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Last year I finally got around to writing about the history of Valentine’s Day.
(Graphics credit: FünMunch)
Since then, a bit more information has come in!
Let the story continue …
The French site l’Internaute has quite the summary of everything we always wanted to know about February 14, and is the source for the next few sections below.
In ancient Rome Lupercalia was held every year on February 15. It was a year-end celebration of Faunus Lupercus, the god of fertility, shepherds and their flocks. It was also a rite of purification prior to the New Year, which fell on March 1.
The festival had three ceremonies. The first involved the pagan priests sacrificing a goat in the grotto of Lupercal, the wolf who nourished Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome.
The remains of the goat were then used in the ritual which followed. The priests daubed young members of noble families with the goat’s blood which was a purification rite, representing a symbolic cleansing of the shepherds.
No doubt other animals were sacrificed, because the priests kept the blood and the skins for a race through the streets of Rome. They daubed themselves in blood, as they had done to the young noblemen. The skins served as a covering and switches. The priests and noblemen wore some of the skin and carried switches with which to whip people as they ran down the streets. Women were particularly eager for this, because it was said that a whipping was said to give a happy pregnancy and painless childbirth. (This is not the only pagan tradition in Europe where men used to whip women in late winter or early Spring. Central Europe has Dyngus Day, which takes place on Easter Monday and may extend to Easter Tuesday, when women get their own back on the men. No doubt there were more.)
Lupercalia culminated in a great banquet, where men chose their dining partners. This sometimes led to marriage.
It is also worth remembering that the story of Cupid and Psyche was part of Roman mythology.
Pope Gelasius I
Even once most Romans had converted to Christianity, Lupercalia continued to be celebrated.
In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I wanted to put a stop to the festivities. He wrote a letter to Senator Andromachus in which he listed his objections to the pagan revelry. Gelasius criticised the immoral behaviour displayed and pointed out that the pagan worship and rituals did nothing against the disease epidemics which plagued the city 20 years before.
However, Andromachus was fond of Lupercalia and refused to forbid the celebrations.
Gelasius had no choice but to urge Christians to turn the day into one of true love. He chose February 14 to commemorate St Valentine as the patron saint of lovers. However, Wikipedia says that Gelasius initiated Candlemas — February 2 — and encouraged devotion to Mary, recalling her purity. Incidentally, February comes from februare, meaning ‘to purify’.
February 14 was not widely celebrated in Europe until the Middle Ages.
No doubt the notion of chivalry which was popular at that time gave rise to gentleness and honour on the part of men towards women.
Some pagan elements remained, even though the Continent was Christian by this time. A ‘love lottery’ took place in several European countries. Young people drew names of a partner of the opposite sex and wore that person’s name on their sleeves for the following week. On the first Sunday of Lent, the Bonfire Festival took place. A ‘knight’ — a Valentine (see my post for an explanation) — from the February 14 draw was appointed to head the festival. He was accompanied by a young woman. They led a procession around their town or village. The people carried small torches to burn weeds and smoke out garden pests, such as moles, in order to ensure a good crop during the summer months. The festivities concluded with a bonfire.
It was also during this era that young women paid attention to the birds they saw during this time. Some species were said to indicate what sort of men they would marry. A robin indicated a sailor. A sparrow designated a man of modest means who would keep her happy. A goldfinch was said to presage marriage to a wealthy man.
The cross as ‘x’ — and a kiss
The ‘x’ has been used by Christians since the earliest days of the Church.
Initially, an ‘x’ at the bottom of a message indicated a thousand kisses.
The ‘x’ recalled the cross on which St Andrew, the apostle, died. He, like St Peter, did not consider himself worthy to die the same way our Lord did. Also like Peter, Andrew died as a martyr. He had gone to preach in what is now the Balkans and was crucified in Patras in the Peloponnese. During his lifetime, he had travelled all the way to what, today, is Kiev. Therefore, it is not surprising that after his death a great devotion arose to him.
The custom of the illiterate signing their names with an ‘x’ began in the Middle Ages. Those who did so had to then kiss that cross as a sign that they were telling the truth in court or another situation involving the law. Remember, the printing press was still to come, so Bibles were rare.
From this and from the earliest days of the Church, the ‘x’ came to symbolise a kiss.
Last year’s post looked at Valentine’s customs through the Renaissance.
The source for the following material comes from The Telegraph’s 2010 article, ‘History of Valentine’s Day’.
By the early 17th century, February 14 was widely celebrated as a day of love. Shakespeare made a reference to it:
in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet: “To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,/All in the morning betime,/And I a maid at your window,/To be your Valentine.”
In England, men began writing love notes on St Valentine’s Day. In 1797, a book, The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, appeared. It advised on which phrases, rhymes and words to use in these messages, which were precursors to the Valentine’s Day card.
When sending messages by post became affordable, the possibility of sending Valentines anonymously became standard — and still is today in the UK.
By the beginning of the 19th century, sending Valentines was so popular that English factories began to mass-produce them.
In the United States, Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts, began making and selling Valentine’s Day cards in 1847. She was able to use a new innovation — paper lace — to adorn her cards.
Valentine’s Day became commercialised with Hallmark Cards’ Valentines in 1913. February 14 is one of the company’s big card-selling occasions.
Then there was the St Valentine’s Day massacre in 1929.
By the 1980s, a whole industry emerged around Valentine’s Day. What used to be an occasion for a card and flowers or chocolates went upmarket when diamonds were marketed as the most desirable gift a woman could receive on February 14. Jewellery has since remained a popular gift.
In 2009, American retail figures showed that people spent an estimated $14.7 billion (£9.2 billion) on Valentine’s Day cards and gifts.
In 2010 — nearly a century after Hallmark’s Valentines appeared — 1 billion cards were sent around the world.
Enjoy your Sunday and best wishes for a happy Valentine’s Day!
Archibald G Brown (1844-1922) was a famous English pastor who devoted his ministry and life to the poor in London’s East End.
(Photo credit: ELT Baptist Church)
Brown was the son of a wealthy investment banker and was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, his future wife Anne Bigg invited him to a service at Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. The Metropolitan Tabernacle still exists today.
Although the Metropolitan Tabernacle was a Calvinistic Baptist congregation, the night Brown attended an Anglican lay preacher Stevenson Arthur Blackwood led the service. He asked an unbelieving, somewhat wayward Brown if he was a Christian. When Brown replied in the negative, Blackwood said, ‘How sad’.
Brown was 16 at the time. Afterwards, he went to reflect on Blackwood’s words and his own sinful state. Not only was he converted that day, privately, to Christianity, he went on to train for the ministry under Spurgeon at his Pastor’s College. Brown stood out for Spurgeon. Not only was he the youngest seminarian but the most dedicated to the ministry. Hence the title ‘Spurgeon’s Successor’.
Brown’s first ministry was in Bromley, Kent. However, outside of serving at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, his other pastorates were in London’s East End. He became pastor of the Stepney Green Tabernacle in 1864, which was not well attended. However, by 1867, it was standing room only.
In 1872, he had a new tabernacle built — the East London Tabernacle, which you can see in the photo above. The new church could seat 2,500, although another 500 stood to hear Brown’s powerful preaching. Inside, the tabernacle was massive; you can see more photos of it on the ELT Baptist Church site. Unfortunately, Germans bombed the building in 1944. It took ten years before a new replacement church opened, seating one-fifth of the number of people. The church has since left Baptist alliances and is now affiliated with the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches and through it to Affinity (formerly the British Evangelical Council).
Sadly, Brown was widowed four times. However, two of his wives left him several children. Annie bore six and Brown’s third wife Edith bore him four.
In later years, Edith’s poor health required him to consider relinquishing the pastorate at the East London Tabernacle and leave the capital altogether. Before he could do so, Edith died. Mourning her loss, he felt he could not continue leading his congregation without her and embarked on an international preaching tour combining travel. He returned to London in 1897 and married his fourth wife Hannah.
His subsequent ministries included a pastorate at a Baptist church in south London and a co-pastorate with Spurgeon’s son at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in 1907. In 1908, Brown became the sole pastor, a role he continued until 1910, when his own health began to fail. He toured and ministered in South Africa and Tasmania. In March 1922, Hannah died. Brown died nine days later on April 2, 1922.
During his lifetime, Brown and his assistant pastors had an intimate knowledge of the East End and its residents. Many were poor, burning their own banisters to stay warm. Others were prostitutes and thieves. Brown opened an orphanage for girls, started a soup kitchen and founded a summer holiday home in Herne Bay, Kent, to provide relief for the people of the East End.
Brown took a dim view of the modern views and erroneous theology creeping into the Church. He agreed with Spurgeon on the errors of fellow Baptist clergy denying that the Bible was divinely inspired. He deeply disapproved of the new social gospel, calling it an invention ‘by the devil’. He also opposed musical instruments in worship and using secular activities as a means of evangelisation. Not surprisingly, many people who thought they knew better ridiculed and criticised him.
In February 1878, after returning from his travels and newly married to Hannah, Archibald G Brown preached a sermon on hell to young men. The sermon is called ‘The Spiritual Doctrine of Hell’. He gave the address at the East London Tabernacle.
On his trip to Naples in 1877, Brown was struck by the looming Mount Vesuvius on the horizon and went to visit a recently rediscovered Pompeii, much of which was still buried. In August 79 AD, the town experienced a series of earthquakes over several days before Vesuvius erupted.
Wikipedia has a geological account of what happened. However, if anything approached hell on earth, the two days following the earthquakes had to be it. This summarises what happened in Herculaneum and Pompeii (emphases mine):
On the first day of the eruption a fall of white pumice containing clastic fragments of up to 3 centimetres (1.2 in) fell for several hours. It heated the roof tiles to 120–140 °C (248–284 °F). This period would have been the last opportunity to escape. Subsequently a second column deposited a grey pumice with clastics up to 10 cm (3.9 in), temperature unsampled, but presumed to be higher, for 18 hours. These two falls were the Plinian phase. The collapse of the edges of these clouds generated the first dilute PDCs, which must have been devastating to Herculaneum, but did not enter Pompeii.
Early in the morning of the second day the grey cloud began to collapse to a greater degree. Two major surges struck and destroyed Pompeii. Herculaneum and all its population no longer existed. The emplacement temperature range of the first surge was 180–220 °C (356–428 °F), minimum temperatures; of the second, 220–260 °C (428–500 °F). The depositional temperature of the first was 140–300 °C (284–572 °F). Upstream and downstream of the flow it was 300–360 °C (572–680 °F).
The variable temperature of the first surge was due to interaction with the buildings. Any population remaining in structural refuges could not have escaped, as the city was surrounded by gases of incinerating temperatures. The lowest temperatures were in rooms under collapsed roofs. These were as low as 100 °C (212 °F), the boiling point of water. The authors suggest that elements of the bottom of the flow were decoupled from the main flow by topographic irregularities and were made cooler by the introduction of ambient turbulent air. In the second surge the irregularities were gone and the city was as hot as the surrounding environment.
During the last surge, which was very dilute, one meter more of deposits fell over the region.
Now onto Brown’s sermon on hell, which I highly recommend reading in full. Excerpts and summaries follow. Photos are courtesy of Wikipedia.
Brown began by denouncing modern theology, a warning to his audience that they should turn away from error:
Any casual reader of so-called Christian literature must know the distinctive feature of this nineteenth century. There has arisen in the midst of the church an anti-Christ which is known by the name of ‘modern thought’, at whose altars tens of thousands are bowing the knee, and offering their devotion. There is a horrid malaria abroad — a malaria breeding doubt and skepticism, and giving birth to wholesale practical infidelity. Surely the gospel of the present day might be rendered — ‘He who doubts shall be saved, and he who believes shall be counted a fool.’
The eternal covenant of God is torn up with a glib remark and a smile of contempt by some boy-censor. The threatenings of God are having all the thunder taken out of them; and now let any one venture to say that he believes in such doctrines as the sovereign grace of God, an atoning sacrifice, and a doom of unspeakable horror awaiting the man who dies unconverted — and if he is not derided, he will at least be looked upon with contemptuous pity.
Now, the fiercest onslaught has been made upon the doctrine of God’s severity against sin, and the reason why I have selected this topic this evening is that, somehow or another the evil is finding its way into all the homes of our church members …
There is also an immense amount of jargon about the ‘universal fatherhood’ of God. We are told that God is so good, so kind, so indulgent, that he cannot possibly visit a sinner’s sin with the dire doom that Scripture language declares.
He went on to discuss the letters (epistles) of Peter which mention the flood (Noah) and fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.
I. Now let us to our first point, namely, that our text shows that GOD’S SEVERITY ON SIN IS A SOLEMN FACT.
He mentions the verse where Peter reminds his converts that God expelled the bad angels from heaven and sent them to hell. There is no reason why He would not do the same to us:
Young men, can you not see that every argument which can be employed against the ultimate punishment of men, applies with equal force against the punishment of the sinful angels? Am I told, as we are repeatedly, that there is such a nobility about man, such a natural grandeur, that it is almost impossible to imagine that God can ever consign so glorious and intellectual a being to perdition!
Regarding the flood, from which Noah and his family were spared:
Come, Mr Modern Thinker — you who are so shocked at the idea of God ever pouring out his wrath on any — how do you account for this? Does this look like ‘universal fatherhood’? Does this look like an indulgent father who knows nothing of righteous indignation against sin? It has been computed that the population of the world at that time was as great as now, owing to the longevity of the race, and yet the waters rose until the few — the eight — who rode in that ark were the sole remnant of a world that God had made.
Come, open your ears and hear the shrieks of the drowning; hear the cries of the strong swimmer in his last agony, and account for it, if you can, on any other ground than that God is a hater of sin — that when the accursed thing reaches a climax, he pours his wrath upon it — ay, though doing so destroys a world he fashioned.
He also spoke about God’s slaying of the first-born in Egypt:
I suppose that in Egypt there were more people than there are in London tonight, and yet in every house the first born was found dead, and from end to end of Egypt’s land a great wail of grief went up. Does that look like ‘universal fatherhood’?
He also discussed the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites, followed by the swallowing up of Pharaoh and his armies:
their salvation meant the destruction of all the chivalry of Egypt.
He mentioned that some modern thinkers would downplay these examples as all coming from the Old Testament, therefore, ancient history. Furthermore, any vivid portrayals of hell come from mediaeval monks, long dead.
‘Medieval’ is it, to speak about weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth? These words came not from the lips of any mortal man. They fell from the same lips that said, ‘Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Neither Paul, nor Peter, nor any of the apostles, ever uttered such words as leaped from the lips of the Man of Sorrows. Christ’s descriptions of Hell are the most fearful that we have! It is the lips of infinite love that speak of being cut asunder, and about burning with the fire that is never quenched!
II. Now, then, let us look at the next point. THIS PARTICULAR ACT OF SEVERITY MENTIONED IN OUR TEXT, IS TO BE AN EXAMPLE FOR ALL AGES.
it seemed almost impossible to believe that Vesuvius could do any harm. I was almost inclined to think of Vesuvius as modern thinkers dream of God — that surely all the old fire has burned out. Still, there was some smoke rising which showed me that, though at that time no burning lava was pouring out upon its iron-bound flanks, yet it could do it again.
He toured Herculaneum and Pompeii, which reminded him of what divine punishment and hell must be like:
You must remember that it was not covered with burning lava, as is popularly supposed — that would have destroyed the city. There flowed a torrent of boiling mud which cooled and caked, and then over that there went the burning lava; and this again became like iron, so that there was the city sealed up airtightly, and, for 1,700 years, the world forgot that there was such a place as Pompeii. But we not only saw streets covered with the marks of chariot wheels, and houses with their frescoes. There were other sights sadder far. There were the relics of the past. There I saw the marble table, still standing in the garden as it was left that afternoon; and there was a bottle with the oil still in it; and there was the half eaten loaf of bread.
Yes — but what is that lying there? It is the body of a woman with her face in her hand, seeking to avoid the cinders that were falling. And you can stand there and look upon her, still lying as she cast herself down centuries back. I walked in and out those empty houses in this city of the dead, and I thought of the text, ‘turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, he condemned them with an overthrow’. Sudden was the destruction …
The miser was caught as he was counting his hoard; the harlot was arrested in her house of shame; the prisoner was suffocated in his cell, and the sentry as he stood at the gateway.
A darkness that might be felt swathed the city. The earth rumbled; then the sea became tortured; and giant waves rolled up upon the trembling shore; and over all there were the lurid flashes from the crater of Vesuvius, while masses of blazing rock went hissing through the air, and the shrieks of the terrified people rose until death triumphed and stilled the clamor!
At that point he sensed Vesuvius speaking to him:
And the mountain muttered these words — ‘I can do it again! I can do it again!’
In his tour of Pompeii, he saw the wrath of God coming again on Judgement Day:
My brethren and sisters, go back and see what God has done. When God smites Judah it is that Israel should take warning, and he who hurled the angels from Heaven to Hell, and drowned the world, and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, has power still to smite. Oh, do not rouse my God to anger. Will you count his longsuffering to be slackness? and because he still lengthens out the time of grace will you presume on it? ‘Escape for your life.’
I have finished, and, as an old preacher once said, ‘Now may God begin.’ I feel that, though we have tried to preach to you earnestly, our language has been but cold and faint. Young men, I do not suppose I shall ever see you all again. It is impossible. But as surely as you are sitting in those pews there is a day coming in which you will find every word we have uttered to be true. There is a day coming in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the earth shall melt with fervent heat, and the trumpet of the archangel shall wax louder and louder! And if you die rejecting Christ you will find yourself, in spite of all that modern thinkers say, doomed to eternal perdition. Fly, then, to Christ, I beseech you. Trust him and he will save you this evening. Rest on his atoning sacrifice, and all sin shall be forgiven you. Go now, and presume no more on God’s patience. Flee from the wrath to come! May God add his blessing, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
I can add little more other than to second this sermon wholeheartedly.
Modern clergy from Brown’s time to the present are hoodwinking us into thinking God will welcome everyone into the heavenly kingdom.
Believe Jesus’s words rather than theirs. There is a second death in hell and it will last forever.
Tomorrow’s post gives a graphic representation of hell by 17th century preacher Thomas Boston.
Yesterday’s post examined the war-like robberies, grievous bodily harm and indecent or sexual assaults of hundreds of Germans who gathered in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015.
Other European countries embracing multiculturalism have also had similar episodes of shorter and longer duration. Because the perpetrators are of a certain world faith, a policy of omerta has descended on discussing the violation of young European women, which, in turn, extends to authorities ignoring it altogether.
Two of these countries are England and Sweden, where talking about a socio-sexual culture clash invites various responses. The mildest is one of verbal abuse, including being deemed ‘racist’. However, even fathers who try to rescue their daughters can be arrested, as will be explained below.
Why some embraced multiculturalism
In the days before conservative strains of Islam dominated the Middle East and parts of Asia, Westerners viewed those nations such as being exotic, hearkening back to ancient days of adventure and romanticism.
Europeans who were university students or well off sometimes travelled to these distant lands. They were favourably impressed by what they saw in an ancient world courtesy that did not exist anywhere else.
Theodore Dalrymple (a pseudonym) is a retired physician and psychiatrist who worked in England’s prison system for many years. His books and his columns in The Spectator and City Journal describing his experiences are must-reads.
In 2004, City Journal published his reminiscences of travelling to Iran and Afghanistan as a student (probably in the early to mid-1970s). Dalrymple concluded at the time:
On the whole I was favorably impressed. I thought that they were freer than we. I thought nothing of such matters as the clash of civilizations, and experienced no desire, and felt no duty, to redeem them from their way of life in the name of any of my own civilization’s ideals. Impressed by the aesthetics of Afghanistan and unaware of any fundamental opposition or tension between the modern and the pre-modern, I saw no reason why the West and Afghanistan should not rub along pretty well together, each in its own little world, provided only that each respected the other.
We all know how that turned out.
And, as we also know, fundamentalist Islam has spread throughout most Muslim nations. Any Westernised social influence on the 57 Muslim states has waned considerably since the late 1970s. This affects the type of Muslim emigrating to Europe.
Dalrymple has this observation:
The Muslim immigrants to these areas were not seeking a new way of life when they arrived; they expected to continue their old lives, but more prosperously.
He wrote that English prisons had a growing number of Muslims who were incarcerated. In this essay of 2004, he noted that they were relaxed about their faith. Although he acknowledges they had very conservative ideas about women, on the other hand:
Confounding expectations, these prisoners display no interest in Islam whatsoever; they are entirely secularized …
The young Muslim men in prison do not pray; they do not demand halal meat. They do not read the Qu’ran. They do not ask to see the visiting imam. They wear no visible signs of piety …
How things have changed.
Today, Muslim prisoners ask for — and receive — a number of faith-based concessions, including prayer meetings and halal meat. Interestingly, this New York Times article indicates they already existed in 2004:
prisons in England and Wales hold regular Friday Prayer and provide halal food in the daily diet.
By 2009, Muslims got their own cells so they did not have to be with non-Muslims in close surroundings.
Outside of prison walls, over the past several years, a number of larger companies in England have also installed special foot-washing facilities in washrooms, take care with what is served at corporate lunches and cater to prayer times, including allocating a special Muslim-only room.
At least 1,400 girls were victims of sexual exploitation.
The authorities — police and Labour Party member councillors, men and women alike — knew about it and did nothing.
It was thought that bringing it to light would encourage racism — a backlash from the town’s English population.
It is interesting — admittedly, perhaps coincidental — that the abuse, abductions and torture began in the year a Labour government was elected: 1997.
Labour were voted out of a parliamentary majority only in 2010. Oddly, again, perhaps coincidentally, that same year saw the first — perhaps only — convictions that carried prison sentences. Five men were jailed. Three of them are now back in society, having done their time.
In 2013, the Coalition government (Conservative-Liberal Democrat) appointed Professor Alexis Jay as the head of an independent enquiry into the Rotherham scandal. In 2014, Jay published a report on the enquiry’s findings. A handful of senior councillors and civil servants resigned as a result, including the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire.
Prior to this, victims or family members who spoke out or tried to bring the scandal to light ended up being threatened, harrassed or arrested:
- A victim, Girl J, now 30, told Sheffield Crown Court in January 2016 that social workers threatened to take her children away if she gave any further press interviews regarding her experiences in the hands of one of the perpetrators;
- Two fathers who attempted to rescue their daughters from their abusers were themselves arrested — with no arrests made of the abusers, according to the Jay report;
- The Jay report also disclosed that abusers threatened violence against young girls who wanted to testify; at least two families suffered harassment outside their houses, including broken windows; and other young victims returned to their abusers in the hope that would keep their families safe.
Other grooming gangs have also operated in other cities and towns across England.
We need to be very careful how we treat crimes termed to be either traditional behaviour or hearsay from dysfunctional girls.
It is unfortunate that, up until the Jay report was published, no one could mention this appalling scandal online or offline. I know of no one of my acquaintance who talked about it. Online, the most people could reasonably do was to make an oblique reference simply to ‘Rotherham’.
The Swedes are like the English in not talking about multicultural indecent or sexual assaults. Whether these are rapes in cities or crimes committed at organised events, the national response seems to be, ‘Nothing to see here, move along’.
However, the events in Cologne at last opened the way.
This year, it emerged that, in 2014 and 2015, young women were indecently and sexually assaulted at the summer music festival for youth in Stockholm, We Are Sthlm.
BBC Newsnight recently interviewed a police spokesman, the organiser of the event and a member of the Swedish Democrats (SD), a political party opposed to mass immigration:
Katie Razzall, reporting, explains that a number of girls who attended the festival — 17 in 2014 and 19 in 2015 — reported crimes against their person at the time, but it has only been now, in the aftermath of Cologne, that their complaints are coming to light.
Police kept quiet about the complaints because the perpetrators were allegedly young Afghan refugees.
Varg Gyllander of the Stockholm Police told Razzall that there was no cover-up because the police do not reveal racial or cultural details of suspects. He added:
It’s a cultural thing, we don’t go there, we don’t go in those dark places.
Roger Ticalou, who organises the festival, said that there were small groups of young men whose ‘only goal’ was to harrass young women.
Razzall mentioned she’d spoken with the police officer in charge of patrolling the Stockholm festival. Whilst we did not see him on film, he told Razzall that he did not want to publicise the ethnicity of the alleged assailants for fear that would:
play into the hands of the Swedish Democrats.
Over the past few months, and especially during the past three weeks, the SD have been gaining popular support, at least to the extent that more Swedes are realising that perhaps the party’s pronouncements are not racist after all, only based in the reality they can see for themselves on television and in the media.
Razzall interviewed Paula Bieler from the SD. Bieler gave intelligent, balanced responses. She said she did not blame the men as much as she did the culture in which they grew up and expected to continue to live in as adults. She said that Sweden has never before had a gang rape culture or episodes of mass indecent/sexual assault until now.
Around the same time as Razzall’s report, an article appeared in Nyheter Idag (‘i-Daily News’ (?)) which exposes how Dagens Nyheter (‘Daily News’), one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers, refused to report on what happened at the festival.
Nyheter Idag was appalled that, until Cologne happened, the paper ignored the assaults at We Are Sthlm. Now Dagens Nyheter opines:
The mere suspicion that the abuse has been considered as difficult to describe involves a betrayal of the victims.
However, as Nyheter Idag explains in detail, a police psychologist who was an eyewitness at the 2015 concert said he contacted one of Dagens Nyheter‘s investigative journalists — a woman, Hanne Kjöller — who pussyfooted around in several exchanges with him, making excuses as to why she and the paper could not run the story.
The psychologist revealed the reason:
She was very interested and listened until I told her that all the boys and men that were apprehended were young asylants (unaccompanied is the terminology used by Swedish authorities) from Afghanistan and Syria. I sensed that she changed the tone (of her voice).
The journalist from Nyheter Idag notes with irony:
Time passes and a new year begins – it’s now 2016 and the brutal and massive sexual assaults against young girls that August evening in Kungsträdgården is completely unknown to the public.
But then something happens, a rumor that goes viral on blogs in Germany spreads to the so-called “alternative media” in Sweden. After a day, traditional media in both Germany and other European countries start to report on the same issue.
It is, of course, the Sex Attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve …
Now something happens at newspaper Dagens Nyheter …
January, Saturday 9th 2016 Dagens Nyheter runs an article with the headline “Women’s right to party safely cannot be sacrificed”. The article is written by freelance writer Lasse Wierup, Hanne Kjöller’s colleague at Dagens Nyheter. In the article the incident in Kungsträdgården is now mentioned for the very first time …
More to-ing and fro-ing went on between the psychologist and Hanne Kjöller after Wierup’s article appeared. The psychologist had also contacted:
two other media outlets through e-mail to tell his account of the incident in Kungsträdgården. He didn’t get any response, thus he gave up on noticing media about what took place last summer.
Why does that not come as a surprise?
It seems that Western women can be safely sacrificed on the altar of Multiculturalism.
After all, they are ‘only’ women. Even other women — those in privileged left-wing positions, such as media — think that way.
These two events in England and Sweden demonstrate one of the things leftist men and women and fundamentalist Muslims have in common: a blatant disregard for women and girls.
On January 18, 2016, the House of Commons debated a petition signed by 570,000 Britons asking that Donald Trump be barred from entering the UK for saying that Muslims should be temporarily excluded from entering the United States.
Actually, America’s no-fly list is alive and well under the Obama administration. A British Muslim family was forbidden from entering the US before Christmas by Homeland Security.
In the end, parliamentarians concluded:
There will be no direct action as a result of the debate and there was no vote on the issue, but MPs agreed they ‘duly considered’ the petition.
That same day, another Muslim-related controversy arose. Prime Minister David Cameron urged Muslim women born overseas to learn English. A £20m language fund is being established for this purpose in England in an effort not only to help these ladies but also to reduce the possibility of extremism. Not being able to speak the local language can result in social isolation and may lead to discrimination.
Elsewhere in the UK — Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland — the Daily Mail tells us:
Muslim women in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be liable to deportation if they fail to improve their language skills, but will not benefit from the new financial support for courses unless the devolved administrations decide to follow Mr Cameron’s lead.
With regard to the level of proficiency required, the Daily Mail article states:
Asked about the threat of deportation, Mr Cameron said: “What we’ve said is that if people come here on a spousal visa, to be a husband or a wife, we’ve now said they have to learn English in order to get that visa.
“But after two-and-a-half years, halfway through the programme of getting settlement, they should be improving their English, and if they don’t do that then they can’t be guaranteed to be able to go to the full stage and retain their visa.”
Women arriving in the UK under a spousal visa are currently expected to have English skills at the internationally-recognised A1 beginner level – roughly equivalent to a native-born child starting primary school.
Under the PM’s proposal, the women would be expected to have reached the A2 – elementary – level after two-and-a-half years, and B1 – intermediate – after five years.
However, many Muslim spokespeople and prominent Labour Party MPs accused the Prime Minister of ‘stigmatising’ and ‘demonising’ Muslim women.
Julia Hartley-Brewer wrote a good analysis of the situation for The Telegraph. Excerpts follow:
two guests on the BBC’s flagship Radio 4 show … helpfully informed the nation that the Prime Minister is not allowed to talk about issues concerning Muslim women …
It turns out that since Mr Cameron is white, Christian and – worst of all – in possession of a Y chromosome, he is simply not qualified or entitled to talk about people who aren’t any of those things …
Cue the Today’s programme and their two angry guests this morning.
First Zubeda Limbada, of the Connect Justice charity, which tackles extremism and radicalisation, insisted the Prime Minister was wrong to target Muslim women.
“I feel that this isn’t just a Muslim women issue. It affects all of us,” she told the nation. Well, not all of us, actually, Zubeda. Most of us already speak the native language and while there are of course Poles, Romanians and others who live and work here without speaking a word of English, their children are not heading off to joining jihadist death cults in their hundreds, so I’m afraid their lack of integration is not a top priority quite yet.
The other Anjum Anwar, of Women’s Voices, also objected:
calling Mr Cameron’s comments both “unacceptable” and “extremely unhelpful”. She felt “demonised” and, what’s worse, it was “being done so blatantly”.
Yet, here’s the irony:
It was wrong for Mr Cameron to call for more Muslim women to learn English despite the fact that, Ms Anwar informed us, her own immigrant mother had advised her that her education was vital[,] got her empowerment and … Ms Anwar herself had personally helped organise Muslim women’s language classes in mosques.
The Conservative government’s plan is to appoint:
Louise Casey, the Director General of the Government’s Troubled Families unit, to lead “a comprehensive review into boosting opportunity and integration to bring Britain together as one nation” …
Ms Casey is expected to set out the framework for a new ‘Cohesive Communities Programme’, which will “improve integration and extend opportunity” among Muslims.
A Government source said: “David knows that the traditional submissiveness of Muslim women is a sensitive issue, but the problems of young people being attracted by extremism will not be tackled without an element of cultural change within the community.
“At the moment, too many Muslim women are treated like second-class citizens who may speak only basic English at best, and have no jobs or independent financial standing. It means they are in no position to speak out against the influence of the radical Imams, however strongly they feel about it”.
However, the Government is attempting to change intransigent social mores which have existed for over a millennia. It is unlikely, therefore, that a woman who must submit to her husband or, in his absence, another male seen to be the putative head of the household, will not soon be challenging him — or an imam.
It’s a bold move on Cameron’s part, but I do not see things changing in that area any time soon.
That said, one can only hope that women who need to improve their English language skills are given permission to do so from the men in their family.
In another crucial area of English-language gaps, doctors — and now nurses as well as midwives — who wish to practise in the UK must be able to speak the language well enough to ensure safety.
Since the requirement for doctors came into effect 18 months ago, four out of ten physicians applying to work in the UK have not met the necessary standard of English.
Those living overseas might wonder why Britain would need to import medical staff. However, a Daily Mail article from 2014 states that for the £70,000 it costs to train a British nurse, for example, the NHS can hire three foreign nurses, each of whom would earn a salary of £23,000 per annum.
So many things have occurred within the past month in the run-up to the Christmas season.
We had the Paris attacks exactly one month ago today, then the San Bernardino attack. Terrorists are being arrested, shot or blowing themselves up.
A few days ago, Donald Trump spoke his mind. Britain no longer wants to allow him into the country.
Whatever one’s opinion on the matter, the Trump controversy is a distraction from more important events which emerged recently.
Earlier this month, as I wrote for Orphans of Liberty, The Mirror and The Telegraph revealed that one of the Paris attackers had somehow managed to visit England earlier this year. He stopped off in Kent and London. Before the attacks, he also made several telephone calls to Birmingham. What’s more, a number of immigrants have been landing in England from France by private aircraft and speedboat.
That’s more of an immediate concern than how to react to a billionaire. Before reaching for the combox, more will follow this week on the subject.
Meanwhile, we have carol concerts up and down the country. Many will attend, including agnostics and atheists who admire the aesthetics of a grand church or ancient cathedral.
And, as ever, during this time of year, the English ask whether they live in a Christian nation.
Let’s see. England has an established church. England’s monarch is the Defender of the Faith. Our monarchs have been Christian for centuries. Our laws reflect biblical precepts of fairness and justice, even though judges and lawyers might not always interpret them in the best way.
On December 8, The Telegraph‘s Alison Pearson wrote that she would be attending a carol service in Canterbury Cathedral. She points out that we enjoy our Christian-based national culture. Nowhere is this more evident than in chorales, concerts and church services held during Advent and Christmas.
Pearson brought up the depressing report dated December 7, 2015, from CORAB, the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life. CORAB is ‘convened’ by the Woolf Institute, a multifaith body which has close links to Cambridge University.
Pearson tells us about CORAB and the report:
Corab, which includes pillars of the establishment like Baroness Butler-Sloss, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, former head of the Muslim Council of Britain, and Lord Williams, better known as the former Archbishop of Canterbury, says that Britain has seen “a general decline” in its Christian affiliation, and the time has come for public life to take on “a more pluralist character”.
Only two in five British people now “identify” as Christian, and the commission wants a new settlement for religion in the UK. Major state occasions should be changed to be “more inclusive”. “Socially divisive” faith schools must be phased out.
The number of bishops in the House of Lords should be cut to make way for other religions, the law requiring schools to hold a collective act of worship should be scrapped.
She is not wrong. The report’s summary of recommendations are on pages 80-85 of this PDF.
There’s something else. The final recommendation, on counter-terrorism legislation, reads as follows:
In framing counter-terrorism legislation, the government should seek to promote, not limit, freedom of enquiry, speech and expression, and should engage with a wide range of affected groups, including those with which it disagrees, and also with academic research. It should lead public opinion by challenging negative stereotyping and by speaking out in support of groups that may otherwise feel vulnerable and excluded. (Paragraphs 8.22–8.25 and 8.32)
It seems to me, rather ironically, that all this has been moving forward since the London bombings of July 7, 2005. Muslim representatives, including Mr Sacranie (as he was at the time), quickly appeared on the BBC to say their people were afraid of being abused or harassed.
Soon afterwards, hate laws were successfully strengthened to prevent that from happening.
Where schools are concerned, many have fewer assemblies and have moved towards a general, non-religious gathering.
It seems to me that most, if not all, of Butler-Sloss’s recommendations have been moving along since 7/7. It is unclear why she and CORAB need to repeat them or present them as if they are new ideas ten years later.
Pearson points out:
Apart from God help us, two thoughts occur to me. Firstly, if Corab gets its way, British children will never become familiar with the Judaeo-Christian religion which underpins 2,000 years of Western civilisation; if you banish it from schools, they will certainly not get it at home. And the stories and attendant values which those of us over the age of 40 take for granted will be lost.
Sadly, you have to conclude that this is exactly what those hand-wringing members of the liberal establishment want.
Second? We probably have 10 years tops before we stop greeting each other with the unpluralist “Happy Christmas”.
Yes, indeed. It is acceptable to wish those concerned a happy Eid or Diwali but offensive to use Christmas in a context other than a quiet personal greeting.
Birmingham has had ‘Winterval’ instead of a ‘Christmas festival’ for at least 15 years. One of the comments following Pearson’s article says that a mall elsewhere in England has posters for ‘Gift Giving Day’, meaning Christmas. Local Christmas lights have changed from stars, bells, trees and reindeer to anodyne strips of coloured bulbs wound around a light-pole. Every council suddenly sees the need to get new lights, which automatically means the demise of traditional symbols of the season.
We should also remember that whilst Lord Williams served as the Archbishop of Canterbury, he said in 2008 that it would only be a matter of time before Britain implemented Sharia law.
One cannot help but wonder what these people are thinking and, more importantly, why.
As a number of Pearson’s readers point out, we’ve never been asked our opinion on these changes, actual or proposed.
Apparently, our role is to say nothing and await further legislation.
Last year around this time, I featured a post exploring British attitudes towards Christmas, including a brief history of the festive greeting card in the UK.
The man who learned how to print greeting cards in England and then took his skills to the United States was Louis Prang.
Few people alive today know his name. Even fewer probably know that he was in trouble with European authorities and had to emigrate to the US!
Louis Prang was born in Breslau (Wroclaw), which was in 1824, part of Prussian Silesia. This area is now part of Poland, but it had a difficult political history from the 18th century onwards. In the Wikipedia map at the right, showing the Province of Silesia in 1905, you can see Breslau in the middle. (Click on the map for an expanded view.)
Prang’s father, Jonas Louis, was a Huguenot engaged in textile manufacture. His mother Rosina (née Silverman) was of German parentage.
Prang was a sickly child, often too unwell to attend school. His father took the opportunity to take the boy on as his apprentice. From him, Prang learned engraving as well as dyeing and printing calico.
When he was in his early 20s, Prang left home to work in a neighbouring territory, Bohemia. There he honed his skills in both printing and textiles.
He also travelled elsewhere in Europe and became involved in political activities linked to the German revolutions of 1848-1849.
The Prussian authorities wanted to arrest him. He managed to evade them by moving to Switzerland.
Prang emigrated to the United States in 1850. He had hoped to make an immediate success of his skill set, but his venture into publishing architectural books and crafting leather goods did not go well.
Frank Leslie, art director for Boston’s Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, hired Prang, enabling him to earn a decent income so that he could marry a Swiss lady, Rosa Gerber, in 1851. He had met Gerber in Paris in 1846.
In 1856, Prang co-founded Prang and Mayer in Boston. Together, the two men produced lithographs. He bought Mayer’s share of the company in 1860 and created L. Prang and Company. The new firm specialised in colour printing of advertising and business materials. It was highly successful and expanded into the printing maps relating to the American Civil War which were distributed by newspapers.
In 1864, after the war ended, Prang returned to Europe to learn more about cutting edge German lithography. This knowledge enabled him to print high-quality reproductions of famous paintings. In 1873, he travelled to England, where he worked on Christmas and other greeting cards.
In 1874, he returned to the US and began manufacturing Christmas cards for the American public. He is known as the ‘father of the American Christmas card’. He wanted to make festive greetings less expensive and more accessible. Up to that point, only the well-heeled could afford cards.
His first images included flowers, plants and children.
Prang lived and worked in Roxbury, a district of Boston. His Wikipedia entry has photos of both his home and his factory.
Prang’s company continued to print works of art, including a set of watercolours of scenes from the Civil War. He was keen to see American education extend to creating art as well as art appreciation. He published instruction books in this regard and also created a foundation to train art teachers.
In 1897, L Prang and Company merged with another firm to become the Taber-Prang Company, which was based in Springfield, in the western half of Massachusetts. (Taber-Prang filed for bankruptcy in 1938.)
In 1909, Prang was on holiday in Los Angeles and died during that time. He is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain, a neighbourhood bordering Roxbury.
During the next few years, Christmas cards took off with Americans everywhere. Some families began making their own, devising elaborate shapes and adornment, using ribbon and foil. A number of these homemade creations were so delicate they had to be given by hand to the recipient.
In 1910, Joyce C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hall Brothers, which later became Hallmark Cards, a company which needs no explanation. Hall had begun his career in postcards and, by 1906, was convinced that greeting cards were the way forward. He was not wrong!
In 1917, he and his brother Rollie invented wrapping paper.
By 1922, Hall Brothers had expanded nationwide. Having originally printed only Christmas and Valentine’s Day greetings, they diversified into greeting cards for other occasions. The firm adopted the brand name Hallmark in 1928, although the formal company name did not change until much later in 1954.
Over the years, Hallmark has made acquisitions in Canada and the UK.
The company has also sponsored the Hallmark Hall of Fame, winner of 80 Emmy Awards. In 2001, they launched their eponymous television channel.
Hallmark has 11,000 full-time employees, 3,100 of whom work at the Kansas City, Missouri, headquarters.
Amazingly, after 105 years, Hallmark is still a family-run business. Donald J Hall is the current Chairman. One of his sons, Donald J Hall, Jr, is the CEO. Another, David E Hall, is President of the North American Division.
(Photo credit: Hope Christmas Trees)
Pre-Christian winter foliage
The practice of decorating one’s home with greenery during the winter was widespread in the ancient world near the Mediterranean and the lands that would become Europe.
At winter solstice, Egyptians used to bring green date palm leaves into the home to symbolise life over death.
Romans celebrated the shortest day of the year by honouring Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their homes with greenery. Those who displayed laurel leaves did so in honour of their emperor.
Much further north, Druids in ancient Britain used evergreen branches in their winter solstice rituals and placed the boughs over their doors to ward off evil spirits. They also regarded holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life.
Other ancient peoples in Europe cut down fir trees and planted them in boxes inside their homes during this time.
Once Christianity began to spread, some early theologians told their followers to discontinue the practice of displaying greenery in mid-winter because it was a pagan practice.
In the 2nd century, Tertullian objected equally to displaying laurel leaves in honour of the Roman emperor:
Let them over whom the fires of hell are imminent, affix to their posts, laurels doomed presently to burn: to them the testimonies of darkness and the omens of their penalties are suitable. You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green. If you have renounced temples, make not your own gate a temple.
Later, around 700, the missionary Boniface — later canonised — was spreading the Gospel message in what is now Germany, where the people worshipped Thor. In Geismar, Boniface chopped down the Oak of Thor where human sacrifices were made and worship took place. The stories differ as to what happened next. One says that a fir tree sprung up in its place, causing the missionary to think it was a providential sign that the evergreen should be a Christian symbol. Another version says that Boniface pointed the people to a fir tree which he said symbolised the Holy Trinity because of its triangular shape as well as the love and mercy of God.
During the Middle Ages, Christmas Eve was the feast day of Adam and Eve.
Churches used to feature dramas as part of Christmas worship. The plays tied in biblical themes and linked the Creation story to the Nativity. Churches had as backdrops ‘paradise trees’, which were draped with fruit.
By the end of the Middle Ages, the plays were no longer performed in church but out in the open air. Not surprisingly, these outdoor performances soon turned into rowdy, drunken events.
When the Reformation took root in the 16th century, many places banned the plays from the public square and the trees from churches. People began to put up paradise trees in their homes instead. These displays were called paradises even when they were simple boughs.
People decorated their paradises with round pastry wafers to symbolise the Eucharist. This developed into the tradition of decorating trees with sweet biscuits and the near-universal use of round ornaments.
The use of Christmas trees was controversial from the time of the Reformation through to the mid-19th century.
Legend tells us that Martin Luther had one in his home, although Christianity Today says this has little basis in fact. My Lutheran readers are welcome to tell me more in the comments.
The story has it that, in 1500, Luther was walking through a wood on Christmas Eve. The snow shimmering on the boughs of the fir trees moved him to bring a small evergreen in to his home for his children. He decorated it with candles which he lit in honour of Christ’s birth.
The tradition of Christmas greenery continued and returned to church sanctuaries. In the 17th century, however, some Lutheran ministers made their dislike for it known. Johann von Dannhauer said these displays distracted from Jesus Christ, the true evergreen tree.
Trees displayed in church often had a wooden pyramid of candles standing next to them. The candles represented families or individuals who belonged to the church. Later these pyramids were placed on the tree itself. It sounds like quite a fire hazard, but this gave us the tradition of a tree with lights.
In the early United States, Dutch and German immigrants brought the Christmas tree tradition with them. Hessian troops who had helped to fight in the Revolution also made the festive trees popular.
That said, the Puritans in New England banned all Christmas celebrations and decorations. Schools and commerce ran as usual on December 25.
American displays of trees in churches sometimes courted controversy. In 1851, a minister in Cleveland, Ohio, had to defend placing a tree in his church. He nearly lost his job.
The 19th century
In England, the Georgian kings from the House of Hanover carried on their displays of Christmas trees. German immigrants to England did so, too. However, the public resented the German Monarchy and wanted nothing to do with such traditions.
It was only with the popularity of Queen Victoria that the Christmas tree tradition spread across the country. Her consort Prince Albert, of German descent, set up a grand tree at Windsor Castle for the family in 1841. At this time, presents were hung on the branches where possible.
Elsewhere, members of the European nobility popularised the tradition. In 1808, Countess Wilhelmine of Holsteinborg lit the first Christmas tree in Denmark. Although unaware of the Countess’s experience at that time, Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Fir Tree in 1844. Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg introduced the Christmas tree to Vienna in 1816. It wasn’t long before all Austrians had one. In France, the Duchesse d’Orléans had a tree in her home in 1840. The Russian royal family also had a Christmas tree.
In the United States, civic leaders were unhappy with the way that Christmas Day turned into revelry. Clement Moore’s 1822 poem, known today as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”, and other similar works helped to change the nature of Christmas to a family-oriented celebration focussed on the home.
In 1851, a farmer in the Catskills (New York) named Mark Carr loaded two ox sledges with evergreen trees and took them to New York City. He sold every one of them.
20th century and later developments
By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree.
By 1920, nearly all American households had one.
A decade later, during the Depression, tree growers were unable to sell fir trees to companies for landscaping. There just wasn’t enough money for that type of thing. Nurserymen decided to convert their businesses into Christmas tree farms. They soon discovered that the public preferred cultivated trees for their symmetrical shape.
Today, Christmas trees are big business. Ordering them online requires purchasing in November to avoid disappointment. For those who prefer artificial ones, aerosol pine sprays give that unforgettable scent of Yuletide cheer.
Whatever we choose to display, it seems that displaying greenery is an atavistic part of winter celebrations and the anticipation of new life. For believers, that new life is the Infant Jesus.
On November 22, 2015, The Telegraph reported on the two very different responses to the Paris attacks from England’s most senior clergymen.
C of E ‘doubt’
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby now doubts the presence of God:
Asked if these attacks had caused him to doubt where God is, he said: “Oh gosh, yes,” and admitted it put a “chink in his armour.”
He told BBC Songs Of Praise: “Yes. Saturday morning – I was out and as I was walking I was praying and saying: ‘God why – why is this happening? Where are you in all this?’ and then engaging and talking to God. Yes, I doubt.”
I cannot help but wonder whether the ABC is a preterist, one who believes that Jesus’s prophecies about the end times and the events in Revelation all came true with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
If so, I can see why he would doubt. What else is there?
Preterism, it seems to me, is a position adopted by Christians who wish to appear sophisticated and intellectually-minded.
Yet, when one examines Revelation and our Lord’s prophecies in the Gospel, which of those happened when the temple was destroyed? Certainly, there was a long-running conflict between Romans and Jews which culminated in 70 AD, but many events had not yet come to fruition.
Mark 13, about which I wrote in 2013, explains it well. Jesus talks about the coming destruction of the temple in the first two verses. The next set of verses — Mark 3:3-13 — record His prophecy of horrors, from false teachers to wars to natural disasters:
6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Mark 13:6-8)
13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:13)
All these are to bring us to repentance, a deeper faith and appreciation of the life to come, rather than rely on mankind and nature in the here and now.
God works all things to His divine purpose. I do not think this was the time for a clergyman to say that, as events were too raw and shocking.
However, the ABC would have been better placed to ask that Anglicans join with him in praying for the friends and families of those who have died and for the survivors, especially the wounded, that the peace of Christ Jesus helps them to cope in the weeks and months ahead.
Incidentally, I know a number of preterist clergy. They have rather odd views on Christianity. For them, because all has been ‘accomplished’, church is more of a tradition and a social club. I’m not even sure they think that much about the afterlife. They’re too wrapped up in their own neuroses and health issues.
Although Welby acknowledges that the terrorists have distorted religious views, he warned against attacks on IS:
A bombing campaign against Islamic State was launched after the events, but the Archbishop of Canterbury warned against a potentially damaging instant reaction …
‘If we start randomly killing those who have not done wrong, that is not going to provide solutions. So governments have to be the means of justice.’
Why does this not come as a surprise?
Catholic ‘strong action’
Meanwhile, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales:
called for “strong action” to defeat terrorism.
“Terrorists and those who persecute and belittle people in the most terrible ways have to be stopped,” he said. “The judgement of how best to stop them is a political and a military judgement – but there is no doubt that strong action has to be taken.”
Too right. As Secretary of State John Kerry said after the attacks, there must be a multi-faceted approach, elements of which can be worked on simultaneously. These include co-ordinating attacks on IS, improving anti-terrorist intelligence in our own countries and arriving at a panel of Syrians who can sensibly determine how to transition out of the Assad regime into a democratic one not under threat from extremism.
It’s not often when I agree with Cardinal Nichols and John Kerry, but this is one of those rare moments.
Yesterday’s post looked at how Islamic extremism has developed in England over the past decade.
Today’s entry continues the theme, in a less dramatic way although a more personal one with regard to women. Emphases mine below.
The ‘Sharia’ driver
The Evening Standard Theatre Awards were held in London on November 21, 2015. (The Evening Standard is London’s local newspaper.) The English actress Frances Barber, 58, attended the ceremony.
She was wearing a long-sleeved ankle-length black gown with a high neckline and a shawl; click on the link for the full photo.
Afterwards, Barber got into the Uber taxi she had booked. She made small talk with the driver, remarking that it was a cold night.
The driver told her:
Well if you weren’t so disgustingly dressed…
He also told her that women should not be out alone at night.
She got out of the car, slammed the door and sought alternative transport.
Just had a sharia Uber driver, first time in London. Shocked. Reported.
And, she ended her second tweet — which recaps what I’ve already told you here — with:
THIS IS LONDON.
Uber are looking into the matter. We do not know what, if anything, happened to the driver. Barber’s next tweet was on November 26:
Thankyou for so many messages of support.Uber have taken this seriously & am grateful.But clearly there is an issue.
Frances Barber was not the only one who had a negative experience with an Uber driver. Her Twitter feed included tweets from another lady — from the Asian Subcontinent — who wrote:
My sister was told an Asian woman should not be out in late evening. Even tho with kids.
Uber must insist that their drivers refrain from making comments of a misogynistic nature, just as they would refrain from offering opinions on social or political matters.
The problem is that these drivers have no professional driving qualifications. As Ed West pointed out in The Spectator:
… if people want a fully-trained driver who knows what he’s doing, has invested both his time and money in his career, and is licensed, then get a black cab. Uber is not a taxi service; it’s merely a mechanism to hire some random guy to drive you around for a pittance – don’t be surprised if he’s not quite possessed of a Morgan Freeman level of repartee and diligence.
There is also the mind-set that goes along with celebrities and upper-middle class people flocking to Uber instead of black cabs in the capital. Uber attracts these passengers, nearly all of whom are left-wing. There is a case of cognitive dissonance here, as West explains:
Janice Turner recently pointed out in The Times that her friends ‘wouldn’t grind an unfairly traded coffee bean, they champion the living wage and want to tax global evaders like Starbucks and yet Uber leaves such principles squished in the road’.
The Times is behind a paywall, but West’s article has a legible photo of Turner’s article which says that Uber wants to flood London with drivers. Indeed, the Daily Mail article cited above says that they already have 15,000. Turner says that Uber drivers from Manchester (North West England) are going up to London to work weekends.
West rightly notes that there seems to be a British bias against drivers of black cabs. They are satirised as opinionated blowhards. In reality, like West, I have had very few conversations with them. Most prefer not to talk.
West points out that foreign taxi drivers also have political views:
I’ve had some interesting chats – most recently there was a lovely Iranian guy who hated the religious authorities and wanted to restore the Shah, which I’m totally down with – but I’ve also spoken to people who believe the Mossad were behind 9/11. Imported prejudices are not so much a target for Radio 4 comedy, but as Europe is finding out, these days they are much more extreme and dangerous.
Other news stories
Frances Barber’s unfortunate Uber encounter took place in the aftermath of the Paris attacks when Brussels was on lockdown and a day before Channel 4 broadcast Women of ISIS.
There were other related news stories. The Sun received fierce criticism for their poll taken in the wake of the Paris attacks. It shows that 19% of Muslims have ‘sympathy’ for those who go to Syria to fight for IS. The percentage is higher for those aged between 18 and 34.
Oddly, no one criticised the more dramatic results of the BBC’s poll of Muslims which followed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January — 27% of respondents had ‘sympathy’ for the terrorists.
Why? Is it because The Sun is perceived as being a white working class paper? Is it because most people find Charlie Hebdo a repulsive publication? I think so. Therefore, both can be safely ignored.
Biased BBC has a good post on the subject, including the Frances Barber story. Incidentally, Barber is currently starring in a BBC series, Silk:
… if a non-Muslim spoke like that to a Muslim woman in a Niqab that would be classed as hate speech…why the difference? The BBC would be all over that story …
The BBC has not reported this story of ‘racial’ abuse….even though the victim is one of its own employees….the BBC would rather cover up for a Muslim extremist than defend its own employee in the interest of ‘community cohesion’.
They mention the difference in perception of the two aforementioned surveys.
As for Women of ISIS:
You may remember the BBC also totally ignored the astonishing expose by C4’s Dispatches programme ‘Undercover Mosque’ which revealed what the extremists were saying behind the closed doors of British mosques. The BBC instead spent the same week trashing Jade Goody for a ‘racist’ comment she made in the heat of the moment during an argument in the Big Brother house…great to see what the BBC’s real priorities are….never mind extremist Muslim hate speech, instead launch an all out, week long attack on a white (with a mixed-race father), working class girl.
Odd isn’t it what the BBC prioritises and what it seeks to hide. Three Muslim girls go off to be Jihadi brides and the BBC is there for them and their families….however, Muslim women aiding and abetting the radicalisation and recruitment of such girls in the name of Islam and the BBC ignores it.
This is the problem England will continue to have regarding Islam and why extremism is likely to increase rather than decrease in the short term.
The BBC are partly to blame. The BBC have a huge hold on the British public. Our neighbours religiously watch their news programmes and adopt the Beeb’s perspective on everything. There are millions more just like them.
At least the newspapers came out in support of Frances Barber. However, they need to also find out about other Uber drivers and anyone else who is telling women to stay off the streets at night.
We are not too different to Belgians and Swedes who attempt to brush a real problem aside in the name of tolerance with unenviable consequences. Belgian Jews are now beginning to leave the country. Nearly all of Sweden’s rapes are committed by one demographic. However, these are seen as minor issues which have been exaggerated.
At least France’s Muslim pundits are now beginning to speak out firmly against radicalisation. Mohammed Chirani, a political analyst and anti-terror specialist, is one such example. I have often heard him on RMC (radio). He speaks sense on many subjects. After the Paris attacks, he appeared on France’s iTele with this message (English subtitles at the MEMRI link). He says, in part, to the notional ‘caliph’ of IS, his followers and the Paris attackers:
We are the ones who will be kept firm. Truth is on our side. You are the wrongdoers. Know that our dead, the innocent French citizens, are in Paradise, and your dead, the terrorists, are in Hell. Know that Allah is our Protector and that you have no protector.
I’d like to tell you that you will not succeed in igniting the fire of strife in France … I’d like to tell you that we will wage jihad against you with the Quran. I’d like to tell the traitors who deceived France, betrayed their country and burned their IDs that we are kissing our ID documents.
At that point, he kissed his French passport.
England could use at least one, if not several, Mohammed Chiranis.
Last week, Britain’s Channel 4 broadcast ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled, available to replay for the next three weeks.
When I saw it, the programme was part of the Dispatches series and was called Women of ISIS. I checked the television schedules, which had no listings for it. Just as well, perhaps.
The documentary shows how a young undercover reporter, Aisha, infiltrates extremist women’s groups led by two women. The women’s groups were hard to penetrate, and, yes, at the end, Aisha was uncovered. I hope she has a few minders around her for safety, as this material — which took a year to collect — is still quite recent. Aisha finished her report in October 2015, a few weeks before the Paris attacks. The Telegraph has a good summary. Their readers’ comments are also informative.
Since then, The Asian Centre in Walthamstow (east London) has cancelled the ladies’ tea afternoons. However, there is still at least one other centre which allows these women to meet. It is near Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, also in east London.
Channel 4’s press release has more information about the programme, which contains hateful language that one of the analysts looking at excerpts said might merit a visit from the police.
However, we have yet to find out whether these women have been questioned by the authorities.
The women persuade other females, including teenage girls, to fight for the new caliphate in the Islamic State. It did not surprise me, although I did learn three things:
1/ According to extremists, a ‘true’ Muslim does not obey the laws or customs of his/her country because they are man-made. Allah is the only one who must be obeyed. Therefore, voting, poppy-wearing and so forth are, in these women’s eyes, akin to apostasy.
2/ For the reason stated above, extremist Muslims are fully opposed to democracy, which, as a man-made concept, runs counter to Allah’s laws for mankind.
3/ ‘Die in your rage’ is the IS message/slogan to unbelievers. IS and their sympathisers practise the psychological phenomenon of projection, whereby they are the angry people, yet they accuse us of rage. In any event, the slogan explains the videos which came out after the Paris attacks where victims’ families politely countered, ‘I am not angry’.
My British readers will note that none of this is new. In 2007, Channel 4 aired the documentary Undercover Mosque, which you can see in full on Vimeo. That documentary, along with its 2008 follow-up (see YouTube below), explores the men’s side of extremism. Each programme lasts 45 minutes.
I highly recommend these documentaries, even if you think you fully understand the subject.
Among other things, I learned that they call Jewish people ‘monkeys’ and Christians ‘pigs’.
I have now watched all three documentaries.
I am not angry.
I feel sorry for these extremists.
After viewing these films, I spent several minutes praying for them, that their hearts may be filled with divine grace.
It won’t be the last time I ask that petition of our only fully divine and fully human Mediator and Advocate.