Of Course, I Could be Wrong

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The Saint Laika Christmas Appeal 2018: Update

It has now been four days since the launch of this year's fundraising campaign and so far I have received £37.84 ($48.17). It has to be admitted that this is not the best start to a Saint Laika appeal. In fact, it is by far the worst. Usually, people are enthusiastic to begin with and then the donations gradually get less and less as we get nearer to Christmas. I am hoping that the reverse will be true this year and that things will soon start to pick up.

Anyway, enough of my whinging. Here is the blurb:

Dear friends of Saint Laika's and mates of MadPriest, once again it is that time of year when I come to you, cap in hand, to ask you to consider making a donation to keep my online Christian ministry afloat and to make my Christmas a happier one than it would be without your help. 

My work at the Saint Laika website and the Saint Laika Facebook page is my fulltime ministry and the donations I receive from my friends who support me are my only source of income. I receive around five hundred pounds a month which is okay for my day to day expenses but not enough to cover unexpected bills and times of increased spending such as Christmas. Therefore, I run two specific appeals a year, one in June and one in December, to raise much needed extra cash.

Through the 2018 Christmas Appeal, I hope to raise enough money to cover my website costs (£150ish), a ten-week course of therapy as I am mentally not too good at the moment (£400 exactly) and the money to buy my wife a really cool Christmas present and a first-rate Christmas dinner, as without her support through thick and thin I would be dead by now, no doubt about it.

To contribute towards this fundraiser please use one of the PayPal buttons below (one is for US dollars and the other is for GB pounds). You can use either, whatever country you live in and you do not need to set up your own PayPal account to make a donation.

Thank you, my friends. You really are top people.

Jonathan




DOLLARS




POUNDS

Pete Shelley

I was really so very sad to hear this morning that Pete Shelley has died at the age of just sixty-three years old. I must have gone to at least half a dozen Buzzcocks' gigs in the late 1970s and they were always good value for money. They were slick entertainers as well as being rebels and Pete Shelley led them from the front, constantly at full charge. You felt knackered after a Buzzcocks' show even if you had only been sitting at the back.

The Buzzcocks were every bit as important in the punk rock movement as The Sex Pistols or The Clash. For a start, Pete Shelley invented that genre of the new wave that seamlessly merged the chaotic sounds of punk with the traditional structures of classic pop songs. Secondly, they gave the world the "Spiral Scratch" e.p., the first truly independent record of the punk era. Only "Anarchy in the U.K." can challenge "Spiral Scratch" for the title of the most influential British punk record of all time; the legendary guitar solo in the song "Boredom" (two notes repeated 66 times, ending with a single modulated seventh) is seminal, a massive two fingers up to the pomposity of progressive rock.

Today I so much want to go back, but I can't. None of us can. So I grieve, for Pete and for my young self. But I will not go gentle into that good night, once a punk, always a punk. Fuck the lot of them!

And The Stars Shall Fall From Heaven

From the lecture "On the clause, "And shall come in glory to judge the quick and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end" by Ambrose of Milan, c.340-397:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, comes from heaven and he comes with glory at the end of this world, on the last day. For of this world, there is to be an end and this created world is to be remade anew. For since corruption, theft, adultery and every type of sin have been poured forth over the earth and blood has been mingled with blood in the world, and so that this wondrous dwelling-place may not remain filled with iniquity, this world will pass away in order that the fairer world may be made manifest.

Do you want proof of this out of the words of Scripture?

Listen to Isaiah, saying, “And the heaven shall be rolled together like a scroll and all the stars shall fall as leaves from a vine, as leaves fall from a fig-tree.”

The Gospel of Matthew also says, “The sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven.”

Let us not sorrow, as if we alone died; the stars also shall die, but perhaps rise again. And the Lord rolls up the heavens, not that he may destroy them, but that he may raise them up again more beautiful.

Hear David the Prophet saying, “You, Lord, in the beginning, did lay the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they shall perish, but you will remain.”

But someone will say, “Behold, he says plainly that they shall perish.”

Hear in what sense he says, they shall perish; it is plain from what follows; “And they all shall wax old as does a garment and as a vesture shall you fold them up and they shall be changed.”

For as a man is said to “perish” according to that which is written, “Behold, how the righteous perish, and no man takes it to heart.”

Though the resurrection is looked for, so we look for a resurrection, as it were, of the heavens also. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood. Here let converts from the Manichees gain instruction, and no longer make those lights their gods; nor impiously think, that this sun which shall be darkened is Christ.

And again hear the Lord saying, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away, for the creatures are not as precious as the master’s words.”

The World’s Last Night

From "The World's Last Night" by C. S. Lewis

The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end. The curtain may be rung down at any moment: say, before you have finished reading this paragraph. This seems to some people intolerably frustrating. So many things would be interrupted. Perhaps you were going to get married next month, perhaps you were going to get a raise next week: you may be on the verge of a great scientific discovery; you may be maturing great social and political reforms. Surely no good and wise God would be so very unreasonable as to cut all this short? Not now of all moments!

But we think thus because we keep on assuming that we know the play. We do not know the play. We do not even know whether we are in Act One or Act Five. We do not know who are the major and who the minor characters. The author knows. The audience, if there is an audience (if angels and archangels and all the company of heaven fill the pit and the stalls) may have an inkling. But we, never seeing the play from outside, never meeting any characters except the tiny minority who are "on" in the same scenes as ourselves, wholly ignorant of the future and very imperfectly informed about the past, cannot tell at what moment the end ought to come. That it will come when it ought, we may be sure; but we waste our time in guessing when that will be. That it has a meaning we may be sure, but we cannot see it. When it is over, we may be told. We are led to expect that the Author will have something to say to each of us on the part that each of us has played. The playing it well is what matters infinitely.

The doctrine of the Second Coming has failed, so far as we are concerned, if it does not make us realise that at every moment of every year in our lives Donne's question "What if this present were the world's last night?" is equally relevant.

Waiting

From "God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas"
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945

Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting (that is, of hopefully doing without) will never experience the full blessing of fulfilment.

Those who do not know how it feels to struggle anxiously with the deepest questions of life, of their life, and to patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the splendour of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them. And for those who do not want to win the friendship and love of another person, who do not expectantly open up their soul to the soul of the other person, until friendship and love come, until they make their entrance, for such people the deepest blessing of the one life of two intertwined souls will remain forever hidden.

For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait. It happens not here in a storm but according to the divine laws of sprouting, growing, and becoming.

And All The Lights Are Shining Down On Me

Dear God,
I’m writing this letter to you
because I don’t have a clue;
can you help me?

I’m sitting here
simply trying to figure out
what my life’s all about;
can you tell me?

I never wanted to be
the person you see;
can you tell me who I am?

I always wanted to die
but you kept me here alive;
can you tell me who I am?

Why Trump Is Good For The American Poor

Donald Trump is the best thing to happen in the lives of the American poor since before Ronald Reagan came to power. Since Ronnie's election, neo-liberalism has dominated the thinking of all presidents and both main parties. Barack Obama showed himself to be a true friend of the excessively rich when he bailed out the bankers and recommended that tens of millions of ordinary Americans should have their property stolen off them by the very banks he had gifted with billions of dollars. Within the first three months of Obama's presidency, ninety-five per cent of the growth in the economy he ushered in went to the top earners who consisted of a mere one per cent of the population. However, the worst president of the last forty years, from the perspective of all but the superrich, was, without a doubt, Bill Clinton. This is not just because of his complete lack of any moral integrity in how he lived his personal life but because of the way he deliberately dismantled all the non-Constitutional checks and balances of the democratic system in the States, gave previously illegal monopolies to his favoured corporations and let jobs disappear out of the nation like water down the drain because of his enthrallment to unrestrained neo-liberalism.

So, am I saying that the policies of the Republican Party are better for the poor than the policies of the Democrats?

No, I am not. The truth is that the policies of the two different parties are so similar and both so geared towards the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer that all that there is to separate the two parties are a few cosmetic policies that make very little difference to the lives of the vast majority of Americans but which they hope will keep their core supporters happy whilst they screw them through less publicised legislation. However, when the Republicans are in power, grassroots Democrats get up off their Big Mac extended backsides, take to the streets and fight tooth and nail to protect the poor of their country from the callous actions of the Republican president. Quite often they are successful in, at least, getting the severity of new laws toned down and occasionally their campaigning results in laws going to the Supreme Court for scrutiny and then being overturned. A Democrat who is president escapes such constant scrutiny and is left to get on with unjust decision making without being brought to account. This is why I believe the American poor are far better off with Trump in charge than they would have been if the worst president ever's biggest supporter had won the last presidential election. At least, with Trump in the White House, the poor have millions of Democratic voters looking out for them, something they did not enjoy under Obama and previous Democratic presidents.

My few British friends should substitute "Labour" for "Democratic," "Thatcher" for "Reagan," "Blair" for ""Bill Clinton" and "Ed Miliband" for "Hilary Clinton." Nobody can be compared to Donald Trump.

The Saint Laika Christmas Appeal 2018

Dear friends of Saint Laika's and mates of MadPriest, once again it is that time of year when I come to you, cap in hand, to ask you to consider making a donation to keep my online Christian ministry afloat and to make my Christmas a happier one than it would be without your help.

My work at the Saint Laika website and the Saint Laika Facebook page is my fulltime ministry and the donations I receive from my friends who support me are my only source of income. I receive around five hundred pounds a month which is okay for my day to day expenses but not enough to cover unexpected bills and times of increased spending such as Christmas. Therefore, I run two specific appeals a year, one in June and one in December, to raise much needed extra cash.

Through the 2018 Christmas Appeal, I hope to raise enough money to cover my website costs (£150ish), a ten-week course of therapy as I am mentally not too good at the moment (£400 exactly) and the money to buy my wife a really cool Christmas present and a first-rate Christmas dinner, as without her support through thick and thin I would be dead by now, no doubt about it.

To contribute towards this fundraiser please use one of the PayPal buttons below (one is for US dollars and the other is for GB pounds). You can use either, whatever country you live in and you do not need to set up your own PayPal account to make a donation.

Thank you, my friends. You really are top people.

Jonathan




DOLLARS




POUNDS

The Great Shake Up

From "Advent of the Heart" by Alfred Delp, 1907-1945

Here is the message of Advent: faced with him who is the Last, the world will begin to shake. Only when we do not cling to false securities will our eyes be able to see this Last One and get to the bottom of things. Only then will we have the strength to overcome the terrors into which God has let the world sink. God uses these terrors to awaken us from sleep, as Paul says, and to show us that it is time to repent, time to change things. It is time to say, “all right, it was night; but let that be over now and let us get ready for the day.” We must do this with a decision that comes out of the very horrors we experience. Because of this our decision will be unshakable even in uncertainty.

If we want Advent to transform us, our homes and hearts and even nations, then the great question for us is whether we will come out of the convulsions of our time with this determination: Yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. a waking up must begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God intended them. It is time for each of us to go to work, certain that the Lord will come, to set our life in God’s order wherever we can. Where God’s word is heard, he will not cheat us of the truth; where our life rebels he will reprimand it.

We need people who are moved by the horrific calamities and emerge from them with the knowledge that those who look to the Lord will be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth.

The Advent message comes out of our encounter with God, with the gospel. It is thus the message that shakes, so that in the end the entire world shall be shaken. The fact that the son of man shall come again is more than a historic prophecy; it is also a decree that God’s coming and the shaking up of humanity are somehow connected. If we are inwardly inert, incapable of being genuinely moved, if we become obstinate and hard and superficial and cheap, then God himself will intervene in world events. He will teach us what it means to be placed in turmoil and to be inwardly stirred. Then the great question to us is whether we are still capable of being truly shocked or whether we will continue to see thousands of things that we know should not be and must not be and yet remain hardened to them. In how many ways have we become indifferent and used to things that ought not to be?

Being shocked, however, out of our pathetic complacency is only part of Advent. There is much more that belongs to it. Advent is blessed with God’s promises, which constitute the hidden happiness of this time. These promises kindle the light in our hearts. Being shattered, being awakened, these are necessary for Advent. In the bitterness of awakening, in the helplessness of “coming to,” in the wretchedness of realising our limitations, the golden threads that pass between heaven and earth reach us. These threads give the world a taste of the abundance it can have.

We must not shy away from Advent thoughts of this kind. We must let our inner eye see and our hearts range far. Then we will encounter both the seriousness of Advent and its blessings in a different way. We will, if we would but listen, hear the message calling out to us to cheer us, to console us, and to uplift us.

Passing Thoughts Of A Mad Priest

When I needed help, not only did they refuse to help me but they pushed me out and turned their backs on me. I do not want to live this life burdened as I am with the knowledge of what people are but I do not kill myself because that would give them the opportunity to dance on my grave.

Same As It Ever Was; Same As It Will Always Be

The natural and inherited instinct of human beings for self-preservation and the successful propagation of their own bloodline is so strong that we will never live in a world which is, in any sensible definition of the word, fair and in which people are not made unhappy by the acts of other people seeking to increase their own happiness. We can, collectively and individually, decrease the amount of avoidable suffering but the proportion of the human race who are prepared to voluntarily reduce their standard of living to a truly sacrificial extent, when coupled with the somewhat larger proportion of the human population who pursue excessive prosperity at the expense of others, means that we are doing no more, figuratively speaking, than sticking a plaster on a severed leg.

I am having serious problems coping with the fact that I am alive in such a nasty world and that I have never had the moral strength to do what I intellectually know every person should do if needless suffering is to be eliminated from the human and animal experience of life.

Passing Thoughts Of A Mad Priest

If the English were an Amazonian tribe or a North Sentinelese tribe, Native Americans, Welsh or the Sami people of Lapland, then the desire of many of them to protect their culture from being quickly and radically changed by the influx of millions of people with different cultural norms, would be applauded by liberals. They would be lionised by Guardian-reading pontificators for fighting to maintain their own identity and not accused of racism every time they mention that they would like things to stay as they are. Hypocrisy, thy name is liberal.

Islands Of Silence

From “The Coming of God” by Sister Maria Boulding

If you are to be able to respond to the invitation in prayer, “Be still,” you need a measure of silence in your life. In today's world silence is in short supply; this is a serious problem for our society, and anything we can do to help people recover a sense of silence as a necessary and positive element in human life is a contribution to the general sanity.

Many people can, however, contrive some islands of silence in their lives, perhaps in holiday time. Without romantically ignoring our dependence on our environment, it is also true to say that silence is partly an interior quality; you can learn to live from your own deep centre, rather than in the ego with its clamorous demands. You can make positive use of any period of silence that does occur, rather than looking on it as an empty stretch of time to be endured or filled up somehow. Silence like this is not a threat to us but an invitation to depth, to listening, to a loving communion in joy. It lays us open to the strong creativity of the Spirit, and he is the Spirit both of contemplation and outgoing love. Contemplation, trust and reaching out to people go together. Mary's silent surrender to God at the Annunciation sent her swiftly out in the generous and practical love of the Visitation. Christ is in you, yours to give, a quiet light.

It may help us, when we are painfully conscious of turmoil, to remember that Christ's gifts are more than a spiritualised version of secular commodities. As the love he gives us is a love that has made itself vulnerable to all that hatred can do and has conquered hatred, as the life he gives is a life that has been given through death and proved the stronger, so the peace he gives is something more than an absence of stress.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”

The gift may sometimes be offered and received within the turmoil, in the eye of the storm.

On Our Behalf

From "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis.,

In the long run God is no one but himself and what he does is like nothing else. You could hardly expect it to be. What, then, is the difference which he has made to the whole human mass? It is just this; that the business of becoming a son of God, of being turned from a created thing into a begotten thing, of passing over from the temporary biological life into timeless spiritual life, has been done for us. Humanity is already saved in principle. We individuals have to appropriate that salvation. But the really tough work, the bit we could not have done for ourselves, has been done for us. We have not got to try to climb up into spiritual life by our own efforts, it has already come down into the human race. If we will only lay ourselves open to the one man in whom it was fully present and who, in spite of being God, is also a real man, he will do it in us and for us. Remember what I said about “good infection.” One of our own race has this new life: if we get close to him we shall catch it from him. Of course, you can express this in all sorts of different ways. You can say that Christ died for our sins. You may say that the Father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done. You may say that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true.

But, you will ask, does this much mend matters? Is not this still injustice, though now the other way round? Where, at the first glance, we accused God of undue favour to his chosen, we are now tempted to accuse him of undue disfavour (the attempt to keep up both charges at the same time had better be dropped). And certainly, we have here come to a principle very deep-rooted in Christianity: what may be called the principle of vicariousness. The sinless man suffers for the sinful and, in their degree, all good men for all bad men. And this vicariousness, no less than death and rebirth or selectiveness, is also a characteristic of nature. Self-sufficiency, living on one’s own resources, is a thing impossible in her realm. Everything is indebted to everything else, sacrificed to everything else, dependent on everything else. And here too we must recognise that the principle is in itself neither good nor bad. The cat lives on the mouse in a way I think bad, the bees and the flowers live on one another in a more pleasing manner. The parasite lives on its host but so also the unborn child on its mother. In social life, without vicariousness there would be no exploitation or oppression but also no kindness or gratitude. It is a fountain both of love and hatred, both of misery and happiness. When we have understood this we shall no longer think that the depraved examples of vicariousness in nature forbid us to suppose that the principle itself is of divine origin.

Kevan Jones Says The Terror Must Continue


I have just received a very disappointing letter from my MP, Kevan Jones, in response to my recent letter to him in which I detailed the effect the "firework season" has on animals and vulnerable people. He states that although he realises that they cause "stress and anxiety," because people enjoy them, he is not in favour of changing the law.

It makes me sad that a member of parliament, who owns a dog himself, could have such a callous view on the matter. He appears to be saying that if you enjoy doing something then you should be allowed to do it no matter what pain and offence you cause to others. In this respect, he is a man of his time.

On Brexit

There has never been any doubt that the people of the UK will, at least in the short term, be worse off outside of the EU than within it. Therefore, the question has always been, "Do we want to pay that price for our independence?"

Let Him Kiss Me With The Kisses Of His Mouth

From "On Pilgrimage" by Dorothy Day, 1897-1980

In the Old and New Testaments, there are various ways in which the relationship between God and men is mentioned. There is the shepherd and his sheep: “The Lord is my shepherd,” “I am the Good Shepherd,” the animal and the man. There is the servant and the master, there is the son and the father and there is the bride and the bridegroom: “Behold, the bridegroom cometh.” “The Song of Songs,” “The Canticle of Canticles,” is all about love: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.”

It is hard to believe in this love.

In a book by Hugh of Saint Victor, which I read once on the way from Saint Paul to Chicago, there is a conversation between the soul and God about this love. The soul is petulant and wants to know what kind of a love is that which loves everyone indiscriminately, the thief and the Samaritan, the wife and the mother and the harlot? The soul complains that it wishes a particular love, a love for herself alone. And God replies fondly that, after all, since no two people are alike in this world, he has indeed a particular fondness for each one of us, an exclusive love to satisfy each one alone.

It is hard to believe in this love because it is a tremendous love. “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” If we do once catch a glimpse of it, we are afraid of it. Once we recognise that we are sons of God, that the seed of divine life has been planted in us at baptism, we are overcome by that obligation placed upon us of growing in the love of God. And what we do not do voluntarily, he will do for us.

The love of God and man becomes the love of equals, as the love of the bride and the bridegroom is the love of equals and not the love of the sheep for the shepherd, or the servant for the master, or the son for the father. We may stand at times in the relationship of servant and at other times in that of son, as far as our feelings go and in our present state. But the relationship we hope to attain to is that of the love of the “Canticle of Canticles.”

If we cannot deny the self in us, kill the self-love, as he has commanded, and put on the Christ life, then God will do it for us. We must become like him. Love must go through these purgations.

Passing Thoughts Of A Mad Priest

How recently must a person's ancestors have migrated from one country to another for that person to be able to prefix his or her nationality with the adjective of the country or continent his or her ancestor emigrated from?

Apparently, a person who can claim they are something-something is a lot more special than a person who cannot; at least the way they go on about it indicates that they certainly think they are. In fact, I feel decidedly uninteresting because of the fact that I have only ever referred to myself as English.

However, perhaps I am not so culturally boring. My DNA shows that an ancestor of mine emigrated from the Fertile Crescent to near Royston in England about seven thousand years ago bringing the concept of farming with him. Does this mean I can legitimately refer to myself as Mesopotamian-English and be as important as all those who already have double-barrelled nationalities?

It is very important that we all know exactly where our ancestors came from so that we can get upset about the correct things. If I am Mesopotamian-English I would be obliged to become irate if some upstart Romano-Celt from up the road started ploughing his fields in a Mesopotamian way. Such blatant cultural appropriation is just not on.

He Stretched Out His Hand

From a sermon by Pope Francis.

In the midst of the storm, Jesus stretches out his hand. He takes hold of Peter who, in his fear and doubt, was sinking, and crying out: “Lord, save me!”

We can put ourselves in Peter’s place: we are people of little faith, pleading for salvation. We are wanting in true life and we need the outstretched hand of the Lord to draw us out from evil. This is the beginning of faith: to cast off the pride that makes us feel self-sufficient and to realise that we are in need of salvation. Faith grows in this climate, to which we adapt ourselves by taking our place beside those who do not set themselves on a pedestal but are needy and cry out for help. This is why it is important for all of us to live our faith in contact with those in need. This is not a sociological option, the fashion of a single pontificate; it is a theological requirement. It entails acknowledging that we are beggars pleading for salvation, brothers and sisters of all, but especially of the poor whom the Lord loves. In this way, we embrace the spirit of the Gospel.

Jesus heard the cry of Peter. Let us ask for the grace to hear the cry of all those tossed by the waves of life. The cry of the poor: it is the stifled cry of the unborn, of starving children, of young people more used to the explosion of bombs than happy shouts of the playground. It is the cry of the elderly, cast off and abandoned to themselves. It is the cry of all those who face the storms of life without the presence of a friend. It is the cry of all those forced to flee their homes and native land for an uncertain future. It is the cry of entire peoples, deprived even of the great natural resources at their disposal. It is the cry of every Lazarus who weeps while the wealthy few feast on what, in justice, belongs to all. Injustice is the perverse root of poverty. The cry of the poor daily grows louder but is heard less and less. Every day that cry gets louder, but every day heard less, drowned out by the din of the rich few, who grow ever fewer and richer.

In the face of contempt for human dignity, we often remain with arms folded or stretched out as a sign of our frustration before the grim power of evil. Yet we Christians cannot stand with arms folded in indifference, or with arms outstretched in helplessness. No. As believers, we must stretch out our hands, as Jesus does with us. The cry of the poor finds a hearing with God. Yet I ask, does it with us? Do we have eyes to see, ears to hear, hands outstretched to offer help? Or do we keep repeating: “Come back tomorrow”?

The Lord stretches out his hand, freely and not out of duty and so it must be with us. We are not called to do good only to those who like us. That is normal, but Jesus demands that we do something more, to give to those who have nothing to give back, to love gratuitously. Let us look around in our own day. For all that we do, do we ever do anything completely for free, something for a person who cannot repay us? That will be our outstretched hand, our true treasure in heaven.

Stretch out your hand to us, Lord, and take hold of us. Help us to love as you love. Teach us to leave behind all that is passing, to be a source of reassurance to those around us, and to give freely to all those in need. Amen.

Ignorance Is No Defence

If an engineer was advised by many independent experts on bridge design that the bridge he was building was unsafe, but he refused to believe them and carried on the construction according to his original design, and if the bridge collapsed after its completion, killing many people who were crossing it at the time, the engineer would be guilty of criminal negligence and should be prosecuted and punished accordingly. The fact that the engineer did not believe what he had been told would be no defence.

Donald Trump's refusal to accept the reality of man-made climate change, even though evidence of its existence has been made available to him by many expert climatologists, is an act of criminal negligence against humanity and, if more people lose their lives because of climate change, he should be arrested and tried in the International Criminal Court for constructive genocide. Those who, wherever they live in the world, lose property in the future due to climate change, should be compensated for their loss by the American government along with all other national legislatures that are not acting to reduce carbon emissions even though they have been advised by experts to do so.

The Great Weapon Of Satan And God

From "Miracles" by C. S. Lewis, 1898-1963

On the one hand, death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the life of lives that was in him detested this penal obscenity, not less than we do but more. On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptised into the death of Christ and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call ‘ambivalent’. It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy, our supreme disgrace and our only hope, the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which he conquered.

Humanity must embrace death freely, submit to it with total humility, drink it to the dregs and so convert it into that mystical death which is the secret of life. But only a man who did not need to have been a man at all unless he had chosen, only one who served in our sad regiment as a volunteer, yet also only one who was perfectly a man, could perform this perfect dying; and thus (which way you put it is unimportant) either defeat death or redeem it. He tasted death on behalf of all others. He is the representative "die-er" of the universe and, for that very reason, the resurrection and the life. Or conversely, because he truly lives, he truly dies, for that is the very pattern of reality. Because the higher can descend into the lower he who from all eternity has been incessantly plunging himself in the blessed death of self-surrender to the Father can also most fully descend into the horrible and (for us) involuntary death of the body. Because vicariousness is the very idiom of the reality he has created, his death can become ours. The whole miracle, far from denying what we already know of reality, writes the comment which makes that crabbed text plain: or rather, proves itself to be the text on which nature was only the commentary. In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity, we find the poem itself.

The Good Qualities Of Faith And Holiness

From "Harmony of All the Religions Appointed by God" by Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

Holiness of heart and good works in life, where there is an opportunity for them, are insisted upon as necessary to our final salvation through all the Bible and perhaps in one or two places of the New Testament it is mentioned as necessary even to our justification as well as to our final salvation. Not that our best works of holiness are such a complete righteousness as to answer the present demands of God, under the gospel, but because they are necessary to show the truth of our faith and to render it a living justifying faith, which could not justify us if it were a dead faith or without works. It is a working faith that must justify us, as good works provide evidence for and prove the truth and life of our faith.

The apostle James argues this matter articulately in the last half of his second chapter, namely that works must be joined to our faith to make it a justifying faith. From all which it is plain, that in whatsoever scriptures faith is said to justify us without works, it can mean no more than this, namely that we are pardoned and accepted of God through our faith, trust or dependence on divine mercy and on the mediation of Christ, under a sense of the imperfection of our best works, and their insufficiency to answer the demands or any law for righteousness or justification. But still in other scriptures we are told, it must be such a faith as works by love, purifies the heart and, wheresoever there is opportunity, it produces the fruits of holiness in our lives and, therefore, good works in this sense are needful to secure our justification as well as they are very necessary, on many accounts, to honour God in this world, and to make us meet for final salvation. Thus the free grace of God in our justification is honoured and yet holiness is effectually secured in all them that are saved.

To conclude, let it be remembered, that since faith and repentance and holiness of heart and life are all necessary, for our salvation under the gospel, it is of infinitely more importance to see to it, that we pursue and practice this faith, repentance and holiness, than to be nicely and critically skilled in adjusting the logical relations of these Christian virtues to our salvation or our justification or in ranging them artificially in their proper place and order. The most skilful, most zealous and most orthodox person will certainly fall short of justification and salvation if these good qualities of faith and holiness are not found in him and the weakest in knowledge shall be justified and saved if these qualities and characters are found in them.

The Colour Of Reporting

I notice that the BBC news channel has, of late, been providing us with colour coordinated reporting. If there is an item concerning black people then a black person presents it; an Asian item will be presented by an Asian reporter from an appropriate ethnicity and so on. In fact, this trend is not just restricted to race as news concerning disabled issues will, more than likely, be brought to us by a person in a wheelchair and, of course, women's stuff by a woman. There is even an advert on the BBC at the moment that suggests that news items about children should be presented by children.

I hate this heavy-handed and tediously obvious political correctness. Furthermore, far from helping us come closer to each other, it emphasises difference and promotes tribalism. What the BBC should be doing is sending black people to report on disabled matters, Asian reporters to investigate African news items and disabled men to report on the latest campaign by feminists. They should be doing this accidentally, not deliberately, as if it is the most natural thing in the world, because it sure as hell should be.

If The Soul Does Not Bear Fruit

From a sermon by Columbanus Hibernus, 543-615

But if the flesh is harrowed and the soul does not bear fruit, it is as if a field were continually ploughed and yet the crop never grew, or as if a man fashioned a statue of gold on the outside and of clay within. For what use is it if without the city walls war is being waged, while within it suffers ruin?' As if a man dug outside his vineyard and right on its boundary while leaving it, untilled within, to thorns and thistles! For of what use is the religion of the outward man, if there is not also shown an improvement in the inner? That person can be false and a thief, that person is false and a hypocrite, who displays one quality in his bearing and another in his character. Then let us not be like whited sepulchres, let us study to show ourselves splendid and adorned within and not without; for true religion resides in lowliness not of habit but of heart. For where else does the Lord dwell, save in the heart of the truly humble, according to that saying of Isaiah, “But on whom shall I look, or with whom shall I abide, save with the humble and peaceable and with him who fears my words?’’ (Isa. 66. 2)

Therefore whoever wishes to be made God's dwelling-place, should strive to make himself humble and peaceable, that he may be known to be God's servant, not by his greed for talk and pliability of manner, but by the reality of his lowliness; for goodness of heart requires no false unction of talk. Idle then is a religion decorated with prostrations of the body, equally idle is the mere mortification of the flesh and the hollow devotion of the outward man unless it is accompanied by a fruitful moderation of the mind. What use is it for the passions to be assailed by a servant, when they are found to be in league with the master? Then, lest perhaps we should labour without fruit, let us take pains to be freed from our vices by God's help, that thereafter we can be adorned with virtues. Thus let us cleanse ourselves as far as we are able from every taint of vices, from pride first, from ill-will, from anger, from blasphemy, from injustice, from spite, from melancholy, from vainglory, from covetousness, from malice, from all bitterness; that we may be possessed by lowliness, gentleness, kindness, courtesy, sobriety, mercy, justice, joy, and love.

Christian Dogginess

From "The Weight of Glory" by C. S. Lewis.

True personality lies ahead. How far ahead, for most of us, I dare not say and the key to it does not lie in ourselves. It will not be attained by development from within outwards. It will come to us when we occupy those places in the structure of the eternal cosmos for which we were designed or invented. As a colour first reveals its true quality when placed by an excellent artist in its pre-elected spot between certain others, as a spice reveals its true flavour when inserted just where and when a good cook wishes among the other ingredients, as the dog becomes really doggy only when he has taken his place in the household of man, so we shall then first be true persons when we have suffered ourselves to be fitted into our places. We are marble waiting to be shaped, metal waiting to be run into a mould. No doubt there are already, even in the unregenerate self, faint hints of what mould each is designed for, or what sort of pillar he will be. But it is, I think, a gross exaggeration to picture the saving of a soul as being, normally, at all like the development from seed to flower. The very words repentance, regeneration, the New Man, suggest something very different. Some tendencies in each natural man may have to be simply rejected.

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