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R Scott ClarkReformed minister and professor Dr R Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary California is the author of several books on the Reformed Confessions. He also writes the ever-helpful Heidelblog.

On July 26, Dr Clark wrote ‘Between Pearls and Privatization’, a post about the confusion between making everything secular or everything sacred. Those who like to do the latter are known as transformationalists. Hence, we read or hear of ‘Christian math’ or ‘Christian plumbing’.

Of this, he rightly points out:

Instead of “Christian plumbing,” why not exhort Christians to fulfill their daily vocation to the glory of God and the well being of their neighbor. This would save us endless, and as far as I can tell, fruitless wrangling about exactly what is distinctively Christian about “Christian math” or “Christian plumbing.”

Clark appeals for a return to the 16th century perspective in such matters, as supported by John Calvin and the Belgic Confession (Article 35, in this case):

Over against transformationalism, I am arguing that we need to recover the older Reformed conviction that there is a distinction between the sacred and the secular. Calvin used these categories without embarrassment. The common is not “neutral” and the secular is not dirty. We recognize this very distinction every time we administer holy communion. Reformed liturgical forms regularly speak about setting about common (secular) bread for a sacred use.

Ultimately, neither the secularist nor the transformationalist is correct. Not everything is worldly. Not everything is holy. Clark explains (emphases mine):

Our English word secular comes from the Latin saeculum which stands for “world.” We might distinguish between secular and secularist. It is one thing to recognize a distinction between a good secular vocation (e.g., plumbing) and a sacred ecclesiastical vocation to pastoral ministry. A secularist, however, seems to want to insist that we live in a closed universe and that nothing is sacred. The transformationalist seems to want to make everything sacred and the secularist seems to want to deny the sacred universally but the historic Christian position is distinct from both.

Our Lord instructed us not to cast our pearls before swine (Matt 7:6). He was invoking the Mosaic (Old Covenant) restrictions against pork, which made pigs ceremonially or ritually unclean. Whatever else this teaching means to it certainly means that there are times when Christian truth is to be withheld from those who are metaphorically pigs or dogs. There are times when it is not appropriate to speak the truth of the kingdom. In his comment on this passage Calvin exhorted his readers strongly not to use this verse as a justification not to preach the gospel to sinners. He urged his readers to preach the gospel indiscriminately but to recognize that there are times and places in which it is wise to hold our counsel.

In other words, do what is appropriate in the situation, time and place.

A Heidelblog reader responded with a cut and paste of Precept Austin’s collection of commentary on Matthew 7:6, well worth reading for all clergy, Christian bloggers and those who lead groups or classes in churches.

Through that page I was introduced to an Anglican preacher with whom I was unfamiliar: Charles Simeon. More on him tomorrow and on Tuesday, pearls of his wisdom on what Matthew 7:6 means.

Tomorrow: Who was Charles Simeon?


Bible ancient-futurenetThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Matthew 19:23-30

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world,[a] when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold[b] and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.


Today’s reading follows Jesus’s conversation with the rich young man, the subject of last week’s post.

Jesus told the disciples that it is very difficult, if not impossible, for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (verses 23, 24). He used the saying about the eye of the needle as a means of illustrating the impossibility. My post on a parallel account of this — Luke 18:24:30 — cited a John MacArthur sermon explaining that saying, a traditional one of the ancient world involving the largest animal of the area. In Mesopotamia, it was an elephant. In the land of the Jews, it was a camel. Can a camel pass through the eye of a needle? Of course not.

In verse 23, Jesus’s words were ‘only with difficulty’. He meant that only by God’s grace can a rich man enter His kingdom. That is also true for the rest of us, however, it is easier because we have fewer worldly goods and obligations at stake. Matthew Henry explains (emphases mine):

The way to heaven is to all a narrow way, and the gate that leads into it, a strait gate but it is particularly so to rich people. More duties are expected from them than from others, which they can hardly do and more sins do easily beset them, which they can hardly avoid. Rich people have great temptations to resist, and such as are very insinuating it is hard not to be charmed with a smiling world very hard, when we are filled with these hid treasures, not to take up with them for a portion. Rich people have a great account to make up for their estates, their interest, their time, and their opportunities of doing and getting good, above others. It must be a great measure of divine grace that will enable a man to break through these difficulties.

MacArthur brings up another difficulty:

First of all, rich people have a false security. That’s their particular problem … See, rich people don’t need God because they’ve got all their resources. They can buy anything they need. No sense in depending on God.

What Jesus said amazed the disciples (verse 25). Surely, they thought, rich people could have anything spiritual because they could afford the biggest and best sacrificial animals to atone for any and all sins as well as offer the greatest glory to God because they could afford it. MacArthur says:

they could atone for everything. And they could give their money and drop it in those 13 trumpet-shaped receptacles that lined the court of the women in the temple and they could pay their alms and do their thing …

In light of this, the disciples asked Jesus if rich people couldn’t enter the kingdom of God, who, then, could be saved. Jesus said that man cannot save himself, only God can (verse 26). Therefore, no matter how many great sacrificial animals and alms a rich person gave to the temple, none of those could buy salvation. Only God’s merciful grace can save a person’s soul. Remember, this discussion took place before the Crucifixion and Resurrection, so Jesus put things in a context they could understand.

Henry surmises that Jesus might have been saying that the rich young man could be saved in future once God turned his heart to Him:

Note, The sanctification and salvation of such as are surrounded with the temptations of this world are not to be despaired of[;] it is possible it may be brought about by the all-sufficiency of the divine grace and when such are brought to heaven, they will be there everlasting monuments of the power of God. I am willing to think that in this word of Christ there is an intimation o[f the] mercy Christ had yet in store for this young gentleman, who was now gone away sorrowful it was not impossible to God yet to recover him, and bring him to a better mind.

Peter then asked about the position of the disciples with regard to what Jesus said (verse 27). He said that they gave up everything to follow Him. Recall that the disciples’ understanding of the kingdom to come was a temporal one of power over the enemies of the Jews. They also did not know that the betrayer, Judas, was in their midst. MacArthur is not one who criticises Peter for his speech:

It isn’t a bad question to ask. Some people have really gotten on Peter’s case, it’s a very natural question. I mean, they followed Christ anticipating the Kingdom. They followed Christ with hope in their hearts that He would sort of right the nation that He would throw off the Roman yoke, that He would bring in the glorious splendor that the prophets had talked about. I mean, I think his heart was pretty right on in that area and sort of summing up all the anxiety of the disciples he says, “What’s in it for us? What are we going to receive?” And I don’t think that he’s totally frustrated. I think he’s partially frustrated. I think he’s excited about what he anticipates and he wants to hear from the mouth of the Lord Himself what it is that God has prepared for them that love Him. What are we going to have, therefore? Because we’ve come on your terms. What are the benefits of salvation to us? We gave it all up. What are we going…what are we going to get?

Jesus responded by describing the ‘new world’, or ‘regeneration’ in the King James Version and other traditional translations (verse 28). He spoke of His Second Coming, as Henry explains:

Christ’s second coming will be a regeneration, when there shall be new heavens, and a new earth, and the restitution of all things. All that partake of the regeneration in grace (John 3:3) shall partake of the regeneration in glory for as grace is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6), so glory is the second regeneration.

And how wonderful to be promised, as the Twelve were, that each would have his own throne to judge the sins of the twelve tribes of Israel in their unbelief and their persecution to come of the Apostles.

Henry says true Christians will also be rewarded in that glorious new world:

the general intendment of this promise is, to show the glory and dignity reserved for the saints in heaven, which will be an abundant recompence for the disgrace they suffered here in Christ’s cause. There are higher degrees of glory for those that have done and suffered most. The apostles in this world were hurried and tossed, there they shall sit down at rest and ease … there they shall sit on thrones of glory

The same is true of those who left loved ones and cherished places behind to follow Christ (verse 29).

Ultimately, our Lord said, ‘many’ — not all, but many — who are at the top of the social order in this world will be last in the next (verse 30). Those who were of humble circumstances will be first in the world to come.

The parallel accounts are in Luke 18:24-30 and Mark 10:23-31. Mark’s version is in the three-year Lectionary.

Next time: Matthew 20:17-19

On Tuesday, July 26, The Guardian had an article on the discovery of the old Spanish fort of San Marcos in South Carolina which is now a golf course.

Archaeologists made the discovery on Parris Island, which is home to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

The Guardian‘s reporter, Alan Yuhas, did a bit of digging himself and explained that before the Spanish arrived, the French were there.

I would like to thank Mr Yuhas for his kind mention of my blog post on the French settlement, which resulted in 43 hits on the post below (20 on Tuesday, 20 on Wednesday and 3 on Thursday), highlighted in bold:

Santa Elena was founded in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the conquistador who earned himself the title of Florida’s governor the year before, when he founded the settlement of St Augustine. Menéndez carried the brutal politics of Europe to the Americas: that same year he ordered the massacre of more than 200 French settlers who would not renounce their Protestant sect for Catholicism.

Leery of French ambitions on the coast, he founded Santa Elena to the north – near an abandoned settlement of French Huguenots who had mutinied a few years earlier. The Spanish also struggled with food shortages and disease, and had hostile relations with the local Orista and Guale people. By 1576 the tribes managed to sack the town and force the Spanish out completely, only for the conquistadors to return the next year with new settlers, soldiers and material for a new fort of San Marcos.

University of South Carolina archaeologists have been investigating the site off and on over the past 23 years. Archaeologists from the University of Georgia have brought in remote sensing which is now enabling the teams to map the settlement more precisely:

Anthropologist Victor Thompson, of the University of Georgia, said that the new technology had provided “an unprecedented view of the 16th-century landscape”.

Thompson said that the team used ground-penetrating radar, a resistance meter and a gradiometer, which he called “sort of a metal detector on steroids”.

The Spanish abandoned San Marcos and the larger settlement of Santa Elena for Saint Augustine after the English arrived in 1587. Sir Francis Drake was sent to raid Spanish settlements in what is now South Carolina.

Over time, soil built up over the settlement, so it will be fascinating to find out more about this chapter of American history as the dig progresses.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Alexander Melville.jpgContinuing an occasional series on quotes from the Reformed Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, today’s post concerns his views on reconciliation and strained relationships.

Previous entries addressed ambition, eternity and unity and growing old.

Numbers following the quotes refer to the relevant sermon.

Spurgeon, known as the Prince of Preachers, explains why we should seek reconciliation:

Our love ought to follow the love of God in one point, namely, in always seeking to produce reconciliation. It was to this end that God sent his Son. Has anybody offended you? Seek reconciliation. “Oh, but I am the offended party.” So was God, and he went straight away and sought reconciliation. Brother, do the same. “Oh, but I have been insulted.” Just so: so was God: all the wrong was towards him, yet he sent. “Oh, but the party is so unworthy.” So are you; but “God loved you and sent his Son.” 1707.119

That said, even he found certain people trying. These witty insights on strained relationships — the second and the third, in particular — encapsulate the reality of the human condition:

I have known good men with whom I shall never be thoroughly at home until we meet in heaven: at least, we shall agree best on earth when they go their way and I go mine. 1812.653

All good people are not equally good. There are some in the world whom we hope to meet in heaven, with whom fellowship is difficult. If they were on the other side of the Atlantic we might love them better than when we see much of them. I know several Christian people with whom I would sooner sit in heaven throughout all eternity than sit ten minutes with them on a sofa here below; distance, in their case, might lend enchantment to the view. 2154.387

There are people about who seem to be cut on the cross, and the only use they are in this world seems to be to raise irritating questions. They and the mosquitoes were created by infinite wisdom, but I have never been able to discover the particular blessing which either of them confer upon us. 3199.258

Spurgeon Ministries, based at Bath Road Baptist Church in Kingston, Ontario, says that he preached to 10,000,000 people during his lifetime. One of his sermons at London’s Crystal Palace attracted 23,654 people. He had no microphone or similar means of amplification.

Outside of the Bible, Charles Haddon Spurgeon is still the widest read preacher in the world. One woman was converted when she read a sermon of his which had been wrapped around a block of butter.

Whilst it is wise to refrain from labelling an attack ‘terrorist’ until we have the facts, the media are distorting and denying various aspects of the recent attacks in Europe, particularly Germany.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson came under attack from The Guardian and Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake for saying that the recent Munich mall attack on Friday, July 22, was related to terrorism.

In fact, this is what he said from New York where he met with US Secretary of State John Kerry (emphases mine):

If, as seems very likely, this is another terrorist incident, then I think it proves once again that we have a global phenomenon and a global sickness that we have to tackle both at the source – in the areas where the cancer is being incubated in the Middle East – and also of course around the world.

That quote comes from the same Guardian article that accuses Johnson of jumping the gun in labelling the Munich incident as terror-related. Nine people died. The attacker, an 18-year-old German of Iranian extraction, then killed himself.

Since then, the name of the attacker — Ali Sonboly — has been distorted to David Ali Sonboly. That is a BBC link, but I have also seen it on other news outlets where it sometimes appears as Ali David Sonboly. Thankfully, a BBC viewer tweeted in response that the perpetrator’s name is, in fact, Ali Davood Sonboly.

Note the progression from Ali Sonboly to David Ali Sonboly or Ali David Sonboly, when his real name was Ali Davood Sonboly.

You know, we cannot call this what it is or call the attackers by their right names because people might be offended.

The result will be that low info viewers, of which the BBC have many, will be under the impression that this lad was someone he wasn’t. These viewers take the BBC at their word.

I know a lot of people who believe that BBC reports are completely trustworthy because they were 40 or 50 years ago. Folks, the BBC have moved on since then, ever leftward, ever economical with the truth. Their report on Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation on Sunday, July 24, was but another example.

On July 18, three days before Sonboly’s attack in Munich, another adolescent — an ‘unaccompanied’ 17-year-old Afghan asylum seeker who had been living with a foster family in Germany — went on a rampage on a train in northern Bavaria. He took an axe and a knife to 20 passengers. Three were seriously hurt and one sustained ‘light injuries’. All four were from the same family — tourists from Hong Kong who had been enjoying a delightful holiday prior to the attack, including the wedding of an immediate family member in Britain.

The ’17-year old’ (he looked older), whom police shot dead soon afterwards, was reported to have shouted:

“Allahu Akbar” before the attack and investigators believed he had a become ‘self-radicalised’ Muslim.

The same report, from The Mirror, has a video of him wherein IS claimed responsibility:

The teenage ISIS terrorist who launched the terrifying axe attack has been named by Bild as Riaz Khan Ahmadzai, also known as Muhammad Riyad, and he left a suicide note revealing chilling details of his plot, it was reported …

Although police have yet to confirm his identity, a video released by ISIS claims to show him delivering a speech in Pashto to the camera while holding a knife.

The video calls him ‘a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the Wurzburg attack’.

The video appears to show Riyad saying he would ‘slaughter infidels’ with the knife he holds up to the camera.

He says: “I am a soldier of the caliphate and I am going to carry out an suicide attack in Germany.

“O Kufar, the time has passed when you would come to our homeland and kill our men, our women and our children. And your apostate rulers were silent about these massacres …

The rest of the quote is at the link. A Shanghai paper has more information with links to other media reports.

On Sunday, July 24, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee killed a 45-year-old pregnant Polish lady with a machete in southern Germany. He argued with her around 4:30 p.m. then hacked her to death. He also injured two other people. German authorities imply it was a lone wolf attack, nothing more. They also said that others in the vicinity should not feel threatened. The man is in police custody. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported on Monday that the two were colleagues and worked in a restaurant. Authorities are unclear when the man arrived in Germany. This was the third act of violence in Germany within 10 days.

The fourth took place that evening. A 27-year old Syrian who had been refused asylum in Germany — and admission to a music festival because he had no ticket — lashed out in the Bavarian town of Ansbach. He had a rucksack with metal items in it used in ‘wood manufacturing’, as authorities put it. He blew himself up outside a local wine bar, the impact of which injured 12 people, three of whom are in serious condition. Few in authority wish to comment further as I write on Monday, although Bavarian interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, said (emphasis in the original):

it was likely the attack was the work of an “Islamist” suicide bomber.

Yet (emphases mine):

Bavarian police said it was unclear if the attacker was Islamist.

The attacker was due to be deported to Bulgaria and had received two deportation orders, the most recent of which was on July 13. Bulgaria was his first safe country of entry.

Patrons of the wine bar were initially told the explosion was caused by a gas leak!

Pity Bavaria, which has had to take in so many refugees and migrants, particularly during the past year.

On Thursday, July 21, the day before the Munich attack, Konstantin Richter wrote a guest post for The Guardian. He gave more information about the train attacker and migration to Germany in general. Excerpts follow:

There are almost 70,000 unaccompanied children living in Germany, and he happened to be one of them. For two weeks prior to the attack he’d been staying with a foster family. He had also started an internship at a local bakery. In the best of all possible worlds, he would have gone from intern to trainee and then to certified German baker. He could have been a role model …

When Germany’s Willkommenskultur (welcome culture) was still in full swing, its advocates argued that Isis would not dare to target a nation that generously opened its borders to those in need. They also thought refugees coming to Germany would feel such enormous gratitude that they couldn’t possibly turn against their host country. Truth be told, I thought so too, but it doesn’t sound right any more.

The refugees who entered Germany had high hopes. Smugglers told them they’d prosper and find jobs instantly. Now they are languishing in asylum-seeker centres and struggling with bureaucracy, uncertain whether they can stay at all. Many of them are young men who are homesick, angry and frustrated, and extremists are deliberately visiting their homes because they know they are fertile ground for recruiting.

advocates of Willkommenskultur have been on the losing side of the public debate since the events that unfolded in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. They’d be well advised to acknowledge that the open-door asylum policy was overly idealistic, and that they underestimated some of the challenges posed by mass migration.

Meanwhile in France, a policewoman in Nice is at loggerheads with the French government over a report a central government department asked her to prepare concerning the attack on Bastille Day, July 14.

In an interview to a Sunday newspaper, Sandra Bertin said she was in charge of the CCTV room that night. She did not see any national police on duty where the lorry entered the Promenade des Anglais, where the attack with the lorry took place. Local police were unarmed. Bertin says that had they been better armed — like the national police — they would have had a decent chance at stopping the lorry by shooting at the tyres.

National police were stationed further along and were able to stop the lorry by shooting at the windscreen. By then, for 84 people, it was too late.

The next day — Friday — Bertin filed a report, by request, to the CSU (Centre for Urban Supervision), a department of the Interior Ministry but not that of the Interior Minister himself, Bernard Cazeneuve.

She had a difficult telephone conversation with someone who ‘harrassed’ her for an hour asking for specific details of the scene, including the position of the national police. Eventually, Bertin was able to get permission to compile a written report:

“I told her I would only write what I had seen. Perhaps the national police were there, but I didn’t see them on the cameras,” Bertin said.

Bertin, who, incidentally, is secretary general of a Nice public servants union, sent her report electronically.

A few days later, the antiterrorist branch visited her office requesting that she destroy the CCTV tapes she had from that night. She said in her newspaper interview that was because they feared the public might see the tapes.

Officials in Nice have refused to destroy them.

Paris public prosecutor François Molins, whose office is overseeing the investigation, says that the officials visiting Bertin’s office only wanted to see the evidence for themselves.

Interior Minister Cazeneuve said he and his office had no direct involvement in these events. Bertin might be asked to submit to questioning by him or a representative. Even worse, he is suing her for defamation over ‘serious accusations’ she allegedly made against him.

There is a party-political aspect to this. The administration is Socialist. The Agglomeration of Nice is run by the right-of-centre Les Républicains, led locally by Nice’s long-time mayor Christian Estrosi.

From the off, Estrosi said the police protection was woefully inadequate on July 14.

On Tuesday, July 26, a Catholic Mass was brutally interrupted in a town near Rouen in Normandy. Two men, armed with knives, entered the church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray shouting ‘Daesh!’ A subsequent report said, ‘Allah akbar!’ One man had a beard, the other was wearing a prayer cap. They took five people hostage and slit the throat of the priest celebrating morning Mass. He died. A nun, Sister Danielle, was able to slip out of the church and call police. Security forces arrived quickly and fatally shot the two men. The article from l’Internaute (linked to above) said this was ‘very likely’ a ‘terrorist attack’. (It is the sort of attack that takes place on churches in Muslim-majority countries.)

Honest reporting. It will be interesting to see what the major French newspapers say. Let’s hope they do not name the attackers ‘Antoine’ and ‘Jean-Pierre’.

Except if it is Maxime, as in Maxime Hauchard, now Abu Abdullah al-Faransi, who — possibly still in Syria since 2013, according to The Mirror — indirectly collaborated in this gruesome act with Adel Kermiche, according to the Daily Mail.

L’Internaute had a live column of what happened in the immediate aftermath. The priest was 86-year-old Revd Jacques Hamel, ordained in 1958. Someone would have to be pathological to murder an elderly priest, especially in such a horrifying manner. A nun who was helping him at the altar was seriously injured. Some of the other hostages also required medical treatment. Police told those living in the immediate vicinity to stay indoors.

Word of the attack soon reached those at the Catholic World Youth Day events being held in Krakow. The Pope, who is in in the Polish city, expressed his ‘pain and horror’. Archbishop LeBrun of Rouen returned to France and his Vicar General took his place in Krakow. The Vicar General went to the scene of the attack immediately. François Hollande and Bernard Cazeneuve arrived shortly afterwards.

The live report states that this church was on the target list of Sid Ahmed Ghlam, 24, the extremist who intended to murder Catholics coming out of Sunday Mass in April 2015 in suburban Paris. Instead, he murdered fitness instructor Aurélie Châtelain who was in her car consulting her computer in Villejuif, just outside Paris. Then Ghlam ran into a spot of bother. He accidentally shot himself in the leg and was bleeding profusely. He drove his own car for some distance, before ringing the emergency services! Police arrived on the scene and arrested him.

Hamel was an active participant in the regional Christian-Muslim dialogue efforts. Mohammed Karabila, president of the regional Muslim organisation, said he was ‘alarmed’ to hear the news of his Christian friend, someone who gave his life serving others: ‘We are all dumbfounded at the mosque. Our prayers go to his family and to the Catholic community.’

I wrote this shortly after the attack. More news has emerged, notably that one of the attackers, who wore an electronic tag, was allowed to roam freely on weekday mornings. The tag was switched off as usual before he left his parents’ home the day of the attack. The Telegraph has a live column, and other news outlets around the world have rightly given this story the attention it deserves.


These issues with the media and state security forces affect more countries than Germany and France. Belgium’s security police and intelligence departments also have their problems.

The media, however, would do well by telling people the truth.

On Sunday, July 24, the Democratic National Committee chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned because a series of emails — revealed by Wikileaks — demonstrated how Bernie Sanders’s campaign was undermined in favour of Hillary Clinton’s.

The way it was reported here in the UK on the 10 p.m. news made it sound as if that was the end of the story.

It wasn’t.

First, her term ends after the DNC convention in Philadelphia.

Secondly, Ms Wasserman Schultz was rewarded with the post of honorary chair for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Common Dreams has more (emphases mine):

Clinton responded with a statement thanking her “longtime friend” for her service to the party and, seemingly without irony, announced that Wasserman Schultz would now serve as her campaign’s honorary chair.

“There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie,” Clinton said, “which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states.”

Bernie Sanders, who won the popular votes but not the necessary superdelegates during the Democratic Party primary season, had long said Wasserman Schultz was trying to undermine his campaign. Sanders and his team had been asking for her resignation for several months.

The Guardian says that Wasserman Schultz was not directly implicated in the email exchange, however:

she was seen in other messages writing dismissively of the Sanders campaign.

The paper gives an example of one of the DNC emails:

The most explosive new revelation from the Wikileaks release was an official’s suggestion that Sanders’ religious faith, or lack thereof, could be flagged as a way to dissuade voters from backing him in Bible belt states.

I think I read he is an atheist,” the DNC chief financial officer, Brad Marshall, wrote in one email. “This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.

Sanders, who is Jewish, spoke little of religion during the primary, but the sight of a supposedly neutral body apparently seeking to weaken one of its own party candidates caused particular anger among progressives.

A Reddit megathread has a compendium of all the incriminating DNC emails and readers’ comments.

Wasserman Schultz’s successor is Donna Brazile, who was DNC chair in 2008 when Obama won the nomination — over Hillary Clinton — and the presidency. Ironically, Brazile’s DNC pressured Hillary’s delegates to vote for Obama at the convention that year. Many felt betrayed, hence the PUMA (Party Unity My A–) movement was born. Many PUMAs left the Democratic Party that year to support Republican John McCain or the Green candidate Jill Stein. Most of them left the party altogether, and a good number of them are unaffiliated politically.

Brazile, it should be pointed out, later went on to work for CNN, which Donald Trump calls the Clinton News Network.

Whilst Trump makes it clear that he disagrees profoundly with Sanders’s politics, he empathises with him about the ‘rigged’ system. The superdelegates are all Clinton’s, hence her nomination needs only a rubber stamp at the convention.

Strangely, even though he knows the system is rigged, Sanders has pledged his support to Clinton.

Speaking of the convention, we all know how Democrats have criticised Trump as being racist for wanting to build a wall between the US and Mexico, but what about their own perimeter fence in Philly? What is that telling Philadelphia residents and visitors? What are the Democrats afraid of? Whom do they fear?

Back to the email about Sanders’s religious beliefs. A Guardian reader says it worked in South Carolina:

The whisper campaign against Bernie in the south particularly in South Carolina among the church going African American voters was real, it did happen and it was coordinated and extensive. If Bernie had won South Carolina, Hillary would have lost the nomination. Bernie who was unknown was caricatured as a “communist Jew”. I heard it personally. Now, it is clear where it all started. The dirty trickery by Hillary and DNC got her the nomination. Hillary should quit as well, instead of giving a job to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for a job well done. Wasserman-Schultz still hasn’t apologized, or acknowledged, she tipped the scale for Hillary, even though the evidence is overwhelming.

I have read comments on The Guardian article, the Common Dreams post and the Reddit megathread. This is what Democrats are saying:

1/ They are very disappointed in Clinton and the DNC.

2/ This will give Trump even more ammunition against ‘Crooked Hillary’.

3/ Bernie supporters are considering supporting Jill Stein of the Green Party.

4/ Some will vote Trump, because ‘what difference does it make?’

5/ Why aren’t the media covering this story? Because they are being silenced.

It should be an interesting convention in the City of Brotherly Love.

Democrats can say what they like about the Republicans, but at least the #NeverTrump movement was well known during the primaries. The GOP convention managed to make peace among most Republicans and put paid to #NeverTrump as an organised group.

The Democrats, by contrast, are being hit with dissent and subterfuge just as their convention starts. Can the situation be resolved or will this turn out to be a rerun of 2008?

One of my readers, Boetie (‘Brother’), asked for my view of the future of UKIP and Nigel Farage in light of Brexit.

UKIP past

The following will make it clear why many people in Britain had little time for UKIP, although they do acknowledge that if it hadn’t been for Nigel Farage, David Cameron would never have given us the EU Referendum nor would we have the Brexit result today. Therefore, Farage has delivered.

UKIP supporters make Farage out to be a national hero. Yes, he is very interesting and well informed. I have seen him speak in person. He graciously answered the questions I had about his party’s direction. And, yes, it was great seeing him on the hustings with a cigarette and a pint.

However, let’s not forget that, in 2009, Farage was called to account about his MEP expenses. The Observer (The Guardian‘s sister Sunday paper) has a good article from May 2009 which provides much detail. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

The leader of the UK Independence party (Ukip), which wants to lead Britain out of the EU, has taken £2m of taxpayers’ money in expenses and allowances as a member of the European Parliament, on top of his £64,000 a year salary.

Nigel Farage, who is calling on voters to punish “greedy Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem MPs” at the European elections on 4 June, boasted of his personal expenses haul at a meeting with foreign journalists in London last week …

During a debate about Europe at the Foreign Press Association – which was discreetly taped by the hosts – Farage was asked by former Europe minister Denis MacShane what he had received in non-salary expenses and allowances since becoming an MEP in 1999.

“It is a vast sum,” Farage said. “I don’t know what the total amount is but – oh lor – it must be pushing £2 million.” Taken aback, MacShane then joked: “Is it too late to become an MEP?”

Farage insisted that he had not “pocketed” the money but had used the “very large sum of European taxpayers’ money” to help promote Ukip’s message that the UK should get out of the EU.

That is the main reason why I could never go gaga over Farage or UKIP.

Here is another. The Observer helpfully summarises what happened after the 2004 European elections and UKIP’s success. This was two years before Farage became party leader, incidentally:

… one of the dozen, Ashley Mote, was expelled from the party – and later jailed – for benefit fraud. Another, Tom Wise, is now facing prosecution for alleged false accounting and money laundering relating to his EU expenses. He denies the charges. Television presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk, who won the East Midlands for Ukip, later left to form another eurosceptic outfit, Veritas.

Kilroy-Silk, a former Labour MP prior to presenting his erstwhile morning current events show, did the right thing by leaving UKIP. He left Veritas in 2009, and the party was absorbed into the English Democrats in 2015.

Money aside — perhaps it is no coincidence the £ sign appears in the party logo — one then needs to look at what UKIP MEPs and councillors have said. has a round-up of some of their statements from 2004 to 2015. Several follow.

Godfrey Bloom (MEP who has since left the party) said in 2004 that a small business owner would have have to be a ‘lunatic’ to employ a woman of child-bearing age.

David Silvester (councillor, expelled from the party) said in January 2014 that the disastrous flooding in England was caused by the Coalition government’s decision to bring in same-sex marriage. He had also written to No. 10:

I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.

Janice Atkinson (MEP) described a self-employed UKIP-supporting Thai lady with British citizenship as a ‘ting-tong from somewhere’ in August 2014. ‘Ting-tong’ not only sounds bad, but in Thai it is a derogatory term denoting madness. Not surprisingly, the lady and her husband withdrew their UKIP membership.

Bill Etheridge (MEP) praised Hitler for his ‘forceful’ manner of oration. That was at a talk in November 2014 in the north of England.

Rozanne Duncan (councillor) said in a Channel 4 documentary in 2015 that she did not like ‘negroes’. She talked about it for three minutes.

UKIP supporters

During the general election campaign of 2015, UKIP supporters trolled in comments sections everywhere, most notably those of The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Spectator.

Those sites were deluged with the same cut-and-paste messages — many of them lengthy — from the same people day after day after day. Those people should have been banned, not for what they were saying but for the nauseating spamming of those sites.

While the overwhelming majority of UKIP voters and supporters are responsible, well-meaning people who are rightly concerned about the changes they have seen in their local areas over the past 15 years, there is a kernel of support from a handful of extremist-sympathisers. I have read many comments over the years from this tiny faction of UKIP supporters discussing their attendance at fringe/extremist marches.

Farage attempted to change party image

So far, there is something to be said for David Cameron’s referring to UKIP as ‘loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists’.

He said that in 2006 and again in the run-up to the 2015 election.

Fellow Conservative Michael Howard, Cameron’s predecessor, also labelled UKIP as ‘cranks and gadflies’ during his time as party leader.

Farage, who is married to a German, did his best to cleanse that image but with his MEPs and councillors saying silly and stupid things, the tarnish remained.

However, UKIP have gained strength in parts of the South East and the North in recent years among voters who have legitimate concerns.

Nigel Farage

Farage stood down as party leader within days of Brexit.

Leave voters thought he would stay on to police the triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome. However, that was not to be, for whatever reason.

The ironic thing about his abrupt resignation was that, just hours before he made the announcement, UKIP supporters were writing at length anticipating that Farage would not be getting a seat at the Brexit table. In summary (sarcasm alert): ‘Waaaah! The mean, nasty Tories will ignore our Nigel!’

Maybe that’s because Nigel didn’t want to play anymore.

He will, however, continue as an MEP in Brussels. Perhaps his attendance will improve. He shouldn’t forget who’s paying his salary: the taxpayers.

The future — a new party?

Personally, I really do hope UKIP sink like a stone.

The party was weird to begin with and never changed.

Businessman and entrepreneur Arron Banks has given much money and time to UKIP. He also gave £5.6 million to Leave.EU during the referendum campaign.

Banks told The Guardian that UKIP might be pruned back, but he seems to favour a brand new party in a Brexit era. Infinitely preferable, in my humble opinion.

“Ukip grew so rapidly it had problems with personnel and all sorts of issues and I believe that could be better tackled with a new party,” he said …

I think we have a good shot at taking over from Labour as the opposition because Labour are imploding and Labour voters for the first time ever have defied their party, voting for leave,” Banks said on Wednesday.

But he hinted Farage might not be his choice of leader for any new party, saying: “He may have had enough. And by the way, going out at the top is a good way in politics.”

Indeed. Banks should start afresh. He understands what is needed:

Banks has been credited with professionalising Ukip’s referendum push through the Leave.EU campaign. He deployed senior executives and staff from his insurance companies and hired the Washington DC political campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster on a multimillion-pound fee to sharpen its message.

“It was taking an American-style media approach,” said Banks. “What they said early on was ‘facts don’t work’ and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”


I wish Arron Banks the best of luck in putting his project together.

2016 is a year of huge change. The spate of obituaries during the first three months of this year in the US, UK and France signalled the end of an era. More recently, we saw more change with Brexit. We now have a new, no-nonsense Prime Minister. We might well see a Trump victory in November.

Before the year is out, we might also see a new political party in Britain capturing the hearts and minds of many, particularly in England: a new party for a new era.

UPDATE — SEPTEMBER 16: Diane James is the new UKIP leader. The Spectator has details. James won by approximately 4,000 votes over her nearest rival Lisa Duffy. Three others also vied for the post. The Spectator complains that she is very much a representative of southern England and the middle class. Hmm. The same is also true of Nigel Farage. She looks respectable and interviews well, so there should be no problem with credibility. I wish her all the best!

Boetie, I hope this responds adequately to your request. If not, please feel free to let me know.

The Republican National Convention held last week at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, was such a success that Democratic Governors Association (DGA) fired off the following email (excerpted below):

We’re PANICKED, Friends:

Nate Silver just confirmed that Donald Trump could be our next president – and polls show him within single digits in key swing states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida) …

This is NOT good. If we lose these swing states, Donald Trump becomes president …

But, wait, Nate Silver always says Trump can’t win, right?

I wonder if the DGA are also concerned about Michael Moore’s interview last week during the convention wherein he says he thinks Trump ‘will win’, taking swing states like Michigan. Moore describes American voters’ reaction as ‘the Brexit effect’.

No pun intended, but Moore’s opinion has more weight than Silver’s analysis. Silver failed to predict the general election result in the UK in 2015 and, if I remember rightly, he and his at didn’t want to touch Brexit. Yet, Donald Trump called it correctly weeks beforehand.

After Trump’s acceptance speech at the convention, the Washington Examiner‘s Byron York interviewed several GOP delegates, all of whom said the Republican nominee knocked it out of the park. Among the reactions were:


“He rocked it.”

“I loved it — it was fabulous.”

“Wonderful — everything about law and order and the military — it was huge.”

“Oh my gosh, I was blown away.”

“Great — very presidential, actually.”

Meanwhile, left-wing critics from the media asked for signs.

A reporter from NBC — Lester Holt — practically demanded from Donald Trump Jr that Trump Sr show emotion:

Trump responded by assuring his interviewer that his father is indeed capable of crying. But Holt interjected again, and said, “I think we want to see it.”

Trump Jr. answered by explaining there is a time and place for emotion, and that his father doesn’t think now is that time.

If Holt had actually been paying attention to the numerous speeches and films from the convention, he would have heard specific instances of what a compassionate and caring person Trump is. Trump does a lot of individual charity work with families or couples with whom he’s met. It’s private. He doesn’t have to announce it. Nor should he. Imagine if he did. The Left — including types like Holt — would accuse him of boasting.

There’s no winning with these people.

Dems should be shaking in their boots. I watched nearly all the convention coverage that Right Side Broadcasting put out on YouTube, including the opening session on Day 1.

It was an organisational triumph, revelation of unity and beautifully done. GOP chairman Reince Priebus (pron. ‘Reintz Preebus’) can take a lot of credit for that, and I say that as someone who was not terribly fond of him during primary season. This was the most contentious Republican convention in many years.

The delegates may have arrived divided and not all applauded the pro-Trump speeches, but viewers at home saw more Republicans coming together in unity, day by day. They were happy. They were cheerful. They were getting to know Trump better through the variety of speeches given, and not just by him or his family.

The Hill has a post listing five successes of the GOP convention: lack of chaos outside, organisational strength as a party, Ted Cruz’s damp squib of a speech which failed to produce a mass exodus, a great address by Mike Pence and a final evening of inspiring talks and films, many of which pointed to past greatness in American history.

Trump is on his way.

It will be interesting to see how the Dems can top this in Philadelphia over the next few days.

Bible oldThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Matthew 19:16-22

The Rich Young Man

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.


Two other accounts of this story are in the Synoptic Gospels: Luke 18:18-23 and Mark 10:17-22. Mark’s version is in the three-year Lectionary.

I wrote about Luke’s in 2014 and looked at the differences in the three versions.

What can we deduce by ‘rich young man’? My post on Luke’s account says he was the leader of a synagogue because Luke used the Greek word arche to describe him.

Matthew Henry’s commentary says that Matthew’s words in the original manuscript imply that he is a magistrate, or justice of the peace. Henry also points out:

it is probable that he had abilities beyond his years, else his youth would have debarred him from the magistracy.

We are looking at a brilliant young man who is highly respected and comes from money.

He approaches Jesus — Mark says he ‘ran and knelt before’ Him — and asks what he must do to have eternal life (verse 16). The words he uses to address Jesus are of interest in the original manuscript. Henry explains (emphasis in the original):

He gives Christ an honourable title, Good MasterDidaskale agathe. It signifies not a ruling, but a teaching Master. His calling him Master, bespeaks his submissiveness, and willingness to be taught and good Master, his affection and peculiar respect to the Teacher, like that of Nicodemus, Thou art a Teacher come from God. We read not of any that addressed themselves to Christ more respectfully than that Master in Israel and this ruler.

John MacArthur has this (emphases mine):

Didaskolos, or master, or teacher. He acknowledges that He was a teacher of divine truth. Mark and Luke tell us he called Him “good.” It’s added here in the Authorized of Matthew, but it isn’t in the manuscripts of Matthew, but it is in Mark and Luke. And so he said, “good,” agathos. Kalos means good form, good on the outside; agathos means good on the inside, good inwardly, good morally, good in nature, good in essence. So he says I know that You are good. I know that You are a good person. I know that You’re moral. I know that You’re upright and I also know You teach and You teach divine truth. You perhaps know the secret of getting eternal life.

It is also noteworthy that the young man asked about eternal life. From that, we know he was not a Sadducee, who intellectualised theology and discounted the afterlife because it was irrational. He was more of a Pharisee in mindset, thinking of obedience to religious law and the next life.

Jesus responds initially to the way the young man’s addressed Him (verse 17). There was, He said, only One who is good, referring to God the Father. He is not revealing Himself as Christ Jesus here.

He then answers his question: obey the commandments and eternal life will follow.

The young man asks which commandments must be obeyed. Jesus mentions all those which concern the way we treat our fellow man and our parents (verses 18, 19): ‘you shall love your neighbour as yourself’.

The young man is certain he has maintained these all his life (verse 20), thereby setting himself up for a fall. Henry deduces the young man answered Jesus with a lack of respect:

By pride, and a vain conceit of his own merit and strength this is the ruin of thousands, who keep themselves miserable by fancying themselves happy. When Christ told him what commandments he must keep, he answered very scornfully

The manner of his response and its content indicate that he had no idea he was sinning in some way every day. He considered himself to be perfect.

For that reason, Jesus put him in his place by saying that if he would be perfect, he should sell his possessions and become a disciple (verse 21). Remember, Jesus is omniscient. He knew what the sticking point — the source of temptation — was here: materialism. Recall His earlier words (Matthew 6:24):

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.[a]

The young man perceived he had kept the commandments towards his fellow men. Jesus was saying, in essence, ‘Okay, now keep the commandments honouring God: sell your possessions and give yourself to His service’.

The man couldn’t do it, because he ‘went away sorrowful’ (verse 22). In my exposition on Luke’s passage, I cited MacArthur’s sermon which explained that he would have been expected to maintain whatever property and money he had for his descendants or other family members. It’s a tough choice.

Perhaps the better — and humble — question would have been, ‘What must I do to repent and have my sins forgiven?’

As it was, he gave up God for Mammon. Henry asks:

What then would the sorrow be afterward, when his possessions would be gone, and all hopes of eternal life gone too?

Does this mean that all of us have to give up our possessions in order to be true Christians? MacArthur says no. This was a specific reply to a specific person, not an overall commandment:

The Lord didn’t say that to other folks. But do you have to be willing to do whatever the Lord asks you to do? Yes. And it may be different in different cases. But the Lord put the finger on the issue here. He took us right back to the principle of Luke 14:33, the people who are My disciples are the people who forsake all. And He says to the guy, “Look, are you willing to do what I tell you? And right now I’m telling you to get rid of everything.” And He knew right where He was talking because He knew this was most important to the guy. For some people it might be a car. For some people it might be a girl. For some people it might be a job or a career or a certain sin they want to indulge in. For this guy, it was his money and his possessions.

MacArthur goes on to contrast the rich young man’s response to that of Zacchaeus, the vilified tax collector who climbed into a tree to get a better glimpse of Jesus. Zacchaeus was not wanting materially, either. Yet:

Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “O behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor and if I’ve taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” You want to see the attitude of this guy? Boy, he knows he’s been doing wrong all the time and he says, “Oh, I’ve got to get my life right. I’ve got to get my life right. I’ve got to get it right. I’ve got to give everything back. And I’ve got to give all this stuff to the poor. And I’ve got to return to everybody four hundred percent.” This is the opposite, isn’t it? I mean, the guy want…the first thing he wanted to do was unload everything he had. And Jesus said, “This day is salvation come to this house, for he also is a son of Abraham.”

Here’s a true Jew. And, boy, this is real salvation. Why? Cause the guy can only think of what a sinner he is and he wants to unload all of the stuff that he’s taken unjustly from people and give them back, not only what they deserve but everything else he’s got. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.”

Our response to God’s requests says everything about us. May we, too, be able to release possessions, situations or relationships for His glory.

Next week’s reading continues this theme.

Next time: Matthew 19:23-30

The 2016 Tour de France is likely to be defined by Stage 12, which stopped just short of the iconic Mont Ventoux and saw Chris Froome running to the finish as he awaited a new bike.

Running up that hill

The intense crowds near the finish line caused a television motorbike to brake suddenly. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) slammed into it, followed by Froome (Team Sky) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Then, a second motorbike ran into Froome, breaking the frame of his bike.

What do you do?

Mollema was able to get back on his and continue to the finish.

Froome decided to start running up the hill so he had less distance to cover when his replacement bike arrived. Running in bike shoes is not easy. The neutral service car arrived with the replacement bike, but Froome found it ill-fitting. He struggled and made it to the finish in 25th place.

Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) won the stage with Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) coming in two seconds later, followed by Daniel Navarro Garcia (Cofidis).

Deliberation took place afterwards about the riders in the general classification, Froome having been leader for most of the Tour. The Telegraph explained this dramatic Bastille Day stage, soon to be overshadowed by the terrorist attack in Nice later that evening:

Froome lost around a minute and a half on the road and slipped to sixth on the provisional general classification, 53 seconds behind fellow Briton Adam Yates, before the race jury intervened.

They ruled that Porte and Froome should receive the same time as Mollema after the Dutchman got back on his bike and stayed clear of the chasing rivals.

A grateful Froome said:

Ventoux is full of surprises. With about 1.2km to go, the motorbike slammed on its brakes – the road was blocked in front – the three of us just ran into the motorbike and another motorbike ploughed into me, breaking my frame. I just started running. I knew the car was stuck and was five minutes behind.

I think it was a fair decision, and I want to thank the jury and the organisation. It was the right decision.

We agree, although millions of Frenchmen would not.

Froome has received bad press for the second year running, certainly in Le Monde‘s En Danseuse blog, which has also commented on the dominance of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ (English-speaking) riders in the top of the GC and stage wins.

Incidentally, Bernard Hinault was the last Frenchman to win a Tour. That was in … 1985.

The French do not say anything critical about Peter Sagan’s (Tinkoff) dominance of the green jersey for the points competition, however. And not a peep about Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), previously banned for doping, who had to drop out part way through this year’s Tour because of a crash.

Froome rightly

questioned why he faces more scrutiny that other previous Grand Tour winners.

“I wouldn’t say they need more scrutiny but I’ve got to admit it’s frustrating to an extent that if you look at last five Grand Tour winners, there’s not the same outcry for data and numbers. We didn’t see it with Contador, we didn’t see the same level of questioning. I don’t really understand why it seems to be such a hot topic in the Tour de France because I won a mountain stage (to La Pierre-Saint-Martin in the Pyrenees) by 59 seconds. It just seems strange to me.”


Another first — collapsing flamme rouge

As riders were approaching the finish line of Stage 7, the inflatable flamme rouge collapsed.

In addition with a rider running up a hill, this was another first. For years, I’ve been wondering when one of the flammes would collapse. Cycling News has the full story and photos of the incident.

A spectator caught his belt on one of the cables keeping the flamme upright.

Britain’s Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) took the brunt of the collapse. He required four stitches on his chin and sustained other cuts as well as bruises.

Best wishes to Adam for the remainder of the Tour. This is his first one and he has been wearing the Best Young Rider shirt for several stages now. As I write, he is also third in the general classification!

Mark Cavendish

The Isle of Man’s Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) continued to dazzle, taking four stage wins this year before he left the race to prepare for the Rio Olympics.

His 30 stage wins put him second between two Tour de France legends — Eddy Merckx with 34 and Bernard Hinault with 28.

Hinault was at the podium presentations every day. One couldn’t help but wonder what Hinault thought of Cav’s surpassing him.

Team Sky

ITV4 has been fortunate in being able to interview Sir Dave Brailsford of Team Sky a few times during the Tour this year.

He said that Froome was not only an amazing rider but also a well-balanced individual. Although Froome is highly competitive, he takes a measured approach to each stage.

In one of the ITV4 interviews, Brailsford said that the team are coached to remain calm: never do anything out of emotion. Those are wise words all of us should consider.

Brailsford said that team members are carefully evaluated and continually coached so that they can deliver the best for themselves and the team. Each rider’s talents are considered as to where they can best be placed.

It sounds obvious, but careful, cautious initial planning yields better and more consistent results than chopping and changing every so often.

Team Sky are a smooth running machine. Long may it continue.

More ‘Anglo-Saxon’ inspiration

Although the French are livid at the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ mastery of cycling on their home territory, the coach of the England Rugby team, Eddie Jones, spent Stage 9 in the Orica-BikeExchange’s team car in order to study their strategy.

Jones was also interested in the riders’ preparation and recovery.

Stage 9 took place in the Pyrenees, which riders either love or hate. Even Mark Cavendish said this year that he ‘hates the Pyrenees’.

Jones hopes to take lessons back to the rugbymen. The Express had the story (emphases mine):

The 56-year-old, who has won nine out of nine with England, is still not satisfied after their 3-0 series win over Australia and reckons his side can learn a lot from the cyclists.

Jones, who was at Lord’s with the England cricketers yesterday, said: “It was just the professionalism of the preparation, really good individually before the ride, during the ride the information that each rider gets and post the ride the debriefing they did.

“Also the way that they set up, the preparation, it just shows that we’ve done some good things in rugby but there’s still a long way to go.

“There is almost a race behind the bike race as the cars with the head coaches drive behind the bikes giving instructions and water. It’s quite incredible – just the toughness of the riders and what they do.

“They’ve done that nine days in a row and they were talking about their recovery, so they had recovery Monday and they’ll ride for an hour and half to recover. That’s professional.”

Jones is right. Tour de France riders are indeed incredible. I’ve been watching ITV4’s live afternoon coverage in earnest for several years and have been more amazed with each passing Tour. This truly is the king of endurance sports.

Stamina also needed for publicity staff

Just as much stamina is often needed for drivers of publicity vehicles as well as the staff.

I wrote about the sausage and snacks company Cochonou in 2014. Just as riders making the Tour find it a coveted position, so do those hired to work for this company — and others — in handing out free goodies to spectators. My 2014 post described what Cochonou looks for in staff. It’s not an easy brief to fulfil nearly every day for three weeks’ running. You have to be smiling and cheerful even with the most obnoxious customers, even when they spit or urinate on you. Yes, it happens.

Being an official sponsor of the Tour de France benefits them enormously. In fact, it is ‘indispensable’.

Thanks to their Twitter feed, we can see what the company’s publicity caravan was up to on July 14 in a film from La Provence newspaper:

Teisseire is another official sponsor. They make fruit flavoured syrups and ready mixed juice drinks.

They began recruiting for the Tour in February. Their exacting and demanding brief for staff is very much the same as Cochonou’s.

Teisseire’s distribution staff must represent the company properly at all times, including when they are off-duty. Other characteristics which must be exhibited at all times are conviviality, good humour, participation in a close-knit group, proactivity and, of course, smiling. The same is expected of vehicle drivers, who must also keep the vehicles immaculately clean at all times.

It all sounds quite exhausting.

Here’s a short video of Teisseire‘s publicity parade:

Tour de France vocabulary

This year, it seems that the official Tour handbook given to journalists and broadcasters is covering a lot of rider vocabulary.

A new term comes out every day or so and previous ones are reinforced when appropriate on subsequent stages.

As the Tour does not end until Sunday, July 24 in Paris, it is possible that one or more of the following might be heard in commentary:

allumer la chaudière (to light the furnace): be on performance-related dope

descendre comme un fer à repasser (to descend like a clothes iron): to have a not-so-smooth, hesitant or rough descent

être en chasse-patate (to be in a potato chase): idiom for expending a lot of energy on nothing, as a rider does when caught between two groups hoping to reach the one in front and can’t

saler la soupe (to salt the soup): be on performance-related dope

sprinter comme un fer à repasser (to sprint like a clothes iron): to have a less-than-smooth or hesitant sprint

Abelard’s France Zone has many more — including English, Spanish and Italian cycling expressions.

The yellow jersey lion

And finally, in case anyone is wondering if they can order a yellow jersey lion online: no, they cannot.

Those lions are only for the rider in the yellow jersey. Chris Froome is building up quite a collection.

The lions are part of the LCL — Le Crédit Lyonnais — yellow jersey sponsorship agreement which began in 1987, although the bank has been a commercial partner of the Tour since 1981.

Although Lyon’s name in Latin was Lugdunum, implying no connection with a lion, the king of the jungle has been on the city’s crest for centuries and might have had some bearing on the later name of Lyon.

Sports magazine Outside explains the reason for the toy, which the bank has been providing the Tour since 1987:

the lion was actually the mascot of longtime Tour de France title sponsor Crédit Lyonnais.

‘Was’. Outside notes that it no longer is because LCL considered it ‘too aggressive’ a symbol. Executives discussed whether to discontinue the toy lions but decided not to, fortunately.

The lion supply is closely guarded on the Tour.

As LCL’s sponsorship continues to 2018, they will be around for a few more years.

Thanks, ITV4

In closing, millions of Britons would like to thank ITV4 for another year of fine coverage and commentary.

The live coverage has been a joy to watch once again, especially the extended time at the weekends.

David Millar’s commentary has also provided viewers with new, updated information. He knows many of the riders and understands the strategies, augmented by team radios and the latest bike technology.

Jens Voigt’s Tour insight has also been a treat. He sees a few stages ahead and his predictions are bang on the money.

We’ll be sorry to see it come to a close on Sunday. The riders, on the other hand, will be relieved!

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