You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2011.

Yesterday, I received a comment from a reader who said, in part, that France’s UMP (Conservatives) were pretty similar to the Parti Socialiste (PS).

Before I conclude with France — as an illustration for all of us, regardless of where we are in the world — let’s briefly examine the Socialist vs Conservative question.  Conservatives aren’t saints, by any means, however, we are continually bombarded with anti-Conservative messages through the water-carrying mainstream media every day.  Conservatives support individual freedom and free markets. They value family and education.  They encourage getting ahead in life. They like lower taxes and a more orderly society.

Now, I realise that in the 21st century, conservatism is being turned on its head somewhat. The US had eight years of a globalist George ‘W’ Bush with his war in Iraq and Patriot Act, to name two examples — enough said.    Britain’s current Conservatives have reneged on getting ahead and national destiny by pushing through through higher taxes and more EU involvement.  In Britain, we call these types of conservatives ‘wets’.  In the US, they are called RINOs — Republicans in Name Only. Generally, however, no one is surprised to find that conservatives enjoy making money, own holiday homes and appreciate the finer things in life.

In France, the left-wing press criticised Nicolas Sarkozy for celebrating his election as president at Fouquet’s, a fabulous restaurant in Paris’s Champs-Elysées. (I ate there in 1995 — the food and service were incomparable.) In fact, four years later, the media still criticise him for it.  I’m not sure why, as I understood he paid for a portion of the dinner himself and the rest came out of his campaign funds.  Doesn’t everyone have a pleasing victory party for those who helped elect them?  What about President Obama’s midweek dinners in the first part of 2009 featuring kobe beef and other delicacies?  Silence, even from French journalists who put him on a pedestal regardless of what he does.

Equally, there is silence in Britain and France with regard to their own beloved Socialists.  People like John Prescott — famous for his two Jaguars — now elevated to the House of Lords, when he said many times he would never accept a peerage.  And what about Tony Blair of the many houses — six or seven — and his lucrative lecture tours? And, of course, we have their equally elitist French counterparts such as Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the thinkers of Terra Nova. But, once again, the left-wing media says nothing. They give these people a pass.  And as far as private lives are concerned, how was it that I saw a documentary about the extramarital life of Jacques Chirac (RPR — Conservative) several years ago on the leftist BBC but it came as a shock to the world, including France, to find out that François Mitterand (PS) had an illegitimate daughter about whom we found out only after his death?  Yet, all the journalists knew — it was no secret.

Similarly, I have read that the MSM in France knew about DSK’s issues yet never thought to expose them.  Now, if that had been Nicolas Sarkozy … Oh, wait, a new film has just come out — La Conquête — a quasi-fictionalised account of his 2007 presidential campaign with the story of his disintegrating marriage to his then-wife Cécelia.  They later divorced.  And, in real time, during this century, Le Monde and other left-wing publications featured a disproportionate number of articles about Sarkozy’s marriage.  Yet, now that he’s married to Carla Bruni, little has changed. In fact, some of what is written about their marital life in the press is so speculative and insulting that it cannot be mentioned here.  As to the UMP as a whole, last year Marianne carried extensive stories week after week on the Eric Woerth (Employment Minister) – Liliane Bettencourt financial irregularities. It is unlikely that Mme Bettencourt (of the Loréal fortune), age 88, knew all the ins and outs of what was going on. And, yes, it’s unfortunate that Mr Woerth was the UMP treasurer at the time. But that’s another story.  And, yes, the French media blew it out of all proportion.

Bottom line is that we hear all about conservative politicians’ scandals but very little recently — until DSK — about Socialist goings-on.  So, no, I’m not going to become equivocal about biased and imbalanced media coverage of politics. We need to begin to think independently about what we read, hear and see. The goal of the left-wing MSM is to shape the way we think.  My American readers no doubt still remember the coverage of their nation’s 2008 presidential campaign.  I remember last year’s coverage of Britain’s general election; the BBC still refuse to acknowledge that we have had a Conservative Prime Minister for the past 12 months.  Next year, the US media will go into overdrive again with Obama’s anticipated re-election campaign.  Some months before that, France will have its presidential election.

Anyway, this is the conclusion of my posts on socialism in France.  Watch for the outward caring, sharing aspects contrasted with a preoccupation with sexuality outside of the biblical definition. Yet, a lot of people — even in France — will be unaware of these stories, generally suppressed for a veneer of equality and fairness messages in the daily papers and news programmes.  Much of what follows is definitely not for children.

First, those of us who live outside of France might recognise the name Jack Lang.  Until recently, I knew of him only as a Minister of Culture in Francois Mitterand’s administration. In 1982, he instituted the annual Fête de la Musique which takes part in nearly every French town and city on June 21. It’s a lot of fun, it’s free and it lasts until the wee hours.  But, there’s a little more to the story than that.  When Lang became part of the Mitterand cabinet, he was young, well-presented and received a lot of great publicity around the world.  (I remember, I read it.)  Along with the French Wikipedia entry cited above, Le Blog de Gai Luron fills us in on the details.  Lang’s father and grandfather were members of the Grand Orient de France.  If you read my first post about DSK, you might recall this part of it (emphases mine):

Allow me to interject a bit about the Grand Orient de France, also from Wikipedia:

The Grand Orient de France (GODF) is the largest of several Masonic organizations in France and the oldest in Continental Europe, founded in 1733 …

The Grand Orient advanced the concept of Laïcité, a French concept of the separation of church and state and the absence of religious interference in government affairs.[23] In the 1930s the Grand Orient was still hostile to Church interests, wishing to close private schools (which were predominantly Catholic), or failing that to reintroduce an insistence that only state schools could provide civil servants.[24]

This dislike of religious participation is still an official policy of the Grand Orient de France today.[25] The Grand Orient de France is concerned about a ‘silent revolution’ of a return of religion in society.[26]

Lang is a member of an offshoot of the Grand Orient, a private club-think tank called Le Siècle (The Century), which was founded by an influential member of the GODF in 1944.  Le Siècle’s membership is comprised of the most powerful people in France not only in politics but in media, industry, finance and culture.  Only 15% to 30% are Freemasons, by the way.  However, it’s elitist and globalist.  Yes, Nicolas Sarkozy is a member but so are Socialists like DSK, Robert Badinter, Lionel Jospin, Pierre Moscovici, Martine Aubry and François Hollande (the last three are 2012 PS primary candidates).  Le Siècle is a a club for people who share the goals of Freemasonry but don’t want to be Freemasons.

Now on to some of Lang’s finer — and sometimes forgotten — political moments.  From Wikipedia:

– In 1977, Le Monde published a petition which Lang signed calling for charges against three paedophiles to be dropped.

– In 1991, he told Gai Pied (Gay Foot), ‘Sexual relations with children is still forbidden territory, it will be up to the explorers of the 21st century to cross that border’.

– In 2010, he leapt to Roman Polanski’s defence with regard to sexual relations he had with a 13-year old girl in 1977.

– This year, Lang dismissed the gravity of the DSK allegations on national television, saying, ‘No one died’.

Le Blog de Gai Luron (cited above) says that as far back as 1981, Lang was said to like ‘subversion’.  Although married, he frequented a gay venue in Paris, the Palace, known for its orgies.  He was the only politician that year to come out in favour of a gay pride march.  However, some people who are aware of Lang’s apparent support for paedophilia take it seriously. In April 2011, the organisation AIVI (Association Internationale des Victimes d’Incest) published a petition to Nicolas Sarkozy asking him to not appoint Lang as Defender of Children (Defenseur d’Enfants) of the newly-created commission, Defender of Rights (Defenseur des Droits).

Lang’s other love is Cuba.  He has a deep admiration for Fidel Castro.  In 1982, he gushed, ‘Cuba is a courageous country creating a new society … Culture is all about that, recognising that each people freely chooses its political regime.’  Whaaat?  In 1995, UNESCO invited Castro to Paris.  During his stay, Lang arranged to meet him privately at the Louvre.  Lang, in his best designer clothes, couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for his guest, which was on full display for the press and television cameras.  Even Lionel Jospin (PS), Prime Minister at the time, was appalled.

But there’s more, and here we move to the Green representing Europe-Ecologie, Daniel Cohn-Bendit. On May 30, 2011, I mentioned the leftist coalition in France called Sauvons l’Europe (Let’s Save Europe):

A young lecturer at a teachers training college (Ecole normale d’instituteurs) and United Socialist Party (PSU) militant by the name of Joël Roman was a regular contributor to Julliard’s Intervention.  Roman became increasingly interested in the role of media, the French principle of laïcité (secularism) and immigration.  He is a co-founder of the think tank / movement Sauvons l’Europe (Let’s Save Europe).  Sauvons l’Europe, created in 2005, is part of the 21st century phase of the deuxième gaucheIt involves Greens, Muslims and Socialists working together for ‘human development’.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit is one of the earliest and most supportive members of Sauvons l’Europe. The lower-right hand corner of their home page says ‘A pro-European and progressive engagement’.  Gay rights, amnesty for illegal immigrants and a humanist communitarianism are among their aims.

In 1999, I had dinner with some of my French friends.  Then, as now, Daniel Cohn-Bendit received glowing coverage in the press.  At the time I was reading more about the Greens and liked what I read.  So, I mentioned his name in the course of conversation.  One of the Frenchmen threw his napkin on the table: ‘Please don’t mention that name, especially while we’re eating.’  I asked him why.  He replied, ‘He’s a disgusting man and I’m not prepared to talk about him, especially if we’re at table.  And, another thing, he’s not French — he’s German.’  It was only a couple of years ago that I read about Cohn-Bendit in more detail — in Marianne, as it happens.  I was shocked.  Interestingly, I didn’t run across any more about the subject until this year online.  Are the negative details about his life hidden from view with some help from the media?

But, first, let’s explore his origins.  He was born in France in 1945. His father was a lawyer in Germany and his mother was French.  During the Second World War, they escaped from Germany to France.  His parents intended on moving to the United States, but that never happened.  During his youth, Cohn-Bendit — or Dany, as he likes to be known — opted for German nationality so he could escape (what was then) obligatory National Service in France.

Both of his parents died before Dany reached the age of 18.  He attended an alternative school not far from Frankfurt which shaped his political identity.  His Wikipedia entry tells us that in the 1960s he was an anarchist for a time then became the prime mover of the May 1968 demonstrations in France.  The photo at right comes from the New York Times, which makes him sound like a great student liberator:

The events (or movement) of 40 years ago began in March at Nanterre University, just outside Paris, where a young French-born German named Daniel Cohn-Bendit … led demonstrations against parietal rules – when young men and women could be together in dormitory rooms – that got out of hand. When the university was closed in early May, the anger soon spread to central Paris, to the Latin Quarter and the Sorbonne, where the student elite demonstrated against antiquated university rules, and then outward, to workers in the big factories.

Today, Dany’s politics haven’t changed much.  He is described as a Communist libertarian, presumably meaning that he still enjoys a touch of anarchy now and then.

Looking back, the NYT gushes (emphases mine):

Scenes of the barricades, the police charges and the tear gas are dear to the French, recaptured in every magazine and scores of books, including one by photographer Marc Riboud, now 84, called: “Under the Cobblestones,” a reference to a famous slogan of the time from the leader-jester, Mr. Cohn-Bendit, now a member of the European Parliament: “Under the cobblestones, the beach.”

Mr. Cohn-Bendit, known then as “Danny the Red” for the color of both his politics and his hair, is also thought responsible for other famous slogans of the time: “It is forbidden to forbid” and “Live without limits and enjoy without restraint!” — with the word for enjoy, “jouir,” having the double meaning of sexual climax.

The injunction was especially potent in a straight-laced country where the birth-control pill had been authorized for sale only the year before, noted Alain Geismar, another leader of the time …

Now 69, Mr. Geismar, a former Maoist, uses an iPhone.

I love their summary of this episode of French history. They treat these anarchists with such respect and make sure they mention that Mr Cohn-Bendit is now a member of the European Parliament. Don’t you sometimes wonder what planet the NYT journos live on?

Here is a recent quote from Dany — a caring, sharing, egalitarian lefty:

The majority isn’t right, we have to stop somewhat this little story of the majority.

Sounds a bit like Olivier Ferrand’s Terra Nova which wants to have an elite committee to evaluate election winners for suitability.

Anyway, the French government actually forbade Dany from staying in France between 1968 and 1978, although that did not stop him from visiting friends.  Whilst living in Germany during that time, he was a teacher’s aide at a crèche near Frankfurt.

Now comes the shocking bit, which you rarely read elsewhere — especially in the NYT!

In 1975, so still living in Germany, Dany wrote a book called Le Grand Bazar, in which he described his teacher’s aide experiences at the crèche.  This is a quote from the book, wherein he describes his sexualisation of his young charges, who ranged from the ages of 1 to 6:

It happened on several occasions that certain kids opened my fly and started to tickle me.  I reacted in a certain manner, depending on the circumstances.  I would ask them, ‘Why don’t you play together?  Why did you choose me — me — instead of the other kids?’ But they would insist, and I would caress them all the same

In 1982, Dany appeared on the much-watched (and much-missed) highbrow television show, Apostrophes, which discussed the latest books.  He said:

You know, a kid’s sexuality, it’s absolutely fantastic … When a little girl, five years old, starts to undress you, it’s fantastic!

You see how this has been suppressed by the international mediaNYT — do your job.

On the book’s 25th anniversary in 2001, various news stories appeared in France questioning what effect Cohn-Bendit’s actions had on the children involved.  None of them said he had done anything untoward and their parents were equally supportive of him as a teacher’s aide.  He said that the book was written in language which was meant to shock the bourgeoisie.  He also stated:

Claiming that I’m a paedophile is insanity.  Paedophilia is a crime.  Sexual abuse is something we have to fight againstThe [book’s] text, which wasn’t scandalous at the time is now suddenly unbearable.

Finally, we have Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris since 2001.  His family history is interesting because of the absence of a strong family connection to France.  Knowing that, I can understand why the PS value him so much and why his politics are as they are.

His parents, although of French parentage, were both born in Carthage. (It’s worth adding that his mother was half-English.) His father was an engineer and an atheist while his mother was a Catholic nurse.  Mr Delanoë’s great grandparents had left Saint Malo in France for Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, a French-administered archipelago off the coast of CanadaDelanoë’s grandfather left the islands for Tunisia, where he was put in charge of the port of La Goulette. So, his family were very much oriented to North Africa.  Delanoë himself was born and spent his childhood in Tunisia.  He and his parents left for France in 1961 during the incident known as the Crisis of Bizerte.  Even so, Delanoë has happy memories of his childhood there, retaining a deep fondness for that part of the world and its people.

He joined the PS at the age of 21 and has been involved in politics ever since, holding elected office in Paris since 1981.  When he was elected as mayor in 2001, many people could see that change was in the air.  Jacques Chirac had been mayor between 1977 and 1995.  His successor — Jean Tiberi — also conservative, served six years.  The Conservatives were split at the time between the RPR, the UDF and the DL parties.  (These were predecessors of the current UMP.)  The PS was gaining support from Paris’s Greens.  But a new generation was also living in Paris.  These were young, upwardly mobile centrists or centre-leftists who loved expensive minimalism yet had a penchant for politicians espousing fairness and equality.  The French have a name for these people: bobos (bourgeois-bohemians). Bobos are everywhere now, and every marketplace caters to them, even that former bastion of working class shoppers, Monoprix.  So, Delanoë won thanks to new, youthful, moneyed support.

No one could espouse the notion of fairness more than Bertrand Delanoë, and this is where he goes off the rails for many living in provincial France.  Openly gay, he supports homosexual marriage.  He also supports euthanasia and green policies, such as the rent-a-bikes available in the city.  He also wants everyone to get along, much as folks did in the Tunisia of his childhood.  Therefore, equality characterises many of his policies — probably too much.  As such, he is a member of the Human Rights League (LDH — Ligue des Droits d’Homme).

Delanoë’s most controversial move to date might well turn out to be his opening up some of the Mayor of Paris’s buildings to house Tunisians and other Africans entering Europe illegally via Lampedusa, an island off the coast of ItalyLampedusa was the story of the first half of this year in the French blogosphere until the DSK scandal broke. It is still of real concern to those living on the Cote d’Azur near the Italian border.  And, like the DSK saga, Lampedusa looks as if it will be running and running.  As long as the Mediterranean is calm, the boats just keep coming.

French people are naturally quite anxious about this state of affairs.  Regardless of what Joel Roman of Sauvons l’Europe says, immigration of all kinds is on the increase and with it — right or wrong — apprehension among the French public.  Crime in certain neighbourhoods and towns has increased noticeably in recent years.  A ‘them and us’ mentality has developed on both sides of the spectrum which extends to employment, welfare subsidies and higher taxes.

With regard to the recent arrivals from Lampedusa, no one is sure who these men are.  The Tunisians at home in their own country have told visitors that some prisons had been opened during the uprisings earlier this year. Yet, in interviews in the press and on television, the immigrants say they were freedom fighters. The French wonder why people who fought for freedom in their homeland would leave it so suddenly.  Also, the immigrants have plenty of avenues for legal immigration, as France has an extensive agreement with North African countries — including Tunisia — for jobs that need to be filled now.

Yet, in Delanoë’s mind, it doesn’t matter that these men have arrived without papers or have, for whatever reason, evaded official immigration channels.  He is putting them up at Parisians’ expense and has asked for calm as well as cordial behaviour towards the men. Yet, the location of this humanitarian gesture has been viewed as provocative. Le Parisien of May 3, 2011 carried the story:

tonight Bertrand Delanoë’s team will open emergency housing for a portion of the Tunisian migrants who have been squatting since Monday in a municipal building [in the 19th arrondissement] which ‘is presenting security problems’.

The address is anything but anodyne: 127 Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, in the chic heart of the city, a few steps away from the Elysée [presidential palace] and the Ministry of the Interior … ‘It’s a centre which was open during the winter for the homeless and it’s available, that’s all,’ explains Pascale Boistard, deputy mayor (PS) of Paris who carries the remit for migrants for the Mayor’s Office.   

So, many people question these policies, which are turning into a political game using taxpayers’ money to encourage dishonesty in the form of illegal immigration and possible subsequent criminal activity.  Yet, increasingly, the French are being told that their opinions don’t matter.  Delanoë asked no one.  Daniel Cohn-Bendit said, ‘The majority isn’t right.’  And Terra Nova wants to scrutinise the electorate’s choice of politicians.

Where are we going with this?

Fortunately, more information may be to hand in the form of new French sites written by professional journalists to counterbalance the leftist bias.  One of these is called Atlantico.  Another, which is a collection of useful videos about the PS, is called The Solferishow.  (The name comes from Rue de Solferino in Paris, where the PS HQ is located.)  There is also a new book which just came out (this isn’t a plug, just info) called Les intellectuels faussaires by Pascal Boniface, which exposes the thought control by the French intelligentsia.  Rather timely, considering the election cycle.

So, if you’re a Francophone or know someone who is, visit these sites, share them and reorient your mind!

Or brioche, as Marie Antoinette actually phrased it.

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) story gets more interesting as it reveals the engrenages — wheels within wheels — of his personal, political and professional network.  Socialists represent the little guy?  Hmm — don’t be too sure.

I’ve written before that a general election will take place in France in 2012 and that DSK was the hope of the Parti Socialiste (PS).  Now, unless something incredible happens, he’s out of the frame and the PS are back to square one with the usual ho-hum selection of possible candidates for the upcoming primaries: Martine Aubry, Ségolène Royal and her ex, François Hollande.

But this will be no ordinary presidential campaign.  Already, the fabric of the PS and their media water-carriers is starting to unravel.  I share the following with you in order that you can see how a variety of people sharing the same political point of view — even if they are unknown to you — are closely linked together.  It’s something we don’t see unfold every day.  Certainly, someone in the US could perform the same public service for their own presidential elections next year in revealing the true connections between the Democrats and the mainstream media.

The beginning of the end for the French Left?

Late last week, two media stories surfaced.  One concerned veteran newsreader and broadcaster Christine Ockrent, who resigned under a cloud from France 24. The other story was that the founder and weekly contributor to Marianne, Jean-Francois Kahn (no relation to DSK), announced his retirement from the journalistic sphere.  (I’ll believe it when I see it.)  The reason is that he dismissed the DSK debacle on television as un troussage de domestiqueTroussage means ‘getting one’s kit off’ and domestique is, as you would imagine, a domestic servant, a housemaid.  The offices of the left-leaning magazine were buzzing with questions to such as an extent that the newsmagazine’s co-founder and publisher, Maurice Szafran, sent around an email to say that JFK, as he is known in France, would be retiring with the next edition of the magazine (so, by the time you read this).

When the staff on the magazine you founded start wondering about your phraseology, it’s probably time to put your pen and paper down.  Female staff in particular, reports say, found the remark not only sexist but demeaning.  They also thought it flippant and condescending, as if what allegedly happened at the Sofitel was a farcical romp.

French people generally found it a poor turn of phrase, saying that JFK should have thought a bit more before speaking in a television interview.  One woman wrote in to one of the newspapers to say (paraphrased), ‘The word domestique has very real — and negative — connotations for me.  My mother worked in service when I was a little girl.  The family that employed her always referred to her dismissively as “la domestique”.  I was never known by name but as the “daughter of la domestique“.’

PS and French media connections

But there may be a reason he expressed himself in such a manner.  JFK’s wife, Rachel Kahn, a television producer for France2, is a longtime friend of DSK’s wife, career journalist Anne Sinclair.  They got to know each other when Ms Sinclair and JFK were both working for Europe1. Another longtime close friend of Ms Sinclair’s is feminist philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, wife of Robert Badinter, PS senator for Hauts-de-Seine (near Paris) and former Minister of Justice under the late François Mitterand.  Mme Badinter’s father, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, founded the global advertising and communications company Publicis Groupe in 1926.  Mme Badinter has featured regularly in JFK’s Marianne, most recently in a profile of France’s greatest contemporary intellectuals (2011).

Rachel Kahn and Elisabeth Badinter were both witnesses at the marriage of Anne Sinclair and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Robert Badinter is part of the World Justice Project, working globally with other Honorary Chairs, such as President Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bishop Desmond Tutu, among others from around the world concerned with ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ for ‘opportunity and equity’According to French Wikipedia, he supports the worldwide decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Jean-François Kahn, founder of the now defunct newsweekly l’Evenement de Jeudi, was a member of the French Communist Party for two years in his youth.  Since then, although left-of-centre, he has adopted a variety of socio-political positions which defies putting him into any one category.  As a case in point, he endorsed centrist candidate François Bayrou in the 2007 elections instead of the Socialist self-styled madonna Ségolène Royal.  One thing is certain: he vehemently opposes Nicolas Sarkozy and has done so since he founded Marianne in 1997.

Maurice Szafran was a director of JFK’s l’Evenement de Jeudi before co-founding Marianne with him. JFK appointed him editor-in-chief, a position he held until 2008, when JFK put him in charge of the magazine as a whole.  Marianne‘s positions are very much pro-immigration, anti-UMP (Conservative party) and supportive of French agriculture — Périco Légasse‘s food columns are always worthwhile. In all fairness, they do feature a number of articles on discrimination against Christians, particularly in North Africa. The magazine supports left-wing politics, although they do not hesitate to criticise the PS. This year, they have been shouting out against the party’s ‘lack of vision for 2012’.  They also quote frequently from online sites such as Rue89 and former Le Monde editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel’s Mediapart.

Edwy Plenel features frequently as a guest editorial writer for Marianne.  Overseas readers of his work might not know that his father was deputy administrator for Martinique and a fierce anti-colonialist.  The young Plenel arrived in Paris in 1970 and joined the Communist Revolutionary League (LCR).  He began his journalistic career by writing for their weekly publication, Rouge [Red]. After completing his obligatory military service, he distanced himself from the LCR and took up mainstream journalism at Le Monde.  In 2003, he would preside over record sales for the newspaper, which went from strength to strength for the next few years. He left the paper in 2007 and began Mediapart the following year.

In late 2010, Maurice Szafran welcomed left-leaning journalist Jacques Julliard to Marianne. Szafran praised him as being an admirable man of the Left.  Julliard had just left Le Nouvel Observateur over editorial differences. Back in his university days, Julliard had actively participated in France’s May 1968 student demonstrations.  He still admires the work of Antonio Gramsci, among others.  However, a point in Julliard’s favour is a condemnation of Christian persecution:

If fundamentalist Christians had bombed a mosque or a synagogue, we would all be in the streets talking about it for years. Right now, there is actually an underestimate of persecution — there is no other word — of Christians around the world who are victims.

A new Left — and a new electorate

While Julliard was a regular editorial writer at Le Nouvel Obs, he also pursued independent projects.  One of these was the now-defunct magazine Intervention — leftists do love that word — in 1982.  Julliard was one of the intellectuals associated with what is known in France as la deuxième gauche, ‘the second [read ‘new’] Left’. This movement germinated in the late 1950s but only began picking up steam after the May 1968 demonstrations. Michel Rocard was one of the emerging PS stars who championed la deuxième gauche, which de-emphasises Marxism in favour of more communitarian solutions to socio-political issues.

Julliard’s Intervention magazine supported la deuxième gauche and Rocard’s perspectives. Remember also that Julliard founded the publication shortly after François Mitterand — PS — became PresidentRocard was beginning one of three ministerial positions in Mitterand’s government, which would culminate with his serving as Prime Minister from 1988 to 1991.

A young lecturer at a teachers training college (Ecole normale d’instituteurs) and United Socialist Party (PSU) militant by the name of Joël Roman was a regular contributor to Julliard’s Intervention.  Roman became increasingly interested in the role of media, the French principle of laïcité (secularism) and immigration.  He is a co-founder of the think tank / movement Sauvons l’Europe (Let’s Save Europe).  Sauvons l’Europe, created in 2005, is part of the 21st century phase of the deuxième gaucheIt involves Greens, Muslims and Socialists working together for ‘human development’.

Therefore, gone are the days when Socialists represented the working man.  For the past few years, the new Socialists have courted young immigrants and have created a meme around disenchantment, disenfranchisement and discrimination.  A May 25, 2011 broadcast of a programme on France Culture featured a debate between Roman and author Malika Sorel who is strongly opposed to the leftist approach to immigration.  Roman says some very strange things in the debate, e.g. ‘Immigration stopped in the mid-1970s’.  (I studied in France between 1977 and 1978 — I can tell you it was just starting in earnest then with young men from North Africa, already evident in most of France’s cities. They were all quite friendly — it was work and an adventure for the ones I met.  The benefits culture hadn’t started yet nor had bringing over one’s family.)  Roman wants more immigration, as much as possible: ‘It’s good for development’.  Never mind the working stiff Socialist voter who’s looking for a job when factories and businesses are closing or laying off hundreds of people.  Where are they going to go?  Where are their children going to work? How are any of them going to live?  What will they live on? But, Roman’s through with them — he’s after the new arrivals.  Never mind the French or immigrants who arrived in the 1970s.

Terra Nova think tank, DSK and the PS

Carrying on this theme is another influential think tank, Terra Nova. Although founded recently — in 2008 — it, too, is an offshoot of Michel Rocard’s deuxième gauche. In fact, Rocard has a key position in Terra Nova, as one of its co-presidents, along with founder Olivier Ferrand.  Olivier Ferrand is a civil servant, born in 1960.  Too young to enjoy May 1968 and radical leftist organisations, his generation opted for more conventional routes.  Ferrand went for Establishment education and credentials.  He is a former student at the well-renowned Sciences Po (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris) and one of the most famous grandes écoles, ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration), whose graduates are referred to as énarques.

Ferrand has had a career one can only wish for. He began his career in the French Treasury where he participated in international negotiations involving the G7, the OECD and the IMF.  After this time, he was a general delegate to another think tank, one founded by DSK and Michel Rocard, called ‘A Gauche, en Europe’ (To the Left, in Europe’).  Therefore, Ferrand is (very) far removed from a working-class, grass roots ethic which used to be part and parcel of the PS.

But, that’s not a problem.  A number of cutting-edge companies have donated money to Terra Nova, among them are Microsoft, Total, SAP, RTE, Euro RSCG and Capgemini.

I left Capgemini — one of the world’s top 10 management consulting groups — until the end of that list, because we have yet another connection to explore here.  Paul Hermelin heads Capgemini. Years before that he served as a Cabinet Director for DSK under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (PS) Hermelin is also a local Socialist councillor for Avignon! The wonderful world of connections!  We’ll come to Euro RSCG in a little while.

Bye bye, workers — take care!

Ferrand’s education and career are not even remotely linked with France as an historic, European nation.  He has been steeped in globalism and a worldview which encompasses sophisticated, financial and economic considerations.  He is concerned, no doubt, with the flow of money, markets and people.  As far as he is concerned, we’re no doubt just atoms or warm bodies.  Meanwhile, French people and immigrants who have been in France for a number of years are apoplectic: their future is ruined by a tanking economy and job losses. But Terra Nova has nothing — nothing at all — to offer them.

As evidence, see this interview from May 13, 2011, in Le Point (emphases mine):

Le Point: Your [Terra Nova] report suggests that the Left must modify its electoral strategy for 2012 by no longer depending on the working and middle classes for support.  Is this a wind-up?

Olivier Ferrand: No! We’re basing it on factual studies in France and in nine other countries (Germany, the UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Australia, Canada, the US) … The electoral base has changed …  Under Mitterand, the working classes were united by values, they no longer are. The left’s electoral base — its heart — was the working class.  It no longer is.

Le Point: What happened?

Ferrand: … The Left evolved with the impact of May ’68 and progressively adopted open values on sexual mores, the family, immigration, national identity and diversity On the other hand, the working class retreated and became insular, having been worked over by the [economic] crisis and the fear of [losing their position as a social class], which has sent the FN [Front National] into hysteria. But a new electoral base has emerged, linked to open cultural values, [those which are] positive, tolerant, about solidarity, optimism, a hopeful future and comprised of young people, poorer working class areas, minorities and women.  This is the France of tomorrow.  They are outside of society … 

Wow — if that isn’t straight out of the Marxist / Fabian / Gramscian combined playbook!  Jackpot!  Banco!

At the end of the interview, the paper asks about DSK:

Le Point: In any event, we know you support Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Ferrand: Terra Nova is a collective structure which works together with Socialist leaders and the Left, with Europe Ecologie and the PS … Terra Nova supports no candidate, we’re not a political party and I’m not a spokesperson for DSK. 

Nonetheless, it is thought that Terra Nova and DSK were working together with a view toward his candidacy.

Worringly, Terra Nova not only want to court a new electorate, they plan on changing a free, democratic and fair way of selecting candidates and voting!  The following appeared on their site on April 21, 2011:

‘Our electoral system is ageing badly. Its faults are becoming more and more visible’, Olivier Ferrand assures us.

Among these faults are ‘baroque candidacy rules’, ‘archaic’ … campaigns and ‘debatable’ financing.

Instead of France’s two-round voting — which I actually wish more countries would adopt — Ferrand proposes not a FPTP vote exactly, but a result based on what he calls

majority judgment

This appears to mean that the candidates winning the highest numbers of votes would be scrutinised by a panel which would then ‘grade’ or ‘mark’ each one in terms of overall ‘suitability’.  This would mean that someone like Marine Le Pen of the Front National would be prevented from winning, even if she had a majority of votes (and, this is highly doubtful and, no, she does not have my support).  A Le Pen victory, in Ferrand’s estimation, would be

a major democratic accident.

So, in order to combat such a scenario, he proposes something entirely undemocratic which goes against a one man-one vote democratic process done around the world.  Talk about moving backwards to feudal society.  And this is where immigrants from developing countries come in.  We see in Britain where ‘community leaders’ instruct families — especially women — how to vote and for whom to vote.  This is why Labour brought in postal ballots en masse.  I used to see these men outside my polling station when I lived in London.  They’re really intimidating, targeting certain immigrant women walking into the polling station.  Wow — if this is the type of society Ferrand envisages for France, he will have an electoral replacement before you can say ‘Sacre bleu!’

There is much more I can write on other personalities known not only in France but worldwide.  I’m afraid this will have to wait for the next instalment.

Meanwhile, who’s cleaning up after DSK?

In closing, here are a few more quick connections involving DSK.

The week of his arrest drove France crazy.  Not only are famous French people not handcuffed when arrested (it seems) but they are not allowed to be photographed in the ‘humiliating’ way that DSK was — what Americans refer to as the ‘perp walk’.  And, even if they were photographed like that, the papers would not be able to print the photos — if any of this had happened in France.  ‘After all, DSK is not a common criminal — he’s internationally famous!’  Hmm, you betcha.

So, communications firm Euro RSCG — donors to Terra Novahave been busy with damage limitation for DSK over the past week.  They apparently have sent or discussed talking points with major French media outlets, advising them as to what is off limits.  It seemed to work well early on, but the papers seem to have picked up steam again with DSK’s new digs.  Before we get to that, however, it’s worth noting that Euro RSCG do a lot of work for CAC 40 companies.  One of their clients is another Terra Nova donor, Capgemini (not a secret, you can see the firm’s name in fine print on their adverts). Furthermore, Euro RSCG also do PR work for Laurent Fabius, former Prime Minister (PS) between 1984 and 1986 under François Mitterand (PS).

Yet, in the US, DSK might use a CIA-related public relations firm, TD InternationalReuters reports:

A person familiar with the work TD International did for Strauss-Kahn in 2007 said his representatives consulted the firm informally after his arrest last Saturday and asked for advice related to his predicament.

If the firm at some point becomes formally involved in his defense, the source said, its role will be in helping other Strauss-Kahn advisors, including Paris-based public relations experts, engage in “crisis management.”

But the source, who asked for anonymity, said the firm had not been formally engaged. A lawyer for Strauss-Kahn did not respond to a request for comment …

A contract between TD International and Strauss-Kahn, dated July 18, 2007, shows he hired the firm to “conduct a specific public relations campaign” and “work is to begin immediately and continue until ascendancy of client to head of IMF” …

According to the source, TD International helped advise Strauss-Kahn on U.S. and international political maneuvering related to the choice of a new IMF chief …

The website describes the firm’s founder, William Green, as a former diplomat who is fluent in French and “participated in the management of the Anglo-American and U.S.-Canadian intelligence relationships when posted to Washington.”

The website identifies two other partners in the firm as former CIA officers.

Now, about the new digs. Faithful wife Anne Sinclair (why?) has found yet another property for him.  This one is even better than the place she wanted to rent before they ended up staying at the police ‘safe house’ near Wall Street.  Well, now they are in Tribeca (Lower Manhattan) — gentrified some 30 years ago — and property prices have gone up, up, up ever since.  You can see pictures below in an excellent French montage. The rent for this loft property is … $50,000 a month!

Hey, unemployed workers of France — eat cake! 

The centre slogan in the satirical mock-up of DSK’s new house (below) says, ‘Diversity for you, peace and quiet for us.’  Note ‘Journalists in the pocket’.

Let this be a lesson to all of us not to accept honeyed words at face value or to place too much faith in our elected officials and appointed ‘experts’. All is not what it seems.  And, yes, this does need exposure, especially for voters who are still sentimentally tied to left-wing parties.

Are the French angry?  Yes, many are.  Can you blame them?

On May 24, 2011, David Cameron — yet again — relaunched his Big Society.  He outlined more ‘nudging’ initiatives to get middle-class England to fork out more cash and spare time, as if we weren’t hard enough done by already.

He couched this in words about the importance of family values, as the Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Relaunching his Big Society initiative yesterday, Mr Cameron insisted that marriage remains the bedrock of strong communities

Yesterday the Prime Minister said families were at the heart of his vision for a Big Society

The Prime Minister’s comments came as he made a fourth attempt to relaunch his Big Society initiative, which critics say has struggled to catch the public imagination.

The initiative has previously focused on a drive to encourage more charitable and voluntary work. Yesterday Mr Cameron said charities would receive an extra £40million in support. New initiatives to encourage public giving, such as prompting people to donate every time they use a cashpoint, were also unveiled, while it was announced that ministers will lead by example – committing themselves to undertake a day of voluntary service over the course of the year with a charity of their choice.

Other measures in the White Paper include establishing a new honours committee to ensure people are recognised for ‘exceptional and sustained philanthropy’; opening up government buildings to charities and voluntary groups; and holding a ‘giving’ summit to bring charities together with philanthropists, businesses and financiers.

Returning to the pro-family agenda he championed in Opposition, Mr Cameron stressed that marriage also has a crucial role to play in building a stronger society.

The Prime Minister underlined his commitment to make Britain the most ‘family-friendly’ place in Europe.

And he insisted his vision of a Big Society was ‘not some fluffy add-on to more gritty and more important subjects’.

Hello, Mr Cameron and No. 10 advisers — news flash — this is why the people of Britain object to your Big Society:

1/ We are now in a third consecutive year of high unemployment and, for those still working, precarity with regard to employment.  In the case of the latter group, how are people supposed to spend more time with their families when they could easily lose their jobs if they don’t work longer hours?  Although employment contracts state a 37.5 or 40-hour week and one can opt out of contractually working longer hours, the reality is that even with those two factors, most people in an office work between 10 and 12 hours a dayAdd travel time on top of that.  So, under those circumstances, families will suffer and so will marriages.  We are bound to American-style presenteeism.  Nothing really gets done during that time that couldn’t be done in an 7.5 hour day.  However, the pressure is on to arrive as early as possible and leave as late as possible.  If you want to tackle marriage and family issues, presenteeism in the office is a great place to start.  Go after employers and their warped work ethos.

2/ For unemployed young people finishing secondary school or university graduates starting a career, life is grim right now.  Yahoo! Lifestyle reports on another job possibility lost for school leavers.  Anyone with two synapses to rub together could have seen it coming, however:

McDonald’s has just announced it is going to introduce state-of-the-art touch-screen terminals to order food and the swipe card payment method in its 7000 restaurants in Europe.

According to McDonald’s UK President, Steve Easterbrook, this marks the first major change in the way food is ordered in restaurants in 30 or 40 years …

The proposed technological changes have divided customers though. Some like the idea that their meals will be even quicker; but others will miss service with a smile and are worried that there won’t be enough terminals in the restaurants, leading to long queues. Others are unhappy about using cards to make payments for the small amount of money that McDonald’s meals usually cost. Many are also anxious about staff being replaced by computers at a time when jobs are already hard to come by.

What about those pursuing higher education and aspiring to a career in education?  In January 2011, the Telegraph reported that

the number of students training to work in secondary schools will fall by more than 2,000 from September, a decrease of 14 per cent …

It is a time of record unemployment for graduates, many of whom would consider taking up teaching. Last week figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that one in five graduates is jobless, twice as many as before the recession.

On May 17, 2011, the Department for Education defended the plan:

a spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Training more teachers than the country needs is a waste of money …

The spokesman added that when numbers of trainee teachers were included who came into the profession via other routes, such as being trained abroad, or on class-based programmes such as Teach First, the overall decline would be only 1,200.

Naturally, one wonders what those highlighted words mean in reality.  Fret not, because all was made clear a week later on May 23:

Rules forcing teachers to retrain before being able to take-up jobs in state primaries and secondaries will be axed next year, it was disclosed.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said the move would initially apply to teachers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

Research shows teaching qualifications offered in these countries are already equivalent to those in England, he said.

The reforms will then be extended to staff from other countries such as South Africa, Jamaica and Singapore.

It will give these teachers the same working rights that currently apply to those from the European Union, who can permanently work in England despite not being trained in this country.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, Mr Gove said: “One of the aims of my department is to make sure that the most talented people possible are teaching our children and it is already the case that teachers from the European Economic Area can teach in our schools …

So, the British can basically forget teaching as a career? We’re not ‘talented’ enough? This is a parlous state of affairs.  Wow, thanks. (Don’t anyone come here to comment — even in jest — saying that the British don’t want to teach!)

Now, if we really are suffering a shortage of teachers, fine.  However, this has not been made clear, particularly in light of so-called Government cuts.  What about Our Island Story? Aren’t the incoming teachers going to learn about England’s history? In all honesty, a growing number of people in Britain believe we are being replaced by people from elsewhere in the world, Europe included.  Our culture has been rapidly being diluted over the past 15 years. Seeing that Government actively encourage that dilution by not even training foreign teachers — and do we really need them when money could have been channelled more efficiently? — it is not unreasonable for the British to question what they are paying for where state schools are concerned.

3/ Now to the unemployed.  How does one qualify for unemployment benefit?  One pays for it out of each pay cheque — it’s automatically deducted.  In turn, one is entitled to reclaim part of this contribution when one is between jobs.  That’s how JSA — Job Seeker’s Allowance — works.  I’ve been on JSA in the past: once in the 1990s and a second time a few years ago.  The standard JSA payment is around £55 a week, which is paid in fortnightly. I know because I received it on two different occasions, and I paid into the fund whilst working. It is not like the dole, as your JSA advisor will spend an hour or two filling out a booklet with you discussing your financial situation and taking into account dependents, if you have them. They assess your needs.  (Yes, if you have children, you’ll get income support.) So, it strikes me as a bit rich for some people to think that the temporarily unemployed should work for a benefit which they have already paid for and barely covers groceries and a few incidentals! And, let me add that the price of groceries increased noticeably between the two occasions when I received JSAThe Daily Mail tells us:

More than three-quarters of voters (77 per cent) think long-term benefit claimants should have to do community work in return for the dole, according to a survey.

And more than two-thirds (69 per cent) think claimants should lose their benefits if they turn down the offer of a job – even if it pays the same or less than welfare payouts …

The Mori survey was conducted for thinktank Policy Exchange, which published a report calling for jobseekers to be required to put in a full 35-hour week in their work-search.

Note the confusion here — perhaps deliberate — between the unemployed between jobs, the long-term unemployed, those who might be on ‘disability’ payments unnecessarily and welfare recipientsThis article — and perhaps this survey — is conflating all four groups.  Please, let’s be clear on what we’re talking about.  We have four groups of people, each of whom is in a different situation.  However, spending a full 35-hour week on searching for work, umm, is, frankly, so last century Everything is online now, even at the Job Centre.  So, why not let people spend the amount of time they need every day?  Yes, 30 years ago, I did spend full days going door to door in search of a job.  Now, however, all sorts of internet-based job sites are available to save people money on transport and petrol.  Frankly, most office-based employers would consider it rather weird if one just poled up and asked to fill out an application or submit a CV (resumé, for my American readers).

4/ However, the Government is trying to rectify the conundrum in point 3 above, although it does not appear to be succeeding:

The Coalition plans to replace existing benefits with a new Universal Credit, which ministers claim will help encourage families to use work as a route out of poverty

For the first time, the Universal Credit will provide help with childcare fees to parents working fewer than 16 hours per week. But many parents working longer hours are expected to receive less support towards nursery fees than under the current system as the overall pot of state funding would not increase.

The research, written by social policy specialist Donald Hirsch, warned that working extra hours would not be financially worthwhile for many single parents and second earners.

The reforms would “put a tighter lid on aspirations than the present system” for a single parent on a modest wage equivalent to a full-time salary of £20,000, such as a midwife, the report said …

A second earner in a couple with two children, who was earning a “living wage” of £7.20 per hour, would keep only 9p of every pound earned over 20 hours per week. The same person would take home no extra cash at all from working beyond 30 hours a week and would be los[ing] 24p per hour to work beyond this level.

Gavin Kelly, chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation, said the reforms risked driving parents – especially mothers – on low-to-middle incomes out of full time work. “Living standards are already severely squeezed and this would be a further hammer-blow to working families,” he said.

5/ Yet, we’re all paying more for everything, one way or another: petrol, food, clothing, taxes various (e.g. VAT is 20%), public transportation.  The list is endless.  The tax issue is particularly galling as more Britons are trying to find out where it goes and how it is spent.  A proportion of our taxes goes to charities, some of which are called ‘fake’, as they do not actively fund-raise themselves and are heavily subsidised by the Government. And who finances the Government? We do.  It took me many years to get this through my head. I used to think, ‘Government spending — so what?’ Finally, it sunk in — ‘Those are my taxes you’re wasting!’ So, it comes as a bit of a cheek to see Government ‘nudging’ us towards giving more.  What the heck?  The Daily Mail takes up the story:

The Cabinet Office, in a White Paper on giving, will say there is evidence that the poorest donors give more as a percentage of their income than middle-income households and the wealthiest.

Ministers will also say that companies should play a greater role, with more corporate donations from wealthy business leaders in the mould of U.S. philanthropist Bill Gates.

Other plans include encouraging shops and restaurants to adopt ‘round the pound’ schemes, in which customers are encouraged to agree to round up their bills and donate the pennies of their change to charity.

The Government will also launch a ‘major campaign’ to promote payroll giving, where employees are encouraged to commit a slice of their monthly pay cheque to charity … 

But some are likely to argue that with household incomes facing an unprecedented squeeze, the drive to urge people to give more is ill-timed.

The Government has struck a deal with LINK, Britain’s cash machine network, to prompt users to donate every time they withdraw money.

The programme, which will start next year, will enable donations from all 100million LINK-enabled cards – almost every debit card issued by major banks – through ATMs …

And the Government is to fund websites matching people willing to offer time or resources with local charities and groups. Those who give up time to help their communities will be given discounts on shopping, cheap swimming sessions and free theatre tickets in schemes modelled on supermarket loyalty cards.

Wow — unbelievable — this is ‘nudge’ writ large.  A few points here.  First, the United States has a long history of big-name philanthropy (e.g. Andrew Carnegie) which goes back to the 19th centurySecond, people like to give to charities which resonate with them personally.  Camelot, which manages National Lottery donations, was roundly criticised a few years ago for giving money — from ordinary Britons — to all and sundry causes, some of which were not edifying either to localities or to the nation as a whole.  Third, the ’employer’ donations (as happens in the US now) are largely funded by employee pay cheque deductions which only make the employer look good on the back of his employee.  There is also, where it occurs in the US, much pressure at work to donate via deduction to charities, some of which support eugenicist policies, like the United Way does in partnership with Planned Parenthood.  I have read of cases where people objected and suddenly found themselves in the crosshairs for redundancy or unrelated disciplinary warnings.  That’s hardly voluntary.  As for the ATM ‘nudge’ — I shall be refusing, full stop.

6/ Then, of course, we have the European Union, which never stops demanding more of our money — that’s ‘Government spending’The latest wheeze is the new, Politburo-sounding European External Action Service (EEAS).  This appears to be an EU-wide Foreign Office of sorts, but we really don’t understand its remit.  This, too, will take more out of EU member states’ budgets.  The Telegraph explains:

For those who have no desire to be a part of a European superstate, it is fortunate that the EEAS is headed by Baroness Ashton of Upholland, the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. She has proved singularly ineffectual in the role, which is presumably why David Cameron has been happy to see her stay in post …

This week, Lady Ashton has requested a 5.8 per cent increase in her budget, which would take it to £427 million, at a time when governments across the EU are slashing spending. She says that she is asking for more only because she did not get enough last year. Pleading poverty rings a little hollow given that her own salary is £230,702 a year – making her one of the world’s highest-paid politicians – while her team includes more than 50 diplomats who take home bigger pay cheques than the British Prime Minister.

Such a lavishly funded operation will be intent on one thing in the years ahead – asserting itself. That this has not happened under Lady Ashton’s leadership is simply fortuitous. William Hague is alarmed enough to have ordered Britain’s ambassadors to be vigilant about “competence creep” by the EEAS …

Just a few words about Baroness Ashton, who was virtually unknown to most of us until she was appointed as deputy to EU President Herman van Rompuy, another unelected inconnu.  Who are these people?  Of Ashton, Wikipedia states:

Between 1977 and 1983 Ashton worked for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) as an administrator and in 1982 was elected as its National Treasurer and subsequently as one of its Vice-Chairmen

She was created a Labour Life Peer in 1999, and took the title of The Baroness Ashton of Upholland. In June 2001 she was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Education and Skills. In 2002 she was appointed Minister responsible for Sure Start in the same Department … 

On 19 November 2009, Ashton was appointed the EU’s first High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Her appointment was ratified at a Summit meeting of 27 European Union leaders in Brussels …

In February 2011 Baroness Ashton has come bottom of the class in a survey rating the performance of European Commissioners

Lady Ashton lives in St Albans with her husband, Peter Kellner (whom she married in 1988 in Westminster, London), the President of online polling organisation YouGov.[40]

Ashton faced questions in the European Parliament over her role as National Treasurer in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1980s, amid claims that it may have had financial links to the Soviet Union.

The United Kingdom Independence Party has written to Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, asking him to investigate whether Ashton was party to payments that he alleged were made to CND from the Soviet régime in Moscow. UKIP claims that it has obtained documents that show that the first audited accounts of CND, for 1982–83, found that 38 per cent of its income for that year, or £176,197, could not be traced back to the original donors. The person responsible for this part of CND fund-raising, from anonymous donors, UKIP allege, was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The letter, based on allegations made by Vladimir Bukovsky, a former Soviet dissident, claimed that it is “very likely” that CND received “unidentified income” from Moscow in the 1980s.[46][47]

7/ And, finally, we will soon have unknown numbers of migrants of unknown character coming in (via Italy to France) from Tunisia and Libya, post-‘revolution’ (I use the term advisedly).  Yet, not all of these chaps look North African.  In fact, they come from Sudan and Chad.  Hmm.  First, let us look at a story which appeared in the Telegraph recently concerning a Tunisian convicted of terrorism a few years ago.  We’re paying (in more ways than one) for guys like this:

The Muslim man, who cannot be named, was found guilty of terrorism in Tunisia and has already been extradited once to Italy, where he was accused of being involved in helping to send Islamists to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, ordered that he be kept out of Britain because his presence would not be “conducive to the public good for reasons of national security”, adding that there was evidence he had been involved in “extremist radicalisation”.

However, after he was acquitted in Italy, he returned to Britain and has been allowed to stay by the Court of Appeal while he fights Mrs May’s ruling. The court’s decision has exposed what experts said was a “loophole” in immigration law which would allow “dangerous” people to stay here.

Experts said the case would have serious implications for the Home Office’s ability to exclude terrorists and those suspected of terrorist offences, effectively creating an open border for terrorists while they pursue legal challenges.

Although only a small number of people would be affected, they could pose serious risks to national security …

As for more recent arrivals, which I’ll explore in more detail in another post, it is unclear why they did not stay in the first country they arrived in, which is what genuine refugees are expected to do under law.  Anyway, this will be a new example of more of our taxes, charity, Government spending or whatever you wish to call it at work:

In a filthy squat two miles from the entrance to the Channel Tunnel, Mohammed Yosif and his friends are hoping for a new life in Britain.

The 21-year-old is one of at least 40,000 to have fled to Europe as a result of the Arab Spring that has seen political unrest sweep north Africa.

Many are migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa who now believe their lives are at risk, especially in Libya where the regime used black mercenaries to attack rebel forces.

A growing number have now arrived in France and are sleeping rough near ports in a bid to sneak into the UK or at the Gare du Nord Eurostar station in Paris.

“It is very difficult to get on the train, but I dream of England,” said Mohammed, who arrived in Calais on Tuesday after fleeing the war in Libya, where he was a migrant worker from Chad …

Yes, well, I’m sure he’ll find a way.  The article indicates, as do the reader comments, that lorries have been pulling over in Dover and then zooming off, leaving those dreaming of England to further explore our Sceptred Isle (and its many benefits) in more detail.  In any event, why do we need to subsidise others’ mistakes?  You sign on as a mercenary in Libya or another country, and you accept the consequences.  It’s a calculated risk, even though it pays — not recommended.  A few years ago, an Englishman served a prison sentence in Africa for being a mercenary — cautionary tale.

8/ In closing, do note the Telegraph reader’s comment from liberation at the bottom of the page of the Chad – Libya – UK story.  This explains why people feel completely hung out to dry where money is concerned:

Britain can no longer afford to pay its welfare, pensions, health and education programs which account for 65% of the total state expenditures, this is being just one of the ignored elephants in the room. Europe and immigration are the other similarly ignored pachydermata, which in their own manner place additional demands on welfare expenditure, by the abuse of welfare and increased demands on education and health by those who have never contributed

Charity begins at home.  Let’s help our own people first — we are in a crisis.

On that note, it remains for me to wish you a wonderful Whitsun (Pentecost) Bank Holiday Monday!

For some reason, the first four verses of John 16 have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary. Because they have, I’m including them in my ongoing Forbidden Bible Verses series.  (Please note that I use the word ‘forbidden’ in a tongue-in-cheek way.  They’re not banned verses, just ignored and excluded verses for public worship.  Yet, they are essential to our full understanding of the Bible.)

(For this post, my thanks go to Lleweton of the eponymous blog, who cited the following verses in a comment he made here last week.  If you enjoy reading about the England you always dreamt of, do visit his site.  As he used to be an newspaper editor, he has a marvellous way with words.)

Today’s reading is from the King James Version.  Commentary is by the 17th century Calvinist minister and Bible scholar Matthew Henry.

John 16:1-4

1These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

 2They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

 3And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

 4But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

————————————————————————————-

In John 15 Jesus explained to His disciples the fruits of faith and the challenges that God brings us in order to increase them.  This is a recurring teaching throughout the New Testament.  We saw it last week in 1 Thessalonians 4:1, where Paul encourages these model Christians to lead a life which is even more pleasing to God.

In the latter part of John 15, Jesus prepares the Apostles for the imminent persecution and hatred directed against them.  He continues with this line of thought in the first few verses of John 16. This would be Jesus’s final talk with the Apostles prior to the Crucifixion. Later in the chapter, He explains that He will send the Holy Spirit to guide them in His absence, but before that, He would see them very soon (after His Resurrection). He would also ensure that whatever happened to them, they would find the peace that only an abiding faith in Him can bring.

We might find it strange that Jesus uses the word ‘offended’ in verse 1.  Yet, the Apostles do not realise that He will be crucified very soon.  It will come as a shock to them.  They might not know quite what to think or how to react.  Therefore, Jesus is — as we might say today — setting their expectations.  Just as Peter ended up denying Christ without even realising it until he had done so three times, this is a similar situation.  In order to save face, the Apostles might have denied Christ had He not given them some idea as to the gravity of imminent events.

Matthew Henry observes that many people find the Cross offensive.  Over three centuries after he wrote those words, we can see it as is true today as it was then as it was even earlier at the time of the Crucifixion.  And Satan likes to use shocking situations to his own benefit, to get us to deny the Truth, to deny Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

In verse 2, Jesus warns the Apostles that the Jews will expel them from the synagogues for having believed in Him and for evangelising.  Those who have been forced out of churches when they have proclaimed the truth of Scripture appreciate and feel deeply the heartache of separation from a congregation, people they have known for many years and from whom they are suddenly cut off.

Even worse, Jesus prepares them for martyrdom.  Then — as now — those who put Christians to death believe they are doing God’s work.  We read of this happening in the developed world almost daily.

In verse 3, Jesus explains that those who kill them do not know Him or God the Father. Instead, they do the Devil’s work. This remains true today. How many Christians die at the hands of unbelievers, those of another faith or none?  Many are victims of torture, brutal murders — indescribably horrible means.  Let us remember the persecuted in our prayers.  They endure much.  Those of us in the West are getting only a small idea of what our brothers and sisters in other countries go through day after day, never knowing if they will get home at night.  They might be arrested or abducted.  The worry for them and their families must be indescribable.

In verse 4, Jesus asks them to remember His warnings.  In case they are persecuted — and some Apostles would die as martyrs — they would at least be mentally prepared.  Matthew Henry says that knowing what to expect, in some ways, lessens the ordeal somewhat:

Note, When suffering times come it will be of use to us to remember what Christ has told us of sufferings. (1.) That our belief of Christ’s foresight and faithfulness may be confirmed; and, (2.) That the trouble may be the less grievous, for we were told of it before, and we took up our profession in expectation of it, so that it ought not to be a surprise to us, nor looked upon as a wrong to us. As Christ in his sufferings, so his followers in theirs, should have an eye to the fulfilling of the scripture.

In the second sentence of verse 4, Jesus explains that He didn’t want to tell them these things earlier because He was with them.  That means not only did he bear the attacks of Scribes, Pharisees and others against Him but they were not yet ready to bear these assaults on their own.  They were still children feeding on milk.  Soon, however, they would be ready for spiritual meat and carry out their upcoming evangelism with zeal, as we read in the Book of Acts — a stunning and moving record of what happens to some of the Apostles after Jesus ascends into Heaven.

In closing, let us find out what might have happened to some of the Twelve Apostles:

St Peter died in Rome.  He was crucified — at his request, this was done upside down.  Peter asked this because he did not feel worthy enough to die the way Christ did.  Today, we still refer to a cross of St Peter, or Petrine Cross, which is one depicted or placed upside down.  (Please note that this is not the same as an upside down crucifix, which is part of satanic rituals.)

Sts Philip and Bartholomew may have been crucified upside down, although we do not know for certain.  One early account records that St Philip continued preaching from the cross.

Similarly, although we know that St James was martyred, probably beheaded, although the legend surrounding Spain and Compostella, in particular, clouds this somewhat.

St Andrew was crucified, and tradition had it that he requested an X-shaped cross as he did not feel worthy to die the same way Christ did.  We can still see the Cross of St Andrew on national flags today, one of which is the Scottish saltire.

Finally, although he was not one of the original Twelve, St Paul was probably beheaded during the reign of Emperor Nero.  Beheading was a death sentence often used for Roman citizens, as Paul was.

In England last week a General Practitioner (family doctor) was censured by the General Medical Council (GMC) for discussing the role of Christian faith in recuperating from illness.

The Telegraph reported (emphases mine):

Dr Richard Scott, a family GP with 28 years’ experience, is facing disciplinary action and fears he could lose his job after he discussed his faith in Jesus with a patient last year.

The 50-year-old is being investigated by the General Medical Council but Christian doctors rallied to his defence and criticised the way that the professional standards regulator had handled the case.

In 2010, Dr Scott, who works at Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, a practice known for its Christian partners, saw a patient at the request of the patient’s mother. He maintains that he only discussed how his faith in Jesus had helped him at the end of the consultation, and with the patient’s consent.

But the GMC wrote to Dr Scott, warning him that he had distressed the patient and risked bringing the profession into disrepute. He has appointed a human rights lawyer to fight the reprimand.

Faithful Christians will instantly recognise that the name the practice has — Bethesda [sometimes ‘Bethsaida’] — is mentioned in the New Testament, specifically, John 5:1-17:

2Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8Jesus said to him,  “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

I said ‘faithful Christians’ above, because they are the most likely to read the Bible in its entirety.  Today, because of the three-year Lectionary, most people aged 35 and younger will not have encountered this story because, for some reason, it is not included as a passage to be read on Sundays or feast days.  Expect to see it, therefore, in an upcoming Forbidden Bible Verses post. (These aren’t banned verses as much as they are, inexplicably, excluded from public worship.)

The painting above, which you can click on to enlarge at Aboutbiblevideos.com, was painted by Carl Heinrich Bloch in 1883.  You can see another of Bloch’s many religious paintings here.

Now back to the story.  One of Dr Scott’s supporters is:

Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, which has 4,000 members including about 2,000 GPs, criticised the GMC.

He said the “clear implication” of the GMC guidelines was that a doctor should be allowed to express his personal beliefs in a way that is “appropriate and sensitive”.

“It does seem to me that the GMC have overreacted by censuring him,” he said.

“All good doctors try to treat their patients as whole persons, not just biochemical machines. That does sometimes include spiritual matters, dealing with questions of meaning and purpose.”

The paper also featured an editorial on the story, fully supporting Dr Scott:

Dr Scott fears that the GMC’s action may eventually lead to his being struck off.

Had he withheld orthodox medical treatment, offering only prayer and the possibility of miracles, Dr Scott might have been a menace to his many non-believing patients (and probably to those who shared his beliefs as well). But that is not what he was doing. All he did was to share his conviction that a commitment to the Christian religion could be one element that contributed to a recovery from illness. If the patients objected, or made it clear that they did not like the turn of the conversation, he dropped the topic. Nevertheless, the mother of one of those with whom he raised it complained. Indeed, she was perfectly entitled to do so – but we cannot see how her complaint can be grounds for the GMC to take action against Dr Scott. After all, no one maintains that he ever forced religion on anyone, or that his faith ever impeded his ability to dispense medical care.

What, then, is the fuss about? The GMC’s excessive reaction is part of a tendency: a number of institutions and companies have, in a misguided attempt to be “multicultural”, banned Christian symbols and overt expressions of faith, something that would never be attempted in the case of other religions. And yet the Christian faith is central to our country’s history and our traditions. Its legacy is visible everywhere. It is right that today, no one expects a person who holds positions of power and responsibility to be a practising Christian. But we appear to be heading towards an alarming situation in which the profession of faith becomes an active disqualification.

The Telegraph opened this editorial to readers’ comments.  On page 2 of the oldest comments, a Margate resident, Aston Walker, wrote in to say that not only was there a clue in the name of the medical practice — Bethesda — but:

The notice is in the waiting area and all the partners are Christians.

I live and work in Margate. The Bethesda is where my family are registered.
Have people forgotten that we are a Christian country, which allows freedom of speech.

I support Dr Scott and what the Bethesda do and offer.

Reader kbo1 rightly points out the Christian origins of European hospitals, dating back to the Middle Ages if not before.  kbo1 adds:

It’s a worrying Stalinist trend, where you can be denounced and fired from your job for not subscribing to the prevailing orthodoxy (in this case atheism).

In closing, many of us will no doubt agree with what responsible has to say:

It is part of Labour’s legacy of socialist soviet totalitarian thought control to promote State rules that benefit the vested interests of people in State funded bodies, above individual freedoms.  The GMC are a medical body with no place in religious matters … 

It reflects the multi-culti, moral equivalance, PC State control and socialist dogma to increase tax and State borrowing to fund State interference in all aspects of life and State dependency.  All funded by huge loans taken by Labour to be repaid by others who do not vote now. 

The values of freedom, equality and fair non-violent rule of law are disappearingThose values were hard won by lives freely given in war against tyrants and dictators.  They are values the civilised West enjoys, and people in other countries now realise are denied them

Sadly, we have not yet reached the point where Westerners are conscious of losing these hard-won rights and liberties.  The West is more than a pool of taxpayers’ money waiting to be raided by all and sundry.  But how many of our fellow citizens steeped in today’s bread and circuses — takeaways and televisual entertainment — are aware of what we are in danger of losing before the decade is out?

My prayers go to Dr Scott in his appeal against the GMC’s reprimand and for the continued success of the Bethesda practice.

Harold ‘Hal’ Camping’s latest prediction is a cautionary tale.  Not only does it make him look foolish (once again), but many vulnerable souls are not only out of a job and out of a house but have broken off some familial ties as a result of his prediction that the world would end on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

What was ‘supposed’ to happen

The Telegraph recapped events for us on the day, one hour after the world was meant to have ended in BST (British Summer Time):

The 89-year-old Californian preacher and radio host had prophesied that the Rapture would begin at 6pm May 21st in each of the world’s time zones, with non-believers wiped out by rolling earthquakers, as the saved ascended into heaven.

His refusal to schedule a media interview for the following day – “It is absolutely going to happen. There is no way that I can schedule an interview because I won’t be here.” – was being replayed by media as the world firmly stayed standing …

Mr Camping’s doomsday prediction wasn’t his first. He blamed an earlier apocalyptic prediction which passed quietly in 1994 on a mathematical error, last month saying: “I’m not embarrassed about it. It was just the fact that it was premature” …

Mr Camping, a retired engineer, spread his message of doom via Family Radio, which has a network of 66 radio stations and online broadcasts.

However websites in the United States reported that not all of those working for the station were so sure, with a receptionist telling journalists that she expected to turn up for work on Monday …

The Rapture – the belief that Christ will bring the faithful into paradise prior to a period of tribulation on Earth that precedes the end of time – is a relatively new notion, rejected by most Christians.

What ended (!) up happening

Three days later, the Telegraph carried this update:

Mr Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife.

His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions – some of it from donations made by followers – on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 vehicles plastered with the Judgment Day message …

Apocalyptic thinking has always been part of American religious life and popular culture. Teachings about the end of the world vary dramatically – even within faith traditions – about how they will occur.

Still, the overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date or time of Jesus’ return can be predicted.

I guess the paper isn’t allowed to say, in case they offend someone, that the Bible tells us no man can predict the day or the hour.  Yet, Camping predicted it rolling out in an orderly fashion whenever it turned 6 p.m. in each time zone.  Hmm.  An interesting theory.

A former Camping follower, TeachingTulip, is now a Calvinist (we’ll come back to this later) and had this to say on the related Puritan Board thread:

My husband and I have known Camping for years, and supported Family Radio until just after the “1994” fiasco.

I remember him saying way back when, that 2011 was in his thinking and might ultimately be the true date of the Lord’s return . . . but we never, ever, heard him teach a partial resurrection or a “RAPTURE” of only some, leaving others behind to suffer tribulations, etc. (supposedly for another “153 days”) until Judgement Day. Both of these things are new, and we just now discover and disclose them as being contrary to Camping’s life-time teachings.

Camping always denied the Pre-millennial notion of a “rapture,” and always used to biblically teach that the “rapture” really referred to the last and final resurrection of all souls. John 5:28-29.

So this is just another spiritual jolt, experienced by his friends and former supporters.

Not excusing an old friend, but not ready to judge, either.

Please people, reduce the ridicule and increase your prayers for this man . . . he is still alive and potentially able to repent from error, if God might so choose to bless with His correcting grace.

Whilst I take on board what this lady is asking, I cannot help but recall the adage when I think of him, ‘There’s no fool like an old fool’ and ‘God shall not be put to the test’. Let’s recap Jesus’s words in Matthew 24, specifically verses 29 to 31 and verse 36 (emphasis mine):

29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

 30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

 31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other …

36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

A Reformed Pastor’s view

Those who read Calvinist sites regularly will be familiar with Dr Kim Riddlebarger, pastor, broadcaster at the White Horse Inn (‘Know what you believe and why you believe it’), author and visiting professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary California.  (Emphases mine throughout in the excerpts below.)

Dr Riddlebarger says that he sees this

as one gigantic mess, which God’s people will be cleaning up for years.  I, for one, am not very sympathetic to Mr. Camping, or to those who follow him.  Here’s why:

1).  He’s done this before.  1994? anyone???  If Camping lives much longer (he’s 89), he’ll likely do this again.  As one of my favorite philosophers, Dirty Harry, once put it when his police superior questioned whether the serial killer (so wonderfully played by Andy Robinson) would continue to kill, Harry replied, “Of course he will.  He likes it.”  You cannot tell me that however Camping came to this particular date for the Lord’s return, and however sincere he might he be in his calculations, that the man does not love the media attention … 

2).  Camping was disciplined by his church, and never once demonstrated the slightest hint of repentance.  When Camping was removed from his office for his unbiblical speculations, Camping’s response was to declare that the church age was over, and that people should leave their churches!Harold Camping is not some grandfatherly old man who has weird views on things (every church has a few of these).  This is a man, who, when he did not get his way, sought to create widescale schism and division in the church.  How can we not conclude that many among his followers are schismatics who have followed their master in his sin?

3).  Camping is not a theological conservative defending the faith, he’s a theological radical, and has a dangerous hermeneutic.  Camping gained a following among Reformed cultural conservatives by defending the view that only men should hold the office of minister, elder and deacon, that evolutionary thought had no place in Christian colleges, and that the rampant immorality of our age cannot go unchallenged nor be accepted by Christians.  Meanwhile, the “conservative” Camping was using some outlandish and distorted hermeneutical method to calculate the day of Christ’s return and telling everyone who would listen that he was right and that anyone who challenged him had no authority to do so.  Since when did theological conservatives attack the perspicuity of Scripture?  Or champion “private interpretation” while mocking the teaching office and disciplinary authority of the church?

4).  Someone  has to say it — the man is a false teacher and a kook.  My sense is that Camping falls within the exhortation given by Paul in Romans 16:17 (and elsewhere) — such people are to be avoided.  Camping is a false teacher, plain and simple.  Anyone who repeatedly pulls the kinds of shenanigans he has should have no credibility.  Non-Christians see him for what he is.  Yet, Christians feel ashamed about calling him out on the same grounds–when Scripture requires that we do so!  Yes, we need to pray for his repentance, and yes, we need to be merciful to those whom he has deceived.  But given the way the man handles God’s word, he is self-edvidently a kook.  He has no business being labeled a “teacher.”  And it is tragic that he has used his vast radio empire to deceive so many.

5).  The only prophecy which will be fulfilled in association with Harold Camping is 2 Peter 3:3!  Scoffers will come, and sadly, Camping has given the scoffers a whole bunch of ammunition.  This is why is is so vital that Christians be clear to everyone who will listen, that despite this man’s false prophecy, the blessed hope awaits all those who are Christ’s, and the day of judgment will come upon those who are not.   This is a serious matter, and Christ will not be mocked.

Those interested may read my recent post for more on 2 Peter 3.

How did Camping get here from there?

For a bit of Camping history, let’s look at the insights of another Reformed pastor’s perspective, that of the Revd Chris Gordon, pastor of the United Reformed Church in Linden, WA, and author of The Gordian Knot blog.

Mr Gordon walks us through the history of Camping’s ministry in ‘Judgment Day, May 21, 2011? Harold Camping & The Untold Story’The story begins in 999, even before Camping’s time:

Predictions of the end had surfaced throughout the first millennium, but as the sun went down New Year’s Eve, the millennial frenzy reached new heights. Possessions were given to the churches, debts were forgiven, prisoners freed, merchants refused payments for goods, and the churches swarmed with people confessing their sins. Many of the sick begged to be placed outdoors to see Christ’s descent from heaven. Pope Sylvester II held a mid-night mass at St. Peter’s in Rome, the supposed last one ever to occur on earth, and in the moments before midnight, as the church bells sounded, enemies embraced each other with the kiss of peace. As the moments into the new millennium transpired, nothing happened.  The aftermath left behind a wake of disillusionment, especially when churches refused to return people’s possessions.

Fast-forwarding to the last century for a bit of Camping’s story, here’s where Calvinism enters the frame.  The CRC is a Dutch Reformed denomination:

Harold Egbert Camping was born July 19, 1921 in Boulder, CO. His family later relocated to the Bay Area in California and became members of the Alameda Bible Fellowship (CRC). After World War II, Camping founded his own construction company, later to sell the company and join in a collaborative effort to purchase Family Stations, Inc.—a California religious based broadcasting network. Following a series of business deals and a mounting multi-million dollar surplus, Camping was able to expand Family Radio throughout the United States, also buying time on foreign stations around the world, translating his teaching into over thirty foreign languages. In 1961 Camping started the Open Forum, a weeknight call-in program devoted to answering questions about the Bible. Camping soon gained a Reformed voice over radio that was widely influential in the Christian world.  Reformed believers, excited that the doctrines of grace and hymns could actually be heard on a radio station, sent in thousands of dollars to support the efforts of Camping. Many people who had never heard of Calvinism and the Reformed doctrines were brought to faith in Christ through the teachings of Family Radio. 

Camping was also involved in the Alameda CRC as an elder and later an adult Sunday school teacher … The problems began, however, sometime before 1988 when Camping began to advance the idea that one could know from the Bible when Christ would return. When challenged that “no man knows the day nor the hour”, Camping was known for responding, “yes, but we can know the month and the year.”[1] In 1992 Camping self-published his controversial book “1994?”, in which he suggested the possibility that Christ would return sometime between September 15th and 27th of that year, dates corresponding to the Feast of Tabernacles.[2] Camping would soon, unashamedly, predict September 6, 1994 as the date of Christ’s return.

Then, Camping predicted the end of the Church.

“Sometime earlier” wrote Camping, “God was finished using the churches to represent the kingdom of God.”[3] In his book “We Are Almost There!” we find that Camping chose the date of May 21, 1988 for the end of the church age.[4]

And that was the date when the Alameda CRC removed Camping from instructing their adult Sunday School.

Is it not the least bit suspect that Camping would later declare that the Holy Spirit was removed from the church beginning on May 21, 1988, the very same period Camping himself was removed from teaching “in” the church? And is it not alarming that Camping now “outside” of the church would declare, soon after his own departure, that anyone still identified with any church is now under the judgment of God? In legal terms, I think it’s safe to say we have motive.

Camping’s followers were numerous:

This is a severe warning of what can happen to those who reject the elders who rule with the authority of Christ. Over forty percent of the Alameda CRC, many of whom were employed by Family Radio, “went out” from the church and subsequently started their own “fellowship”.

Six years later:

People sold their homes, gave their money to Family Radio, and gathered together as they waited for Christ to come that year. As the date passed, hopes were dashed and the next day Camping was unrepentant over the radio, stating that he had made an error in his calculations …

Then (and now):

In a scheme that rivals C.I. Scofield’s dispensationalism, Camping’s teachings are again inflicting fear and confusion upon many in the church. If anyone is to be saved, declares Camping, he must be saved “outside” the church since God has rejected anyone “identified with any church”.[7] What became of the ordinances of the church?  Camping declared that since the church age ended and people were to leave the churches, the sacraments were also to be discontinued—an astonishing claim since the church is commanded to observe them until Christ comes (1 Cor. 11:26).

We now move to an in-depth theological perspective from Dr W Robert Godfrey of Westminster Seminary California:

Camping’s teaching reaches the status of heresy in his recent appeal to the world, “Judgment Day,” an eight page statement online. The saddest and most distressing element of Camping’s latest theological statement is that it is Christless. He does not write about Christ’s return, but about judgment day. In his eight pages of warning and call for repentance he writes only this of Christ: “Because God is so great and glorious He calls Himself by many different names. Each name tells us something about the glorious character and nature of God. Thus in the Bible we find such names as God, Jehovah, Christ, Jesus, Lord, Allah, Holy Spirit, Savior, etc. Names such as Jehovah, Jesus, Savior, and Christ particularly point to God as the only means by which forgiveness from all of our sins and eternal life can be obtained by God’s merciful and glorious actions.” Notice that Camping says nothing of the Trinity, writing as if Christ and the Holy Spirit are not distinct persons of the Trinity, but just different names for God. If Camping means this, then he is not a Trinitarian, but has adopted the ancient heresy of modalism. Notice also that there is no mention of the cross and Christ’s saving work for sinners. Forgiveness is nowhere linked to the work of the incarnate Christ. For Camping the mercy of God comes simply to the repentant. He never mentions faith in Christ. He also makes clear that those who cry for mercy might be saved. He offers no assurance of salvation: “Nevertheless, the Bible assures us that many of the people who do beg God for His mercy will not be destroyed.” Notice that not all, but only many who repent will be saved.

Camping’s presentation of God’s mercy is from beginning to end unbiblical and unchristian. He has no Trinity, no cross, no faith alone in Jesus alone, and no assurance. His vision of God and mercy is more Muslim than Christian. If Camping still believes in the Trinity, in Jesus and his cross, and in justification by faith alone, then his recent teaching shows that he is a failure as a teacher of the Gospel and his call to repentance lacks enough content for sinners to find salvation in Jesus.

And, perhaps it is this which attracted so many vulnerable people to the May 21, 2011 date.  Largely, today, the Cross is almost forgotten, and people like it that way.  Yet, without it, Christianity loses its meaning.  However, for a Western society steeped in New Age talking points, one can see the sad, erroneous logic in all of this.

Again, read Scripture, pray, find a good church, confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour and remember His perfect sacrifice for our sins … but by no means put your faith in charlatans.  And that’s the Gospel Truth.

Speaking of Spain, in the week running up to their local elections, tensions ran high as tens of thousands of people protested around the country over the state of the economy.

The Telegraph reported:

Spain’s unemployment level has hit 21 per cent, more than twice the EU average.

Large groups have staged sit-ins in plazas across Spain all week, in the run-up to election day, with the biggest gathering in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol …

An estimated 30,000 people gathered there on Saturday night and smaller crowds were seen in Barcelona, Seville and other cities across Spain.

They defied a ban by the election commission that ruled against holding political gatherings on the day before an election, and on Sunday, as polling stations opened in 13 of Spain’s 17 regions and 8,000 municipalities, organisers in Sol voted to continue their protest for another week.

The demonstrators, who call themselves “Los indignados” – the indignant ones – began gathering May 15 in a swelling movement known variously as “M-15”, “Spanish Revolution” and “Real Democracy Now”.

Inspired by the Arab Spring movement in north Africa, protests swelled as word spread on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The majority are young people whose patience has run out as they face a bleak future in a country where youth unemployment stands at 45 per cent …

The protests have been peaceful, with police on standby but unwilling to break up the demonstrations. Demonstrations came as a surprise to the main political parties whose last week of campaigning was overshadowed …

As with the North African uprisings — it’s too early for me to call them a ‘revolution’ — I’m sceptical as to whether this was genuine or engineered from behind the scenes.  I don’t doubt that the Spaniards are upset — the same economic situation is occurring in varying degrees throughout Europe — I’m just wondering if someone or something outside of Spain set the wheels in motion.

In any event, immigration is also bound up with this, as can be seen from this 30-second election advert for the Catalonian nationalist party, Plataforma per Catalunya.  This video encapsulates what many, including younger, Spanish residents in and around Socialist-controlled Barcelona see as a vision of the future.  You won’t need the sound to watch it:

As I write on May 23, 2011, 80% of the votes had been countedThe Telegraph takes up the story:

The Socialists lost municipal strongholds Barcelona and Seville as well as the Castilla-La Mancha region where they have ruled for 28 years, and could end up with clear control of only two or three of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions.

The centre-right opposition Popular Party, or PP, had a 10 point lead in the aggregate nationwide vote, the worst defeat for the Socialists in municipal polls since Spain returned to democracy in 1978 after the Francisco Franco dictatorship.

“These results have a clear relation to the economic crisis we’ve suffered for three years… I know that many Spaniards are going through great difficulties and fear for their jobs and future well being,” Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the socialist prime minister, said in a brief news conference …

Spain’s economy has barely emerged from recession and tepid growth has been aggravated by austerity measures. Almost half of Spaniards aged 18-25 are out of work, more than double the European Union average.

Another Telegraph article explains:

The left leaning daily El Pais described the defeat as “a tsunami drowning the socialists”.

The run-up to elections had seen mass protesting by a mainly youth crowd who took over city squares across the nation. On Sunday they pledged to continue their demonstrations for at least another week …

Overall participation was up two points from the last elections four years ago with more than 66 per cent of the 34 million eligible voters casting ballots. The Socialists captured just 27.79 per cent of the total compared to 37.53 per cent for the PP.

Speculation grows as to whether Zapatero will be asked to stand down and/or call an early general election.  He has already stated he would not seek a third term in office.

Europeans are unhappy campers at the moment and, as we shall see in future posts, who can blame them?

The alleged slayer of retired Englishwoman Jennifer Mills-Westley is probably not a Christian, despite misleading newspaper reports.  The Telegraph briefly touches on linking Deyan Valentinov Deyanov, a 28-year-old Bulgarian, to the heresy of Bogomilism, but never ties the strands together.

It’s a bit like saying Josef Stalin was Russian Orthodox all his life because he attended seminary and Adolf Hitler was a practising Catholic because that was the church in which he was raised. Ditto Deyanov with his deranged references to God and Jesus. This leaves the average person thinking, ‘Those Christians are nutters’.

First, the story, which shocked not only people in the Canary Islands, but the Spanish and British as well.  N.B.: If you have children looking over your shoulder or are of a sensitive disposition, please skip this post.

The Telegraph describes this gruesome attack, which took place on Friday, May 13, 2011 (emphases in bold mine):

The retired 60-year-old from Norwich was stabbed to death and beheaded in the horrific attack on Friday.

She alerted a security guard in the social security office that she had been subjected to “threatening behaviour” from an unwashed vagrant.

Her tormentor, a 28-year-old homeless man called Deyan Valentinov Deyanov, was well known in the popular holiday resort for his unpredictable and sometimes violent behaviour

It is unclear whether the Briton, a 60-year-old retired road safety officer from Norwich, was aware of the man’s dangerous reputation. After a few minutes Deyanov left and the danger seemed to have passed.

At about 10.15 on Friday morning Mrs Mills-Westley left the office doorway and walked to a Chinese-run discount store next door. Tragically, she there encountered Deyanov again and he attacked her, with grisly consequences.

Mrs Mills-Westley, who divided her time between Tenerife, Norfolk and France, was hacked to death by the Bulgarian, who reportedly claimed to be “a prophet of God” as he carried out the frenzied attack …

Deyanov had left a psychiatric unit where he was reportedly being treated for paranoid schizophrenia in February …

Before her retirement Mrs Mills-Westley gave cycling safety training to schoolchildren in Norfolk, and also worked on other road safety projects.

In Los Cristianos, at the southern tip of the Canary Islands, eyewitnesses described the scene of the crime as “something out of a horror movie”.

Colin Kirby, a British expatriate working at the Tenerife Magazine said: “I thought someone had fainted and walked on, then I heard screaming and looked behind and saw a scruffy, unkempt man in his mid 20s holding a head by the hair

Another witness told how he saw the man drop a bloodstained woman’s head on the pavement after coming out of the shop …

Dominica Fernandez, a government official, said the suspect had “chosen his victim by chance”. Deyanov was known to be sleeping rough in the streets and in an abandoned house in the resort.

Last night at the filthy location, there was still a Bible and a shrine made out of breeze blocks among scattered possessions. Deyanov was being held at the police station in nearby resort of Playa de Las Americas …

More details emerged on May 16 (CCTV picture of the man at the link):

Deyan Valentinov Deyanov, a 28-year-old Bulgarian, asked the store owner in Tenerife for a large knife and was caught on security camera spreading his arms to demonstrate the size he required.

When asked what he needed it for he said “I’m going to kill someone”, and drew a finger across his throat.

The shopkeeper, who said he recognised the man as a vagrant who slept in a derelict building nearby, refused his request and threw him out of the shop.

Within half an hour, Deyanov had entered another supermarket where he encountered Jennifer Mills-Westley, grabbed a knife from the shelf and cut off her head in a random attack …

Locals said Deyanov had become increasingly aggressive in recent weeks after splitting up with his girlfriend.

As recently as February, when he was discharged from a psychiatric hospital, he had told police that “in God’s name” he was “planning something big”

Others said he was a habitual user of marijuana and was often seen muttering to himself. In one incident he attacked a security guard who was patrolling the beach area, knocking out three teeth.

A shopkeeper described how on the morning of the attack the Bulgarian borrowed a pen to scrawl a note, and wrote: “I am God”. The security video footage shows the man searching the shelves of the hardware section of the supermarket on the seafront in Los Cristianos.

The visit to the shop was at around 10am on Friday. By 10.25am Mrs Mills-Westley … was dead.

Witnesses at the Chinese-run discount supermarket in the Valdes shopping centre … said he had severed her head with a long, thin, very sharp blade, the traditional knife used for carving Spanish ham.

After the attack, involving at least 14 blows of the knife, he severed her head and ran with it from the store carrying it by the hair. Police are examining the footage …

Among the piles of rubbish and old mattresses [in his squat] he had fashioned a makeshift shrine out of breeze blocks and made an icon of Jesus.

On May 17, it emerged that the suspect had lived in Edinburgh before moving to the Canaries:

His former flatmate in the Leith area of the city, Vlad Chmurny, 36, from Slovakia, said Deyan Deyanov, spent hours smoking drugs and “weeping” over his lack of friends.

Mr Chmurny said the Bulgarian left Scotland about a year ago after losing his job in the construction industry, before turning up unannounced three months ago, when he refused to allow him to stay …

Meanwhile in Tenerife, a security guard who was attacked by 28-year-old Deyanov four months ago, spoke about his ordeal.

Fermin Suarez Perez, 45, who lost three front teeth in the unprovoked assault, questioned how it was possible that his assailant had been freed to roam the streets just five days later

Mr Suarez, a former soldier in the Spanish military, said: “He ran up to me with a rock in his hands and tried to smash it into my head”

Deyanov, from the northern Bulgarian town of Ruse, was arrested the same day, but was freed on bail by a magistrate after spending five days in a psychiatric hospital …

It emerged that Deyanov, who has a three year old daughter living in Bulgaria, was obsessed with a medieval Christian sect known as Bogomilism. One of the tenets of the dualist religion, which was founded by the priest Bogomil in tenth century Bulgaria, was that the world was created by the Devil.

Before getting to Bogomilism, I have begun glancing over the discussion page whenever I peruse a Wikipedia article.  I found it particularly fascinating that this heretical perversion of Christianity appears to have so many defenders.  See for yourself.  Also, if you click on the map at the top of this post, you’ll be able to note the link to the Cathars, Albigenses and Waldenses, people who later turned to the Reformed churches.  This might partly explain why there is so much Catholic distrust of Calvinists in France and Italy.  There may be something deeper than the Reformation going on here.  This is a sensitive topic, especially when one reads Huguenot (Calvinist) histories of these mountain dwellers which present them as being martyrs for the faith.  I remain neutral on this but welcome contributions in the comments.

About Bogomilism, of which I’d never heard, Wikipedia says:

Bogomilism was a Gnostic religiopolitical sect founded in the First Bulgarian Empire by the priest Bogomil during the reign of Tsar Petar I in 10th century.[1][2][3] It most probably arose in what is today the region of Macedonia[4][5] as a response to the social stratification that occurred as a result of the introduction of feudalism and as a form of political movement and opposition to the Bulgarian state and the church.

The Bogomils called for a return to early Christianity, rejecting the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and their primary political tendencies were resistance to the state and church authorities. This helped the movement spread quickly in the Balkans, gradually expanding throughout the Byzantine Empire and later reaching Kievan Rus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dalmatia, Italy, France, and to a lesser extent the rest of Western Europe (even as far as the British Isles).

The Bogomils were dualists in that they believed the world was created not by the Abrahamic God, but by an evil demiurge — the Devil. They did not use the cross nor build churches, preferring to perform rituals outdoors.

The article is quite long — and most interesting.  You’ll find out all sorts of fascinating facts, so it’s worth grabbing a cuppa and a few biscuits.  Highlights include the following:

The term Bogomil in free translation means “dear to God”, and ultimately derives from the Proto-Slavic *bogъ (“God”) and *milъ (“dear”). It is difficult to ascertain whether the name was taken from the reputed founder of that movement, the priest Bogomil, or whether he assumed that name after it had been given to the sect itself. The word is an Old Church Slavonic calque of Massaliani, the Syriac name of the sect corresponding to the Greek Euchites. The Bogomils are identified with the Massaliani in Slavonic documents from the 13th century …

The now defunct Gnostic social-religious movement and doctrine originated in the time of Peter I of Bulgaria (927 – 969) as a reaction against state and clerical oppression of Byzantine church. In spite of all measures of repression, it remained strong and popular until the fall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the end of the 14th century.

Bogomilism is the first significant Balkan heresy that came about in the first quarter of the 10th century

The constant change of authority over these lands, and the higher taxes during the time of Tsar Peter I, gave birth to a great social discontent at the beginning of the 10th century. Moreover, the corruption of the church as an institution, led to the grave disappointment among its recently converted flock.

The existence of older Christian heresies in the Bulgarian lands (Manichaeism and Paulicianism), which were considered very dualistic, influenced the Bogomil movement. Manichaeism’s origin is related to Zoroastrianism; that is why Bogomilism is sometimes indirectly connected to Zoroastrianism in the sense of its duality …

The Bogomils had a system of altered traditional orthodox beliefs and rituals. The essence behind their teaching was a dualistic doctrine that the world is divided by God and Satan (good and evil). God rules with the spiritual part of the world, and Satan with the material. They regarded every material being to be work of Satan, and therefore sinful. They also opposed established forms of government and church, which brings them close to modern anarchists

They had accepted the teaching of Paul of Samosata, though at a later period the name of Paul was believed to be that of the Apostle; and they were not quite free from the Dualistic principle of the Gnostics

As with other heresies, we see once again the fine line between truth and error and an interesting role for Satan.  We also see the use of magic rituals as well as the rejection of possessions and pleasure (a bit like today’s secular pietists):

The Bogomils taught that God had two sons, the elder Satanail and the younger Michael. The elder son rebelled against the father and became the evil spirit. After his fall he created the lower heavens and the earth and tried in vain to create man; in the end he had to appeal to God for the Spirit. After creation Adam was allowed to till the ground on condition that he sold himself and his posterity to the owner of the earth. Then Michael was sent in the form of a man; he became identified with Jesus, and was “elected” by God after the baptism in the Jordan. When the Holy Ghost (again Michael) appeared in the shape of the dove, Jesus received power to break the covenant in the form of a clay tablet (hierographon) held by Satanail from Adam. He had now become the angel Michael in a human form; as such he vanquished Satanail, and deprived him of the termination -il = God, in which his power resided. Satanail was thus transformed into Satan. Through his machinations the crucifixion took place, and Satan was the originator of the whole Orthodox community with its churches, vestments, ceremonies, sacraments and fasts, with its monks and priests. This world being the work of Satan, the perfect must eschew any and every excess of its pleasure. But the Bogomils did not go as far as to recommend asceticism.

They held the “Lord’s Prayer” in high respect as the most potent weapon against Satan, and had a number of conjurations against “evil spirits.” Each community had its own twelve “apostles,” and women could be raised to the rank of “elect.” The Bogomils wore garments like mendicant friars and were known as keen missionaries, traveling far and wide to propagate their doctrines. Healing the sick and exorcising the evil spirit, they traversed different countries and spread their apocryphal literature along with some of the books of the Old Testament, deeply influencing the religious spirit of the nations, and preparing them for the Reformation. They accepted the four Gospels, fourteen Epistles of Paul, the three Epistles of John, James, Jude, and an Epistle to the Laodiceans, which they professed to have. They sowed the seeds of a rich, popular religious literature in the East as well as the West. The Historiated Bible, the Letter from Heaven, the Wanderings through Heaven and Hell, the numerous Adam and Cross legends, the religious poems of the “Kaliki perehozhie” and other similar productions owe their dissemination to a large extent to the activity of the Bogomils of Bulgaria, and their successors in other lands.

The essence of Bogomilism is the duality in the creation of the world. This is exactly why it is considered a heresy. Bogomils explained the earthly sinful corporeal life as a creation of Satan, an angel that was sent to Earth. Due to this duality, their doctrine undervalues everything that is created with materialistic and governmental goals and that does not come from the soul, the only divine possession of the human. Therefore, the established Church, the state, and the hierarchy is totally undermined by Bogomilism. Its followers refuse to pay taxes, to work in serfdom, or to fight in conquering wars. The feudal social system was disregarded, which on its part was understood as suggesting disorder and propelling destruction for the state, the church by its progenitors, that ultimately eradicated the bogomils.

St. Paul had taught that simpleminded men should instruct one another; therefore they elected their “teachers” from among themselves to be their spiritual guides, and had no special priests. There is a tradition that the Bogomils taught that prayers were to be said in private houses, not in separate buildings such as churches.  Ordination was conferred by the congregation and not by any specially appointed minister. The congregation were the “elect,” and each member could obtain the perfection of Christ and become a Christ or “Chuist.” Marriage was not a sacrament. Scholars agree on that Bogomils refused to fast on Mondays and Fridays, and that they rejected monasticism. It is also held that they declared Christ to be the Son of God only through grace like other prophets, and that the bread and wine of the eucharist were not physically transformed into flesh and blood; that the last judgment would be executed by God and not by Jesus; that the images and the cross were idols and the veneration of saints and relics idolatry

The Legend of Saint Gerard discloses that followers of Bulgarian Bogomilism were present during the early 11th century … They invoked Archangel Uriel, whose name is common in amulets and magic rituals.

As for their the spread of their influence and coming under the attention of the established Church:

The popes in Rome whilst leading the Crusade against the Albigenses did not forget their counterpart in the Balkans and recommended the annihilation of the heretics

The Bogomils were the connecting link between the so-called heretical sects of the East and those of the West.[citation needed] They were, moreover, the most active agents in disseminating such teachings in Kievan Rus’ and among all the nations of Europe. In the 12th and 13th century, the Bogomils were already known in the West as “Cathars” or in other places as “Bulgari”, i.e. Bulgarians (българи). In 1207 the Bulgarorum heresis is mentioned. In 1223 the Albigenses are declared to be the local Bougres, and in the same period mention is made of the “Pope of the Albigenses who resided within the confines of Bulgaria” (see also Nicetas, Bogomil bishop). The Cathars and Patarenes, the Waldenses, the Anabaptists, and in Russia the Strigolniki, Molokani and Doukhobors, have all at different times been either identified with the Bogomils or closely connected with them.

They are also connected with the term ‘buggery’:

An English profanity and the name of a crime emerged from reports of the Bogomils by the Catholic Church. The words “bugger” and “buggery” emerged, by way of the word “bougre” in French, from “Bulgar” (Bulgarian), which was understood to mean the Bogomils, who were believed to be devoted to the practice of sodomy.[8] “Buggery” first appears in English in 1330, though “bugger” in a sexual sense is not recorded until 1555.

Hmm.  Just as an aside, there still exists in France today the expression ‘bon bougre‘, or ‘good old boy’ — a well-intentioned country bumpkin or hillbilly.

Recently, I cancelled a subscription to a travel magazine which began featuring an increasing number of articles on the Cathar region.  I had read elsewhere this year — in an offline publication — about a few secret weekend rituals still performed in the region which attract people from all over Europe as participants.  Very strange.  The article said that these weekends away have initiation rites and that one leaves a ‘completely different person’.

On Balkan religious practice, I do remember my mother and paternal grandmother being rather suspicious of people from those countries, advising me to check what religion they practiced before making friends with them.  Now and then, we met Displaced Persons (‘DPs’) who were resettled in the United States after the Second World War.  If they were Orthodox or Roman Catholic, as all of the ones we met were, there was no problem. However, I was advised to avoid people who adhered to ‘sects’.  It seems that the women of my family might well have had Bogomilism and its offshoots in mind.

Be that as it may, it wouldn’t surprise me if more of the ancient heresies resurfaced in pure form  — to get back to one’s European ‘roots’, as it were.

Over the past few days, Churchmouse Campanologist has covered the sensitive topic of sexuality in marriage.

However, there is more to marriage than sex.  When I was growing up, like many over-40’s, I had the opportunity to visit many souvenir shops in the US, with all their many kitschy trinkets and small wall-mounted plaques.

One of these — available everywhere then — was a small square of wood on which was appliquéd the saying ‘Kissin’ don’t last, cookin’ do’.  Today, many people find this offensive, yet, those who have been married for any length of time find, to their amazement, that they are not always in the mood for romance.  The frequency of sexual congress might well decline occasionally with the pressures of work, children or crises involving extended family.  It’s at that time when a couple’s friendship and emotional attachment keep them together.

General advice

After nearly 20 years of marriage, this is why the most important advice I can give a couple is to marry your best friend.  You don’t have to agree 100% on everything, but you do need to view life in the same way and find the greatest pleasure in each other’s company.

Have you had the same type of upbringing as your future spouse?  A similar type of schooling, religious upbringing, personal standard and level of intelligence put us on more of an equal footing.  There are always exceptions, but, by and large, the chances for conflict are considerably fewer.

Are you ready to honour your spouse and to build a life together? Often, people who are too tied to their parents or their siblings find that they cannot focus on their spouse.  Naturally, the neglected spouse says, ‘Remind me again why we got married.’ One’s spouse comes first.  Yes, we still honour our parents, but, in general, our own household responsibilities take priority.  As for siblings, there might be times when we have to say ‘no’ to certain family requests if they have the potential for creating conflict in our marriages.

Do you want to remake your spouse into something s/he isn’t — and never will be? This tends to affect women more than men (although some men are also guilty of indulging certain habits before marriage then work hard later on at getting their wives to change).  We cannot change our partner, so if they’re sloppy, inelegant or unsuitable in some way before marriage, they’re likely to be the same after we tie the knot.  If we are preoccupied with their personal habits or characteristics during courtship, let that be a red flag to gently break off the relationship.

Do you share the same perspectives on children and money? Some couples marry without thorougly discussing these topics.  I have known a few where I could see right away that problems would not be long in coming: one wants children straight away, the other doesn’t; one is concerned about financial security, the other isn’t; one likes to plan in advance, the other prefers to do things on the hop.  In each case, they said, ‘We never really discussed it.’  Yet, a proper church-sponsored course before marriage will get couples asking the difficult questions.  I remember a young couple from New England who said they were amazed at the depth of their Roman Catholic Pre-Cana course in the 1980s.  The woman told me, ‘The arguments people had! My husband and I sat on the sidelines watching them unfold.  We’d already talked about family planning and money management.  Yet, it turned out that some of the men had gambling problems their fiancées were unaware of, some women were shopping addicts, some couples disagreed on child-rearing.  It amazed us that they hadn’t thought to explore these topics before they got to the course.’

Advice for women — true stories

The overbearing mother-in-law.  About 30 years ago, I knew a young couple who had been married for just a few years.  Both had good jobs.  It was the second marriage for him and the first for her.  Although the wife loved her husband very much, she and her mother had perhaps too strong an attachment to each other.  Her mother travelled cross-country to visit for a week every few months.  Naturally, she stayed with the couple.  Being rather chatty, she said whatever came to mind.  One evening, after the husband returned home from work, the mother started a polemic on which of them her daughter preferred.  The husband asked, ‘Why are we even discussing this?’  His mother-in-law replied, ‘Because, if push came to shove, my daughter would choose me over you any day.’  A year later, the couple divorced; he had found someone else.  Ladies, understand that men prefer to keep a certain distance from their mothers-in-law, no matter how nice, so please limit their visits to your marital home and try not to ‘go home to Mother’ too often!

Evenings are for your husband — not your girlfriends. When your husband gets home, he is looking forward to being with you, not enduring a load of phone calls from your mates!  Set a rule with your friends that, unless it’s an emergency, you don’t take calls after 6 p.m.  See them on a Saturday or make arrangements in advance — with prior agreement with your husband — to go out one evening every now and then.

If your intended isn’t ‘man’ enough for you, don’t marry him.  I knew a woman who had been ‘on the shelf’ for a long time.  She and her sisters grew up in a culture where marriage and children were expected, yet she was pushing 40 with no prospects.  I knew her husband only through conversations she had with him while she was at work.  This guy couldn’t do a thing right, whether it was cutting a sandwich in two, picking up the kids from crèche or getting dressed in the morning.  ‘He’s hopeless’, ‘He has bad taste in clothes’, ‘He just doesn’t think’ — the list went on and on.  She bawled him out on the phone every afternoon.  Finally, we saw a photo of him: ‘Just ignore him, he’s not very handsome — just look at me and the kids’.  (Not that this woman was any oil painting — or genius — by the way.) He was perfectly normal and pleasant looking.  Much to our surprise, he was twice her size.  If his temperament had been different, he could have biffed her and knocked her unconscious.  I wanted to say, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are, missus’, but didn’t.  It seems to me he’s staying with her for the sake of the children.

The unexpected pregnancy.  I knew one husband who really did not want children for the first few years of his marriage because of job insecurity.  His wife really wanted them, but to please him and tie the knot, she agreed to delay childbearing.  Her family planning measures were working out for them until, suddenly one day, she joyfully announced the positive result of her pregnancy test.  He was floored — words failed him.  ‘Aren’t you happy?  I’m thrilled!’ she said.  Their son is now ready to enter university, and, of course, his father loves him dearly.  However, he still wonders how it happened.  A fluke?  Or did she stop the contraception without telling him?  ‘I knew our lives would change dramatically and they did. It’s meant a lot more worry for me financially.’  Ladies, be honest with your man.  If you really want children immediately, discuss this matter thoroughly beforehand.  Don’t leave your husband questioning your integrity.  He might wonder what else you’ve concealed from him.

Remarrying too soon after widowhood.  Another woman I knew became a widow in her 50s.  Her children were grown. She’d always spoken of her late husband in glowing terms yet, less than a year after his death, she was already planning her second marriage.  It seemed the physical side of things was extraordinary.  She could hardly wait for the big day.  Unfortunately, things went pear-shaped for her soon after they took their vows in a registry office.  Husband No. 2, a charmer during courtship, turned out to be physically and emotionally abusive.  That marriage lasted less than a year.  The third time around, she was more prudent and has been married to Husband No. 3 for over 20 years.

Conclusion — with some words to live by

Bottom line — self-discipline, discernment and quiet reflection will help us make the right choice in marriage.  Yes, there are different stages — the youthful honeymoon period, the stressful working years, the family illnesses and deaths and the subsequent reawakening of one’s love for each other.

What follows is advice from pastors and Christian authors on the ordinance of Holy Matrimony:

Husbands and wives, recognize that in marriage you have become one flesh. If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making a marriage after the image of Christ and His church. — John Piper

Marriage itself is consummated with the literal bodily union of husband and wife. From that point on, the husband should regard the wife as his own flesh. If she hurts, he ought to feel the pain. If she has needs, he should embrace those needs as his own. He should seek to feel what she feels, desire what she desires, and in effect, give her the same care and consideration he gives his own body. — John MacArthur

As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two. — Thomas Adams

Also:

The ultimate thing we can say about marriage is that it exists for God’s glory. That is, it exists to display God. Now we see how: Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to His redeemed people, the church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and His church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married. If you hope to be, that should be your dream. — John Piper

The first negative judgment we find in Holy Writ is a judgment on loneliness. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” — R C Sproul

Marriage has all kinds of purposes: it provides the environment in which children may be born and properly reared. It provides the context in which the sexual instincts can be exercised in a God-intended way. But first and foremost, Genesis teaches us, it provides a very special friendship. In marriage a man and a woman can become the best of friends, knowing each other to such a depth that only God knows them better! This, too, is a gift from the Creator. — Sinclair Ferguson

And:

To take an unbeliever to wife, to bring into that family circle, in the key role of wife and mother, a woman who does not love God or know his salvation, who does not reverence his Word and law, is to violate the very purpose of a family and render it incapable of being and doing what it has been created for… He made the family, the godly family the instrument of his grace in the children’s lives. But a spiritually mixed marriage injects poison into the children’s milk. — Robert Rayburn

A Christian is bound, by virtue of his oath of allegiance to God in baptism, not to have intimate converse with such as are God’s sworn enemies…The bad will sooner corrupt the good, than the good will convert the bad.  Pharaoh taught Joseph to swear, but Joseph did not teach Pharaoh to pray. — Thomas Watson

When we claim to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and then willfully choose to unite ourselves with an unbeliever in the most intimate personal union on earth we profane the holiness of God. We act as though our emotional drive for human intimacy is more important than affirming the preciousness of God’s holiness and nearness. — John Piper

Finally, in case things go wrong:

1/ First, make a full list of all the things that you have been doing wrong in your marriage.

2/ Second, confess your sins in repentance to God.

3/ Third, determine to change according to Biblical precepts and examples, and write out specific proposals next to each item on the list.

4/ Fourth, go humbly to your husband or wife…and admit your sins against them, telling them that you have sought and found God’s forgiveness and now desire theirs.

5/ Fifth, having received forgiveness, seek to rectify any wrongs immediately whenever that is possible.    — Jay E Adams

Remember still that you are both diseased persons, full of infirmities; and therefore expect the fruit of those infirmities in each other; and make not a strange matter of it, as if you had never known of it before. If you had married one that is lame, would you be angry at her for [limping]? Or if you had married one that had a putrid ulcer, would you fall out with her because it stinketh? Did you not know beforehand, that you married a person of such weakness, as would yield you some manner of daily trial and offense? If you could not bear this, you should not have married her; if you resolved that you could bear it then, you are obliged to bear it now. Resolve therefore to bear with one another; as remembering that you took one another as sinful, frail, imperfect, persons, not as angels, or as blameless and perfect. — Richard Baxter

In every marriage that ends in disaster, some stupid decisions were made with respect to God’s regulations. If God’s regulations were followed scrupulously, not only would there be no divorces; there would be no unhappy marriages. To violate the regulations of God is not only an exercise in disobedience but also an exercise in foolishness. If you want a happy marriage, the most intelligent thing you can do is to submit to God’s regulations. They are designed to promote and protect your full happiness. — R C Sproul

For those needing further resources, see:

‘Biblical principles for successful marriage’Abounding Joy

‘Practical tips for marriage enrichment’Abounding Joy

‘Why older couples break up’Daily Mail

Marriage Builders® Forms and Questionnaires

If film and restaurant reviews help people make more informed choices, why don’t more of us who sample worship in various churches — whether near or far — write up reviews of what we have witnessed?

Our impressions could only serve to highlight the good, the bad and the downright ugly.  I haven’t been in a position to review churches for a couple of years, but I do appreciate those who do.  So, I am pleased to bring you one such critique from Reformation Anglicanism, written by the redoubtable Donald Philip Veitch, a retired chaplain who served in the United States Marine Corps and the Navy.

The excerpts from ‘My recent experience in a Pentecostalist Hothouse’ demonstrate why those of us who have grown up with and value a beautiful, structured liturgy find a Pentecostal service puzzling. We believe that God is to be loved and awed as our Creator and Father.  As such, we see no place for strong emotions but rather dignity — as best as depraved men can manage — in His presence.

A few Charismatics have commented on my blog from time to time asking why everyone isn’t a  Pentecostal, seeing what personal joy it brings.  Yet, those of us who grew up with liturgical services and confessions of faith (including the Anglican 39 Articles of Religion) learn that worship is not about us and our feelings but the one, true, sovereign God of the Bible.

Without further ado, I present you with excerpts from Mr Veitch’s church review of Rivers of Life (ROL), 1940 Gum Branch, Jacksonville, NC.  It’s also worth explaining that Mr Veitch undertook this assignment as part of continuing theological learning for a course he is taking, REL211, where students were required to write a paper concerning Acts 2.42-47.  If you enjoy reading about worship, please read his excellent blog post in full.  Emphases in bold are mine, apart from the conclusion.

Rivers of Life (ROF) or Rolling on the Floor

The church appears to have several pastors, although a Mr. and Mrs. Chris and Miriam Phillips are the “Senior Pastors.” According to a service bulletin, they draw 1200 per Sunday over three services: 8, 10 and 12 A.M. Rivers of Life warrants close analysis, this Pentecostalist hothouse.

Context

Some contextual observations are made. Upon arrival, the parking lot was packed. Security personnel directed incoming and outgoing traffic. The security personnel appeared to have communication devices associated with Secret Service and law enforcement agents, that is, circular-corded ear-pieces while speaking into devices on/around the wrists. The building is rectangular with a beige-stucco-exterior. A light-green “Dove” is affixed to façade … Greeters glad-hand attendees with words of welcome. In the pre-theatre period (before the service), everyone—in one combination or another—stands, talks, laughs, backslaps and mingles about. It is chatty and chummy. By assumption, this may be what they probably call “fellowship,” or, κοινωνίᾳ … Oddly, the man next to me had his security device as he spoke quietly to his wrist. The man to my right, as I would learn after the service, was a 1st LT, USMC, a battalion adjutant. The service was 106 minutes long. As a service, it lacked all the difficulties, challenges, austerity, and demands (e.g. thinking) associated with my background in Confessional Presbyterianism and Prayer Book Anglicanism—those generations of demure and rational types. ROF was a stark contrast.

A Brief Look at Acts 2.42

Acts 2.42: … “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” … The question at bar: Did this service, or does ROF, reflect “devotedness” and “steadfastness” in these four areas of apostolic doctrine (teaching), fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. In short, “apostolic doctrine” would not describe the service. As to “prayers” (plural), there was one. As to the Lord’s supper, that was promised in the few weeks to follow. As to koinonia, that was impossible to assess.

The Worship Service Itself

Although conditioned to quiet prayer (with kneeling), quiet preparation and reflection prior to worship (as taught), there was none of that here. The contrast between austere and disciplined preparation for worship with reverence and 400 people milling about, chatting, laughing, backslapping, and talking was stark and vivid. This scribe arrived early—20 minutes before showtime—and observed the (my) tension with the ethos as well as the inattention, the indiscipline, the noise, and giddy socializing. Also, it would be false to think the crowd was discussing apostolic doctrine (theological inquiry) or praying.

While the chatty crowd continued, a group of 19 singers filed to the stage—never mind the concept of a preparatory prayers, a pipe organ prelude from the classics of sacred musical literature, a nave, chancel, choir stalls, quire, reading desk, LORD’s Table, or pulpit. There was no pulpit—until later. When the Pastor arrived later, they place a plexiglass-looking pulpit on the stage. The acting stage was raised perhaps 5 feet above the floor level. Each of the 19 singers had a microphone. That is correct; each singer had one microphone…19 microphones. There was no opening prayer, no invocation or call to worship, and no biblical citation thereto by a Pastor or Rector. Among hundreds of invocatory texts, one might think of Psalm 95.6-7 (ESV):

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Rather than use the Bible, the 19 singers started the show—showtime—by singing as the chatty crowd sought out seats.

The 19 performers started the show. The first of five songs lasted 11 minutes. The song-time was 46 minutes in length … It might be argued that worship, literacy, and vocabulary parameters should be geared to an elementary school level; poly-syllabic words are not allowed. While this might not satisfy Shakespeare or a Professor, simplicity prevailed. Thus, any objection that the Christian message is incomprehensible will not stand. Furthermore, the simple message was ratified by jumping, loud singing, mind-numbing repetition, loud accompaniment and periodic shouts of “Glory!” and “Hallelujah!”… I had one reaction: “Eegads!”

The fifth song, another two-liner, was “Nothing is broken, nothing is missing!” While they repetitiously sang this for 9-10 minutes, yes, 9-10 minutes, difficulty was entertained. Everyone stood during the song-show … Onwards they sang with gusto: “Nothing is broken, nothing is missing!” However, what about Bob’s Salvage Yard” on Highway 258 and Highway 17, full of cars after car accidents? What about Dad’s death last year? Or, what about the Onslow Sheriffs, Fire Department, and hospital personnel who attend to accident scenes and the ill? Or, my own scarred war memories? Or, our “Wounded Warriors” at Camp Lejeune Hospital? While they continued the repetitious mantra, my mind was objecting. Or, what about Al Quaeda, the nation’s fiscal crisis, or the range of uprisings in the Middle East? As long as they sang, my mind ran averse to the lyrical mantra (as usual, all Fortissimo), “Nothing is broken, nothing is missing!” Or even biblically, what about the Wilderness wanderings (Exodus-Numbers), Judges (used during Lent for Confessional Anglicans for the OT lections), David’s conflicts with Saul, Job’s sufferings, Jeremiah conflictions with the leaders, Christ’s Cross, St. Paul’s imprisonments, or the Imperial persecutions under Domitian or Decius? Or, closer to my tradition, what about the English Reformation martyrs put to fire under Queen Mary 1? What about that august Oxfordian, William Tyndale, in 1537, strangled and burned at the stake in Vilvroode, Belgium? What about Hebrews 10.32ff., a catalogue of suffering but faithful saints? Or, what about St. Paul’s list of imprisonments, shipwrecks, lashings, beatings and sorrows suffered during ministry (2 Cor.11)? How could they sing, “Nothing is broken, nothing is missing”? Tell that to a combat veteran without a leg, I thought.

… the question of “apostolic doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers” was not an issue. Who needs doctrine, prayer and the Lord’s Supper? Just turn up the volume, sing five songs (10 lines total with perhaps a 30-word vocabulary depth ) for 46 minutes, hype the crowd, toss the brains out and EMOTE.

The Sermon and Acts 2.42: Anti-intellectualism

… Mr. Chris Phillips ambled to the stage, suavely dressed in a grey-suit. I thought he might have had grey-suade shoes. On cue, the 19 singers filed offstage. Thus far, there were no prayers. Phillips delivered a 40-minute sermon followed by a 10-minute “alter call.” He had three points: healing, a rant about anti-doctrine, and the new building (about to be built). After the 40-minute sermon and the 10-minute altar call, a 10-minute pitch for money followed.

Phillips wanted to see miracles. One point resonated, to wit, “Let us unleash the power of God.” Phillips spent about ten minutes on this point, “unleashing God.” “Apostolic doctrine”—a biblical doctrine of God—did not come to mind as he exhorted the enthusiasts to “unleash God.” God’s absolute sovereignty was put on the human leash, much like a dog. On Phillips’s defamatory view, His Majesty is a lapdog on our leash; unless His Majesty. My reaction? Has this man ever read any books about God?

The second and third points appeared to be the centre of the sermon: (2) proud and arrogant doctrine and (3) the architecture of their new building. He appeared to spend about 15 minutes on each point.

As the second point was developed, he read quickly a portion from Acts 17 and the early verses of Acts 18. Sub-points were developed. First, St. Paul engaged the “proud Greek philosophers”—the Epicureans and Stoics on Mars Hill, geographically, about 1000 feet downwards at the foot of the Parthenon in Athens. As a result of their “proud philosophy,” Paul left Athens. However, given Phillips’s view that God could “be unleashed,” St. Paul must have failed to unleash God on these Greek philosophers. Phillips pointed out that doctrine was problematic. Doctrinal Christians were “dead Christians.” At this point, it became noticeable—in terms of a repetition of the word “power encounter”—that this was a formative concept. I did not notice that until about half-way through this odd soliloquy—“power encounter.” Phillips suggested the mind is dangerous to a “power encounter.” This invoked consideration of a debated concept, to wit, cultism that disabuses one of one’s rationality and orients one to the authoritarianism of the cult-leader. But that was an aside as this scribe attempted to follow Phillips. Second, St. Paul moved onwards from Athens to Corinth because of obstructionist pride in these Greeks. Suffused throughout this was the rant about “indoctrinated Christians” being problematic. One wondered if he was arguing with himself or with some recent interlocutor. Phillips was working it. The theme was clear: thoughtful, informed, well-read, well-considered doctrine and teaching results in “proud Christians” who are not—in fact—Christians. So much for “apostolic doctrine” as a matter of reason, thinking, words, phrases, paragraphs, summaries, and discussion. It was Phillips’s “Doctrine about Anti-doctrine,” a smooth and suave rant. Phillips tanked here.

Personally, after this second point, it was hoped that Phillips would be self-consistent and end the sermon by concluding, “Words, reason and doctrine does not matter, including my own, so, like the London philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, who stopped writing, lecturing and talking, let us end this service without a further word, without further ado, without further reading, without a further thought of any kind, and without anything else. Words and reason are worthless, so I hereby end point two in this sermon about `doctrine.’ Again, leave your brains at the door. Good bye.” However, with a great contradiction, Mr. Phillips pressed on to his third point. No one appeared to be the wiser in this raucous crowd

Following this inane 40-minute sermon of three points, Phillips offered an 10-minute altar call. He directed attendees to bow their heads while he made a pitch for those seeking salvation to raise their hands. I refused the direction, kept the eyes open, and assayed the obedient crowd with lowered heads. Six ambled to the front during the pitch. With mike in hand, he publicly interviewed each of the six. He asked each one, “Are you coming to be re-saved?” Each answered yes. So much for “apostolic doctrine” concerning God, predestination, providence, the fall, covenant, Christ’s atonement, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance of the saints, and assurance of salvation, salutary rubrics for exposition amongst thinking Churchmen in the Confessional tradition. Rather, such teaching as Phillips—as Luther rightly observed about the Schwarmerei and Wiedtauffer of his time—at heart they remain Romanist in doctrine. Following this Charles Finneyite event, the six were directed offstage to counselors. This raised the very legitimate question of Phillips’s understanding of St. Paul’s verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, participles, sentences, paragraphs and arguments—“apostolic doctrine”—in his Epistle to the Romans

Following this, another man—with the last name of Phillips—came to the front. Whether this Phillips had any relationship to the Mr. Chris Phillips is unknown. This exhorter had the same last name. He conducted a ten-minute call for money, including a handout of envelopes and a collection. At the end of these 10 minutes, quite abruptly, the man said, “That’s it. Have a great week.” Again, no prayer.

Conclusion

Recommendations: (1) I will never return to that hothouse and hotbed of anti-intellectualism, ignorance, enthusiasm, and revivalism. (2) Put out an advisorial to friends about this place. (3) Perhaps write a book to vitiate and void this embarrassment to apostolic doctrine, prayers, and the Eucharist. Who can have “fellowship” with these types? Not this scribe, not now, nor ever, world without end.

In closing, let this post — thanks to Mr Veitch — stand in support of traditional liturgical worship and, as he has referenced, the ‘apostolic doctrine’ of St Paul’s letter to the Romans.  There are reasons why we oppose an unscriptural view of worship and belief;  this review proves our case.

© Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 2009-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? If you wish to borrow, 1) please use the link from the post, 2) give credit to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 3) copy only selected paragraphs from the post — not all of it.
PLAGIARISERS will be named and shamed.
First case: June 2-3, 2011 — resolved

Creative Commons License
Churchmouse Campanologist by Churchmouse is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://churchmousec.wordpress.com/.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,533 other followers

Archive

Calendar of posts

http://martinscriblerus.com/

Bloglisting.net - The internets fastest growing blog directory
Powered by WebRing.
This site is a member of WebRing.
To browse visit Here.

Blog Stats

  • 1,658,439 hits