Jesus as an openly gay man

Paying work places its demands on me, but I thought you’d like to see and think about (and perhaps comment upon) an article that tries to imagine what it would be like if the newly discovered gospels reveal that Jesus was an openly gay man.  I find it a bit peculiar insofar as it seems to take large parts of the Christian message and reduce it to a guide for gay living, but that’s just me.

Oh, two things:  (1) You guys have to promise me that, even if you view this as offensive or sacrilegious, you won’t grab your swords, guns, and pitchforks, and launch a murderous assault a UN compound.  (2) As always, this is an opportunity for civil intellectual analysis against an article that can be viewed either as very silly or as yet another serious attack against core Christian doctrine.  It is not an opportunity to voice hostility to gays.  As to this last, I know that you guys are neither rude, nor homophobic, but I also know that it can get frustrating when a vocal minority uses a large soapbox to challenge cherished and deeply significant beliefs.

It’s entirely possible that, when it comes to gay marriage and the First Amendment, pluralism won’t work.

Rodney King got his 15 minutes of fame for (a) getting beaten up while resisting arrest; (b) having his name attached to some horrific riots; and (c) plaintively asking “Can we get along?”  The last is a great thought.  I’d like to get along with people better myself.  “Getting along,” though, presupposes that people have the same goals and values.  In our pluralist society, even when we have differences, we mostly limp along all right.  Elections shuttle different value systems in and out of power and (at least when the unions aren’t rioting) Americans expect a peaceful transition.

Still, even pluralist societies have bottom line values, things as to which we’re not willing to bend (although, lately, it’s getting harder to pinpoint just what those values are).  Up until recently, one of those values was that “marriage qua marriage” was a one man, one woman deal.  In recent years, we were willing to contemplate “civil unions,” but “marriage” remained sacrosanct.

Also, because of the First Amendment, another American bottom-line is that the government cannot meddle in religious doctrine.  Some confused people think the First Amendment outlaws religion, or outlaws religious people from participating in politics, but most understand that — unless they’re calling for human or animal sacrifice, or polygamy — the American government leaves religion alone.

I have said all along that the main problem with the gay marriage debate is that, by creating an entirely new bottom line (gay marriage) we’re going to see two bottom lines crash into each other.  You see, traditional male/female marriage meshed nicely with the vast majority of traditional religious norms.  Gay marriage, however, does not mesh with traditional religion.  While Progressive churches and synagogues have opened their doors to gay marriages, more traditional ones, especially the Orthodox Jewish faith and the Catholic Church, have not done so.

When I’ve raised this concern to people, they scoffed.  One liberal told me that, even though abortions are legal, the government has never gone toe-to-toe with the Catholic Church.  He looked a bit taken aback, and had no response, when I pointed out that the Catholic Church doesn’t provide, or withhold, abortions; it simply speaks against them doctrinally.  The Church does, however, marry people, and that leaves open the possibility that a gay couple will sue the church for refusing to perform a marriage service.

Others, while acknowledging that my point has a certain intellectual validity, say that it will never happen.  I’m not so sure, especially after reading a story out of England involving a Pentecostal couple who were told that, as long as their religion held that homosexuality is not acceptable behavior, they could not foster needy children:

A Christian couple morally opposed to homosexuality today lost a High Court battle over the right to become foster carers.

Eunice and Owen Johns, aged 62 and 65, from Oakwood, Derby, went to court after a social worker expressed concerns when they said they could not tell a child a ‘homosexual lifestyle’ was acceptable.

The Pentecostal Christian couple had applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers but withdrew their application believing it was ‘doomed to failure’ because of the social worker’s attitude to their religious beliefs.

The couple deny that they are homophobic and said they would love any child they were given. However, what they were ‘not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing’.

What’s relevant to this post is that the judges explicitly held that homosexual rights trump religious rights:

Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation ‘should take precedence’ over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.

Admitted, Britain does not have a First Amendment.  However, as I noted above, First Amendment or not, our government bars, and (when Mormons are involved) actively prosecutes, polygamy.  It does so despite the fact that polygamy was official doctrine for the Mormons and is official doctrine for the Muslims.  Likewise, although Voodoo is recognized as a religion, we don’t let practitioners engage in animal sacrifice.  In other words, First Amendment or not, the government will interfere in religious doctrine if it runs completely afoul of a bottom-line American value.

If gay marriage is deemed Constitutional, we suddenly have two conflicting bottom-line values — gay marriage and religious freedom.  I’m not predicting how this will turn out.  I’m just saying that, if I was the Catholic Church or an Orthodox synagogue, I’d start having my lawyers look at this one now.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Two posts I’d like you to read

I keep getting called away by real life, so let me quickly apprise you of two posts I think you’d enjoy.

The first is at Wolf Howling.  WH is inaugurating a series examining 15 battles that were turning points in history.  His first post is about the Battle of Chipyong-ni, Feb. 13-15, 1951. If you are a history buff generally, or a military history buff specifically, I cannot recommend any better writer than WH.

On a completely different topic, David French writes about the ongoing Christian genocide in the Muslim world.  The MSM doesn’t want you know, but all citizens of conscience, Christian or not, should be aware of what’s happening, and should put pressure on their home governments to make efforts to stop these crimes against humanity.

I now pronounce the Archbishop of Canterbury officially insane

The Archbishopric of Canterbury used to be a pretty important job.  The guy who held that position, going back to the earliest Middle Ages, was the premier leader of the English church, whether that church gave allegiance to Rome or the British Monarch.  The current Archbishop, Rowan Williams is, as best as I can tell, insane.

A few years ago, he made a place for himself on the radar by supporting sharia law which is (a) anti-Christian and (b) antithetical to Western notions of human rights.  I don’t need to tell any of you that, under sharia law, Christians and Jews, if they are allowed to live, are second class citizens; women are prisoners of men and can be beaten or murdered with impunity; homosexuals are routinely murdered by the State; and the whole theocratic tyrannical institution seeks world domination.

Williams’ apparent comfort with the idea of creating a vast prison for the entire world population may stem from the fact that his view of prisoners is, to say the least, unique.  He thinks that even the worst of them should be entitled to the full panoply of rights, including the right to vote.  Yes, this is true.  The Archbishop of Canterbury would be comfortable giving, say, Charles Manson or the Yorkshire Ripper a voice in electing government officials, determining government spending, creating laws controlling citizens, etc:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today said prisoners should get the vote, backing an axe killer whose campaign has been endorsed by European courts.

John Hirst, who hacked his landlady to death, yesterday boasted that he was on the verge of forcing the Government to ‘wave the white flag of surrender’, as MPs prepare to vote on the move tomorrow.

The leader of the Church of England Dr Rowan Williams today said that prisoners should keep their dignity – and that their rights should not be put in ‘cold storage’ while they are behind bars.

‘We’re in danger of perpetuating a penal philosophy and system which actually leaves everybody as victims,’ he said.

He told a Commons committee that the country should move beyond ‘a situation where the victimising of the prisoner by the denial of those basic civic issues is perpetuated.’

‘The prisoner as citizen is somebody who can on the one hand expect their dignities as a citizen to be factored into what happens to them.’

That the lunatics who have taken over the EU asylum would like to perpetuate their power by giving the vote to those who have, through their conduct, blatantly violated the social compact is, sadly, understandable. What’s so deeply disturbing here is that it is the Archbishop of Canterbury who has slipped his moorings and is advocating the same inversion of morality and decency.  This is the man, after all, who is supposed to stand for the highest Christian traditions — traditions that include respect for the sanctity of life and law.  For him to treat an axe murderer in  precisely the same way he treats the shopkeeper on the street corner is a travesty of the notions of grace, decency and ethics.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

A Christmas appreciation *UPDATED*

‘Tis the season for the usual politically correct attacks on Christmas.  Ecumenical signs, disingenuously trimmed with Christmas holly and ornaments, urge a generic “Happy Holidays.”  Bank inspectors, perhaps seeking an easier task than examining a bank’s books, remove crosses.  Every December, Scrooge takes his steroids and is out in full force.

You’d think, of course, that I, a non-practicing Jew with a fairly loose sense of God, would be delighted by these rigorous efforts to protect innocent Americans from rampant Christmas celebrations.  But alas for the do-gooders on the Left, I’m not.

I adore Christmas.  Americans, unlike so many other religious practitioners, are extraordinarily generous with their religion.  They don’t forcibly drag nonbelievers to bow before their altars.  Instead, they graciously share the bounty of their own celebration.

I can listen to the music (and I do looove Christmas music), delight my eye with the lights, and generally bathe in the good cheer that permeates this season.  And all at no cost to me!  If I feel so inclined, Christians will welcome me into the fold, but they will not coerce or threaten me into their faith.  Instead, they’ll just make my December a wonderful time of year.

Atheists, instead of being obstreperous, should just relax and enjoy the fact that, as the days grow dark and cold, our fellow Americans welcome us to their holiday of lights.  On behalf of those ingrates, therefore, I say “thank you — and Merry Christmas!”

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  Nina Totenberg’s bizarre apology for attending a “Christmas” party is the perfect example of Scrooge on steroids.

Israel, American Jews, American Christians and a whole bunch of other stuff too

I struggled for a few minutes to find a clever title for this post that would convey the volume of information I’m about to download from my brain, but realized I couldn’t.  A laundry list description will just have to do.

You see, last night, I had the pleasure of attending a Hanukkah party that the NorCal chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition hosted.  What wasn’t surprising was that conservative Jews attended the party.  What was surprising was that they came from all over the Bay Area. Apparently the opportunity to get together with fellow conservative Jews is a beguiling one, even if one has to travel a hundred miles or so to do it.

What was even more surprising, and was also tremendously heartening, was the number of non-Jews who attended out of a feeling of solidarity with Israel.  It was a reminder in the flesh of the fact that America’s tiny percentage of Jews, standing alone, cannot account for America’s (not the administration’s, but America’s) long-standing support for Israel.  That strong support comes about because America’s Christian population respects and believes in that small, democratic Jewish state, a nation surrounded by hostile forces inimical, not only to Israel, but to America as well.

Another draw for the party was the speaker:  syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray.  I’ve enjoyed Joel’s writing for years, and hoped that he’d be as delightful a speaker as he is a writer (some writers, sadly, do not translate well to the spoken word).  Happily, he exceeded my expectations.  He’s a charming speaker, offering everything you’d hope for:  pleasant voice and cadence, good sense of humor, a well-informed mind, and an easy verbal lucidity.

Joel spoke about the situation in Israel today and he was surprisingly optimistic.  He says that Israel is enjoying an extremely prosperous time right now, with a growing economy and a significant lack of terrorist violence.  The targeted killings in the West Bank and Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, and the Hezbollah War all served, temporarily at least, to quiet the terrorists and give Israelis a respite. Further, the setbacks to Iran’s nuclear program, especially Stuxnet, have given the Israelis (not to mention the Arab nations around them) some breathing room.

Israelis fully understand, though, that this is merely a respite, rather than a lasting peace.  A nuclear Iran is an impossible-to-contemplate game-changer, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world.  The Israelis are planning accordingly, both defensively and offensively.  In other words, they are being smart, rather than burying their heads in the sand.

Most of the questions in the room expressed concern about Iran and about President Obama’s manifest hostility to and disdain for Israel.  Joel believes (and I agree) that Obama will not go too far in undercutting Israel should the bombs start to fly.  He also believes (and I agree) that Americans will support Israel.  The other countries will huff and puff, in a very ugly way, but they too will be happy should Israel succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear pretensions.  As Joel pointed out, the situation in North Korea is a useful illustration of the impossible Hobson’s choice that arises when you have a rogue nation armed with nuclear weapons.

I asked Joel about American Jewish voting trends in the 2012 elections.  He said that, except for those implacably wed to liberalism, signs are good for a shift away from the Democratic party.  (To which I’ll add that we can only hope that American Jews finally start living up to their reputation for intelligence.)  It occurred to me that the recent attacks against Glenn Beck, charging him with antisemitism because he is going after George Soros, may be a preemptive attempt to keep the Jews on the Progressive reservation.

After Joel’s speech, I got the opportunity to talk to some old friends and some new ones.  One of my old friends asked me an excellent question:  What is it with the self-loathing Jews?  My response to him is that they are desperately trying to deflect attention from themselves.  “You say you hate Jews?  Well, so do I.  Heck, I hate them even more than you do.  So if you ever feel like attacking Jews, you can just ignore me.”

From that, we talked about how supportive American Christians are of Jews and Israel.  My friend opined, correctly I think, that part of the reason American Christians identify strongly with Jews is because American Christians are versed in both the Old and the New Testaments.  He pointed out that, in Europe, the Old Testament is virtually ignored.  Not only does that mean they hear only that part of the Bible hostile to Jews, it also deprives them of the ability to understand and appreciate the Jews’ rich history and their deep ties to the Holy Land.

Barbara Tuchman, incidentally, makes a similar point in her wonderful book, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, about the philosemitism that characterized the Jewish upper classes in the years leading to the Balfour declaration.  Because they were steeped in the Old Testament, the Brits, while they wouldn’t dream of dining with a Jew, thought it was a fine thing to reestablish a Jewish nation in the ancient homeland.  Nowadays, between oil and Leftism, it’s hard to imagine a Britain that doesn’t waiver between vicious and virulent antisemitism, but that wasn’t always the case.

It was truly a revitalizing evening.  Not only was Mowbray’s cautious optimism comforting, it was a very real pleasure to be in a room full of Jews and non-Jews alike, all of whom share a deep commitment to liberty and individual freedom, whether exercised in America or abroad.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Liam Neeson — great voice, little brain

Liam Neeson, who does the voice of Aslan the Lion in the Narnia movies, has upset people by claiming that Aslan could as easily be Allah or Buddha as he could be Christ:

Ahead of the release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader next Thursday, Neeson said: ‘Aslan symbolises a Christ-like figure but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.

‘That’s who Aslan stands for as well as a mentor figure for kids – that’s what he means for me.’

Apparently, despite providing Aslan’s voice, Neeson never read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, nor saw the movie, both of which are pretty accurate allegories for the crucifixion and resurrection.

Still, one can see where someone raised on a steady diet of cultural relativism might try to morph all religious figures into one big loving God-like thingie.   The problem is that C.S. Lewis explicitly rejected this approach in his last Narnia book.  Instead, he made it clear that there is only one God and that’s the Christian God.

In the Narnia series, my favorite book has come to be The Last Battle — which is the Biblical end of the world, Narnia style. Within that book, my favorite scenes take place after the Apocalypse, when the saved are in the Narnia version of Heaven.

When the heroes and heroines of past books arrive in their Heaven, they find there a Calormene. Caloremenes are Narnian’s arch enemies (and, interesting, given that the book was written in the 1950s, are clearly modeled on Muslims out of the Arabian nights). They reject Aslan (the Jesus figure) and instead worship Tash, an evil figure who is clearly meant to be the equivalent of Satan.  In other words, it’s highly probable that Lewis viewed Allah as a Satanic figure or, certainly, the un-God.

The Calormene’s presence in Heaven is, therefore, unexpected. It turns out, however, that the Calormene is an exceptionally honorable character who believes in Tash because he was raised to, but whose values are clearly in line with Aslan’s. Accordingly, when he arrives in Heaven, Aslan welcomes him, assuring him that all of his good acts by-passed Tash and were accorded directly to Aslan — hence his place in Heaven.

Lewis’ point, of course, is that the Christian God — Aslan or Jesus — focuses on man’s acts and is readily able to separate the wheat from the chaff. True religions encourage good behavior, but it is up to God in the afterlife to determine whether any individual actually “got it right” in terms of moral choices. God also has sufficient self-assurance to accept that some might not appear to accord him the proper respect on earth, because God looks at deep acts and beliefs, not superficial behaviors.

So Liam Neeson is totally wrong when he tries to morph Aslan/Jesus/Christian God into some generic good deity.  In the C.S. Lewis world, God is always God.  The only question is whether we humans have met his standards, not whether he has met ours.

A couple of AP articles that caught my eye, both for what they say and for what they don’t say *UPDATED*

I was very surprised to see an AP wire story reporting that Islamic militants (as opposed to mere “militants” or “insurgents”) were holding “Christians” (as opposed to mere “people”) hostage.  Even more surprising, the AP reported that the Islamic militants were probably affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq, an entity one apparently couldn’t acknowledge during the Bush years.

Just as I was thinking to myself, “Well, that AP worm has certainly turned, with this surprisingly honest report,” I read another wire story about the Chandra Levy murder trial.  You remember that story, right?  A decade ago, Rep. Gary Condit’s career was destroyed when an affair he had with Levy (which was definitely an unprincipled, immoral thing to do, since he was married), got morphed by the media into an unofficial murder charge.  Now, the probable actual murderer is on trial.

This is what the AP says about the defendant:  “Ingmar Guandique, a native of El Salvador, is on trial for the murder and attempted sexual assault of Levy nearly a decade ago.”

Now I, not having been born yesterday, verbalized yet another thought to myself:  “What are the odds that Guandique is an illegal immigrant?”  Turns out the odds are 100%.  Somehow, though, the AP just couldn’t bring itself to put that adjective out there.

Let me remind the open borders crowd that one of the virtues of having legal as opposed to illegal immigration, is that it enhances our government’s ability to weed out the killers before they cross our borders.

UPDATE:  This Philip Terzian post about the WaPo best seller list seems like an appropriate coda to a post on media bias.  I especially like the way Terzian describes the media’s inability to recognize its own bias:

One of the inherent difficulties of defining left-wing bias in the press to journalists is that it is something like describing the ocean to fish: It is so pervasive, and such a comfortable, nurturing environment, that it is hardly noticed.

Yeah — what he said.

How does one win the war without destroying oneself? *UPDATED*

All our weapons — free speech, reason, forbearance — are for dealing with people who are sort of like us.  The existential crisis comes when we find ourselves dealing with people who are in no way like us.  Do we oppose them by being even more like ourself than before (more speech, more reason, more forbearance), or do we have to become like them?

Israel has been fighting this existential battle for decades.  It’s not just about bombs, it’s about keeping your own decency when locked in combat with an indecent other.  And today, the Anchoress reminds me that the Catholic Church fights this endless battle as well.

UPDATE:  This comment, from ex cathedra, was too good to leave hiding below the fold:

You mention reason and free speech as weapons. This is true. But we do not use them as weapons. The o verarching self-censorship of political correctness prevents our leaders from confronting, challenging, debating Muslims. Since they are a non-white group, they cannot be confronted by whites: the whole thing becomes a name-calling game about bigotry and racism. It gets reduced to group ego, which goes by the bogus name of sensitivity, etc.

If we did use our arsenal of argument, challenge, reason, fact…and were not afraid to call out Muslims in public, then we might have a chance. But anyone who does that becomes an “Islamophobe”.

The same phenomenon is true for any group that has Designated Victim status in liberal culture. Blacks, gays, women, Latinos, etc. This cultural Marxism inside our liberal discourse has made cowards of those who supposed to be the champions and guardians of our way of life.

The problem, of course, is that there is no longer any “we”.

Being forgiven for our past sins — or, maybe, O’Donnell has grown up *UPDATED*

I know this will come as a surprise to all of you, but I was not born wise or well informed.  I blush to think of some of the behaviors in which I indulged, and the ideas that I held, when I was younger.

When I was a very little girl, I picked up from the secular people surrounding me the idea that there is no God.  Not only did I refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance, although I was scared enough of the teacher that I still moved my lips, I also thought all believers were fools.  I held to this belief for many, many years.

After reading Gone With The Wind for the first time, when I was 11, I came away with the impression that slavery wasn’t really such a bad thing, as long as you treated your slaves nicely. It took me a while to shake this belief too, especially because it seemed to me that the way many American blacks lived, whether in San Francisco’s Bayview/Hunters’ Point, LA’s Watts and South Central, or Michigan’s Detroit, wasn’t a great improvement over the life of a slave.  The concept of freedom, versus mere material welfare, eluded me.

At around the same time, as a child who grew up watching the Vietnam War on the news, as well as all the antiwar protests, I thought the American military was evil, and that Communists weren’t so bad.

When I was 17, and California voters pass Prop. 13, I thought it was outrageous that people should want to keep their own money when it could go to the government, which would spend it for the people’s own good, only it would do it better.

When I was 18, I voted for Jimmy Carter and was deeply saddened when he lost.

When I was a 20-year old student attending Berkeley, and I heard that Ronald Reagan had been shot, I agreed with my fellow students that he deserved it, a sentiment that earned me a harsh and well-deserved scolding from my parents.

When I was 21 and living in England, I wore a keffiyeh, because it was a cool fashion statement.  That same year, I listened in silence as a British Arab man told a terrible and cruel holocaust joke, because I was too socially intimidated to speak up.

When I returned to America in the early 1980s, I was fascinated by MTV, and watched it obsessively, believing that somehow those videos, with their rocking beats and alternatively meaningless or crude images, could enrich my life.

Throughout my teens and 20s, I hated Christian proselytizers, because I thought they wanted to hurt me, a Jew.  It took me decades to understand that they were acting out of great spiritual generosity, and that they would respond immediately and respectfully to a politely given “no.”

Also throughout my teens and twenties, I was mean.  I was an awkward, geeky bookworm, with a quick wit that I used to great effect to hurt people before they could hurt me.  I always had friends, but woe betide anyone who fell on the cutting side of my tongue.  A physical and moral coward, I nevertheless believed that, when it came to insults, the best defense was a good offense.

I was young and I was stupid, stupid, stupid.  I cringe when I look back at the things I did and thought.  What’s really sad is that the only thing that stopped me from making even worse mistakes was my cowardice.  I didn’t really live life.  I observed it from the sidelines, and simply managed to collect a whole bunch of bad ideas as I went along.

The good news is that I grew up.  During those same years, I managed to learn a lot.  At Berkeley, because I couldn’t understand the Marxist cant that permeated every non-science class, and therefore ignored it, I managed to learn about history and art and literature.  At law school (despite a miserable semester with Elizabeth Warren), I learned how to revere the constitution, respect the law and, significantly, analyze data.

Being a lawyer was also a great gift.  It exposed me to activist judges, something that taught me that, without a rule of law, businesses crumble and anarchy arises.  It was frustrating to know that, if I was representing a bank or business in a San Francisco court against an individual, the bank or business would always lose, no matter how rigorously it followed the law, while the individual would always win, no matter how sleazy or careless.  The same held true in employer/employee cases.  I understood that judicial activism increased the cost of doing business, drove businesses out of the Bay Area (and California), and made it virtually impossible for business people to have reliable predictors to control their conduct.

Earning and spending money taught me that capitalism, if properly policed (not controlled, just policed) enriches people, rather than impoverishes or enslaves them.  Living as a responsible adult (rather than a child at home or a cocooned student) taught me that government, even with the best will in the world, is an inefficient engine that moves slowly and that inevitably crushes individuality.  I realized that I prefer to keep power diffuse, amongst myriad people with different ideas about the world, rather than aggregated in one, all-powerful being, whether that being is a person or an ostensibly republican government.  This made me a strong anti-Communist and, indeed, an anti anything totalitarian.

I learned that the old saying was right, and that I could truly catch more flies with honey (especially true honey, not false words of flattery), than I could with vinegar.  I came to regret very deeply the verbal hurts I had inflicted on people.  You will seldom catch me being mean, in act or word.  (Although I admit to slipping when the migraines hit or the kids fight.)

I found it impossible to cling to my prejudices about God and religious people.  The more I learned about science, the more I asked myself, “How did it begin?”  I accept the scientific record and scientific conclusions all the way back to the Big Bang — but what came before?  Could all this something truly have come from nothing?  I don’t know that there is a God, but I’d be an arrogant fool, faced with those questions, to deny a God.  I’m not a believer, but I try to live a moral life as an open-minded non-believer.  I respect believers.

As for Christianity, I learned that people can hold beliefs different from mine, and still be truly, deeply good people, whom it is often an honor to know.  My history studies helped me to understand that the Inquisition is over and that, for the past two hundred years, Christianity has been a uniform force for good in the world.  There are, of course, bad people who profess to be Christians, but Christianity as a belief system is a good thing and we should be grateful for it.  (I also learned, which few Jews accept, that the Nazis were not a Christian movement, but were a violently anti-Christian movement, something that helped me open my heart and mind to Christianity.)

Watching our military during the First Gulf war, and meeting military people as I got older, I began to understand that ours is an exceptional military:  a volunteer organization, controlled by the Constitution, and peopled by ordinary Americans.  Well, “ordinary” in that they’re neither the dregs, nor the aristocrats, as is the case in other, class-based societies.  Instead, they’re people like you and me.  Except, unlike me, they’re brave, even the ones who just joined to pay off their student loans.  Oh, and they’re patriots, which isn’t that common.  And of course, they’re awfully polite and frequently so kind.  But other than that….

So here I am:  someone who was profoundly stupid as a child and young person, but who had the capacity to learn and who did, in fact, learn and grow.

You know where this is going, don’t you?  Christine O’Donnell, of course.

I get the feeling that Christine O’Donnell was a very lost soul when she was young.  The latest evidence of this fact is that Bill Maher is boasting that he has tapes of her admitting to practicing witchcraft (although, frankly, this should endear her to the Left, which loves its Gaia-worshipping Wiccans).

When O’Donnell hit Christianity, she hit it hard, taking a lot of extreme positions (masturbation being the one that has the Left most atwitter) — which is normal for a convert.  The zealots usually come from the recently converted, the ones who still have enthusiasm and who also feel that extremism is an act of repentance.  She’s had financial problems, too, although that leaves her in good company, since it seems that this is a common trait in federal employees.

But O’Donnell has grown up.  Or at least she says she has and, for now, I choose to believe her — because I grew up too.  I wasn’t as silly a youngster as O’Donnell, but I grew up in the 70s and early 80s, which gave me a couple of advantages:  I had a slightly more friendly pop culture (TV still hewed to traditional values) and my youthful idiocies didn’t get captured forever on video tape.

Here’s the difference as I see it between O’Donnell and Obama:  Both of them had idiotic belief systems when they were young, because that’s what a lot of young people do.  But Obama’s belief systems hardened into true-blue (or do I mean true-red?) Marxism, whereas O’Donnell grew up.  She held to her core conservative values (no abortion, small government, etc.), but seems to have abandoned the worst excesses of her youth.

More than that, her conversion to maturity seems sincere.  She has indeed walked away from her immaturity. Yes, O’Donnell is still a pugnacious, somewhat volatile young woman, but she’s not a Wiccan now, she’s not going to set the masturbation police on you, and she’s not going to force all Americans to worship in her church.

If we take her at her word, the O’Donnell of today will go to Washington, D.C. to cut government spending, shrink government’s size, and push for a more Constitutionally run government than we currently have. And there’s nothing crazy or immature about that.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  I seem to be in good (and forgiving) company, as this related post shows.

UPDATE II:  David Swindle has taken my post and run with it.  He makes the point that O’Donnell’s positions on lust, porn and masturbation are “serious” not “extreme” if you have truly embraced Christianity.  I think he’s absolutely right.

The fact is, though, that the media is selling O’Donnell as “extreme” to Americans who aren’t always that serious about Christianity or who are, like me, fairly conservative, but haven’t fully shaken off a lifetime of urban liberal thinking.  I therefore used the word “extreme” in this post in relation to point of view of people who could be swayed by the media’s attack.  In fact, I agree with David’s take about the smooth and reasonable integration of O’Donnell’s faith and her morality.

The one other thing that informs my use of the word “extreme” is the fact that, as someone older than both David and O’Donnell, the whole “spilling your guts on video about your sexual (or wiccan) beliefs” is just a little freaky to me — and that’s a generational thing.  We didn’t do that when I was growing up probably because, in that pre-video, pre-MTV era, we couldn’t do it.

UPDATE III:  If you’ve read UPDATE II, above, you must read Zombie’s wonderful post mixing up quotations from O’Donnell and Carter.  Both are Christians, but you can tell the O’Donnell posts, because she sounds smarter and less narcissistic.  Oh, and the Left loves Jimmah.

UPDATE IV:  Please visit the Anchoress on this too.

Anne Rice and neo-paganism *UPDATED*

My book club group met the other night to discuss William Manchester’s book A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance: Portrait of an Age. The title is something of a misnomer. It’s only a “portrait of an age” if you want to read a thousand years of medieval history crammed into a single chapter, and written in a style that’s a cross between the National Enquirer (in its pre-Carol Burnett, dishonest days) and Vanity Fair (in “full disdain for conservative shibboleths” mode).  The book is distinguished by being salacious, ill-informed, and anti-Catholic — and it is, for a history book, a very easy read.  I think all these factors explain why it is a regular part of high school and college curricula.

Of course, not all of Manchester’s book is a biased muddle.  One of the things he does well is to describe the way in which the Roman world, with its Christian sub-set, collided with the pagan world.  This collision, and the subsequent “conversion” of the pagans, resulted in the medieval Catholic faith.

The word conversion in the previous paragraph deserves those scare quotes because most of those conversions did not involve informed people making a genuine commitment to the new Christian faith.  Instead, the vast majority of those conversions were nominal only.  If a pagan king converted, all of his subjects “converted” too, although few, if any of them, embraced Christianity’s teachings — including monotheism and the acceptance of Christ as their savior.

The end result was that these newly baptized Christians, many of whom inevitably ended up working within the Church itself, simply grafted their still-existing pagan beliefs onto the completely unfamiliar gospels.  Sometimes this grafting was innocuous.  an good example was the way in which Christ’s birth, which didn’t have a fixed date in the Bible, ended up getting blended with the date of a pagan winter celebration.  No harm, no foul.  Sometimes this grafting was magnificent, since the doctrine of transubstantiation put a final end to the pagan obsession with both animal and human sacrifice.  I don’t know about you, but I consider that one of the greatest leaps forward in human civilization.

Sometimes, however, the intermingling of paganism and Christianity was quite damaging.  The specific damage I’m thinking of is the way the pagans co-opted Christianity as an arm of the state.  I don’t need to remind any of you that this was not Christ’s intent.  He anticipated the founding fathers by more than 1,700 years when he said “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”  (Matthew 22:21.)  In the pagan world, however, church and state had long been inextricably intertwined, and the newly Christianized pagan rulers continued to believe that religion and the state were one and the same.

This meant that pagan political and social ideologies were woven into Christian doctrine.  Now, I’m not Christian, and I haven’t read the New Testament closely in about 30 years, but I’m pretty darn sure that Christ never talked about the Augustinian notion of forced conversions and the merits of religious war, about death for heretics, about saints and relics, or about myriad other practices and procedures that became regular fare, both inside and outside of the walls of the medieval church.  Christ’s silence notwithstanding, all of these beliefs and practices became, in the minds of the common people, core religious doctrine, inseparable from Christ’s teachings.  In other words, popular culture became one with the Gospels, never mind what the Gospels themselves actually said.

Anyway, that’s my take on the worst excesses of the medieval Catholic church, excesses that were cleared away by both the Protestant reformation and by the Catholic Church’s own counter reformation in the wake of the 16th century upheavals.  While Christianity may ostensibly have been in the ascendant by the 6th century or so, the fact is that paganism itself didn’t really vanish for another 1,000 years.

And where does Anne Rice come into all of this?  She comes in because, after her much-heralded “kiss and make up” with the church of her childhood (an announcement that allowed her to publicize a new line of books imagining Christ’s life), she’s now in the process of a much-heralded “break up” from the church of her childhood.  On facebook (what better place to discuss faith), she announces thusly (emphasis mine):

I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

In other words, Rice is upset that the Christian churches refuse to layer over Christ’s teachings the beliefs of modern liberalism.  Just as the pagan rulers wanted (and were able to) overlay their political and religious belief systems directly onto Christ’s original message, Anne Rice wants to put the modern Democratic playbook into Christ’s mouth.

The Bible (Old Testament and New, together) was written over the course of almost about 1,500 years, with the first 1,000 years encompassing the Old Testament, followed by a few centuries’ pause, followed by the short window in time during which the New Testament came into being.  There are, therefore, thousands of ideas and edicts in the combined books of the Bible, although I’d argue that the core tenets that inform modern Judeo-Christian culture are the Ten Commandments and Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

However, much to Rice’s manifest distress, in all those books, and all those hundreds of years, neither God, nor the Prophets, nor Christ himself remembered to say the following:

We will lead to defeat the epochal, man-made threat to the planet: climate change. Without dramatic changes, rising sea levels will flood coastal regions around the world. Warmer temperatures and declining rainfall will reduce crop yields, increasing conflict, famine, disease, and poverty. By 2050, famine could displace more than 250 million people worldwide. That means increased instability in some of the most volatile parts of the world. Never again will we sit on the sidelines, or stand in the way of collective action to tackle this global challenge. Getting our own house in order is only a first step. We will invest in efficient and clean technologies at home while using our assistance policies and export promotions to help developing countries preserve biodiversity, curb deforestation, and leapfrog the carbonenergy-intensive stage of development.

We will reach out to the leaders of the biggest carbon emitting nations and ask them to join a new Global Energy Forum that will lay the foundation for the next generation of climate protocols. China has replaced America as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Clean energy development must be a central focus in our relationships with major countries in Europe and Asia. We need a global response to climate change that includes binding and enforceable commitments to reducing emissions, especially for those that pollute the most: the United States, China, India, the European Union, and Russia.

This challenge is massive, but rising to it will also bring new benefits to America. By 2050, global demand for low-carbon energy could create an annual market worth $500 billion. Meeting that demand would open new frontiers for American entrepreneurs and workers.

You may recognize that language as coming directly from the Democratic Party platform for 2008. When Rice castigates the Church for being “anti-Democrat”, it’s pretty obvious that she thinks that modern Christian Churches ought to make  the above words part of their official doctrinal position, tracing them right back to the Sermon on the Mount.

In other words, Rice is a neo-Pagan.  She doesn’t want to take the Bible on its own terms.  Instead, she wants to graft her own belief systems right onto the Bible.  This is quite different from our (appropriate) modern decisions to ignore some of the Bible’s more difficult passages, such as its instructions to kill witches.  Cherry-picking a little is one thing.  Doing what the pagans did, and simply grafting non-Biblical values on top the old, is something else entirely.

UPDATE:  The Anchoress, who has a deep and rich knowledge of Catholicism, and an abiding love for the faith, takes Rice to task for her silly outburst.  Bruce Kesler weighs in too, quite beautifully, in both poetry and prose.

UPDATE II:  Since I opened this post by saying that William Manchester’s anti-Catholic diatribe is required reading at many schools, this seems like an appropriate place to link to a take-down of Howard Zinn, who dominates America’s U.S. History studies.

Football, faith and the media

Well, I finally got around to seeing The Blind Side.  For those unfamiliar with the movie, it retells the true story of Michael Oher, a profoundly disadvantaged black boy who ended up as a scholarship student at a Christian academy in Memphis.  Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, parents at the school, stumbled across him, and eventually took him into their home and family.  With the Tuohy family’s help, he graduated from high school, went to Ole Miss on a football scholarship, and was eventually a first round NFL draft pick.  You can read his story in the New York Times article that served as the basis for the movie.

I have to say here and now that I really dislike most new movies that I see.  I find them boring, and the values usually offend me.  My husband is resigned to the fact that there’s a 90% likelihood that I’ll walk out on any movie within the first 10 minutes.  But I sat and watched The Blind Side to the end, including the credits.  It’s that rare story of good people doing good things.  With the exception of a single jerky football player and the drug dealers from Michael’s old neighborhood, the movie shows people motivated to do well for a child who was truly lost in the system.

As many of you already know, the movie makes no bones about the Christian values driving those who got involved in Oher’s life.  A Christian academy took Michael in (admittedly with something of an eye to his football potential), and Leigh Anne explicitly viewed her acts through the lens of Christian charity.   While the movie doesn’t preach Christian doctrine, it does say something rare in Hollywood movies:  Christians are good people and they are not bigots, even Southern Christians.

Others who have seen the movie (SPOILER ALERT) have noted that Hollywood did manage to get in a few anti-Republican digs, but they were minimal.  When Leigh Ann, frustrated with an endless line at a government office asks the rude, gum-chewing clerk who’s in charge, the clerk points to a picture of George Bush.  Anyone who isn’t half dead realizes, of course, that the United States President is not directly in charge of the lackadaisical behavior at a Memphis government office.  Leigh Ann just ignores the foolish dig and powers on ahead.

The biggest “political” moment in the movie comes when Miss Sue, a private tutor played by Kathy Bates, makes a confession to Leigh Ann during her job interview:  She’s a Democrat.

I think the movie-makers were trying to show that it’s scary, and that one needs to be secretive, in order to be a Democrat in Republican country.  Leigh Ann’s response, however, was pitch-perfect, and I know this because I was a Democrat in Southern Republican country.  She looks blank (“why would someone make a big deal about this confession?”), mutters a polite word, and moves on.  No diatribes, no insults.  It’s very real, and it says something about both Democratic expectations and Republican realities.  (SPOILER ALERT OVER.)

Even though I saw the movie a couple of days ago, I was thinking of it today because of Stuart Schwartz’s article about the fear and loathing the mainstream sports media feels towards Tim Tebow.  (Don Quixote, who knows his sports, read the article and he says that, while Schwartz misunderstands some of the jabs as being aimed at Tebow’s faith rather than his slightly goofy football, the gist of the article is correct.)  Here’s a flavor of what Schwartz has to say about the media’s approach to an overtly Christian NFL player (hyperlinks omitted):

Get accused twice of rape (Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh), repeatedly abuse your wife (Michael Pittman, Tampa Bay), regularly strangle and drown hapless dogs (Michael Vick, Atlanta)? Ah, well, boys will be boys, it is society’s fault — and besides, women and dogs don’t wear Super Bowl rings. But pray, work with the poor, and refuse to engage in casual sex — there’s something seriously wrong with you. Or, as one Sports Illustrated writer put it, you are a certified “wackdo.”

[snip]

With rare exception (Denver Post columnist Woody Paige predicted stardom, maintaining that murder and mayhem are not the only qualifications for NFL success), the journalists have delighted in disparaging the Tebows as too “Christiany,” a journalistic synonym for “fascist.” You know, the kind of people whose vocal love for Jesus conjures up thoughts of a “Nazi rally,” as the largest Boston sports radio station described a family gathering.

[snip]

Positively un-NFL, so much so that one front-office executive announced to Yahoo Sports that “I don’t want any part of him” and his nutty views. Yahoo Sports columnist Les Carpenter, reacting to this, noted that Tebow, “known for his goodness[,] has actually drawn a more visceral reaction [from the NFL and sports journalism establishment] than those players who are at their core, truly bad.”

But Tebow continues being Tebow. He responds with good-natured humor to a jeering press that accuses him of being a virgin with a simple statement: “Yes, I am.” And he goes on to explain the importance of commitment and marriage and ends with noting the discomfort in the room: “I think y’all are stunned right now.”

…To which Pro Sports Daily responded “Don’t be shocked if some of these guys want to take him out and kill the legend that is Tim Tebow.” NCAA Football Fanhouse expressed dismay that “the most popular player in SEC history is saving himself for marriage.” “Unbelievable” when he can have any girl he wants.

What is wrong with this guy? The Washington Post brought in professional atheist Richard Dawkins to reassure its readers that the NFL has nothing to fear. Too many hits from the blind side did not produce this “dummy.”

There is something very wrong with a milieu that routinely excuses violence and vice, and that is genuinely frightened of goodness, the same goodness that saw Michael Oher rescued from an abysmal vacuum of poverty and neglect.

You know that I like matching things up.  I look for articles and stories that provide stark contrasts or that reinforce each other.  Here, we have two stories about faith.  One about its power, and the other about the fear it inspires.

I’m not a person of faith.  I think it would be wonderful and comforting to believe in God, but I don’t.

I’m also not a fool.  I don’t disc0unt the notion of God, because there is too much that neither I, nor anyone else, can explain or understand.  To deny God’s existence is so audacious an act, I would basically be arrogating God-like status for myself.  My cautious view, lying in a gray zone that encompasses atheism and agnosticism is, as I often say to the children, that something preceded the Big Bang.

Mostly, though, regardless of my personal religious views, I’m someone who likes American Christians (by which I mean those people who worship God, not those who worship liberalism as shaped through PC churches that periodically make a nominal nod in the Bible’s direction).  In my experience — and I lived in the American South when I was a Jewish atheist Democrat — American Christians are truly good people.

Yeah, sure there are the Sunday Christians who practice fraud on Monday, and there are the ones who are racists or antisemites, but that’s not the face of the vast majority of American Christians.  Their faces are the same face that the Tuohys and the Tebows show:  hard-working, committed to traditional morality, generous with hearts and homes, and deeply aware of the value of life.  This last — this reverence for life — is not just focused on the abortion issue.  Instead, it manifests itself as a generalized belief that ordinary people are worthy.  People aren’t cogs, or PC labels, but individuals, imbued with a spirit that deserves respect.

I think it is this respect for the individual that is so frightening to the liberal establishment.  Individualism and Big Government are antithetical.  As, England, my favorite socialist example, shows, once Big Government takes over the functions individuals once served (as parents, employers, caregivers, etc.), hard-work, morality, and generosity fly out the door. You end up with a country that veers wildly between excessively tight control (those kumquats had better be the right size) and complete anarchy (as demonstrated by England’s soaring alcoholism, assault, murder, child abuse, SDT, and illegitimate children statistics).

Worse, those countries that have moved beyond England into hard-core Communism demonstrate that, once the collective is transcendent, the individual has no value at all.  Even as government benefits are being showered on the collective (free homes, free health care, free whatever), the individual is being sent to gulags and concentration camps.

I know that I’ve traveled a long way from a surprisingly sweet and good Hollywood movie to the gas chambers, but it is a continuum.  As the media’s relentless attacks on Tebow’s fierce individualism show, the Left fully understands that people like Tebow and the Tuohys undermine the hegemony it seeks.  And as ordinary Americans need to understand, the utopian hegemony the media imagines will arise when the Tebows are gone, is in reality a totalitarian world devoid of all human kindness.

Wolf Howling synthesizes so much information about the attack on the Catholic Church

Wolf Howling has put together just a stellar post about the ongoing attacks on the Catholic church (along with a very nice link to yours truly).  If this is a subject that interests you — and it should, whether or not you’re a Catholic, because it goes to attacks on a pillar of Western civilization — I urge you to check it out.

Are enough Catholics still pro-Life for Obama’s game-playing to matter?

I have some familiarity with Church history and doctrine, owing to my background as a European history major.  I am woefully ignorant, however, about modern Catholicism — or, more specifically, modern American Catholicism.  I therefore have a question for those of you who are Catholic:  Does it matter to a critical mass of American Catholics that Obama is sponsoring a health care plan that requires Americans to pay for abortion and that he is lying about that fact?  Kathryn Jean Lopez thinks it matters a lot:

[T]he loss of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, one of the most prominent Catholic politicians in the United States, a leading proponent of the president’s health-care-reform push, should not obscure a pivotal fact: Barack Obama has put himself at war with the Catholic Church.

[snip]

On August 11, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives about the health-care legislation under consideration. He highlighted legislative language that would open the door to taxpayer-funded abortions. He pointed out that when amendments were introduced this summer that would have protected against this — would have protected life — they were shot down. That’s a bad precedent. If that’s how life fares when the C-SPAN cameras are on, what happens when it comes time for the behind-closed-doors compromises?

[snip]

On August 11, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives about the health-care legislation under consideration. He highlighted legislative language that would open the door to taxpayer-funded abortions. He pointed out that when amendments were introduced this summer that would have protected against this — would have protected life — they were shot down. That’s a bad precedent. If that’s how life fares when the C-SPAN cameras are on, what happens when it comes time for the behind-closed-doors compromises?

I agree with everything Lopez says — and I believe that Catholics who hold to the tenets of her faith will agree with her. I just wonder how many of those Catholics are left in America. I’m not talking about people who just say they’re Catholic, but people who actually believe this issue matters. Can you tell me how many of those people there are?  I know there were a lot in the 60s and 70s, but are they still around?  Or are the majority of Catholics people who pay lip service to these doctrines but don’t really belive that they apply to life in America?

God and conquerors

I just finished reading a very bad book, although I owe it thanks for leading me down some interesting intellectual paths.  The book is Derek Wilson’s Charlemagne, which came my way through my book club (and it’s because of the book club that I actually finished a book I normally would swiftly have abandoned).  The book’s failure lies, not in its subject matter (natch), but in the writing, which is confused, facile and unable to support its fundamental principle that Charlemagne is the founder of modern Europe.

In fact, as one of the book club members pointed out, Charlemagne was the founder of of something much more important than some amorphous “Europe”.  Instead, Charlemagne inaugurated Christendom.

But for Charlemagne’s commitment to creating a federation of formerly Pagan territories owing allegiance to the Papal view of Christianity, the world as we know it would never have existed.  He stood as the bulwark to the pressures if Islam from the south and west, and anarchy (in the form of Vikings, Saxons, Magyars and Bulgars to the north and east).  Further, since anarchy is explosive, but not lasting, there’s no doubt but that the Islamic pressure, which matched Charlemagne in single-minded devotion to a religious idea, which have been the ultimate victor.  The book’s author managed not to touch upon any of this.

The book’s failures aside, it did get me thinking about today’s religious wars and, more specifically, about the nature of religious wars.  As you know, I was raised in a completely liberal environment (San Francisco and Berkeley in the 60s, 70s and 80s).  Although I’ve conquered that liberalism intellectually, I still have some nice knee-jerk reactions left in me.  One of those kicked in when I read about Charlemagne systematically overthrowing pagan people (Celts to the west, Saxons to the north, etc.), and forcing Christianity on them.  It just seem to be so wrong that some imperialistic Christian bully would deprive those sweet tree-worshippers of their indigenous religious beliefs.  After all, aren’t we all supposed to worship Mother Gaia now?

Fortunately, reason kicked in.  Those tree-worshippers were anything but sweet.  For almost all of them, human sacrifice was the name of the game.  Whether drawing “volunteers” from their own ranks or committing mass slaughter against their enemies, these tree-hugger pagans engaged in brutish practices that we now pretend never existed.

We can get some glimpse into these practices, however, by looking at what marauding, Christianizing Europeans found when they met Native Americans on our shores.  Contrary to what is taught in public schools, many of the native tribes were not merely benign hunters and gatherers, or noble, PC warriors.  Instead, as Danny Lemieux explained in an email correspondence with me:

I love reading about the history of that period [early European contact with North America], especially given the involvement of my French forebears.  A wonderful read on the subject that links that past to our present is Phil Marchand’s book Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America.  It’s an easy, entertaining and highly thoughtful book.  A good movie on that period is the Canadian Black Robe, which came out right about the time of “Dances with Wolves” but was xxxx-times better. Another excellent (but very long read) is the very authoritative Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 by Fred Anderson, probably the leading authority on the French & Indian War.

The descriptions of what the Indians used to do to other tribes and captives are horrific.  They went well beyond cannibalism, and included forcing captured women to roast their babies live on spits before making them eat them, flaying prisoners alive, and consuming the flesh from living prisoners (the likely origin of a particularly bloody scene in Michael Crichton’s book State of Fear, warning about where the eco-environmental Gaia movement is taking us.)  Ghost Empire has a very interesting and sad discourse about how the Hurons tried to change their ways and modernize themselves in the original settlement of Detroit under the leadership of the black robes.

As Danny’s last sentence indicates, many of the Indians were grateful for an alternative to the horrors of their own religious and tribal practices.  It is reasonable to believe, therefore, that a significant number of the pagans that Charlemagne subdued were equally grateful for a respite from the horrific demands of the own societies.  After all, as Danny explains:

A forgotten trait of the Carthaginians is that they were worshippers of Baal (another name for Satan). Carthage had a large bronze statue of Baal with outstretched hands under which a large fire was built during an annual ritual. First-born babies were placed on those hands and roasted alive. The Carthaginians were loathed by other Mediterranean cultures (including the Jews). When the Romans finally defeated them, they found piles and piles of children’s bones.

As Chesterton put it, the Romans were pagans but they understood the difference between good and evil. They made sure no structure of Carthage remained standing. Shortly afterwards, Roman Society degenerated and was on its last legs until revitalized by Christianity. For the Druids, it was the Burning Man and other ceremonies. Ditto for the Aztecs. Might I suggest that we have a similar phenomenon at work in our society today, or am I being too un-PC harsh?

And then, suddenly, there was Christianity.  I’m not blind to the nuances of Christianity.  I understand them intellectually, although they do not resonate with me spiritually.  In that way, I’m pretty much like the smart pagan after his first lecture from the missionary.

The one thing, though, that all pagans understood right away, whether or not they grasped the greater subtleties of Christianity, was the fact that the days of human sacrifice were over.  What came through loud and clear was that Christ had offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind.  You no longer needed to slaughter your babies, burn your youth, or behead all of your enemies to placate the invisible forces that dominated the world.  Instead, through the miracle of transubstantiation, you only needed to drink the wine and eat the wafer.  What a blessed relief!

Of course, the acceptance of Christ and the abandonment of pagan brutalities did not end the horrors of life in the pre-modern era.  (Although our periodic convulsions, whether in Germany, the Soviet Union, China or elsewhere remind us that man is always prone to horror.)  Life in Europe then was undoubtedly Hobbesian: “The life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  Whether for the benefit of the state or the church, people who ran afoul of the authorities were routinely burned, flayed, beheaded, dislimbed, disemboweled, blinded, etc.  Nevertheless, under Christianity’s civilizing rule, it was still better than before.  Christianity also paved the way to the abolition of slavery, the end of child labor and the civil rights movement.  It was a slow process, but it was definitely a process.

So here I am, coming out in favor of an imperial urge to spread religion.  Why, then, am I so opposed to Islam’s same impulse?  The answer is simple.  All religions are not created equal.  Just as Christianity was superior to the paganism that preceded it, so too is it superior to the aggressive Islamism that now seeks to dominate.

Christianity increased the rights of man, and this is true even in times when men’s rights were limited almost beyond our modern conception.  Sharia Islam aims to decrease the rights of man, and destroy the rights of women.  We would trade the intellectual freedom and equality that are the gifts of Charlemagne’s Christendom and receive, instead, a stifling doctrinal world, with feudal practices.  It’s a bad deal and we are right to resist it.  No PC thoughts should pollute our will.

Unofficial poll about Romney’s electibility

I know that, in the run-up to the to the 2008 presidential election, many Christians said that they could not vote for Romney because he is a Mormon.  I’m wondering if that’s changed.  Romney may be a Mormon but Obama is, well, Obama.  For true Christians, can there be a “lesser of two evils” calculus when it comes to the presidency?

If he is the most likely candidate to beat Obama in 2012, Christians will vote for Mitt Romney.

View Results
Create a Blog Poll

Comments are welcome, but no Mormon bashing, please.

(My views on Romney are here.)

First they came for . . . everybody

Pastor Martin Niemoeller, after the war, penned the famous “first they came for the Jews,” with regard to the way non-Jewish demographics turned a blind eye to Nazi depredations, confident that the Nazis would stop after the Jews, and then after the Communists, and then after the gays.  But they never stopped.

The interesting thing about the Islamists is that they’re coming for everybody.  Their attacks on Jews are in the press because of Israel (and it’s all the Jews’ fault, says the press), but the media assiduously ignores the simultaneous attacks on gays, fellow-Muslims, dark skinned Muslims, women, and Christians.  Millions and millions of Christians.

Here is a flash video from David Horowitz’s organization trying to bring the world to some awareness of the plight of millions of Christians trapped in Muslim lands.  It’s stomach churning viewing, so beware, but still, please, watch it.  We cannot understand what is happening if we don’t see it, in all its sordid details of blood and decapitated bodies.  Just don’t have small children in the room when you play the video.

Oh, and send it to your friends, but warn them about its graphic nature, so they don’t get any unpleasant surprises.  And then remind yourself that, in Muslim lands, this isn’t just a video that comes complete with a warning.  For Christians, it’s their life.

Also, if you think this video deserves wide play, please consider making a donation to David Horowitz’s foundation, so that it has the wherewithal to make sure as many people as possible see this video.  If they don’t see it now, at the rate things are going, we’re going to be seeing similar flash videos in a few years about the plight of Christians in France, England, Denmark, Sweden, etc.

A mish-mash

It’s been an incoherent day, one that never gave me the opportunity for contemplation and writing.  Instead, I’ve been bopping here and there, and dealing with one thing and another.  Nevertheless, I have been tracking the news, so I thought I’d just write up a mish-mash of thoughts about current issues and events.

Gaza

The top issue/event, obviously, is Gaza.  By now you’ve all seen the hysterical headline about Israel having blown up a UN school, killing scores of civilians.  At the exact second I read the words “UN school,” I knew it wasn’t a school at all but was, instead, a weapons storage facility and a headquarters for fighters.  Why did I know this?  Because the UN in Gaza is completely complicit with Hamas.  In that part of the world, the two are one and the same entity.  I also knew that the school wasn’t really a school because Gaza intentionally places fighters and weapons around children precisely so that it garner this type of scare headline.  Michelle Malkin has a fact-filled post detailing all the many ways in which my instincts on this one were dead on the money.

Speaking of Hamas setting its children up as targets so that it can further vilify Israel in the eyes of the world, you really must read Ron Rosenbaum’s article explaining why, to the extent there are differences between Hamas and the Nazis, Hamas is infinitely worse.  As part of that line of thinking, it’s worth noting that even the Nazis weren’t willing to sacrifice their own children merely to score propaganda points.

As is always the case, everyone in the world outside of America is urging Israel to back down.  (In America, while Obama is ominously quiet, even Dirty Harry Reid has acknowledged Israel’s right to defend against the non-stop rocket attacks that have poured death and destruction on the land for years now.)  In the past, Israel has listened.  This time, I’m hoping against hope that she gives the world the middle finger and does what she has to do to defend herself.  I’ve never understood why Israel, rather like the pathetic nerdy kid in high school, keeps twisting herself into damaging contortions to satisfy people who will despise her regardless.  Eventually, the nerd just has to go it alone and the hell with the critics.

Incidentally, although the world doesn’t deserve good fortune, if Israel is wise enough to give it the finger, it may just get good fortune anyway — the good fortune in this case being that an Israeli victory against Hamas in Gaza is also an Israeli victory against the mad Mullahs in Iran.  As has been the case for decades now, Israel is our proxy, and we should be grateful that she’s putting her bodies on the line so we don’t have to.

And one last word on the subject:  Reader Lulu send me an email pointing out something interesting, which is that Hezbollah is doing nothing right now.  You’d think that this would be a perfect time for Hezbollah to force a two-front war on Israel.  That it’s not doing so might be a good indication that, all propaganda to the contrary, Israel may have inflicted serious damage on it back in 2006.  Iran can replace the arms, but maybe she can’t replace the men.

God

In England, the atheists have launched an ad campaign encouraging people to abandon religion so that they can be happy.  One of the brains behind this initiative is Ariane Sherine. She decided to launch the ad campaign because “she became angry after noticing a set of Christian advertisements carrying a website address which warned that people who reject God are condemned to spend all eternity to ‘torment in Hell.’”

I’m perfectly willing to admit that trying to scare people into religion may not be the smartest way to go about things.  I do find the ad campaign peculiar, though, because I was under the impression that polls show religious people are more happy, not less happy, than the average atheist (putting aside the fact that the average vocal atheist always seem to be a pretty darn angry person).

As you all know, I’m a big believer in the many virtues of religion, although not particularly religious myself.  Aside from liking the core moral aspects religion brings, I’ve also always appreciated (and envied) the way religion brings meaning to life.

In a religious world, man is not just a random collection of atoms, molecules, cells and organs, put on earth to procreate and scrabble for food until he dies.  Instead, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition with which I’m familiar, man’s life has meaning and purpose.  Whether God used evolution as his tool or instant creation, man exists in God’s image.  His corporeal body may not necessarily be the mirror image of God’s being, but he is in God’s image to the extent that his mind and spirit are attuned to justice and a higher purpose.  We’re not just meaningless bugs.  We are something special and our time on earth has meaning, whether we emphasize that in our own lives or not.

All of which is to say that it strikes me as mighty darn peculiar to advertise an absence of religion as the answer to the search for happiness.  You might as well say, “You’re a meaningless bug.  Get used to it.”

Tolerance

While the first wave of hysteria following the passage in California of Prop. 8 has finally died down, hard feelings continue.  A Catholic Church in San Francisco was covered with offensive graffiti, likening the church and its parishioners to Nazis. The beautiful irony of this story is that this particular church, located near the Castro district, has always been a welcoming place to gays.

Aside from the fact that vandals, by their very nature, can’t be expected to be intelligent (I guess), I find it strange that we live in a world in which hewing to unexceptional traditional values that span all cultures and all times is an invitation to vandalism.  As you know, I’d be perfectly happy to see the state get out of the marriage business, leaving that to religion, and instead get into the domestic partnership business, with an emphasis on encouraging stable behaviors that strengthen society.  Pending that unlikely situation, however, I can’t help but wonder if the gay marriage advocates realize that offending ordinary people who support ordinary values is not likely to advance their cause.

Ch-ch-ch-changes come again to England

It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything this sad. It comes from the Church of England’s own newspaper:

If recent reports of trends in religious observance prove to be correct, then in some 30 years the mosque will be able to claim that, religiously speaking, the UK is an Islamic nation, and therefore needs a share in any religious establishment to reflect this. The progress of conservative Islam in the UK has been amazing, and it has come at a time of prolonged decline in church attendance that seems likely to continue.

This progress has been enthusiastically assisted by this government in particular with its hard-line multi-cultural dogma and willingness to concede to virtually every demand made by Muslims. Perhaps most importantly the government has chosen to allow hard-liners to act as representing all Muslims, and more liberal Muslims have almost completely failed to produce any leadership voices to compete, leading many Britons to wonder if there are indeed many liberal Muslims at all, surely a mistake.

At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland’s aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.

While men-only gentlemen’s clubs are now being dubbed unlawful, we hear of municipal swimming baths encouraging ‘Muslim women only’ sessions and in Dewsbury Hospitals staff waste time by turning beds to face Mecca five times a day — a Monty Pythonesque scenario of lunacy, but astonishingly true. Prisons are replete with imams who are keen to inculcate conservative Islam in any inmates who are deemed to be culturally ‘Muslim’: the Prison service in effect treats such prisoners as a cultural block to be preached to by imams at will. Would the Prison service send all those with ‘C of E’ on their papers to confirmation classes with the chaplain?! We could go on.

The point is that Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast, at the same time as demography is showing very high birthrates. Charles Taylor’s new and classic work on the Secular Age charts the rise of the secular mindset and what he calls the ‘excarnation’ of Christianity as it is levered out of state policy and structures. Christianity is now regarded as bad news, the liberal elite’s attack developed in the 1960s took root in the educationalist empire, and to some extent even in areas of the church.

Today the Christian story is fading from public imagination, while Islam grows apace. There needs to be some fresh thinking in this area where the claims of Christ are sensitively explained. Our church leaders must develop ways of explaining this, as our feature on mission and evangelism this week demonstrates.

Thirty years is a long time and things can still turn around – but the combination in England of inertia and hostility to the old establishment are so strong that it’s unlikely that any one will have the energy to make the change.

England once was pagan (Celtic and Roman), then Christian (early Christians), then pagan again (those Vikings and Danes pushing against the nascent Christian movement), and then well-and-truly Christian, a status that lasted more than a thousand years.

England’s Christianity was extremely significant to the entire Western world. Its empire — and its Christian values — touched everything. Indeed, its Christian values are the genesis of the United States of America, both because of the influx of disaffected British Christians who came here (bringing their dissident, but still very British beliefs) and because of the way the Founders interpreted their British-inspired religious beliefs.

Now, it looks as if England will be newly incarnated as a Muslim nation. I fear that this new religious identity will also shape our Western World.

One last thought on the subject: I suggest that Britain’s Jews get the Hell out of Dodge while they can still do it on their own terms. Otherwise, they may find themselves either quite dead, or forced out with the clothes on their back, as already happened to 20th Century Jews who were unlucky enough to live in Muslim-dominated countries after the fall of the British Empire.

Hat tip: LGF

God is weak — or, should I say, Muslims worry about Allah’s strength

Longtime readers know that one of my favorite book series is C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. In the Narnia series, my favorite book has come to be The Last Battle — which is the Biblical end of the world, Narnia style. Within that book, my favorite scenes take place after the Apocalypse, when the saved are in the Narnia version of Heaven.

When the heroes and heroines of past books arrive in their Heaven, they find there a Calormene. Caloremenes are Narnian’s arch enemies (and, interesting, given that the book was written in the 1950s, are clearly modeled on Muslims out of the Arabian nights). They reject Aslan (the Jesus figure) and instead worship Tash, an evil figure who is clearly meant to be the equivalent of Satan.

The Calormene’s presence in Heaven is, therefore, unexpected. It turns out, however, that the Calormene is an exceptionally honorable character who believes in Tash because he was raised to, but whose values are clearly in line with Aslan’s. Accordingly, when he arrives in Heaven, Aslan welcomes him, assuring him that all of his good acts by-passed Tash and were accorded directly to Aslan — hence his place in Heaven.

Lewis’ point, of course, is that God focuses on man’s acts and is readily able to separate the wheat from the chaff. True religions encourage good behavior, but it is up to God in the afterlife to determine whether any individual actually “got it right” in terms of moral choices. God also has sufficient self-assurance to accept that some might not appear to accord him the proper respect on earth, because God looks at deep acts and beliefs, not superficial behaviors.

This is a long warm up for a story out of Saudi Arabia, in which the Saudi religious courts have once again taken it upon themselves, in the most brutal fashion, to do the sorting on God’s behalf (h/t LGF):

A Saudi Arabian court on Thursday ratified the conviction of Turkish barber Sabri Bogday, who was sentenced to beheading in Saudi Arabia on charges of “cursing the name of God.”

Bogday has been in jail for 13 months in Saudi Arabia after a quarrel with a neighbor near his barber shop. Bogday was accused of cursing the name of God.

Every time I read articles such as this one, I can’t help but think that Muslims hold their God in very low esteem. If there is an Allah, I don’t intend this to be an insult of what Allah actually is. Instead, I’m just looking at human activities relative to their belief in Allah’s existence.

Amongst serious Islamists, while they pay lip service to Allah’s overwhelming power and beneficence, their behavior speaks of a divine being that has a very low insult threshold (they treat Allah as very insecure), and who demands that man enact the most heinous punishments on other men in this life (imply that, in their eyes, Allah is pretty powerless in the next life, since he must rely on man to do the sorting in this one). This kind of radical Islamic behavior really seems inconsistent with an omniscient, powerful God. Instead, Islamists, by their acts, paint Allah as a hypersensitive, low-intellect wimp — which must be, I think, the most heinous act of disrespect it’s possible to render unto God.

A most amazing man

I read two articles today that dovetail beautifully, by showing words spewing meaninglessly into the ether and by showing words used bravely to make big changes.

As for the meaningless spew into the ether that is, of course, Barack Obama, he of the sonorous (or, to my mind, soporific) voice, the big, meaningless ideas, and the completely absence of action, if you don’t count advancing his own political career. Here is Dean Barnett:

IN HIS MANY MONTHS on the campaign trail, Barack Obama has distinguished himself as the finest orator in recent political memory. With such skills in this area, it’s little wonder that Obama and his campaign have put talking on a pedestal. When Obama talks, he does great. Even his detractors can’t deny it.

But there’s a stark disconnect between the talking Obama and Obama the man of action. Or rather Obama the man of inaction. It says something rather profound about Obama that his most noteworthy campaign-related act to date has been to sit passively in a church pew for 20 years worth of Sundays.

As Jonathan V. Last has noted in these pages, there’s a hollowness to Obama’s rhetoric. When Obama delivered his famous (and effective) “just words” rejoinder to Hillary Clinton’s barbs, the speech inadvertently revealed the emptiness of Obama’s rhetoric. “All men are created equal” was indeed more than just words. It was more than “just words” because the men who signed the document that made that claim risked their lives to prove it. They backed their words up with war. In short, their accompanying actions are what made the phrase immortal. If the phrase had emanated from some effete intellectuals in a Boston drawing room who went back to being effete intellectuals after delivering their proclamation, guys like Barack Obama wouldn’t be quoting them today.

The question with Obama remains exactly what actions he’ll take to give real meaning to his fine speeches. Interestingly, it’s not just Obama’s right
wing critics who have complained about the emptiness of his rhetoric. Until the left finally circled its angry wagons around Obama over the last few weeks, you could find prominent left-wing bloggers complaining about Obama’s failure to embrace progressive plans on an almost daily basis.

The distillation of Barnett’s intelligent argument is simple: Obama is all talk and no action.

Now let’s head to Egypt, of all places, for someone who regularly takes his life in his hands to speak words that have a profound effect on his audience:

Though he is little known in the West, Coptic priest Zakaria Botros — named Islam’s “Public Enemy #1” by the Arabic newspaper, al-Insan al-Jadid — has been making waves in the Islamic world. Along with fellow missionaries — mostly Muslim converts — he appears frequently on the Arabic channel al-Hayat (i.e., “Life TV”). There, he addresses controversial topics of theological significance — free from the censorship imposed by Islamic authorities or self-imposed through fear of the zealous mobs who fulminated against the infamous cartoons of Mohammed. Botros’s excurses on little-known but embarrassing aspects of Islamic law and tradition have become a thorn in the side of Islamic leaders throughout the Middle East.

[snip]

The result? Mass conversions to Christianity — if clandestine ones. The very public conversion of high-profile Italian journalist Magdi Allam — who was baptized by Pope Benedict in Rome on Saturday — is only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, Islamic cleric Ahmad al-Qatani stated on al-Jazeera TV a while back that some six million Muslims convert to Christianity annually, many of them persuaded by Botros’s public ministry. More recently, al-Jazeera noted Life TV’s “unprecedented evangelical raid” on the Muslim world.

Father Botros uses what amounts to a Socratic technique to expose to viewers the weird and dangerous outcomes that come from both the Koran and interpretations of the Koran. A lovely example is the weird fatwa that had women breastfeeding strange men:

Botros spent three years bringing to broad public attention a scandalous — and authentic — hadith stating that women should “breastfeed” strange men with whom they must spend any amount of time. A leading hadith scholar, Abd al-Muhdi, was confronted with this issue on the live talk show of popular Arabic host Hala Sirhan. Opting to be truthful, al-Muhdi confirmed that going through the motions of breastfeeding adult males is, according to sharia, a legitimate way of making married women “forbidden” to the men with whom they are forced into contact — the logic being that, by being “breastfed,” the men become like “sons” to the women and therefore can no longer have sexual designs on them.

To make matters worse, Ezzat Atiyya, head of the Hadith department at al-Azhar University — Sunni Islam’s most authoritative institution — went so far as to issue a fatwa legitimatizing “Rida’ al-Kibir” (sharia’s term for “breastfeeding the adult”), which prompted such outrage in the Islamic world that it was subsequently recanted.

You can go here for more about what happens when the marketplace of ideas crashes headlong into Islamic ideology.  What I wish I could say to the Islamists is that, if you can defend yourself in the marketplace of ideas — something that may require reconsidering certain doctrines you’ve hitherto regarded as inviolate, you may find that your religion gains converts or keeps adherents, not because of a threat by the sword, but because of appeals to the heart and mind.  Certainly Father Botros is showing this to be true for reasoned challenges to Islam coupled  with equally reasoned supports for Christianity.

Praying for the Jews

Perhaps it’s because I’m not very religious, but I’m completely unoffended by the Pope including this language in his Good Friday prayer: “Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men.” As long as it doesn’t become coercive, I have no problems with the Christian and Mormon impulse to have others share their version of their Good News. Indeed, I find it a very generous impulse.

Of course, if the Pope had said “Let us all round up and torture the Jews until they convert” or “Let us all deprive Jews of any civil rights and liberties until they die or convert” (both of which are the very old-fashioned Christian approach and the current Muslim approach), I might be screeching a different tune. As it is, while I appreciate the prayers to try to save my soul, I’ll politely decline the implied offer to convert and say, instead, that I’ll continue on my Jewish way and take my chances before God himself at the end of days.

Religious hate crimes in England

No comment:

A vicar was in hospital last night after being attacked in his churchyard by two youths in what is being treated as a ‘faith hate’ crime.

Canon Michael Ainsworth, 57, was kicked and punched in the head as one of the attackers screamed “f***ing priest”.

He was left lying on the ground with deep cuts, bruising and two black eyes.

The attack took place in the early evening after Canon Ainsworth politely asked three Asian youths [that means "Muslim" in Brit-speak] who had gathered in the churchyard to quieten down.

Another group of youths intervened to protect him and they helped him into the rectory as the attackers fled.

The incident happened outside St George-in-the-East Church in Wapping, East London.

It has regularly had windows smashed by youths – who on one occasion shouted: “This should not be a church, this should be a mosque.”

Canon Ainsworth, a father of four, was taken to hospital and discharged after treatment, but was readmitted after a relapse.

The church is situated in the heart of Tower Hamlets where the majority of the population – some 57 per cent – belong to black and ethnic minority groups.

A third are of a Bangladeshi background.

In another attack on the church, families were showered with glass when a brick was thrown through a window during a service.

Mr Allan Ramanoop, a member of the Parochial Church Council, said often parishioners were too scared to challenge the gangs.

The Asian church member, who lives nearby, said: “I’ve been physically threatened and verbally abused on the steps of the church.

“On one occasion, youths shouted: ‘This should not be a church, this should be a mosque, you should not be here’.

“I just walked away from it – you are too frightened to challenge them. We have church windows smashed two to three times a month.

“The youths are anti-Christian. It’s terrible what they have done to Canon Ainsworth.

***

Kamil Ahmed, leader at the Ensign Youth Club, based on a council estate close to the church, said: “There are a lot of 14 to 16-year-old Asians, drunk and high on cocaine, wandering round the estate.

“It might be the people responsible for this attack reacted badly to being told off rather than targeting the church in a faith hate way.”

Local Respect Party councillor Abjol Miah said: “There are isolated faith-hate attacks in the ward and borough, but generally relations are good between different religions. There are always individuals who will cause trouble.”

Bishop warns of the Islamification of England and the death of the C of E

Is he an hysteric, a prophet, or a tragically doomed Cassandra? Time will tell if Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester in the Church of England, is correct to warn of the end of the Christian faith in that country, something he already sees happening in various British communities:

In fewer than 50 years, Britain has changed from being a society with an acknowledged Christian basis to one which is increasingly described by politicians and the media as “multifaith”.

One reason for this is the arrival of large numbers of people of other faiths to these shores. Their arrival has coincided with the end of the Empire which brought about a widespread questioning of Britain’s role.

On the one hand, the British were losing confidence in the Christian vision which underlay most of the achievements and values of the culture and, on the other, they sought to accommodate the newer arrivals on the basis of a novel philosophy of “multiculturalism”.

This required that people should be facilitated in living as separate communities, continuing to communicate in their own languages and having minimum need for building healthy relationships with the majority.

Alongside these developments, there has been a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism. One of the results of this has been to further alienate the young from the nation in which they were growing up and also to turn already separate communities into “no-go” areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability.

Those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them. In many ways, this is but the other side of the coin to far-Right intimidation. Attempts have been made to impose an “Islamic” character on certain areas, for example, by insisting on artificial amplification for the Adhan, the call to prayer.

Such amplification was, of course, unknown throughout most of history and its use raises all sorts of questions about noise levels and whether non-Muslims wish to be told the creed of a particular faith five times a day on the loudspeaker.

This is happening here even though some Muslim-majority communities are trying to reduce noise levels from multiple mosques announcing this call, one after the other, over quite a small geographical area.

There is pressure already to relate aspects of the sharia to civil law in Britain. To some extent this is already true of arrangements for sharia-compliant banking but have the far-reaching implications of this been fully considered?

It is now less possible for Christianity to be the public faith in Britain.

The existence of chapels and chaplaincies in places such as hospitals, prisons and institutions of further and higher education is in jeopardy either because of financial cuts or because the authorities want “multifaith” provision, without regard to the distinctively Christian character of the nation’s laws, values, customs and culture.

Not only locally, but at the national level also the establishment of the Church of England is being eroded. My fear is, in the end, nothing will be left but the smile of the Cheshire Cat.

Read the rest here.