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Yes, it is alive and well!

To be honest, I did not know it existed.

The Right Revd Daniel Martins, Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Springfield (Illinois), recently went to Cuba and wrote about his and his fellow bishops’ stay. His post, ‘Cuba Libre’, is one of the most impressive posts I’ve ever read. It comes complete with photographs. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Status of the Cuban diocese

Martins tells us that the Diocese of Cuba is over 100 years old. For much of that time, it was under the aegis of The Episcopal Church (TEC). When Fidel Castro took over in 1959:

with the ensuing restrictions on travel and fund transfers, it became impractical to continue the relationship, and the diocese entered extra-provincial status within the Anglican Communion, with primatial oversight provided by a panel of archbishops.

Cuba’s bishop is the Right Revd Griselda Delgado, more about whom below. She and her family live in Havana, where the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is located.

There is one Protestant seminary on the island, in Matanzas, 100 miles east of Havana. Whilst the seminary is not Episcopalian — it was founded in the 1940s by Presbyterians and Methodists with the TEC coming on board afterward — the Diocese continues to maintain close links with it.

Although Cuba was officially an atheist country for many years, that status has since changed to secularist. Older church buildings are still standing and open for worship and activities. New plants are also springing up, such as the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Favorito. The church signs have the traditional Episcopalian welcome in Spanish:

La Iglesia Episcopal le da la bienvenida.

In addition to being houses of worship, the churches in rural areas have launched sustainable food or water programmes for local people.

Getting there

Martins explains that the Diocese of Cuba not only has links with Anglican churches in Canada but also an Episcopal church in the American Diocese of Wyoming. They were instrumental in facilitating travel for Martins and his fellow bishops:

there were resources who knew what levers had to be pulled to get us religious visitor visas (this was underway well before the recent thaw in relations between our two countries).

Once at Miami International Airport, the security checks took as long or longer than the 45-minute flight:

First we had to hand over our passports, wait around, queue up to check our bags, wait around some more, queue up again to pay a baggage handling fee, wait around some more, and finally proceed to the TSA screening area. Never has there been so much red tape and bureaucracy for such a short flight. Once inside the gate area, we were able to grab something to eat, which was a welcome opportunity. The boarding process was just as inefficient as the check-in process, and by the time we pushed back, it was about 45 minutes past our scheduled 1pm departure.

Once in Havana, the group were accompanied by a representative of the state-owned Havanatur.

The 1950 American model cars still exist and, out of necessity, are very well maintained. Hotels from the 1940s and 1950s are still open, lending another air of nostalgia. Food, for travellers at least, is mostly average in taste and quality. There is little choice in restaurants and in snacks. There are two flavours of fizzy soft drinks: cola and lemon-lime.

Interest in Christianity

Martins had interesting conversations during his stay just after Easter 2015.

Cuba’s Minister of Religious Affairs joined the group for dinner at Bishop Delgado’s home in Havana:

We enjoyed some serious conversation (via Manny wearing his interpreter’s hat) before dinner around various ways the government and churches can cooperate for the greater good of Cuban society. Interestingly, the strengthening of marriages was at the top of her list. So, what was once proclaimed to be an “atheist” state is now merely “secular,” but with a very benign attitude toward Christians (and the small Jewish community in Cuba; there is no significant Muslim population).

The following day, in the old part of Havana:

I did a little bit of gift shopping, but the highlight of the time there was a conversation (again, all in Spanish) with a vendor from who I didn’t buy anything, but who, when she found out I was from the U.S., peppered me with questions relating to how difficult (or not) it was for me to get into the country, and lamenting that she would like to visit the U.S. but the only Cubans who can get entry visas are those with family already here, and she has none. Then, when she found out I am a bishop, enthusiastically assured me that she is a Christian, and asked me to give her a blessing, which I did. What a joy, on so many levels

He also discovered:

the Episcopal cathedral in Havana holds theology classes on Saturdays. They are intended primarily to form their own people in ministry, but the classes are open to all comers. There is a steady stream of university students who attend faithfully. There is an intense curiosity about Christianity (and other faith practices) on the part of a generation of young people who are virtual blank slates, who did not grow up with it, for whom it is a fresh novelty rather than an artifact of cultural baggage.

Long may it continue.

As for the Minister of Religious Affairs:

she referred to “our Lord” and openly prayed with us. She articulated a hope for partnerships between the government and churches to attack Cuba’s social ills.

Martins observed that the tables with regard to faith are now turned in Cuba and the United States:

Religious practice was stigmatized and marginalized. Now, five decades later, this is the trend in American society, though it’s rolling out at a rather more deliberate pace … So, as American Christianity continues to enter a bit of a winter season, my visit to Cuba gives me hope that spring will indeed come. Not in my lifetime, most likely, but it will come.

Bishop Delgado

The Anglican Church of Canada website has an interesting profile of the Right Revd Griselda Delgado del Carpio, one of the first two women ordained in the country and the first woman bishop in Latin America.

Delgado is originally from Bolivia. In her student days, she was quite the political activist. For that reason, she emigrated to Cuba, accompanied by her mother and her young daughter. Once there, she later married a Cuban. She and her husband Geraldo have two children of their own.

When she first arrived in Cuba, she did a lot of soul searching. Eventually, she entered the Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary. At the time, religious practice was frowned on and the seminary numbers reflected that state of affairs. The ratio of faculty to students was practically 1:1. Delgado was ordained in 1986.

Although church finances are an ongoing problem, largely because of Cuba’s economic insecurity:

In recent years, there has been a sense that the IEC and other Cuban churches are growing in both membership and national influence …

Bishop Delgado has a vision for the role the church can play in this shifting Cuban culture. “Up until now the church has seemed invisible to society,” she said. “In Cuba, all people have education, all have professions, but the people are lacking values. The church is a place to bring people together, to give them identity and dignity.”

Let us pray for the continuous growth of the Church in Cuba.

holy_trinity by st andrei rublevSunday, May 31, 2015, is Trinity Sunday.

Trinity Sunday is always the next one after Pentecost.

My 2010 post explains that it was not until St Thomas Becket dedicated the Sunday after Pentecost to the Trinity in 1162 that it became a uniform feast in the Church.

Traditionally, in some denominations, subsequent Sundays until the First Sunday of Advent were referred to as Sundays ‘after Trinity’. Since then, this has changed in favour of Sundays ‘after Pentecost’ or ‘in Ordinary Time’. However, there are a few which have retained the Trinitarian association.

It is important for Christians to explain to their children the divine mystery of the Holy Trinity. My 2013 post features the Anglican, Revd Matt Kennedy’s, emphasis on the Bible which enables us to understand how the Holy Trinity helps us in our understanding of divine purpose. My 2012 post details an excellent Lutheran way of explaining the Trinity simply to our children: use an egg.

Along with many other clergy, Kennedy acknowledges that because we do not ‘get God’ as we ‘get’ — understand — the workings of our world, we tend to ignore or deny divine mysteries and truths. My 2012 post highlights his sermon on this topic; it is very useful for those who doubt the existence and doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

Today’s Anglican reflection also addresses our reluctance to accept the Trinity.

The late Revd Dr John Hughes, Dean of Jesus College, Cambridge, gave a sermon in 2010 which clarifies the importance of Trinity Sunday. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Trinity Sunday began to be observed in England under St Thomas Becket and then spread to the rest of Western Christendom.  And yet, there is a tradition that this Sunday the task of preaching is a short straw, not a joy and a delight.  Why is this?

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity, highest and most central of Christian doctrines has not enjoyed a good reputation in the last century or so.  I remember as a teenager being fascinated by those endless paradoxes in the Athanasian creed: ‘not three eternals, but one eternal, not three uncreated, but one uncreated…’   The whole thing sounded like some great riddle.  And let’s be honest, congregations have a tendency to glaze over when we come to the finer points of doctrinal and philosophical theology.  But the point runs deeper than this: for many in the last hundred years, the doctrine of the Trinity was seen as a later invention of Greek philosophy far removed from the simple faith of the Galilean fishermen.  Sceptics have ridiculed the endless debates in the early Church around that one word ‘homoousion’ – ‘of one being’ as we still say every Sunday in our creed.  The Trinity has been seen as part of the ecclesiastical baggage of dogma and metaphysics to be cast away in the return to the simple faith of Jesus.  Such a view was held by the Unitarians, who have a chapel on Christ’s Pieces.  And for a while such a view seemed to be becoming mainstream amongst New Testament scholars, theologians and even a few Bishops, although I’m glad to say things seem to have changed in recent years.  And of course the rise in interest in Islam, in many ways an early form of Unitarianism, has raised this question again of late.

Hughes’s three points about the Holy Trinity are that 1) Christians believe that God is very much alive and active in each of our lives; 2) He communicates this via Christ’s humanity (in addition to His divinity) in ‘collaboration with humanity’ and 3) we are called, via the presence of the Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel.

Whilst I disagree with Hughes’s semi-Pelagian belief that we have a divine presence here on earth (see his third point) — our perfection comes in heavenly afterlife — his conclusion is worthwhile:

So to recap: God is Love, God is personal

Unbelievers do not understand this, and it is one of the most difficult challenges we face when evangelising in greater and lesser ways. So much atheistic propaganda has presented God as perpetually angry and distant, that it is hard to counteract this in conversation with curious unbelievers.

In closing, Hughes died in a car accident in June 2014. A memorial service in thanksgiving for his life took place in October that year at the University Church of Great Saint Mary’s in Cambridge. Professor Janet Soskice, President of Jesus College and Chair of the Faculty Board of Divinity, gave the address:

… John loved the Church of England, its language, prayer books and liturgies, but above all he loved the living church itself. Theologically and liturgically Anglo-Catholic, the services he organised and sermons he preached were never exclusive or cultish, and always deeply informed by his study of Scripture. He inherited from Tim Jenkins and Jonathan Collis, previous Dean and Chaplain, a lively and well-integrated chapel. With Mark Williams, the Director of Music, he oversaw a golden age of Jesus Chapel worship

John emanated unruffled energy. He never appeared to be rushed even while, along with all his chapel and college duties, I knew he was researching, lecturing, publishing and supervising and examining both undergraduate and graduate students. In the Faculty of Divinity he was a highly regarded colleague in theology, philosophy of religion and ethics. Amongst his contemporaries he was widely regarded as the most gifted Anglican theologian of his generation

I have spoken with a number of agnostics who think the Church needs a revival of Christian philosophy. Very few clergy have studied it in depth. It seems to be present among a few Catholic and Anglican priests, but not enough to make a wider difference. From my conversations with agnostics, Christian philosophy would facilitate a sort of applied Christianity which would enable making a greater connection between the New Testament and our lives today.

Readers may agree or disagree with this perspective. However, the Reformed (Calvinist) minister, the Revd Vincent Cheung, has combined the two in a traditional yet thought-provoking series of sermons.

Wedding bands ehowcomContinuing with a very brief exploration of women and marriage — the first part of which was yesterday’s post on wife selling — today’s looks at old advice about this honourable institution.

Molly Guinness, writing for The Spectator, scoured the publication’s archives and reported on them in ‘Never marry a lounger, a pleasure-seeker or a fribble’.

What, readers might ask, is a fribble?

Americans living along or visiting the East Coast might recognise the word if they have ever stopped for refreshment at Friendly’s. Indeed, their home page shows CEO John Maguire with a Fribble in his right hand. Friendly’s Wikipedia page says:

A Fribble is a thick shake, originally made with iced milk, now made with soft serve ice cream.

One of my best friends loved Fribbles.

Fribbles among ladies

The word ‘fribble’ is an old one, dating from 1633, so it comes as no surprise that the two brothers from Massachusetts who founded Friendly’s revived an ancient word which was probably once widely used in New England.

Merriam-Webster defines ‘fribble’ as a ‘trifle’ as well as

a frivolous person, thing, or idea.

This is the context of the word’s use in The Spectator, specifically this passage from 1876:

As we should say to women who wish for domestic happiness, never marry a lounger, a pleasure-seeker, or a fribble; so we should say to men with the same yearning, never marry a fool of any sort or kind. There is no burden on earth like a foolish woman tied to a competent man; unable to be his sweetheart, because she cannot help dreading him; unable to be his confidant, because she cannot understand him; unable to be his friend, because she cannot sympathise even with his ordinary thoughts.

To that, I would add another piece of old advice: never marry a woman with long fingernails or a perpetual nail job. She’ll never be able to cook or clean herself. Those nails will take priority. I know of no woman with elaborate nails who cooks or cleans. It’s hiring a woman-what-does and buying expensive ready meals from the supermarket as well as dining out on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

A quiet home

The same article from 1876 also mandates a quiet home, for which the woman is responsible:

Let the woman’s first requisite be a man whose home will be to him a rest, and the man’s first object be a woman who can make home restful…

I know wives who think that quiet is unimportant. They are wrong. Home should be a perpetual refuge from the chaos of the outside world.

In order to achieve that, the wife must create an orderly household and make sure children make a minimum of noise when Dad is at home to unwind.

Why feminism never succeeded in France — good advice

In 1906, the French Ambassador to London, M. Cambon, was appalled by English marriages, particularly the wives’ active social lives. The Spectator‘s entry explains:

Legally, English wives occupied a better position than their French sisters, but actually the latter were better off and better satisfied. No feminist movement, he pointed out, had ever succeeded in France.

That is still rather true today, although the laws regarding women have evolved immensely.

Yes, France has feminists, but feminism is a minority movement restricted to a niche of leftist intellectuals. It is not as vocal, strident or widespread as it is in English-speaking countries.

Cambon said that a French wife is the power behind the throne. Instead of seeking a career or social life outside the home that fulfils her, she immerses herself in her husband’s. In fact, the husband asks her for advice, which she freely gives. Cambon’s view was:

… she found at home all the satisfaction and all the responsibility inseparable from power, and consequently “had no pleasure in meddling with things outside”.

Although the Frenchwomen I have known since the 1970s do have outside activities, their home life is paramount and takes pride of place.

And there is much more of an equilibrium between husband and wife in most French marriages than there is in those of English-speaking countries.


This recent complementarianism thing of a husband ‘covering’ a woman is a worrying trend.

If I had a daughter, I would be most concerned about her marrying a domineering mate ruled by a misunderstanding or over-interpretation of Pauline verses in the New Testament. Such men are turning Christianity into fundamentalist Islam.

No wonder young women are becoming atheists or agnostics, seeking a non-religious mate. I cannot blame them.

Wife selling has taken place all over the world at various times throughout history.

A woman had no rights and could not own property, which is still the case, unfortunately, in countries (particularly Muslim ones) where she is considered only a partial person, such as a slave, and feeble-minded on top of that.  Legally, this affects their rights of independence, inheritance and status to work or to drive.

Historically speaking in general, Wikipedia has a good summary of wife selling in various eras and in different countries. It’s well worth a read and quite an eye-opener.

Wives could be sold because they were viewed as disagreeable and neglectful of their duties in the home. Sometimes, they were adulteresses; it was common for a husband to sell his wife to her lover. However, they were also sold when the husband was in debt or needed money for strong drink.

In England, wife selling was popular among the lower classes between the 18th and early 21st centuries. Wife selling did not end here until 1913. The Wikipedia article cited is another excellent summary of a horrific practice. That said, some women, it states, wanted to be sold.

At the time, divorce was rare and very expensive. Only the wealthy could afford it. Selling one’s wife was a way of circumventing the legal system as well as Scripture.

Lawyers tried to deny it was actually taking place. The clergy turned a blind eye. Granted, sales were infrequent — perhaps two a decade over more than two centuries. However, news about wife sales, which often took place in a public square or at a pub, spread to the Continent where it was widely condemned as being an English practice. Yet, the American colonies also had a few wife sales in Connecticut and South Carolina.

Wives up for sale in England often wore a halter, which was then given to the purchaser afterward as a sign that the transaction was concluded.

As with slaves or livestock, the women’s physical attributes and capabilities were elucidated as they stood on display. The 28 April 1832 issue of The Spectator reported on a sale in Lancashire. Excerpts follow:

The man was a farmer in the neighbourhood ; the wife, a buxom, good-looking woman, of about twenty-two. They had been married in 1828 ; and having no children, and seldom agreeing with each other, they at length agreed to part. The Lancaster Herald puts the following speech into the month of the husband ; which, if genuine, is a curiosity in its way- “Gentlemen, I have to offer to your notice my wife, Mary Ann Thompson, otherwise Williamson, whom I mean to sell to the highest and fairest bidder. Gentlemen, it is her wish as well as mine to part for ever. She has been to me only a bosom serpent. I took her for my comfort, and the good of my house ; but she became my tormentor, a domestic curse, a night invasion, and a daily devil. Gentlemen. I speak truth from my heart, whim I say, may God deliver us from troublesome wives and frolicsome widows. Avoid them the same as you would a mad dog, a roaring lion, a loaded pistol, cholera zuorbui. Mount Etna. or any other pestilential phenomena in nature …  

She can make butter and scold the maid ; she can sing Moore’s melodies, and plait her frills and caps; she cannot make rum, gin, or whisky; but she is a good judge of the quality, from long experience in tasting them. I therefore [offer] her, with all her perfections and imperfections, for the sum of fifty shillings.”

After an hour or two, the lady was purchased by a pensioner, for the sum of twenty shillings and a Newfoundland dog.

It is interesting that marriages in England needed no legal registration or church ceremony until the Marriage Act of 1753 was introduced.

After marriage, even before this time, women were at the mercies of their husbands and the legal system. In fact, the legal wording behind this is reminiscent of the language present-day complementarians use. Also note the sugary condescension (emphasis mine):

Women were completely subordinated to their husbands after marriage, the husband and wife becoming one legal entity, a legal status known as coverture. As the eminent English judge Sir William Blackstone wrote in 1753: “the very being, or legal existence of the woman, is suspended during the marriage, or at least is consolidated and incorporated into that of her husband: under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs everything“. Married women could not own property in their own right, and were indeed themselves the property of their husbands.[10] But Blackstone went on to observe that “even the disabilities the wife lies under are, for the most part, intended for her protection and benefit. So great a favourite is the female sex of the laws of England“.[3]

It would not surprise me if, 20 or 30 years from now, wife selling were to start again somewhere in the West, albeit privately.

It does not surprise me that young Western women are increasingly apprehensive about Christianity. Whilst I have discussed history and a secular legal system here, a small, yet growing, number of young churchgoing men would have no problem with coverture. Very sad, indeed.

Writing for the Telegraph, journalist and author James Bartholomew says that the West needs a new way of measuring poverty.

It’s hard to disagree, especially when we consider living conditions even a century ago.

Supposedly, many of our fellow Westerners are living below the poverty line. Yet, they are not only clothed and have roofs over their head but also have a lot of things the rest of us go without.

Bartholomew explains how the definition of poverty changed in the 1960s (emphases mine):

It dates back to 1962 and the annual conference of the British Sociological Association. Two Left-wing academics, Peter Townsend and Brian Abel-Smith, developed a new way of defining “poverty” based on the income level at which people were entitled to a payment called “supplementary benefit”. One person at the conference reported “a mood of conspiratorial excitement” about the idea of redefining poverty. These are her words, not mine, and they do seem revealing. It is as if some people on the Left were longing to find a way in which poverty had not been “conquered” as Barbara Castle had said. They had found a way in which it would always be possible to use the huge emotional power of the word.

The flurry of excitement about redefining poverty concluded with it being defined as 60 per cent of median incomes with adjustment for family size. This definition was eventually accepted by the British government and the European Union. That is the definition which those who talk about poverty in the media are using.

Some might be too young to remember even Americans saying that the war on poverty had been won. This would have been in the 1980s. In Britain, as long ago as 1959, the Labour MP, the late Barbara Castle said:

the poverty and unemployment which we came into existence to fight have been largely conquered.

In recent decades, things have changed. The war on poverty cannot be won, ever, because it would get rid of sociologists, community organisers, charity workers and politicians who make a living from it. Poverty has become an industry.

Bartholomew points out that the median British income has doubled since 1977. Furthermore, he adds that many professionals and tradesmen are living on much less than £23,000 a year. They are paying tax, however, which finances the subsistence of the ‘poor’. Remember, saying that ‘the Government’ will pay for welfare means, in reality, that it is the taxpayer who pays.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, children went without shoes and coats, slept in the same bed and had to start working as soon as they were able. Bartholomew cites Flora (Lark Rise to Candleford) Thompson’s memories of growing up in Oxfordshire, the daughter of a labourer:

There was no running water and, of course, no electricity. The only lavatory for each household was “either in a little beehive-shaped building at the bottom of the garden or in a corner of the wood and toolshed known as ‘the hovel’ ”. It was “a deep pit with a seat set over it”. Once every six months the pit would be emptied creating such a stench that it “caused every door and window in the vicinity to be sealed”. As for food, “fresh meat was a luxury only seen in a few of the cottages on a Sunday”. People mostly depended on bread and lard. “Fresh butter was too costly for general use” and “milk was a rare luxury”. 

Since the rise of the welfare state, the disadvantaged are able to live in council flats and houses which have separate bedrooms and the features everyone else’s home has. That’s great news, certainly, as is a financial safety net, provided it does not become a multi-generational way of life.

A commenter on said of his 1950s childhood in Lincolnshire:

I’m old enough to remember when we moved into a council house from our old condemned cottage in the middle of nowhere (My dad had to punt with his bike across the drain to get onto the road to Boston where [h]e worked as a labourer in the fertilizer factory).

My mother was overwhelmed with the fact that the windows could be closed and we had an inside toilet. And three bedrooms for what ended up as two parents and six kids. We didn’t consider ourselves poor in the fifties.

Luxury! …

Few people classified as poor go without these days:

How many households cannot afford a television? Fewer than 1 per cent. How many people aged 16-24 do not have access to a mobile phone? 1 per cent. Who has access to computers and the internet? Among those aged 25-44, 85 per cent use a computer daily. Added to those who use computers less frequently, that means well over nine in 10 young adults have access to a computer.

Overall, the typical person in modern poverty has access to a mobile phone and lives in a household with a television, an inside lavatory, electricity and probably access to the internet. By all means, observers can call this poverty. But it would have been unrecognisable to Flora Thompson. It is riches beyond their dreams for those I have met in a Masai Mara village in Kenya who live in mud huts with not a single one of the above.

Generally speaking, things are becoming more equal, especially with the increasing precariousness the middle class find themselves in.

So let’s exercise caution when we hear the latest poverty statistics. Poverty is relative and needs, as Bartholomew says, a reclassification.

In February 2015, I wrote about how the attire of Muslim women from the Middle East to Afghanistan changed dramatically from Western to mediaeval in 40 years.

For those who missed it the first time, I highly recommend it for the links to photos from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Le Monde has a blog post on a new socio-religious campaign in Algeria, ‘Be a Man’, which advocates that good Muslims cover every woman in their purview — wives, daughters, mothers, sisters:

Don’t let your women leave the house in daring attire.

The post has a campaign photo of a young father in normal street clothes sitting with his four young daughters, two of them toddlers, all wearing veils and leg-covering garments. The Koran does not suggest veils until puberty.

Le Monde explains:

According to CNN Arabic, numerous sheiks have given their support. Such as Monhim Abdel Samad Qoweider, imam of a mosque in Borj el Bahri, a suburb of Algiers, who believes that clothes indicate proof of a person’s morality …

Although there is a backlash on social media, it is unclear how effective it will be. We can but hope it is. Film director Sofia Djama, writing for France 24, lamented the state of women in Algeria:

Today, verbal violence is (a) daily (occurrence) and normalised. It’s super violent walking in the capital, Algiers, in a skirt or trousers.

Inevitably, some will say, ‘So what? That’s in Algeria’.

The issue is that this attitude is already prevalent in parts of Europe, particularly France. A few months ago, French media was full of news and comment on harassment of women in larger cities and on public transport: insults, propositions and groping by non-European men.

Of course, those familiar with poor French suburbs will know that this has been going on for at least 15 years. Gang rape is a real risk for young Muslim women who dare to walk around unveiled or in a modest skirt.

Now this harassment is going mainstream.

It is deplorable. But, who will stop it — and how? Without a constant reminder in the media, with the frequency of anti-‘racism’ rhetoric which now seems to encompass all conditions, this degrading trend seems set to continue.

In March 2015, the French newsweekly Marianne* featured an excerpt from a new book, L’alimentation prise en otage (‘food taken hostage’) by farmer-MEP-activist José Bové and co-author Gilles Luneau.

No escaping multinationals

The excerpt begins with an explanation of the control a few multinationals have over the world’s food. Even when we think we are buying a specialised brand name, more often than not it is owned by one of these giants (p. 56). Although many of the brands named below are European, others are not:

– In the realm of hot drinks, Kraft owns Jacques Vabre, Carte Noire, Maxwell and Lipton.

Kraft also own biscuit brands Belin, LU and Tuc — as well as sweets brands Toblerone, Côte d’Or, Suchard, Cadbury, Carambar, Lajaunie and Vichy pastilles.

– Among many other food and water brands, Nestlé own Perrier, Buitoni, Bolino, Herta, Flanby and Mövenpick.

Nestlé also own pet food brands, among them Gourmet and Friskies.

We discover that Nestlé, founded in 1866 in Switzerland is comprised of more than 2,000 brands and 10,000 products requiring 333,000 employees and 447 factories in 86 countries.

I won’t go into the Kraft-Mondelez set-up, because it is equally as huge and more complex.

Of course, there are other big players in the world marketplace. Unilever own food as well as household product brands. Among them are Cif, Dove, Sun, Skip, Alsa, Amora, Maille, Knorr, Ben & Jerry’s, Carte d’Or, Miko and Cornetto.

Even when we think we are buying small or traditional niche brands, we’re actually buying from multinationals.

International lobbying

Not surprisingly, several of the world’s largest corporations banded together years ago to form an influential lobbying group, ILSI — International Life Sciences Institute.

ILSI was founded in 1978. Billed as a non-profit, its objective is

to provide science that improves human health and well-being and safeguards the environment by creating a platform for coordination, cooperation, and collaboration among experts from industry, government, and academia and other civil society organizations. We actively design our programs to foster multi-sector collaboration conducting, gathering, summarizing, and disseminating science related to the world’s most pressing health issues.

Better decisions affecting public and environmental health and safety are made when they are based on good science. ILSI believes its science – as part of the larger body of scientific information – helps industries make safer, healthier products and helps governments, civil society organizations, and individual health professionals provide effective and practical guidance to promote safety, health, and well-being.

It has representatives from multinationals as well as universities.

Bové and Luneau posit that, whilst all this sounds highly worthy (p. 59):

Behind it, there is the interest to create, capture or protect a market.

So, we have lobbying for and research into GMO, processed foods and fast foods. One example involves eggs, which are now ‘ovoproducts’ (p. 59). Currently, 42% of eggs in the United States and 30% of those in France are broken and separated for processes needed to make fast and mass-produced food. Whites and yolks are separated, liquidised, solidified in bars or powdered to make industrial cakes, pastries, sweets and lunchmeats.

Milk separation shock

The worst example of adulterated and diminished food involves milk (p. 64-65).

If you have ever wondered if today’s commercial milk has the same characteristics as that of your grandparents, you’re right to be sceptical.

Today, companies can make more from separating nutrients and enzymes than by selling milk in its entirety. The public then need to buy various milk elements separately in order to arrive at the entire nutritional profile.

Bové and Luneau tell us that:

– Researchers now understand the relationship between dairy proteins and amino acids which aid muscle formation. Isolating them from milk becomes big business. Sports medicine is the main target market of the resulting products.

– Dairy cows, depending on the breed and conditions, produce milk containing between 3.5% and 4.6% fat. The dairy industry — mass quantity milk producers, not the farmers — decided that whole milk should contain only 3.6% fat. The rest of the fat can be added to other products or processes, all of which make more money.

– Raw milk is either banned or difficult to buy because multinationals can remove its most important nutrients to make other products. This means that one has to spend a fortune on buying complementary dairy or dairy-derivative products: probiotics, supplements or other foodstuffs. These are then marketed separately for the athlete, expectant mother, children and students. Ker-ching!

The authors ask (emphases mine):

… while all these different molecular elements are in complex interactions in raw milk, this intelligent equilibrium explodes under all the physical or biological treatments (rechilling, heating, drying, acidification, etc.). Who is evaluating what and how those affect the properties of each fractured element? Not many people … the question merits asking with regard to the increase of certain pathologies linked to food, particularly allergies.

Food allergies only came widespread in the 1970s or 1980s. What causes them and why? It will probably take years before we get the whole story.

This also makes me wonder about the dramatic increase in Alzheimer’s and personality disorders. Our nerves, specifically the myelin sheath, need fat in order to remain healthy. (Reducing carbohydrate and added sugar to <20g a day largely eliminates the possibility of weight gain.)

Clearly, we are not getting the full package of nutrients from milk — or, for that matter, many other foods.


* Marianne, 6-12 March 2015, pp. 56-65

shaking  hands ryan2point0wordpresscomWe think of the word Establishment to mean those running the country who govern our lives.

However, in the May 2015 issue of Tatler, Matthew Bell tells us (p. 104):

In 1955, Henry Fairlie, political commentator of The Spectator, coined the term ‘Establishment’ … As Fairlie said: ‘The exercise of power in Britain (more specifically, in England) cannot be understood unless it is recognised that it is exercised socially.’

The article goes on to look at what Tatler call A-Grade Entertainers who bring together the notional great and the good. They throw grand parties, host weekends away and introduce other influential people to each other.

Of course, this has been going on forever not only in England but all over the world. Matthew Bell did fine work looking at hosts from a century ago as well as those today. Some are household names, others less so. He also explored what a top host needs to succeed. Besides the obvious connections, money and large house, one also needs bags of charm, endless patience, interest in others and a good sense of humour.

My point is that conspiracy theorists would do better to study these political-artistic social connections rather than focus on Bilderberg and the Masons.

A-listers enjoying champagne and canapés at someone’s home are likely a more representative nexus of power.

Holy Spirit as dove stained glassSunday, May 24, 2015, is Pentecost Sunday, traditionally called Whit Sunday.

In the UK, the last Monday in May is Whitsun Bank Holiday. This year is one of those infrequent times when the Church feast coincides with that very weekend.

Pentecost is considered as being the Church’s birthday. The original group of Apostles and disciples were equipped with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, enabling them to preach, teach and heal in the name of Christ. The Church was able to expand during this Apostolic Age, embracing not only Jews but also Gentiles. Although the Apostolic Age ended when the original group left this mortal coil, we, too, receive the same gifts from the Holy Spirit which continue to operate in a quieter though still powerful way. My post from 2010 explains more.

Students of the New Testament know that the Holy Spirit did not come by accident. At the Last Supper, our Lord promised His followers a Helper to enable them to continue His work. My 2012 post has a Lutheran perspective on Pentecost from Martin Luther as well as Pastors Larry Peters and Johnold Strey.

My 2013 post features a Reformed explanation of Pentecost, highlighting a sermon by the Revd P G Mathew, formerly of India. Dr Mathew worked as a scientist before ordination. He is a Reformed (Calvinist) clergyman with three graduate degrees in theology and serves as pastor of Grace Valley Christian Center in Davis, California.

Mathew has another sermon which is apposite for Pentecost, ‘Christ’s Great Commission’. It is particularly apposite for those who feel that our Lord is distant. In the following excerpts, Mathew explains why this is far from the truth (emphases mine):

In John 14:18 Jesus promised his disciples: “I will not leave you as orphans”–meaning as those who are homeless, defenseless, fatherless, and motherless. This is true. He will be with us by his Holy Spirit, and he will be with us always. He will be with us every moment of every day all our days until the end of the age. This means that when we are young he is with us; when we are old he is with us; when we are weak he is with us; when we are strong he is with us; when we are sick he is with us; when we are healthy he is with us; when we are poor he is with us; when we are rich he is with us; when we are attacked he is with us; when we are hated he is with us; when we are beaten he is with us; when we are stoned, as Stephen was, he is with us; when we are martyred he will be with us. He gives grace, doesn’t he? Though we go through the flood and the fire, God will be with us, all the days of our lives …

In Hebrews 13:5 God says “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Then the writer to the Hebrews says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (v. 8). To St. Paul this Christ said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect through weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). And Paul drew this tremendous conclusion: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10). In Philippians 4:13 he declared , “I can do everything through who give me the strength.”

God has given us peace in Christ. He said, “I am with you always”–to bless us, to keep us and to give us peace. And in Luke 24:52 it says the disciples who were timid, fearful, and hiding now returned to Jerusalem with great joy as a result of this blessing. They hid no longer. They went into the temple to praise and worship God. The Lord blessed them and gave them peace. He gave them courage and boldness. Soon afterwards they received the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill the great commission beginning in Jerusalem and going to the ends of the earth. [Evangelist] William Carey was right–the Lord expects the commission to continue until he comes again.

Let us, therefore, use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to further the Gospel, through words when we can and through impeccable example when we cannot.

June 18, 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

File:Napoleon-Bonaparte-4085.jpgLittle did Napoleon Bonaparte realise that he would end up exiled on one of the most remote islands in the world — even today. (Photo credit:

The Duke of Wellington, who commanded a coalition army of British, German and Dutch forces, emerged victorious.  (Photo credit:

The Battle of Waterloo was important not only because Napoleon lost but also (emphases mine):

It definitively ended the series of wars that had convulsed Europe—and involved many other regions of the world—since the French Revolution of the early 1790s. It also ended the First French Empire and the political and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the greatest commanders and statesmen in history.[ab] Finally, it ushered in almost half a century of international peace in Europe; no further major conflict occurred until the Crimean War.

After his decisive defeat, Napoleon:

attempted to flee to the United States, but the British blocked his escape route. He surrendered to British custody and spent the last six years of his life in confinement on the remote island of Saint Helena. His death in 1821, at the age of 51, was received by shock and grief throughout Europe and the New World. In 1840, roughly one million people lined the streets of Paris to witness his remains returning to France, where they still reside at Les Invalides.[8]

It is for these reasons that we still speak of a Waterloo moment two centuries later.

Other men have also had Waterloo moments, although not of this scale. The Red Bulletin, Red Bull’s freebie magazine which appears in various countries around the world, includes some of their stories in its June 2015 issue.

As for Napoleon, the magazine says that his true Waterloo moment was not so much defeat in battle but the subsequent exile to St Helena (p. 22)!

Summarised below are a few of the magazine’s lesser, but still significant, Waterloo moments in history.

Inventors and designers

These unsung heroes are news to me and may be to you, too. From ‘Forgotten Heroes’ on page 24 of the magazine:

Coffee: Did you know that the 21st century coffee capsule was actually invented in 1970? Eric Favre presented his invention to Nestlé at that time but the multinational rejected it in favour of … instant coffee. So last century!

Logo: Nike lucked out with their swoosh logo, which Carolyn Davidson designed when she was a student. Nike paid her $35 for the ubiquitous design. Fortunately, the company later gave her shares in their stock as further recognition.

Photography: Who knew that photography was invented in Brazil in 1833? Hercules Florence, a painter, was the man, but he kept his invention private. Europeans, developing techniques separately, got the credit.

Physics: In 1956, physicist Hugh Everett published his work positing the existence of a parallel universe. His peers denounced him as being mad. Consequently, Everett retired from his scientific work. Nearly 60 years later, the basic tenets of his theories have been widely acknowledged — and accepted.

Never say never

These men were sure of their convictions — and badly mistaken. From ‘The Faulty Forecasts’ on page 26:

Trains: In 1838, Prussia’s Frederick William III said railways would never take off:

What would the advantage be of arriving somewhere a couple of hours earlier?

Planes: An unnamed Boeing engineer said in 1933 that the twin-engine Boeing 247, capable of carrying 10 people, represented the apogee of aircraft technology:

There will never be a bigger plane built.

Music: In 1962, talent scout Dick Rowe refused to sign the Beatles to Decca Records:

Guitar groups are on their way out.


For some it’s a Waterloo moment, for others, it’s eating humble pie.

When we are too confident of our abilities or predictions, it might be advisable to stay silent and see how things develop!

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