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On Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Theresa May triggered Article 50 to begin the process of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union.
May signed the letter on March 28 and a British official presented it to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, in Brussels the following day around 12:30 p.m. BST.
This tweet by Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh is dated March 28, 4:15 p.m.:
Tusk takes receipt of the letter on March 29:
Nigel Farage, former party leader of UKIP who pressed hard for the 2016 referendum, gave an interview earlier that day:
He also discussed it on his talk radio programme in London:
Contents of May’s letter
Bloomberg is one of the few news sites to have the full text of Theresa May’s six-page letter to Donald Tusk.
The first four paragraphs follow (emphases mine):
Dear President Tusk
On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.
Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.
This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.
The European edition of Politico has the full text of Article 50, which is brief and comprised of five provisions. Wikipedia explains it further.
These are the salient items:
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
This means that the UK is still part of the EU until the exit process is complete.
However, we are no longer allowed to participate in European Council discussions. In fact, it was interesting that the English text ‘European Commission’ has been removed from signage in Brussels. It has been replaced with another European language, with the French words underneath.
From March 29 onwards, news reports will refer to 27 EU nations instead of 28.
The UK is in an EU limbo until our exit. We must still pay monies to the EU and are subject to EU law.
Article 50 means simply that the exit process begins.
The Telegraph has more. Briefly:
A withdrawal agreement, covering financial liabilities, citizens’ rights and the border in Ireland, will need to be accepted by a majority of 72 per cent of the EU’s remaining 27 member states.
The agreement would then need to be approved by the European parliament, voting by a simple majority.
The motion makes clear that the UK will remain bound by the rules of the EU and that trade talks with third party countries are not allowed for as long as it remains a member.
The irony of Article 50
There is a certain irony behind Article 50.
It was written by a Briton between 2002 and 2003 to apply to EU countries that could become dictatorships.
drafted the text that sets out the procedure for leaving the European Union as part of an effort to draw up an EU constitutional treaty in the early 2000s.
That initiative was scuppered by referendum defeats in France and the Netherlands but some elements ended up in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009.
One of the sections pasted across became Article 50 …
“I don’t feel guilty about inventing the mechanism. I feel very sad about the U.K. using it,” Kerr told POLITICO. “I didn’t think that the United Kingdom would use it.”
When he was writing the text 14 or 15 years ago:
the rise of Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was a big worry for mainstream EU leaders and some southern European EU members had returned to democracy only in recent decades. Kerr imagined that the exit procedure might be triggered after an authoritarian leader took power in a member country and the EU responded by suspending that country’s right to vote on EU decisions.
“It seemed to me very likely that a dictatorial regime would then, in high dudgeon, want to storm out. And to have a procedure for storming out seemed to be quite a sensible thing to do — to avoid the legal chaos of going with no agreement,” Kerr said.
He calls attention to the fifth provision of Article 50, the possibility of reversing a decision to leave the EU:
In other words, during the two-year negotiating period set out in the text, Britain could decide not to leave after all and simply remain an EU member. However, he says he cannot imagine how politics in Britain would allow such a U-turn.
Kerr summed up the exit process simply:
The process outlined in the text is, he noted, “about divorce … about paying the bills, settling one’s commitments, dealing with acquired rights, thinking about the pensions. It’s not an article about the future relationship.”
What is the timetable?
The BBC has a full timetable from now through March 2019. Of course, it is not written in stone, but it is the Brexit objective.
On Thursday, March 30, Brexit Secretary David Davis presented the Great Repeal Bill to Parliament, which will come into force as soon as the UK leaves the EU, i.e. in 2019 (all being well).
On Friday, March 31, Donald Tusk will publish negotiation guidelines that the EU will use.
In April, the 27 remaining EU members will adopt negotiation guidelines at the EU summit.
When Parliament opens again in the Spring, the Great Repeal Bill will be announced in the opening statement.
Michel Barnier, representing the EU, will begin participating in negotiation talks with the UK by late May or early June.
Late this year, Parliament will review the Great Repeal Bill in greater detail. If laws must be passed in certain areas to close any gaps, this will be done by mid-2018.
By the end of 2017, it is expected that Michel Barnier will have concluded the first round of negotiations. He expects to complete the negotiating process by September 2018.
At the beginning of 2019, both the UK and the EU will hold separate votes in Parliament and the EU Council, respectively, on the exit plan.
It is expected that the UK will leave the EU sometime in March 2019.
Impact of negotiations
The next 18 months will require careful negotiation to ensure that the UK is not adversely affected.
Attention to preserving human rights — including those for EU residents living and working in Britain as well as British expatriates living in Europe — will be essential.
Also essential will be negotiations concerning EU-sensitive industries such as farming and fishing.
Trade on food will also be negotiated. Currently, UK supermarkets sell a lot of EU fruit, vegetables and dairy products. We also export comestibles to the EU.
Banking and educational institutions are also weighing up their options. On March 30, Lloyd’s of London confirmed they will be opening a branch in Brussels. Oxford and/or Cambridge might open satellite universities in EU countries.
I’ll have more on Brexit soon and what we might expect to see over the coming months.
As I wrote on March 27, 2017, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s plan for healthcare was pulled on Friday, March 24, 2017. There wasn’t enough support to even hold a vote in the House of Representatives.
It wasn’t a very good plan, anyway: too many vested interests. In fact, much of it was not too different from Obamacare.
Ryan’s plan — Ryancare — was the AHCA, the American Health Care Act of 2017.
Obamacare is the ACA or PPACA, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010.
Below is a brief review of healthcare in the United States.
Before the 1980s
When I was growing up in the US, until the 1980s, general practitioners (family doctors) had their own practices. You made an appointment and paid for it. The doctors also made house calls, when necessary. The charges for both were reasonable. Those men knew you, your family, your health problems. They were also friendly and reassuring.
There also used to be community hospitals in most towns, even small ones.
Hospitalisation insurance — for catastrophic and/or unexpected healthcare — was affordable.
During the 1980s
In the 1980s, HMOs became popular and most employers paid for their employees’ insurance.
I left the US during this time and was not on an HMO plan myself, although I did have employer-paid insurance with a reasonable $100 per annum deductible (‘excess’ for my British readers).
Everything was straightforward.
I didn’t even have a family doctor.
I saw two specialist physicians during that decade by ringing their offices for an appointment. I used a walk-in clinic once. Walk-in clinics were new that decade.
I can’t comment further personally.
After the 1980s
American readers are free to comment on HMOs and PPOs.
It seems that, by the 1990s, everything was run by big healthcare corporations or a large consortium of local doctors.
A new development in primary healthcare arose around the turn of the century: concierge medicine.
Concierge medicine differs from the walk-in clinic or other types of direct primary care in that one pays a membership fee monthly, quarterly or annually for one’s healthcare.
This type of primary care was developed in 1996 by the two physicians who founded MD2 (pronounced “MD Squared”) International in Seattle.
Concierge medicine expanded from there, particularly after the Millennium. Initially, it was rather exclusive and expensive. Patient membership was limited.
However, that has been changing over the years. Some concierge care is incredibly affordable. Visit the YourChoice Direct Care site to see one example. YourChoice Direct Care is in Brighton, Michigan, and is referenced below. The membership fee covers much of the care provided. Drugs dispensed are generic and dirt cheap.
Of course, even if one is a member of a concierge or direct care medical practice, one still needs health insurance.
Health insurance under Obamacare
The obligation to purchase health insurance has become a problem with Obamacare, because premiums skyrocket this year. I have read only one anecdotal account online of someone who was grateful for Obamacare. That person is in a different situation to most, however. All the other accounts I’ve read are from middle class people who are now hit with five-figure deductibles in addition to eye-watering premiums. And we mustn’t forget the co-pay when seeing the doctor. A patient must pay for his part of the doctor’s visit on the day.
My readers who are not American should note that Obamacare is insurance, not treatment.
Another point worth remembering is that American legislators have their original healthcare plans and are not subject to Obamacare.
One can see why Americans are disgruntled with Obamacare — ACA, PPACA.
The proposed Ryancare — AHCA — was no better.
Why did Americans need Obamacare?
In a post from March 22, 2017, Karl Denninger of Market Ticker explains that the bottom is falling out of healthcare. Excerpts follow, emphases in the original.
Denninger has studied figures released by the Treasury Department which show:
the Federal Government spent $1,417 billion last fiscal year on Medicare and Medicaid, up from $380 billion in 1998, which incidentally was 37% of all federal spending last year — and it’s accelerating at ~8-9% a year as it has been for the last several decades (with some notable outlying years.)
At this rate it will cross $2,000 billion, or more than half (by a good margin) of the current federal budget within 5 years. That will blow a $600 billion additional annual deficit hole in the budget into a rising rate environment which the government will not be able to finance.
That’s math, not politics.
This is because high-risk pools of patients began increasing in the 1990s:
That’s a fact, and it was cited as one of the reasons we had to pass the PPACA – to put a stop to their collapse by forcing everyone into paying for those who were very sick or nearly dead! The stories of people who were unable to get into those pools at all due to lack of funding were well-circulated and the crimp put on treatments paid for by them were both well-documented and publicized — again, due to lack of funds.
By 2008, he says the medical and insurance industry were quickly heading towards collapse:
See, while health care counts toward GDP, and is nearly 20% of it today (up from about 3% 30ish years ago) most of it doesn’t produce anything. Not one car, one house, one television set. Oh sure, it might allow someone to keep making those things — maybe — but at what cost? Yes, there are exceptions, but most of those exceptions (e.g. childbirth) are actually quite cheap in percentage terms.
The ugly part is that much medical care is actually negative to GDP. Why? Consider the drug addict who mainlines opiates and destroys his heart valves. “Fixing” it costs upward of $500,000, all said and done. Will that person ever produce more value than that with their remaining life? Definitely not if they keep using drugs; they’ll die. The sad reality is that most of them do exactly that.
How about the Type II diabetic that winds up running through a quarter-million bucks in drugs, amputations, dialysis, blindness and death because they won’t change their food intake and stop eating carbohydrates? How far does he or she go before the ability to produce is destroyed, at which point they’re on disability and go from producing something to a net consumer of everyone else’s production? By the way that specific instance when you add it all up nets out to somewhere around $400 billion a year for Medicare and Medicaid now! That’s crazy on any objective basis; you could literally give everyone in the country — man, woman and child $1,000 a year instead with money left over — or adequately feed everyone who is hungry in sub-Saharan Africa (all ~230 million of them!) with a lot of money left over.
Ethical considerations aside (emphasis in purple mine):
you can’t escape the mathematical outcome that results from allowing these people to impose their costs on everyone else. There are plenty of people in the lower and middle economic strata — in fact, most — who can easily wind up being a net negative to GDP and the problem becomes much worse when medical costs ramp by a factor of six compared against GDP and not all of the conditions in question come as the result of voluntary lifestyle choices.
But in all cases you eventually run out of people who can and will pay when exponential cost expansion occurs, especially when at the same time you ramp cost the income base you rely on to pay taxes to fund it is being destroyed one drug addict or Type II diabetes sufferer at a time.
Why Obamacare failed
The PPACA was basically a bailout of the medical industry engineered to force a more-level slam of the cost on everyone in the country.
But… it failed. It failed because nothing was done about the actual problem and costs continued to ramp. The PPACA managed to get a lower spend in Medicare and Medicaid for one year (and a modestly-better increase in the two bordering it) but spending then returned to its previous trend! The negative GDP problem got worse rather than better in aggregate and moved even further up the income scale on an individual basis. The government tried to finance that through even more deficit spending but doing so just destroyed productivity and tax receipts.
Obamacare does not solve the cost problem:
It just moves the problem somewhere else. Where it moved it was on the back of productivity and tax receipts, both of which have been horrifyingly bad since the 2008 crash. Last fiscal year tax receipts rose by less than 1% despite all the new taxes in the PPACA and higher rates generally while productivity improvements have all but disappeared.
Why the AHCA was a bad remedy
He notes that the AHCA did not address cost, either, and:
if we do not address cost and thus drop that $1,417 billion precipitously the government’s budget will be destroyed and thus collapse on the clear evidence and trends published by our government’s own Treasury Department.
The AHCA failed to even achieve a vote partly for this reason and, had it passed, would have helped to:
further advance the collapse of our federal government’s ability to fund itself, and thus operate!
The AHCA cannot resolve this problem because it intentionally refuses to address the driver of the problem in the first instance. Returning to “High Risk Pools” is idiotic because those very pools were on the verge of collapse prior to the PPACA and were a big part of why Obamacare was written and passed! The insurance and medical lobbies wrote the PPACA to get rid of those problems and pools, or so they thought.
They tried denying math but failed because the laws of mathematics are not suggestions. You can’t get rid of a cost by making someone else pay it; you simply move it and eventually it comes back and bites you.
… It just moves money around, something I noted back when it was first released (and much to the detriment of state budgets.)
What needs to happen
Denninger says 15 USC as well as State Consumer Protection laws must be enforced.
Prices and charges must be posted and must be uniform:
Forcing published pricing and charging everyone the same price for the same service or product of like kind and quantity, disconnecting it from alleged “insurance” using existing law, will force competition into the market immediately.
He says prices will drop dramatically and links to the aforementioned Your Choice Direct Care:
Medical costs will instantly drop like a stone. How much? Let me point out that from one “direct concierge care” site we have some examples of what market prices for common services and drugs look like – $4 for an A1c test, $3.13 for a CBC (complete blood count), $7 for a PSA screen, $275 for an MRI (damn close to what you can buy it for in Japan – cash, of course), $37 for an X-ray and $167 for a CAT scan. On drugs how about $1.98 for 90 Prozac pills, or $1.44 for 30 Prilosecs? This place claims these offers are “at their cost” with your “membership”; note that they are not selling at a loss and the maker/operator of same is still making a profit! Why would you fork over a “co-pay” of $10 or $20 when you can pay $1.50 for your prescription in cash?
Why would you need “health insurance” to cover routine medical care and prescriptions if you could buy services and drugs at prices like that — or at a 20% markup from them with a bunch of competitors in a given area?
We can have that sort of pricing for medical care today, right now, right here, everywhere in the country: Enforce the damned law today and that’s the pricing we will have for medical services and drugs TOMORROW.
Let me make this clear for you because we have proof of what the outcome will be: The known pricing we will obtain if we were to do this is, for most treatments and drugs, 80 to 90% LESS than paid today. In fact most of the drugs listed on that concierge site are 10-20% of your copay under existing so-called “insurance” and so are the imaging and lab prices!
He says any reform legislation should cover — and President Donald Trump has mentioned this — prescription drugs:
repeal the reimportation ban on pharmaceuticals, and we need to add to Robinson-Patman inclusion of international sales. That will force “best price” everywhere and pharmaceutical costs will fall like a rock here in the United States. Oh, those other nations? They’ll get to pay their ratable share of the development of drugs — and it’ll be about damn time.
Conservative media remain silent
For some reason, no conservative commentator ever discusses healthcare reform.
Here’s a list from Denninger’s readers:
Hannity HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Rush HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Levin HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Beck HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Savage HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
O’Reilly HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Hewitt HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Malkin HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Ingraham HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Cain HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Bruce HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Bennett HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Boortz HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Let me add to your list of those who refuse to address this.
Hannity and Ingraham have been sent this info a dozen or so times as well as my Congressman which gets a “generic” health care response letter.
Tucker Carlson HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Ann Coulter HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Stuart Varney HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Even the “supposed” legal commentators have not touched this.
Judge Napolitano HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Judge Jeanine HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Kimberly Guilfoyle HAS NOT brought it to the forefront.
Then lets not even get started on the inability to actually contact or send a real email to any of these people. You have to go through some inane message system on social media or use some ridiculous web form that will not even recognize hyperlinks or colored, bold, italicized text for emphasis …
It appears social media accounts for all of these above are mostly designed for promoting book sales and personal aggrandizement and “look at me” posts.
At this point, every person that seemed like they might actually be willing to listen or discuss this has been notified and has revealed themselves by their refusal to discuss any of this.
Someone replied with regard to those in the list who work for Fox News:
Start asking the wrong questions on that network and you are gone. These media organizations exist not to promote freedom or uncover truths to protect the people but to inflame passions and promote propaganda. This is what happens when only a few large corporations control the majority of the media.
Someone else blamed it on the public:
Because TV , Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have reduced John Q Public’s attention span to about ninety seconds
… fact based essays don’t get traction.
Karl Denninger answered many of the questions I had been asking myself about healthcare in the US.
I hope he has answered some of yours, too.
President Donald Trump enjoys his rallies and his supporters fully expect them to continue.
He enjoys the energy he receives from the American people.
The_Donald had a good thread about this on March 26, 2017. The person who created it posted this moving photo with a thoughtful description:
The_Donald’s readers made up predictable Big Media headlines:
CNN: Trump violates a disabled man.
MSNBC: Trump slaps disabled man in the face.
Huffington Post: 10 Reasons Trump Touching This Man’s Face Shows He’s Crazy
There is another of him hugging a man at the Melbourne rally on February 18, 2017. He got to the rally at 4:30 a.m. and was interviewed by television crews throughout the day. Trump saw the coverage and invited him on stage for a big hug (1:22):
A year earlier, on February 16, 2016, two men dealt with an obnoxious protester at a Trump rally in South Carolina. Trump called the men onstage and invited the elder gentleman to speak to the crowd. Afterwards, Trump shook his hand, drew him close to give him a semi-hug and an air kiss (1:57). He invited the younger man to speak next. The younger man felt comfortable enough to touch Trump’s shoulder twice. Trump shook his hand and gave him a brief hug (3:10):
The interaction the American president has with the public is admirable and sincere.
Can you imagine Hillary Clinton or Obama doing that? I can’t.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s plan for healthcare was pulled on Friday, March 24, 2017. There wasn’t enough support to even hold a vote in the House of Representatives.
It wasn’t a very good plan, anyway: too many vested interests.
However, the media and other opponents of President Donald Trump said he failed.
Dilbert’s Scott Adams sees this as a good thing, because Trump has now risen from being a dictator to merely incompetent (emphases in the original):
The real story is happening in parallel with the healthcare story, and that’s what renders it invisible. Something enormous is happening that has nothing to do with anything you are seeing in the news. In fact, you’ll probably read it here for the first time.
I’m dragging this out to see if you can guess the big news before I tell you. It is something I predicted would happen. It is something the country needs MORE than healthcare. It was, until yesterday, perceived as the biggest problem in the United States, if not the entire world.
And that problem almost totally went away yesterday. The smell might linger, but the problem has ended. We should be celebrating, but instead we will be yammering about healthcare …
With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme. Look for the new meme to dominate the news, probably through the summer. By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to “Competent, but we don’t like it.”
I have been predicting this story arc for some time now. So far, we’re ahead of schedule …
In all seriousness, the Trump-is-Hitler illusion was the biggest problem in the country, and maybe the world. It was scaring people to the point of bad health. It made any kind of political conversation impossible. It turned neighbors and friends against each other in a way we have never before seen. It was inviting violence, political instability, and worse …
No one wants an incompetent president, but calling the other side a bunch of bumblers is routine politics. We just went from an extraordinary risk (Trump=Hitler) to ordinary politics (The other side=incompetent). Ordinary politics won’t spark a revolution or make you punch a coworker. This is a good day for all of us …
As Adams illustrated in his post, that day, CNN came out with an article by Trump’s biographer Michael D’Antonio, ‘Why Trump the deal-maker came off looking incompetent’. It’s a shame D’Antonio didn’t use the word in his article. D’Antonio has a bee in his bonnet over Trump and trashed him last year. (For more information, see this Podesta WikiLeaks email from March 2016 and a LifeZette article from last October.)
However, we have a video of Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on CNN calling Trump incompetent. Way to go!
Of course, this could start calls from Democrats for action to be taken against Trump’s presidency. (On Sunday, March 26, an article appeared in The Atlantic discussing what would happen if Trump were impeached.)
Let’s hope Adams is right with his prediction of ‘Competent, but we don’t like it’.
Before I go into Dearmer’s breakdown of the title page of Book of Common Prayer (image courtesy of Wikipedia), I wanted to point out a very important paragraph of his which relates to it.
First, carefully note the wording on the title page of the 1662 BCP.
Dearmer rightly points out (emphases mine below):
A truly admirable description! What a mass of ignorance would be removed if only people knew the Title-page of the Prayer Book! The notion, for instance, that “Priests” are a Roman Catholic institution, and the still common impression on the Continent of Europe that, the Anglican Church at the Reformation gave up the priesthood and is indifferent to Catholic order: the common idea, too, that “Sacramentalism” is a “high-church” idea foisted on to the Protestantism of England: or the notion that our proper use should be the Genevan Use, or the Roman Use, instead of that English Use which the Title-page orders. Certainly many widespread mistakes would never have come into existence had people but read the words that stare us in the face on this Title-page.
That is an excellent point, well made. All Anglicans — especially those who align themselves liturgically with Presbyterianism — should remember it.
The Anglican Church was never intended to be Presbyterian in liturgy or ritual. There is a small but vocal contingent of conservative Anglicans who say it was and would like to make it so even today. Those people point to the Puritans, who adopted a Calvinistic form of Anglicanism.
Bible Hub explains Puritan theology:
It is not too much to say that the ruling theology of the Church of England in the latter half of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century was Calvinistic.  The best proof of this is furnished by the ‘Zurich Letters,’  extending over the whole period of the Reformation, the Elizabethan Articles, the Second Book of Homilies (chiefly composed by Bishop Jewel), the Lambeth Articles, the Irish Articles, and the report of the delegation of King James to the Calvinistic Synod of Dort. 
This theological sympathy between the English and the Continental Churches extended also to the principles of Church government, which was regarded as a matter of secondary importance, and subject to change, like rites and ceremonies, ‘according to the diversities of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word’ (Art. XXXIV.). The difference was simply this: the English Reformers, being themselves bishops, retained episcopacy as an ancient institution of the Church catholic, but fully admitted (with the most learned fathers and schoolmen, sustained by modern commentators and historians) the original identity of the offices of bishop and presbyter; while the German and Swiss Reformers, being only presbyters or laymen, and opposed by their bishops, fell back from necessity rather than choice upon the parity of ministers, without thereby denying the human right and relative importance or expediency of episcopacy as a superintendency over equals in rank. The more rigid among the Puritans departed from both by attaching primary importance to matters of discipline and ritual, and denouncing every form of government and public worship that was not expressly sanctioned in the New Testament.
The Bible Hub essay goes on to explain the differing views of episcopacy — governing the denomination through bishops — that Anglican clergy had at that time. In short, the Puritans opposed episcopacy, which would have given the Anglican Church a Presbyterian polity.
Bible Hub cites an American Episcopalian, the Rev. Dr. E. A. Washburn, of New York, describing him as a modern-day ‘divine’ (esteemed, very learned theologian), therefore, highly knowledgeable in this subject:
‘The doctrinal system of the English Church, in its relation to other Reformed communions, especially needs a historic treatment; and the want of this has led to grave mistakes, alike by Protestant critics and Anglo-Catholic defenders …
‘The Articles ask our first study. It is plain that the foundation-truths of the Reformation — justification by faith, the supremacy and sufficiency of written Scripture, the fallibility of even general councils — are its basis. Yet it is just as plain that in regard of the specific points of theology, which were the root of discord in the Continental Churches, as election, predestination, reprobation, perseverance, and the rest, these Articles speak in a much more moderate tone …
‘We may thus learn the structure of the liturgical system. The English Reformers aimed not to create a new, but to reform the historic Church; and therefore they kept the ritual with the episcopate, because they were institutions rooted in the soil. They did not unchurch the bodies of the Continent, which grew under quite other conditions. No theory of an exclusive Anglicanism, as based on the episcopate and general councils, was held by them. Such a view is wholly contradictory to their own Articles. But the historic character of the Church gave it a positive relation to the past; and they sought to adhere to primitive usage as the basis of historic unity. In this revision, therefore, they weeded out all Romish errors, the mass, the five added sacraments, the legends of saints, and superstitious rites; but they kept the ancient Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene in the forefront of the service, the sacramental offices, the festivals and fasts relating to Christ or Apostles with whatever they thought pure. Such a work could not be perfect, and it is false either to think it so or to judge it save by its time. There are archaic forms in these offices which retain some ideas of a scholastic theology. The view of regeneration in the baptismal service, decried to-day as Romish, can be found by any scholar in Melanchthon or in Bullinger’s Decades. We may see in some of the phrases of the communion office the idea of more than a purely spiritual participation, yet the view is almost identical with that of Calvin. The dogma of the mass had been renounced, but the Aristotelian notions of spirit and body were still embodied in the philosophy of the time. The absolution in the office for the sick, and like features, have been magnified into “Romanizing germs” on one side and Catholic verities on another … The satire, so often repeated … that the Church has a “Popish Liturgy and Calvinistic Articles,” is as ignorant as it is unjust. All liturgical formularies need revision; but such a task must be judged by the standard of the Articles, the whole tenor of the Prayer-book, and the known principles of the men. In the same way we learn their view of the Episcopate. Not one leading divine from Hooper to Hooker claimed any ground beyond the fact of primitive and historic usage … The Puritan of that day was as narrow as the narrow Churchman of our own.
‘… Lutheranism and Calvinism did each its part in the development of a profound theology. The English Church had a more comprehensive doctrine and a more conservative order. It placed the simple Apostles’ Creed above all theological confessions as its basis, and a practical system above the subtleties of controversy …’
The beginning of the Bible Hub essay summarises Anglicanism well:
The Reformed Church of England occupies an independent position between Romanism on the one hand, and Lutheranism and Calvinism on the other, with strong affinities and antagonisms in both directions …
The Reformation in England was less controlled by theology than on the Continent, and more complicated with ecclesiastical and political issues. Anglican theology is as much embodied in the episcopal polity and the liturgical worship as in the doctrinal standards. The Book of Common Prayer is catholic, though purged of superstitious elements; the Articles of Religion are evangelical and moderately Calvinistic. 
In closing, the essay has this gem on the English:
The English mind is not theorizing and speculative, but eminently practical and conservative; it follows more the power of habit than the logic of thought; it takes things as they are, makes haste slowly, mends abuses cautiously, and aims at the attainable rather than the ideal.
Well said. Such characteristics gave us the Church of England and other churches in communion with her around the world.
The 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.
17 “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt 18 until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. 19 He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. 20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, 21 and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.
Acts 7 is about one of the first deacons of the Church, Stephen, who became the first martyr.
Acts 6 tells us how the Apostles chose Stephen and six other men to serve as deacons: ensuring charity was dispensed and handling any donations.
All of these deacons were beyond reproach and were Hellenistic — Greek — Jews.
As the Church at this time was centred at the temple in Solomon’s Portico, the Jews, including the religious leaders, could see and hear thousands of converts every day. They knew that the Apostles were teaching and doing miraculous healing, the way Jesus did. The threat to the Jewish authorities was expanding. It was bad enough that Jews from Jerusalem were becoming followers of Jesus, but now Jews from other nations were, too.
Stephen was brought to the temple council to defend himself against four charges of blasphemy: blaspheming God, Moses, the law and the temple. Acts 7 contains his address and the council’s action against him.
At this point, he accomplished two objectives: held his audience’s attention and defended himself against the charge of blaspheming God.
As Stephen relates his scriptural knowledge of the early patriarchs, he is also indicting his audience for rejection of Jesus as Messiah. His reason for mentioning Joseph was to get them to realise that Joseph was treated by his brothers the same way the Jews treated Jesus.
Stephen offered the first apologetic — defence of, reasoned case for — that Jesus is Messiah.
In today’s verses, Stephen begins his talk about Moses. Recall that Joseph was Pharaoh’s right hand man when a famine hit Israel and Egypt. Joseph’s brothers and his father Jacob were in Israel. The brothers went to Egypt for grain, the supply of which Joseph managed. Pharaoh invited the brothers to bring their families and Jacob to live in Egypt.
The historical setting for today’s verses is many generations later. The leaders of the twelve tribes have long since died. So has the kind Pharaoh. The people of Israel are still in Egypt, but greatly multiplied, so that they are now the size of a small nation. God was ready to return them to their own land, as He had promised Abraham (verse 17).
There was a problem. A new Pharaoh came to rule, one who did not know the great things that Joseph had done (verse 18). Consequently, he cared nothing for the Israelites. This new king made slaves out of the people of Israel and made them kill their children (verse 19) probably as a means of genocide.
Stephen mentions this because he is indicting the Jewish leaders of trying to kill the infant Church.
Matthew Henry offers this analysis (emphases mine):
Now Stephen seems to observe this to them, not only that they might further see how mean their beginnings were, fitly represented (perhaps with an eye to the exposing of the young children in Egypt) by the forlorn state of a helpless, out-cast infant (Ezekiel 16:4), and how much they were indebted to God for his care of them, which they had forfeited, and made themselves unworthy of: but also that they might consider that what they were now doing against the Christian church in its infancy was as impious and unjust, and would be in the issue as fruitless and ineffectual, as that was which the Egyptians did against the Jewish church in its infancy. “You think you deal subtly in your ill treatment of us, and, in persecuting young converts, you do as they did in casting out the young children; but you will find it is to no purpose, in spite of your malice Christ’s disciples will increase and multiply.”
This period in Israel’s history was the time when Moses was born (Exodus 2). Stephen described him as ‘beautiful in God’s sight’ (verse 20). Moses’s parents brought him up for three months hidden away at home. Then his mother placed him in a basket, which she made waterproof, and set him in the reeds by the river bank.
Pharaoh’s daughter found the basket and a servant opened it to find a crying baby. Moses’s sister was on the sidelines watching. She approached Pharaoh’s daughter, who was quite taken by this beautiful infant, and offered to find ‘a nurse from the Hebrew women’ to feed the baby (Exodus 2:7). This canny girl fetched her mother — Moses’s mother — and took her to Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses’s mother was paid to nurse her own son and when he was old enough, she took him to live in Pharaoh’s opulent palace. Pharaoh’s daughter took Moses as her own son and gave him that name because it sounds like the Hebrew for ‘draw out’, i.e. she drew him out of the water.
Now back to Acts, where Stephen said that Moses grew up to be well educated in Egyptian ways and very accomplished as an adult (verse 22).
John MacArthur describes Moses, saying that the ancient Jewish historian:
Josephus says that the history tells him that when Moses walked down the street, everybody stopped doing what they were doing just to look at him, because he was so striking and so handsome. So he was quite a man. But even as a baby he was exceedingly fair, handsome child.
So Moses was adopted as the son of Pharaoh, with all the benefits. You can imagine what kind of benefits went with being the son of Pharaoh. So he lived in the palace …
He was an amazing person. Not only exceedingly fair and handsome, not only with all of the ability that was his just by virtue of his birth and his inheritance physically, heredity, but what was his by the education that he got in Egypt. I mean, the Egyptians, they tell us, knew geometry and medicine and astronomy, and they were very advanced, and Moses was a remarkable man, with all of that natural ability coupled with the finest and most comprehensive education available in the ancient world. And he was going to be God’s deliverer, to lead Israel to the land of promise. He was mighty.
With this introductory discourse on Moses, Stephen cleared himself of the charge of blaspheming him. He paints a highly positive picture of the man. Of course, Moses was far from perfect as a leader of the twelve tribes, and there were times when he disobeyed God in memorable ways. However, MacArthur says:
But, you see, Stephen stays away from all that. He’s defending himself against blaspheming Moses, so he just praises him.
So far, so good. Stephen had more to say about Moses, which I’ll cover in future posts.
Next time: Acts 7:23-29
On Thursday, March 23, 2017, RMC (French talk radio) had a morning discussion on the London attack which occurred the day before.
Les Grandes Gueules (The Big Mouths) discussed the trend for vehicle terrorism, an ISIS-approved method which started with the July 14, 2016 attack in Nice. The Berlin Christmas market attack on December 19 was the next spectacular. On Wednesday, it was London:
The day after the London attack, Belgian police detained a man in Antwerp for driving at speed along a main pedestrian-only street. Reuters reported:
“At about 11 a.m. this morning a vehicle entered De Meir at high speed due to which pedestrians had to jump away,” a police spokesman told a news conference, referring to the street name.
He added the driver was later arrested and additional police and military personnel had been deployed to the center of Antwerp, but did not give any further details.
The Daily Mail reports that the attacker is French-Tunisian. The article has good accompanying photographs.
French media now call such attacks ‘low cost’ terrorism, meaning that no equipment other than a vehicle is required. The radio show panel debated on whether this was appropriate terminology. Opinion was divided. Some found it demeaning to the victims. Others thought it described the situation objectively.
Regardless, the London attack has raised the same reactions and the same questions of previous attacks.
American military veteran, author and film maker Jack Posobiec summed it up on Twitter:
An Englishman, Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars editor-at-large, tweeted:
He also made a short news video in which he put forth the inconvenient truth about the London attacks and others:
People have been speculating incorrectly on the significance of the date the London attack took place. Reuters has the answer (emphases mine below):
The mayhem in London took came on the first anniversary of attacks that killed 32 people in Brussels.
The article also stated that Khalid Masood — formerly Adrian Elms, then Adrian Ajao — whom police shot dead:
was British-born and was once investigated by MI5 intelligence agents over concerns about violent extremism, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued by its Amaq news agency. But it gave no name or other details and it was not clear whether the attacker was directly connected to the group.
Police arrested eight people at six locations in London and Birmingham in the investigation into Wednesday’s lone-wolf attack that May said was inspired by a warped Islamist ideology.
About 40 people were injured and 29 remain in hospital, seven in critical condition, after the incident which resembled Islamic State-inspired attacks in France and Germany where vehicles were driven into crowds.
The assailant sped across Westminster Bridge in a car, ploughing into pedestrians along the way, then ran through the gates of the nearby parliament building and fatally stabbed an unarmed policeman before being shot dead. tmsnrt.rs/2napbkD
“What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism,” May said in a statement to parliament.
So far, four people have died:
It was the worst such attack in Britain since [July 7] 2005, when 52 people were killed by Islamist suicide bombers on London’s public transport system. Police had given the death toll as five but revised it down to four on Thursday.
that Europeans would not be able to walk safely on the streets if they kept up their current attitude toward Turkey, his latest salvo in a row over campaigning by Turkish politicians in Europe.
While that is strange, it probably remains a coincidence. Erdogan is angry with the Netherlands and Germany at the moment.
Once again, we have the lone-wolf narrative. Patently wrong, as it has been in other terror attacks. Notice Reuters says police arrested eight people. Therefore, how could it have been a lone-wolf operation?
On the notion of normalising terror in big cities, Tucker Carlson had this to say:
Although it sounds clichéd, it is true that prayer — public and private — help greatly at a time like this.
We can pray for the families and friends of victims PC Keith Palmer, fatally stabbed by the attacker, as well as the two civilians who died: Aysha Frade (wife and mother of two daughters), Kurt Cochran (an American tourist, husband and father) and the latest victim, a 75-year-old man. We can pray for Mrs Cochran, who was injured in the attack and is in hospital. We can pray for the 40 injured. Their lives will never be the same again. They will need God’s help for physical and mental recovery.
In closing, The Sun has an excellent set of photographs which tell the horrific story of the March 22, 2017 attack.
In Britain, Mothering Sunday — Mother’s Day — is always Laetare Sunday.
This year, mums are shortchanged, as our clocks change to British Summer Time on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
Laetare Sunday is the joyful Sunday of Lent. Some traditional Anglican and Catholic clergy wear a pink chasuble. The faithful look towards the promise of the Resurrection on this day.
The traditional Epistle read on this day was from Galatians 4 and included this verse (Gal. 4:26):
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Hence the ancient tradition called Mothering Sunday, when people made the journey to their ‘mother’ church — often a cathedral but sometimes a large parish church — for worship. Afterward, some congregations ‘clipped’ the church, which involved worshippers gathering outside, forming a ring around the church and holding hands to embrace it.
The notion of the church as spiritual mother began to extend to earthly mothers, which is how Mothering Sunday developed.
Find out more in my post from 2012:
I wish all my British readers who are mothers a very happy day.
On Friday, March 17, 2017, an anti-Trump billboard went up at a prominent intersection in Phoenix to coincide with the Art Detour event last weekend.
Local NBC affiliate 12News reports:
The billboard art was commissioned by the billboard owner, Beatrice Moore, a longtime patron of the arts on Grand Avenue.
“Some of these issues are so important you can’t not speak out,” Moore said in an interview …
Moore said it would remain up as long as Trump is president.
The billboard is in a can’t-miss location at 11th Avenue and Grand.
The artist is California resident Karen Fiorito, who has collaborated before with Moore (emphasis mine):
This isn’t the first time Fiorito and Moore put up controversial billboard art.
In 2004, Fiorito created a billboard of President George W. Bush and top government officials for her master of fine arts thesis on political propaganda at Arizona State University.
“Dear America,” the billboard said, “we lied to you for your own good. Now trust us.”
Of course, the billboard of America’s 45th president elicited strong reactions:
Moore and Fiorito did expect blowback from Trump supporters.
Fiorito said she has received death threats over the Trump billboard.
“A lot of hate. Things have gotten a lot more escalated now,” she said.
“I just hope that everyone involved in helping bring this message out is safe and that we all get through this unharmed,” Fiorito said.
Death threats — if, indeed, they were made — are beyond the pale.
However, as the old saying goes: if you’re gonna play, you’ve gotta pay. No one sensible can put up something like that without expecting a negative reaction.
According to tweets that Twitchy published in their article about the billboard, the left-wing artist depicted the symbol of a fringe group called the Capitalist Right.
In other news, an Arizona man was arrested for bestiality with a goat: details and photo.
It’s a mad, mad, mad world.