23 Jul

The religion of peace and love (women’s special needs)

The government declares that those who practise female genital mutilation (FGM) shall be prosecuted. It is hard to imagine how anyone could perpetrate such acts of cruelty and barbarism. Who are these people? FGM, like forced marriage, is a practice found principally among Muslims. Yet yesterday there was a five minutes’ discussion of this matter on The Today Programme but the word “Muslim” or the phrase “Islamic practices” were never mentioned. Ah but, the presenter did say that “religion” is often implicated. So are we to suppose that FGM is endemic among chapel-goers in West Wales and Quaker ladies in York?

The refusal to mention salient facts in any analysis of a state of affairs goes beyond bad journalism and descends into a euphemistic partiality which obscures the truth. Journalists are taught from the cradle upwards always to ask the specific questions Who? Where? When? – before proceeding to the more difficult question Why? Because, unless you first answer the factual questions, you will be quite unable to proceed to attempt the more difficult problems of purposes and causes. Journalists are usually good at their job and they are scrupulous in the observance of these basic methods. So why ignore them in the case of Muslims and FGM?

Answer: because political correctness trumps truth every time. Actually, political correctness is the enemy of truth. Facts are facts. But once you say that some facts are unmentionable, then you forfeit all ambition ever to arrive at the truth. This is a disgrace and it is a disgrace which has consequences. The main consequence is that we shall not be able to perceive reality as it is. This amounts to a willed psychosis. As Faust cried out to Mephistopheles, “Ah, but let me be deceived!”

Are we to die of political correctness then?

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20 Jul

Truth by head-count

The BBC are advertising a new series in which they will ask one of those nebulous questions they delight in. This time it’s “Is Britain still a Christian country?” The blurb adds another question, presumably dependent on how you answer the first: “Should Christianity still play a role in public life?” This is predicated on the statement that there are fewer people calling themselves Christians in this country than there used to be. In other words, the truth value of Christianity is not to be measured by attention to scripture, to historical investigations or theological and philosophical reasoning, but by counting heads.  It’s that shibboleth “democracy” again, the prevailing fantasy of our age.

They will not ask the one question that matters: Is it true? because to the modern mind there is no such thing as truth, only opinion. And every opinion is adjudged to be as good as every other, no matter how idiotic, incoherent and uneducated. In these conditions the only recourse left is to count heads and frame your policies on what the larger part of the mob…I was going to say “thinks,” but the blundering mob doesn’t think: it only feels, emotes and reacts.

As a matter of fact there are coherent philosophical and theological arguments for the truth of Christianity. The new programme will not even mention these. There is strong historical evidence for the reliability of the gospels. This will not be gone into. They will only ask petulantly what “right” have Christians got to a say in the public realm in this wonderfully progressed and superbly diverse society of ours.

Furthermore, the truth of Christianity is not a theoretical truth, but an existential, moral and eschatological truth. Specifically, we are all going to die and after death comes the judgement. It is vital that we prepare for this properly. Whosoever will be saved, it is necessary above all things that he hold the catholic faith. And the catholic faith is this: that God is Trinity in Unity; men are fallen, sinners, Christ died to save us; he rose again and ascended into heaven where he is even now preparing a place for us.

Tell you what though: the BBC would never dream of trying to establish the truth-value of the theory of evolution by counting heads. Just a thought.

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19 Jul

The religion of peace and love–part three

Muslim propagandists – ironically described as “scholars” – often put it about that the word Islam means “peace.” It doesn’t. It means “submit.” This is being interpreted very literally in Mosul in northern Iraq where those exceptional Islamic devotees in ISIS have ordered local Christians to convert to Islam. Like good representatives of peace and love, they have not left the Christians without options. If, for whatever perverseness of intellect and spirit, Christians decline this kind invitation to give up their faith in Jesus Christ and instead espouse barbarism, they must pay the ancient tax on infidels known as the jiziya. ISIS’ generosity of spirit knows no bounds. Those Christians who elect not to pay to this protection racket must give up their homes and all their possessions and leave. If they persist in their obtuse rejection of all these generous options, they will be put to death. ISIS’ official proclamation ends, “…or else nothing awaits you but the sword.”

Before the loving Muslims in ISIS took over in Mosul, there were 3000 Christians in the city. Most have now fled. All the churches as well as the shops belonging to Christians have been destroyed.

Truly, God is great!

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14 Jul

Saint Matthew 24:15

This at last is the day when the Church of England will decide to consecrate women as bishops. A great day for equality. A marvel of emancipation. A triumph for democracy. The very paradigm of diversity. What it all means is that the church is content to order its theology and ecclesiology according to secular principles. There really is no difference between the Archbishop of Canterbury and David Cameron. Both are agreed on the superior righteousness of secular enlightenment and all things progressive. It is truly a wondrous thing to see the Church of England being brought up to date at last.

But consider for a moment, over your fit of enlightened rejoicing at this brave new dawn. that theology might still reserve to itself some vestige of meaning. What if the arrangement of divine orders in the church of God is not a secular matter? What if there are fundamentals which, if they were to be shaken, would bring down the whole and presage disastrous consequences for the church, for society, for humanity, for our sanity?

Despite what the modernising pigmies such as the faultlessly-plausible PR man Welby would say, there are things here which matter. And they are theological things. That is to say they are not about diversity and getting the balance right. It is to say that these matters are about God and his frequently-declared intentions for humankind

God has set his pattern before us in a wonderful order. Male and female created he them. Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is the Bride. Women priests and bishops invert this whole order of things. This order has prevailed for the last 2000  years. Use you imagination: can you really – and leave the religion, leave human psychology unchanged – have a woman standing in sacerdotal robes at the altar and speaking for the masculine Christ “outos estin ten soma mou” – this is my body? You may wish to have things otherwise than Christian tradition allows. And after today’s vote, you will get them otherwise under the glib, grinning monkey face of Justin Welby, with all his clever fixes, compromises and done deals

When you see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place…

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01 Jul

God is (still) love

I am coming in for some flak after my yesterday’s outrageously callous declaration that God loves us. What, I hear the strangled cry, has Mr Nastiman, the fascist reactionary Mullen, finally gone soft? What are these semblances of the milk of human kindness which, so late in the day, seem to seep out from his putrescent and malevolent soul? What has become of his accustomed misanthropy?

For the record, I have never believed in the vengeful God and my reasoning is plain and simple: for I have so often been the recipient of God’s mercy. I know with utter certainty, from entirely undeserved experience, what the love of God feels like. I know I am a justified and forgiven sinner. And there’s an end on’t.

Thus, I am unable, quite, to psyche myself up into the foaming, fulminating apparition of the apoplectic caricature of the Old Testament prophet: that blazing-eyed, stormy-cheeked delirious rabble-rouser, that Elmer Gantry, that Bible-whacking preacher come to tell us the good news of our damnation. I’m sorry, but I’m just not up for it. The whole gospel speaks to me of a God whose property is always to have mercy. God hates sin but he is in love with us sinners.

We may yet go to hell, but we go there by our own devices and desires when these are at odds with the pattern which God has set out for us. God does not and, I would even say by his nature, cannot consign his creatures to hell. He hateth nothing that he hath made. Aquinas, when asked, replied that there is certainly a hell: “But there’s no one in it.”

Anyway, we have enough hell on earth without need of further torture.

One of the more amusing reports from the 19th century is of the acquittal of the editors of Essays and Reviews (1860) for their alleged heresy in denying the reality of eternal punishment: “The Lord Chancellor dismissed hell with costs and took away from orthodox members of the Church of England their last hope of everlasting damnation.”

There is such a thing as the wrath of God – his orge – for those with the smattering of Greek. But the wrath of God is distinct from the will of God and the love of God. The wrath of God is the natural consequence of our disobedience and sin. (For connoisseurs there is an explanation of this in C.H. Dodd’s commentary on Romans

From our first and perpetual disobedience, sin and death, God has redeemed us in Jesus Christ. Rejoice. Alleluia. Bloody well cheer up!

Or what’s a gospel for?

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