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slipperyIn light of yesterday’s post on a European murdering his disabled daughter in France and Paralympians around the world comes the issue of legalised euthanasia for children.

The Netherlands, Luxembourg — and now Belgium — all allow young people to request euthanasia. In the first two countries, a child must have attained the age of 12 in order to do so.

In Belgium, no minimum age exists.

Naturally, proponents of this astounding legislation say it will be used only in the rarest of cases involving terminal illness.

That reminds me of the Roe v Wade debates when abortion supporters said the procedure would only be requested and used when the mother’s health was at risk. I recall discussing the issue with my fellow classmates in Catholic secondary school. I posited that it would eventually become a form of birth control. My classmates told me that I was being alarmist: ‘Don’t be ridiculous! Who would actively seek out an abortion?’

Hmm. Millions of women around the world, a number of them more than once. Tens of millions of foetuses who were divinely intended for this world and never saw it.

From abortion it was but a short step to euthanasia.

In 2005, Gallup’s poll on the subject found that a majority of Christians in the United States support euthanasia: 75% of Catholics, 70% of Protestants and 61% of Evangelicals. A majority of Catholics and Protestants also support physician-assisted suicide, PAS — 60% and 52%, respectively — although only 32% of Evangelicals do.

Now we have children who will be able to ask for the means to end their lives. It may start with the terminally ill but it will surely end up with unhappy youngsters of all kinds. No doubt, some of their parents and other family members will encourage them.

Els van Hoof, a Belgian senator, was one of a small number who voted against the bill. Christian News reports that she told the BBC (emphases mine):

In the beginning, they presented a law that included mentally ill children,” she noted. “During the debate, supporters of euthanasia talked about children with anorexia, children who are tired of life—so how far does it go?”

Paediatrician Dr. Gerlant van Berlaer disagrees:

” … there are children we try to treat but there is nothing we can do to make them better

We are not playing God—these are lives that will end anyway,” he argued. “Their natural end might be miserable or very painful or horrifying, and they might have seen a lot of friends in institutions or hospitals die of the same disease. And if they say, ‘I don’t want to die this way, I want to do it my way,’ and that is the only thing we can do for them as doctors, I think we should be able to do it.”

We all die. The point is dying when the Lord decides it, not us. So, contrary to what van Berlaer says, we are playing God by determining not His timescale but our own — for our comfort and convenience.

Thirty-eight Belgian paediatricians issued a statement countering this perspective, noting:

Even the most complex medical cases can be solved in the current legal framework, with the means and expertise at our disposal,” the translated statement says. “For whom is this legislation therefore designed?”

Children in Belgium are not suffering,” it continues. “The palliative care teams for children are perfectly capable of achieving pain relief, both in hospitals and at home.”

The law passed the lower house in late February 2014. Christian News tells us that most Belgians oppose it. Catholic Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard observed:

The law says adolescents cannot make important decisions on economic or emotional issues, but suddenly they’ve become able to decide that someone should make them die

This ties in tangentially with America’s Cass Sunstein — an early Obama adviser and a father himself — who advocates animal rights over those of humans. This World Net Daily article tells us that he agrees with Jeremy Bentham, one of the stars of Britain’s Enlightenment of the 18th century. Bentham once wrote:

A full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old.

Similarly, another of Obama’s early ‘point people’, John Holdren, said that he would favour seizing babies from unwed mothers who refused to have abortions. A chilling thought. In the 1970s, he co-authored a book with Paul and Anne Ehrlich on population control and other aspects of ecoscience. Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment still appears on course syllabi on some college campuses. The three authors propose forced marriage or compulsory adoption as well as mandatory sterilisation. They justify it this way:

Policies that may seem totally unacceptable today to the majority of people at large or to their national leaders may be seen as very much the lesser of evils only a few years from now.

That is, sadly, all too true.

Back now to children’s euthanasia. Many of you probably read about this story when it was being debated at the end of last year and early this year. Of its passage into law, business magazine magnate and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes warns:

As euthanasia becomes more accepted—and we become more numb to the horror of murdering people like this—we’ll descend to the next abomination: pressuring the sick to discontinue treatment for a likely fatal illness in the name of ‘saving scarce resources’ for people who have more years ahead of them.

Indeed, we have only to go to the Wikipedia entry for Voluntary Euthanasia to read the rationale, which anyone in the Benelux countries might now hear and adults in many other nations may be given:

Not only will PAS and euthanasia help with psychological suffering and give autonomy to the patient, PAS can help reduce health care costs and free up doctors and nurses. By keeping a terminally-ill patient alive, the patient must pay for any medical necessary procedures. These procedures can include x-rays, prescribed drugs, or any lab tests that needs to be performed. All of these procedures can run up a medical costs. Since the bills will continue to come for the patient, they will lose more of the money they would want to leave behind for their family. If the patient wants to end the suffering, the reason for racking up the bills and keeping the patient alive are lacking (13). Also, the costly treatment to keep the terminally-ill patient alive from medical funding cannot be used for other types of care, like prenatal, where it would save lives and improve long-term quality of life.[37] Along with reduced health care costs, more doctors and nurses could be freed up. A shortage of medical staff is a critical problem hospitals face and studies have found that understaffed hospitals make many mistakes and provide less quality care. Attending to terminally-ill patients, who would rather die, is not the best use of the medical staff. If PAS and euthanasia were legalized, more staff would have time to care for others and there would be an increase in the quality of care administered.[36]

Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia can lower health care costs, free up doctors and nurses, and give back the right to the patient to practice autonomy. By keeping PAS and euthanasia illegal, each terminally-ill patient is being discriminated against because they are not able put this option into action. Those patients because of their disability do not have the same right as any other person in the United States.[37]

To be fair, the article does explore the opposing right-to-life argument.

However, let’s look at how these arguments could make villains out of religious people — Christians or others — who wish for their relative to die in hospital without assisted or self-imposed suicide.

When families keep the terminally ill in hospital, doctors and nurses could well look upon these people as robbing others of good health. Family requests might end up being ignored. Relatives might be shunned. They might be expected to perform nursing and hospital orderly duties themselves.

The patient will be viewed as a ‘bed-blocker’, a term used of the elderly in Britain’s NHS in the early 1990s. Since then, a number of NHS doctors have written on elderly patients’ admittance forms to casualty the letters DNR: Do Not Resuscitate.

It is ironic that, given our greater overall life expectancy and medical advances, that more of us — children included — will be destined for the scrapheap because we are mere inconveniences to our families or physicians.

God? Who needs Him, eh? We can now take care of all our life and death issues ourselves.

Last week, two men in Britain demonstrated how to win well.

In an era of crying, boasting, air-punching and so on, it was refreshing to see gracious, old-school victors with manners.

The first winner was Marvin Francis who took the trophy in the BBC3 series Hair. Throughout the series, Francis expanded his repertoire not only by creating challenging hairstyles but also by working with European hair. He normally styles Afro-Caribbean women. From the moment I saw him in the first episode, I had hoped he would win. He quietly and diligently got on with the tasks — three in each show. Unlike one of the other contestants, he didn’t boast about his abilities nor was he constantly looking around to see what his rivals were up to.

At the end of the fifth episode, he was pleasantly surprised to have been chosen for the final. In a subsequent interview aired during the sixth episode, he said, ‘I can’t believe I’m here. I left school. I never went to college. I have no qualifications.’ However, he must have been researching and practising various techniques between shows. (This style by Katie Crompton, another of the three finalists, shows the level the judges were looking for in each episode.)

Just before being presented with his trophy, the two hairdressers judging the show announced that one of the three finalists achieved a turnaround at ‘just the right time’. From his somewhat wistful facial expression, Francis did not seem to think for a second that they were talking about him. In fact, another amateur hairdresser seemed a shoo-in to win. However, her last three creations, whilst good, did not quite reflect the ‘wow’ factor of her previous efforts.

When the judges gave Francis the trophy, he smiled broadly, thanked them, then stood silently, holding and admiring it. He didn’t rush up to the two women competitors or run around the studio and flashing it about. He was humble and gentlemanly in his acceptance. He displayed a good upbringing through his dignified demeanour.

By contrast, the woman who was sure she would win was quite the opposite at the end of each episode. She displayed an unbecoming element of dominance in her competitive style.

I hope this was the catalyst Marvin Francis needed for pursuing further study in hairdressing and wish him much success in all aspects of his life.

The second winner was Irish jockey Leighton Aspell who won Saturday’s Grand National (C4), the culmination of the National Hunt steeplechase season. This is one time I wish I had laid down a tenner at the betting shop. It was the only time in nearly a quarter of a century of watching this race at home on television that I chose the first and second place winners. At odds of 25-1 for the winner — Pineau de Re — and 14-1 for the second place horse Balthazar King, I could have won a satisfying sum of money.

The Grand National is quite the spectacle. No other horse race is quite like it. With 30 daunting fences to jump, it is fraught with peril for both horse and rider. Horses begin falling at the first or second fence, although in recent years it has been rare for either man or beast to be seriously injured or die.

This race is so gripping and has so many horses, that it is replayed in slow motion and analysed so that the punter at home can see exactly what happened at each fence.

Given the drama and tension involved, it was a delightful surprise to watch Aspell’s interview just after the race. He rode along on Pineau de Re answering questions in a calm, congenial manner as if it were any other contest. Unlike previous Grand National winners, Aspell did not punch the air. One of the commentators asked a colleague in the studio why he didn’t. The answer came, ‘That’s not his style’.

In fact, because of his natural humility and calm manner, the racing community considered Aspell a competent but perhaps not a top jockey. Channel 4 commentators told us that a small fan club developed for him a few years ago.

He didn’t start it; a group of spectators following his races merely felt he should get more recognition.

With a Grand National win to his name, Leighton Aspell has earned the recognition he deserves.

I mention these two men because SpouseMouse and I have also been watching the US series, The Taste (originally on ABC, airing on More4 in the UK). We are happy that the production team modified the format for the UK; our version finished a few weeks ago and was a joy to watch.

By contrast, the American show is cringe-making, partly because of the deportment of the contestants.

All the jumping around, sniping at other competitors, boastfulness, emotional outpouring and false team building are getting on our nerves. That last element is particularly perplexing, considering that this is not really a team show; the chefs choose four contestants whom they can mentor. Anyone can get eliminated and anyone can win. It’s an individual effort.

In closing, it’s time we returned to traditional sportsmanship and grace in winning. It can be done. It had been the norm for generations. It has been done again only recently. May others observe and learn from it.

Church and state averypoliticalwomancomIn the 1950s and early 1960s, the Venerable Fulton J Sheen not only had his own television shows on American network television and radio but was also a guest on secular shows, one of them being What’s My Line?

No doubt one or two nationally renowned Protestant ministers also appeared on secular programmes. Although alive at the time, I was too young to know.

Today, that happens rarely. The last secular programme which had clergy on from time to time was CNN’s The Larry King Show. Although I am not King’s biggest fan, it is to his credit that he invited the Revd John MacArthur several times as well as priests and rabbis.

It’s unclear whether the strident tone of the Moral Majority’s clergy in the 1970s put an end to inviting men of the cloth on secular shows, but, surely, they do not represent the vast majority of ordained men and women.

Perhaps it is time for producers of secular television and radio programmes to reconsider their moratorium on clergy.

One happy exception to this is France’s RMC radio. The morning current affairs show Les Grandes Gueules (The Big Mouths) has a priest from Poitiers — the Revd Patrice Gourrier — on frequently. He is pastor of Saint-Porchaire Church, which dates from the 11th century.

Père Gourrier adopts an appropriate stance of taking his faith seriously but wearing it lightly. He mixes well with everyone and has a quick wit. On Thursday, April 3, his fellow panellists included an atheist and a conservative homosexual jurist.

The atheist declared herself within seconds after being introduced. Gourrier made a witty riposte and the two conversed during breaks in the show.

Homosexuality also came up in the discussion, specifically around France’s Christian Democratic Party. The jurist, formerly an active party member himself until he came out, said that considering homosexuality as a sin was an archaic stance. Gourrier gently countered that the New Testament tells us that it is an ‘abomination’ and still a sin.

However, he warned against people defining themselves by family values alone. He added that it had become an ‘obsession’ for some French conservative politicians which, he reckoned, would produce ‘interesting psychoanalysis’. As a practicing clinical psychologist, he should know.

Gourrier is intellectually curious and well informed on the issues of the day; he reminds me of priests and Protestant ministers I have known over the years. The world must have millions of clergy around the world just like them. Why don’t the mainstream media invite them on to news shows? Not all would wish to accept, but even a few more would reveal to viewers and listeners that balanced Christianity can be in the world — intelligently — but not of it.

Since Gourrier began his regular appearances on Les Grandes Gueules, he occasionally meets RMC listeners who are travelling through or taking their holidays in or near Poitiers.

For him, attending church is essential. Last year, he deplored the family values marches in Paris which were held on a Sunday: ‘I fear my pews will empty on the protest days. They would do better coming to Mass.’

On April 3, he deplored attacks on women as part of a worrying trend objectifying people instead of viewing them as human beings. He also said that he was appalled by an increase in racial harrassment, which he also sees in Poitiers: ‘What these people don’t realise is that those attacked are not only French but are also doctors and lawyers’.

Gourrier said that it is entirely ‘normal’ for us to gravitate towards those who are most like us: ‘We can tolerate minor differences which add interest but nothing too far out of the norm’. That said, he added, over the past five years, the economic crisis has exacerbated racially-motivated verbal and physical assaults: ‘Sadly, hard times bring out the worst elements of human nature’.

One of the show’s hosts, Olivier Truchot, noted that every racial grouping in France had its part to play, not just French Europeans. The conservative jurist added that another part of the problem was the onslaught of ‘diversity’ messages ‘every day, morning to night — people are fed up’. Another panellist wryly told him, ‘A bit like your homosexual lobby. So there are gays. We don’t need to be told anymore. Please — keep it to yourselves’.

Still, in France, as anywhere else in the West, RMC’s callers lamented that they couldn’t correct certain colleagues without being called a racist by everyone else.

But I digress.

Gourrier’s measured, intelligent discourse, 15 books and his Twitter account are persuading lapsed Catholics to return to the Church.

An article in La Nouvelle Republique tells us that his parishoners avail themselves of printed copies of all his Sunday sermons, which contain flashcodes leading to a video version on Dailymotion.

Gourrier told the paper that a life in the Church and in Poitiers saved him. When he began working, it was as an editor and a publishing house director. He lived comfortably in Paris’s 15th arrondissement. All the same, he felt that he lacked something. He reflected on his childhood when he would go off alone to read the New Testament during lunch at school. He entered seminary at the age of 23 but left, possibly fearing where that life would lead him. In the 1990s, he returned and was ordained at the age of 40 in 2000.

He will be leaving Poitiers this year for health reasons (severe GI-tract problems) and because the diocese is reorganising the parishes. However, he will continue in some capacity with the Church, saying that ‘we need more mission work for priests’.

Meanwhile, Catholics in Poitiers can attend his Sunday Masses — ‘beautiful, traditional’ ones — because, as he explains, ‘people need a well-established ritual’.

Returning to Archbishop Fulton J Sheen, Benedict XVI declared him Venerable in July 2012. In a fascinating article excerpted below, National Catholic Register tells us how mainstream media aided his ministry. Emphases mine:

A consummate communicator, Archbishop Sheen hosted the evening radio program The Catholic Hour for 20 years, and his Emmy award-winning Life Is Worth Living (1951-1957) and The Fulton Sheen Program (1961-1968) became some of the most-watched television shows airing at the time. He authored numerous books and is often referred to as one of the first televangelists.

He harnessed the new media of his day — radio and television — and used those tools to lead others to Christ,” said Msgr. Deptula. “We can look to him to see how to bring the eternal news of Jesus Christ to our modern world.”

As important as his works, Bishop Jenky also noted Archbishop Sheen’s life of holiness.

One of his greatest gifts was his example of prayer, preaching and teaching — especially his prayer before the Eucharist,” said Bishop Jenky. “His life of prayer began as a seminarian. As an associate pastor of a parish in Peoria, he had a huge impact on bringing that parish back to life. He said that miracle came from the time he spent on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament.”

He constantly preached that, even for the most hardworking priest, the most important time would be the time he spends in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament,” said Bishop Jenky. “I can’t speak of anyone who spoke more eloquently about this, and he lived it every day of his life.”

We need more Fulton J Sheens in today’s media — balanced Catholic and Protestant clergy. May God bring them forward. And may secular programme commissioners and producers see the need for inviting them on air.

Sochi’s Paralympic Games ended on Sunday.

SpouseMouse and I are not winter sports fans but made a point to tune into Channel 4′s coverage throughout the week but at length especially at the weekend.

What a great week it was! I was able to get up to speed on the various competitors and sports to watch for during the weekday coverage. I could then tell SpouseMouse who and what to watch in particular.

Team GB came away with six medals, four above their minimum goal. Making their debuts this year were two 15-year olds, Millie Knight and Ben Sneesby, who performed admirably on the slopes. Congratulations to Kelly Gallagher on winning our only gold, to Jade Etherington for her three silver and one bronze medals as well to our curling team who, after a nailbiting round robin and finals, ended up with bronze.

I never thought I’d enjoy watching curling for hours on end, but our team and the commentators made it worthwhile and comprehensible.

The snowboarding — a new addition after eight years of lobbying by Paralympians — was out of this world. From the comfort of my armchair, the slope looked scary — steep, rough and icy. The men competed with aplomb, to say the least. How they compensate so expertly for disabilities — which bring a whole host of issues regarding balance — is truly unforgettable. I look forward to seeing them again in four years’ time.

The slalom events were extraordinary. Two people stood out for my better half and me. The first was Stephanie Jallen (pron. ‘Jay-len’) from the United States. Considering how difficult downhill skiing is for an able-bodied person, imagine how tough it must be if you are missing much of an arm and a leg on the same side of your body then going down an Olympic course which was snowy in parts, slushy or slick in others and bumpy throughout. Stephanie showed us how. See her race at 1:00 to just over the two-minute mark:

The other downhill skier who made a definite impression was Armenia’s Mher Avanesyan. He has no arms (see photo one of eight). How he manages that feat is nothing short of incredible; he has also sailed in the summer Games.

Those skiers with vision impairment reported a type of motion sickness when the mountain skies turned dark with cloud, which they did on a few occasions. Channel 4′s production crew also simulated for us what some of the skiers could see; at least one Paralympian has only a circle of peripheral vision — the rest is a blank.

The cross country skiers were also incredible. One of them, a Chinese man, has no arms. Others are part amputees or have spinal injuries. Some were able-bodied until a serious accident or illness turned their lives into the unexpected.

Incidentally, the hockey matches were brutal and made the NHL look like child’s play. Those guys — all on sledges — must have been not only exhausted but bruised afterward! I would much rather watch them than the professionals.

The background stories added to our appreciation of the events, particularly when they involved competitors who had been adopted by Westerners from Russian or other Eastern European orphanages. Some of them met, by invitation, their natural mothers and family members on this trip — an added blessing or burden to an already tense experience. Still, those Paralympians who did explore their roots in that part of the world turned it into a positive once they began competing.

Whew — what a week! Thanks to Channel 4 for providing 150 hours of Paralympics from Sochi — well done, once again.

And good on NBC in the US for broadcasting 50 hours this year.

Special mention to RMC (Radio Monte Carlo, based in Paris) and Le Monde for keeping the French public informed about their Paralympians. Comments on the latter’s articles showed  that readers appreciated their daily updates (here and here).

This article from CNN has a collection of 60 photos from the Sochi Paralympics, showing many of the world’s competitors.

Paralympians are fantastic ambassadors for sport, particularly for the disabled who might be sitting at home wondering if they have a future in this world. They do indeed, even when family, friends or teachers might discourage them. One Team GB competitor’s school told her she was dreaming if she thought she could make the Paralympics; yet, here she was, qualifying for and participating in the finals. Not everyone makes it that far — this is not a ‘prizes for all’ Games.

Britons interested in sport for the disabled can look into skiing and curling. (This is likely to expand further, depending on interest, coaching and funding.) You can participate in local or regional clubs just to exercise, meet new people and build self-confidence. Funding is available for those who show aptitude and wish to progress further.

In closing, two items of note regarding disability.

One was a news item in France broadcast on RMC news just after the Paralympics came to an end. A father suffocated his young daughter who was mentally disabled. (This made me think of America’s Special Olympics.) The man’s lawyer said:

It was a labour of love. Instead of condemning him, people should try putting themselves in his place.

Wow.

The second was a wrap-up in Le Monde, which said that Russia has made remarkable progress over the past few decades with regard to recognising disability. The host country won 80 medals in the Games this year.

The article went on to say that, in 1980, Russia refused to host the Paralympics because they had no disabled people. Yet, currently, 13 million Russians are handicapped — nearly ten per cent of the population.

Stained glass shadows westernskycommunicationscomWhen I was growing up only nondenominational — what are known today as ‘evangelical’ — churches had mission slogans.

Everyone I knew who was a member of an established denomination thought that was a strange thing to do.

Sometimes the church names hinted at a slogan. We lived in a city which had a house of worship called The People’s Church.

The other day I saw an Anglican church mission slogan which read:

Living God’s love.

Really?

Is it humanly possible to live God’s love? As we are all sinners, that seems doubtful.

What if it turns out the aforementioned congregation only lives God’s love — what a prideful thought — if you, the visitor, agree to charismatic gifts or the Alpha Course? If you disagree, you don’t receive that ‘living’ of ‘God’s love’.

Personally, I would much rather attend a church without slogans. None of us can show ‘God’s love’ to everyone, although some of us might be able to show it to a few. Just let me know the times of the services and I’ll decide based on the preaching and liturgy. The coffee get-together and bric-a-brac sale can wait.

That said, the only slogan which ever persuaded me was the old (not sure these signs are up anymore in the United States):

The Episcopal Church welcomes you.

A simple welcome was all I needed. No promises and no churchy frou frou (for lack of a better term). That was over 30 years ago — I was in my early 20s at the time.

That slogan was a major factor in my going to an Episcopal Church and being received into one of their congregations two years later. I should say that I had been to an Episcopal wedding in the early 1970s which used liturgy from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The memory of the solemnity of that service has stayed with me ever since. It’s a shame that so many Episcopal clergy have abandoned the traditional language.

It seems — to me, anyway — that slushy slogans open up a congregation for a fall: ‘Sure, they said they were “living God’s love” but they were really aloof’.

So, I open it up for discussion.

Would you shy away from a church which had a slushy mission slogan that promises too much?

Or would you say, ‘That actually sounds good and appeals to me’?

Feel free to comment below briefly elaborating why such slogans would attract potential new members. Thank you in advance for your time.

Those who miss the Paralympics are in luck: Sochi’s 2014 Winter Paralympic Games are on this week.

Britain’s Channel 4 and sister channel More4 are broadcasting them throughout the day with a half-hour highlights recap in the evenings at 7:30 (GMT).

As in 2012, Paralympian Ade Adepitan is hosting the coverage. He is accompanied by Olympians and Paralympians alike to walk us through the strategies and finer points of the events.  I learn more about sport watching the Paralympics than I do the Olympics; that’s how good the coverage is.

I enjoyed watching today’s curling and downhill skiing events. Having fallen behind at one point, Team GB beat the Koreans 8 – 4 in the curling. The American Tatyana McFadden came second in the women’s skiing event which was broadcast after the curling finished. One of her American counterparts won.

I hadn’t realised that McFadden also competes in skiing. Up to now, I thought she was exclusively a wheelchair racer during the summer months. Her abilities in both seasons’ events are remarkable. This short YouTube video features her discussing health issues and a love of sport:

She and her younger sister Hannah — from Russia and Albania, respectively — were rescued and adopted by Deborah McFadden, on a trip there as part of her work as a commissioner of disabilities for the US Health Department under President Clinton. Mrs McFadden and her husband adopted Tatyana first. They adopted Hannah not long afterward, once she was located in another orphanage.

On McFadden’s Wikipedia talk page, we find this comment. Those of us who followed the 2012 Paralympics will know that:

Tatyana and Hannah McFadden were the only sisters to compete in the same Paralympic final (100m – T54 in London 2012). –Kasper2006 (talk) 05:03, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

For me, the Paralympians are the real heroes of the summer and winter Games. Some, like McFadden, were born disabled. Others, like Adepitan (who contracted polio as an infant in Nigeria), suffered accidents or childhood illnesses which left them handicapped. Yet others were injured in recent wars, e.g. Afghanistan.

They never gave up. They were determined to not sit at home feeling sorry for themselves, which, admittedly, I probably would have done — for a while, anyway.

It’s interesting to listen to interviews with parents of disabled children who became Paralympians. All said, ‘They got treated the same as their brothers and sisters — through good and bad.’  Yes, it was difficult for the parents. Yes, the parents still worry. However, they gave these competitors a good upbringing in challenging circumstances.

I wish all the teams, GB in particular, all the very best. No matter who wins, their medals are well deserved.

To any American clergy — and there are a few (but not regular readers of this site) — who say that Christians in the United States are not persecuted, I would kindly ask them to read the comments following the NBC News article, ‘Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Gay Marriage Ban’.

The dozens of bile-filled comments are testament to what is happening today in the United States. A decade ago, such opprobrium would have been unthinkable.

Detractors often say, ‘Well, no one would ever say those things in person’. To which I would respond, ‘No, because such hostility indicates what really is going on in that mindset.’

I happened to see the article only because a commenter mentioned my post on Harry Truman’s discourse on the American Founding Fathers taking their inspiration for the nation from the Bible. My thanks go to L_Robinson for mentioning the piece and for having the mettle to defend his position.

L_Robinson was rounded on in a vulgar fashion as were others who oppose same sex marriage on biblical or natural law grounds.

One of them wrote:

Read through the posts. 90% of the name-calling comes from the fans of same-sex marriage. This same-sex marriage concept was recently created to motivate atheistic useful idiots… to get them to the polls, call people names and create animosity.
It has worked perfectly…divide and conquer the Alinsky way.
If you believe in a multi-gender definition of marriage, they’ll call you a ‘bigot’. The useful idiots have been trained to believe their own mother is a hateful bigot.
Joseph Goebbels would be proud.

So would Stalin.

Someone replied with this:

You know something very good must be happening when all the bigots, Christofascists and [Tea Party supporters] are [te]ed off.

So now we’re ‘Christofascists’? Hmm.

Clergymen who say that there is no persecution of Christians occurring in the United States are woefully misguided — even if their confessional theology is highly sound.

If I were they, I would try to be a bit more aware of what laymen are enduring when they defend the family and the Bible online. It won’t take long for this to escalate into physical violence.

Fetus freethinkercoukGosh, I was in secondary school in 1973.

Abortion was a frequent subject in our Ethics class a few years later.

David Fischler, a frequent contributor to the Episcopalian / Anglican site Stand Firm had a thought-provoking piece on this legislation last week:

Fischler examined the congratulatory White House statement on this anniversary, which began:

Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.

It also had this statement:

Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

An average of approximately 1.3m foetuses per year in the United States alone have lost that chance of freedom and opportunity since 1973.

Fischler has sharp observations. Here are but a few:

Abortion is not health care, except in very rare cases. It is virtually always about taking a healthy, growing human being and killing it because its life would complicate its parent(s) lives.

“Reproductive freedom” is the kind of euphemism that George Orwell was talking about when he wrote his seminal essay “Politics and the English Language.” Notice that the word “abortion” doesn’t appear in the statement. Heaven forfend the White House should actually mention the barbaric practice that they are so invested in defending.

Apparently the White House has a rather limited definition of “all our children,” since a million a year are not welcomed into “safe and healthy communities,” but instead are thrown out like so much trash for the garbage collector to haul off.

This is what the Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5). If this was true for him, surely it must be true for everyone (emphases mine):

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Because the Old Testament has many other verses on the creation of human life, among them:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  (Psalm 139:13)

Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands. (Psalm 119:73)

And for those who doubt God’s sovereignty:

This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself  (Isaiah 44:24)

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.   (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

It is alarming and tragic that abortion is being used as a method of birth control in so many countries around the world.

I remember the arguments from abortion proponents at the time: ‘It’s to ensure women don’t die in the back streets from an illegal and unsafe procedure’, ‘Very few women will seek an abortion’ and ‘It will only be used in emergencies when women’s lives are in danger’.

Really? Look how well that turned out. It was and is a lie.

By chance a few days ago, I ran across an article from The Independent‘s archives.

The article is called ‘Hitler and the socialist dream’ by George Watson, who summarised his latest book for the paper. The book is called The Lost Literature of Socialism (Lutterworth); the article appeared on Sunday, November 22, 1998.

I wrote about this recently for Orphans of Liberty. My post below will organise Watson’s information in a slightly different format, with additional information on the Fabians. You might wish to read both or read Watson’s article in full. Emphases and sub-heads are mine.

Political misconceptions about Hitler

Watson says that after Hitler committed suicide (by cyanide), the world was so pleased to be rid of him that they no longer cared much about his political outlook.

Only a few years earlier in the mid-1930s, he writes:

By the outbreak of civil war in Spain, in 1936, sides had been taken, and by then most western intellectuals were certain that Stalin was left and Hitler was right. That sudden shift of view has not been explained, and perhaps cannot be explained, except on grounds of argumentative convenience. Single binary oppositions – cops-and-robbers or cowboys-and-indians – are always satisfying ...

Consequently:

By the outbreak of world war in 1939 the idea that Hitler was any sort of socialist was almost wholly dead. One may salute here an odd but eminent exception. Writing as a committed socialist just after the fall of France in 1940, in The Lion and the Unicorn, Orwell saw the disaster as a “physical debunking of capitalism”, it showed once and for all that “a planned economy is stronger than a planless one” … “Internally, Germany has a good deal in common with a socialist state.” These words were written just before Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union …

Furthermore, the West found both Hitler’s and Mussolini’s politics puzzling:

The first reactions to National Socialism outside Germany are now largely forgotten. They were highly confused, for the rise of fascism had caught the European left by surprise. There was nothing in Marxist scripture to predict it and must have seemed entirely natural to feel baffled. Where had it all come from? Harold Nicolson, a democratic socialist, and after 1935 a Member of the House of Commons, conscientiously studied a pile of pamphlets in his hotel room in Rome in January 1932 and decided judiciously that fascism (Italian-style) was a kind of militarised socialism

Bella Dodd, the late member (expelled after many years) of the Communist Party in the United States, says that her party controlled the political memes during the 1930s, which persist today. When I excerpted her book, School of Darkness in 2011 — also recommended for home schoolers and family reading discussions — she explained how this worked (Chapter 7):

Beginning in 1936 a prodigious effort was made by the Party in support of the Spanish Civil War, and this continued until 1939.  Perhaps no other activity aroused greater devotion among American intellectuals …

Since 1932 the Communist Party had publicized itself as the leading opponent of fascism … Its propaganda machine ground out an endless stream of words, pictures, and cartoons.  It played on intellectual, humanitarian, racial, and religious sensibilities until it succeeded to an amazing degree in conditioning America to recoil at the word fascist even when people did not know its meaning.

Today I marvel that the world communist movement was able to beat the drums against Germany and never once betray what the inner group knew well: that some of the same forces which gave Hitler his start had also started Lenin and his staff of revolutionists from Switzerland to St. Petersburg to begin the revolution which was to result in the Soviet totalitarian state.

There was not a hint that despite the propaganda of hate unleashed against Germany and Italy, communist representatives were meeting behind the scenes to do business with Italian and German fascists to whom they sold materiel and oil.  There was not a hint that Soviet brass was meeting with German brass to redraw the map of Europe.  There was no betrayal of these facts until one day they met openly to sign a contract for a new map of Europe — a treaty made by Molotov and Von Ribbentrop ...

The communist publicists carefully took for their own the pleasant word of Loyalist and called all who opposed them “Franco-Fascists.” This was a literary coup which confused many men and womenViolent communist literature repeatedly lumped all of the Church hierarchy on the side of the “Fascists,” and, using this technique, they sought to destroy the Church by attacking its priests.  This was not a new tactic.  I had seen it used in our own country over and over again … 

It became obvious, as the extensive campaign went on, that some of the funds were coming from sources other than the collections.  It is now well known that the Soviet Union was doing everything in its power to bring the foreign policy of the United States into conformity with its own devious plans and that it did not hesitate to use trickery to do so.  It wanted the United States to support Soviet policy on Spain.  I did not understand this at the time ...

As one example of the puzzle that finally became a picture there is the story of the Erica Reed, which will serve as an example of hundreds of others.  It was supposed to be a mercy ship taking food, milk, and medicines to hard-pressed Barcelona.  It was chartered ostensibly by the North American Committee for Loyalist Spain.  In reality it was financed by Soviet agents

The “relief ship” with its supplies reached Barcelona where she was immediately ordered to Odessa.  And so the Erica Reed, ostensibly chartered by the North American Committee for Loyalist Spain, was sent to Odessa by her real charterer, the Soviet Union.  The Spanish people were expendable.

Private memoirs about Hitler’s Marxism appeared too late

Back now to George Watson’s article. As we know, books and television programmes about Hitler are ten a penny.

The better memoirs and biographies, such as those of insider Albert Speer, have been read by millions around the world.

However, others — equally useful — did not appear until the 1970s or 1980s, by which time, our minds were made up that Hitler was ‘right wing’.

Another reason why we continue to accept this point of view is that Hitler was careful not to mention Marxism publicly. As we shall see, private mentions were quite another matter.

Yet, the later memoirs from those who worked closely with him, some preserved from the postwar years, describe the Fuhrer’s political philosophy:

Shortly before they fell out in the summer of 1933, Hitler uttered sentiments in front of Otto Wagener, which were published after his death in 1971 as a biography by an unrepentant Nazi. Wagener’s Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant, composed in a British prisoner-of-war camp, did not appear until 1978 in the original German, and arrived in English, without much acclaim, as recently as 1985.

Watson also cites Hermann Rauschning, who knew Hitler well — before and after his accession to power.

Hitler’s admitted debt to Marxism

Watson writes:

It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Hitler and his associates believed they were socialists, and that others, including democratic socialists, thought so too. The title of National Socialism was not hypocritical. The evidence before 1945 was more private than public, which is perhaps significant in itself. In public Hitler was always anti-Marxist, and in an age in which the Soviet Union was the only socialist state on earth, and with anti-Bolshevism a large part of his popular appeal, he may have been understandably reluctant to speak openly of his sources. His megalomania, in any case, would have prevented him from calling himself anyone’s disciple.

Yet:

His private conversations, however, though they do not overturn his reputation as an anti-Communist, qualify it heavily. Hermann Rauschning, for example, a Danzig Nazi who knew Hitler before and after his accession to power in 1933, tells how in private Hitler acknowledged his profound debt to the Marxian tradition. “I have learned a great deal from Marxism” he once remarked, “as I do not hesitate to admit” … The trouble with Weimar Republic politicians, he told Otto Wagener at much the same time, was that “they had never even read Marx” … His differences with the communists, he explained, were less ideological than tactical. German communists he had known before he took power, he told Rauschning, thought politics meant talking and writing. They were mere pamphleteers, whereas “I have put into practice what these peddlers and pen pushers have timidly begun”, adding revealingly that “the whole of National Socialism” was based on Marx

Socialism relies on eugenics and death — Fabians

During the same time frame — at the turn of the 20th century through the 1930s — the Fabians in England supported similar socialist ideals of a pure race. They were also big fans of the Soviet project.

Creating a pure race of intelligent, healthy, acceptable people could mean only that selective breeding — eugenics — would need to be established. This was also popular in Sweden and elsewhere in the West, including the United States (e.g. Margaret Sanger, a friend of the Fabians).

Watson explains:

… the socialist intelligentsia of the western world entered the First World War publicly committed to racial purity and white domination and no less committed to violence. Socialism offered them a blank cheque, and its licence to kill included genocide. In 1933, in a preface to On the Rocks, for example, Bernard Shaw publicly welcomed the exterminatory principle which the Soviet Union had already adopted. Socialists could now take pride in a state that had at last found the courage to act, though some still felt that such action should be kept a secret. In 1932 Beatrice Webb remarked at a tea-party what “very bad stage management” it had been to allow a party of British visitors to the Ukraine to see cattle-trucks full of starving “enemies of the state” at a local station. “Ridiculous to let you see them”, said Webb, already an eminent admirer of the Soviet system. “The English are always so sentimental” adding, with assurance: “You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.” A few years later, in 1935, a Social Democratic government in Sweden began a eugenic programme for the compulsory sterilisation of gypsies, the backward and the unfit, and continued it until after the war.

Hitler: socialism demands anti-Semitism

Therefore, it is not surprising that being unfit comprised racial or cultural differences. In the previous paragraph, the Swedes targeted gypsies or those lacking physical and intellectual vigour. Similar experiments occurred in the southern United States with poor blacks, those afflicted with Downs Syndrome or people whom authorities viewed as undesirable.

And where did all these ideas originate? With none other than Karl Marx. I recapped the mindset of famous Marxists the other day. Even though they are long dead, the ideology continues. That post is meant as a warning for the future, something to always keep in mind. Marxism isn’t dead, nor is communism. Socialism is alive and well, even in so-called ‘conservative’ circles and political parties.

Marx mixed it up with regard to the Jews, the late Richard Wurmbrand — a Lutheran pastor tortured in communist prison — wrote. In some instances, Marx railed against the Jews. In others, he said the contrary. With all the anti-Semitism (pogroms) rife in Eastern Europe during that time, however, it is not surprising that Marxist apologists picked up on it.

Marx, Wurmbrand’s book Marx and Satan tells us, was born into a Jewish family. His mother was Jewish but his father converted to Lutheranism before his son was born. Marx was raised in the Christian faith. As my post stated the other day, Marx turned against religion altogether and wanted it stamped out. What follows is but one example of this, an excerpt from an article he wrote for the New York Tribune in 1856:

We know that behind every tyrant stands a Jew, as a Jesuit stands behind every Pope. As the army of the Jesuits kills every free thought, so the desire of the oppressed would have chances of success, the usefulness of wars incited by capitalists would cease, if it were not for the Jews who steal the treasures of mankind. It is no wonder that 1856 years ago Jesus chased the usurers from the Jerusalem temple …

We still see similar thoughts on today’s conspiracy theory sites — left or right wing.

Anti-Semitism is a dangerous sentiment.

And most of the anti-Semites I have known have allied themselves with … the left wing.

Hitler wasted no time in pointing out the similarity between socialism and anti-Semitism. Watson writes:

The claim that Hitler cannot really have been a socialist because he advocated and practised genocide suggests a monumental failure, then, in the historical memory. Only socialists in that age advocated or practised genocide, at least in Europe, and from the first years of his political career Hitler was proudly aware of the fact. Addressing his own party, the NSDAP, in Munich in August 1920, he pledged his faith in socialist-racialism: “If we are socialists, then we must definitely be anti-semites – and the opposite, in that case, is Materialism and Mammonism, which we seek to oppose.” There was loud applause. Hitler went on: “How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-semite?” The point was widely understood, and it is notable that no German socialist in the 1930s or earlier ever sought to deny Hitler’s right to call himself a socialist on grounds of racial policy. In an age when the socialist tradition of genocide was familiar, that would have sounded merely absurd. The tradition, what is more, was unique. In the European century that began in the 1840s from Engels’s article of 1849 down to the death of Hitler, everyone who advocated genocide called himself a socialist, and no exception has been found.

Socialism and ‘moral laws’

Another important point about Marxism, socialism and communism is their rhetoric appeals to the setting right of imperfection, according to ‘moral law’.

Along with this comes the labelling of one’s enemies, whether individuals or nations. The skewed morality they use to justify anti-Semitism also becomes a similar hate with regard to many others. Wurmbrand cites Marx:

Marx hated not only the Jews, but also the Germans: “Beating is the only means of resurrecting the Germans.” He spoke about “the stupid German people … the disgusting national narrowness of the Germans” and said that “Germans, Chinese, and Jews have to be compared with peddlers and small merchants.” He called the Russians “cabbage-eaters.” The Slavic peoples were “ethnic trash.” He expressed his hatred of many nations, but never his love.

Marx wrote in his new year’s roundup of 1848 about “the Slavic riffraff,” which included Russians, Czechs, and Croats. These “retrograde” races had nothing left for them by fate except “the immediate task of perishing in the revolutionary world storm.” “The coming world war will cause not only reactionary classes and dynasties, but entire reactionary peoples, to disappear from the face of the earth. And that will be progress.” “Their very name will vanish.”

Of course, in the Marxist-socialist-communist mind, once one’s perceived enemies are vanquished, the result will be utopia.

Hitler played with this in his unique National Socialism, evoking a certain nostalgia of a Germanic people that probably never existed. Watson tells us:

Hitler’s remembered talk offers a vision of a future that draws together many of the strands that once made utopian socialism irresistibly appealing to an age bred out of economic depression and cataclysmic wars; it mingles, as Victorian socialism had done before it, an intense economic radicalism with a romantic enthusiasm for a vanished age before capitalism had degraded heroism into sordid greed and threatened the traditional institutions of the family and the tribe …

The Jew, Hitler told Wagener, was not a socialist, and the Jesus they crucified was the true creator of socialist redemption. As for communists, he opposed them because they created mere herds, Soviet-style, without individual life, and his own ideal was “the socialism of nations” rather than the international socialism of Marx and Lenin.

What Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism failed to accomplish,” he told Wagener, “we shall be in a position to achieve.”

That was the National Socialist vision. It was seductive, at once traditional and new. Like all socialist views it was ultimately moral, and its economic and racial policies were seen as founded on universal moral laws. By the time such conversations saw the light of print, regrettably, the world had put such matters far behind it, and it was less than ever ready to listen to the sayings of a crank or a clown …

Conclusion

We would do well to think of this political ‘philosophy’ (for lack of a better word) when we read of the state encroaching on our freedom, proposing communitarianism.

We would also do well to consider the anti-Israel sentiments coming from mainstream Protestant pulpits.

Furthermore, the current Pope has a few questions to answer when he proposes that we all give more to the poor to create a more moral and just society. Odd that he never calls for a bit of tax relief for the middle classes which would enrich the Church’s coffers. He, too, sees a utopia created from environmentalism, moral law and wealth redistribution.

Left-wing dogma assumes many forms. We need to see it and call it out for what it is.

Wedding bands ehowcomMost people reading the recent news that the ban on polygamy in Utah might be unconstitutional will cite consequences of family breakdown and changing tax advantages for married couples.

Whilst those outcomes are certainly true, if this legal opinion is upheld and polygamy becomes legal, it sends only one message, which has not been mentioned. I might be wrong on this, and I hope I am.

Europeans already know what that message is.

Now Americans might discover it for themselves at some point in the future — not immediately.

Should this come to pass, my commiserations.

An article at Breitbart‘s Big Government states:

This case will likely now go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver [Colorado].

Let us pray — and hope — that wisdom prevails.

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