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The UK-EU deal deadline looms.

With fewer than 100 days left, October is a decisive month:

On October 8, The Independent reported (emphases mine):

So what are the chances of a Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU before the end of 2020? Michael Gove told MPs on Wednesday the chances were around “66 per cent” – while No 10’s negotiator also sounded relatively upbeat.

But EU officials are sceptical about the shift in tone from Downing Street, claiming the UK side was “pushing a sense of positivism and momentum, but we just don’t see it”.

One Brussels official has told Politico: “We are seriously questioning their tactic and why they are sending these kinds of messages as there is no deal in sight at all at this point.

There’s clearly a spin that the UK wants to get out there: a deal is within reach, only fish is still a problem. That’s complete nonsense, as a deal on none of the EU’s red lines is nowhere in sight at this stage.”

Well, we’ll see.

This is what our chief negotiator David Frost had to say on September 13:

On Friday, October 2, he issued a statement after Round 9 of the negotiations:

These were constructive discussions conducted in a good spirit.

In many areas of our talks, although differences remain, the outlines of an agreement are visible.  This is true of most of the core areas of a trade and economic agreement – notably trade in goods and services, transport, energy, social security, and participation in EU programmes.  This has however been true for some time.

I am also encouraged that progress has been possible on a law enforcement agreement and that there has been convergence on the structure of the overall partnership.

In other areas familiar differences remain. On the level playing field, including subsidy policy, we continue to seek an agreement that ensures our ability to set our own laws in the UK without constraints that go beyond those appropriate to a free trade agreement.  There has been some limited progress here but the EU need to move further before an understanding can be reachedOn fisheries the gap between us is unfortunately very large and, without further realism and flexibility from the EU, risks being impossible to bridge.  These issues are fundamental to our future status as an independent country.

I am concerned that there is very little time now to resolve these issues ahead of the European Council on 15 October.

For our part, we continue to be fully committed to working hard to find solutions, if they are there to be found.

In any event, by now, ‘no deal’ might not be such a big deal, given the replies to this tweet from a London Assembly member:

One wonders if the UK and EU negotiators are aware of the following:

On Tuesday, September 29, the third reading of the Internal Market Bill passed the House of Commons:

It then went to the House of Lords:

Most of the Lords are Remainers, so what happens if they reject it?

The first reading of the Internal Market Bill in the House of Lords, a brief formality, took place on Wednesday, September 30.

The following day, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU Commission, said that legal proceedings against the UK were underway:

This is not unusual:

The bill’s second reading in the Lords, which includes a debate, takes place on October 19.

On October 6, news emerged that European leaders want Prime Minister Boris Johnson to get involved in talks:

There’s a Boris alert in tweet 3:

Things are tricky at the moment:

The thread ends with another call for Boris to get involved:

However, another commentator thinks that the request for Boris to get involved reveals the EU’s panic:

On September 17, Guido Fawkes explained what would happen in the worst case scenario involving EU negotiations and rejection of the Internal Market Bill in the Lords (emphases in the original):

There it faces not only opposition from a lawyer-stuffed house dominated by non-Tory remainers Peers, but also Brexiteers like Michael Howard who have today refused to accept the compromise. One Lords source tells Guido that after the Commons won a concession the Lords will expect something now too…

In reality, the Government is considering a likely defeat. A senior source tells Guido that in the event the Bill is rejected by the Lords then the Government would have to convene a new session of Parliament in order to ‘Parliament Act’ the legislation through without the Lords’ consent. To convene a new session the Government would have to prorogue Parliament again (Because it went so well last time)…

If the EU fails to engage constructively by Boris’s 15th October deadline, talks will be cut off. After that date, heading for no FTA, the UK will either seek to escape the jurisdiction of the Withdrawal Agreement by declaring the EU did not act in good faith, or act more decisively to start a new session of Parliament to get the Internal Market Bill past the Lords. Or both.

Meanwhile, on the upside, Marshall Aerospace has won a huge contract with the United States Marine Corps:

On September 30, the UK and Norway reached an important agreement on fishing.

DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) announced:

The UK has today signed an historic fisheries agreement with Norway – the UK’s first since leaving the EU and first as an independent coastal state in 40 years.

The Fisheries Framework Agreement signed today by Environment Secretary George Eustice and Norwegian Fisheries Minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen will mean that the UK and Norway hold annual negotiations on the issues of access to waters and quotas.

It is a significant step forward as the UK prepares to leave the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy at the end of December. Leaving the EU means the UK is able to decide who can access its waters and on what terms, in the best interest of its marine environment and its seafood and fishing sectors.

The agreement demonstrates the shared will of the UK and Norway to cooperate as independent coastal states and seek effective and sustainable management of their fisheries. The treaty incorporates the same principles that the UK is currently seeking with the EU – a framework agreement which reflects the UK’s and Norway’s rights under international law.

The Norwegian government was equally enthusiastic:

This is a great day! I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with the United Kingdom, which will be an important coastal state and partner from January 2021, says the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen.

Arrangements for reciprocal fishing access and the exchange of fishing quotas will be made through annual fishing agreements, as today. Other parts of the fisheries cooperation in the North Sea will, however, need to be regulated by a separate tripartite agreement between the EU, Norway and the United Kingdom.

– I am glad that we now have an agreement that provides a framework for extensive fisheries cooperation with the UK, which is an important country for Norway. The agreement is consistent with our obligations under the law of the sea to cooperate with other coastal states on the joint management of shared fish stocks, in line with modern sustainable management regimes, an ecosystem-based approach and the precautionary principle. We will also maintain our close cooperation with the EU on fisheries in the North Sea. We look forward to putting in place a trilateral agreement between Norway, the UK and the EU on the management of joint fish stocks in the North Sea, once Brexit becomes a reality, said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

The City of London is well positioned as a leading global financial centre:

On September 25, Guido reported (highlights in the original):

London has managed to significantly close the gap on New York in the competition to be the leading global financial centre, gaining 24 points in the latest Global Financial Centres Index and leaving the capital just four points behind the Big Apple. Despite Brexit and Corona…

The 24 point jump is by far the largest of the top 20 index, with Shenzhen seeing the second-highest rise of 10 points to 9th place. On top of London’s triumph, Edinburgh has also risen two points 14th place. The best the EU can muster is Luxembourg in 12th place and Paris in 18th. Shanghai, which remains in 3rd place, was previously only 2 points behind London, however has now opened up a -18 gap…

On September 23, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told ITV’s Robert Peston that he sees no reason to delay Brexit.

The new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, found that the Britons he spoke with had no appetite to delay our departure. I wonder if he was surprised. A year ago at this time, the Lib Dems were desperate to reverse Brexit and made that the focus of their general election campaign:

On September 13, the UK finalised a trade deal with Japan:

And there’s a bit more good news about British beef and the prospect of our joining the Pacific Rim trading bloc:

I truly hope that we do exit from the EU once and for all on December 31, 2020.

That would be a real treat — and accomplishment — in what has been, for the most part, a dreadful year.

This is my final post on the EU Referendum before June 23, 2016.

All my previous posts on the topic are under Brexit. They appear when you click that link.

Emphases mine below, unless otherwise specified.

Two must-see films

Yesterday, I said that I would post two more important films, in addition to Brexit: The Movie.

The first is 35 minutes long and is an independent production from 2008. The late Sir Patrick Moore introduced it. Two journalists, one of whom is The Telegraph‘s Christopher Booker, an economist and a Russian refugee to the UK made the case for our leaving the EU.

It provides a useful history of the EU in short segments. One of the early segments explains how the EU was designed from the beginning to expand incrementally, step by step, not only in terms of territory but also in structure.

Writer and lecturer Vladimir Bukovsky had the final segment. He saw a direct parallel between the growth and structure of the former USSR and that of the EU. Chilling.

The second film is from Labour Leave. Lexit the Movie is an hour long. It traces the Labour Party’s historical opposition to the EU in the 1970s. It also describes how the UK declined by being in the EU.

The fisheries segment is particularly depressing. Important English and Scottish ports, which used to be bustling with hundreds of boats and hundreds of fishing industry employees, have shrunk to a handful of vessels and a few dozen workers. The fishermen who came of age in the 1970s tell their stories most ably.

Labour politicians, union leaders and workers explain why leaving the EU will benefit Great Britain. I strongly encourage my Labour-leaning readers to take an hour out of their day to watch this. Kate Hoey is in it. She is a remarkable politician. George Galloway and Jim Sillars are also interviewed. Keep in mind that those three entered politics around the time of the first referendum in 1975 (see next part of the post), so that experience no doubt formed their thinking on the subject. All make excellent points, even though I am not at all keen on Labour or George Galloway.

Several of the people interviewed said the big banks, such as JP Morgan, are the ones encouraging Remain, because that is what would benefit them.

Two short clips and some history

Labour – 1970s

In 2013, not long before his death, the former Labour MP Tony Benn addressed the Oxford Union and discussed the EU, which he said would

frighten and demoralise people

into remaining. This clip is two and a half minutes long. Again, I was never a Benn fan, but he was spot on regarding Brussels:

Benn spearheaded the effort to give the British people their first referendum on EU membership in 1975. He warned how dangerous remaining would be. And so it has proven 41 years later.

Unfortunately, people were so fed up with the antics of Labour in general under Harold Wilson’s second term that the party did themselves no favours. Even today, people aged 50+ have vivid and unpleasant memories of strikes, three-day working weeks and limited electricity. This discontent ran from 1973 through to 1979. This is why Margaret Thatcher took such a tough stance when she won the 1979 election. She also actively campaigned for Britain to stay in the European project in 1975.

As a result, the British voted overwhelmingly to remain in the Common Market, as it was known at the time. Not surprisingly, everyone believed it would remain a trade-based construct. The truth was in the name, wasn’t it?

Now it is called the European Union, with a bevy of unelected officials and highly-paid bureaucrats who want to break down the nation state and replace it bit by bit with a centrally-controlled federation run by anonymous, unaccountable men and women who influence our law-making and destroy our distinctive history.

Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker exemplifies this perfectly. The Telegraph has a few of his most outrageous quotes, which include the following (emphases in the original):

On EU monetary policy

“I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious … I am for secret, dark debates”

On British calls for a referendum over Lisbon Treaty

“Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?”

Are Remainers understanding the bigger picture now?

Norway – 1994

On June 20, BBC’s The Daily Politics had a short feature on the pressure put on Norway to vote to join the EU in 1994.

Jo Coburn interviewed Norwegian politician Anne Tvinnereim, who described the Project Fear rhetoric. Much of what she cited sounds exactly like what the Remain camp have been telling us 22 years later — especially the figure that each household would lose per year in income.

Tvinnereim said that Norwegians heard they would be a small, meaningless country; they would never have trade agreements again and they would experience long-term financial disaster. Of course, none of that happened. The Norwegians wisely declined to join the EU and are part of the EEA. Tvinnereim said that the agreement is not perfect, but it is workable for the time being. Kate Hoey was on the panel and said that, if Britain votes Leave, the EEA could have subsequent scope for reform. Hoey, incidentally, stated that she does not believe Britain needs to be part of the EEA or any other formal trading bloc.

Who’s saying what

Now for a round-up of the latest soundbites.

George Soros – Remain

Amazingly, The Guardian had the chutzpah today to lead with an article written by, of all people, George Soros.

It seems he is their latest and best poster boy for Remain.


If that doesn’t want to make you vote Leave, I don’t know what will.

Physiocrat, a Catholic blogger from Britain who lives in Sweden, dismantles Soros’s reasons for Remaining and asks:

I wonder how much Soros stands to lose from a Brexit vote?


Theo Usherwood, London’s LBC radio Political Editor tweeted:

Market speculation – George Soros… Job creation – Anthony Bamford, James Dyson, says Boris Johnson.

Just so.

Emmanuel Macron – Remain

On June 17, France’s economy minister Emmanuel Macron said that if Brexit wins:

Leaving the EU would mean the ‘Guernseyfication’ of the UK, which would then be a little country on the world scale. It would isolate itself and become a trading post and arbitration place at Europe’s border.

Gosh, that sounds remarkably like what Anne Tvinnereim said Norway was threatened with!

We’ve been the world’s fifth largest economy since 1970 — well before our accession to the EU!

Macron, who previously worked for Rothschild, told France’s RTL radio:

the June 23rd referendum was “dangerous” and that Britain had “taken the rest of the European Union hostage”.

David Beckham – Remain

David Beckham says we should think of the children.

Victoria Beckham – Leave

Victoria Beckham, mother of David’s children, supports Brexit:

The Euro bureaucrats are destroying every bit of national identity and individuality. We must keep our national individuality.

Steve Hilton – Leave

Steve Hilton, former adviser to David Cameron, whose views I wrote about on May 27, said today that reducing the immigration numbers is impossible as long as we stay in the EU:

I remember the meetings on immigration towards the end of my time in Downing Street. Everyone around the table, in some way or another, was working hard to try to deliver the government’s commitment.

We were presented with analysis of the numbers of people coming to Britain through various routes, the impact of policy changes we had already made, and projections stretching into the future.

The news was not good. We were way off target; indeed, the numbers were going in the wrong direction. We explored various policy options — and I’m sure that process continued after I left the government in May 2012. But I recall very clearly one of the points that was made to us by the expert officials in the room.

We were told, directly and explicitly, that it was impossible for the government to meet its immigration target as long as we remained members of the EU, which, of course, insists on the free movement of people within it.

Theo Paphitis – Leave

Theo Paphitis, entrepreneur and star of Dragon’s Den, favours Brexit:

though he added short term gaps in employment should be filled by immigration.

He said: “A trading alliance is really, really good.”

But the businessman, who was born in Cyprus, added: “It has moved more towards federalism than trading, which has brought bureaucracy that makes it difficult to be competitive outside the EU – and also within the EU.”

The big question

I shall leave British readers with the following question, which Leave proponent Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom put forward in the ITV debate a fortnight ago. Christopher Booker reprised it for The Telegraph:

if we weren’t already in it today, is it conceivable that we would now wish to join the European Union as it has become?

Please take the time to read his article in full.

I’ll have more post-referendum once the dust settles.

My last few posts have looked at the history of LSD — here, here and here.

It is useful to read these entries before moving on to this final instalment in the LSD story.

LSD refuses to die, despite all the real-life mental illness and deaths associated with its use and abuse. Just as in earlier North American experiments from the late 20th century, it is still seen as a beneficial drug.

Alcoholism treatment – Norway (2012)

Most people who know something about alcoholism know that, for decades, an alcohol abuser can enter any number of hospitals for detox treatment.

This one-off treatment used to be rather onerous, albeit effective. I knew someone who went through a three-day detox with the appropriate non-hallucinogenic drugs in the 1980s. Today’s regimen sounds better, as described by a German discussing his friend who used it to effectively detox from GBL (emphases mine):

So to finally quit, he went to an hospital, told the doctors everything about his habits and they decided to put him in a detox program. He got Clomethiazol (192mg capsules), 4 times a day with decreasing dose. He was in the clinic for 5 days, the doses went down very fast. He didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms at all, only a bit of sweating in the first night. As i visited him, he was quite happy and had neither psychic nor physical problems. No craving at all. Since then, he is clean of GBL and has no intention to do it again. He is doing an ambulant therapy, where he talks to a doctor every week.

So if you have the possibility and the need of detoxing from GBL in a hospital, I can only tell you to do it this way. He told his boss he had some minor illness and only missed 3 days of work without anyone there knowing what was up (even though he went to work on GBL for several months). He didn’t have to do anything in the hospital, he was just lieing around in bed the whole day.

(FYI: The same detox is used on heavy alcoholics. Clomethiazol is used to keep your body safe in this time.)

Nonetheless, a group of Norwegian scientists wants to use LSD to treat alcoholism. Medical News Today recaps their research published in the March 8, 2012 issue of the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Excerpts from Medical News Today‘s article follow. It begins by mentioning the experiments done from the 1950s through the 1970s. The Norwegian researchers looked at the six most promising studies from this time period:

The authors of this new study, Teri Krebs and Pål-Ørjan Johansen, researchers currently affiliated to the Department of Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), suggest the reason that medical interest in LSD gradually waned was probably while the earliest studies showed promising results, they also had design problems …

So they took a closer look at six published experiments that they regarded as having scientifically sound methodology and put them through a rigorous quantitative meta-analysis. Those trials had randomly assigned patients to receive either LSD or a comparison treatment.

Between them, the six studies totalled 536 volunteer patients, mostly men, who were all receiving alcoholism treatment. The trials had taken place in the US or Canada between 1966 and 1970.

Hmm. How many of them were servicemen, one wonders?

Once again, as in the 1960s, the researchers trotted out the false notion that LSD is anodyne with no side effects:

Krebs and Johansen conclude that their results unambiguously show that LSD helped patients heavily addicted to alcohol and made it less likely they would relapse: “a single dose of LSD had a positive treatment effect that lasted at least six months”, they write.

Yet, the existing non-hallucinogenic three- to five-day detox with Clomethiazol lasts a lifetime.

Never mind. The researchers from Norway made rather ambiguous statements:

“There has long been a need for better treatments for addiction. We think it is time to look at the use of psychedelics in treating various conditions,” they urge.

The authors say they don’t know how LSD works to treat alcohol addiction. They explain that we know the drug is non-toxic and non-addictive, and that it has a “striking effect on the imagination, perception and memories”.

And we know that it interacts with a particular serotonin receptor in the brain. Perhaps it stimulates the “formation of new connections and patterns”, thereby creating an “awareness of new perspectives and opportunities for action,” they speculate.

‘Opportunities for action’? What does that mean? Furthermore, they admit their ignorance on the exact interaction of LSD with the brain. Yes, that sounds like a well-researched rationale for treating alcoholics with it (irony alert).

Their argument falls further with the results achieved in these six studies. They are far from stellar and they involve continuing treatment. The researchers also advocate a ‘full’ dose, which when first performed decades ago resulted in mental illness and schizophrenia in a number of cases; American servicemen who participated in these experiments in Maryland are now attempting to find out what they were given and in what doses. Yet, the Norwegian researchers purported:

In all of the studies, the results showed that the patients who received the full LSD dose fared the best.

“On average, 59% of full-dose patients showed a clear improvement compared with 38% in the other groups,” say the authors.

The patients who received the LSD dose were less likely to relapse into problematic alcohol use, and were more likely to abstain altogether.

The greatest improvements were during the first few months of treatment. This wore off with time. Perhaps this suggests repeated doses might work better.

The mind boggles, especially when a safe detox treatment already exists.

However, it will come as no surprise that one of the principal centres of LSD experiments provided the studies to the Norwegians:

The Research Council of Norway financed the study which was conducted during a research stay at Harvard Medical School.

It was at the Harvard Psychedelic Drug Research Center where Timothy Leary and other CIA contractors, including Henry ‘Harry’ Murray worked.  Murray experimented on Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, in the early 1960s.

One can only hope the Norwegian government takes this no further. The same mistakes will no doubt be made, especially with ‘full doses’.

There is nothing new under the sun and this proves it.

Depression – UK (2014)

I have written before about Professor David Nutt from London’s Imperial College.

Nutt is the main personality from the medical world promoting drugs and condemning tobacco and alcohol, placing them next to heroin in terms of toxicity and fatality.

Nutt’s chart tells us that he considers LSD to be the safest of drugs with ketamine — often resulting in bladder replacement — coming second.

His research has been all over the UK media for several years. There are many television presenters and journalists who believe what he says and advocate illegal drugs over tobacco and alcohol on daytime programmes. One example is Matthew Wright, host of Channel 5’s morning show The Wright Stuff.

Nutt was a medical adviser to the previous Labour government until he was dismissed for spurious statements, one of them being that ecstasy was safer than horse riding.

He continues to press on with his advocacy of illicit drugs and, along with Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, hopes to restart LSD and other hallucinogenic experiments in the UK in 2015.

An Observer article dated October 5, 2014 has the story. Excerpts follow:

Next year, if all goes to plan, a dozen patients with clinical depression will be invited to a UK laboratory and given psilocybin – the psychedelic ingredient found in magic mushrooms. Over the next four or five hours, many of these volunteers will experience dream-like euphoria as colours, smells and sounds become more intense, perception of time distorts and their sense of self dissolves. Some may feel a surge of electricity through their bodies, sudden clarity of thought or hilarity. Others may experience anxiety, confusion or paranoia. These hallucinogenic effects will be short-lived, but the impact of the drug on the volunteers could be long-lasting ...

Nutt and Carhart-Harris have already used MRI scanners to study changes in the brain while 15 volunteers took psilocybin. A similar study on 20 volunteers given LSD has just finished.

This article also mentions the ‘moral panic’ that caused LSD experiments to cease in the 1960s. I feel for those participants whose lives have been ruined as a result. It was much more than ‘moral panic’ — it was irreversible mental illness and experimenting with other harmful hallucinogens which had to stop.

Nonetheless, Nutt maintains:

It led to a lot of people believing these drugs were more harmful than they were. They are not trivial drugs, but in comparison with drugs that kill thousands of people a year, like alcohol, tobacco and heroin, they have a very safe track record and, as far as we know, no one has died.

Yet, many over-50s will have read of reports from the late 1960s and early 1970s when people did die from an LSD overdose. There is a fine line between saying that, technically, the drug is not toxic and acknowledging the effect that LSD has on the brain, which can differ from day to day and dose to dose. Addiction Blog explains. Excerpts follow (although I disagree with the tone of the article which seems to put forward the idea that, essentially, LSD is safe):

Cases of fatal overdose on acid are possible, but rare. Emergency room and EMS data supports the claims that, while not often, deaths can occur when a person takes LSD. This is particularly true when it is mixed with alcohol. Cases of acid trips have been reported where overstimulation of the nervous system triggered heart attack, stroke or respiratory failure. Again, these cases are rare.

A number of deaths can be indirectly linked to ingestion of acid. The actual causes of death however are not always from the actual drug itself. Some people who take LSD die because their minds trick them into doing dangerous things. And LSD-related deaths generally occur due to suicide, accidents, and dangerous behavior. Also, there is the possibility that poisonous additives may have been mixed with the drug, amplifying its danger and unpredictability …

The question you may need to ask yourself, is it really worth the risk?

Yes — that is the essential question.

Back now to Nutt and his current studies. He and his colleagues are working with the Beckley Foundation headed by:

English aristocrat Amanda Feilding, the Countess of Wemyss and March. After taking LSD in the 1960s she became fascinated with its potential for creativity and enhancing understanding.

Her foundation supports and initiates research into psychoactive substances – including LSD, magic mushrooms and cannabis, a plant used in medicine for thousands of years. “By prohibiting research into this category of substance, because of a social misconception, we are depriving suffering ill people from a potential treatment which has a very long history,” she says.

Like the Norwegian researchers, the Imperial-Beckley Foundation people admit they do not understand how LSD works on the brain, either:

The mechanisms of LSD are still poorly understood. It seems to mimic some actions of the brain chemical serotonin, which is involved in memory formation, mood and reward, but how it triggers such powerful altering effects isn’t clear.

It is incredible, then, that they can claim it is the safest drug around — moreso than tobacco and alcohol.

The article adds:

The Imperial/Beckley MRI research showed that brains of volunteers on LSD become less organised and more chaotic, while parts of the brain that would not normally communicate with each other link up. In this disorganised dream-like state, the brain is open to new leaps of creativity and flights of fancy. Dr Carhart-Harris believes that hallucinogens may temporally “loosen” the rigid structures of the brain, which have developed as we age. An acid trip is a bit like shaking up a snow globe. This loosening could help the brain break the cycles of addiction and depression.

That sounds as if the outcome is highly unpredictable — from person to person, from trip to trip.

One also wonders whether certain parts of the brain are not meant to link up. I would also question the irresponsible use of phrases such as ‘new leaps of creativity and flights of fancy’ as well as ‘shaking up a snow globe’, both of which makes hallucinogens sound vaguely harmless.

The article goes on to discuss magic mushrooms and skunk.

Would Tobacco and Alcohol Control agree? That is the big question I would like to see answered.

What follows are comments from the few Observer readers who disagree, at least in part, with Nutt and Co.

treebear1: … In my experience it doesn’t make passive individuals. Quite the opposite.

Milesawayfromhere: … In my experience there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach in these matters – they are very good for some people and very bad for others and in most cases underlying problems that were there before the drugs are the real issues. Humans just vary massively and you can’t be generally psychologically prescriptive for all of them when it comes to psychedelics. A practitioner with experience and a well-trained eye should be able to tell who would benefit and who would not after only a few sessions of psychotherapy in advance … For example most people who take Ibogain for addiction issues are already struggling with a multitude of other issues anyway. You can either paper over the cracks with prescription drugs or face the issues full on. The latter will not always be pretty.

Vincent Tayelrand: Suffering from depressions most of my life I have followed this growing trend to treat mental illnesses with psychedelic drugs for many years and have spoken to many people who went through these (illegal) programs.

It is not a sure cure for all, especially where depressions are involved

For some it can be a life changing, even life saving, reset of the brain, but for most nothing actually changes for the better in the long run.

It would be nice for a change if we put some money into research aimed at preventing depresion related mental illnesses instead of making billions by treating these patients with dangerous drugs.

TheyCallMeMrBlack: The health benefits? I took a lot of all this s[tuff] in my twenties and I can tell you there are no health benefits. There are however a lot of health issues awaiting users.

It is incredible that we are still talking about hallucinogens as we were in the late 1960s. It is even worse that so many young users (see the rest of the comments) agree with Professor Nutt.

What follows is a brief history of pietism, a subject to which this blog intends to return with practical, modern examples.

Our churches today are full of ‘holy’ behaviours and small groups meant to reinforce them for the ‘true’ believer. I use these words advisedly, as orthodox Lutherans, Calvinists and Anglicans believe that it is only by grace through faith that a person is saved and comes to share eternal life with Jesus Christ.

The Roman Catholic doctrine

We would do well to begin by reviewing what the Catholic Church teaches on sin, as this will feature throughout this series. The Catholic Church teaches the doctrine of impeccability, whereby it is believed that saints in Heaven and souls in Purgatory awaiting union with God cannot sin. The Catholic Church believes in free will, and, to this end, promotes a faith-plus-works teaching so that adherents will be able to be perfect like Christ.

Christ instructed His followers (Matthew 5:48):

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Indeed, Christian perfection has existed from the early Church through to the present day and in Protestant circles is referred to as pietism. In other words, there are two sides to this story: a) the orthodox Reformation view of sanctification through God’s grace working through us to bear the fruits of our faith and b) the manmade, legalistic Pelagian acts and works towards that end which imply or demand that we can redeem ourselves. The gulf between the two is great.

The Anglican — state church — in Post-Reformation England

A number of state-established churches in northern Europe after the Reformation forbade worship outside the official church setting.  Although the following laws are no longer in force in England, they were deemed necessary at the time:

Religion Act 1592: Under Elizabeth I, anyone 16 and over who failed to attend the Anglican church, encouraged others to follow suit or who met in small groups — conventicles — could be imprisoned without bail. Upon serving their sentence, they were given three months to begin attending the Church of England. If they failed to do so, they had to leave England. This law was temporary and lasted for the term of that particular Parliament.

Conventicle Act 1664: Enacted during the Restoration by Charles II, this law forbade small group gatherings outside of the Church of England. It included all Christians.  It was preceded by the Quaker Act of 1662, obliging all citizens to swear allegiance to the King as well as the Act of Uniformity of 1662 which required the use and rites of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1662) in all church gatherings. However, a decade later, Charles II would grant permission for a limited number of nonconformist chapels.

Conventicles Act 1670: Parliament passed a law in 1670 forbidding any meeting of small groups or use of a meeting house for worship and assembly outside of the rites of the Church of England. This was to suppress ‘seditious’ conventicles.  Offending laypeople were fined four times less than clergy were.

If you click on the Wikipedia links, you’ll see engravings of nonconformist and ‘seditious’ gatherings taking place out of doors.  This was so the groups could avoid fines and imprisonment.  Pietism and the outdoors are closely linked — as are small groups.

The Lutheran — state church — in Germany

A number of practising Lutherans in the 17th century believed that the established church in Germany was reluctant to promote a lively Christian faith.

The official founder of the pietist movement was Philipp Jakob Spener, born in Alsace (now part of France) in 1635. Spener studied theology in Strasbourg, still the principal city of the region, then moved on to see what the Calvinists and the Waldensians were doing in Geneva. There he met a number of professors and pastors who deeply impressed him.

Spener believed that German Lutheranism had lost its moral and religious focus. He blamed Lutheran orthodoxy for this, which is probably not much different to the theological or intellectual conflicts occurring in other Christian countries today between evangelically-minded and orthodox Christians.

As a pastor in Frankfurt in 1666, Spener decided on a course of action to remedy the situation by holding conventicles, or small groups, in his house. There, he preached sermons and taught from the New Testament. He invited questions from those assembled and engaged in dialogue with them.

In 1675, Spener wrote (emphases mine):

Pia desideria or Earnest Desire for a Reform of the True Evangelical Church, the title giving rise to the term “Pietists”. This was originally a pejorative term given to the adherents of the movement by its enemies as a form of ridicule …

In Pia desideria, Spener made six proposals as the best means of restoring the life of the Church:

  1. the earnest and thorough study of the Bible in private meetings, ecclesiolae in ecclesia (“little churches within the church”).
  2. the Christian priesthood being universal, the laity should share in the spiritual government of the Church
  3. a knowledge of Christianity must be attended by the practice of it as its indispensable sign and supplement
  4. instead of merely didactic, and often bitter, attacks on the heterodox and unbelievers, a sympathetic and kindly treatment of them
  5. a reorganization of the theological training of the universities, giving more prominence to the devotional life
  6. a different style of preaching, namely, in the place of pleasing rhetoric, the implanting of Christianity in the inner or new man, the soul of which is faith, and its effects the fruits of life.

Despite the controversy that this volume generated, a number of Lutheran pastors in Germany followed Spener’s example.

In 1686, Spener became a royal chaplain and was transferred to Dresden. He mentored a group of young theologians in Leipzig in a society he formed there for devout application and practice of biblical principles. Later, he ended up founding the University of Halle, which was based on pietistic theology. Not all went smoothly; a number of pastors in Leipzig opposed his pietism and made a stance for orthodox Lutheran doctrine and practice.

Spener died in 1705, but one of his followers from Leipzig and Halle, August Hermann Francke, helped to spread pietism throughout the northern half of Germany, which is still predominantly Lutheran. This enabled Spener’s godson, Count von Zinzendorf, to revive the Moravian Church in 1727 and to establish Protestant missions.

Wikipedia states:

Spener’s stress on the necessity of a new birth and on a separation of Christians from the world, (see Asceticism), led to exaggeration and fanaticism among some followers. Many Pietists soon maintained that the new birth must always be preceded by agonies of repentance, and that only a regenerated theologian could teach theology, while the whole school shunned all common worldly amusements, such as dancing, the theatre, and public games. Some would say that there thus arose a new form of justification by works.

Because pietism is so personal it became quite popular and began to weaken the state Church. It made its followers feel as if they were actively doing something to achieve their own salvation. In other words, it could be said that it was a form of Pelagianism. A reaction against pietism began in Dresden in the 18th century.

The state church — Lutheran — in Norway

Only a few decades after Spener’s death, the established church in Norway experienced problems with the spread of pietism.

Like England, they, too, issued a law proscribing small groups meeting outside the church. The government enacted the Conventicle Act of 1741.

Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771 – 1824) was born into a large farming family.  Like Spener, he, too, felt that pietism was necessary in order to transform the state church. Defying the Conventicle Act — and spending time in prison for doing so — he began preaching to Norwegians after Sunday church services.

Although he was a lay preacher, Hauge held revival meetings in Norway before taking his preaching into Denmark. Like many revivalists, he claimed to have had a mystical experience directing his ministry. He also wrote 33 books, which were widely read.

He said that his Haugean movement was in line with Lutheran doctrine. He also believed in Continuationism — active charismatic gifts (prophecy, glossolalia) — as do today’s American Pentecostalists.

After his final release from prison in 1811, he decided to return to farming and to also become an industrialist. He founded a number of factories and mills and donated his wealth to followers and friends. Because he was so influential as a lay minister, his secular success was almost guaranteed. Even today, Norwegians remember his help in making Norway a player in the Industrial Revolution. They also credit him with giving their country its ethical flavour of modesty, honesty and hard work.

Wikipedia states:

  • His defiance toward the religious and secular establishment gave voice to ordinary people, paving much of the way for the liberal and democratic tradition in Norway and indeed the entire Nordic region.
  • There also seems to be a clear link between the Haugean movement and the rise of Labor Union movement in Norway.
  • His theology, while bound in Lutheran doctrine, revitalized the notion of universal religion in Norway. The Norwegian state church credits him today for making religion a personal obligation.
  • His travels created nationwide networks that persist in Norway’s political system generally and among parties in particular.
  • His advocacy for common people became an important force as the industrial revolution unfolded.

Norwegian Lutherans who emigrated to the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries took his influence with them on religious and socio-political levels.  A case in point is the progressive state of Minnesota.

The Protestant churches in Prussia

As Hauge was defying the law in Norway, Prussia’s king, Frederick William III, urged the Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) churches in that country to unite. In 1817, this united church body became known as the Prussian Union, or the Evangelical Christian Church.

Protestant history in Prussia is somewhat complex, because it was one of the nations which welcomed Calvinists fleeing the Catholic Counter-Reformation in Europe.  Although Prussia no longer exists as such, the Evangelical Christian Church lives on today in parts of Germany.

Wikipedia explains that this church union came about after Napoleon defeated the Prussian army in the battle of Jena-Auerstedt in the early 19th century. Prussia was obliged to undertake a number of state reforms, among them, the Church:

Under the influence of the centralising movement of absolutism and the Napoleonic Age, after the defeat of Napoléon I in 1815, rather than re-establishing the previous denominational leadership structures, all religious communities were placed under a single consistory in each Prussian province. This differed from the old structure in that the new leadership administered the affairs of all faiths; Catholics, Jews, Lutherans, Mennonites, Moravians, and the Calvinists (Reformed Christians) …

On 27 September 1817, Frederick William announced that on the 300th anniversary of the Reformation Potsdam‘s Reformed court and garrison congregation, led by Court Preacher Rulemann Friedrich Eylert, and the Lutheran garrison congregation, both using the Calvinist Garrison Church would unite into one Evangelical Christian congregation on Reformation Day, 31 October. Frederick William expressed his desire to see the Protestant congregations around Prussia follow this example, and become Union congregations. Whereas, since the Reformation the two denominations in Brandenburg, the Calvinist and Lutheran, had their own ecclesiastical governments under state control through the crown as Supreme Governor, under the new absolutism then in vogue, the Churches were under a civil bureaucratic state supervision through the newly created Prussian Ministry of Religious, Educational and Medical Affairs (German: Preußisches Ministerium der geistlichen, Unterrichts- und Medizinalangelegenheiten, est. in 1817). Karl vom Stein zum Altenstein was appointed as minister. However, because of the unique role of congregations in Protestantism, no congregation was forced by the King’s decree into merger. Thus, in the years that followed, many Lutheran and Reformed congregations did follow the example of Potsdam, and became single merged congregations, while others maintained their former Lutheran or Reformed denomination. When in 1847 Prussia finally received a parliament, some church leadership offices included a seat in the second chamber of non-elected, but appointed members.

As we would expect, not all Lutherans were pleased with this merger. Today’s Lutherans — and Calvinists — would appreciate the difference between the two denominations’ confessions of faith.

Wikipedia explains:

Pietism, with its looser attitude toward confessional theology, had opened the churches to the possibility of uniting. The unification of the two branches of German Protestantism sparked the Schism of the Old Lutherans. Many Lutherans, called Old Lutherans formed free churches or [e]migrated to the United States and Australia where they formed one of the bodies who formed the Lutheran Church of Australia. (Many immigrants to America that agreed with the union movement formed German Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed congregations, later to be gathered as the Evangelical Synod of North America, which is now a part of the United Church of Christ.)

And this is another reason why orthodox Protestants are opposed to pietism. They have seen the historical results of a ‘looser attitude toward confessional theology’: merger, dissatisfaction and confusion.

Pietism, the Enlightenment and atheism

Pietism peaked in the 18th century, although it is by no means extinct today.

However, because its emphasis on the individual appears to have lent it a certain popularity leading towards the examination of man in relation to himself, to others and to the world at large, it helped to enable the Enlightenment.

That said, it renewed religious fervour amongst European Protestants, which some emigrants took to America and Australia.  The laity found a new life within the Church and more of an active voice within established state churches.

Wikipedia explores this further:

Pietism also had a strong influence on contemporary artistic culture in Germany; though unread today, the Pietist Johann Georg Hamann held a strong influence in his day. Pietist belief in the power of individual meditation on the divine – a direct, individual approach to the ultimate spiritual reality of God – was probably partly responsible for the uniquely metaphysical, idealistic nature of German Romantic philosophy.

This has had a paradoxical effect on Christianity and secular politics which is present to this day. Clare Spark’s brilliant blog traces today’s Western multiculturalism back to the German Romantics:

The German Romantics and their descendants have co-opted radical Enlightenment concepts (tolerance, the rejection of innate ideas and fallen flesh as determinants of “human nature,” the cultural biases of the participant-observer) and practices (introspection, scientific materialism, the comparative history and analysis of political and economic institutions). These “enlightened” concepts and practices were then turned against “the lower orders.” For instance, the social psychology of “progressivism” transforms the common-sense perception of objective social conflicts and clashing interests into personal, anti-social symptoms of “xenophobia,” “prejudice” or “scapegoating,” i.e., distorted vision of “the Other.” Insofar as they are conservative Freudians and Jungians, the progressive psychologists attribute negative “stereotypes” to individual weakness and social irresponsibility: Entirely inner conflicts (Oedipal or pre-Oedipal in origin) are projected onto the outer world; this social world could be made harmonious through “integration”; i.e., discreet purges aka correct adjustments or through the emotionally mature recourse to administrative remedies.

Tying in with that is what I see as the nanny state dictating what we can(not) ingest — animal fats, nicotine and alcohol.  Most of today’s health experts and enabler politicians have no real religious faith, but they still have the Pelagian urge for manmade perfection, which pietism actively nurtures.

In fact, there is such a thing as Atheistic Pietism:

a term used by Asgeir Helgason to describe a pietistic (moralistic) approach to life without religion. “We have denied the existence of God but kept the pietistic rules”. Atheistic pietism has been suggested by Helgason,[4] to be one of the characteristics (traits) of the modern day Swedish national spirit. The term is first known to have been used by W.H. Mallock in 1879.

Wikipedia adds:

Economic historian Murray Rothbard sees modern Progressivism as essentially a deistic form of Pietism. [5]

Pietism has a lot to answer for in reviving Pelagianism, particularly the mantra heard continually throughout the West: ‘If only, if only, if only …’ we were healthier, younger, etc.

Whatever the shortcoming, pietism is there to point the finger at things which only God in His grace — not Man — can remedy.

Tomorrow: Pietism in Methodism

Ladies and gentlemen — I have truly been visited from Hell.

On October 6, 2011, I received a blog hit from …
























Hell, Norway, that is.

This is what the Highway to Hell looks like (courtesy of Wikipedia):

Well, there you have it … That’s not me getting out of (or into) the car, by the way!

My thanks to the person who was good enough to tap into Churchmouse Campanologist on October 6, 2011 at 21:48 BST (British Summer Time).  I appreciate your visit and hope that you stop by again soon!  Rest assured, I do not know what link you visited!  Your secrets are safe, even from me!

Many of us in other countries might be bemused by such a name for a community. However, Wikipedia tells us that the name comes from the Old Norse word hellir, which means ‘overhang’ or ‘cliff cave’; in modern Norwegian parlance, hell means ‘luck’.

Hell is a small settlement of 1,418 people in the county of Nord-Trøndelag.  Hell has a filling station, a grocery store and a home for elderly people. Train service also serves Hell.

Hell has become a bit of a tourist attraction for a local landmark, also visible on the Wikipedia page, sporting a sign which says: ‘Hell — Gods-expedition‘.  Hmm.  Another puzzler, until we discover that this is an archaic spelling for … cargo-handling. Today, this expression is godsekspedisjon — still close to the original.

To whomever visited, I thank you and am not making fun in the slightest. I’m intrigued. However, this does illustrate why we have language and cultural barriers!

I look forward to another visit from Hell. May I also extend a hearty welcome to the rest of your town (probably too small), village (only if it has a church) or hamlet (settlement without a church).

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