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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

How has immigration changed Britain?

 From BBC News Politics 30 April 2013

"The BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson visits Peterborough to find out how immigration has changed Britain.
The former market town in Cambridgeshire, now a city, used to be "very English and very white", he says, but in the last decade 24,000 immigrants have arrived.
He meets a number of locals, including one man who had arrived in Peterborough only the day before.
Second generation immigrant, Karam, said his father - a Sikh who moved to Peterborough from the Punjab years ago - would be "shocked" by the city today and he claimed many new immigrants "don't mix in".
Nick Robinson's film is one of four in The Editors, BBC One at 23:25 BST on Monday 29 April and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer."

Politicians have suddenly woken up to the fact that people have legitimate concerns about immigration, succinctly expressed in this BBC News item. The subject is Peterborough where we are told that one in eight of the population is an immigrant, one fifth were born abroad and ten per cent of households speak no English. It could be any number of towns and cities where integration has failed and, as indicated in the film, indigenous populations feel like foreigners in their own land, especially the elderly who have seen their environment change completely. A 'Google Maps' image of English Street where part of the film was shot highlights a constant problem, that of parking where some appear to be above the law. Perhaps the motorists in this screen shot all have blue badges but that is not my experience as I struggle to find somewhere to park while others simply please themselves. 

Also mentioned in the film was the problem of schools where English is no longer the first language. Recently the Mail reported: "Anglican school where 75% of the pupils are Muslim drops Christian hymns from assemblies". Where is the sense in all this?  

Friday, 26 April 2013

"Christianity, Islam, and Atheism"

Three potential bombers have been sentenced today with another eight members of the terror gang awaiting sentence. The ring leader was born and educated in this country! In Canada another suspected terrorist accused of plotting to derail a New York City-to-Toronto train declared during a court appearance in Toronto that Canada’s criminal codes were "just written by a set of creations and the creations are not perfect because only the creator is perfect”, a belief with which the 'Boston bombers' would no doubt share great sympathy. The common thread? The belief in a higher authority than the state and man-made laws.

From Frontpage Mag (see also an earlier CNA review here):
"Now that the Boston bombers have turned out, contrary to the fervent hope of the left, to be not Tea Partiers but Muslims, the media are spinning the terrorists’ motive away from jihad and shrugging, helplessly mystified, about the “senseless” attacks. And so our willful blindness about Islam continues. ... William “Kirk” Kilpatrick’s new book Christianity, Islam, and Atheism opens with a section titled “The Islamic Threat,” in which Kilpatrick describes the rise of supremacist Islam and our correspondingly tepid defense of Western values. Our collapse in the face of Islam, he says, is due in large part to our abandonment of Christianity, which has led to “a population vacuum and a spiritual vacuum” that Islam has rushed to fill. “A secular society… can’t fight a spiritual war,” Kilpatrick writes. Contrary to the multiculturalist fantasy dominant in the West today, “cultures aren’t the same because religions aren’t the same. Some religions are more rational, more compassionate, more forgiving, and more peaceful than others.” This is heresy in today’s morally relativistic world, but it’s a critical point because “as Christianity goes, so goes the culture.”

Kilpatrick notes that Christians today have lost all cultural confidence and are suffering a “crisis of masculinity”, thanks to the feminizing influences of multiculturalism and feminism. He devotes significant space to encouraging Christians to, well, grow a pair, to put it indelicately, in order to confront Islam, the “most hypermasculine religion in history”:

On the one hand, you have a growing population of Muslim believers brimming with masculine self-confidence and assertiveness about their faith, and on the other hand, you have a dwindling population of Christians who are long on nurturance and sensitivity but short on manpower. Who seems more likely to prevail?

Kilpatrick devotes a chapter to “The Comparison” between Islam and Christianity, in which he points out that Christians who buy into the concept of interfaith unity with Muslims would do well to look more closely at our irreconcilable differences instead of our limited common ground; he demonstrates, for example, that the imitation of Christ and the imitation of Muhammad lead a believer in radically different directions. ... What are his recommendations for mounting a defense of our values against the aggressive spread of Islamic ones? Reviving the commitment to our own Judeo-Christian values for starters, and then, “instead of a constant yielding to Islamic sensitivities, it may be time for some containment. Sharia… should not be allowed to spread through Western societies.” He touches on immigration, noting that it’s a problematic issue but suggesting that it’s reasonable to question the motives and agendas of immigrant groups. The message we must send? “Islam will not prevail. The West will not yield. You must accommodate to our values and way of life if you choose to live among us.” "

The family of the "Boston bombers" said that they watched the breaking news of the murderous scheme in disbelief that their family could be involved in such an outrage. The boys' parents continue to be in denial. Much closer to home, the recently convicted Muslim convert Richard Dart who was said to have come from a 'wonderful family' of 'very nice people' refused to stand for sentencing saying: "I don't wish to stand up, I believe ruling and judging is only for Allah.'' A film broadcast on BBC Three in 2011 featured Dart having close contact with hate preacher Anjem Choudary and declaring that he backed sharia law to eradicate evil in UK society. In the broadcast he is also seen preaching in Weymouth town centre and complaining that British culture was becoming 'more homosexual' with 'men dressing like women'. He also bemoaned the fact that people are walking around 'half naked'. Back in London, he is seen telling another white Muslim who has just come to Britain that there are ''many misconceptions'' about al Qaeda. Dart says: ''The worst of the Muslims is better than the best of the kuffar (non-believers), that's a fact. ''That's why the kuffar will be in hell fire for eternity.''

This attitude serves to highlight the problem of recognising authority in different cultures. To their credit someone in the Muslim community in Canada tipped off the authorities emphasising the fact that not all Muslims are bad but that is too often used as an excuse for inertia or even impotence in defending Christianity against militant Islam (see previous entry and postscript). If Christianity is to survive we abdicate responsibility at our peril.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

St George's Day

Photo: Belfast Telegraph

Today is St George's day. Reported in the Belfast Telegraph is a call by multi-faith campaigners for St George to be a symbol of unity. "The hijab, or headscarf worn by Muslim women, should be as welcome as "bangers and mash" in England, religious groups and campaigners have said in a St George's Day appeal for unity." The declaration said the saint needed to take his "rightful place" as a national symbol of inclusivity "rather than a symbol of hatred! As patron saint for England, St George is there for everyone living in England," they said.

I am all for unity but not as the result of subjugation. Panorama last night investigated the 'Secrets of Britain's Sharia Councils' highlighting the disgraceful way Muslim women are treated by self-appointed judges outside the law. As hellish as that must be for the women involved, at least the protection of the law is available for them. Not so in Egypt. In an article "An Islamist Declaration of War Against Christianity" an account is given of the attack on St. Mark's Cathedral. Named after the author of the Gospel of the same name who brought Christianity to Egypt "some 600 years before Amr bin al-As brought Islam by the sword" is not simply “just another” Coptic church to be attacked and/or set aflame by a Muslim mob. Instead, it is considered "the most sacred building for millions of Christians around the world—above and beyond the many millions of Copts in and out of Egypt. As the only apostolic see in the entire continent of Africa, its significance and evangelizing mission extends to the whole continent, including nations such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, to name just a few. As an apostolic see—the actual seat of an apostle of Christ—the cathedral further possesses historical significance for Christianity in general." There has been no outcry from the media similar to the hysteria surrounding any inferred even trivial act against Islam. 

Put another way, "this jihadi attack on St. Mark Cathedral is no different for Copts than a jihadi attack on the Vatican would be for Catholics. Or, to maintain the analogy, but from the other side, it would be no different than a “crusader” attack on the Grand Mosque of Mecca for Muslims. While one can only imagine how the world’s Muslims would react to a “Christian/Western” assault on their most sacred of shrines, “post-Christian” Western leaders, as usual, stand idly by (not unlike Egyptian state security, which stood idly by as the Muslim mob opened fire on the cathedral)."

In Britain the UK head of an international Catholic charity has attacked a government report on human rights violations, saying it "glosses over" the growing problem of persecution against Christians (here). The great chasm between Christianity and Islam cannot be ignored. St George defended Christianity. So must we. Happy St George's Day!


See "The Qu’ran is facing a blistering attack from contemporary scholarship" on the Christian Medical Comment blog here.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

A pinch of salt

Photo: Jonathan_W flickr  

Readers who have undergone military service will recall that the first lesson to be learnt was to obey orders to avoid having one's head blown off, so different to today with the ever, Why? I remember just one exception which came from a sergeant in the Education Corps who asked why something was believed to be true. "Because you said so sergeant" was not the answer he was looking for. "Take everything you hear with a pinch of salt" was his advice.

I thought of that advice while listening to this morning's homily on Good Shepherd Sunday when the vicar asked how we would know if the voice we heard was of a good shepherd or bad shepherd. My wife and I have listened to most shades of opinion over the years but have never wavered from our understanding of what the Good Shepherd teaches us. Few of the clergy whose ministry we have witnessed have remained true to that understanding of the Gospel which has involved us in upheavals in our worshiping lives and consequent lost friendships. Some of the clergy have reached exalted positions, the 'few' have not. I particularly remember one 'successful' priest who was to reach the highest level of influence telling me that he didn't like the idea of women priests but he had to get on with it. I fully understand the position of these 'converts' but what I cannot accept is the lack of any desire to protect clergy and laity who have remained faithful to their traditional understanding of the Gospel in common with the vast majority of Christians and instead invent interpretations of scripture to justify their positions and expect the rest of us to follow their lead.

Perhaps more unsettling now are the calls not to 'rock the boat' as the next stage in the race for women in the episcopate is run in England and Wales. How can we in conscience remain silent when silence is often taken as consent?  Yes we must listen but experience dictates that we must not forget that pinch of salt.   

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Not because she is a woman

Bravo! "More than a century of male-dominated baton wielding will finally be brought to an end when Marin Alsop becomes the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms. ... Ms Alsop, 56, was not chosen because she was a woman. Her musical strengths simply made her the best person to conduct this year’s festivities, which traditionally provide a flag-waving finale to the two-month series, the BBC said." - The Independent.

That is as it should be, the best person for the job. There can be nothing more demeaning to womanhood than the notion that they would not have been considered had they not been female.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher: divisive to the end

This morning while hospital visiting I overheard an elderly couple telling anyone who was prepared to listen what a wonderful person Margaret Thatcher was. Clutching a copy of  the Daily Mail, the essential guide for working class Tories, they were pressing all to agree that Port Stanley should be re-named Port Margaret in recognition of Mrs Thatcher's conquering of the "enemy without" adding that she had "done more for the working class than all union officials put together".  The only response came from a frail old man as he shuffled away reminding them that the "enemy within" were the successors of the Bevin Boys who helped us win the real war.

Margaret Thatcher could claim some remarkable achievements but that unguarded comment about the enemy within was not one of them. Her policies split the country and problems created for the mining communities linger on today as families continue to pay the price of their convictions. At the top of the scale those who were to gain most from the Thatcher revolution have learned nothing as they continue to line their pockets while the rest of us are told to tighten our belts. At the bottom of the scale people worry not only about the cost of living but about the cost of dying with the average cost of a funeral exceeding £3,000. It is understandable therefore that people regard spending £10 million of tax-payers money on what appears to be a state funeral in all but name as a grave error of judgement

But at the end of the day this is what politics is all about. There have been many fulsome tributes and some entertaining speeches in both Houses showing parliament at its best. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition set examples of propriety in the Commons while Baroness Shirley Williams, another remarkable female politician, gave us a woman's perspective from the Lords where Mrs Thatcher's ever faithful servant Norman Tebbit expressed his profound regret of having "left her at the mercy of her friends"

Mrs Thatcher served her party well but she was dropped when she became a burden to them. Now, in death, her image is being restored, projecting her as the person who "saved" Britain and made Britain "great" again. That's politics for you but apart from the enormous cost of this exercise it sets a dangerous precedent by drawing the Queen into the political manoeuvering. The Queen's attendance at the funeral appears to endorse the suggestion implied here that she gives royal approval to a period of great divisiveness in which we still live today. That is a matter of great regret.

Monday, 8 April 2013

The burden of conscience

"Fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ
against sin, the world and the devil,
and remain faithful to Christ to the end of your life."

To the non-Anglican the Church of England must appear to be an archaic debating society in which the newly 'enlightened' struggle to drag reluctant members into the 21st Century. In a secular society most people at least have some understanding of conscientious objection but apparently not in a religious context so they employ secular criteria to arrive at the wrong conclusion. I remember men who were not called to fight in WWII being described as 'conscies' without any awareness of the facts. Possibly they were conscientious objectors but they were probably in reserved occupations which barred them from active service.

During WWI in their ignorance many feminists and suffragettes handed out white feathers to men who were not in uniform, including honourably discharged wounded soldiers and those on leave from the front assuming them to be cowards. So earnest were some of these women that the facts became irrelevant to their cause believing only what they wanted to believe.

Little has changed. Maintaining the baptismal promise to "remain faithful to Christ" in one's attitude to the ordination of women attracts the stigma of misogyny. Continuing to believe that Holy Matrimony is an honourable estate between one man and one woman attracts the stigma of homophobia while the charge of bigotry is freely hurled at anyone who fails to toe the shifting revisionist line. Fortunately a significant minority still consider relevant facts so they refused to vote in favour of the ordination of women bishops without the promised safeguards that enabled women to be ordained priests in the Church of England resulting in a defeat of their own making.

I have no idea what to expect from the July 2013 Synod but some have suggested that a two-stage Bill similar to that being presented to the Governing Body (GB) of the Church in Wales in September may be a way forward. According to a Press Release preliminary GB group discussions are to take place on 10 April but given the firm stand already taken by the establishment (here and here) it is difficult to see what could be offered that would be acceptable to traditionalists resulting in the danger that if no agreement were possible the establishment would seek to find a way around the problem in the knowledge that the ordination of women bishops had been agreed. That does not suggest a sensible solution for those who already feel betrayed by actions taken to date.

In looking for a new way forward women who would be bishops and their supporters must accept that for traditionalists, remaining faithful to Christ is not an optional extra but the faith of the Holy Catholic Church as we understand it in common with the majority of catholic and orthodox Christians worldwide. If we were a debating society to be swayed by secular criteria we would not have to bear the burden of conscience but that is not how it is. To say yes to secularism would be saying 'no' to Christ. 

The honourable way forward would be to satisfy first the needs of traditionalists and evangelicals. To do otherwise would perpetuate the legacy of ordaining women to the priesthood by fair means or foul, in that case foul given the already broken promises. In conscience as Christians we can and must do better.