Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Growth of the Papacy and the Problem of the Celts

How and when did the idea of the Pope (one leader over all of Christendom) develop?

We begin by noting the historical context of the very early church.

Family pictures and recent readings

I've just finished reading Colin Duriez's biography of Tolkien and Lewis. Dennis Smith gave me the book as a going away present when I moved to America (thank you Dennis!) and I have only just got around to reading it. 

Duriez uses the friendship of these two men' as a springboard to consider their lives and literary significance. While the book is not particularly well-written, it has certainly been interesting and worthwhile.


I've also been reading Tom Wright's excellent book Surprised by Hope. It is an excellent antidote to both evangelical Gnosticism and secular materialism, emphasizing that the Christian hope is rooted in the the goodness of creation, not heaven.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Interview with Peter Schiff

Click HERE to listen to Lew Rockwell's fascinating interview with Peter Schiff who is running for the Senate in Connecticut. Schiff explains how government policy is driving the price of college tuition through the wall, making a debt-free university degree almost unattainable.

The Marketing of Evil

 
How did our society move, in less than one generation, from considering homosexuals to be criminals to treating them as a minority group in need of special protection? How did we go, in an even shorter space of time, from considering abortion to be murder to considering it to be a universal right? How did the ideologies of evolution, feminism, sexual revolution and the neo-paganism of pop culture come to be mainstream?
 
These are the questions that David Kupelian addresses in his remarkable book The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom.

Written by the managing editor of WorldNetDaily.com, the book takes a look behind the scenes at the powerful forces that have sold evil to the West throughout the past four or five decades. He shows how the architects of various anti-Christian movements employed well planned out methods for inculcating their ideas into the culture.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Foreign Policy of Freedom

 
Anyone who is concerned about Obama's quiet but steady military buildup, should go and buy a copy of Ron Paul's A Foreign Policy of Freedom.
 
"A policy of foreign intervention has numerous shortcomings. A casual look at the results of interventionist policies, both throughout history and in our American experience over the past hundred years, should convince a thoughtful person that the Founders' policy of nonintervention makes a great deal of sense. There are several reasons, of course, that nations cling to a policy of foreign entanglements. Political power is an aphrodisiac for most politicians, and too many of those with power develop grandiose dreams of world conquest. In the United States, private financial interests frequently benefit from foreign meddling, and foreign nationalistic interests also influence our policies and relationships in world affairs.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Free Speech and Animal Cruelty


On 13th April, the United States Supreme Court rejected laws preventing the sale of animal cruelty videos.
 
The 8-1 vote last Tuesday overturned the 1999 federal statute prohibiting the sale of “any depiction” in which “a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded or killed.” The rejected law essentially prohibited graphic depictions or media of what is already classified as illegal animal cruelty.

The 1999 law was drafted in response to an illegal trade in videos which filmed small animals being crushed to death by women in high-heeled shoes. In overturning this law, the Supreme Court based their decision on the Constitution’s First Amendment, which reads,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In case you missed the part about filming illegal acts of violence against animals, I’ve put that part in italics. On the basis that Congress cannot pass a law “abridging the freedom of speech”, the Supreme Court felt that it was appropriate to overturn the 1999 statute.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Totalitarian Creep


(A shorter version of this article appeared in the monthly magazine of Christian Voice , a UK ministry whose website is http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/.)

Former America President, Ronald Reagan, once remarked that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”

Reagan understood an important principle: as soon a government becomes benevolent, the totalitarian temptation is sure to be lurking near.

Obama, on the other hand, appears to have taken Reagan’s terrifying phrase as a template rather than a warning. The latest example of the President’s “I’m-here-to-help” enthusiasm occurred on 23 March, 2010 when he signed into law a bill requiring every individual to have or buy health insurance coverage.
Read More

Warnings from Ron Paul

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bill Gates: Vaccines Can Help Decrease Surplus Population

  
In a stunning revelation of what had previously been suggested by, so called, "conspiracy theorists", Bill Gates acknowledged that there could be a connection between vaccinations and population reduction.

I was ridiculed and mocked last November when I made the suggestion that certain types of vaccines might actually play a key role in reducing the number of people on the planet.

But that was before the founder of Microsoft joined the bandwagon and acknowledged the connection.

Only, Bill thinks it's a good thing and I think it's a bad thing.

Echoing Thomas Malthus and the social Darwinism of the last century, Gates reduced human survival to a matter of algebra. In remarks made to the Technology, Entertainment and Design 2010 Conference in Long Beach, California, his assessment of the planet’s problem was remarkably simple: CO2 (total population emitted CO2 per year) = P (people) x S (services per person) x E (average energy per service) x C (average CO2 emitted per unit of energy)

After presenting this equation, Gates explained that the goal was to “look at each one of these and see how we can get this down to zero." While discussing ‘P’, he said, “Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, healthcare, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent."

That's right. Rather than leading to more life, which was the original purpose of both vaccines and healthcare, they will lead to less. (If it seems unusual that “healthcare” would be cited as a way of limiting the human population, one needs only consider the 1990 Tetanus scandal, when the WHO secretly sterilized three million woman who thought they were merely being vaccinated against Tetanus.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Christian Film Making

 
"But in the end, “slightly competent” isn’t going to cut it.  If Christians want to see tales and films with good messages entering the mainstream of the culture, they must rise above mediocrity.  A truly great Christian film must meet or rise above the artistic standards of a film like Brokeback Mountain without compromising its message.  Christians must stop thinking that the good message can somehow compensate for substandard method.  Mediocrity in method makes it easy for the world to ignore the message." From Brokeback vs Narnia

What's the difference between government and mother?


What's the difference between mother and the government? (This is not a riddle)

If the conduct of contemporary lawmakers is anything to go by, the answer is: not a lot

At least that is what I suggest in my book The Twilight of Liberalism. (To order a copy of the book, click HERE.)

In the book I use the nomenclature of the 'maternal 'state to describe a government that assumes the function of Mother. The maternal state is there to nurture us, to train us, to instruct us, to keep our toys safe, to be guardian of our possessions, to be our tutor in the way of virtue and, like a good mother, to make sure we share our belongings with our brothers and sisters.


The confusion between statecraft and motherhood is an ancient one. When Diocletian (pictured left) published his Edict of 301, mandating the persecution of Christians and destroying the few remaining liberties of the old Roman republic, he justified it by referring to himself and his associates as “the watchful parents of the whole human race.” Contemporary governments are increasingly following the pattern of Diocletian by acting, not simply as the guardians of law and order, but as mother to their citizens. I would like consider five overlapping areas where this is the case.



Government’s Maternal Eye

Part of a mother’s vocation involves educating her children in the path of virtue (Proverbs 1:8-9) and nourishing their bodies in growth. When government assumes the role of mother, the state begins to have a constant eye on our education, an eye on
our virtue, an eye on our growth and an eye on the all-around development of the human personality.[1] 

The result is that we all begin to belong to each other under the supra-parenthood of the state. As Hillary Clinton expressed it, “As adults we have to start thinking and believing that there isn't really any such thing as someone else's child. My child, your child, all children everywhere, must live and make their ways in society, and now, in the increasingly shrinking world we live in, in the larger globe as well.”[2]

Our lives become the business of the state and, as a corollary, the business of each other, because the state, like a good mother, has assumed responsibility for our growth and training. As C.S. Lewis remarked


Keep Reading...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Alfred the Great Society

The Alfred the Great Society has now revamped its website. While no longer functioning as an academy offering tutoring services, we have retained the same vision of equipping believers to defend Christendom against the forces of contemporary paganism and unbelief. To read more about this vision, visit the ABOUT page on our new website

Our website currently has five main categories, each of which has a growing collection of free resources.

News and Current Events


Great Defenders of Christendom

Book and Film Reviews

Resources for Defending Christendom

The Worldwide Assault on Christendom


In order to be successful in our mission, we need men and women who are willing to help in the ministry of the Alfred the Great Society. In particularly, we are looking for writers who would be willing to contribute articles on news and current events and also who would be willing to review books and films for our website.

We also need your help to spread the word about AGS by people becoming fans on facebook and then suggesting to their friends that they become fans too.
 
Christendom needs defending now just as much as it did during the time of Alfred the Great. Unfortunately, the vision of Christendom is in danger of being lost, even among those who lament the direction our society is taking. Too many Christians have embraced a sacred/secular dualism that has left the public square, including the arts, in the hands of the pagans. AGS attempts to redress this.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Seven Steps to Bethlehem

Some thirty years ago my father-in-law, Arthur Eedle, set himself the task of finding the date of Christ's birth and death. From there he began a painstaking investigation,  piecing together evidence from Biblical studies, historical records, calendars, and astronomy. Arthur now believes he has resolved the incredibly tricky chronology that has baffled New Testament scholars throughout the ages. The results of his investigation is now available in his book Seven Steps to Bethlehem (available from Lulu for $18.67). Having helped (a little) with the project, I was delighted to receive my copy this week. I have not read the entire book yet, but from all appearances it seems to be a very scientific work of historical detection that should be enjoyable for scholars and lay people alike. Click HERE to order a copy.

Pious Humbug

"Do not practice long, drawn-out devotions, but rather give yourself to prayer at intervals, as you would to food. Pious humbug is an invention of the devil." From the monastic rule of Comgall, late 8th century.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Educational Aesthetics

I have just read an excellent article in the Spring 2010 edition of the quarterly journal for the Association of Classical and Christian schools. The article is by Stephen Turley and is titled "Educational Aesthetics." It can be downloaded HERE.

Echoing some of the same themes I raised in my article on aesthetics that I wrote for 'Christianity & Society' as well as in my earlier series of posts on the objectivity of beauty, but applying them to an educational context, Turley comments on the latent relativism within so many Christians classrooms when it comes to aesthetics.

"I, too, have witnessed in my own teaching experience at both the high school and university levels how modernist assumptions have worked themselves out in our aesthetic conceptions, such that when called to give a basic account for the classical conception of Beauty, students entering my classroom consistently exemplify a complete and total devotion to aesthetic relativism....

Monday, April 05, 2010

Foreign Policy

 
I promised that after Lent was over I would reply to comments that Mike Foil left on my earlier post Is Obama a Man of Peace? Mike raises some very good points and asks some penetrating questions. To start with, he writes, quoting from me:
.
“What could quickly escalate into a proxy war against China." This, he concludes, is a result of the US selling arms to Taiwan. Just possibly, could it be that the US sold arms to Taiwan because China was already making aggressive actions toward Taiwan? China, for years, has claimed that Taiwan belongs to them, but Taiwan, claims to be an independent country. The US has a treaty with Taiwan. The US is in business to sell arms to friendly nations so they can defend themselves, to some extent, against an aggressor nation, such as China. China has been building a massive military might. They have threatened to physically take Taiwan. So, does the US honor the treaty or turn-tail and run due to a threat?”
I agree, Mike, the US should honor its treaties. But the whole point is that the United States should never have made those treaties in the first place. Let's not forget that in his Farewell Address, George Washington warned future generations of Americans against becoming entangled in the affairs of other nations. He said, “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.” In the early days of the American Republic, Washington’s advice was heeded. Thus, in 1821, America’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams, could reflect back and boast that [America] has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception...abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart.... Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

You or I may disagree about the ethics of selling weapons to friendly nations so that they can defend themselves, but can we at least agree that this foreign policy is un-American and a departure from the vision of the founders?

"Not content with being the only nation with troops and military bases astride all five continents..." If the US is not defending freedom and liberty in other countries, who would? Who would be the deterrent to keep North Korea out of the south, if not US? Who would support Israel, if not US?”

Totalitarian Creep


(A shorter version of this article will be appearing in the monthly magazine of Christian Voice , a UK ministry whose website is http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/.)

Former America President, Ronald Reagan, once remarked that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I'm from the government and I'm here to help.”

Reagan understood an important principle: as soon a government becomes benevolent, the totalitarian temptation is sure to be lurking near.

Obama, on the other hand, appears to have taken Reagan’s terrifying phrase as a template rather than a warning. The latest example of the President’s “I’m-here-to-help” enthusiasm occurred on 23 March, 2010 when he signed into law a bill requiring every individual to have or buy health insurance coverage.
Read More

Wisdom on marriage from Richard Baxter


I only recently discovered Richard Baxter, an almost endless source of Puritan wisdom. One of these days I'll be posting a brief bio of him, but for now his wisdom to married couples will have to suffice.

The sub-directions for maintaining conjugal love are such as these.

1. Choose one at first that is truly amiable, especially in the virtues of the mind.
2. Marry not till you are sure that you can love entirely. Be not drawn for sordid ends, to join with one that you have but ordinary affections for.
3. Be not too hasty, but know beforehand, all the imperfections, which may tempt you after wards to loathing. But if these duties have been sinfully neglected, yet
4. Remember that justice commandeth you to love one that hath, as it were, forsaken all the world for you, and is contented to be the companion of your labours and sufferings, and be an equal sharer in all conditions with you, and that must be your companion until death. It is worse than barbarous inhumanity to entice such a one into a bond of love, and society with you, and then to say, you cannot love her. This was by perfidiousness to draw her into a snare to her undoing. What comfort can she have in her converse with you, and care, and labour, and necessary sufferings, if you deny her conjugal love ? Especially, if she deny not love to you, the inhumanity is the greater.

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