sin doesn’t exist.

However, relabelling or denying sin doesn’t make sin disappear. All this does, is allow self-justification for sin. The same goes for the academic establishment’s treatment of Islam. Calling Islam a “religion of peace”, doesn’t make it so.

Quranic Islam and Marxism view violence as a primary means to reach their respective utopian ideals. With its totalitarian: “convert, pay a tax, or die”, Islamism has proven to be much the same as Marxism. This makes them both the ultimate tool for totalitarian oppression.

What seems to explain the excessive affection from academics for Islam is the affection academics have for Marxism. As I’ve said before, those who chose to entertain Marxism, big bureaucracy or crony capitalism, ride the backs of monsters. We have to be ready and willing to ask whether or not Islamism should be added to this list.

Ideology is a good servant, but a cruel task-master. We either submit Christ to Mohammad, or Mohammad to Christ. We either submit Christ to the State or the State and Church to Christ. We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and three’s a crowd.

If we give academics the benefit of the doubt we could conclude that such affection is simply just foolish romanticism.

It, however, isn’t that simple. The policing of speech, the increasing exclusion of conservatives and Christians from academia; the reckless labeling of opposing views as hate and bigotry; and the diagnosing of those who hold to scientific facts as phobic, all lead us to ask, whether such open affection isn’t just an innocent flirtation, but is in fact appeasement, or worse, a calculated naiveté and sinister wishful thinking, where Marxists use Islamists, and Islamists use Marxists for their own ends.

If the latter is true, it must be addressed. Non-critical thinking and appeasement gives Quranic Islam (and we could add the LGBT religion) the same free ride that it gave to Nazism and still does with Marxism. If we are not free to give gracious criticisms about Islamism and Marxism; if we are paralyzed by political correctness, we are dooming our children to fight a war that can still be avoided by honest intellectual engagement and open dialogue.

As David, W. Gill (retired Professor, President of the IJES, ethicist and theologian) noted,

Nothing is gained by cowardice and avoidance. All is lost by arrogance and accusation. As Paul writes, we must “speak truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) […]’  (p.vii)

Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi[17].


References:

[1] Islamism or Islamist Fundamentalism

[2] Sir Roger Scruton, 2002. The West & The Rest: Globalization & The Terrorist Threat, p.6

[3] See Alan Woods’ 2001 essay, Marxism & Religion, where Wood’s offers a dishonest account of Christian belief, but does talk about the atheism of Marxism. He also, rightly, condemns the oppression of women under in Islam. Sourced from Marxist.com 16th June 2019.

[4] Elshtain, B.J, 2003. Just War Theory: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, (p.3) Also see Elshtain’s discussion on Islamic Supremacism and anti-Semitism.

[5] See Jesus & Marx: From Gospel to Ideology, 1988.

[6] Ayaan Hirsi Ali, 2006. Infidel. Free Press

[7] Khan, Muqtedar M.A. 2006. Islamic Democratice Discourse: Theory, Debates, and Philosophical Perspectives, Lexington Books

[8] Churchill, W. 1948. The Gathering Storm Rosetta Books

[9] Torrance, T.G. 1994. P.C.T: The Gospel and scientific thinking (p.28).

[10] Natural theology ejects the need for the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ as the starting point of faith. Barth rejected such dependence because it rejected God’s own decisive action and humanity’s only anchor of hope for salvation. Barth saw this as the main reason for the ease at which even the discerning voter was sucked in by National Socialism.

[11] Barth, K. The Knowledge of God and the Service of God According to the Teaching of the Reformation: Recalling the Scottish Confession of 1560 (Gifford Lectures 1937 & 1938) (p. 21). Wipf & Stock, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers

[12] Service, R. 1997. A History of Twentieth Century Russia. Harvard University Press, 1998 (2nd Edition) p. 74

[13] Weil, S. 1955. Oppression and Liberty. 2001. Routledge Classics (p.154)

[14] Lukacs, G.  1971. Record of a Life, The Thetford Press Ltd. 1983 (p.62)

[15] Veith, Gene Edward. 1993. Citing Ward Parks,  Modern Fascism: Threat to the Judeo-Christian Worldview . Concordia Publishing House

[16] Ibid, 1993

[17] As we pray, so we believe, so we live.

Photo by Randy Colas on Unsplash

(Originally published at The Caldron Pool, 17th June 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

The contents of Sun-Tzu’s, The Art of War and The Bible are unrelated.  They are, by any quick comparison, worlds apart. The Art of War is a masterpiece in military organisation and strategy. Tzu is a sage, giving the wealth of a sage’s advice to all who would follow his counsel closely.

The Bible is a collection of books, filled with multiple genres, following centuries of the same consistent theme: Yahweh’s faithfulness to His people and His war against the human made gods and idols of the Ancient Near East.

Written by multiple authors the witness of the Biblical authors often jars us because of its contrasts between God’s faithfulness and humanity’s infidelity; an unfaithfulness that includes humanity turning on itself, as much as it turns against the faithfulness of God. Through poetry, proverbial wisdom, historiography; prophecy, a litany of apocalyptic fulfilment and predictions, historical letters and genealogies, the Bible is the unique testimony of God’s decisive interaction with humanity.

Where these testimonies differ:

The Art of War is a manual and an impersonal memoir. In it the wisdom and experience of Chinese Army veteran, Sun-Tzu is encapsulated in a list of haiku like principles. Whereas The Bible, from start to finish moves from point to point, through very human voices, who testify to this unique encounter with the revelation of God. What we hear is God fighting for us, embracing us, raising and continuing to raise humanity, through the promise and fulfilment of His Covenant (Treaty with humanity). What we see is God raising men and women up out of sin and its grip on humanity, as sin hurtles humanity like a projectile towards inhumanity and total self-annihilation.

Where these testimonies share common ground:

What The Art of War and parts of The Bible share in common is the way in which truth and experience is communicated through metaphor, simile and poetic syntax.

TAoW:

‘A rushing torrent/carries boulders/on its flood; such is the energy/of its momentum’ [i] (Sun-Tzu, The Art of War)

The Bible:

‘Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Jesus Christ, Matthew 19:24, ESV)

Truth and experience is camouflaged in metaphor so as to make an impact that will be easily memorised, if not understood right away.

The relationship between The Art of War and The Bible is established in its use of poetic language to recall history and communicate truths, through narrative and poetic prose.

If there is a commonality of literary technique, is there be any relevance between the two? Can The Art of War help us better understand The Bible?

My answer is yes.

Though, it’s cultural setting, ethnicity, context, authorship, and in most areas its contents are worlds apart, sections of The Art of War lights up our perspective of ancient society, politics and warfare.

Much like Machiavelli’s, The Prince, The Art of War gives us insight into areas of human behaviour, organisation, rule and movement. These include leadership, social organisation, paradox ( + dialectic)[ii], relationships, management, hierarchy, strategy and, in a few specific places, the value of human life.

For example:

‘[Force] March ten miles for some gain/and two in three men will arrive’[iii] (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

Commonality between the Bible and The Art of War can be found. Much of the first five books of the Bible, (the Pentateuch; Torah) discuss the state of the human race, God’s creation, liberation, government and ordering of humanity, centred within and viewed through the lens of His people.

God’s ordering, this governing, His leadership through a close friendship with Moses, is exemplified in the post-Exodus wilderness dwelling Book of Numbers.

Here Yahweh’s request under the Covenant He established with Israel is His way of bringing the Hebrews FULLY out of Egypt. The Hebrews had not completely left subservience to Egypt and its gods behind. As evidenced by the Golden Calf, one coup attempt, a number of formal protests and general disgruntlement about how much better things were under Egyptian rule. In other words, how much better things were under the rule of Egypt’s hybrid animal-human gods. Psychologically & culturally, God’s liberation of the Hebrews was as much reformation of the heart as it was God’s revolution and His emancipation of an oppressed people.

Yahweh’s leadership is brought to trial. The just God is thrown unjust criticism and all manifestations of his grace through the miraculous provision and care given towards His people are forgotten.

The confrontation causes conflict. Yahweh seeks to take the focus of the people off the creature and put it onto the Creator; and in doing so God shows just how far He has to go in order to bring His people completely out of Egypt. This is to teach them that they are no longer Egyptians, but are His, living under His grace, guidance, blessing, leadership; fatherhood. All this things are given in order to bring about the fulfilment of prophecy. The promise of the Covenant, and the transforming determination of God, sees the Hebrew slaves become the nation of Israel. The gods humans made are directly challenged by the God who made humans.

In a sense, even though the victory is won, Yahweh is still fighting against the gods of the Ancient Near East. He is still fight for those He made in His image. Yahweh, the One who is free, putting Himself between us and the house of slavery, despite our flirtation with the worship of nature that characterises all gods and idols man and woman makes in their own image.

Yahweh is the model of a perfect General (Exodus 15). He avoids Sun-Tzu’s list of pitfalls for a General, whilst His people (and even Moses from time to time) falls right into them:

        1. Recklessness – leading to destruction
        2. Cowardice – leading to capture
        3. Hot temper (manipulated or triggered into reacting poorly) – prone to provocation
        4. Delicacy to honour (concern for reputation; perfectionism) – tending to shame
        5. Concern for his men (easily swayed/influenced, people pleasing; concerned about offending them) – leading to trouble.

The book of Numbers teaches us that God perfectly hears us, has perfect self-control, can be provoked to anger, but is patient, quick to restraint and shows mercy by way of warnings and provision.

The Gospel of Mark testifies to the healings and deliverance so engrained in the fabric of Jesus Christ’s ministry, up to the point where He reaches for the Leper, stills the wind and waves, is feared and mocked by demons, joyfully dignifies the woman with uterine bleeding and despite the mockery of a crowd of mourners, in the presence of her parents, resurrects a 12 year old girl.

God places Himself between us and our fears, between us and our sin, all with the intention of not allowing His people to advance into the jaws of their enemies, both without and within.

Paul understood this, writing:

‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ (Paul, Galatians 2:20, ESV)

The Bible and The Art of War teach us to be aware of the pitfalls of human leadership and the arrogance of power. Only God is the perfect General. We actively seek out failure, when we fail to acknowledge and follow Him in all our ways.

The Art of War:

‘These five perils to leadership demand the most careful attention’ Sun-Tzu, The Art of War.

The Bible:

 “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? – Jesus Christ, Luke 6:39

 


References (not otherwise linked):

[i] Sun-Tzu, circa 500 BC. The Art of War: Potential Energy Penguin Ed. 2008 (p.26)

[ii] For example: ‘Orderly disorder is based on careful division; courageous fear on potential energy; strong weakness on troop dispositions’.

[iii] Ibid, pp.40-41

Artwork: Rembrandt

©Rod Lampard, 2019

The Barr Effect: Why the U.S Attorney General is bring under reported.

Since releasing a redacted version of the famed Mueller report, America’s current attorney general, William Barr, has been at the centre of much speculation and contention. The drama centers on the fact that Barr has so far refused to release an un-redacted version of the Mueller report. Barr, 68 and a Roman Catholic, was nominated by Donald Trump in December and confirmed as Attorney General in January, after a grilling Senate vetting process involving both Democrats and Republicans.

He isn’t a novice to how politics works[1]. Given the divisive, ravenous dissonance of the “hate Trump, love trumps hate” modus operandi since 2016, Barr’s refusal to just hand over the conclusion, in complete trust that the information would be used honorably, is smart.

As a result of his refusal to release an un-redacted version of the Mueller Report, Barr is accused of covering for President Trump as head of the Department of Justice, in order to use the Mueller report to make Donald Trump shine, and make “Russian Collusion” Democrats look like tin foil hat crusaders. A recent New York Times op-ed cited, Paul Rosenzweig, a former prosecutor, who accused Barr of “putting his thumb on the scale” for Mr. Trump.”[2]

Ironically, it’s not Barr who’s painting a picture of Quixotic Democrats as tin foil hat crusaders. After nearly three years of hyper-partisan hysteria, “never Trump” Democrats are doing well enough by themselves. The theory that Hilary Clinton lost the 2016 election because Donald Trump colluded with Russia continues to be a widespread belief amongst H.R.C’s cheer squad. This is despite the costly 400 page conclusion from a two and a half year investigation that found no evidence of “Russian collusion”.

Barr’s decision, not to issue an un-redacted version of the Mueller report, is clever. Especially in an era where militant Leftist partisans, and “Never Trump” conservatives, are looking for any excuse to take down the man, even if this involves a biased reading of the facts, weakening the constitutional republic and compromising the Presidential office.

Trump’s appointment of William Barr caught people of guard. This is the Barr Effect. His appointment appears to have been a masterstroke of political acumen. Barr replaced Jeff Sessions, and has had many in a tailspin wondering who Barr is and why he took the job. William Barr is respected by both houses of politics and is famously objective.

According to the New York Times, he’s tenacious about facts and in 2016, ‘Jeb Bush, not Donald Trump, was his first choice for the Republican nomination. Barr also refused to represent Trump as a private criminal lawyer, saying, “I didn’t want to stick my head into that meat grinder”’.

The Barr effect became obvious after his May interview with CBS[3]. Barr stated he doesn’t care about his reputation and called the Russian collusion theory bogus. He also stood by Mueller, stating that Mueller had presented the facts, which showed no evidence of collusion, but that Mueller could have reached a decision in favor of Trump, on the charge of obstruction of justice[4].

On the Mueller Report:

“In my four-page memo, I said that Mueller did not reach a decision. He gave both sides – then I quoted that sentence which is, while we didn’t find a crime, we didn’t exonerate the president. That was in the four-page letter.”

On obstruction of justice:

“Mueller could have come to a conclusion…We analyzed the law and the facts and a group of us spent a lot of time doing that and determined that both as a matter of law, many of the instances would not amount to obstruction.”

On Russian Collusion:

“Mueller has spent two and half years and the fact is there is no evidence of a conspiracy. So it was bogus, this whole idea that the Trump was in cahoots with the Russians is bogus”

When asked about foreign interference and government abuse of power, Barr was adamant that both were as equally ‘troubling’.

On U.S intelligence agencies spying on the Trump campaign:

“Republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state.”

When asked whether or not Barr thought that this is what happened during the 2016 campaign, he plainly stated:

“I just think it has to be carefully looked at, because the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign to me is unprecedented and it’s a serious red line that’s been crossed. There were counterintelligence activities undertaken against the Trump Campaign. And I’m not saying there was not a basis for it that it was legitimate, but I want to see what that basis was and make sure it was legitimate.”

This isn’t the Barr you’re looking for:

Given that Barr has been steadfast in his commitment to the law of the land, releasing an un-redacted version of the Mueller report would be a compromise of his convictions. It’s not likely to happen any time soon. If ‘hate Trump/love trumps hate’ Democrats are looking for an insider who will undermine Trump unlawfully, Barr isn’t the person they’re looking for.

Barr’s integrity is only one aspect of the Barr Effect. Balance and respect for objective truth also rate highly. So much so that Barr has commentators in a bind, about whether to hate on him, or hold their breath in suspense about whether he’ll turn on Trump, or in their case, worse, expose evidence of an Obama/Clinton abuse of power, where the Obama Administration may have turned the intelligence community into a wing of the Democrat party, unlawfully sanctioning them to interfere in an American election. As the Russia Collusion theory is discredited and evidence mounts, this seems more and more likely.

What is newsworthy, but not being highlighted by reporters, is Barr’s investigation into whether or not spying on the Trump campaign, by U.S. intelligence agencies, was justified or whether it was an abuse of power. If Barr finds evidence of an abuse of power, it won’t be Donald Trump who is indicted on criminal charges, but those who came after him in an attempt to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 election in H.R.C’s favor.


References:

[1] The New York Times, op-ed by Sharon LaFraniere, Charlie Savage & Kate Benner, ‘Who is William Barr?’ 9th June 2019, Sourced 11th June 2019

[2] Ibid, 9th June 2019

[3] CBS News, Jan Crawford, 31st May 2019, William Barr interview: full transcript Sourced, 11th June 2019

[4] Mollie Hemingway, 3rd June 2019 ‘Top 28 Moments From Bombshell Barr Interview The Federalist Sourced 11th June 2019

Photo by Em Taylor on Unsplash

(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, 11th June 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Dennis Prager’s interview with Jordan Peterson from March this year has it’s cringe worthy moments. All in all, though, it’s worth hearing. As you know I’m cautious about Peterson. I’d like to hear him be more direct about how faith informs his theological statements.

More often than anything else, Peterson focus’ on the humanity of Christ and comes across as a curious spectator. He sees that there’s more to Jesus Christ, but is bound by the conventions of thought inherited through a revisionist system that is at best, begrudgingly tolerant of Biblical Christianity (Judeo-Christianity), and is at its worst, completely hateful of Biblical Christianity and anything related to it. This is understandable given that Peterson’s academic history and that his field is psychology. The concern is that he skirts around the incarnation of Christ, and more dangerously seems to flirt with an abstract notion of it.

Continue to pray for him. The interview is as close as I’ve heard him get to any acknowledgement of Jesus Christ’s divinity, re: the incarnation of the Word of God. Among others, one accurate takeaway point can be summarised as this: if we cannot understand the shadows of creation, we will fail to appreciate the light. This partially echoes some of Karl Barth’s discussion in CD 3:3 on how sin and nothingness are not part of the shadows of creation, but are an ‘alien element’ that manipulates the shadows in it’s opposition to creation as a whole.

The separation between Church and State is not a divide between secular and sacred. Nor is this separation a divide between public and private. Church and State are spheres of authority within the structure of good government. Simply put: one wields the sword, the other the truth of the Gospel. As such the Gospel balances out the ideology behind who gets to yield the sword, when, why and how.

This is why every totalitarian state either twists theology or purges Christians and the Christian faith[1]. They need to suppress God’s moral standard for His creatures, in order to justify their arbitrary use of the sword in bringing about a perpetual revolution until the “utopia” of the proletarian dictatorship is achieved.

Ergo, within the parameters of good government the Church restrains the state, and sets an example of God’s divine world-governance (Providence). For example: rules of engagement like “fire only when fired upon“, is an outworking of just war theory.

It is restrained violence governed; it is restrained violence judged and measured by the Gospel. We cannot understand, or even reform the primarily Western ideal of the separation of Church and State, without understanding the theology behind it.

With the neglect of history, and malady of theological illiteracy that is so dominate in Western life, it’s no wonder that this unique concept, which is built on biblical Christianity (Judeo-Christianity), is widely misunderstood.

Believing in a false divide between secular and sacred, the majority of the German Church, in both World Wars, surrendered their voice and role to that of the State. Faith was a private affair, something for Sundays, not something relevant to every day in between. In World War One, along with 92 other intellectuals, theologian and historian, Adolf Von Harnack, who partly wrote the Kaiser’s speech announcing war, signed on to the State’s arrogant belligerence.

This unquestioning moral defense for engaging in the march to war compromised the separation between the Gospel and the sword; Church and State. Instead of the Church calling for restraint, it sought to give the State moral credibility for the slaughter and suffering of millions.

The same can be said for the German church in World War Two. After the disaster of WW1, the church underwent a process of introspection, lament and reform. It sought to get ‘back to basics; a rediscovery of the Bible, a reminder of the Reformers protest against corruption of the Church and the over-reach of the state.’[2]

Karl Barth’s diagnosis was that Western Civilization, not just Germany, had

‘failed to confront National Socialism firmly because the realization of the Christian revelation among the civilized people of the West had become dim. Men did not see the inherent atheism of the Hitlerian system. Hence, they could not see the robber state from the legitimate state, the democratic from the dictatorship.’[3]

Faith in Western culture was not enough to stop the blitzkrieg before its bombs began to fall, and its gas chambers, masked as welfare units, began to mass execute European Jews and political opponents. Appeasement failed, as Winston Churchill had warned it would. The lapse of, and apathetic faith, in Christian revelation allowed the State to use the Church as its mouthpiece.

Western civilization without Christian revelation; in other words, the State without the genuine Church, is a State without restraint. Ideology is restrained by genuine theological critique. This is the Gospel’s “yes” and “no”. Without the genuine Church being free to live and proclaim its mandate to love God and love others – without the genuine Church being free to proclaim the Gospel as it has been spoken to, Western Civilization will fall to the tyrannical gods that take its place.

Hannah Arendt, one of the most prominent Agnostic thinkers of the 20th century, revised her definition of the Nazis from ‘radical evil’ down to the ‘banality of evil’, because she was ‘aiming at stripping the Nazis of their god-like standing, taking from them the power to draw us to them as if they, and their storm troopers in gleaming black boots, had poured forth from the perils of hell itself.’[4]

Arendt understood the perils of a compromised separation between the Gospel and the sword; Church and State. Though it was worshipped as a god, the Nazi state was not God. Nazism serves as a prime example of the fact, highlighted by Karl Barth, that Western Civilization, without Jesus Christ, or with a watered down version of Him, is far from civilized.

Add to this the horrendous history of Communism and we can say, with confidence, that the world has been well warned of the catastrophe, should these States who attempted to ditch Jesus Christ, be allowed to manifest themselves again.

The separation of Church and State is a founding principle of Western civilization. This separation isn’t about two competing entities. The separation serves God’s divine world-governance. The principle is a continuous challenge to the concept of the “divine right of kings”, and is as equally challenging to any twisted theology that promotes the idea of the “divine right of the State”.

The Churches’ proclamation of the Gospel restrains the State from abusing its power. This counterpoise to the power of the State, stops the State from operating with what Albert Camus called, an ‘unchecked will-to-power, where men become either a victim or an executioner, [a dehumanized number], within a [machine] cult of efficacy’.[5] In other words, the State, counterpoised by the Church, does not get to arbitrarily position itself as God, and determine the quality and worth of human life.

One only has to look at World War One, Communism, Nazism, The Vietnam War[6], Islamic State, and the tragedy of child sex abuse in the institutional church, to understand that the State without the Church is as tyrannical, as the Church who has forgotten, or watered down Jesus Christ.

In a subtle criticism of all forms of Socialism, Karl Barth noted two dangers:

first, ‘bureaucracy is the encounter of the blind with those whom they treat as blind. Second, the limits of all planning and philanthropy, but also all doctrine and instruction’[7], is that we lose sight of the individual created in the image of God. We lose our humanity in worship of efficacy and its assumed “benefit” for the collective.

Abortion and Euthanasia (by stealth) is no less part of this dehumanizing mechanization. An old family friend recently reminded me of how her husband tragically became a victim of this denial of the Gospel’s critique of the State. The health care system failed their family because it favoured the cold clinical ‘cult of efficacy’ and its mechanization of humanity, over against individual care; loving God and others, as we love ourselves.

Many of those who are quick to point out dehumanizing rhetoric are also likely to advocate the dehumanizing practices. Abortion and euthanasia are both part of Nazi eugenics laws. The doctrine, ‘life unworthy of life’ gave the National Socialists unilateral power to determine the quality and value of human life. Humanity was resigned to a number in a mechanized system under the ‘cult of efficacy’. These are the dangers of the State without the Gospel.

The Gospel impacts the State. The historical and present nearness of Jesus Christ categorically denies any State’s violent claim to implement a super-race. From this impact we learn that it is the ‘vulnerable who teach the rest of us what it means to be human’ (Jean Vanier)[8].

The voice and presence of the vulnerable mirror our own humanity. The vulnerable remind us not only of our own human limitations, but that where there is breath there is hope. Not just for the vulnerable, but for the humanity as a whole. As a result, biblical Christian doctrine opposes all pride, right down to Nietzsche’s “ubermench” and the Ayn Rand inspired, “greed is good”.

The Gospel transforms. The Churches’ critique of the State condemns the mechanization of humanity. The Church can do this, because the Church itself is critiqued by its own proclamation of the Gospel. The Gospel is Jesus Christ, the Word of God, freely spoken to humanity in time and space. This critique is God’s voice of freedom, grounded solely in His sovereignty. This critique births within us a renewing of the mind which acknowledges that conformity to the World’ is slavery, not salvation.

This is affirmed by Jesus with these words:

‘For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.’ (John 3:19-21, ESV)

Stopping Western Civilization from joining the dust of its forebears begins with reacquainting people with the Gospel and Civics; a proper understanding of the separation of the Church and State as one of the founding principles of Western civilization.

This separation is about good government dependent on God, not the government becoming a god. The separation of powers is not a divide between secular or sacred, public or private. As though God’s grace and commands only apply to the inner life, not in our deeds.

The separation between Church and State does not create two competing entities. The Gospel impacts the State, restraining the State from abusing its power.

The Gospel isn’t based on a subjective conscience, or consciousness. The Gospel is good news, and objective Word from God spoken to humanity in time and space.

The separation of Church and State is not between the State and Christ. Jesus Christ still has a relationship with the State, as Lord over both it and the Church. Any such forced ejection of Christ from the State is the rejection of God’s grace towards humanity.

Such a rejection creates a void which is filled by nihilism (no morality), false prophets, and superstition. This is what Jordan Peterson has penned the ‘displacement of the Logos from Western Civilization’.

Faith in Western Civilization is not enough. Just as faith in the Logos (Word; Jesus Christ; the Gospel) was central to moral revolution that saw the rise of Western civilization, the dislocation of the Logos (Jesus Christ) from Western civilization will be its downfall.

The 20th century warns us of the perils of this displacement. The State forcing theology into the service of its ideology leads to bloodshed and suffering on an industrial scale, for in ‘hating the light, they brought death upon themselves’[9].

Therefore understanding and upholding the important role of the Churches’ critique of the State, in its proclamation of the Gospel to the State, not as its patron, but its conscience, is the only sure refuge; all else fails by comparison.

Tolstoy’s indictment fits what the State without the Church looks like:

“Bereft of [that] religion [which establishes the relation of man to the All, to God], men possessing enormous power over the forces of nature are like children to whom powder or explosive gas has been given as a plaything.” (Bethink Yourselves!, 1904)

In sum, know Jesus, know peace. No Jesus, no peace.


References:

[1] Jean Bethke Elshtain, 2008. Sovereignty: God, State, and Self, Basic Books

[2] Karl Barth, 1942. The Church & The War, The Macmillan Company (p.2)

[3] Ibid, 1942, p.5

[4] Ibid, 1995, p.75

[5] Jean Bethke Elshtain, 1995. Augustine & the Limits of Power, Notre Dame Press (p.71)

[6] J.William Fullbright (Dem.), 1966. The Arrogance of Power, Random House

[7] Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics,  3:2 p.252

[8] Jean Vanier, ‘Why The Strong Need the Weak: J.V at the House of Lords’, 30th January 2015. Sourced from Youtube, Together for the Common Good 2nd June 2019

[9] Augustine citing Virgil, City of God, Penguin Classics, (p.29)

Photo by Ken Theimer on Unsplash

(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, under ‘The Separation of Church & State: What it is & What it’s Not‘ 3rd June 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Netflix are kowtowing to celebrity pressure regarding its investments in Georgia. The pressure comes after the American state voted to place significant limitations on abortion.

The southeastern state of about 10.2 million people joins Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah in passing abortion restrictions under what is called ‘heartbeat bills’. The proposed legislation will prevent the violent interruption of a pregnancy, once a heartbeat is detected.

Celebrities were quick to create a chorus of condemnation, and took to social media to condemn the legislation. Much like the “Muslim ban” mislabeling applied to the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on some predominately Muslim countries in the Middle East, leftists and some liberals within the mainstream media are mislabeling the bill, which seeks to protect human life, as an anti-woman abortion ban[1].

Netflix appears to be joining Alyssa Milano’s militant march for the murder of the unborn. Both of whom are joined by other Hollywood celebrities, including Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Don Cheadle and Christian Applegate[2], who, in March, threatened to boycott the state, calling the law “so evil” and alleging such a boycott would “chase billions out of the state” (which is considered the number one filming location in the world)[3].

According to Reuters,

‘The company was the first major Hollywood producer to publicly comment on calls by some for an industry boycott of Georgia. The industry is responsible for more than 92,000 jobs in Georgia, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and some 455 film and TV shows were shot in the state in 2018, according to then-Governor Nathan Deal. Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said Netflix had many women working on productions in Georgia and their rights would be restricted by the new law.[4]

Reuters also noted that Netflix will be working with the self-described “non-partisan” organization ACLU, which contrary to their description, often promotes the progressive leftist agenda, to help fund those fighting the legislation.

Variety responded to the news with jubilation, lament and dramatic flair, stating that, “not enough Hollywood studios are stepping up, but protests are erupting on the ground and on social media, in response to the attack against abortion rights”. Hillary Clinton losing the 2016 election was blamed, along with Donald Trump. Variety quoted Actress Elizabeth Perkins (Big, Miracle on 34th Street [remake]):

“I think we need to fight like hell, fight like our lives depend on it, because they do; and I’ll do anything I can to make sure this doesn’t pass. We sort of knew this when we lost the election; we saw this coming. It’s obviously a coordinated effort, and we have to fight it with everything we have.[5]

Perkins’ belligerent language, all while insinuating Donald Trump was the reason for the division in America, seems to have been lost by Variety in their euphoric hope that Netflix will set a trend for other Hollywood powerbrokers to fall in line, and follow without question.

In response to threats, Georgia’s Governor was quick to retort, “We are the party of freedom and opportunity. We value and protect innocent life — even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk.” (AJC)[6]

Like Qantas’ CEO and his alleged threats over funding for Rugby Australia if they didn’t dump Israel Folau, companies that bully others are no longer just service providers, they’ve taken the position of an aristocrat, they are lords; unelected rulers, governing over those they consider beneath them.

Companies and celebrities who do this make themselves political arms of an increasingly intolerant and irrational political movement, who have grown unresponsive to reasoned arguments from anyone on the Right. It stands to reason that this move by Netflix is yet another reason to be cautious of the hubris of the progressive Left. For without any counterpoised Right we face a menace that masquerades confusion and chaos behind a veil of presumed moral superiority.


References:

[1] The Washington Post, 2019. Everything you need to know about the abortion ban Sourced, 29th May 2019

[2] Alyssa Milano, Twitter Post 28th March, 2019. Sourced, 29th May 2019.

[3] Fox News, 29th March, 2019. ‘Alyssa Milano, 49 celebrities threaten Georgia with ‘loss of billions’ over abortion bill’, Sourced, 29th May 2019

[4] Reuters, (L.A.) 29th May 2019.Netflix to ‘rethink’ investment in Georgia if abortion law takes effect’, Sourced, 29th May 2019

[5] Variety, 28th May 2019. ‘Netflix the only Hollywood studio to speak out in attack against abortion rights’, Sourced, 29th May 2019.

[6] AJC, 18th May 2019. Kemp MocksC-list celebrities’ threatening boycott over anti-abortion law’ Sourced, 29th May 2019.

Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, 29th May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Who’s to Blame for the new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe?

Germany’s commissioner against anti-Semitism has issued an ambiguous warning to Jews living within Germany.

Felix Klein is reported to have told Funke Media group that he “cannot advise Jews to wear yarmulkes (traditional cap) everywhere, all the time, in Germany.”

CCN interpreted Klein’s warning as being the result of ‘social disinhibition (lack of restraint) and coarseness’, stating that his comments were in response to the ‘rise of attacks against Jews’ across Germany. Quoting Horst Seehofer, Germany’s interior minister, CNN said that ‘physical attacks against Jews rose from 37 in 2017 to 62 in 2018’. CCN attributed Seehofer as saying, that ‘90% of reported incidents were perpetrated by supporters of far-rights groups’.[1]

The BBC followed closely behind CNN, claiming that ‘the rise of far-right groups is fostering anti-Semitism and hatred of minorities throughout Europe.’ Joining a chorus of news agencies in labeling Germany’s ‘third largest group in the Bundestag’[2],  and main opposition party, ‘Alternative for Germany (AfD)’, as far-right, the BBC then insinuated that AfD was a likely key co-conspirator in the rise of anti-Semitism because AfD is ‘openly against immigration’, even though, as the BBC also noted, AfD ‘denies holding anti-Semitic views.’[3]

Germany’s taxpayer funded International broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, acknowledged similar sentiments, stating that ‘the number of attacks on Jews in Germany had increased from 1,504 in 2017 to 1,646 in 2018 – a rise of 10%.’ However, unlike CNN and the BBC, DW, noted that according to ‘analysts and experts’, the probable cause was twofold, including both the popularity of far-right political groups, and ‘the arrival of millions of “asylum seekers”, mainly from Muslim-majority countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.’[4]

DW specifically cited AfD’s alleged ‘questioning of Germany’s culture of atonement’, and the recent attack on two Jewish men, by a ’19 year old Syrian man, who hurled verbal abuse and struck one of the victims with his belt, yelling the word “Jew” in Arabic.’[5]

Alternative for Germany’ is considered as far-right by the Globalist mainstream media because of the party’s policy position on immigration, particularly Islamic migration. An example of this is The BBC, who, in trying to explain AfD are quick to pull out the far-right and “Nazi” tag, stating that the AfD’s stance on immigration, and its alleged, “extremist” language, which sees Islam as alien to German society, is tinged with ‘Nazi overtones’[6].

The AfD view ‘Islam as a danger for Europe [because Islam] is incompatible with the Europe founded on Greco-Roman antiquity, Jews and Christians, the enlightenment and human rights’[7]. AfD are also against a standing European Army, arguing that they do not want any further European bureaucratizing of Germany.

Felix Klein’s ambiguous warning about wearing the yarmulkes hasn’t gone without criticism. Klein admitted that his “statement had been provocative, but that he wanted to initiate debate about the safety of the Jewish community.”[8]

In both reports on Klein’s comments, neither CNN nor the BBC mentioned Islamic migration as playing a part in the rise of anti-Semitism. This is despite investigative reports from The Times of Israel and Jewish News Syndicate, linking Islamism (and consequently Islamic migration) with violence against Jews living in Europe.

JNS pointed to an official 40-page report from ‘Germany’s Federal office of the protection of the Constitution’, which outlined ‘in reasonable detail, the anti-Semitism among parts of the country’s Muslim community; and that Islamism (Islam in general) is a form of political extremism that aims to end democracy – anti-Semitism is one of its essential ideological elements.’

JNS also stated,

‘Many Muslims are not anti-Semitic, but the anti-Semitism problem in Islam is far from limited to people with extreme political views, or even to religious Muslims. The report notes that individuals with no known prior connections to “organized Islamism” have caused many anti-Semitic incidents. Islamism, the report says, was probably not the direct cause behind a substantial number of incidents.
The document starts by stating that for historical reasons, and in view of the country’s experience with National Socialism, anti-Semitism was long viewed as being inevitably related to the extreme right. Only gradually has it become clear that right-wing extremists do not hold a monopoly on anti-Semitism in Germany today. The report states that a pattern of common, “daily” anti-Semitism is widespread in the social and political center of German society. In addition, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism exist among leftist extremists…
The long-overdue study concludes that the more than 100 anti-Semitic incidents officially caused by Muslims in 2017 are most likely just the tip of the iceberg.’[9]

Germany isn’t alone. In July 2018, The Times of Israel, reported on anti-Semitism in Sweden, another country who has broadly applied an “open borders” policy, claiming that pressure from both Neo-Nazi, and Jihadist bullying, were an issue for the Jewish community.

The Times quoted, Aron Verstandig, president of the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, who said, “we have a vibrant community in Stockholm but even here we face multiple threats, from Muslim extremism to far-right violence.”[10]

In direct contrast to Jewish news agencies, and even Germany’s International public broadcaster, the reports from CNN and the BBC left out Islamism and anti-Zionist/anti-Israel Leftists, who are also central elements in the rise of anti-Semitism within Europe.

It’s clear that neo-Nazism is a fringe element in the West, and it would be naïve to ignore any such movement. Few would dispute this. CNN and the BBC’s selectivity, however, raise questions about who gets to define what a neo-Nazi is? It’s reckless of Mainstream media to jump to conclusions and draw false links between one group and another because they only see what they want to see. That isn’t journalism, its manipulative propaganda.

Both reports from CNN and the BBC also force us to ask how much of an impact “open borders” policies has on freedom of the press. Their selectivity is either deliberate or done out of fear of becoming a political pariah; of being mislabelled a “racist”, “xenophobic” or an “Islamophobe”. As much as it’s probably the latter, I suspect this is an exception to the rule.

Thus CNN and the BBC’s selectivity adds weight to why the current Globalist agenda should be questioned and rejected, because there is a seemingly obvious, co-ordinated effort, to slander, and therefore silence, all those who are currently not in agreement with Leftism’s Gobalist initiatives, as “Nazis”.

Such slander plays on the collective consciousness in the West about the evils of fascism, and National Socialism. All while blinding Westerners to the absence of a collective consciousness about the very real evil of Communism, and the Socialist’s own perpetual, imperial war machine.


References:

[1] Matthew Robinson, ‘German Jews warned not to wear kippahs in public following spike in anti-Semitism, CNN sourced 27th May 2019

[2] WD, What is the Alternative for Germany? Sourced, 27th May 2019

[3] The BBC, ‘German Jews warned not to wear kippas after rise in anti-Semitism Sourced, 27th May 2019

[4] DW, ‘German official warns Jews against wearing Kippahs in public, Sourced 27th May 2019

[5] DW, ‘Germany: Syrian man faces charges for Kippah attack, Source 27th May 2019

[6] The BBC, 2017. ‘German Election: How right-wing is Nationalist AfD? Sourced, 27th May 2019

[7] AFD, Islam – Danger for Europe, Sourced 27th May 2019

[8] SFGate, 2019. ‘Israeli President shocked by German skullcap warning, Sourced, 27th May 2019

[9] Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, 2019. ‘German intelligence issue taboo breaking report on Muslim anti-Semitism, Jewish News Syndicate, Sourced 27th May 2019.

[10] Cnaan Liphshiz, 2018. Under Neo-Nazi & Jihadist bullying, Swedish communities are shuttering, The Times of Israel, Sourced 27th May 2019

Photo Credit: Photo by DAVIDCOHEN on Unsplash

(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, 27th May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Playboy’s reputation for providing intellectually engaging reading material doesn’t rank all that high in the list of influential mainstream media outlets. So it’s easy to not take any activism from the morally questionable publication all that seriously.

In early May, however, the publication touted an anti-homeschooling article from Christopher Stroop, a freelance writer who has contributed articles to Playboy and Salon.

Stroop seized on recent gun violence in the United States to fire a broadside at white evangelical Americans. In doing so he conflated Christian homeschoolers with domestic terrorism, accusing them of white supremacy, racism and radicalization.

Stroop, a self-proclaimed ex-evangelical, who is also a pro-LGBT anti-Christian schools activist, went on to disparage Christian homeschoolers, by appealing to researchers from the “survivors community”, who until recently, made up the now defunct internet group, Homeschoolers Anonymous; a group who describes themselves as “homeschool apostates” and/or ‘refugees.

Quoting fellow ex-evangelical, Kathryn Brightbill from Coalition for Responsible Homeschooling, Stroop claimed that proof of this radicalization was found in a ‘pattern of violent crimes’ which can (apparently) be connected to Christian homeschoolers, in particular, an obscure movement within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church called ‘Christian Reconstructionsim’, which (allegedly) promotes a ‘right-wing version of Calvinist theology –  “teaching that God’s plan for society is to implement Old Testament political law, including the stoning parts”.’

Without substantiating his claim with sources, or solid evidence, and leaning solely on unnamed “researchers” from within his own movement, Stroop rattled on, asserting that the so-called “pattern of violence”,

‘Raised the question about how homeschooling and white evangelical subculture may be contributing factors in the radicalization of young people.’

While loosely citing events in Austin and Tennessee, his primary evidence was the recent  synagogue shooting in Los Angeles, where teen, John T. Earnest (who was homeschooled for a time), killed one person and injured two others.

Though Stroop’s conclusion notes that Earnest was “radicalized” via the internet, what Stroop fails to mention is that Earnest’s manifesto clearly indicated that homeschooling had nothing to do with his radicalization and act of domestic terrorism.

According to 10 News San Diego, “[Earnest] added that he wasn’t taught this ideology [anti-Semitism] from his family; stating that he “had to learn [from 8chan] what [my parents] should have taught me from the beginning.”

Despite the fact that Stroop acknowledges Earnest was only partly homeschooled, and that the internet was the primary motivator in the synagogue attack. He insists that Earnest is a valid example of this “pattern of violence from Christian homeschoolers” and their radicalization of the young.

Stroop cites, Ryan Stollar, one of the founders of Homeschoolers Anonymous, who accuses Christian homeschoolers of covering up abuse, and of using a “persecution complex” to avoid “honest examination”.

Stroop, Stollar and Brightbill argue that this is reason enough to justify government intervention, because the “lack of government oversight creates a legal cover for abusive parents to indoctrinate and warp their children.”

This isn’t far removed from the now debunked theory of the Australian Greens Party, who demanded and chaired a political enquiry because of their firm belief that homeschooling equated to child abuse.

As with the Greens, nothing Stroop tries to provide by way of evidence substantiates his extreme accusations.

Dishonest reasoning isn’t the only problem with his article. As with a lot of fringe arguments against Homeschooling within America, his polemic fails to distinguish between education and parenting, Church and home education. In addition there is no mention of institutional schooling and the potential role it may play in decisions of all domestic terrorists.

Stroop conflates Christian homeschoolers with the domestic terrorist and blames them for his ideological radicalization. This recklessness and his deliberate use of loaded terms, turns Christian homeschoolers into a straw man, invoking images of Islamist terror camps, and children in jackboots wearing suicide belts, marching with AK-47’s, chanting “death to Israel”.

Stroop’s loose examples and bias reach their zenith when in quoting Brightball, he accuses popular homeschool curriculum, Abeka of “explicit and implicit white supremacist messaging.” Abeka’s crime? Their World history Curriculum is deemed to be “too white & too Christian.” It’s a typical move against anyone not willing to line up and fall into absolute alignment with Leftism.

In his rejection of American evangelicalism, Stroop fires a reckless broadside at Christian homeschooling, tarring and feathering every evangelical Christian, every Calvinist, moderate or five point believer, and the majority of Christian homeschoolers with the label white supremacist.

Though Stroop’s Playboy piece claims to provide proof of a pattern of violence which shows that Christian homeschoolers are producing domestic terrorists, all we end up finding is Stroop and his fellow “ex-evangelicals”, grinding an axe in order to further their own toxic form of victimhood and the Leftist socio-political cult that sees an easy profit in any form of anti-Christian rhetoric.

It would be naïve to dismiss the testimony of those who genuinely see themselves as victims of abuse. It would also be naïve to buy into the narrative Stroop has tried to construct by exploiting their apparent suffering.

Having talked at length with homeschooling friends from the United States, there is no doubt that a small portion of homeschooling families get it wrong, or abuse the privilege of home education by abdicating their parental duty of care in educating their child responsibly. However, as reflected in literature and movies like ‘Sister Act 2’, ‘Lean on Me’, ‘The Dead Poets Society’, and ‘Dangerous Minds’, parental abdication from participating in their child’s holistic education, isn’t a problem just experienced in the homeschooling community. It affects every educational platform.

Stroop’s sloppy article and his dishonesty illustrate just how far the Leftist cult of modern liberalism and its sycophants are willing to go. With little to no evidence, Biblical Christianity will be outlawed under the popular phrase ‘homophobic’.

This is another mutation of

‘the terrible abuse of language by the Nazis: where the group in charge of the actual killing in the gas chambers was called the General Welfare Foundation for Institutional Care…’ (Dean Stroud)[1]

This is the reality for Israel Folau. In a vile inversion of morality, Christianity will be deemed immoral. Anyone not aligned with Leftism will be treated as domestic terrorists, and as is the case with Christians in China, people will be forced by those already sold out to Leftism, into allegiance to the State.

This is, as Paul Joseph Watson so aptly described it, the mark of the beast: we will not be able to buy, sell, have a career, or earn a wage, without total intellectual castration and obedience to those on the Left who, even now, deceptively seek to place themselves as our overlords.


References:

[1] Dean Stroud, 2013 ‘Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance‘ Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing pp.132 & 136

(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, 23rd May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Yesterday’s election saw Australians choose freedom and individual responsibility, over surrendering their country to globalist bureaucrats and their inherent totalitarianism.

Against all mainstream media predictions which had handed the Labor/Green opposition the 2019 election, the discerning voter – Morrison’s “quiet Australians” – made their voice heard.

In many ways the outcome of the election, illustrates that Leftists within in the leftwing media are not reporting properly or honestly.

They have a narrative and expect people to fall in line with it. This is the way we want you to vote, so “vote as we tell you to vote, or else.”

Caldron Pool contributor, Dr. Ashraf Selah, was spot on when he quipped,

“This was not even close to being a swing voter’s election. This is a clear message that leaders shouldn’t be overly smug with virtue signalling and identity politics. Australians don’t want to be worse off for the sake of feel-good but do-no-good policies.”

And Herald Sun columnist, Rita Panahi stated,

“The centre-right Coalition government has achieved the most astonishing victory in modern Australian politics. The Australian people rejected the class warfare, climate alarmism & identity politics of Labor.”

Both Selah and Panahi don’t fit the identity box that Labor and The Greens use in exploiting the victims, or sin of racism, ethnic and religious prejudice, for political gain. Labor’s policies were militant, aggressive, divisive and un-Australian.

Panahi is right. This election result was a rejection of manipulative propaganda, a collective “nein!”, spoken in defiance against fascism and Marxism, in both its blatant and subtle forms.

With the media scoring through the debris and as the debriefing takes place over the coming weeks. Let it be remembered that Leftists have a narrative that they want you to believe. It’s constructed to sway opinion towards a collective goal that will, in the words of Roger Scruton, ‘always end in totalitarian control.’

Globalism is the new imperialism and at the centre of it sits an un-elected bureaucratic caste whose self-interest has no room for our best interests.

Bill Shorten’s concession speech, we “did all we could”, selling every Leftist progressive policy and the kitchen sink with it, acknowledges this point.

Under this auctioneering, the anything goes, and everything goes recklessness of Labor and The Green’s would have been a back breaking burden on the Australian people.

That is why this election was about freedom. If Labor and The Greens had won, based on the current lineup and their policing policies, the burden of their current ideological platform, would have been an astronomically heavy yoke on the Australian people.

If Bill Shorten’s belligerent rhetoric, his call to “fight on” is carried through without any genuine soul searching from Labor and The Greens, then we can expect much of the same Marxist rhetoric, division and catastrophic recklessness, which promises utopia, though a continuous revolution where one group is placed against the next and the never the two shall meet.

The perpetual class war in order to achieve the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, as translated by Labor and The Greens, would include laws of segregation based on the toxicity of intersectionality theory.

This would include excluding Christians and Christianity from public life. Under “hate speech” laws arbitrarily defined by Globalists and implemented by Labor and The Greens, freedom and individual responsibility would be a thing of the past.

The ideology of intersectionality feeds identity politics. It is a politics of division and displacement; a policing of arbitrarily determined privilege that measures the worth of a person by gender, skin colour, heritage, income, religion and sexual preference.

This is the same kind of yardstick the Nazis used against the Jews; intersectionality theory is treason against humanity of the highest order. This is why intersectionality theory must be unequivocally rejected, not unquestionably embraced.

Australians have avoided falling into servitude to the crushing ideology of Globalist imperialism and the Leftist cult of modern liberalism, but the discerning citizen shouldn’t grow complacent. This may only be three year reprieve from a gathering storm determined to crush everything in its path.

Remember Israel Folau. Remember Roger Scruton. Never forget what internationally funded, militant Leftist group Getup!’s war on Tony Abbott. Remember those who have already been publicly castigated. The election outcome was not a truce. It will do either embolden those determined to separate Australians into enemy and ally, oppressed and oppressor, or it will expose the misery behind their masquerade.

Let’s hope and pray that Morrison is a real answer to this, and not just a placebo applied to a nation suffering from wounds inflicted by its would-be overlords, who, post-election, may not be inclined to hearing the voice of the people, or become “woke” enough to humbly acknowledge the destructiveness of their policies.

The pattern of behavior exhibited since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election suggests that the Left, dominated by the radical Marxist agenda of Leftists, will be too busy laying blame on everyone who disagrees with them or didn’t fall in and march to battle in their culture war, as demanded the mainstream Leftist propaganda machine.

The defiant voice of the discerning voter; Morrison’s “quiet Australians” must stay vigilant, avoid complacency, and not let the great collective sigh of relief sweeping Australia today, lull them into a false sense of security.


Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Bill Shorten’s poorly aimed verbal sucker punch at Scott Morrison draws from the assumption that those who voted “yes” in the LNP’s gay marriage popularity survey are a bankable vote for Labor. This political maneuvere was a bad call. It betrays a deep overconfidence in the Labor political machine and underestimates the intellectual capacity of the discerning public.

Shorten’s goal was clear. Capitalize on the fearmongering and misrepresentations, which he and Pro-SSM advocates were so keen to employ, instead of engaging in rational, respectful debate.

As a servant of that public, he seems to forget that Labor had originally refused to support the survey, and only backed it after being dragged to the table by discerning voters. His alternative was to arbitrarily make Same-sex marriage law, without Australian voters having any opportunity to debate it.

What Shorten thought would give him the presumed “moral high ground” has made him look petty and desperate. His spiteful attempt to score political points was, as Dennis Shanahan put it, part of a “co-ordinated response  to exploit the Prime Minister’s religious beliefs; seeking to revive divisions of the same-sex marriage debate and bring “the millennials back to Labor.”[1]

Shorten’s “low blow” was a vicious attempt to push the Prime Minister down, in order for Bill Shorten to raise himself up. His not-so-subtle call to arms, in an attempt to stock the emotions of moderates who voted “yes”, fits the clinical description of agitprop (manipulative propaganda).

French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul noted:

‘1. Agitation propaganda unleashes an explosive movement it operates inside a crisis or actually provokes the crisis itself.

2. it’s extremely easy to launch, because it’s based on hatred of a particular enemy.

3. Agitprop succeeds because it designates someone as the source of all misery.

4. Any statement whatever, no matter how stupid, any “tall tale” will be believed once it enters into the passionate current of hatred.

5. Agitprop uses key words of magical import, which are believed without question. [2]

Ambushing Scott Morrison with a loaded question only serves to prove the point. It also shows that Shorten’s verbal sucker punch was motivated by a malicious political attempt to launch a movement of hatred against the Prime Minister in the last week of an election, that Labor are confident they cannot lose.

Shorten’s unfair, on the spot demand that Scott Morrison answer whether he “believes that homosexuals go to hell or not” lead to Morrison’s “declaration” that, “no, he doesn’t believe that homosexuals go to hell”.

Rather than the Prime Minister’s response showing a compromise of his Christian faith, his response proved his strength as a leader. Morrison identified and neutralized a manipulative attempt to undermine the Australian people, and he refused to play political games by pitting the majority Christian community against the minority LGBT community. This was a hard call, but it was the right move.

In refusing to be baited by Bill Shorten, Scott Morrison didn’t dismiss Biblical Christianity, he dismissed Shorten’s slippery attempt to provoke division and hatred within the community through ignorance of Christian theology. In doing so, Morrison showed his political prowess and eligibility to continue to serve as Prime Minster.

Labor’s agitprop aside, theologically speaking there’s also a nuance in Morrison’s response.

Technically, Morrison is right to reject the oversimplistic notion that the sinners are indiscriminately thrown into hell by a tyrannical God. This is the myth Peter Fitzsimmons may believe, but it’s not the God testified to in the Bible, who actively and descively, speaks, and makes Himself known to humanity through His Covenant with Israel and Jesus Christ. Morrison is right to reject the illiterate assumption that unrepentant sinners are recklessly thrown into eternal separation from God. For the most part, the unrepentant sinner goes their willingly.

There is a distinction between sinner and sin; the person and the action. To be transformed into the image of sin, is to willingly engage in a rejection of the image of God.  Though sin is a pervasive reality, sin does not define us unless it becomes something we take pride in, or refuse to turn away from. The consequence being that we are conformed to its dark and corrupt image, rather than God’s, who is the source and fullness of life.

C.S. Lewis stated two things that illuminate this nuance. First, hell is the outer darkness[3], chosen self-annihilation. Secondly, hell is judgement:

‘To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter Hell is to be banished from humanity.[4]

Lewis also pointed out that:

“there are two kinds of people in the end. Those who say to God, “Thy will be done”, and those to whom God in the end says, “thy will be done. All that are in Hell choose it[5]…he has his wish – to live wholly for the self and to make the best of what he finds there. And what he finds there is Hell.[6]

As a side note, when comparing Israel Folau with Scott Morrion, it’s also important to recognize, that there’s a difference in their platforms.

One was an athlete posting on his personal social media account, the other is a sitting Prime Minister, who was ambushed by the media and the Labor opposition leader with a loaded question (logical fallacy).

I think far more than this event shining a light on Morrison (and on a level of consistency, it doesn’t look great), the event reveals a whole lot more about the hostility and preconceived bias, theological illiteracy and prejudice against Christians in the public arena from Labor, and parts of Australia’s MSM. That is what we should be focusing on, not the lack of theological depth in the Prime Minister’s quick reply.

As Shannahan said, ‘it was the only response available’, (The Australian, May 15th)

Hypocritically, Bill Shorten isolated a large section of the Australian Community, all while declaring that Australia “needed a Prime Minister for all people.”

Shorten’s dull and contemptible perception of the Australian public, and the discerning voter, is no match for the much sharper, and more relatable, Scott Morrison. Australian Labor’s co-ordinated attempt at agitprop, along with the division and hatred they tried to incite, not only alienates the 4.87 million (38.4%) who ticked “no” in the Same-Sex marriage popularity survey, it revealed that the opposition leader is willing to divide Australians for personal gain.

Shorten’s theologically illiterate polemic and his deliberate exploitation of Scott Morrison’s Christian faith, proves that Shorten is unfit to serve as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia. To the discerning voter, Christian or otherwise, this is another reason, in a list of reasons to think hard before voting Labor/Green in the upcoming election on Saturday.

As C.S. Lewis put it:

‘In all discussions of Hell we should keep steadily before our eyes the possible damnation, not of our enemies nor our friends, but of ourselves.’[7]


References:

[1] Shanahan, D. Shorten Stoops to new low on leader’s beliefs, The Australian, 15th May 2019

[2] Ellul, J. 1965. Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes Vintage Books Ed. (pp.72-74)

[3] Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain (p.130)

[4] Ibid

[5] Lewis, C.S. The Great Divorce, (p.75)

[6] Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain, (p.126)

[7] Ibid, (p.132)

(Originally published at The Caldron Pool, Does Bill Shorten’s manipulative attack on Scott Morrison’s faith prove he’s unfit to be Prime Minister? 16th May 2019)

Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Last month I was a guest on an Ever Vigilant podcast. Joe Prim and I discussed the importance of political theology in regards to Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the historical parallels relevant to us today.

Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are well positioned to be our guide now, and through a very real darkness, should that darkness engulf Western Civilisation entirely.

Links to said podcast:

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Church leaders need to stop apologizing and step up in support of Biblical Christianity. It’s disappointing to watch key leaders betray theology, in a pacifistic appeal to the Left, for fear of being excluded by them from the table of discussion.

Appeasement never works. It didn’t work against the onslaught of fascism in the 1930s or during the Cold War, it won’t work now.

As Winston Churchill once said, ‘it would be wrong not to lay the lessons of the past before the future; noting that appeasement encouraged the aggression of the Dictators and emboldened their power amongst their own people.’ [1]

If John F. Kennedy had let appeasement permeate his decisions throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis, we may very well have been forced by totalitarian aggressors over the irreversible red line into global thermal nuclear war. Kennedy’s commitment to his people, grace and the firmness of his convictions was later echoed in Ronald Reagan’s ‘Peace through Strength’; Reagan’s unwavering commitment to build relationship with the Soviet Union from a position of strength, through a policy of mutuality, not fear and submission.

Furthermore, if Jesus had appeased the Devil in the desert or quit at the pain He felt in Gethsemane, His victory over sin would be non-existent; His actualization of the presence of the Kingdom of God, the Gospel itself would have been reduced to nothing more than a birthright from heaven, sold to the highest bidder.

Instead, Jesus stood firm. He didn’t retreat. His very presence triggered demons and He expelled them with a command; healed the wounded, called sinners to repentance, and taught with a veracity absent in the burdensome, stern, joylessness of the religious leaders of His day (Mark 1:22).

In recent weeks, we’ve heard attempts at diplomatic responses to the scripture Israel Folau posted on Instagram from John Dickson, Brian Houston and Simon Smart from CPX.

Their thermostatic diplomatic attempts might seem commendable, but it will not find its intended goal of peace in a conflict the Church didn’t start. At the core of their well-intentioned responses is appeasement.

Dickson and Houston may be appealing to Jesus’ command to love our enemies, which is honorable, but they appear to be clueless, underestimating the ferocity and ultimate goals of their opponents. These are opponents who have made it clear that they are not only determined to make Christians their enemy, but are determined to impose a convert, pay the fine, or face the consequences religious law on all those who dare to speak truth in love.

For the most part, appeasement is misguided neutrality. It reflects defeatism and surrender.

History again teaches us that few gains are made by giving up, what we can, should and therefore ought to defend. Appeasement in the guise of loving our enemies is a flawed approach. Appeasement often feeds retreat, encourages compromise, and cowers before the tyranny of false doctrine.

Anti-Nazi theologian, Karl Barth’s Second Letter to French Protestants written during 1940, makes this clear:

‘In the Germany after 1933, when she was overrun by the demonic power of National Socialism, [through compliance and an approved armistice], in order to maintain itself, Christianity in Germany retreated, no longer concerning itself with, or at least was not willing to fight and suffer for, the right form of the Church, let alone that of the State.’

Writing, as he did, Barth encouraged the French to see that

 ‘even if this is the judgement of God on the Church, His judgement does not cast us into a self-chosen neutrality […] Repentance will us lead us to watch and not to sleep; it will guide our steps to life and not to death […] It follows that prayer will not lead us away from political thought and action of a modest but definite kind, but will rather lead us directly into purposeful conflict […] The spirit of Christian repudiation of defeat, the spirit of a Christian approach  to a new and better resistance, the spirit of Christian hope will not leave the field  to the demons!’

The Church and Church leaders must reject a policy of appeasement that would force Christian theology into servitude to ideology, which demands appeasement and affirmation by only approving the words of false teachers, and false prophets.

The Church cannot on any terms surrender to any lord other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the existence of the Church, for from Him the Church was brought into existence, and in Him only will it find its end. The free Theos-Logos (the free Word of God) remains free to speak to humanity, and this fact will always mean that God’s grace is offensive and in conflict with a world determined to reject it.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, ESV)

Church leaders need to stop apologising for Israel Folau, and begin to show backbone and true leadership. Like Churchill and Barth, Kennedy and Reagan, and ultimately in Jesus Christ, we can seek an exchange of understanding that is metered out in order to establish mutual respect.

Appeasement, however, is an abdication of responsibility, it requires the perilous decision of abandoning the theological critique of ideologies, which are proving, and have proven, themselves to be treason against humanity of the highest order[2].

Israel Folau has every right to post what he’d like on his own personal Instagram account. That’s an issue between him and Instragam. If people don’t like that, then they should simply just unfollow him.

If a post-Christian society is to be as it claims to be: tolerant, open and inclusive, then the people who advocate it should be mature enough to practice what they preach, giving Israel Folau and Christians, the same space and understanding that they demand for themselves.


References:

[1] Churchill, Winston. The Gathering Storm: The Second World War, Volume 1 (Winston Churchill World War II Collection) . RosettaBooks.

[2] For example, Nazism, Socialism, intersectionality theory and Islamism.

Photo by Daniel Sandvik on Unsplash

(Originally published at The Caldron Pool 13th May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

 

Israel Folau isn’t alone in his struggle against the Leftist establishment and its newspeak. British Philosopher, and Leftist turned conservative, Sir Roger Scruton lost his U.K Government role as Housing Adviser, after criticizing George Soros and asserting that

“Islamophobia was an attempt to control conversation by making any and all criticism of Islam or Muslims a social pathology. (The same is true with all these absurd, politicized -phobias.)”

There have also been calls for Scruton’s knighthood to be revoked.

As Scruton and Muslim writer, Ismail Royer point out.

“[In the minds of the Muslim Brotherhood it’s] impossible for anyone to write critically about Islam, or the deeds of Muslims, in good faith. The only acceptable angle was flattery” (Scruton)

“The Scruton affair illustrates a mindset afflicting many modern Muslims. As @ScholarsInk points out, this is a man who has engaged in substantive dialogue with Islamic scholars. It’s a problem that many Muslims find anything other than flattery to be absolutely intolerable.” (Royer)

While the Leftist establishment’s contempt for Scruton remains high, support for Scruton continues to not only remain consistent, but is on the increase.

Thanking supporters, he took to Twitter writing:

“Thank you to the many people from around the world, who have sent messages of support in this time of persecution. And apologies to the mob for having survived it.”

Scruton is well acquainted with the ‘Leftist vision’, commenting about his time writing with the ‘underground networks of communist Europe’ in his book, ‘Fools, Frauds & Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left’ (2015)[1],

[“My involvement] had brought me face to face with destruction, and it was obvious to most people who troubled to expose themselves to this destruction that leftist ways of thinking were the ultimate cause of it […] We should not be surprised that, when the communists seized power in Eastern Europe, their first task was to decapitate the little platoons – so that Kádár, when Minister of the Interior in the 1948 government in Hungary, managed to destroy five thousand in a single year.
Newspeak[2], which sees the world in terms of power and struggle, encourages the view that all associations not controlled by the righteous leaders are a danger to the state. And by acting on this view you make it true. When the seminar, the troop or the choir can meet only with the permission of the Party, the Party automatically becomes their enemy. In this way, it seems to me, it is not an accident that the triumph of leftist ways of thinking has so often led to totalitarian government.”

Scruton’s argument is confirmed by the Tienanmen Square massacre, which happened, but “officially” never happened. The Hungarian revolt of 1956, and the violent suppression of it by the Soviet Union, and its puppet Socialist Hungarian administration. The violence was downplayed by French Communists, such as Jean Sartre, and was largely ignored or dismissed by the Left in the West.

In response to the violent Communist suppression of the Hungarian people, French existentialist and philosopher, Albert Camus, himself once a golden boy of the French Leftist establishment, wrote,

‘We must admit that today conformity is on the Left.
To be sure, the Right is not brilliant. But the Left is in complete decadence, a prisoner of words, caught in its own vocabulary, capable merely of stereo-typed replies, constantly at a loss when faced with the truth, from which it nevertheless claimed to derive its laws.
The Left is schizophrenic and needs doctoring through pitiless self-criticism, exercise of the heart, close reasoning, and a little modesty. Until such an effort at re-examination is well under way, any rallying will be useless even harmful. None of the evils of totalitarianism (defined by the single party and the suppression of all opposition) claims to remedy is worse than totalitarianism itself.’[3]

Roger Scruton and Israel Folau are high profile examples who should garner support from every quarter, because if they are allowed to be thrown under blade of the guillotine, by the mob and it’s “people’s court”, we all lose.


References:

[1] Scruton, Roger. 2015. Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left Bloomsbury Publishing

[2] ‘The purpose of communist Newspeak, in Thom’s ironical words, has been ‘to protect ideology from the malicious attacks of real things – fortified the communist conviction that you could change reality by changing words.’ (ibid, 2015)

[3] Camus, A. 1961 Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays; ‘Hungary: Socialism of the Gallows’, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1960 First Vintage International Edition

Photo by Jake Noren on Unsplash

(Also posted on The Caldron Pool, 8th May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has been physically attacked by a female activist at a campaign event in Albany, (Vic.).

A 24 year old woman allegedly threw an egg at the Prime Minister’s head, which according to the ABC, did not break on impact.

The ABC also reported that Morrison’s assailant, armed with a “carton of eggs was dragged away by security and was now in police custody”.

In the process an elderly woman was knocked off her feet, prompting the Prime Minister to go to her aid,

Morrison later saying on Twitter,”My concern about today’s incident in Albury was for the older lady who was knocked off her feet. I helped her up and gave her a hug. Our farmers have to put up with these same idiots who are invading their farms and their homes.We will stand up to thuggery whether it’s these cowardly activists who have no respect for anyone, or militant unionists standing over small businesses and their employees on work sites.”

Scott Morrison appears to have shrugged off the ambush by keeping to his campaign schedule.

As reported by The Guardian, via AAP, the assailant was protesting the Coalition’s firm commitment to the protection of Australia’s borders, which includes stopping the illegal smuggling of people into the country.

This isn’t the first egg attack on a sitting Prime Minister. Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard on her first visit to Western Australia as P.M, was assaulted by a 55 year old man, who was consequently charged for assault.

As serious as these assaults are, few of them come close to ex-Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, being head-butted by a ‘lone anarchist and Same-Sex marriage supporter, during the LNP’s, Gay Marriage popularity survey debate, in 2017.

More tragically, attacks on Tony Abbot haven’t stopped. Today, The Guardian also noted an AAP report stating that,

‘NSW police officers have collected a poo hidden inside a book that was dumped outside Tony Abbott’s Sydney electorate office.
The faeces was placed inside a hollowed-out book that had the word “Unpopular” written on the cover, according to photos published by News Corp Australia.
Detectives are investigating after the item was left outside Abbott’s Manly office on Tuesday morning, a police spokesman said’

Violence against sitting members of parliament, particularly Conservative and Christian public servants, is becoming a trend. Tony Abbott, being the example par excellence, because he has evidently been singled out as a primary target for Leftist activists; the assault on Scott Morrison providing more evidence which supports that conclusion.

More recently, Fraser Anning, an Australian Senator was ambushed by a 17 year old Victorian teenager, who smashed an egg into the back of the Senators head during a press conference in March.

At the time many erupted with applause, dismissing the event as a kid letting of some steam.

If the assaults are trending, it’s in large part because of the applause on social media. While there are pockets of healthy resistance to this, Big Tech companies are reducing the impact of that healthy resistance, by purging conservatives from their platforms. Ironically giving actual violence a voice, all in the name of fighting what they’ve arbitrarily determined to be “hate speech”.

 

After the ambush of Fraser Anning, many warned about the precedent it was encouraging. In response, people took to social media and applauded the teenager. With one prominent Church leader saying he wouldn’t condemn the assault on Anning, because “Anning did far worse […] This is a random kid who got the senator dirty with an egg. He should not have done it, but it is a minor, stupid assault.”[1]

The problem is that dismissing violence tends to encourage violence. These assaults are not just. They’re premeditated acts of violence on elected government officials. In this light, they also are premeditated acts of violence on the Australian people.

As I said in March, in an article discussing the lynching of Fraser Anning:

We would all do well to keep the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in mind, “the ultimate possible rebellion, is that the lie [of the serpent] portrays the truth as a lie. That is the abyss that underlies the lie—that it lives because it poses as the truth and condemns the truth as a lie [and we fall for it].”[2]

This is the dark precipice we are being guided towards by many of our leaders, including companies who own, control and provide social media platforms. It’s a precipice that few will survive, if the socio-political trends of the past two decades are allowed to continue, unchallenged and uncorrected.

In our own resistance against this, may we ALL be drawn back towards the words of Jesus Christ, as he lowered himself in the defense of a woman facing a Pharisaic death squad, “let he who is without sin, throw the first stone” (John 8:7).


References:

[1] Name withheld for privacy reasons.

[2] Creation & Fall.

Photo credit: REVOLT on Unsplash image adjusted to fit the post.

(Originally posted on The Caldron Pool 7th May. 2019 under the title, Scott Morrison egged by a female activist at campaign event. Is this becoming a trend? )

©Rod Lampard, 2019

In her[1] last round of public appearances, Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) blamed America for the suffering of Venezuelans, and managed to alienate the majority of Americans with the provocative statement, “this is not going to be the country of the xenophobics. This is not going to be the country of white people.”

As Omar failed to clarify who she meant by the term “white people”, one can only presume that Omar was either loosely referring to those of Caucasian ethnicity, or more broadly, anyone who supports President Donald Trump. Since those on the far-Left consider anyone not living within the Leftist head-space of modern liberalism, or anyone not in orbit around planet Marx, as being far-right, it’s plausible to think that Omar meant the latter.

Omar’s comments were made during a rally hosted by the Movement for Black Lives[2]. The event was hosted in support of Omar, who they allege was “misrepresented”, after she reduced the Islamist attacks on the United States in September 11, 2001 to simply being, “some people did something”. For context, The Movement for Black Lives by all appearances, are a Black Nationalist organization. Part of their platform includes the demand for reparations for slavery and self-determination for Black people. Omar is also one of America’s first Muslim senators and has been consistently antagonistic towards the Trump administration, and anyone seen to be not in agreement with her political ideology.

Omar’s xenophobic[3] remarks about fighting xenophobia in America are paradoxical. There’s a sharp irony exposed by the fact that her comments against “white” Americans were made from a “Black” Nationalist platform, and she is supported by a “Black” Ethno-Nationalist political movement.

The rookie Democrat also managed to show her lack of experience when on a panel discussing the crisis and suffering of the Venezuelan people, Omar blamed the United States for contributing heavily to the suffering, because of sanctions imposed on the socialist totalitarian regime in Venezuela[4], stating:

“A lot of the policies that we have put in place has kind of helped lead the devastation in Venezuela, and we’ve sort of set the stage for where we’re arriving today, this particular bullying and the use of sanctions to eventually intervene and make regime change really does not help the people of countries like Venezuela, and it certainly does not help and is not in the interest of the United States.”[5]

Omar doesn’t understand how, just sanctions, work from a diplomatic level. Just sanctions are equal to boundaries designed to redefine relationships in order to encourage positive change by correcting abuse, with the hope creating a healthier relationship between two people.  Just like exercise and medical intervention. Boundaries may hurt for a bit, but the ultimate goal is to encourage health and healing.

Socialism and Venezuela’s Marxist politicians have failed the Venezuelan people, not America or Capitalism.

The same gradual decline happened in Guinea after its independence from France in 1958. According to Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, ‘I was able to observe how much Guinea was suffering under a dictatorial regime that offered it no hope. Lies and violence were the favorite weapons of a system that was based on a destructive Marxist ideology. The economy of the country had collapsed, and the inhabitants of the villages experienced extreme poverty.’ (God or Nothing, 2015)

Omar’s racially charged statements made from a “black” ethno-nationalist platform follow a series of divisive remarks, and movements, designed to mythologize oppression and take control over what it means to be oppressed.

This Leftist dogma has even penetrated the Church. Writing for Stream.org, Mike Adams made an astute analysis of “Wokeness” and the division it promotes. Adams critiqued Ps. Eric Mason, an urban preacher and author for his incoherent advocacy of what Mason calls the “Woke” Church.

“Is it fair to blame white Christians for the sins of earlier generations? Today, it’s hard to find conservative Christian anywhere expressing support for segregation. But the same leftist policies that decimated the black family are still in place. Mason boasts about his “woke-ness.” But he writes as if he has been asleep for fifty years.
Mason’s resentment toward white conservative Christians today over the omissions of other Christians yesterday is made worse by his own apparent racial prejudice. Consider this statement: “I fear that if we partner with whites that they will find a way to subjugate blacks and make us dependent on them in a way that kills our freedom of a truly black institution […] He expresses resentment over white conservative Christian apathy toward segregation in the past, then rationalizes and defends black self-segregation today. It is hard to grasp why Mason is angry and what his goals are — aside from eliciting white guilt. ”[6]

Outside Ps. Eric Mason’s “Woke Church”, his other books are down to earth, straight-up biblical. I like Mason and have followed him closely on Social Media. I lament that he’s followed Leftism down the Woke road, and strayed from the balanced, solid theological teaching, for what seems to me to be a quest to appear relevant for of fear of missing out. Whether my own brief assessment is accurate or not, Mason’s advocacy of “wokeness” seems to me to be too close to the dissonance of the irrational and volatile anti-Trump movement, as exemplified this week by Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Speaking as a Pentecostal, who has experienced, and witnessed the disastrous consequences of how bad theology can permeate through a congregation, and divide a denomination, the “Woke Church” movement should be treated with as much caution and Biblical theological critique, as the Charismatic “Toronto Blessing” movement was. Theology should be a critique of ideology, not a slave to it – God’s Word confronting and correcting mans’. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Adams is right to ask Mason to properly define what his real concerns are, and how we can all work towards addressing them. The same principle applies to Rep. Ilhan Omar. Provide more evidence; give a reasoned argument, not just divisive rhetoric that ignores 50 years of progress built on the faith and fairness of Civil Rights advocates such as the mighty Dr. John Perkins, and the unforgettable, Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr.

The irony of Omar’s words, along with her own xenophobia about Caucasian people, and Mason’s incoherent activism prompts the question:

Why are some American Democrats so fixated on the colour of your skin, sex & gender? Who benefits from this?

This doesn’t feed the poor. This doesn’t raise people beyond their inherited circumstances. This doesn’t provide the homeless with the ability to find shelter for themselves. This doesn’t comfort the wounded or heal the broken. This doesn’t encourage families by empowering them through employment and education.

Those Democrats and their fixation on skin colour, sex & gender achieve none of these things. What it does do is divide, provoke and antagonize. What it does do is incite fear, violence and suspicion; doing exactly what they’re constantly accusing the American President of doing.

Whether Omar and Mason are woke to it or not, they are making themselves complicit with the Leftist narrative. “Nazi” no longer works, so they’ve gone full “only those on the right are racists; white supremacists/anti-Semites.”

This is a politics of evasion. It’s very subtle, very dangerous, but also very clever. All of it done so as to paint the far-left as holy warriors, pure, sinless, freedom fighters; Jihadists fighting a spiritual enemy in the physical realm. If this trend is not stopped by discerning citizens of the West, the political tactic described above may win the Left approval for militant action under all who are not ideologically aligned with them, under the guise of “just war theory.”

In responding to his recent Facebook and Instagram ban, Paul Joseph Watson correctly noted: “This looks like the end […] They’re now removing people’s ability to have bank accounts and credit card because they have the wrong opinions they’re literally trying to remove your right to buy and sell this is biblical no right to commerce unless you have the mark; and what is the mark? Total intellectual castration and obedience.”[7]

Herein lies the problem with Social Justice Warriors, they’re not fighting for equality of outcomes, or the betterment of their neighbors, they’re fighting for equality with God. This puts them on the same level as Judas Iscariot, not Jesus Christ.

Both Omar and Mason are essentially tilting at windmills, ignoring 50 years of change, dialogue and reform. Instead, they’ve taken the road of blame, prejudice and perpetual victim hood.

In fighting what they think is the dragon; they’ve failed to get woke to Nietzsche’s warning, “Be careful, lest in fighting the dragon you become the dragon.”(Paraphrased)[8]


References:

[1] Disclaimer: I’m assuming Omar identifies as a woman based on the fact that Omar refers to herself as a woman on Twitter and being part of the “sisterhood”.

[2] Democracy Now! Hands Off Ilhan Omar, sourced 3rd May, 2019

[3] In this case Omar’s comments fit within what is a fear of white-people.

[4] Democracy Now! Omar Speak out Against Sanctions & Bipartisan Support sourced 3rd May, 2019

[5] Caroline Kelly, ‘Omar partially blame US… CNN.com sourced, 3rd May 2019

[6] Mike Adams, The Woke Church is More Informed by Leftist Cliches than Gospel Truth, Stream.org. Sourced, 4th May 2019

[7] Paul Joseph Watson, PJW: Banned by Facebook & Instagram Summit.news. Sourced, 4th May 2019

[8] Beyond Good & Evil. #146 Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy (p.69)

(Originally published at the Caldron Pool under the same title, 6th May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Yesterday, Canadian, M.P. and Conservative, Candice Bergen (not to be confused with the American actress of the same name), took the opportunity to make a public statement on behalf of Christians.

In direct contrast to the vicious ambiguity employed by leading Democrats in the United States, who referred to the victims of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, as “Easter Worshippers”, Bergen spoke plainly. The Canadian Conservative M.P. acknowledged that the perpetrators of the attacks were Islamic extremists who had deliberately targeted the Christian community in Sri Lanka.

Addressing the Canadian parliament, Bergen urged the West to take a stand against unprecedented levels of Christian persecution around the world. Included in her brief statement, was an appeal to Western leaders to discontinue their apathetic response to the violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In addition, Bergen said that it was time for Western governments to take active steps against the subtle persecution of Christians living within their borders.

Bergen’s speech also included the fact that,

“Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. They’re targeted by Islamic extremists in countries like Pakistan, Iran and Nigeria; and by Communist regimes in China and North Korea. Here in the West we see a subtle persecution. For example, if you are a Christian in the West and you believe in creation or the teachings of the Bible be prepared to be mocked and ridiculed by many, including some of your own political leaders. And if you have social beliefs based on your Christian convictions you might be denied government funding. This is shameful! And as uncomfortable as it might make some, it must be called out. It’s time we stand up for all religious freedoms. We must lead by example and reject all violence and persecution of people because of their faith and beliefs.”

According to a recent Open Doors USA fact sheet, ‘245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution in 50 countries. The top of this list is North Korea, with Islamic oppression fueling Christian persecution in 8 of the top 10. 1 in 9 Christians experience high levels of persecution worldwide. 4,136 Christians have been killed for faith-related reasons. 2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned, and 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked.’

The Sri Lanka bombings killed 250 people (a figure that was rounded down from 290), and injured close to 500 more. Most of who were Christians.

Candice Bergen’s statement to the Canadian parliament appears to be unique among world leaders and journalists, most of whom remain aloof, and silent, in the shadow of an unprecedented level of persecution and hostility towards Christians around the world.

Bergen’s brief statement echoes the boldness of Winston Churchill’s warnings to a sedated and automatically dismissive bureaucratic caste throughout the 1930s. The difference being that the automatic dismissal from such a political caste is now toxically laced with an anti-Christian sentiment, and a blatant, academically seasoned prejudice, (if not outright irrational and hypocritical intolerance) of Christianity.

As Margaret Thatcher, another famous Conservative politician reminded the world following an assassination attempt on her life:

‘Winston Churchill’s warning is just as true now as when he made it many, many years ago:
“Once you take the position of not being able in any circumstances to defend your rights against aggression, there is no end to the demands that will be made nor to the humiliations that must be accepted.”
He knew, and we must heed his warning.’
(“Post-Brighton Bombing”, Speech to Conservatives, 1984)


(Originally published on Caldron Pool, 2nd May 2019: Canadian MP slams Western attitudes towards Christian persecution: “This is shameful!”)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

On April 24th, rising American political star, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (GOP) gave an open air address, followed by a Q & A at Arizona State University.

Charlie Kirk’s, Turning Point USA hosted the event, which was energetically advertised as ‘Crenshaw vs. Socialism’. Given the name and the creative poster attached to it, the event was bound to draw attention from the perpetually offended.

Taking questions from those in attendance, one student decided to use the Q & A as an opportunity to make declarative statements, accusing Turning Point of being Nazis, and hammering Crenshaw for his service in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban.

Instead of taking the opportunity to talk with Crenshaw and ask where he stood on the issues, the student repeatedly told Crenshaw that he should be “ashamed of his service because he was part of an illegal war of aggression started by the United States”.

The student not interested in allowing Crenshaw to respond left the microphone and walked away.

Despite this, Crenshaw smiled and quickly swung back with, “If you have to call somebody a Nazi, it’s a good indicator that you haven’t thought through your argument very well…look, get more creative with your insults, man. Like, Nazi? Come on.”

Crenshaw’s classy, but firm reply reaffirms the fact that he’s a straight-talker. He stands as a breath of fresh air, in a political realm permeated with politicians who are too afraid to stand against the indoctrination on college compasses; or are too afraid of standing up to the victimhood industry, for fear of being ostracized or dis-endorsed by Washington’s career makers and breakers, including the Hollywood establishment.

#crenshaw2024


(Also published at Caldron Pool, 1st May 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

The tally of the Sri Lankan bombings on Resurrection Sunday now stands at 290 people with around 500 more wounded (many of that number include Sri Lankan Christians).

CNN reported that ‘two (now revealed to be 8) suicide bombers perpetrated the attacks hitting three churches and four luxury hotels.’  The Wall Street Journal noted official statements from the Sri Lankan government, who said that the attacks were perpetrated by an Islamist group known as National Thoweeth Jamath.

Apart from some formal condemnations from countries such as Indonesia, the Muslim world remains largely silent. While there are live updates from news organizations, including CNN, there’s no outrage about Islamism, or widespread sympathy from Muslims.

In addition, as was done to right-wing groups after the Mosque attack in New Zealand, there are no extensive editorials, and little to no panels filled by Leftist academics, sitting down to examine the issues and dangers pertaining to Islamism, and how the Islamic faith is interwoven with political ideology, or how events like the mass murder of Sri Lankans in church celebrating Easter, proves that the political dogma which permeates Islam is a tyrannical antitheses to Biblical Christianity (Judeo-Christianity), it’s progeny Classical Liberalism and Western Civilization[1].

With over 500 wounded and 290 dead, the outpouring of support, outrage and sympathy has been well short of that which was seen after a lone wolf, “eco-fascist”, attacked the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, killing 50 and wounding another 50.

One of the few examples of unprecedented support for Christians, came from Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament President, who hours after the Islamist terror attacks in Sri Lanka, issued a message of condolence, and solidarity. Tajani stated that the “attacks on Sri Lankan churches testify to a real genocide perpetrated against Christians.”

Tajani called a spade a spade, arguing for a renewal of the pursuit for religious freedom. Part of this was an implied condemnation of violent attempts to eradicate Christians from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Tajani’s response is a direct contrast to the begrudging sympathy issued forth by leading Democrats in the United States. Democrats fell in line with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, falsely referring the victims of the Church attacks as “Easter worshippers”.

Certainly not every victim was a Christian, but this deliberate ambiguity is antagonistic, if not snarky, and manipulative. It’s how the Democratic Left does politics and it’s abhorrent.

Not calling a spade a spade, or politicking with half-truths is why the American Democrats are viewed with suspicion in the eyes of many voters. What voters see and observe, doesn’t match what their politicians are selling them.

That leading Democrats are still continuing to play around with words, and blur distinctions, in order to suit their own narrative, shows that these leading Democrats have learnt nothing from Hillary Clinton’s bitter election loss in 2016.

Calling the Christian victims “Easter worshippers” doesn’t just insult the victims of the Islamist attack on three Sri Lankan churches, it rubs salt into a wound felt by Christians all around the world.

Adding insult to injury, some Leftists and at least one Australian Union mocked Scott Morrison, Australia’s Christian Prime Minister, after video emerged of him attending Church. Inferring that Christians were “Nazi worshippers”. Twitter users falsely equated Christians raising their hands in a sign of surrender and openness to God (and as such an act of humility and worship), with the Hitler salute.

One Twitter user referencing an article in The Age stated: “[A] nazi salute. Have a look at the photo – only two men doing it so it can’t be a religious thing.”

Another: “The only difference to this and a Nazi rally from the 30s are the players and the date… except Murdoch is Hitler and Morrison is Goebbels!”

Then another asserted that: “Scott Morrison is not a Christian.”By their works ye shall know them”. Looks like a Nazi salute to me.”

While all of these users were anonymous, that fact doesn’t delegitimize the severity of the act, the accusation, and the negative pattern of behavior attached to it.

Turning Christians into “Easter worshippers” and Christians worshipping in Church, into “Nazi worshippers”, shows the contrast between reactions to N.Z and Sri Lanka.

It’s another example of how the narrative surrounding “white guilt” is built up to force Westerners to remain silent, where there should be outrage, critique and criticism.

The West is told that Islamophobia is racism. Any challenge to Islamic ideology is to be punished. All moral opposition to Islamism is treated as treason. (It’s now much the same with critiques of homosexuality).

For fear of being accused of white supremacism, many in the West become unable to see how terms like Islamophobia are used to slowly bring the World into submission to what could be rightfully be called Islamist supremacism.

For example, British Philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton lost his U.K Government role as Housing Adviser, after criticizing George Soros and asserting that

“Islamophobia was an attempt to control conversation by making any and all criticism of Islam or Muslims a social pathology. (The same is true with all these absurd, politicized -phobias.)”[2]

There have also been calls for Scruton’s knighthood to be revoked.

As Scruton and Muslim writer, Ismail Royer point out.

“[In the minds of the Muslim Brotherhood it’s] impossible for anyone to write critically about Islam, or the deeds of Muslims, in good faith. The only acceptable angle was flattery” (Scruton)
“The Scruton affair illustrates a mindset afflicting many modern Muslims. As @ScholarsInk points out, this is a man who has engaged in substantive dialogue with Islamic scholars. It’s a problem that many Muslims find anything other than flattery to be absolutely intolerable.” (Royer)

Through the Left’s sycophantic political correctness imposed on Western societies, far too many are having their hands tied and mouths gagged, by falsehoods and lies such as the myth that Islam is an oppressed “race”, and that “all white people are racist.”

Add “Easter worshippers” and “Nazi worshippers” to these falsehoods and you’d have to be blind not to see the negative pattern of behavior and the agenda behind it.

Persecution of Christians isn’t subsiding. Terror Attacks on Christians and churches in Nigeria, the Philippines, Syria, Iran, China, India, Egypt and France, are now common place. Every year another country is added to the list.

Although different and a lot less blatant in The West, intolerance and discrimination against Christians is surfacing, e.g.: Roger Scruton, Israel Folau, Margaret Court.

Just as physical attacks on Churches are coordinated and deliberate, so are the intellectual and verbal assaults against Westerners and Christians in general.

There is an obvious discrepancy between the response to Christians after the Sri Lankan Church bombings and the global embrace that was afforded to Muslims, not just in New Zealand, but around the world.

One such example is when leading American Democrats deliberately refuse to call the victims of the church bombings Christians, and instead refer to them as “Easter Worshippers”; an insult that dehumanizes Christians and waters down the threat. This was exhibited by vile diatribes from Leftists, who also inferred that Christians were “Nazi worshippers”.

There is, however, hope. There are those like Tajani (in this case anyway), Scruton, and Royer who see the gathering storm, and instead of cowering in appeasement before it, choose to do everything in their power to respond to it, by educating people in the truth about Islam’s violent historical path and the deceptive nature that hides the destructive all-consuming agenda of Islamists.

If the Hillary Clinton losing the 2016 election, Brexit, Lexit, Blexit, #walkaway, Yellow Jackets, Fraser Anning and the list goes on, say anything, it’s that the age of manipulating the truth, of not calling a spade a spade, of sugar coating, and softening truth to fit into people’s lives in order to win votes, instead of speaking truthfully and allowing the truth to correct people’s lives, is nearing an end.

Therefore the work of the church today is to understand and posit an effective resistance within the context of this new and universal Church struggle, not be defined by it. Resisting the storm comes by standing on the truth. The church speaking God’s agenda for the culture, instead of submitting to any culture that seeks to make itself a god and determine the agenda of the Church. Therefore, ‘[our] reaction should be one of a spiritual and psychological nature, and on a scholarly level.’ (Jacques Ellul, 2015)[3]

For Christians, even those who stand before direct hostility, and who face the possibility of annihilation[4], this means continuing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, not the spirit of the age.

It’s by this Light that Christians can ‘stand and proceed even when they and their neighbours expect to see themselves fall into the abyss. It’s by this Light that Christians can be courageous and patient and cheerful even where not just appearances, but the massive whole of reality forbids them to be so.’[5]

This means following Jesus Christ, the One who despite the world’s violent opposition, and despite falsehood from without and within, guides us by God’s grace, through God’s providence, and fatherly good will, into all Truth (John 14:6, ESV).


References:

[1] See Roger Scruton’s ‘The West & all the Rest’ 2002; and Jacques Ellul’s, ‘Islam & Judeo-Christianity: a Critique of their Commonality’, 2015.

[2] Rod Dreher, The ‘Islamophobia’ Smear Against Scruton April 12th 2019, The American Conservative

[3] Islam & Judeo-Christianity: A Critique of Their Commonality (p.67)

[4] Such as the Egyptians Coptic Christians and Assyrian Christians in Northern Iraq and Southern Turkey; for more see the excellent Documentary ‘The Last Christians’.

[5] Barth, K., Bromiley, G. W., & Torrance, T. F. (2004). Church dogmatics: The doctrine of creation, Part 3 (3rd ed., Vol. 3, p. 250). London; New York: T&T Clark.

(Originally posted on Caldron Pool, 23rd April 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

The LGBT community’s grievances and the reason for their sensitivity regarding the Israel Folau controversy are understandable.

A non-biblical version of sin has been misused over the years to beat people down, not bring them the to faith and repentance. (See Psychiatrist, Karl Menninger’s ‘Whatever became of Sin?’, 1976)

That historical misuse, however, doesn’t justify the unjust writhing and screaming being thrown towards Folau.

None of this justifies dehumanizing a man and taking away his bread and butter.

None of this justifies any corporation such as Qantas, bullying, via economic sanctions, companies they do business with, such as Rugby Australia.

As far as Qantas goes, their double standard is more than a little bit strange.

Alan Jones is right.

“Isn’t Qantas in partnership with a national airline whose government imposes laws infinitely more damaging to homosexuals than Israel’s utterance of his biblical beliefs?”

As I noted a few days back, Folau quoting from the Bible on his own personal Instagram page, is between him, Instagram and those who follow his social media account. It doesn’t involve the R.A, the L.G.B.T lobby or even Qantas.

This event proves the truth of the Galatians quote Israel posted. The biblical doctrine of sin, as a rejection of grace, a rejection of relationship, a rejection of both God and neighbour, is more relevant than ever. Sin divides, destroys and consumes those who entertain it.

The equality of the Biblical doctrine of sin is that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and yet, because of God’s decision to save humanity, in and through Jesus Christ, redemption from that sin is given and found (Romans 3:23). This is the crux of the Easter message heard around the world on Good Friday, Black Saturday and Resurrection Sunday.

As Jean Bethke Elshtain once said, ‘when we start to regard ourselves in our own light, our light dims’.[1]

Michael Horton echoed the same sentiment in his book, ‘Christless Christianity’,

“Coming to God as consumers saved by following the instructions on the product label rather than as sinners saved by grace is not only the essence of human sin, it does not even deliver on its own promises of liberation. Instead it drives us deeper into ourselves […] Keeping us from ever being disrupted by someone greater than ourselves or by something more wonderful than our own half-hearted achievements’[2]
‘It is the false prophets who “dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious” (Jer.18:11). It is not compassion for the people or zeal for God’s house but their own thirst for popularity that renders the false prophets constitutionally incapable of telling the truth about the crisis. Enclosed in our narrow world of personal spin, we are never introduced to the real world created by God’s Word […] Both sin and redemption are trivialized when we write the script.’[3]

This speaks to the left, the right, the up and the down.

Hence, the call to faith, obedience and prayer; the call to repentance; the call to transformation and the call to embrace God’s costly grace that embraces us in, through and with Jesus Christ.

God does not take pleasure in the death of the sinner, but rather that the sinner should turn from his and her way and live (Ezekiel 18:23)[4].

We hear the Old Testament prophets reminding us that the world must not fall into ignorance and complacency. The pain and suffering of history is broadcasting warnings into the present; warnings about the ensuing calamity caused by ideological crusades that have enslaved men and women, under the promise of establishing ‘God’s Kingdom without God in it’[5].

Of all the current commentary surrounding Israel Folau, including my own, Alan Jones wins the final word:

“If Israel Folau is not free to state his religious views, let alone Christian views, then we are all in trouble. It would be helpful if people analyzed what he said before condemning him to rugby oblivion.”

References:

[1]  Elshtain, J.B. 1995 ‘Augustine & The Limits of Politics’  (pp.11, 66 & 62)

[2] Horton, M. 2008 Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, Baker Books Baker Book Publishing (p.246)

[3] Ibid, p.242

[4] Ambrose of Milan, ‘On Repentance’

[5] Johnny Cash & U2, The Wanderer “they want the kingdom, but they don’t want God in it”.

(Originally posted on The Caldron Pool, 18th April, 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

 

In August 1939, the Soviets signed a non-aggression treaty with the Nazis. This treaty was called the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and it allowed the Soviets room to explore Stalin’s expansionist policies. Largely hidden behind the grotesque Abyss of National Socialism’s dark reach for Europe in 1940, Stalin’s Communist forces moved into Poland, and Finland.  The Soviet offensive against Poland began in September, 1939; the offensive against Finland (known as The Winter War) began in November.

Unlike, Poland, Finland had the benefit of only fighting a war on one front. ‘The Winter War’ ended five months later. Finland lost some territory, but kept her sovereignty intact. Poland wasn’t as fortunate.

In September of 1939, the Eastern Soviet offensive against Poland was joined by the Nazi invasion of Poland from the West. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop non-aggression Pact, Poland was violently split in two. This was until the treaty was torn up, and the once aligned enemies took to each other’s throats.

Once Poland fell, the Polish people were subjected to the tyranny and brutality of both Nazi and Soviet imperialism.

The suffering of the Polish people is one of the most underrated facts of 20th Century history.

One event that illustrates this was the Katyn Massacre. On the 13th April 1940, Soviet authorities executed 22,000 Polish military officers and intellectuals in Katyn Forest, near Smolensk, Russia.

Throughout the 1940’s the Soviets maintained that the massacre of Katyn was a Nazi war crime. They continued to deny responsibility, despite both, “German and Red Cross investigations of the Katyn corpses that had produced firm physical evidence that the massacre took place in early 1940, at a time when the area was still under Soviet control.” (Benjamin Fischer, CIA Study Centre)

Stuck between two ravenous wolves, the Polish people were torn away from their freedom, and slowly devoured. After the war, and as part of Stalin’s expansionist greed, Poland became a puppet Soviet state, doomed to 44 years of Communist serfdom, and Soviet suspicion, behind the USSR’s “antifascist protective rampart”: The Iron Curtain.

Few remember the massacre of Katyn, and the unprovoked suffering of the Polish people under both Nazi and Soviet rule. Even fewer know about it.

It’s this kind of ignorance of history that invites tyranny. The very thing that threatens to burn the West once again is the asinine denial about how easy it is to be seduced into becoming complicit with evil deeds, by those who command them to be carried out.

The widespread condemnation of Australian footballer, Israel Folau took the headlines this week. Political leaders and journalists, including prominent Christian leaders took to the spotlight and castigated a man for quoting from the Bible on social media.

Tom Decent from the Sydney Morning Herald, was among the worst. His use of   the buzzwords, “duel national” and “anti-gay” stopped just short of adding the words “terrorist” and “extremist”, along with inevitable demands attached to them, such as “remove Folau’s citizenship.”

Hillsong’s, Pastor Brian Houston, also chimed in. He who used the opportunity to preach at Folau about not being judgmental, stating that “Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul, all kept their harshest criticism for those who were religious and judgmental.” This is tantamount to saying that the only people who Jesus called to repentance were the religious and the judgmental.

What Houston and many others have failed to acknowledge is that Falou posted the quote on his personal Instagram account. Had this outrage been about one of Houston’s sermons, or books, it’s almost guaranteed that he would be in public relations overdrive pushing back by appealing to the context of where, when and why his words were said.

What Folau said wasn’t wrong. Where he said it, and how he said it raises questions, particularly about the wisdom behind posting it in an age where victimhood is a commodity, and enabling the perpetually offended, leads to political profit, or professional advancement.

However, serious consideration should be given to that fact that the quote wasn’t posted by Folau to pro-LGBT facebook pages. The quote wasn’t posted as a deliberate attack on any pro-LGBT internet forums, nor was his post part of a manipulative political press release, designed to attack the sexual preferences and lifestyle choice of the homosexual community.

Folau shared the quote from Galatians with his Instagram followers. If he was attempting to remind anyone in particular of Paul’s words, it was the sinner. Of which Folua is among the first to confess that he is one.

Firing Folau for quoting Galatians 5:19-21 on his personal Instagram account is not only a warning sign of things to come, it’s also petty and weak.

As for the Biblical text, Paul’s words and their context, there is nothing more inclusive, all troubling, and all embracing, of every human than the fact that,

‘…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.’ (Romans 3:23-25, ESV)

The true equality of humanity is the condition of the human heart, as it exists before God, in the light of God’s acts in and through Jesus Christ, acts that cannot be reversed, but acts that can be rejected; acts that are rejected by every unrepentant sinner.

The outrage and actions which followed Israel’s post, are a warning, not just to Christians, but to all those who choose freedom of speech, over-against towing the line of LGBT religious dogma. What this tells non-Christians is that their pro-LGBT position will not exempt them from the imposition of new cultural laws in the West, which will see a serious decline in freedom of thought, conscience and speech.

This is evidenced by the dismissing of those who support Israel Folau and threats made against Israel Folau’s wife.

As I said in 2017, a “no” to SSM is a “yes” to freedom, not a denial of it. Since then the quest to erode freedom shows that those living in the West may fast be approaching a time when they have to choose between surrendering to tyranny and pushing back against it.

No matter how Pro-LGBT, or how Pro-Islam, you are, if you’re not practicing the lifestyle the ideology of that community preaches, you’re the enemy and they will come for you, your job, your family and your freedom.

Such is the misery behind the masquerade.

The current trajectory is that speech will be policed and thought will be controlled. This is seen in the punitive measures taken against those who publicly disagree with the predominately Leftist way of thinking. Such as the censoring of Conservative voices on social media.

All of which is echoed in historical precedents, such as the 1937 edit of Hans Kerrl, Nazi Minister for Church Affairs:

“The Church’s proclamation [preaching/teaching; Gospel & service] must fall into the correct relationship with National Socialism [or else].”
(Bethge, E. Bonhoeffer: A Biography. p.575)

Few remember the massacre of Katyn or the Soviet treaty with Nazi Germany. Even fewer know that it happened.

It’s this kind of ignorance of history that invites tyranny. The very thing which threatens to burn the West once again, is the asinine denial about how easy it is to become complicit with evil deeds, alongside those who command them.

The consequence of an arrogant society believing that Pride wins, and that somehow, we’ve evolved past the atrocities of Nazi Germany, and the ability to inflict the same kind of suffering experienced by the Polish people, is history repeating itself.

The West is like Poland in 1940. Every year it moves closer to being stuck between two ravenous wolves; one eager to enslave, convert by force and conquer. The other happy hiding its insidious designs behind a veil of tolerance, inclusion, appeasement and false portrayal of those with contradicting opinions.

“The truth has always been the truth, just as 2 × 2 = 4”
(Leo Tolstoy, 1882 A Confession)


(Originally published on The Caldron Pool, 15th April 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Under the title ‘God, Life and the World around us’, I create my own theology and biblical studies lesson plans. From time to time, however, I’ll go looking for some “plug-and-play” material that’ll sharpen our deep study of the Bible and its relevance.

Natasha Crain’s, ‘Talking with Your Kids about God’ met this criterion and then some.  The book pads theology and biblical studies subjects by furthering an understanding of the Bible’s relevance to S.T.E.M and H.S.I.E. (Human Society and its Environment).

Crain’s book is a recount and exposition of her own unexpected engagement with the world of skeptics and atheists. Her research is compiled into thirty questions. Each question makes up a chapter, and each chapter presents the skeptics question juxtaposed next to answers from Atheists and Christians.

One of the key benefits about the layout of Natasha’s book is that it saves time. The layout and contents means no time is lost scrolling, filtering and processing the contents of forums dedicated to the dogma of atheism and the echo chambers of skeptics. Crain has done the ground work already.

Despite the absence of an index, the painstakingly thorough academic approach Crain takes with this book, particularly with referencing and citations, makes it one of the smartest, and well-presented resources, in the apologetics category that I’ve come across.

In a bold, conversational tone, Crain confronts difficult questions and “gotcha” accusations that are often raised against God, Christians and the Bible.  These range from simple passive aggressive anti-Christian statements often seen on memes, the mockery of The Church of the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM)’ and the more complex theory of Evolution.

Each chapter addresses the false dichotomy between faith and science.

Crain achieves this by sectioning the book up into five parts in order of importance:

Part 1: The Existence of God.

Part 2: Science & God.

Part 3: The Nature of God.

Part 4: Believing in God

Part 5: The Difference God Makes.

Following the theme of each section, each chapter ends with its own set of unique summary points and conversation guides, which open the chapter up for discussion and application.

Although Crain encourages just using the summary points, and the conversation guide to spark conversations about the topics raised, the book works best when the entire chapter is first read out loud.

I tried to follow the suggested teaching format, but found that noting key points and quotations on the whiteboard, as we went along, worked best. I then had these points and quotations copied down in our Homeschoolers HSIE workbooks. The result was that our discussion began long before beginning the conversation guide. My kids also found this to be the most helpful approach.

The only problem I wrestled with when teaching ‘Talking with Your Kids about God’ was natural theology. After the first and second chapter, I nearly ditched the book, because like any good student of Karl Barth, any hint of desperate reliance on natural theology, as proof of the existence of God, is verboten; a straight-up Nein[!].

Such reliance is built on religion (humanity’s quest to reach or be God – Man’s ‘Towers of Babel’), not faith (humanity’s response to the Word God has already spoken, in both Covenant and in Jesus Christ).

This said. I’m glad I stuck with it. My initial caution was corrected. With Crain, I’d hoped to pad my own homeschool theology lessons, as part of S.T.E.M and H.S.I.E, with age appropriate material. Now that we’ve completed the book, I’m impressed with the format, and how Crain handles the heavy topics therein. Her work is balanced, informative and engaging. In fact, I’m that impressed, I picked up her first book, to teach from in a similar way.

Karl Barth once said that we ought to, “read the bible in one hand, with the newspaper in the other.”

The idea of studying the Bible and the news alongside each other pertains to the continuing relevance of the Bible, and the need to see man’s world, and word, in contrast to God’s revealed Word, and the world He so lovingly saved through it.

Crains’ book is an essential resource for mums and dads who want to help their children to cherish the free pursuit of knowledge, and its close relationship to the free pursuit of God.


References:

Crain, N. 2017 Talking with Your Kids about God, Baker Books Publishing

[Disclaimer: I received no remuneration for this review of any kind].

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Australia’s budget landed this week, and with it came a few surprises. The biggest three were the announcements of a surplus, new life saving medicinal additions to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and another small reduction in foreign aid.

Like clockwork, though, the budget was met with an uproar from discontent antagonists looking for excuses to impose their own pet causes on the majority of Australian workers. Joining the outrage was condemnation for the reduction in foreign aid.

Such as Eternity news who called it a kick in the teeth to Christians. However, Eternity news left out some key information, choosing instead to cite reactions from a series of Christian leaders including Michael Frost and John Dickson[1].

What Eternity failed to include in their take-down of this particular part of the budget was that “overall, foreign aid will total $4 billion, slightly down from $4.2 billion.” (Primrose Riordan, The Australian).

One stand out example is that Pakistan which gets $40 million; will now only get $20 million, because they’re not “doing enough to crack down on militant Islamists [Islamism]”.

In addition, “The LNP has avoided major cuts to funding what it classifies as international development assistance.”[2]

If we were to apply the parable of the Good Samaritan to the Australian budget, we’d find the current level of funding meets the message head on.

Look at the increase in funding for Indigenous programs, health, PBS and NDIS. All of which require significant funding. We shouldn’t be quick to forget that Samaritan parable, which echoes the second greatest commandment, to “love our neighbour as we love ourselves”, is fulfilled in these costly programs and the recent additions to them.

I’m no big fan of the current lineup of the Liberal National government, but the decisions included in this budget sets out a balanced application of the second greatest commandment, “love your neighbour as you love yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). This empowers Australians to love and serve our neighbours both here and overseas.

If more funding is needed, why is it that the ABC, who actually kicks Christians in the teeth, still getting its $1 billion + per year? And why are those who agree with Eternity News’ verdict not calling for a culling of that funding to prop up overseas aid?

It’s pretty much guaranteed that the same people complaining about the small cut in foreign aid, are not willing to see ABC funding reduced to compensate for the blank cheque they some seem to want allocated to foreign aid.

Being Christlike embraces both a firm “yes” and a loving “no”. When it comes to foreign aid, there needs to be a budgeted amount allocated, but that should be balanced against meeting the immediate needs of our neighbours closer to home.

Every person with a budget knows that to say “yes” to one thing, means saying “no” to another.

The same thing applies to foreign aid.  When it comes down to either helping our neighbour get the training, or medicine they need by including funding for lifesaving medicine in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, or supporting  corrupt governments overseas, who are propped up by misplaced compassion, it’s Christ-like to give to the former, rather than the latter.

People complaining about the reduction, without advocating a significant cut in the ABC or a reduction in big government, are being unfair to the Australian taxpayer.

They are forgetting the huge aid being afforded to infrastructure, agricultural development and health, such as taxpayer investment in apprenticeships, and new important additions to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

It doesn’t get much more Christian, than empowering people to serve their neighbour. An act that all of the above includes.

Furthermore, according to The Australian, funding from current cuts to foreign aid is being redirected to the hospitality industry.

We should have a foreign aid budget. We should help where we can, when we can, with what we can. But, sending ourselves broke, or perpetuating suffering closer to home in order to do that, isn’t an application of the Good Samaritan parable.

Proverbs 11:1 makes that choice clear: ‘a false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight.’

As I’ve said before, if $4 billion in foreign aid is not enough, cut funding from the ABC, draw funding for foreign aid from that amount. Cutting the over-consumption and excess from the monolithic National broadcaster would reduce government, and allow more room for foreign aid to be directed towards legitimate causes outside of Australia.

The other option is encouraging individual Australians to take responsibility and act. Beginning with encouraging Australians to ditch the Bottle’O or pub once a month, and donate that part of their luxury spending to charities already at work overseas.

Some suggestions include:

Open Doors

Compassion

Worldvision

Mercy Ships

Oxfam

Donating to these organisations will do far more good, than increasing taxes, condemning relatively small cuts to foreign aid and raging on social media about a lack of government responsibility.


References (not otherwise linked):

[1] Both of whom have shown a pattern of only criticising and condemning issues where doing so doesn’t draw them any hostile criticism from the Left.

[2] Primrose Riordan, Foreign Aid Flows to Tourism, The Australian, paper edition, 3rd April 2019

Photo by Asif Aman on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is back in the news again. This time it’s because he’s considering turning the Hagia Sophia (Αγία Σοφία) into an Islamic Centre.[1]

On the 23rd March, the associated press reported, there have been ‘increasing calls for the Turkish government to convert the symbolic structure back into a mosque, especially in the wake of reports that the gunman who killed Muslim worshippers in New Zealand left a manifesto saying the Hagia Sophia should be “free of minarets.”

CBN news confirmed that the historic Hagia Sophia museum (the Church of Holy Wisdom), ‘which was previously a Christian (Byzantium) cathedral and a special place of worship for Greek Orthodox Christians, is planned to be turned into an enormous Islamic centre’ by its Turkish caretakers. CBN also speculated that the timing of the decision was directly linked to the United States controversial recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.

This drew condemnation from Greek foreign minister, George Katrougalos said,

“It is not only a great temple of Christendom — the largest for many centuries — it also belongs to humanity. It has been recognized by UNESCO as part of our global cultural heritage. So any questioning of this status is not just an insult to the sentiments of Christians; it is an insult to the international community and international law.”

News of Erdoğan’s latest plan shouldn’t come as a shock. Since 2016, examples of his authoritarian and vindictive tendencies have continued to pile up. All of which include, gaoling journalists who show opposition, to threatening churches, threatening the citizens of an entire nation, and weaponsing tragedies, by using them in propaganda  for political gain.

Should Erdoğan decide to turn the Hagia Sophia into a political whip, against America, Israel and Christians, out of retaliation for the Golan Heights, and the horrific tragedy in New Zealand, it’ll be hypocritical.

Here’s why: Turkey is an illegal occupier of Byzantine land, including Northern Cyprus. It’s hypocritical for him to rage at Israel, alleging illegal occupation and annexation, when his own country is still doing the exact same thing.

Cyprus has a rich, complex and turbulent history. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Cyprus became part of Byzantium. When Byzantium fell, Cyprus came under the rule of the Venetians. This lasted until 1571, when Cyprus was subsumed into the Ottoman Empire, as a result of the Venetian-Ottoman wars, and the persistent Islamic militant expansionist policies[2], as carried out by Mehmed II[3] “the Conqueror” in 1454, which led to the fall of Constantinople (and subsequently Byzantium); including Suleiman “the Magnificent” and his almost successful quest to conquer Europe. Beginning with the Siege of Vienna in 1529, and ending[4] with the Ottoman defeat in the Battle of Vienna on September 11-12, 1683.

Ottoman rule ended when Britain took up Cyprus in the late 1900s, giving Cyprus their independence in 1960. (Britannica)

Cyprus independence lasted until the early 1970s when Turkish troops landed in the north. According to  BBC’s Cyprus profile, Turkish occupation of the north was triggered by ‘its response to a military coup [on the island] which was backed by the Greek government in 1974.’ [5]

As a consequence, the island was split in two. The north came under Turkish rule; known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The South became the Republic of Cyprus. The Government in the south is internationally-recognised, the North isn’t. To be fair the North is open to discussion about reunification, but any quick internet search will prove that reunification is an unresolved and controversial topic.

 

Northern Cyprus is of importance when legitimising any Turkish criticisms against Israel about the Golan Heights. It may seem hyperbolic, but the same goes for Constantinople (now Istanbul) and the living descendants of Byzantium.

The precedents are already there. If the Free Palestine movement and B.D.S holds legitimacy; if the reparations-for-slavery movement within the U.S holds legitimacy; if “invasion day” and banning all celebrations of Australian nationalism, such as Australia Day, holds legitimacy, so should any (pro-Greece) Free Constantinople and Free Northern Cyprus movements that might arise.

The Hagia Sophia is not a punching bag. If Erdoğan wants to use this old Byzantine church as one, in order to send a message to Christians and the West; then I don’t see how he would be able to ethically justify any military action against Israel, if they decided to follow his example, and turn the site of the Dome of the Rock into the Third Temple.


References:

[1] (Apparently, Erdoğan thinks that the best way to heal wounds created by the New Zealand mosque shootings is to slap Christians in the face.)

[2] ‘Many Muslims considered Suleiman a religious leader as well as a political ruler’ (see History.com)

[3] ‘The chief leader, known as the Sultan, was given absolute religious and political authority over his people.’ (see History.com)

[4] General consensus is that this loss marked a rethink within the Ottoman hierarchy and thus a change in the long wars between the Ottoman’s and European states.

[5] BBC.com, 12th November 2018 Cyprus Country profile, sourced 30th March 2019

Photo credit: Arild Vågen , 2013.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Jussie Smollett, who, according to Chicago police, faked a race hate, and “homophobic” incident earlier this year, has been released without charge.

In response to the breaking news, Smollett’s highly paid lawyers went out of their way to paint Smollett as the victim, despite the fact that Smollett was charged with 16 felony counts related to making a false report to police.

Smollett’s was let off because of his “volunteer service in the community, and agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago.”

Chicago police spokesman, Eddie Johnson, responded with a damning condemnation of the decision, saying:

“Do I think justice was served? No. where do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology… If I was accused of something, I’d want a trial, to have my name cleared. I’ve heard that they wanted their day in court with TV cameras, so America could know the truth, but no, they chose to hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system.”

Johnson, clearly disappointed, said that the $10,000 bond wouldn’t come anywhere near to covering the cost of the investigation, jury and resources used on the case. Johnson also made a point of highlighting the ethical cost. Smollett used race hate legislation, signed into law by Barack Obama, to “self-promote his own career”. His decision to manipulate those laws, to his own advantage, has disadvantaged real victims, making it harder for the potential victims of real crimes to find justice. This is because it “casts a shadow on whether they’re telling the truth” (Johnson).

Chicago’s Mayor, Rham Emanuel was just as furious. He alluded that Smollett’s fake police report was divisive, saying Smollett’s actions had brought disgrace on Chicago. His release only carries that smear further. Emanuel alluded, that the dismissal of Smollett’s crimes, is a mockery of the hardworking men and women of the Chicago P.D., a mockery of the justice system and a repudiation of the citizens who participated in the grand jury.

“This is a whitewashing of justice. Where is the accountability in the system? You cannot have (because of a person’s position) one set of rules apply to them, and another set of rules apply to everybody else […] Our officers did hard work, day in and day out – countless hours working to unwind what actually happened that night. The city saw its reputation dragged through the mud, but I remind everybody it was not just the officer’s work that work involved a grand jury and they made a decision based on only a sliver of the evidence.”

Candace Owens also noted:

What many people are missing about Smollett’s dismissal is the timing.

In February, when Smollett was charged, we saw a smokescreen pulled up over the news, and social media, with people fixating on an interview given by John Wayne in the 1970’s. The news about Smollett quickly disappeared, as the divisive noise being pumped out about John Wayne took the headlines.

Yesterday, the highly anticipated, Robert Mueller report made headline news. The report completely exonerated Donald Trump from false accusations that alleged Trump had colluded with Russia in order to win the 2016 Presidential election in the United States.

After almost three years, as well as a ton of false accusations, with millions of dollars spent, Trump’s exoneration implicates that there’s been some dirty political manoeuvring from within the Democrat party, therefore, the timing of Smollett’s release is another curious co-incidence.

Given the February smokescreen of news about Smollett’s felony charge on 16 counts, this new event makes for a compelling argument which suggests:

a). Smollett getting-off-scott-free is another smokescreen designed to take attention away for the Mueller report that exonerated Trump. It’s a convenient political strategy for many on the Left, who may have their own crimes against the people exposed.

b). Smollett’s getting-off-scott-free, backs up the fact that committing a crime is not always treated as a crime, if someone from the Leftist camp commits a crime. They move the goalposts then move them back again, and Left does this if they sense some political benefit from it. For example: Michael Jackson[1]; Will Connolly (aka Egg boy).

Smollett has reason to smile. So do some Democrats and the Leftist cult of modern liberals among their ranks. They’ve successfully pulled off another political maneuver, which removes their treasonous deeds from the front page, and away from the concerns of the people.

It is likely, that Smollett will now get a book and movie deal. Along with countless talk show appearances and maybe even the University lecture circuit, etc.

The best action the discerning citizen can take now, is call out the timing, change the channel back, make a note of the smokescreen, and the double standard, then tune the guy out.


[1] To her credit Streisand has apologised for making the comments, but that doesn’t negate the point being made here. The fact is her initial reaction says a lot about Hollywood. “From out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45)

Photo by Jaroslav Devia on Unsplash

(Originally published at The Caldron Pool, March 27th, 2019)

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Peter Tabichi, a 36 year old Franciscan Monk from Kenya, has just won the Global Teaching prize, funded by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation. This year the award was hosted by Hugh Jackman, and carries with it a $1 million prize for excellence in teaching.

Tabichi was selected from ‘over 10,000 applicants from around 179 countries’ and was one of ten finalists, which included U.K. teacher, Andrew Moffat, famous for gaining the ire of parents in Birmingham, for teaching LGBT ideology to kids, in a primary school with a large Muslim demographic.

Largely focusing on the fact that Tabichi “gives away 80 percent of his monthly income to the poor”; like most media outlets, SBS in Australia, stopped short of giving any direct mention of his Christian faith, or giving any credit to Christianity.

Maybe SBS thought, why state the obvious? This would be a legitimate excuse, had they shown a pattern of consistency with their headlines and reporting in the past.

Why single out SBS? It’s not a good look for a broadcaster whose charter claims to be the epitome of anti-racism, anti-phobias, intolerance and inclusion.

Google, “SBS Christian wins”. Then compare that with a search of, “SBS LGBT Wins”, or “SBS Muslim Wins”, and a pattern emerges.

For example (et.al):

Muslim Wins Veil Case, 22nd Aug, 2013

Muslim Woman Wins Handshake Discrimination Case, 16th Aug, 2018

Australian Muslim Challenging Mainstream Narrative, 7th Feb 2019

SBS is congratulated for not misidentifying those who self-identify as LGBT or Muslim, but their concern appears to end, when it comes to Christians, the Church or Christian theology making achievements beyond that break the negative stereotypes.

In an age where not using the correct 62+ gender specific pronoun, can land someone in prison, or see someone arrested, it’s not unfair to suggest that SBS (and others) need to do some soul searching.

If misgendering or misidentifying someone is a modern sin, why avoid a direct reference to someone being a Christian?

There aren’t too many answers to choose from:

Either, a) SBS doesn’t want to upset their viewer base, which would suggest that there’s a ton of bigotry against Christians among SBS’s viewer base; b) SBS is betraying its own anti-Christian prejudice through discriminating against Christians. c) SBS doesn’t care.

On balance, there are a few milder exceptions to the rule, The Guardian, noted that Peter was from the Franciscan Religious Order, but The Guardian avoided any direct reference to his Christian faith. In addition, The ABC didn’t do much better.

Had Peter been of the approved variety and/or minority, there’s no doubt that his Christian faith would have been mentioned, if not highlighted.

Still, given the work Peter is doing, and the difficult context he’s doing that work in, he deserves every pat on the back he gets.

According to the Varky Foundation, Peter ‘teaches Science at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, situated in a remote, semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley; and takes joy in seeing his learners grow in knowledge, skills and confidence.’

The same page also noted that his

‘Students come from a host of diverse cultures and religions learn in poorly equipped classrooms. 95% of pupils hail from poor families, almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, and many go without food at home. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common. Turning lives around in a school with only one computer, poor internet, and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, is no easy task, not least when to reach the school, students must walk 7km along roads that become impassable in the rainy season.’

In January, Peter posted a short bio to his Facebook wall:

“I was raised up in a remote village, in a family of teachers. I lost my mother at the age of 11. We were brought up by our dad, who would look after everything, including preparing meals, educating us and most importantly instilling moral and Christian values in us. This tough experience taught me how to tackle various challenges of life. Growing up I saw first-hand the dedication that teachers bring to the community, and I have come to view the teacher’s role as enlightening others on how to tackle the challenges of life. I wanted to give teaching the honour it deserves. I joined the religious life because I wanted to be able to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to helping others. Your prayers and support have made everything possible. United, we can make this world a better place to live in. Thanks be to God and be blessed!”

Peter’s Christ-like example teaches us.

According to The ABC, ‘Peter plans to use the prize money to improve the school and feed the poor.’

Teachers Magazine also quoted Peter as saying,

“I’m immensely proud of my students. We lack facilities that many schools take for granted. As a teacher, I just want to have a positive impact, not only on my country but the whole of Africa. To be a great teacher, you have to be creative and use technology – you really have to promote those modern ways of teaching. You have to do more and talk less.”

Perhaps we would all benefit from Peter’s example, by acknowledging the source and motivation for it, instead of actively trying to suppress it.


References (not otherwise linked):

[i] Teachers Magazine also refused to mention Tabichi’s Christian faith.

Global Teacher Prize, Peter Tabichi

The Guardian, Teacher targeted over LGBT work shortlisted for $1m global award Sourced 25th March 2019

The Guardian, Kenyan science teacher Peter Tabichi wins $1m global award Sourced, 25th March 2019

Magdalene Wanja, Daily Nation (Kenya), 31st Dec. 2018 Award winning teacher raising hopes for poor students, sourced 25th March 2019

Back in August 2016, in an article called, “Why Trump is not Hitler, & Why Evangelical Americans are Not German Christians”, I argued that the more pressing danger was Turkey’s, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the fanaticism surrounding him. His recent decision to use the tragic pro-Communist, eco-Fascist attacks in New Zealand, as a political whip, particularly against Australians, only furthers the point I attempted to make.

The piece was written in response to the large amount of naysayers who were predicating another Holocaust if Donald Trump was to win the 2016 United States Presidential race. Equating Trump with Hitler was all the rage.

Well. Trump won. There hasn’t been a Holocaust yet, neither are there any significant signs that suggest the predicated, diabolical conversion of Trump, into one of history’s most famous, and vile tyrants has occurred.

As I wrote then, instead of focusing in on Donald Trump and American Evangelicals, there is a spate of more relevant events to choose from.

The loudest come from Islamism and the growing militancy of the Left.

Both of which do violence to classical liberal rights, such as free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of association.

I was concerned that academics were falling over themselves to denounce Trump. Yet, were failing to acknowledge the more pertinent historical parallels which shared a closer affiliation with a Nazified Germany, and the compromised German Church of the 1930s-’40s.

One of those examples is the Left’s fierce advocacy of blank cheque abortion. Families and thousands of unborn children every day are literally torn apart in the service of an ideology. Abortion, even up until birth, is dangerously close to the Nazi doctrine of “life unworthy of life” (Lebensunwertes Leben). More so if we take into account the deliberate abortion of down-syndrome babies. Then the link between Nazi Germany and Leftism’s fanatical support for abortion becomes complete.

The next example is the targeted call to implement laws banning “hate speech”. This ban is nothing other than intellectual terrorism. It’s a front for the more sinister goal of picking and choosing to exclude people because they disagree, or show dissent towards those currently in power.

Exhibit 1: Turkey warns tourists: criticize Erdoğan and we will arrest you;  Tourists suspected of opposing President Erdogan’s regime will be arrested as soon as they set foot on Turkish soil. (The U.K Times).

Exhibit 2: in Turkey, a Turkish journalist was sentenced to prison over an investigation that reported on some dodgy activity involving the former Prime Minister. (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)

The other parallels between now and then, are Islamism’s closeness to the doctrine of “blut und boden – blood and soil”, or ethno-nationalism, and Leftism’s selective outrage. By which I mean the kind of rage that often involves advocating one selective set of issues, and the dismissal of others, equally as important.

There is no real difference between the Nazi practice of dehumanizing the Jews, and the dehumanizing of those, who are deemed as being not worthy of having an opinion. Just as there is no real difference between the blasphemy laws of Islamists, and the increasing demands from minority groups to ban so-called “hate speech”.

The pattern is clear. Leftism and Islamism, as Erdoğan (et.al) and the naysayers against Donald Trump, have consistently shown, only allows criticism if it does violence to the people, and things, both the Leftist and Islamist hates.

The secular and sometimes Christian left, for example, are quick to write-off and then propagandize any dissent. Anyone who shows dissent is automatically treated with suspicion, and is, as a consequence dismissed as a racist, or ridiculed after being diagnosed as having a “phobia” of some kind.

As is well established, the pattern of behavior is to denounce any disagreement and then shame anyone who raises honest questions about serious social, theological or political issues.

Such as, the use of a politics of diversion and evasion, when it comes to the dangers of Islamism and the bizarre placating of it, from those whose own self-interests lie in controlling the debate over immigration, abortion, and gay marriage. This includes the ability punish, those who oppose the Leftist construct of “gender fluidity.”

I get the criticisms of Trump, but as far as historical parallels go, only the deliberately myopic, would choose to ignore the relevance of those historical events and their echo found in the many examples of intolerance and violence which stems from Leftism, and Islamism.

Erdoğan exemplifies this by deliberately invoking the emotion associated with the tragic event in New Zealand, in order gain political traction, turns that event into political whip.

As with most adherents of the LGBT religion, so it is with a large portion of Islamists, you’ll never be caring enough, tolerant enough, or loving enough[1], until you’ve been converted to their ideological view of the world. It’s written in the radical feminist textbooks, Marxist manifestos and the peer reviewed blueprints for their promised utopia, with man/woman-ruling-as-god at the helm.

One dark example is American and Radical Feminist, Mary Daly’s belief that “true tolerance can only be achieved through conversion.” (paraphrased)[2]

When compared to the examples of history, it’s not Donald Trump or conservatives who appear on the horizon, as this century’s very own gathering storm, it’s the militant expansion of Islamist ideology and the Left’s appeasement of it.

It must be said, then, that the path to the resurgence of fascism doesn’t begin with Trump, or the rhetoric of Donald Trump. Nor does it rest in the endorsement of American Evangelicals. The responsibility falls on the individual who fails to discern for themselves the distinction between fact and fiction.

In discussing the effort it took in order to awaken people to the reality of World War Two, Dwight Eisenhower wrote:

‘The handicaps were many. The greatest obstacle was psychological— complacency, it still persisted! Even the fall of France in May 1940 failed to awaken us— and by “us” I mean many professional soldiers as well as others— to a full realization of danger.’[3]

Eisenhower identifies a key complaint about, and eventually from people who were warned, but failed to hear.

Weaponizing the self-confessed pro-Communist, eco-fascist, attack in New Zealand, against non-Muslims, and all people with white melanin, does not do any justice to the victims of the attack, or the millions of non-Muslims, who’ve reached out to support them.

 


References (not otherwise linked):

[1] Sahar Ghumkhor, The Hypocrisy of New Zealand’s, ‘this is not us’ claim, Aljazeera sourced 21st March 2019

[2] Jean Bethke Elshtain, 1981. Public Man, Private Woman, Princeton University Press, p.209 (et.al) {paraphrased}

[3] Eisenhower, D.D. 1948 Crusade in Europe: A Personal Account of World War Two Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Ed. (Loc. 251-256; 260-262).

Travel advice is current as of the 21st March, 2019. For an update see Smart Traveller.gov.au

(Originally published on Caldron Pool, 22nd March, 2019)

Photo by Manu Sanchez on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Freedom of the press requires a societal framework that empowers free speech. So it’s rare to witness the Australian media unite together in order to tear down an Australian politician for speaking his mind.

However, what most in the Australian media expressed to the world in their dealings with Fraser Anning this week, is that free speech is only available to a select, and authorized few.

It would appear that Senator Fraser Anning’s biggest sin wasn’t his poorly timed press release; but the fact that he spoke out of turn about things that should not concern him. In other words, Anning is not “approved opposition”.

Had Senator Anning been a woman, or someone of minority status, the 17 year old perpetrator, who filmed himself physically assaulting an elected Australian official, would have been toast by now.

He’d have been dragged through the mud, and beaten until he, his friends, his parents and some fifth cousin, in some backwards town (someone, living somewhere, he rarely ever saw), were all forced into admitting he did the wrong thing, and was consequently made to attend mandatory cultural sensitivity “classes”.

Those well acquainted with the globalist media, and the Leftist cult of modern liberalism in general, know this is exactly how it would go down.

Instead, the crime was applauded, the perpetrator hailed a hero, and Senator Anning, was further driven towards the guillotine, by a Leftist lead mob, hell-bent on his destruction.

This same mob, who were right to condemn the premeditated, internet streamed, Eco-fascist terrorist attacks in New Zealand, now seem only too happy to give applause to premeditated, internet streamed, physical assault.

The condemnation of Anning also included ridiculous attacks on the 69 year old Queensland senator for exercising his right defend to himself.

Anning’s reaction was slammed as unbecoming of a statesman, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, saying, ‘the full force of the law should be applied[1] to the Senator – presumably because Anning hit back.

In addition, Seven news ran an online poll which showed significant support for the Senator’s arrest. It also showed a poll which suggested support for, what amounts to the police turning a blind eye to the actions of the assailant.

It doesn’t take a security expert to know that Anning would have a long list of death threats already made against him. Those are bound to make anyone giving a public appearance reason enough for concern for their own personal safety.

Prime Minister’s have a security detail for this very reason.

The largely Leftist controlled media cannot have it one way, then another.

For example, when in July 2010, ‘a 55-year-old small business owner was charged by police for throwing an egg at Julia Gillard in her first visit to WA as Prime Minister.’ (WaToday)

If a 55 year old throwing an egg at an elected politician is considered a crime, why isn’t a 17 year old smashing an egg into the head of a politician treated differently?

None of this has been taken into consideration. Suggesting that thinking rationally about why a high profile politician would defend himself is counter-productive to the group-think used to suck in the gullible.

Anning stuffed up with the timing of his press release, but demonizing him, just because he doesn’t hold to the globalist views of most in the elitist Australian media, is opportunistic.

The same can be said for not showing any level of fairness, or understanding. It feeds the self-interest of Anning’s enemies, to selectively use some of Anning’s points to further build the “white supremacist” narrative they appear to be determined to construct, not just around Anning, but everyone who doesn’t side with them.

This determination to link what happened in the New Zealand with everyone not of the Left was exemplified by the violent mistreatment of Pauline Hanson[2], when she was interviewed on Sunrise, by David Koch and Darryn Hinch. Yet, there was no outrage from the usual quarters, accusing Koch and Hinch of “mansplaining”, “toxic masculinity” or “misogyny”.

Qantas joining the press posse[3] looking to lynch Anning only goes to prove my point. Qantas management jumping on the virtue-signaling bandwagon, are doing so because they see a profit in capitalizing on a shell-shocked and angry public. Adding the Australian corporation to the list of globalist voices trying to not only to somehow link Fraser Anning to the New Zealand shooting, but label him a terrorist, gets them publicity. Cui Bono? (Who benefits?)

Don’t miss the irony. Carrying out a premeditated act of violence is a crime. Whether it be committed via egg or gun; dismissing the former, gives quiet approval to the latter. It’s hypocritical to laugh at the former. Then condemn the latter.

If the media and celebrities can get away with their attempt to destroy Fraser Anning, and get away with justifying the actual crime committed against him, don’t think they wouldn’t do the same to you.

As warned by ex-leftist, turned Conservative Philosopher, Roger Scruton,

‘Once again I was forced to acknowledge that crimes committed on the Left are not really crimes, and in any case those who excuse them or pass over them in silence always have the best motives for doing so […] From the beginning, labels were required that would stigmatize the enemies [of the Communist movement] within and justify their expulsion […] The success of those labels in marginalizing and condemning the opponent fortified the communist conviction that you could change reality by changing words […]The purpose of communist Newspeak, has been to protect ideology from the malicious attacks of real things.’[4]

For Leftism to gain total control, it requires Leftists to seek the total destruction of anything not of the Left. Any crime or injustice committed, by the Left, in the process of achieving this, is not considered to be unjust or a crime. It’s simply a means to an end, and the end justifies the means.

Anning isn’t completely innocent. He often appears reactionary, not all that unlike the late, Bruce Ruxton. Is there a place for some of Anning’s points, absolutely! Is there a place for hotheaded, reactionary politicians, no.

One of Anning’s strengths, however, is that he is no mediocre politician. He doesn’t come off as self-serving, and he has the balls to say what many think; or are concerned about, but fear speaking. He can do better and should aim to do better.

However, given the activism, diatribes and vitriolic standards set by Leftism, will the Leftist dominated society we now live in, take notice of anyone else? They haven’t so far. And they’ve successfully silenced those who have sought to dialogue with the Left on fair terms.

When you send smart delegates into a diplomatic meeting between two camps, and one camp all-but executes the other, the time for “niceness” is probably at an end. A new strategy of diplomacy and communication needs to be applied.

I don’t condone all of Anning’s words, or approve of the timing of them, but when is the right time to discuss the discomfort many Australians feel about having new cultural laws imposed upon them?

The Leftist doesn’t want coexistence, they are out to destroy, control and dominate. Not just the Right, but the traditional Left as well. It’s unjust, naive and senseless, to sit back and let that happen.

If that means not beating about the bush with the truth, and hurting a few feelings in the process, so be it.

We all would benefit from keeping in mind the words of Margaret Thatcher in her 1984 address to the United States Congress:

“Let us not forget the 1930’s […] from good intentions can come disastrous results.”

Appeasement only serves those being appeased. It rarely serves those doing the appeasing.

We would also benefit from keeping in mind the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said,

‘the ultimate possible rebellion, is that the lie [of the serpent] portrays the truth as a lie. That is the abyss that underlies the lie—that it lives because it poses as the truth and condemns the truth as a lie [and we fall for it].’[5]

This is the dark precipice we are being guided towards by many of our leaders. It’s a precipice that few will survive, if the socio-political trends of the past two decades are allowed to continue, unchallenged and uncorrected.

In the process of pushing back against this, may we ALL be drawn back towards the words of Jesus Christ, as he lowered himself in the defense of a woman facing a Pharisaic death squad, “let he who is without sin, throw the first stone” (John 8:7, ESV).


References:

[1] Paul Karp, The Guardian, 17th March 2019

[2] Pauline Hanson’s Official Facebook page sourced 19th March 2019

[3] As reported by Radio FiveAA, and the Australian, 18th  March 2019

[4] Roger Scruton, 2015. On Marxist Newspeak in Fools, Frauds & Firebrands Bloomsbury Publishing

[5] Bonhoeffer, D 1937, Creation & Fall, Fortress Press (pp.109-116)

(Originally published on Caldron Pool, 19th March 2019)

Photo ‘Chains’, by John Salvino on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

The attack on Masjid Al Nor and Linwood Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand was horrific.

The loss of life, the changed lives and the many painful years of grieving to come for the victims involved – all of it heartbreaking.

The world, as we’re told, now stands in mourning for the innocent lives taken.

Social media is saturated with comments from those in disbelief, to those looking to show solidarity, or outrage, and those who see the attack on the Mosque in New Zealand, as an opportunity to further their own self-interest.

We are witnessing, and no doubt will witness, great shows of solidarity and grief, and rightly so. But selective outrage only feeds self-interest.

It should be remembered that many of those brandishing badges of sympathy, and anger, are often silent when massacres are carried out almost annually in the name of Allah and his prophet.

OF 1

They are silent in the midst of global condemnation, and when featured on countless analytical panels, filled with experts unpacking the event, they dismiss the actions, by way of quiet approval with the slogan, Islam is a “religion of peace”, or by reminding people that any massacre at the hands of an Islamist is not representative of all Muslims.

We are quickly told to disassociate any blame from Islam that all such questioning is “hate speech”; all critique is written off as Islamophobic.

Yet, when an event happens that involves a non-Muslim attacking a Muslim, the guilt-by-association runs thick and fast. The opportunity to attack “the enemies of Islam” (which under Islam, is all non-Muslims) becomes far too great a temptation to resist.

Javad 1

Consequently, the generalizations begin. Those under Islam, end up doing exactly what they accuse non-Muslims of doing, when an Islamist sets a bomb off in crowded arenas filled with civilians, quite often a church [most recently, Nigeria and The Philippines] all in the name of Allah and his prophet.

The individuals who perpetrated the attack are the ones to be held accountable. Anyone who demands otherwise is auctioning off the innocent, turning the victim into a political commodity. Placing guilt on an entire group of people only furthers, wherever possible, a self-serving political narrative, at the expense of victims caught up in this tragic event.

If the attackers’ manifesto is legitimate, as is currently assumed to be the case, then the facts don’t match the political maneuvering of opportunists, who jumped on this event for quick political traction against Donald Trump, Candace Owens, Conservatives and those with white melanin. [i]

As Peter Sweden and others are now reporting [ii]. The ideological motives and attachments of the attackers aren’t as clear cut, as some would have us believe.

Sweden 1

The political maneuvering isn’t just isolated to those on the Left. Right-wing, Australian Senator, Fraser Anning, will now find it very difficult to avoid the accusation that he also chose to use this tragic event for quick political gain.

Anning didn’t wait. The timing of Anning’s press release is way off, but some of his reasoned points aren’t all that out there.

Though poorly timed, dismissing some of Anning’s points is tantamount to applying a band-aid to a broken bone. Such as, dismissing concerns about the consequences of “Open Borders”, and how this policy paralyses all help offered to genuine refugees, by way of importing the very crisis and form of government those refugees are fleeing from.

Add to this the concerns of many Westerners who question the challenge of importing a people, who can find, and have a place in the West, but who have among them, people who insist upon holding, and in some cases imposing, a political ideology that is very limited in its compatibility with Western Civilization, Judeo-Christianity and Classical Liberalism.

Those parts of Anning’s statement suggests, that he was making an attempt to communicate that the tragic, calculated attack at the Mosque in New Zealand is perhaps, as much a symptom, as it is a sin.

As dumb as the timing of Anning’s statement was, it’s an expression of frustration; written for all who refuse to listen to those who feel their views are underrepresented in the major political parties; those who have real, and rational (and, yes, some irrational) concerns about the trajectory of their countries and communities.

After the necessary period of mourning, politicians need to take the time and listen to those concerns, instead of instantly dismissing them and the people who express them, as “unwelcome”, “offensive”, “racist”, “Nazi”, “phobic”, or “unChristian”.

To refuse to do this is to continue to ignore the storm that’s been darkening the horizon, but has been dangerously dismissed, by far too many, for far too long.

It’s telling when one incident is picked up and widely carried as the tragedy that it is, and yet MANY others, like the constant harassment of Coptic churches and Christians in Egypt [iii], who face things like what happened in N.Z on close to a monthly basis, are shrugged off and dismissed.

Just as the attack in the Philippines [iv], back in January was and still is; very few paid ANY attention to it, others probably still have no idea it even happened. Just as the dismissal of attacks on white farmers [v] in South Africa, and the dismissal on anyone who criticizes those attacks.

There is no denying the fact, that the ‘eco-fascist terrorist attack’ on these Mosques in New Zealand, was a tragedy.

It is a time to mourn. We comfort the suffering and seek justice for the innocent victims involved, but this should precipitate a much needed to time listen and talk.

If you choose to mourn, and make a public display of it, choose also to mourn for North African, Nigerian, Middle Eastern and Asian Christians, who face this kind of vicious, selective slaughter on a regular basis.

Many are ‘facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”. (The Guardian, 2015) [vi]

There wasn’t, nor has there been any Worldwide mourning for them.

If you mourn, mourn also for these.


References:

[i] NBC News, New Zealand mosque shooting: attackers apparent manifesto probed, sourced 16th March 2019

[ii] Taylor Lorenz, 2019. The Shooter’s Manifesto Was Designed to Troll. The Atlantic sourced 16th March 2019

[iii] Michael Oduor, 2016. Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christian minority facing attacks AfricaNews.com Sourced 16th March 2019

[iv] BBC News, 2019. Jolo Church Attack: Many Killed in Philippines Sourced 16th March 2019.

[v] Lauren Southern, 2018. South Africa’s Farm Murders: Jeanine’s Story, sourced 16th March 2019.

[vi] Harriet Sherwood, 2015. Dying for Christianity, The Guardian

(Originally posted on The Caldron Pool, 16th March 2016)

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019


Addendum 1: Although I’m stating the obvious, I’m aware that the Mainstream media do report these attacks against Christians. I’m grateful for that. My point in this article is that there is a noticeable absence of global lament and outrage when such attacks are reported.

Addendum 2: in response to accusations that there is no evidence of massacres of Christians, all sourced, 16th March 2019:

Exhibit a) http://www.auscma.com/2018/12/another-bloody-christmas-for-egypts-coptic-christians-as-copts-protest/

Exhibit b) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47018747?fbclid=IwAR27hl6oW981USdQYsxEuu9hPlIjFb-jp9miVe8501gxs6HkD-Z8_WIQuFc

Exhibit c) https://www.africanews.com/2016/07/28/egypts-coptic-orthodox-christian-minority-facing-attacks/?fbclid=IwAR0GmXxvoJ6_nAl-CGjLa7CPEpt6a4PyxkNAjx91j4_VWmArHSus4XSrxag

Exhibit d) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/27/dying-for-christianity-millions-at-risk-amid-rise-in-persecution-across-the-globe?fbclid=IwAR3uLp1oEXAcBBZM6EnvzytSvCvxZDtsg0G9QJduFwLlX5yu3YUic8ogPE0

Exhibit e) https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/24/africa/nigeria-church-attack/index.html

Exhibit f) https://www.eternitynews.com.au/world/christian-workers-in-somalia-worship-in-secret-fear-al-shabab/

Exhibit g) https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2018/october/hindu-attacks-against-christians-on-the-rise-in-southern-india

 

The tear in the Belle Epoque (beautiful age) began in 1912 with the criminal, and avoidable, loss of lives on the Titanic.

The whole veil of the Belle Epoque was ripped apart and exposed for what it was, when the first shells fell in 1914, and when the Bolsheviks, violently resigned Europe to 72 years of socialist hell in 1917. The age of the Übermensch; the age of man conquering mountain, myth, monster and supposedly, God, came crashing down.

Bill T. Arnold sums it up:
‘The 20th Century proved to be the most violent century of world history, dispelling the myth of humanism that things are improving and that the human spirit is gradually evolving into greater and better things. The statistics tell the story. Though scholars who study such things are not agreed with the specifics – as far as total numbers are concerned – most estimates range between 160 million and 200 million deaths in the 20th Century are related to war and genocide. About half of these are war related, while the remainder are credited to politically motivated carnage, typically communist oppression.’
(On Violence & Hatred in 2 Samuel 13-14, NIVAC 2003, p.570)

So, it’s encouraging when something like this seven day poll run by the satire Facebook page, Journalist Excellence Worldwide, probably didn’t go where some people might have hoped it would.

Out of 56,000, 35,840, said stick with Capitalism, and 20,160 said we should try socialism. 15,680 vote difference. That’s what some might call a landslide win.

Still, the 20,160 (36% in support of Socialism) is an alarming number. That’s 20 thousand people who are either ignorant of the hatred, division, bloodshed and violence which follows Socialism, or they simply don’t care about the MILLIONS of victims of the socialist/Communist oppressive, and murderous, economic platform. What’s worse, it’s probably safe to assume that most of those who voted in favour of Socialism, believe themselves to be loving, highly educated, and tolerant individuals.

However, polls aren’t everything, and given that the pollster is a parody account, it’s not all good news.

The seduction of socialism continues to grip the hearts of young people, who’ve been taught that Socialists are freedom fighters – upstanding citizens who kill, steal and destroy, all supposedly for the greater good. It is assumed that a socialist is, and can never be, sinful [i].

The false dawn in promises of a Utopian society appears to be too much of an allure for the young and impressionable.

As Caldron Pool’s, chief editor, Ben Davis noted back in February:

‘They say those who won’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. And narcissistic, selfie-obsessed millenials are proof to the veracity of that claim. Almost two-thirds of individuals born between 1981 and 1996 view Socialism in a positive light.’

The allure of socialism doesn’t just involve youthful defiance, it involves the kind of ignorant conditioning that Psychologist Irving Janus called group-think.

The symptoms of which include the following:

1. Self-deception; ‘a shared illusion of invulnerability which leads to overoptimism and causes planners to fail to respond to clear warnings of danger […] along with an aversion to taking extraordinary risks’

2. Pride; ‘Ignores all warnings and construct rationalisations in order to discount them’

3. ‘has an unquestioning  belief, inclining members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions’

4. ‘holds stereotyped views of the leaders of enemy groups. Those leaders are seen as so evil that there is  no warrant for arbitration or negotiation; the enemy leaders are viewed as too weak or too stupid to put up an effective defense.’

5. ‘where direct pressure is piled onto an individual who momentarily expresses doubts about any of the groups shared illusions or questions the validity of the groups arguments.’

6. ‘where ever unanimity has become an idol; displaying avoidance of anything with deviates from what appears to be the group consensus.’

7. ‘a culture of silence’. [i]

This is the warning of sign of Voltaire’s indictment on the Catholic Church, “écrasez l’infâme” (crush the loathsome thing); the battle between reason and regression (Emil Brunner, 1954).The toxin that is group-think overrules the ability for supporters, and members, of the Socialist religion to comprehend the suffering caused by it.

As Jesus’ warned,

“See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray…” (Mark 13:5-8, ESV)
“…brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:12-13, ESV)

If social media polls are to be believed, it’s encouraging to see that people are not quite yet sold out to the idea of ditching the Capitalist economic model.

Because, history dictates, when it comes to fun facts about Soviet Russia, and Communism in general, apart from Sputnik,  Yuri Gagarin, and Glasnost there are none.

 


References:

[i] ‘One of the most deceptive illusions about sin is the fact that even the worst sinners are often such “nice people.” (Psychiatrist, Karl Menninger, Whatever Became of Sin? 1976, p.126)

[ii] Irving Janus, cited by Karl Menninger in ‘Whatever Became of Sin? 1976, (pp.112-113)

Brunner, E. 1954. The Misunderstanding of the Church (p.117)

While most of us are fans of ‘The Hobbit‘ and ‘Lord of the Rings‘ novels, some of us probably aren’t as up to date on the rest of J.R.R.Tolkien’s work and thought. The majority would know that he was friends with C.S. Lewis, and was part of the Inklings. An Oxford circle of writers, who would meet on an informal basis in order to compare and critique each others’ writing.

The group informally (and unconventionally) included the straight talking, Dorothy Sayers, and is said to have centred around the groups’ shared Christian faith and Christian values [i]. Though Sayers apparently never attended the Inking meetings, she was a close friend of C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams (British Poet and Theologian); it’s for this reason that Sayers is considered a satellite member of the group.

When it comes to Tolkien, in particular, most would know that he was a professor with a passion for Nordic history. What few would know is where Tolkien stood politically.

In a somewhat convoluted letter to his son, Christopher, in 1943, some of Tolkien’s political views come to light. Tolkien appears to give his support to what Jacques Ellul later called, Christian Anarchism [ii].

According to Ellul, Christian Anarchism is a paradoxical, ‘anti-political political position’, which,

a) acknowledges that ‘the presence of God in His revelation in Jesus Christ is the necessary condition for human liberation.’ (‘Jesus & Marx’, p.162)

b) understands that ‘power is dangerous and devouring; participating in political action and reflection on behalf of the [big G] government is an undertaking that inevitably  puts  true faith in danger. For example, Jesus was perfectly acquainted with the resistance party, but refused to join it.’ (Ibid, pp.164-167)

c) promotes the fact that ‘political power only becomes acceptable when it remains on a humble level, when it is weak [read: small g, government], serves the good (although rarely) and genuinely transforms itself into a servant.’ (Ibid, p.171)

Ellul argues that even though Anarchism has been hijacked by Leftism, anarchism belongs to the Right. This is because ‘anarchism’s central imperative is freedom’ (Ibid,p.156)

‘Christians can take their place only besides anarchists; they can never join the Marxists, for whom the state is unacceptable only to the extent that it is bourgeois [and deemed to be the oppressor]. No constitution or ethic can prevent power from becoming totalitarian.
It must discover outside itself a radical negation – [such as the revelation of God in Jesus Christ] who is no gentle dreamer looking from the sky, but is instead a challenge to the validity of [all] earthly kingdoms’ (Ibid, p.173)

Whether Ellul is reaching too far for an alternative to a Conservative or Liberal-Progressive platform, is a fair question to ask. Is Christian anarchy a legitimate third alternative?

If by Christian anarchism we mean that the allegiance of the Christian remains with Jesus Christ (who is King of Kings & Lord of Lords), and not with an ideological preference,  the answer would have to include a cautious, but affirmative, yes.

Tolkien leans in the same direction:

“My political opinions lead more to Anarchy (understood as meaning, abolition of control and not whiskered men with bombs) – or to ‘unconstitutional monarchy’. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, nor mind); and after a chance at recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate!” [iii]

And Tolkien’s words would seem a little too totalitarian, if they weren’t followed up by the gob-smacking brilliance which qualifies them:

“If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people. If people were in the habit of referring to King George’s council, Winston & his gang, it would go a long way to clearing thought, and reducing the frightful landslide into theocracy.” [iv]

Tolkien is taking aim at an impersonal collective; or as Soren Kierkegaard called it, the “untruth of the crowd“. In other words, Irving Janus’ critique of ‘group-think'[v] – The ‘desperate drive for consensus at any cost, that suppresses honest discussion; and where general agreement  becomes so important that it tends to override the realistic appraisal of alternatives’ (Menninger, 1976) [vi].

Ellul, Tolkien, Kierkegaard, Janus and Menninger all acknowledge the limits of politics, and the faceless tyranny of big government;  the dishevelled horde identified by Simone Weil as the bureaucratic caste.

By Christian Anarchism, we can take Tolkien and Ellul to mean people taking individual responsibility seriously, and living that out in freedom under the grace of God, in Jesus Christ (John 8:36; Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:1)

This means moving past the collective identity, towards an individual one. It means on longer being dehumanized and subsumed into a faceless mass, by the faceless would-be lords and kings of big bureaucracy. It means getting “woke” to the manipulative propaganda that herds people into collectives in order to control them and maintain their vote.

As Tolkien so aptly wrote,

“I imagine the fish out of water is the only fish to have an inkling of water.” (1943)

So it is with freedom; not just in knowing what true freedom is, but where our liberation comes from. The Western world has taken freedom for granted. We’re failing to pay attention to the lessons of the gathering storm that our Great-grandparents and Grandparents were forced to live out from 1939 to 1945. What exists with relative ease one day, may have to be hard fought for the next.

Whether it’s Christian Anarchy, or something else, the first step to recovery begins with acknowledging that ‘the presence of God in His revelation in Jesus Christ is the necessary condition for human liberation.’ (Ellul, 1988); that Jesus Christ is the radical negation who challenges the legitimacy of ALL kingdoms. Freedom comes from God, not the [big G] government.

Any political party, or politician who dismisses this, deserves dismissing. Chances are, they view their position, not as a servant of the people, for the people, but as a Lordless power, who would rather take for themselves, than leave anything of value behind for anyone else.


References (not otherwise linked):

[i] As presented by Humphrey Carpenter 1978. The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams & Their Friends George Allen and Unwin Publishers

[ii] Ellul, J. 1988. Jesus & Marx: From Gospel to Ideology Wipf & Stock Publishers

[iii] The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #52, 29 Nov. 1943.

[iv] Ibid, 1943

[v] Irving Janus, 1971

[vi] Menninger, K. 1976 Whatever Became of Sin? Bantam Books, (p.112)

Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

 

This week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that well known, and trusted, Australian media royalty, Ita Buttrose, would be taking on the chair of the Australian Broadcasting Company (The ABC).

Her appointment to the chair provides hope for many of Australia’s tax payers who want to see a return to a fairer, more representative ABC; one that represents Australia, Australian culture, and Australians.

In other words, having a National broadcaster, that upholds a healthy Australian nationalism. Buttrose’s statements during the press conference point in this direction.

“[The ABC] is a voice of the Australian people. I think it reflects our identity, it tells our stories not just here in Australia but to the rest of the world, and I have grown up with the ABC.”

Adding weight to this, Scott Morrison reminded people that the ABC, needs to do what Ita has always done, put the viewers, the listeners, and their readers first.

“..It’s about the viewers, it’s about the listeners, it’s about the readers, and the services the ABC provides to Australians”[1] […] “Australians trust Ita. I trust Ita and that’s why I have asked her to take on this role and I’m absolutely thrilled that she has accepted”[2]

For the growing majority of Australians who consider the ABC to be an echo chamber for urban Leftist elites; or a propaganda machine for the radical Left, Ita might well be a false dawn, but given her professionalism, service to the community, real change is not just possible, but likely.

Buttrose is a hard worker and comes from the private sector. Having been in the media industry since the early 1970s, her long management experience puts her in a position to not only be blunt in pointing out the bad, it also means that Buttrose isn’t afraid to ask questions that might lead to necessary reforms which will correct imbalances, cherish and preserve the good.

For all those concerned with the ideological, and cultural, direction of the ABC in the past two decades, Ita Buttrose’s appointment might just be the rekindling of a light long extinguished by a collective, who are hell bent on sentencing Australians to the shackles of globalist imperialism, and the leftist cult of modern liberalism.

In the past two decades the ABC has undergone a gradual takeover of its mandate, through its soft treatment of, and pandering to the ideas, and apologetic preaching platforms of Leftist ideologues.

Nowhere is this witnessed better, than the weekly Q & A program, and the unforgettable, infuriating, Howard-hating, Kevin07 fanaticism that made an over-excited, Kerry O’Brien, of the ABC’s 7:30 Report, jump with joy, on live television stating, “We’ve got him! We’ve got Him!” the night John Howard lost the 2007 election.

The looming question is can Ita Buttrose reform the $1 billion dollar tax payer behemoth that is the state owned ABC? And can she do this without making the ABC more of a financial burden on Australians? I think she can. Her first order of business should be a cost-benefit review of staffing and infrastructure. Then start in on a review of how well the service promised in the ABC charter is being delivered to the Australian public.

With Ita Buttrose in the chair, we might see, not just the return of the ABC to its mandate, or its roots, but a return of the ABC to the Australian people.


References:

[1] Laura Tingle, Ita’s Message for Scott Morrison, 3rd March 2018

[2] The ABC, Ita’s Vision for the ABC, Sourced 28th February 2019

©Rod Lampard, 2019

(Published on The Caldron Pool 4th March 2019)

Photo by Melany Rochester on UnsplashRegardless of whether the recently convicted George Pell,  is innocent or guilty, there is a precedent in the latest Pell case (verdict) that should send a shudder along the spine of every citizen in Australia.

Greg Craven, lawyer and columnist for The Australian, explains why.

Craven asks whether social media, and the MSM had on influence on the juror’s view of Pell. His question is a good one. Is bias in media reporting, and among some officials, responsible for Pell having been convicted of the crime, in the minds of his jurors, before he was even brought to trial?

“The police and media should be impartial, reporting cases fairly…Media and police never combine to form a pro-conviction cheer squad. This is where the Pell case has gone terribly wrong. Impartial judge and jury accepted, parts of the media – notably the ABC and fromer Fairfax journalists – have spent years attempting to ensure Pell is the most odious figure in Australia.
They seemed to want him in the dock as an ogre, not a defendant. Worse, elements of Victoria police, including Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton co-operated in this. Ashton’s repeated announcements of impending charges and references to “victims” rather than “alleged victims” were matched only by the coincidences in timing between police pronouncements and favoured media exclusives…this include a book from Melbourne University Press, called Cardinal: The Rise & Fall of George Pell, was printed and published before the gag order made it into the public.
This reputational blackening works in two ways. First, at the human level, is there any Australian who does not now associate the word “Pell” with “child abuse”? Second, is there any public official in Australia who does not understand that any action, no matter how appropriate, that might tend towards Pell’s acquittal, will meet swift, public retribution?
This is not the story about whether a jury got it right or wrong, or about whether a justice is seen to prevail. It’s a story about whether a jury was ever given a fair chance to make a decision, and whether our justice system can be heard above the media mob.’
(Excerpt from The Australian, 27th February 2019, p.7 )

I’m not Roman Catholic, and I consider child abuse, institutional or otherwise, to be as bad as abortion. Child abuse doesn’t just involve sexual sin, it’s also an abuse of power.

However, Craven’s question is important.

In light of Kavanaugh, Trump, Covington School boys etc.; We should all be asking, has activist journalism, and social media, hindered due process and the right to a fair trial?

Related reading:

Profiteering from Falsehood: Proof that Leftist Australian media needs a narrative of racism and oppression to stay relevant.
Death by lynch mob: Brett Kavanaugh, Asia Bibi and the shared rage of the mobs out to get them.
Ford Vs. Kavanaugh: The Attempted Hijacking of Justice?

 

joshua-hanks-682729-unsplashWhen you come into a marriage with poverty and a broken heritage:

How do you move from the economic class of renter to “Home Owner”, without selling your own soul, selling out your own goals or killing that marriage?

When your support pillars are war ruins, broken hearts, lives and relationships:

How do you bring a shattered past to support the present?

When no gifts are left to you:

How do you say thank you for good gifts when they come?

When a parent abdicates responsibility, antagonizes the wounds, and  then a sibling speaks in half-truths, and falsely accuses, in order to hide the embarrassment of wrong doing:

How do you forgive?

How do you defend?

When the hand-downs  and opinions are always accusations, cruel measurements, and covert put downs:

How do you understand yourself and your own worth?

How do you breathe?

When the hands that were designated to be helpers don’t help:

How do you ask for help?

When people are moulded by manipulation and won by charm and false appearances:

How do you bless and not fall to the temptation to impress?

When you forgive and are not forgiven:

How do you engage or disengage properly when others refuse to do the same?

Perhaps a good place to begin is here:

                1. Talk with the Lord, humbly.
                2. Learn carefully & honestly.
                3. Care carefully & courageously.
                4. Put into service the paradoxes of thanksgiving and of forgiveness.
                5. Be brave; Hold on to God, and never let go. 

Don’t let that shattered heritage take root. Don’t bring the echoes of resentment into your marriage. Reject the cycle of abuse. Reuse the useful things you have. I.e.: take stock, then do what you can with what you’ve got.

Aim to bless rather than impress[i].

Talk with the Lord. He is a working God, active caring and in pursuit of the broken.

Listen carefully because the ‘insight into divine matters is like a seed that needs to grow into a mature plant…Mature knowledge does not come quickly or easy…it takes time to penetrate profound matters and make them our own’[ii]

As Pinnock states,

Trust and ‘humility must be the order of the day’[iii]

Learn carefully because ‘God’s leading is experienced as His Spirit fosters movement towards the truth, despite our mistakes and errors…we must be both hopeful and sober about the possibilities’[iv]

Care carefully because you are carefully cared for far beyond the extreme void, that makes you torn and breathless. Look at the blessings that do exist and count them, no matter how small, each one has significance.

There is no emptiness to His care. Give him permission to move you from an intensive care unit to a tender care one.

Put into service the paradoxes of thanksgiving and of forgiveness; losing in order to win[v], where the world measures success by appearance. Your success is measured by God in the victory and bravery of His Son, who is and was and is to come. Maintain boundaries and remember that forgiveness does not mean returning to a place of ignorance.

Be brave because beauty and light is found beyond the seemingly unbreakable walls of fear and dark loathing.

Weeping may tarry for the night,  but joy comes with the morning. – Psalm 30:5

Extreme anxiety has no future home in a broken heart[vi] touched by God. For the humble and broken are closer to the heart of God than they realise (Psalm 34:18).


References:
.
[i] Mt.5:38, ESV “Forgive and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you”
.
[ii] Pinnock, C. 1996, Flame of Love InterVarsity Press p.219
.
[iii] Ibid, p.219
.
[iv] Ibid, p.219
.
[v] Matthew 16:25, ESV
.
[vi] Matthew 6:25, ESV
.
.Photo by Joshua Hanks on Unsplash
.
©Rod Lampard, 2014

Media reports are confirming what many have speculated over the past week. American actor, Jussue Smollett has been charged with staging the anti-LGBT, race hate attack, which he claimed to be victim of back in January.

As this was breaking, Twitter users were worked up into frenzy over snippets of a John Wayne interview with Playboy magazine in 1971. This resurfacing of Wayne’s, “racist, anti-LGBT remarks”, strangely coincided with the breaking news about Jussie Smollett.

While some of the criticism is defensible, the timing of the “news”, and the “viral” reaction to it, is a convenient red herring.

Why the suspicion?

Wayne’s statements aren’t breaking news. People have known about them for some time. In 2016, ‘The Guardian reported California lawmakers rejected a proposal to create John Wayne Day to mark his birthday after several legislators described statements he made about racial minorities.’ (Fox News)

The Washington Post’s, Eli Rosenberg, makes special mention of Wayne’s statement, “I believe in white supremacy [until African-Americans are educated enough…I don’t feel guilt about slavery]”

Rosenberg also manages to “connect the dots” back to Donald Trump, stating that ‘it’s not the first time in recent memory that the remarks have resurfaced. They also circulated in 2016 after the actor’s daughter, Aissa Wayne, endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.’ (The LA Times)

Matt Williams, who originally posted Wayne’s comments on Twitter, said “he stumbled upon the interview while doing research”. Given that the interview was no secret to many in the mainstream media, why’d they run with it and give the “news” so much attention?

It would appear that some in the mainstream media saw an opportunity, and used it to shift legitimate focus away from one actor, by further crucifying another.

John Wayne and Jussie Smollett are products of the era they were born into. The difference between those eras was exemplified this week in two ways. First, we learnt about how one actor played the victim, and found it easy to exploit, and profit from playing to a culture of victim-hood. Second, we were reminded of another actor who, made some mistakes, but never sought to blame others for them.

As Ethan Wayne, President of John Wayne Enterprises, said,

“[John Wayne’s beliefs have been misunderstood over the years]. Somebody, a Latina representative up in Sacramento, shot down a bill for John Wayne Day because he was racist. [But] he was married to three Latin women. It’s just crazy how things get blown out of proportion because he was really an open, caring, loyal, supportive man […] He wanted to work with people who earned their place…He didn’t think anybody should get a job because he was a man, because she was a woman, because they were gay, because they were straight, because they were Chinese, African-American or Mexican. He thought you should get a job because you were the right person to do that job. Because you had skill and talent and you would show up and get the job done. He didn’t care what you were.” (Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News)

Adding to his defense, Wayne’s family issued a statement saying,

 “It’s unfair to judge someone on something that was written that he said nearly 50 years ago when the person is no longer here to respond […] “Regardless of color, ethnicity or sexual preference, [our] father taught us to treat all people the same, with respect.”

The outrage towards John Wayne is manufactured. It fits too comfortably within the “all white people are racist” line, and the hysteria drummed up by the very-likely-to-be-proven-fake story surrounding Jussie Smollett’s claims.

Recalling comments made by John Wayne in 1971 have no justification. The timing suggests a smokescreen, designed to shift media attention away from Jussie Smollett. The focus can then be brought back onto blaming Donald Trump, and the supposed racism pandemic sweeping America since Hilary Clinton lost the 2016 election.

If this new focus on John Wayne can be maintained, Smollet and his story will be pushed into the background and left buried.

The MSM can then stand up without concern for context or due process, (as they did with Brett Kavanaugh and the infamous, Covington School boys incident), and say that “racism, and the oppression of those who choose to identify as LGBT, is at pandemic levels in America. John Wayne’s words prove it! Blame Donald Trump. Hashtag:  all white people are racist!”

Not all white people are racist, nor do they believe in Social Darwinian race classifications. What the timing, and outrage, against John Wayne shows, is that the Leftist cult of modern liberalism and its members, need people to believe their lies, and they are willing to do anything, even, and up to, ignoring reality, in order to achieve it.

Long live the legacy of The Duke!


 

In what could be labelled, the Left devouring its own. Seven U.K. Labour members broke with the party yesterday over concerns about Brexit and what ex-Party member, Luciana Berger called, “institutional anti-semitism”.

Berger stated that she was “embarrassed and ashamed” of what the U.K Labour Party had now become.

According to The Australian’s, Greg Sheridan, the seven M.P. Labour-exit is not unwarranted.  Sheridan’s aptly titled piece, ‘Stinging rebuke to a Marxist takeover[1]’, backed Berger and her reasons for the seven M.P. exit. ‘

‘Jeremy Corbyn, the thirty-six year political veteran, and Socialist, who ascended to the Labour leadership back in 2015, has ‘brought a toxic, regressive, crude political culture’ to the party.

Anyone who thinks that sectarian hatreds, foul abuse and ideological extremism are monopolised by the far Right, need only look at Corbyn and his extremely unlovely cadre of close supporters.’[2]

In 2016,  a year after Corbyn became leader, Nick Cohen, The Spectator (U.K),  featured an appeal from a Labour Party member, who chose to be called Chris, for ‘fear of abuse’ stated:

‘I write this as a passionate leftist and liberal. Corybn was against peace in Ireland, for the Iranian religious Right, for anti-Semites, Pro-Putin, Against Self-determination [Falkland Islands]…’[3]

In addition, Hadley Freeman, in March last year, wrote a lengthy piece for the leftist aligned, online media heavy-weight, The Guardian, expressing frustration at the Labour leader’s “blind eye to anti-Semitism”.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, though. As Troy Bramston noted, ‘Corbyn (who has given degrees of support to terrorist organizations) and his Marxist shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, have terminated Labour’s Blair-Brown legacy […] Class warfare and the politics of envy are its watchwords.’[4]

The same frustration, angst and confusion being felt today, is similar to those of Allied troops, who were thrown into a world war, that most of them and the West never wanted. Nazism forced people to take sides. Leftism is doing the same.

Perhaps Berger and the six M.P.’s who stand alongside her is a sign of hope. Hope that some on the Left are not afraid to turn to their own side and say enough is enough; Leftism has gone too far and we will not let it go any further. If so, their task will not be easy.

Luciana Berger and the six other M.P.’s might be looking for a more centrist position, but as is evident since Hilary Clinton lost the 2016 election in the United States, thanks to Leftism, centrism is a luxury, few can now afford.

Young Labour’s[5] response to Berger and company, confirms everything Berger said about their reasons for their Labour-exit.

Communism is as communism does. #bewaretheauctioneers

 

 


References:

[1] Greg Sheridan, The Australian, Wednesday 20th February 2019 (p.9)

[2] Ibid, 2019

[3] Nick Cohen, The Spectator, Why You Shouldn’t Vote for Corbyn, 24th August 2016

[4] Troy Bramston, The Australian, Grab for the Centre as parties pulled to the extremes, 20th February 2019 (p.9)

[5] Times reporter, Rachel Sylvester ‘Corbynistas’

Also published @ The Caldron Pool, 20th February 2019

 

My interest in Gene Edward Veith Jnr’s work began in 2012 after reading ‘Modern Fascism (1993).

In it Veith shows himself to be a fearless, sharp, forward thinking academic[1] who isn’t afraid to stick his neck out when presenting sensitive facts. For a scholar, this isn’t just risky, it often means standing alone, on uncomfortable truths, that have either been conveniently buried or ignored. Taking a stand can end in ostracism or excommunication.

One potent example is Veith’s thunderous proclamation that ‘fascism is back in academia’.[2] This rides on the coat tails of a discussion about the defence (and for some, the denial) of German existentialist philosopher, Martin Heidegger’s[3] ‘extensive involvement in the Nazi Party.’

All the evidence suggests that Heidegger ‘was an activist in the Nazi party’. The most damning, according to Vieth, was Heidegger’s  alignment with the Sturmabteilung (Stormtroopers) of Ernst Röhm (‘a radical [Nazi] faction’, ‘rife with homosexuality’), which led to Heidegger being ‘considered too extreme, even for Hitler’[4].

Another example of Veith’s tenacity, and lack of fear, despite the current culture of silence, and suppression in academia, of anything that doesn’t fit a particular political narrative, is found in his unpacking of the relationship between fascism and academia. Veith unpacks how the culture produced by revisionist deconstructionism, contributed to the rise of fascism; and how this culture opened a door to the National Socialists (Nazis), allowing them take total control of the German (Weimar) parliament through a democratic process.

The straight-talking tone of his 2003 revised edition of ‘Loving God with All Your Mind’, remains consistent with ‘Modern Fascism’. The text is a manifesto on how Christians, in an era of subjective relativism, can participate in that culture, without becoming one with that culture.

By looking to relevant Biblical examples Veith describes a way forward. He states (rightly),

‘the intellectual resources of Christianity are vast and rich […] The tolerance for paradox, [within Biblical Christianity] with its combination of openness and scepticism, means that the Christian life and the biblical worldview not only can withstand critical inquiry, but they can inspire critical inquiry […]‘ (pp. 146 & 97).

Beginning with the Babylonian exile of Daniel (and Israel), Veith argues that the Bible already sets the bar for exiled Christians in a postmodern; post-Christian world.

Daniel’s example is one of steadfastness, submission to authority, ‘respect and courtesy towards his enemy’ (p.103). Added to this is the importance of prayer and community. For the Christian in exile, the ‘application of Daniel 2:17-19 seems to be that Christians in a hostile environment need to seek out other Christians in that hostile environment to support each other in fellowship and prayer’ (p.104)

Vieth notes that the two popular responses of Christians in this kind of environment is often ‘withdrawal[5] or compromise’ (p.11). Both are toxic because both acts reject the vocation and intellectual inheritance handed down to Christians. The act of withdrawal contracts Christianity leading to apathy, or esoteric elitism[6].

Whereas compromise, ‘reinterprets Christian doctrine according to the ways of thinking currently in vogue. This is the way of theological liberalism […] in doing so [Christianity] is changed into something else’ (p.12).

Withdrawal and compromise are inconsistent with Biblical Christian living (Rev.3). Withdrawal denies that the ‘Christian life is to be lived out in our vocations’ (p.104); lived out in the world, not of the world or separated from it. Compromise denies Christ. Is synchronistic and leads to a ‘Christless Christianity’ (p.47).

Daniel prayed, put his trust in God and negotiated with authority. He didn’t withdraw. Neither did Daniel compromise.

Daniel is, therefore, a primary example for how Christians, not only should, but can, live out Mark 12:29-31[7].

 ‘It’s important for Christianity to maintain its inherent radicalism. Christianity is not simply another cultural institution (p.70) […] Christians must be  informed by a ‘thermostatic’[8] education, maintaining heat through both a traditionalist and progressive function, in a profound way, without slipping into idolatry; daring not to make anything made by sinful human beings into a sacred absolute’ (pp.71-74)[9].

So that God’s Word is not, and cannot easily be replaced with the reason and words of the creature, ‘Christians must subject any human creation and institution to the most skeptical and critical scrutiny.’ (p.74)[10]

Through the biblical example set by Daniel, Veith rejects the withdrawal and compromise, either/or. He is confident that ‘it’s possible for Christians to engage the contemporary intellectual world without weakening or compromising the faith […] In order to do this, Christians need to be aware of the contours of contemporary thought’ (p.12).

One of the most effective ways ‘Christians can witness to people today, both to the active enemies and to the far greater number of the ignorant and indifferent, is simply to inform them objectively of what it is that Christians believe’ (p.51)[11]

Written by a seasoned Christian in the academic world, ‘Loving God with All Your Mind’ is a manifesto for Christians. Veith offers directions for how Christians can still live out the Gospel; live out their vocation, without apology, in love and service, knowing that they are very much in the world, but because of Jesus Christ, are no longer of it. Even in the pagan plurality of postmodernism and the quagmire of morality, fear, insecurity, and indecision, attached to it.

Through vocation, and the deep intellectual heritage, inherited by Christians, withdrawal and compromise are negated.

Veith is right,

‘This tradition of active thought and practical problem solving is a vital ally for Christians fighting against the intellectual trends of the contemporary world…we can and thus be freed from the tyranny of the present, the assumption that the way people think  today is the only possible way to think.’ (p.109)

In other words, Christians have every reason to stand firm. Therefore, speak truth in love. Be consistent. Be real. Be humble. Be present. Be like Daniel. Live like Jesus.

For the greatest commandment is this ‘hear oh Israel, the Lord you God is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul and all your mind, and all your strength. The second greatest commandment is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Mark 12:29-30, ESV)


References:

[1] Vieth is a Lutheran and professor of English.

[2] This is of special interest given the 1993 publication date. Veith’s well informed argument draws a connection between the fascism of the 1920s and 30s, and where real fascism resides today.

[3] Farias, V. 1987. Heidegger And Nazism, Temple University Press, 1989.

[4] Modern Fascism

[5] An option suggested by Rod Dreher et.al.

[6] Veith, p.106

[7] ‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’ – Jesus.

[8] See Veith’s discussion on Blasé Pascal and Neil Postman, p.145

[9] ‘God’s Word has a caustic, corrosive effect on idols of all kinds’ (Veith, p.75)

[10] ‘The moral and religious beliefs of a Christian need to be shaped by the Word of God, not by the world. Christians need to be critical thinkers and to use discernment, forging their own ideology based on Scripture, not the social class that they aspire to. Christians should not be so easily labeled.’ (Veith, p.100)

[11] In applying a solid grasp of what our early Christian forebears meant by the words: faith seeks understanding (fides quaerens intellectum) ; I believe in order to understand (credo ut intelligam) (p.146), Christians can navigate through the fog of postmodernism, and be a guiding light to others.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Also published @ The Caldron Pool, 17th February 2019

One of the highlights of State of the Union Addresses, is the build-up and debriefing offered by commentators. Mainstream media “expert” panels have their place,  but in favour of a more conversational tone, I prefer to steer away from them. If you’re an Aussie, and are old enough to remember Channel Ten’s excellent, late night program, ‘The Panel’,  you’ll know exactly what I mean. One of the better American versions, is the gathering of Daily Wire front-men, and their, all-issues-on-the-board, round table.

Although a lot of what Donald Trump said throughout the blockbuster address, was worth a post on its own (particularly the last 45 minutes of his speech), the content of a four-minute discussion between Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan, during the Daily Wire’s post-SOTU discussion, also deserves highlighting.

Here’s why:

“You know it’s amazing; it just occurred to me when you watch that speech, you see all these Democrats and they’re constantly talking about check your privilege this, and check your privilege that; here’s the fact, everyone who is born today is privileged everyone who was born in the last 30, 40, 50 years in the United States these are the most privileged human being ever so check your privilege seriously check your damn privilege. Like all these women who are dancing there, “oh, look at us we finally overcame; [no], you didn’t overcome a damn thing. Your grandmother’s overcame something, your great grandmothers overcame something and that’s really what the speech was about”
“When Trump was saying, when he was paying homage, half the people he was paying homage to are people who are over the age of seventy, right? And he was saying you know our privilege is to be their grand-kids, our privilege is to be their kids. They’re the ones who did the heavy lifting. We’re just here picking up the leftovers and it’s our job to push it on to the next generation.”
“The one privilege that people will not recognise on the left is the privilege of having been born here and the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants. They act as though the earth began spinning the moment they arrived here, and that they’ve had to overcome such terrible burdens. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez has not had to overcome a burden. Neither have I by the way. With very rare exceptions there are some people who have had to overcome [terrible burdens].“ (Shapiro)

In the space of four minutes, Shapiro and company achieved, what large amounts of naval gazing commentators have failed to do from 2016 onward; and that is provide a succinct, proper explanation of what “Make America Great Again” actually stands for, and why its impact is important to understand.

 “…this is what the Left number understood about Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again. MAGA was never about this idea that America was ever at any point in the past to utopia it was about the idea that the people who inhabited America were infused with the idea of an American Dream that they were motivated by that idea and if you want to make America great again you have to get back to that idea that motivated people are grandparents to storm the shores of Normandy anybody in that chamber is storming the shores of Normandy, they’re bitterly storming the shores UC Berkeley.” (Shapiro)

Shapiro’s right. It’s wrong to say that MAGA is only the manifestation of old white men and their desperate, failing, attempt to hold onto a Utopian past. It’s just as wrong to say that MAGA is the product of a hidden pseudo-Nazi religion; as is pushed by some who’ve hijacked Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, amongst Leftist theologians; or Leftist politicians, and the small amount of delusional Neo-Nazis, who Leftists need in order to justify their own fascist tendencies (which include the widespread use of manipulation, reckless labelling and generalisations).

Despite what you’ve been told, or may think about Donald Trump, there’s no denying that the MAGA movement is multi-ethnic. Looking at MAGA through its multi-ethnic lens, shows that it was more than just an election slogan for Donald Trump, or the Republican Party. The multi-ethnicity of MAGA proves what many said from the start, often against a barrage of hatred, deliberate misinterpretation and false accusation: “Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion.

MAGA’s popularity, even amongst ethnic groups, can be explained by its line-in-the-sand message.  It’s about Americans. It’s about inheritance, faith and tradition.On a broader scale, it’s about taking a firm stand against the abuse of hard fought for freedoms, and the blurring of definitions; a firm stand against the surrender of Western Civilisation behind a veil of compassion, and the downgrade of both Judeo-Christianity and Classical Liberalism.

MAGA is the defiant stand of a free people, thrown into a culture war they didn’t ask for; a war that is being waged on the West from within, while opportunistic people, determined to make an enemy of the West circle overhead.

MAGA is a megaphone, not for racists, but for ordinary everyday people. It’s allowed, and allowing, an increasing majority, who are not aligned, or who were once aligned with Leftism, to break free from Leftist ideology, such as their obsession with victimisation and their mob mentality. Significant examples of people who are breaking free are the #walkaway and #Blexit movements.

It wasn’t just Trump’s 2016 election win that unveiled just how far the culture war had advanced. It was also the fact that Hilary Clinton lost. Clinton’s “shock” election loss, unmasked Leftism and it’s war against all who disagree on reasoned ground with them. Clinton’s election loss exposed the Leftist march against people who are on both the Left and the Right. That loss woke people up to the actual nature of Leftism, as it began charging at them, celebrity venom at the ready, Antifa flag flying, faces hidden and bayonets drawn.

The fact that things have been allowed to get so hostile, isn’t entirely the fault of the Leftist cult of modern liberalism or its cult members. The culture war has been, by and large, triggered by the long complacency and entitlement of many in the West. As Shapiro and company explain, while there is a unity in universal privilege, there’s an absence of unity in gratitude and awareness of that privilege. Gratitude and universal privilege are overlooked in the American psyche, (and I’ll add, most of the West).

Michael Knowles and Andrew Klavan added weight to Shapiro’s grand-slam response to the State of the Union address stating:

“Yeah, this is the thing that makes this speech so jarring even for me in this culture but especially for people on the left is gratitude we have utterly lost gratitude, there’s nothing but pride, and entitlement that people feel, and so [Trump] goes and he says thank you. Thank you for what you guys who stormed the beaches of Normandy. Thank you for what you did; and it’s so that we’re just not used to saying thank you anymore.” (Knowles)
“I’ve never seen a major war. I’ve seen racism and I’ve seen it disappear; they disappear, it vanished, you know. It was gone and I think it’s not personal racism. That’s always there; with us, but institutional racism it’s just erased. You know I’ve seen all this stuff I’ve never had to fight I’ve never had to pick up a rifle I’ve never had to do any of those things and I’m so grateful, I’d be of jerk if I weren’t an optimist.” (Klavan)

Through this lens, MAGA, is about showing gratitude for freedom, opportunity and American privilege. It’s not an empty boast about American exceptionalism, a longing for some Utopian past, or some fanatical quixotic return to a doctrine of “manifest destiny.””

As Ronald Reagan, said in 1964,

The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honoured dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all. You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance. [This is] the meaning of “peace through strength.”[…] We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” [i]

MAGA is a renewed line-in-the-sand, drawn and backed by a people who refuse to surrender freedom in the name of what others call “progress”. Make America Great Again” was never about race, colour or religion. It’s no longer just about Donald Trump. MAGA is a bulwark against Leftism, not just for Americans; not just for the Right, but for anyone in the West, who chooses to pick up both prayer and gratitude, knowing that we have what we have today, because we were not handed a gift to abuse, but a gift to preserve, and build responsibly upon.


References & Notes:

[i] Reagan, R. 1964 A Time For Choosing 

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

American conservative media organization, PragerU, is facing an uphill battle against an increasing trend towards censorship of conservative content.

Founded by Dennis Prager in 2009, and currently run by CEO, Marissa Streit, PragerU provides commentary and information on a wide range of subjects, from prominent thinkers and doers. PragerU also considers themselves to be a platform for the preservation of Judeo-Christian values, and “the concepts of freedom of speech, a free press, free markets and a strong military to protect and project those values.” (PragerU ‘What we Do)

In an official Facebook post from January 26th, 2019, PragerU admins wrote:

“PragerU has officially filed a new lawsuit against Google and YouTube in the state of California [over unjustifiable censorship].

Adding that, streaming service, Spotify:

“has completely banned PragerU from advertising its content. This is clearly in line with the censorship we’ve experienced on Youtube, Google, and Twitter.” (PragerU Facebook)

According to a PragerU Twitter post, Spotify’s reason for blacklisting the organization, was because their content didn’t ‘comply’ with Spotify’s editorial policies. Consequently, Spotify “stopped all existing ads, and stated that they will not be approving any new ones.” (PragerU Twitter) Not only this, but as of the January 26th, PragerU, “still hadn’t received any explanation from Spotify as to which specific policy we didn’t comply with.” (PragerU Facebook)

PragerU’s battle against censorship began in 2016[i], with decisions from YouTube to place some PragerU content in the “restricted mode” category. Videos like ‘Don’t Feminists Fight For Muslim Women?’ and ‘Are the Police Racist?, among 100 others, such as the counter Marxist, Jordan Peterson, information video, ‘Dangerous People Are Teaching Your Kids’ and ‘The Suicide of Europe’, are deemed by Google as being “inappropriate for the younger audiences.”[ii]

Since 2016, PragerU has experienced controversy after controversy, with other social media platforms also restricting PragerU content. Facebook removed videos from PragerU’s three million plus, strong Facebook page, only later reinstating those videos, along with an apology, because “the videos in question were mistakenly removed. While we continue to research what caused this error, we have restored the content because it does not break our Community Standards[iii]

If you’re up to date with the developing concerns over big tech companies threatening to censor conservative content, and big tech companies actually censoring conservative content, you’ll know that an ambiguous reason like, “mistakenly removed”, in all probability means, “removed by an employee, who took personal offence to the content, acted unanimously, making a subjective (highly unprofessional) decision to delete it.”

Although, in this case, Facebook deserves kudos for acknowledging the error and fixing it; the increase in uncalled for restrictions on content that challenges the overarching ideological predisposition of the big tech companies, should be of deep concern to everyone. It is a direct threat to the right to freedom of information, freedom of speech, and the right to come to conclusions independent of those who may seek to make us co-dependent on them.

For now, PragerU, and organizations like Caldron Pool are free to publish content in line with the values and faith that made, and still makes, the West a destination for many.

For now, PragerU stands as a city on a hill, at the forefront of a conflict that is unnecessary, unethical and uncalled-for. Even though doors are being shut on PragerU, as long as PragerU stands by its mandate, as outlined in their mission statement, they will continue to be that city, providing an open door for discussion, which runs against the stream.


References:

[i] The Federalist, sourced 4th February, 2019

[ii] PragerU Petition, YouTube Continues to restrict many PragerU videos, sourced 4th February, 2019

[iii] Business Insider, sourced 4th February, 2019

Also published @ The Caldron Pool, 4th February, 2019 under the heading: PragerU’s Uphill Battle Against Censorship As Ads are Permabanned by Spotify

Brennan Manning’s passing prompted this tribute-contemplation. I invite you to sit, and wonder with me, at the significance of what happens when, despite human opinion, the Glory that God deserves is given back to Him.

 ‘The ragamuffin Gospel’ is an impassioned critique of churches that worship doctrine, conceal God and betray grace. He states that ‘Jesus invites sinners and not the self-righteous to his table’[1]. This re-enforces his concern that the church can at times project a ‘watered down Grace’[2]. Consequently, what is demanded is an allegiance to doctrine rather than an alignment to Christ. This makes for a ‘twisted gospel of grace, and results in a religious bondage which distorts the image of God’[3]. For instance, ‘any Church that will not accept that it consists of sinful men and women, and exists for them, implicitly rejects the gospel of Grace’[4].

Reputation is not character. Some of the current expressions of church value appearances over against substance. They are communities defined by ‘fatal narcissism of spiritual perfectionism’[5]. This is form of sophistry that begins with the individual Christian. Brennan Manning argues that anybody who focuses on a pious reputation over against character is wrong. This exists where ’fellowships permit no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal their sin from themselves and from their fellowship’[6]. It’s easy to see the pragmatic and contextual out working of Manning’s paradox, ‘our doing becomes the very undoing of the gospel’[7].

Consequently some churches become consumed with public appearance[8]. Putting on a show becomes God. This idol turns our conformity into a way to earn salvation, rather than a doorway for discovering salvation. For example: the impossible ideal of a perfect Pastor. Someone who looks great in a suit, has the newest model car, the castle sized mortgage, the beautiful smiling wife, the 2.5 well behaved scripture quoting children and an unblemished Church attendance record. Such standards are closer to the ‘strange paradoxes of the American Dream’ (King), which is only really mounted on the metaphor that, ‘castles made of sand fall…melt…and slip into the sea eventually’ (Hendrix, 1967). While modesty and self presentation is beneficial for every Christian, it does not make you a Christian nor does it necessarily reflect your salvation[9].

A dichotomy exists between being righteous and appearing righteous. Evidence of this is found in the ‘seeming good is better than doing good age’ (Bolt), which feeds self-righteous and Lordless ‘isms’ (Wright) . Those who propagate such ideology, reject the theological Trinitarian reality which acknowledges that grace is a gift  from the Father, transferred to us through Son and worked out in our lives by the Spirit. God’s ‘furious love’[10] for humanity funds dignity, grace and mercy.

This begins with the acceptance of grace, ‘for acceptance means simply to turn to God’[11]. This is an encounter where I am no longer removed from my problems, my sin and my inability to repent because I ‘accept the reality of my human limitations’[12]. In other words, Manning does not endorse a ‘fast-food-cheap grace’ Churchianity.

The Ragamuffin Gospel presents a relational God who reaches into the ragamuffin’s brokenness and provides rescue, ‘inviting us to be faithful to the present moment, neither retreating to the past, nor anticipating the future’[13].

I come to accept that through grace I am dignified and worthwhile. Deemed to be so by the actions, words and approach, of a loving Father towards His children. God isn’t obsessed with, or anxious about our ‘’epic fails’’. God desires the correction of the sinner, not the death of the sinner (Luke 5:32; Ambrose of Milan, ‘On Repentance’). God is not a manipulative father, nor is He like the pagan gods, who demand sacrifice to appease their anger. We do not serve an angry, distant un-relational God who is unconcerned with who we are, or what we do. 

Manning illustrates for us that God seeks out the ragamuffin. Manning’s own ministry and his journey through alcoholism exemplify the message which ‘The Ragamuffin Gospel’ communicates.  The message of the Ragamuffin Gospel is about a freedom that is completely reliant on a view grace which does not abandon human culpability, in the name of ‘tolerance instead of love’ (Bill ‘birdsong’ Miller).

This freedom is found acquired through a response to grace that empowers a living relationship with the gift of Jesus Christ. This freedom stands as a warning to those who ‘accept grace in theory but deny it in practice’ [14].Manning writes that the ‘deadening spirit of hypocrisy lives on in people who prefer to surrender control of their souls to rules than run the risk of living in union with Jesus’[15]. Being honest and expressing the need for grace and not works begins with us, the Church.

Writing about Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Manning states:

‘written in the heat of the moment, the letter is a manifesto of Christian freedom. Christ’s call on your lives is a call to liberty. Freedom is the cornerstone of Christianity (see 2 Cor.3:17[16])…Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence from peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect. The tyranny of public opinion can manipulate our lives. What will the neighbours think? What will my friends think? What will people think? The expectations of others can exert a subtle but controlling pressure on our behaviour’[17].

Brennan Manning encourages Christians to let go of  demands which control us, by entering into step with the Spirit, and consequently stepping into a life of freedom that is accountable to God. This freedom ‘lies not in ourselves, who are by nature slaves to sin, but in the freedom of his grace setting us free in Christ by the Holy Spirit’[18]. Christians are living in ‘the presence of God in wonder, amazed by the traces of God all around us’[19], not just in a building or a doctrine.

In concluding, the merit of this book is that Brennan Manning provides a reflection of the human struggle with addiction and idolatry. At times, Manning may seem a little unforgiving in his harsh critique of the institutional Church. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Manning seeks to address practical atheism, by reassessing doctrines and expressions of church, that have by default, replaced God. 

In order to achieve this Manning asserts that the Christian walk is one of risk, founded on a dignity which is grounded solely in God’s intervention on our behalf. The Ragamuffin Gospel addresses the failure to live out independently the character of Christ without Christ. As a result Manning successfully reminds us that God is in fact consistent, fierce, loving and interested in redeeming us, even in the midst of the messiness of our lives.


References:

Manning, B. 1990 The Ragamuffin Gospel, Multnomah Books, Sister, Oregon 97599, USA

Casting Crowns, 2003 American Dream: from the album Casting Crowns
[1] Manning, B. 1990, The Ragamuffin Gospel p.7, Authentic Classics, Multnomah books, Sis. OR.

.
[2] Ibid, p.6
.
[3] Ibid, p.1
.
[4] Ibid, p.13
.
[5] Ibid, p.34
.
[6] Ibid, p.107 & p.115
.
[7] Ibid, p.39
.
[8] Ibid, ‘publicity’ p.1
.
[9] For example: Facebook memes that encourage us to ‘share if you’re saved’ or like ‘ if you want to be’. As if our spiritual status is determined by how many times we shared or liked such drivel.
.
[10] Ibid, p.19
.
[11] Ibid, p.24
.
[12] Ibid, p.31
.
[13] Ibid, p.35
.
[14] Ibid, p.117
.
[15] Ibid, p.110
.
[16] 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (ESV)
.
[17] ibid, pp.120-121
.
[18] ibid, p.129
.
[19] Ibid, p.72

If you’re not really into Information Technology and are not aware of what the Golden Shield project is, you’re forgiven. The majority of Chinese people either don’t care or aren’t aware of its existence either.

The Golden Shield Project is Communist China’s massive firewall. It’s designed to keep a lid on dissent and ward off foreign influence on Chairman Mao’s, carefully constructed Communist culture, which was largely forced on the Chinese people during the Marxist/Maoist Cultural Revolution[1].

Some basic history: ‘The Golden Shield project has been in development since the 1990s’[i]. According to a Tom McDonald field study published by the University College of London (UCL) in 2016, ‘The Golden Shield Project is the best-known mechanism of Chinese state control over the internet…though most Chinese people are unaware of its existence, those who are, are largely unconcerned about it.’ (ibid)[2]

Both the UCL study (p.147) and Stanford’s Torfox, state that the ‘self-censorship[3] by Chinese internet users, is essentially the byproduct of both Government censorship’ and an unspoken social media etiquette within China, which views ‘posts regarding news, politics and current affairs as inappropriate’ (p.148).

Whilst the UCL study and Stanford’s Torfox online articles don’t talk in an outright manner, about the role fear plays in self-censorship, with what has happened to China’s Uighurs (Muslim community), and the continued harassment of churches, and house churches, along with the imprisonment of Christians, it’s fair to assume that fear of the Socialist State, plays a sizeable role. Heavy Government restrictions[4] on internet use, means online dissent against the Communist Regime is rare. (As a side note to reasons for how fear plays a role in self-censorship, Communist Chinese authorities also silently encourage doxing. It’s labeled, ‘online vigilante justice’, called “Human Flesh Search Engines“.)

Of the two reports, only Torfox makes the suggestion that self-censorship is the result of compliance with totalitarian Government:

‘What makes the Great Firewall of China so effective (and controversial) is not only its complex technology but also the culture that the system engenders – a culture of self-censorship.  The Chinese government mandates that companies be responsible for their public content.  In other words, it is the job of these companies to make sure that their online portals do not contain any prohibited topics or obscenities.  Leading online news media in China, such as Xinhuanet.com, Chinadaily.com.cn, Chinanews, and Baidu.com obediently follow the government’s decree, pledging that they “will make the Internet a vital publisher of scientific theories… maintain social stability, and promote the building of a socialist harmonious society” (Torfox, Stanford).

Tom McDonald’s field study published by UCL also hints at this reasoning:

‘limiting users access to social media platforms, and certain types of content appearing within them, in order to promote  a social media aligned to both the state and family interests,  was only one aspect of state control. Another method was by populating these platforms with content – propaganda and ‘patriotism’ (p.151) […] ‘Most social media posts about politics are nationalistic. There were very few posts that directly criticized the central government, or policies and attitudes of the state’ (p.161).

There are three good reasons why you should be aware of The Golden Shield Project. First, the project is “supported” by Big Tech (Silicon Valley) Companies. Second, it’s a Communist tool used not just to suppress free speech[5], but create and police, a culture of total compliance with Government approved thought, speech and content. What makes this second point even more alarming is that the technology used for The Golden Shield Project is now being exported. Third, the Golden Shield Project is promoted as being something that upholds family values, while underneath this the Government enforces the socialist state, through total surveillance, and sleight of hand, statist propaganda[6].

Although I use the word, “supported” cautiously, it may not come as a complete surprise that the Golden Shield Project is supported by Big Tech (Silicon Valley) Companies.

According to Torfox, ‘transnational Internet corporations such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft are also subjected to self-censorship regulations.  Although censorship is very much against Western ideology, the size of the Chinese market is too profitable for the companies to bypass these opportunities.’ (Torfox, Stanford)

This raises the question, does participating in active censorship, and complying with China’s Golden Shield Project, make these Western, and largely Leftist companies, hypocrites? Further, does this active compliance mean that participating companies are profiteering from an oppressive regime?

Put another way, does the active compliance of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola, and Nortel Networks, with China’s Golden Shield Project (which is designed to abolish, punish, and silence dissent, ‘and promote the building of a socialist harmonious society’) mean that these big tech companies, are profiteering from oppression?

Or, as Grant Clark from Bloomberg suggests, are these companies to be viewed also as victims of China’s Communist heavy restrictions?

Simple examples of this compliance include, when Winnie the Pooh, was temporarily banned in  2017.

More complex data shows Google actively blocking the use of its search engine to look up words unapproved by the Chinese Communist Government.

As highlighted by Harvard’s 2002 comprehensive list of searches blocked by Google in China, by request of the Chinese Communist Government. (Complete Chart) Top Ten:

1. Tibet
2. Taiwan
3. equality
4. dissident China
5. revolution
6. dissident
7. freedom China
8. justice China
9. counter-revolution China
10. news China/Democracy China

With this evidence, and these examples in mind, Western concerns about Big Tech companies, which are often ridiculed as fanatical, and fear mongering, are justified.

When these same companies choose to block dissent or a different opinion on their servers/social media platforms in the West, they are importing the same political lockout system that they (at least, in the case of Google, as shown above) apply to Chinese citizens, under the satisfied and watchful gaze of the unelected Chinese bureaucratic caste.  When these companies block dissent or a different opinion, they are choosing to restrict freedom of speech. They are picking a side, and imposing their favored form of ideology on those who may have no choice, but to use their technology or social media platforms.

This should be of concern to Westerners, because the technology used in the Golden Shield Project is now being exported[7].

According to the McDonald field study for UCL, ‘in China, while propaganda frequently ends up forming the basis of news, not all news comes from, or is, propaganda […] [However] 80 to 90% of China’s news is fake news’ (McDonald 2016, pp.151 & 155). Since ‘the Chinese government controls all of the national authority name servers’ (source), it has total control over social media and social media companies.

Evidence of propaganda is seen in the defense of the GSP. Advocates say that Golden Shield Project is only a tool for protecting family values.  The GSP, however, was designed to protect the Communist state, not families. Its primary purpose is to guard the state against the ‘use of the Internet by domestic or foreign groups to coordinate anti-regime activity.’ (China Golden Shield, 2001)

Stanford’s Torfox confirms this, stating that ‘the government initially envisioned the Golden Shield Project to be a comprehensive database-driven surveillance system that could access every citizen’s record as well as link national, regional, and local security together.’

Ergo, even if upholding family values is now a small part of the usefulness of the GSP, it was not part of the Golden Shield Project’s original intent.

In conclusion, it’s reasonable to have governance of the internet based on a nation’s laws and boundaries, but that governance should be small, effective, and preferably have at its core classical liberal ethos, anchored by the Judeo-Christian moral compass. It’s important to remember, that ‘human beings do not have to serve causes, causes have to serve human beings’ (Karl Barth, Against the Steam p.35).

If when talking about the GSP, our focus is on protecting family values, than the GSP is an easy sell. Protections that include internet safety for Children and adults with addictions are plain common sense. For true freedom to exist, it has to have a certain degree of parameters to ensure and uphold its existence. Otherwise, we become enslaved to the machine, and land somewhere in the Matrix.

However, if the goal of governance over the internet, such as the GSP, is the protection of an ideology, an unelected bureaucratic caste, the invasion and suppression of citizen’s rights, and that control is masked by propaganda about protecting family values, then instead of being controlled by the Matrix, we enter a land controlled by those who own the Matrix, which is as equally horrifying.


References:

[1] For a full explanation of this, see Jacques Ellul’s, 1965 publication, ‘Propaganda’.

[2] For a deeper reading of the history, see Bloomberg’s article called, Quicktake: The Great Firewall of China by Grant Clark

[3] McDonald, author of the UCL field study further claims that ‘such reactions can be understood as ways that townsfolk form a strategy for coping with inflexible  controls that they are  otherwise unable to influence’ (p.148). However, ‘the controls which receive the greatest attention outside China – the Great Firewall and deletion of social media posts – are the ones that typically concern local people the least […] Other systems of control – such as checking users’ ages and restricting access for young people – that act at a local level are immediately visible and very important to townsfolk. Some of these measures come from people’s own convictions about the appropriate use of social media, rather than just from state- imposed restrictions’ (p.150)

[4] Bloomberg: ‘Critics say China’s Great Firewall reflects its paranoia over the internet’s potential to spread opposition to one-party rule. As well as impeding freedom of speech, China’s approach constrains it economically, they say, by stifling innovation, preventing the exchange of important ideas and cutting access to services used by businesses like Google Cloud.’

[5] Greg Walton: ‘Many people in China have been arrested for Internet-related “crimes,” ranging from supplying e-mail addresses to Internet publications to circulating pro-democratic information or articles that are critical of the Chinese government, in blatant contradiction of international human rights law guaranteeing freedom of speech.’ (China Golden Shield, 2001)

[6] Greg Walton: ‘China’s Internet regulations and legislation are guided by the principle of “guarded openness” – seeking to preserve the economic benefits of openness to global information, while guarding against foreign economic domination and the use of the Internet by domestic or foreign groups to coordinate anti-regime activity.’ (China Golden Shield, 2001)

[7]  Stanford: ‘China even exports its technology to other countries such as Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Belarus.’ (The Great Firewall of China: Background. Sourced, 23rd January 2019)

[i] McDonald, T. 2016 Social Media In Rural China, ULC Press, U.K. Link to a free copy of the PDF  (p.146)

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

(Also published at The Caldron Pool, 24th January, 2019.)

There are a vast number of books that discuss Karl Barth’s theology.

So far some of the best include Gorringe, Busch, Bloesch and Webster.

Outside selected writings, which were core readings while I was at college, I’m yet to completely engage with William Willimon, Sung Wook Chung  or explore works from and Hans Urs Von Balthasar. This said, I may never actually get there because I’m passionate about primary and secondary sources.

It’s one thing to read what people say someone said; it’s another thing to hear what that person actually said. Some filters are necessary. Others mislead and can hinder this objective.

Given the amount of lecturer-directed reading we did of Barth and the student-directed discussions about his theology over those years, my focus since then (as some of you will know) has been on working through his Dogmatics; consulting ‘companion texts’ or sending off an email to mates for their perspective when I’ve found it necessary to do so.

Places to start actually reading Barth are Evangelical Theology: An Introduction’ and ‘Dogmatics in Outline’. These are almost always readily available and inexpensive.

As far as good, short accessible introductions to Karl Barth’s historical context and theology go, I reckon Dean Stroud’s (2013)[i] outline in ‘Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow’  is a serious contender:

‘In 1930 Karl Barth began teaching at the University in Bonn, and not long after that he was calling Christians to radical opposition to the “Thüringen {Nazi-conformist} German Christian movement.’’ (circa 1920’s-1938[ii])
But even before his arrival at Bonn, Barth’s commentary on Romans had caused a stir.
The first edition had appeared in 1919, which was followed by expanded editions from 1921 through to 1932. In his reading of Romans, Barth challenged readers to hear the epistle as God’s word directly addressing the present moment.
No longer was the letter a relic of the past whose message was more historically interesting than contemporarily relevant.
Heinz Zahrnt, whose history of Protestant theology in the 20th Century contains a lengthy discussion of Barth’s commentary, calling it ‘’a great explosion,’’ (bomb theology) in that Barth ‘’proceeds with the single assumption about the text ‘that God is God.’
For Barth, secular history was not an “idealized pantheistic” course of grand events so much as a record of “naturalistic” and “materialistic” forces.
In short, human history was nothing to brag about and certainly it was no hymn of praise to human achievement and progress, given recent events such as World War One.
As Zahrnt expressed it, Barth “turned 19th Century theology on its head” and then went “not from the bottom up but from the top down”. I.e.: we do not reach God by starting with humanity or human achievements and victories, but rather, God reaches out to us in revelation…
For Barth “God is the subject and predicate of his theology all in one”.
Barth and neo-orthodoxy sounded radical to those trained to view Scripture as a curious example of ancient history, not the sacred word of God.
According to Barth’s interpretation, no longer is the reader in charge of the biblical text but the text judges the reader.
And so when the “German Christians” insisted on inserting Hitler and racial hatred into the Scriptures or removing Paul and robbing Jesus of his Jewish identity, Barth was ready to object with a vigorous regard for biblical authority.
19th Century liberal theology had weakened biblical foundations, and “German Christians” has simply taken advantage of this human-centred interpretation.
Barth’s neo-orthodox interpretation of Romans repeatedly hammers away against idolatry of self-worship in human form, nation, or leader…
The gulf between humans and God is too wide for the human eye; only God in his revelation and his word may cross that divide. Hence every human effort to identify a leader, a nation, a fatherland, or a race with the divine always results in the worship of the “No-God.”
Barth urged future preachers in Germany to take the biblical text seriously, to submit themselves to it, and not the other way around.
By focusing on the text through exegesis, pastors would hold up and alternative rhetoric to the culture. From his lectures it is clear that for preachers in the Barthian tradition, the biblical text reigns supreme.
Without the preacher intending to be controversial or political, the Holy Spirit may make him so in the faithful hearing and proclaiming of Scripture. Barth issued a call to arms against the German Christian movement and argued against any marriage of Christianity with Nazism.
He warned that “what under no circumstances is allowed to happen is this, that we in zeal for a new thing we consider good, lose our theological existence.
God is nowhere present for us, nowhere present in the world, nowhere present in our realm and in our time as in his word; that this word of his has no other name and content than Jesus Christ and that Jesus Christ for us is nowhere in the world to be found as new every day except in the Old and New Testaments. About this we in the church are unified or we are not in the church”
Theological existence today, for Barth, was being bound to God’s Word and to Jesus Christ alone and to no other name or race of land.’[iii]

On the whole I’m uncomfortable with labels outside just being called a Christian, so the term Barthian is not something I’m quick to apply to myself or others with any deliberate zeal.

I am, however, convinced that what The Word of God might say to the Christian through a Barthian lens has the potential to transform lives, beginning with their theology.


References:

[i] Stroud, D. 2013 (editor), Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of resistance in the Third Reich, Wm.B Eerdmans Publishing Company

[ii] Ibid, p.23

[iii] Ibid, pp.31-33

Image: Storied Theology – On Loving Freedom

Originally published 14th September 2014 

©Rod Lampard, 2019

A lot of people leave out the Christian part when it comes to Martin Luther King Jnr. They do this because they’re either uncomfortable with the truth, they simply don’t know, have a prejudice towards Christians, or don’t really want to know.

This was illustrated by the brilliant, Vince Conard in a recent comic strip he posted to Instagram.

 

What Conrad presents is a critique of the tone, aggression and disunity of our day. Any mention of Martin’s faith, is anathema on some circles within the West. The fact that in 1934, the year after Hitler had taken for himself total power, MLK’s parents named their son after a German theologian and reformer has a lot to do with their faith in Christ. They acted in faith, because of the liberating power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which was displayed in the actions of the early Martin Luther during the Reformation. This fact seems to grate against those in the West, who may seek to hijack MLK in the name of division, self-interest and fear.

Tearing MLK away from his theological foundation, tears King away from everything he stood for and against. MLK’s legacy is a Christian witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the overcoming of sin. All sin, not just the bits and pieces some people choose to focus on in order to lord it over others. This includes the sin of treating others, who are created in the image of God, differently because of the colour of their skin.

MLK’s legacy is a Christian witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the liberation of humanity from its primal atheism. This is a liberation from humanity’s rejection of grace, its self-displacement, subsequent displacement of others and self-destruction.

Karl Barth spoke consistently about his view that the “no” of God heard in Jesus Christ has nothing on the great “yes” of God, spoken at the same time. This humiliation of God is the exaltation of humanity. This is something God chose. In exercising His freedom, God hands us freedom. True freedom only finds its place within the God who is free. God remains the God  who is sovereign and free; and must do so, in order for us to be truly set free. Anything outside the gift of freedom from the sovereign God who is free isn’t true freedom, it’s true bondage; for ‘if the Son sets free, you are free indeed.’ (John 8:36)

In more technical terms:

‘…it is necessarily the case that the [free] omnipotent operation of God merely leaves the activity of the creature free, but makes it free…the effect of operation of God is not bondage but freedom. We could almost put it in this way, that the bondage which results from the operation of the Word and Spirit is itself true freedom.’ (Barth CD.3.3:150)

Freedom consecrated by response, responsibility, partnership with God, prophesy, ministry, healing and teaching. Freedom made real by His choice and His suffering at the hands of whip, condemnation, betrayal, spear, and death on a Roman cross. Freedom vindicated by the empty tomb and the resurrected Jesus, who is not another myth fostered by human imagination, like that of the half-god/half-man Hercules, but is Himself very God and very man.

What grounded Martin Luther King from the start was his faith in Jesus Christ. It’s well documented that when things weighed MLK down, he would lean on the gifts of Mahalia Jackson, who would minister to him through word and song. It’s his defiant Christian faith that should inspire us and point us to the goal of liberation as he saw it, liberation from ALL sin, in the name, word and deeds of Jesus the Christ. Without God’s sovereignty, and His willingness to be for us, none of us are free.

“God is neither hard-hearted or soft minded. He is tough-minded enough to transcend the world; He is tender-hearted enough to live in it. He does not leave us to our agonies and struggles. He seeks for us in dark places and suffers with us, and for us in our tragic prodigality.” (A Tough Mind & a Tender Heart, Gift of Love, p.9)

Furthermore, the faith of Martin Luther King Jnr is not to be confused with optimism. It’s not the “faith” of optimists and psychologists. Those who would preach from the pages of positive psychology such as Jordan Peterson. The clever term they use in order to justify reducing the Christian faith to principles that can be lived out, without any need for a relationship with the One who is the author and foundation of this faith; the One who anchors humanity to the living hope that this defiant faith testifies.

Martin Luther King Jnr wasn’t a man without sin, but he was a man who knew that ALL sin is answered first and foremost by God, in and through Jesus Christ.

This segregating of King from his faith and theology may serve the secular political aims of modern liberals, and their quest for total power by any means necessary, but it ultimately enslaves King to the servitude [i]. It enslaves MLK to ideology-as-master and the reactionary political groups it controls. These include groups and agendas, he, in all likelihood would never have signed on to because they persist in denying their own sin, and yet, are loud and proud in their condemnation of the sin of others.

Despite his liberal theology [ii], to separate MLK from Jesus Christ, is to create an MLK who never existed [iii]. To segregate Martin Luther King Jnr from this defiant Christian faith, and the testimony of God, who speaks through it, is to fail to hear what MLK had to say. To segregate MLK from Jesus Christ, is to burn what he set in motion, on the cross of what he hoped to see achieved.

#FREEMLK!


References:

[i] Jean Bethke Elshtain: ‘Martin Luther King was no generic social reformer but an African-American Baptist Minister; Pope John Paul II’s pastoral identity deeply informed his extraordinary diplomatic missions.A range of developments, from civil rights struggles in the U.S to Solidarity in Poland and the end of the Soviet Empire, are incomprehensible if religion is left out of the picture’ (Just War Against Terror, 2008).

[ii] Martin Luther King’s Early theology on ‘The Humanity & Divinity of Jesus‘, where he dissociates himself with the orthodox view of Jesus Christ’s Divinity (Incarnation), e.g.: ‘The Word Became Flesh’.

[iii] MLK criticised liberal theology, but he was caught up and influenced by the theology of it, particularly the Social Gospel, which has an inherently Marxist leaning – e.g.: liberation theology as opposed to a theology of Christian liberation (solidarity & subsidiarity). I believe MLK was more in the latter category, than the former. He wasn’t a liberation theologian. For the sake of simplicity my comment, “despite his liberal theology”, is more a minor footnote acknowledgement of an area that influenced his theological journey.

Artist: Vince Conard, https://www.instagram.com/vince_conard/  (Used with permission)

King, Jnr. M.L. A Tough Mind & a Tender Heart, Gift of Love (p.9)

Torrance, T.F. 2009 Atonement: The Person & Work of Jesus Christ InterVarsity Press

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Posts like these provide a good chance to offer my thanks to those of you who stop by to read on a regular, and casual basis. My goal for this blog hasn’t changed from previous years. It’s primary subject is still theology and politics. It’s secondary subjects are music, movies, and homeschool. Part of the joy of writing, is discovery; stopping to wonder at something, and then inviting others to do the same. My hope for anything that I write, is to see it communicate discovery and reconnect people with a real understanding of the relevance of the Bible, and faith in Jesus Christ. In a world of competing noise, this can be difficult to do, but where I may fail, due to my own human limitations, may God succeed.

Here are the top ten most viewed articles of 2018:

1.Barth’s Impossible Possibility: It’s not that we can fall from grace, it’s that is, & can be rejected

2.Marcus Garvey: Educate Yourself

3.Why Social Justice Warriors Are the Brethren of Iscariot, Not Christ

4.Review: Crusade In Europe, Dwight Eisenhower

5.Bonhoeffer’s Discourse On Pride, Identity, Lust & Christian Discipleship 

6.Capitalism Needs Compassion, Compassion Needs Capitalism. Socialism Outlaws Both

7.Three Criticisms of Karl Barth

8.Convicts Arriving in Botany Bay Isn’t “Invasion Day”, The Imperial Japanese Bombing of Darwin in 1942 Is

9. A Case Against Banning Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn

10. Truth Vs. Manipulative Propaganda In The World, Church, Practice & Theory

Special mentions:

1.Donald Trump’s “No” To Imperialism

2.On Parenting: There can be no pedestal, only protest and petition

3.Not All affliction is from God, but God works through all affliction

 


© Rod Lampard, 2018

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

Since 2014 I’ve been committed to considering what different things God might have to say at the close of Christmas. Traditionally this is Epiphany, the 6th January, marking the end of the twelve days of Christmas.

Magi from the East (Persia), following the star (likely to be the well-timed rare alignment of three planets in our Sol system; a Nova or Super Nova) find confirmation of Micah 5:2:

‘but you, O Bethlehem who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old, from ancient of days’.

The Magi, after arriving in Jerusalem, are sent by the malicious, King Herod, to Bethlehem. The order is: ‘diligently search for the child and report back’ (Matthew 2:9). The Magi are once again ‘guided by the star that they had seen when it rose before them’ (ibid). At this the Magi ‘rejoiced exceedingly with great joy’ (Matthew 2:10). Arriving at the house where Mary and Joseph now reside, the Magi gift their famous tribute of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

This sacrifice honours the One whom they have sought to honour. Their mission is complete. Their journey comes to an end, and they’re offering enters them into a history they never intended to be included in. The Magi aren’t Jewish, but they know the Old Testament; they know of the Jewish prophets. From the East the Magi arrived, perhaps with apprehension and anticipation, but by the time that they end up leaving, they leave having that apprehension and anticipation answered with great joy. The Magi are not disappointed.

With their own eyes they not only see, but joyfully participate in the confirmation of the prophet Micah’s significant foretelling of the birth of the one who comes from the Ancient of Days; the birth of The King of Israel, in insignificant Bethlehem.

This great joy emboldens the Magi. They take heed of a dream in which they are warned not return to King Herod. This is later justified by Herod’s command to kill all male infants aged two and under, in Bethlehem and the surrounding region.

Like the Magi’s visit and their presenting of gifts to the infant Christ (Matthew 2:11), Epiphany is a time of stepping back and gifting God with the attention of our hearts and minds.

Wise men still seek Him, and Epiphany (the traditional close of Christmas celebrations and contemplation) is a good place to end one year and begin another.

Instead of us making our own resolutions, it’s a good time to seek out the resolutions God has already made towards us. Understanding that we ‘worship by the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh’ (Philippians 3:3); and that we can rely on His strength to do so, not solely our own.

Looking to what God has already revealed about Himself, we ask, what can we draw from God’s self-revelation that will take us into the New Year with confidence?

What is it about God’s self-revelation that will help us build on God’s resolution towards us, one that outlasts vain and clichéd New Years Eve promises?

Epiphany is not without substance. The great joy of the Magi is not without justification.

They may leave empty-handed, but they don’t leave empty and disillusioned. The Magi leave well guarded; full of the joy of the Lord. This is a joy they’ve witnessed face to face with, and received from, the One who is the ‘fountain of all joy’ (Tony Reinke)[i].

As Karl Barth noted, this great joy is the radiance of God’s glory:

‘God’s love becomes an event and a person, God’s fellowship, powerful and a fact [.…]It is a glory that awakens joy […] God’s glory radiates it […] because it is God who Himself radiates joy […] His glory is radiant, and what it radiates is joy. It attracts and therefore it conquers.’ (Karl Barth, CD. II:1, pp.643, 655, 654, 661) (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 30:5; Isaiah 55:12; John 15:11)

May Epiphany remind us that ‘the presence of the Creator is not an idle or unfruitful presence. It is not the presence of cold confrontation. It is not a presence which leaves blind eyes blind or deaf ears deaf. It is a presence which opens them. God’s glory is the indwelling joy of His divine being which as such shines out from Him.’ (Barth, CD 2.1:647)

May Epiphany not be a cold confrontation with the great joy experienced by the Magi. May this great joy, be the joy of the Lord working in our lives. May we ‘not be grieved, knowing that the Joy of the Lord is our strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10), and that it is only in Him that great joy is to be found. That we too are guarded and that we too can march on as wise men, when kings, rulers, or the world (and sometimes those about us), are all too happy to deceive, mock, destroy, steal and tear down.

With the Magi, may we say that the great joy awakened in them by the glory of God is now also before us, for us and given resolutely to us. With the Magi, we can embrace the birth of the new and the continuing reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people, and the fact that His joy WILL BE our strength, and none other[ii].


References:

[i] Tony Reinke noted that ‘joy is fundamental to God’s triune nature. To find God is to find the fountain of all joy […] We participate in joy when we reach the essence of all joy: God Himself’. I disagree with how Reinke’s article conflates happiness with Joy, but I agree with the fact that ‘God is the fountain of joy’.

[ii] Dietrich Bonhoeffer: ‘One should, in such times of confusion, go back to the beginning, to our wellsprings, to the true Bible, to the true Luther. One should keep on, ever more undaunted and joyfully, becoming a theologian who speaks truth in love (ἀληθεύοντες ἐν ἀγάπῃ). (DBW 12)

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2019

Also published @ The Caldron Pool, January 13, 2019 under the same title.

As promised, the latest film in the Transformers series delivers.  ‘Bumblebee’ is a prequel set on America’s West Coast, in 1987. The film moves along at an engaging pace, is quaint and unexpected. High action scenes interweave with a smart storyline which is matched with a well chosen cast. Although debate about whether ‘Bumblebee’ is a prequel or a spin off, continues, the little that is wrong with this film, is outweighed by what the creators get right.

In a small list of highlights, the biggest was how the film succeeds as a prequel. As a flashback, ‘Bumblebee’ offers a solid start. Without offering spoilers, it’s enough to say that the storyline is consistent with the five Michael Bay films which came before it.

This is bolstered by careful attention to detail, such as when the Decepticon, Soundwave, makes his appearance for the first time. As with the first Transformer movies which brought the return of Peter Cullen’s classic voice to Optimus Prime’s, “Autobots. Roll out!” Soundwave’s[1] one scene, signature robotic voice command “Decepticon’s. Attaaaack!”, brings Transformers back to its classic 1980s roots.

Although he only has one scene, Soundwave is the only old Decepticon to be reintroduced to the series, while two, new muscle car/combat aircraft Decepticon’s, fill the role of antagonist. In addition, talented new actors provided a welcome change of scenery. This adds to the distancing of ‘Bumblebee’ with the (big star saturated screen presence of the) film’s predecessors.

In a short list of significant letdowns, the biggest was the absence of Steve Jablonsky. Having created the soundtrack for all six Transformers movies, his absence felt odd and inconsistent.  Without Jablonsky colouring the background with his now trademark Transformers sound, parts of the film felt empty. The careful insertion of some classic 1980s songs did not fill the void.

Italian film composer, Dario Marianelli may have excelled in period films like ‘Pride & Prejudice (2005)’, but he was a poor choice for the ‘Bumblebee’ movie.  The absence of Jablonsky stood out like the size of Megatron’s ego. Marianelli had big shoes to fill. He was working outside of his genre and it showed. The Bumblebee soundtrack is a letdown and the absence of Jablonsky is a huge loss for an otherwise excellent film. In the end, not one song in Marianelli’s soundtrack succeeds in matching Jablonsky’s ‘Tessa’, ‘Autobots’, ‘No Sacrifice, No Victory,  ‘Arrival to Earth’ and the haunting witty flow of ‘Cogman Sings’.

In attempting to answer why Marianelli, and not Jablonsky, it’s anyone’s best guess. My own would be that a) it was contractual b) the makers of Bumblebee wanted to make a clean cut between ‘Bumblebee’ and its predecessors c) Jablonsky was too masculine for a movie with a lead female character.

If the Hollywood Reporter and Cinema Blend are right, ‘Bumblebee’ is as much a “soft spinoff” as it is a prequel. If Transformers goes the way the Star Wars franchise has, and its creative direction is ideologically liberated from its original cinematic creators, then all three options are probable reasons for why Jablonsky was not invited to the table.

Another somewhat minor letdown was John Cena’s character. His character’s role starts out strong, but by the end of the film, his character’s presence in many of the closing scenes is purposeless and comical. Not only does Cena’s character descend into a mockery of the strong masculine role, it could also be viewed as a further attempt to paint male authority as buffoonish. With the current political zeitgeist, it’s hard not to see this is a veiled (passive aggressive) upper cut thrown by Hollywood, in the direction of Donald Trump, and all white heterosexual men in general.

However, to ‘Bumblebee’s’ credit, this particular downside to the film is balanced by the admiration and affection that the film’s protagonist, Charlie Watson (played by Hailee Steinfeld), has for her late father. Watson’s father is portrayed as an attentive, engaged, strong and loving parent, who is deeply missed; something that Hailee Steinfeld communicates to the audience with heartfelt precision. In addition to this, because ‘Bumblebee’ stresses the importance of a child having a mother and a father, the film presents a strong message about grieving and the importance of family as being a built around male and female; dad, mum and children. The main point being that Watson’s father cannot be replaced.

Despite hidden prejudices that could be drawn out from the film, ‘Bumblebee’ is an unexpected, fun, inspirational family film. ‘Bumblebee’ delivers. If Hollywood Reporter’s speculation that the film is a spin off, then the story line is left wide open, not only for further films, but a multiverse conversion of Hasbro’s line of related 1980s heroes and villains[2]. Something aptly coined by Graeme McMillan as the ‘Hasbroverse’.

If freeing Transformers from its original cinematic creators, in the same way that Star Wars has been liberated, I’m not all that optimistic about where the franchise will go.  Overall, ‘Bumblebee’ is an unexpected, fun, family friendly film, with all the Transformer action. Other than the obvious absence of a Jablonsky soundtrack, and a few minor letdowns in the development, and consistency of some characters, ‘Bumblebee’ is not just a great start to something fresh, it’s an exciting filler, as we wait for the finale to Michael Bay’s cinematic Transformer interpretation.


References:

[1] Voiced by Frank Welker (Megatron, Dr.Claw)

[2] E.g.: G.I Joe, Action Man & Transformers

©Rod Lampard, 2018

Disclaimer: I did not receive and remuneration for this review of any kind.