Saturday, January 29, 2011

Johansson father released but son is still captive

Christer and Domenic during a contact session.
The time away from his parents has had an
observable effect on Domenic.
Those who have been following my earlier reports on the Johansson's struggle for justice, will be glad to know that the Christer has been released from prison. I have written a press release for Christian Voice giving the latest update. In short, although Christer is no longer being held captive, their son Domenic still is. Much work is still required to help this family receive justice.
Read my Christian Voice article to learn the latest news, including what you can do to help. Click here to watch a video about the case that was made while Christer was still in prison.

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The benefits of drinking raw milk

During my last trip to London a friend offered me some unpasteurized milk to drink. My friend had heard that I had trouble whenever I drank milk and suggested that my system might react more favorably to raw milk. 
She was right. 
Providentially I discovered that I knew someone who had a friend who had a cow, and every fortnight the cow has been faithfully providing me with fresh, unpasteurized milk. Yum!

The habit of pasteurizing milk began when cows were being kept in highly unsanitary conditions. It was a way to kill the diseases that were present in these cows who were not being looked after properly. However, for cows living in a healthy, clean, environments, the risk of disease is minimal and no greater than the risk in other animal products we routinely consume.

Many people who are lactose intolerant find that they can digest milk that hasn't been pasteurized. In the article "Raw Milk - Is it Healthier Than Pasteurized Milk?", the authors explain why this is. (And because most pasteurized milk has also been homogenized, I've also included their discussion about how dreadful homogenization is)
Many people in modern societies are said to be lactose intolerant and therefore unable to digest milk properly. Lactose is a milk sugar that requires the enzyme lactase to break down disaccharides in milk into glucose and galactose, which can then be digested.

The milk nutrition facts are that heat Pasteurization destroys beneficial bacteria, and enzymes in milk including lactase which otherwise aids in the digestion of milk. Thus many people who drink pasteurized milk devoid of lactase have problem digesting it, however this is not the case with raw milk!


Homogenization of causes the globules of milk fat to be evenly distributed throughout the milk. When milk is pasteurized dead white blood cells and bacteria form a kind of sludge, and the homogenization process spreads this sludge throughout the milk.

The process of homogenization involves squeezing the fat globules through a filter under high pressure. This breaks up the fat globules and it has been theorized also increases the amount of xanthine oxidase that reaches your blood stream.

Xanthine oxidase is a very reactive enzyme and early research pointed to the possibility that this enzyme was instrumental in causing damage to artery walls that characterizes heart disease.

Although the research has not been able to definitively link xanthine oxidase to heart disease, the available evidence does seem to warrant concern over the effects of homogenization on both regular and organic milk.

Raw milk is inherently healthier and more beneficial than milk that has been processed. Fats are very delicate structures and prone to damage by all kinds of processing. In light of this it would be best to avoid milk that has undergone this kind of processing.
So whenever possible, drink raw, unpasteurized milk because (a) the lactase enzyme has not been destroyed, and this helps the digestive system to breakdown lactos, and (b) because raw milk hasn't been homogenized; (c) there are a bunch of nutrients in raw milk that are cooked out of milk when it undergoes pasteurization.
Given the personal benefits I derive from drinking raw milk (to say nothing of the fact that it has SO much more flavor!), you can imagine my surprise when I learned that our freedom to consume this wholesome and natural drink could soon be in danger. Click on the video below to learn more.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Deadly Give and Take

A Deadly Give and Take | Christian History

This article shows that the Crusades were actually a defensive conflict on the part of Christians against the expansionist ideology of Islam. I highly recommend it.

BBC Panorama program "too much too young"

Earlier this month, BBC Panorama ran a program titled “Too much too young.” The program explored whether Britain’s children are being encouraged to become prematurely sexualized.
Although the program tended to downplay the seriousness of the issue, there has been a string of reports in the newspapers recently highlighting the urgency of the matter. Music videos, displays in High Street shops, lap-dancing kits, padded bras for primary school girls, playboy-branded pencil cases and features in teen magazines are merely some of the tools which are helping to sexualize Britain’s youth at alarmingly young ages.

There have even been reports in the newspapers about a pajama set aimed at ten year olds with “Porn Star” written on it.

But it is not just parents who have been concerned. Government has weighed in with five initiatives in three years in an attempt to respond to the issue. Their latest plan, according to a BBC news report, is “to explore whether rules should prevent the marketing of items such as ‘Porn star’ T-shirts or padded bras…. A code of conduct on ‘age appropriate’ marketing and a new watchdog are among plans being considered by the review.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, himself a father of three, has made this issue a personal concern after discovering beds marketed towards six-year-olds with a “Lolita” branding (Lolita is a novel about a paedophile).

So far the debate over the sexualisation of children has centred primarily on quantitative questions. Are our young people being exposed to too much sex? Does this exposure happen at too young of an age?

Now certainly questions like these are important, especially when we ask who profits from the sexualisation of a 13 or 14 year-olds. I think few would doubt that the beneficiaries include the growing network of pedophiles in Britain.

What I find interesting, however, is that by framing the debate solely in terms of the above questions, the discussion has excluded crucial qualitative distinctions we need to be making. In an article I recently wrote for the Telegraph website, I have used the Panorama program as a springboard to explore what some of these qualitative distinctions are. Click here to read the article.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Priests, bishops, incense, icons, monks and LOTS of liturgical gestures

In his blog, The Sword and the Ploughshare, Brad Littlejohn recently made an interesting observation about Diarmaid MacCulloch's BBC documentary series “The History of Christianity”. He noted that
The first episode focused primarily on the early non-Western forms of Christianity, seeking to emphasize to we arrogant Western Christians that for a millenium, it was far from obvious that Christianity would be a primarily European phenomenon, and the particular forms of it developed in European contexts were only some of the many forms it took.  MacCulloch took us on a tour of such exotic traditions as the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Church of the East (the vast Nestorian Church that penetrated as far as China, establishing a large presence there for centuries).  Other Oriental churches include the Armenian Orthodox, the Coptic Orthodox, the Ethiopian Orthodox, and the Chaldean Catholic.  

MacCulloch’s purpose was to draw attention to the variety and adaptability of the Christian tradition, and to be sure, this is an interesting theme, but what struck me instead was the uniformity--the uniformity over against Protestantism in particular.  Isn’t it a strange thing that those things Protestants consider to be late unbiblical innovations, departing from the true form and spirit of the early Church--things such as vestments, priests, bishops, incense, icons, monks, lots of liturgical gestures, high sacramental theology, etc.--seem to be shared by most if not all of these ancient communions?  Note that most of these are churches that separated from the mainstream of Western Christianity way back in the 400s or even earlier; some were semi-independent from the very beginning.  They didn’t borrow all these “relics of popery” from later corruptions of the Western Church, they just had them from the beginning, so far as I can tell. 
Keep reading...

Further Reading

The Glory of Institutional Religion

Eight Gnostic Myths You May Have Imbibed

Blog Posts on Church

Alfred the Great Society

Finney and the New Measures

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Building for the kingdom

Here's a great quote from Tom Wright's book Surprised by Hope.
"But what we can and must do in the present, if we are obedient to the gospel, if we are following Jesus, and if we are indwelt, energized and directed by the Spirit, is to build for the kingdom. This brings us back to 1 Corinthians 15.58 once more: what you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that's about to fall over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that is shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that is about to be dug up for a building site. You are -- strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself -- accomplishing something which will become, in due course, part of God's new world.

Every act of love, gratitude and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one's fellow human beings, and for that matter one's fellow non-human creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed which spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honoured in the world -- all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation which God will one day make. That is the logic of the mission of God. God’s recreation of his wonderful world, which has begun with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God's people live in the risen Christ and in the power of his Spirit, means that what we do in Christ and by the Spirit in the present is not wasted. It will last all the way into God's new world. In fact, it will be enhanced there. I have no idea what precisely this will mean in practice. I am putting up a signpost, not offering a photograph of what we will find when we get to where the signpost is pointing." Surprised by Hope, pp. 219-20.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Christendom and the Arts

Christendom is not simply a collection Christians living together in society. Rather, Christendom is the institutions, literature, manners, works of arts, values – in short, the entire fabric of the culture emanating out of Christian civilization.
As Christian belief has worked its way through Western culture, conquering the forces of barbarism and paganism, one very noticeable consequence has been in the type of art that Christendom has produced. The rise of oil painting, the Sonata, the sonnet, the symphony, the opera and dozens of other creative enterprises have all been products of Christian culture.
This is no coincidence, for many of the aesthetic norms and genres associated with Western art came as a direct result of the Christian worldview being deeply saturated in the fabric of our cultural ethos.
Although the doctrine of the image of God as well as the doctrine of God’s common grace mean that unbelievers are capable of producing artifacts which truly reflect Divine beauty, over long periods of time non-Christian cultures generally tend towards ugliness. They tend towards the ugliness that comes as a corollary of the relativism necessitated by the rejection of any final standard of truth.
Unfortunately many Christians today have been influenced by the pagan notion that aesthetic categories are subjective. Hence, a generation of young people are growing up who are unequipped to defend the great works of Western art as having any objective primacy over and against the ugliness of contemporary paganism. While rejecting relativism in ethics (“there are no absolutes when it comes to right and wrong”) and relativism in truth (“you have your truth and I have my truth”), many Christians have unwittingly embraced aesthetic relativism, unthinkingly repeating maxims like, “what is beautiful to you may not be beautiful to me,” and “beauty exists in the eye of the beholder.”
The following resources aim to debunk this relativistic myth by establishing, first, that beauty is an objective quality and, second, that when it comes to matters of aesthetics, a the worldview of a culture has a direct bearing on artistic production and notions of beauty.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Defending Christendom With Good Manners

Good good social manners play an important role
in protecting Christian civilization from paganism
The year was 1789 and the date the 5th of October. Crowds of discontented women assembled in the market places of Paris, France. Fuelled by food shortages, harsh economic conditions and a growing sense that their King and Queen cared nothing about their plight, the women marched to the Hôtel de Ville, where they hoped city officials would listen to their grievances.

Unsatisfied by the responses, the congregation of women became even more agitated. More women left their work in the Parisian fish stalls to join the growing crowd. Pretty soon the group numbered around 7,000. Eventually, without apparent foresight, the women began slowly marching to Versailles, the King and Queen’s country residence twelve miles West of Paris.
Reduced to the status of animals, the women were singing songs about raping the queen, while others demanded to have her entrails.
No one could have prepared King Louis XVI or Queen Marie Antoinette for what they would encounter the next morning when the crowd reached the gates of their peaceful grounds. The king’s royal bodyguards were overpowered by the women, who killed two of them before displaying their severed heads on a couple of pikes.
Pressing their way into the grounds, the women soon broke into the palace itself. Once inside, they ran straight for the queen’s bedchamber, demanding her body parts.  When a group arrived in the queen’s bedchamber, they found it empty. Marie Antoinette, having heard the commotion, had fled to her husband’s room only minutes earlier. Angry to discover that their victim had fled, the women plunged their knives deep into her bed, leaving her mattress in a thousand pieces.
By what seemed like a miracle of diplomacy, the King and Queen managed to negotiate for their very lives.  They agreed to march back to Paris, effectively prisoners of the revolution.  Paraded behind the severed heads of their former guards, the King and Queen were jeered at, humiliated and mocked for the entire twelve mile journey back to Paris.
Three years later, on January 21, 1793, King Louis XVI was executed on the guillotine. Later in the same year, Queen Marie Antoinette was forced to follow her husband to the national razor, but not before being subjected to the most discourteous treatment.
The King and Queen were not the only ones to suffer at the hands of the revolutionaries.  By summer of 1793, power over all of France had become concentrated in a 12-man war dictatorship known, ironically, as the “Committee of Public Safety.”  Led by Maximilien de Robespierre, the committee sentenced over 40,000 French citizens to have their heads chopped off.  More than 350,000 Parisians spent time in jail for being suspected enemies of the revolution.
The French revolution left a legacy of civil war and international conflict in its wake that would last for the next twenty-five years.
Looking back at this spectacle over two hundred years later, the question that naturally occurs to us is, ‘What could have caused so many people to turn into virtual animals?  How could 7,000 Parisian women, and later the entire nation of France, become so inhuman towards their own queen?’
Lots of answers present themselves, and certainly many factors coalesced to incite such barbarism.  From food shortages, anti-royalist propaganda, mismanagement of the country’s financial resources, nonsensical Enlightenment philosophy, a monarch who was disconnected with his people’s needs – these were just some of the many factors that influenced the grotesque behavior described above.  However, one key aspect that is often overlooked is that the revolution was made possible by a titanic loss of good manners.
At least, that is what the Anglo-Irish statesmen, Edmund Burke (1729 –1797) argued when he took up his pen to lambaste the French revolution in his famous book Reflections on the Revolution in France.
While Burke was sensitive to the array of historical and social factors that were antecedent to the uprisings, he argued that fundamentally the revolution in France arose out of a deficit of good manners. As he put it, “But among the revolutions in France must be reckoned a considerable revolution in their ideas of politeness.”  “Humanity and compassion are ridiculed as the fruits of superstition and ignorance.”
Burke went on to observe that “There ought to be a system of manners in every nation, which a well-formed mind would be disposed to relish. To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.”
By good manners Burke had in mind more than merely lifting your hat to ladies or observing proper etiquette at table, although it certainly included that.  Rather, he meant the entire network of social graces and ethical obligations which, as he put it, “beautify and soften private society.”
Burke argued that such manners had their origin in ancient chivalry and were absolutely necessary for the preservation of Christian Europe. Not only did such manners beautify and soften private society, but Burke argued that they had the potential to invest the pedestrian activities of life with a sense of unspoken grace, obligation and dignity.  Such manners dictated norms of behavior, interaction and expectation to a degree that mere law never could.
But was Burke right? Are good manners really central to preserving Christian civilization? In my article “Defending Christendom with Good Manners” I argue that Burke was indeed correct: good social manners play an important role in protecting Christian civilization from paganism. Moreover, I have argued that manners are in jeopardy from Richard Dawkins and other evolutionary biologists who have posited a worldview in which good manners can have no ultimate primacy. I'd like to get some feedback on my argument. Click here to read more and click here to discuss this issue on my facebook page.

Further Reading

Defending Christendom With Good Manners
Some Modest Advice

The Magi, the Massacre and Herod the Horrible

Eight Gnostic Myths You May Have Imbibed

The Aliveness of All Things: Dorothy Sayers and the Passionate Intellect

Contending For the Faith: The Witness of Perpetua and Irenaeus

The Objectivity of Beauty

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Discussion questions about music

I've had frequent occasion in the past to post about aesthetics and the objectivity of beauty. Yet I feel I have only begun to scratch the surface of the questions that Christians must carefully think through with regard to the arts in general and music in particular. Here are some discussion questions I recently wrote for Christians as they struggle to think Biblically about muisic.

Bach's Music is Very Emotinoal

Sometimes lay people caricature the music of J.S. Bach as being dry and academic. However, his compositions actually explore the full range of human emotions from deep sadness (Passacaglia and Fugue for Organ in C Minor) to playful joy (Brandenburg concertos).

Bach's compositions are incredibly varied and defy categorization. His works include dizzying heights of mathematical complexity—The Art of Fugue—to lush melodies like his Air on the G String, to works such as the Chromatic Fantasy which approach a jazzy dissonance.
But by far Bach’s greatest legacy remains his Sunday morning worship music. During Bach's first five years at Leipzig he went through a frantic period in which he composed hundreds of sacred Cantatas, even though this was not required by his job description, and despite the fact that the Leipzig authorities were not always supportive of the projects. The cantatas were multi-movement works, sung by a choir and solo voices, to be used in worship on Sunday morning or feast days. They incorporated both the gospel reading for the day as well as the Lutheran hymn, which formed a thematic background to the entire work.
By the time Bach finished, he had given the church three complete annual cantata cycles, to be used in the liturgical cycle. In addition to being great musical achievements, many of the Cantatas articulate the beauty and exquisite sweetness of a relationship with Jesus. In the Cantata “Awake, A Voice is Calling”, there are two passionately intense duets between Jesus and the Soul:

The Soul: When are you coming, my Savior?

Jesus: I am coming, your portion.

The Soul: I am waiting with burning oil. Open the hall for the heavenly banquet.

Jesus: I am opening the hall for the heavenly banquet.

The Soul: Come, Jesus!

Jesus: I am coming; come, sweet soul!

Then, a little later in the work, Jesus and the soul are united and celebrate this with an even more intimate exchange:

The Soul: My friend is mine,

Jesus: And I am his.

Jesus and the Soul: Nothing shall separate this love.

The Soul: I will feed on heaven’s roses with you,

Jesus: You shall feed with me on heaven’s roses

Jesus and the Soul: Where abundant joy and bliss will be found.

To learn more about Bach's music and his relationship with Jesus, read my article, "The Devotion of J.S. Bach".

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An "extreme spiritualism"

 “Finally, as to the form of worship, Puritanism stands at the extreme of simplicity and meagreness. In this, also, it goes beyond Calvin. Even those symbolical forms and ancient church usages, which he either approved or at least tolerated as innocent, it rejects on account of their real or supposed connection with the abominated Catholicism; such as the cross, the altar, the clerical costume, all liturgical forms of prayer, and the church festivals even Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide. In the war against these things the Puritans displayed, in the days of Cromwell, the same pedantry and fanatism, nay, we may say the same formalism – only reversed, negative – as the Papists and Episcopalians in their zeal for them; and gave proof, that an extreme spiritualism, which overlooks the true import of the divinely created body, very easily passes unawares into its own opposite.” Philip Schaff, America, pp. 114-115

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin

See all blog posts on "music"

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Review of Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie

I always try to start a review, even a negative one, by saying at least something positive about the work. But after watching The Voyage of the Dawn Treader last night, I am hard pressed to find anything positive to say.

I’ve probably read C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader four or five times, and every time I have cried at the final scene. Needless to say, I never cried during the movie, though I did wince from embarrassment at the mediocre art, the pitiful directing and the wooden narrative.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is probably the slowest of all Lewis’ Narnia books, yet it is the richest and the most subtle. The attempt to generate a blockbuster hit out of the story remains painfully embarrassing at best and mind-numbingly tedious at worst.

Keep reading

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The folly of trying to squeeze a blockbuster out of Dawn Treader

"The more pressing issue for director Michael Apted (of the acclaimed Up series, new to Narnia), is how to squeeze a blockbuster out of Dawn Treader, a tale in which Lewis is at his most Oxford donnish. The first two Narnia books narrate mortal struggles of good versus evil. The third is the story of a poky pilgrimage, infused with elements of The Faerie Queene and the King James Bible. I wish I could say the movie has risen to the challenge. Alas, its attempts to overcome the story's episodic nature are clumsy, its effects only intermittently special..." From John Swansburg's "Duffledud: The new Narnia movie doesn't revive the magical franchise"

Further Reading

C.S. Lewis' Delight in Hierarchy 

Review of Dawn Treader Movie

Esther Phillips' Review of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe movie

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The latest in the Johansson saga

Last month I wrote an article titled "Swedish Social Services Snatch Christian Homeschooler and Jail Father." The article reported on the bizarre situation in which a seven-year old Christian boy was snatched by Swedish social services without warning while seated in a commercial airliner with his parents awaiting departure of a flight to India. On December 15th I gave an update which can be read here.

The latest news was reported on January 1 by Bob Unruh, writing for World Net Daily. He has reported that unspecified psychological studies or evaluations have been ordered for Mr. Johansson.

Further, the Gotland courts continue to reject Christer Johansson's request for representation. A shocking report given on the Friends of Domenic blog has publicized the fact that the father of Dominic Johansson has not been allowed to be represented by a lawyer of his choice.

EU Bans Herbs

Click HERE to read my blog posts about the European Union

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