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Saturday, 29 June 2013

World Pride Power List 2013


No.1 Ellen DeGeneres   Photograph: Brian Vander Brug/Contour by Getty Images

A Guardian Supplement today lists the 100 most influential LGBT people in 2013. No doubt they wouldn't care less but to be honest I have never heard of most of them. Some of those I had heard of, I didn't know were gay but that is as it should be. We don't go around proclaiming people's heterosexuality so why should we celebrate homosexuality? We should like and respect people for who they are without labels although it becomes difficult when it comes to what some do. I don't mean in privacy but in public. As in the Stonewall advert on the front page of the Guardian Supplement which says: "Say 'I do' to equal marriage". This is a complete distortion designed to bend public opinion by the misuse of the word equality in their determination to redefine marriage.

The tyranny of minorities has become a complete pain. In another Guardian story 'Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, will boycott this year's Open golf championship in protest at the host club Muirfield's men-only membership policy'. Good. At least people will be spared his endless prattle about Scottish independence, another minority interest to the detriment of the majority. What is wrong with 'all male' when 'all female' and in between is acceptable? Normally I would quote the all female Girl Guides compared with the any sex Boy Scouts as a good example although even the Guides are now failing to live up to their original promise!

But back to the subject. The vocal Chris Bryant MP must be gutted to find himself listed at a mere 34 when his same-sex marriage campaign has dominated politics, helping to push the real problem of the state of the economy out of peoples' minds. And one must surely feel for Ben Bradshaw at a paltry 62 but it could have been worse!

At least WATCH should be heartened. From a quick count the list appears to have a sense of parity about it. What could be more important this Petertide when many more women will be celebrating their victory over the church, or should I say Petratide!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Quaint Britain


Unprotected: Wearing a cross may cause offence to other faiths!

Protected: Muslims praying in the street wearing Islamic dress.


























This was the case until the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) eventually ruled after a long struggle that the UK had failed to protect the freedom of Nadia Eweida (pictured left) to manifest her faith in the workplace. In another judgement the ECHR ruled that Abu Hamza (pictured right) along with five other terror suspects could be extradited after spending £4million on their keep in this country. Those remaining are still at liberty to do as they please within the law and they demand their right to be heard. Not all enjoy the same privileges.

Life in Britain can often seem somewhat quaint to say the least. While Islamists are still allowed to peddle their venom under the protection of the law some peace loving Christians are still not allowed to display a cross on “health and safety” grounds, a position strengthened by HM Government when they argued that this was not a breach of human rights because wearing a cross is not an essential tenet of Christianity.

No doubt with the best of intentions the Hope not hate (Hnh) organisation is conducting a campaign to prevent two speakers who oppose Islamic extremism from entering the UK to address the problem. The Left Foot Forward Blog is urging "Don’t turn Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer into free speech martyrs" but in its opening line there is a hyper-link which fools people into signing the Hnh letter to the Home Secretary simply by clicking the "written" link! 

There is an obsession in this country in showing Muslims in the best possible light on the premise that not all Muslims are bad people. They are not but their beliefs are contrary to the Christian faith. The latest example can be read here but an entirely different story is told in pictures here and in a video here. Some of the items on Pamela Geller's blog do seem extraordinary as do the events recorded by Robert Spencer in his Jihad Watch but they are no less real because they take place in other countries. 

Mercifully we in Great Britain are exposed to less frequent Islamist attacks than others thanks to the vigilance of the security services but Christians and other non-Muslims in Islamic countries and beyond are under constant threat. Should we not not be allowed to heed the warnings and decide for ourselves?

Postscript

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer have been banned from entering Britain to explain the threat posed by Jihadism, what Melanie Phillips describes as 'The British government's jihad against free thought' here.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Priestesses and fertility rites to save the Church of England?


Photo: Tradition in Action 


"The Church of England is trying to recruit pagans and spiritual believers as part of a drive to retain congregation numbers". So says an article in the Telegraph under the headline "Church of England creating 'pagan church' to recruit members." As bizarre as this may seem it is not without precedent. There are examples here and an explanation here

The Church of England is following the medical and teaching professions in becoming increasingly feminised so the notion of parity has become a contradiction. Perhaps female dominance will result again in celebrating the 'ess' of womanhood with the return of the priestess. However, it is important to retain a sense of proportion. Calls for more women to be involved in every sphere of public life simply for being women are nonsensical as Melanie Phillips reminded Tessa Jowell on Question Time after her sweeping generalisation that women have a moderating influence. Tessa Jowell was contradicted by Melanie Phillips who cited the female dominated Care Quality Commission debacle as a topical example. 

In pagan times the Christian church stood apart from sexual license and fertility rites dominated by temple priestesses but that is being overturned with demands for diversity to be celebrated in the church. In a speech in the Lords the Archbishop of York posed the question: "What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian? Would you rather bless a sheep and a tree, and not them?" The difference is, Your grace, that sheep and trees and the birds and the bees do what comes naturally!

There is something radically wrong when the basis of our institutions can be changed to mean what was never intended at the outset. In the Telegraph article Andrea Campenale, of the Church Mission Society, said: “Nowadays people, they want to feel something; they want to have some sense of experience". Some of us used to!

Postscript

How about a mid-service disco too? Andrew Brown thinks this vicar's disco dance gives hope to the Church of England.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Back seat drivers




The Agenda for the July Synod  has been published, the latest move in the drive to appoint women to the episcopate regardless, thus widening the divide between the Church of England and mainstream Christianity.

The House of Bishops lost no time in recruiting women to provide the leadership they themselves lacked in an intemperate display of anger and outrage after the Church of England was forced to pause and reconsider her shabby treatment of dissenting loyal Anglicans: “those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the episcopate are both loyal Anglicans” or, in its latest revised form, "those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests". So is there any hope now for the minority? Not if the back seat drivers can avoid it, maintaining control by skirting around the unwelcome obstacle of Anglicans who remain true to the faith of the majority of Christians in the Anglican Communion and beyond.

The new proposals suggest that it is difficult for anyone to claim outright victory. That is true to the extent that dissenters still have a brief mention even if no longer described as 'loyal Anglicans'. Their continued presence is based on trust rather than security but trust has a hollow ring after all the previous manoeuvring to avoid mutual satisfaction. Proponents could easily have demonstrated their sincerity by first making a determined effort to satisfy the legitimate needs of "those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests". Agreeing  procedures in advance could only enhance the prospect of achieving the primary goal of women in the episcopate. To date, any excuse has been used to deny those of traditional theological conviction a secure place in the Church of England, an unenviable position still under the new proposals pending what threatens to be ultimate exclusion given the lack of any safeguards.

Threats of parliamentary interference if the Church of England 'fails to put her own house in order' are now contradictory given government assurances of religious independence under the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill. A poll conducted last year by the UK-based polling firm ComRes found that most homosexual people in this country are not interested in gay ‘marriage’. Just half of gays and lesbians in the UK considered it important to extend marriage to same-sex couples, while only 27% say they would marry their partner if they could. The Government is moving heaven and earth to pass legislation for the personal proclivities of this tiny minority. Are loyal Anglicans adhering to the traditional faith of the Holy Catholic Church less worthy of consideration? In the Lords debate on the gay marriage Bill [17 Jun 2013 : Column 62] the importance of avoiding discrimination by protecting minorities from the tyranny of the majority was strongly advocated. Why not in Synod?

The anger of the majority resurfaces in GS 1886, the Report from the House of Bishops on 'Women in the Episcopate - New Legislative Proposals': "The House of Bishops ... acknowledged the profound and widespread sense of anger... at the decision of the Synod not to give final approval to the proposed legislation to enable women to become bishops." Never make a decision in anger is both scriptural and conventional wisdom but the Bible is no longer the basis of decision making in the Church of England. Regardless of any vote the House of Bishops has decided that the Church of England will have women bishops using The Episcopal Church in the United States as the foundation of their faith. 

God willing, the latest dollop of unconventional wisdom from the 'enhanced' House of Bishops will result in yet another defeat for the illiberal liberals and a triumph for the overwhelming orthodox view that (some) Anglicans are renouncing the historic faith of the orthodox church for personal ambition.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The arrogance of the women's lobby


Photo: GETTY

Yes, indeed, pity about the church! This photo appeared in the Telegraph last November above an article headed, 'Women bishops: a failure of leadership'. It makes interesting reading going over it again in the light of more recent comments about forcing through legislation for the consecration of women bishops. The author wrote: "How, though, can the Church of England move forward? As a body, we seem to have been quite slow in learning that diversity, disagreement and differences cannot simply be managed into consensus. The political, synodical or managerial solutions that have been proffered so far have singularly failed to inspire and galvanise most of the debaters. And the public, understandably, has switched off in droves.

In my parish it is not the public who have switched off in droves. Most were never switched on. It is the congregations who have switched off. The daily Masses were well attended before the ordination of women. The parish clergy were always present save for some other more urgent reason but no longer. The few services which survive may have one or two in the congregation or none at all leading to cancellation and the likelihood of more closures. All this at a time when women are said to be enriching the life of the church. The women priests we have had in the parish have been popular enough but the priesthood is not a popularity contest. On a social level women priests may satisfy a need but that need is basically secular, a sort of social work for the better off based on a chat over coffee on an occasional Sunday.

In his book Vatican published in 1986 Malachi Martin writes:
"It's a democratic sounding thing to say that everyone is free to believe anything he chooses. But according to Catholic doctrine, you are never free to choose error, and certainly not to teach it, no matter how much you pant after acceptance. The Sacraments of our faith and our faith itself are, in our belief, channels of real, honest to goodness grace. And grace is a real thing. A real connection between God and ourselves. A direct avenue between us and Him. If you choose error, you opt away from grace. And without grace, the validity of the Sacraments and the attraction of faith itself disappears. To the degree that happens I think men will not feel the pull to the priesthood exerted by the Holy Spirit that you and I did and still do. And I think ordinary people will see little reason to come to a Church that turns away from grace, that is not a source of grace."


So back to the Telegraph; the article continued: "What is needed, I think, is better and inspiring theological leadership (not just clearer or louder) that will lift the debate into a different dimension. This was lacking on the floor of the Synod debate on Tuesday. And its more general absence from the Church quickly leads to rather pedestrian debates about the rights of groups and individuals, how they compete and conflict, and how to find compromise."

Where is that better and inspiring leadership? Our spiritual guides have ignored agreed process and drawn into their discussions determined women to deliberate on foregone conclusions with bishops who, in general, hold their positions because of their slavish adherence to current fashion. They regard their small corner as 'the church' when in fact they are but a tiny minority which presumes to condemn faithful Anglicans as 'small interest groups' when, in fact, their interest is the universal, catholic Church, not one small corner. 

 But as Malachi Martin put it: "It is still Christ's Church we serve and if it is we have His guarantee that it will go on, it has survived attacks from within and from without many times before. But the crucifixion of His Church like the crucifixion of Christ Himself will serve His purpose in the end. Should  we ask to be spared when He did not spare Himself? Or like Peter who felt unworthy to be crucified as his Lord was, and like the Christians we are, should we not offer our work and our sufferings to be made a part of His?"

The latest 'act of leadership' comes from The Church of England's most senior civil servant who has warned that it cannot afford another "train crash" over the issue of female bishops when the matter is discussed at the General Synod next month. The arrogance of Mr Fittall is that he bids us to do his thing rather than His.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Non-intervention and intervention



Just twelve months ago this was Syria's ultimatum to Christians; the full story here.

This morning I awoke to the news that Army Chief, General Sir Peter Wall was warning that  "we won't win wars if we are cut again" and that President Obama "has authorised sending US weapons to Syrian rebels as part of a new package of military support. Later today I was relieved to read that Downing Street said "no decision has been taken" on supplying arms - but "nothing is off the table"!

I have to agree with Tory backbencher John Baron who said: "Arming the rebels and escalating the violence could be a mistake of historic proportions." He said there was no way of knowing that weapons would not fall "into the hands of extremists within the Syrian opposition forces that have committed atrocities". He added, "We must remember that Syria is a melting pot for a proxy war being fought out at various levels including Sunni versus Shia, the West versus China and Russia, minorities within the country such as Alawites and Christians against what could follow and indeed Iran versus Saudi Arabia. Adding more weapons could escalate the conflict beyond Syria's borders."

In my previous entry I mentioned a comment about intervention from an Imam in Oxford. Referring to the murder in Woolwich of a British soldier by two Islamists he said that the Muslim community in the UK had never known such brutal terrorist attacks until the UK’s previous government drew Britain into overseas conflicts in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. But jihadis need no excuse. Attacks around the world in March are recounted here in Nigeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, Holland, Iran, Kazakhstan, Somalia and in Libya, in appreciation of the West's assistance in the Arab Spring perhaps?

Condemnation of violence in the UK is entirely understandable. It is getting in the way of  cultural jihad which Islam is winning. If you don't believe it read on here. It should be clear even to politicians where we need to intervene.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The gullible West


Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11
Click here for more details
"Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday the Muslim world was “in turmoil” and wondered whether the “war on terror” led by the United States since 2001 was to blame for the radicalisation. ... The Afghan leader said: “Today, the Muslim world is in turmoil from Pakistan up to Nigeria,” and stressed: “In my view, the West as led by the US needs to explain itself to the Muslim world.”...  “In my view, there is much that we Muslims have to correct in our societies and governments, by showing more tolerance towards the rest of the world and other religions … but there is also a great deal of explanation to be done by the US and our Western friends." 
- With respect Mr President, Islamic terrorist attacks did not start in 2001 with the infamous 9/11 attacks in the US

President Karzai is not alone in suggesting that we in the West have some explaining to do as a result of these terrorist attacks. In Oxford recently an Imam suggested that Iraq was the turning point leading to Islamic terrorism in the UK. Referring to the "Woolwich murderers" Dr. Taj Hargey commented: "the Muslim community in the UK had never known such brutal terrorist attacks until the UK’s previous government drew Britain into overseas conflicts in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and started “slavishly following” US policies.

There can be no excuses for terrorism. Such comments merely serve to deflect attention away from the root cause of Islamic terrorism which is “slavishly following” an ideology that leads to these atrocities as explained here rather than engaging in the means to eradicate it. Meanwhile gullible Westerners continue to turn a blind eye to the most appalling acts of desecration and blatant discrimination against Christians and other non-Muslims while being lectured about our complicity in terrorist acts. 

Today Cranmer has posted Palestinian Islamists are cleansing the Holy Land of Christians, just one more example of the duplicity of the religion of peace. Appeasement continues as our hard-pressed police set up a 'ring of steel' to protect mosques based on pure speculation

Rather than condemn the UK and the West in general through innuendo, far better to look at the global picture and the root cause of Islamic terrorism. But of course that is not going to happen as explained here. Islam will continue to be regarded as the victim [mutatis mutandis] by the gullible West until it is too late.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Switched off!


One of the many torched churches in Ethiopia - Atlas Shrugs


"Right-wing arson attack? 'EDL' graffiti found after Muswell Hill mosque is burnt down amid fears of Woolwich link.
Right-wing group denies involvement as police investigate potential connection to Woolwich attack."

The finger of suspicion has been pointed and a denial issued which raises the question, Why would anyone want to leave a calling card to take responsibility for their action then deny their guilt?

The EDL had another bad press in the previous edition of The Independent [here] which included this paragraph:

"But extremism is not only reserved for the Muslims. Two days ago I heard an EDL supporter on the radio talking about her hatred for the ideology of Islam. I listened, wanting to understand, and eventually switched it off. How can we reason with people unwilling to look at the bigger picture? The EDL may have convinced themselves they are the fighting for a greater good, but they are no better than the monsters they condemn."

I am no EDL supporter. If they are proven guilty the perpetrators will be rightly punished but they have as much right to lawful protest as the distasteful Muslim protesters we tolerate in the name of free speech. Does that make the EDL "no better than the monsters' they condemn"? The 'ideology of Islam' is responsible for countless terrorist acts around the world. Some of the many atrocities taking place since 1970 are listed here. It is hardly surprising then that "an EDL supporter" should express her hatred of an ideology that justifies such barbarism in the name of religion. So why 'switch off' when this is the big picture? Why not listen to the facts?

Mercifully, armed jihad is not as prevalent in the UK as elsewhere around the world but cultural jihad is becoming commonplace. The cause of the mosque fire has yet to be determined but already we have this from Faith Matters, a group which 'monitors anti-Muslim hatred'. Speaking to The Sun Fiyaz Mughal said: "Bearing in mind this is close to Woolwich, bearing in mind that it houses Islamic activities, bearing in mind that they have found alleged EDL graffiti, there’s a strong likelihood that this could be an anti-Muslim incident. It is very concerning when we know that, online, there is a huge amount of anti-Muslim hate. We know that. When it moves into the physical world, it is extremely concerning."

"How can we reason with people unwilling to look at the bigger picture" ?

Bishops throw in the towel




Bishop Tim, aka the Lord Bishop of Leicester and Convenor of the Lords Spiritual, yesterday threw in the towel with this statement on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill:

“Both Houses of Parliament have now expressed a clear view by large majorities on the principle that there should be legislation to enable same-sex marriages to take place in England and Wales. It is now the duty and responsibility of the Bishops who sit in the House of Lords to recognise the implications of this decision and to join with other Members in the task of considering how this legislation can be put into better shape. The concerns of many in the Church, and in the other denominations and faiths, about the wisdom of such a move have been expressed clearly and consistently in the Parliamentary debate. For the Bishops the issue now is not primarily one of protections and exemptions for people of faith, important though it is to get that right, not least where teaching in schools and freedom of speech are concerned. The Bill now requires improvement in a number of other key respects, including in its approach to the question of fidelity in marriage and the rights of children. If this Bill is to become law, it is crucial that marriage as newly defined is equipped to carry within it as many as possible of the virtues of the understanding of marriage it will replace. Our focus during Committee and Report stages in the coming weeks and months will be to address those points in a spirit of constructive engagement.”

In this victory for pragmatism over principle the Lords Spiritual may have safeguarded their reserved seats in the House of Lords but at what cost? The recently published analysis of the 2011 census figures suggest that only a minority of people will describe themselves as Christians within the next decade. On that basis the Church of England may as well shut up shop now and defer to Islam in matters of 'faith', indeed, many already have. Modeled on his successors, if the Apostle 'Pete' had looked around noting the prevailing fashions of the time after being handed the keys, he may as well have handed them to the Romans while expressing some reservations about the worship of idols. 

Monday, 3 June 2013

Gay marriage farce




What has happened to the Church of England? As the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill moves to the Lords there is a report here that "senior officials have personally urged bishops to stay away from this week’s vote"!

Gay marriage is a political stunt. As already witnessed in France, marriage is about love but if love is the only criterion it leads naturally to polygamy and more. If love knows no bounds why should people not marry their close relatives or even their dogs to prove their devotion to animals? David Cameron is fond of saying: "I think marriage is a wonderful institution. It helps people to commit to each other. I think it's such a good institution that it should be available to gay people as well as heterosexuals." Yes, marriage is a wonderful institution. It is far too important to be used as a political football and rushed through parliament with no mandate or proper consultation.

The Lords Spiritual have a duty to be present to vote against this legislation because it is contrary to Christian teaching and natural law. Any bishop who has convinced himself to the contrary should  look to his oath of  fealty as should the Lords Temporal to avoid placing Her Majesty as 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England' in the invidious position of being asked to assent to something with which the church does not agree:

"I (name of Member) swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God"

- or is that just another meaningless promise?

Postscript [04/06/13]

I was not able to watch the whole debate in the Lords today but I did catch the former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth [@5.15 pm in the text] peddling his usual secularised form of Christianity saying: "I believe in the institution of marriage and I want it to be available to same-sex couples as well as to males and females. No surprise there!

Previously [@ 4.50 pm] I heard the Bishop of Leicester concluding his speech with the words: "...if it is the unusual intention of this House to divide at Second Reading, I shall have no alternative but to abstain." That is a disappointment but was there a clue to that intention in the Archbishop of Canterbury's speech earlier [@4.06 pm] which I have now had an opportunity to read. Most of Archbishop Welby's comments are welcome but he finished with words that have caused others to speculate on what he meant [here and here]:
"This is not a faith issue, although we are deeply grateful for the attention that the Government and the other place have paid to issues of religious freedom. However, it is not at heart a faith issue. It is about the general social good. Therefore, with much regret—but entire conviction—I cannot support the Bill as it stands."

Could this be a cunning plan to allow the bishops (as urged by 'senior officials') to abstain as the Bishop of Leicester has already indicated? By declaring that the issue is about the general social good rather than a faith issue it will be interesting to see if the bishops, other than Lord Harries of course, abstain. If they do so it will be a cop out. The bishops would do well to reflect on an excellent speech by Lord Anderson of Swansea [@5.03 pm] who concluded with these words: "Let the people decide."

PPS [05/06/13]

Voting details here show that nine bishops present voted to kill off the Bill. As previously indicated, Lord Harries of Pentregarth voted in favour of the Bill but that is no surprise as he is from the same camp as the Archbishop of Wales and his mentor the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church whose ideas about Christianity have been stretched to incredulity.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

'God save our gracious Queen'


Picture: BBC

On this, the 60th anniversary of the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, how apt are those opening words of the National Anthem. As Supreme Governor of the Church of England she has been a rock on shifting sand. On this occasion I can do no better than quote from this articleChosen and Anointed by God:

 "And through all the political fractures and religious schisms of the past six decades, she has been a vision of true majesty; transcending petty ideologies and the ephemeral fads that come and go like politicians in a by-election. In an age when representative government is despised and democratic accountability diminished by the interminable drip-drip-drip of scandal and corruption, it is worth reflecting on the fact that the Queen has remained loyal to her Coronation Oath to God, sworn in 1953, while thousands of succeeding politicians have reneged on their oaths of allegiance to her, incrementally subsuming Parliament to foreign powers; the Crown to foreign courts; undermining democracy with oligarchy; and negating sovereignty with fealty to unaccountable elites."

God save the Queen!