Category Archives: fundamentalism

23 Aug

Fools, damn fools and modern biblical critics

Sometimes a report is so uninformative, inaccurate, vague and generally fatuous that it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. In most such cases we can simply pay the report no attention, grimace frustrated and toss it into the wastepaper basket. But when the subject under  the report’s review is as important as the interpretation of Scripture, as a priest I feel I owe it as a matter of pastoral care to spell out what’s wrong . In today’s Daily Telegraph there is such a report and it begins thus:

“The earliest Latin interpretation of the Gospels has been brought to light by a British academic – and it suggests that readers should not take the Bible literally.”

So this has only very recently been “brought to light” has it by, as the article goes on to mention, Dr Hugh Houghton of the University of Birmingham?  Well, I have news for Dr Houghton and for Olivia Rudgard who wrote that Telegraph article:

Throughout the centuries there have actually been only a very few scholars and ordinary readers who have taken the Bible literally – and for a very good (and obvious) reason: most of the Bible does not consist of propositions of fact.

Much of the Bible is poetry and hymns. How, for example, would anyone go about taking a line such as “The Lord’s my shepherd” literally? Or “I am a worm and no man”?

No one has ever believed that when the Bible says God made the world in six days and on the seventh day he rested means that God formed the universe in six days of twenty-four hours and on the following day he took to his pipe and slippers and sat back in an easy chair.

Or that one of Solomon’s lovers really had a neck that was “a tower of ivory.”

Or that “the stars of heaven fell to the earth.”

To continue to enumerate examples would be the exploit of an imbecile. Besides, there are other aspects of this dismal tale to consider….

Dr Houghton says, “There’s been an assumption that the Bible is a literal record of truth – a lot of the early scholars got very worried about inconsistencies between Matthew and Luke for example.”

No, they didn’t get very worried. They were scholars, not idiots. They noticed differences between Matthew and Luke – that Matthew has wise men visiting the manger while Luke mentions only shepherds – and they concluded that these variations didn’t evidence contradictoriness but two different theological perspectives. Similarly, no one in his right mind would conclude that because the synoptic Gospels declare that the crucifixion happened on one particular day while John says it happened on a different day that therefore the crucifixion never happened.

That may be how dumb literalists and contemporary theological academics think but it is not how the early biblical commentators and the Church Fathers thought.

The fact is – and it has been well-recognised by scholars and general readers for a thousand years and more – that much of the Bible is in the similes and metaphors of poetic expression; and that the biblical narrative lends itself to allegorical interpretation. The masters of that craft were such as Origen and Augustine in the earliest centuries of Christian history.

And they didn’t need to wait for Dr Houghton to come along and explain to them their own method! 

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07 Jun

Good news at last!

At a time of prolonged bad news – the indisposition of Diane Abbott for example – it is cheering to have a refreshing report from Iran.

This week there occurred an agreeable carnage in the form of successful suicide-bombings of the Iranian parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomenei. Saudi proxy forces (Islamic State) attacked Iranian heartlands (the republican guard) and killed more than a few

This is only the most recent episode in a much longer conflict. And it’s really comforting to know that Muslim barbarians wage war not only upon Jewish and Christian infidels, but upon their own co-religionists

For Iran versus Saudi Arabia, read Shia versus Sunni. These two sects of the same barbarism have been at each other’s throats for 1400 years.

With luck – or, as I would put it, by the grace of God – these two forms of all that is despicable might soon come to destroy one another

Here is a brief theological analysis of the situation: we are not to think that the war between good and evil is between God and his angels and Satan with his equally disciplined army of devils. For, while the angel band is united, the demons are all at odds with one another

As Milton said: “Pandemonium and confusion worse confounded”

As Our Lord put it, very nicely if I might say so, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.”

Roll on, I say. Roll on 

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02 Dec

The fully-integrated lunatic fringe

Opinion research company Policy Exchange has conducted a survey of the views of 3000 Muslims living in Britain.

It declares that 93% wish “to integrate fully” into the British way of life. Now, to integrate fully is, by definition, to share a consensus. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree with everyone else about everything. But it does mean that a person integrated into a society will tend to share the important things, including beliefs, in common within that society.

How to square Muslims’ expressed with to belong with some of their beliefs? I don’t mean their religious beliefs. I mean the fact that, according to Policy Exchange, 96% of Muslims do not believe that Al Q’aeda perpetrated the 9/11 atrocities in the US. 31% believe that the Americans themselves carried out these attacks. And 7% say the Israelis were responsible.

Here’s another Muslim belief – or rather disbelief: only one in four Muslims believes that extremist Islamic views are held by any Muslim anywhere.

Every previous opinion poll among native British people has shown that the overwhelming majority is convinced that the 9/11 attacks were the work of Al Q’aeda. And every non-Muslim living in Britain knows that there are extremist Islamic views, leading to acts of terrorism: for we have all seen these crimes enacted on our streets and in our tube trains.

A group of people who refuse to believe known facts is not accurately described as “fully integrated”:  more appropriate phrases would be “lunatic fringe” and “in denial.”

I have one question to Muslims living in our country: If you say you wish “to integrate fully” into mainstream British society, then why don’t you?

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19 Nov

ARCHBISHOP TALKS SENSE!

Indeed, the age of miracles is not dead. Let me write the headline: ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY TALKS SENSE. It’s even better than MAN BITES DOG. Yes, Justin Welby has surprised us by acting entirely out of character. He has said we must accept that the terrorist group Islamic State has some connection with Islam. Here is an extract from the Archbishop’s speech:

“If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult – probably impossible – to overcome it.

“A theological voice needs to be part of the response, and we should not be bashful in offering that.

“This requires a move away from the argument that has become increasingly popular, which is to say that Islamic State is ‘nothing to do with Islam’, or that Christian militia in the Central African Republic are nothing to do with Christianity, or Hindu nationalist persecution of Christians in South India is nothing to do with Hinduism.

“Until religious leaders stand up and take responsibility for the actions of those who do things in the name of their religion, we will see no resolution.”

I have never heard him say anything remotely sane or sensible before. I ran out of fleshy areas of my body which I might pinch to establish that I was not dreaming. Now I am left wondering why Welby spoke as he did. In the past he was always a fully paid up member of the Islam-is-a-religion-of peace-and-love brigade: those Guardianistas and BBC types who claim that the murderous psychopaths’ shout of “Allahu Akbar!” immediately before they behead you/throw a few bombs into a shopping centre/spray a playground with Kalashnikov bullets/ or perhaps crucify you is an aberration or a mere coincidence.

It was probably too much to expect the Archbishop to take the reasonable next step and declare that the Christian response – in fact the Christian duty – towards those who deliberately kill the innocent should be to fight them. This teaching, derived from Aquinas’ doctrine of the just war, is entirely orthodox. Better still if Welby had followed the example of St Bernard of Clairvaux who, in the Burgundian town of Vézelay on 31st March, 1146, delivered his famous oration on responding to the Muslim threat:

“…Will you allow the infidels to contemplate in peace the ravages they have committed on Christian people? …Fly then to arms; let the holy rage animate you in the fight, and let the Christian world resound with these words of the Hebrew prophet: ‘Cursed be he who does not stain his sword with blood!’ ”

But credit where it’s due: The Archbishop’s words represent movement in the right direction and a welcome change from the usual evasive, euphemistic tosh that churchmen speak concerning the barbarians who perpetrate mass murder in the name of Islam. Who knows where these things might lead? Perhaps next week the Archbishop will ascend the pulpit in Canterbury cathedral and say, “Up, lads, and at ‘em!”

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27 Oct

Something glorious in the state of Denmark

D’you think we might borrow the Queen of Denmark? Would the gracious lady consent to come and speak to our political leaders – most suitably perhaps in the House of Lords?

In a book, compiled with the Danish journalist Thomas Larsen, Queen Margarethe said that migrants arriving from south east Asia had “prospered”, but those coming from the Middle East “have had a hard time finding their rhythm in Denmark.” 

And she admitted that the sheer scale of the new arrivals seen across Europe over the last eighteen months had changed her views on immigration which, as a young woman in the 1960s, she and other Danes saw as “exciting.” 

Speaking about the cultural values some migrants bring with them, she said: “We cannot pretend that it wears off by itself. It won’t. Many of us thought that people who come to a strange place are a kind of a blotting paper that absorbs everything new.

“The task becomes harder, however, when so many people having various backgrounds and a particular religion arrive at once. They risk isolating themselves regardless of their will.” 

Queen Margarethe, who ascended the throne of Denmark in 1972, pronounced a scathing verdict on today’s EU politicians whom she accused of betraying European values in the name of political correctness: “If you can’t formulate what you stand for, it is hard to tell others about it. It needs to be worked on and every once in a while you need to put your foot down with somebody and say ‘Hey! That won’t do’.”

The Queen of Denmark’s views on immigration are the same as those of most people in Britain – with the exception of our political leaders. Most of us would say that immigrants (in manageable numbers) are welcome, on the condition that they don’t implant an alien and antipathetic religion and culture on our country. Generations of immigrants have, for the most part, adopted our British way of life and customs: Jews, West Indians and Poles have integrated happily and successfully. Hindus in particular have made a wonderful contribution to our national life. I was a schoolteacher in Bolton, Lancashire when the tyrant Idi Amin threw out the Asians from Uganda. Their business people revitalised the town’s economy and greatly improved the functions of local politics and civic life. The Hindu children attended my daily Christian assemblies.

They did not do as so many Muslim immigrants into Britain have done: intimidate the locals until they move out, and so create ghettos where they practise a parallel system of jurisdiction. It is many years now since Bishop Michael Nazir Ali warned our politicians and senior churchmen that there are indeed many Muslim ghettos in this country.

Our politicians and bishops didn’t want to know. They have betrayed the British people and stoked up a social cataclysm. The opposite of integration is disintegration – and sooner than you think. 

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06 Sep

Onward Christian Soldiers!

Here follows the cheeriest, most encouraging, sentence I’ve read in a long time: “A Christian militia has liberated a village in Iraq from Islamic State.”

This victorious Christian militia bears a name with sonorous biblical resonance. They are called the Nineveh Plain Protection Units, in number about 3000 men, and they have just taken back control of Badanah in south-east Mosul. The group published video and images on Facebook of NPU fighters driving Islamic State from the village.

Praise be to God!

NPU commander Bahnam Abush told the Iraqi press: “The operation is a step towards the restoration of confidence and hopes for Christians to stay in the land of their grandparents.”

The Nineveh Plains were captured in 2014 by Islamic State who murdered many Christians and drove 125,000 from their homes. Since the Muslims took control of the area, they have used torture extensively. They also destroyed a number of historical landmarks in the area such as the walls of Nineveh and the 4th century Mar Behnam Monastery.

Well now, thanks be to God and the Christian militia, they have got their come-uppance.

Christianity has a long and noble military tradition employed frequently against imperialistic Islam. Charles Martel raised a Christian army and defeated a huge Muslim incursion at Tours in AD 732. The Knights of St John relieved the siege of Malta in 1565. When the Muslim general crucified captured Christians and floated their bodies across the strait on crosses, the Abbot rounded up 1000 Muslims, beheaded them and fired the severed heads back at the enemy from his cannons. Papal armies raised a fleet and routed the Muslims at Lepanto in 1571. And it was a Christian army under Jan Sobieski which lifted the siege of Vienna in 1683.

Now that what’s left of the European civilization created by Christianity is once again under Muslim attack, the words “Christian militia” never cross the lips of our archbishops and bishops. They prefer to appease our enemies and persecutors. You might say the policy of the church’s contemporary leadership is pre-emptive self-abasement. In Europe, the Middle East and much of Africa, Christians are being slaughtered wholesale and dispossessed on the grand scale. But all the bishops’ talk is about “Islamophobia” – in other words, don’t blame the Muslims; it’s our own fault.

Don’t hang around for Welby’s Christian militia to turn up: you’ll have to wait a very long time.

On at least four occasions in the last 1400 years, Christian militias have defeated the barbarians. This time it looks as if the barbarians are going to win. Not because we lack the resources to fight, but we lack the will. A courageous people under threat of subjection or annihilation can always hope to defeat the enemy. But once a people has lost the will to fight, has lost confidence in itself, there is no power on earth that can save it.

Things will have to get worse before they get better. When the threat became severe and critical in Iraq, there emerged that wonderful Christian militia to smite the enemy. The Muslim threat is only going to intensify here in Europe.

So we should all sing Psalm 68: “Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered: let them that hate Him flee before Him. Like as the smoke vanisheth, so shalt thou drive them away: and like as wax melteth at the fire, so let the ungodly perish at the presence of God.”

Shall we, in our extremity, produce a Christian militia too? Let us pray in the words of The Book of Common Prayer:

“O Almighty God, King of all kings and governor of all things, whose power no creature is able to resist, to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners and to be merciful to them that truly repent; save and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, from the hands of our enemies; abate their pride, aswage their malice and confound their devices; that we, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils to glorify thee, who art the only giver of all victory; through the merits of thy only Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

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29 Jul

The Religion of Peace and Love: Overseas Branch

The European mass media has devoted hundreds of hours and thousands of pages to the murder of an elderly priest in Normandy.

Understandable, because this occurred in our own backyard. But let’s put this atrocity into perspective.

David Curry, president and CEO of Christian Watchdog Group Open Doors, has reported that in 2015, more than 2,000 churches in Africa were attacked by Muslim arsonists and murderers and more than 7,000 Christians were killed. Muslim terrorist organisations such as Islamic State, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram are particularly keen to perpetrate wholesale slaughter inside Christian places of worship.

Mr Curry added, “In Nigeria, an average of five churches are attacked every Sunday.”

Similar figures are reported for the persecution of Christians by Muslims in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

Syria and Iraq were home to populous and flourishing Christian communities for two thousand years.

But Christianity has been almost completely wiped out in those countries.

The same goes for all the North African nations, as well as for Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In the face of these massacres, genocide by any other name, taking place across three continents, I don’t want you to be disheartened.

Instead you should turn for reassurance to the people in authority, and to those who really know what’s going on: The BBC, The Guardian, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope.

These luminaries constantly give you all the reassurance you could possibly need. they are unanimous in saying:

“THESE ATROCITIES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM!”

There now, that feels better, doesn’t it?

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11 May

Howzat?

They’re funny folk in Manchester. This week they staged an anti-terrorism practice in a shopping centre – a pointless exercise if ever there was one. Afterwards Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan from Greater Manchester Police said:

“The scenario for this exercise is based on a suicide attack by an extremist Daesh-style organisation.However, on reflection we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use the religious phrase Allahu Akbar immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognise and apologise for the offence that this has caused.”

And there was I thinking that quite a bit of the terrorism perpetrated in Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Yemen, Nigeria, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia – to mention just a selection of preferred venues – is by Muslims.

Furthermore, I seem to remember that Allahu Akbar is the terrorists’ preferred manner of address while they are killing us.

But in the light of ACC Garry’s grovelling apology, I realise I must amend my thinking.

If I’ve only ever seen white swans, this doesn’t mean there are no black ones. And even if all the terrorist attacks I’ve seen reported involve the shout Allahu Akbar from the attacking Muslims, this does not entitle me to associate that particular war cry with Islam.

Next time a night club is attacked or a shopping centre bombed, I should bear in mind that the murderers might be Methodists. In which case, they might very well accompany their murderings with the blood-curdling cry, “The Women’s Bright Hour will meet on Wednesday afternoon.”

Or a terror attack might at any moment come from members of Sussex County Cricket Second Eleven with the shout of “Howzat?”

Or, if the terrorists were from Yorkshire Cricket, there would certainly be the more formal injunction, “Bang it in – yon bugger dunt like the short stuff!”

Or fans of the much-missed Ronnie Corbett screaming as they wield their machetes, “And it’s goodnight from me!”

But no – Garry is quite right to apologise to Muslims. Associating an attack with Islam could well damage community relations.

And perhaps damage them even more severely than any terrorist attack

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24 Mar

let’s get a few things clear…

Following this week’s unpleasantness in Brussels, it is crucial that we get a few things clear.

Terrorist attacks have nothing to do with Islam.

Muslims are not murdering their perceived enemies on three continents.

Neither are they persecuting and ethnically cleansing Christians and Yazidis in the Middle East.

There are no Muslim ghettos or no go areas in British towns and cities.

Muslims are well-known for integrating fully into British society and upholding British values

Muslims are very tolerant in their attitude towards other minorities, especially Jews and homosexuals

When thousands of children and young girls were raped and sexually abused in many British towns and cities, Muslims showed great eagerness to help the police identify the sexual predators

Muslims never accuse their critics of Islamophobia.

No British Muslim girl is ever subjected to the depraved rite of female genital mutilation

Among Muslims there are no “honour killings”

Among Muslims there are no forced marriages

The attitude of Muslim husbands and Muslim men in general towards women and girls is exemplary

Muslims fully accept the authority of British laws and they do not set up sharia courts to decide their affairs

There is no newsreel film of Muslims rejoicing in the streets after a terrorist atrocity perpetrated upon US or European citizens.

Islam is a religion of peace and love

These things must be made clear and universally understood. So please pass on this message to all your friends – some of whom may have entirely the wrong idea about our Muslim friends

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18 Jan

Sell-out Saturday

I hope you had a good weekend and that you particularly enjoyed your Saturday – Sell-Out Saturday when the US ended all its earlier attempts to prevent Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. The deal was done in Vienna and there are many rumours in circulation about what went on there. One such rumour – and I have it on good authority – is that a consultant neurologist attending the US delegation found minute traces of mental activity in John Kerry. Anyway, the deal is done, sanctions are being lifted and Iran will be free to export its oil again and garner billions of dollars to bestow on its favourite charity: the sponsorship of terrorism worldwide.

How did the Great Verbiage Producer Barack Obama celebrate his sell-out?  Last July he celebrated the deal – then in draft – by making a speech (of course) in which he said what a jolly good deal it is and added that he would bypass the US Congress if representatives there dared vote against it. President Obama is the boss of America and so I suppose he should be allowed to celebrate as he likes. The boss of Iran is Ayatollah Khamenei. How did he celebrate the deal? He tweeted a drawing of Obama holding a pistol to his head, about to commit suicide. Tasteless as this is, it was the more appropriate celebration of the two because it perfectly illustrates the swindle that has been perpetrated upon the USA – and by extension the West – by the Iranian authorities who will now go full steam ahead with their nuclear enrichment programme until they are able to produce the atomic bomb. And how did Britain celebrate the nuclear sell-out? By re-opening our embassy in Tehran which had been closed since it was attacked and ransacked by an Iranian mob in 2011.

Here’s a bit more detail for you about that nuclear programme. Recent photographs of the Parchin military complex, eighteen miles southwest of Tehran, where for years Iran has worked on developing nuclear arms, show increased activity since the nuclear deal was reached in Vienna. Pictures taken on 26th July and analysed by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) – a respected Washington think tank and not to be confused with the acronym for Islamic State – show a bulldozer at the base, as well as oil spills, which indicate heavy machinery at work.

“What the activity is precisely remains unknown,” said Serena Kelleher-Vergantini, an ISIS analyst. “But the concern is that Iran is potentially trying to get rid of any evidence of past experiments.”

What a surprise! But the next sentence I shall write in this blog is unbelievable – but true. The US and the other five world powers involved in the negotiations do not have access to the document containing the details of the nuclear deal. It was left to a US congressman to articulate the blinking obvious: that “side deals” have been done with Iran.

You have to admire Obama’s outstanding commitment to his policy of appeasement and sell-out. In a fresh development, Iran has been test launching long range missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. This is forbidden under the terms of earlier agreements. What did Obama do when he saw these launches? He threatened sanctions – only to withdraw his threat.

So Obama will have his phoney peace legacy and Iran will have its bomb.

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