ContraCelsum Backup

Dear Reader: Although Google professes to have a policy of free speech, there are now disturbing examples of Google peremptorily shutting down blogs on the Blogger platform espousing views which (presumably) Google wants to censor. Therefore ContraCelsum has set up a mirror blog via WordPress (http://contracelsum.com/). We update the latter weekly. If this site should suddenly go dark, you will find ContraCelsum alive and well at the above address. You may want to bookmark it now (just in case).

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Jitney Messiahs

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
October 14, 2014


As the same-sex mirage juggernaut continues to roll through our pathetic little festival, crushing both devotees and opponents alike, a number of conservative Christians have begun to prepare themselves for life in a post-Christian America. Not only so, but they have been encouraging others to do the same. But this is radically unhelpful and unbecoming — nobody much likes seeing the team manager giving up in the fourth inning, and especially when the score is just 10 to 8. And particularly when we are the ones who have 10.

The reason all this is happening is that we are so distracted by the effrontery of the last lie that we are not able to see the current lie being told. We were being told — oh, about ten minutes ago — that there was no reason why individual states could not keep their restrictions on same-sex mirage, and that it was not necessary to have one monolithic approach to marriage within the republic. Anybody remember all that? Ah, good times. And then federal judges started striking down the laws of multiple states as unconstitutional, and you know the rest of the drill.

But that was the last lie.

Daily Devotional

Plan for Prayer

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)

John Piper


Prayer pursues joy in fellowship with Jesus and in the power to share his life with others.

And prayer pursues God’s glory by treating him as the inexhaustible reservoir of hope and help. In prayer, we admit our poverty and God’s prosperity, our bankruptcy and his bounty, our misery and his mercy.
Therefore, prayer highly exalts and glorifies God precisely by pursuing everything we long for in him, and not in ourselves. “Ask, and you will receive . . . that the Father may be glorified in the Son and . . . that your joy may be full.” Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to.

If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, “Hey, let’s go today!” You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned.  But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready.

The Execration of All Things

A Meditation Upon Suicide

The chattering classes have been animated in recent days over a young female cancer sufferer who has made plans to kill herself.  She has been, and continues to be a "Right to Death" advocate.  The media have lionised her, lauded her, and praised her to the skies as a great example for us all.  What courage!  What dedication!

G.K. Chesterton wrote the following in his essay, "The Flag of the World". It will help us reflect more closely upon such things:
. . . an argument arose whether it was not a very nice thing to murder one's self.  Grave moderns told us that we must not even say "poor fellow," of a man who has blown his brains out, since he was an enviable person, and had only blown them out because of their exceptional excellence.  Mr William Archer even suggested that in the golden age there would be penny-in-the-slot machines, by which a man could kill himself for a penny.  In all this I found myself utterly hostile to man who called themselves liberal and humane.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Will the Real Islamic Stand Up

10 verses from the Koran essential to understanding the Islamic State

Daily Devotional

The Jezebel of Our Unbelief

"And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul."
1 Samuel 27:1

Charles Spurgeon


The thought of David's heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God's anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty unmeaning act. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted his servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often, but not one instance had occurred in which divine interposition had not delivered him.

The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only, but many--yet in every case he who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape. David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, "Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me," for the entire tenor of his past life proved the very reverse.

Crime and Punishment

Three Strikes About to Bite Hard

David Garrett, former ACT MP
Republished from Kiwiblog

When the three strikes (3S) bill was making its way through parliament I told Clayton Cosgrove – in response to an interjection – that it might be ten to fifteen years before 3S would really start to bite. Although Cosgrove immediately tried to make capital from my answer, I was not  unhappy with that prediction – in fact I thought it a little optimistic. In my view we have taken a generation to get into the mess we are in with violent offending, and it might take a generation to reverse it. It seems I was unduly pessimistic.

Unless there are extremely good reasons which would preclude such a result, we are about to get our first  “strike” offender sentenced to Life Without Parole ("LWOP") for murder as a second strike.  Justin Vance Turner, aged 28, has pleaded guilty to murder. It is his second “strike” offence, and accordingly, he should be sentenced to LWOP in accordance with s.86E (2) of the Sentencing Act. That section requires that a stage two offender guilty of murder should serve a sentence of LWOP “unless the court is satisfied that given the circumstances of the offence and the offender, it would be manifestly unjust to do so.”

The “manifestly unjust” provision was one of the conditions the National Party required in order for them to support the 3S Bill beyond first reading.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Slogans, We Love Thee

The Leftist's Dictionary



Daily Devotional

Fear and Hope in God’s Jealousy

The LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14)

John Piper

 God is infinitely jealous for the honor of his name, and responds with terrible wrath against those whose hearts should belong to him but go after other things.

For example, in Ezekiel 16:38–40 he says to faithless Israel,
I will judge you as women who break wedlock and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. And I will give you into the hand of your lovers and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber . . . they shall strip you of your clothes and take your fair jewels, and leave you naked and bare. They shall bring up a host against you and cut you to pieces with swords.
I urge you to listen to this warning. The jealousy of God for your undivided love and devotion will always have the last say. Whatever lures your affections away from God with deceptive attraction will come back to strip you bare and cut you in pieces.

It is a horrifying thing to use your God-given life to commit adultery against the Almighty.

But for those of you who have been truly united to Christ and who keep your vows to forsake all others and cleave only to him and live for his honor — for you the jealousy of God is a great comfort and a great hope.
Since God is infinitely jealous for the honor of his name, anything and anybody who threatens the good of his faithful wife will be opposed with divine omnipotence.

God’s jealousy is a great threat to those who play the harlot and sell their heart to the world and make a cuckold out of God. But his jealousy is a great comfort to those who keep their covenant vows and become strangers and exiles in the world.

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.

One of History's Greats

A Paragon of Mendacity and Hypocrisy

Paul Johnson demonstrates repeatedly that the rise of "intellectuals" to be an influential caste in the West has been characterised by their general veneration.  In life, however, their  actual practice belies their principles.  [Paul Johnson, Intellectuals (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988)]  Many of them lived repugnant family lives.  Many practised a very different ethic from the one they advocated for the rest of mankind.

Karl Marx typifies the kind of perversity so common amongst those who regard themselves as too smart for the ordinary pleb.   Marx had numerous children with his wife, Jenny.  He lived as an intellectual in London, in poverty and squalor, choosing not to support his family.  He insisted that his high calling as a seer and revolutionary justified the suffering and deprivation of his wife and children by his hand.  Johnson reproduces a description of Marx's family life as observed by visitors, written around 1850:

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Letter From America (About the Imperial Presidency)

The War-Time Constitution Swap

How did we get to where a British executive goes to the legislature and an American does not?

Daily Devotional

The Day of His Appearing

"But who may abide the day of his coming?"
Malachi 3:2

Charles Spurgeon


His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for him, showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting him when he came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process.

But what will his second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? "He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." When in his humiliation he did but say to the soldiers, "I am he," they fell backward; what will be the terror of his enemies when he shall more fully reveal himself as the "I am?" His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendour of that day in which as the living Saviour, he shall summon the quick and dead before him?

O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son lest he be angry!

Hopeless Causes

If At First You Don't Succeed, Shout Louder

The animus of Babel lurks in the heart of every Unbeliever to one extent or another.  Conformity, oneness, uniformity, and group-think all manifest the ideology of Babel, the desire to have one unified Borg-like mind on everything.  We have always sensed the presence of this animus in the Global Warming crusade.

A danger was allegedly facing the entire race.  Only concerted, unified effort would avoid the inevitable calamity.  A unified effort required both group-think and One Mind. One language. Unbelievers, whose hearts lust after that ancient One-Tower, were always going to get suckered.  More often than not they wanted the Global Warming narrative to be true because it justified re-erecting that ancient monolith. In a perverse way, One World Government is a comforting prospect to those who live apart from God.

Naturally those who dissented were regarded as dangerous traitors.  They had to be silenced.  At root, as with ancient Babel, it was never science which was driving the enterprise but a lust to unify the world in its rebellion against the Creator.  It appeared, for a time, that the cause was big enough, the implications horrendous enough, and the urgency pressing enough that Babel, like Mordor, would be rebuilt. The Necromancer was taking a new shape.

But time was always going to be the greatest enemy--time, and the decree of the Living God.  More and more we are observing holes, cracks, detritus, and decay in the latest re-emergent One Tower.  Now, even Environment Editors in national newspapers are eschewing group-think.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

Getting It Right

Douglas Wilson
Blog and Mablog
October 11, 2014

Once there was a Presbyterian minister who had made the whole topic of sola fide his special field of study. He had mastered the subject, as far as any mortal man can be said to have mastered anything. After a long and fruitful ministry, he eventually did what all Presbyterian ministers do, which is to say, he died.

As he approached the pearly gates, he was mildly surprised to see that St. Peter was there, just like in all the jokes. But he was, he thought, prepared to roll with it because, after all, he was going to Heaven.

Right next to St. Peter was a long wooden table, of the kind you see in examination rooms. A chair was pulled out for him, and on the table was a thick test, and a pencil next to it. As he walked up to St. Peter, he was greeted warmly and the set-up was explained to him.

Daily Devotional

God Heals by Humbling

“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the LORD, “and I will heal him.” (Isaiah 57:18–19)
John Piper

In spite of the severity of man’s disease of rebellion and willfulness, God will heal. How will he heal? Verse 15 says that God dwells with the crushed and humble. Yet the people of verse 17 are brazenly pursuing their own proud way. What will a healing be?

It can only be one thing. God will heal them by humbling them. He will cure the patient by crushing his pride. If only the crushed and humble enjoy God’s fellowship (v. 15), and if Israel’s sickness is a proud and willful rebellion (v. 17), and if God promises to heal them (v. 18), then his healing must be humbling and his cure must be a crushed spirit.

The Irresistible Power of God

Lights In Dark Places

As Shia, Sunni, and ISIS forces have swept over the landscape in Syria and Iraq Christians have been driven out, fleeing in the face of torture and death.  Some Christian enclaves have been there for more than a millennium.  It seemed as though this region would become Christian-less.  But, recent news would indicate something different. This, from Breaking Christian News
(Iraq)—Working in northern Iraq's Kurdish region day and night to help meet the needs of people displaced by the threats and violence of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul and other areas, members of an Iraqi ministry team recently came into contact with a colonel from the Kurdish forces battling ISIS.  
The colonel was serving as a division commander of the Peshmerga, the Kurdistan Regional Government's armed forces, which have helped to slow the incursion of ISIS in its brutal push to establish a caliphate imposing a strict version of Sunni Islam. With the aid of U.S. airstrikes, the Peshmerga have also slowly retaken some territory. They are helping to secure the Kurdish capital of Erbil, where the ministry team assisted by Christian Aid Mission is supplying displaced people with food, clothing, beds and medicine.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Video of the Week

Keeping Track




Daily Devotional

Repentance--A Divine Work

"Godly sorrow worketh repentance."
2 Corinthians 7:10

Charles Spurgeon

Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature's garden. Pearls grow naturally in oysters, but penitence never shows itself in sinners except divine grace works it in them. If thou hast one particle of real hatred for sin, God must have given it thee, for human nature's thorns never produced a single fig. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh."

True repentance has a distinct reference to the Saviour. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon sin and another upon the cross, or it will be better still if we fix both our eyes upon Christ and see our transgressions only, in the light of his love.

True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man may say he hates sin, if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin, not merely as a theory, but experimentally--as a burnt child dreads fire. We shall be as much afraid of it, as a man who has lately been stopped and robbed is afraid of the thief upon the highway; and we shall shun it--shun it in everything--not in great things only, but in little things, as men shun little vipers as well as great snakes. True mourning for sin will make us very jealous over our tongue, lest it should say a wrong word; we shall be very watchful over our daily actions, lest in anything we offend, and each night we shall close the day with painful confessions of shortcoming, and each morning awaken with anxious prayers, that this day God would hold us up that we may not sin against him.

Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. This dropping well is not intermittent. Every other sorrow yields to time, but this dear sorrow grows with our growth, and it is so sweet a bitter, that we thank God we are permitted to enjoy and to suffer it until we enter our eternal rest.

Vested Interests--Innoculating Against Belief

A High Opinion of One's Own Virtue

It is commonplace in our age to sneer at the Christian faith and those who believe.  This attitude is used to cover over the hypocrisy, the cant, and the prejudices of  Unbelief.  Peter Hitchens in his book, Rage Against God documents Virginia Woolf's reflexive arrogance and sarcasm towards those who believe, as an example of this cant.  But it is the arrogant who are usually the most blind--as Hitchens himself came to realise as he reflected on his years as a Prodigal Son.
The fury and almost physical disgust of the Bloomsbury novelist Virginia Woolf at T.S. Eliot's conversion to Christianity is an open expression of the private feelings of the educated British middle class, normally left unspoken but conveyed by body language or facial expression when the subject of religion cannot be avoided.  Mrs Woolf wrote to her sister in 1928, in terms that perfectly epitomize the enlightened English person's scorn for faith and those who hold it:
I had a most shameful and distressing interview with poor dear Tom Eliot, who may be called dead to us all from this day forward.  He has become an Anglo-Catholic, believes in God and immortality, and goes to church.  I was really shocked.  A corpse would seem to me more credible than he is.  I mean, there's something obscene in a living person sitting by the fire and believing in God. 
Look at these bilious, ill-tempered words: "Shameful, distressing, obscene, dead to us all."  There has always seemed to me to be something frantic and enraged about this passage, concealing its real emotion--which I suspect is fear that Eliot, as well as being a greater talent than her, may also be right.  [Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), p. 23f.]
Most people in our day make the same mistake that Hitchens made at the time.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Phil, Andre, and Barack

Jibe of the Day


No doubt this story has prima facie racist overtones, because Mitt Romney related it and he is white.

President Obama went to the bank to cash a check and he didn't have his ID. And the teller said you've got to prove who you are. 

He said, "How should I do that?" She said the other day Phil Mickelson came in, he didn't have his ID but he set up a little cup on the ground, took a golf ball, putted it right into that cup so they knew it was Phil Mickelson. They cashed his check.

And then Andre Agassi came in. And Andre Agassi didn't have his ID either. He put a little target on the wall, took a tennis ball and racquet– hit it onto that target time and again. We knew that was Andre Agassi so we cashed his check.

And she said to him, "Is there anything you can do to prove who you are?" And [Obama] said, "I don't have a clue."

And she said, "Well, Mr. President, do you want your money in small bills or large bills."

"Clueless".  Sounds like a winning title for a movie. 

H/T National Journal

Daily Devotional

Never Private

No Christian and, indeed, no historian could accept the epigram which defines religion as “what a man does with his solitude.” It was one of the Wesleys, I think, who said that the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion. We are forbidden to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. Christianity is already institutional in the earliest of its documents. The Church is the Bride of Christ. We are members of one another.

In our own age the idea that religion belongs to our private life— that it is, in fact, an occupation for the individual’s hour of leisure—is at once paradoxical, dangerous, and natural.

Rights Inflation

Corpulent Human Rights

Freedom (civil, political, words, speech, thought, etc.) is a fragile flower.  It does not take much to squash it flat.  These days the most fragile "freedom flower" in New Zealand is freedom of speech or expression.  The reason is that taking offence or being offended has been elevated into an enduring crime against humanity.  If someone causes another to be offended, the latter has suffered a quasi-criminal act, of similar ilk as theft, assault, or battery.  The offender has transgressed upon the rights of another.  We have discovered yet another human right, hitherto not known--a right not to be offended.   

It seems that a retail clothing company, Hallenstein Glasson has offended people.  It had deployed mannequins in stores dressed in skimpy bikinis.  The plastic "models" represented skinny teenagers.  The mannequins were displaying ribs in a very realistic manner--just as you would expect to see on such a young lady if she had an arm extended upwards, as was the bodily attitude of the mannequins in question.  But people (mainly women) took offence because it was promoting an ideal body shape for women that is allegedly unhealthy.  The public outcry, combined with sensational, breathless beat-up articles in the media, resulted in the company sacking the mannequins without even the courtesy of redundancy pay.  Just like that.  Behold the power of our new human right.  Another fragile freedom flower is crushed beneath the relentless weight of a few offended human beings who have suffered near-criminal damage.

But obesity (we are told) is also unhealthy.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

University-Trained Mole Rats

Douglas Wilson
October 10, 2014


Scripture teaches us that the creation is articulate.

“The heavens declare his righteousness, And all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, That boast themselves of idols: Worship him, all ye gods” (Ps. 97:6–7).

The created order pours forth speech. Nature is not a dumb mute, vaguely gesturing in the direction of some nameless god, who must have made “all this.”

It is far more than that. The creation pours forth moral speech. In the text cited above we should note that the heavens declare God’s righteousness, and does so in a way that makes it unmistakeable that this righteousness is glorious, and that it humiliates those who pray to their statues. An honest look at the night sky, in other words, not only blows away the pretended rationality of idolatry, but also the pretended morality of it. The heavens declare God’s righteousness, and shames the unrighteousness of every alternative pretense.

Daily Devotional

Best Passage Ever
God put [Jesus] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25–26)
John Piper

Romans 3:25–26 may be the most important verses in the Bible.

God is wholly just! And He justifies the ungodly!

Not either/or! Both! He acquits the guilty, but is not guilty in doing so. This is the greatest news in the world!
  • “[God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

  • “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” (Romans 8:3)

  • “[Christ] bore our sins in his body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24)

  • “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)

  • “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:5)

If the most terrifying news in the world is that we have fallen under the condemnation of our Creator and that he is bound by his own righteous character to preserve the worth of his glory by pouring out his wrath on our sin . . .

. . . Then the best news in all the world (the gospel!) is that God has decreed a way of salvation that also upholds the worth of his glory, the honor of his Son, and the eternal salvation of his elect. He has given his Son to die for sinners and to conquer their death by his own resurrection.

For more about John Piper's ministry and writing, see DesiringGod.org.

Deliverance From Pride and Lesbianism

God Would See Me Home

Some instructive thoughts from Rosaria Butterfield: 

In April 1999, I felt the call of Jesus Christ upon my life.  It was both subtle and blatant, like the peace inside the eye of the hurricane.  I could in no way resist and I in no way understood what would become of my life.  I know, I know.  How do I know that it was Jesus?  Maybe it was my Catholic guilt, my caffeine-driven subconscious, or last night's curry tofu?  We, I don't.  But I believed--and believe--that it was Jesus.

At this time, I was just starting to pray that God would show me my sins and help me to repent of them.  I didn't understand why homosexuality was a sin, why something in the particular manifestation of same-gender love was wrong in itself.  But I did know that pride was a sin, and so I decided to start there.  As I began to pray and repent, I wondered: could pride be at the root of all my sins?  I wondered: what was the real sin of Sodom?  I had always thought that God's judgment upon Sodom (in Genesis 19) clearly singled out and targeted homosexuality.  I believed that God's judgment against Sodom exemplified the fiercest of God's judgments.  But as I read more deeply in the Bible, I ran across a passage that made me stop and think.  This passage in the book of Ezekiel revealed to me that Sodom was indicted for materialism and neglect of the poor and needy--and that homosexuality was a symptom and extension of these other sins.  In this passage, God is speaking to his chosen people in Jerusalem and warning them about their hidden sin, using Sodom as an example.

Importantly, God does not say that this sin of Sodom is the worst of all sins.  Instead, God uses the sin of Sodom to reveal the greater sin committed by his own people:

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Letter From America (About Emotive Detritus)

There Is Nothing Brave About Suicide


Matt Walsh

If you spend any time on Facebook then you’ve probably seen Brittany Maynard’s face pop up on your newsfeed over the last few days. And your Facebook friends sharing links to stories about her have probably included supportive and adoring captions like the one I just saw a couple of minutes ago: “Wow. What an inspiring story! Brittany, you are so brave!!”

You’ll be excused if you’ve chosen not to click and read further. We are all so overloaded with social media-provided ‘inspiration’ that it’s getting hard to ingest any more of it. But before you continue on with your day, harboring the vague impression that someone out there named Brittany Maynard is apparently performing a heroic and awesome deed of some kind, I think you should know what it is, exactly, that has all of your friends so inspired:

On November 1st of this year, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard is going to kill herself.  With the help of a doctor and a poison pill, she is going to end her life.  Suicide.

Daily Devotional

 Oil For Those Who Mourn

"The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost."
John 14:26

Charles Spurgeon


This age is peculiarly the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in which Jesus cheers us, not by his personal presence, as he shall do by-and-by, but by the indwelling and constant abiding of the Holy Ghost, who is evermore the Comforter of the church. It is his office to console the hearts of God's people. He convinces of sin; he illuminates and instructs; but still the main part of his work lies in making glad the hearts of the renewed, in confirming the weak, and lifting up all those that be bowed down.

He does this by revealing Jesus to them. The Holy Spirit consoles, but Christ is the consolation. If we may use the figure, the Holy Spirit is the Physician, but Jesus is the medicine. He heals the wound, but it is by applying the holy ointment of Christ's name and grace. He takes not of his own things, but of the things of Christ. So if we give to the Holy Spirit the Greek name of Paraclete, as we sometimes do, then our heart confers on our blessed Lord Jesus the title of Paraclesis. If the one be the Comforter, the other is the Comfort.

Priggish Hypocrisy

Light in Dark Places

Incest remains officially verboten in New Zealand.  Consequently, a brother and sister who have borne a child, are before the courts.  This from Stuff:
A brother and sister who met as young adults have been sentenced for incest as they co-parent their child in Christchurch. The sister has been put on community detention that will keep her at home at night caring for her daughter – a healthy baby – and she must do a year of intensive supervision.

Her older brother’s sentencing was put off at the Christchurch District Court sentencing today because his probation report had not been done. Judge David Saunders told the brother that he must not go within 100m of flat where his sister is living unless he has prior approval of the Community Probation service. The sister has the child for five days a week, and the brother has it for the other two days. He will be sentenced on December 2, on charges of incest, wilful damage, and a breach of a community work sentence.
One self-confessed liberal blogger sniffs the wind in both directions: 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Currying Favour

The Curse of Popular Favour

7 Responses to the Strategy of Church Silence during Ethical Confusion

Oct 08, 2014




shhh

Andrew Wilson:
I’ve heard rumours of a silent trend beginning to take hold in some city churches in the UK and the US. I don’t just mean a trend that takes hold silently; presumably most trends do that. I mean a trend towards silence: a decision not to speak out on issues that are considered too sticky, controversial, divisive, culturally loaded, entangled, ethically complex, personally upsetting, emotive, likely to be reported on by the Guardian or the New York Times, uncharted, inflammatory, difficult, or containing traces of gluten.

Since I do not attend a city church, but am a proud member of the backward bungalow bumpkin brigade, this is coming to me second hand, and it may turn out to be a storm in the proverbial teacup, or even (for all I know) entirely fictional. But let’s imagine that there were such things as well-written booklets which had been discontinued simply because they were about sexuality, and leaders who were avoiding making any public comments at all on controversial ethical issues, or churches whose lectionaries or sermon "serieses" were systematically avoiding passages which addressed pressing contemporary questions, presumably in the name of being winsome or wise or likeable or culturally sensitive, because of the number of Influencers and Powerful People in the area.

Without knowing any of the behind-the-scenes discussions that had taken place – all well-intentioned, I’m sure—what would I say then?
Wilson outlines his response in seven steps:
  1. Winsomeness is a good servant and a terrible master.

  2. Likeability stops at the water’s edge.

  3. Pastors are to proclaim the whole counsel of God, not just the parts that won’t cause any fluttering in the Fleet Street dovecotes.

  4. Ducking difficult ethical questions leaves churches in confusion when they most need clarity.

  5. Ethical confusion makes church discipline much, much harder.

  6. Silence unwittingly reinforces the dominant cultural narrative.

  7. Those of us who instinctively cheer when we read the previous six points are probably in the greatest need of hearing what the advocates of silence have to say.

You can read his explanation of each point here.

Daily Devotional

We Wait, He Works

From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4)
John Piper

Only a few things have gripped me with greater joy than the truth that God loves to show his God-ness by working for me, and that his working for me is always before and under and in any working I do for him.
At first it may sound arrogant of us, and belittling to God, to say that he works for us. But that’s only because of the connotation that I am an employer and God needs a job. That’s not the connotation when the Bible talks about God’s working for us. As in: “God works for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).

The proper connotation of saying God works for me is that I am bankrupt and need a bailout. I am weak and need someone strong. I am endangered and need a protector. I am foolish and need someone wise. I am lost and need a Rescuer.

“God works for me” means I can’t do the work.

And this glorifies him not me. The Giver gets the glory. The Powerful One gets the praise.

Read and be freed from the burden of bearing your own load. Let him do that work.

Clear and Present Danger It Ain't

 Degrade and Destroy--But Whom?

Is anyone getting a sense of deja-vu over what is unfolding in the Caliphate?  We have a vague memory of the sixties as President Kennedy was mulling over what to do with a tiny "country" in South East Asia called Vietnam.  Initial attempts to neutralise communist armed forces were failing dismally.  Should the US commit ground troops?  Yes, it should.  Thus began the Vietnam war in earnest.  Disaster for the US beckoned--and eventually came to pass.

Fast forward to 2014.  Isis proclaims a Caliphate.  It captures some civilians and turns them into gruesome political theatre.  How dare they!  Ever a "can do" people, the United States demand action of their ineffectual President.  He admits that he does not have a strategy for ISIS.  But he needs something.  Nation-building is so overrated--and in any event that was the last term's policy.  He decides upon air-strikes--the preferred weapon of armchair, left-wing Commanders-in-Chief.  (The preferred option of Republican Presidents tends to be "boots-on-the-ground" but only because they usually have more respect for the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, who know what it takes to win wars.  But that, too, has its pitfalls and beckoning disasters for a war-weary nation--like body bags.)

Part of the strength of the fundamentalist movement is a sense that there is something inevitable and divinely inspired about its victories, whether it is against superior numbers in Mosul or US airpower at Kobani.


So, air-strikes it is.  How is it going?  Here is an assessment from Patrick Cockburn: