September 16, 2014 6 Comments
September 14, 2014 13 Comments
I can’t speak for you but, this has been the longest summer I can remember. It has had many distractions in my life, and our lives as Christians and citizens of free countries and it seems like none of them were for the good, or at least they seemed to have little good at the time. My friends, and my God have pulled me through, sometimes nearly against my will. I’m not sure that the trials of ’14 are over, in fact, I’m quite sure they are not.
Still, as always, I find comfort in the music of my faith, in many ways, I think it one of the great contributions of Protestantism is in the awesome (in the real sense) hymns of faith that we have brought to our worship. These are some of my favorites, and I’m sharing them with you today mostly because maybe they will help you in your troubles as they do me in mine.
I was reminded today of a poem that Jess adores, and I’m going to use part of it but, I will let her introduce it. Jess’ words are all from Naught for your Comfort and are in italics
Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse deals with an episode in what must have seemed at the time the doomed attempts by King Alfred of Wessex to deal with the invading Norsemen. No one did historical-Romantic despair like GKC, and I adore the whole poem. It is far too long to quote in full, but the lines which came back to me as the result of reading the two posts were those Our Lady speaks to King Alfred at the lowest moment of his fortunes: Read more of this post
August 26, 2014 10 Comments
There’s no doubt, my friends, that we live in unsettling times. The ending of the Cold War was hailed by some as the ‘end of history'; we wish! We can wish we did not live in such times as we now see, but as Gandalf says in ‘Lord of the Rings’, so do all who live in them; but it is not given to us to order the days of our lives. An historical perspective soon makes us grateful: that we are not in Rome when Alaric’s armies sacked it; or in Roman Britain facing the Angles and the Saxons as they marauded; neither are we in Constantinople in 1453 when it fell to the Ottomans. But we might understand more, now, how people felt as the world with they were familiar began to seem under threat.
It isn’t simply the, as yet for us, distant threat of ISIS (though we should not think it that far when we have in our midst those who might seek to harm us), it is the dislocation of the times. It is, in some ways, more comforting to think of President Obama as some kind of Manchurian Candidate than as what he is – a well-meaning man up against the hard fact that what he believes in and the real world don’t mix. Our sense that it is a ‘plague on all their houses’ when it comes to politics, derives from a feeling that none of them have answers to the problems which face us. There is, Adam Smith once wrote, ‘a lot of ruin in a nation’ – perhaps we shall see just how much it takes?
But the eternal verities stand where they always did. If you have too much regulation and too many taxes, things don’t work – and soon people don’t either. Welfare is a Christian duty, but when there are more taking out than putting in, it won’t work. When people depend on people, it generates good morale; when they depend on Government, it generates dependency. Power still tends to corrupt, and absolute power to do so absolutely. If something seems too good to be true, it isn’t. Power without responsibility is the prerogative of the harlot down the ages, and Government is best when it sticks to doing as little as possible. JFK was right – ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for it.
When politics becomes a ‘profession’ it attracts too many of the wrong sort; term limits should be there for all elected office. Ten years is enough, not least in the pressure of modern politics. All leaders go sort of mad after too long; it’s a service to them to save them from themselves. We need to be more involved too. In the end, if we care about freedom, it will thrive; if not we can have bread and circuses, till the wheat runs out and we find ourselves in the Coliseum. Naught for our comfort then? Aye, naught but this – that we are the children of the Living God and through Jesus, we are saved. If that is so, what have we to fear save fear itself?
August 18, 2014 2 Comments
The Anglican Bishop of Leeds had sent a letter to the Prime Minister, my understanding is with the full knowledge and approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This is it.
Dear Prime Minister,
Iraq and IS
I am conscious of the speed at which events are moving in Iraq and Syria, and write recognising the complexity and interconnectedness of the challenges faced by the international community in responding to the crises in Syria and Iraq.
However, in common with many bishops and other correspondents here in the UK, I remain very concerned about the Government’s response to several issues. I write with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury to put these questions to you.
1. It appears that, in common with the United States and other partners, the UK is responding to events in a reactive way, and it is difficult to discern the strategic intentions behind this approach. Please can you tell me what is the overall strategy that holds together the UK Government’s response to both the humanitarian situation and what IS is actually doing in Syria and Iraq? Behind this question is the serious concern that we do not seem to have a coherent or comprehensive approach to Islamist extremism as it is developing across the globe. Islamic State, Boko Haram and other groups represent particular manifestations of a global phenomenon, and it is not clear what our broader global strategy is – particularly insofar as the military, political, economic and humanitarian demands interconnect. The Church internationally must be a primary partner in addressing this complexity.
2. The focus by both politicians and media on the plight of the Yezidis has been notable and admirable. However, there has been increasing silence about the plight of tens of thousands of Christians who have been displaced, driven from cities and homelands, and who face a bleak future. Despite appalling persecution, they seem to have fallen from consciousness, and I wonder why. Does your Government have a coherent response to the plight of these huge numbers of Christians whose plight appears to be less regarded than that of others? Or are we simply reacting to the loudest media voice at any particular time?
3. As yet, there appears to have been no response to pleas for asylum provision to be made for those Christians (and other minorities) needing sanctuary from Iraq in the UK. I recognise that we do not wish to encourage Christians or other displaced and suffering people to leave their homeland – the consequences for those cultures and nations would be extremely detrimental at every level – but for some of them this will be the only recourse. The French and German governments have already made provision, but there has so far been only silence from the UK Government. Therefore, I ask for a response to the question of whether there is any intention to offer asylum to Iraqi migrants (as part of a holistic strategy to addressing the challenges of Iraq)?
4. Following on from this, I note that the Bishop of Coventry tabled a series of questions to HM Government in the House of Lords on Monday 28 July. All but two were answered on Monday 11 August. The outstanding questions included the following: “The Lord Bishop of Coventry to ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to resettling here in the UK a fair proportion of those displaced from ISIS controlled areas of Northern Iraq.” I would be grateful to know why this question has not so far been answered – something that causes me and colleagues some concern.
5. Underlying these concerns is the need for reassurance that a commitment to religious freedom will remain a priority for the Government, given the departure of ministers who championed this. Will the Foreign Secretary’s Human Rights Advisory Panel continue under the new Foreign Secretary? Is this not the time to appoint an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom – which would demonstrate the Government’s serious commitment to developing an overarching strategy (backed by expertise) against Islamist extremism and violence?.
I look forward to your considered response to these pressing questions.
The Rt Revd Nicholas Baines (The Bishop of Leeds)
Personally, I think a cc. to President Obama would have been in order, because it’s all true here as well.
You know it’s getting very bad out there when you start seeing stories like this from the £ Daily Mail
The call came in the early hours, the voice muffled, furtive and shaking with fear. ‘If they see me talking to someone they will kill me for sure, maybe kill all of us.’
This was Nisreen, a 17-year-old seized by the vicious Islamic State forces who have swept through Iraq and Syria spreading fear and panic.
She told how she was one of 96 Yazidi girls kidnapped when their towns and villages fell to the fanatics.
Now these teenagers wait in terror to be sold into slavery or forced into marriage with militant Islamists.
‘I know this exact number because I hear them talking,’ said Nisreen. ‘We are sure they have sold us. We do not fear for our lives but for our dignity as women.’
It was a brave phone call from a desperate woman.
The world has heard the hideous stories of refugees fleeing the jihadists but here, for the first time, was a voice from the other side: from a kidnap victim trapped in IS’s newly-won territory.
The husband of another teenage woman, heavily pregnant, held captive by the IS told me how she would rather the US bombed her prison – with her inside – than be handed out like a piece of property to an extremist fighter.
She said: ‘Let those jets come to bomb us and save us from this situation by killing all of us.’ She added death would be a better fate than to ‘be forced off with a strange man.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2726894/Please-let-American-jets-bomb-prison-death-better-forced-strange-man-8-months-pregnant-captured-Islamic-thugs-waging-Sexual-Holy-War-one-woman-issues-heartrending-plea.html#ixzz3AfQbgswl
In fact the last time I can recall such stories they came from
Auschwitz, in 1944
Crossposted from The Conservative Citizen
August 17, 2014 17 Comments
We wrote yesterday about Jessica having to take her site All Along the Watchtower private due to some bigots applying pressure. Simply shameful. But what’s done is done. And so the Watchtower with its treasure of information on Christianity is no longer open access, although it still exists. A sad thing, really.
Those of you who have been here long enough know that I used to write a certain amount on Christianity, but when AATW got going, I mostly quit. There’s more than enough in the political, energy, history field for me to feel overwhelmed without it, and Jess covered it superlatively, and in fact I am one of her contributors there. That doesn’t change the fact that Christianity is the core of my belief system, as it always has been.
But Christianity is all about reaching out to others, we call it evangelization, and helping them to find the answers, so talking to each other is, while valuable, not exactly the mission.
So most of us today have gotten together and started another site, it’s called All Around the Western Front , we hope it will be much like the old Watchtower, and you will find almost all of us there.
So come on over y’all
But the thing is, we are all getting stretched pretty thin. So, if you think you have something to contribute, do say so. It will be a Christian and honorable place, without political correctness, and also without ad hominem attacks. Essentially, it will be like what you would expect when good friends gather to discuss, without rancor, Christianity from their personal viewpoints
It will be quite erudite, if the past is any indication but, we all like to have fun as well. The rules are those of polite society, nothing more, and certainly nothing less, if I haven’t told you off here, you’ll be fine.
Given our contributors, it’s a fair bet that we will occasionally stray into politics (both US and UK) some. But since we are in the west, that too is part of our world.
So come on by, sit a spell, and get into an interesting discussion.
There’ll be some
And some shiny new ones as well. See ya there! :-)
August 16, 2014 10 Comments
This will be likely the saddest post seen in many days on NEO.
I think you all know by now, that I am very definitely an Anglophile, I love the English nearly as much as I do the Americans but, it is increasingly becoming a dysfunctional relationship, as Britain sinks into being simply another European province, and sells its heritage of freedom for a mess of European stagnation. Still, it’s their country to do with as they will. For all that it troubles me greatly.
My co-author and editor here, Jessica, has taken her blog, All Along the Watchtower, private.
It was not by choice but because pressure was applied, and as we have several times noted here, free speech does not exist in the United Kingdom. While I grieve at the development, I would have made the same decision, it was a matter of loyalty and honor, and I would have had her do no other.
Understand this, my American readers, when you say, “It can’t happen here.” You are wrong, It can, and it has, happened here, and it will again. I also pray that you remember, as I do, that our rights come from English law, and as we move toward the 800th anniversary of Magna Charta, ours are in more danger now than they have ever been before as well.
Here is her announcement, in its entirety (if she doesn’t like it, she can sue me!)
From Saturday 16 August, this blog will be accessible only to registered readers with a WordPress account. I will be sorry to lose new readers, and anyone who wants access to it or to existing content can do so by requesting it.
Our thanks to all our readers, but it seems increasingly difficult for some of my contributors to combine free speech and employment, and I cannot be responsible for harm coming to others.
Thank you for your company across the last two and a half years, and God bless you all.
AATW has been one of the most stalwart Christian blogs in the UK, representing all Christian viewpoints. I have been honored by the friendship of my fellow contributors there, nearly since the blogs beginnings, and I shall miss the fellowship, the friendship, and the sharing of knowledge that has meant so much to me. Through it also, Jessica, herself has become my dearest friend, and I must say that this contretemps angers me greatly. It is indeed a tawdry end for a wonderful vision. I note that Jessica, herself, will continue to write here, and that is nearly the only ray of good news involved.
From Tennyson, one of Queen Victoria’s favorites
A happy lover who has come
To look on her that loves him well,
Who ‘lights and rings the gateway bell,
And learns her gone and far from home;
He saddens, all the magic light
Dies off at once from bower and hall,
And all the place is dark, and all
The chambers emptied of delight:
So find I every pleasant spot
In which we two were wont to meet,
The field, the chamber, and the street,
For all is dark where thou art not.
Yet as that other, wandering there
In those deserted walks, may find
A flower beat with rain and wind,
Which once she foster’d up with care;
So seems it in my deep regret,
O my forsaken heart, with thee
And this poor flower of poesy
Which little cared for fades not yet.
But since it pleased a vanish’d eye,
I go to plant it on his tomb,
That if it can it there may bloom,
Or, dying, there at least may die.
An all too “brief and shining moment”, indeed. I will carry its memory to the grave.
For truly, it has been my second home, and I would give anything, save honor, to have it continue.